Born in Denver in 1949, and raised Roman Catholic on Long Island, I attended Regis, a Jesuit high school in Manhattan. I was a member of the Jesuit Order for 5 years after high school. It was then I first met Fr. Robert Kennedy (1969). who was my teacher for Eastern Religions at Fordham College. After that, I spent 22 years as a Carthusian monk, a silent, contemplative hermit Order, living first in Vermont (where I was ordained a priest in 1979). then at La Grande Chartreuse in France (subject of the recent documentary “Into Great Silence”). where I was in charge of the distillation of the Chartreuse liqueur, and finally in England. My experience sharpened my desire to explore the East. In 1994, I left and returned to New York City, where I have been working as a parish priest, first in Greenwich Village, then in the Bronx, and currently in midtown Manhattan. Also in 1994, I began sitting zazen, reconnecting with Robert Kennedy, who had since become Sensei (1991). and would soon become Roshi (1997). I sat for eight years with his dharma successor, Sensei Janet Jiryu Abels, at her Still Mind Zendo. In 2002, I began working more directly with Roshi Kennedy, and it was he who gave me dharma transmission as Sensei on June 18,2009. I have also done serious work with a Yoga meditation master, and engaged with other world religious traditions. I founded Dragon’s Eye Zendo at my church, the Chapel of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus & Mary on E. 33rd Street, in February of 2010. I teach at a number of well-established sanghas in the metropolitan area that are offshoots of Roshi Kennedy, but which lack a “resident” teacher.
Rev. Robert Chodo Campbell, HCC co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, the first Buddhist organization to offer fully accredited chaplaincy training in America. The organization delivers contemplative approaches to care through education, direct service and meditation practice. In order to bring the work to a broader audience, he co-developed the Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Training Program. Chodo is part of the core faculty for the Buddhist Track in the Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling at NYZCCC’s education partner, New York Theological Seminary. He is Co-Director of Contemplative Care Services for the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center. Chodo is a dynamic, earthy, and visionary leader and teacher. His public programs have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the living and dying. 30,000 people listen to his podcasts each year. His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and in numerous print publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He also authored the chapter “The Turning of the Dharma Wheel in Its Many Forms” in the book The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work, Wisdom Publications, 2012. He is a Senior Zen Buddhist monk, Dharma Teacher, and senior chaplain.
Rev. Dr. Koshin Paley Ellison, MFA, LMSW, DMin, co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, the first Buddhist organization to offer fully accredited chaplaincy training in America and the organization delivers contemplative approaches to care through education, direct service and meditation practice. In order to bring the work to a broader audience, he co-developed the Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care Training Program. Koshin leads the Buddhist Track in the Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling at NYZCCC’s education partner, New York Theological Seminary. He is the Co-Director of Contemplative Care Services for the Department of Integrative Medicine, and serves as the Chaplaincy Supervisor for the Pain and Palliative Care Department at Beth Israel Medical Center where he also serves on the Medical Ethics Committee. Koshin is a dynamic, original, and visionary leader and teacher. His public programs have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the living and dying. 30,000 people listen to his podcasts each year. His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and in numerous print publications such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He is the co-author of the chapter “Rituals and Resilience,” in the book, Creating Spiritual and Psychological Resilience, Routledge, 2009. He also authored the chapter “The Jeweled Net: What Dogen and the Avatamsaka Sutra Can Offer Us as Spiritual Caregivers,” in the book The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work, Wisdom Publications, 2012. He is a Senior Zen Buddhist Monk, Dharma Teacher, poet, chaplaincy supervisor and Jungian psychotherapist.
Nancy Mujo Baker was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She went to Wellesley College, and graduate school at Brandeis University in New England where she fell in love with the East Coast. Nancy began Zen meditation in 1979 with Nakajima Sensei, a Soto priest who worked for the post office, and had a small zendo (meditation hall) at the end of her street. Bernard Tetsugen Glassman Sensei became Nancy’s teacher in 1980 before Greyston was purchased.
She has been a Professor of Philosophy at Sarah Lawrence College since 1974, specializing in the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Nancy will be 70 in May of 2011, and will complete her last full-time year of teaching. She will continue for three more years half-time at Sarah Lawrence. She plans to write a book on “Wittgenstein and Zen,” something she has wanted to do for years.
Sarah Lawrence College has small year-long classes (15) with accompanying tutorials. Not only has Zen influenced her academic teaching, but also her academic teaching has influenced her Zen teaching, particularly when it comes to small group work.
