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Buddhism - American Family Tree   [Return to List of Trees]

Buddhism is a world religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha, in the sixth or fifth century BCE in India. Teaching reincarnation and freedom from worldly attachments, Buddhism has three major branches: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. According to Buddhism, the origin of suffering comes from ignorance, and one must follow the Eightfold Path to reach nirvana. Following the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which allowed for more immigration from Asia, the Buddhist population has grown rapidly in the U.S.

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Buddhism Family Tree: Static Image

The image below has been organized by ARDA staff. Right-click anywhere on the image to copy or save it. You can also access a Dynamic version of this tree.
Note: Groups that are colored blue are still active. Groups that are colored gray are defunct.




 
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Buddhism Family Tree: Dynamic

The image below is dynamic. You can move groups around and see group descriptions by hovering over a group. If you would like to save your modified tree, click on the "Save Tree Image" button below.
Note: Groups that are colored blue are still active. Groups that are colored gray are defunct.



 
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Included in this tree

Religious Group Founded Description
Buddhist Mission of North America 1899 The Buddhist Mission of North America was founded in 1899, and it later changed its name to the Buddhist Churches of America. It remains affiliated with the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha tradition.
Buddhist Churches of America 1944 Outpost of the largest of the many Japanese Buddhist groups, the Buddhist Churches of America was begun by missionaries who arrived in San Francisco in the 1890s. The group was originally called the Buddhist Mission of North America but took their present name in 1944. Having the continental United States as its territory, it is in fellowship with the Buddhist Churches of Canada and the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.
MahaSiddha Dharma 1999 MahaSiddha Dharma was founded by Buddhist teacher Kali Ma (or pema Khandro), her students, and her husband, Derrick Pawo. The group changed its name to Ngakpa International and is currently known as such.
Ngakpa International Ngakpa International was originally known as MahaSiddha Dharma. The group follows the teachings of MahaSiddha Dharma which are organized in stages that allow for personal engagement in practices, relationship to spiritual community, and relationship with Kali Ma (the founder). There are three stages for followers: community members (beginner), practitioner members (intermediate), or Vajra Sangha (advanced).
Chicago Rimé Center 1997 The Chicago Rimé Center, now known as the Rimé Foundation, was founded in 1997 by Roberto Sanchez and is a western outpost of the Rimé tradition. The foundation supports the practice, development, and integration of Tibetan Buddhism. The Center offers weekly practice sessions and dharma talks.
Rimé Foundation 1997 The Rimé Foundation, formerly the Chicago Rimé Center, was founded in 1997 by Roberto Sanchez and is a western outpost of the Rimé tradition. The foundation supports the practice, development, and integration of Tibetan Buddhism. The Center offers weekly practice sessions and dharma talks.
Soto Zen (Japan) 1227 Soto Zen Buddhism continues the Chinese Caodong Meditative or Chan Buddhism. Dogen, its founder, eschewed the use of koans. It is one of the two major Zen Buddhist traditions in Japan, and it received new life in the United States in the 1950s with the arrival of two teachers from Japan to serve in the Soto Mission, the Soto Zen organization which had served the Japanese American community since the 1920s. Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995) began to teach at the Los Angeles zendo in 1956 and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1901-1971) arrived four years later to begin work in San Francisco. Both teachers attracted non-Japanese students and eventually led to the formation of two new organizations, the Zen Center of Los Angeles (1967) and the San Francisco Zen Center (1969), from which current Soto Zen in America would eventually blossom. Suzuki would initially be assisted by Dainin Katagiri (1928-1990), who had arrived in the United States in 1963 and who would relocate to Minneapolis (1972) and open the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. Also in 1969, Juyi Kennett (1924-1996), the first Western female to complete her training and be acknowledged as a Zen master and teacher arrived in San Francisco where after a brief stay at the San Francisco Zen Center, she founded the Zen Mission Society that would soon move to Mt. Shasta, California, and evolve into what is now known as the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives. In 1959, Robert Aitken (1917-2010) and his wife would found a small meditation center in Hawaii which, after some ups and downs through the 1960s, would emerge as the American center of a relatively new Soto lineage, the Sanbo Kyodan, notable for its attention to lay practitioners and mixing Soto and Rinzai Zen insights. In 1970, Aitken's work evolved into the Diamond Sangha. Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi founded the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA) in 1967. He would eventually pass his lineage to eight of his students, most of whom eventually left and founded affiliated centers in other cities. The expansion in the 1970s was followed by a period of turmoil after the 1983 announcement that Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi was suffering from an advanced case of alcoholism and had entered a rehabilitation program. Subsequently, most of the affiliated centers led by his dharma heirs dropped their official connections to the ZCLA, and began the focal points for new networks of Zen centers. In the years since the controversy died, those people who traced their lineage back to Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi have become part of a cooperative fellowship, the White Plum Asanga. Lineage in Zen Buddhism is traced primarily through those Zen masters who have the authority to transmit their own lineage to another recognized teacher. The teachers of the many centers affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center (SGZC) have received their authority from Shunrya Suzuki who left two dharma heirs: Hoitsu Suzuki or Richard Baker. A number of presently independent Zen groups began as branches affiliated with the SFZC and their teacher stands in Shunryu Suzuki's lineage. The same year the ZCLA experienced its problems, the SFZC went through its own trauma, when Richard Baker was forced out of leadership due to sexual misconduct.
Soto Mission (United States) 1922 Soto Mission was founded by Rev. Hosen Isobe. In 1932, the mission was appointed a subsidiary of two main temples in Japan. Shortly after, the general head office was established to manage the Soto Zen Buddhism in North America. The group focuses on Soto Zen Buddhism and its education center works to establish Zen Buddhism in the Western world. In 2014, Soto Zen temples and centers were registered in by the Soto head office in Japan, although most of these centers are independent.
Buddhist Society of America 1930 The Buddhist Society of America was founded in 1930 by Sokei-an Sasaki Roshi, the only member who remained in the States from the 1906 failed missionary trip sponsored by Ryomokyo-kai Zen Institute of Tokyo. The association incorporated in 1931 and remains active in New York as the First Zen Institute of America (its name as of 1944). The association is currently lay-led but still practices Rinzai Zen.
First Zen Institute of America 1944 Formerly the Buddhist Society of America, the First Zen Institute gained its current name in 1944. The lay-led association has a number of publications and offers free introductions to Rinzai Zen.
Sanbo Kyodan (Japan) 1954 No description available.
Koko-an-zendo 1959 No description available.
Diamond Sangha 1959 The Diamond Sangha was founded by Robert Aitken and his wife, Anne Aitken, in Hawaii and is part of the Sanbo Kyodan (Order of the Three Treasures). Robert Aitken Roshi retired in 1996 and was succeeded by Nelson Foster. The Honolulu Diamond Sangha has one center on the island of O'ahu named Palolo Zen Center (PZC). The center has daily zezen, samu, one- to eight-day sessions, and opportunities for residential practice.
Zen Center of Los Angeles 1967 The Zen Center of Los Angeles was formed under the leadership of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi, who was a seminal figure in the development of Zen Buddhism. Their mission is to know the self, maintain the precepts, and serve others through the teaching, training, and transmission of Zen Buddhism. The center supports activities such as Zazan, weekly lectures, and beginning classes.
Berkeley Zen Center 1967 The Berkeley Zen Center originated in the Zen Center of San Francisco under the leadership of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. However, after Suzuki Roshi's death, the organization became independent under Sojun Mel Weitsman, who was Suzuki Roshi's student, with a new emphasis on lay practice. In 1979, the center moved to its present location that is home to a small residential community of priests, lay students, and children.
San Francisco Zen Center 1962 San Francisco Zen Center was founded by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and his American students. Today, the center follows Suzuki Roshi's style of warm hand and heart to warm hand and heart. The center offers daily meditation, classes, lectures, and retreats. It also participates in outreach activities including food distribution to the homeless, street outreach, mindfulness training in prisons, and more.
