Great Tides Zen Fall Program Offerings (and Beyond)


We've been enjoying the summer here in Portland, ME. One of the big highlights has been the times we've spent meeting and getting to know members of the local dharma community. The Maine Buddhist community is rich and wonderfully diverse.And we're eager to get the Great Tides Zen fall practice program underway - daily zazen, introductory sessions, practice period, zazenkai, and sesshin.Our first event will be Wake the Heck Up! Morning Zazen at Still Water Yoga from 5:30am - 7:00am on … [Read more...]

Green Tea, Udon Noodles and Zen Study

zen study

In my last post I addressed the issue of why we've chosen to place "Guidelines for Studying the Way" at the front of our study work here in Portland, ME, and on the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training.In this post, I'll take up the issue of why we emphasize study at all. After all, didn't Bodhidharma say that Zen isA special transmission outside the scriptures No dependence upon words and letters; Direct pointing to the human heart Seeing one's nature and attaining … [Read more...]

Guidelines for Studying the Way – Why?


 "...The code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules." - Barbossa comment on the "Pirates Code" in Pirates of the Caribbean This fall Great Tides Zen will offer the first practice period here in Portland, ME, and for our study focus we'll dig into Dogen's "Guidelines for Studying the Way" (Gakudo Yojinshu). This follows the curriculum I've been developing for the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training, where the "Guidelines" is the first course I walk through with s … [Read more...]

We Are Alone, Snow All Over: Commentary on Dogen’s “Plum Blossoms” (Part 6)

Photo by Mark Ostrander

What follows is the last installment of the "Plum Blossom" series based on talks that Dainin Katagiri Roshi gave during Rohatsu sesshin in 1988. This was Roshi's last Rohatsu Sesshin and one of the last talks he gave before he began his engagement with cancer that ended with his death on March 1, 1990.The recordings for these talks were transcribed by David Casacuberta (deep thanks!) and edited by me. You can find the other installments in the series here:1. A Gentle, Caring Way of Life: … [Read more...]

What is Earnest Vivid Sitting, How it’s Often Missed in American Zen, and Why it Matters


  Big life event - retired in early June from a thirty-some year education career (except for a few stints of full time Zen, I'd been at it since I was 22) and headed here to Portland, ME, to start a Zen training center, Great Tides Zen (oh, and please sign up for our newsletter updates in the bottom right sidebar). Our apartment wasn't going to be available until July 1, so we drove from Minnesota to Maine at a leisurely pace. I took the opportunity to listen to a half dozen or so dharma … [Read more...]

Settling Into Portland, Maine


Yeah, I really love that dog - face licks, though, I try to avoid.We're all settling into Portland, ME. Enjoying the new town and all the lush foliage, wild roses, and many blooming things. Oh, and biking along the Back Cove and Casco Bay - just wonderful.Despite what Midwesterners think about the East, people here have been warm and welcoming. It's common for people that we meet on the path to smile and say, "Hi." The local dharma community too has been welcoming and encouraging, … [Read more...]

New Morning in Portland, Maine, the Great Perfection, Etc.


After a wiggly and leisurely trip from Moorhead, MN (where those people do talk a lot like the FX show, Fargo, ah-ha, you betcha) through Duluth, MN, the UP (that's Upper Peninsula of Michigan), Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire and finally our new home state, Maine, don't you know. There are certainly many incredibly beautiful places on this rock. Phew! Mt. Desert Island, in our new home state (like I said), Maine, is especially lovely, take for example the view from Cadillac Mountain (see … [Read more...]

Great Tides Zen Fundraiser Wrap Up


So far we've raised $8343 for the Great Tides Zen launch.We declare this fundraiser a complete, wonderful, 100% success! Pretty darn good, even, for a new little start up.Our goal, you may remember, was to raise $10,000 and we raised 83.43% of that. So what's this about a 100% success?For this we rely on Dogen, of course, who declared in his piece on Kannon, "When what should be presented is presented, someone expressing eighty or ninety percent should be regarded as someone who has e … [Read more...]

Five Fat Ranks for What Ails Us


Ross Bolleter, a Zen teacher in the Aitken-Tarrant line who teaches mainly in Australia, has a fine new book on Dongshan's Five Ranks.This book will be the constant companion of students who take up the Five Ranks (or Five Modes if you prefer the less hierarchical language) deep in koan introspection or really anyone interested in the system.Most importantly, Bolleter speaks from inside the ranks - not from the scholarly chair of idle speculation.Now some apologists for contemporary … [Read more...]