Mary Keien Boutselis is a long-time practitioner of Soto Zen Buddhism.  She received the Bodhisatva Precepts in 2004 and, after more than 20 years of practice with her teacher, Rev. Dai-En Bennage Roshi at Mt. Equity Zendo, she completed shuso training and received lay entrustment, the permission to teach, in 2021.  While at Mt. Equity, she co-founded and now leads Six Rings Sangha in State College, PA. From 2016-2022, she served on the Board of Mt. Equity. Keien is a trained Spiritual Director and has a particular interest in the intersection of Buddhism and Christianity, working with students in both traditions, facilitating the appreciation for the manner in which integrating root traditions may deepen one’s practice.  She has also completed training in end-of-life compassionate care with Frank Ostaseski and Norman Zoketsu Fischer.  The development of Keien’s practice continues through koan study at the Rochester Zen Center. Before retiring, Keien was an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychology at Penn State University and, subsequently, was in private practice with an emphasis on the roles of acceptance and spirituality in the process of transformation.  Keien may be reached at marybouts@gmail.com.

 Our Lineage Teacher

Reverend Dai-En Bennage Roshi is a Soto Zen priest and abbess emerita of Mt. Equity Zendo, Jihoji formerly located in central Pennsylvania. Having grown up in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania which is home to Bucknell University, Rev. Bennage frequently attributed her cultural openness to the international influences of those associated with the University.  Leaving behind a dedicated life of classical ballet, she ventured to Japan where she received a B.A. in East Asian Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo. 

In Japan, her early Buddhist teachers were Korean priest Shin Sunim, followed by the Rinzai Master, Omori Sogen Roshi. On the 88 Shikoku temple pilgrimage, she met her lineage teacher, Noda Daito Roshi and ordained in 1979. Daito Roshi sent Rev. Bennage to the Aichi Semmon Nisodo women’s monastery in Nagoya, where she trained for nine years. While at the Nisodo, she served as translator for  Abbess Shundo Aoyama Roshi in Europe and Japan and as interpreter for international ordainees within the Nisodo.  Her Shikè (“teacher of teachers”) training took place at Koshoji and Hokyoji temples. 

Rev. Bennage translated Aoyama Roshi’s book Zen Seeds and contributed to Zen Teachings in Challenging Times, a collection of 25 essays by women Zen teachers. She returned to PA in 1991 to found Mt. Equity Zendo in Pennsdale, PA while also teaching at Bucknell University and in six federal prisons. In 2008, Rev. Dai-En was recognized by the International Women’s Day “Outstanding Women in Buddhism” award for her Outstanding Contribution to Buddhism.