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San Francisco Zen Center
City CenterGreen GulchTassajara


Tassajara Alumni Reunion, The First 25 Years!
JANUARY 25 – 27, 2008

Dinner at City CenterSomething wonderful, magnificent, profoundly deep and very very cool happened at the Zen Center several months ago. A bunch of old friends from past lives came together to laugh, to cry, to tell stories, to ask questions, and to reconnect with the many faces and places that have made a real difference in their lives.

The first thing I’d like to say to the over 200 people who came and supported this event is “Thank You” for your participation! Even though the Zen Center and Greens staff provided the space and food and other stuff, it was you who supplied the magic: the warmth, the presence, the care, the gratitude and the love for each other that made this such an amazing event. Thank you for making the launch of the Zen Center alumni program Coming Full Circle, an overwhelming success!

Tassajara Practice PeriodThe second thing I’d like to say to all alumni is “you are now officially invited to get involved” -- this is your alumni program and it needs your support! As a Zen Center alumni, we invite you to put the word out, tell others that this is happening and encourage them to join you in being part of the widening circle that is today’s Zen Center. As a Zen Center alumni, we also invite you to participate in a meaningful way as we develop the Zen Center alumni program with an intention to support practice and connection among all members of the sangha, young and old, near and far.

So far we have received many letters and phone calls from people saying how much they enjoyed and appreciated the alumni weekend, but also asking us how they can continue to participate and contribute. Below are some thoughts about how to help Zen Center alums right now to reconnect, to communicate with each other, to support each other, and to a be a part of the continuing evolution of the San Francisco Zen Center.

Again, thank you for your many great contributions to the Zen Center -- past, present, and future!

With a Deep Bow,

Robert Thomas


We are now accepting donations in support of our alumni program. Please consider supporting in one of the following ways:

  • Reunion Service at City CenterSupport next year’s Alumni Event. Our goal is to raise $30,000 to help defray some of the costs of this event. Please consider making a donation now.

  • Support the development of our alumni website. This is a critical component of our plan to support the connection and communication among alumni and between alumni and the Zen Center. We’d like to raise $25,000 to support these efforts during the next year. Please consider making a donation now.

  • Support fellow alumni who have limited means to attend next year’s alumni event.
    We think that there are many alumni who would like to attend next year’s Zen Center alumni event but cannot afford the travel expenses; we’d like to create an initial fund of $10,000 to help make it possible for these folks to be there as well! Please consider making a donation now.

We know that there are many talented and energetic people out there, so please let us know if you’d like to help with any aspect of our alumni effort, especially if you would like to support next year’s event. Below are some of the ways you might contribute as a volunteer:

  • Be on an event planning committee
  • Help design next year’s event mailer
  • Contribute content for the alumni website
  • Manage and/or produce a regular schedule of alumni newsletters

To let us know how you might like to volunteer, please contact


Hello Alumni:

This was not just a Reunion, but more like a 72 hour love-in.  On Friday, January 25, 2008 people arrived and started talking and kept talking.  The talking did not stop till Sunday evening around 9:30 pm.    We have pulled together a collage of video, pictures, the Saturday Dharma talk with Mel & Yvonne, and more to give you a taste of what happened.



We Want to Hear from You!

Although it's been several months since the Alumni gathering, we would like to hear feedback from you. Please fill out this quick questionnaire to provide us with your thoughts and feelings.


Listen to the Talk By Yvonne Rand and Mel Weitsman

Yvonne and Mel gave the Saturday morning lecture at City Center during he reunion weekend, sharing some of their memories and experiences with Suzuki Roshi. The talk is available on-line for download.

Click here to listen


Tassajara Alumni Reunion Video

Tassajara Alumni VideoOver the reunion weekend, we videotaped various events for our memories and for everyone to enjoy who could not make it. We are pleased to present to you a video that shows some of the moments of the reunion weekend.

