Barbara Tokuen Gray
Tokuen began studying Zen with Maurine Myo-0n Stuart in 1987 when she was on sabbatical in Cambridge, MA. After returning to State College, Pennsylvania, she continued to practice with Maurine until February 1990 when Maurine passed away. When, after many years of study in Japan, Rev. Dai-En Bennage returned to central Pennsylvania in 1991 and opened Mt. Equity Zendo, soon thereafter Barbara became Rev. Bennage’s student.
Tokuen took the Five Lay Precepts in 1999, the Sixteen Precepts in 2004, completed lay Shuso training in February 2012 and was entrusted as a Lay Zen Teacher in March 2016 (all with Rev. Bennage). She received tenzo training from Rev. Daishin McCabe (at MEZ) and has also served as head tenzo for many sesshins. She has been both Vice President and then President of the MEZ Board of Directors (2007-17). In 2002 she was also privileged to accompany her teacher to Japan where Rev. Bennage officiated at one of the 750th Anniversary Ceremonies in honor of Dogen. Tokuen has given Dharma talks at MEZ and Zen Center of Pittsburgh and led several workshops and days of Zen at MEZ and ZCP over the past ten years. She started the Six Rings Sangha, a satellite of MEZ, in State College, PA and continues to serve as a guiding teacher for this group. When in the Seattle area, she sits with Seattle Soto Zen Society where she has studied some with Eko Jeff Kelley. In 2014 she took Taigen Dan Leighton’s on-course on Dogen through Berkeley Graduate Theological Union.
She currently serves as co-guiding teacher for Moon-on-the-Lake Sangha in East Berlin, PA, another satellite Sangha of Mt. Equity Zendo founded in 2016 with her Dharma sister, Marcy Daijun Brenner.
Barbara holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and served as a faculty member in the Management and Organization Dept. at Penn State University where she taught team building, facilitation, conflict management and collaboration for 34 years. As a trained mediator she has provided consultation to organizations that are facing difficult transitions and conflicts including the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, OXFAM US, the Dutch Ministry for the Environment, Phillips Corp., Penn State University Health Services, Penn State University College of Agriculture, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and designed a program to respond to community fears after the Three Mile Island accident. She has also provided training in collaborative negotiations for many organizations including Greenpeace International, the World Bank, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Mellon Bank, US Steel Corp., Hershey Hospital, the National Institutes of Health and the Network for Business Sustainability (Canada), and the University of Cuenca (Ecuador). As the lead mediator for An Olive Branch, a Zen-inspired mediation service which she helped to found for the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, she has helped organizations to heal in the wake of their leaders’ sexual misconduct. She
wrote “Dealing with the Aftermath of Sexual Misconduct in Religious Organizations: Creating forums of compassion” for An Olive Branch’s newsletter (Spring 2013).
Tokuen has authored articles and books on conflict and collaboration particularly related to environmental issues. Those works most directly connected to her Zen Buddhist path include her book, Collaborating: Finding common ground for multiparty problems (Jossey-Bass, 1989), a coauthored book, Making Sense of Intractable Environmental Conflict: Concepts and cases (Island Press, 2003), and a book chapter entitled, “Ego and Identity as Barriers to Transformative Cooperation: Lessons from Feminism and Buddhism” in S. K. Piderit et al. (Eds.), Handbook of Transformative Cooperation (2007).
She has also served as a teacher and director of an alternative high school for inner city youth and worked for racial justice in housing and mortgage lending in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1970s.
Retreats and Events