Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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The Fall Trainee Line-up

September 20, 2012 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

With the Fall Training Period underway, we have a number of new residents, some here just for a month or two and some here for the long haul. Jokai and I went around this morning - camera in my hand and paper and pen in Jokai's - to introduce our current crew to you, the world at large, as well as putting the question to each one of them, "What is your main reason for being in residency here at Yokoji for this training period?" The new residents join the permanent (whatever that means...) staff here: Tenshin Roshi, Jokai, Aaron and myself.


Jean Yuho Ford is the head trainee for the fall. We are thrilled to have such a seasoned practitioner lead the training period and she is doing a great job of guiding the trainees.

"I see it as a rare opportunity to practice in a residential setting right here in the US."

Bob Pence

Bob is back with us this fall, having taken part in the training period this time last year. Bob is filling the position of assistant tenzo (head cook) for the next few months and is undoubtedly the best mopper in town.

"A strong practice, a great teacher, beautiful surroundings."
Thomas Cohn

Thomas joins us from Sweden for the next few months, as he has done a number of times over the years. In fact, he was present at the first ever Dharma Combat ceremony in the early 1980s during a summer training period at Yokoji - and the head trainee at that time was none other than Tenshin Roshi!

"Coming here was the best birthday present that I could think to give myself."
Rachel and Susan

Susan has been training at Yokoji on and off for the last year and we are excited to say that she has now committed to a longer stay, making Yokoji her home for now. Rachel is planning on staying at Yokoji until December, having taken a semester off from her studies and brings our Texan population up to a respectable two (Aaron being #1).

"I want to meditate in a structured way with other people. And I love it!" (Rachel)
"To continue to practice because it helped me so much last year." (Susan)
David Jindo Butler

Jindo, or Dr. Butler as he is known professionally, has stepped out of his role as an intensive care MD to join us for an all-too-short period, but Jindo is one of our most frequent and consistent visitors during training periods so it is always fantastic to have him here.

"I didn't realize I'd left..."
Sharon Ives

Sharon has come over from England for a month. This is her second visit to Yokoji over the years and is a regular attendee of Stonewater sangha events back in the UK.

"I came here to deal with my stuff."
Rick Hakujo Erskine

Rick joined us just before the start of the training period and today we were happy to offer him a one-year scholarship, as he plans to stay and train with us for at least that period of time, and possibly longer. Rick is already a priest, ordaining with Genpo Roshi in Utah.

"I like to sit!"
Alisa Dennis

Alisa hails from LA and came for the start of training period and will be leaving in just a few weeks to continue with a sabbatical from her position as psychotherapist and mindfulness teacher.

"To cultivate clarity and spaciousness and to learn more about zen practice."
Kate Wilson

Kate is now with us for the next 30 months on a R-1 visa (religious worker), which was required as she is a Canadian citizen. Kate is training in the position of chiden, so if you notice the cleanliness of the brass water holders and artfully arranged flowers on the altars, it is down to the handiwork of our newest resident.

"To refine my practice and work closely with my teacher. And the food!"
Bob Walter

Bob is with us for just this week, visiting from Arizona. Having recently moved from Georgia, Bob has visited Yokoji a number of times, initially scouting the area for a Center where he could continue with his Zen practice. Now a member of the Center, we hope to see much more of Bob in the future.

"To continue my practice and to receive the teachings from people and the magnificent natural beauty here."
James Halsey

James is returning for his second training period at Yokoji, on the back of the summer practice period at Great Vow Monastery in Oregon. He is a talented guitarist, musician and construction worker. No prizes for guessing which part of his skill set we appreciate the most.

"The robust practice and the sound of the wind in the trees."


  • Yugen:

    21 Sep 2012 19:17:50

    Apologies to James, who we missed yesterday during the rounds of the center. We have added his picture and quote to the bottom of the list of trainees to complete the full line-up. For now, that is. Kokai, Hanu and others will be joining us later in the next month.

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