DharmaNet's Guide to Zen/Chan Dharma Teachers:

An Online Who's Who

This page is intended as a resource to help individuals who are unfamiliar with certain teachers to find thumbnail sketches of their background and teaching approach, and ultimately, some reference as to where they teach or how to contact them. Any teacher who would care to have their e-mail address listed, or revise the information here, is invited to contact us. Please help this resource to grow.

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Robert Aitken, Roshi established, with his wife Anne, the Diamond Sangha in 1959, which has zendos in Hawaii, California, and Australia. Aitken's introduction to Zen came in a Japanese prison camp during WWII, after he was captured as a civilian in Guam. He was friends with D.T. Suzuki and studied with Nagakawa Soen Roshi and Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. In 1974 Aitken was given the title "Roshi" and authorized to teach by Yamada Koun Roshi. He is the author of The Mind of Clover, Taking the Path of Zen, The Gateless Barrier, The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective, Encouraging Words, The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice, Buddhist and Christian, Original Dwelling Place, A Zen Wave, The Dragon Who Never Sleeps, and other books.

Richard Baker, Roshi is Abbot, Head Teacher, and founder of the Dharma Sangha centers: Crestone Mountain Zen Center in Colorado, and the Buddhistisches Stuiumzentrum in the Black Forest, Germany. He is the Dharma Successor of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, and author of Original Mind: the Practice of Zen in the West.

Jan Chozen Bays is resident teacher at Zen Community of Oregon. She was ordained as a priest is 1977 and received Dharma transmission (authority to teach) from Maezumi Roshi in 1983. She continues to deepen her own practice by studying with Shodo Harada Roshi of Sogenji Monastery in Japan. She is a wife, mother and pediatrician working in the field of child abuse. Because of her example of social and community involvement, most of the local sangha works "in the world" and are in committed relationships. She frequently works with problems balancing practice with work and family. More recently, her work has broadened to include residential Zen training as an opportunity for deeper practice. Her teaching is tailored to each individual. She uses a variety of techniques including breath, listening, koans and other practices that she and the student feel are appropriate.

Angie Boissevain (Zuiko Enji) has been a student of Kobun Chino Roshi for thirty years. She was ordained as a lay priest in 1989 and served as head student teacher and director at Jikoji, a retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains. She now guides weekly groups in San Jose and Sunnyvale, California. She is a regular guest teacher at Hokoji Zendo near Taos, New Mexico, as well as with the Willits, CA Buddhist Fellowship. She is invited to teach in many independent Soto Zen centers and is the inspiration behind the Floating Zendo, which is comprised of students from around the world who practice with her. She has raised three sons and is a published poet.
Nancy Brown, JDPSN, is guiding teacher of New Haven Zen Center, where she has recently taken up residence. She has been a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn since 1979, has held many positions at the Providence and Cambridge Zen Centers, and has done long retreats in the U.S. and Korea. She is a visiting nurse.

Eido Francis Carney has been practicing in the Soto Zen tradition since 1971. She is Sensei at Olympia Zen Center and has received Dharma Transmission from Niho Tetsumei Roshi of Entuji, Japan. She writes poetry, does brush work and teaches Into to Zen, World Religions and writing at South Puget Sound Community College.

Sister Chan Khong (True Emptiness) was born in Vietnam in 1938. She began working in the slums of Saigon as a teenager, distributing food, helping the sick, and teaching children. In 1964, she joined Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in founding the School for Youth for Social Service, which grew to an organization of over 10,000 young people organizing medical, educational, and agricultural facilities in rural Vietnam, and rebuilding villages destroyed by the war. Now she lives in exile at Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh's community in southwestern France, where she is a Dharma teacher, community leader, and social worker. She is author of Learning True Love: How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam.

Rev. Nonin Chowaney, an American Zen Master, poet, and calligrapher, is a Buddhist priest trained in the Soto tradition of Zen Master Dogen. Nonin was ordained by Rev. Dainin Katagiri in Minnesota and has studied at Tassajara Zen Monastery in California and in Japan at Zuio-ji and Shogo-ji Monasteries. He received formal Dharma Transmission from Rev. Katagiri and has been certified to teach by him and by the Soto Zen Church in Japan. Nonin lives in Omaha, Nebraska, where he is Head Priest at Nebraska Zen Center/Heartland Temple. He is a regular speaker at many schools, colleges, and universities, and leads workshops and retreats throughout the United States.

Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma is the Abbess of International Buddhist Meditation Center, Los Angeles CA, and a past president of American Buddhist Congress. She serves as vice-president of the Buddhist Sangha Council and College of Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles, and was a founding president of Sakyadhita. She was ordained by the late Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An in the Lieu Quang school of Zen (Thien) from Vietnam.

James Ishmael Ford guides the Desert Lotus Zen Sangha, an activity of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Chandler, Arizona. He was born in Oakland, California, in 1948. He has a BA in psychology from Sonoma State University, an MDiv and an MA in the Philosophy of Religion, both from the Pacific School of Religion. James began the study of Zen in the late 1960's with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and Mel Sojun Weitsman Roshi. He was ordained unsui in 1969 by Jiyu Kennett Roshi, who gave him Dharma transmission in 1971. He later studied with the Reverend Jim Wilson and Masao Abe Sensei. Since 1986 he has been a student of John Tarrant Roshi, who gave him permission to teach in the Harada/Yasutani Zen lineage in 1998. James is also an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who currently serves as the senior minister of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. He is co-editor of The Transient and Permanent in Liberal Religion and author of This Very Moment: A Brief Introduction to Buddhism and Zen for Unitarian Universalists. [Source: James Ford]

Nelson Foster is a Dharma heir of Robert Aitken Roshi and a senior teacher of the Diamond Sangha. He guides the Ring of Bone and Honolulu Diamond Sangha Zen centers. He is an ecological and social justice activist. As a writer and editor he has published books in the field of history and natural science as well as poems and essays. He adapted conversations between Robert Aitken and David Steindl-Rast to produce The Ground We Share: Everyday Practice Buddhist and Christian and, with Jack Shoemaker, he co-edited The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader. [Source: James Ford]

Marcel Geisser is an authorized Dharma teacher and priest in the Zen Buddhist lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh. Having practiced since 1968 in both the Zen and Vipassana traditions, Marcel has studied directly under S.N. Goenka in India, Zen Master Ku San in South Korea, Joseph Goldstein in the U.S.A., and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Marcel is a trained Gestalt therapist and Bioenergetic analyst and has worked in humanistic psychology groups for 16 years. He has been offering meditation courses since 1983, and as an authorized Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition is now leading retreats throughout the world.

Steve Hagen, Sensei has been a student of Buddhist thought and practice since 1967. In 1975 he became a student of Katagiri Roshi in Minneapolis, and in 1979 he was ordained as a priest. He has studied with a number of teachers in the U.S., Asia and Europe, and he received Dharma transmission (full endorsement) from Katagiri Roshi in 1989. He is the author of Buddhism Plain and Simple and How the World Can Be the Way Is Is. He recently edited You Have to Say Something, a collection of Dharma talks by Katagiri Roshi. He is currently the head teacher at Dharma Field Meditation and Learning Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Joan Halifax, Ph.D., is a Buddhist teacher and anthropologist. She has worked with individuals suffering from life-threatening illnesses since 1970. In 1990, she founded Upaya, a Buddhist study center in Sante Fe NM, and in 1994 she began the Project on Being With Dying. She has practiced Buddhism since the late 1960's and was ordained in 1976 by Dae Sahn sa Nim. In 1990, she received the Lamp transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and in 1997, she was ordained as a Soto and Peacemaker Priest by Tetsugen Roshi. Her books include A Buddhist Life in America: Simplicity in the Complex, The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness, Shamanic Voices, and Shaman: The Wounded Healer.

Ven. Anzan Hoshin is Zen Master and Abbot of the White Wind Zen Community, an international association of centres and students practising Soto Zen. He is a Dharma-heir of Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi. His teachings have appeared in over 40 publications in English and German (including The Straight Path and Cooking Zen) and has translated many classical texts from the Pali, Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan. He is in residence at Zen Centre of Ottawa (Dainen-ji).

