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...]

Great Tides Zen Launch – We Invite You to Join the Fun


We are raising money to launch Great Tides Zen in Portland, ME, in July of 2104.With a contemporary perspective and old-school rigor, Great Tides Zen is dedicated to supporting the realization and actualization of the great matter of life and death.Training at Great Tides Zen will offer a unique blend of koan-introspection, earnest-vivid zazen, Dogen and Zen studies, with strong support to engage the world through our practice – all within the synergistic mix of online and in-person w … [Read more...]

Leaping Free, the Primal Life, Deep and Bright


Recently, at the end of a long day of sorting and packing and hauling (omg, the hauling and stacking!) for our big move from house/zendo to our Portland, ME, Great Tides Zen destination for July 1, I opened up Dogen's Extensive Record and a lovely koan lept from the page as if I'd never encountered it before.This one doesn't occur in any of what have become the standard collections. Dogen found it in the Shumon Toyoshu (Collection of the Essence of the Tradition in the Essential Gate) - a … [Read more...]

Polyamory and Zen


Several years ago my parents celebrated their 60th anniversary. Tetsugan asked them, "How did you stay together all these years? What's your secret?"Without batting an eye, my mom said, "We didn't think we had a choice."That's meaningful on many levels and striking to me that now we have so many choices.One that has been emerging from the shadows lately - now that being gay and lesbian is trendy - is polyamory. It's even the hot topic in some internet Zen circles I audit, following … [Read more...]

Having Inconceivable Good Fortune

This is the fifth installment of six in the Plum Blossom series, based on talks Katagiri Roshi gave for Rohatsu, 1988 - his last Rohatsu before cancer and death on March 1, 1990. You can view the other installments here: Plum Blossoms I, Plum Blossoms II, Plum Blossoms III, and Plum Blossoms IV.Like everything, this is a collaboration by many. Once again, David Casacuberta kindly transcribed the talks and is now really getting Katagiri Roshi's English. I have again edited the transcription … [Read more...]