Guiding Teacher Tim Zentetsu Burkett

MZMC's Guiding Teacher, Tim Burkett, began practicing in spring 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi while attending Stanford University. At Suzuki's urging, Tim began a weekly sitting group on the San Francisco peninsula later that year, which Suzuki regularly attended. As this group grew in size, it was moved to the converted garage of a sangha member. Suzuki's talks to that group were later edited and published as "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind", which has become a classic text and the gateway for many to enter Zen practice. After completing his BA at Stanford, Tim attended the maiden practice period at San Francisco Zen Center's Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in 1967 with his wife Linda, whom he met at San Francisco Zen Center. In 1970, Tim and Linda moved to Minnesota, where Tim continued his sitting practice. He was an early member of MZMC and was ordained by Dainin Katagiri Roshi in 1978. Tim was president of MZMC from 1978 to 1983, became a dharma heir of Karen Sunna in the Katagiri lineage in 2000, and succeeded Karen as abbot in 2002. He is also a licensed Ph.D. psychologist and director of an agency that supports people with mental illness. He and Linda have two grown children and two grandchildren. MZMC members can schedule dokusan (a one-to-one meeting) with him by contacting

Make sure to check out Tim's new blog on Huffington Post! Just click on the link below.
Read Tim's blog.

Teachers (Dharma Heirs and Priests-in-Training)

Priests at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center make a lifelong commitment to teaching and exemplifying the Dharma. The responsibilities of priests are many and varied, and include much service to the community. They may teach classes, lead practice groups, lead meditation retreats, and give dharma talks. They may conduct rituals, conduct practice meetings, and offer pastoral care. They are expected to hold an office at MZMC, such as ino (practice leader), tenzo (cook), or work leader, and to have a consistent presence within the community. Some of them lead or help to facilitate practice groups in other locations as well. Priests maintain a regular and disciplined zazen practice, which includes both daily practice and retreats. Priests tend to be very busy people, and although they often find it challenging to balance family, work, and training activities, they know that this balancing is the very heart of their practice. They are committed to the Bodhisattva ideal, and feel profound gratitude for the opportunity to serve at MZMC and to be a part of this practice community.

Priest training at MZMC follows the model Guidelines for Training Soto Zen Priests in the West, which was developed by Tim Burkett and others under the auspices of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA). Priests-in-training are expected to become knowledgeable as to the history and teachings of Buddhism through study, classes, and, most importantly, working directly with their teacher. Training focuses on developing priestcraft, exemplary personal conduct, self-understanding, and academic study.

Dharma Heirs

These individuals have received dharma transmission (certification to teach independently) from Tim Burkett. To schedule dokusan (a one-to-one meeting) with one of them, please contact

Ted O'Toole, Associate Guiding Teacher

Ted O'Toole first became interested in Buddhism in 1973, and began his formal practice in 1992 at the Zen Buddhist Temple in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The following year he moved to Minnesota and became a member of MZMC, where he received the precepts from Shohaku Okamura. He was ordained as a priest by Tim Burkett in 2005, and received dharma transmission (permission to teach independently) from Tim in February of 2012. He has served MZMC in various roles, including practice leader, work leader, and caretaker of altars and rituals. He has co-led three practice periods with Tim, has led meditation retreats, and has taught the classes Basics of Buddhism and Creative Writing as Buddhist Practice. He is currently a member of MZMC's board of directors and membership committee, and takes a monthly turn leading Tuesday Night Gathering, Saturday morning guided meditation, and the Sunday morning introductory course. Ted grew up on a farm in North Dakota and often incorporates his early experiences into his dharma talks. He and his wife Kathy Guthrie live in St. Paul, and enjoy their extended family, as well as gardening, house projects, biking, cross-country skiing, and writing. It is a great joy, Ted says, to teach the dharma and build sangha, and to be supported in turn by a kind, vibrant, and exciting community. To schedule dokusan (a one-to-one meeting) with him contact

Rosemary Taylor, Senior Teacher

Rosemary started practicing Zen meditation in 1994, was ordained by Tim Burkett in 2003, became Shuso (a senior student) in 2007, and received dharma transmission in September 2010. After studying Nyoho-e (the Way of Sewing) with Tomoe Katagiri for 16 years, Rosemary became one of three sewing teachers endorsed by Tomoe-san upon her retirement in the summer of 2013. Among the positions Rosemary has held at Zen Center are Associate Guiding Teacher, Tenzo (head cook), Ino (center coordinator), Attendant, and Chiden (caretaker of altars and rituals), as well as various administrative roles. She lives in south Minneapolis with her husband Dave; they are empty-nester parents of a daughter and a son. To schedule dokusan (a one-to-one meeting) with her contact

Susan Nelson, Senior Teacher

Susan started practice with Katagiri-roshi and the MZMC community in 1978 and received the precepts from him in 1980. She was priest ordained by Tim Burkett in 2003. She became Shuso (head student) in 2009, completed a Residency in Health Care chaplaincy in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2011. Susan has served in a variety of practice leadership roles over the years at MZMC and at Hokyoji,where she currently resides with her husband and two other community residents. She was a founding board member of Hokyoji and serves there now as Director of Practice and Education. She represents Hokyoji as a community chaplain at Prairie Correctional and works as an affiliate chaplain at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in LaCrosse, WI. At MZMC she continues to teach classes,lead retreats, meet with and mentor individuals, and co-lead the Dharma Family Sunday program. Susan is interested in preserving the forms and ceremonies handed down from within the Soto Zen lineage, while also exploring new forms to fit our modern lives.

