Guest Teachers & Lecturers
The following list includes upcoming guest teachers and lecturers, as well as those who have taught or offered dharma talks at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center within the last 12 months.
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.
Leslie Buck is the author of the garden memoir, Cutting Back: My Apprenticeship in the Gardens of Kyoto, the adventures of a California gardener apprenticing with traditional craftsmen in Kyoto where Leslie learns about courage, skills, and heart. Leslie is an aesthetic pruner, teacher, and design consultant specializing in natural pruning and design and California native landscapes. She has over two decades of gardening experience, in addition to being a joyful volunteer for many years in the gardens of Green Gulch and Tassajara—pruning, teaching, and learning.
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.
Ingen Breen received Dharma transmission from Zoketsu Norman Fischer. Ingen has been practicing Buddhism for over 20 years and lived in community for about 14 years. He has led sesshin and retreats in England, Sweden, Italy, Ireland and California, and is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of America.
Edward Brown has been practicing Zen since 1965. Ordained as a priest by Suzuki Roshi in 1971, he received Dharma Transmission from Mel Weitsman in 1996. He is the author of several books and also has edited a book of Suzuki Roshi lectures, Not Always So. Ed is the founder and teacher of the Peaceful Sea Sangha.
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.
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.
Tim Zentetsu Burkett
Tim was only 20 years old and a student at Stanford in 1964 when he met his teacher, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. At that time there was only one small Zen center in northern California, and the practice of meditation was considered “kind of odd.” Then the wildly successful Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind was published. Tim heard firsthand the talks that later appeared in that book, which has sold more than any other book on Zen Buddhism.
Cynthia Cummins regularly leads writing workshops in the Bay Area. A former journalist, she is a blogger, novelist and student of writing. She is a graduate of Interchange Counseling Institute and formerly served as SF facilitator for The Hoffman Institute.
Dr. Grace Dammann, a physician who was honored by the Dalai Lama for her extraordinary work with AIDS patients, was a resident of Green Gulch Farm for many decades. Her life was changed when she experienced a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge. After 48 days in a coma, Grace miraculously awoke. Once the thrill and euphoria of survival had passed, the hard, painful work of rehabilitation and caregiving began for Grace and her caregivers. Today, Grace runs the Pain Clinic at Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center from a wheelchair.
Kristen Davis is the owner and director of Yogasana Center, in Brooklyn, New York. She had her first Alexander Technique lesson and her first yoga class in the same week in 1993. For the past 23 years she has never practiced one without the other. Kristen has been teaching yoga since 1996, and Alexander Technique since 1999. Beyond her original 1600-hour Alexander training, she completed a postgraduate Alexander training in the Art of Breathing with Jessica Wolf in 2006. In 2012 she graduated from an advanced studies program with her yoga teacher and mentor, Donald Moyer. She is also a committed practitioner of Zen Buddhism and a member of the Brooklyn Zen Center sangha.
Seido Lee deBarros
Seido Lee deBarros is a Dharma teacher in the Suzuki Roshi Soto Zen lineage. He serves as a Buddhist chaplain at San Quentin prison and is a minister to the homeless and to hospice patients.
Dojin Sarah Emerson
Dojin Sarah Emerson is the head Zen priest at Stone Creek Zen Center in west Sonoma County. She trained at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and other sites of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1997-2007. Dojin ordained with Abbot Gaelyn Godwin at the Houston Zen Center in 2007. She has worked in the fields of mental health and pastoral care. She is currently delighting in the practice of Dharma in family life with Korin and their two children in Northern California.
Jaune Evans has studied Zen since 1978. She was ordained as a priest in the White Plum Lineage by Bernie Glassman and Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1983 at the Zen Community of New York. She now studies with Norman Fischer, and has been a priest in the Everyday Zen lineage since 2010. Jaune works as the Executive Director of Tamalpais Trust, a philanthropic foundation which supports the protection of sacred lands and waters, cultural and human rights, gender empowerment and global alliance-building through the work of indigenous-led organizations. She also serves on the Board of Advisors at the UC Berkeley Human Rights Center.
