Joko Beck

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Joko Beck
Religion Zen Buddhism
School Ordinary Mind School
Born (1917-03-27)March 27, 1917
United States
Died June 15, 2011(2011-06-15) (aged 94)
Senior posting
Title Zen Teacher
Predecessor Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi

Charlotte Joko Beck (March 27, 1917 – June 15, 2011) was an American Zen teacher and the author of the books Everyday Zen: Love and Work and Nothing Special: Living Zen.


Born in New Jersey, Beck studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and worked for some time as a pianist and piano teacher. She married and raised a family of four children, then separated from her husband and worked as a teacher, secretary, and assistant in a university department. She began Zen practice in her 40s with Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi in Los Angeles, and later with Hakuun Yasutani and Soen Nakagawa. Having received Dharma transmission from Taizan Maezumi Roshi, she opened the Zen Center San Diego in 1983, serving as its head teacher until July 2006.

Beck was responsible for a number of important innovations in Zen teaching. In particular, she taught students to work with the emotions of everyday life rather than attempting to avoid or escape them. Because she was adept at teaching students to work with their psychological states, she attracted a number of students who were interested in the relationship between Zen and modern psychology. Several of her Dharma heirs are practicing psychologists/psychiatrists. In 1995 Joko, along with three of her Dharma heirs, founded the Ordinary Mind Zen School.

Shortly after Beck’s departure in 2006, she revoked Dharma transmission from two senior students: Ezra Bayda and Elizabeth Hamilton. Beck also stated that Zen Center San Diego should not claim to represent her or her teaching.[1][2] In 2006 Joko moved to Prescott, Arizona, where she continued to teach until she retired as a teacher in late 2010. In the spring of 2010, Joko announced Gary Nafstad as her last Dharma successor.[1][2][3]


Joko Beck has appointed nine teachers:[4]

  1. Christensen, Larry Jissan
  2. Christenson, Anna
  3. Dawson, Geoff
  4. Howard, Gregg
  5. Magid, Barry (b. 1949)
  6. Nafstad, Gary
  7. Penn, Barbara Muso
  8. Smith, Elihu Genmyo (b. 1948)
  9. Rizzetto, Diane Eshin (b. 1942)

From two teachers she has revoked her appointment:[4]

  1. Ezra Bayda(b. 1944)(revoked 2006)
  2. Hamilton, Elizabeth (revoked 2006)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stuart Lachs". Non-Duality. August 26, 2010. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Barry Magid Interview". Sweeping Zen. June 4, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tebbe, Adam (June 15, 2011). "Charlotte Joko Beck dies at 94; American Zen pioneer". Sweeping Zen. Retrieved October 3, 2011. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Sanbo Kyodan: Harada-Yasutani School of Zen Buddhism and its Teachers


External links[edit]