Kanko was publicly authorized to offer Zen koan study in the Rinzai lineage of Cold Mountain as an independent teacher in May 2013. She was ordained as a priest (Osho) in the lineage in 2010. Kanko means “Cold Light”. She has been practicing meditation since 1997 but began formal koan study in 2002. Imtiaz has been practicing meditation since 2000 and is a lay dharma teacher in the Cold Mountain lineage.

Our Cold Mountain Zen lineage began during the Ming Dynasty—the 17th century—when a group of monks from Mount Huangbo in China came to Japan and founded what was eventually called Obaku Zen. At the time, the monks from China believed that they were simply bringing the latest form of Rinzai Zen, but in Japan it was treated as a separate school. The style of Zen these monks brought with them was much more flexible and all-encompassing than the styles practiced in Japan at the time. It welcomed teachings from all the Chinese Zen schools and also made a place for the devotional practices of Pure Land Buddhism. One monk who was part of this delegation came from the Han Shan Si “Cold Mountain Temple” in Suzhou, China and went on to start a new Zen temple in Japan, Kankoji, in what is now Kameoka. Since then, there has been an unbroken lineage of priests/practitioners in Cold Mountain lineage. Please read details of Kangan and Kanko’s visit to Han Shan Si in China here and here.

During and following the World War II period, Miyauchi Kanko Roshi served as the Abbot-teacher of Kankoji. Glenn Kangan Webb, who was an American and trained with Miyauchi Roshi at Kanko-ji as well as Myoshin-ji, eventually became Miyauchi Roshi’s dharma heir. All the priests who trained at the Kanko-ji temple also trained at Myoshin-ji or Ryutaku-ji, which are the two major Rinzai training temples in Japan. After Webb Roshi came back to America and established what was then known as the Seattle Zen Center, he invited Takabayashi Genki Roshi (whom he has met with while at a special training at Daitokuji in 1968, another major Zen training temple in Japan) to be a resident teacher at the center. Our root teacher, Kurt Kankan Spellmeyer, trained with both Takabayashi Genki and Kangan Webb. Kritee was ordained in this Zen lineage at a priest ceremony (Suiji-Shiki) with dharma name Kanko (Cold Light in Japanese) in 2010.

Both Kritee and Imtiaz are certified permaculture designers. Being natives of India, they have remained inspired by the historic Bhakti/Sufi movements and leaders like Vinoba Bhave, Vimala Thakar and Thich Naht Hahn who have consciously explored the interface of spirituality and socio-political action. Kritee was raised in a Hindu-Jain milieu in the family of Gandhian freedom fighter Mool Chand Jain and Imtiaz in the Islamic tradition of progressive Dawoodi Bohras. They both continue to be beginners while receiving teachings of contemplative traditions in all directions and engaging with social-political and environmental life-koans of our times!

We understand that spiritual teachers hold power over students and have therefore taken steps to educate ourselves about healthy boundaries and better understand our responsibilities as dharma leaders. One can access our ethics statement and conflict or grievance resolution processes here.

For more details about our  backgrounds, please meet us here.