Providence Zen Center (Diamond Hill Zen Monastery)

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 12 July 2002.

Phone: 401-658-1464
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Activities and Schedule

Walk-In Public Night: Wednesdays, 5:30 P.M. Dinner, 6:30 P.M. Meditation Instruction, 7 P.M. Chanting.
Sunday and Daily Programs and Practice (Free and Open to All).
Monthly retreats, biyearly intensive retreats, talks, workshops, and periodic celebrations (See extensive online schedule).


The Providence Zen Center's history began when its founding teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn (Dae Soen Sa Nim), immigrated from Korea to America in 1972. Having no money and no knowledge of English, he was hired as a washing machine repairman in Providence. There, then-Brown University buddhologist Professor Leo Pruden invited Seung Sahn to give some talks—-after which several students asked him to teach them full-time from his apartment. Gathering more followers, the newly-formed Providence Zen Center (PZC) moved to its current site in Cumberland in 1979, with many of the students helping to build its new center. In 1985, Seung Sahn officially founded the Kwan Um School of Zen, from which time it began to spread nationally and internationally to its current scope of 34 centers in the United States and 57 centers worldwide, headquartered in Cumberland, RI. Zen Master Seung Sahn also authored several books.
The PZC and the Kwan Um School practice a unique form of Zen Buddhism interpreted by Seung Sahn that blends Korean and American aspects. In addition to its daily schedule, the center holds numerous one-, two-, and three-day retreats and intensive biyearly winter and summer retreats called Kyol Che. The PZC conducts a Public Night every Wednesday with dinner and meditation instruction, as well as talks and workshops, a children's program, and major ceremonies for Buddha's Birth and Enlightenment Days and its Guiding Teacher's Birthday. When not in use by the center, the Diamond Hill Zen Monastery is available for use by outside groups.


The main building of the center is a renovation of an existing structure, and contains a large dharma room, a smaller dharma room, a kitchen and dining room, 25 resident and guest rooms, several lounges, administrative offices, and a gift shop. Attached to it is a 65-foot pagoda with a small dharma room inside, and nearby are the abbot's house and the Diamond Hill Monastery. The center differs from its Korean precedents in that it allows both monastic and lay, male and female practitioners to live there. The grounds also include a small pond, a vegetable garden, and a small fruit orchard.
The center maintains an elaborate website, and publishes a monthly member newsletter, guides to contemporary Zen practice, and the quarterly magazine of the Kwan Um School, Primary Point. It also produces other publications such as its guide, Chanting (with English Translations) and Temple Rules. The PZC ministers to the Adult Correctional Institution of Rhode Island and participates in interreligious dialogue by co-sponsoring Christian-Buddhist retreats and accepting invitations to discuss Zen Buddhism at local churches and schools. It associates with university practice groups at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Rhode Island, and Wheaton College (in Norton, MA).

Location and Directions

From Interstate 295 take Exit 10 to Route 122. At the ramp's end take a right. Go straight and pass under a walking bridge. Take a right onto Pound Road. The Center is on the right.