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.
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.
Dr. Grace Dammann, a revered physician who was honored by the Dalai Lama for her extraordinary work with AIDS patients during the height of the epidemic, has been a resident of Green Gulch Farm for many decades. Her life was shattered in May 2008 by a catastrophic head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge. After 48 days in a coma and multiple surgeries for broken bones and injured organs, doctors were amazed when Grace miraculously awoke with her cognitive abilities intact. Yet once the thrill and euphoria of survival had passed, the hard, painful work of rehabilitation and caregiving began for Grace, her partner Fu Schroeder, and an extraordinary community of friends and colleagues.
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 by Bernie Glassman Roshi in 1983 at the Zen Community of New York. She continued studying Zen with Joko Beck, Robert Aitken, George Bowman, and Trudy Goodman. Her interest in ecumenicism has included religious study with Lex Hixon, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Mata Amritanandamayi, T.K.V. Desikachar, Joseph Goldstein, and Deena Metzger. Now a student of Norman Fischer and a priest in the Everyday Zen lineage, Jaune works as the Managing Director of Tamalpais Trust, 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.
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.
Soko 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.
Catherine Gammon began formal practice with Stillpoint Zen Community in Pittsburgh in 1997 and received precepts as a layperson from Rev. Shohaku Okumura in 1998. She began residential training at San Francisco Zen Center in 2000, and was ordained in 2005 by Tenshin Reb Anderson. She served as shuso for the Spring 2010 Practice Pperiod at Green Dragon Temple/Green Gulch Farm. Before coming to train at Zen Center, Catherine taught creative writing in the Master of Fine Arts program of the University of Pittsburgh. Her novel Sorrow (Braddock Avenue Books, 2013) was a final nominee for the Northern California Book Award.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Lee Lipp
Lee Lipp, PhD, has a therapy practice in San Francisco and supervises at Haight Ashbury Psych Services. She has been a member of Thich Nhat Hahn’s Order of Interbeing, practicing Zen and Vipassana since 1990. She served as shuso (head student) at City Center for the 2013 Winter Practice Period. Having taught in psychology graduate programs for 16 years, her most recent work has included being Diversity Coordinator at SFZC. She has taught Transforming Depression and Anxiety classes in venues that include Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Zen Hospice Project, Tassajara Mountain Center, San Francisco Zen Center, East Bay Meditation Center, Gay Men’s Buddhist Sangha, SF Mental Health Association and San Francisco Department of Mental Health.
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
Dr. Erica Reischer is a psychologist who specializes in working with parents and families. She is the author of the forthcoming book What Great Parents Do: The small Book of BIG Parenting Ideas. In addition to her private practice in Oakland, California, she writes for Psychology Today and The New York Times, and sits on the Advisory Board for HappyHealthyKids.com. Dr. Reischer also teaches parenting classes at University of California, Habitot Children's Museum, and UCSF Benioff / Children's Hospital. More info at www.DrEricaR.com.
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 8 years and received lay ordination in 2001. In 2007 he co-founded The Melissa Garden, one of the first Honey Bee Sanctuaries in the US. He created Gaia Bees as an educational & resource platform in 2009 and teaches Apiculture classes in the US and abroad.
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
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.
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, with Dr. Lee Lipp.