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.
Myozen Joan Amaral Myozen Joan Amaral is guiding teacher for the Marblehead Zen Center in Marblehead, MA, where she moved from San Francisco in March 2012. Joan began Zen practice in 1998, received priest ordination from Darlene Cohen in 2004, was head student at San Francisco Zen Center with Zenkei Blanche Hartman in 2009, and received dharma transmission from Zenkei in 2013. While at San Francisco Zen Center, she formed the group Dharma en Espa˝ol and graduated from the chaplaincy program at the Sati Center in Redwood City, CA. As a priest living in the world, her primary focus is on the relationship between formal practice and urban life.
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.
Keith Baker 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.
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 is now temporarily supporting a Branching Streams sangha in New Rochelle, NY. At SFZC, Valorie is a practice leader and a teacher for Sewing Buddha's Robe; has also taught sutra copying, practicing with aging, and writing as a spiritual practice; and has led retreats at SFZC-affiliated sanghas.
Carl Bielefeldt Carl Bielefeldt is a Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford and the founder and director of the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies. He received his PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 1980. Dr. Bielefeldt’s research interests include the intellectual history of the Zen tradition. He is the author of Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation and other works on early Japanese Zen, and is editor of the Soto Zen Text Project, which translates with annotations the scriptures of the Soto school of Japanese Zen. He has led travel/study programs to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
Jennifer Block 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.
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.
Zenshin Florence Caplow Zenshin Florence Caplow is an itinerant Soto Zen priest, vipassana practitioner, editor and writer. Her most recent book is The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women.
Beata Chapman 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. [more]
Junsei Jana Drakka Junsei Jana Drakka is a disciple of Zenkei Blanche Hartman. She became a priest in 2001, was Head Student in 2005, and became a practice leader in 2007. Jana ministers to low-income and homeless people and is on the board of Religious Witness with Homeless People. She received Dharma Transmission from Zenkei Blanche Hartman in May 2009.
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.
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.
Issho Fujita 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).
Shahara Godfrey 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.
Jody Greene Jody Greene has been a zen practitioner since 2001, practicing in both lay and monastic settings. She teaches Vinyasa Flow yoga and meditation at Yoga Tree in San Francisco.
Lopon Rita M. Gross Lopon Rita M. Gross, PhD, is internationally known for her innovative work on gender and religion. She is also a Buddhist Dharma teacher, having been appointed to that position by Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. Rita Gross gives original engaging talks on a wide variety of topics and can lead meditation retreats of varying lengths. She specializes in bringing together the values and perspective of academic research and Buddhist Dharma teachings.
Jisho Lisa Hoffman Jisho Lisa Hoffman was ordained a Soto Zen priest 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.
Rik Isensee Rik Isensee, LCSW, is the author of three self-help books for gay men. He also wrote Shift Your Mood, which looks at the intersection between mindfulness and personal growth. Rik was initially exposed to mindfulness in a workshop with Joseph Goldstein during Naropa’s first summer institute in 1974. Rik practices psychotherapy in San Francisco.
Ryotan Cynthia Kear Ryotan Cynthia Kear has been practicing Soto Zen Buddhism for over twenty 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.
Myo Denis Lahey Rev. Myo Denis Lahey is the Abbot at Issan-ji (Hartford Street Zen Center) as well as Practice Leader at Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, California, and has previously served as head of practice (Tanto) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. A Dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson, he serves as Treasurer for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of North America (SZBA) and is a member of the Association for Soto Zen Buddhism of Japan (ASZB). Raised in an observant Roman Catholic home, Myo was drawn to religion and spirituality at an early age and found Zen Buddhism in his teens. He began sitting in 1969 and practiced with many San Francisco Zen Center practitioners and teachers, including Dainin Katigiri-roshi, Kobun Chino-sensei, Yoshimura-sensei, and Issan Dorsey. Myo studied Sanskrit at UC Berkeley for ten years.
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 StŘcky 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*, she sees her work as helping others to develop the capacity to face difficult karma with presence and compassion. Jane was a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication between 1995 and 2000.
Kiku Christina Lehnherr (Senior Dharma Teacher) 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.
Taigen Dan Leighton Taigen Dan Leighton is a dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson and lived for years at San Francisco Zen Center, in addition to training extensively in Japan. He currently leads the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate meditation group in Chicago, and formerly founded the Mountain Source Sangha in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author and translator of several books, including Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes; Visions of Awakening Space and Time; and Dogen’s Extensive Record. Leighton has taught since 1994 at the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union. He currently lives in Chicago, where he teaches at Loyola University.
Marc Lesser 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.
