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June 25, 2021

Introduction When I was translating The Record of Empty Hall and working on the commentary, a respectable scholar sent me a copy of Xutang’s preface for Dogen’s Eihei Goroku, that is, the abridged record of Dogen. The text was mostly the mix of Chinese characters and Japanese syllabaries and quite over my head. Fortunately, I persisted. For many reasons, Xutang (1185-1269; English, Empty Hall) is an enormously important teacher in the 13th Century Linji lineage Chan, not the least of… Read more

June 21, 2021

              Another baby book has birthed and is making their way the world. In this case, it’s Rick McDaniel’s new book that’s out there, ready to be read. You’ll find it here: click. Zen Conversations includes a section by yours truly, see below, and features a rare section by Tetsugan Sensei, my wife, best friend, and teaching partner. If you follow the click, you’ll also find fourteen blurbs by Zen teachers – now that’s… Read more

April 1, 2021

Above you’ll find a talk that I gave on Sunday, March 28, 2021, for the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. Although, it is titled, “Cyber Zen,” the subtitle, “Practicing Awakening In These Very Times” took about forty-five minutes of the hour-long session for me to unpack. So to provide a fuller expression of the cyber theme, in this post, I’ll give a description of the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training (aka, the Vine), summarize the talk, and then I’ll say more… Read more

February 15, 2021

Silent Illumination: A Chan Buddhist Path to Natural Awakening, by Guo Gu Laoshi (available now for preorder and preview) is a wonderful expression of the buddhadharma from beginning to end. As you probably know, Guo Gu is an important contemporary Chan teacher, a successor of the great Sheng Yen. He also has one of the coolest websites around: click. In Silent Illumination, Guo Gu offers a strikingly fresh perspective on the significance of the phrase, silent illumination, grounded in the Chinese Chan perspective, compellingly… Read more

January 25, 2021

  I’m so pleased that The Record of Empty Hall: One Hundred Classic Koans will soon be out in the world. It’s been four years in the making, beginning early in the Trump era when I was on retreat with my wife, Tetsugan Sensei, sitting and doing some studying of Hakuin. In the midst of the divisiveness and ugliness of those early Trump days, a strong aspiration arose to do something new to help show the beauty of this one… Read more

January 18, 2021

Steven Heine’s recent book (September, 2020), Flowers Blooming on a Withered Tree: Giun’s Verse Comments on Dōgen’s Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, is an enormous contribution to the study and practice of the buddhadharma, particularly for those who resonate with the tradition of Dōgen. Although there are several English translations of most Shōbōgenzō (aka, Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) fascicles, little of the Sōtō tradition’s rich and vital commentarial literature has yet been translated. Heine’s work begins to address… Read more

January 8, 2021

First, a Brief Update As I hope you have heard, The Record of Empty Hall: One Hundred Classic Koans, translated with commentary by me, is due out on February 2. To preorder with a 30% discount and see reviews by Steven Heine, John Tarrant, Meido Moore, Bodhin Kjolhede, and Henry Shukman click here. You can also browse inside and read Melissa Blacker Roshi’s forward, my introduction, and the first case. I’ll soon be sharing some excerpts from the book here. Finally, in terms… Read more

November 8, 2020

Now that we’re moving past the 2020 election and into the transitional period, it seems like a good time for personal reflections about Zen teaching. So in this post, I’ll share what I’ve been up to since the pandemic struck with my Zen teaching venues, Nebraska Zen Center (NZC) and the Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training. I’ll also make some connections with the larger context of the Zen Center model, consider where I’d like to go from here,… Read more

September 23, 2020

During our nonresidential practice periods at the Minnesota Zen Center in the 1980’s, students took turns giving talks at 4:30 a.m. Katagiri Roshi usually sat very quietly with his inverted half-moon mouth, a world-class frown, and very seldom made any comment about our wobbly efforts to express the dharma. One morning Roy, a longtime student of Katagiri Roshi, began his talk verbally stumbling around. “While I was walking to the zendo I began crossing the street just as a piece… Read more

September 16, 2020

In April, in the early pandemic days, I began posting a series here on the nine motifs offered to summarize the teaching of Zen Master Dàhuì Zōnggǎo, thanks to the recent translation of The Letters of Chan Master Dàhuì Pǔjué, by Jeffrey L. Broughton and Elise Yoko Watanabe, starting here: The Most Revered and Most Reviled Zen Master Ever Now that we’ve worked through the Letters on The Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training, and had a powerful summer practice session,… Read more




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