Teachers & Practice Leaders

Zen is not about anything. It is the practice of being present right here, right now. It is learning to meet everything that arises with an open mind and a forgiving heart. To do this, a serious student can benefit from the experienced guidance, encouragement, and presence of the teacher. Our teachers and practice leaders are available to meet with students to discuss their practice life.

Do-On, Robert Thomas, Interim Guiding Teacher

RobertRobert Thomas has recently accepted the position of Interim Guiding Teacher at the Austin Zen Center. Robert is a dharma teacher and former President and Executive Director of San Francisco Zen Center, who has visited AZC several times earlier this year to teach and to provide assistance to the staff and Board during Abbot Kosho McCall's retirement transition.

Robert will be giving dharma talks, teaching classes, and meeting for practice discussions during his time here. He will be in residence in Austin 8 to 10 days per month and in communication with staff members and the Board between visits.

Robert’s Dharma name, "Do-On," means "path of kindness." He states his intention as, “My vow is to do whatever I can to help make our world a more kind, caring and compassionate place for everyone.” We look forward to engaging with Robert on the path of creating a community which offers wisdom, compassion and inclusion to all who engage in the task of self-discovery through Zen practice. Contact Robert for practice discussion at robert@austinzencenter.org.

Unzan Doshin, Mako Voelkel

MakoUnzan Mako Voelkel has been practicing at San Francisco Zen Center since 1997. In 2002, she ended a teaching position in Philosophy at the City College of San Francisco to become a full time resident at Tassajara. Ordained by Ryushin Paul Haller in 2004 and Shuso (Head Monk) at Tassajara in 2009, where she was for several years the Director. Mako is available for practice discussion at mako@austinzencenter.org.

Practice Leadership at AZC

The role of a Practice Leader is to be available to help you with issues associated with your Zen practice. The qualifications for being a Practice Leader at AZC are having practiced Zen for many years, having been Shuso (Head Student) for a Practice Period, and a close relationship with the Teacher.

Pat Yingst

Pat YingstPat Yingst began practicing Zen meditation in 1988 and has been a member of Austin Zen Center since its inception. She has seven years experience teaching meditation in prisons and is active in the Austin intra-Buddhist prison volunteer organization, Inside Meditation. For two years, she served as office manager/bookkeeper for the center in 2005-2006. She was co-editor of AZC's journal, Just This, for its first five years. Pat has served on the AZC Board of Directors. Pat can be contacted at PatYingst@gmail. com


Financial Report

AZC financial report presented at our recent Annual Meeting on 2/4/2017.

Dharma Talks


Shotai De La Rosa, August 12, 2017, Letting Go

Shoryu Bradley, August 5, 2017, Your Perspective Is (Most Likely) Not The Only One: Keep Investigating!

AZC Dharma Talks »


Donna Birdwell

Our online magazine, JustThis, is an active, alive blog rather than a magazine which comes out in issues. We post pieces as they come in to encourage conversation and interaction between the readers and the writers.

We use the Tuesday night Zen Writing group as the source of many of the postings. As well, we welcome other submissions for consideration.

Visit the JustThis writers and artists in their endeavors.