Dating back 2,600 years to the historical Buddha, the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care’s Zen practice is in the Soto Zen Lineage of the White Plum Asanga. Our Founders, Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison and Sensei Chodo Robert Campbell GC-C are recognized Soto Zen Teachers by the Soto Zen Teachers Association, The White Plum Asanga, Zen Peacemakers and American Zen Teachers’ Association.
(480 BCE – 400 BCE)
The Buddha was a real person, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived 2,600 years ago. He was born the son of a king in Lumbini, Nepal. Prince Siddhartha lived in luxury, but at the age of 29, all that changed—he renounced his royal life and began a spiritual quest. Over many years, his journey led him to believe that the path to enlightenment was achieved through discipline of the mind. In the modern Indian state of Bihar, at Bodh Gaya, Siddhartha sat in meditation beneath a ficus tree. This is where he had his awakening and realized enlightenment.
(5th or 6th century)
A Buddhist monk that lived in the 5th or 6th century. He is widely considered the founder of Zen in China. Bodhidharma was the first to introduce the specific teachings that defined the Zen school. Much of his renown comes from a well-known, four-line teaching attributed to him:
A special transmission outside the scriptures, Not depending on words and letters; Directly pointing to the mind, Seeing into one’s true nature and attaining Buddhahood.
Eihei Dogen Zenji
(January 26, 1200—1253)
Eihei Dogen Zenji (January 26, 1200—1253), was a Japanese Buddhist priest, writer, poet, philosopher, and founder of the Soto school of Zen in Japan.
Originally ordained as a monk in the Tendai School in Kyoto, he was ultimately dissatisfied with its teaching and traveled to China to seek out what he believed to be a more authentic Buddhism. He remained there for five years, finally training under Tiantong Rujing, an eminent teacher of the Chinese Caodong lineage. Upon his return to Japan, he began promoting the practice of zazen (sitting meditation) through literary works such as Fukan zazengi and Bendōwa.
He eventually left Kyoto for the mountainous countryside where he founded the monastery Eihei-ji, which remains the head temple of the Soto school today.
Dōgen is known for his extensive writing including his most famous work, the collection of 95 essays called the Shōbōgenzō, but also Eihei Kōroku, a collection of his talks, poetry, and commentaries, and Eihei Shingi, the first Zen monastic code written in Japan, among others.
Hakuyū Taizan Maezumi Roshi
February 24, 1931—May 15, 1995
Hakuyū Taizan Maezumi Roshi (February 24, 1931—May 15, 1995), was a Japanese-born Soto Zen priest with dharma transmission in both the Rinzai Zen school and the Harada-Yasutani lineage. His parents Yoshiko Kuroda-Maezumi and Baian Hakujun Kuroda (a respected Soto Zen priest), named him Hirotaka Kuroda. He was third eldest of eight brothers, four of whom went on to be Soto Zen priests. Ordained as a Soto Zen monk at age eleven on March 25, 1942 and given the ordination name Taizan (meaning, Great Mountain), Maezumi received degrees in Oriental Literature and Philosophy from Komazawa University; he also did Zen training at one of the two main training monasteries for the Soto-shu in Japan, Sojiji. He took on his mother’s family name Maezumi when the last of the males in her family passed away and used the Sino-Japanese pronunciation of his first name, changing it from Hirotaka to Hakuyū. Along with other seminal figures like Shunryu Suzuki and Dainin Katagiri, Maezumi Roshi played a seminal role in helping to establish Soto Zen practice in the United States. James Ishmael Ford, a Zen priest and an American Zen historian of sorts, writes, “Taizan Maezumi is probably the most important koan master to come West—the first Zen teacher in the West to receive formal Dharma transmission in the Soto, Rinzai, and Harada-Yasutani lines.”
Tetsugen Bernard Glassman Roshi
January 18, 1939 – November 4th, 2018
Tetsugen Bernard Glassman Roshi (January 18, 1939 – November 4th, 2018), is a Sōtō Zen teacher and member of the White Plum Asanga—comprised of various teachers in the lineage of the late teacher Taizan Maezumi-Roshi, to whom he is a Dharma heir. Bernie was born on January 18, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. In 1963 he married his 1st wife Helen Silverberg, who he had met in Israel—the couple settling in Santa Monica, CA. Philip Kapleau’s 1965 classic The Three Pillars of Zen had a profound impact on Glassman, and by 1966 he and some friends began to visit Zenshuji Soto Zen Mission in Little Tokyo of Los Angeles (where Bishop Togen Sumi and Taizan Maezumi-Roshi resided). In 1968 he began practicing at the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA) with Taizan Maezumi Roshi while also working for McDonnell-Douglas designing shuttle systems. In 1970 Glassman became a novice Sōtō Zen priest and received his Dharma name Tetsugen (“To Penetrate Mysteries”). In 1971 he moved in to ZCLA with Helen and their two children, spending the next five years in residence there training. He continued his work with McDonnell-Douglas and also became chief administrator of ZCLA during this period. In 1976 he finished koan studies with Maezumi Roshi and was authorized as a teacher in the lineage; he quit his job at McDonnell-Douglas so that he could devote himself fulltime to ZCLA. He became executive director of ZCLA and, through his efforts, the Zen center acquired many properties in their neighborhood, started a publishing company, and developed a medical clinic for residents of the Mexican-American neighborhood in which the center resides. Glassman Roshi co-founded the Zen Peacemaker Order in 1996 with his late wife, Sandra Jishu Holmes. In 1982 he established Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY, a successful business staffed by his students and homeless people of the area. Glassman Roshi is well-known for his engaged Buddhist practice.
