Lou Mitsunen Nordstrom, Roshi began practicing Zen in 1969. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia where he taught until 1970. In 1974 he gave up a tenured position at Marymount College to become a Rinzai Zen monk with Eido Shimano Roshi and served as Eido Roshi’s head monk at Dai Bosatsu Zendo between 1974 and 1976. During his time at Dai Bosatsu, he was also Soen Nakagawa Roshi’s jisha. This forged his life long connection with Soen Roshi, from whom he would later receive Dharma Transmission in the Rinzai Mushroom Monk Lineage. He also edited the seminal work “Namu Dai Bosa: A Transmission of Zen Buddhism to America,” an anthology of the works of Nyogen Senzaki, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi.
Mitsunen Roshi went back to New York and in 1980 began studying with Taizan Maezumi Roshi and Bernard Tetsugen Glassman Sensei. During this time he helped found the Zen Community of New York and served as director of Practice, Liturgy and Study. Mitsunen Roshi received transmission in the Soto White Plum Lineage from Tetsugen Roshi.
In 1988 he resumed college teaching and continued to lead Zen retreats. In 1999 he started leading retreats in Florida and founded Ryugen-Ji and Hokori temples where he continues to lead retreats.
Ryutaku Sensei first encountered Zen Buddhism during a family visit to Japan at age 6. 18 years later while a Religious Studies major at Hunter College, he met Lou Mitsunen Nordstrom Roshi, through whom he realized his deep affinity for Zen and began practice. During his first sesshin with Mitsunen Roshi, Ryutaku became Roshi’s student.
In 2001 Ryutaku Sensei moved to Los Angeles with his family but continued his training with Mitsunen Roshi. Ryutaku Sensei received Jukai in 2001 and Tokudo (monk ordination) in 2002 from Mitsunen Roshi. He makes frequent trips to the Ryugen-Ji and Hokori Zen Centers to study with Mitsunen Roshi. In 2019 Ryutaku Sensei was named Dharma Holder by Mitsunen Roshi allowing him to teach. In 2021 Ryutaku Sensei was given Dharma Transmission by Mitsunen Roshi in the Rinzai Mushroom Monk Lineage of Soen Nakagawa Roshi.
Ryutaku Sensei began sitting with Ocean Moon Sangha in 2018. Ryutaku Sensei assumed leadership of Ocean Moon Sangha in 2020. Ryutaku Sensei worked hard to keep the Sangha sitting together on Zoom during the first 18 months of the pandemic. He is happy so many of the group returned to in-person sitting on Wednesdays. Ryutaku Sensei has continued to hold Zoom sitting periods several evenings a week.
Ryutaku Sensei currently lives in Venice, CA with his wife, three daughters and two dogs.