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

Old album_6 Eko Hashimoto

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

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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...]

Zenshin Tim Buckley Dies: One Heartbeat, Ten Thousand Buddhas


Zenshin Tim Buckley, a Zen priest affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center system and the teacher at Great River Zendo near West Bath, Maine, died yesterday.Zenshin was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last August and since then has been nobly undertaking his departure in an upright and inspiring manner.The last time Tetsugan and I visited Zenshin, he was lying comfortably in bed. He seemed so soft. "How are you?" I asked."Fading by degrees," he said with a … [Read more...]

Restraining the Nevertheless Deluded One: Vine of Obstacles Turns Two


"Seek out and restrain someone who is 'nevertheless deluded,' and you will eventually encounter a greatly enlightened person."So says Dogen in his "Great Enlightenment" fascicle.To seek out the one who is "nevertheless deluded," is just this person seeking just this person.The nevertheless deluded one enters a plea - "Guilty as charged."And herein lies our possibility for liberation. The buddhadharma is incredible like that. Of the many possibilities in the universe for a … [Read more...]

The Way of Tenderness: the Form and Emptiness of Race, Sexuality, and Gender


"Although my teachers taught us the absolute truths of Zen practice, they seemed to negate identity without considering the implications that identity can have for oppressed groups of people."That's Zenju Earthlyn Manuel from her new book, Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender. This is an important book.Zenju has a powerful, deeply personal, tender, and reflective way of giving voice to the dharma as black, woman, and lesbian.In this post, I want to z … [Read more...]

BTW, We Have to Remove Your Feet: Being Mortal, Waking Up, and Dying Together


I had a "minor" surgery last week and was in the hospital overnight for the first time. That's me in the photo feeling pretty comfortable with a cap, knitted by one of my kid sisters, warming my bald head.Meanwhile, I've been reading Atul Gawandi's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. I bought the book about a month ago but mostly it's sat on the bed stand while I've been curious about the mild aversion I experienced every time I happened to see it. "'Being mortal,' yeah, I'll … [Read more...]

Dogen Did Not Practice Shikantaza and Even Had a Gaining Idea

More bad news for the orthodox Soto position that Dogen was opposed to koan introspection in zazen.Modern scientific historical research supports what some of us who have experienced koan introspection and Dogen Zen have been saying for some time - Dogen offers wonderful teaching by example of how to engage the wild and rich world of koan.Why does it matter? If you care about enlightenment, it matters. If you care about truth, it matters. If you care that Dogen's words can … [Read more...]