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...]

Zen Won’t Save You: A Talk on Practicing Enlightenment

not one thing

"Zen Won't Save You" is the title of the talk that Tetsugan and I will be offering on Tuesday, April 1st, from 7pm to 8:30pm, at the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, 524 Allen Ave., Portland, Maine."Zen Won't Save You?"Yesterday I was working on our new web site for Great Tides Zen with Paul, a Zen student and our web guy. When we reviewed the events page with "Zen Won't Save You," he said something like, "You do terrible marketing! You know how they built the mega churches? It … [Read more...]

Plum Blossoms IV for Roshi’s 24th Memorial Day

Katagiri and Dosho

On this 24th Memorial of Katagiri Roshi's death, I offer his "Plum Blossoms IV" to you, dear reader.You can view the other installments here: Plum Blossoms I, Plum Blossoms II, and Plum Blossoms III).Once again, David Casacuberta poured his big heart into the transcribing (thank you, David!) and someone who vaguely resembles the guy on the left (me on my homeleaving day in 1984 with Katagiri Roshi) again made a mess of it by doing the editing."Plum Blossoms" was a series of talks … [Read more...]

Cybersanghas – Do They Work?

Cyber Sanghas do they work-.pdf-1

My contribution to Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Spring 2014, is now out and available. Click here for a bit of a tease. And subscribe if you'd like the whole piece. There's also an interesting looking piece on the teacher-student relationship and with Koun Franz now involved with Buddhadharma, I'm expecting some really good things from this journal.By the way, my "balanced view" about cybersanghas is creating a bit of a stir in our Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen … [Read more...]

Watch Out for the Dog!

dog bite

I stumbled on a Zen story a little while back that's been tugging at me. I'm sure I've read it before but somehow it didn't bite the first few dozen times through.Then Steve Heine pointed to it in Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism (review by yours truly here) and it sunk it's teeth into my behind.One place the story shows up in classical literature is in the Blue Cliff commentary on Case 96, "Zhaozhou's Three Turning Words" in the section for "A gold Buddha does … [Read more...]

Great Tides Zen: Coming to Portland, ME, Summer 2014


Yes, like dog Bodhi in the photo, we're getting ready to move and lay some fresh tracks. You see, we'll be burying the wild fox in a cave out back and moving - or in wild fox language, transmogrifying - in the summer of 2014.So this winter-spring, we're in transition, giving the precepts to some Wild Fox Zen students and householder denkai (the first step in lay transmission) to another.How is this possible?My youngest child will be graduating from high school and going off to … [Read more...]

Cold as Hell!


Cold as hell!And just to be clear, for Buddhists using "cold" to describe "hell" is not a contradiction. We Buddhists, you see, have cold hells too. Lots of 'em.So we've got that going for us too.As I was saying, though, now it's -15 wind chill in White Bear, MN, and getting colder. -45 or so by morning so the schools will probably be closed.It is so cold that if you walk into the wind for about 3 seconds, your eyebrows will hurt like hell. That's how cold it is.By the way, … [Read more...]

The Old Plum Tree Bursts into Bloom


This is the third installment in the "Plum Blossom" series. Katagiri Roshi gave these talks twenty-five years ago and recently David Casucuberta transcribed them and I've edited them. Click here for the link for the second one, "Gassho Like Falling Snow," and that will bring you to the first one too. Take it away old Roshi: The old plum tree is the boundless actualization of truth with no end and no beginning, the actualization of the whole universe - pine trees, bird, your hair, boots, nose, … [Read more...]