Zen Mission Society 1970 The Zen Mission Society was founded by Reverend Jiyu-Kennett, with a commission to train and ordain both men and women for Soto Zen priesthood. The present-day outgrowth of this group is the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives.
Order of Buddhist Contemplatives 1983 The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives was founded by Reverend Jiyu-Kennett, originally known as the Zen Mission Society (1969-1970), with a commission to train and ordain both men and women for Soto Zen priesthood. In 1983, the group was formally established as a monastic order and outgrowth of the previous Zen Mission Society. The group places the most emphasis on their Buddhist heritage, zazen, and teachings on Soto Zen. A study is also done on the teachings of Buddha according to Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
Minnesota Zen Meditation Center 1972 The Minnesota Zen Meditation Center can be traced back to a group of people in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who began to practice Zen meditation. Dainin Katagiri Roshi became their leader in 1973. Today, their style contains both traditional and contemporary elements of Soto Zen tradition and Zen meditation itself.
Dharma Rain Zen Center 1973 The Dharma Rain Zen Center was established for lay practice by Kyogen Carlson and Gykuko Carlson, a married couple who were Zen priests. The center offers morning and evening meditation, classes, workshops, and residential practice. The center is nationally known for it children's programs as well as the Dharma School.
Sonoma Mountain Zen Center 1973 The Sonoma Mountain Zen Center was founded by Jakusho Kwong Roshi in order to preserve his zen lineage. The center focuses on the teachings of Zen and has various programs including zazen (meditation), sesshin (extended retreats), seminars, and sittings.
Zen Com. of NY 1979 No description available.
Mountains and Rivers Order (MRO) of Zen Buddhism 1980 The Mountains and Rivers Order was founded by Abbot John Daiso Loori and is associated with numerous Zen Buddhist temples and practice centers in the United States. The main function of the order is to maintain the practice of its member organizations, with the main house being Zen Mountain Monastery in New York. In 1984, the group became the first Zen practice group to operate within New York State correctional facilities.
Zen Peacemakers 1980 No description available.
Kanzeon Zen Center 1984 No description available.
Dharma Sangha 1985 Dharma Sangha was founded by Richard Baker Roshi after leaving the Zen Center of San Francisco. There are two centers of activity in the United States; however, the center in Colorado, opened in 1988, became the main focus of the Sangha's activity.
Ordinary Mind Zen School 1983 The Ordinary Mind Zen School was founded by Charlotte Joko Beck who, in the early 1980s, was named one of the four dharma heirs of Taizan Maezumi Roshi of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. After separating from the Zen Center of Los Angeles, she became a Soto Zen teacher in her own right. The group supports the practice and manifestation of the Awakened Way, which is thought to be universal and can be realized through various mediums and methods.
Great Plains Zen Center 1995 The Great Plains Zen Center was founded by Susan Myoyu Anderson Roshi. The Center has two foci, one in Wisconsin that is a rural retreat center and headquarters, and one in Illinois which regularly holds meditation sessions. The center is the center of a small community of Soto Zen Buddhists in the lineage of Taizan Maezumni Roshi, who was the founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. The Great Plains Zen Center is a member of the White Plum Asanga, which is a network of Zen centers that follow the lineage of Taizan Maezumni Roshi, and the international Zen Peacemaker Order.
Hazy Moon Zen Center 1996 The Hazy Moon Zen Center was founded by William Nyogen Yeo Sensi and offers programs that support seasoned practitioners along with beginners. The center is focused in the Soto Zen tradition and koan practice, which is associated with Rinzai practice.
Pacific Zen Institute 1999 No description available.
Awakened Life/Open Source 2000 No description available.
Rocks and Clouds Zendo 2001 No description available.
Boundless Way Zen c. 2005 The Boundless Way Zen community was founded by James Ismael Ford, David Rynick, and Melissa Myozen. It is a Soto Zen association and includes various Zen lineages in its leadership, which are reflected in its practice.
Order of the Prairie Wind c. 1995 Order of the Prairie Wind was founded by Rev. Nonin Chowaney (an American Zen Master) and is a Soto Zen Community. The Center became independent of the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in the 1990s.
Udumbara Zen Center 1995 No description available.
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