Kathie Fischer lives in Muir Beach, California, with her husband, Norman Fischer. She began Zen practice with Mel Weitsman at the Berkeley Zen Center when she was 19. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a major in Buddhist Studies she went to Tassajara with Norman and their twin baby boys. In 1981 they all moved from Tassajara to Green Gulch Farm where they lived until 1996. For 28 years Kathie taught school in nearby Mill Valley, where she found the public school classroom a rich environment for practice. Kathie received priest ordination in 1980 and Dharma Transmission in 2011. Since her retirement in 2016 she is finding more time for teaching Buddhism.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer (Senior Dharma Teacher)
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet, priest, and a former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. He is founder and teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation dedicated to sharing Zen teaching and practice widely with the world.
Hoka Chris Fortin
Chris is a Zen priest and teacher who received dharma transmission from Zoketsu Norman Fischer. She is a licensed MFT psychotherapist and spiritual counselor who has combined psychotherapy and spirituality for over 25 years in her private practice. She began practicing Buddhism at San Francisco Zen Center in 1976.
Ryuge Gil Fronsdal
Ryuge Gil Fronsdal, PhD, was ordained as a Zen priest at SFZC and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman. He has a doctorate in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University. He is a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City. His translation of the Dhammapada is published by Shambhala Publications.
Steve Gross has worked as a financial planner for more than 25 years. His Buddhist practice began in 1994 and he has been a student of Zoketsu Norman Fischer since attending Company Time in 1996. He received lay ordination from Norman in 2006 and is an active member of the Everday Zen community.
Steven Harper is a wilderness guide, author and consultant. He has taught at Esalen Institute for over 35 years and is a resident of Big Sur. A student of Buddhism since 1972, he also has an MA in psychology with a focus on wild nature as a vehicle for awakening. www.stevenkharper.com.
Kokyo Henkel has been Head Teacher of the Santa Cruz Zen Center since 2009, when he first arrived there. He has been practicing Zen since 1990, in residence at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (most recently as Head of Practice), Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, No Abode Hermitage in Mill Valley, and Bukkokuji Monastery in Japan. He was ordained as a priest in 1994 by Tenshin Anderson Roshi and received Dharma Transmission from him in 2010. Kokyo is interested in exploring how the original teachings of Buddha-Dharma from ancient India, China, and Japan are still very much alive and useful in present-day America to bring peace and harmony to this troubled world.
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.
Wendy Johnson lived and trained at Green Gulch Farm from 1975-2000. She is one of the founders of the Organic Farm and Garden Program at Green Gulch, a lay dharma teacher, and the author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate (Bantam, 2008). Wendy is a garden mentor to the Edible Schoolyard program and a College of Marin instructor in the Environmental Landscape program at the Indian Valley Organic Farm and Garden project.
Ryotan Cynthia Kear
Cynthia Kear (Ho Ryu Ryo Tan) has been practicing Zen Buddhism for over 25 years and received dharma transmission from her heart teacher, Darlene Cohen, in 2010. Cynthia teaches throughout the Bay area, especially from her home temple.
Charlie is a longtime basket weaver and student of central California Indian and European techniques. Charlie has taught for the Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin (MAPOM), Point Reyes Field Institute, UC Botanical Garden, and in many schools and at teacher trainings. Tule boats made in his workshop can be seen at the California Academy of Sciences, the Bay Model in Sausalito, and in other museums. It is also possible to visit a basketry plant garden he has created at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross. Charlie is active in native habitat restoration in Marin, managing several projects for Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed.
Tom Killion grew up in Marin County, California, where the rugged landscape inspired him to create Japanese-style woodblock prints. Killion studied history at UC Santa Cruz, where he was introduced to fine book printing by William Everson and others. In 1975 he produced his first illustrated book of woodcut prints, 28 Views of Mount Tamalpais, and in 1977 he founded his own Quail Press, where he has printed five handmade art books and over 400 relief prints. In 2000 Killion published The High Sierra of California in collaboration with Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Gary Snyder. In 2009 Killion's second collaboration with Snyder, Tamalpais Walking, was also published by Heyday Books of Berkeley. In 2015 Heyday released a third Killion/Snyder collaboration: California's Wild Edge.
