Anton Tenkei Coppens was born in the Netherlands, 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 centre. This centre 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, which 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, officiated by Hojo-san. In November 2003 he completed a one-month Tokubetsu sesshin at Zuioji temple, Niihama, Japan, which gave him further certification within the Soto School. Later he was granted the official status of Kokusai Fukyoshi (a 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. 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 of dharma talks that Maezumi Roshi gave in Europe, published under the title The Echoless Valley and Teaching of the Great Mountain. in 2020, he published his first book Timeless Calling, Timely Response, which is available through the Zen River shop as a beautifully bound hardcover.
Over the last few years, he has engaged in new and interesting contacts with Buddhist traditions outside of Japan, particularly in China. Among other events, the annual UN Vesak celebrations in Bangkok, which attract thousands of Buddhists from all over the world, have been a great inspiration. As a result of these connections, Zen River has been able to welcome many Asian teachers, monks, and laypeople.
To date, Tenkei Roshi has given Shiho to Gakudo den Hollander, Koren Kasman, Senko de Boer, Jifu Vulink, Doin van de Roer and Ranka de Hullu, and Lay transmisson to Ryusho Lopez-Doriga and Daishin Fischer.
Tamara (Tammy) Myoho Gabrysch was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 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 freelance 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 Roshi) had invited him. This sesshin was a turning point for her, and from then on she completely committed herself to study 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 she 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 Salt Lake City 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 accommodate family members. Earlier that year Myoho had received Hoshi (dharma holder) and Denkai (precept holder for priestly activities) from Genpo Roshi. They left Salt Lake City in 2000 after 12 years of residential training and went on to live and practice for six months 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 group of students — established Zen River Temple, a community of residents and members with an ongoing daily programme and monthly sesshins. Tammy serves as Tenzo, webmaster 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 and in June 2013 completed formal training in Japan at Toshoji monastery in Okayama. That same year she completed Zuisse (ceremonial abbot for the night) at Eiheiji and Sojiji in Japan, which together gave her further accreditation within the Soto School as Kokusaifukyoshi (missionary priest). On June 28, 2018, she received Inka (final seal of approval) from Genpo Roshi at Zen River. He gave her the new Dharma name Tenshin 天頂 (zenith). Myoho has compiled a book of recipes from the Zen River kitchen called the Zen River Cookbook and is also 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). In 2015 she started a blog on vegetarian cooking on the Zen River website.
Dharma Successors to Tenkei Roshi
Peter Gakudo den Hollander
Peter Gakudo den Hollander 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 Roshi 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 handyman 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 and received Shiho from Tenkei Roshi at Zen River in December 2013. After his second three-month Ango in Japan, this time in Toshoji, he performed the traditional Zuise ceremonies in Eiheiji and Sojiji, which qualify him as a certified Soto priest. Not long after, he and his late wife, Koren Sensei, decided to move to the Spanish Pyrenees where Pascal Tetsuko van der Knokke and Emke Gyoen Jutte have a beautiful property and together with them set up Keiruiji mountain retreat centre.
Anjo Koren Kasman (1956–2016)
Anjo Koren Kasman 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 centres of the temple. 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 gave introductory classes on a houseboat zendo in the nearby university town of Groningen. After her second three-month Ango in Japan, this time in Toshoji, she performed the traditional Zuise ceremonies in Eiheiji and Sojiji, which qualified her as a certified Soto priest. Not long after, she and Gakudo decided to move to the Spanish Pyrenees where Pascal Tetsuko van der Knokke and Emke Gyoen Jutte have a beautiful property and together with them set up a mountain retreat centre.
Unfortunately, due to a slowly progressing but incurable form of cancer she passed away on August 22, 2016. Her Dharma name Koren means ‘Shining Lotus’ and she manifested that quality beautifully up to the very end.
Simon Senko de Boer
Simon Senko de Boer 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 practise 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.) He received Shiho from Tenkei Roshi in January 2014, and Nico Tydeman took the position of Kyojushi.
Senko currently leads the program on the Zen Boat in Groningen along with his partner Jifu Sensei, where they both live. He also teaches weekly classes at Zentrum in Utrecht.
Robert Doin van de Roer
Robert Doin van de Roer 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 centre, 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 studied literature and theatre 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 were flexible and manyfold. Besides being the yoga teacher during daily exercise classes, she worked in maintenance and gardening. Moreover, she was greatly appreciated as the primary stand-in tenzo of Zen River whenever Myoho was not available.
Jifu received Shiho from Tenkei in January 2014 with Musai from Santa Fe as Kyojushi. She participated in Soto Ango training in Toshoji in the Winter of 2014/2015. Alongside the other four Shiho recipients, she first started giving classes at the Zen Boat in the nearby university town of Groningen before moving there in 2018 with Senko. Together, they both run an active daily program of zazen, sesshins, and classes.
