For 21 years Robert has been studying and practicing Zen Buddhism, and for over six years of that time trained intensively as a Zen Buddhist monastic at Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center. Robert was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 2000 and received Dharma Transmission from his teacher, Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2009. (his Dharma name is Shi-Zan Do-On; Lion Mountain, Path of Kindness)
Robert's Buddhist practice and teaching is focused on helping people to realize the practical benefits of Zen meditation, extending a deeply grounded, yet open, generous, expansive and agile awareness into the activities of daily life. As a dharma teacher, he leads meditation retreats and workshops, and gives public lectures throughout the year.
Since 2001 Robert has also been a leader of the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) community founded in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and now one of the largest Buddhist sanghas outside of Asia. From 2005 to 2013 he served SFZC as President/Executive Director, overseeing the running of all three centers (Tassajara, Green Gulch Farm and City Center) and guiding its long-term vision to bring the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha to the world. In 2012 he became a visiting dharma teacher at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Currently he is leading an exciting SFZC initiative to develop an online "practice center."
For many years Robert has been active in the San Francisco community, having served on the board of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, and currently for over 10 years as a board member of Everyday Inc., which oversees the management of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. Prior to full-time involvement with SFZC, he worked professionally as a film and video director and as a magazine editor/creative director.
Since 1993 Robert has traveled extensively in South America and Asia, often with his wife, yoga teacher and acupuncturist, Samantha Ostergaard, studying with teachers from various Buddhist/spiritual traditions at practice centers in Thailand, India and Nepal.