Click here to watch
(QuickTime Required)


Deceased Tassajara Alumni

Shunryu Suzuki
Dainin Katagiri
Kobun Chino
Taizan Maezumi
Ryogen Yoshimura
Sotan Tatsugami
Lou Albert
Paul Alexander    
Diana Berys
Idilio Ceniceros
Pam Chernoff
James Chidester
Suzy Clymer
Trudy Dixon
Tom Issan Dorsey
Tom Hekizan Girardot
Terry Gragg
John Harris
Lucille Harris
E. L. Hazelwood
Niels Holm
Durand Kiefer
Helen Kramer
Margaret Kress
Bill Lane
Bill Laws
Brian Le Fevre
Klaus-Dieter Leipart
Ann McDonald
Alan Marlowe
Jim McGuire
Hal Papps
Paul Provosoli
Carol Rankin
Jean Ross
Steve Scheatzle
Maylie Scott
William Shaw
Bonnie Slater
Norman Steigelmeyer
Fran Tribe
Alina Wagner
Philip Whalen
Bonnie White
Phillip Wilson
Sybil Wood
Michael Wynne
Ryuho Yamada

Tassajara Alumni CD

Tea Time at TassajaraThis is a CD of roughly 650 photos of Tassajara Alumni taken by Barbara Lubanski-Wenger, including photos of Suzuki Roshi taken by others. It is not inclusive of every alumni, but will give a glance back at a time and place important in history.

Click here for more sample images and order form.


Meal Chant Cards by Dan Welch

Dan created these for the 4 & 9 Day Dinner, Click image to enlarge.

Meal Chant CardMeal Chant Card
Meal Chant CardMeal Chant Card


A slide show from the Reunion Weekend

Here is a slide show from the Tassajara Alumni Reunion Weekend by Judith Keenan

Tassajara Reunion Slideshow

Click here for full screen


Messages from alumni who could not be there

Lynn (Hesselbart) Hennelly
Fall 72 – Spring 73

Oh my… reading the list of those coming produced a great deal of gasps and sighs, etc. – remembering so very many people so fondly!  Wish I could be there as well, but feel I can’t take the time right now, given our very busy schedule out here at Ashland Farm (outside of Atlanta, GA – I moved out here to help Lucy and Clay Calhoun ‘save the farm’ going on four years ago – as my small contribution to ‘saving all sentient beings’ – we’re working hard and having fun!).  

My very best and much love to anyone who reads this… HAVE A GLORIOUS REUNION!  I’ll be there in spirit.

Lynn (Hesselbart) Hennelly


Susan (Swanzie) Isaacson
Fall 70 – Spring 74

This needs to happen again next year….. Love to everyone.

Susan (Swanzie) Isaacson


Daigu Jim Jordan
Fall 91 – Fall 92


Thank you and Gassho,
Daigu Jim Jordan


Ronna Adler
Fall 81 – Spring 82

Dear Tassajara Reunion:

On November 27, 2007, my horse tripped, fell to his knees, and I went over his head on to Hwy 49 in Oakhurst, breaking my clavicle bone.  Because of that accident, I am unable to attend the Tassajara reunion.  I and my horse are okay, and I am slowly recovering.  I am very fortunate, because it could have been a lot worse. 

Ronna Adler


Alan Cohen
Spring 80 – Spring 83

I will not be coming to the Tassajara reunion. I do want to say hello to anyone I might knowI have been living in Bregenz, Austria since approximately 23 years, have loving wife & daughter, happy self-producing noodle shop, but am nevertheless lonely for Sangha.  If anyone (especially in Europe) wishes to contact me I would be very happy!  My telephone nr: 0043 5574 48284 (home) or 0043   
5574 52929 in my shop.

p.s. I was at Tassajara between 1979 & 1983 when I went to Green Gulch Farm for a year.  

Alan Cohen


Fil Lewitt
Spring 72

Yo, Tassajara alums, greetings from Kyoto,

A couple of messages: first my translation of the Four Vows, to replace the Zen Center's awkward one:

            "Beings are numberless, I vow to save them,
            Desires are endless, I vow to end them,
            The Gateless Gate is open, I vow to enter it,
            The Way is unattainable, I vow to become it."

Second, I will regroove (read retire) from professoring in Kyoto in one more year. After February 2009, my wife Tom (Tomomi) & I will live full time at our home in Thailand by the beach under national park cliffs. Drop me an email, you can probably come and visit as our guests. To see what it's all about go first to, and look at House #20. Then go to our own site about it:

Best to you all,
Fil Lewitt


Jean-François Blanchette
Fall 85 – Spring 87

Que deviens-tu?


Dear Katherine (Thanas),
25 years later, your laughter and smile still resonate.


Joanna Bull

To Fellow Tassajara Alumni:

Friends, it took me a while to determine that I could make it to the reunion, but by then it was entirely booked.  So I send my greetings, inviting email contact from anyone who remembers me and who might know that I would love to find out how you are and what you’re up to, any and all.

