When I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Stephen Batchelor’s new book, After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age, he asked, “Is it as acerbic as his last book?” Ouch! Now, I’ve been reading Batchelor for a long time. Way back in 1983, Batchelor’s Alone with Others: An Existential Approach to Buddhism, was a powerful and important book for me. Living with the Devil (2005) is still a personal favorite. And perhaps because of my own acerbic proclivity,… Read more

Quick question: what sparked the compassion revolution in Buddhism that we now call the Great Vehicle (aka, Mahayana)? One answer: Writing. Yup. A new theory has it that the proliferation of the ability to read and write that took place a bit more than 2,000 years ago changed the Buddha Way by inviting a level of intersubjective reflection that was previously not as readily available. As Alan Cole puts it in “The Diamond Sutra as Sublime Object: Negation, Narration, and Happy Endings,” “…Mahayana Buddhism… Read more

              Zen: The Authentic Gate, by Koun Yamada Roshi (1907—1989; pictured above), is an essential text for any student of Zen interested in a clear expression from the source of the Zen reformation that unfolded in the 20th Century and continues to shape Zen practice today. Yamada Roshi is a towering figure in 20th century Zen. His great enlightenment was first presented in a cloaked manner in Three Pillars of Zen. Here’s David Loy from… Read more

The friendly-looking monk in the photo is Hashimoto Eko Roshi (1890-1965). In about 1948, the young Katagiri Roshi heard Hashimoto Roshi say, “Sit down, become Buddha.” Katagiri, then a new monk at Eiheiji, previously a failure in kamikaze school (he couldn’t get the training glider to fly straight toward the target) and a champion marathon runner, soon participated in his first Rohatsu sesshin. He determined to sit in full lotus no matter what, and even when he passed out and was dragged… Read more

Here at Great Tides Zen (in conjunction with the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training), we’ve been working through the Heart Sutra and have devoted 17 sessions to the first 158 of 253 words (62%), including the title, in the Soto Zen Translation Project version of the Heart Sutra. I’m more and more convinced that unexcelled dharma geniuses pulled this thing together. Indeed, they did an incredible job of presenting the buddhadharma in full.  Yes, in just 253 words. I… Read more

        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

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, 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

“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

“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

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