November 9, 2023
Remembering Shotai Marta de la Rosa

Shotai Marta de la Rosa

Shotai Marta de la Rosa 1952 – 2023

Shotai Marta de la Rosa—Shoren Shotai / Ancestral Lotus, True Peace—passed away on September 22, 2023.

Tribute by Shosan Victoria Austin

Rev. Shotai Marta de la Rosa came to Green Gulch with a Zen friend from Europe in the early 1990s. They had been practicing together, first with Dokusho Villalba in Spain, then with Taiten Guareschi in Italy. When the friend needed to go, Shotai decided to stay and practice residentially at all of San Francisco Zen Center’s three temples, receive priest ordination from Zenkei Blanche Hartman, and then dive deeply into the teachings. She received Dharma transmission from Shohaku Okumura at Sanshinji. She continued her studies at the Aichi Senmon Nisodo in Nagoya, Japan with Aoyama Roshi and at Metta Forest Monastery in Valley Center, California with Thanissaro Bhikku. It was there that she passed away on September 22, 2023, after a heart attack.

Shotai was a wonderful practice companion—strict, sincere, compassionate, with a dry sense of humor and a precise intuition for appropriate response in the Dharma. She was a great teacher who co-founded the Soto Zen community in Bogota, Colombia. She was a scholar whose studies of her “most favorite person,” the Buddha, and her “second most favorite person,” Eihei Dogen Zenji, were characterized by accuracy, poetry, and humility.

Shotai’s life was too short. We miss her deeply and continue to be inspired by the example of her life.

Tribute by Tenku Ruff

My dear friend, amiga, mi brillante tomoachi, Shotai de la Rosa Roshi passed from this life last week. She had been living in a tiny hut and practicing at Metta Forest Monastery in Southern California for the past seven years. Born in Colombia, Shotai practiced as a Soto Zen Buddhist monastic in Spain, Italy, California, Indiana, Florida, Japan, and her native Colombia. She was a fierce protector of the Dharma, a refreshing spark of joy and mirth in a sea of austere black, uncompromising in her values, loyal in her friendships, and always oriented toward learning and growth. Shotai truly embodied “practicing as if her head were on fire,” living very simply and aligning every aspect of her life with the Dharma. She loved good coffee, her family, laughing, Dogen, and, of course, her beloved teacher, Shohaku Okumura Roshi. I cannot possibly express the depth of my sorrow.


  1. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

    Shotai, along side Ryumon, were my first teachers at SFZC. They were strict and joyful. I am so sad to hear of Shotai’s passing and was remembering her while I led a sesshin at Green Gulch. Two Zen practitioners from Colombia were present and every time I saw them I saw Shotai.

  2. Soren Leaver

    Marta was “all-in” in terms of the Dharma. What you saw was what you got with her. I feel grateful to have experienced her affection, and at times her wrath.

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