Thousand Harbours Zen was founded in 2014 (as Zen Nova Scotia) with a commitment to provide authentic Soto Zen Buddhist practice and teachings to all. We hold to three basic principles: practice is undertaken as a community, practice and realization are not two, and practice is taken up in a spirit of offering and vow.

Our Mission

Thousand Harbours Zen is a community committed to providing authentic Zen Buddhist practice and teachings to all. In the spirit of the Buddha Shakyamuni and the founders of the Soto Zen school, Dogen and Keizan, we hold to three basic principles: practice is undertaken as a community, practice and realization are not two, and practice is taken up in a spirit of offering and vow.

We welcome people of all races, cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, classes, religions, abilities, and ages. We are committed to providing a safe place for all people to explore the dharma and awaken to their true nature. Zen Nova Scotia welcomes visitors and offers orientation for newcomers. Our emphasis and wider purpose is to encourage people to integrate religious practice into their everyday lives.

Our Name

A few years ago, Koun asked one of his guiding teachers in Japan, Daiken Yoshitani-roshi (abbot of Myohonji temple in Isahaya, Nagasaki Prefecture) to consider a name for a future Zen Nova Scotia temple. What he offered was  如法山千湊寺 (Nyohōzan Sensōji). The first part is what's called a "mountain name"; in this case, Nyohō Mountain (you can look at Koun's blog to learn more about the meaning of nyohō). The 千 of Sensōji literally means "thousand," but in Buddhist writings, when we encounter big, even numbers like 100, 1000, and so on, it also means "infinite" or "countless." The 湊, a lesser-known kanji, means both "harbour" and the verb "to gather." So there are dual, overlapping meanings: "thousand harbours" and "infinite gathering." 

We don't yet have a physical temple space, and we don't know what our future holds. However, in summer 2020, when our membership suddenly expanded to include regular members from the UK, Alaska, western Canada, Indiana, and Ohio, sometimes even Japan, we realized "thousand harbours" captured what we had already become. We hope you'll be a part of it, another harbour.