Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, is a Zen teacher and the Abbot of Boundless Way Zen, a school of Zen Buddhism with practice centers throughout New England. She is one of the resident teachers at Boundless Way Temple (Mugendo-ji) in Worcester, MA.
Background: Melissa was born in 1954 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents were secular Jews, who taught her from an early age to have a deep appreciation of art, theater, music (especially jazz) and leftist politics. In order to understand a spontaneous spiritual experience she had when she was nine years old, Melissa began a life-long exploration of religion and psychology.
Education, Work and Family: Melissa is a 1976 graduate of Wesleyan University, with a BA magna cum laude in Anthropology and Music. She went on to earn an MA in Counseling Psychology from Vermont College of Norwich University in 1991, specializing in grief counseling. In 1993, after careers as a vocalist, pianist, music teacher and psychotherapist, she joined the staff of the Center for Mindfulness, founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Until 2012 she was a member of the teaching staff, the Associate Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic, and a Director of professional training programs at the Center. She met her husband David Dae An Rynick, Roshi in 1977, and they married in 1982. Their daughter, Rachel Blacker Rynick, was born in 1986.
Zen training and teaching: In 1981 she and David began studying Zen with the independent teacher Richard Clarke, a former student of Philip Kapleau, Roshi. After twenty years of study with Dr. Clarke she became the student of James Myoun Ford, Roshi, a dharma heir of Jiyu Kennett, Roshi and John Tarrant, Roshi. She was ordained a Soto Zen priest (unsui) in 2004 and completed shuso training in 2005. Advancing through the Harada-Yasutani koan curriculum she received Dharma transmission from James Ford in April of 2006, and was elected a guiding teacher of Boundless Way Zen. After hosting a Zen meditation group in their home for 20 years, Melissa and David founded Boundless Way Temple in 2009. Melissa received inka shomei from James Ford in July, 2010.
Melissa is co-editor of THE BOOK OF MU, published by Wisdom Publications in April of 2011, and her writing appears in BEST BUDDHIST WRITING, 2012, published by Shambhala Publications and THE HIDDEN LAMP, published by Wisdom in 2013. These and other books to which she has contributed may be found here. She is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.