What is a Zen teacher? I received Denkai transmission and the gold teacher’s rakusu (abbreviated monk’s robe) just this last May. But I’ve had a number of questions about this whole Zen teaching deal.
We sometimes hear in our Zen teachings phrases such as “The world, as it is, is perfect” or “you are perfect, just as you are.” What could such “perfection” possibly mean, in light of so much obvious counter-evidence? Continue reading “Perfection, Zen, and Tango”
Pain and the desire to be rid of pain arise. What do we do with them?
I recently fell into a trap. I had just read in a Zen koan, “When the mind seeks nothing, this is called the Way.” Yet I get recurrent periods of pain that do not respond to any of a variety of relatively safe pain medications. My mind was at that moment quite insistently seeking relief from the pain. So my thought chain then continued, “Why can’t I get rid of this wanting to get rid of the pain? I must be a bad Zen student.”Continue reading “Wanting (to be Rid of Pain)”
A few days ago, I was interviewed by Oshan Joshan for his podcast series “Musing Minds.” We talked about both economics, Zen, gender…so on some of the same themes I’ve addressed elsewhere on this blog.
Oshan gave the interview the title “What If ‘Capitalism’ Isn’t the Problem?” That’s not to say we don’t have enormous problems! Only that we have mis-identified their source.
It’s been over a year since I first posted about problems in the Boundless Way Zen community. While I had hoped “that we will all get through this together,” that is not what happened.
It’s been over a year since the last comment on my essay about problems in the Boundless Way Zen Community, Letting in Some Air, was posted. I think it’s time for a public postscript about what has happened since then.
Unfortunately, while I had hoped “that we will all get through this together,” that is not, in fact, what happened. David Rynick and Melissa Blacker’s insistence on their own unquestionable superior teaching authority, and the facilitation of their power grab by several senior students, led to a deep and painful schism. The other five Boundless Way Zen Guiding Teachers, many members, and a number of sitting groups ultimately left that organization over the fall of 2018 and early 2019. Most of us now affiliate with the Greater Boston Zen Center. David and Melissa continue to lead the Boundless Way Temple (BWT) and Boundless Way Zen (BoWZ). Continue reading “Postscript to “Letting in Some Air””
Is this a problem that cries out for a solution? Or an invitation to investigation?
The question “How do I live my life?” has been coming up for me lately. I’ve been exploring two versions of it.
The first version arises as a cry from the heart: “How do I live my life?”
Life has difficulties. Continue reading “How Do I Live My Life?”
Zen is about awakening, and not about experiencing any particular state, or becoming “good,” or displaying any peculiar powers.
Zen is about awakening, and not about experiencing any particular state, or becoming “good,” or displaying any peculiar powers. These points, which I talked about in Part I of this two-part series, are beautifully summarized by the following text by Keizan Jokin, a Japanese Zen teacher born in the 13th century. Continue reading “Dangers of Zen, Part II”
While the benefits of Zen are real and profound, and talked about often, the dangers tend to receive less attention. Yet they are also real, and can arise among both beginning and experienced practitioners.
Recently, due to both personal health issues and stuff going on around me, I’ve been reflecting on some of the hazards that involved in Zen practice. While the benefits of Zen are real and profound, and talked about often, the dangers tend to receive less attention. Yet they are also real, and can arise among both beginning and experienced practitioners. Continue reading “Dangers of Zen, Part I”
(A personal reflection)
Along the wall on one side of the zendo where I practice are a series of ten Chinese ink paintings called the Ten Oxherding Pictures. I think of them as our “stations of the cross”–the Zen version of the series of carvings found in many Catholic sanctuaries. Both teach with images rather than words. They demand less in the way of literacy than does text, and, I think, enter our consciousness via a different route. In this essay, I’d like to give my own, personal take on them. Continue reading “The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures”
I love my sangha, Boundless Way Zen. And I have to write a difficult post about it.
Let me say, first of all, that I’m not writing this out of any sense that if I were in charge, I would of course do things better. It became particularly clear to me, while I was on sesshin (weeklong silent retreat) this summer, that knowing better and doing better are two different things. Having served as chant leader in the past, I know when various bells and clappers are supposed to be sounded, and so I noticed when mistakes were made. And also, from the hard experience of having held this post in the past, I was well aware that when it’s actually my responsibility in real time to do this job, you’ll hear me, too, ringing the bell at the wrong moment. So while I feel I have to write about missteps I see being made by some in leadership positions, I am not claiming that I would do any better if I were in their shoes. I have a profound respect for the spiritual direction I have received from all the Boundless Way Zen teachers. Continue reading “Letting in Some Air”