Peter Levitt

Teacher Picture


Title Sensei
Organization Salt Spring Zen Circle
Lineage Suzuki Roshi
City Salt Spring Island
State/Province BC
Country Canada


Eihei Peter Levitt began Zen practice in the late 1960’s, and is a lay Zen teacher in the Suzuki Roshi lineage. He maintained a solo practice until he became a student of Jakusho Kwong Roshi from 1983 to 2003. Thereafter, he received Entrustment in the Suzuki Roshi lineage from Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and Preceptor Transmission in White Plum from Roshi Egyoku Nakao.

He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Within Within, One Hundred Butterflies, and Bright Root, Dark Root, and three of prose, including A Flock of Fools: Ancient Buddhist Tales of Wisdom and Laughter, which he co-translated and retold with Kazuaki Tanahashi, and Fingerpainting on the Moon: Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom.

Peter also served as Associate Editor of Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi, and he was the editor of Thich Nhat Hanh’s, The Heart of Understanding, and Jakusho Kwong’s No Beginning, No End: The Intimate Heart of Zen. In addition, he co-edited with Kazuaki Tanahashi The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master. Levitt and Tanahashi are also the co-translators of The Complete Cold Mountain: Poems of the Legendary Hermit Hanshan. He and LZTA member Rebecca Nie co-translated Yin Mountain: The Immortal Poetry of Three Daoist Women, which Shambhala Publications brought out in 2022.

Peter has also published fiction, and poetry translations from Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. Poet Robert Creeley wrote that Peter Levitt’s poetry “sounds the honor of our common dance,” and in 1989 Peter received the prestigious Lannan Foundation Award in Poetry.

Originally from New York City, Peter emigrated to Canada where he leads the Salt Spring Zen Circle on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. He lives on Salt Spring Island with his wife, poet Shirley Graham.


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