Teachers and Leadership

Teachers and Leadership

Boundless Way Temple Guiding Teachers


Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi is Abbot of Boundless Way Zen, a Soto Zen priest, and a Dharma heir to James Myoun Ford, Roshi in two lineages: an ordained Soto transmission through Jiyu Kennett, Roshi and a lay koan-teaching lineage through John Tarrant, Roshi. Melissa is a resident teacher at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, MA.  She holds degrees in anthropology, music and counseling psychology and has a private practice in contemplative counseling.  From 1992 to 2012 she was a teacher and director of programs at the Center for Mindfulness, founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn. With her husband, David Dae An Rynick, Roshi, she teaches silent mindfulness retreats throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Central America.  Her writing appears in a number of collections including Best Buddhist Writing, 2012, and The Hidden Lamp, and she is co-editor of The Book of Mu:  Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan. Her writing also appears in various Buddhist magazines, including Shambhala Sun, Lion’s Roar and Buddhadharma.

James Myosan Cordova, Sensei James Myosan Cordova, Sensei received full Dharma transmission from his teacher, Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi in December 2016. James serves as the resident teacher for the Benevolent Street Sangha in Providence, Rhode Island and is one of the resident teachers at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is currently the Vice-President and Clerk of the Boundless Way Temple Leadership Council. James is also a husband and father of two children, Chair of the Psychology Department at Clark University, and a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice. He is the author of The Marriage Check-up, The Marriage Checkup Practitioner’s Guide, and The Story of Mu.

 

Diane ShoshiDiane | BoWZn Fitzgerald, Sensei received full Dharma transmission in 2017 from her teacher, Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi and is an ordained Soto Zen priest. She is the resident teacher at Boundless Way Zen DownEast in Pembroke, Maine and is one of the resident teachers for Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts. Diane is also one of the leaders of the Boundless Way Zen and Boundless Way Zen DownEast Ecosattva action groups and is a volunteer with DownEast Hospice Services.

 

 

 

David Dae An Rynick, Roshi is a Soto Zen priest and is the abbot and a resident teacher at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received Dharma transmission in both the Korean Rinzai lineage through Zen Master George Bowman and in the Japanese Soto lineage through James Ford, Roshi. He is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association, and the author of This Truth Never Fails: A Memoir in Four Seasons. David is also a life and leadership coach who works with spiritual leaders from many different traditions as well as with individuals seeking to align their lives with their deepest wisdom.  More information and his blog can be found at www.davidrynick.com.

 

Other Boundless Way Zen Guiding Teachers

Josh Jium BartokJosh Jiun Bartok, Roshi is the abbot at the Greater Boston Zen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is a Soto Zen priest. He is a Dharma heir to James Myoun Ford, Roshi in two lineages: the ordained Soto transmission through Jiyu Kennett, Roshi and the lay koan-teaching lineage through John Tarrant, Roshi. Josh also works as a Buddhist pastoral counselor in private practice, and as the executive editor of Wisdom Publications, where he has edited more than 200 books from all Dharma traditions. He’s the co-author with Ezra Bayda of Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts), and the authoring editor of four anthologies of Dharma quotes, including most recently Daily Doses of Wisdom. His writing has appeared in Shambhala Sun, Lion’s Roar, and Buddhadharma magazines, as well as The Handbook for Zen and Mindfulness for Behavioral Health Practitioners.

 

james ford | Boundless Way Zen

James Myoun Ford, Roshi is a Soto Zen priest and a Guiding Teacher for Boundless Way Zen. He is currently the resident teacher for Blue Cliff Sangha in Long Beach, California. James received Dharma transmission from Jiyu Kennett, Roshi in 1971.  In 1985 James became a student of the Harada-Yasutani Zen teacher John Tarrant, Roshi and was authorized to teach by Tarrant in 1998. In 2005 John Tarrant gave James Inka Shomei, acknowledging him as a Dharma heir in the Harada-Yasutani Zen lineage. He is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, serving on its Board of Directors since 2014. He is the author of This Very Moment: A Brief Introduction to Buddhism and Zen for Unitarian Universalists. He is also the author of a study of Zen teachers and communities in North America, “Zen Master Who? A Guide to the People and Stories of Zen,” the co-editor of The Book of Mu: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan, and the author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life from Wisdom Publications. James is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister and is considered by many people to be one of the senior teachers of Zen in North America.

