Practice Leadership

Developing a relationship with a teacher through having regular practice discussions is an essential part of Zen training. Zen is the practice of being present right here, right now. It is learning to meet everything that arises with an open mind and a forgiving heart. To do this, a serious student can benefit from the experienced guidance, encouragement, and presence of a teacher. Our teachers and practice leaders are available to meet with Austin Zen Center members to discuss their practice life. Austin Zen Center is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. The qualifications for being a Practice Leader at AZC are having practiced Zen for many years, having been Shuso (Head Student) for a Practice Period, and a close relationship with a Zen teacher.

Do-On, Robert Thomas, Interim Guiding Teacher

Do-On Robert Thomas is the Interim Guiding Teacher at the Austin Zen Center. Robert is a Dharma heir of Norman Fischer and former President and Executive Director of the San Francisco Zen Center. He will be in residence at the Austin Zen Center 10 days per month and in communication with staff members and the Board between visits.

Robert will be giving dharma talks, teaching classes, and meeting for practice discussions during his time here. Robert’s Dharma name, “Do-On,” means “path of kindness.” He states his intention as, “My vow is to do whatever I can to help make our world a more kind, caring and compassionate place for everyone.” We look forward to engaging with Robert on the path of creating a community which offers wisdom, compassion and inclusion to all who engage in the task of self-discovery through Zen practice. Robert may be reached for practice discussion at ( pathofkindness@gmail.com ).

Unzan Doshin, Mako Voelkel, Senior Priest

Unzan Mako Voelkel began an early practice of transcendental meditation in 1986 but turned to Zen in 1997 when she started sitting at the San Francisco Zen Center. In 2002, she ended a Philosophy teaching position at City College of San Francisco to become a full-time monastic resident at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, where she lived and worked for ten years as a Zen student. Ordained by Ryushin Paul Haller in 2004 and Shuso (Head Monk) at Tassajara in 2009, Mako served in several temple positions including Work Leader, Head Cook, Fire Marshal, Head of the Meditation Hall and Director. Mako may be reached for practice discussion at ( mako@austinzencenter.org ).

Pat Yingst

Pat Yingst began practicing Zen meditation in 1988 and has been a member of Austin Zen Center since its inception. She has seven years experience teaching meditation in prisons and is active in the Austin intra-Buddhist prison volunteer organization, Inside Meditation. For two years, she served as office manager/bookkeeper for the center in 2005-2006. She was co-editor of AZC’s journal, Just This, for its first five years. Pat has served on the AZC Board of Directors and may be reached for practice discussion at ( patyingst@gmail. com ).