Buddha’s Enlightenment: Sitting Through It All

Note: This is the second part of five, based talks from last year's Rohatsu that students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen - thank you!) transcribed and I edited. The others will be posted here over the next couple weeks. Click here for the first part:  "The Root of Zen."Sitting so that the reeds grow up around us, we sit upright and tranquil, becoming a zazen person as a necessary condition – but not a sufficient one.A sufficient condition for what?In the passage cited in the pr … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: The Root of Zen

Note: This is the first part of five - talks from last year's Rohatsu that students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen - thank you!) transcribed and I edited. The others will be posted here over the next couple weeks."Shakyamuni Buddha saw the morning star, and realized enlightenment. He said, 'I together with all beings and the great earth attain the way.' At age nineteen Shakyamuni leapt over the palace walls in the dead of the night and shaved off his hair. After that he practiced … [Read more...]

After Buddhism: Embrace Life, Let Go of What Arises, See its Ceasing, Act!

When I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Stephen Batchelor's new book, After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age, he asked, "Is it as acerbic as his last book?"Ouch!Now, I've been reading Batchelor for a long time. Way back in 1983, Batchelor's Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism, was a powerful and important book for me. Living with the Devil (2005) is still a personal favorite. And perhaps because of my own acerbic proclivity, I haven't found any … [Read more...]

Shaking Up the Buddhadharma With Online Practice

Quick question: what sparked the compassion revolution in Buddhism that we now call the Great Vehicle (aka, Mahayana)?One answer: Writing.Yup. A new theory has it that the proliferation of the ability to read and write that took place a bit more than 2,000 years ago changed the Buddha Way by inviting a level of intersubjective reflection that was previously not as readily available.As Alan Cole puts it in "The Diamond Sutra as Sublime Object: Negation, Narration, and Happy Endings," " … [Read more...]

Zen: The Authentic Gate

       Zen: The Authentic Gate, by Koun Yamada Roshi (1907—1989; pictured above), is an essential text for any student of Zen interested in a clear expression from the source of the Zen reformation that unfolded in the 20th Century and continues to shape Zen practice today. Yamada Roshi is a towering figure in 20th century Zen. His great enlightenment was first presented in a cloaked manner in Three Pillars of Zen. Here's David Loy f … [Read more...]

Ducking the Quacking Koan: Soto Zen, Koan, and Kensho

The friendly-looking monk in the photo is Hashimoto Eko Roshi (1890-1965).In about 1948, the young Katagiri Roshi heard Hashimoto Roshi say, "Sit down, become Buddha."Katagiri, then a new monk at Eiheiji, previously a failure in kamikaze school (he couldn't get the training glider to fly straight toward the target) and a champion marathon runner, soon participated in his first Rohatsu sesshin. He determined to sit in full lotus no matter what, and even when he passed out and was dragged o … [Read more...]

The No of No No: Affirming the Great Heart Sutra

Here at Great Tides Zen (in conjunction with the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training), we've been working through the Heart Sutra and have devoted 17 sessions to the first 158 of 253 words (62%), including the title, in the Soto Zen Translation Project version of the Heart Sutra.I'm more and more convinced that unexcelled dharma geniuses pulled this thing together. Indeed, they did an incredible job of presenting the buddhadharma in full. Yes, in just 253 words.I first … [Read more...]

A New Home for Great Tides Zen?

    Dear Friend,Great Tides Zen is at an important crossroads. We have the opportunity to relocate to a dedicated space in the Maine Central Railroad Building at 222 St. John Street.And we are asking for your support.During our first nine months practicing in Portland, ME, we have been at Still Water Yoga. The owners, Joseph and Candace, have been supportive and gracious hosts from the beginning. Now to more fully actualize the possibilities for … [Read more...]

Doug Kaishin Phillips Ordination

This past Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending the Soto Zen priest ordination (shukke tokudo) of Doug Kaishin Phillips Sensei, at the Empty Sky Sangha in West Cornwall, Connecticut, officiated by the inimitable James Myoun Ford Roshi.Doug is in the front row, third from the left. James is next to him.I arrived about thirty-five minutes before the ceremony and after chatting and getting reacquainted for about fifteen minutes, someone suggested that we review the ceremony. I was … [Read more...]