Henry Shukman (Ryu’un-ken) is an Associate Zen Master of the Sanbo Zen lineage, based in Kamakura, Japan and is Mountain Cloud’s GuidingTeacher. He has trained primarily with Joan Rieck Roshi, Zen teacher John Gaynor, Ruben Habito Roshi, and now continues his training under the guidance of Yamada Ryoun Roshi, current abbot of Sanbo Zen. Henry is dedicated to what he sees as core Zen training—clarifying our essential nature to our own satisfaction, and thereby finding true peace of mind, and then living that essential nature in every moment of daily life, in freedom, love and deep responsiveness.
As it happens, Mountain Cloud Zen Center was originally founded by a teacher whose training also took place within Sanbo Zen back in the 1950s, and Henry is the first Sanbo Zen teacher to have taught at Mountain Cloud since its founder.
Henry is a writer and poet of British-Jewish origin, who has published eight 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 poetry collection Archangel. He lives near the center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife Clare and their two 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.