Timeline of Zen Buddhism in the United States

Below is a timeline of important events regarding Zen Buddhism in the United States. Dates with "?" are approximate.


Early historyEdit


Hsuan Hua, America's first Chinese Chan teacher.






Merle Kodo Boyd became the first African-American woman to receive Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism in 2006.


Taitaku Pat Phelan is a Sōtō Zen priest and current abbot of Chapel Hill Zen Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  • 2010: Robert Aitken dies in Hawaii at age 93.
  • 2010: Eko Little resigns as abbot of Shasta Abbey due to misconduct and subsequently disrobes[6]
  • 2010: Eido Shimano resigns from the board of the Zen Studies Society due to misconduct in July; retires as abbot of the Zen Studies Society in December
  • 2010: The Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) approves a document honoring the women ancestors in the Zen tradition at its biannual meeting on October 8, 2010. Female ancestors, dating back 2,500 years from India, China, and Japan, may now be included in the curriculum, ritual, and training offered to Western Zen students.[7]
  • 2010: Karin Kempe, Ken Morgareidge, and Peggy Sheehan receive Dharma transmission and appointment of abbacy from Danan Henry Roshi who steps down as abbot of the Zen Center of Denver.
  • 2011: Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery [(行仏寺 gyōbutsu-ji)], a Soto Zen monastery in the line of Shōhaku Okumura is dedicated near Kingston, Arkansas.
  • 2011: Roko Sherry Chayat was installed as the second Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji on New Year's Day.
  • 2011: February, Dennis Genpo Merzel steps down as abbot of the Kanzeon Zen Center and resigns as elder of the White Plum Asanga due to sexual misconduct[8]
  • 2011: Joko Beck dies
  • 2012: Helen Cortes, Lee Ann Nail and Maria Reis-Habito received Dharma Transmission from Ruben Habito of Maria Kannon Zen Center.
  • 2012: Dana Kojun Hull receives Dharma Transmission from Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays at Great Vow Zen Monastery
  • 2012: Seikan Hasegawa's book Essays for Buddhist Trainees is published by Great Ocean Publishers
  • 2013: Korinji [祖的山光林禅寺], a Rinzai Zen monastery in the line of Tekio Sogen Roshi, is dedicated near Madison, Wisconsin.
  • 2014: Kyozan Joshu Sasaki dies in Los Angeles at age 107.
  • 2014: Kyogen Carlson dies in Portland at age 65
  • 2015: Harvey Daiho Hilbert retires as abbot of the Order of Clear Mind Zen and becomes abbot emeritus.
  • 2015: Kathryn Shukke Shin Hilbert is installed as abbot of the Order of Clear Mind Zen.
  • 2015: Joshin Brian Byrnes becomes vice-abbot of Upaya Institute and Zen Center.[9]
  • 2016: Robert Livingston Roshi retires as abbot of New Orleans Zen Temple and becomes abbot emeritus. Richard Collins Roshi becomes abbot.[10]
  • 2016: Rafe Martin receives Dharma transmission from Danan Henry Roshi in a ceremony at the Rochester Zen Center.
  • 2016: Rebecca Li receives Dharma transmission from Simon Child.[11]
  • 2016: Ron Hogen Green receives Dharma transmission from Geoffrey Shugen Arnold at Zen Mountain Monastery.[12]
  • 2017: Jody Hojin Kimmel receives Dharma transmission from Geoffrey Shugen Arnold at Zen Mountain Monastery.[13]
  • 2018: Vanessa Zuisei Goddard receives Dharma transmission from Geoffrey Shugen Arnold at Zen Mountain Monastery.[14]
  • 2018: Harvey Daiho Hilbert was re-instated as Abbot of the Order of Clear Mind Zen.
  • 2018: Joshin Brian Byrnes founds and becomes guiding teacher of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community[15]


  1. ^ Lawson, Dawn (2001). Suzuki, D. T. (1870–1966), the foremost exponent of Zen Buddhism in the West. American National Biography. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.0801898. ISBN 978-0-19-860669-7.
  2. ^ Kernan, Michael (March 19, 1974). "When East Meets West". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ Berkley, Jack (June 26, 1975). "A Priest in Pursuit of Zen". The Montgomery Journal.
  4. ^ von Sturmer, Richard (2000). "Mind to Mind". ZenBow. Numbers 2 & 3. XXII (Summer 2000): 25–27.
  5. ^ Zen master who?: a guide to the people and stories of Zen By James Ishmael Ford
  6. ^ "Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, Public Statement from the General Meeting of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives ".
  7. ^ "Women ancestors document approved « Empty Nest Zendo". Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  8. ^ "Genpo Merzel Disrobes".
  9. ^ Staff, Lion's Roar. "Joshin Brian Byrnes appointed as Upaya vice-abbot – Lion's Roar". Retrieved 2020-10-14.
  10. ^ Enns, G. S. (2016-07-09). "Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield: Here and Now Newsletter – Summer 2016". Zen Fellowship of Bakersfield. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  11. ^ Rebecca Li receives Dharma Transmission
  12. ^ "Ron Hogen Green Receives Dharma Transmission in MRO". December 23, 2016.
  13. ^ "Practice Leaders – Zen Mountain Monastery".
  14. ^ "About". Vanessa Zuisei Goddard.
  15. ^ "Linkedin page for Joshin Brian Brynes". Linked-in page for Joshin Brian Byrnes. 13 October 2020.