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Founders & Influences

Eihei Dogen


Dogen (1200-1253)– Respectfully referred to as Dogen Zenji, was a key figure in the development of Japanese Zen practice and the founder of the Soto Zen sect and author of the highly influential Shobogenzo.

Dainin Katagiri, Roshi


Dainin Katagiri, Roshi – Came to the United States in 1963 after training at Eiheiji Monastery, founded by Dogen Zenji. Katagiri Roshi worked with the Soto Propagation and Research Institute and then for the Soto Headquarters Office in Tokyo. He practiced and taught at the Zenshuji Soto Zen Mission in Los Angeles, later moving to Sokoji Soto Zen mission and then to San Francisco Zen Center, where he assisted Suzuki, Roshi. In 1972 he became the first abbot of Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. He returned as abbot of San Francisco Zen Center between 1984 and 1985, then returning to Minneapolis. His books include Returning to Silence (1988) and You Have to Say Something (1998).


“My basic memory of Katagiri (1928-1990) is of how he paid total attention to what was in front of him. He took care of each thing as if it were the most important thing in the world, whether it was throwing away some trash or talking to another person.” ~ Zuiko Redding


Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi


Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi – came to San Francisco in 1959. Already a respected Zen master in Japan, he was impressed by the seriousness and quality of “beginner’s mind” among Americans he met who were interested in Zen and decided to settle here.  He was undoubtedly one of the most influential Zen teachers of his time. Some of his edited talks have been collected in the books Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai. Suzuki-Roshi died in 1971.

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