Rochester Zen Center, New York, was the author of numerous books on Zen, including the classic The Three Pillars of Zen, in print since 1966, To Cherish All Life, The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical Guide, Awakening to Zen, and many others. Philip Kapleau was born in 1912 and grew up in Connecticut, studying law in his youth and serving for many years as a court reporter in the state and federal courts of Connecticut. At the end of the war he was appointed chief reporter for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, then was sent to cover the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo. In 1953 he gave up his business in America and left for Japan to seek the Dharma. He remained in Japan for thirteen years and trained under three masters, briefly with Nakagawa Soen-roshi (1907-1984), then extensively with Harada Daiun-roshi (1870-1961) and his Dharma heir Yasutani Hakuun-roshi (1885-1973). He was ordained by Yasutani-roshi and returned to the United States in 1966 after being given permission to teach there by Yasutani-roshi. Philip Kapleau retired in 1986 after 20 years as Abbot of the Rochester Zen Center. He died after a long illness on May 6th, 2004.
Rochester Zen Center. This appointment marked the culmination of a sixteen-year teacher-student relationship, the last decade working intimately together. Since then Roshi Kjolhede has worked with students from all over the United States, and from Canada, Mexico, Europe and New Zealand, and has sanctioned several Dharma heirs.
Rochester Zen Center. Amala-sensei began full-time residential training in Rochester in 1989, shortly after completing an M.A. in Italian at Auckland University, and was ordained in 1999. From 1996 to 2003 she was the Center’s Head of Zendo (head priest in charge of training) working closely with Roshi Kjolhede, offering daisan (private one-to-one meditation instruction) to Zen Center members and leading shorter sesshin (intensive retreats). During her final year she was also acting spiritual director of the Center while Roshi Kjolhede was on sabbatical.
In late 2003, upon completion of formal koan training under Roshi Kjolhede, Amala-sensei returned to resettle in New Zealand and, since then, has dedicated her time to the creation of a place for authentic Zen practice and training in Auckland. She was given formal permission to teach by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede in 2004, and was sanctioned as a full Dharma heir in a ceremony held in Auckland in 2012. She continues to spend some time each year at the Rochester Zen Center and is a member of the American Zen Teachers' Association (AZTA).