A Question about Working with Trauma

Question: Can zazen be useful in dealing with trauma? I am studying zazen and MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and I am a psychotherapist. I know zazen should have no-gaining in it…at the same time…is there some indirect effect on the mental-emotional side of the person?Response: Thank you for your question. In my view, "zazen" (by which I mean shikantaza - themeless, earnest, vivid sitting) is the form and activity of dropping body and mind manifesting the intention to practice enl … [Read more...]

Burma Devastation

See http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/11/asia/11scene.php for a horrifying report of the suffering caused by last weeks cyclone. … [Read more...]

Zen That Works

Dogen, in his "Dream Within a Dream" (Muchu Setsumu") fascicle offers this image for working dynamically in the world. This translation is from Hee-Jin Kim's Dogen on Meditation and Thinking. We've been working through this text for the past couple years, I think, in the Thursday night study group. When I asked Tetsugan how long we'd been studying it, she said, "Forever." I take it she meant "Timelessly."I'll say more about the image of the steelyard in posts to come but for now, let me leave … [Read more...]

Keep Me In Your Heart for Awhile: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri

Here's the catalog description (draft, I believe) for my book that explains the title.After my death I will come back and haunt over you, checking your practice.” Katagiri Roshi, one of the great pioneers of Zen in America, said this frequently, often teasing Dosho Port and his fellow students at the Minnesota Zen Center. For Dosho, Katagiri Roshi’s “haunting” still includes, to borrow a phrase from Warren Zevon, “keeping him in my heart for a while”—continuing to intimately explore the indelibl … [Read more...]

Mother’s Day

The photo here is Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother's Day. After campaigning for a national holiday, she soured on it and spend her inheritance campaigning against the commercialization of it. Her criticism is quoted on Wikipedia: "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment!"I did send my mother a printed card this year … [Read more...]

Nonin: Another Round

My dear friend and close dharma brother, Nonin, just got the news that he has lung cancer. It's a non-small cell adenocarcinoma, a more treatable form than other kinds. A few weeks ago some spots were found on x-rays when the experienced patient (he had colon surgery last year, almost died, and was in the hospital for a couple months) was having his gall bladder removed. Nonin is symptom free, feeling good, and determined to recover from this. Nonin's illness has evoked reflections on death … [Read more...]