Reverend Kendo Rich Hart – Founder and Abbot Emeritus

The conjoining of the world’s spiritual traditions is the true birthplace of the Brooklyn-born Abbot Emeritus of the Clear Mountain Zen Center, Kendo Rich Hart.  As a native of one of the toughest cities in the world, Mr. Hart sought a path out of suffering from his earliest days, struggling with a chronically ill mother and emotionally absent father.  He learned very soon that life was not for wimps, and this essential truth of the difficulty of life has prompted his spiritual teaching since his earliest practice, first as a lay minister in the Christian tradition, onward through his search for well-being in the traditions of Hinduism and Judaism, meeting and learning with such well-honored Masters as Rabbi Kellerman and Swami Satchidananda, and finally through his venturing onto the path of Zen and Buddhism where devout and intimate spiritual relationships with his three major teachers, Eido Shimano Roshi, Trungpa Rinpoche, and his long-time spiritual father Joshu Sasaki Roshi, brought Mr. Hart to his very unique and personal spiritual wisdom which had guided his founding of the Clear Mountain Zen Center, an enduring home of noblest humanity, sprouting originally from the Lotus of Compassion in the quaint and distinct city of Brooklyn, New York, almost 50 years ago.

Abbot Emeritus Hart, a one-time Marine corps drill instructor, a graduate with a Masters in Education, an experienced hypnotherapist, and a once upon a time owner of a rather good little music store, has been an active participant in various concurrent forms of non-suffering, from the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, through the timeless religious disciplines, through his own unavoidable rise from his youthful misery, finding grace after suffering through the typical insults and disappointments we all face growing up.  Further experience with the vagaries and vicissitudes of life, not least of which was his experience as a Father raising his adopted son Bobby, Mr. Hart acknowledged how life and its twists and turns was distinctly capable of causing one’s mind to transform the trials and joys of daily life, family life, into a uniquely American vision of Zen.  This unique vision of Zen defied the stringent stoic Eastern values, recognizing a new liberation in the spirit of singing and dancing with a naked, magnificent heart.  Abbot Emeritus Hart discovered that singing and dancing naked in the rain, no matter what the cost, has the natural allure to unite splits in the religious chasm, unifying multiple diverse sexualities, multiple complex spiritualities, and so many cultural disparities, uniting them as ONE seamless, undeniable, personal spiritual practice. 


D. Kengaku Zezulinski – Abbot

D. Kengaku Zezulinski
Kengaku is a lay Zen monk, student, and teacher at CMZC.  He became a student and friend of Kendo Rich Hart in the summer of 1990.  His introduction to Zen Buddhism came as a result of an invitation of an old friend to join him for zazen at Kendo Rich Hart’s then home in Malverne, New York.  The pivotal point of this meeting with his soon-to-be teacher was being introduced to the Four Noble Truths through demonstration, not words.
After practicing for three years, Donald received Jukai and was given the name Kengaku. His training, though not monastic, began immediately and continually was focused on zazen and challenges to step outside of convention thought.  Kengaku has taught Introduction to Zen classes in twenty martial arts schools, at the New York College of Health Professions, and various other locations throughout Long Island.  He has lectured and participated in three multi-faith forums on Long Island and New York City.  Within CMZC he has hosted Open Mic Poetry readings, created the introduction class at CMZC, led Sutra studies, presented a series of classes on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and facilitated zazen and zazenkais.
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