REVEREND STEVE KANJI ANGYO RUHL, M.Div. Reverend Steve Kanji Ruhl, M.Div., is an innovative Zen Buddhist minister ordained in the Zen Peacemaker Order by Roshi Bernie Glassman, and a lay Zen dharma holder and preceptor authorized by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko. Formerly affiliated with Green River Zen Center in western Massachusetts, he now operates independently, teaching Zen students in his Touch the Earth cyber-sangha to “be clear, be kind, be present” through instruction in koans, ethical precepts, and shikantaza meditation.
Having trained with Watanabe roshi at Taiyo-ji Zen Temple in Kanegasaki, Japan in 1997 and subsequently at Zen centers in the United States -- including with Roshi John Daido Loori at Zen Mountain Monastery, Roshi Dai-En Bennage at Mt. Equity Zendo, and Toni Packer at Springwater Meditation Center -- he received his B.A. in Religious Studies with high honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the Schreyer Honors College of Penn State University in 2005, where he did intensive study of Christianity, ancient Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. He received his Master of Divinity degree in Buddhist ministry from Harvard University in 2008, where he co-chaired the Harvard Buddhist Sangha.
A faculty member of the Shogaku Zen Institute, Kanji also has served as a Buddhist adviser at Yale University, where he currently guest teaches with the Yale Buddhist Sangha. Additionally, he is a meditation instructor at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and a core faculty member in the multi-faith Spiritual Guidance Certificate Training Program at the Rowe Center. He also works in private practice one-on-one with spiritual guidance clients. He has been featured in articles in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and EnlightenNext magazine, and he has been a guest speaker or workshop facilitator at Yale Divinity School. the Omega Institute, Harvard's Center for World Religions, the International Conference on Socially Engaged Buddhism, Grace Farms, and elsewhere.
He is the author of The Constant Yes of Things: Selected Poems 1973-2018 (Off the Common Books) and the forthcoming Enlightened Contemporaries: Saint Francis, Dogen, and Rumi (Monkfish Books). He also is a contributing author to The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work (Wisdom Publications). A memoir, Appalachian Zen: Journeys of an American Buddhist, recently has been submitted to a publisher. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals nationwide, and his writing has received awards from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Additionally, he has worked as a professional journalist and editor, publishing articles in The Boston Globe, The Massachusetts Review, Santa Fe Reporter, and elsewhere.
Kanji is dedicated to reforming American Zen to eliminate the idolatry of the teacher ("no gurus!"), to include the traditions of women's domestic Zen, and to counter the toxic influences of spiritual consumerism, commercialism, and spiritual celebrity.
In addition to his Zen practice Kanji has a strong interest in mystical Christianity, Hindu Tantra, Sufism, Native American spiritual traditions (particularly Lakota), the Jewish Essenes, Taoism, dream yoga, Jungian depth psychology, and Earth-based goddess traditions and nature spirituality.
A longtime member of the Sierra Club, he is strongly committed to environmental issues and to Green Buddhism, and lives simply and close to nature in the woods of western Massachusetts. Raised in a working-class family in the central Appalachian region of Pennsylvania -- seven generations of farmers, soldiers, and factory workers -- he was the first person in his family to graduate from college, and has a deep interest in issues of social class in America.
Augmenting his strong scholarly background in world religions, Reverend Kanji is a mystic who emphasizes direct experience of a sacred reality that is immanent, always, in the here-and-now of this world. He also is deeply familiar with embodied spiritual practices, including personal experience with tai chi, Iyengar yoga, holotropic breathing and shamanic journeying, ecstatic dance, Reiki, tantra, quigong, kyudo (Zen archery), judo, and -- in Japan -- training in classic taiko drumming and iai-do, the meditative art of using the sword.
Kanji is a cancer survivor as well, with a powerful interest in, and commitment to, alternative healing practices. He is well-equipped to provide spiritual counseling for people challenged by life-threatening illnesses. He also has endured the suicides of a close friend and of his beloved sister, has been present at the deaths of both parents and his brother, has performed end-of-life ministry, and has conducted funerals, so can offer spiritual counseling as well on issues of death, dying, and complicated grieving. Additionally, he specializes in counseling on the spiritual dimensions of midlife passages.
Aside from Zen Buddhist ministry, teaching, and writing, his other interests include international travel, art and art history, independent and foreign films, architecture, organic vegan dining, theater, dance, studies in world history, in the sciences, and enjoyment of an eclectic range of music, as well as nature and the outdoors, hiking, jogging, bicycling, kayaking, and weightlifting. An avid and indefatigable reader, he was an English honors major many years ago and maintains a passionate devotion to exploring books of fiction and poetry.