Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, (pronoun she/her and willing to continue the process of what this means), is an author, poet, ordained Zen Buddhist priest, teacher, artist, and drum medicine woman. The essence of all her transmissions come together in her talks and books.
Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel, was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of Lawrence Manuel Sr. and Alvesta Pierre Manuel. who both migrated from rural Louisiana. Zenju was raised in Los Angeles, with a younger and older sister, referred to by the name her mother gave her, Earthlyn. Marselean was her paternal grandmother’s name.
Zenju was raised in the Church of Christ where she was an avid reader of the Bible and adored the true teachings on Christ’s path well into adulthood. She also participated in ceremony with Ifá diviners from Dahomey, Africa and studied Yoruba. She holds a Ph.D. and formally worked for decades as a social science researcher, development director for non-profit organizations and those serving women and girls, cultural arts, and mental health.
She is the dharma heir of Buddha and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman (in photo) in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage through the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). She was Shuso (head Student) with Kiku Christina Lehnherr and her Dharma Transmission was completed by Shosan Victoria Austin. Zenju’s practice is influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions. She has studied the works of Franz Fanon, Ramana Maharashi, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Zen Master Bankei, Thomas Merton, Thoreau, Sojourner Truth, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Huang Po, James Baldwin, and currently studying ancient Zen and Chinese poets (Basho, Ryokan, Dogen, Huixu, Chyo-ni, Issa, and others) with Andö McDonnell.
Finally, she is a lover of music, indie film, and dance.
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(All photos of Zenju Earthlyn Manuel by Vaschelle André)