Priests and Lay Teachers
Sosan is the Guiding Teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. She has studied and practiced Soto Zen Buddhism since 1992, receiving dharma transmission (full teaching authority) from Joen Snyder O’Neal in 2012. Sosan's areas of teaching include body awareness in Zen, mindful speaking and listening, loving-kindness practices, and the intersection of Buddhist practice and racial justice. She has officiated at many ceremonies (daily & special liturgies, weddings, baby namings, and memorial services), and offers premarital and couples counseling. Sosan was raised Catholic and practiced Catholicism for 36 years before embracing Buddhism as her primary religion. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and has worked in both community mental health and staff training. Sosan and her husband of 35+ years have one child, now an adult who brings them great joy. They live a short distance from Clouds in Water with their three cats. For more information, see Sosan’s website
Kyoku Tracey Walen resides at Hokyoji Zen Practice Community in Eitzen, MN, and spends one week a month in the Twin Cities teaching at Clouds in Water Zen Center and seeing students. Kyoku was ordained as a Soto Zen priest by Byakuren Judith Ragir in 2008 and received Dharma transmission from Byakuren in 2015. She trained for three years at Great Vow Zen Monastery and also with Thich Nhat Hanh in France. She worked as a business consultant and financial executive in corporate America until she discovered the Buddha Way in 1997 and retired to take it up full-time. Kyoku is a member of the teacher ryo at Clouds.
MyoOn began Zen practice in 1980 with Katagiri-Roshi and the MZMC sangha. She took time off from formal practice while raising her family in the 1990s, participating in family practice at MZMC and practicing at home. In 1999 she returned to MZMC more formally and was ordained by Tim Burkett in 2003. In 2010 she began practicing with Dokai Georgesen at Hokyoji Zen Practice community. MyoOn received dharma transmission from Dokai in 2018. In 2020, she joined the teacher-ryo at Clouds in Water. MyoOn works with Zen students at all levels from lay to ordained. She can also officiate at marriages and memorial services. She has lived in Minneapolis with her spouse, Duane Peterson since 1986. They have 3 adult children and 3 grandchildren who bring them great joy.
Myoshin Diane Benjamin (she/her) is a lay dharma teacher, a path that reflects her deep interest and engagement in the ways that Buddhist practice both permeates everyday work and family life, and supports engagement in social change. Myoshin began practicing Buddhism in 1996 and received dharma transmission in 2022 from Sosan Flynn. She taught for over a decade in the children’s program at Clouds in Water, and has practiced at Hokyoji and Ryumonji monasteries and attended numerous retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh and his community. She has worked for many years in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and is also a musician. Additionally, she is fully certified to teach the Realization Process. She lives in Minneapolis with her wife and daughter.
Koji Aquaviva (he/him)
Koji Acquaviva is a Soto Zen priest and the current administrative assistant to the guiding teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. He began practicing Zen at the age of twenty at the San Francisco Zen Center where he was a resident and staff member for ten years. He co-founded the Mid City Zen Center in New Orleans, Louisiana and served regularly as visiting teacher at the Austin Zen Center. As a queer and neurodivergent person who trained rather traditionally, Koji makes his best effort to identify and confront the ways Buddhism is taught which re-inscribe harm for members of marginalized communities. In addition to Soto Zen, he's studied Vedanta, Hatha Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism in residential practice centers. His primary interest is encouraging meditators to feel empowered to develop their own syncretic practice paths, availing themselves to the most potent methods for their temperament and needs. Koji is a member of the teacher ryo at Clouds.
Taizan is available to meet with students, although mostly on Zoom.
Taizan was ordained as a Soto Zen priest by Sosan Flynn in 2016, and completed shuso in 2021. Taizan's journey with meditation began on the yogic path in the early 1980s after getting sober. He has been to India, studied Ayurveda, and taught yoga since 1998. Taizan spent three months as a resident at Zen Mountain Monastery in 2020 Taizan’s focus in Soto Zen Buddhism is on how zazen, taking refuge and loving kindness can heal old wounds and help create less suffering for individuals and their communities. He is an associate member of the Teacher Ryo at Clouds. Taizan is committed to long-term recovery from addiction, healing from trauma, and not creating more suffering. Taizan is deeply grateful for his loving and supportive husband Tom.
Please note: the following priests and leaders are still in training. They help with teaching classes but are not yet available to meet individually with students.
Kikan Michael Howard (he/him)
Kikan Michael Howard started practicing at Clouds in Water Zen Center in the late 1990s and was ordained by Sosan in 2018. He is an associate member of the Teacher Ryo at Clouds. Kikan is also an independent app developer, and he transcribes Katagiri Roshi’s dharma talks at the Katagiri Transcripts website, katagiritranscripts.net. His interests include Buddhist psychology, emotional integration, and data visualization. Kikan lives in Northfield, MN with his wife and cats.
Fukutoku Ann Morishita is a Soto Zen priest in training at Clouds in Water Zen Center. She has practiced Soto Zen Buddhism for the past 15 years. In May of 2021, Fukutoku took home leaving vows with Rev. Sojun, Diane Martin of Udumbara Sangha in IL. Sojun was transmitted by Rev. Sekijun Karen Sunna. In 2022, Fukutoku began Zen training with Rev. Myo-on, Susan Hagler. Fukutoku is currently serving as the head cook, Tenzo, and is an associate member of the Teacher Ryo. She has served the general community as a hospice nurse for the past 11 years. Prior to studying Buddhism, Fukutoku was a member of the Evanston, IL, Quaker Friends' Meeting for ten years.
Jinzu Minna Jain (they/them) is an artist, writer, and racial equity educator. They identify as BIPOC, disabled, queer and nonbinary. Jinzu has been practicing Sōtō Zen Buddhism for over twenty years and is a priest in training and the Executive Director at Clouds in Water Zen Center. They are also the Director of Learning & Development with Real Transformation Today, a racial equity education group. Jinzu is mostly curious about how to be human well, how to meet themselves and others complexly, and how to enjoy our little lives a little more.
Shozoku was born and raised in Japan and came to the US to study at a college. In 2008, she started to learn mindfulness from Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, and started coming to Clouds in Water. Challenges like chronic illness, being a parent, and facing racism help her to continue practice. Shozoku received Jukai in 2020 and was ordained as a priest in 2022. Seeing the truth, including seeing oneself as a bodhisattva in action, is a practice she is currently focused on, as a way to truly love oneself and all beings.
Katto Laura Phillip (she/her)
Katto Laura Phillips started practicing Zen in 1997 and was ordained by Sosan Flynn in 2022. She has been a member of Zen Bridge Community, a meditation group in Stillwater, for 15 years and served as chair of their board for 4 years before stepping away to wholeheartedly engage the path toward becoming a priest. She works as a psychotherapist specializing in trauma and is interested in exploring and creating safe ways for people to connect with vulnerability, authenticity, and curiosity. She and her husband enjoy spending time with friends and family including their children who are living on their own.
We are deeply grateful to the following teachers who have given time and energy to the sangha but are no longer actively teaching at Clouds:
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
Ken found his way into Zen practice slowly, beginning with “academic” exploration in his college years, then his first contact 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 senior dharma teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center. He does volunteer work for Nonviolent Peaceforce and participates in interfaith dialogue in the local community.