Our Teachers


headshot Janet Abels2Roshi Janet Jiryu Abels

Roshi Janet Jiryu Abels, founder of Still Mind Zendo, has been a teacher in the lineage of Taizan Maezumi Roshi and the White Plum Asanga since 2000, when she became a dharma successor of her teacher, Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy. In 2015, she received Inka from Roshi Kennedy and the honorific title of Roshi. Previously, she was a spiritual director for more than 12 years and a community organizer and peace activist. Roshi is also a certified Bio-Spiritual Focusing teacher. She is the author of Making Zen Your Own: Giving Life to Twelve Key Golden Age Ancestors (Wisdom, 2012). Her dharma name, Jiryu, means Compassionate Dragon.

headshot-Gregory-Abels2-653x980Sensei Gregory Hosho Abels

Sensei Gregory Hosho Abels became a dharma successor of Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy in 2006, in the lineage of Taizan Maezumi Roshi and the White Plum Asanga. He has enjoyed a 50-year career as an actor, stage director and Master Teacher of Acting in New York City. Sensei is also a poet and a nature photographer. His collection, Never Something Else: Poems from the Eye of Zen, features poetry sparked by practice and inspired by the natural world. His dharma name, Hosho, loosely translated, means Voice of the Dharma. Sensei Gregory and Roshi Janet are married and the parents of a grown daughter.

headshot Marisa CespedesSensei Marisa Seishin Cespedes

Sensei Marisa Seishin Cespedes, a meditator since the mid-1990s, joined Still Mind Zendo in 2003 as a student of Roshi Janet, eventually becoming a senior practice leader, and was named a Dharma holder by Roshi in 2012. In April 2016, she received dharma transmission, becoming a Zen teacher. Her dharma name, Seishin, means Clear Heart. Born and raised in Mexico City, she moved to the U.S. in 1982 and has worked for Televisa, Mexico's main television network, since 1988, currently as the New York bureau chief and correspondent.

Our teachers are members of the White Plum Asanga and the Lay Zen Teachers Association.

Dharma holder Jean Seiwa Gallagher

Dharma holder Jean Seiwa Gallagher began Zen practice at Still Mind Zendo as a student of Roshi Janet in 2000 and began serving as a senior practice leader in 2002. She was named a Dharma holder (teacher in training) by Roshi in 2015. Jean is a poet and a professor at New York University, where she teaches writing and literature. She is married and is the mother of a school-age daughter. Her dharma name, Seiwa, means Serene Harmony.