The Wave-Particle Duality and Practice-Enlightenment

At the beginning of the last century, the great theoretical physicists noticed that neither the wave nor the particle theory for light fully explained the phenomena. Einstein wrote, “We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.”This is much like the practice-enlightenment duality that is much discussed in Zen circles. Some suggest that there is no enl … [Read more...]

Review of Brad Warner’s Latest, “Don’t Be A Jerk”

        Brad Warner has done a lot of good for Zen in the West. Most practitioners I talk with who are under 40-years-old found their way to Zen through Warner's books, especially Hardcore Zen.Warner has cultivated an image of being an irreverent iconoclastic, while ironically embracing orthodox Soto Zen, for example, by exhibiting reverence for Dōgen's teaching, advocating no-goal zazen, and finding kensho and koan in … [Read more...]

Just Sit or Wake Up? A Tale of Two Old Teachers

The tension over what to emphasize in dharma practice, just sitting or waking up (aka, meditation or wisdom), goes way back, probably to the time of the historical Buddha. And because we are in an emergency situation – born and soon to die – discovering the most skillful approach for resolving the great matter of birth and death - and throwing ourselves into it - is an urgent matter.If we make the wrong choice, well, lost time won’t be found again.In China, an atypical tension between tho … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: Yielding Assertively, Touching the Heart

Note: This is the fifth of five post based on talks from Rohatsu 2014. Students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen – thank you!) transcribed them and I edited. The final one will be posted here soon. Click here for the first part:  “The Root of Zen.” Here for the second: “Sitting Through it All.”  Here for the third: “Not Clear About the Self.” And here for the fourth: "Buddha's Enlightenment: A Single Body is Revealed."---------First, a word about “sesshin,” the word we use for intensive … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: A Single Body is Revealed

Note: This is the fourth of five post based on talks from Rohatsu 2014. Students (Brian, Ryan, Erik, and Vera-Ellen – thank you!) transcribed them and I edited. The final one will be posted here soon. Click here for the first part:  “The Root of Zen.” Here for the second: “Sitting Through it All.” And here for the third: "Not Clear About the Self."---------For Zen practice, it is vital to become a zazen person and establish your seat firmly, just as the Buddha did. As Keizan says, “…sitti … [Read more...]

Buddha’s Enlightenment: Not Clear About the Self

Note: This is the third 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.” And here for the second: "Sitting Through it All.""If you want to understand, if you want an intimate understanding of enlightenment, you should get rid of 'you' and 'Buddha' and quickly understand this matter of 'I'. 'I' i … [Read more...]

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...]


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