Why I Made This Website

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My peers in Zen have often asked me why I am bothering to do this. My only reply is that when I was looking for help, I found Dr Richard DeMartino and Dr Masao Abe—as did my peers—so I am returning my teachers’ kindness and graciousness. This site may not appeal to everyone, but to the few with whom it resonates, I will do my best to assist you.

I know there are many places to go to study ‘Zen’ and ...

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Modern Zen: Comforting, Palpable and Rife with Scandals

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It is human nature to make things more comfortable and understandable to ourselves. We like things to ‘make sense’ to us. I often hear people say when they like a belief system, “it makes sense to me, I understand it”. I think that, in this vein, Zen teaching has gone this path and given up its core. It is something palpable and understandable, the way it is presented now. There’s lots of grinning and ‘aha’ moments, and it has a ...

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Zen Without Bowls, Robes, Monks, Roshis and Rituals

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Somewhere in our past an individual became unsatisfied with his/her self.  They knew they were incomplete, somehow missing the whole picture, and sought something different.  Perhaps they stared at the night sky and fell into it, tearing down their ordinary conscious and awakening to a new one no longer at odds with their self.  Perhaps it was a bird or a babbling brook that opened their eyes to the world as it is unfettered by their individual consciousness.  Something happened ...

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The Problem: the Dualistic Aspect of Human Consciousness

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Both Dr DeMartino and Dr Abe were insistent on us understanding the problem of the self at the onset. It isn’t that we have a self that needs fixing but that the very self itself is the problem. It is not a matter of adding on to the self, reaching a level or enriching the self but knowing in the deepest manner possible that you, yourself, are the problem, and whatever you come up with to solve it won’t work. ...

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“The problem with Zen is that there is such a word.” Dr Richard DeMartino

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Though the entrance to this site warns that I am not here to teach ‘Zen’—and I am not—I must address what Zen appears to be today and some of its pitfalls. What Dr DeMartino was trying to express in the above quote is that once you have a concept of something called Zen you are already lost. Today Zen has become a ‘thing’, a way to conduct yourself, a series of rituals and even a vocation at which you can ...

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Why Faith/Belief is Not the Solution

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Most religions, particularly the Abrahamic religions, present faith or belief in something outside of you as the answer to the great questions about life and death. It is beyond our capacity to know, so we are told to trust in a doctrine that is offered. Faith, however, is completely arbitrary; why pick one over the other if it can’t be proven? It is also contingent upon our location and era of living. Raised in a particular culture, you take what ...

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A Depiction of the Problem of the Self in Zen and the Resolution Using the Ten Ox Herding Pictures

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Most religions offer a solution to human suffering in the future rather than trying to get to the immediate root of it, which is: “who is it that suffers?”

To attempt to present this dilemma of the human mind, I will use the template of the Ten Ox Herding pictures. They illustrate the course of deep self-inquiry and how it develops existentially. It is important to understand what the problem of the human condition is at its base so we can ...

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The Root of All Zen Practice: Zazen, Mindfulness and Koan Practice: What they are Really Doing

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Let’s further look at this concept of the reflective self, the self that only knows itself in relationship to something else and not in and of itself. Dr.DeMartino often said, “It’s not that we have an ego, we are the ego!”.  Here ego means the act of separating self from other to know self exists.  It is here that we exist in time.  It causes projecting into the future and ruminating about the past but this ego/self cannot live in ...

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Seeking the Root of Self, Revealing the Problem of Self Identity

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We take for granted who we are but we don’t really know who that is.  We can make proclamations of beliefs or political stances but they are just conditioned by our birthplace and environment.  You’re a devout Christian, Muslim or Jew because you were born into that family.  Most people follow the politics of their family and neighborhood and don’t really think critically of their choices. What we see as self evident truths are based on weak foundations that go ...

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