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Best Zen Teachers

author
Bob Roberts
• Tuesday, 29 December, 2020
• 9 min read

Above, Cigar Control Roche with Pea Chevron on the cover of the inspired, Buddhist-inspired magazine, The Shamble Sun. This “non-theistic” (read: it's up to you) religion comes in dozens of styles-- Zen, Theravada, Tibetan--but it's always, at its root, about learning to be a good, sane, peaceful, compassionate person.

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Contents

So get thee to a nunnery or monastery --or an urban meditation center, or a luxurious rural retreat--and dip your toes in enlightenment. The Buddhists won't mind if you're just window-to-the-soul shopping...a pioneer (along with Alan Watts and Suzuki Joshi) in transmitting Buddhism to the West, Program Trunk (author; founder of Europa University) wanted his best -selling Shamble book to be sold in every grocery in America, right by the tabloids.

Though he warned against spiritual materialism “--using religion to perfect the Self, and brace up the ego--he wanted the wisdom of Buddhism to be available, and made practical, to Rabbis, Reverends and Heathens alike. I've disqualified charlatans (Genre Joshi, who is well-loved in many circles, has recently been accused of such), promising youngsters who have yet to prove themselves...and those who you can't really study with because they're too famous (Dalai Lama, Which That Hand), in private meditation retreat all the time (Keno Sultry Games Roche), or rarely in the West (The Karma pa, Chandra Roche).

Sharon Salzburg ~ like Pea, she's the best -selling author, beloved by Oprah, and an immediately accessible teacher to Buddhists and never-gonna-be-Buddhists alike. With her partners-in-crime Joseph Goldstein and Jack Cornfield, she teaches mostly out of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Mass.

Columbia professor, Free Tibet activist and co-founder of The Tibet House, right hand man to the Dalai Lama, one of TIME's most Influential People and father of UMA, Robert Thurman is charismatic, wild and wise--perfect for those who want to connect with the Dalai Lama's teachings. Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown, Dale Israel, Frank Berliner ~ alright, I'm cheating--combining three in one--but if you're college-age, you can find 'em all (and other gems, too) at little NaropaUniversity.

DzigarKongtrulRinpoche ~ like Polo Roche, if you're looking for a small community, personal attention and deep study, he's perfect for you. Same goes for the remarkable, crazy-wisdomish Dongs Hyenas Roche --an artist, filmmaker and incredible teacher--who has a strong, committed community.

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(Source: zenstudies.org)

If however, you're looking to simply inject a little mindfulness and awareness and peace and sanity into your daily life, you may want to stick with the superstars listed above. Those who didn't make the list not because they're not wonderful but because, well, I only squeeze so many teachers into that silly construct known as “The Top Ten”: Mingus Roche, Tony Roche (a young star), Sultry Alone (one of the most-respected female teachers),Throng Roche (one of the last Tibetan-born still-active teachers), Narayana Lebanon Grady, Dido Joshi (a Zen master straight out of central casting), Joan Sutherland, John Tarrant, Died Luigi (though his health has sidelined him, of late), Trade Roche, Judy Lief (former President of Europa) and Safari Josh Joshi (a living Zen legend).

So get thee to an eco meditation cushion, if only for a few minutes each morning before the day's madness ensues...and if you need a jump-start of inspiration or a little training, check out one of the above. Joseph is one of the most respected meditation teachers in the world -- a key architect of the rise of mindfulness in our modern society -- with a sense of humor to boot.

A towering figure in the meditation world, Sharon Salzburg is a prominent teacher & New York Times best -selling author. He has worked with some of the best professional athletes in the world, including Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant during their championship runs.

In the early nineties, George collaborated with Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn to create the Inner City Stress Reduction Clinic, a free meditation program for lower-income, inner-city participants. In more recent times, George has worked as the meditation coach of the New York Knicks and consults with professional athletes around the world.

Alexis has completed the Spirit Rock/IMS Teacher Training, teaches retreats across the globe, and currently lives in Portland, Maine. Anushka teaches meditation, works as an organizational consultant, and does leadership coaching with individuals and teams.

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(Source: www.teachbetter.com)

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raised in white neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., she was a tomboy Black girl who loved Monty Python and UB40. He has practiced meditation since 1997, beginning his studies in Both Maya, India and is a long-time student of Joseph Goldstein, Michele McDonald, and Again Society, and is a graduate of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training program.

