Rev. Anton Tenkei Coppens ,was born in the Netherlands in 1949, studied art and art history, and worked for almost fifteen years as a painter and a teacher. He started Zen practice in 1976 in the UK and went to the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1980 where he met Maezumi Roshi and Genpo Roshi. He became a close student of Genpo Roshi and followed him touring throughout Europe and the USA. In 1988 he received Tokudo, left the Netherlands and went to Maine, where Genpo Roshi had established his first residential training center. This center was relocated to Salt Lake City in 1993. In 1996 Tenkei received Shiho and for the following four years assisted Genpo Roshi full-time in teaching in Salt Lake City. In the footsteps of Roshi he also went to Europe regularly to conduct retreats and workshops. Inspired by the vast expanse of the USA he led many outdoor retreats in the desert of southern Utah, together with his wife Tamara (Tammy) Myoho Gabrysch. They both lived as resident students with Genpo Roshi for twelve years.
Tenkei Roshi and Tammy Sensei left the USA at the turn of the century and went to Japan to live and practice for six months in the temple of Maezumi Roshi's brother, Junyu Kuroda Roshi (Hojo-san). In Japan Tenkei had the opportunity to officiate ceremonies in the two main temples of the Soto School, that qualify for becoming an abbot of a Zen temple. He and Tammy finally settled in the Netherlands in the fall of 2000 and, together with a fast growing sangha, established Zen River in Uithuizen. In September 2003 Tenkei was installed as abbot during a traditional Shinsan-shiki ceremony, officated by Hojo-san. In November 2003 he completed a one month Tokubetsu sesshin at Zuioji temple, Niihama, Japan, which gave him further certification's within the Soto School. Later he was granted the official status of Kokusai Fukyoshi (certified teacher who spreads the dharma internationally). On January 23, 2006, Tenkei received Inka, the final seal of approval as a Zen master (and the title of Roshi) from Genpo Roshi.
Although mostly at their home-base Zen River after years of travelling and living abroad, Tenkei Roshi regularly visits other locations to conduct workshops, including The Hague, Düsseldorf, Madrid and Kiev. He is the father of one adult daughter, Maartje, who lives in Amsterdam. Tenkei Roshi is co-editor of "Beyond Sanity and Madness" by Genpo Roshi. He has also edited a series dharma talks that Maezumi Roshi gave in Europe, published under the title "The Echoless Valley" and "Teaching of the Great Mountain".
Tamara (Tammy) Myoho Gabrysch was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1961, the eldest of five siblings. She grew up in Lancashire and went on to study Fine Art in Manchester where she received a BA Hons. Degree in 1986. She worked as a free lance artist until she met Genpo Roshi in August 1988 when he came to the Gabrysch's family home in Northern England to lead a retreat for which her mother Genshin (who would later become Genshin Sensei) had invited him. This sesshin was a turning point for her, and from then on she completely committed herself to studying with Genpo Roshi. She joined him along with other students to attend sesshins in Europe and then on to Bar Harbor, Maine, where Roshi was setting up Kanzeon Zen Center. In November 1988, Myoho received Jukai and in March, 1991 received Shukke Tokudo (ordination).
After Genpo Roshi relocated Kanzeon Zen Center to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1993, she began to cook for the residential programme and was the Tenzo (head-cook) for many years. Myoho and Tenkei worked together full-time at the Center, and - among other projects - organized outdoor retreats in the mountains around SLC and the desert of southern Utah. In 1998 they were married by Genpo Roshi during a mountain retreat, a ceremony that was repeated a half year later on Ameland in the Netherlands to accomodate family members. Earlier that year Myoho had received Hoshi (dharma holder) and Denkai (precept holder for priestly activites) from Genpo Roshi. They left SLC in 2000 after 12 years of residential training, and went on to live and practice for six month in Japan with Junyu Kuroda Roshi (Hojo-san), the younger brother of Maezumi Roshi.
Finally, in 2002, Myoho and Tenkei settled in the Netherlands and - with a dedicated goup of students - established Zen River, a community of residents and members with an on-going daily programme and monthly sesshins. Tammy serves as Tenzo, Web-master and as PR administrator. After receiving Shiho from Genpo Roshi in Salt Lake City on May 10, 2008, she made a start with formal teaching. She is a contributing author to "The Hidden Lamp", a collection of one hundred koans and stories of Buddhist women from the time of the Buddha to the present day. (Compiled and edited by Florence Caplow and Sue Moon. Published by Wisdom publications,)
Tenkei Roshi gave shiho to five of his senior students;Senseis Gakudo den Hollander, Koren Kasman, Senko de Boer, Jifu Vulink and Doin van de Roer.
