About Del Ray Zen

Del Ray Zen was founded in 2011 by Nancy Seiko Reder and Peter Shodo Pocock, students of Jakusho Kwong-roshi, abbot of the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center.

Our meditation practice continues the Sōtō Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, who came to the United States in 1959 as one of the first Japanese Zen priests to teach American students.

In early 2020, Peter received priest ordination from Kwong-roshi, with the dharma name Kanzenchi.

Our Lineage - Soto Zen Buddhism

Bodhidharma to Eihei Dogen

The Sōtō school of Zen descended from the Chinese Caodong tradition, which traces its origin to the teachings of Bodhidharma, a legendary monk who came from India in the early fifth century. He taught simple seated meditation as the path to realization, diminishing the importance of words and scriptures.

Bodhidharma was succeeded by generations of patriarchs, each conveying the essence of the teachings to his successor by the intimate interaction of teacher and disciple. These teachings and forms comprised the core of Chan Buddhism, informing all the schools and tendencies that developed over the years as Chan became  the predominant form of Buddhism in China. 

The Caodong school of Chan found its way to Japan in the 13th century, brought there by Eihei Dogen, a Japanese Buddhist monk (pictured above). Dogen had made the perilous journey to China in search of a Buddhist practice more genuine than what he had found in his native country. For two years he traveled through eastern China from one temple to another, searching for a worthy teacher, before settling at Mount Tiantong in Ningbo. There he studied for more than two years with a master named Rujing (Nyojo in Japanese), receiving dharma transmission before returning to Japan. He brought with him the conviction, instilled by Rujing, that shikantaza--just sitting--is the only essential practice for realizing the true teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha. 

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Dogen taught and wrote for the next 25 years, eventually founding a temple called Eiheiji--Temple of Eternal Peace--which remains one of the two head temples of Sōtō Zen. Dogen's teaching has also lasted through the centuries, today still providing the foundation for practice at Zen centers around the world.

Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki-roshi (pictured above, 1904-1971) was a direct spiritual descendant of the great 13th century Zen master Dogen. Suzuki-roshi was a Japanese Zen priest belonging to the Soto lineage who came to San Francisco in 1959 at the age of 55.

Already a highly 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 he decided to settle here. He founded San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara (the first Zen training center outside of Asia). From these roots grew many other affiliated Zen centers in America.

Jakusho Kwong-roshi

Jakusho Kwong-roshi (pictured, above) began studying Zen with Shunryu Suzuki-roshi in 1959. He received ordination in 1970 and founded Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in 1973 as his commemoration to his teacher. 

Kwong-roshi completed Dharma transmission in 1978, authorizing him as Dharma successor to Suzuki-roshi's lineage. Kwong-roshi travels regularly to Iceland and Poland to lead intensive meditation periods for affiliate sitting groups. He teaches ordinary Zen in everyday life as nothing special but the aliveness we bring to each moment.