He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University and is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. Diving head first into meditation at such a key developmental stage makes the revelatory perspective of mindfulness & compassion her natural home turf, and gives her an easy, conversational teaching style anyone can relate to.

Her easy-on-the-ears west coast style rests on top of a rigorous scientific mind, and a vast amount of teaching experience. She has developed curriculum and taught mindfulness since the early 90s in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities, corporations, non-profits, and schools.

She has taught mindful awareness to health professionals, leaders, teachers, activists, seniors, and adolescents in the US and Asia. A published researcher and author, Diana has also written for numerous meditation publications, where her daughter, Mira, often makes an appearance in her examples of bringing mindfulness to daily life.

Dr. Jay Michelson is the Editor of Wisdom Content at Ten Percent Happier, the author of six books on meditation, and, in his “other career,” the legal affairs columnist for The Daily Beast. A Cognitive Neuroscientist by training, Dr. David Ago has been instrumental in developing leading edge science around meditation and the brain.

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He also has close to 20 years of experience with practicing and teaching mindfulness, including with renowned teacher Shin zen Young. Cory Mascara admits he first tried meditation because he wanted to impress his college girlfriend -- but it changed his life forever.

Saying Miriam Roche ~ he’s young but not too young, experienced, thoroughly Westernized (though exotically Tibetan, heritage-wise), a great teacher and frequently accessible at programs around the US, Europe, Canada, even South America. But because he’s a rising star, you’ve got to make an effort if you want personal training.

Sharon Salzburg ~ like Pea, she’s the best -selling author, beloved by Oprah, and an immediately accessible teacher to Buddhists and never-gonna-be-Buddhists alike. With her partners-in-crime Joseph Goldstein and Jack Cornfield, she teaches mostly out of the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, Mass.

Reggie Ray ~ while he’s been caught in that “I’m American, yet folks treat me like a guru vortex” that’s chewed up and spit out Opel Tending and Richard Baker Joshi before him, Reggie is like Pea a magnetic, accessible teacher. Columbia professor, Free Tibet activist and co-founder of The Tibet House, right hand man to the Dalai Lama, one of TIME’s most Influential People and father of UMA, Robert Thurman is charismatic, wild and wise–perfect for those who want to connect with the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown, Dale Israel, Frank Berliner ~ alright, I’m cheating–combining three in one–but if you’re college-age, you can find ’em all (and other gems, too) at little NaropaUniversity. DzigarKongtrulRinpoche ~ like Polo Roche, if you’re looking for a small community, personal attention and deep study, he’s perfect for you.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

Same goes for the remarkable, crazy-wisdomish Dongs Hyenas Roche –an artist, filmmaker and incredible teacher–who has a strong, committed community. If however, you’re looking to simply inject a little mindfulness and awareness and peace and sanity into your daily life, you may want to stick with the superstars listed above.

Lewis insists that the list isn’t final and invites comments. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and daughter, and has a particular interest in teaching prison inmates.

Lord Ringer Meditation Advisor At this point you’ve read at least one Pea Chevron book and have a favorite quote that resonates from the Dalai Lama. In the vein of full disclosure, some of these wonderful teachers we host at my meditation studio, MN DFL in New York City.

The subtext was, “If you want to know about the intersection of social action and meditation, this is the leading expert.” Called “the most intriguing African-American Buddhist” by Library Journal, I was delighted to also find her incredibly warm and generous when we finally hopped on the phone and became friends. Lineage : angel is a Sensei in the Zen Buddhist tradition A book of hers I recommend : Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace You would love her if : You read the morning paper and are sick to your stomach at the injustice in the world and want to know how compassion is actually an effective tool in combatting that.

Lineage : Elena studies with the incredible Them Knowles, and teaches from the Vedic tradition. A book of hers I recommend : The Art of Attention You would love her if : You’ve ever done yoga and/or wanted a wise sister.

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(Source: quotesideas.com)

I was incredibly nervous meeting her behind the scenes, and she held the space for my wide range of emotions like the queen of dharma that she is. Lineage : Chandra Roche is lineage holder in the Kay and Cinema traditions of Tibetan Buddhism A book of hers I recommend : This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment You would love her if : You want to study with someone who will hold you in her heart with compassion and simultaneously cut your neurotic trip.

