The Sangha’s Lineage and Heritage:
The Wet Mountain Sangha is a community practicing in the Open Source Zen tradition.. The trademarks of this koan school include an emphasis on lay practice, and an openness to ideas from surrounding cultural contexts. Zen practice doesn’t require abandoning other religious traditions but rather tends to deepen spiritual insights.
Andrew Palmer, Sensei is the resident teacher for WMS. He began practicing with Springs Mountain Sangha in 1999. In the years since he has studied with Joan Sutherland, Roshi, David Weinstein, Roshi and Sarah Bender, Sensei. He was named a meditation instructor in 2007 and was authorized to teach by Joan Sutherland in February 2011. Andrew offers regular teachings with Springs Mountain Sangha in Colorado Springs and Wet Mountain Sangha in Pueblo, consisting of dharma talks, Work In The Room (individual meetings), koan gatherings, and retreats. In October 2013 he began serving as the Buddhist Program Leader at the United States Air Force Academy. Andrew’s love of koans and affinity for the ancestors combines with an everyday, ordinary-mind-is-the-way approach to practice, where awakening is always readily at hand: “This is so because we are made of awakening. Zen practice is not about importing or becoming something different, but uncovering and remembering the awakening that is woven throughout our lives. Meditation helps us move beyond the limitations of our habits and stories about who we are and how life is, revealing and opening to a wider territory of freedom and creativity.” Andrew grew up in the Pikes Peak region and currently lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and son. His teachings are available on his website Bow & Roar.
Sarah Bender, Roshi is resident teacher for Springs Mountain Sangha, another community of The Open Source. She first practiced Zen in 1979 in Hawaii and was one of the founding members of Springs Mountain Sangha. She began studying with Joan Sutherland in 1999, became a meditation instructor in 2001, was named a sensei in 2006, and Roshi in 2017. She is also a learning disability specialist in private practice. Sarah works with some Wet Mountain Sangha students and leads periodic joint sangha retreats.
Joan Sutherland taught in Santa Fe, NM through Awakened Life, the community that gathered around her teachings there. She is also the founding teacher of The Open Source, a network of communities that includes Springs Mountain Sangha in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Wet Mountain Sangha in Pueblo, Colorado, Desert Rain Zen Group in Tucson, Arizona, and The Crimson Gate in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is one of the founders of the Pacific Zen School, an innovative contemporary koan school that also includes Pacific Zen Institute.
In 2014 she retired from working directly with students and now focuses on Cloud Dragon : The Joan Sutherland Dharma Works, established to organize and disseminate her teachings. She currently lives on the coast of northern California.