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GreekReporter.comGreek newsFirst Zen Monastery to Open in Greece

First Zen Monastery to Open in Greece

Zen monastery garden in Japan
17th century Zen garden in Takahashi City, Japan. Credit: Ka23 13 CC BY-SA 4.0

The first-ever Zen monastery in Greece is set to open in the next few weeks on the Greek island of Serifos. Additionally, a Zen temple in the Kerameikos area of Athens is currently under construction.

This endeavor is spearheaded by Zen abbot and entrepreneur Konstantinos Sgoumpopoulos. He passionately undertakes the construction, expressing his profound commitment to ensuring the eternal transmission of Zen teachings, reminiscent of the enduring legacy of Zen Buddhism in Japan, a Kathimerini report stated.

The Zen monastery on Serifos island is almost complete, while at the same time the Zen temple on 76 Agisilaou Street in Athens is also close to completion.

The Zen abbot and businessman said that the two spaces will be self-financing, and will leave a zero ecological footprint.

The monastery will have 10 cells for the monks, or long-term practitioners, with shared bathrooms and a large kitchen and can also accommodate 30 or so people in rooms outside the monastery.

Sgoumpopoulos said that currently there are more than 10 Zen monks in Greece, and they form the main sangha group of the Serifos monastery. Almost everything that the monastery inhabitants consume will be grown by the inhabitants.

If someone wants to become a monk or a practitioner they should be familiar with the Zen teachings, and it doesn’t matter what religion they belong to, if they are Christian, Muslim, atheist, or Jewish. Anyone can come, as long as they want to be trained, he said.

There will also be yoga, laido, aikido and tae kwon do classes and Zen Day. Also, Sgoumpopoulos himself will be teaching an introductory Zen class on the first Tuesday of every month.

Zen Buddhism Principles

A statue depicting Buddha performing the vitarka mudra.
A statue depicting Buddha performing the vitarka mudra. Credit: Purshi / wikimedia common CC BY 3.0s

Zen is a profound sect of Mahayana Buddhism originating in India approximately 2500 years ago, with its roots tracing back to China around 2000 years ago. About a millennium later, it merged with elements of Taoism, giving rise to Chan Buddhism, which eventually found its way to Japan, where it became known as Zen.

It emphasizes direct experience and insight into the true nature of reality. At its core, Zen is about realizing one’s inherent Buddha nature—our fundamental nature of wisdom, compassion, and interconnectedness with all things.

Rather than relying solely on intellectual understanding, Zen encourages practitioners to engage in rigorous meditation practice to directly experience this truth for themselves. Through disciplined meditation, often involving long periods of sitting in silence, practitioners aim to quiet the mind and cultivate a heightened state of awareness.

Zen teachings often employ paradoxical statements, stories, and koans (puzzles or riddles) to provoke deep contemplation and transcend conceptual thinking. By challenging conventional ways of understanding, Zen aims to break down the barriers of ego and attachment, leading to a profound shift in consciousness.

Central to Zen is the concept of mindfulness—being fully present and attentive to each moment without judgment or distraction. This mindfulness extends beyond formal meditation sessions into everyday life, where mundane activities like eating, walking, or working become opportunities for spiritual practice.

Ultimately, Zen is not just a philosophy or belief system but a way of life—an ongoing journey of self-discovery, awakening, and compassionate action. Through dedicated practice and inner exploration, individuals can cultivate a sense of peace, clarity, and profound interconnectedness with the world around them.





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