Norman Fischer

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Biographical Information

"Zoketsu Norman Fischer is a poet and Zen Buddhist priest. For many years he has taught at the San Francisco Zen Center, the oldest and largest of the new Buddhist organizations in the West, where he served as Co-abbot from 1995-2000. He is presently a Senior Dharma Teacher there as well as the founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation, an organization dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture... He has often participated with the Beat Generation poets, especially Phil Whalen, Gary Snyder, and Michael McClure, close friends and mentors of his...

"In addition to his regular work at Zen Center, and with Everyday Zen, he has taught extensively, with his old friend Rabbi Alan Lew, on the relationship between Buddhist and Jewish practice (work which has been discussed in Judith Linzer's book "Dharma and Torah"). He teaches Buddhist principles to business people, Buddhist compassion-in-action to lawyers and conflict resolvers, and poetry writing and appreciation to children and adults. He's led workshops at Esalen Institute in California, the Open Center in New York City, and Hollyhock Farm, in British Columbia, as well as at Zen Center, and teaches Zen regularly at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, as well as in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He’s participated with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conferences on Buddhist Christian dialog and non-violence.

"Norman's workshops for business people entitled "Company Time," are held several times a year at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin, north of San Francisco. He does poetry retreats in various locations on the West Coast, and regular workshops and classes at Makor Or, the new Jewish meditation center in San Francisco founded by Rabbi Lew. He also teaches at Elat Chayyim, a Jewish meditation center in Connecticut. Norman was the "zen advisor" to Zoza, a now defunct clothing company started by a boyhood friend of his, Mel Zeigler, who created Banana Republic with his wife Patricia.

"In 2002 he began work on the faculty of the Metta Institute, a new program to dedicated to training health professional to serve as mentors for the dying. In addition to his teaching with the Everyday Zen sangha in the Bay Area, Norman is guiding teacher to five other Zen groups: the Red Cedar Zen Community in Bellingham (WA), the Mountain Rain Zen Community (Vancouver, B.C.), Mar de Jade (Mexico), The New York Zen Circle (New York City), and the Seattle Soto Zen Group (WA).

"Norman was born in a small town in Pennsylvania where he attended public schools; he went to college in upstate New York, and graduate school at the famed University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop (MFA) and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, where he received an MA in the history and phenomenology of religion. He was a Danforth scholar and a Woodrow Wilson scholar.

"He lives with his wife Kathie at Muir Beach, CA. a mile and a half from the Green Gulch Zen temple where he lived for many years. Their twin sons Aron and Noah live in Brooklyn; Aron is an attorney and Noah an installation and performance artist (see his website " [1]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Everyday Zen Foundation Teachers, organizational web page, accessed March 21, 2013.
  2. East Bay Meditation Center Leadership, organizational web page, accessed June 18, 2013.
  3. Metta Institute Board, organizational web page, accessed April 14, 2018.