Henry Shukman (Ryu’un-ken) is a Zen Master of the Sanbo Zen lineage, based in Kamakura, Japan and is Mountain Cloud’s Guiding Teacher. He trained primarily with Joan Rieck Roshi, Zen teacher John Gaynor, Ruben Habito Roshi, and Yamada Ryoun Roshi, international abbot of Sanbo Zen. Henry is dedicated to what he sees as core Zen training— clarifying our “original nature,” following the eight-fold path, and living in love, freedom and deep responsiveness.
Henry is also a writer and poet of British-Jewish origin, who has published nine books to date, of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. He writes regularly for Tricycle, The New York Times and other publications, and his most recent book is the memoir One Blade of Grass. He lives near the center with his wife Clare, with whom he has two adult sons.
Valerie Forstman (Meikô-an; Keiun-an) is an Associate Zen Master of the Sanbo Zen lineage. Her first teacher, with whom she continues to work, was Ruben Habito Roshi. Since 2003, she has also trained under the guidance of Yamada Ryoun Roshi, current abbot of SanboZen.
Valerie joins Mountain Cloud with a shared vision of the core of the Zen path, a way of coming home to who we truly are. This includes koan training, “just sitting” practice, and breath awareness practice, and what it means to undergo the immense change of heart implied by the term “awakening.” What a joy and what a long road it can be, not just to taste this, but to embody it and live it out in lives of compassionate service.
A first-career classical musician with degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Stony Brook in New York, Valerie changed course in response to her practice and went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies and Ph.D. in Biblical Interpretation (Hebrew Bible). She recently retired from her work as Associate Dean for Admissions and Common Life at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX.