Bernd Bender, Dharma name: Ki-chu Chi-ka; Joyful Devotion, Wisdom Song. Born in Germany in 1958, I came to practice in 1984. At that time I worked as a professional dancer and pursued graduate studies in literature at Frankfurt University. I had a very rich life, yet here was always a feeling of something missing, some lack in this human existence, about which, as I felt at that point, only art talked. It was a big surprise for me to find out, that the ‘Art of Zazen’ talked about it as well.
My first sangha was the German Zen Association, a non residential group of practitioners in the Deshimaru lineage. I encountered a practice which, to this day, is deeply rooted in zazen and the traditional forms and ceremonies of the Soto School.
In 1994 I came to San Francisco. I met Reb Anderson and received Jukai in 1996. I practiced non-residentially for 6 years. During this time I was able to spent 3 months a year in practice period, usually at Green Gulch and/or Tassajara. In 2002 I spent my first residential year at Green Gulch and Tassajara. After that I moved back to Germany for 3 years. During that phase I translated Buddhist books into German. 2006 I returned to Zen Center, first to Green Gulch, and since the beginning of 2008 I have been living at City Center.
In 2009 I was Shuso in a practice period led by Michael Wenger and Vicky Austin. In May 2010 Michael Wenger gave me Lay Dharma Entrustment. At City Center I served as work leader and shika. Last year I started to see people as a practice leader, gave talks and lead a class.
I am currently in conversation with friends in Germany to look into the possibility of opening an urban practice place in Berlin. Our vision is a center that is deeply rooted in zazen, a place to explore spirituality in an urban, secular setting and to foster a dialogue with people from different traditions.


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