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Joe Rodriguez

In 2005, after having explored several other Buddhist traditions, I was encouraged by a long-time Zen friend to meet with then-Abbott Paul Haller, to see if SFZC might become my spiritual home. My talk with Paul was warm and cordial.  He invited me to stay a while and see if the place grew on me.  He also asked to see my sitting position when I meditated, and then made some adjustments to my alignment, opening up my chest. Paul’s concluding words to me were, “We practice zazen with our hearts open in order to take this stance and spirit into our everyday lives.” That stuck with me. 

Naively, I chose for my first class at SFZC reading Dogen with several senior teachers and students, which was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I did my best to learn to swim, and the practice and community grew on me. I became a student of Fu Schroeder, and took the precepts in 2011. I also offered my business skills to SFZC, working with Robert Thomas on the capital campaign, brainstorming an online practice center, and suggesting new ways to welcome beginners.

The Zen Center has added depth and richness to my life and practice, becoming the spiritual home I sought almost ten years ago. As a board member, I hope to help sustain and pass on this beautiful, ever-changing tradition that Suzuki Roshi brought to the shores of the Bay Area and the country.