Peter Gakudo den Hollander
Peter Gakudo den Hollander (1957) has a bachelor’s degree in social studies and worked with young adults from ethnic minorities in The Hague. He started Zen practice with Genpo Roshi in 1997 and did his first sesshin with Tenkei Roshi in 1998. When Tenkei and Myoho Sensei returned to The Netherlands from Japan in the fall of 2000, Gakudo and his wife, Anjo Koren Kasman, became Tenkei's first Shoken students. In fact, with Roy, a grand, white Pyrenees dog, they all lived together for nine months in Gakudo and Koren’s little house in Zoetermeer and set up a zendo in an old school around the corner. They immediately began searching all over the country for a place to establish Zen River and finally ended up in a beautiful property in Uithuizen. There was much building and maintenance work to do, and Gakudo was the handy-man par excellence right from the start. He received Tokudo in 2002 and was Shuso in 2005. In order to meet Soto requirements, he was Shuso again in 2010. Rev. Junyu Kuroda (Hojo-san) was Jokeshi for this Hossenshiki. In 2012 he attended an international Soto Ango in Shogoji, Japan, and is planning to do another one in the near future. Since receiving Shiho in December 2013 with Myoho as Kyojushi, he has been leading workshops and classes at various locations
Anjo Koren Kasman
Anjo Koren Kasman (1956) studied business economics and worked as an administrative manager in the Leiden Academic Hospital. She started Zen practice with Tenkei in 1999 and became his Shoken student in 2000. Koren and her husband, Peter Gakudo den Hollander, were the first ones to help Tenkei and Myoho establish Zen River – first in Zoetermeer and Holwierde, and from 2002 until now in its present location in Uithuizen. As a full-time resident, she not only became Zen River's financial manager but also for many years was the head of the sewing room, one of the nerve centers of the temple. Koren loves animals. She feeds the chickens every day and spends lots of quality time with Jimmy the dog – a small, black successor of Roy, who passed away in 2005. Koren received Tokudo in 2002 and was Shuso during Ango in 2006. She was Shuso again in 2011 with Hojo-san as Jokeshi for her Hossenshiki. She received Shiho from Tenkei in December 2013 with Genno Roshi from Paris as Kyojushi. Immediately after this ceremony, Koren went to Japan to attend an international 3-month Soto Ango in Yokoji, the first temple of Keizan Zenji. Like the other Shiho recipients she gives introductory classes on a houseboat zendo in the nearby university town of Groningen.
Simon Senko de Boer
Simon Senko de Boer (1965) studied political science at the University of Amsterdam and for some fifteen years was employed by a non-profit organization in The Hague as a manager for community building and environmental awareness. He started Zen practice when he met Tenkei during a workshop in 2000 and, inspired to help build up Zen River, became a resident in 2003. He pretty much immediately found his niche as an enthusiastic gardener and took on the temple grounds as his main field of work-practice. One of his creations is a well-tended garden that provides fresh vegetables for the sangha. Senko received Shukke Tokudo in 2005 and was Shuso in 2008. He was Shuso again in 2012 with Rev. Yasunori Hosokawa as Jokeshi for his Hossenshiki. In 2013 he went to Japan to attend the Toshoji Winter Ango led by Abbot Seido Suzuki Roshi. (Tenkei and Myoho had made a connection with Seido Roshi in Japan and were surprised to find out that he was good friends with Hojo-san and had also known Maezumi Roshi well.) After receiving Shiho in January 2014 with Nico Tydeman as Kyojushi, Senko has lectured at several venues and is now looking for ways to integrate his earlier career into his practice. Among other things he is the main contact person for other Buddhist groups in the area.
Robert Doin van de Roer
Robert Doin van de Roer (1969) graduated from Eindhoven University of Technology with degrees in applied physics and software engineering. He also obtained a concert diploma for piano from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, but he worked primarily as a software consultant. Doin met Tenkei during his first sesshin in 2000 and joined the full-time residential training program of Zen River in 2004. He soon became the receptionist of the center, answering telephone calls and emails and taking care of the various office jobs. An avid reader of Buddhist texts, he helped Tenkei format the anthologies of Buddhist literature that now form the core of the Zen River study program. Doin was Shuso during Ango in 2009 and later again in 2012 with Rev. Shohaku Okumura serving as Jokeshi for his Shuso Hossen ceremony. Doin received dharma transmission from Tenkei Roshi in January 2014 with Rev. Isoda Koichi as Kyojushi. Now he is preparing to attend his first three-month Ango in Toshoji, Japan. When a music-loving elderly Zen River member heard him play on the age-old piano that was part of the property inventory, he decided to donate a beautiful new piano of excellent quality! Since then Chopin and Rachmaninov have been part of the temple program.
