A. asks: I’ve been practicing Zen for four years and it has become an important part of how I live. Like you, I am a single parent (of three boys) as their mother discovered she was gay three years ago. I am also a teacher in the public school system. I often become uncomfortable with being part of a system which promotes and requires a great deal of social conformity. I try and work as I think best, but this… Read more

Question: Someone said, sitting in stillness is transcendent practice…to rise above suffering…not transformative. So it’s limited to glimpsing emptiness, not transforming your stuff/karma. The suggestion here is that when you return to your life, your meditation has had no real impact on the particulars. You still act-out conditioned and painful patterns. Anyway, that idea exists, more than one teacher has said so—outside of Zen. What do you think? J.Dosho’s Response: Transformative or transcendental experience (gradual and/or sudden) when sitting, standing,… Read more

After some months of rolling around with the issue, we decided that although this wasn’t the ideal time, the ideal time would very likely not arrive … so we picked up Bodhi, 9 week old black Lab, last night. We’d intended to get another of T’s sister’s puppy posse (Bodhi is one of nine puppies) but Bodhi came to me right away and when I picked him up it was love at first hug.Bodhi’s full name for “pure” breed registration… Read more

Just added a new feature: blog roll. Look over to the right margin and you’ll see it. These are blogs I go to regularly. The roll will tell you when they’ve been updated and a blog blurb about the latest post. Sweet! Oh, if you have suggestions for blogs you enjoy, especially Buddhist ones, especially those that are alive with updates, please let me know. Read more

(Above a Tibetan monk debates, highlightinig his point and sending it to his debate companion with a big clap)James Ford, a friend and inspiration to me, in his Monkey Mind blog has recently taken on my suggestion that there are a number of stances that characterize us as Zen teachers: authenticity vs. popularity, serving dharma vs. sangha, explaining Zen vs. providing the antecedents for discovery.I’m delighted to see that James doesn’t see it the way I do! I put these… Read more

When I think about authenticity and Zen, the first thoughts are about old Dogen-zenji. Soto lore tells of one of his disciple’s, Genmyo, accepting a large donation behind Dogen’s back from a military ruler after Dogen had refused the offer. It seems that Dogen wasn’t impressed by samurai Zen. Dogen threw the guy out of Eiheiji and then had the tatami under his sitting place cut out and the earth six feet under the platform removed as well. Dogen didn’t… Read more

Sitting at a bar and catching up with my brother last night, it struck me again how important is our basic stance. My brother and I have very similar bodies and as we age we seem to have lots of the same aches and pains in our backs and knees. How we hold our bodies, however, is quite different. My brother, influenced by studying and teaching law, holds his shoulders uptight, slouches a bit in the mid back and leans… Read more

I just discovered that there’ll be enough people here on Saturday for a dharma talk. If the group is really small, we just have tea and chat. But not this week. The little group of regulars will be mostly here. Studying together like this is very different from a church or a Zen Center. We know each other pretty well, in a practice sense, and so it is more like a gathering of friends than a public event. That’s how… Read more

Schwag aside, Brad Warner’s poetry blows. This you can clearly see from his blog post today, “Spiritual Schwag.” http://www.hardcorezen.blogspot.com/However, the guy’s ideas, I generally like. Warner comes across as needing to do the spiritual masquerade less than most and I respect that.What is “schwag?” you might be asking. Well, I’m getting old and I live deep in the fly-over, so I had to look it up. Merriam Webster doesn’t have a listing. The Urban Dictionary, however (something I use quite… Read more

Rather than sleep in on this Sunday morning, I awoke early. My kids are away on vacation with their mother, no zen activities were scheduled, and my partner was sleeping soundly. I quietly made coffee, reviewed for the Thursday night Dogen study group, and then was about to begin one of my summer reading projects, The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender by Bernard Faure when I found the current issue of Turning Wheel: Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism… Read more

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