Guest Teachers & Lecturers
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.
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.
Bri Barnett is an activist and development professional who has been involved in organizing for LGBTQ+, labor, environmental, racial, and housing justice. She currently works for the SF LGBT Center. Other professional experiences includes time spent conducting outreach for the Union of Concerned Scientists, campaign work in the East Bay, and volunteering with Causa Justa: Just Cause and the Transgender Law Center’s fundraising departments. Outside of work, Bri volunteers for a variety of non-profits and pursues understanding and embodiment through mindfulness, basketball, cooking, and reading. She has been meditating for several years and began guiding other people in meditation as part of East Bay Meditation Center's Practice in Transformative Action training to spread mindfulness in movements for social justice.
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.
Caroline Brazier is course leader at Tariki Trust, based in Leicester, UK, and author of seven books on Buddhism and psychotherapy. A practicing psychotherapist, Caroline draws on more than 20 years of experience in developing Buddhist approaches to working both in the consulting room and out of doors. Tariki Trust runs a long established psychotherapy training program and for the past five years has been developing the Ten Directions program in ecotherapy. In addition to this work Caroline has been engaged in the development of Buddhist healthcare chaplaincy in the UK.
Renshin Bunce was a resident of Zen Center from 2001 to 2008, first for three years at Tassajara and then for four more years at City Center. She has helped hundreds of students sew their rakusus in the City Center sewing room, where she currently leads a class every other Saturday afternoon. She is also known for her photographs, and her Flickr page has been called “The Zen Center Yearbook.” Renshin was priest ordained with Zenkei Blanche Hartman in 2003; was shuso with Myogen-Roshi at Tassajara in 2008; and received dharma transmission from him in 2013. She lives on the Peninsula, where she works as a hospice chaplain.
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.
Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D.
Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D., began formal Zen practice in 1982 and received Dharma transmission from Katherine Thanas in 2010. Gene serves as one of the Practice Leaders of Santa Cruz Zen Center. He teaches the traditional practice of sewing Buddha’s Robe. He is most interested in the ways in which formal practice trains us for everyday life.
Siobhan Cassidy was born in London, England, where she lived until moving to San Francisco at the age of 26. She has lived in the Bay Area since then and was in residence at San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 to 2008. Siobhan has participated in practice periods at City Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara, most recently in the Fall of 2015. She was lay ordained by Gaelyn Godwin at Hosshinji in 2004 and has studied with Christina Lehnherr since then. Siobhan is a trained mediator with over eight years of experience mediating community and personal conflicts. She is the shuso/head student for the Winter 2017 Practice Period at City Center.
Hobu Beata Chapman
Hobu 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.
Zenki Christian Dillo
Zenki Christian Dillo is a Resident Teacher and Director at Crestone Mountain Zen Center, and also regularly teaches at the Boulder Zen Center and in Europe. He began his Zen practice in 1996 at the San Francisco Zen Center and received dharma transmission from Zentatsu Baker Roshi in 2013. His main focus is on bringing Buddhism experientially alive within Western cultural horizons while staying committed to the traditional emphasis on yogic embodiment.
JD Doyle has been an active part of the East Bay Meditation Center since it opened, co-founding the LGBTQSGLI (Alphabet Sangha) and volunteering in many roles, including as Board Member and Core Teacher. In 1997, they started practicing Buddhism and have attended retreats in the U.S., Thailand, and Burma, as well as completed Spirit Rock's Community Dharma Leader Program, Dedicated Practitioner Program, and currently is in the Spirit Rock Dharma Teacher Training Program. They are committed to celebrating the diversity of our human sangha, addressing the impact of racism on our communities, expanding concepts of gender, and living in ways that honor the sacredness of the Earth.
Ryugin Rita Cummings began her Zen Buddhist practice in 1996 at Green Gulch Farm, and received Jukai (Lay Ordination) in 2001 from Central Abbess Linda Ruth Cutts. Born in Dundee, Scotland, Rita is an alumna of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied in the PhD program in English Language and Literature. Rita has published a chapbook of poetry, and is currently working on a new collection of haiku based on Zen temple life. She has also contributed to several books and articles on California women artists, including: One Foot on the Rockies: Women and Creativity in the Modern American West, From Footnote to Fame: American Women Artists, and Yesterday & Tomorrow: California Women Artists.