Guy Gibbon, Senior Teacher

Guy Gibbon has a special interest in the interplay between Buddhism and Western science, and in the incorporation of Buddhist practices like mindfulness meditation in education, health care, business, and other avenues of contemporary life. Guy, who has been a somewhat irregular member of MZMC since 1976, received the precepts from Dainin Katakiri Roshi in the late 1980s, and was ordained by Tim Burkett in September 2006. He has taught courses at MZMC in meditation, introductory Buddhism, the Four Immeasurables, and intermediate-level concepts (the How to Practice: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching course). He has also been a participant in Ken McLeod's teacher training program at Unfettered Mind in Los Angeles since 2006. Guy was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lives at present at MZMC with his wife Ann. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he taught at the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Minnesota, where he has been a professor in the Department of Anthropology since 1973. He is the author of many books and articles on his specialty in anthropology.

Ben Connelly

Ben began Zen practice at MZMC in 2001, was ordained in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. He is currently serving as a member of the Leadership Group and as Program Administrator. He started teaching Introduction to Meditation in 2005, and since then has taught a variety of courses to both newcomers and long-term Zen practitioners. Inspired again and again by the way people give themselves to the practice of transforming their lives at MZMC, he has taken up creating new practice offerings for the community, listening to students, washing dishes, and watching the wind cross the lake as Zen practice. Ben is a musician by profession: a singer and songwriter, guitar teacher, film composer and multi-instrumentalist. His first book, Inside the Grass Hut, Living Shitou's Classic Zen Poem (Wisdom Publications) was published in 2014, and his new translation and commentary on Vasubandhu's Thirty Verses, Inside Vasubandhu's Yogacara: A Practitioner's Guide, was published by Wisdom in 2016.

Busshō Lahn

Busshō Lahn first came to Zen Buddhism and MZMC in 1993, was ordained by Tim Burkett in 2009, and received dharma transmission in 2015. Busshō is a certified spiritual director, connecting with and mentoring those who wish to deepen an intentional and contemplative spiritual life. He explores the connection between spirituality and psychology with them as well as encouraging and supporting their continued spiritual practice.

He is active in both the recovery and Christian contemplative communities, teaching and leading retreats and overseas pilgrimages through the Episcopal House of Prayer and the Aslan Institute. His special interests include Zen ritual and ceremony, poetry, interfaith dialogue, and the works of the great mystics. He lives in Eden Prairie with his wonderful wife Karen.

Wanda Isle

Wanda's interest in Eastern thought and practices began in the early 1980's. She started a regular meditation practice at MZMC in 2005 and was ordained in 2009. She received Dharma Transmission in 2015. Wanda was drawn to the quiet, inward-looking nature of Zen. Her focus as a Zen teacher is helping people cultivate the capacity to express themselves completely by seeing through emotional barriers and opening up to the natural compassion and original freedom innate in each of us.

Wanda is the editor of Nothing Holy About It: The Zen of Being Just Who You Are, by Tim Burkett. She is co-author of the book, Creating Awesome: Radiant Health as a Spiritual Practice, which focuses on mind/body healing. She is currently editing Tim’s second book Heart’s Undivided: Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World. It will be published in 2018 by Shambhala Publications.


Stacy Lee King

Stacy Lee King began Minnesota Zen Meditation Center teacher training in November 2012 with formal ordination from Tim Burkett. Stacy has led kitchen practice and work practice and assisted with the Dharma Family Sunday program. She facilitates introductory meditation sessions at MZMC as well as Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center. "I'm compelled by love and gratitude to those who, with gentle calm, seated me in meditation and wholehearted activity. To always remember the candle was lit before I came, and what an honor that this lightness may pass through me."

Mark Turbak
Mark began exploring Zen Buddhist practice while a college student at the University of Minnesota. He came to MZMC in 2011 and received the precepts in 2013. Mark was ordained by Ted O'Toole in 2015. Mark is drawn towards the practicality of everyday Zen. Mark is particularly interested in exploring engaged mindfulness, non-violent communication, and the interplay between the 12-steps and Zen practice. He draws great inspiration from people who give their entire hearts to the most simple of activities, be it sitting zazen, eating oryoki, or ringing a meditation bell. Mark began his career in the nonprofit sector in 2002 with the American Red Cross. Since then, he has worked in a variety of capacities including emergency response, environmental education, and grassroots advocacy. Mark currently works as a fundraising officer for a national health organization. In his free time, Mark enjoys creating music, writing creative fiction, and exploring the outdoors.

Our mission is to help people experience a deep and quiet joy – a joy that arises whenever we are fully engaged in the work or play of this moment.