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Retreat Leaders


Ryushin Paul Haller, co-abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman and has taught at Zen Center for 19 years. He has also taught in prisons, with the Zen Hospice Project, and throughout the United States and Europe. He has practiced Buddhism for over 30 years in Asia and the United States and lives in San Francisco.

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Myogen Steve Stücky, DMin, (candidate) received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1993. He founded Dharma Eye Zen Center in Marin County and combines his work as a temple priest and parent with designing gardens. He is co-abbot of Zen Center.

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Shosan Victoria Austin has served the community for 25 years as an ordained Zen priest, and 20 years as an Iyengar yoga teacher. As San Francisco Zen Center's Outreach Director, she is studying how to use these practices to support and sustain a wide variety of beings.

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Scott Blossom teaches a style of Hatha Yoga Vinyasa and Yoga Therapy that is informed by his training as a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda. He is blessed to have had the expert guidance of his teachers Dr. Robert Svoboda and Zhander Remete. In addition to co-hosting retreats and workshops with Dr. Svoboda he is a faculty member of the Kripalu Ayurvedic Training Program and presents on the subject at National Yoga Conferences. He lives in Berkeley with his wife Chandra and their daughter Tara.

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Edward Espe Brown began cooking and practicing Zen in 1965 and was ordained as a priest by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1971. Following a "busy" 20-year career at San Francisco Zen Center, he has studied Vipassana, hands-on-healing, handwriting change, yoga, and chi gung. He is the author of several cookbooks including The Tassajara Bread Book and Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings. He is also the editor of Not Always So, a collection of lectures by Suzuki Roshi.

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Laura Burges lectures and leads retreats at different practice centers in Northern California. Her column Is That So? appears monthly in the San Francisco Zen Center's newsletter sangha-e!. Laura is chair of Zen Center's Ethics and Reconciliation Council.

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Darlene Cohen, MA, has written three books describing a meditative approach to life's physical and emotional pain; her latest is entitled The One Who is Not Busy. She is head priest of the Russian River Zendo.

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Russell Comstock Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute, holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership, a BA in Human Ecology, and is certified in Interdisciplinary and Jivamukti Yoga. Russell has extensive experience teaching yoga and directing programs in wilderness, adventure, and experiential education. He has recently completed a handbook called Metta Earth Yoga - Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future.

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Raymond Davi is a respected mentor, coach, and counselor. He has dedicated his practice over the past 15 years to bringing enlightened perspectives to his clients' development in their professional world and personal quality of life. His clients are entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders in the arts. Additionally, he has 30 years of marketing experience.

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Chandra Easton blends her studies of Vinyasa, Shadow, and Yin Yoga with her background as a translator of Tibetan Buddhist texts in her teaching style. She integrates yoga and Buddhism to facilitate the direct experience of mindfulness and introspection in one's practice. Her primary teachers are H.H. Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Alan Wallace, Sarah Powers and Zhander Remete.

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Kathy Egan has been a Zen practitioner for 16 years and has been cooking for even longer. Her culinary experience includes three seasons cooking for Tassajara summer guests and serving as tenzo (head cook) at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.

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Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet, Zen priest and former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. He is the founder and teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation dedicated to sharing Zen teaching and practice widely in the world. His latest dharma book is Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up and his latest volume of poetry is I Was Blown Back.

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Chris Englehorn Fortin has practiced Buddhism for over 25 years, initially as a resident of San Francisco Zen Center and currently as a partner, mother, and MFT psychotherapist in private practice in Sonoma County. She teaches at Sonoma State University, is ordained as a lay priest by Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and leads the women's Lotus Sangha in Sebastopol.

Bruce Fortin started off as a lawyer, and began practicing as a resident at San Francisco Zen Center in 1971. He was director of a hospice program for many years. He is currently a MFT psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Rosa with a specialty in couples counseling. Bruce leads the Occidental Laguna Sangha in Sebastopol, received dharma transmission from Norman Fischer, teaches at Sonoma State University and leads workshops on relationships, work, and healing. He met his wife, Chris, at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center 25 years ago; they have a grown son.

