Guest Teachers & Lecturers
The following list includes upcoming guest teachers and lecturers, as well as those who have taught or offered dharma talks at City Center within the last 12 months.
Dainin Marsha Angus
Dainin Marsha Angus received Jukai in 1979, was shuso at City Center in 2007 and was given Lay Entrustment by Dairyu Michael Wenger in 2010. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Mill Valley since 1975. She leads three meditation groups in the Bay Area.
Paula K. Arai, PhD
Paula Arai, author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Buddhist Nuns (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals (University of Hawaii Press, 2011), received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University. Her current project, Liberating Compassion: The Art & Science of the Heart Sutra, includes a book, workshops, public presentations, and exhibitions of paintings by a Japanese contemplative scientist that encodes Buddhist metaphysics into scientific and everyday images.
Keith Baker has been practicing Zen for 17 years, and began practice at Zen Center 10 years ago. Ordained by Ryushin Paul Haller, he has practiced at Tassajara and City Center and held various temple positions. He is currently working in the Reservations Finance Department and is serving as the fall 2013 shuso at City Center. Keith crossed over from hard of hearing to profoundly deaf in 2009, and is exploring the integration of Deafness, Deaf culture, and Zen practice.
Dr. Pawan Bareja
Pawan Bareja, PhD, has practiced Vipassana meditation for over 10 years. She is a Somatic Experiencing (SE) Trauma Resolution Practitioner and a Buddhist Ritual Minister, and has assisted several daylongs at Spirit Rock, including the annual “Care Providers” daylong. She is a graduate from Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leadership Program. In her private practice, she works with symptoms of stress, anxiety and trauma in a diverse population of clients. She uses trauma resolution techniques and mindfulness meditation to help her clients find ease in their daily lives. She teaches classes on mindfulness and trauma in the Castro district in San Francisco.
Kyosho Valorie Beer
Kyosho Valorie Beer has practiced Zen Buddhism since 1991. She was ordained as a priest in 2005 and received dharma transmission in 2013 from her teacher, Edward Brown. She lived at Green Gulch Farm from 2003 to 2012, when she moved to City Center. After serving as the San Francisco Zen Center corporate secretary, she was the City Center ino, and is now supporting the Branching Streams sanghas as a visiting teacher. Before taking up monastic life, Valorie worked for two decades in corporate Human Resources at various high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. She is the author of four books, a private pilot, and the mother of a thirty-something daughter who works and lives in the Bay Area.
Jennifer Block is an Interfaith minister and Buddhist chaplain who has practiced Zen, Insight Meditation, and Yoga since 1988. Her life’s work is providing spiritual care to people in crisis, mentoring caregivers, and teaching people how to access their innate capacity for caring and healing.
David Bullard, PhD
David has had a psychotherapy practice in San Francisco with individuals and couples for over 35 years, and enjoys writing and providing workshops about couples and intimacy for other therapists and health professionals. He is grateful for having had the opportunity of learning about Tibetan Buddhism from Robert Thurman , and about the poetry of life from David Whyte. He is clinical professor in medicine and medical psychology (psychiatry) at UCSF.
Renshin Bunce was a resident of Zen Center from 2001 to 2008, first for three years at Tassajara and then for four more years at City Center. She has helped hundreds of students sew their rakusus in the City Center sewing room, where she currently leads a class every other Saturday afternoon. She is also known for her photographs, and her Flickr page has been called “The Zen Center Yearbook.” Renshin was priest ordained with Zenkei Blanche Hartman in 2003; was shuso with Myogen-Roshi at Tassajara in 2008; and received dharma transmission from him in 2013. She lives on the Peninsula, where she works as a hospice chaplain.
Ryuko Laura Burges
Laura Burges, a lay entrusted Buddhist teacher in the Soto Zen tradition, lectures and leads retreats at different practice centers in Northern California. A teacher of children for 30 years, she trains other teachers to bring mindfulness practice into the elementary classroom. Her work has been featured on PBS in the documentary The Digital Divide and in the book Teach Our Children Well. Laura co-founded the Sangha in Recovery program at San Francisco Zen Center. She is the abiding teacher at the Lenox House meditation group in Oakland.
Shundo David Haye
Shundo David Haye began his practice in 2000 and lived at City Center and Tassajara for 15 years. He was ordained as a priest in 2009, served as shuso (head monk) at Tassajara in fall 2012, and performed a number of the traditional temple administrator roles at Tassajara and City Center. He likes to be outside, either riding a bike or taking photographs; his photography is a mainstay of Zen Center publications, and can be seen at shundophoto.tumblr.com. He also writes a blog about practice: shundo.wordpress.com.
Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D.
Fugan Eugene Bush, DD, began formal practice in 1982 and received Dharma transmission from Katherine Thanas in 2010. Gene currently serves as the Administrator of Santa Cruz Zen Center. He also teaches the traditional practice of sewing Buddha’s Robe (rakusu and okesa). His paid work is as teacher in a public alternative high school in Santa Cruz, California. He is most interested in the ways in which formal practice trains us for everyday life.
Hobu Beata Chapman
Hobu Beata Chapman has practiced Zen with chronic nerve pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for 23 years. She studied with Katherine Thanas at Santa Cruz Zen Center and with Darlene Cohen until her untimely death, and received Dharma transmission from Tony Patchell in 2013. Beata continues the Suffering & Delight groups for people with chronic pain that Darlene founded nearly 20 years ago, and teaches an online S&D group she began for people not able to attend in person.
Ven. Robina Courtin
Ordained since the late 1970s, Ven. Robina has worked full time since then for Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Over the years she has served as editorial director of Wisdom Publications, editor of Mandala Magazine, executive director of Liberation Prison Project, and as a touring teacher of Buddhism. Her life and work with prisoners has been featured in the documentary films Chasing Buddha and Key to Freedom.
Cynthia Cummins leads Wild Heart Writing workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a graduate of Interchange and formerly served as Hoffman Institute’s SF grad facilitator.
Junsei Jana Drakka
Gengestu Junsei, Jana Drakka runs a "street ministry"—popularly known as "The Zendo Without Walls"—taking the Dharma teachings of lovingkindness and total acceptance out of the temples and into the streets. Teaching in shelters, hospices and low-income hotels offers the possibility of peace of mind to all without exception. Junsei travels widely sharing "Harm Reduction Meditation" in universities, Zen centers, hospitals and shelters. Jana is a dharma heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman.
Zenkai Curtis Fabens
The practice interests of Zenkai Curtis Fabens include finding liberation through reconciliation, engaging with the body as a dharma gate, and training a joyful mind. He came to San Francisco Zen Center for the first time in 2006, when he spent part of the summer at Tassajara. After that summer, Curtis practiced until 2010 at the Chapel Hill Zen Center in North Carolina, where he received the lay precepts from Josho Pat Phelan. He then lived at Tassajara for four years, during which time Zenshin Greg Fain ordained him as a priest. He met his wife, Caitlin, at Tassajara, and they were married by Josho at the Chapel Hill Zen Center. Caitlin is also a Zen priest, and they like to spend their free time watching baseball, eating ice cream and dancing in their living room.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer (Senior Dharma Teacher)
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet and Zen Buddhist priest. For many years he has taught at the San Francisco Zen Center, the oldest and largest of the new Buddhist organizations in the West, where he served as co-Abbot from 1995-2000. He is currently a Senior Dharma Teacher there as well as the founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation, an organization dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture.
Sofia Komyo Forman
Sofia was born in Toronto, Canada. She spent two years recently in New York City completing her master's degree in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has taught and practiced yoga in Berlin, Germany; New York City and Portland, Oregon. The intersection of Buddhism and psychology guides her interest in hospice work and art therapeutics. She’s motivated by what practice can look like in our daily urban lives.
Issho Fujita was born in Japan in 1954. He studied developmental/clinical psychology at Tokyo University. When he was a PhD student, at the age of 27, he attended a week-long Zen sesshin at Enkaku-ji, a traditional Rinzai monastery in Kamakura. Eventually he dropped out of graduate school to study Zen full time and entered Antai-ji, a Soto Zen monastery. In 2010, he was assigned to be Director of Soto Zen Buddhism International Center in San Francisco. Issho is interested in inventing new and fun ways to articulate the depth of the simple practice of shikantaza (just sitting).
Myogan Djinn Gallagher
Myogan Djinn Gallagher has been meditating for a quarter-century. In 2007, she gave up her career as a newspaper journalist to leave Ireland and come to live in Tassajara. Ordained as a priest by her fellow-Irishman Ryushin Paul Haller in 2013, she combines a continuing interest in language with a deep appreciation of silence.
Shindo Gita Gayatri
Shindo Gita Gayatri started spiritual practice at an early age with an Indian Master, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati. After his death, and a five-year walkabout in the Himalayas, she strayed into the San Francisco Zen Center in 2004 and was ordained as a Zen priest by Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller at Tassajara in Dec 2009.
