John began his formal Zen practice 30 years ago at the Zenshuji Soto Mission temple in Los Angeles. At that time his principle teacher was Tozen Akiyama (who subsequently became the head priest at the Milwaukee Zen Center). Early in that practice, John’s path was strengthened by two key events. The first was participation in the summer ango at Zen Center Los Angeles, led by Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi. The second was receiving the precepts at a formal jukai ceremony at Zenshuji, officiated by Rempo Niwa Zenji, abbot of Eiheiji in Japan.
John is grateful for encounters with some extraordinary teachers (gassho to Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Charlotte Joko Beck, Shohaku Okumura, Issho Fujita, and especially Tozen Akiyama). He has benefitted from the teachings and examples of the many priests at Zenshuji, most recently Shumyo Kojima Sensei and Myoshin John Lang Sensei.
After arriving in Seattle many years ago, without a Soto Zen zendo available, John found One Pine Hall, with its Soto Zen priest, Ryuzen Robby Pellett, and was able to reconnect to the traditions of Dogen Zenji's zen. It was there he met Sandy Taylor, and it was from there they began Seattle Soto Zen.