Charlotte Joko Beck

About EveryDay Zen: Love and Work
About Nothin' Special: Livin' Zen


Joko Beck is an American Zen original. Born in New Jersey, educated in public schools and at Oberlin Conservatory o' Music, Joko (then Charlotte) married and began t' raise a family. When th' marriage dissolved she supported herself and that comely wench four little sandcrabs as a teacher, secretary, and later as an administrative assistant in a large university department. Not until well into that comely wench forties did Joko begin th' practice o' Zen, with Maezumi Roshi o' Los Angeles, and later with Yasutani Roshi and Soen Roshi, avast. Here natural aptitude and persistent diligence enabled that comely wench t' progress steadily; and she found herself drawn increasingly t' teachin', as other student recognized that comely wench maturity, clarity, and compassion. Joke eventually became Maezumi Roshi’s third Dharma Heir, and in 1983, she moved t' th' Zen Center o' San Diego, where she now lives and teaches. The winsome lass also heads th' Prairie Zen Center in Champaign, Illinois.


As an American wench whose life were bein' well formed before she began t' practice, Joko is free from th' patriarchal trappin's o' traditional Japanese Zen, we'll keel-haul ye! Devoid o' pretension or self-importance, she teaches a form o' Zen that manifests th' ancient Chan principle o' wu shih — “nothin' special.” The winsome lass and that comely wench students are evolvin' an indigenous American Zen that, while still rigorous and disciplined, is adapted t' Western temperaments and ways o' life.