Helma Jifu Vulink
Helma Jifu Vulink (1956) studied literature and theater in Amsterdam, her hometown. She set up her own company and worked for many years as an actress and drama teacher, especially focusing on communication training. Meanwhile, she raised a family and is the mother of one adult son and an adopted daughter. Jifu started Zen practice with Tenkei at Zen River in 2003 and moved in as a full-time resident a few years later. Having received Shukke Tokudo in 2007, she served as Shuso in 2010 and later again in 2013 with Seido Suzuki Roshi in the position of Jokeshi during her Hossenshiki. Jifu's functions at Zen River are flexible and manyfold. Besides being the yoga teacher during daily excercise classes, she works in maintenance and gardening. Moreover, she is greatly appreciated as the primary stand-in tenzo of Zen River whenever Myoho is not available. She’s our go-to party dish expert, serving up yummy tapas of every kind. Last but not least, Jifu is the indispensable soprano in the recently formed Zen River choir. She received Shiho from Tenkei in January 2014 with Musai from Santa Fe as Kyojushi. Alongside the other four Shiho recipients, she has started giving classes in a houseboat in the nearby university town of Groningen. She will go to Japan next winter to participate in her first Soto Ango training there.
White Plum Lineage
Taizan Maezumi Roshi & Genpo Merzel Roshi in April 1994
The White Plum Lineage was established by Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995), one of the great pioneers of modern Zen who, alongside a handful of other Japanese masters, turned the wheel of dharma in our age and opened up a unique tradition of Buddhist practice to a worldwide movement. Maezumi Roshi received not only Shiho (Dharma Transmission) in Soto Zen from Baian Hakujun Kuroda Roshi, which he transmitted to his Dharma successors, but he also received Inka (Seal of Approval) in the Shakyamuni Kai from Osaka Koryu Roshi and in the Sanbo Kyodan from Hakuun Yasutani Roshi. As he incorporated the approaches of all of these masters, he could draw from an exceptionally rich background and express the teaching of the Buddha in a very broad and colorful way. As abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles he guided thousands of students and produced twelve successors, who spread his teaching all around the world: Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, Dennis Genpo Merzel, Charlotte Joko Beck, Jan Chozen Bays, John Daido Loori, Gerry Shishin Wick, John Tesshin Sanderson, Alfred Jitsudo Ancheta, Charles Tenshin Fletcher, Susan Myoyu Andersen, Nicolee Jikyo Miller, and William Nyogen Yeo. These twelve have further transmitted the Dharma to new generations of successors currently close to 100 in total. Most of these successors are member of the White Plum Asanga. For a listing see the White Plum Asangha website.
As a major contribution to the transmission of Buddhist teachings to the West, Maezumi Roshi was instrumental in bringing to realization the formation of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) of American Soto Zen teachers. Maezumi Roshi also promoted exchange programmes among priests and lay practitioners between the United States and Japan. He has published commentaries on major Buddhist works. A collection of his talks appeared in book form under the title Appreciate Your Life (Shambhala), The Echoless Valley (Dharma Communications) and Teaching of the Great Mountain (Tuttle). Maezumi Roshi passed away unexpectedly on May 15, 1995, while visiting Japan. Intimate funeral services were held in Tokyo and Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife Martha Ekyo Maezumi and their three children, Kirsten Mitsuyo, Yuri Jundo and Shira Yoshimi.
