Reb Anderson

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Tenshin Reb Anderson
Tenshin Reb Anderson
School Soto Zen
Lineage Shunryu Suzuki
Other names Reb
Dharma names Tenshin Zenki
Personal
Nationality American
Born c. 1943
Mississippi
Senior posting
Based in San Francisco Zen Center
Green Gulch Farm Zen Center
Title Roshi
Predecessor Zentatsu Richard Baker
Successor Ananda Claude Dalenburg, Zengyu Paul Discoe, Sobun Katherine Thanas, Chikudo Jerome Petersen, Jiko Linda Cutts, Jakujo Gary McNabb, Furyu Nancy Schroeder, Myo Lahey, Taigen Dan Leighton, Meiya Wender, Leslie James, Setsuan Gaelyn Godwin, Kiku Christina Lehnherr, Taiyo Lipscomb, Kokyo Henkel
Religious career
Website www.rebanderson.org

Tenshin Zenki Reb Anderson (born 1943) is a Zen teacher and lineage holder in the Sōtō Zen tradition of Shunryu Suzuki. He is a Senior Dharma teacher at the San Francisco Zen Center and at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin County, California, where he lives. According to author James Ishmael Ford, "Reb Anderson is one of the most prominent of contemporary Western Zen teachers."[1]

Biography[edit]

Memorial for Anderson's teacher Shunryu Suzuki at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Reb Anderson was born as Harold Anderson[2] in Mississippi in 1943 and grew up in Minnesota. His father left the family when Anderson was eleven.[3] In his youth, he was a Golden Gloves boxer.[4] Anderson developed an interest in Buddhism while still in his teens.[1] In 1967, he abandoned his graduate studies in psychology and mathematics to study Soto Zen under Shunryu Suzuki at the San Francisco Zen Center.

Anderson was then ordained as a priest in 1970 by Suzuki, who gave Anderson the Buddhist name Tenshin Zenki 天眞全機 (Naturally Real, the Whole Works).[5] In 1983 Anderson received shiho from Zentatsu Richard Baker, becoming Baker's first Dharma heir. However, when Baker was forced to resign amid complaints about his affairs with female Zen Center members and his purchase of expensive luxury goods, Baker claimed Anderson never completed the entire transmission ceremony.[6] The board of the San Francisco Zen Center disagreed, understanding Anderson to be Baker's Dharma heir (Baker has since agreed).[1] After Baker's resignation, Anderson replaced him as abbot.

In a controversial incident, while jogging in Golden Gate Park in 1983, Anderson found the corpse of a man with a bullet wound to the head and a revolver nearby. Anderson returned to the body over a period of several days to meditate over the corpse, on one visit taking the revolver.[7] In 1985, Anderson was mugged one block away from the San Francisco Zen Center. He retrieved the unloaded revolver and chased the perpetrator to a nearby tenement, where both were quickly arrested.[7] The incident received local and national media coverage. The affair has at times impacted Anderson's reputation as a teacher.

The Zen Center Board of Directors sent him on a leave of absence for six months. When he returned, he served as co-abbot with Mel Weitsman from 1986 to 1995. Regarding this ordeal, Anderson has written of his remorse and insight garnered from the experience.[8]

In October 1999 Anderson suffered a heart attack while conducting dokusan. He later underwent a successful emergency angioplasty.[9]

Teaching style[edit]

According to James Ishmael Ford, "...Anderson Roshi is one of the first people to have worked hard to bring Dogen studies West. He has also stretched much of Zen's traditional approach to psychology by drawing upon other ancient Buddhist sources, including Abhidharma and Yogachara teaching, while at the same time being solidly informed regarding Western approaches to the discipline."[1] To some students, "...Reb's practice invites comparison to the legendary Japanese samurai, the warriors who trained in medieval Zen monasteries."[4]

Dharma heirs[edit]