Rev. Jiyu Kennett was trained in vipassana meditation in her youth by Rev. Saddhatissa. She has been a Soto Zen priest for more than 30 years. Her masters were Rev. Seck Kim Seng, Abbot of Cheng Hoon Teng, Malacca, Malaysia, and Rev. Koho Chisan, Chief Abbot of Sojiji, Yokohama, Japan. She was Abbess of Shasta Abbey, Mt. Shasta CA, and authored Zen is Eternal Life, The Wild White Goose, and How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, all published by Shasta Abbey Press. Rev. Jiyu Kennett Roshi passed away November 6, 1996. [Source: Edward Cherlin, cherlin@newbie.net]

Arnie Kotler was a monk at the San Francisco and Tassajara Zen Centers for fifteen years. He is a Dharma teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, and the founding editor of Parallax Press.

Rev. Kusala (Thich Tam-Thien) received full ordination as a Bhikshu in the Zen tradition of Vietnam in 1996 and was given the name Thich Tam-Thien (heavenly heart mind) with the Ven. Dr. H. Ratanasara and the Ven. Karuna Dharma as two of his ordaining masters. Along with his Bhikshu ordination he received a B.A. in Buddhist Studies, from the College of Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles. Rev. Kusala now lives and works at the International Buddhist Meditation Center, in the Korea town section of Los Angeles.
Sister Annabel Laity, a Buddhist nun and Dharma teacher in the Tiep Hien tradition, lives at Plum Village in France, where she helps lead the daily practice of mindfulness. She also leads retreats internationally, and is translator of many books of Thich Nhat Hanh, including Breathe! You Are Alive, Our Appointment With Life, and The Sun My Heart.

Robert Livingston was born in New York City in January 1933. He grew up in New York, California and Texas, and graduated from Cornell University. He spent two years in Japan and Korea in the U.S. Army in the early 1950's, and studied and traveled in Europe after his Army discharge. After three years as a registered representative of the New York Stock Exchange, he returned to Europe where he was head of an international financial services corporation for ten years. He then retired from the business world and began practicing Zen with Master Deshimaru in Paris. He became a close disciple of Deshimaru, who made Livingston a Zen teacher. Before his death in 1982, Deshimaru asked him to go to America and open a Zen dojo and teach true Zen practice in the United States. Livingston Roshi founded the American Zen Association and the New Orleans Zen Temple in 1983, and has been teaching in the USA for the past fourteen years. [Source: New Orleans Zen Temple, aza@gnofn.org]

John Daido Loori is the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, NY, and the founder/director of the Mountains and Rivers Order. Dharma heir of Hakuyu Taizen Maezumi Roshi, he is author of The Eight Gates of Zen, The Heart of Being, and Two Arrows Meeting in Mid Air.

Barry Magid received Dharma Transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck of the Zen Center of San Diego in 1999 and is the teacher at the Ordinary Mind Zendo in New York City. He is also practices as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and is the author of Ordinary Mind: Exploring the Common Ground of Zen and Psychotherapy.
Peter Matthiessen (Muryo Sensei) studied Zen with Nakagawa Soen Roshi, Eido Shimano Roshi, Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and received Dharma Transmission from Bernard Tetsugen Glassman Roshi in 1984. He is author of many books, including The Snow Leopard, Nine-Headed Dragon River, and East of Lo Monthang, and is a lifelong environmentalist and worker for social justice.

Do On Michelle Mills studied and practiced Zen with Robert Aitken roshi with whom she did jukai, Joan Reick roshi, Taizan Maezumi roshi, and Zoketsu Norman Fischer roshi from whom she received priest ordination. She is retired from teaching nursing and from working in palliative care with AIDS and cancer patients. She attended graduate school at the University of Chicago and received a doctorate in psychology and religion. She is a co-founder of the Karuna Meditation Society.
Shohaku Okumura is a dharma successor to the late Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, and the translator of several works by him and by Ehei Dogen, including Opening the Hand of Thought: Approach to Zen, From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment, and The Wholehearted Way. Ordained as a Zen priest in 1970, he has spent many years teaching in the United States, and was formerly the head teacher at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. He currently heads the Soto Zen Education Center in Los Angeles. His teaching emphasizes zazen as the keystone to a practice of "Zen without toys", that allows us to realize our essential nature in each moment.
Susan Ji-on Postal is the founder and teacher of the Empty Hand Zendo at the Meeting House in Rye, New York. She continues practice in the style and spirit of her late teacher Maurine Myo-on Stuart, who ordained her in 1988 at the Meeting House. She began formal Buddhist practice in 1970 with a teacher of Dzogchen and since 1980 has been practicing Zen. The Empty Hand Zendo is a non-residential lay practice community open to those of all faiths.

