soji zen center

About Us

Soji Zen Center is a contemporary Buddhist center

Soji is a place where people can go to slow down, meditate and learn about the healing qualities of the mind. We all agree that training the body through exercise and diet is beneficial, but rarely in Western society do we focus on awakening the healing energies in our brain.

— Roshi Jules Shuzen Harris

About Soji Zen Center

Soji Zen Center was founded in 2005 by Roshi Jules Shuzen Harris. Shuzen Roshi was committed to bringing ethnic diversity to American Buddhism through the teaching of meditation, liturgy, and the study of Buddhist scriptures. He believed that this task was critical to finding Buddhism’s true home in the West and ending the suffering of all people. Soji Zen Center is part of the White Plum lineage, which brings together elements of the Japanese Soto and Rinzai tradition of Zen Buddhism.

Ango Sensei

Ango Sensei

Sensei John Ango Gruber is the guiding teacher at Soji Zen Center. He received jukai, tokudo, and denkai from Shuzen Roshi, as well as Dharma transmission in March 2021. Ango Sensei’s first exposure to Zen practice came in 1985 at a retreat held at the Providence Zen Center in Cumberland RI. He has worked as a science educator for over 30 years with a focus on plant science, biodiversity and natural history. He leads a research program that works to recognize cryptic species while encouraging efforts to promote peaceful conservation and sustainability for all forms of life on Earth. In addition to introducing students to the joys of witnessing natural beauty, Ango Sensei has worked to offer instruction in meditation practice to secondary school students as a support to healthy growth and development.

Shuzen Roshi

Roshi Jules Shuzen Harris (1939-2023) was the founding teacher and Abbot of Soji Zen Center. After receiving denkai from Roshi Dennis Genpo Merzel, Abbot of Kanzeon Zen Center, Shuzen Roshi received hoshi, shiho, and inka from Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara and was her second Dharma successor. He was a member of the Zen Peacemakers, the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, as well as the American Zen Teachers Association.

Shuzen Roshi held an Ed.D. with a concentration in human development. As a psychotherapist, he found creative ways to synthesize Western psychology and Zen to achieve dramatic results with his patients and students. He also focused on the relationship between Zen and the martial arts, having held black belts in Iaido (the art of drawing and cutting with a samurai sword) and Kendo (Japanese fencing). Shuzen Roshi founded two Japanese swordsmanship schools in Albany, NY and Salt Lake City, UT.

Enkyo Roshi

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara serves as Abbot of the Village Zendo. She received priest ordination from Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Dharma transmission and inka from Roshi Bernie Tetsugen Glassman. Enkyo Roshi’s lineage comes through Maezumi Roshi whose teaching was uncommon, bringing together Soto priest training and study of the Rinzai koan system. Moreover, Glassman Roshi’s focus on social engagement and peacemaking underlie much of her vision of Zen practice.

Enkyo Roshi is a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Family, a spiritual and social action association. Roshi’s focus is on the expression of Zen through caring, service, and creative response. Her Five Expressions of Zen form the matrix of study at the Village Zendo: Meditation, Study, Communication, Action, and Caring.

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