Merle Kodo Boyd

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Merle Kodo Boyd
Merle Kodo Boyd.jpg
Religion Zen
School Zen Peacemaker Circle
Lineage White Plum Asanga
Nationality American
Children 1 daughter
Senior posting
Based in Lincroft Zen Sangha
Predecessor Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Religious career

Merle Kodo Boyd is the first ever African-American woman to have received Dharma transmission in Zen Buddhism, as a Dharma heir of Wendy Egyoku Nakao in the White Plum Asanga.[1] Receiving transmission in March 2006, she leads the Lincroft Zen Sangha in New Jersey (a center which she founded) that is currently part of the Zen Peacemaker Circle established by Tetsugen Bernard Glassman and his wife Sandra Jishu Holmes.[2] Boyd was born and raised in Texas during the era of segregation. Her family, like most other African-American families of this period, suffered the pain and hardship of racial discrimination. Before coming to Zen, Boyd was a licensed psychotherapist.[3] She first developed an interest in Zen Buddhism after viewing a 12th-century Chinese painting titled Solitary Angler in a book, depicting an angler fishing upon a wide-open sea. Boyd has written, "The painting called to me in my own voice. I immediately sought out more books and found instructions for sitting zazen. Using a bed pillow and blankets, I began the practice alone in a corner of my bedroom."[3]

Boyd practiced in this way for a couple of years, reading books and practicing zazen in her bedroom. While she often contemplated going to a Zen center, she was also wary of potential racial tension she imagined she would face were she to do so. She comments, "I knew no black people practicing Zen. The thought of entering a zendo knowing nothing of the etiquette and ritual was frightening enough. Being the only black person there would, I felt, draw more attention than I could stand. But the pull of practice was strong and, finally, I ventured out."[3] She began sitting with a small group led by a teacher named Sr. Janet Richardson, a Dharma heir of Robert Jinsen Kennedy and Tetsugen Bernard Glassman. According to the Lincroft website, "She received Jukai in 1994 and Priest Ordination in 1996 from Roshi Sandra Jishu Holmes. After Roshi Jishu's death, Kodo continued her practice with Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, from whom she received Preceptor Transmission in 2002 and Dharma Transmission in March 2006."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ford, 166
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c Gutiérrez Baldoquín, 101-105
  4. ^ "Lincroft Zen Sangha - Bio". Retrieved 2017-03-22.