Linji said, “There is a true person with no rank, who is always coming and going through the portals of your face.”
—Pacific Zen Miscellaneous Koans, Case 38b
Here are some of the many stories of PZI members and leaders who’ve written about what joining our PZI community has meant to them. Click on the photos of our members to read their full stories, below. We’ll add more as they come in!
Peter Bullen writes poetry and essays, and tells stories to groups. He is also a personal care specialist and longtime meditator. He and his wife Alison McCabe discovered PZI together and are active temple members.
Alison McCabe is a psychotherapist and writer and likes to walk in the East Bay hills. She gives talks at Rockridge Meditation Center and loves sharing koans and poetry in the morning Open Temple.
Amy Potozkin enjoys seeing how Zen meditation and koan practice show up in all areas of her life, including relationships with self and others. She moved to California from New York to work at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where she served as Casting Director for 30 years.
Amanda Boughton lives in San Francisco, which is also where she was born and raised—a rare native! She is currently in graduate school in SF, studying Marriage and Family Therapy. She likes to read poetry, sing sea chanteys, and meditate.
Right now, what would help? What can I do to help you? What help can I receive from you? All I have is that we–you and me–can show up brave and vulnerable and real, sharing our hearts in this moment, and that we hear each other, listening for each other’s humanity, with a willingness to notice how we are impacted by each other and to share that impact. If it helps to have a koan in the room to do that, fine. Here’s one now: What is real and alive for you right now?
Courtney Keeler is an ASL Interpreter and mom to “two wonderful weirdos.” She spends most of her time adoring her dog, Flip.
Michael Wilding is a musician and sculptor and a longtime meditator, having found his way to PZI through his teacher, Joan Sutherland. His stunning flute and saxophone solos enhance meditations during our sesshins and Sunday Temple gatherings. Music and sculpture links are in the bio.
Gina Fiedel is an artist and small business owner, culling what she learns in her creative undertakings and putting it to use in web design and development work with businesses and nonprofits. She find that the koan lineage and PZI culture invite an inquiry and creativity that seep into any situation, including taking a walk, working, making art, doing chores, and the “always already here” surprises.
Steve Lucas began studying Zen in college and was a student of Maurine Stuart Roshi for a number of years. He later discovered PZI from friends in the Way, and he commutes from the NYC area to CA. He spends his days investing in financial markets and figuring out how to raise kids.
Sacha Kawaichi likes laughing more than sutras (but isn’t exactly sure yet what sutras are). She likes crossing bridges more than she likes following rules. She has a big smile and loves to make jewelry and art. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She has had a surprising time with PZI.
Jordan McConnell is a luthier, long-time guitar player and musician. As temple musician, he plays into the field of our meditations during sesshins and Sunday gatherings, and sings and plays myriad improvisations on the Four Boundless Vows. For many years, he toured with rock bands and music groups. Jordan now makes his home in Winnipeg, ON.
Asa Horvitz grew up in Northern California and found out about PZI from high school friends, almost 15 years ago. Since then he’s been to college, been on Fulbright scholarship in Poland to do theatre, has started a number of bands, lived in New York City a few times and also Italy for more theater and music work.
Marion Yakoushkin is a nurse in New York State and an intrepid walker all over the world. Her background is in the world of Tibetan Buddhism and especially the dynamic community of seekers who studied with the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Chris Gaffney has been a PZI member for a rather long time now. He’s a professor of Physics at CSU Chico and is a co-leader of Dharma Buffet in Chico, too. His sometimes scientifically rigorous approach to ideas makes Zen conversations more interesting, and also more wild, since modern physics is pretty “out there.”
Jan Brogan’s former identity was as head women tennis coach at UC Berkeley. She had been nearing the end of a successful but exhausting career and was looking for a way out when she came across PZI. She now lives in Santa Cruz with her wife, two cats and two dogs. Jan has been Head of Practice at our sesshins for many years. “Membership in our community brings me joy.”
Jim Snarski is known as Captain Jimmy because he was a longtime commercial jet pilot. He now flies small planes taking sick kids and their families to places they need to go. He’s also a photographer, and has been with PZI for a while now, sits with the community, comes to retreats, and helps out as a volunteer when he can.
Denise Fujiwara dances in Toronto and all over the world. She found koans intriguing but scary until John Tarrant showed her how to be friends with them. Creating dances and living are koans too. She loves her PZI dharma chums.
Amaryllis Fletcher heard a lot of live music as she was growing up with her pianist and composer father and his friends. Listening to music raised the question, “What is just hearing, no thoughts?” That question, along with the vicissitudes of life and love, brought her to Zen. She has been PZI Cantor, singing and playing in sutra services for many years.
Jon Taylor is a coach
Animal friends often appear online in support of koan meditation, but they have unanimously declined to offer anything but “NOOO!” when asked for summations of their roles in koanville.