Taigen Dan Leighton

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Taigen Dan Leighton
Taigen Dan Leighton 2.JPG
Religion Sōtō
Education Columbia University, B.A.
California Institute of Integral Studies, M.A.
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Ph.D.
Nationality American
Senior posting
Based in Ancient Dragon Zen Gate
Loyola University Chicago
Institute of Buddhist Studies
Predecessor Reb Anderson
Religious career
Teacher Kando Nakajima
Reb Anderson
Blanche Hartman
Website ancientdragon.org/taigen_dan_leigton

Taigen Dan Leighton (b. 1950, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA) is a Sōtō priest and teacher, academic,[1] and author. He is an authorized lineage holder and Zen teacher in the tradition of Shunryū Suzuki and is the founder and Guiding Teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, Illinois.[2]


Leighton began his Zen practice in 1975 at the New York Zen Center, training under Kando Nakajima rōshi. He studied at Columbia University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies. Leighton worked as a television and film editor in New York City, and then San Francisco.[2]

In 1978, he moved to California and eventually became a resident at San Francisco Zen Center, where he worked at Tassajara Bakery and other of Zen Center's businesses. In subsequent years, Leighton practiced in residence at all of the San Francisco Zen Center facilities, including Green Gulch Farm Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. In 1986, Leighton was ordained as a priest by Reb Anderson in the latter's first ordination ceremony.[2]

Leighton lived in Japan from 1990–1992, translating Dōgen texts with Shōhaku Okumura and training under various masters. In 1994, Leighton founded the Mountain Source Sangha in Bolinas, San Rafael, and San Francisco, California (of which Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is a sister temple).[3]

In 2000, Leighton received shihō, or Dharma transmission, from Reb Anderson.[2]

He taught for four years at Loyola University Chicago and has taught since 1994 at the Institute of Buddhist Studies,[4] part of the Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, from which Leighton has a Ph.D. degree.[2]

Leighton has been involved in many interfaith dialogue programs, including conducting Buddhist–Christian dialogue workshops. He has long been active in various Engaged Buddhist programs for social justice, including Environmental and Peace activism. [2]


Over the years, Leighton has taught at various universities around the world. The following is a complete list:[2][4]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ford, James Ishmael (2006). Zen Master Who?: A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen. Wisdom Publications. p. 130. ISBN 0861715098. OCLC 70174891. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Leighton, Taigen Dan (2005–2013). "Taigen Dan Leighton Full Biography". Ancient Dragon Zen Gate. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Leighton, Taigen Dan (2007). "Taigen Dan Leighton, Founding Dharma Teacher". Mountain Source Sangha. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Faculty & Staff: The Institute of Buddhist Studies, Institute of Buddhist Studies, retrieved 12 February 2013 

External links[edit]