Philip Kapleau was one of the founding fathers of American Zen. He made it his life’s work to transplant Zen Buddhism into American soil, bridging the gap between theory and practice and making Zen Buddhism accessible to all.

After a successful career as a businessman, Philip Kapleau spent 13 years undergoing Zen training in Japan under three Zen masters before being ordained by Hakuun Yasutani-roshi in 1965 and given permission by him to teach. In 1966 he publishedThe Three Pillars of Zen, the first book to explain the practice of Zen to Westerners. Still in print today, Three Pillars has become a Zen classic and has been translated into 12 languages. Shortly after the publication of Three Pillars, Roshi Kapleau came to Rochester to found the Zen Center. His other books include Zen: Merging of East and West, Straight to the Heart of Zen, Awakening to Zen and The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide

Roshi Kapleau died in May, 2004, at the age of 91.

See also: A few of Roshi Kapleau’s talks