Communal or Private: Is Zen for Everybody or Just a Few?

Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler at No Zen in the West recently raised the issue of “Private Religion, Private Engagement; Communal Religion, Communal Engagement.” Read more

Flipping Over and Decoding Chinese Characters for Zen Translations

As is well known, the Chinese written language, and especially the ancient Ch’an texts, use words differently than does the English language. Read more

The Mu Koan and How Some Zennists Just Wanna Have Fun

I’m going to roll back into the “mu koan” here. One thing I’m not going to do is try to convince any nonkoan Soto practitioners that koan training is in line with Soto Zen or that contemporary Soto Zen and Dogen’s Zen are only indirectly related. I renounce these topics! They are among my favorite topics, to be sure, but let’s look at the data. It seems that I wrote about a thousand posts about these two themes in the… Read more

The End of Zen Exceptionalism: Some Thoughts on Zen Center Transitions

Dear Reader, It’s been about six months since I last posted something here. About a year ago, Tetsugan and I moved from Portland, ME, to Omaha, NE, to lead the Nebraska Zen Center (NZC) and it’s been a very full year! You see, the NZC Board hired us to come in and do a Zen center make-over and that is just what we’ve done, not only cleaning, painting, and reorganizing the inside space, but also revamping the organization (re-doing the… Read more

The True Bridge? Studying and Teaching Zen

                A monk asked Zhaozhou, “For a long time I’ve heard about Zhaozhou’s stone bridge. Coming here, I only see a simple log bridge.” Zhou said, “You only see the simple log bridge, but don’t see the stone bridge.” The monk said, ”What is the stone bridge like?” Zhao said, “Carries donkeys, carries horses.” Zhaozhou is both a province in ancient China with a famous bridge and an important Zen teacher who not… Read more

Dharma and Relationships in Bhutan: A Brief and Very Partial Trip Review

One night earlier this month at Lhodrak Karchu Monastery in Jakar, in the Bumthang district of Bhutan (the photo on the left is of monks there practicing debate), I set out for dinner at the cafeteria where the 80 or so mostly Western conference participants received meals. The cafeteria was four blocks from my dorm, down a winding road where I knew I was likely to pass a dozen or so friendly (or, at least, neutral) stray dogs who roamed… Read more

Nebraska, Bhutan, and the Hereandnow

Greetings to those of you who follow the Wild Fox Zen Blog. Or used to – it’s been quite a while since I posted. Here’s a quick update. At the end of June, 2016, we left Portland, ME, and moved to Omaha, NE, to assume leadership of the Nebraska Zen Center. The transition was really tough, especially for the first six-weeks or so after landing. It was even questionable for a while if we’d stay. But we did. And now we’ve… Read more

Moving to Omaha to Lead the Nebraska Zen Center

Dear Reader, Today I’d like to bring you up to date on my wild fox rovings. A couple years ago, Tetsugan and I left Minnesota and moved to Portland, ME, to start a Zen group, Great Tides Zen. Portland, ME, a lovely old town on the Atlantic’s Casco Bay with about 66,000 folks, is the progressive heart of Maine. There are a number of dharma groups in the immediate area but no Zen teachers. Just a couple hours from the… Read more

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 enlightenment outside… 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 introspection either insignificant or not a part of Soto practice…. Read more

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