Charles Birx received a BS degree from Cornell University. He completed MS and EdD degrees in curriculum and instruction with a specialty in remedial reading at Northern Arizona University. For many years he worked as a reading specialist in the public schools. For 13 years he was an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
Ellen Birx received a BS degree in education from Northern Arizona University and a BS in nursing from Texas Woman's University. She completed a master's degree in psychiatric/mental health nursing from the University of Rochester and a PhD in psychiatric/mental health nursing from the University of Texas at Austin. For the past 28 years she has been a Professor in the School of Nursing at Radford University in Radford, Virginia. In addition to her book, Healing Zen: Buddhist Wisdom on Compassion, Caring, and Caregiving - for Yourself and Others (Penguin Compass, 2003), she has published articles in professional journals and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Holistic Nursing.
Charles and Ellen began practicing Zen meditation in 1974 and in 1998 they received dharma transmission from Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy in the White Plum lineage. They are members of the American Zen Teachers Association and the White Plum Asanga. They are co-founders of New River Zen Community in Radford, Virginia. They frequently speak at Zen retreats, conferences, and at community organizations locally and across the country.