Jakusho Kwong was born in Santa Rosa, California, in 1935, and grew up in Palo Alto. As a boy he worked all summers with his mother in commercial flower growers’ fields nearby. During and after his education he was employed in commercial art as a sign painter, and was drawn to calligraphy, particularly zenga, the art of Zen calligraphy.
In 1960 he began to study Zen with Shunryu Suzuki-roshi in San Francisco. He was ordained in 1970 by Suzuki-roshi, who was a direct spiritual descendant of Eihei Dogen. In 1973, two years after Suzuki-roshi died, he founded Sonoma Mountain Zen Center in the mountains near Santa Rosa, California, as an expression of gratitude to his teacher and his commitment to continue the unbroken lineage of Soto Zen. Since his study of the transmission ceremony could not be completed before Suzuki-roshi’s death, he continued for five more years with Kobun Chino Otogawa-roshi. In 1978 he completed Dharma transmission through Hoitsu Suzuki-roshi under the supervision of Hakusan Noiri-roshi, at Rinso-in Temple in Japan, authorizing him as successor in Suzuki-roshi’s lineage.
In 2009, he was appointed Kokusaifukyoshi (International Zen Teacher) of North America by the Soto School of Japan, which recognizes Sonoma Mountain Zen Center as an authentic Soto Zen temple.
Jakusho Kwong has taught Zen for nearly fifty years, and founded Zen centers in Poland and Iceland. His first book, No Beginning, No End, was published in 2003.
He is abbot of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, where he lives with his wife, Shinko.
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