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.
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).
Gary Gach has offered haiku workshops at 826 Valencia, the Asian Art Museum, Beyond Baroque, Book Passage University, O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, Stanford Writer's Studio, Villa Montalvo, and here at San Francisco Zen Center. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism and editor of What Book!? Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop.
Shindo Gita Gayatri
Shindo Gita Gayatri started spiritual practice at an early age with an Indian Master, Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati. After his death, and a five-year walkabout in the Himalayas, she strayed into the San Francisco Zen Center in 2004 and was ordained as a Zen priest by Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller at Tassajara in Dec 2009.
Kazu Haga is the founder and coordinator of the East Point Peace Academy and is a trainer in Kingian Nonviolence, a philosophy developed out of the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the organizing methodologies of the Civil Rights movement. Having received training from elders including Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Rev. James Lawson, and Joanna Macy, he teaches nonviolence, conflict reconciliation, organizing and mindfulness in prisons and jails, high schools and youth groups, and with activist communities around the country.
Shundo David Haye
Shundo David Haye began his practice in 2000 and lived at City Center and Tassajara for 15 years. He was ordained as a priest in 2009, served as shuso (head monk) at Tassajara in fall 2012, and performed a number of the traditional temple administrator roles at Tassajara and City Center. He likes to be outside, either riding a bike or taking photographs; his photography is a mainstay of Zen Center publications, and can be seen at shundophoto.tumblr.com. He also writes a blog about practice: shundo.wordpress.com.
Jisho Lisa Hoffman
Jisho Lisa Hoffman was priest ordained 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.
Mushim (Patricia Y. Ikeda) is a socially engaged Buddhist teacher at East Bay Meditation Center (www.eastbaymeditation.org) in downtown Oakland, California. She has published in numerous Buddhist publications and also works as a diversity and inclusion consultant. She has taught meditation retreats for people of color, women, and social justice activists nationally.
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.
Ōshin Jennings is a Deaf Zen Buddhist priest in the White Plum lineage of Soto Zen. Ōshin is a student of Enkyo O'Hara Roshi, Abbot of the Village Zendo, who named him a Dharma Holder/Assistant Teacher in 2016. Ōshin serves as the Village Zendo's representative on the Buddhist Council of New York, where he lives and works as a psychotherapist and artist. Ōshin's primary focus is making the Buddhist teachings accessible to communities that traditionally have had limited access to the Dharma.
Ryotan Cynthia Kear
Ryotan Cynthia Kear has been practicing Soto Zen Buddhism for over 25 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.
Daijaku Judith Kinst
Daijaku Judith Kinst was ordained in the Soto Zen tradition in 1988, is a dharma successor in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, and co-teacher with Shinshu Roberts of the Ocean Gate Zen Center in Capitola, California. After completing formal priest training she obtained an MA in psychology, was licensed as a psychotherapist and completed her Ph.D. in Buddhism and Psychology in 2004.
Sessei Meg Levie
Sessei Meg Levie, MA, has been practicing Soto Zen for 25 years and has lived residentially at the San Francisco Zen Center since 1994. She received ordination as a Zen priest in 2003 from Tenshin Reb Anderson and held the position of shuso in 2007. She has practiced monastically at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, studied Buddhism in Thailand and Japan, and for several years served as the teacher for the Bolinas branch of the Mountain Source Sangha. Since 2008 Meg has been exploring ways to bring awareness practices to the wider world. She is a senior teacher for Search Inside Yourself, an emotional intelligence leadership program developed at Google, and has trained hundreds of teachers internationally.
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.
Rev. Dr. Masaki Matsubara
Matsubara was born into and grew up in a Zen temple family in the Myoshinji denomination of the Rinzai School in Japan. Following his Zen monastic training in Heirinji Monastery, he earned a PhD in Asian religions from Cornell University (2009). He taught Buddhist studies and East Asian languages and cultures, as well as religious studies, at UC Berkeley (2009-2013) and was the BDK Fellow at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University (2013-2014). Currently he is a visiting scholar at the East Asia Program at Cornell University. In addition, he is a research associate at the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University. He is the head priest of Butsumoji Zen Temple, supervising the nearby affiliated International Zen Center in Japan and traveling between the States and Japan to lead retreats and seminars. He currently resides in Oakland, California.