She has also studied The Diamond Approach for fifteen years, the work of A. H. Almaas. The Diamond Approach has taught Nancy a great deal about actualizing the Way, and experiencing the unique flavor of the five Buddha families,
Every March for her spring break she spends time on Cape Cod where she works with a small Zen group. Every July she spends a month in the White Mountains of NH where she works with another group. Members of these two groups often are able to join us for our retreats at Grail house. This work has made her think of herself sometimes as an old fashioned ‘circuit rider.’ In 200? Bernie empowered her and two other lay teachers, Grover Genro Gaunt and Eve Myonen Marko as preceptors. According to Mujo this turned out to be an incredible gift. During that year 15 students received jukai, including one in a mazimum security prison. Currently Tricycle Magazine is publishing one precept talk from that year per issue. This involves some rewriting, which Mujo loves.
Shaykha Fariha is the spiritual guide of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order in New York City. She was born in 1947 into a socially committed, eclectic Catholic family in Houston, Texas. At the age of 29, she met her teacher, Shaykh Muzaffer Ozak of Istanbul, and received direct transmission from him in 1980. Shaykh Muzaffer also gave direct transmission to Lex Hixon (Shaykh Nur al-Jerrahi), who envisioned a radical and illumined path of the heart which he called Universal Islam. After Shaykh Nur’s death, Fariha took on the guidance of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Order, with circles around the world. This lineage offers the nectar of teachings of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, which guide the seeker to self-knowledge and immersion in God. The sacred practices of zikr, prayer, charitable living, fasting and retreat are all embraced. Every Thursday, Fariha with her husband Ali and the dervishes invite all seekers into the circle of zikr at the Dergah al-Farah in NYC.
Francisco “Paco” Genkoji Lugoviña is an ordained Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen lineage and in the Zen Peacemaker Order; is a member of the Zen Peacemaker Circles and Peacemaker International; and is the founder of the Hudson River Peacemaker Center-House of One People in Yonkers, New York where he has a fledgling sangha.. He works with gang members and other youth groups in Council Circle format and meditation practice. Francisco has participated in pilgrimages to Tibet, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and in the streets of New York City. He has an admirable history as a community organizer and civil rights activist spanning his college and professional careers. Additionally, Paco has been active in community and political affairs in New York City for most of his adult life.
He has been highly effective in raising capital funds and in other fund raising endeavors for political campaigns, arts institutions, religious and secular organizations and for special causes.
An entrepreneur, Paco, as he is best known, has launched several successful businesses since 1968. As Chief Operating Officer of LRF Developers, Inc., one of these such enterprises, he combined entrepreneurship with solid managerial ability to successfully develop 161 housing units with a total construction cost of $9 million and a $39 million Battery Park City Residential tower. Paco served as Chairman of the State of the New York Mortgage Agency; was Bank Regulator on the New York State Banking Board for nine years; and was Chairman of the National Hispanic Housing Coalition.
Paco is also the founder and CEO of Principle Centered Associates, a full-service training and development company. He commands a wide-range of experiences as a human resources trainer and facilitator, which has taken him from the sidewalks of the South Bronx to the boardrooms of the corporate investment community where he has conducted organizational development and training. He is a strong advocate of self-development and, as such, has actively lent his talents to help young people obtain a better life through career development. He is certified in various programs, including Vitality Alliance-Praxis, in their Path of Dialogue Training and Corporate Pulse Surveys: and by the Covey Leadership Center in their Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Quadrant II Time Management programs, and in NewLine Consulting’s Leonardo Process.
He is a founder of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and served on that board for 20 years. He served on the Executive Committee of the Phelps-Stokes Fund Board for 15 yeas; was on the Business Development Committee of the National Hispanic Business Group; and is a member of the Greyston Foundation Board, where he sits on the Housing Development Committee. He is currently the Chairperson of the Family Life Academy Charter School in the Bronx, NY; and is the Chairperson of the United Bronx Parents-La Casita, also in the Bronx.
Paco received New York City’s highest Mayoral award for arts contribution and an award from the Jewish Community Relations Council for his socio-civic work.
He holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Finance from Iona College.
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara is the Abbot of Dotoku-ji / Village Zendo.
Roshi Enkyo is a Zen Priest and certified Zen Teacher in the Soto tradition. She studied with John Daido Loori Roshi of Zen Mountain Monastery and Taizan Maezumi Roshi of the Zen Center of Los Angeles/Zen Mountain Center. She is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.
In 1997 she received Shiho (dharma transmission) from Roshi Bernie Glassman and in June, 2004, she received inka from him in an empowerment ceremony held at the Mother House of the Zen Peacemakers in Montague, Ma.
