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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.



Keith Baker
Keith Baker has been practicing Zen for 17 years, and began practice at Zen Center 10 years ago. Ordained by Ryushin Paul Haller, he has practiced at Tassajara and City Center and held various temple positions. He is currently working in the Reservations Finance Department and is serving as the fall 2013 shuso at City Center. Keith crossed over from hard of hearing to profoundly deaf in 2009, and is exploring the integration of Deafness, Deaf culture, and Zen practice.



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 is now temporarily supporting a Branching Streams sangha in New Rochelle, NY. At SFZC, Valorie is a practice leader and a teacher for Sewing Buddha's Robe; has also taught sutra copying, practicing with aging, and writing as a spiritual practice; and has led retreats at SFZC-affiliated sanghas.



Carl Bielefeldt
Carl Bielefeldt, professor emeritus of religious studies at Stanford, studied Zen under Shunryu Suzuki and Kosho Uchiyama, and received his PhD in Buddhist studies from Berkeley in 1980. He is the author of Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation and other works on early Japanese Zen, and serves as an editor of the Soto Zen Text Project, which provides annotated English translations of the scriptures of Japanese Soto Zen.


Jennifer Block
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.



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.



David Bullard, PhD
David has had a psychotherapy practice in San Francisco with individuals and couples for over 35 years, and enjoys writing and providing workshops about couples and intimacy for other therapists and health professionals. He is grateful for having had the opportunity of learning about Tibetan Buddhism from Robert Thurman , and about the poetry of life from David Whyte. He is clinical professor in medicine and medical psychology (psychiatry) at UCSF.




Renshin Bunce
Renshin Bunce, a former resident of Zen Center, and currently a sewing teacher and photographer, 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 currently works as a hospice chaplain.

Fugan Eugene Bush, D.D.
Fugan Eugene Bush, DD, began formal practice in 1982 and received Dharma transmission from Katherine Thanas in 2010. Gene currently serves as the Administrator of Santa Cruz Zen Center. He also teaches the traditional practice of sewing Buddha’s Robe (rakusu and okesa). His paid work is as teacher in a public alternative high school in Santa Cruz, California. He is most interested in the ways in which formal practice trains us for everyday life.


Zenshin Florence Caplow
Zenshin Florence Caplow is an itinerant Soto Zen priest, vipassana practitioner, editor and writer. Her most recent book is The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women.



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. [more]



Patsy Creedy
Patsy Creedy, Kanshin Kokai, was lay ordained by Linda Ruth Cutts in 2010. She has been a labor and delivery nurse at UCSF for 25 years. She has two grown children and is pursuing her MA in creative writing at San Francisco State University. Patsy co-leads the Meditation and Recovery program at Zen Center. Patsy sees the bond between mothers as a powerful spiritual connection, and motherhood as a way to deeply open ourselves to practice.



Junsei Jana Drakka
Junsei Jana Drakka is a disciple of Zenkei Blanche Hartman. She became a priest in 2001, was Head Student in 2005, and became a practice leader in 2007. Jana ministers to low-income and homeless people and is on the board of Religious Witness with Homeless People. She received Dharma Transmission from Zenkei Blanche Hartman in May 2009.

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.



Ryuge Gil Fronsdal
Ryuge Gil Fronsdal, PhD, was ordained as a Zen priest at SFZC and received Dharma Transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman. He has a doctorate in Buddhist Studies from Stanford University. He is a guiding teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City. His translation of the Dhammapada is published by Shambhala Publications.



Issho Fujita
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).



Shahara Godfrey
Shahara Godfrey has followed the teachings of the Buddha since 1989, with her primary practices in Compassion and Social Activism. She has completed the Community Dharma Leadership Program and the Path of Engagement programs at Spirit Rock, and received her Ph.D. in Humanities with a focus on Transformative Learning and Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies.



Lopon Rita M. Gross
Lopon Rita M. Gross, PhD, is internationally known for her innovative work on gender and religion. She is also a Buddhist Dharma teacher, having been appointed to that position by Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. Rita Gross gives original engaging talks on a wide variety of topics and can lead meditation retreats of varying lengths. She specializes in bringing together the values and perspective of academic research and Buddhist Dharma teachings.



Daniel Herman, PhD
Daniel Herman, PhD, is a former resident of Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. His new book, Zen and the White Whale: A Buddhist Rendering of Moby-Dick, is a study of the influence of Buddhist thought on Herman Melville's masterpiece, and an expansive consideration of the book from a Zen Buddhist perspective. He teaches American Literature in San Francisco.



Jisho Lisa Hoffman
Jisho Lisa Hoffman was ordained a Soto Zen priest 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.



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, PhD, is a core faculty member and professor of Buddhism and Psychology at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, an affiliate of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and Ryukoku University in Kyoto Japan, and the director of their Buddhist Chaplaincy graduate program. After priest training at San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara, she completed an MA in Western Psychology, MFT licensure, and a PhD in Buddhism and Psychology.




