The Paradox of Prayer

Buddhist Prayer Lion's Roar Shambhala Sun

Prayer is alive and well in Western Zen, says Jan Chozen Bays, even as it challenges us to make sense of what we’re doing. Do Zen Buddhists Pray? This question was raised recently among Zen teachers online when someone in a drought-affected area requested that others join in a collective effort “beseeching the blessing of rain in any way that speaks to you.” The ensuing online [...]

Thanks to Yoko

Yoko Ono Lion's Roar Shambhala Sun Lisa Carver

Everyone, it seemed, liked to tell Lisa Carver what she couldn’t do: it wasn’t proper, it wasn’t art, it wasn’t done. But Zen koans and Yoko Ono—now eighty—turned all that upside down. Decades before the dark and angry performance art/No Wave scene of the late eighties and early nineties, Yoko Ono was creating radically unconventional conceptual art. Raised Buddhist and [...]

Out of the Blue

out of the blue Zen Geri Larkin

The great punchline of Zen is that everything is completely obvious. For those of us who are slow, this truth can take decades to sink in. But when it does, everything takes on new meaning – and everything becomes clear. There isn’t anything special about this. We’ve all had those out-of-the-blue moments where seemingly unrelated aspects of our lives suddenly come together in [...]

Bodhi Trees

Minding the Earth Mending the World Review

In nature we see Buddhist truths unfold, while in Buddhism we find ways to heal the natural world. Jessica Morey on Minding the Earth, Mending the World. Minding the Earth, Mending the World: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis By Susan Murphy Counterpoint 2014; 320 pp., $16.95 (paper) How can we wrap our minds around something so vast as the destruction of the [...]

Check out The Melanthium Band, featuring the piano stylings of Zen teacher Lewis Richmond

The work of Lewis Richmond has been featured a number of times here, but now we're looking at a different kind of work from the author and Zen teacher. "I have recently become part of a new music group called The Melanthium Band," he writes. "Many people who know my books and teaching may not know that I was trained as a classical pianist and composer, and now I have returned [...]

No Shortcut to Awakening

no shortcut to awakening

Ross Bolleter guides us through the Cycle of Merit, the ancient Chan master Dongshan’s map showing us the way to enlightenment and back to where we are. Orientation Sage rulers have always modeled themselves on Emperor Yao. Treating others with propriety, you bend your dragon waist. At times, passing through the thick of the bustling market, you find it civilized throughout [...]

Being Shaken

Early in my Zen practice I could not sit still in meditation, as I was besieged with involuntary movements. I didn’t stop sitting—no, I kept meditating right on schedule—but my pelvis rocked and bucked, and if I managed to hold it still, my shoulders would break loose and rotate energetically. my head would also whip back and forth and from side to side. an intense fight was [...]

Abandon Hope & Other Surprising Slogans to Help You Handle Anger


Zen teacher Norman Fischer applies five mind-training slogans to anger and other emotions To practice with anger—rather than simply being a victim of it—is to make the effort to respect and understand it. This involves being willing to look more deeply at the complex of negative emotions, which naturally arise as part of our human condition. It requires that we take [...]

Facing suffering, finding joy: Women combat veterans at Tassajara

Every year since 2011, more and more women combat veterans have been making their way to Northern California’s remote Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for specially focused retreats called “Honoring the Path of the Warrior.” This year, the New York Times sat in as twenty women vets processed “the impact of combat, of taking life and of seeing life taken” as well as the particular [...]

A Punk Looks at Fifty


Crummy cars, a wall of guitars, and a whole bunch of meditation: not exactly the American Dream, but Zen teacher Brad Warner is good with that. I recently turned fifty. Happy birthday to me! It’s an annoying age: you’re not old enough to be considered wise but you are old enough to be considered old. I’m too old to be a prodigy but too young to be venerable. Nobody cares what [...]