In May, 2005 she became Co-Spiritual Director of the Zen Peacemakers Order.
Enkyo’s focus is on true self-expression, peacemaking and HIV/AIDS activism. She holds a Ph. D. in Media Ecology and taught Multi-media at New York University for over 20 years.
She is the Guiding Spiritual Teacher of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.
Sensei Paul Seiko Schubert, a resident of New York City, is a dharma successor to Roshi Robert Kennedy of the White Plum Asanga. He received transmission from Roshi Kennedy in August 2007. There are two groups in New York City, City Tiger Zendo and Zen@Xavier; he is also a scheduled visiting teacher at several other groups in the area. This schedule represents a commitment to sit with people where they are. He is married to Peggy and has two children. He has a PhD in Chemical Engineering and worked for many years in research. He currently teaches science and introduced a seminar at the school: Offering Zen to Students.
All photos by Peter Cunningham, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Roshi Peter Muryo Matthiessen was a master novelist, naturalist, and literary voice for nature—an acclaimed activist concerned with ecological issues, and the rights of indigenous peoples, social justice. He was a Zen teacher—a Zen Master, a Buddhist priest—Zen Buddhist priest, and founder of The Paris Review. He has written over thirty fiction and nonfiction books, and a plethora of powerful, deeply researched and artfully crafted articles. He was my first Dharma successor. And I gave him inka, that is, he became a Zen Master in January of ’97.
I first met him in 1976 at the opening ceremony for Dai Bosatsu Zendo, in the Catskills of New York. He told me that he wanted to leave his studies with Eido Shimano Roshi, and was looking for a new teacher, and we talked. And he said he would like to come study with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles. So we set that up, and he started to do that. He lived in New York at that time (and until he passed away just a few days ago, April 5th, 2014)—has lived in the same place in Long Island, in the Hamptons—Sagaponack.
So he started to travel to Los Angeles, to come to Zen Center of Los Angeles to study with my teacher Maezumi Roshi. And since I was also teaching at the time, he was also studying with me. And he was one of the reasons that I moved back to New York—the state in which I was born—in December of ’79. There were a number of students asking me to move back to New York, and ready to start study, and he was one of them. And in fact [he] came on board of the Zen Community of New York in ’78, as we were starting to form how the Zen Community of New York would look.
And from the beginning, he was one of the stronger students I had. He was studying all the time, coming to all the retreats, and in fact, he became my major student. And accompanied me in all of the Bearing Witness type events that I started to do. He was on the first three retreats. He was on our first Bearing Witness retreat at Auschwitz. He came again, then later on, came again.
And during the first retreat at Auschwitz, it so moved him, he decided to write a book about (as he said at the time) about human nature. That book is almost out. It’s been published, and this is April 7th, I believe the book comes out in about one week. And it’s already had wonderful reviews.
He decided to ordain, and did that with my teacher Maezumi Roshi. I helped in that ceremony, and I’ll be posting various pictures, and some of them are his novice priest ceremony. And he ordained in Riverdale at the Zen Community of New York. And we were calling this center—the facility was called Greyston. He ordained in ’81. And he was going to be the first head, or senior priest that I was to have—in a three-month training program, in New York.
And so before that, I thought it would be good to do a pilgrimage to Japan with him, to go to all of the various places that figure in my lineage. And also, since he was such a wonderful poet, and writer, and naturalist, we also followed the trail of Basho, the famous Japanese poet and naturalist. And that was quite an amazing trip. We continued each day to do Koan study together. And that resulted in a book he wrote called The Nine-Headed Dragon River.
We came back. We had the training—the three-month training program, which he led. And then he became the first senior student—senior priest—at the Zen Community of New York.
He’s an amazing person—a very humble person. You know, he had done so much, written so much, had so many awards, and knew so many people. But he was very serious about his Zen studies, as well of course as all his work with particularly the Lakota, but various indigenous groups; with the environment; with the causes of the fisherman. He worked with Cesar Chavez, in union farm issues—very serious and very humble. You never heard him dropping names or resting on his laurels.
I love the man. I’ll always love the man.
And I want to end with two episodes. At the age of eighty, he was going home and it was a dark night, and a deer jumped out. And as they sometimes do, he hit the deer with his car. And he felt fatally wounded, and the deer limped away into the forest. And Peter was eighty, I believe at the time had some problems with his foot, but the thought of this poor deer dying a slow death—a painful death—really disturbed him. So he stopped his car, got out of the car, crawled into the woods to find the deer, and ended his life so that he wouldn’t be in misery. This is at the age of eighty.