Monshin Albert Kutchins began practicing at Zen Center in 1984. In the years following he completed several practice periods in Tassajara and one at Rinso-in in Japan, and received the precepts from Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi and again from Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi. In the fall of 2012, he was honored to serve as shuso to Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts at Green Gulch. In addition to teaching and practicing the Dharma whenever he can, and serving on the Zen Center Board, he practices law in Berkeley, where he lives with his family and Satchel the dog.
Rev. Jiko Jane Lazar, SEP
Rev. Jiko Jane Lazar, SEP*, was ordained as a Zen Priest in 2005 by Tenshin Reb Anderson and has trained residentially at Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara for eleven years. She served as shuso with Abbot Steve Stücky in the Fall of 2009. Having discovered her own unresolved trauma through zazen, she found Somatic Experiencing® (SE) to be of profound help and a strong complement to Zen practice. Now a certified Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner* with a private practice in Berkeley, CA, she sees her work as helping others to heal trauma and to face difficult karma with presence and compassion. Jane was a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication between 1995 and 2000, and she holds a blackbelt in Aikido.
Kiku Christina Lehnherr
Kiku Christina Lehnherr served as City Center abbess from 2012 to 2014. She has degrees in physical therapy and clinical psychology, and practiced both in Switzerland. A student of Tenshin Reb Anderson, she was ordained as a priest in 1993, and received dharma transmission in 2005. From 2003 to 2006 she served as head of practice (tanto) at City Center. Currently Christina lives in Marin, where she continues to support sitting groups and students as a non-residential teacher, as she did between 2006 and 2012.
Marc Lesser is the CEO and a co-founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), a company dedicated to promoting world peace through transforming organizational culture and supporting the development of enlightened leaders worldwide. The core program, developed at Google, offers training in mindfulness-based emotional intelligence grounded in science.
Yo-on Jeremy Levie
Yo-on Jeremy Levie currently serves as Secretary of San Francisco Zen Center. Formerly head of practice (tanto) for Green Dragon Temple at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, he also served as director at Green Gulch from 2009 to 2012. He has trained in residence at San Francisco Zen Center since 1995, having lived at each of the Center’s three temples.
Dr. Kate Levinson is the author of Emotional Currency. She is also a lecturer and workshop leader focusing on issues related to money. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a PhD in Clinical Psychology, she consults with individuals and couples in her offices in San Rafael and Point Reyes Station. She is the founder of the Women, Money, Spirit conference, to be held in April 2017. Kate resides in West Marin, where she and her husband own Point Reyes Books.
David Levy, one of the founders of Company Time, is a technologist who worked at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) for many years. David now teaches at the University of Washington’s Information School, where he focuses on bringing mindfulness training and other contemplative practices to address problems of information overload and acceleration.
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.
Djuna Mascall, RYT 500, is a rare teacher who illuminates yoga through intelligent sequencing to allow the body, mind and heart to open. She gracefully integrates her extensive knowledge of anatomy, alignment and the wisdom of yoga. Djuna is a Prajna Yoga Senior teacher, and her primary influence comes from her ongoing work with Tias and Surya Little. She has also studied Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga in depth. She teaches Prajna Yoga workshops and retreats nationally and internationally, and offers 200- and 500-hour teacher trainings.
Patricia Meadows, SEP
Patricia Meadows, SEP*, is a certified Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner* and a holistic nurse counselor. She brings 40 years experience in nursing, nursing and healthcare education, counseling, healing and trauma resolution work. Currently, in her integrative private practice, she facilitates a somatic and process-oriented approach to healing and living more fully and authentically in the present.
Myoju Erin Merk
Erin Merk is a Zen priest and teacher of yoga. She received priest ordination from Eijun Linda Cutts in 2005, and served as “head student” at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in 2012. ...
