Persistence in the midst of change

Our 45+ years of existence was a long journey from a small group of enthusiasts to an established meditation center. Here are some pivotal events that marked our path.


Established international center

As a blooming home of Chan, our Center gathers practitioners from the whole world. All our programs are bilingual, and due to the pandemic, many of them became available online, as well. It considerably expanded our outreach.


Opening of the Chan Center Hartovski Vrh

After almost four years of construction, we finally opened our new home in May — the Chan Center Hartovski Vrh, a modern residential and meditation center, the first of its kind in our country. It comprises five buildings that house a multi-purpose training hall, a dining room with a kitchen, a house for residents and visiting teachers, as well as dormitories.


Construction has started!

The first construction phase of our new Center began in August, when heavy machinery came out on our meadow. Before it started, we organized numerous volunteer actions to clean the field. Once, we even tried holding a meditation retreat under tents, but the storm of the year blew us away from the mountain 🙂

Before and during construction, we conducted international and domestic donation actions — every single one of Žarko’s trips abroad to lead Chan retreats was an opportunity to introduce his students to our project and invite them to support it. Hundreds did so. Along with perseverance, generosity is the principal virtue that enabled the creation of this place.


EBU Council in Zagreb

We hosted a three-day meeting of the Council of the European Buddhist Union and were with guests at a reception with the Croatian President.


Entering the world stage

In addition to regularly participating in the work of the European Buddhist Union, we are scaling our international activities to a global level. Since 2007, our delegation has been regularly participating in the international celebration of the UN Day of Vesak in Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, as well as the World Buddhist Summit, which takes place in Japan once every three years.


A plot of land for the new center

After a seemingly endless quest, we managed to find a place for our future residential and retreat center; a total of 26,000 m2 of beautiful rolling meadows surrounded by forest in the Žumberak mountains.


Entry in the Register of Religious Communities

After having cooperated for many a year in drafting the law on the legal status of religious communities, we finally received a decision regarding registration in 2004. Unfortunately, this has not yet included the exercise of the same rights enjoyed by larger communities.


The Dalai Lama in Croatia

The biggest event related to Buddhism in Croatia was the visit of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama to Split and Zagreb. We helped organize the arrival and Karmen was his official interpreter.


Our teacher Žarko Andričević becomes Shifu Sheng Yen’s Dharma heir

In 2001, our teacher Žarko Andričević received a rare recognition. He became Shifu Sheng Yen’s Dharma heir and thereby established himself as an international Chan Master. He is a regular guest teacher at the Dharma Drum Meditation Center in the United States and Taiwan. Žarko leads meditation retreats in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia. He was vice-president of the European Buddhist Union for several years and he is a full member of the Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers.

1998. onward

Growth period

This is a mature and fruitful period in the work of our community. Since the founding of the Buddhist Center, in its 22 years of operation, we have organized 66 Chan meditation courses in four countries (at our Center, in Pula, Split, Celje, Šibenik, Belgrade, Berlin and Cape Cod), 26 lecture cycles, 62 one-day retreats, 38 three-day retreats, 3 five-day retreats, 32 seven-day retreats or a total of 416 days of meditation retreats, as well as 22 seminars in Krk and 14 seminars in Orebić, 3 seminars in Fužine and 2 seminars in Jelsa — a total of 275 seminar days!

We have launched and completed the education of six generations of Zenyoga Teacher School, an internationally certified program. We have published four books: Zen teaching of instantaneous awakening in collaboration with Profil, whereas Subtle Wisdom, Zenyoga — developing mindfulness through movement and Hoofprint of the Ox were published by Dharmaloka. We have started meditation groups in Pula, Šibenik, Split, Celje, Berlin and Cape Cod, USA. Members of our community participated in a series of meditation retreats in Europe, the United States, and Taiwan, held by Shifu Sheng Yen. Twelve members have taken the vows of the Bodhisattva, to which they dedicate their noblest aspirations to the welfare of other beings.


Foundation of the Buddhist Center in Zagreb

After our teachers’ meeting with Shifu Sheng Yen and his visit to Zagreb, we decided to follow the Chinese tradition of Chan or Zen practice. Even though in the past we had shown a penchant for the Sino-Japanese Mahayana tradition as a group, our practice of Buddhism up to that point had been largely general in nature. Our encounter with the living tradition and with one of today’s most important teachers of Buddhism, Shifu Sheng Yen, breathed new life into our community. Thus, we founded the Buddhist Center in the center of Zagreb and became more accessible to all who wanted to explore the ancient teachings of the Buddha and begin to follow the methods of Chan or Zen.


Shifu Sheng Yen in Zagreb

In mid-May Shifu Sheng Yen visited Zagreb for the first, and only time. He held a public lecture titled Chan Path to Englightenment and a three-day Chan meditation retreat. His whole visit lasted only five days, but its significance still resonates until today. It firmly set our Community on course of systematic and well grounded practice of cultivation of mind. Shifu was very inspired – he taught a very complete account of the silent illumination practice – up until today it remains the main method od Chan practiced within our group.


Membership in the European Buddhist Union

We reached a new level of organizational order and were accepted as members at the meeting of the European Buddhist Union in 1993. In the following years, we brought, or helped bring, a number of relevant Buddhist teachers to our country. Despite a decades-long delay, compared to the West, our public finally had the opportunity to meet the great teachers of Buddhism and hear their thoughts on the nature of human life. The beginning of the new millennium was a fertile period for Buddhism in Croatia, as several other associations and groups emerged to contribute to the diversity of the Buddhist scene in our country.


We founded a Center in Markuševac

The group’s inspiration, resolution and dedication led to the founding of the first Buddhist Center in Croatia in the early 1990s. That Center in Markuševac served as our home for over five years. Although remote from the city and unsuitable for daily visits, it had a library and a meditation room which allowed us to conduct regular study programs and extended meditation sessions.


The first study and meditation group

In more unfavorable than favorable conditions, in the mid-1980s, one of the early enthusiasts, Žarko Andričević, started the first study and meditation group whose members systematically studied original Buddhist texts and practiced meditation. These were the foundations of our community as it is today, and members of that early study group still form part of its core.

70’s and early 80’s


Kempo, a martial art similar to karate, as a form of encountering oneself and resolving internal conflicts, is the core practice of the group. It would soon be accompanied by yoga, which, at the time, we called Chinese yoga:)


Early beginnings

The beginnings of our Buddhist community can be traced far back to 1977, when a small group of yoga and martial arts devotees decided to take refuge in the Three Jewels and chose the Buddhist path as their life path. The photo doesn’t show the ceremony, but it shows our community socializing during these times 🙂