Myo Denis Lahey
Rev. Myo Denis Lahey is the Abbot at Issan-ji (Hartford Street Zen Center) as well as Practice Leader at Valley Streams Zen Sangha in Sacramento, California, and has previously served as head of practice (Tanto) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. A Dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson, he serves as Treasurer for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of North America (SZBA) and is a member of the Association for Soto Zen Buddhism of Japan (ASZB). Raised in an observant Roman Catholic home, Myo was drawn to religion and spirituality at an early age and found Zen Buddhism in his teens. He began sitting in 1969 and practiced with many San Francisco Zen Center practitioners and teachers, including Dainin Katigiri-roshi, Kobun Chino-sensei, Yoshimura-sensei, and Issan Dorsey. Myo studied Sanskrit at UC Berkeley for ten years.



Rev. Jiko Jane Lazar, SEP
Rev. Jiko Jane Lazar, SEP*, was ordained as a Zen Priest in 2005 by Tenshin Reb Anderson and has trained residentially at Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara for eleven years. She served as shuso with Abbot Steve Stücky in the Fall of 2009. Having discovered her own unresolved trauma through zazen, she found Somatic Experiencing® (SE) to be of profound help and a strong complement to Zen practice. Now a certified Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner* with a private practice in Berkeley, CA, she sees her work as helping others to heal trauma and to face difficult karma with presence and compassion. Jane was a certified trainer in Nonviolent Communication between 1995 and 2000, and she holds a blackbelt in Aikido.



Taigen Dan Leighton
Taigen Dan Leighton is a dharma heir of Tenshin Reb Anderson and lived for years at San Francisco Zen Center, in addition to training extensively in Japan. He currently leads the Ancient Dragon Zen Gate meditation group in Chicago, and formerly founded the Mountain Source Sangha in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author and translator of several books, including Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes; Visions of Awakening Space and Time; and Dogen’s Extensive Record. Leighton has taught since 1994 at the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union. He currently lives in Chicago, where he teaches at Loyola University.



Genine Lentine
Genine Lentine is the author of Poses: An Essay Drawn from the Model (Kelly’s Cove Press, 2012), Mr. Worthington's Beautiful Experiments on Splashes (New Michigan Press, 2010), and most recently, Found Dharma Talks (Missing Links Press, 2013). She is also co-author, with Stanley Kunitz and photographer Marnie Crawford Samuelson, of The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden. She received an MS in Theoretical Linguistics from Georgetown University and an MFA in Poetry from New York University. Recent work appears in The Baffler, Funk & Wag, and the PEN Poetry Series. She teaches privately and at San Francisco Art Institute. For more information see geninelentine.com.



Marc Lesser
Marc Lesser, iis the CEO and a co-founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), a company dedicated to promoting world peace through transforming organizational culture and supporting the development of enlightened leaders worldwide. The core program, developed at Google, offers training in mindfulness-based emotional intelligence grounded in science.



Dr. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, author, visual artist, drummer and Zen Buddhist priest, is the guiding teacher of Still Breathing Meditation Center in East Oakland, CA. She was ordained with Zenkei Blanche Hartman and is under the training of Kiku Christina Lehnherr, a former abbess of the San Franscisco Zen Center. Zenju was shuso/head student for the Fall 2012 Practice Period at City Center, which was led by Christina Lehnherr. She is the author or coauthor of several books. For more information, see the full bio, or go to zenju.org.



Melinda Miller
Melinda Miller is a mother, culinary consultant and Zen student. Her work specializes in globally inspired healthy home cooking, with a particular emphasis in vegetarian cuisine. Melinda has worked with food since 1988. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she currently consults for Zen Center, teaching culinary arts and creating a recipe database for Tassajara.



John Nelson, PhD
John Nelson is professor of East Asian religions in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco. He received his PhD in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley, and has researched Japanese religions, religion and society, and globalization throughout his career. He also serves as academic director for the master’s program in Asia-Pacific studies, and was the founder of the Asian studies undergraduate program at USF. His areas of specialization are East Asian religions, contemporary Buddhism, cultural anthropology, globalization, secularism, and Asian studies. He has just published Experimental Buddhism: Innovation and Activism in Contemporary Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2013).



Reigetsu Susan Moon
Susan Moon is a Soto Zen lay teacher and is the author of four books, including This Is Getting Old. Her most recent book is Record of the Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women.



Shohaku Okumura
Rev. Shohaku Okumura is the founding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community, located in Bloomington, Indiana. He is one of the world's foremost teachers on Dogen's practice and philosophy.



Samantha Ostergaard
Samantha Ostergaard is a Zen student and yoga teacher who has used yoga to support her zazen practice for almost fifteen years. Her teaching of yoga is deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism, and in her retreats she teaches yoga as a meditative practice of paying close attention to the body, the breath, and the mental and emotional processes. Samantha lived and practiced at Tassajara for three years, receiving lay ordination from Zoketsu Norman Fischer in 2000.



