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The Zen Studies Podcast

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United States

Language:

English

Contact:

971-207-1843


Episodes

79 - Buddha's Teachings 10: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

11/12/2018
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One of Buddha's central teachings was the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, about how you walk the Eightfold Path to liberation. Mindfulness, or sati, means to remember or keep in mind, and the four foundations are the four things you should keep in mind (or focus on) if you want to progress on the spiritual path. In this first episode of two on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, I introduce the teaching as given by the Buddha.

Duration:00:28:08

78 – The Ten Oxherding Pictures: Stages of Practice When You’re Going Nowhere

11/1/2018
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The Ten Oxherding pictures are a Zen teaching, but many Buddhist practitioners are familiar with the experience of trying to motivate yourself to practice without the rewards of explicit, tangible goals or markers of progress. The oxherding pictures describe - rather than prescribe - stages of practice we go through over a lifetime. They can be inspiring and encouraging as long as you don't try too hard to evaluate which stage you're in, or strive to get to the next stage.

Duration:00:18:27

77 - Western Zen Grows Up and Faces the Koan of Race – Part 2

10/28/2018
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Second part of a two-part series: The story of my particular school, Soto Zen, in America, but even if you identify with a different type of Buddhism you may find it interesting because so many forms of Buddhism face a similar lack of racial diversity in the west – despite the diversity of our surrounding communities. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the development of western Buddhism, this is also the story of facing collective karma, and of a group questioning its collective...

Duration:00:34:22

76 - Western Zen Grows Up and Faces the Koan of Race – Part 1

10/12/2018
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I tell you the story of my lineage of Zen over the last 100 years or so – its birth in America, its growth, its rocky adolescence, and how it’s coming into an adulthood of sorts that gives it the strength to face the koan of race - particularly its own extreme lack of racial diversity. In the next episode, I’ll go into more detail about what’s involved in facing that koan and what a tremendous growth opportunity it is to do so, sharing with you some of the highlights from my recent priests’...

Duration:00:29:41

75 – Sekito Kisen’s Sandokai: The Identity of Relative and Absolute – Part 2

10/4/2018
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This my second episode on the Sandokai, an ancient teaching poem composed by Chinese Zen master Sekito Kisen (Shitou Xiqian, 700-790). It’s recited daily in Soto Zen temples throughout the world - one of only a handful of Zen or Buddhist scriptures similarly honored. In the first episode I read the whole poem, discussed the “big deal” about absolute and relative (why Zen talks about this topic so much), and started exploring the Sandokai line by line. In this episode I finish up that...

Duration:00:23:21

74 – Sekito Kisen’s Sandokai: The Identity of Relative and Absolute – Part 1

9/27/2018
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Sandokai is a teaching poem composed by Chinese Chan (Zen) master Sekito Kisen (Shitou Xiqian, 700-790). It’s recited daily in Soto Zen temples throughout the world. In this episode I explore the meaning of the Sandokai and why it’s given such a central place in Soto Zen. I discuss the “big deal” about absolute and relative (why Zen talks about this topic so much), read the poem, and then start exploring it line by line. I only get part way through, so I’ll finish up the exploration next...

Duration:00:29:57

73 – Is Buddhism Secular, Spiritual, or Religious?

9/10/2018
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Is Buddhism religious, spiritual, or secular? The short answer to that is all three – depending what questions you’re asking. In this episode I define religious, spiritual, and secular, and then examine how these terms apply to Buddhism - and how they don't.

Duration:00:25:32

72 – Taking Care of Our Lives: More About the Karma Relationship Side of Practice

9/1/2018
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In Episode 38 I talked about how Buddhist practice has two sides – samadhi power and karma relationship. Samadhi power is about cultivating a direct, real-life experience of the nondual aspect of reality, while karma relationship is about taking care of our lives in order to reduce suffering and reflect the truth of the nondual in the midst of the relative. In this episode I focus on karma relationship – why it’s so important, what it involves, and the main Buddhist practices we do to work...

Duration:00:26:50

71 - Buddha's Teachings 9: The Four Brahmaviharas, or Sublime Social Attitudes - Part 3

8/25/2018
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In this third episode of my series on the Four Brahmaviharas, I briefly talk about how to use them in daily practice without setting them up as unattainable ideals. Then I discuss what tends to get in the way of unlimited compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, and ways to work through those obstructions.

Duration:00:28:35

70 - Buddhist Practice: Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts and Emotions

8/18/2018
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“Intrusive” thoughts and emotions arise repeatedly with enough intensity for them to be disturbing or distracting, even though they aren’t objectively relevant or helpful as they’re arising. In this episode I describe how to use Buddhist practice to reduce the intrusiveness of irrelevant or unhelpful thoughts and emotions by decreasing our identification with the content of our experience and increasing our identification with our natural, spacious awareness.

