The Ruth Ozeki Koans: Form and Emptiness, Time and Being

In Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness, narrated by an omniscient being called “the Book,” Benny is a troubled 15 year-old boy who begins to hear voices following the tragic death of his father and emotional struggles of his mother.

What Dying Can Teach Us About Living: A Visit with Frank Ostaseski

Suppose we stopped compartmentalizing death, cutting it off from life. Imagine if we regarded dying as a final stage of growth that held an unprecedented opportunity for transformation. Could we turn toward death like a master teacher and ask, “How, then, shall I live?”

(Frank Ostaseski)

Thank You Bunnies: Where Do We Go When We Die?

Zen Hospice founder Frank Ostaseski writes, “As people come closer to death, I have found that only two questions really matter to them: ‘Am I loved?’ and ‘Did I love well?’” Reading his book made me ask those questions of myself, stirring up memories of various experiences with death in my life.

How Have You Been, Master Ma?

Most often we examine the Master Ma Is Unwell koan from the position of Mazu, who is nearing the end of his life. But this week, my place in the koan shifted to that of the caregiver. It is I who asks the question, How have you been feeling lately, Master Ma?

Move in the Dark, Hand in Hand

Recently, a friend afflicted with Meniere’s syndrome said, “Even when I’m lying in bed not doing well, I don’t feel separate from everybody else. It’s hard to explain, but I’m feeling my way in the dark with my hands, and there are no obstacles, and I’m not doing it alone.”

Shamanic Bones, Dark Gates: A Visit with Earthlyn Manuel

“How can we go through the portal of zazen and not ever hear the cries of the earth? Do we not dream as Buddha did? Do not the spirits of nature affect our lives? These exploratory questions deepened my curiosity about seeing Zen meditation as shamanic journeying.”

(Osho Zenju Earthlyn Manuel)

Fire Below, Fire Above

As we investigate the shamanic influences on Chan-Zen, this week we read the Yi Jing (Book of Changes), a book of divination. It is the oldest of the ancient Chinese wisdom texts, predating Confucius and Laozi by a millennium, and Buddhism by even longer. According to translator Thomas Cleary, the Yi Jing hexagrams describe the “inner dynamics of both spiritual life and social life,” and are a “guide for conscious living.”

Beauty After the Burn

Despite the intense and unprecedented wildfires, life continues in the aftermath. What have we taken from the ground? What has the ground taken from us?

The Old Ways

Deepest ecology, shamanic sources, mystic roots: Chan-Zen has all of these. We will explore these topics in anticipation of an upcoming visit by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel.

Hello, Monkey!

The story of the Monkey King, first told 500 years ago in the Chinese classic, Journey to the West, is of course, our story. Obscured by clouds, whereabouts unknown, we set off on a journey to taste immortality; or if not, to at least better understand our own lives.