Our Teachers

Roshi Philip Kapleau

Roshi Philip Kapleau (1912–2004) was the author of numerous books on Zen including the classic The Three Pillars of Zen.

Philip Kapleau grew up in Connecticut, studied law and worked for many years as a court reporter. At the end of World War II, he was appointed chief reporter for the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg and afterwards reporter for the Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. It was there that he had his first encounter with Zen.

In 1953 he left the United States and went to Japan to practice Zen. He stayed for 13 years and worked with three masters, first shortly with Nakagawa Soen-Roshi (1907–1984) in Ryutaku-ji, then Harada Daiun-Roshi (1870–1961) in Hosshin-ji and finally with the latter’s Dharma-heir Yasutani-Roshi (1885–1973). Philip Kapleau was ordained by Yasutani-Roshi and, after he was authorised to teach by Yasutani-Roshi, returned to the United States in 1966. There he founded the Rochester Zen Center.

After two decades as abbot he passed on the leadership to Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede. Roshi Philip Kapleau died on May 6th 2004 in Rochester.

Roshi Kapleau's published works are:

The Three Pillars of Zen (1965)

Zen: Dawn in the West (1979)

The latter was also published under the title:

Zen: Merging of East and West (1989, 2000)

To Cherish All Life (1981)

The Wheel of Life and Death (1989)

Awakening to Zen (1997)

Straight to the Heart of Zen (2001)

Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede

(Abbot of the Rochester Zen Center)

Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede grew up in Michigan and completed his degree in psychology in Ann Arbor before coming to the Rochester Zen Center in 1970. He was ordained in 1976 and finished his formal koan training under Roshi Philip Kapleau before beginning to teach in 1983. In 1986, he was appointed Dharma-heir and abbot of the Rochester Zen Center by Roshi Philip Kapleau. Since his appointment, Roshi Kjolhede has been teaching students in North and Central America as well as in Europe, and has appointed Dharma-heirs in Chicago, Sweden, Mexico, Germany, and New Zealand.

Sensei Robert Goldmann

(Leader of the Berlin Zen Group)

Robert Goldmann has been practicing Zen since 1975, since 1981 in the tradition of Roshi Philip Kapleau and his Dharma-heir Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede. He assisted Roshi Kjolhede in the USA, Sweden and Mexico and organized regular sesshin in Germany. In August 2007, he was sanctioned by Roshi Kjolhede in a public ceremony in Berlin as a full Zen teacher. He is a physician and studied Chinese and Far Eastern Buddhism at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.