Genpo Merzel Roshi (1944, Brooklyn, USA) is the second dharma successor of Taizan Maezumi Roshi. After receiving dharma transmission in 1979 he stayed at the Zen Center of Los Angeles for four more years to assist Maezumi Roshi in teaching. Since 1982 he also started visiting Europe several times a year to conduct Zen retreats and workshops, creating the international Kanzeon Sangha. For some twenty years he was particularly active in The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Poland and France. And even though he was first installed as abbot of Kanzeon Zen Center in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1988 and later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, most of his students were European during those years. Several times he invited Maezumi Roshi accross the Atlantic to lead a series of sesshins in the various countries together with him. These visits were highly appreciated and are still treasured by sangha members as very precious occasions. Maezumi Roshi passed away in 1995, and up till 2000 Genpo Roshi's teaching was clearly based on the models he had inherited. Since then he started to diverge from those models and developed an interactive method called "Big Mind", which combines the way of Zen with Western psychological insights. This method proved to be very successful and led him to conduct workshops and conferences for large groups all over the USA and Europe. The "Maha Sangha Gathering", an international retreat with the emphasis on Big Mind, held annually for many years on the island of Ameland, just off the northern coast of The Netherlands, ended up attracting over 300 participants; the last one of these retreats was held in January 2011. For personal reasons Genpo Roshi decided to give up the Salt Lake City center's property, to resign from the White Plum Asangha, and to more explicitly follow his own course. He now focusses on teaching Big Mind as a secular practice at various locations primarily in the USA, including Maui, Hawai.
To date, Genpo Roshi has given Shiho Transmission to Catherine Genno Pagès (1992), the late John Shodo Flatt (1994), Anton Tenkei Coppens (1996), Malgosia Jiho Braunek (2003), Daniel Doen Silberberg (2003), Nico Sojun Tydeman (2004), Nancy Genshin Gabrysch (2006) Diane Musho Hamilton (2006), Michael Mugaku Zimmerman (2006) Rich Taido Christofferson (2007) Michel Genko Dubois (2007), Tamara Myoho Gabrysch (2008), Maurice Shonen Knegtel (2009) and KC Kyozen Gerpheide (2010). Genpo Roshi has given Inka, the final seal of approval, to Genno Pages, Tenkei Coppens and Jiho Braunek as well as several of Maezumi Roshi's direct successors. Genpo Roshi is the author of five books: The Eye Never Sleeps, Beyond Sanity and Madness, 24/7 Dharma, The Path of The Human Being, and Big Mind/Big Heart: Finding your way and created numerous DVDs on Big Mind.
Junyu Kuroda Roshi
Baigaku Junyu Kuroda Roshi, better known to most as "Hojo-san", is a younger brother of Maezumi Roshi and Abbot of two temples - Kirigayaji in Tokyo and Fujidera in Gotemba, close to Mount Fuji. According to him, he has "no life, no biography". Yet we know that he was born in 1940 and raised in Koshinji, the family temple in Otawara. He graduated from Komazawa University in 1963 and received Shiho from his father in 1968. In addition to traditional Sodo training in Sojiji, he completed in a special course there that qualified him as a Zen Master in 1970. Since then he has traveled widely and, for example, in 1974 attended the 2nd World Conference of Religions in Belgium and met with Paulus Ⅵ in the Vatican. In 1979 he went to Thailand to practice in the Theravada tradition. Later on he developed a special connection with Bhutan.
From 1973 on Hojo-san often went to the US to support Maezumi Roshi in the Zen Center of Los Angeles where he was, as Tanto, in charge of monk’s training. In turn, Maezumi Roshi would always stay with Hojo-san in Kirigayaji during his annual visits to Japan and together they would discuss the future of Western Zen Buddhism. Over time, Hojo-san has become an important bridge between East and West and his role became all the more relevant after his brother passed away. He has students all over the world and yet he says, "I have no extra, no luggage. Just I am I." Hojo-san is the father of two daughters, Keiko and Hitomi, and has given dharma transmission to seven successors: Nishimaki Taijun, Kono Seiho and Nakamura Shokan from Japan, Enjo Stahel from Brazil, Seisen Saunders and Egyoku Nakao from USA, and Kanzen Maslankowski from Poland.
In 2000, Tenkei Roshi and Myoho Sensei lived and practiced for six months with Hojo-san at Kirigaya-ji. Ever since, Hojo-san has been very supportive of their life vocations, and mutual visits occur almost every year. The gorgeous Buddha statue in the Hatto of Zen River and the Manjushri statue in the Zendo are two of his most precious donations. He has also introduced Roshi and Sensei to a wide circle of friends in Japan and China, and has orchestrated many of the special ceremonies at Zen River, most notably Roshi's Shinsanshiki (abbot's installation ceremony) in 2002, and the inauguration of the new Zendo by the abbots of Tiantong and Qita temples in 2012.
In 2010 Hojo-san became Gondai Kyoshi or Vice-President of the Japanese Soto School, and in 2012 he received the title of Daikyoshi, which is one of the highest ranks in the school.