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Empty Cloud Zen Lineage

A Well-Worn Path

Zen is a practice that is not tied to any religion or denomination.  The practice traces its roots back to Buddhism and developed from Buddhism in China when Buddhists monks emigrated from India in the 5th and 6th century and came into contact with Taoism.  In particular a monk named Bodhidharma was looking to get away from the dogma that  had pervaded Buddhism and wanted to return to the practice itself.  In China the new practice was called Chan and when it was introduced in Japan in the 13th century it was called Zen.  There are many Zen paths within Zen and an extensive network of Buddhist paths as well as other mystical practices.

Buddha Statues Carved into Mountainside


Willigis Jäger


Willigis was a Benedictine Priest who was interested in bringing together Eastern and Western wisdom traditions to assist those in search of meaning for their own lives.  He became a Zen student of Yamada Ko-Un Roshi.  In 1980 he was given permission to teach Zen and in 1996 received transmission as a Zen Master (Roshi).  It was during the 80s and 90s that Gregory Mayers Roshi and Marsha Linehan Roshi studied Zen with Willigis. 

His lineage started within the Sanbo-Kyodan line of Zen which integrates both Soto and Rinzai traditions and sought to make the practice available to lay practitioners.  Willigis was also confirmed as a Chan master in the Lin-chi (Rinzai) tradition.  

In 2009 Willigis along with Masters Doris Zollis and Alexander Poraj developed the Zen Lineage Empty Cloud: a zen lineage that seeks to harmonize the practice of Zen within the Western Culture. It is a practice built on Wisdom and Compassion.

Zen Practice

at Empty Cloud

Zen is a spiritual path allowing a realization of who you are without comment, bias, or judgment.

Of particular importance is:

  • Gender Equality.

  • The status of Teachers, Masters, and Practitioners as lay people.  

  • The consistent inclusion of everyday life as a training ground.

  • Constructive cooperation with modern science.


This means that Zen can be practiced by everyone at Empty Cloud Sangha without anyone feeling compelled to join or leave a religion or change their status.

The practice includes daily Zazen (sitting meditation), attending retreats, sitting with others and if desired training and guidance by authorized teachers. 

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