Zen evolved from the teachings of the historical Buddha who lived 2500 years ago in India. These teachings spread to China some six hundred years later. Zen (Ch’an in China) developed in Mahayana Buddhist monasteries in the 7th Century. Inspired in part by the Chinese practice of the Tao, Ch’an was characterized by a spontaneity and naturalness.
The Soto school in Japan was founded by the 12th century monk Dogen Zenji after several years of practice and study in China. Over the last several decades Buddhism and Zen have formed deep roots in the West.
Soto Zen stresses the practice of seated, silent meditation and is distinguished by its focus on the down-to-earth practice of “everyday zen.” It encourages awareness of the workings of one’s own mind as a means of living mindfully in all areas of daily life – at home, at work and in the community.
Soto Zen is for those who want to practice Zen in everything they do. In coming face to face with their life in all its aspects, they come to know themselves and find their relationship to all other things. They learn to be truly here and to serve in all ways.
—adapted from the Soto Zen Buddhist Association website
Sonoma Valley Zen began in the fall of 2016. The group offers weekly sittings combined with study and discussion. We also periodically provide extended sittings and classes on Buddhism and Zen. The group is facilitated by Rev. Myogen Kathryn Stark and Silver John Hall, both longtime practitioners in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of San Francisco Zen Center.
"It is a joy to share the Dharma and to encourage and support the practice of others."
REV. MYOGEN KATHRYN STARK, MA, MDIV., a Dharma heir in the Suzuki roshi lineage, has been practicing in the Soto Zen tradition since 1990. She began practice with Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Zen Centers, and has received training at San Francisco Zen Center: City Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center as well as in Japan. She received priest ordination in 2003 from SCZC Abbess Sobun Katherine Thanas and dharma transmission in 2013 from Shosan Victoria Austin, Dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. She holds Master of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees in Buddhist studies with a specialty in Buddhist chaplaincy from the Graduate Theological Union and Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley. For over 10 years she has been working as an hospice chaplain and currently works at Providence Memorial Hospice in Santa Rosa.
SILVER JOHN HALL studied under Sojun Mel Weisman, abbot of Berkeley Zen Center and Mary Mocine, abbess of Clear Water Zen Center in Vallejo, where he served as shuso (head student). He worked in hospice care for over twenty years and was a chaplain intern at UCSF.
"Always keeping this close -
Dharma Gates are boundless."