Sensei Michael Elliston Atlanta

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Abbot Bio


Born on a farm outside the small town of Centralia, Illinois in 1941, where he grew up, Michael Elliston completed high school with honors. He attended the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago from which he received a B.S. in 1964 and an M.S. in 1970. From 1966 to 1970 he taught art and design at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sensei’s involvement with Zen began in 1966 when he met Matsuoka-Roshi, founder and head teacher of the Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple. After two years of training under Matsuoka-Roshi’s supervision, and at his suggestion, Sensei underwent a combined initiation and discipleship ceremony, during which he was given the dharma name Taiun, translating as “Great Cloud”.

Taiun Michael Elliston was registered with the Soto Shu in Japan July 13, 1969 and ordained as a Zen Priest March 22, 1970. He continued his duties at the Chicago Zen Center until 1970, when he moved to Atlanta, where he soon began offering Zen meditation and teaching. In 1977 he founded the Atlanta Soto Zen Center (ASZC), and in 1983 Matsuoka-roshi presented him the title of “roshi”, which he called “the Ph.D. of Zen”, in Atlanta.

Sensei continues to offer his ordinary-everyday style of Zen practice and training as the head teacher of ASZC, where he oversees the training of disciples and priests and encourages the growing membership to lead a Zen life and maintain a harmonious balance with the demands of family and livelihood.

In 2006 Sensei underwent “Shuso” training and a precepts ceremony with Seirin Barbara Kohn of Austin Zen Center (Suzuki lineage), and sesshin with Shohaku Okumura in Bloomington, Indiana, and completed transmission with them in early 2007 in a ceremony that recognized the authenticity of Matsuoka-Roshi’s transmission and lineage.

Taiun M. Elliston, Abbot of the Silent Thunder Order is a member of:

  • The Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA).

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Barbara Kohn

Religion Zen Buddhism
School Sōtō
Senior posting
Based in Austin Zen Center
Title Sensei
Religious career

Seirin Barbara Kohn is a Soto Zen sensei and head priest of The Austin Zen Center (AZC) in Austin, Texas, practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. She was ordained as a Soto priest by Reb Anderson and received Dharma transmission from Zenkei Blanche Hartman—Kohn being Hartman’s first Dharma heir. The Austin Zen Center’s temple name, Zenkei-ji, is named after Blanche Hartman. Kohn became head priest and resident teacher of AZC on October 13, 2002. Before assuming her leadership of AZC, Kohn served as President of the San Francisco Zen Center. Kohn has also been known to offer “commitment ceremonies” for same-sex couples, stating, “I simply treat them all the same.”[1][2][3][1]

[edit]See also


  1. ^ Liao, Ruth
  2. ^ Ford, 131
  3. ^ Texas Monthly


Shohaku Okamura

Shohaku Okumura
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shohaku Okumura

Religion Zen Buddhism
School Sōtō
Nationality Japanese
Born June 22, 1948 (age 64)
Osaka, Japan
Senior posting
Based in Sanshin Zen Community
Title Priest
Predecessor Kosho Uchiyama
Successor Chiko Corona, Shotai de la Rosa, Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston, Densho Quintero, Shoju Mahler, and Shoryu Bradley
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Shohaku Okumura (奥村 正博, b. 1948) is a Japanese Soto Zen priest and the founder and guiding teacher of the Sanshin Zen Community (Sanshinji) located in Bloomington, Indiana,[1] where he and his family currently live. From 1997 until 2010, Okumura also served as Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center in San Francisco, California, which is an administrative office of the Soto school of Japan (formerly located in Los Angeles California under the name North American Soto School in Los Angeles).
Contents [hide]
1 Biography
2 Teaching
3 Dharma heirs
4 Bibliography
5 See also
6 References
7 Sources
8 External links

Shohaku Okumura was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948. He received his education at Komazawa University in Tokyo, Japan, where he studied Zen Buddhism. On December 8, 1970, Okumura was ordained at Antaiji by his teacher Kosho Uchiyama, where he practiced until Uchiyama retired in 1975.[2] He then traveled to the United States, where he co-founded Pioneer Valley Zendo in Massachusetts and continued Uchiyama’s style of zazen practice there until 1981. In that year, he returned to Japan and began translating the writings of Uchiyama and Eihei Dogen from Japanese into English. Prior to founding the Sanshin Zen Community, in 1996, he was a teacher at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and at the Kyoto Soto Zen Center, in Japan.

