Annabelle Dagmar Zinser
I was born March 27, 1948 in southern Germany and lived with my mother, sister and brother in the countryside. My father died in a car accident when I was one and a half years old.
I studied history and politics in Munich and Berlin in order to be a teacher, but after I passed my exams I worked mainly as a social worker for families with difficult social backgrounds.
In 1980, I became certified in classical massage and yoga and worked as a yoga and massage teacher in several institutions and private groups. During my studies and afterwards I was involved in the students’ and women’s movements of the seventies and eighties in Germany .
I began yoga in 1979 and meditation in 1982. First, I began in the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition and then after attending a retreat in 1988 with Goenka in India I started vipassana meditation. Also in 1988, I met Ruth Denison, a German-American vipassana teacher who became my root-teacher for a long time. In 1990, I traveled to the USA and I stayed with my teacher Ruth Denison for 6 months in her center, Dhamma Dena in the Mojave Desert in California . In the following years I traveled annually to the USA to be with my teacher for one or two months. Sometimes we even traveled together, and soon I was assisting her. She allowed me to start a meditation group in Berlin in my house where I was living with other Dharma Sisters.
In 1992 I met Vietnamese Zen Master Bhikkhu Thich Nhat Hanh whose books I had already studied. Since 2000 I have gone regularly to his monastery, Plum Village in France .
In 2002 I started to build a center called “Quelle des Mitgefuhls” or “Source of Compassion” for his nuns and monks in Berlin . I intended for the center to become an urban monastic center, but finally Thich Nhat Hanh decided that the Center was to be a laypersons’ center. Thus, Thich Nhat Hanh gave me the Dharma-Lamp Transmission in 2004 in his tradition and asked me to be the head of the Center.
Since 1994 I have been meeting regularly with two other German Dharma teachers Sylvia Wetzel and Marie Mannschatz for exchanges. We have formed a group called Buddhist Perspective or in German, “Buddhistische Perspektiven.” Eventually, this group became the Buddhist Academy “Buddhistische Akademie” of Berlin . Now, we have a group of Dharma teachers and friends from different Buddhist traditions who meet regularly, and offer talks and public discussions. I have happily been part of Buddhist Academy Committee since its beginning.