Red Clay Sangha Teachers

In the Maha-Parinirvana Sutra, when the Buddha is about to pass from the world, Ananda is concerned about his lack of a teacher in the future. The Buddha instructs Ananda, "Be a lamp unto yourself." Similarly in the Kalama Sutta, Buddha instructs the Kalamas, “...don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted and carried out, lead to welfare and to happiness’—then you should enter and remain in them.”

Our philosophy at Red Clay Sangha is based on this teaching. We believe our true teacher and refuge is underneath us - our cushion; in front of us - the Dharma; and beside us - our Sangha. We are founded on the experience that our sangha is our teacher and accordingly have no community-sanctioned leading teacher.

In addition to regarding sangha as teacher, many members have built relationships with teachers from a range of Buddhist schools and lineages and we invite teachers from diverse traditions to visit and lead us for retreats and special events. 

Visiting Teachers

A number of very special teachers from a diversity of Buddhist practice paths and traditions - several having practiced in multiple traditions - have become particularly close friends to the sangha. We are honored to count the following as friends and returning retreat leaders:



Ven. Dhammadipa, also known as Rev. Konin, serves as Guiding Teacher of Ekan Zen Study Center, and resides and trains at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery, a women's Theravada monastery. She was previously ordained into the Soto Zen tradition by Sekkei Harada Roshi in 2007 and received Dharma Transmission in the Shunryu Suzuki lineage from Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin. Ven.'s teachings have appeared in the Buddhist magazines "Lion's Roar" and "Buddhadharma," and her teachings are published in "Zen Teachings in Challenging Times." She is an inter-faith chaplain who has provided spiritual care in hospital and hospice settings. Dhammadipa's teaching website can be found at


Lisa Ernst

Lisa is the founder and guiding teacher at One Dharma Nashville. She has been meditating for over 25 years in the Zen and Vipassana Traditions. She received dharma transmission in the Thai Forest Lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. In her teaching, Lisa emphasizes both transformational insight and everyday awakening as an invitation to embrace all of the path’s possibilities. As a practicing visual artist Lisa also incorporates Dharma into painting and contemplative photography.




Therese Fitzgerald

Therese trained for eight years at the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Mountain Monastery and then with Thich Nhat Hanh for fifteen years. She was ordained as a Dharma teacher by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1994 and has been teaching for twenty-five years. Originally from Charlotte, Therese now lives on the island of Maui, where she works as a Dharma teacher, and as a hospice Spiritual Care Counselor.






Julie Püttgen 

In 1995, Julie began her studies of Vipassana meditation with Steve & Rosemary Weissman, in the south of Thailand. She then lived and trained at Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hahn's monastery in the south of France, before joining the Thai-tradition English Forest Sangha as a resident laywoman and novice nun for 3 years. Since then, her Buddhist training extended into Soto and Rinzai Zen schools, and the embodied Tibetan-tradition Mahamudra practices taught by Lama Willa MillerLama John MakranskyReggie Ray, and others. Julie is an artist, expressive arts and somatic psychotherapist, writer, mover, and arts facilitator living and practicing in New Hampshire. She is founder and facilitator of the Old Dragons’ Club, a non-sectarian women’s group in the Buddhist traditions; and Meditations for Resilience and Resistance, a modality she created to integrate expressive and contemplative arts. You can see her work at and


Shodo Spring

Shodo met Zen with Dainin Katagiri, studied with Tenshin Anderson, and received transmission under Shohaku Okumura. Her practice has included pilgrimage, environmental activism, ceremony, and especially zazen. She has two daughters and four grandchildren, earns her livelihood as a psychotherapist, and practices farming as spiritual life.  

Shodo is the author of Take Up Your Life: Making Spirituality Work in the Real World (Tuttle 1996), "Right Action: The World is My Body" in The Eightfold Path (Temple Ground Press 2016). Shodo is the founder of Mountains and Waters Alliance, humans joining with all beings to protect and restore the earth and all life. This includes zazen, teaching, a permaculture farm, land care, and being open to what arises next. 


Sangha Lead Teachers

Gareth Young

Gareth is a meditation teacher, a businessman and co-founder of Red Clay Sangha. He has maintained a committed meditation practice for over 20 years in the Zen and Vipassana traditions, and integrates over 10 years of interfaith engagement as well as teachings from Tibetan and Lotus Sutra traditions into his practice and life.

Gareth received full teaching authorization in the Thai Forest lineage of Ajahn Chah, Jack Kornfield and Lisa Ernst and is a firm advocate of the principles and practices of One Dharma. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife and their dogs, chickens and bees. He has two adult children. 

In addition we have enjoyed retreats led by the following teachers:  

  • Brad Warner from the Angel City Zen Center. Brad Warner received dharma transmission from Gudo Wafu Nishijima
  • Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. Ben is based at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Zen Master Dae Gak from Furnace Mountain in Clay City, Kentucky. ZM Dae Gak received dharma transmission from the Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn
  • Sunya Kjolhede from Windhorse Zen Community. Sunya was ordained and sanctioned to teach by Roshi Philip Kapleau
  • Wayne Coger from Springwater Center. Wayne works with Toni Packer, and previously studied at the Rochester Zen Center
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