He died at the age of eighty-seven. And his senior priest, Sensei Michel Engu Dobbs—a wonderful man who I feel will carry on Peter’s work in the zendo in a beautiful way—Michel spent much of the last few days with Peter. And Peter was already—he was in the hospital, he was on a lot of morphine—he was dying. And the last few days he didn’t speak. He didn’t speak. And he died on Saturday. And he came home from the hospital on Friday, to die at home in hospice. And Thursday night, Engu Michel was with Peter at the hospital. And as I said, Peter wasn’t speaking, but Michel saw on the TV screen it was Fox News. And so he said to Peter, “Are you watching Fox News?” Peter said, “No!” And then he said, “Do you want me to change the channel?” And Peter said, “Yes!” And so Zen Master Peter Muryo Matthiessen’s final dying words were “Get Fox News off of that TV!”
Read his books, and enjoy his writings.
Link here to read the New York Times Magazine article about his latest book and his life.
Sensei Kenneth Tetsuji Byalin is a Soto Buddhist priest, and Sensei in the lineage of Roshis Bernie Glassman and Sandra Jishu Holmes. He is the founder and spiritual head of the Zen Community of Staten Island and resident teacher of Multifaith Zen at Mount Manresa.
On April 20, 2009, the John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School in Staten Island received its charter and opened in September 2009!
Founded and established by Sensei Byalin, Lavelle Prep provides a unique model in the public education system, enabling students living with emotional challenges fully integrated in a rigorous college preparatory program. All Lavelle Prep students benefit from the small classes, superior educational technology, enriched instruction, and a curriculum that addresses their emotional and social needs.
Ken credits his training in socially engaged Buddhism with Bernie and Jishu as giving him the confidence and focus to manifest his vision. He bases the work on the Zen Peacemakers Three Tenets.
At Lavelle Prep, all students, those with disabilities and the non-disabled, enjoy the high-quality, integrated educational experience that breaks down barriers, develops open-minded leaders, and demands academic excellence, all while nurturing the minds and souls of our children.
To establish Lavelle Prep, Ken and his team at the Verrazan Foundation have had to overcome the most unimaginable bureaucratic obstacles. They have had to unite politicians, school boards, and various interest groups in the community They are recruiting and training extremely teachers, while implementing an extremely challenging, Harvard-recommended curriculum. They have received over 150 applications for their first class of 75 6th graders.
They raised $140K by the opening of the school in September. If this effort to provide quality education for emotionally challeneged children touches your heart, please consider a donation to The Verrazano Foundation, 777 Seaview Avenue, Staten Island, NY 100305.
Ken is also founder and President of the Verrazano Foundation, a non-profit organization that combats the stigma and discrimination against persons living with mental illness. The Foundation creates visible opportunities for people in recovery to contribute to society.
A professional in social work practice for over thirty years, Ken played a leadership role in the development of the Brookdale Community Mental Health Center and South Beach Psychiatric Center. He also taught social work and sociology full-time at the college level and maintained a private psychotherapy practice in Brooklyn and Staten Island for over twenty years.
Ken received his Bachelors degree in English literature from Carleton College, his Masters in social work from Columbia University, and his Doctorate in sociology from New York University. He holds clinical social work licenses in New York State and New Jersey and has published in numerous professional journals.
Russ Michel a dharma student of Robert Jinsen Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, founder and facilitator of White Plains Zen currently housed at St. Bart’s church in White Plains, NY. He also facilitates a Zen group at Fordham University – Westchester campus, sponsored by Carol Gibney; Campus Ministry Office at Fordham Westchester. He is married with two grown children and currently works as General Manager of a construction & service company located in Rockland County, NY.
Grover Genro Gauntt, is a Founding Teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and a dharma successor of Zen Master Bernie Glassman. He started studying with Maezumi Roshi at the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1971 serving as Board Chairman there from 1987 to 1997. After the passing of Maezumi Roshi in 1995, he worked closely with Bernie and started serving full time as Executive Director of the Peacemaker Community in early 1997. He studied at the University of Southern California and at the Wharton school of the University of Pennsylvania and has an MBA in finance. Feeling that his path was to unfold from a lay perspective, he pursued a professional career in real estate and finance forming Western Property Research, a real estate consulting firm that operated from 1984 to 1997. He has two sons, John and Parker. Baptized as a Congregationalist and raised as a Presbyterian., his interfaith studies have led him to explore Native American traditions and Sufi Muslim practices.
He is Co-Director of the Hudson River Peacemaker Center in Yonkers, NY, with Sensei Francisco “Paco” Genkoji Lugoviña