Roshi Peter Muryo Matthiessen
May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014
Roshi Peter Muryo Matthiessen (May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014) is an Soto Zen Teacher, American novelist, naturalist, and wilderness writer. A co-founder of the literary magazine The Paris Review and a three-time National Book Award-winner, he has also been a prominent environmental activist. His nonfiction has featured nature and travel—notably The Snow Leopard (1978)—or American Indian issues and history—notably a detailed and controversial study of the Leonard Peltier case, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983). His fiction has occasionally been adapted for film: the early story “Travelin’ Man” was made into The Young One (1960) by Luis Bunuel and the novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965) into the 1991 film of the same name. In 2008, at age 81, Matthiessen received the National Book Award for Fiction for Shadow Country, a one-volume, 890-page revision of his three novels set in frontier Florida that had been published in the 1990s. According to critic Michael Dirda, “No one writes more lyrically about animals or describes more movingly the spiritual experience of mountaintops, savannas, and the sea.” He is the Founder of the Ocean Zendo, in Sagaponek, NY.
Sensei Dorothy Dai En Friedman
November 16, 1928—
Sensei Dorothy Dai En Friedman (November 16, 1928—), Dai-en’s spiritual journey began in the 1960s when she was forced to seek help for a back injury which ended her career as a professional dancer. This event proved to be a wonderful preparation for her eventual immersion 20 years later in Buddhist Vipassana practice at Insight Meditation Society. After she established her Vipassana practice, she then began her journey into Zen practice. Her core teachers include her transmitting teacher Peter Muryo Mathiessen Roshi, as well as Joseph Goldstein, Matt Flickstein, and Maureen Stuart Roshi. Dai-en is now a Sensei at Ocean Zendo, located on Eastern Long Island. She is honored to teach with Koshin and Chodo, her first dharma heirs, in the wonderful healing work of New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, for the benefit of all beings, as we live and die.
Sensei Chodo Robert Campbell GC-C
Founder and Guiding Teacher
Sensei Chodo Robert Campbell GC-C, co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care — a non-profit organization that focuses on the teaching of Zen and Buddhist practice with the goal to make them more accessible to people all around the world. The center delivers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and meditation practice. To better expand the reach of the program, Chodo co-developed a carefully structured protocol: the Foundations in Contemplative Care Training Program. Today, New York Zen Center’s methodologies are internationally recognized—and have touched the lives of tens of thousands of individuals.
Chodo is a dynamic, grounded, and visionary leader and teacher: he has traveled extensively throughout the U.S instructing in various institutions. He has also spent many hours dedicated to bearing witness to the suffering of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Chodo’s public programs have introduced thousands to the practices of mindful and compassionate care of the living and dying. Sixty-thousand people listen to his podcasts each year. His passion lies in bereavement counseling and advocating for change in the way our healthcare institutions work with the dying.
Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison
Guiding Teacher & Director of Contemplative Care
Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison, MFA, LMSW, DMIN, co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, the first Zen-based organization to offer fully accredited ACPE clinical chaplaincy training in America, which delivers contemplative approaches to care through education, direct service, and meditation practice. Paley Ellison is the academic advisor for the Buddhist students in the Master in Pastoral Care and Counseling program at NYZCCC’s education partner, New York Theological Seminary. He has served as the co-director of Contemplative Care Services for the Department of Integrative Medicine and as the chaplaincy supervisor for the Pain and Palliative Care Department at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center, where he also served on the Medical Ethics Committee. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Arizona Medical School’s Center for Integrative Medicine’s Integrative Medicine Fellowship, and he is a visiting professor at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, of the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston Medical School.
Paley Ellison is a dynamic, original, and visionary leader and teacher. He is the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care (Wisdom Publications, 2016). He received his clinical training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center and the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association. Koshin began his formal Zen training in 1987, and delightfully continues to study with Dorothy Dai En Friedman, Zen teacher in the White Plum Soto Zen Lineage. He is a senior Zen monk, Soto Zen teacher, ACPE supervisor, and Jungian psychotherapist.