"To have a loving teacher who supports the Sangha in this important work of transformation is a rare and wonderful gift. In the spirit of a true student, Jakusho Kwong shows his love and respect for his teachers and the appreciation he has for the teachings he has received from them. And in the spirit of a genuine teacher, Jakusho Kwong wholeheartedly shares these gifts with his Sangha and all of us."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Jakusho Kwong-roshi, founder and residing abbot of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, has taught Zen students in the United States and Europe for over forty years. He also founded the Kannon Zen Center in Warsaw, Poland and the Nátthagi Zen Center in Reykjavik, Iceland and has travelled there annually for the last thirty years. He is a successor in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi and one of nine Western teachers to be recognized as a Kokukyosaifu Kyoshi, a Zen Teacher, within the official Soto Zen School in Japan.
Jakusho Kwong was born in Santa Rosa in 1935 and grew up in Palo Alto. In 1959, he began studying Zen with Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and was one of his first students at Sokoji Temple of San Francisco. Shunryu Suzuki recognized Jakusho Kwong as a dharma heir to his lineage shortly before his death. In 1978 his son, Hoitsu Suzuki-roshi, completed Kwong-roshi's dharma transmission, officiated by the late Hakusan Kojin Noiri, who was an expert on transmission at Rinsoin, Japan. Kwong-roshi established Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in memory of his late teacher-Suzuki-roshi.
He and his wife, family, and several devoted students transformed eighty-one acres into a residential sanctuary for Zen practice. He has worked closely with other Buddhist lineages and spiritual traditions, including the late Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn, Catholic priests of the Benedictine Monasteries in Poland, Vietnamese Zen Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Tibetan Master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Cambodia’s spiritual leader Maha Ghosanda, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His book, No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen, published by Random House in 2003, has been translated into Spanish, German, and Polish. An extensive set of audio lectures, Breath Sweeps Mind, was produced and distributed nationally by Sounds True Publishers in 2003.
“Zen in everyday life,” Kwong-roshi explains, “is nothing other than the aliveness we bring to each moment. Our practice is truly everything we encounter in our life. When you rake the ground, the ground also rakes you. The ground tells you where and how to rake. You become the activity, and this activity has no beginning and no end. This is how it is done. This is truly Being Time.”