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.



Shinshu Roberts

Rev. Shinshu Roberts is the co-founder (with Daijaku Kinst) of the Ocean Gate Zen Center located in Capitola, CA. She also teaches a monthly Dogen seminar at City Center in San Francisco. Shinshu was ordained in 1988 and trained for 17 years (4 at Tassajara) at the San Francisco Zen Center holding various leadership positions during that time.



Robert Meikyo Rosenbaum, PhD
Robert Rosenbaum, PhD, Meikyo Onza (Clear Mirror Calm Sitting), began Zen practice in 1971 and received lay entrustment from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 2008. Bob is also authorized as a senior teacher of Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong by Master Hui Liu. He is the author of Walking the Way: 81 Zen Encounters with the Tao Te Ching and Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy. Bob has been a Fulbright professor at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, and director of the doctoral training program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He spends several months a year hiking in the Sierras and leads meditation and Qigong treks in the Himalayas of India and Nepal.



Hozan Alan Senauke

Hozan Alan Senauke is vice-abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, where he has been living for 25 years. He is founder of Clear View Project, engaged Buddhist action for social change and relief. Alan is a writer, a well-known performer of American traditional music, and is often seen behind a camera. His latest book is The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines.




Brother David Steindl-Rast
Brother David Steindl-Rast (Christian) is a longtime Benedictine monk. His Zen teachers include Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. Brother David serves the worldwide Network for Grateful Living.



Hoitsu Suzuki
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.



Kazuaki Tanahashi
Kazuaki Tanahashi, born and trained in Japan, is an artist, writer and peace worker. As a painter and calligrapher, Kaz has had solo exhibitions of his brushwork, and he has performed and taught, worldwide. He has created a genre of one-stroke paintings and multi-color Zen circles. As a calligrapher in the East Asian style, he creates works of large single ideographs.

For more information: www.brushmind.net.



Robert Thurman, PhD
Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University, President of Tibet House US, and a popular international lecturer on Tibetan Buddhism. He is translator of many sutras and philosophical treatises, and the author of numerous books, including the national bestseller Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Real Happiness; Anger, the fifth book on a series of the Seven Deadly Sins, offered by the New York Public Library and the Oxford University Press. His most recent book is Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit and Be a Lot Happier (Sharon Salzberg and Robert Thurman, Hay House international, Oct 2013).



Ko Shin Steven Tierney
Ko Shin Steven Tierney, EdD, CAS, is Professor of Counseling Psychology and Chair of the Community Mental Health Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is also a certified addiction specialist. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Educational Officer of the San Francisco Mindfulness Foundation, providing relapse prevention and mindfulness-based services to individuals and families.



Arinna Weisman
Arinna Weisman has studied insight meditation since 1979 and has been teaching since 1989. Her root teacher is Ruth Denison, who was empowered by the great teacher U Bha Khin. She is the founding teacher of Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley. Her Dharma practice and teaching have been infused with her political and environmental activism.



Sojun Mel Weitsman
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.



Dairyu Michael Wenger
Dairyu Michael Wenger received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman and is the author of Forty Nine Fingers, a collection of modern American koans, and editor of the book Wind Bell. He practiced at SF Zen Center from 1972 and is now the guiding teacher at Dragons Leap in San Francisco.


Tim Wicks
Born in Utah and raised in London, 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. Impressed with Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva ideal, he studied with Michael Wenger, receiving lay ordination (jukai) in 2006 and priest ordination in 2013. He has worked with Buddhists in recovery at San Francisco Zen Center for over ten years and has led the Friday night recovery meeting at Hartford Street Zen Center for two years.



Gendo Lucy Xiao, L.Ac.
Gendo Lucy Xiao, L.Ac., began practicing Zen under the guidance of Ryushin Paul Haller in 2000. She became a resident at City Center in 2001 and was ordained as a priest in 2010. She served as jisha (attendant) to Paul for many years and was shuso (head monk) during the winter practice period at Tassajara in 2014. In recent years she also practiced and attended retreats in monasteries in China, finding it invigorating and nourishing to bring the Eastern and Western perspectives together in her practice. She is deeply grateful for the teachings and gifts she has received from her teachers and the Sangha.



Taishun Yoshii
Taishun Yoshii is a "Specially Dispatched Teacher" from Sotoshu, the central governing body of the Soto Zen School in Japan, an appointment he has held since 2004. He is also the resident teacher of Fumonji Temple in Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan. His appearance at San Francisco Zen Center is part of his first trip to the United States conveying messages from Sotoshu's head priest.



Liping Julia Zhu
Liping Zhu, LAc, a licensed acupuncturist and 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. In 2010, after a 10-year residency, she received shuso training in the Soto Zen tradition from San Francisco Zen Center.