Okumura has dedicated his life to zazen and to the study and translation of Dogen’s writings. Among contemporary Zen teachers, he offers the unique perspective of a practitioner who is active in both the Japanese and Western Soto Zen communities, as well as insights that come from his translation work. The two main focuses of Okumura’s teaching career have been sharing the zazen practice of his teacher Kosho Uchiyama and giving extensive commentaries on the works attributed to Dogen. In addition to sesshins, he leads four intensive study retreats (called genzo-e) each year, which are dedicated to particular fascicles of Dogen’s Shōbōgenzō. These take place at Okumura’s home temple, Sanshinji, at other American Zen centers, and occasionally outside the United States. Okumura’s wife, Yuko, serves as the sewing teacher at Sanshin Zen Community, continuing the nyoho-e style of okesa and rakusu sewing that was encouraged by Uchiyama’s teacher, Kodo Sawaki. The author James Ishmael Ford describes Shohaku Okumura as, “…a tireless worker bridging the gap between Japanese and non-Japanese practice communities.”
[edit]Dharma heirs

In recent years, several priests have received shiho (“Dharma transmission”) from Okumura:
Chiko Corona (Los Angeles, CA),
Shotai de la Rosa (Daishin Zendo Hialeah, FL),
Densho Quintero (Comunidad Soto Zen de Colombia Bogotá, Colombia),
Shoju Mahler (Zendo L’eau Vive Alès, France),
Shoryu Bradley (Gyobutsuji, AR).
Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston (Atlanta Soto Zen Center) has also received transmission from Okumura to further legitimize the sometimes disputed Soto lineage of Soyu Matsuoka.

Bokusan, Nishiari; Shohaku Okumura; Shunryu Suzuki; Kosho Uchiyama; Sojun Mel Weitsman; Kazuaki Tanahashi; Dairyu Michael Wenger (2011). Dogen’s Genjokoan: Three Commentaries. Berkley,CA: Counterpoint. ISBN 1582437432.
Leighton, Taigen Dan; Shohaku Okumura (2004). Dogen’s Extensive Record: A Translation of the Eihei Koroku. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-305-2.
Leighton, Taigen Dan; Shohaku Okumura (1996). Pure Standards for the Zen Community: A Translation of the Eihei Shingi. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. ISBN 0-585-04623-9.
Okumura, Shohaku (2012). Living by Vow: A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 1-61429-010-5.
Okumura, Shohaku (2010). Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen’s Shobogenzo. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-601-9.
Okumura, Shohaku, editor (2003). Dogen Zen and its Relevance for Our Time: An International Symposium Held in Celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Birth of Dogen Zenji, Stanford University , October 23–24, 1999. San Francisco, CA: Sōtō Zen Buddhism International Center.
Okumura, Shohaku; Taigen Dan Leighton (1997). The Wholehearted Way: A Translation of Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa. Boston: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3105-X.
Okumura, Shohaku (1990). Shobogenzo Zuimonki: Sayings of Eihei Dogen Zenji. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Sōtō-Zen Center. OCLC 215148008.
Okumura, Shohaku (1988). Dogen Zen. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Sōtō-Zen Center. OCLC 29269397.
Okumura, Shohaku (1985). Shikantaza: An Introduction to Zazen. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Sōtō-Zen Center. OCLC 18308720.
Uchiyama, Kosho; Thomas Wright; Jishō Cary Warner; Shohaku Okumura (2004). Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-357-5.
Uchiyama, Kosho; trans. Koshi Ichida; Marshall Mittnick; George Vavares; Shohaku Okumura (1990). The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo. Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto Sōtō-Zen Center.
Warner, Jisho Cary; Shohaku Okumura; Taigen Dan Leighton; John McRae (2001). Nothing is Hidden : Essays on Zen Master Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook. New York: Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-0478-6.
[edit]See also

Buddhism in Japan
Buddhism in the United States
Timeline of Zen Buddhism in the United States

^ Okumara; Kokoro
^ Uchiyama, xvii-xxi

Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-509-8.
Okumura, Shohaku (Fall 2005). “Kokoro”. Buddhadharma: the Practitioner’s Quarterly. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
Uchiyama, Kosho; Thomas Wright; Jishō Cary Warner; Shohaku Okumura (2004). Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-357-5.
[edit]External links

Sanshin Zen Community
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