Ruben L.F. Habito, Founding Teacher
The Founding Teacher, Ruben Habito, born in the Philippines, joined the Jesuits in his native country in 1964, and was sent to Japan in 1970 to help in the work of the Catholic Church there. Upon the suggestion of his Jesuit spiritual director, Fr. Thomas Hand, SJ, he began practicing Zen under Yamada Kōun Rōshi in 1971, and completed the koan curriculum training in 1988. He was formally authorized as Zen Teacher in that same year, and was given the Zen title Keiun-ken (Grace-Cloud Lineage).
Ruben came to Dallas in 1989, having left the Jesuits, and was invited to take up a teaching position at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. In the fall of that year, some seminary students and others who had heard of his Zen training in Japan asked for guidance in Zen, and a small group began sitting regularly at his living room apartment. After Ruben and Maria married in 1990 and moved to a new home, the sitting group continued to increase in numbers, and in 1991, a more public space was needed to accommodate the growing community. The group moved to the then Dallas Zen Center on Cole Ave. in that year, and in the following year 1992, was welcomed by the Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. William J. Bryan, and the congregation, offering space for regular sitting in their church
hall. It was in this year that Maria Kannon Zen Center became incorporated as a 501 (c)3 religious organization.
In 2001, MKZC was able to purchase a 7 acre property on Hunnicut Drive in East Dallas, finding its home and practice center in this location. In 2012, the MKZC Board decided to sell the property, and the group continued sitting in several different locations in North Dallas. In 2015, the Zen community was welcomed by the Pastors and congregation of White Rock United Methodist Church, and currently continues its sitting practice in this location.
Yamada Koun Roshi
Ruben's Teacher is Yamada Kōun Rōshi, who is the direct successor of Yasutani Hakuun Rōshi, founder of the Sanbo Zen (formerly Sanbo Kyodan) lineage. Yamada Kōun is regarded as one of the great Zen Masters of the twentieth century, having guided many Zen practitioners who were Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and also non-religious persons into the heart of Zen, appointing many of them as Zen Teachers who would carry his Dharma.
See www.sanbo-zen.org for the current status of the worldwide lineage that derives from his Dharma.
Sanbo Zen is a mainstream of the wider stream of the so-called Harada-Yasutani Lineage, with numerous Zen centers and communities in the US, Europe, and Asia.