Stan Koehler: Executive Director
|When one reaches a certain age it is fairly easy to fill up a page or so of this and that when called upon to provide this type of background. But before going there, Iíd like to take a moment to say why I founded Peace on the Street. To begin with I love cities, and having grown up on a farm, I have no illusions about what it means to return to the land. It means unmitigated work. And although I grew up on the west coast, I really love New York.|
A lot of people talk about the city being the source of sin, corruption, etc., etc. But when it comes right down to it the Christian scriptures say that Jesus will return and create a city, the New Jerusalem; a city not a suburb or farmlands. To that end I own property and live here in Spanish Harlem, a ten minute walk from our school.
I did a bunch of stuff before starting to meditate. I got an advanced degree
from the California State University at San Francisco as well as a lifetime
Community College Teaching Certificate. I got married a couple of time, had a
couple of kids, and did a lot of work managing mental health programs. I founded
and operated a private school for autistic children, St Bernadetteís. I was
certified as a Community Dispute Mediator, by the San Francisco Community Board
Program as well as an, Emotional Support Counselor for the Terminally Ill by the
Around 25 years ago I began to study meditation and around 16 years ago I began teaching. During that time I studied for the most part with the controversial teacher Dr. Frederick Lenz (Rama). I was both certified to teach and ordained as a monk by him. While many would go off to the mountaintops or the desert to meditate, the city is where it is really needed. We can list all sorts of benefits that meditation will bring you but the bottom line is that it will reduce the amount of pain in your life. This is needed in the city and it is particularly needed in the less affluent neighborhoods. So I taught one class on 182nd St in a classroom that was provided by the Alianza Dominicana. I also taught classes on campus at CUNY. And again, itís easier to practice in far away quiet places but thatís not available for most of us. So I developed techniques and exercises that worked in the city. I also decided to push the envelope and developed a meditation program for the inmates at Rikerís island. I spent five years there from 1998 - 2003, with the support of a very talented co-teacher, teaching there.
Iíve also been involved in supporting families that have family members that join religious groups of which the family disapproves. During the late 90ís I co-authored a book, The Cult Around the Corner, to help families concerning this issue.
Iíve studied martial arts from time to time although I never took it to the level our marital arts director did. But then I didnít take my first martial arts class until I was 43. I studied Capoeira and was initiated by Camisa and Preguisa into Omulu Senzala School of Capoeira in 1987; I studied Karate and was awarded the Sixth Kyu at the World Seido Karate Organization Honbu in 1991. I currently take the karate classes taught by Sensei Garcia and hold a green belt. I suppose at 65, at least for the moment, I hold the position as his oldest student.
In the spring of 2000 Sensei Garcia and I did the Mankind Project Warrior Weekend. Some years passed during which I introduced a number of men to the weekend. In October of 2005 I began staffing the Warrior weekend and took a more active role in bringing the New Warrior Weekend Uptown. Since that time a number of men from Spanish Harlem have attended the weekend, some of whom have staffed a number of times and have moved into leadership roles.
During the last few years I have been actively involved in the Hollow Bones
Order. I was ordained as a Zen Priest with the Dharma name Hui Neng in 2004 by
Zen Master Junpo Dennis Kelly, 83rd Patriarch in the Rinzai Zen linage.
As a Zen priest my mission is to distill the Buddhist canon to its fundamental essence so that it can be made available as an authentic American teaching. The goal is to allow Americans, particularly inner city Americans, access to the technologies developed through the centuries by Buddhist practitioners without requiring the American students to access these teachings through the trappings of Asian cultural forms.
Hui Neng, the Sixth Zen Patriarch, is credited with completing the transformation of Zen from a foreign psychology into a genuine Chinese expression of the basic teachings of the Tathagata. I look to Hui Neng as a model in my goal of creating an approach to Buddhism that resonates with inner city Americans.
Professionally, I own and operate Matrix International Consulting. Itís a small company where we provide software developers for various companies. I also managed software development projects for different companies and governmental agencies including New York Cityís Administration for Childrenís Services. In the past Iíve provided consulting services for the United Nations as well for the NY Consul Generalís Office of the Dominican Republic. I maintain membership in the Project Management Institute and have received the Project Management Professional Certification from the Institute. For two years I was on the faculty of Columbia University teaching the Project Management Course for their professional certification program.