Root Teachers


Karin Sobun Katherine Thanas

Sobun Katherine Thanas (1927-2012) was our beloved dharma teacher and Abbot. She trained with Suzuki Roshi at Sokoji, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, and Green Gulch Farm. She was lay ordained by Suzuki Roshi, priest ordained by Zentatsu Baker Roshi in 1975, and received dharma transmission from Tenshin Reb Anderson in 1988. She became head teacher of the Santa Cruz Zen Center in 1989, and was installed as the Abbot in 2002. Katherine's legacy is her ability to translate formal monastic training into meaningful understanding of our everyday life. Her sharp wit, scholarly engagement with scripture, and deep compassion defined her teachings. She has touched the minds and hearts of many students.


Kobun Chino Roshi

Kobun Chino Roshi, a Japanese Zen priest belonging to the Soto lineage, came to San Francisco in 1967 at the age of twenty-nine in response to an invitation from Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, serving as his assistant at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for three years. Among his teachers was the unconventional Zen master Kodo Sawaki Roshi. He moved to Los Altos and began teaching there at the Haiku Zendo shortly after leaving Tassajara in 1970. Also at this time he began a weekly zazen group in Santa Cruz. In 1972 the current Santa Cruz Zen Center at 113 and 115 School Street. was offered as a practice place for Kobun Chino Roshi and his students. For many years he gave a weekly evening Dharma talk there. In 1978 Jikoji Zen Center in the Santa Cruz mountains was begun under Kobun’s leadership. In 1981 he left California to live and teach at Hokoji Zen Center in New Mexico, and later at Zen Centers in Austria and Switzerland, and the Shambhala Mountain Center and Naropa University in Colorado. He died in Switzerland on July 26, 2002.


Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, a Japanese Zen priest belonging to the Soto lineage, came to San Francisco in 1959 at the age of fifty-four. Already a respected Zen master in Japan, he was impressed by the seriousness and quality of “beginner’s mind” among Americans he met who were interested in Zen, and decided to settle here. As more and more people of non-Japanese background joined him in meditation, San Francisco Zen Center came into being and Suzuki Roshi became its first abbot. Under his tutelage, San Francisco Zen Center grew into City Center, Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential Zen teachers of his time. Some of his edited talks have been collected in the books Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and Not Always So. Suzuki Roshi died on December 4, 1971, at San Francisco Zen Center, leaving behind many senior disciples. The current teachers at Santa Cruz Zen Center have been trained in and entrusted with his lineage.