After leaving Tassajara, I spent ten years faithfully sitting zazen daily, while searching for another Zen master without success.  I have a sneaking suspicion I may have been sitting in what Dogen calls either “dispersion” or “dark sinking”!   But when Sogyal Rinpoche gave a lecture on Suzuki Roshi in Los Angeles in 1980, he spoke with such reverence that I felt secure moving over to Tibetan Buddhism with him as my teacher.  Sogyal regularly intersperses his teachings with quotes from “the great Zen master, Suzuki Roshi.”   My shrine room is replete with photos of the beloved master at Tassajara who first clipped a tiny chip from this stubborn block of wood.

A few years ago, I discovered the land in upstate New York where the Tenzin Gyatso Institute is to be developed in honor of the Dalai Lama, and now serve on its board and live in its agricultural area south of Albany in a 200-year-old house.  Rinpoche has initiated a three-year retreat for his students in France, and I am devoting several hours a day to an intensive program as part of that effort, as a householder.  It’s great to have everyday life fit into practice, rather than the other way around.  Yes, yes, I know they’re the same.

My life’s work has been as a psychotherapist who early in the game became a nonprofit entrepreneur, founding “Gilda’s Club Worldwide,” a program I developed based on the concept of a cancer support community.  Shades of Tassajara!  There are now 30 such “clubhouses” across North America, and as its founder, Gilda’s Club is stuck with me and I am stuck with them.  Free to men, women, children and their families and friends, people can structure their social and emotional support in a non-residential home-like setting, all of them, as they build community together.

Finally, I am chairing a citizens’ committee here in rural New York to save the remaining agricultural soil surrounding our “hill towns” from unmanaged development.  It’s pretty political, but good practice to stay focused on looking ahead to how we all might live, eat, farm, provide for one another in a world bent on competitive greed.  I sing in the village churches, shivering my timbers over Jesus, wonderful classical sacred music.  People ask me to preside at their weddings, and even, recently, a funeral.  Amazing what Internet ordination in the Universal Life Church can bring to community involvement--even as my neighbors know full well that I pursue a steady and devotedly nontheistic path, thanks to the love of the Buddhas.

My love to all, be in touch if you care to.
Joanna Bull


Jim Murphy (Do Ku)
Spring 70           


I will not be able to attend this reunion but have to say something here about coming to Tassajara in Jan. 1970.

Dorathy Schalk of Northampton MA pulled some strings with someone and was able to get me into the Winter /Spring 1970 training period after my first attempt at college. At age 19 I had my first ever jet flight (and first time far away from home) I walked up the steps of 300 Page St. and without knocking, the door slowly opened and there was Suzuki Roshi with some egg shells in his hand. He placed the shells in the potted plants on the landing and asked me in.

Several days later I rode to Tassajara with some students who were studying Buddhism in college. One young lady had serious asthma trouble but could not leave to get medical help because road became impassable due to 7 days of heavy rain. A chopper had to land in the little parking lot north of the hotel site. To see that pilot land that big bird between the narrow hillsides was impressive!

Did Tangaryo sitting between Bill Laws and a young man from Japan who kept falling asleep and would fall right off his zafu! Tatsugami Roshi arrived while we were sitting one afternoon. The zendo floor shook with each of his steps as he walked with great presence. This was encouraging. Some days later we cut our hair and launched it in the creek. I stayed 7 months or so, but will keep this short.

I returned this Summer for 2 days at Tassajara after being away for 37 years. Scratched my head over the gas powered log splitter. Young students with open minds, how wonderful! Yet still, no coming, no going.


Jim Murphy (Do Ku)
57589 Paxton Road
Yucca Valley, CA 92284    tel 760 365 6416


Barbara Marion Horn
Spring 80 – Spring 82

Hello ZC Alum!

A big fat gassho to everyone!
Greetings from the land of multi-tasking! In a fast-paced environment! 
With attention to detail and the ability to handle a diversity of tasks under pressure while accomplishing all goals in a timely manner. 


Yes, I live in New York. 
Yes, I am working for a company that holds such truths to be self-evident. 
No, not a big corporation.  Jobs in all the sectors, private, public, community –they all spout the same gibberish!  And they get hordes of us to comply, or at least say, “Oh yes, multi-tasking is my specialty.  The more things you put on my desk, the happier I am!”

Let me tell you, I haven’t come across anyone enlightened in this crowd, not that I’d be able to recognize ‘em.  No, I am too focused on THE LIST…of what needs to be done in a timely manner, of course.  This may be fodder for the Trungpa crowd (word spell wanted to replace Trungpa with “Trump”!!!).  Didn’t this Tibetan teacher exhort his students to immerse themselves in the real world?  You’d have to tie a line to me so you could pull me back in the evening for meditation, cause there is no way I’d be able to extricate myself from THE LIST.

