Roshi Shuzen Harris

Three photos of Sensei Shuzen Harris

In Memoriam

Roshi Jules Shuzen Harris was the guiding teacher of Soji Zen Center in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, which he founded in 2005. He began his studies with Daido Roshi at Zen Mountain Monastery in 1982. He received Denkai (full priest ordination) from Genpo Roshi at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and became an assistant teacher there in 2002. In 2006, he was given Hoshi (Dharma-Holder) empowerment by Enkyo Roshi of the Village Zendo. In 2007, he received Shiho (full teacher) empowerment, making him Enkyo Roshi’s second Dharma successor. In 2019, she gave him Inka, the final teaching recognition in the Zen tradition, making him one of the first Roshis of African descent in the United States.

Shuzen held an Ed.D from Columbia University with a concentration in Applied Human Development. As a psychotherapist, he found innovative ways to combine Western psychology and Buddhism. In 2019, he published Zen Beyond Mindfulness: Using Buddhist and Modern Psychology for Transformational Practice (Shambhala), which has been appreciated by mental health professionals as well as those pursuing spiritual practice.

Shuzen also cultivated the relationship between Zen and the martial arts. He held black belts in Iaido (the art of drawing and cutting with a samurai sword) and Kendo (Japanese fencing). He founded Japanese swordsmanship schools in Albany, New York and Salt Lake City, Utah. Enkyo Roshi said of Shuzen: “He dedicated his life to teaching Zen, to serving those who practiced with him, using all the tools he had honed in his many years of a life that truly expressed the compassion and wisdom of contemporary Zen practice. We will miss his intelligence and compassion—and his great heart!”

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