Mark Daitoku Esterman, Sensei, began Zen training under Japanese Rinzai Zen Master Seikan Hasegawa in 1969 and continued training with him in locations on the East coast of the U.S. as well as in Japan until 2002. He was ordained by Rev. Hasegawa in 1997 and served under him as Head Monk of Rock Creek Buddhist Temple 1970-2002, and Vice-Abbott 1999-2002.
He began studying with Zen Master Genpo Merzel at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City in 2003. He received Jukai (Receiving the Precepts) and Shukke Tokudo (Ordination) from Genpo Roshi in 2004, Hoshi (Lineage Holder) in 2010 and Shiho (Transmission as a successor and teacher of Zen) October 17, 2014.
Mark was born and raised in the New York City area. He and his wife Margaret, who is a Rinpoche in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, have been married since 1977 and have three children and three grandchildren. They are also partners in an independent book publishing company which has published books in a variety of fields including education, music, art, children’s books and gardening as well as Buddhism. He is a graduate of Amherst College and received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Brandeis University. He has taught classes on Zen, Big Mind and meditation locally at Kanzeon Zen Center, the University of Utah Lifelong Learning Program and elsewhere. He founded the Salt Lake Zen Group in 2012.
Mary Ellen Seien Sloan, Sensei, began studying with Genpo Merzel Roshi at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City in 2001. She received Jukai (Buddhist Precepts) in 2004, Shukke Tokudo (Ordination) in 2005, and Shiho (Dharma Transmission) in 2017.
Mary Ellen was born in Montana, moved to Salt Lake City in 1960, graduated from the University of Utah in 1972, the College of Law in 1975, and was admitted to the Bar in 1975. She began her career at South Dakota Legal Services on the Lakota Rosebud Sioux Reservation, and later in Salt Lake City, practicing federal Indian Law representing Tribes and individual Native Americans. In 1980 she became the mother of one daughter, while working full time and then as a single parent. She was also President of Women Lawyers of Utah in the early 90s, and represented the organization on the Utah State Bar Commission. In 1988 she became a Salt Lake County Assistant District Attorney, and Civil Division Assistant Director (first woman to hold that position), retiring in 2010. Since 2011 she has been Roshi’s assistant, and after receiving Shiho has held one-day Zen and Big Mind retreats and weekly sitting meditation sessions.
Christian von Wolkahof Sensei has been a student of Genpo Roshi since 1989. He received Shukke Tokudo ordination in 2007 and Dharma Transmission (Shiho) as a successor in 2018. As co-founder of Kanzeon Sangha Germany in 1996 and the Kanzeon Zen Center Düsseldorf in 2001, he managed the center until the end of 2007 together with his then-wife Marci Forand. From 2008 until 2012 the family lived with their children Carl and Toni at the Kanzeon Zen Center International in Salt Lake City. Chris is particularly interested in translating the ancient principles of Zen into modern language, western lifestyle and northern climate. He feels that his most valuable asset as a teacher is the Big Mind Process. He lives in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he works in the state government and teaches Zen at Kanzeon Sangha Germany.
Charlotte Jigen Juul is a Zen priest and psychotherapist with an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology from Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado, and a BA in Psychosynthesis from The Psychosynthesis and Education Trust in London. She is a certified Somatic Experience-Practitioner (SEP), in Trauma Psychology, (SE-practitioner, Peter Levine), and is certified as a Big Mind Facilitator by Zen Master Genpo Merzel.
She began her spiritual path in the mid 90’s exploring various teachings of enlightenment. In 2000 she gave up her professional and personal life and joined a spiritual community to focus full-time on awakening together with others. In 2008, after leaving the community, she attended a workshop with Genpo Roshi and recognized that Zen Buddhism was her path. Ever since Zen has been the primary path and practice in her life.
Her pastoral counseling embraces the spiritual and the psychological, utilizing psychotherapy and Big Mind facilitation, as well as meditation mentorship. She works with both the deeply rooted psychological patterns that hinder our spiritual growth and the places we are stuck in our spiritual practice that obstruct our psychological maturity, in order to nurture an integrated and mature spiritual/psychological life.