This predicament reminds me of two Zen Center folks: Lew Richmond and Miriam Bobkoff

First, Lew.  I vividly remember him lecturing one day about why we bow.  Bowing, said Lew, provides transition space from one activity to another, something we need. Transition does happen of itself but is often undetectable because of how quickly we race from one thing to another (aka, The RAT RACE).  When we acknowledge transition via the bow we invite mindfulness. And when we practice such mindfulness, the possibility of actually being one with what we are doing increases enormously.  (Wow, what might be the implications for the office environment?  Hey, if it could be demonstrated that mindfulness impacts positively on office productivity, what would this do to Multi-tasking?)

Now for Miss Miriam.  Well I remember how she shuddered at the prospect of having an outside job and living outside the community.  She deeply feared she would be swallowed up by the madness –now I know what she meant!

I live twenty minutes from John F. Kennedy Airport with my active 87 year old Mom.  We are in a little apartment overlooking the Big Atlantic.  I have two masters degrees, temporarily shelved while I run around in this fast paced environment.  Post September 11th, I returned to New York and helped in the recovery effort. My involvement with the September 11th Families Association led to friendships with Japanese victims of the Sarin Gas Tokyo Subway Attacks.  I was invited to be part of their Tenth Anniversary Commemoration Symposium.  To everyone’s surprise (especially mine) this fearful flyer DID board the plane and spend two weeks in Japan, in Tokyo and then touring the Japanese countryside meeting families who had lost loved ones in the World Trade Center attacks.  My last three days I spent in Bukkokaji Temple in the lovely town of Obama.  It was so cool to jump in to practice at this monastery; I want to go back (yes, I will get on the plane.  In dokusan (I got to have it on the third day!), the Roshi said “We are all on a biiiigggg airplane”) and then we laughed for about ten minutes.

Zen Center is always in my heart.  Anyone remember Baker Roshi instructing us to “Memorize Tassajara, that way you will always have it with you wherever you go.”

I did what he said.  You are always with me.  And invited to stop by the next time you pass through.  My cell phone: (516) 984-7144 and my email (couldn’t forget that!):

Barbara, aka “Ata”
Tassajara Resume:
Worked in the Kitchen during Tenzo Teah Strozer's reign
In the Guest Dining room and as Baker in summer
On Doan Ryo (amazed how quickly all the terms return!) under Ino Michael Sawyer
Had a shoe taken by the Bobcat!
Was in the search party for Alan Cohen
Linda Ruth my first Shuso
Departed Tassajara just before Deborah Madison’s Shusoship

PS  Still a card carrying member of David Chadwick’s “International Suicide Club,” – unfortunately, this card is probably more on target than ever!


Dinner at City Center

The Volunteer List

Virginia Arnone
Keith Baker
Eric Baldwin
Robert Barrer
Maria Christof
Kate Claire
Bruce Gordon
Doris Harder
Terri Hellerich
Doug Herbek
Brad Jones
Paul King
Michelle King
Alexandra Koltun
Mark Lancaster
Genine Lentine
Mayra Luna
Erin Merk
Doug Miller
Mimi Moungovan
Sherri Nordwall
A Robin Orden
Michael Polignana
Martha Rangel-Lugo
Daigaku Rumme
Jim Shalkman
Vernon Small
Catherine Sofia
Seguin Spear
Anna Thorn
Dana Velden
Carol Weinstein
Tim Wicks
David Woolman
Special Thanks

Jeff Bickner - Bickner Dance Floors
Bruce Fortin - Master of Ceremonies, Greens Reception
Judith Keenan - photographer
Jeffrey Schneider - Kitchen Guru
Annie Somerville & Greens Restaurant
Amir Terkel - videographer
Dan Welch

Photos on this page, unless otherwise noted, are by Judith Keenan.


Photo Showing by David Silva (Fall 71, Spring 72)

Photo by David Silva

I will be showing my photographs at the SF Scone Works, 814 Eddy Street in San Francisco in the months of April, May and June. The hours are 7AM to 3PM Monday - Friday, phone 415-922-0635. The show, entitled FIRST VISION consists of landscape and nature photographs from New Zealand, the Oregon Cascades, California Sierra foothills and Tierra del Fuego, and is the first public group showing of my work.



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