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Sonja Gardenswartz was first introduced to Zen in 1980 at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. She has studied Sensory Awareness with Charlotte Selver and has lived at San Francisco Zen Center since 1991. She currently lives at Tassajara.

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Daya Goldschlag, CMT, a body-worker, movement teacher and encourager of meditation practice in Spokane, WA. She is a student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and lived at Tassajara. She has studied Zen meditation since 1968.

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Steven Harper is a wilderness guide, author, and consultant. He has taught at Esalen Institute for over 25 years and is a resident of Big Sur. A student of Buddhism since 1972, he has an MA in psychology. His work focuses on wild nature as a vehicle for awakening.

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Zenkei Blanche Hartman is a senior dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. She is a dharma heir of Mel Weitsman, and has been practicing Soto Zen since 1969. She was abbess of Zen Center from 1996-2002.

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Luminous Owl Henkel was ordained as a priest by Tenshin Reb Anderson in 1994 and has practiced at Tassajara, Bukkokuji monastery in Japan, and No Abode Hermitage in Marin County. He lives at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.

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Constance Hills, PhD is a clinical and forensic psychologist. She has practiced Buddhist meditation for 15 years and is a student of Dr. Rina Sircar. She maintains a private psychotherapy, assessment, and consulting practice in San Francisco.

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Jane Hirshfield has been a student of Soto Zen for over thirty years and was lay-ordained in 1979. She is the author of six books of poetry, a book of essays, and three now-classic anthologies gathering the work of historical women poets. Hirshfield's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Tricycle, and elsewhere, and she has been featured in two Bill Moyers PBS poetry specials.

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Leslie James is a resident teacher at Tassajara and has practiced at San Francisco Zen Center since 1971. She received lay dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson in 2002. She has two grown children and lives at Tassajara with her husband.

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Ninsho Kakinuma was born in 1956 in Japan and started Zen training at the age of twenty. After reading Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, he realized the philosophy of Zen teaching in the beat generation movement. Since then Ninsho has been living an unorthodox Buddha's Way through Shojin (Japanese Zen monastery cooking) classes, painting workshops and lectures both in Japan and US. He served as tenzo (head cook) at Japan's Eiheiji monastery. His current project is Jizo Café--a mobile café with his student Keigaku Muchu offering Jizo Japanese brush art and Shojin food and cooking classes.

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Myo Denis Lahey was ordained in 1986 by Tenshin Reb Anderson. He is the teacher-in-residence at the Hartford Street Zen Center. His article "Queer at Heart: Dharma Practice and the 'Gay Self'" is published in the anthology Queer Dharma.

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Mark Lancaster has practiced at Zen Center since 1988 and has been teaching since 1998. He was priest ordained in the fall of 2002 and received dharma transmission from Michael Wenger in the winter of 2006.

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Judith Hanson Lasater teaches and trains yoga teachers in San Francisco and throughout the country. She is a physical therapist with a doctorate in East-West Psychology and author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times.

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Gloria Lee has propagated plants for Tassajara landscaping and restoration. She is a Zen priest and long time practitioner at San Francisco Zen Center.

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Daijaku Judith Kinst, PhD, is a priest and teacher in the Soto tradition and a licensed psychotherapist. She teaches graduate courses in Buddhism, Contemplative Psychology, and Spiritual Direction, and maintains a private practice in San Francisco.

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Lee Klinger Lesser studied with Charlotte Selver for 33 years. They often led workshops together. Lee has been offering classes and workshops in Sensory Awareness for 30 years in Mexico and throughout the United States. She lived at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center as a Zen student from 1978–1983, and appreciates the deep interconnectedness of these practices.

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Marc Lesser is president of ZBA Associates, a company providing coaching, consulting and facilitation services to businesses and non-profits. He is the founder and former CEO of Brush Dance, a publisher of greeting cards, calendars and gift items, with spiritual themes and artwork. Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center from 1974-1983, was director of Tassajara, and is a Zen priest. He is the author of Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration- How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life, published by New World Library. Marc has an MBA from New York University.