Duration:00:27:57

69 - The Soto Zen Goal of Goallessness: How to Awaken Without Trying

8/4/2018
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The goal of Buddhism is to awaken to what’s true, because the truth is liberating. And yet my tradition, Soto Zen, points us toward the “goal of goallessness,” telling us we’ll awaken if only we give up our desire for anything else (including achieving some “goal” called awakening). In this episode I explore how the “goal of goallessness” points to the fact that if we willfully try to awaken, we create duality and get in our own way. Fortunately, Zen offers us ways to awaken without "trying."

Duration:00:23:29

68 – Relating to Buddhist Teachings 2: Wrestling with the Teachings

7/28/2018
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From the perspective of most Buddhist lineages, including Zen, study is essential. In this episode I’ll get into why that is and present a practical way you can engage with Buddhist teachings in a fruitful, transformative way that isn’t just intellectual. Then I’ll talk about how you go about studying the teachings – where do you start, and what should you study?

Duration:00:26:02

67 – Relating to Buddhist Teachings 1: Their Abundance, Diversity & Authenticity

7/21/2018
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If you’ve spent any time at all studying Buddhism, you’ve discovered there are lots of Buddhist teachings and texts. What should you choose to study? Where do you begin? How much do you really need to know? How should you relate to the teachings, some of which may end up seeming contradictory? In this episode I give you an overview of the Buddhist teachings as a whole, and how the authority of a given text is measured and viewed by Buddhists. In the next episode I'll explain why it's...

Duration:00:23:59

66 - Buddha's Teachings 8: Four Brahmaviharas, or Sublime Social Attitudes - Part 2

7/13/2018
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In Part 2 of my series on the Brahmaviharas, I explore teachings about how to cultivate Metta, or goodwill, in an unlimited or boundless way. (Which is the idea.) As we try to extend Metta to everyone, we quickly recognize our internal resistance to feeling unqualified goodwill toward many people. I discuss the recommendations of Buddhaghosa, a 5th century monk and author of the Visuddhimagga, about how to cultivate Metta for someone when it's very difficult to feel it naturally.

Duration:00:26:02

Special Announcement: Launch of the Zen Studies Sangha

7/7/2018
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I've received many inquiries over the past year about how to connect with a teacher and Sangha, particularly if you live far from a Zen/Buddhist center. I'm pleased to announce I've launched a Zen Studies Sangha that can allow you to do just that. Check it out on the Zen Studies Podcast website!

Duration:00:01:52

65 – Dealing with Fear, Anger, and Hatred as a Buddhist

7/1/2018
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I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about how to deal with fear, anger, and hatred as a Buddhist – our own as well that of others, especially at a time when people are so divided, and doing so much damage to one another. I discuss the Buddhist view of fear, anger, and hatred - what they are, why they arise, and why we end up acting on them even though they end up causing suffering for self and other. Then I’ll talk about the implications of these teachings to our everyday lives.

Duration:00:31:38

64 - Shikantaza: Having the Guts to Just Sit and Let Go of Doing Anything

6/23/2018
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I’ve been sitting zazen for over 20 years, but only recently have I had the guts to really do shikantaza, or “just sitting,” and it feels profoundly liberating. In this kind of zazen, you utterly let go of doing anything except just sitting there. Really. I discuss why beginners are usually taught to count or follow breaths instead of do shikantaza, and why I think this is unfortunate. I also discuss the surprising results of a practice in which you don't try to control your experience in...

Duration:00:29:01

63 - Buddha's Teachings 7: The Four Brahmaviharas, or Sublime Social Attitudes - Part 1

6/18/2018
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The Buddha taught the importance of the four Brahmaviharas, or sublime attitudes: Goodwill, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. These are the emotions we should cultivate toward other beings in order establish a strong foundation for spiritual practice, and are also the best attitudes to have toward people if we want our relationships to be harmonious and beneficial. In this episode I introduce the Brahmaviharas as a whole, including how they fit within the context of other Buddhist...

Duration:00:28:19

62 - Listener's Questions: Practicing with Mental Illness

6/8/2018
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I share and answer three questions from listeners about practicing Buddhism and meditation when you're experiencing some kind of mental illness. I talk about when still, silent meditation might be unhelpful and propose alternative practices, and the Buddhist take on medication for mental illness. I also give an example of how to approach a particular condition as practice, even while you receive treatment for it from mental health professionals.

Duration:00:21:02

61 - Taking Refuge and Precepts: The Significance of Becoming a Buddhist – Part 2

5/24/2018
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This is the second of two episodes on the practice of formally making vows to commit yourself to the Buddhist path as a lay person, in which I introduce you to two more ways of approaching lay vows in Buddhism. As promised, I’ll describe the practice at two different local Buddhist centers in my area – one Theravadin, and one Vajrayana, and wrap up by talking about what motivates people to take this step.

Duration:00:18:43