Book Excerpts

Alan Watts on Beat Zen and Square Zen

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

Book Excerpts, Zen Stories

Searching for a Master – Zen Master Raven and the Brown Bear

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

Book Excerpts, The Masters

Thomas Merton on Zen Koans and Untying the Knot of Individuality

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

Book Excerpts

Playing With the Veil: Of Salmon and Zen Masters – Genine Lentine

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

Book Excerpts

Not Their Kind of Prey – Thomas Merton

“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 featuredĀ 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

Book Excerpts

Mitsu Suzuki on Teaching Tea Ceremony

Mitsu Suzuki was the wife of Shunryu Suzuki who accompanied him when he moved to the United States from Japan in the 1960s. After her husband passed away in 1971, Mitsu stayed on at San Francisco Zen Center where she taught tea ceremony and haiku poetry for another two decades. This excerpt is from a… Continue reading Mitsu Suzuki on Teaching Tea Ceremony

Book Excerpts, Chinese Poetry, Japanese Poetry, Poetry, The Masters

Snow Makes a Mountain

In addition to the volumes of essays and lectures on Zen and Zen practice, Dogen also expressed himself and his teachings through poetry. This particular verse, which reflects on a moment of realization in which the poet’s mind underwent a profound perceptive shift, is written in a Chinese style. The translation is Philip Whalen and… Continue reading Snow Makes a Mountain