Shahara Godfrey has followed the teachings of the Buddha since 1989, with her primary practices in Compassion and Social Activism. She has completed the Community Dharma Leadership Program and the Path of Engagement programs at Spirit Rock, and received her Ph.D. in Humanities with a focus on Transformative Learning and Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Kevin Griffin is the author of the seminal Buddhist recovery book One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, and teaches internationally on that topic. His latest book is Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life after Addiction. He has been a Buddhist practitioner for 35 years in the Theravadin tradition and sober for over 30. His website is kevingriffin.net.
Zenkei Blanche Hartman (Senior Dharma Teacher)
Zenkei Blanche Hartman began sitting in 1969 at the Berkeley Zen Center with Sojun Mel Weitsman and in San Francisco with Suzuki Roshi. She was priest ordained in 1977 by Zentatsu Baker and received dharma transmission with Sojun in 1988. Zenkei was the first woman Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, serving in that position from 1996-2003.
Jisho Lisa Hoffman
Jisho Lisa Hoffman was priest ordained by the late Surei Darlene Cohen at San Francisco Zen Center, and received dharma transmission from Meiji Tony Patchell in August 2013 at the Russian River Zendo. Lisa's passion is bringing the Buddhist teachings, meditation and mindfulness into the world in a way that’s easy and useful for people to integrate into their everyday lives. She does this as a priest and as a nonprofit coach and consultant.
Mushim (Patricia Y. Ikeda) is a socially engaged Buddhist teacher at East Bay Meditation Center (www.eastbaymeditation.org) in downtown Oakland, California. She has published in numerous Buddhist publications and also works as a diversity and inclusion consultant. She has taught meditation retreats for people of color, women, and social justice activists nationally.
Ryotan Cynthia Kear
Ryotan Cynthia Kear has been practicing Soto Zen Buddhism for over 25 years. She received Dharma Transmission from Darlene Cohen in 2010. In 2004, she founded the Wild Geese Sangha, which explores daily practice in the non-monastic world. She leads the Upstairs Sangha, a group which meets bi-monthly to sit and study, and she co-leads a sangha for meditation and recovery.
David Komito, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and author on the subjects of Mādhyamaka Buddhist philosophy, meditation and the psychology of religion. Komito received his BA in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles; and his MA in religious studies, MS in counseling, and PhD in Tibetan studies from Indiana University, Bloomington. He currently teaches in the Religious Studies Program at Eastern Oregon University and is author of Nagarjuna's Seventy Stanzas: a Buddhist Psychology of Emptiness.
Tim began practice in 2000 at the Chapel Hill Zen Center (North Carolina). He has spent much of the last seven years in residence at San Francisco Zen Center, both at Tassajara and City Center. He is currently completing a four-year master's program in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is co-leader of the Young Urban Zen Community at City Center. In his spare time he enjoys surfing at Ocean Beach or in Bolinas.
Taigen Dan Leighton
Taigen Dan Leighton is Dharma Teacher of the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate temple in Chicago. He is a priest and Dharma successor in the Suzuki Roshi lineage, having received transmission in 2000 from Tenshin Reb Anderson. Taigen is the co-translator and editor of several Zen texts, including Dogen's Extensive Record, and he is the author of Zen Questions: Zazen, Dogen, and the Spirit of Creative Inquiry; Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression; and Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra. He teaches online at the Institute of Buddhist Studies of the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, where he received a PhD.
Ivory Madison is an author, editor and publisher who lives conveniently close to the San Francisco Zen Center. She was named “Best Writing Coach” by San Francisco magazine for her work helping countless writers unleash their stories. She founded and served as CEO of the Red Room Writers Society, and later Red Room, an international community for thousands of authors. An expert on writing, Ivory has delivered keynote addresses at programs including the Stanford Writers Conference and the Independent Book Publishers Association. A former management consultant to startups and Fortune 500 companies, she also holds a juris doctorate. She is the only author to have been published by both the Harvard Business Review and DC Comics. A former member of the Litquake Committee, she recently joined the leadership team of the Bay Area Book Festival and cofounded a small press. She believes that everyone is entitled to tell their story.
Dr. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, author, visual artist, drummer and Zen Buddhist priest, is the guiding teacher of Still Breathing Meditation Center in East Oakland, CA. She was ordained with Zenkei Blanche Hartman and is under the training of Kiku Christina Lehnherr, a former abbess of the San Franscisco Zen Center. Zenju was shuso/head student for the Fall 2012 Practice Period at City Center, which was led by Christina Lehnherr. She is the author or coauthor of several books. For more information, click here for the full bio, or visit zenju.org.
