Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma (Faculty Advisor Emeritus)
Having received a B.A. in English from UCLA and two Masters degrees (in Secondary Education and Comparative Religion respectively), she received her Doctorate Degree (D.Dh) in 1979. Following Ven. Dr. Thien-an’s passing in 1980, Ven. Dr. Karuna became Abbess of the International Buddhist Meditation Center that she helped found with her teacher.
Ven. Dr. Karuna has served the BSI-LA in different roles throughout the history of the program, graduating as a student from the original program, serving as Vice-President of its second incarnation and as program Chair and Faculty Advisor in its current form.
Additionally, Ven. Dr. Karuna was an original founding member of the Buddhist-Catholic Dialogue in Los Angeles, has served as past President of the American Buddhist Congress, Vice-President of the Buddhist Sangha Council and as Founding President of Sakyadhita, the International Association of Buddhist Women.Ven. Dr. Karuna retired from active administrative duty in 2012 at the age of seventy-two, after almost forty-three years of participation and contribution in and to the program.
Ven. Dr. Kelsang Chitta Karuna (Provost & Dean Emeritus)
As founder of Palmoling Nunnery, Ven. Chitta teaches classes in Tibetan Lam Rim meditation, leads retreats and traditional ritual practice. As a teacher, Ven. Chitta endeavors to provide each student with precise guidance and direction, empowering them to continue their personal growth without a teacher, becoming as Buddha Shakyamuni instructed “lights unto themselves”.
In July of 2012 Ven. Chitta will enter into a traditional three year, three month, three day solitary retreat at Great Determination Hermitage in the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio.
Ven. Dr. Paul Wonji Lynch (President)
Throwing himself headlong into Zen practice for five years he received sanction and encouragement from Zen Master Seung Sahn to open the Huntington Beach Zen Center on August 14, 1993, where Soensanim was installed as Abbot by Zen Master Seung Sahn during the Opening Ceremony.
The Huntington Beach Zen Center was renamed one year later at the first anniversary ceremony by Zen Master Seung Sahn to (Hae An Soen Won) Ocean Eyes Zen Center. The center was originally founded as a residential Zen Center where up to eight students lived and practiced together every day. The Zen Center eventually moved to Stanton and later to the Bixby Knolls area of Long Beach where it remained until the center was forced to close and relocate to a non-residential Center in 2000 due to zoning Issues with the City of Long Beach.
Soensanim was ordained by Zen Master Seung Sahn as a Dharma teacher in 1995 and received teaching authorization from Zen Master Ji Bong, (an independent heir of Zen Master Seung Sahn), in the Golden Wind Zen Order in April, 2006.
He has practiced with more than thirty different Zen Buddhist masters during his time and maintains an eclectic approach to spirituality. Having founded the Five Mountain Zen Order, he no longer participates with the Golden Wind Order.
Having obtained a BA in Psychology from California State University, he earned his Masters (M.Dh) and Doctorate (D.Dh) degrees from BSI-LA before becoming a primary staff member. Ven. Dr. Wonji has practiced with more than thirty different Zen Buddhist masters during his time and maintains an eclectic approach to spirituality.
Ven. Dr. Joshua Wanji Paszkiewicz (Provost and Dean)
Having experienced a wide range of religious traditions from his since his childhood (spending ten years in Christian ministry training) Ven. Dr. Wanji has adopted a very pluralistic approach to engaging the dharma, and thus strives to foster an atmosphere where truly all are welcome to explore and integrate Buddhist teachings.
Ven. Dr. Wanji has been practicing meditation formally since age seven, and traditional life protection (“martial”) arts for slightly longer, having attained the title of Master in several martial arts (along with black belt level in a few others), and having founded his own method of Buddhist Life Protection Arts called Bupmudo, which he actively instructs through programs at in Kansas City.
Currently, in addition to his duties at Beyond Walls Zen, Ven. Wanji is serving as the National Abbot of the Five Mountain Zen Order. After graduating from BSI-LA in July of 2012, Ven. Dr. Wanji was installed as Provost and Dean by Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma and Ven. Dr. Kelsang Chitta Karuna, and charged with continuing the mission and vision for the Institute as laid out by Ven. Dr. Thich Thien-An.
Ven. Dr. Geri P’arang Larkin
Larkin was ordained as a dharma teacher by Venerables Samu Sunim, Haju Linda Murray, Mahagosananda and Diane Bennage in 1995. In 1999 she started Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple in the heart of Detroit, and served as its guiding teacher for its first five years. Geri now lives at Laughing Moon Hermitage in Eugene, Oregon. She is the author of several Buddhist books written for lay people. The most recent one, Close to the Ground: Reflections on the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, is scheduled to be published in 2013.
Ven. Dr. Richard Jishou Sears
Ven. Dr. Jishou is a fifth degree black belt in Ninjutsu (receiving the warrior name Watoshi), a licensed private pilot, and received past certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. He once served as a personal protection agent for the Dalai Lama of Tibet with his teacher, Stephen Jien Hayes.
Ven. Dr. Brian Chong’an Denton
Ven. Dr. Chong’an is on the advisory board for the Center for Clinical Mindfulness & Meditation at the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, OH, and for the Society for Clinical Mindfulness & Meditation. He is a reviewer for the upcoming Journal of Clinical Mindfulness & Meditation. He is lead author of the chapter “Clinical Uses of Mindfulness” in Innovations in Clinical Practice (with Ven. Dr. Jishou) and third author of the book “Mindfulness in Clinical Practice” (with Dr. Sears and Dr. Tirsch) available through Professional Resource Press.
Outside of his studies in Psychology, he is a first degree black belt in To-Shin Do Ninjutsu and runs a small training group teaching martial arts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He has studied the Eastern Wisdom traditions extensively, having traveled to a variety of training centers and monastic institutes around the United States and overseas. He is currently a Dharma Holder and Monastic (Sunim), receiving the ordination name of Chong’an (meaning “clear vision”) following the Zen tradition of Zen Master Seung Sahn.