The Silent Thunder Order (STO) derives its name from “Moku-rai,” a Japanese term often used by our founding teacher, Rev. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi. It means “silence is thunder.” This is a very important expression of Zen philosophy, representing the resolution of conceptual opposites into an integrated whole.




The STO’s Founder is Zenkai Taiun Elliston-roshi, a fully transmitted Soto Zen Priest. Elliston-roshi was ordained by Matsuoka-roshi as well as by Shohaku Okumura-roshi. As such, he is the sole living representative of the Matsuoka lineage, and holds dharma transmission from the Uchiyama lineage, with Seirin Barbara Kohn as his Preceptor from the Suzuki line. STO is thus the beneficiary of the heritage of all three lineages.

Elliston-roshi, dharma heir and successor of Matsuoka-roshi and Okumura-roshi, currently leads over sixty senior students in the US, Canada, Africa, and Europe. His initial ordination took place over 30 years ago, at the Chicago Zen Buddhist Temple, which just passed its 60th anniversary in continuous operation. Roshi has also reached out to first-generation students of Matsuoka-roshi, offering a practice path to formal recognition. As Abbot, Elliston-roshi heads the Order and is its guiding teacher in the Soto Zen tradition.

[Note: “Roshi” is a title designating a senior transmitted Priest.]