Reb Anderson was born as Harold Anderson in Mississippi in 1943 and grew up in Minnesota. His father left the family when Anderson was eleven. In his youth, he was a Golden Gloves boxer. Anderson developed an interest in Buddhism while still in his teens. In 1967, he abandoned his graduate studies in psychology and mathematics to study Soto Zen under Shunryu Suzuki at the San Francisco Zen Center.
Reb Anderson, Tenshin Roshi is a lineage-holder in the Soto Zen tradition. Born in Mississipi, he grew up in Minnesota and left advanced study in mathematics and Western psychology to come to Zen Center in 1967. He practiced with Suzuki Roshi, who ordained him as a priest in 1970 and gave him the name Tenshin Zenki ("Naturally Real, The Whole Works").
He received dharma transmission in 1983 and served as abbot of San Francisco Zen Center's three training centers (City Center, Green Gulch Farm and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center) from 1986 to 1995. Tenshin Roshi continues to teach at Zen Center, living with his family at Green Gulch Farm. He is author of " Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains: Dharma Talks on Zen Meditation " and " Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts ".
Reb Anderson is one of the first people to have worked hard to bring Dogen studies West. He has also stretched much of Zen's traditional approach to psychology by drawing upon other ancient Buddhist sources, including Abhidharma and Yogachara teaching, while at the same time being solidly informed regarding Western approaches to the discipline." To some students, ". Reb's practice invites comparison to the legendary Japanese samurai, the warriors who trained in medieval Zen monasteries.