Princeton Area Zen Group

After Wang Wei's Rivers and Mountains by Wang Shihmin


Bill Boyle has been a member of the Princeton Area Zen Group since its inception. In 2005, he completed his koan study with the founding teachers Manfred Steger and Perle Besserman, and now offers dharma talks and interviews (dokusan). Bill has an M.A. in Education from Indiana University and operates a hotel management firm in northern New Jersey.

David Boyle completed his koan study with Bill Boyle, and now offers dharma talks and interviews (dokusan). David has an M.A. in Education from Rutgers University and teaches in the Elizabeth Public Schools district.

Founding Teachers

Manfred Steger holds a PhD in political science from Rutgers University. In 1981 he started his Zen training in his native Austria with Genro Koudela Roshi at the Bodhidharma Zendo in Vienna, an affiliate of Joshu Sasaki Roshi's Rinzai-ji Order in California. In 1986, he became a student of Robert Aitken Roshi at the Diamond Sangha in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he completed his koan practice. Since 1988, he has taught Zen in Honolulu, Austria, and Princeton. In 1991, he voluntarily resigned as Junior Teacher of the Diamond Sangha and, with his wife Perle, founded the Princeton Area Zen Group as its first teacher. He is currently Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Professor of Global Studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Australia. He is also the research leader of the Globalization and Culture Program in RMIT University’s Global Cities Research Institute.

Perle Besserman holds a PhD in comparative literature from Columbia university. She began her Zen practice in 1981 with Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi of Ryutakuji Monastery in Mishima, Japan. She was a founding member of the Soho Zendo in New York and, in 1984, joined the Diamond Sangha as Robert Aitken Roshi's student in Honolulu, Hawaii. After working with Pat Hawk, a successor of Robert Aitken, she completed her koan study with Manfred Steger. In 1992, she began teaching at the Princeton Area Zen Group Group. She is currently Professor Emerita of English at Illinois State University. Recent published works include two novels, Kabuki Boy and Widow Zion, and the nonfiction work Zen Radicals, Rebels, and Reformers.

Both Manfred and Perle continue to be involved with the Princeton Area Zen Group. They were leading meditation retreats in the Princeton area immediately prior to the COVID pandemic, and they have both been active in guiding the group through its recent phase as a virtual sangha.