Our Teacher

Jundo Cohen

Founder of Treeleaf Zendo, Jundo Cohen was born in New York in 1960. He was ordained by and received Dharma Transmission from Gudo Wafu Nishijima. Jundo began Zen practice in 1980, has lived in Japan for most years since that time, and was for many years a lay student of Azuma Ikuo Roshi at Soji-ji Dai-Honzan.

He lives in Tsukuba, Japan with his wife and children, working as a translator of Japanese, and believes that the hard border between ordained priest and householder has long been vanishing in Soto Zen. Our practice is, after all, for living in the world.

Our Transmitted Priests

Shokai, Kyonin, Kokuu, and Sekishi are our Transmitted Priests—authorized to teach and to have students independently—in the Niwa-Nishijima Lineage through Jundo Cohen.

This is a complete list, and there are no others.

Our Lineage

Eihei Dogen Kigen Zenji

Eihei Dogen Kigen Zenji, the founder of Eihei-ji and patriarch of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan, was born in 1200 C.E. Traveling to China as a young man, he devoted himself to Zen practice under the strict guidance of Nyojo Zenji (ch. Ju-Ching) at Mt. Tendo.

Returning home in 1228, he dedicated his years to training followers in Zen practice as found within every action of daily life. He died in 1253, leaving a number of noted books including the Shobogenzo, Gakudo Yojinshu and Shinji Shobogenzo. The members of Treeleaf Zendo devote themselves to his teachings of Shikantaza (“Just Sitting”).

Zuigaku Rempo Niwa Zenji

Zuigaku Rempo Niwa Zenji, once abbot of the Tokei-in, the root temple of our lineage located in the hills near Shizuoka, Japan, he later assumed the station of vice-abbot, then in 1985, that of the 77th abbot of Eihei-ji monastery, one of the two principal temples of the Soto school. Master Niwa received the imperial title of Jiko Enkai Zenji ( “Great Zen Master of Compassion, Ocean of Plentitude”).

He died in 1993. Noted for his brush calligraphy, works by Master Niwa can be found under various pen names including Robai (“the old plum tree”) and Baian (“the plum tree hermitage”).

Gudo Wafu Nishijima

Gudo Wafu Nishijima practiced Zen Buddhism for over seventy years, was a teacher to Zen students from around the world, and a translator of Buddhist texts from Japanese and Sanskrit. A student of “Homeless” Kodo Sawaki, the itinerant master famous for his efforts to restore Zazen to its place as the center of Buddhist practice, Master Nishijima shared in that philosophy.

Master Nishijima was ordained and received Dharma Transmission from the late Master Rempo Niwa, abbot of Eihei-ji temple and head of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism. Nishijima Roshi authored many books on Buddhism in both Japanese and English, including full translations of Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo and Shinji Shobogenzo. He passed away in 2014.