Zesho Susan O'Connell
Zesho Susan O'Connell is a Zen teacher with 25 years of meditation experience. She has lived at Zen Center since 1995, was ordained as a priest in 1999 by Tenshin Reb Anderson, and currently serves as president. She started, with two other partners, her own business as an independent feature film producer with offices in San Francisco and L.A., and continued that business for 25 years. She has helped to produce over 10 video/film projects about Zen Center and its teachers.
Rev. Shohaku Okumura, founder and guiding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1948. In 1970, he was ordained by the late Kosho Uchiyama Roshi, one of the foremost Zen masters of the 20th century. 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. He gives frequent lectures on the Shobogenzo and other foundational texts. His translations have been published in several books.
Lane Olson, MA, Faculty Emerita at Sonoma State University, worked in higher education for over 25 years. With research interests in feminist spirituality, her university courses included Female Images of the Divine, and Women in Theology, and her master’s thesis focused on the work of artist and activist Mayumi Oda. She has had a meditation practice since 1975.
ARobin Orden is a Senior Management Analyst with the City of Berkeley, currently in Public Works, and formerly in Finance as well as an Assistant to the Mayor. She was ordained as a Zen priest in 2008 by Norman Fischer.
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.
Korin Charlie Pokorny
Korin Charlie Pokorny was ordained as a priest by Reb Anderson in 1999. He practiced as a resident at Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm for 12 years, including serving as tenzo and director at Tassajara. He holds a master’s degree from Stanford University in Religious Studies, and he has brought a breadth of perspective on the direction that Soto Zen is taking in the world today through his recent position as director of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.
Erica Reischer, PhD
Erica Reischer, Ph.D., is a psychologist, author, speaker, and parent educator. Her work with parents and families has been featured in Real Simple, Time Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Washington Post, Red Tricycle, KQED Public Radio and more. She is the author of the best-selling book, What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids who Thrive, which has been translated into nine languages.
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.
Keiryu Liên Shutt
Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt, LCSW, was born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam, and began group sitting in 1996 in the Spirit Rock tradition of Insight Meditation. She is a founding member of the Buddhists of Color. Her Soto Zen training began in 2002 at San Francisco Zen Center's monastery at Tassajara. Ordained in 2005 with Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Liên has practiced in Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Currently working as a social worker in the field of homelessness and seniors, Liên’s intention is to share ways in which the deep settledness of traditional practices can be brought into everyday life.
Patricia’s teaching arises from 40 years of practice, and includes many streams of study. Her exploration of yoga began in 1971, and she studied in India with the Iyengars on three occasions in the 1980s. She taught Advanced Studies (teachers-in-training) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s before embarking on her own independent studies.
Michael Joshin Thiele
Michael Joshin Thiele lived and practiced at Green Gulch Farm for eight years and received lay ordination in 2001. He is leading an innovative and multidimensional approach within the biodynamic apiculture movement, and teaches in the United States and abroad. He is founder and president of Gaia Bees (www.gaiabees.com) and is researching new dimensions of apiculture in a sociocultural, agricultural, and spiritual context. In the last decade, Michael has been involved with the creation of honeybee sanctuaries and refuges as a means of protection and education.
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.
Sojun Mel Weitsman (Senior Dharma Teacher)
Sojun Mel Weitsman began practice at the old Sokoji Temple in San Francisco in 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. He received priest ordination from Suzuki Roshi in 1969 at Berkeley Zendo which he founded in 1967 with Suzuki Roshi's blessing. In 1984, he received dharma transmission from Suzuki Roshi's son, Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi. From 1988 to 1997, he was co-abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. He is currently a San Francisco Zen Center senior dharma teacher and continues as Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center.
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.
Kanzan David Zimmerman
Rev. Kanzan David Zimmerman has been practicing Soto Zen for 25 years, and was ordained as a priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi by Rev. Teah Strozer in 2006. Prior to his current role as the head of practice (tanto) at City Center, David also served as SFZC program director and corporate secretary. David serves on the SFZC Cultural Inclusivity & Awareness Committee, and is a co-facilitator of Queer Dharma. He regularly lead retreats, workshops and classes at SFZC and other dharma centers, particularly on transforming depression and anxiety.