A Gentle, Caring Way of Life: Dreaming of Dharma Transmission Plum Blossoms

One of the many sweet things about teaching through the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training (click here for the latest update - another due out soon) is sharing some of my old teacher, Katagiri Roshi, with the students through his recorded talks that are connected with the sections of the first course, Guidelines for Studying the Way. A couple practitioners have asked for transcription projects to work more closely with Roshi's teaching. Here's one that was transcribed by David … [Read more...]

Reaching Out a Hand: Birth, Death, and Raw Zen

Recently a Zen student who had been working with one of the koans in the Mu series, "Explain mu to a baby," send me an email during his duty-day as a chaplain.He'd just walked out of a hospital room where a woman lay in bed, holding her still-born infant daughter.Our Zen practice, whether of the just-sitting shikantaza or koan frames, is about authentically negotiating the Way in each a specific dharma situation (aka, daily life). Even the really raw and painful ones like this.So I … [Read more...]

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

One of the central metaphors in the buddhadharma likens our usual world to a dream from which practice can help us awaken.But what about the nonmetaphorical dream world we live through while asleep? What practice can we do there? Can the world of dreams also be a field for awakening?In preparing for our upcoming practice period, "Expressing a Dream in a Dream," I've been reflecting and reading about dreams. Are dreams important to you? How many dreams from this life do you remember?I … [Read more...]

It’s Not So Easy: The Apprenticeship Model for Zen Training

During a sesshin dokusan in 1981, after practicing with Katagiri Roshi for three or four years, I asked him if he'd ordain me.During this period, I'd been living a few blocks from the Minnesota Zen Center and like my fellow committed students, I attended most morning zazen sessions, 5am - 7am (including a short service) and evening zazen, 7:30pm - 9pm.Roshi gave a talk every Wednesday night on a sutra or a koan, usually as part of a long series, so I didn't miss many of them. We also had … [Read more...]