Sobun Katherine Thanas received shiho from Tenshin Roshi in 1988 and later was installed as abbess of the Santa Cruz Zen Center.[10] Zengyu Paul Discoe and Ananda Claude Dalenburg also received shiho in 1988 (Ananda was the inspiration for the character Bud Diefendorf in Jack Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums).[11] Anderson gave shiho to his student Jiko Linda Cutts in 1996, who went on to serve as co-abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center from 2000 until 2007.[12] Furyu Nancy Schroeder received shiho 1999, as did Myo Denis Lahey, who became head teacher of the Hartford Street Zen Center, Issan-ji, in San Francisco. In 2000 Taigen Dan Leighton received shiho. Leighton has since gone on to establish the Mountain Source Sangha[13] and after moving to Chicago, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate.[14] In 2002 Meiya Wender received shiho. She now conducts japanese tea ceremony classes at Green Gulch.[15] In 2003 Gaelyn Godwin became Tenshin Roshi's Dharma successor in the U.S. and became Houston Zen Center's Abiding Teacher. In 2005, she received the title of 'Kaikyoshi' from the Soto School of Japan.[16] In 2005 Kiku Christina Lehnherr received shiho from Tenshin Roshi.[17] Taiyo Lipscomb received shiho in 2009,[18] and in 2010, Kōkyō Henkel received shiho. He is currently Head Teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center.[19]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Anderson, Reb (2012). The Third Turning of the Wheel: Wisdom of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra. Berkeley: Rodmell Press. ISBN 193048531X. OCLC 757477313. 
  • Anderson, Reb; Moon, Susan Ichi Su (2005) [1995]. Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation (3rd ed.). Berkeley: Rodmell Press. ISBN 1930485107. OCLC 61332243. 
  • Anderson, Reb (2001). Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Berkeley: Rodmell Press. ISBN 0962713899. OCLC 44414111. 

Audio[edit]

  • Anderson, Reb (1993) [1984]. Basic Points of Buddhist Meditation. Tiburon, CA: Big Sur Tapes; Produced by Dolphin Tapes. OCLC 30066463. 
  • Anderson, Reb (2006–2013). "Talks by Reb Anderson". Official site for free dharma talks by Reb Anderson. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen. Boston: Wisdom Publications. pp. 127–128. ISBN 0861715098. OCLC 70174891. 
  2. ^ Prebish, Charles S.; Baumann, Martin (2002). Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 237. ISBN 0520226259. OCLC 48871649. 
  3. ^ Anderson 2005, p. 137
  4. ^ a b Downing, Michael (2001). Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center. Washington, DC: Counterpoint. pp. 15–16. ISBN 1582431132. OCLC 46793103. 
  5. ^ Gach, Gary (1998). What Book!?: Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop. Berkeley: Parallax Press. p. 210. ISBN 0938077929. OCLC 38324499. 
  6. ^ Downing 2001, p. 357–360
  7. ^ a b Anderson 2001, p. 187–189
  8. ^ Anderson 2001, p. 187–189: "On both a personal and a professional level, I am still dealing with the consequences of this episode. Some people felt that I had committed an irrevocable betrayal of trust, and have discounted me and my teaching ever since. Others were more forgiving, but their trust in me and my integrity was permanently shaken. Even newer students, who come to Zen Center and find out about these incidents, are sometimes confused and question whether I can be their teacher. These events are a helpful reminder—both to me and to others—of my vulnerability to arrogance and inflation. I see how my empowerment to protect and care for the Triple Treasure inflated my sense of personal authority, and thus detracted from and disparaged the Triple Treasure. This ancient twisted karma I now fully avow."
  9. ^ Chadwick, David (20 October 1999). "Cuke Sangha News through '07". cuke.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "Memorial Page: Karin Sobun Katherine Thomas". Santa Cruz Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  11. ^ Chadwick, David (7 October 1994). "Interviews with Ananda (Claude) Dalenberg". cuke.com. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Skinner Keller, Rosemary; Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marie Cantlon (2006). The Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 643. ISBN 0253346851. OCLC 61711172. 
  13. ^ "Taigen Dan Leighton, Founding Dharma Teacher". Mountain Source Sangha. 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Taigen Dan Leighton Full Biography". Ancient Dragon Zen Gate. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Meiya Wender". San Francisco Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Houston Zen Center: About Us". Houston Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Kiku Christina Lehnherr". San Francisco Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Taiyo Lipscomb". San Francisco Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Santa Cruz Zen Center: Current Leaders". Santa Cruz Zen Center. Retrieved 12 February 2013.