Since 2020, Jifu became the spiritual leader for Kanzeon Zen Centrum Rotterdam following the retirement of Myoshin Aerts Roshi.
Jorge Ryusho Lopez Doriga
Ryusho was born in Madrid, and since an early age suffered from ‘cultural claustrophobia’, being raised in a Spain of Franco and pre-post Franco times. So travelling has always been an important part of his life. After studying marketing at the American University in Paris and Georgia State University in Atlanta, he did a master program in Thunderbird in Phoenix, Arizona, where he also met his wife Veronica. He went on to work with Walt Disney Studios and led their European marketing from London, UK, where he did his first sesshin with Genpo Roshi. Later he moved to Chile to work for Sony BMG and, during a sabbatical, moved to Salt Lake City to train at Kanzeon Zen Center. There he met Tenkei; Ryusho actually attended the last of the desert retreats Tenkei and Tammy used to organize, suddenly appearing on Hatch Point in Southern Utah in his tuxedo – straight from the Grammy’s celebrations in L.A.
When Tenkei and Tammy established Zen River Temple in The Netherlands in 2001, Ryusho was one of the first ones to join, flying in from wherever his home base happened to be. No wonder Tenkei gave him the name Ryusho, Flying Dragon, during his Jukai in 2003. Meanwhile, he set up an enthusiastic Zen River group in Madrid that Tenkei and Tammy visit annually; he did the same in Lima and most recently in Bangkok where he now lives with his wife and two children and works as the CMO of a large beverage company. He completed his Lay Hossenshiki in 2005 and received Hoshi in 2009. Over the last few years, Ryusho has often accompanied Tenkei on international Buddhist conferences in China, Thailand and Vietnam, closely following the new and fascinating developments of Asian Buddhism. Because of special karmic circumstances, he was invited on a fishing trip with the king of Bhutan and since then has created promising connections with spiritual and political leaders of that country, including the secretary-general of monastic affairs and the minister of the Gross National Happiness Commission.
Hans Daishin Fischer
Daishin was born in Eibergen, The Netherlands. He first received a technical education but then changed studies and became a social worker employed by the local government. Dissatisfied with his life he quit his job and went travelling for one year, visiting Israel, Egypt, India, Nepal and Myanmar. When he returned he took on various jobs eventually working in a mental hospital, organizing educational activities for the patients. In 1989 Daishin started Zen meditation and met Genpo Roshi two years later during a sesshin. Zen practice quickly became his highest priority; he did as much training as possible within his social circumstances, studying also with Genno Pages, Nico Tydeman, and finally with Tenkei. In 1994 he met his second wife with whom he still lives together in Zutphen, a historic town along the river IJssel. In 1999 he received Jukai from Genpo Roshi who gave him the dharma name Daishin.
When he, in 2001, heard that Tenkei and Tammy were planning to start a residential practice centre in The Netherlands, he immediately joined their team and even helped search for a suitable property. As soon as Zen River opened he asked Tenkei to become his second teacher, which had the full approval of Genpo. Daishin has been instrumental in setting up Zen River, not only because of his social skills but also his technical expertise. The building needed renovation in all departments and he quickly developed himself as the master electrician, replacing all the visible and invisible wires in the building and bringing light everywhere. Since 2007 he lives three days a week at Zen River and attends most sesshins and month-long retreats. In 2007 he also completed a Lay-Ango as Head-trainee and in 2008 received Hoshi. Daishin leads the Zen River group Zutphen and, since dharma transmission, started to conduct workshops in various locations in The Netherlands and Germany.
Ingrid Ranka du Hullu
Ranka grew up in Oostburg, Zeeuws Vlaanderen. She graduated at the fashion school in Vlissingen, and later also completed accounting training. After working in a fashion products company and a textiles shop, she held a bookkeeping position at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. While in The Hague, Ranka trained as a massage therapist and was self-employed for Shiatsu, chair massage, and craniosacral therapy for ten years.
She started practising at Zen River in 2006 and has been a resident since 2008. For many years, she was the head seamstress of the Atelier sewing room and financial administrator. Ranka received Jukai in 2008, Shukke Tokudo in 2010, performed Hossenshiki in 2013, became Hoshi in 2014, and received Shiho from Tenkei Roshi in 2016.
Ranka has travelled to Japan several times for further temple training. In 2011 she stayed for one month at the Aichi Senmon Nisodo (women’s monastery) in Nagoya; in 2017 she joined a three-month Ango in Toshoji (Okayama prefecture) and performed Zuise ceremonies at the end of that year. In 2020 she moved to Haren, a small town close to Groningen, to pursue her interest in social work and set up her sewing studio. Meanwhile, she continues her position as treasurer of Zen River and leads rakusu-sewing classes at the temple.