The Mountains and Rivers Order has evolved over the years to include a number of co-leadership bodies, each with its own functions and reach. The Teachers Council, comprised of all active teachers within the MRO, discusses matters related to all aspects of practice and training within the Order. The Guardian Council is comprised of senior students, both monastic and lay, who assist in the above by helping individuals discern their commitments as formal students or residents. The Monastic Council, made up of the fully ordained monastics, serves a similar function but specifically for those on the monastic track.
We also have an Ethics Committee which responds to issues where a sangha member at any level may have caused harm to another through their words and actions.
Guided by Zen Center Abbot Hojin Sensei, the Temple Advisory Council is made up of lay students who help make decisions concerning ZCNYC—Fire Lotus Temple.
Led by ZMM Abbot Shugen Roshi and the executive committee, the Board of Directors oversees financial matters and works on a consensus basis to make decisions related to the general functioning of the Mountains and Rivers Order. (See below for more info.)
Another facet of the MRO’s governance, the Board of Governors, includes all active sangha members, and meets every five years to discuss, reflect on, and envision the future of the Order. For a look at the suggestions and ideas that came out of our most recent Board of Governors meeting in 2020, click here.
Our newest leadership body is the Sangha Harmony Advisory Council. Currently in the process of formation, this council will serve in a number of capacities. First, SHAC will work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the sangha by undertaking initiatives that center voices and experiences that have been historically marginalized. To a significant degree, this will be realized through the very people who will comprise the council. It is the hope of all the above mentioned leadership bodies that SHAC will further democratize the ways in which power is held within the Mountains and Rivers Order and model the kind of deep respect for each person’s humanity and identity that will help manifest a beloved community within and beyond our training centers.
Click here to learn more.
The MRO Board of Directors “BOD” or “Board” is the governing body of the Mountains and River Order and its three main entities: Zen Mountain Monastery, Dharma Communications and the Zen Center of NYC. As all are not-for-profit organizations, the Board serves to support the MRO mission, the vision of the Abbot and teachers, and the Sangha of Zen Mountain Monastery through discussions, decision-making and oversight regarding the ethical, financial and structural health of ZMM, DC, ZCNYC the Order and its affiliates. The Board does not make decisions relating directly to spiritual training within the MRO, but issues the Board addresses do, at times, impact ongoing training of students and sangha members.
The Board meets each quarter and is comprised of 16 members: lay students, monastics and teachers who each serve a four-year term, with the option to be reappointed for a second term. A goal of board membership is inclusion and diversity in all its many forms. Aside from full time monastics, the board includes lay students with an array of professional backgrounds. Currently and within the past decade, this has included health care workers, business and accounting specialists, teachers, attorneys, consultants, social workers, artists, writers and more. Along with their personal, professional, and vocational activities, they bring decades of experience in the dharma and, specifically, commitment within the MRO sangha.
New Board members are nominated by the MRO teachers in collaboration with the Nominating Committee, a subcommittee of the Board, and members are voted on by the Board itself. The Nominating Committee’s purpose is to create transparency and inclusion in the Board selection process in order to ensure that the MRO Board is strong, well-functioning and represents the diversity of the broader sangha.
The Board meetings are open to all MRO students to attend as observers. At present, the Board is meeting via Zoom. Formal students who are interested in observing can read the guidelines here. Meetings are held quarterly, usually February, May, August and November.
The Board welcomes feedback on matters that individuals feel should be addressed. To raise a concern, you can contact a Board member directly, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For matters related to MRO Ethical Guidelines or to contact our Ethics Committee, please look here.
The next board meeting will be on Sunday November 26th, 2023 at 1:15 pm EST. Formal training students who wish to attend as observers should read these guidelines and email email@example.com to notify them of their desire to attend the meeting. Zoom participants will be sent a zoom link.
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi is the Head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, abbot and resident teacher of Zen Mountain Monastery. Shugen entered full-time residential training in 1986 after studying mathematics and receiving a degree in classical music. He received dharma transmission from John Daido Loori, Roshi in 1997. His teachings on Zen, social justice and environmental stewardship have appeared in various Buddhist journals.
Tamara Hosui Vasan has practiced with the MRO since 2006, primarily at Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn. Her spiritual life began at an early age and led to questioning, searching, and ultimately finding a home in the Dharma. She has served on the MRO board since 2019. Hosui’s background is in social science, literature and writing, and art. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years, raising funds for safe and healthy communities, human rights, environmental justice, and climate change. She lives in Kingston, NY with Gikon.
Jessica Shokei Ludwig became a formal student in 2015 and received Jukai in 2021. Based in Brooklyn with her partner Paul and dog Bosco, she has worked in museum management for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, which is a museum, research library, music venue, and historic site in Manhattan. Active at the temple, she is also a member of the Temple Advisory Committee (TAC).
Richard Kokuan Lawton has been a formal MRO student since 1996. He is the founding executive director of the New Jersey Sustainable Business Council – a network of companies working to advance market and policy solutions to create a more just and sustainable economy. He also serves as board treasurer for Investor Advocates for Social Justice, which uses shareholder advocacy strategies on behalf of investors whose faith-based values promote human rights, climate justice, racial equity and the common good. Kokuan holds an M.B.A. in Sustainability from Antioch University New England. He and his wife Tracy make their home in New Jersey.
