Dharma Lineage

Zenkei Blanche HartmaN (1926-2016)
Abbess - San Francisco Zen Center

Zenkei Blanche Hartman began sitting in 1969 at the Berkeley Zen Center with Sojun Mel Weitsman and in San Francisco with Suzuki Roshi. She was priest ordained in 1977 by Zentatsu Baker Roshi and received dharma transmission with Sojun in 1988. Zenkei was the first woman Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, serving in that position from 1996-2003.

Zenkei led retreats for women at both SFZC and in Japan, and was an expert in the ritual of sewing the priest’s robe (okesa) and the lay precept-holder’s garment (rakusu). She was a member of the American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) and sat on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute.

Before coming to Zen practice, she studied chemistry at the University of California and worked as a chemist for the State of California. She married her late husband Shuun Lou Hartman in 1947 and together they had four children, eight grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.

Ryushin Paul Haller
Abbot - San Francisco Zen Center

Ryushin Paul Haller is a dharma heir of Sojun Mel Weitsman and has taught at San Francisco Zen Center for over 20 years. He teaches throughout the U.S. and Europe and has led mindfulness programs to assist with depression and recovery.

Paul has also taught in prisons and has a long involvement with the Zen Hospice Project. He has been practicing yoga for 25 years.

Founder and former Director of Outreach at SFZC, Paul is interested in finding ways of expressing our practice in society, both as compassionate service and making it available to as many people as possible. He is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Darlene Cohen (1942-2011)
Teacher - San Francisco Zen Center

Darlene Cohen (1942-2011) was an influential Soto Zen teacher and author who served as an inspiration for those suffering with chronic illness. Diagnosed with a debilitating form of rheumatoid arthritis at age 36 while in residence at San Francisco Zen Center, she chose exercise over medication to heal herself. When she saw that this improved her mobility, she began teaching these exercises to others.

She began formal Zen practice in the early seventies with Suzuki Roshi and then Richard Baker, and was ordained as a priest by Blanche Hartman in the late nineties. She received dharma transmission from Michael Wenger, and co-founded the Russian River Zendo along with her husband, Zen teacher Tony Patchell.

Known for her work with those suffering from chronic illness, Darlene focused on the synchronization of mind and body through attention to the minutiae of everyday life as a means for healing. She wrote three books: “Arthritis: Stop Suffering, Start Moving” (1995), “Finding a Joyful Life in the Heart of Pain” (2000 – later released under the title “Turning Suffering Inside Out”), and “The One Who Is Not Busy: Connecting with Work in a Deeply Satisfying Way” (2004).

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1905-1971)
Founder of San Francisco Zen Center

Zen Center North Shore is in the tradition of Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971), the founder of San Francisco Zen Center. Suzuki Roshi (“Roshi” is an honorific, meaning “teacher”) was a direct spiritual descendant of the great thirteenth-century Zen master Eihei Dogen, the founder of the Soto Zen school in Japan.

Already a respected Zen teacher in Japan, Suzuki Roshi came to America in 1959, intending only a short visit. He was so impressed by the quality of “beginner’s mind” and the seriousness in practice he found among Americans interested in Zen that he chose to make his home in San Francisco. When people heard that there was a Zen master in town, they came flocking. Suzuki Roshi’s response to them was “I sit zazen every morning. Please join me.” Out of this response emerged the San Francisco Zen Center and the many practice places in this tradition around the country and throughout the world.