Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, was born Wendy Lou Nakao in Honolulu, Hawaii, around the middle of the last century. Of Japanese-Portuguese ancestry, she grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, where she received a BA in East Asian Studies and an MA in Librarianship. In Seattle in 1975, she began sitting on a dare. “Somebody bet me fifty dollars that I couldn’t sit still and keep quiet for a week. I accepted the challenge and did a seven-day Zen sesshin. It was absolutely horrible, but I was hooked.”
After three years of zazen in Seattle, Egyoku moved to the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1978 to study with Taisan Maezumi Roshi. She was ordained by him in 1983, and served as his Head Monk in 1988. During her training at ZCLA, she served in various capacities, including as Editor of The Ten Directions and the Center’s Chief Administrator. She was Maezumi Roshi’s personal assistant at the time of his death, in 1995.
In 1996, she received Dharma Transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman, Maezumi Roshi’s first dharma successor, in Yonkers, New York. At Roshi Glassman’s request, she returned to ZCLA as the Head Priest and Teacher in 1997, and was installed as the third Abbot of ZCLA in 1999. In June, 2004, she received inka from him in an empowerment ceremony held at the Mother House of the Zen Peacemakers in Montague, Ma.
Both Roshi’s temple and teaching lineage comes through Maezumi Roshi, whose background was unusual in that he was a Soto priest who studied a Rinzai koan system. The orientation of her Dharma Transmission teacher Roshi Glassman in social action and peacemaking is also a major factor in her evolving teaching style.
A founding member of the Zen Peacemaker Order, Roshi has a strong commitment to rooting practice in our flesh and bones and the myriad forms of our contemporary culture.
The founder and head teacher of Sweetwater Zen Center is Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders. Seisen has been practicing and teaching Zen Buddhism for nearly 20 years.
Seisen is a student of the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi and a Dharma successor of Roshi Bernie Glassman, cofounder of the Greyston Mandala and the Zen Peacemaker Order.
Seisen lived at the Zen Center of Los Angeles for 15 years, and worked on ZCLA’s administrative staff. She served for four years as the co-abbot of Zen Mountain Center, a traditional monastery and practice center in Idyllwild, California.
The founding of SWZC marked Seisen’s return to San Diego. Before coming to Zen practice Seisen attended UC Berkeley and then later went to UCSD, where she worked as a biochemist. Establishing SWZC is the unfolding of her vision for an urban residential Zen practice community.
Rabbi Singer Sensei Founded Shir Hadash in 1981 as a contemplative community of friends open to the dialogue of life. He is a teacher of contemplative Judaism, ordained at Hebrew Union College. Currently, he leads contemplative retreats and study groups in Europe, Israel and the United States.
Rabbi Singer is a leading interpreter in the interface between Jewish Wisdom and Zen Buddhism. In 1994 he received Dharma Transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman. Rabbi Singer is the first Rabbi who became a Sensei in the Buddhist Tradition.
Growing up in the Episcopal Church, Shogen aspired to become an Episcopal priest during his pre-college years. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, a “subtle feeling” nudged Shogen to read Hesse’s Siddhartha, Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen, and many of the writings of Alan Watts and D.T. Suzuki. Thus began a passion for and love of Eastern religion and philosophy that continues to this day. This period included time in the Religious Studies Department at Cal State Northridge, CA where he furthered his studies of religion, existentialism and Buddhism. Shogen remained a “closet-intellectual-Buddhist” for decades. On his 50th birthday, during a camping trip in Big Sur, CA, he read an anniversary article in Tricycle celebrathing Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. He came to the realization that he needed to deepen his meditation practice and look for a teacher. Soon thereafter he found his way to the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA) where he became a student of Roshi Egyoku Nakao and received Jukai in 2005 and ordination (tokudo) in 2012.
In addition to his practice at ZCLA and the sitting group in San Luis Obispo, Shogen co-leads a prison sangha at the California Men’s Colony (CMC) in San Luis Obispo, CA. Weekly 15 to 20 inmates meet for service, meditation and Dharma teachings.