Andrew J. Mellen is an author, speaker, and professional organizer. He’s been called “The Most Organized Man in America,” for good reason—as an organizer and workshop leader, he has helped thousands of people across the U.S. to unclutter their lives and gain time for the things that are really important … which often aren’t even things at all.
Reigetsu Susan Moon
Susan Moon is a Soto Zen lay teacher and is the author of four books, including This Is Getting Old. Her most recent book is Record of the Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women.
Rev. Shohaku Okumura is the founding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, located in Bloomington, Indiana. For more information about Shohaku Okumura, please visit the website of Sanshin Zen Community: sanshinji.org.
Rev. Okumura is one of the world's foremost teachers on Dogen's practice and philosophy.
Samantha Ostergaard is a Zen student and yoga teacher who has used yoga to support her zazen practice for almost fifteen years. Her teaching of yoga is deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism, and in her retreats she teaches yoga as a meditative practice of paying close attention to the body, the breath, and the mental and emotional processes. Samantha lived and practiced at Tassajara for three years, receiving lay ordination from Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2000.
Nancy Petrin began Zen practice in 1996 through the Organic Farm and Garden Apprenticeship at Green Gulch Farm, where she lived and practiced for nine years. She served as head student (shuso) with City Center Abiding Abbot Ed Sattizahn in the fall of 2014. Nancy works in Zen Center's Development Department fundraising for the Dharma and our SFZC temples, and resides in SF with her teenage daughter.
David Richo, PhD, MFT
David Richo is a psychotherapist, writer, and workshop leader. He teaches at a variety of places, including Esalen and Spirit Rock Buddhist Center. Dave combines psychological and spiritual perspectives in his work. His two most recent books are:
- How to be an Adult in Love (Shambhala, 2013)
- The Power Of Grace: Recognizing Unexpected Gifts on the Path (Shambhala, 2014)
Erika L. Rosenberg, PhD
Erika Rosenberg, PhD, is a scientist and a meditation teacher. At the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis, she is a senior investigator on the Shamatha Project, a multi-disciplinary study of how intensive meditation affects cognition, emotion and neurophysiology. A world-renowned expert in facial expressions of emotion, Dr. Rosenberg trains and consults on facial measurement with academic, corporate and entertainment industry clients. She is a senior teacher at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, where she contributed substantially to the development of the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program with Thupten Jinpa and others in 2009.
Kai Ji Jeffrey Schneider
Kai Ji Jeffrey Schneider is a priest at Zen Center, where he has lived, worked and practiced since 1978. The founder of the Zen Center recovery programs, he is currently the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator.
Hozan Alan Senauke
Hozan Alan Senauke is vice-abbot of Berkeley Zen Center in California. As an engaged Buddhist activist Alan works closely with Buddhist Peace Fellowship and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. He is on the core faculty of Upaya Zen Center's chaplaincy program, where he facilitates communication and right speech. In 2007 he founded Clear View Project, developing Buddhist-based resources for social change in Asia and the US. Alan has been a student and performer of American traditional music for more than 50 years.
Laurie Schley Senauke
Laurie started formal Zen practice in 1980 at San Francisco Zen Center. After several years of intense focus on childrearing, she jumped back in to formal practice and community life, serving as head student (shuso) at BZC in 2003 and receiving lay recognition in 2006. Laurie co-led with Cynthia Cummins the Wild-Heart Writing workshop at Tassajara in August 2015. She also talks to friends, teachers, students, parents, children and elders in her community.
Onryu Mary Stares
Mary Stares first came to Zen Center in 2000, following a period of residential practice at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada. A carpenter by trade, Mary was ordained as a priest in 2010 by Arlene Lueck and Myogen Steve Stücky. Mary was shuso for the Winter 2015 Practice Period at Tassajara, and is currently serving as director of City Center.
Myogen Kathryn Stark
Myogen Kathryn Stark, MA, MDiv, has been practicing in the Soto Zen tradition since 1990. She received priest ordination in 2003 and completed dharma transmission in 2013 with Shosan Victoria Austin, a dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. She holds master of arts and master of divinity degrees in Buddhist studies with a specialty in Buddhist chaplaincy from the Graduate Theological Union and Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley. She currently works as an interfaith hospice chaplain in the Marin and Sonoma areas.
