Do-On Robert Thomas (Full Dharma name: Shi Zan, Do On; Lion Mountain, Path of Kindness), has spent the last 19 years intensively studying and practicing Soto Zen Buddhism with some of the foremost American Zen teachers in America. Robert is an ordained priest with Dharma Transmission in the lineage of Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, author of the modern spiritual classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and founder of the first Soto Zen Buddhist monastery outside of Asia, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.
Robert spent over six years training as a Zen monk at Tassajara, completing 13, three-month traditional "angos." At Tassajara he studied and trained with highly-respected Zen teachers Tenshin Reb Anderson, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Shisan Edward Brown, Sojun Mel Weitsman, Ryushin Paul Haller, Ejun Linda Ruth Cutts. He was ordained as a priest by former Abbot of SFZC, Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2000, and was Shuso (head monk) with Ryushin Paul Haller at Tassajara in 2004. For 12 years, (from 1997 to 2009) Robert studied and trained with Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and received Dharma Transmission from him via the Everyday Zen Foundation in 2009.
Since 1993, Robert has traveled extensively in Asia (Thailand, India, Nepal, Burma, Laos and Cambodia), studying Buddhism with teachers in both the Theravadan and Tibetan Buddhist traditions (including His Holiness, the Dalai Lama). He has practiced for short and extended periods of time at monasteries and practice centers in Thailand, India and Nepal. In 2012 Robert was acknowledged by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association as a Zen Buddhist teacher and lineage holder through participation in the Association's "Dharma Heritage Ceremony."
As a Zen teacher, Robert leads meditation retreats, workshops, and gives public lectures at SFZC and other Buddhist centers throughout the year. His Buddhist practice and teachings are focused on making the subtle practice and profound teachings of the Buddha and Zen ancestors accessible to all people, and helping people from all walks of life to realize the practical benefits of Zen meditation, dharma study, and community practice. He emphasizes the practice of kindness and compassion as the path to manifest the awake, centered, and open qualities of Zen meditation practice and bring them into every moment of the day, including our relationships, family life, physical and creative activities, and workplace.
Since 2004 Robert has led retreats that combine the complementary practices of Zen and Yoga, and since 2006 he has been leading Zen and Yoga retreats with his wife, Iyengar-trained yoga teacher Samantha Ostergaard. He maintains a daily sitting practice at SFZC’s City Center temple, and beginning in October 2012, Robert has been a visiting dharma teacher at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2013 he will be leading two residential practice periods at Upaya. In 2013 and 2014, Robert and Samantha plan to lead Yoga and Zen retreats at Upaya, Tassajara, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, Nepal and Thailand.