Born in Wales, Dr Mari Rhydwen formally began her zen training in Japan under Yamada Roshi. There she met Robert Aitken Roshi, founder of the Diamond Sangha. After moving to Sydney, Australia the following year, she discovered that Aitken Roshi had agreed to visit Australia regularly to teach and she became his student. Joko Beck was another significant influence during these early stages of practice.
Later she moved to Perth, Western Australia and continued her training under Ross Bolleter Roshi. After being invited by him to teach in 2005 she maintained regular sitting nights wherever she lived, and co-taught sesshin (meditation retreats) in New Zealand with Arthur Wells and in Western Australia with Ross Bolleter Roshi. She received transmission in 2014.
Mari’s focus has been on combining zen practice with work, community involvement and family life. During early sesshin with Aitken Roshi in Sydney, Mari and her former husband were among the pioneers in attending the retreats with children in tow. More recently she ran Lifework, an extended workshop where participants investigated taking their practice into their workplaces. Later working as a volunteer in Indonesia, and now, through her writing and teaching, Mari continues exploring Hakuin’s dictum:
Practice in the midst of activity is much better than practice done in the midst of tranquillity.
Mari has also pursued a career in academia and research.Her doctoral research in Aboriginal languages is based on fieldwork she did in several remote communities in the Northern Territory. Subsequently she worked at Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia and the University of Sydney. Later she focused on language maintenance and revival, working in Aboriginal language centres and as the Aboriginal languages consultant for the NSW Department of Education.
She also spent three years sailing around the Indian Ocean on a small yacht, a voyage documented in her book Slow Travel. She has two daughters and two grandchildren.