The Zen Center of Philadelphia is affiliated with the Ordinary Mind Zen School–a network of independent Zen centers that share a common purpose and teaching. Established in 1995 by American Zen teacher and author Charlotte Joko Beck and her Dharma successors, the school currently has many affiliates.
Charlotte Joko Beck was born on March 17, 1917, in New Jersey and spent much of her life in Southern California. The mother of four children, she worked as a teacher, secretary, and university assistant before discovering Zen Buddhism in her forties.
Joko Beck went on to receive Dharma transmission in 1978 after practicing with and studying under several prominent Zen masters. She founded the Zen Center of San Diego in 1983 and served as its head teacher until 2006. A gifted writer, she is well-known for her books Nothing Special and Everyday Zen. Ordinary Mind, short film by Claudia Willke, features Charlotte Joko Beck.
Joko Beck died in 2011 at the age of 94. Members of her Dharma lineage carry on her legacy to the present at a number of Zen Centers throughout the country. She encouraged her students and successors to be independent and develop their own talents as practitioners. One of her Dharma heirs, Zen teacher Barry Magid, said:
One of her great virtues as a teacher was that she did not try to clone herself. She let us digest her teaching and grow in our own different directions. Her Dharma seeds are scattered far and wide. They will go on sprouting in ways we cannot predict and cross-fertilize with other lineages. The Ordinary Mind School may grow or wither, but her influence is now everywhere.