Zen practice came to America in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s thanks to the courage and dedication of Japanese Zen priests like Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the founder of San Francisco Zen Center. Since that time Zen practice has taken root and evolved. Today, countless Zen groups across the country, large and small, practice together to find depth and meaning, and serve their communities.
The role of the Zen priest in these practice places has also evolved. While the traditional forms of practice that came to America from Japan still play an important and respected role, most Zen practitioners are lay people with jobs, family, and intimate relationship, facing the everyday challenges of modern life. Today’s Zen priest and Sangha leader must be prepared to understand and work with these challenges.