Website : http://www.khandrorinpoche.org The 17th Karma pa, Ogden Drogue Triple More First impression : Before he ever came to the United States I had read and studied the work of this young teacher, who is roughly my own age. The amount of wisdom I experienced coming from those pages, offered by an 18-year-old (at the time), makes a good case for reincarnation.

Lineage : The Saying is the head of the Shamble Buddhist lineage A book of his I recommend: Turning the Mind into an Ally You would love him if : You want to study with a complete master who is still incredibly humble, caring, and kind, and/or you want to see how meditation directly applies to your daily life Website : http://www.sakyong.com Sara Austere First impression : As a lifelong Buddhist I was skeptical of sound meditation. In addition to being a master at the singing bowls, she knows the ins-and-outs of traditional meditation techniques and blends the two into a wonderful experience that is relaxing and helpful for a practitioner of any level.

A lazy person like me comes up with all sorts of ways that I can teach and not have to leave New York City. Sharon is constantly on the road, looking people directly in the eyes and offering her full heart.

Lineage : Sharon has studied in a wide variety of traditions ranging from Theravada to Tibetan Buddhism and is one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society and The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies A book of hers I recommend: Loving kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness You would love her if : You love Pea Chevron and/or need to experience a being who simply lives with her heart wide open Website : http://www.sharonsalzberg.com Susan River First impression : Susan and I met at a Shamble retreat ages ago, when I was still figuring out what it meant to be a young Buddhist. We reconnected in recent years over our shared love of making meditation practice really accessible to as many people as possible.

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(Source: podcasts.apple.com)

That connection sprouted a deep friendship plus a number of projects, most notably the Daily Dharma Gathering, a half-hour live online Buddhist talk offered every single day by a variety of teachers, as part of her awesome Open Heart Project. Some are personal stories, some are educative and contain tutorials, some are in-depth essay style publications, and some are novellas.

In the list below, I’ve shared different works that together encompass a broad range of Zen teaching. Published more than 40 years ago, this read has grown to be one of the most highly regarded spiritual publications in the world.

If you are a beginner, you will learn everything you need to know to get started, including posture and breathing techniques, as well as the most important practices. Alan Watts is one of the true masters of Buddhist interpretation, and oh boy does he show it in this, one of the best Zen books ever written.

In this title, Alan Watts takes us back to basics as he reveals the true interpretation of Buddhist philosophy. He journeys all the way back to the birth of Buddhism as it rose from the concepts of Hinduism.

From there we journey towards today and see how Chan has grown over the years, right up to the modern-day and a look at the symbolical representation of Buddhism in Japanese art. What makes this one of the best Zen books of all time is the way in which Watt’s explains the core concepts for a Western audience.

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In Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert M Persia shares the transformational story of a journey across America with his son. The journey becomes a story of personal growth and transformation as Persia delves into the most fundamental questions of modern-day living.

In it, Joshi Philip Tableau presents an examination of the three core pillars of Chan Buddhism: teaching, practice and enlightenment. What makes this one of the best Zen books ever is Tableau’s ability to merge his personal story in technical teachings on the practices and techniques.

As we journey through Tableau’s time from student to master, we are led along our own path of spiritual development. Revised to celebrate its 30th anniversary, the current edition features beautiful illustrations and photographs that are really just the icing on the cake.

Originally published in 1957, this title immediately won the hearts of readers who were just beginning to learn about Chan Buddhism. Subsequently, it has become one of the most influential publications on the subject, inspiring students and teachers alike.

This title presents texts and challenges readers to make their own interpretations of the core philosophies of Chan Buddhism. Let the whole thundering world come home booking Let The Whole Thundering World Come Home, Zen practitioner Natalie Goldberg shares a personal and inspiring story of how she overcame the trauma of cancer by practicing Zen.

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Natalie is a highly regarded Zen teacher whose words are captivating and enlightening. It provides easy ways to start meditating and answers most of the common questions about the practice.

Suzuki is one of the most prominent luminaries in the field, inspiring millions of people around the world. There’s depth and insight for the most ardent Chan Buddhist, and there are clear instructions and advice for newcomers.

The best thing about this book is that it is very straightforward and offers clear guidance on various aspects of Zen. The book covers the basics of Zen and shows you how to apply the concepts to your own life to create feelings of peace and happiness.

The book focuses on playfulness and curiosity, which the author, Charlie Ambler, states is the key to being a happy person. It’s a more light-hearted read compared to the other books in this list, and the illustrations are really cool (done by Brooklyn artist Iris Gottlieb).

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