Abbot and Guiding Teacher

The Abbot of Houston Zen Center, Setsuan Konjin* Gaelyn Godwin, is connected nationally and internationally with Buddhist teachers and organizations, and, in addition to her own travels to lead Zen retreats, she brings nationally recognized teachers to Houston for Dharma teaching.
She serves as the Director of the International Division of Soto Zen, North America (a department of Soto Zen Headquarters based in Japan).
She received ordination as a Zen Priest in 1991, from Tenshin Reb Anderson, Senior Dharma Teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. She received Dharma Transmission, also from Tenshin Reb Anderson, in 2003, and was appointed Kaikyoshi (formal recognition from Japan) in 2005.  Her Zen lineage is Soto Zen, through Dōgen Zenji, and through Suzuki Shunryu Daiosho, founder of San Francisco Zen Center.

Training: Her Zen training began at San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) in 1985 and continued for 18 years there, including 12 years at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the largest Zen monastery in the West. During her years at the monastery she served as Practice Leader, Director, Ino (head of the meditation hall), Work Leader, Plant Manager, and in many other capacities. She returns to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center two or three times each year for teaching and practice. Additional Zen training: She trained in Japan, at Hosshinji with Harada Sekkei Roshi in 1991–92, and at Zuioji in 2005; and with Robert Aitken Roshi of the Diamond Sangha in Hawaii in 1995–96.

Service: She served on San Francisco Zen Center’s Board of Directors for 7 years and currently advises the Affiliates Council. She currently serves on the Board of the Institute for Spirituality and Health at Texas Medical Center.

Memberships: She is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and served as the President of the Board; she is currently on the advisory council. She is also a member of the American Zen Teachers Association, serving on the membership committee, and the Association of Soto Zen Buddhists, serving on the Roadmap Committee regarding the development of Zen in the West.

Outreach and responsibilities: She oversees Houston Zen Center’s campus and teaching program, guides the Practice Committee, participates in Board meetings and planning (buildings and teaching events), leads Sesshin and practice periods, trains shusos (head students) and has ordained and trains numerous Zen priests. She has given Lay Dharma Entrustment to four senior lay practitioners who now serve as Zen teachers. She has two Zen dharma heirs who have received full Dharma Transmission. In addition, she leads a prison meditation group north of Huntsville, and participates frequently in socially engaged projects for the benefit of the underserved, in Houston and elsewhere.

She moved to Houston in 2003, after annual teaching visits for 5 years, to guide the Houston Zen Center. She has two stepdaughters, Jessie, an economist in Chicago, and Sarah, an obstetrician in San Francisco, and four grandchildren, Oscar, Rose, Joachim and Sofia.

*Setsuan Konjin is a dharma name = Snow Hermitage, Builds Love

Visiting Teachers

Reb Anderson is Senior Dharma Teacher at San Francisco Zen Center, and the honorary founder of Houston Zen Center. He came to San Francisco from Minnesota in 1967 to study Zen Buddhism with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and in 1970 was ordained by him as a priest and given the name Tenshin Zenki, Naturally Real, The Whole Works. Since that time he has continued to practice and teach at San Francisco Zen Center, which includes Green Gulch Farm, the San Francisco Beginners Mind Temple (City Center), and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. He served as abbot from 1986 to 1995.




Assistant Teachers

Kogen Glen Duval, Nessho Cathy Crouch, Hokyo Louise Dreyfus, and Shinji Mary Carol Edwards have advanced in their Zen training through many years of daily meditation practice and longer retreats. They have also undergone training as Shuso, or Head Student, during a yearly retreat and given many Dharma talks. Each has received Lay Entrustment in a ceremony acknowledging their understanding and commitment. All HZC Members are encouraged to engage in regular one–to–one meetings (dokusan) with the Abbot, and it is recommended that they also meet in Practice Discussion with one or more of the assistant teachers.

The Assistant Teachers are available to discuss Zen practice and the issues around it with all members and interested visitors. Information about appointments is posted on the bulletin board in the Center or you can email theTanto, Head of Practice, for further information.

The Zen meditation practice and training is guided by the Abbot with the assistance of the Tanto/Head of Practice, Gayle Klaybor, and the co–Tanto/Head of Practice, Louise Dreyfus, along with the Ino/Head of the Meditation Hall, Zengetsu Vicki Glenn. Other practice positions include: Tenzo/Head Cook; Work Leader — Judson Dunn; Sewing Teacher, Vicki Glenn; Head Steward; and Shika/Guest Manager. Members also serve on various crews, such as assisting the cook, the Ino and the steward. A Mandela, or diagram, of the various crews and roles will be posted on this site in the near future.

The administrative structure of a Zen temple functions in parallel with the practice structure. Houston Zen Center is well served by its Officers and Board of Directors who are highly competent, generous and upright members of Houston Zen Center and the larger Houston community. Along with the Abbot, the Board oversees the growth of the Center, develops and manages its budget, and cares for all contingencies. The members select the Board, as described in the Bylaws, and the monthly meetings of the Board are open to all members.