Kate Kagen Hartland, Sensei is a Guiding Teacher for Boundless Way Zen and leads the Bright Sea Zen Sangha in Weymouth, MA. She is a Dharma heir of Josh Muínen Bartok, Roshi, and is a member of the Lay Zen Teachers Association. Before coming to Boundless Way she had studied with both Philip Kapleau (Rochester Zen Center) and Toni Packer (Springwater Center). Kate works at the non-profit Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, furthering biomedical research.

Leadership at the Temple

All leaders and teachers of Boundless Way Zen who practice at Boundless Way Temple acknowledge that they are ongoing students and that the quality of their leadership derives from the quality of their practice. As ongoing students, each leader and teacher commits to continuing her or his study of the great way, allowing the wisdom of form and emptiness to manifest within and as engaged lives.

A note on the term “Teacher”: In most Zen communities in the West, the term teacher is reserved exclusively for those who have received Dharma transmission, formal sanction as a teacher within a traditional lineage. The major exception to this narrow usage has been within the Kwan Um School of Zen, who use the titles dharma teacher and senior dharma teacher for people with functions similar to those described below. In that school, it is clearly understood that these teachers have not received Dharma transmission. By also adopting this broader usage, Boundless Way Zen hopes to help reclaim the term teacher, as well as many of the aspects of teaching, as functions genuinely shared by the whole community and not exclusively the work of those who possess formal Dharma transmission. Therefore, the following positions have been created to meet those needs.

Senior Dharma Teacher

Senior Dharma Teachers share in the spiritual leadership of the community as requested by the Guiding Teachers. In addition to the responsibilities of a Dharma teacher, a Senior Dharma teacher may be authorized to give practice interviews.

A Senior Dharma Teacher may not establish personal student-teacher relationships (shoken).

Prerequisites are determined by the Guiding Teachers on a case-by-case basis. But, a Senior Dharma Teacher should have demonstrated maturity in practice, be familiar with BWZ’s forms, be able to lead by example and otherwise have communication skills. As a general rule a Senior Dharma Teacher should have been practicing Zen for ten years, and must have an understanding of the history and forms of Zen Buddhism.

Tenure: As the Guiding Teachers feel appropriate.

Dharma Teacher

Dharma teachers share in the spiritual leadership of the Temple as requested by the guiding teachers. Dharma teachers introduce BoWZ’s forms and practices in classes and lectures. They may also informally speak with other members of the community about details of practice. They may also give Dharma talks.

A Dharma teacher may not give formal practice interviews (dokusan) or establish personal student-teacher relationships (shoken).

Prerequisites: Are determined by the Guiding Teachers on a case by case basis. But, a Dharma teacher should have demonstrated maturity in practice, be familiar with BoWZ’s forms, be able to lead by example and otherwise have communication skills. As a general rule a Dharma teacher should have been practicing Zen for at least five years, and must have an understanding of the history and forms of Zen Buddhism.

Tenure: As the Guiding Teachers feel appropriate.

Dharma Teachers:

  • Aaron Caruso♦
  • Todd Curtis
  • Ray Demers♦
  • Paul Galvin♦
  • Michael Herzog
  • Derrick Mathieu
  • Harold Stevens

Practice Leader

The Practice Leader is responsible for the general direction of a particular group or retreat.

Prerequisites: A practice leader should have demonstrated maturity in her or his practice, be familiar with BoWZ’s forms, be able to lead by example and have communication skills.

Tenure: As the Guiding Teachers feel appropriate.

Practice Leaders:


Aaron Caruso

Christine Johnson

Corwyn Miyagishima

Derrick Mathieu

Erin Barbour

Gary St. Jean

Harold Stevens

Jamie Paul

Jason Long

Joanne Hart

Justin Laplante

Mark Brown

Michael Herzog

Paul Galvin

Raleigh Chilton

Ray Demers

Stephen Murphy

Tatiana Gray

Tim McDonald

Todd Curtis

Temple Leadership Council

A Leadership Council has been elected according to the bylaws of Boundless Way Temple. The Temple Leadership Council in collaboration with the guiding teachers is responsible for establishing the institution of Boundless Way Temple. They approve the budget, define membership, and otherwise develop the formal institutional structures of the Community. Tenure: One year.

Leadership Council:

  • Aaron Caruso♦, President
  • Jamie Paul, Vice President
  • Kate Sheridan, Clerk
  • Corwyn Miyagishima, Treasurer
  • Ray Demers♦, Member-at-Large
  • Melissa Blacker♦, Guiding Teacher
  • David Rynick♦, Guiding Teacher
  • James Cordova, Guiding Teacher
  • Diane Fitzgerald♦, Guiding Teacher

♦ priest