Mel Weitsman

Sojun Mel Weitsman

Sojun Mel Weitsman wielding a hossu.
Religion Zen Buddhism
School Sōtō
Lineage Shunryu Suzuki
Nationality American
Born 1929
Southern California
Senior posting
Based in Berkeley Zen Center
Title Abbot
Predecessor Hoitsu Suzuki
Successor Zenkei Blanche Hartman
Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Ryushin Paul Haller
Peter Schneider (zen priest)
Hozan Alan Senauke
Maylie Scott
Josho Pat Phelan
Grace Schireson
Dairyu Michael Wenger
Myōgen Steve Stücky
Shōsan Victoria Austin
Steve Weintraub
Gil Fronsdal
Fran Tribe
Mary Mocine
Myōan Grace Schireson
Daijaku Kinst
Shinshu Roberts
Teah Strozer
Chikudō Lew Richmond
Edward Espe Brown
Religious career
Teacher Shunryu Suzuki

Sojun Mel Weitsman (born 1929), born Mel Weitsman, is the founder, abbot and guiding teacher of Berkeley Zen Center located in Berkeley, California. Weitsman is a Soto Zen roshi practicing in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki, having received Dharma transmission in 1984 from Suzuki's son Hoitsu. He is also a former co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, where he served from 1988 to 1997. Weitsman is also editor of the book Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai, based on talks given by Suzuki on the Sandokai.


Mel Weitsman was born in Long Beach in Southern California in 1929, to Edward Weitsman and Leah Rosenberg Weitsman.[1] Interested in religion from an early age, he started practicing at the San Francisco Zen Center under Shunryu Suzuki in 1964. He co-founded the Berkeley Zen Center with his teacher in 1967. Suzuki ordained Weitsman as a priest in 1969, and arranged for him to be Shuso (Head Monk) in 1970 under Tatsugami Roshi at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. His other teachers included Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Kobun Chino Roshi, Ryogen Yoshimura and Kazuaki Tanahashi, with whom he has often worked on translations of Zen texts. In 1984, Weitsman received Dharma transmission from Suzuki Roshi's son and Dharma Heir, Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi, Abbot of Rinso-In Temple in Yaizu, Japan. Installed as Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center in 1985, he later was invited to lead San Francisco Zen Center as co-abbot with Tenshin Reb Anderson from 1988 to 1997, following the eviction Zen Center's previous abbot, Richard Baker, because of sexual scandal and allegations of financial wrongdoing.[1][2][3] He co-founded the American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) with senior American Dharma teachers Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, Dennis Genpo Merzel and Les Kaye in 1995. Weitsman has entrusted the Dharma to over twenty individuals, including Zenkei Blanche Hartman (1988)[4] and Zoketsu Norman Fischer (1988).[5]


  1. Josho Pat Phelan (?—present)[web 1]
  2. Mary Mocine (?—present)
  3. Myoan Grace Schireson (born 1946)
    1. Jane Myokaku Schneider (?—present)
    2. Myosho Baika Andrea Pratt (born 1960)
  4. Shinshu Roberts (?—present)
  5. Daijaku Judith Kinst (?—present)
  6. Soshin Teah Strozer (?—present)
  7. Chikudo Lew Richmond (?—present)
  8. Peter Yozen Schneider (?—present)
  9. Shosan Victoria Austin (?—present)
  10. Dairyu Michael Wenger (born 1947)
    1. Darlene Su Rei Cohen (☸ 1942—2011)
      1. Susan Ji-On Postal (?—present)
        1. Myozan Dennis Keegan (?—present)
      2. Horyu Ryotan Cynthia Kear (?—present)
      3. Sarita Tamayo-Moraga (?—present)
    2. Mark Lancaster (?—present)
    3. Marsha Angus (?—present) lay entrustment
    4. Barent (Last name?) (?—present) lay entrustment
    5. Jamie Howell (born 1945) lay entrustment
  11. Hozan Alan Senauke (born 1947)
  12. Maylie Scott (☸ 1935—2001)
  13. Fran Tribe (☸)
  14. Gil Fronsdal (born 1954)
  15. Edward Espe Brown (born 1945)
  16. Ryushin Paul Haller (born 1947)
  17. Myogen Steve Stucky (?—present)
  18. Steve Weintraub (?—present)
  19. Zoketsu Norman Fischer (born 1946)
    1. Do-An Robert Thomas (?—present)
    2. Shokan Jordan Thorn (?—present)
    3. Ingen Breen (?—present)
    4. Bruce Fortin (?—present)
    5. Arlene Lueck (?—present)
    6. Daigan Lueck (☸ ?—2015)[web 2]
    7. Shinko Rick Slone (?—present)
    8. Gloria Ann Lee (?—present)
    9. Myphon Hunt (?—present) retired
    10. Gyokujun Teishin Layla Smith (born 1946)
    11. Eihei Peter Levitt (?—present) lay entrustment
    12. Mick Sopko (?—present) lay entrustment
  20. Zenkei Blanche Hartman (?—present)
    1. Kosho McCall (born 1946)
    2. Seirin Barbara Kohn (?—present) retired
    3. Gengetsu Jana Drakka (born 1952)
    4. John Daniel King (☸ 1935—2001)
    5. Ryumon Hilda Guitierrez Baldoquin (?—present)

See also


Written references

  1. 1 2 Ford, 128-129
  2. Downing, Michael. Shoes Outside the Door. Counterpoint, 2002. passim
  3. Gach, 230
  4. Skinner Keller, 643
  5. San Francisco Zen Center: About Us: Lineage: Zoketsu Norman Fischer



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