Sweeping Heart Zen: Zen in Action

Sweeping Heart Zen shares the Buddha’s liberating teachings on meditation, mindfulness, and compassion with the world. We call our way of practice “Zen in action”. It is to practice mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion in everyday life.

The Buddha described his teachings as, “…visible here and now, immediate…, to be experienced by the wise for themselves.” Consequently,  at SHZ we are practical, experiential, broad minded, and nonsectarian.

We are open to many teachers and traditions at Sweeping Heart Zen.  Though we practice Zen Buddhism, we do not cling to Zen or to any one teacher’s view of what Buddhism might be.

Zen in Action

At present, SHZ’s  work includes: teachings, talks, book club style discussions, weekly meditation gatherings, chanting services, Saturday “Day of Practice” retreats, participation in local community organizing on the Climate Crisis, and making gift donations to unincorporated and incorporated nonprofits. Additionally, SHZ offers a weekly introduction to Qi Gong class on Friday morning.  Check out the event calendar. sweepingheartzen.org/events/

Sweeping Heat Zen participates in fostering ecumenical dialogue and multi-faith collaborations. SHZ often attends monthly meetings with the members of the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann and joins in multi-faith services, educational events, and other community building and organizing activities with ACCA members.

“The entire universe is the true human body… “The entire universe is the dharma body of the self.”  Eihei Dogen Zenji

In Buddhism, we hold and teach that all atoms, molecules, chemicals, minerals,  beings–including microbes, viruses, single cell beings, plants, funguses, lichens, and animals– are interconnected and interdependent. Our lives depend on the welfare of the earth and its creatures and plants.  The earth does not exist for the sake of human beings.  Rather, we  are co-members of the community of life.

Sweeping Heart Zen is Committed to the Welfare of all Beings

If we continue to exploit, gouge and foul the earth beyond repair, plants will not grow and untold numbers of beings will go extinct as a consequence. If the oceans are too warm or acidic, if the climate is too hot or cold, all living beings may perish.

Given SHZ’s Soto Zen Buddhist understanding of the interdependent co-arising of things and beings, and given the climate emergency, SHZ has taken a roll of leadership along with the Associated Clergy of Cape Ann, TownGreen2025, and other organizations and individuals on Cape Ann as we gather to consider planning and forming a coalition to address some of the most pressing Climate Crisis threats to this region.  We gather to identifying actions, and generate community education, outreach, and neighborhood planning.

Together we must begin to organize coordinated efforts to have the greatest impact for the sake of all beings.

An important part of practice at SHZ is deepening our understanding of nonviolent communication and deep listening.

SHZ makes small financial contributions every month to the work of:
  • The Grace Center: “Gloucester’s safe, free day resource center for people who are homeless or in need of support”
  • Action, Inc: “For more than 50 years, Action Inc. has been a champion for the people and communities of Cape Ann—a coastal region of northeastern Massachusetts. Our mission is to create opportunities that promote a thriving Cape Ann for all.”
  • Prison Mindfulness Institute:  [P]rovide[s] prisoners, prison staff and prison volunteers, with the most effective, evidence-based tools for rehabilitation, self-transformation, and personal & professional development. In particular, we provide and promote the use of proven effective mindfulness-based interventions (MBI’s). Our dual focus is on transforming individual lives as well as transforming the corrections system as a whole in order to mitigate its extremely destructive impact on families, communities and the overall social capital of our society.

In addition to the above, from time-to-time SHZ has done prison meditation work, and meditation and mindfulness trainings with the staff and clients of community based organizations, as well as meal offerings in local community food programs.


The Sweeping Heart Zen website provides teachings and information about our various activities. In addition, the Rev. Daishin Hokai Mark Nelson writes a blog here. sweepingheartzen.org/daishin-mark-nelson/

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 IRS Section 170.  SHZ is also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts under IRS Sections 2055, 2106, or 2522.