What Does Membership of Sweeping Heart Zen Mean?

While anyone can participate in Sweeping Heart Zen events, being a member means you officially join the Sangha (community of practitioners on the Path).


  • indicates a level of commitment to practice and study Zen and to help build the community
  • is a way to say I value the community, the teachings and the practice and realize that by joining a Zen community I’ll have more opportunities to study and be supported in my practice
  • indicates that you are enthusiastic to accept instruction and guidance about the Buddhist Path and Zen forms from the Guiding Teacher and worthy senior members
  • offers opportunities to plan, organize, and participate in community events
  • gives priority access to our Guiding Teacher for ongoing consultation, training, and development
  • offers discounted rates for events, classes and retreats
  • dues donations provide regular financial support for Sweeping Heart Zen so we can budget, plan, and pay bills
  • dues contribute to the long-term goals of the Sangha, such as saving for a permanent location

Membership does not mean you are a Buddhist. One becomes a Buddhist in the Soto Zen tradition after a voluntary period of study and through participation in a public ceremony where on commits to undertake a life guided by the Bodhisattva Precepts.  This ceremony is called Jukai.

 How do I become a Member?

  • Speak with any current member about membership and the community
  • Notify a Board member in writing that you want to be a member of Sweeping Heart Zen
  • The Board member who receives your request will share  your request with the Board and Guiding Teacher
  • Arrange a time with Mark Nelson, our Guiding Teacher, to begin a study of the Five Precepts of Early Buddhism.  Depending on availability, circumstances, and experience, this study could range over a few weeks or months.  The Five Precepts of Early Buddhism are: 1. I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.  2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given. 3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.  4. I undertake the precept to refrain from harmful speech. 5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness
  • Commit during a brief meeting with the Sweeping Heart Zen community to undertake a life guided by the Five Precepts
  • Our Founder and Guiding Teacher, must accept your request and formally welcome you into membership

What does Membership Cost?

Nobody will be denied membership because of an inability to donate financially. Monthly dues are as follows:

$50 – $150 a month (sliding scale)

  • You value belonging to the Sweeping Heart Zen community and
  • are ready to support the community financially. You are making a commitment to the Sangha and are
  • taking the opportunity to attend meditations, events, and teachings, and to participate in Zen training in your ongoing practice

$20 – $50 a month (sliding scale)

  • All of the above and you
  • would like to be a member but aren’t able to participate often
  • are a student or
  • are unemployed or
  •  on limited income

Anyone is always free to give more than the membership pledges above, if you are able and wish to express further gratitude and generosity to the Sangha. Additional donations ensure the Sangha can serve everyone regardless of their financial situation.

  • Please, keep y monthly dues current and please contact a the Guiding Teacher or a Board member if you would like to change your dues commitment.

Sweeping Heart Zen is Tax Exempt

Sweeping Heart Zen is 501(c)(3) tax exempt religious organization. Therefore, members, donors and contributors can deduct dues and other contributions to SHZ under IRC Section 170.  SHZ is also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.

Sweeping Heart Zen & Our Dream of Developing Community

Sweeping Heart Zen is a community, a Sangha. Through Sangha, we aim together to create and participate in ways of cooperative and harmonious living and practice that can be an antidote to the isolation, individualism, and materialism of contemporary life.

Since the late winter of 2015, a small group of us have been practicing and studying Zen and the Buddha’s way of peace together at Wisdom’s Heart in Gloucester. As of August 1, 2017, Sweeping Heart Zen will be offering meditation, study, and services at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church on Middle Street in Gloucester.

Sweeping Heart Zen would like to be able to rent and occupy a beautiful space

with a meditation hall large enough to accommodate our members, with a kitchen, sufficient parking, and wheelchair access. This would allow Sangha members who wish to do so to gather on a daily basis for practice, work, socializing, and communal meals. Ideally it would also be a space where we could hold overnight retreats.

In the long term, Sweeping Heart Zen would like to own our space

Then Sangha members could contribute by caring for and improving the space. We could make it suit our needs. Perhaps we could grow an organic garden. We would have an established base from which to serve each other, and the general community.