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Rabbi Alan Lew studied Zen for ten years before attending seminary and ordaining as a Conservative Rabbi in the 1980s. For fourteen years he served as head rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom and is co-founder, with Norman Fischer, of Makor Or, a Jewish Meditation Center in San Francisco.

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Deborah Madison practiced at San Francisco Zen Center from l968 until leaving for Rome in l984. While in residence she cooked at City Center, Tassajara, and Green Gulch Farm eventually became the founding chef of Greens Restaurant in l979. Deborah has written nine cookbooks and innumerable articles on food, farming, and cooking. She is a farmers' market advocate and very active in the Slow Food movement. A fully-lapsed Zen student who sits mostly at home, Deborah is currently engaged in doing documentary studies, writing a final cookbook, Desserts!, and a food memoir.

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Kosho McCall has been practicing at Zen Center since 1988. He received dharma transmission from Zenkei Blanche Hartman in 2003 and is currently the head of practice at Tassajara. He has training in group work, development and interpersonal relations.

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Mary Mocine is a Zen priest who trained at San Francisco Zen Center and was ordained in 1994. She received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2005. Mary practiced law for 18 years and now leads a dharma group for lawyers. She is the head priest at the Vallejo Zen Center.

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Keigaku Muchu was born in 1968 in Japan and came to U.S. in 1989. He designed various Hollywood movie posters after receiving a BFA from California Institute of the Arts. He became a resident at Zen Center and ordained in 2004. Keigaku is a trained sushi chef and worked at Greens Restaurant and Minako Organic Japanese Restaurant in San Francisco. Keigaku wrote monthly Shojin recipes for a San Francisco-Japanese magazine and has taught cooking classes in both the US and Japan. In the summer of 2006, Keigaku started a raw food diet and started incorporating raw food recipes in Jizo Café– a mobile café project.

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Naomi Shihab Nye Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Jordan, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her BA in English and world religions from Trinity University. Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, including You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, as well as 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East, Fuel (1998), Red Suitcase (1994), and Hugging the Jukebox (1982). Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. About her work, the poet William Stafford has said, "Her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life." Nye has received awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the International Poetry Forum, as well as four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow. In 1988 she received The Academy of American Poets' Lavan Award, selected by W. S. Merwin. Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and reviews throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia for the United States Information Agency three times, promoting international goodwill through the arts. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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Anne O'Brien is a dedicated teacher and practitioner of Hatha yoga whose teaching draws from a broad immersion in several yogic traditions and studies with master teachers TKV Desikachar, Dona Holleman, Rodney Yee, Edward Clark, Patricia Sullivan, and others. She has practiced and taught yoga for many years and has trained yoga teachers since 1999 at her school in Sonoma County. Her practice continues to be enriched and deepened by her background in dance, immersion in other cultures, inquiry into different spiritual traditions, and her family life.

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Zesho Susan O'Connell has been practicing Zen since 1987. She moved into the Zen Center in 1995 and was ordained as a Zen priest by Tenshin Reb Anderson in 1999. She held the training position of head student in 2004 and is currently vice president. Before moving into Zen Center she was an actress and feature film producer. She is interested in helping people find a way to work that compassionately explores and creatively expresses our true nature.

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Shin Chi Inryu Bobbi Poncé-Barger is a highly-regarded yoga instructor in Washington, DC. A practitioner of yoga for over 24 years, she has studied with a broad range of nationally renowned yogis. She holds teacher certification from the schools of Pru-Yoga and Ma Yoga Shakti. She also holds a special certification to work with students who have heart disease and is a registered Yoga Teacher at the Experienced Master Level (500 hour) with the National Yoga Alliance. Bobbi received lay ordination at Tassajara in the summer of 2005.

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Diane Renshaw is working with Tassajara on a native plant project and has been learning from the great outdoors all her life. She is a professional ecologist and a lay practitioner of Zen.

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Alan Rohlfs is a psychotherapist in private practice in Chicago, a mediator, and a certified trainer of Nonviolent Compassionate Communication. He is married and has a 16-year-old.