Marcia Lieberman Marcia Leiberman is a lay-ordained practitioner who has been affiliated with SFZC since 1989. A staff gardener at Green Gulch Farm, she is currently head gardener at City Center where she oversees the Gardening at the Urban Temple project, is environmental steward, and beekeeper of rooftop hives. She works with landscape architects documenting public spaces and is an aesthetic pruner (anything under six feet tall). Her career as a photographer has included academic positions at University of California, Berkeley, and California College of Art teaching about time and space.
Dr. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel Dr. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, author, visual artist, drummer, and Zen Buddhist priest, lives in Oakland, CA where she teaches at East Bay Meditation Center and leads a small practice group in her home. She was ordained by Blanche Hartman and her priest training is being guided by Abbess Kiku Christina Lehnherr. Zenju was shuso/head student for the Fall 2012 Practice Period at City Center, led by the Abbess.
Melinda Miller Melinda Miller is a mother, culinary consultant and Zen student. Her work specializes in globally inspired healthy home cooking, with a particular emphasis in vegetarian cuisine. Melinda has worked with food since 1988. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she currently consults for Zen Center, teaching culinary arts and creating a recipe database for Tassajara.
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.
Shohaku Okumura Rev. Shohaku Okumura is the founding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, located in Bloomington, Indiana. He is one of the world's foremost teachers on Dogen's practice and philosophy.
Samantha Ostergaard 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.
Rev. Shinshu Roberts is the co-founder (with Daijaku Kinst) of the Ocean Gate Zen Center located in Capitola, CA. She also teaches a monthly Dogen seminar at City Center in San Francisco. Shinshu was ordained in 1988 and trained for 17 years (4 at Tassajara) at the San Francisco Zen Center holding various leadership positions during that time.
Gib Robinson Gib Robinson is a retired professor of Renaissance English Literature who came to San Francisco Zen Center in 1976. He is a founding director of Vimala Sangha in Mill Valley, where Lew Richmond is the founding teacher.
Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum, PhD Robert Rosenbaum, PhD, Meikyo Onza (Clear Mirror Calm Sitting), began Zen practice in 1971 and received lay entrustment from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2008. Bob is also authorized as a senior teacher of Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong by Master Hui Liu. He is the author of Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching and Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy. Bob has been a Fulbright professor at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, and director of the doctoral training program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He spends several months a year hiking in the Sierras and leads meditation and Qigong treks in the Himalayas of India and Nepal.
Hozan Alan Senauke is vice-abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, where he has been living for 25 years. He is founder of Clear View Project, engaged Buddhist action for social change and relief. Alan is a writer, a well-known performer of American traditional music, and is often seen behind a camera. His latest book is The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines.
Laurie Schley Senauke Laurie Schley Senauke, Ekai Uji (Cherishing Ocean Being Time), started formal Zen practice in 1980 at San Francisco Zen Center; she worked at Greens restaurant back in the day, and lived at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for three years.
Hoitsu Suzuki 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.
Kazuaki Tanahashi Kazuaki Tanahashi, born and trained in Japan, is an artist, writer and peace worker. As a painter and calligrapher, Kaz has had solo exhibitions of his brushwork, and he has performed and taught, worldwide. He has created a genre of one-stroke paintings and multi-color Zen circles. As a calligrapher in the East Asian style, he creates works of large single ideographs.
Robert Thurman, PhD Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, President of Tibet House US, and a popular international lecturer on Tibetan Buddhism. He is translator of many sutras and philosophical treatises, and the author of numerous books, including the national bestseller Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness; Anger, the fifth book on a series of the Seven Deadly Sins, offered by the New York Public Library and the Oxford University Press. His most recent book is Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be a Lot Happier (Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman, Hay House international, Oct 2013).
Ko Shin Steven Tierney Ko Shin Steven Tierney, EdD, CAS, is Professor of Counseling Psychology and Chair of the Community Mental Health Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is also a certified addiction specialist. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Educational Officer of the San Francisco Mindfulness Foundation, providing relapse prevention and mindfulness-based services to individuals and families.
Arinna Weisman Arinna Weisman has studied insight meditation since 1979 and has been teaching since 1989. Her root teacher is Ruth Denison, who was empowered by the great teacher U Bha Khin. She is the founding teacher of Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley. Her Dharma practice and teaching have been infused with her political and environmental activism.
Sojun Mel Weitsman 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.
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.
Tim Wicks 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.
Liping Julia Zhu Liping Julia Zhu, LAc, founder of Qi Dragon Healing Center and a gold medalist in the 1996 International Martial Arts Tournament, is a certified Qigong and Taichi instructor from China and teaches Qigong at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.