The Upaya Sangha of Tucson began informally in 2009 when a small handful of Tucson residents who had attended retreats or training programs at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM decided to gather periodically at each others’ homes to practice meditation and listen to recorded dharma talks. In 2010, the sangha grew to around a dozen people who regularly attended Saturday morning meetings in the guesthouse of one member of our group.


Roshi Joan Halifax and Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak

Roshi Joan Halifax and Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak

Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak received dharma transmission (Denbo – authority to teach) in May 2010, and Lay Entrustment (Denkai -authority to convey the precepts and other liturgical functions) in December, 2018, from Roshi Joan Jiko Halifax, Ph.D., founding abbot and head teacher of Upaya Zen Center and Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Roshi Joan’s Zen Buddhist lineage traces back, in the United States, to Roshi Bernie Gassman (deceased), whose teacher was Taizan Maezumi Roshi (deceased), who established one of the earliest Zen Buddhist Centers in the United States (Zen Center of Los Angeles), and from there extending back into the Soto Zen Buddhism lineage of Eihei Dogen that began in 13th century Japan, and the origins of Buddhism in India with Shakyamuni Buddha, approximately 450 B.C.E.

Following his receipt of dharma transmission, Sensei Al began serving as Upaya Sangha of Tucson’s guiding teacher and spiritual director, guiding practice and providing dharma talks. As sangha members grew in number, we moved first into the space of a local yoga and dance studio (Movement Shala), and eventually, with even more people attending our Saturday meetings, to our present location in the space we rent from Tucson Community Meditation Center (TCMC).

In 2014, Upaya Sangha of Tucson became registered in the State of Arizona as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and received Federal IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.