Guo Yuan Fa Shi (Venerable Guo Yuan) was born in Vietnam. He was a senior disciple of renowned Ch’an Master, Venerable Sheng-yen of Taiwan. In 1983 he first encountered Master Sheng-yen's teachings while attending a seven-day retreat in New York. He then decided to become a disciple before finally leaving his job in Toronto, Canada, to become a monk in the Ch'an/Chinese Buddhist tradition. He was ordained in 1987 in Taiwan. He studied Theravada Buddhism for a year in Thailand in 1991. Upon returning from Thailand, he was elected abbot of Dharma Drum Ch'an meditation center in Queens, New York and Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, New York. His responsibilities included attending inter-faith services, teaching meditation, and giving lectures on Buddhism. For over 20 years, he also accompanied and became translator to Master Sheng-yen in various Ch'an meditation retreats in the United States, theBritain, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Mexico. After several years of service in the United States, he is currently the director of the International Ch'an Retreat Center in Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan. He is fluent in Mandarin, Vietnamese, and English. He is a sort-after Ch’an master, leading retreat in DDM Mediation Centre around the globe.
Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet and Zen Buddhist priest. For many years he has taught at the San Francisco Zen Center, the oldest and largest of the new Buddhist organizations in the West, where he served as Co-abbot from 1995-2000. He is presently a Senior Dharma Teacher there as well as the founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation, an organization dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture.
A person of unusually wide-ranging interests, his Zen teaching is known for its eclecticism, openness, warmth, and common sense, and for his willingness to let go of everything, including Zen. His chief interests in addition to poetry and traditional Zen and Buddhist teachings, are the adaptation of Zen meditation and understanding to the worlds of business, law, conflict resolution, interreligious dialog (he works especially with Jewish meditation and Catholic intermonastic dialog), care of the dying (he has for many years been a teacher with and is emeritus chair of the board of the Zen Hospice Project), the world of technology, and anything else he can think of.
In addition to his teaching with the Everyday Zen Foundation. sangha in the Bay Area, Norman is guiding teacher to five other Zen groups: the Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham (WA), the Mountain Rain Zen Community (Vancouver, B.C.), Mar de Jade (Mexico), The New York Zen Circle (New York City), and the Seattle Soto Zen Group (WA). Norman was born in a small town in Pennsylvania where he attended public schools; he went to college in upstate New York, and graduate school at the famed University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop (MFA) and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where he received an MA in the history and phenomenology of religion. He was a Danforth scholar and a Woodrow Wilson scholar. He lives with his wife Kathie at Muir Beach, CA. a mile and a half from the Green Gulch Zen temple where he lived for many years.
Dr. Laura Del Valle began her Zen practice with Zen Teacher Ejo Takata in the 70's. In the 80's Dr. Del Valle takes her medicine service on the coast of Nayarit, and discover her passion for serving others through medicine. Continues its practice of Zen with Master Sheng Yen and Norman Fischer. She attends retreats in Dharma Drum Retreat Center (DDRC) in the state of New York and also San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), while envisions Mar de Jade (MDJ). Create a center for practices such as Yoga, Meditation and other, creating sources of jobs for local people, giving birth to MDJ and practice of Zen.