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Entries in Zen Buddhism (22)

Tuesday
Feb182014

No Teacher of Zen

Illustration by Sydney Smith

From the beginning, Norman Fischer never had much use for Zen teachers—and he still doesn’t. But after years of being one himself, he has a fuller appreciation of the role a teacher plays.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

As Human As You Are

We want our teachers to practice what they preach, but when we look closely, they can seem just as flawed as the rest of us. Sumi Loundon Kim discovers for herself what’s so special—and so ordinary—about being the teacher.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Chanting Names Once Forgotten

Women Ancestors Document</em>, approved by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, 2010. Art by Barbara Cooper.

A quiet movement to reshape our understanding of Zen lineage and history is bringing attention to the forgotten names and voices of women in the tradition. Grace Schireson explains how the Women Ancestors Document came into being and what it means for practitioners.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

The Hidden Lamp

Female Bodhidharma</em> by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753–1806)

Three contemporary women teachers shine new light on centuries-old stories of women and awakening.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Commentary: Enlightenment is Something We Do Together

John Tarrant, photo by Roger Jordan

There’s a romantic idea of enlightenment as a solitary and heroic act, but even if you’re off by yourself in a cave, you are still part of a culture, and it’s observable that some cultures are more friendly to discovery than others. Building a culture has been an ongoing and repeated task of Buddhism since the time of the Buddha.

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Let's Talk: Cybersanghas—Do They Work?

Dosho Port meets with some of his students online

The Internet has transformed sanghas. Buddhists who have been geographically isolated with little access to teachers and senior practitioners for guidance now have teachers and entire communities at their fingertips. Informa- tion and opinions about dharma centers, teach- ers, and sanghas are also readily available to practitioners worldwide, effectively leveling the dharma field and deflating notions of specialness.

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Tuesday
Nov122013

Commentary: I May Not Stay Here With You

By the time this article reaches you, I will have been empowered as an independent teacher in the Zen tradition through a ceremony and process called dharma transmission. While Zen has flourished in the West long enough to bear witness to the passing of pioneering teachers who have, in turn, seeded a substantial network of second- and third-generation teachers in America, my own rite of passage remains noteworthy for dubious reasons. As the second African-American woman—and only the third black person in America-ever to receive this empowerment in Soto Zen Buddhism, I am acutely aware of the conflicting viewpoints with which I hold it.

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Tuesday
Nov122013

Profile: Sanshin Zen Community

The last thing he wanted to do was speak English.

Shohaku Okumura had studied Buddhism and the thirteenth-century writings of Eihei Dogen at Tokyo’s Komazawa University, then taken priest’s vows and entered training at Antaiji, a Soto Zen temple in Kyoto headed by his late teacher, Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. But because many Americans and Europeans were studying there, Uchiyama urged him to study English. When Uchiyama retired in 1975, he asked Okumura and two brother monks to move to the hills of western Massachusetts to help build a new Zen center.

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Tuesday
May212013

A Straight Road with Many Curves 

Gregory Shepherd looks back on his Zen training in Japan with the late Yamada Roshi and the difficult lessons he learned.

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Thursday
Sep012005

Embracing Conflict

The story of dharma in the West is one of great success, marred by the occasional, but very public, failure. In some cases, entire sanghas have split into warring camps or been torn asunder by the interpersonal conflicts of their members. Over the years, a handful of teachers have been dismissed or disgraced, and countless disillusioned students have moved on. While the vast majority of sanghas continue to thrive, some are finding it necessary to adopt new, non-Buddhist approaches to resolving the conflicts that inevitably arise.

Consider these recent examples:

  • When the teenage son of a resident of Salt Lake City’s Kanzeon Zen Center admitted to stealing money from several residents, the sangha formed a “council circle.” As part of this ancient Native American ritual, everyone in the circle took turns passing a symbolic peace pipe—minus the tobacco—and voicing his or her feelings about the transgression.

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