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Entering the Monastery

I wrote a book about life inside San Francisco Zen Center


Beginner's Mind Zen Meditation Group

Please come join me for sitting meditation and dharma discussion


Zen Sewing & Services

I perform Zen weddings and funeral services, and can help you or your group with sewing rakusus and okesas. 

"Entering the Monastery renders the moment-by-moment, undisguised experience of Zen practice in America with unsurpassable immediacy, sincerity, the  warmth of full human presence, and down to the  ground detail.  

It should become a classic."

--Jane Hirshfield

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The urge to leave a conventional middle class life and move to a monastery is mysterious and, for some of us, persistent. I kept a record of that urge, from its first glimmerings as I prepared to take lay vows with my teacher in a small neighborhood Zen center, through the massive disruption of my life when I moved to Tassajara, the Zen monastery in the Ventana wilderness. I recorded what I did and how it felt for a group of friends on The Well, and, after the death of my teacher, added some photos and made those reports into this book. 

Purchase Entering the Monastery from Lulu or Amazon.




“Our way is to practice one step at a time,
one breath at a time, with no gaining idea."
- Shunryu Suzuki Roshi



Every Wednesday evening 7:00 to 8:00


3900 Alameda De Las Pulgas, San Mateo, CA

Small neighborhood sitting groups are the blades of grass springing up throughout the country, and I’m pleased to head up this one. There are usually around ten of us, meeting every Wednesday night for an hour in an Episcopal church in San Mateo, California. We sit in silence for 30 minutes and then read a text together. We’re very informal, and the handful of us who have been sitting together since 2016 have become good friends. I offer meditation instruction on request, and we do a short Zen service once a month.

If you’re interested in joining us, please follow the link to here to let me know you’re coming. If you have any questions, please email me at renshin@gmail.com.

This group is affiliated with the Everyday Zen Foundation.



“Will you ever bring a better gift for the world

than the breathing respect that you carry

wherever you go right now?”

– William Stafford




I lived at San Francisco Zen Center for seven years, and have worked as a hospice chaplain for eight. Because of that training and experience, I can offer:

Sewing Buddha's Robe
As Soto Zen spreads across the country, students find themselves instructed to sew rakusus or even okesas without access to a sewing teacher. Zenkei Blanche Hartman and I sewed together for ten years, and she kindly recognized me as her sewing dharma heir.  This practice is conveyed warm hand to warm hand, and it is my pleasure to continue in Blanche’s tradition. I can help from a distance, and am also available to travel to help sanghas with sewing practice.

Weddings and Funerals
Ritual can serve to increase our joy or lessen our sorrow. It doesn’t have to be religious, yet it still must invoke the sacred.

Creating and performing funerals is a particular skill I’ve developed through the years of my work in chaplaincy. Whether you’re looking for an event to honor the one who’s died with no religious overtones, or you want a formal Buddhist ceremony with robes, incense, and chanting, I can work with you in creating and performing a funeral or memorial service. 

As a priest, I’m authorized to perform weddings, and it is my pleasure to continue that practice. 

Sewing Buddha’s Robe and Rituals are offered on a sliding scale. Contact me at renshin@gmail.com