Sensei Kodo began sitting in 1985 when she saw a 12th century Chinese painting called “The Solitary Angler” in the book, The World of Zen, and immediately recognized herself in every aspect of the painting. After a few years of practicing alone at home with the guidance of Dharma books, she ventured out and found a sitting group led by Sister Janet Richardson. She received Jukai in 1994 and Priest Ordination in 1996 from Roshi Sandra Jishu Holmes. After Roshi Jishu’s death, Kodo continued her practice with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, from whom she received Preceptor Transmission in 2002 and Dharma Transmission in March 2006.
Kodo is African-American and was raised in the deep South in a Christian home and community. During the years between leaving home and beginning the practice of Zen Buddhism, she had no particular religion. She has worked most of her life as a clinical social worker practicing psychotherapy and is now retired from that profession. She is married and has one daughter who lives in Texas.
Roshi Robert Kennedy, S.J., is a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher in the White Plum lineage. He studied with Yamada Roshi in Kamakura, Japan, with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles, and with Roshi Bernie Glassman in New York. Roshi Bernie installed Kennedy as sensei in 1991 and conferred Inka (his final seal of approval) in 1997, making him a roshi (Zen Master).
Roshi Kennedy is the author of Zen Gifts to Christians and Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit.
Carl came to zen practice about 30 years ago. His first contact with zen was at the Zen Studies Society in NYC in the early 70’s. Later he joined Bernie at the Zen Community of New York in Riverdale. During this time he married and had a son. While continuing to sit and attend occasional retreats, Carl devoted himself to family life and developing a career in Social Work. He earned an MSW from Rutgers University and susequently became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
From the mid -nineteen seventies through the present Carl has worked in the field of public welfare running programs for, and working with, homeless women and children. He has also maintained a private practice specializing in grief counseling and trauma. He is currently the administrator of the social work department at the Passaic County Board of Social Services.
About ten years ago Carl re-dedicated himself to zen practice studying with Roshi Robert Kennedy at Still Mind Zendo in Jersey City. At a December 2010 retreat Roshi Kennedy transmitted the dharma to Carl making him a Sensei. Sensei Carl said, ” Zen has helped me experience the intimacy of not knowing, allowing me to live a more connected and open-hearted life. Teaching is an opportunity to help others experience this for themselves and to serve the greater community that is us.”
Sensei Ray Ryuzan Cicetti is a dharma successor to Roshi Robert Kennedy in the White Plum lineage and is the resident lay teacher at the Empty Bowl Zendo, currently housed at Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, N.J.
Ray is also a psychotherapist in private practice in Morristown. He is married, has one son and two grandchildren.