Teah Strozer is a dharma heir in Suzuki Roshi's lineage. She is a practice leader and member of the Elders Council at the San Francisco Zen Center. Until recently she taught meditation and ethics at the Bay School high school as the school's Chaplain. She is the Guiding Teacher at the Brooklyn Zen Center.
Hoitsu Suzuki is the son of San Francisco Zen Center's founding teacher, Shunryu Suzuki. He visits Zen Center intermittently, often to assist with formal ceremonies, such as the Mountain Seat (installation of abbots/abbesses) and events related to the history and teachings of Suzuki Roshi. He is generally addressed as Hojo-san.
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck is a relationship and child welfare attorney, mediator and Zen priest in San Francisco.
Do-On Robert Thomas
At age 34, Do-On Robert Thomas stumbled into a Buddhist monastery in the forests of Thailand and began his Buddhist life. Today, his kind and thoughtful presence is the result of a 20-year commitment to Zen Buddhism, including six years of intensive meditation at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He was ordained as a Buddhist priest in 2000 and received dharma transmission from his Zen teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer, in 2009. He was president of San Francisco Zen Center from 2005 to 2013, and is currently a visiting teacher at the Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico.
Ko Shin Steven Tierney
Steven Tierney, EdD, LPCC is Professor of Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A licensed psychotherapist and certified addiction specialist, he is the co-founder of the San Francisco Mindfulness Foundation, creating and delivering therapy and services in the areas of recovery and life transitions. Steven has been studying and practicing Buddhism for more than 20 years. He was ordained by Dairyu Michael Wenger and served as shuso in 2013.
Sojun Mel Weitsman (Senior Dharma Teacher)
Sojun Mel Weitsman is a San Francisco Zen Center senior dharma teacher and Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center. He received priest ordination from Suzuki Roshi in 1969 and in 1984 he received dharma transmission from Suzuki Roshi's son, Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi.
Pamela Weiss is a Buddhist teacher and executive coach. Pamela has been practicing in the Zen and Theravada traditions for almost 30 years. She teaches a Wednesday evening group in San Francisco through SF Insight, co-leads the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock, and is the Founder of Appropriate Response, a company dedicated to bringing wisdom and compassion to the workplace.
Meiya Wender has practiced at Zen Center since 1972 and received Dharma Transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson in 2002. She has held many monastic positions at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and Green Gulch, including director, ino, tenzo, and tanto. She has studied the Way of Tea for many years, including a year at the Urasenke Midorikai program in Kyoto, and teaches Tea in Sowing the Moon Teahouse at Green Gulch.
Dairyu Michael Wenger
Dairyu Michael Wenger received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman and is the author of Forty Nine Fingers, a collection of modern American koans, and editor of the book Wind Bell. He practiced at SF Zen Center from 1972 and is now the guiding teacher at Dragons Leap in San Francisco.
Born in Utah and raised in London, Tim Wicks studied fine art at San Francisco State University and received his MFA with distinction from California College of Arts and Crafts. He studied for four years with Spirit Rock teacher Eugene Cash. Impressed with Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva ideal, he studied with Michael Wenger, receiving lay ordination (jukai) in 2006 and priest ordination in 2013. He has worked with Buddhists in recovery at San Francisco Zen Center for over ten years and has led the Friday night recovery meeting at Hartford Street Zen Center for two years.
Dale Wright teaches Religious Studies and Asian Studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is the author of Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism and The Six Perfections: Buddhism and the Cultivation of Character, and a co-editor of a series of books on Zen Buddhism: The Koan, The Zen Canon, Zen Classics, Zen Ritual, and Zen Masters.
Gendo Lucy Xiao, DAOM, LAc.
Gendo Lucy Xiao is a Zen priest and a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine. Lucy started practicing at San Francisco Zen Center in 2000 and lived there as a resident for 12 years. She received priest ordination from Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller in 2010 and served as Shuso (head monk) at Tassajara in winter 2014. She has also attended retreats in China and found it enriching and humbling to have exposure to practices in both the east and the west.
Liping Julia Zhu
Liping Zhu, LAc, a licensed acupuncturist and founder of Qi Dragon Healing Center, received her Qigong Master Level training in China and is a certified Qigong Taichi instructor as a disciple of both the Heavenly Essence Qigong and Taiyi Swimming Dragon Taichi lineages. She is the Qigong professor at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. She had 10 years residential Zen training at San Francisco Zen Center and was shuso (head monk) in 2010.