Founding Teacher

Eran Junryu Vardi RoshiEran Junryu Vardi Roshi began his physical-spiritual exploration as a young teenager, reading Zen literature, studying Yoga, meditation and Judo. After finishing service in the Israeli military, he traveled extensively throughout the world and lived in different countries, where he was exposed to various cultures and traditions, including classical Buddhism and Zen in Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand, where he had the opportunity to stay at a Buddhist monastery as a lay person. These spiritual and social experiences, and his innate passion for movement, led Junryu to search for an art form which integrates eastern philosophy and embodiment.

In 1989, he was introduced to the martial art of Aikido as a path of Zen-in- motion, and embarked on a lifelong journey. Junryu’s study of Aikido has always been focused on the cultivation of awareness in everyday life, and the practice of presence. In 1997, he founded Aikido of Ramapo Valley and has been teaching the art of Aikido with a strong integration of regular Zazen practice, which organically developed into the establishment of Eiryu-ji Zen Center.

Over the years Junryu’s Zen training intensified, leading to full priesthood and formal completion. He is a Dharma successor of Roshi Paul Genki Kahn, and an empowered Zen Master (Roshi). Junryu Roshi currently holds the rank of 6th degree black belt, and is a senior instructor under the United States Aikido Federation. Junryu’s teaching style is rooted in an embodied understanding of flow integration in a gapless reality.

He is married to Rev. Yvonne Myogen Vardi, and the father of three children.

Priests and Dharma Holders

Rev. Yvonne Myogen VardiReverend Yvonne Myogen Vardi began her spiritual seeking as a Catholic. She always felt a gap between the message of Jesus and the actions of the Catholic organization itself. There seemed to be a need to go back to the roots of the tradition and explore the message simply for the beauty of what it is: a message of peace and a way to go within and discover it. This need for uncomplicated, forgiving and accepting spiritual practice is what led her to explore other religions and other practices. She began training with Eran Junryu Vardi Roshi in the martial art of aikido at Aikido of Ramapo Valley, where there was consistent weekly meditation practice. As she continued this training, she began to deepen into the practice of Zazen as a journey of self-discovery and awakening. She began sitting in a formal sangha, or Zen community, and took Jukai (Vows) in 2010, committing herself to the Precepts. As Junryu Roshi intensified the practice at the dojo, she intensified her practice also. She began training as a Zen Buddhist priest, studying Zen ceremonies and traditions. In September of 2012, she ordained as a Zen Buddhist Priest in the newly-founded Eiryu-ji Temple. Reverend Myogen is also a Dharma Holder.

In addition to her deep involvement at Eiryu-ji, she has a career as a special education teacher in the public school district of Newark, New Jersey where she teaches autistic students. She deeply enjoys this work as a public service to others.

Rev. Yves Keichi CalderoneRev. Yves Keichi Calderone is an ordained Soto Zen priest and Dharma Holder. He has been studying Aikido and Zen under Roshi Junryu Vardi for the past 13 years. Keichi has been exposed to various spiritual practices from an early age. Jesuit educated, he studied philosophy and music, and explored his practice through contemplation and service. Inspired and shaped by these early experiences, he found in Zen a path to both deepen his spiritual practice and to broaden his work for the betterment of others.

In addition to his zen studies, Keichi is a Perfumer (a professional "nose"), and leads an innovation group for L Brands. On his spare time, he maintains his aikido practice where he currently holds the rank of 2nd degree black belt. Keichi currently lives in New York City where he continues his zen studies, and offers guidance to others who are interested in zen meditation.

Rev. Akesha Taishin BaronRev. Akesha Taishin Baron - From an early age, Rev. Akesha Taishin Baron has sought a greater connectivity to a more essential, authentic way of being. Sensing a spiritual lack in modern culture, she was drawn to anthropology and nonwestern cultures. She discovered linguistics in college and delved into ritual language and prayer. She went on to do fieldwork with indigenous people in Mexico and South Africa, ultimately earning a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology.

Taishin met Junryu Roshi through her Aikido training, and felt an immediate affinity with Zen. She entered formal Zen study and found that the practice offered an extraordinary way to deepen her connection with herself and with others. It gave her the feeling of "home" she had always been looking for. Rev. Taishin was ordained as a novice priest in April 2017, and is now in a period of discernment while engaged in an ongoing Zen training. In addition to her spiritual and embodiment practices, Taishin is a published author and poet and is currently studying to be a Jungian analyst at the C. G. Jung Institute of New York. She has a strong interest in how community can fill the connection gap in our western world, and is passionate about helping others discover their own authentic Self and sense of belonging.

Rev. Ricardo Mitsugen PetroniRev. Ricardo Mitsugen Petroni moved from Argentina to the United States in 2007 with his wife Maria José and 3 kids. In 2009 he started aikido at Aikido of Ramapo Valley where he was introduced to zazen practice. Up to this point, his search for meaning involved mostly philosophy and some catholic background. But zazen practice and discussions with Genki Roshi, Genmitsu Roshi, and Junryu Roshi opened up his interest in Zen practice, which he found as a more direct approach to spirituality. He took the Zen vows (Jukai) in 2011 and continued to study Zen under Junryu Roshi’s guidance. Mitsugen was ordained as a novice priest in April 2017, and is now in a period of discernment while engaged in an ongoing Zen training.