Ji Ko Ji Jikoji Retreat Center, 12100 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033, phone: (408) 741-9562

Speaker Biographies

Guest Teachers

Carolyn Atkinson, Eiko Joshin, is a Dharma Heir of the late Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi, and has been practicing Zen Buddhist meditation since 1973. She is a priest in the Soto Zen tradition and received dharma transmission from her Teacher before his unexpected death in 2002. She has also studied in the Vipassana tradition, and is a trained community dharma leader. She is particularly interested in the comparison and the benefits of two practices: mindfulness meditation (vipassana) and "just sitting" (shikantaza). Carolyn is the author of the book, Quiet Mind, Open Heart, and is the Head Teacher at Everyday Dharma Zen Center in Santa Cruz, California. She trained in traditional Chinese medicine in San Francisco and in China, and practiced acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for twenty years. She is the mother of two grown sons.

Angie Boissevain served as Jikoji's first director and, later, as a teacher. While raising three sons and being a wife and poet, she began her study with Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi at Haiku Zendo. Kobun called her the "transmitted housewife" and she was formally ordained as a teacher by Vanja Palmers after Kobun's untimely death. She has almost forty years of practice, is the Floating Zendo's teacher, and leads sesshins for her students in many parts of California, New Mexico, Colorado, Austria, and Switzerland.

Sokuzan Bob Brown in 1975, he established the Dharma Study Group of Battle Creek, Michigan, that has become through association with Kobun and Michael a sister zendo of Jikoji. In 1978, Bob became an authorized meditation instructor through Vajradhatu in Boulder and later completed the Vajradhatu Seminary in 1980 at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. In 1990, Bob met Kobun Chino Roshi, a Zen meditation master from Japan, and became a student of his. He received lay ordination from Kobun Roshi's brother, the late Hojosama Keibun Otagawa, and full ordination as a priest in 2007 in the Soto Zen lineage from Shoho Michael Newhall, Resident Teacher at Jikoji in Los Gatos, California.

Ian Hakuryu Forsberg was fortunate to meet Kobun Chino Otogawa during his late teens. He began zazen practice and was ordained by Kobun at Haiku Zendo in 1977. Ian practiced with Kobun and the Sangha in California at Haiku Zendo, Hidden Villa Ranch and later at Jikoji. In the early eighties, after Kobun moved to Taos, New Mexico, Ian visited Taos a few times at Kobun’s request for sesshins and the formal Hokoji opening ceremony. In 1987 he went to Taos to spend three months working on Kobun’s house and never left. During the years at Hokoji, he has helped with the practice at Hokoji; was Shuso in 1990, received Dharma Transmission from Vanja Palmers in 2005 and is resident teacher at Hokoji. Along with many of Kobun’s students, he has embraced the commitment of ordinations, family, and zazen as an open and natural practice.

Kokyo Henkel is the Head Teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center. He has been practicing Zen since 1990 in residence at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, No Abode Hermitage in Mill Valley, and Bukkokuji Monastery in Japan. He was given transmission as a teacher in 2010 by Tenshin Anderson Roshi.

Jill Kakushin Kaplan is a teacher in the Suzuki Roshi lineage and practices with Zen Heart Sangha in Menlo Park and Woodside. She has been practicing Zen since 1993, was priest ordained in 2001 and received Dharma Transmission last year from her teacher, Misha Shungen Merrill. Jill has also trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction and is a psychotherapist practicing in San Jose.

Misha Shungen Merrill is the primary teacher for Zen Heart Sangha in Menlo Park and Woodside, California and has been practicing Zen since 1984. She was ordained as a Zen priest in 1988 and received Dharma Transmission in 1998 from her teacher, Les Kaye Roshi, the abbot of Kannon Do Zen Center.

Shoho Michael Newhall was ordained and transmitted by Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi and currently is Jikoji's resident teacher and Chief Priest. He leads sesshins at other Zen Centers in the U.S. and Europe, along with art and meditation workshops. Michael has practiced and studied with Kobun's brother, Keibun Otogawa, in Japan , Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Tozen Akiyama Roshi, and Tenshin Reb Anderson.

Shinshu Roberts, co-founder/teacher of Ocean Gate Zen Center, Capitola, CA, was ordained in 1988 at San Francisco Zen Center and received Dharma Transmission in 2005 from Sojun Weitsman, Roshi, Abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. She holds the appointment of Kokusaifukyoshi (International Teacher) with the Soto Zen School in Japan. Shinshu with her partner Daijaku Kinst, is co-founder/teacher of Ocean Gate Zen Center in Capitola on 41st Avenue. Publications: “Moshan’s Mountain Summit”, Record of the Hidden Lamp: 100 Koans and Stories from 25 Centuries of Awakened Women, ed. Susan Moon. Wisdom Publications, Forthcoming. “Astride the Highest Mountain: Dogen’s Being/Time”, Receiving the Marrow: Teachings on Dogen by Soto Zen Women Priests, ed. Eido Frances Carney. Temple Ground Press, 2012. Forth coming commentary on Shōbōgenzō Uji, to be published by Wisdom Publications, 2015.

