Myogen Steve Stucky Has Died


The former Central Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, Myogen Steve Stücky, died this morning. Click here for more.And here's James' post at Monkey Mind.I didn't know Steve well although we connected at conferences a few times over the past decade or so. He shared some old Katagiri stories with me that I hadn't heard before which is always a treat.And at a difficult time in my life, Steve was enormously kind and now I feel very grateful for his brief presence here on this little … [Read more...]

How I Almost Drowned in the Swamp Out Back


Even if you don’t like death, when death comes you have to die. Even if you don’t like tomorrow, when tomorrow comes you have to be tomorrow. If you think with your head about dying, it is not real dying. When you are dying, dying is perfectly silent. Nothing to say. Just be one with the dying. All we have to do is just to be right in the middle of dying, which is perfectly silent.- Katagiri Roshi (from last blog post)Thinking about dying isn't real dying - that has become vividly clear … [Read more...]

Gassho Like Falling Snow


Here is a solstice talk by my old teacher, Katagiri Roshi, about Dogen's "Plum Blossoms." It is the second installment. Click here for the first. I'm grateful to David Casacuberta for carefully transcribing these talks. David's first language is Spanish and Roshi's was Japanese. Dogen spoke Dogenese. And I was left to edit all this. Together, I'm afraid we've created a bent and gnarled rendering into English. When editing Roshi's talks, I'm often struck by how difficult it is to cut away the … [Read more...]

Is Buddhism Best?


All the great traditions have at least one thing in common - the belief that "our" way is best. Such thinking is sometimes used to attack and repress those who follow other paths and in this way can be dangerous.Buddhism is not immune from this as we can see in modern times in Sri Lanka and Burma. And perhaps in our own hearts.Katagiri Roshi often observed with more than a touch of the ironic, "Under the beautiful flag of religion, we fight."What do you really believe in your heart? … [Read more...]

A Holiday Stroll Through the Buddhaverse


Here's a wondrously beautiful view from a micro-moment on this morning's walk along the shore of Lake Superior as we wrapped up a couple day trip over the holiday.Lounging around, I strolled some through the new Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Donald Jr.I bought the Kindle version for iPad and had great fun browsing entries and then following links, wandering through the Buddhaverse at the finger touch - at least some of the 5,000 entries and … [Read more...]

A Happy Life: Precept Practice


We've been using Diane Eshin Rizzetto's excellent book, Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion in our current precept study for Wild Fox students and for those in the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training.I think I can speak for the group and say we've found considerable utility in Rizzetto's working of the precepts. She’s very grounded, in-the-world, and has a keen eye for the psychological or moral aspect of the p … [Read more...]

Do Words Have Buddha Nature? Fighting Over and Gnawing at Rotting Bones – Crunch! Snap! Howl! Bark!

Heine Cats

What is the role of words in Zen practice?It has become a cliche in American Zen that "words can't reach it." For example, when asked, "What is mu?" beginning mu students will often utter such a defense.So I sometimes continue, "Do words have buddha nature? Or is buddha nature somewhere above and beyond stinky, lowly words? Are words even further from the buddha nature than the mu dog?"Enter Dr. Steven Heine's new book, Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen … [Read more...]

In the Teacher-Student Relationship, Who Gets Who?


Over at Nyoho Zen, Koun has written another engaging blog post, "My Teacher Doesn't Get Me."I found myself in agreement throughout, even thought I'd made some of the same points before.But then I got to reflecting on what I actually do. More on that in a moment.First, what does Koun have to say? Here's a little snippet (selected specifically because it sets up my somewhat different perspective):In a conversation between student and teacher, what is said? What needs to be? It's … [Read more...]

Themes in Residential and Householder Zen


About a month ago, I stumbled on this well-done essay on residential Zen training, The Freedom of No-Choice, by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, and posted it on the moodle that we use for the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training. My purpose was to expose Vine householder students to residential practice, if just through reading, in order to inform our work together ... and to stir things up, of course.Bodhin's article has indeed evoked reflection and heartfelt responses on the Vine … [Read more...]