A New Home for Great Tides Zen?

        Dear Friend, Great Tides Zen is at an important crossroads. We have the opportunity to relocate to a dedicated space in the Maine Central Railroad Building at 222 St. John Street. And we are asking for your support. During our first nine months practicing in Portland, ME, we have been at Still Water Yoga. The owners, Joseph and Candace, have been supportive and gracious hosts from the beginning. Now to more fully actualize the possibilities for… Read more

Doug Kaishin Phillips Ordination

This past Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending the Soto Zen priest ordination (shukke tokudo) of Doug Kaishin Phillips Sensei, at the Empty Sky Sangha in West Cornwall, Connecticut, officiated by the inimitable James Myoun Ford Roshi. Doug is in the front row, third from the left. James is next to him. I arrived about thirty-five minutes before the ceremony and after chatting and getting reacquainted for about fifteen minutes, someone suggested that we review the ceremony. I… Read more

Zenshin Tim Buckley Dies: One Heartbeat, Ten Thousand Buddhas

Zenshin Tim Buckley, a Zen priest affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center system and the teacher at Great River Zendo near West Bath, Maine, died yesterday. Zenshin was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last August and since then has been nobly undertaking his departure in an upright and inspiring manner. The last time Tetsugan and I visited Zenshin, he was lying comfortably in bed. He seemed so soft. “How are you?” I asked. “Fading by degrees,” he said… Read more

Restraining the Nevertheless Deluded One: Vine of Obstacles Turns Two

“Seek out and restrain someone who is ‘nevertheless deluded,’ and you will eventually encounter a greatly enlightened person.” So says Dogen in his “Great Enlightenment” fascicle. To seek out the one who is “nevertheless deluded,” is just this person seeking just this person. The nevertheless deluded one enters a plea – “Guilty as charged.” And herein lies our possibility for liberation. The buddhadharma is incredible like that. Of the many possibilities in the universe for a liberative practice, it turns… Read more

The Way of Tenderness: the Form and Emptiness of Race, Sexuality, and Gender

“Although my teachers taught us the absolute truths of Zen practice, they seemed to negate identity without considering the implications that identity can have for oppressed groups of people.” That’s Zenju Earthlyn Manuel from her new book, Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender.  This is an important book. Zenju has a powerful, deeply personal, tender, and reflective way of giving voice to the dharma as black, woman, and lesbian. In this post, I want to zero in on… Read more

BTW, We Have to Remove Your Feet: Being Mortal, Waking Up, and Dying Together

I had a “minor” surgery last week and was in the hospital overnight for the first time. That’s me in the photo feeling pretty comfortable with a cap, knitted by one of my kid sisters, warming my bald head. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Atul Gawandi’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. I bought the book about a month ago but mostly it’s sat on the bed stand while I’ve been curious about the mild aversion I experienced every time… Read more

Dogen Did Not Practice Shikantaza and Even Had a Gaining Idea

More bad news for the orthodox Soto position that Dogen was opposed to koan introspection in zazen. Modern scientific historical research supports what some of us who have experienced koan introspection and Dogen Zen have been saying for some time – Dogen offers wonderful teaching by example of how to engage the wild and rich world of koan. Why does it matter? If you care about enlightenment, it matters. If you care about truth, it matters. If you care that… Read more

Practicing Through Snow and Cold (or Whatever Afflictions May Visit)

We are having one snowy and cold winter here in Portland, ME. Recently, a friend asked, “How are you liking Minnesota by the Sea.” Indeed. So yesterday at Sunday Open Zen, I talked about the Zen way to avoid snow and cold. If you’d like to listen to “How to Avoid Snow and Cold,” click here or here for iTunes podcast. Meanwhile, we have a home-based practice period starting on Sunday. If you’re looking for a way to be one with snow and cold, rain… Read more

On Receiving Inka Shomei from James Myoun Ford Roshi

On Friday afternoon, January 23, a small group of us gathered in Worcester, MA, in the Boundless Way Zen library. James Myoun Ford Roshi and his wife, Jan Seymour-Ford (a senior Zen person), and Melissa Blacker and David Rynick (Boundless Way teachers and also roshis), met with Tetsugan and I to discuss our wedding, scheduled for that afternoon, and to consider options for my inka shomei, scheduled for the next afternoon, but now the public portion was in question due… Read more

The Deeply Settled Heart: Home-based Practice Period Invitation

Sunday, February 15 – Saturday, May 9 Background: Practice periods go back to the time of the Buddha when monastics would gather together during the three-month rainy season. In that spirit, Katagiri Roshi was the first to offer nonresidential practice periods for householders. Our Vine of Obstacles, online, home-based training periods are a time to deepen and broaden your practice. We focus on developing home practice by encouraging creativity, transparency, accountability, and mutual support. The processes that the Vine community has… Read more

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