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.
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.
Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D.
Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D., began formal Zen practice in 1982 and received Dharma transmission from Katherine Thanas in 2010. Gene serves as one of the Practice Leaders of Santa Cruz Zen Center. He teaches the traditional practice of sewing Buddha’s Robe. He is most interested in the ways in which formal practice trains us for everyday life.
Yoko Siobhan Cassidy
Yoko Siobhan Cassidy was born in London, England, where she lived until unexpectedly moving to San Francisco in 1990. She has lived in the Bay Area ever since and was a resident at San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 to 2008. Siobhan has participated in several practice periods at City Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara, most recently in the Fall of 2015. She was lay ordained by Gaelyn Godwin at City Center in 2004 and has since studied with Christina Lehnherr. Siobhan is a trained mediator with over eight years experience in conflict resolution. Before returning to work at SFZC in 2016 as Programs Manager, Siobhan worked at Park Day School, a progressive, independent K-8 school in Oakland, California. Siobhan was shuso (head student) for the Winter 2017 Practice Period at City Center at the invitation of Ryushin Paul Haller. She lives in Oakland with her wife, Sally Chang.
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.
Ryugin Rita Cummings began her Zen Buddhist practice in 1996 at Green Gulch Farm, and received Jukai (Lay Ordination) in 2001 from Central Abbess Linda Ruth Cutts. Born in Dundee, Scotland, Rita is an alumna of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied in the PhD program in English Language and Literature. Rita has published a chapbook of poetry, and is currently working on a new collection of haiku based on Zen temple life. She has also contributed to several books and articles on California women artists, including: One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West, From Footnote to Fame: American Women Artists, and Yesterday & Tomorrow: California Women Artists.
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.
Myogan Djinn Gallagher has been meditating since 1992, but it wasn’t until 2007 that she finally decided to leave her career as a newspaper journalist in Ireland to plunge into monastic life in Tassajara. As someone who had always been intensely cerebral, she reveled in the discovery that she had a body. She was ordained as a priest by her teacher Ryushin Paul Haller in 2013, and was head monk in Tassajara for the Fall 2015 practice period. She recently returned to live in Ireland where she takes care of the community of meditators at Ryushin Paul Haller’s Black Mountain Zen Centre in Belfast.
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.
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.
Paul Irving has practiced in Eastern and Western contemplative traditions for over 40 years. Having completed Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leader Program in 2012, he holds Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s certification to teach in the community. Much of his teaching has been at San Francisco Insight, where he has also served as SFI’s board president. Additionally, Paul is one the facilitators for the Transforming Depression and Anxiety Practice Class that meets weekly at San Francisco Zen Center. He currently is the practice manager of four allied medical clinics at UCSF and is engaged in moment-to-moment family practice with a husband, a teenager, and a rambunctious dog.
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.
Sessei Meg Levie
Sessei Meg Levie, MA, has been practicing Soto Zen for 25 years and has lived residentially at the San Francisco Zen Center since 1994. She received ordination as a Zen priest in 2003 from Tenshin Reb Anderson and held the position of shuso in 2007. She has practiced monastically at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, studied Buddhism in Thailand and Japan, and for several years served as the teacher for the Bolinas branch of the Mountain Source Sangha. Since 2008 Meg has been exploring ways to bring awareness practices to the wider world. She is a senior teacher for Search Inside Yourself, an emotional intelligence leadership program developed at Google, and has trained hundreds of teachers internationally.
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, is the guiding teacher of Still Breathing Zen Meditation Center in East Oakland, CA. She is the heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman with Dharma Transmission completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju was shuso/head student for the Fall 2012 Practice Period at City Center, which was led by Christina Lehnherr.
Lisa Marie typically blends styles, including Hatha, Yin and Therapeutic Yoga. Her love for teaching and interest in supporting her students encouraged her to receive training in many other healing modalities. She has extensive studies and 18 years of experience treating clients with Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, Thai Yoga, Yoga Therapy, and Energetic Facilitation.
Rev. Shohaku Okumura is the founding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, located in Bloomington, Indiana. He is recognized for his unique perspective on the life and teachings of Dogen Zenji derived from his experience as both practitioner and translator, and as a teacher in both Japanese and Western practice communities.
Rev. Okumura is one of the world's foremost teachers on Dogen's practice and philosophy.
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)
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.
Laurie Schley Senauke
Laurie Senauke began formal Zen Practice in 1980, at both SFZC and Tassajara. She served as shuso at Berkeley Zen Center and received lay recognition in 2006. She was editor of Windbell for three years, assisted in writing/editing two Zen Center-related books, and was a contributor to Dharma Family Treasures and The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Women.
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.
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.
Rev. Dana Takagi, PhD, is a professor and professional sociologist who has worked at UC Santa Cruz for 30 years, as well as with the National Institutes for Health (NIH). She has been engaged in a dharma practice life for 18 years, receiving lay ordination and priest ordination from Katherine Thanas, and most recently dharma transmission from Eugene Bush.
Kazuaki Tanahashi is a calligrapher, painter, Zen scholar and writer, and peace and environmental activist. His early training was in Japan. His seminal Heart of the Brush: The Splendor of East Asian Calligraphy, a guide to the study of calligraphy, was published in 2016.
For more information, visit www.brushmind.net.
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck is a relationship and child welfare attorney, mediator and Zen priest in San Francisco.
Koshin Steven Tierney
Koshin 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.
Ikushin Dana Velden
Ikushin Dana Velden has been practicing Zen since she visited Green Gulch Farm in the early 1990s. She lived at City Center and Tassajara from 1998-2012, was ordained as a priest in 2001, and served as shuso in 2006 under Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller. She currently lives in Oakland beside a tangled garden and many fruit trees where she writes about practice and life in the kitchen. You can find her most recent book Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook in the City Center Bookstore. She has also contributed to The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women and Divine Gardens: Mayumi Oda and the San Francisco Zen Center.
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.
Born in Utah and raised in London, Gengyoko 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 and was a steering committee member of the Insight Meditation Community of San Francisco. Impressed with Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva ideal, he studied with Michael Wenger and received lay ordination (jukai) in 2006. He trained in the sewing of Buddha's robe with Zenkei Blanche Hartman since 2007 and now teaches sewing at San Francisco City Center. Tim received priest ordination from Michael Wenger in 2013 and has completed the Shogaku Priest Ongoing Training program. He is a student of Abbot Rinso Ed Sattizahn.
angel Kyodo williams
Called "the most intriguing (and vocal) African-American Buddhist" by Library Journal, angel Kyodo williams is an author, activist, master trainer and founder of the Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of transformation and justice since her critically acclaimed book Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, and "a classic" by Buddhist pioneer Jack Kornfield. She is one of only two black women Zen "Senseis" or teachers. She applies wisdom teachings and embodied practice to intractable social issues at the intersections of climate change, racial and economic justice. Her newest book collaboration is Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.
Larry Yang teaches meditation and mindfulness nationally for sitting groups, daylong retreats, and residential retreats. He provides special focus on multicultural populations, including communities of color, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer communities. In the Bay Area, he teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the East Bay Meditation Center, and is on the Board of both organizations. He has spent six months as a monastic in Thailand and is trained as a Dharma teacher by Jack Kornfield and Thai meditation master Ajahn Tong. He is part of the core teaching team of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Training Program which serves to train future Buddhist spiritual leaders nationally and internationally.
Liping Julia Zhu
Dr. Liping Zhu, DAOM L.Ac., a licensed acupuncturist and the 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.