Zen Teachers & Practice Leaders at City Center
The following Zen teachers are regularly available for practice discussion at City Center. If you are new to practice or have an ongoing meditation practice, you are encouraged to speak regularly with one of our practice leaders. First-time practice discussions may be arranged through the front office at 415.863.3136.
Shosan Victoria Austin
Shosan Victoria Austin began practicing both Zen and yoga in 1971. In the Soto Zen tradition, she is entrusted as a Dharma heir in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, an international priest of the Soto School, and a Dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. She trained in the U.S., in India, and in Japan. In the Iyengar tradition, she is certified as an Intermediate teacher.
Layla Smith Bockhorst
Layla Smith Bockhorst (Gyokujun Teishin, “Pure Forge, Pervading Heart”) began practicing Zen in 1969 at San Francisco Zen Center with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and spent a total of 18 years in residence at Zen Center’s three practice places. She held many different positions during this time. Most recently she completed the Winter 2014 Practice Period at Tassajara. She was ordained by Richard Baker and received dharma transmission from Norman Fischer. She leads the Mountain Root Sangha in Larkspur, CA, and regularly goes to Montana (where she was born and raised) to teach.
Anshin Rosalie Curtis
Anshin Rosalie Curtis came to Zen Center for the first time on January 2, 1982 for a Saturday Dharma talk. She has held various staff and officer positions and was Zen Center's graphic designer for 10 years in the 1990s. She completed her shuso training as a lay practitioner in 2004, was ordained as a priest a year later, and received dharma transmission from Michael Wenger in 2011. Currently she runs the bookstore at City Center.
Eijun Linda Cutts (Central Abbess)
Eijun Linda Cutts came to San Francisco Zen Center in 1971, was ordained as a priest in 1975, and has resided at Green Gulch Farm since 1993. In 1996 Linda received dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson. Having served as Abbess of San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 to 2007, she was appointed Abiding Abbess of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in 2010, and Central Abbess of SFZC in 2014. She continues to teach and lead practice periods and retreats at Tassajara, Green Gulch, Mexico, Italy and elsewhere, and has been leading Yoga-Zen retreats and workshops for many years.
Jisan Tova Green
Jisan Tova Green, a Zen priest who received dharma transmission from Eijun Linda Cutts in 2015, resides and teaches at San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center. She co-founded the SFZC Queer Dharma Group in 2009. Tova has worked as a hospice social worker, plays the cello, and writes poetry.
Ryushin Paul Haller (Urban Temple Dharma Teacher)
Ryushin Paul Haller is a dharma heir of Sojun Mel Weitsman and has taught at Zen Center for over 20 years. He served as abiding abbot at City Center from 2003 to 2012, and remains at City Center as urban temple dharma teacher. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he teaches throughout the US and Europe and has led mindfulness programs to assist with depression and recovery. Paul has also taught in prisons and has a long involvement with the Zen Hospice Project. He has been practicing yoga for 25 years.
Jamie Howell, Kogen Seido, began his Zen Practice with Joshu Sasaki Roshi in 1979 at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. In 1983, when he was living in San Francisco and his eldest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, Jamie began to study with Michael Wenger at the San Francisco Zen Center. He was Chairman of the Board of San Francisco Zen Center in 2004 and 2005 and was shuso at City Center in 2006. In 2011, Jamie received lay Dharma Entrustment from Michael Wenger.
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.
Yo-on Jeremy Levie
Yo-on Jeremy Levie currently serves as Secretary of San Francisco Zen Center. Formerly head of practice (tanto) for Green Dragon Temple at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, he also served as director at Green Gulch from 2009 to 2012. He has trained in residence at San Francisco Zen Center since 1995, having lived at each of the Center’s three temples.
Kyoshin Wendy Lewis
Kyoshin Wendy Lewis has been practicing at Zen Center since 1987. She was ordained by Sojun Mel Weitsman and completed Dharma Transmission with Eijun Linda Cutts. She received a Masters of Theology from the University of San Francisco. She is Dean of the Zen Center School in the Central Abbess/Abbot's Department.
Dr. Lee Lipp
Lee Lipp, PhD, has a therapy practice in San Francisco and supervises at Haight Ashbury Psychological 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.
Arlene Lueck recently served as Tanto, or head of practice, at Green Dragon Temple. She was ordained in 1996 and received Dharma Transmission from Norman Fischer in 2005.
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.
Rinso Ed Sattizahn (Abiding Abbot, City Center)
After meeting Suzuki Roshi in 1970, Rinso Ed Sattizahn lived at Tassajara and later served as Zen Center's vice president, president, and board chair. From 1983 to 2000 Ed held various executive positions in the microcomputer software industry. In 2003, he was shuso at Green Gulch Farm, and in the same year co-founded Vimala Sangha in Mill Valley with Lew Richmond. Now an ordained priest with dharma transmission (from Lew Richmond), he remains the guiding teacher at Vimala Sangha Mill Valley. He became abiding abbot of Zen Center's City Center in March 2014.
Keiryu Liên Shutt
Rev. Keiryu Liên Shutt is a dharma heir of Zenkei Blanche Hartman. Born into a Buddhist family in Vietnam, she began her meditation practice in the Insight tradition. She was a founding member of the Buddhists of Color in 1998. Her Zen trainings began at Tassajara and then continued monastically in Japan and Vietnam for a year. While she has placed her trust and faith in Soto Zen, she continues to enjoy the deep silence of Insight practices and has completed retreats in America and Thailand. Lien is grateful to have right livelihood as a social worker.
Zachary Smith (Anshi Daigi)
Zachary Smith, Anshi Daigi, has been practicing since 1993. He took jukai in 1995 and was shuso in 2007 under Abbot Paul Haller, who ordained him as a priest in 2014. He currently directs North Mountain Zendo, a zazenkai group in North Beach. In addition to his involvement with Zen, Zachary is a husband and father (of four), an engineer, a musician, a bike fanatic, and an avid but mediocre poet. He may be the only person in the history of Zen in the West to have interrupted a residential practice period to tour with a rock band.
Shokan Jordan Thorn
Shokan Jordan Thorn has been a student at Zen Center for 30 years. Ordained by Richard Baker in 1977, he lives at City Center. He has lived at all three practice centers, has served in a variety of roles on senior staff and as an officer, and was shuso at Tassajara. He served as City Center Tanto (Head of Practice) and became SF Zen Center's Treasurer/CFO in September 2011.
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.
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.