Whalen, Philip

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Whalen, Philip

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1935-

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Philip Whalen (20 October 1923 26 June 2002) was an American poet, Zen Buddhist, and a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat Generation. Born in Portland, Oregon, Whalen served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, after which he attended Reed College on the GI Bill. There, he met Gary Snyder and Lew Welch, and graduated with a BA in 1951. He read at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955 that marked the launch of the West Coast Beats into the public eye. Whalen's first interest in Eastern religions centered on Vedanta. Tibetan Buddhism also attracted him but, ultimately, Zen became his chosen path. Whalen spent 1966 and 1967 in Kyoto, Japan where he practiced zazen daily, and wrote some forty poems and a second novel. He moved into the San Francisco Zen Center and became a student of Zentatsu Richard Baker in 1972. The following year, he became a monk. He became head monk of Dharma Sangha, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1984. In 1987, he received transmission from Baker, and in 1991, he returned to San Francisco to lead the Hartford Street Zen Center until forced by ill health to retire.

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