Shogen lives in Los Osos, CA, with his wife, Karla, and their Boston Terrier, Deucey.
John Daishin Buksbazen was born in London, England, to a Jewish-Christian family of Eastern European backgrounds. He began Zen practice in Philadelphia in 1967, receiving both lay and Priest ordination in the Korean Chogye Order of Zen from the Venerable Seo Kyung-bo. He later practiced with (then) Maezumi Sensei at ZCLA, where he was in residence until 1979. He served as pastoral counselor, and was publishing editor of the ZCLA Journal and the Zen Writings Series. In 1999, Daishin renewed his Priest vows with Sensei Yoshin Jordan, and returned to ZCLA to study with Roshi Egyoku. In 2003 he received Preceptor Transmission and was empowered as Dharma Holder, and subsequently received Dharma Transmission in June 2008.
Daishin has a Psy.D. in Psychology from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute. He is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical practice. He leads an affiliated sitting group, the Ocean Moon Sangha, in Santa Monica and teaches Buddhist psychology and zazen to mental health professionals. Daishin is the author of To Forget the Self: An Illustrated Introduction to Zen Meditation (Center Publications, 1977) and Zen Meditation in Plain English (Wisdom, 2002) and is co-editor with Roshi Egyoku Nakao of the On Zen Practice collection (Wisdom, 2002 and 2006). He is married to Concetta Getsuren Alfano, a Zen practitioner, psychoanalyst and co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Daishin has one son.
Sensei Ryodo Hawley is the originator of the 3 step zen method. He began practicing Zen in 1978 and entered formal Zen Buddhist studies at the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1980. He worked directly with Charlotte Joko Beck and Genpo Merzel Roshi as well as Taizan Maezumi Roshi, the founding Abbot of ZCLA. In 1997 he began his studies with ZCLA’s current abbot, Roshi Egyoku Nakao, and in 1999 began assisting her as as a lay instructor. This training culminated with Ryodo’s Dharma Transmission in 2007, when Roshi Egyoku gave him full empowerment as a zen teacher, or Sensei.
Sensei Ryodo has had a life-long interest in the spiritual path, beginning with his readings of the Tao Te Ching at age eleven, The Religions of Man by Huston Smith, and Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen, which sparked his interest in Zen.
After attending the composition program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he also studied Philosophy of Religion under Dr. Peter Kreeft, Ryodo spent many years as a professional musician. Since 1988 he has made a living as a software developer, winning PC Magazine Editor’s Choice award for his groupware application “TeamTalk” along the way. He lives in Westchester, CA with his wife and son.
Sensei Ryodo has led workshops on the 3 step zen method and Zen Mindfulness since 2002. He continues serving as a member of the Zen Center of Los Angeles Teachers Circle, and has led the Westchester Zen Circle, a ZCLA-affiliated sitting group near Los Angeles International Airport, since 2009.
Pat Shingetsu Guzy- Born 1942 in Bournemouth England. Raised Catholic, but separated from the Church after divorce. At age 23 arrived in U.S, where a temporary adventure turned into a lifetime stay. Raised in a musical performing family, she continued singing for a short time in the States before becoming an Occupational Therapist working in Gerontology for over 20 years. Now retired, she has one adult son.
Her abiding passion for a spiritual path led her to Zen in 1989 at the interfaith conference, Harmonia Mundi, where she had an opportunity to sit with Maezumi Roshi. She joined ZCLA shortly thereafter. In 1993, she received jukai from Maezumi Roshi. In 1999, she ordained as a Zen Priest with Roshi Egyoku. In 2006, Sensei Shingetsu received Precept Transmission, was empowered as a Dharma Holder in 2006, and subsequently received Dharma Transmission in May 2009.
Sensei Shingetsu has hosted the Valley Sangha sitting group in Woodland Hills, since 1992.