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Jeffrey Schneider is a Zen Center priest who has been practicing since 1978. He started the Monday evening Meditation and Recovery group at Zen Center in 2000, and has lectured and led retreats on Buddhism and recovery in a variety of places.

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Furyu Nancy Schroeder has studied at Zen Center since 1976, was ordained as a Buddhist priest in 1986 and is a dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson. Furyu is Dharma Teacher as well as the current Director of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.

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Mick Sopko started practicing at Zen Center in 1977 and is currently bread baker and IT coordinator at Green Gulch Farm. He received lay dharma entrustment from Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2005 and has been studying Tai Chi with Liping Zhu since 2004.

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David Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk who has participated in Buddhist-Christian dialogues since 1967. His Zen teachers are Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions. At present, Brother David serves a worldwide Network for Grateful Living through www.gratefulness.org, an interactive website with several thousand participants daily.

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Patricia Sullivan's classes offer a depth and breadth that arise from 30 years of teaching, and include many streams of study and interest. Having begun yoga in 1971, she studied in India with the Iyengars in the 80s and taught Advanced Studies at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco through the 90s. Her practice and study of Buddhism brings the emphasis of mindful awareness and investigation taking precedent over accomplishment, and her work as a sculptor adds a creative, improvisational element to the class.

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Cece Sykes, LCSW, is an Internal Family Systems Lead Trainer with over 20 years of clinical experience with adults, couples and families. Her practice includes working with the effects of trauma, addiction and abusive family systems as well as a special interest in issues of healing and spirituality. Cece has taught IFS around the country and has lectured frequently on these and other related topics. She is currently in private practice in south suburban Chicago.

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Kazuaki Tanahashi is a calligrapher, painter, and writer. Originally from Japan, he has had solo exhibitions at the Everson Museum, California Museum, Erlangen Museum (Germany), and many art galleries and universities. His publications include Brush Mind, Penetrating Laughter: Hakuin's Zen and Art, and Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen.

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Sobun Katherine Thanas is abbot of the Santa Cruz Zen Center, where she has been teaching since l989. She is also the founding teacher of the Monterey Bay Zen Center. She received dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson.

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Shisan Robert Thomas has been living and practicing at Zen Center since 1993 and has been a student of yoga for 9 years. Ordained as a priest by Norman Fischer in 2000, Robert currently serves as the president of Zen Center.

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Dairyu Michael Wenger received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman and is the author of Thirty Three Fingers, a collection of modern American koans, and editor of the book Wind Bell. He is in charge of Dharma group support at Zen Center.

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Nina Wise described by a New York Times columnist as “a metaphysical vaudevillian for the new millennium,” and founder of Motion Theater, is an artist who has invented a compelling form of physical autobiographical theater. Her unique performances thoroughly integrate movement and narrative in a seamless unfolding that brings one to tears, laughter and deep sighs of recognition about the human condition. Audience members and critics alike comment that they have not seen anything quite like Wise's work before and are driven to blended comparisons—Martha Graham mixed with Robinson Jeffers; Lily Tomlin mixed with Jules Feiffer—and use words such as “fresh,” “moving,” and “deeply human.” Since earning her degree in Religious Studies and the Aesthetics of Movement, Ms. Wise has devoted her career to developing an art form that addresses the complex relationship between body, mind and spirit. Ms. Wise is the recipient of three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, three fellowships from the Marin Arts Council, and her performance works have been honored with seven Bay Area Theater Critics' Circle Awards. She is a renowned teacher of improvisation and, a long time Buddhist practitioner, she also teaches contemplative practice at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Her book, A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life, was published by Broadway Books in 2002 and her stories and articles have been published in numerous anthologies and journals.

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Jito Yumibe began her yoga studies in 1978 and began teaching in 1984. She attended the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco as well as studying with the Iyengars in India and the United States.

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Liping Julia Zhu is a certified qigong instructor from China and a disciple of Taoist Master Yu Anren. She was a gold medalist in the 1996 International Martial Arts Tournament. She is the qigong instructor at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a licensed acupuncturist, and a Zen student, currently residing at San Francisco Zen Center.

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