Alan Etsudo Black has been a Zen student since 1972, a formal MRO student since 2010 and received Jukai in 2014. Etusudo was a criminal defense attorney for over 36 years, where he first started as a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles County and then opened his own practice in Springfield, MA in 1990, where he specialized in defending indigents who were charged with serious crimes. After a two-year tour in the Peace Corps in Micronesia, he received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from U.C.L.A. and an M.S. in Forensic Sciences from the University of Florida. He and his wife Gail make their home in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Sandra Joshin Del Valle was a civil rights lawyer for over twenty years before becoming a high school English teacher. While a lawyer, she wrote a book on language rights and the law. She is currently teaching and learning at Brooklyn Technical HS. She is also a hike leader with the Appalachian Mountain Club and serves on their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee which seeks to bring more people of color to the outdoors. She is a member of the Temple Advisory Council and was a member of the MRO’s Beyond Fear of Differences group. She became a student of Shugen Roshi in 2011 and a jukai student in 2016.
After returning to full time residency in 2012, Taikyo entered the monastic path and received tokudo from Shugen Roshi in 2021 and the monastic name Yusen. In 1994 she became a student of Daido Roshi’s, entered into residency at the Monastery and received Jukai soon after. During her lay life between 1996-2012, Taikyo was a non-profit development consultant with a background in photography, videography and print production, a volunteer Qi Gong instructor, and a health care and environmental activist. In residency she has served as cook and tenzo, in various web media and print productions, and is currently the program coordinator.
After graduating from Ohio State University in 1976 with a Ph.D. In Clinical Psychology, Bruce Getsudo Glick moved to northern Maine, where he and his wife have lived for the past 45 years. As a licensed psychologist, Getsudo provided a variety of mental health services (counseling, cognitive and emotional assessment, crisis intervention clinical supervision, branch office management) in a rural community, specializing in neuropsychology for the last half of his career until his retirement in 2016. Getsudo attended his first retreat at ZMM in 2006, became a formal training student in 2011, and received the precepts in 2019. He is involved in the National Buddhist Prison Sangha program and has a passion for photography as an art practice.
Hogen Sensei is a husband, father, grandfather, sports-enthusiast, retired podiatrist, and a lay teacher in the Mountains and Rivers Order. Hogen served as Director of Operations for Dharma Communications for 10 years and, in 2000, ordained as a monastic. In 2007, Hogen Sensei returned to lay life, spending time with family while continuing to play an active role in the MRO, its practice centers and affiliates. In 2016, he received dharma transmission from Shugen Roshi, becoming the first lay teacher in the Order. He served as co-director of the Zen Center of NYC for a number of years and currently divides his time between rural Pennsylvania and South Florida.
Yunen has been training within the MRO since 2000. Before that, he practiced at the San Francisco Zen Center and at Kakunenji, in Wachendorf, Germany. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Yunen grew up in Northern Virginia, Salt Lake City, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds graduate degrees in biochemistry and English literature and is also a painter. He currently serves on the ZCNYC Temple Advisory Council (TAC) and is the Temple’s resident office manager.
Hojin Sensei serves as the Training Director for the Mountains and Rivers Order and Abbot of the Zen Center of NYC-Fire Lotus Temple . She began her artistic career early and has taught drawing, ceramics, and painting, opening people up to the wonders and mysteries of the creative process and continues to offer Art Practices as part of her teaching. She has been in full-time residential training at the Monastery since 1990 and now shares her time at the Brooklyn temple.
Danise Eiko Malqui has been practicing within the MRO since 2007, and throughout that time completed several long-term residencies at both the temple and monastery. Her heart is especially in strengthening the BIPOC sangha, for which she is a founding member of the BIPOC Visioning Committee. Eiko has a Master’s in Urban Planning and more recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Brooklyn College in 2021. She teaches writing and is currently working on projects related to women of color and spirituality. She lives in Brooklyn but loves to get away from the City with long traveling trips.
Horace Kaishu Moody has been practicing at Zen Mountain Monastery since 1990. He became a senior lay student (shuso) in 1997 and was the Dharma Communications Board secretary for sixteen years. Kaishu runs his own business as an IT Network Integrator and has played an integral role in the Monastery’s internet/networking infrastructure. Kaishu is also an avid cyclist and a trained classical vocalist.
A graduate of the Yale School of Art, and past Professor of Painting, Taisho retired in 2022 from Golden Artist Colors where she served as Senior Technical Specialist. She became a student at ZMM in 2014, and took Jukai in 2020. Describing what most galvanizes her Taisho says, “My love is painting, my passions are poetry and the forested spaces of Upstate NY, but I center my life around practice and service to the Sangha.”
Mukyo has been practicing with the Mountains and Rivers Order since 2016. She finds it amusing that it was not until she came to the United States that she entered a path of awakening even though she was born and raised in a Buddhist family in a Buddhist country. She is an avid houseplant collector and gardener. She resides in Brooklyn when she’s not at the Monastery.
Prabu Gikon Vasan lives with his wife, Hosui, in Kingston, NY. He has been practicing in the MRO since 1999, has been involved in the MRO’s Beyond Fear of Differences initiative, and currently serves on the MRO Ethics Committee. He is a clinical social worker and a project manager, most recently in the field of suicide prevention. He devotes far too much time to reading and writing poetry.