Our favorite rogue Zen philosopher, Alan Watts had a gift for contextualizing the principles of Zen and translating them in a way that non-Buddhist people would be able to comprehend. In this excerpt from his short book, ‘Beat Zen Square Zen and Zen‘, he talks about the importance of understanding our own culture thoroughly so… Continue reading Alan Watts on Beat Zen and Square Zen
‘Selflessness is the soul of teamwork’ was former basketball coach Phil Jackson’s mantra when coaching his players in the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Zen teacher and author Robert Aitken released ‘Zen Master Raven’ a couple of years ago as a collection of Zen stories and koans told through the heart-warming interactions of a group of animals that include Mallard and Mole, Jackrabbit Roshi, Brown Bear Roshi and Zen Master Raven himself, a curious and earnest seeker of the… Continue reading Searching for a Master – Zen Master Raven and the Brown Bear
Those of us unfamiliar with the practice of the study of koans might view it as a method of problem solving, of learning how to think out of the box enough to understand the non-sequiturs entrenched in the recorded dialogues of Zen masters and disciples through the ages. In his essay, ‘The Zen Koan‘, Thomas… Continue reading Thomas Merton on Zen Koans and Untying the Knot of Individuality
A death poem was composed on one’s deathbed, with the aim of encapsulating the understanding of impermanence at that moment.
Shunryu Suzuki always admitted his own difficulty with the English language, but also addressed the deeper problem of human communication, namely that ‘when we say something, our subjective intention or situation is always involved.’
In an extraordinary essay that features in Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Infinite City – A San Francisco Atlas’ – Genine Lentine brings together the lives of salmon in the Bay Area and the patterns of the burgeoning Zen community that co-exists, sometimes in very close proximity, to the fish. Of the many things the two species have… Continue reading Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine
“Do you approach the study of Zen with the idea that there is something to be gained by it?” is the cautionary question posed by Thomas Merton in an author’s note featured at the beginning of his book, Zen and the Birds of Appetite. The passage is a short and succinct warning, directed at readers and… Continue reading Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton
Ryokan loved children, and played with them so much that other adults began to question his sanity. He says, ‘Even if I were able to say something/how could I explain?’ His wholehearted immersion in playful activity is the essence of Ryokan’s very particular Zen expression.
Doubt is a key incentive of the spiritual journey, and, as per the old adage ‘Great doubt, great awakening’, it is foundational to the enquiry of Zen.