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The Open Source

The Open Source is a network of individuals and communities in the western United States engaged in Zen practice together. We emphasize collaboration, the development of authentic American expressions of Zen, and the confluence of koans and creativity. The Open Source is part of the Pacific Zen School, an innovative Western koan school with roots in East Asian traditions; it includes The Open Source and Pacific Zen Institute in Northern California. The house style honors the original Chinese koan way while emphasizing the integration of koan inquiry with contemporary lives, explores communal as well as individual koan practice and its relationship to creativity, highlights the contributions of women to the koan tradition, seeks to develop a body of Western koans, and in general is interested in what happens when you trust the koans themselves and the experiences of the people working with them to reveal the way the tradition should evolve.

The network is centered in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Joan Sutherland teaches through Awakened Life.
Springs Mountain Sangha Colorado Springs, Colorado
Wet Mountain Sangha Pueblo, Colorado
Desert Rain Zen Tucson, Arizona
Crimson Gate Meditation Oakland, California


The Open Source was founded by Joan Sutherland, Roshi.

Open Source teacher Sarah Bender, Sensei is the resident teacher for Springs Mountain Sangha in Colorado Springs. From 2001 to 2006 Sarah Bender served as the meditation instructor for Springs Mountain Sangha, and in 2006 she received authorization to teach from Joan Sutherland, becoming a sensei with The Open Source. She is also the Cadet Chapel Buddhist Program Leader for the United States Air Force Academy, and she leads occasional retreats for the Wet Mountain Sangha, in Pueblo. She is a learning disability specialist in private practice.

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Andrew Palmer, Sensei, began practicing with Springs Mountain Sangha a in 1999 and was named a meditation instructor in 2007. He was authorized to teach by Joan Sutherland in February 2011, and looks forward to continuing to develop Our Way while having the opportunity to work more closely with others, individually and in retreat settings, as an Open Source sensei. Andrew's love of koans and affinity for the ancestors combines with an everyday, ordinary-mind-is-the-way approach to practice, where awakening is always readily at hand. Andrew lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and son.
Visit Andrew's website

Tenney Nathanson, Sensei started studying with Joan Sutherland in 1997, regularly attending retreats in northern California and New Mexico. In 2008 he and Jennifer Sellers founded Desert Rain Zen in Tucson, serving as Meditation Instructors in this new Open Source group. Tenney was authorized to teach by Joan in early 2012 and now serves as Desert Rain Zen's resident teacher. A poet as well as a scholar of American poetry, Tenney is fascinated by the life-changing power of both koans and poems to open us up to intimate experiences of emptiness and form. Tenney lives in Tucson with his family, where he teaches in the University of Arizona English Department and helps lead the arts collective POG as well as Desert Rain Zen.

Megan Rundel, Sensei leads the Crimson Gate Meditation Community in Oakland, California. She has practiced koan Zen for over 20 years, and has been a student of Joan Sutherland since 1996. Megan is interested in koan practice as a way of sparking the spiritual imagination and enlivening meditation experience. She is committed to lay practice that is relevant to contemporary life, yet deeply authentic. Megan is also a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and beginning ukulele student.


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Our practice has the power to reveal a Zen that is not bound to another time and a different place, a Zen that is native to us; we begin to recognize the ineffable in the images and metaphors of this time and place, arising out of our landscapes, our ancestral spirits, our poetries, our psyches, and our songs.