Priests/Practice Leaders

Sosan Theresa Flynn
Guiding Teacher

Sosan began practicing Zen in 1992, was ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in 1997, and received dharma transmission from Joen Snyder O’Neal in 2012. She enjoys working with lay students, as well as those who wish to pursue priest ordination. For the past 17 years, Sosan has taught beginning and intermediate classes on Zen Buddhist principles, ethical guidelines,  meditation practices and council practice.  She has officiated at many ceremonies (daily liturgy, special liturgies, wedding, baby naming, and memorial services), and also offers premarital and couples counseling. Sosan has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and worked in both community mental health and staff training before coming to work at the Zen center. Since 2015 she has served as the Guiding Teacher for Clouds in Water. Sosan lives in St. Paul with her husband of 29 years and 3 cats.
Sosan’s website

IMG_2248 5x7 2sqKyoku Tracey Walen
Beginning June 2018 Kyoku will be residing at Hokyoji Zen Practice Community. She will be available one week each month in St. Paul to see students and have practice meetings.

Kyoku began her Zen life in 1997 with a kayaking trip in Alaska that included meditation and Buddhist readings. In 1998 she joined Clouds in Water and dove into Buddhist practice with guiding teacher Dosho Mike Port and dharma teacher Byakuren Judith Ragir. In 1999 she retired from her career as a financial executive and took up Zen practice full-time, including serving the Clouds in Water sangha in many roles and studying with many guest teachers. Responding to a strong desire to explore monastic practice, she went on pilgrimage to several monasteries including a month’s stay in Plum Village with Thich Nhat Hanh in 2007.  Byakuren Judith Ragir ordained Kyoku in 2008 and she entered training with co-abbots Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays at Great Vow Zen Monastery for three years. She returned to Clouds in Water in 2011 where she teaches and serves the temple in several roles.  Kyoku received transmission from Byakuren in November 2015.  She also studied Zen sewing of robes and vestments with Tomoe Katagiri and became one of her successors in 2014. Email Kyoku

Gentle Dragon Kennedy

Gentle Dragon (GD) studied Classical Ashtanga Yoga with Baba Hari Dass beginning in June 1996. She had a solitary sitting practice several years prior. In 2004, after circumambulating Mt. Kailash, she re-connected with Byakuren Roshi who she’s considered her Zen teacher since 1998. Byakuren Roshi worked with her on integrating the relative world and the absolute together in the expression of the Bodhisattva vow. In November 2012, GD was ordained by Byakuren Judith Ragir. In 2016 she was formally recognized by the Clouds community as a teacher in a shuso ceremony. Gentle Dragon has worked with abused children for over 22 years and currently works on developing policy on behalf of those who continue to work directly with abused children. She has a Masters of Counseling Psychology from the Adler Institute in Chicago, IL. GD has participated in Bearing Witness retreats in the Black Hills, Auschwitz/Birkenau, and in a street retreat in SF. Recently, she organized and was a lead teacher for a Bearing Witness retreat in St. Paul, MN. GD received transmission from Byakuren Judith Ragir, October, 2018   Email GD

IMG_2067 crop1Flying Fish Barbara Murphy
Youth Practice Leader – On sabbatical 2018-2019

Flying Fish was ordained by Diane Martin at Udumbara Zen Center in Evanston, IL in 2004 and received transmission from Byakuren Judith Ragir in 2015. She supports this community through dharma talks, teaching classes and one on one meetings with practitioners. Flying Fish is the Youth Practice leader here at Clouds supporting our youths and families from birth up through high school. She was trained at Abbott Northwestern Hospital as a medical chaplain and has worked as a hospice chaplain with Allina Health System.  Currently she sits on the Spiritual Advisory Board at Allina. Her background includes an MA in Architecture and BA in Art History and has worked both as a designer and art consultant in these fields. Her husband and two adult children have and continues to be an important part of her life. Email Flying Fish

Kikan Mike Howard – Priest in Training
Youth Practice Leader

Email Kikan



IMG_1866 1Byakuren Judith Ragir
Senior Dharma Teacher

Byakuren studied with Dainin Katagiri roshi from 1973-1990 at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. In 2007, She was given Dharma transmission by Joen Snyder-O’Neal of Compassion Ocean Dharma Center.  Byakuren was instrumental in founding Clouds in Water Zen Center in St. Paul where she was the Guiding Teacher from November, 2006 to 2015.  She has a background in dance, body-work and Oriental Medicine.  Currently, she is working with senior students, writing about Buddhism and making Buddhist Temple Art.      Byakuren’s website

IMG_2011 crop 1Ken Ford
Senior Dharma Teacher

Ken found his way into Zen practice slowly, beginning with “academic” exploration in his college years, then his first contacts with Dainin Katagiri roshi in Minneapolis in 1976. He studied at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and Hokyoji with Katagiri roshi and, later, Shohaku Okumura. He has studied at Tassajara monastery and Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in California, and at Clouds in Water where he has been an active member since 1999. Retired from a career as a city planner, Ken is a lay teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. He does volunteer work for Nonviolent Peace force and participates in interfaith dialogue in the local community.  Email Ken

Myoshin Diane Benjamin – Lay teacher in training

Taizan Alford – Priest in Training

Genjō Conway – Priest in Training

Satya Scott – Priest in Training