About the Toronto Zen Centre
The Toronto Zen Centre was established in 1967 by Roshi Philip Kapleau to provide a place for the practice of authentic Zen Buddhism. It was the Rochester Zen Center’s first affiliate group, and is the oldest Zen group in Canada.
The Centre was originally in a rented house, but soon purchased a house on Christie Street (pictured at left). After it outgrew that location it moved to a house on Lyndhurst Street, and then, in 1985, purchased a large house on High Park Gardens, conveniently located near public transit and across the street from High Park.
Through the years members of the Centre—our Sangha—have worked to remodel the Centre, improving the gardens, adding a meditation room and a large kitchen, redoing floors, plumbing, electrical and, in general, making this house into the place of spiritual practice that it is today. We hope you will come to visit us!
Sensei Taigen Henderson was born in Toronto in 1949 and grew up in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Toronto. Upon his return to Canada he attended Trinity College School in Toronto and later founded his own construction and renovation company.
Sensei’s childhood encounter with Buddhism in Sri Lanka left a deep impression on him. In 1970, he attended a workshop on Zen at the Rochester Zen Center with Roshi Philip Kapleau. Shortly thereafter he began to practice at the Toronto Zen Centre,which was then an affiliate of the Rochester Zen Center.
The Toronto Zen Centre became independent in 1986 and in 1996 came under the direction of Roshi Sunyana Graef, the abbot of the Vermont Zen Center and a Dharma Heir of Roshi Kapleau. Sensei Henderson became a student of Roshi Sunyana Graef and later her disciple. He was ordained by her as a priest in 2004 and sanctioned as Roshi Graef’s first Dharma Heir in June of 2005. At that time he was installed as the abbot of the Toronto Zen Centre, where he continues to teach full time.
Sensei Henderson lives in Toronto with his wife Bonnie Goodman. He has three grown children.
Roshi Sunyana Graef is the founder and teacher of the Vermont Zen Center. She began her practice of Zen Buddhism in 1969 as a disciple of Roshi Philip Kapleau. Roshi Graef was born in Boston in 1948 and grew up on Long Island, in New York. In the sixties, she studied religion and philosophy at Bard College until beginning her Zen training at the Rochester Zen Center.
Roshi Graef spent over nine years on the staff of the Rochester Zen Center. She was ordained as a priest in 1986 and sanctioned as a Dharma Heir of Roshi Kapleau a year later. With her husband, Jed, and two daughters,Kaila and Dana, she moved to Vermont in June of 1988 to establish the Zen Center in Shelburne. Roshi Graef also teaches at the Casa Zen of Costa Rica.
About Roshi Philip Kapleau
Roshi Philip Kapleau was one of the pioneers of Zen in the West. It was his fervent wish that Zen Buddhism would be as accessible to western cultures as it had been in the East for a millennium. After a successful career as a court reporter, Philip Kapleau spent thirteen years in Japan training under three Zen masters. In 1965 he was ordained by Hakuun Yasutani-roshi and given permission by him to teach. In 1966 he published The Three Pillars of Zen, the first book to explain the practice of Zen to Westerners. Shortly after the publication of his first book, Roshi Kapleau came to Rochester, NY to found the Rochester Zen Center. His other books include Zen: Merging of East and West, To Cherish All Life and The Zen of Living and Dying: A Practical and Spiritual Guide.
Roshi Kapleau passed away peacefully in Rochester on May 6, 2004 at the age of 91.