Since having been ordained by Kobun Chino Roshi too many years ago to recall when, Peter Szydlowski has practiced an unorthodox style of zen priesthood. With Kobun's permission, he usually wears his Okesa as a shawl over his shoulders, one form of his effort to adapt Japanese zen ritual to western ways. For years he has been leading the rohatsu sesshin at Jikoji with an emphasis on zazen and silence, as an adaptation of Antaiji-style sesshins. His practice in daily life includes grandfatherhood, extensive travel, and volunteering at Pinnacles National Park where he worked as a park ranger.

Val Szymanski is the founding teacher of Bamboo in the Wind, a Zen practice group that meets in Sunnyvale. She was ordained by Diane Martin in the Danin Katagiri Roshi lineage. Reverend Val is an esteemed calligrapher and offers calligraphy workshops, as well as dharma studies. For more information about Bamboo in the Wind, go to: www.bamboointhewind.org.

Other Speakers

Meido Barbara Anderson is a Zen priest, ordained, after 25 years of both Rinzai and Soto style practice, in the lineage of Kobun Chino Otagawa Roshi by Shoho Michael Newhall. She is the founder and resident teacher at O-An Zendo in Julian, Pennsylvania, a sister temple to Jikoji. After earning a doctorate in philosophy, she embarked upon an academic career which included serving as the Director of Peace Studies at Penn State University, founding and directing the Penn State Center For Sustainability, publishing 2 books and many scholarly articles, and dancing with The Extemporary Dance Theatre.

Ho-e Ryan Brandenburg, director of Jikoji 1994-2004, is ordained in both Kobun Chino-roshi's lineage and Native American traditional ways.

Greg Campbell is a Staff Resident who also serves as Business Manager at Jikoji. Greg was born in Washington state in 1938. He joined the Marines while still a teenager. He later practiced Zen Buddhism and studied Japanese culture in Japan. Back in America in his late twenties, he became a nurse, served as an interpreter-monk for Sasaki Joshu Roshi, and studied world mysticism. In Europe in his fifties he served as an ecumenical counsellor/comforter for the dying and also gave talks, retreats, and educational programs. He received lay ordination from Michael Newhall at Jikoji. Recently his health has deteriorated unexpectedly.

donnalynn seiko chase practices with Floating Zendo in San Jose, yet she knows that Jikoji is her "home" temple. She was lay priest ordained by Angie Boissevain Sensei and Shuso in 2009. donnalynn is the founder of Soul Expression, a creative process coach and workshop leader, and self-taught artist. Typically these days, she can be found in her studio where her practice is inherent in her art.

After only 40 years of practice, Cliff Isberg, PhD, was ordained by Shoho Michael Newhall as a Soto Zen Buddhist Monk in 2010. He sometimes serves as one of Jikoji's oversight managers. Notes and outlines for his recent talks are posted on his Dharma Talks.

Doug Jacobson is a Jikoji Resident, ordained monk, Jikoji Shuso (Winter 2013)and civil/tunnel engineer. He also assists prisoners with Buddhist practice.

Shoho Kerstin Kuebast, born in Germany, spent a few years of residency in Puregg, Austria. There she practiced with Kobun and was priest—ordained by Vanja Palmers in 2000 at the newly established Felsentor. Since then she practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center with Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi, with whom she completed basic priest training by being Shuso last fall. She is currently associated with Santa Cruz Zen Center.

John Lowney: "I had the great good fortune to study calligraphy with Kobun in the early 80s; he liked my calligraphy. My calligraphy notecards have been on sale at the SFZC Bookstore for the past year, a topic I've never mentioned since I don't hold myself out to be a calligrapher. Also, Kobun appointed me shusso for the fall ango in 1988, an honor I didn't fully understand or appreciate till later years."

A resident at Jikoji for almost a decade, Gerow Reece offers ceremonial tea. He was also the grounds keeper here--recently developing a garden area behind the Community Building. In the mid-sixties he practiced Zen meditation and studied calligraphy in Kyoto, Japan, and he now teaches a monthly calligraphy class.

Bunkai Stephen Tracy is a Zen student, ordained by Shoho Michael Newhall in 2009. He studied biology at UC Santa Cruz and Indiana University and creative writing as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a horseshoer, newspaper editor, and high school English teacher. Having recently completed the Fall Practice Period at Green Gulch Farm, he will participate in winter practice period at Tassajara, where he has worked as a kitchen worker and cook assist for the last two summers.

Dan Zigmond is a Soto Zen Buddhist Priest ordained at Jikoji by Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi in 1998. He is also a father, software engineer, writer, and contributing editor at Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Currently, Dan is a Jikoji board member, and is teaching and training at Jikoji.


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Jikoji website updated January 2014 —Technical questions, suggestions, or problems with the site? email: webmaster@jikoji.org