Andrew J. Mellen is an author, speaker, and professional organizer. He’s been called “The Most Organized Man in America,” for good reason—as an organizer and workshop leader, he has helped thousands of people across the U.S. to unclutter their lives and gain time for the things that are really important … which often aren’t even things at all.
Simon Moyes explores how to bring the teachings from Zen Buddhism to everyday life. He works with the San Francisco Zen Center as a leader of the Young Urban Zen (YUZ) group, works in the corporate world teaching mindfulness and emotional intelligence, and is a lead trainer with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.
Rev. Shohaku Okumura is the founding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, located in Bloomington, Indiana. 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.
Rev. Okumura is one of the world's foremost teachers on Dogen's practice and philosophy.
Nancy Petrin began Zen practice in 1996 through the Organic Farm and Garden Apprenticeship at Green Gulch Farm, where she lived and practiced for nine years. She served as head student (shuso) with City Center Abiding Abbot Ed Sattizahn in the fall of 2014. Nancy works in Zen Center's Development Department fundraising for the Dharma and our SFZC temples, and resides in SF with her teenage daughter.
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.
Adrienne Price is an educator, social justice organizer, and creative human living in Oakland, CA. She co-teaches Teen Sangha through the East Bay Meditation Center. She has conducted LGBT ally trainings with Fresh! White throughout the Bay Area. For 11 years, she has worked in the education field, including as a high school teacher. She has organized with SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) and the Bay Area Childcare Collective. Her creative pursuits include stand-up comedy and independent theater.
David Richo, PhD, MFT
David Richo is a psychotherapist, writer, and workshop leader. He teaches at a variety of places, including Esalen and Spirit Rock Buddhist Center. Dave combines psychological and spiritual perspectives in his work. His two most recent books are:
- How to be an Adult in Love (Shambhala, 2013)
- The Power of Grace: Recognizing Unexpected Gifts on the Path (Shambhala, 2014)
Hondo Dave Rutschman
Hondo Dave Rutschman is a Soto Zen priest and a hospice grief counselor. He began Zen practice in Texas, sitting regularly at the Austin Zen Center, Houston Zen Center, and San Antonio Zen Center. He received jukai from Seirin Barbara Kohn in 2005, and ordained as a priest with Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin in 2010. He spent time at Tassajara in 2006-7 and 2009.
Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation, a world-renowned teacher and NY Times bestselling author. She has played a crucial role in bringing meditation and mindfulness practices to the West and into mainstream culture since 1974, when she first began teaching. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA and the author of ten books including NY Times bestseller, Real Happiness.
Jill Satterfield, named “one of the 4 leading yoga and Buddhist teachers in the country” by Shambhala Sun magazine, is the founder of Vajra Yoga + Meditation, a synthesis of meditation and yoga, contemplative and compassion-in-action practices. She is also the founder of the School for Compassionate Action: Meditation, Yoga Therapy and Educational Support for Communities in Need.
As a pioneer in the field of mind-body awareness, she has been teaching internationally, consulting and instigating mindful and creative educational programs for over 35 years.
Kai Ji Jeffrey Schneider
Kai Ji Jeffrey Schneider is a priest at Zen Center, where he has lived, worked and practiced since 1978. The founder of the Zen Center recovery programs, he is currently the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator.
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.
Onryu Mary Stares
Mary Stares first came to Zen Center in 2000, following a period of residential practice at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada. A carpenter by trade, Mary was ordained as a priest in 2010 by Arlene Lueck and Myogen Steve Stücky. Mary was shuso for the Winter 2015 Practice Period at Tassajara, and is currently serving as director of City Center.
Teah Strozer is a dharma heir in Suzuki Roshi's lineage. She is a practice leader and member of the Elders Council at the San Francisco Zen Center. Until recently she taught meditation and ethics at the Bay School high school as the school's Chaplain. She is the Guiding Teacher at the Brooklyn Zen Center.
