Michel Oltheten (1954) started to practice zen meditation in 1993 in The Hague with Cees van de Bunt. That same year he met Catherine Genno Pagès Roshi and asked to become her student. In 1995 he and his partner Helen Pelder together received lay ordination (Jukai) from Genno Roshi. From 1994 onwards, when Roshi opened the Dana Zen Center in Paris, he began to travel between The Hague where he lived with Helen and their three children, and the Paris Zen Center. The frequency of these stays in Paris increased steadily and he would spend several weeks and later months a year there. In the Netherlands he worked as the CEO of an industrial organisation and later as therapist and counsellor. With Roshi's permission he and Helen started an affiliated zen meditation group in The Hague in 2001. This group gradually developed into the Zen Heart Sangha, with Michel as spiritual leader, and became an independent organisation in 2010. In 2011 Michel stopped working as a therapist and became a full time dharma-teacher-in-training under the tutelage of Genno Roshi. In 2014 he received dharma-transmission (shiho) from Roshi and became a fully authorised teacher in the White Plum lineage (see the page about our lineage). While working as the resident teacher of the Zen Heart Sangha, he continues working as assisting teacher in the Dana Sangha in Paris. He teaches the practice of just wholeheartedly sitting (shikantaza) and the practice of Koan study.
"Practice is not about getting rid of passions, desires and fears but about working with them and through them. It's about seeing them clearly, seeing "me" clearly. It is about seeing through the thoughts and feelings, the certainties and ideas about what and who I am, so that the vast background becomes visible, within which the self and all things appear. This is really who I am, and it includes and includes, without knowing. As my fixed perspective is let go of, the utter unfixedness of me and all things becomes visible and the truth emerges.
Eventually, meditation is about bringing this truth, this home coming, into our very own personal life, so that it might work in other lives. "I am ME", having been reduced and expanded to "I Am", evolves into "I am You" and "Me and You". Now we can really relate".
Michel Plein Ciel Oltheten