Growing up in the Episcopal Church, Sensei Mark Shōgen Bloodgood aspired to become an Episcopal priest during his pre-college years. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a “subtle feeling” nudged Shōgen to read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Shunryū Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Philip Kapleau’s The Three Pillars of Zen, Huston Smith’s The Religions of Man and many of the writings of Alan Watts and D.T. Suzuki. Thus began a love of Eastern religion and philosophy that continues to this day. During this period Shōgen spent time in the Religious Studies Department at Cal State Northridge, California, where he furthered his studies of religion, existentialism, and Buddhism.
Shōgen remained a “closet-intellectual-Buddhist” for decades. On his 50th birthday, during a camping trip in Big Sur, he read an article in Tricycle magazine celebrating the anniversary of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. Shōgen realized he needed to deepen his meditation practice and look for a teacher. In October of 1999 he found his way to the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA)and became a student of Roshi Egyoku Nakao. He received Jukai in 2005, Tokudo in 2012, Denkai in 2016, was empowered as a Dharma Holder in April of 2019 and received Dharma Transmission on December 14, 2019.
Sensei Shōgen has led the SLO Zen Circle (SLOZC) for over 18 years and is currently one of the teachers at the Zen Center of Los Angeles. He also leads a prison sangha at the California Men's Colony, where inmates meet weekly for service, meditation, and Dharma teachings. He recently retired from service as a hospice chaplain. He is a member of the White Plum Asangha, the Zen Peacemakers, the American Zen Teachers Association, and an associate member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.
Also active in the local interfaith community, Shōgen is a member of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association and the group Opening Doors of Interfaith Understanding.
Shōgen lives in Los Osos with his wife, Karla, and their Boston Terrier, Buddy, where he enjoys studying the Dharma, writing poetry, and hiking in Montana de Oro.