Osho Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel, poet, author, ordained Zen priest, and medicine woman of the drum, was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the middle daughter of Lawrence Manuel Jr. and Alvesta Pierre Manuel, who both migrated from rural Louisiana. Zenju Osho was raised in Los Angeles, with her older and younger sisters. As a child, she was referred to by the name her mother gave her, Earthlyn, her middle name Marselean (Marceline) was her grandmother’s name. Zenju is a dharma name. Osho is a title meaning Zen teacher.

She is the dharma heir of Buddha and the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman in the Shunryu Suzuki Roshi lineage through the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). She was Shuso (head Student) with Kiku Christina Lehnherr Roshi and her Dharma Transmission was completed by Osho Shosan Victoria Austin. Prior to enter Zen Buddhism, Zenju practiced in the Nichiren/Soka Gakkai tradition for 15 years. She entered Zen in 2001 and began again as a beginner on the path.

Zenju’s practice is influenced by Native American and African indigenous traditions. She participated in ceremony with Ifá diviners from Dahomey, Africa and briefly studied Yoruba. She was raised in the Church of Christ where she was an avid reader of the Bible and adored the true mystic teachings on Christ’s path well into adulthood. 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.

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(photo above by Anna Cummings and most photos on website of Zenju Earthlyn Manuel by Vaschelle André)