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.
Rev. Dana Takagi, PhD, is a professor and professional sociologist who has worked at UC Santa Cruz for 30 years, as well as with the National Institutes for Health (NIH). She has been engaged in a dharma practice life for 18 years, receiving lay ordination and priest ordination from Katherine Thanas, and most recently dharma transmission from Eugene Bush.
Kazuaki Tanahashi is a calligrapher, painter, Zen scholar and writer, and peace and environmental activist. His early training was in Japan. His seminal Heart of the Brush: The Splendor of East Asian Calligraphy, a guide to the study of calligraphy, was published in 2016.
For more information, visit www.brushmind.net.
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck
Koshin Julia Ten Eyck is a relationship and child welfare attorney, mediator and Zen priest in San Francisco.
Koshin Steven Tierney
Koshin Steven Tierney, EdD, LPCC is Professor of Counseling Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. A licensed psychotherapist and certified addiction specialist, he is the co-founder of the San Francisco Mindfulness Foundation, creating and delivering therapy and services in the areas of recovery and life transitions. Steven has been studying and practicing Buddhism for more than 20 years. He was ordained by Dairyu Michael Wenger and served as shuso in 2013.
Ikushin Dana Velden
Ikushin Dana Velden has been practicing Zen since she visited Green Gulch Farm in the early 1990s. She lived at City Center and Tassajara from 1998-2012, was ordained as a priest in 2001, and served as shuso in 2006 under Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller. She currently lives in Oakland beside a tangled garden and many fruit trees where she writes about practice and life in the kitchen. You can find her most recent book Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook in the City Center Bookstore. She has also contributed to The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women and Divine Gardens: Mayumi Oda and the San Francisco Zen Center.
Sojun Mel Weitsman (Senior Dharma Teacher)
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.
Fresh! White is a recent graduate of Spirit Rock’s Community Dharma Leadership Program, and has been teaching meditation and Dharma at the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) since 2013. Practicing meditation and chanting on and off since the 80s, Fresh! is currently training in the Vipassana Tradition, and has been an active member in EBMC’s sangha since 2009. He teaches at several sanghas at EBMC, including the Family Sangha, Mahasanga, and is founder of the Bay Area’s first Mindfulness and Meditation group exclusively for the Trans* and genderqueer community. A lover of life, and all beings, Fresh! lives to reflect love and self-acceptance to his diverse global community through his Dharma teachings, mindfulness offerings, Professional Coaching, Spiritual Counseling, and Transgender Ally Diversity Trainings.
Born in Utah and raised in London, Gengyoko 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 and was a steering committee member of the Insight Meditation Community of San Francisco. Impressed with Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva ideal, he studied with Michael Wenger and received lay ordination (jukai) in 2006. He trained in the sewing of Buddha's robe with Zenkei Blanche Hartman since 2007 and now teaches sewing at San Francisco City Center. Tim received priest ordination from Michael Wenger in 2013 and has completed the Shogaku Priest Ongoing Training program. He is a student of Abbot Rinso Ed Sattizahn.
angel Kyodo williams
Called "the most intriguing (and vocal) African-American Buddhist" by Library Journal, angel Kyodo williams is an author, activist, master trainer and founder of the Center for Transformative Change. She has been bridging the worlds of transformation and justice since her critically acclaimed book Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace was hailed as “an act of love” by Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, and "a classic" by Buddhist pioneer Jack Kornfield. She is one of only two black women Zen "Senseis" or teachers. She applies wisdom teachings and embodied practice to intractable social issues at the intersections of climate change, racial and economic justice. Her newest book collaboration is Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation.
Larry Yang teaches meditation and mindfulness nationally for sitting groups, daylong retreats, and residential retreats. He provides special focus on multicultural populations, including communities of color, and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer communities. In the Bay Area, he teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the East Bay Meditation Center, and is on the Board of both organizations. He has spent six months as a monastic in Thailand and is trained as a Dharma teacher by Jack Kornfield and Thai meditation master Ajahn Tong. He is part of the core teaching team of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leaders Training Program which serves to train future Buddhist spiritual leaders nationally and internationally.
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.