Seijaku Stephen Reichenbach is the Abbot of Jizo-An Zen Monastery (1603 Highland Ave, Cinnaminson NJ 08077) and founder of The Zen Society, a community of lay persons of all religious faiths dedicated to "realizing tranquility of mind in communion with one's fellow men and women within the world." With an emphasis on zazen, Chado-The Way of Tea, Zen Art Practices, esoteric forms of etiquitte as a means of realizing the sacred in everyday life, and community. For more info write or call (609) 786-4150.

Diane Rizzetto began studying with Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1980 at the Berkeley Zen Center, where she stayed until 1985. In 1985, she began study with Charlotte Joko Beck and received Dharma transmission from Joko in 1994. In 1994 she was installed by Joko as abbot of the Bay Zen Center. She, along with Joko's two other heirs, founded the Ordinary Mind Zen School, a non-denominational approach to cultivating awareness in daily activities.
Zen Master Seung Sahn is the 78th Patriarch in his line of Dharma Transmission in the Chogye order of Korean Buddhism, and has founded temples in Japan and Hong Kong. In 1972 he came to the United States and started what became the Providence Zen Center, the first center in what is now the Kwan Um School. He is called Dae Soen Sa Nim (Great Honored Zen Teacher) by his students. His books include Dropping Ashes on the Buddha, The Compass of Zen, Ten Gates, Only Don't Know, and The Whole World is a Single Flower - 365 Kong-ans for Everyday Life.
Sheng-yen, Chan Master, left his home near Shanghai to become a monk at the age of 13. During the communist unrest, he fled to southern Taiwan and spent six years in solitary retreat. Later, he continued his formal study, earning a doctorate in Buddhist literature from Rissho University in Tokyo. He has also received Dharma transmission in two major schools of Chan. He is the resident teacher at Chan Meditation Center in New York and the author of the recent book, Hoofprint of the Ox. Other books include: Complete Enlightenment, Dharma Drum, Faith in Mind, Getting the Buddha Mind, Poetry of Enlightenment, Subtle Wisdom, and Zen Wisdom.
Samu Sunim entered the Korean Chogye Order in 1958 and came to the USA in 1967. He dedicated his life to transmit the Dharma from the East to West and to make meditation practice accessible to everybody who wishes to follow the path of self-help and self-awakening. He is president of the Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom (formerly Zen Lotus Society) and founding teacher of the Society's three Zen Buddhist Temples in Toronto, Ann Arbor and Chicago. [Source: Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple]

Joan Sutherland, Roshi is a senior teacher with the California Diamond Sangha, a Zen community in the Harada/Yasutani lineage. She is a Dharma heir of John Tarrant Roshi. She has many years experience in the Soto tradition, and has an MA in East Asian languages from UCLA. She leads sesshin in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, and is the guiding teacher for several communities. [Source: James Ford]

Shunryu Suzuki was founder of the San Francisco and Tassajara Zen Centers. He is author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness. See also: Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki by David Chadwick.

John Tarrant, Roshi is the first dharma heir of Robert Aitken Roshi. He was born in Tasmania, Australia, in 1949. Tarrant Roshi guides the California Diamond Sangha network of Zen centers and teaches extensively in both the United States and Australia. He holds a PhD in psychology, and is author of The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life. [Source: James Ford]

Thich Nhat Hanh was born in Vietnam in 1926, and since the age of sixteen has been a Zen Buddhist monk. He is founder of Plum Village a retreat community in southwestern France, and since 1983, he has been leading retreats throughout the USA and Europe on the art of mindful living. He is author of over seventy-five books, including Anger, Being Peace, Cultivating the Mind of Love, Interbeing, Living Buddha, Living Christ, Love in Action, Old Path White Clouds.

[Sources: e-mail.]

 


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