The Zen Studies Podcast


Index is under construction… not all posts have been indexed yet.

Abhidharma (philosophical literature “about” or “above” the Dharma)

Heart Sutra, premises challenged in


as letting go
practicing it in Buddhism (what it does and doesn’t mean, full episode)

aggregates (five) – see skandhas

anatta (not-self)

Buddha’s second sermon, part of
opposite of identifying things as self, or belonging to self
perceiving not-self through mindfulness
practice of (leading to cessation of dukkha)
three marks of existence, one of the
Zen teachings on emptiness of self, and

anicca (impermanence)

Buddha’s second sermon, part of
dukkha, relationship to (what is impermanent is also stressful)
three marks of existence, one of the

apophatic (approach to the Divine)

describing the Divine by stripping away all concepts
Zen/Buddhism as an apophatic tradition


comparison to a buddha
definition of

attachment (and non-attachment)

definition (attaching stuff to your sense of self)
practicing with

Avalokiteshvara (bodhisattva)

Heart Sutra, as featured in

awakening (spiritual, in a Buddhist sense)

being verified by all things, and dropping off body and mind

bhikkhu(s) and bhikkhuni(s) (fully ordained Buddhist monks and nuns)

daily life and practice of the early (ordained) Sangha
evolution of Buddhist ordination in the Buddha’s time
first ordinations by the Buddha
patimokkha, creation of (code of discipline for bhikkhus and bhikkunis)
vinaya requirements for ordination and affects on monastic lineages

bhikkhuni (topics specific to fully ordained Buddhist nuns)

precepts, extra (why bhikkhunis have more rules than bhikkhus)
vinaya requirements for ordination as cause for women’s lineages dying out

bodhi-mind (way-seeking mind)

as evidence of the existence of “something greater”


Heart Sutra, as discussed in (without hindrance, realizes nirvana)

bodhisattva path

Zen practice as (so we have to care)

bodhisattva vows

fourfold bodhisattva vows as chanted in Zen

buddha (general term) – also see Shakyamuni Buddha

arhat, compared to an
meaning, different levels of
refuge in, meaning of taking

Chansee Zen


in meditation (importance of)

dependent orgination/coarising – see Twelve Links of Dependent Origination

Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion)

as Buddha’s first sermon (in context of Buddha’s life story)


definition of
Heart Sutra as a dharani

Dharma (Dhamma)

meaning, different levels of
refuge in, meaning of taking

dharmas (“things”)

Heart Sutra, identified as marked by emptiness in

direct experience

Buddha’s teaching: know for yourself
knowing, different way of (relative to the Ineffable)
phenomenology, as (study of consciousness from 1st-person point of view)
practice, as

Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic

Buddha’s second sermon on anatta, anicca, and dukkha


Inmo (the Ineffable), Dogen on
to study Buddhism is to study the self (and why that’s not selfish, full episode)


“you are right to doubt what you think it means”

dropping all views

Buddha’s teaching on how all views of self lead to dukkha (even “I have no self”)
freedom from any view of self
route to experiencing the Ineffable

dukkha (suffering, disatisfactoriness)

anicca and anatta, relationship to
Buddha’s enlightenment, his insight into dukkha and its causes
Buddha’s first teaching, as part of
cessation of, in practice
dependent on the mind
etymology of the word
pain, contrasted with (which you can’t do anything about)
practicing with
three marks of existence, as one of the

dullness (mind-state)

recognizing and dealing with in meditation

effort versus non-effort

in meditation (also)
knowing where you are on spectrum between too much effort and laziness (in meditation)

Eightfold Path

Buddha’s first teaching (as part of Buddha’s life story)
Heart Sutra, as discussed in


meditation as embodied practice (mindfulness of physical experience)

enlightenment – also see awakening and Nirvana

story of the Buddha’s enlightenment – what he realized
what the Buddha awakened to (in brief)


dharmas are marked by (Heart Sutra)
explanation of (in context of shunyata in the Heart Sutra)
explanation of in terms of our experience
form isn’t different from (in the Heart Sutra)
negating inherent reality of skandhas, all elements of experience, Buddhist teachings (in Heart Sutra)
three marks/characteristics of existence, trumps the (anicca, dukkha, anatta; in the Heart Sutra)


importance of faith in “something greater”
in yourself (and what that means)


Buddha’s relationship to his family

fingers pointing at the moon

as metaphor for teaching

five buddha families (or energies)

characteristic longings of each family

five precepts

lay Buddhists, moral guidelines for (in early and Theravadin Buddhism)

five skandhas see skandhas

Four Noble Truths

Buddha’s enlightenment – original perception of Four Truths during
Buddha’s first teaching (as part of Buddha’s life story)
Heart Sutra, as discussed in

form(s) (established ways of physically enacting practice)

definition of “form”
forms (customs and rituals) in Zen and why they matter (whole episode)
relationship to form and how it changes over a lifetime of practice


Buddha’s teaching: admirable friendship is the whole of the holy life
Dharma friendships within Sangha
resolving lifelong karma through relationship

Gautama – see Siddhartha Gautama 

God – also see Inmo

Zen version of

habit of profound thought (curiosity about yourself and your experience)

part of learning to guide your own practice/meditation

Heart Sutra

dharani, as
introduction to (whole episode)
line by line exploration (two episodes)
origin of


on original brightness (in discussion on the Ineffable)

impermanencesee anicca


history before Buddhism, cultural and religious
other religious sects around the time Buddhism arose
period of great change before rise of Buddhism

Inmo (the Ineffable)

direct experience of
Dogen on Inmo
as Zen’s version of God

insight (that leads to liberation)

Buddha’s enlightenment (realization that how much you suffer depends on your mind)
inquiry as part of experiential Zen practice

Introduction to the Jataka (ancient Buddhist text)

as a source of stories about the Buddha’s life
historicity (historical accuracy) of

introspectionsee inquiry


in meditation, when you’re preoccupied or troubled by something
practice of, to relieve your everyday suffering


compared to Buddhism, original teachings

karma (law of moral causation)

Buddha’s enlightenment (his insight into the workings of karma)
Buddha’s teachings on karma compared to other religions of his time
doctrine of transmigration, karma as part of
mental, as opposed to physical, process

karma practice (or karma relationship) (working on our relative selves)

learning about ourselves through social interactions in Sangha
potato practice (benefiting from friction with others)
sesshin, as an opportunity to see your karma more clearly

Keizan, Jokin

on making an effort in meditation (Zazen Yojinki)

lay (householder) practice (Buddhists who aren’t ordained monks, nuns, or priests)

inclusion in the term “Sangha” in modern times (formerly meant only ordained)
view of lay practice in the early Sangha (time of the Buddha)
precepts and lay people in early Buddhist

letting go

Buddhist practice of

Mahayana (Buddhism)

brief description of
prajnaparamita scriptures, and


Heart Sutra, mantra found at the end of the

meditation – also see Zazen

Buddha’s teachings on
discomfort, physical, during meditation
guiding your own (full episodes)
mind-wandering vs presence
posture, physical
quantity, value of (even over quality)
retreats, silent meditation (full episode)

middle way

definition of, and as part of Buddha’s first teaching


Buddha’s main teaching on mindfulness
definition of, classical and modern
meditation versus mindfulness
of our meditative experience
pitfalls in practicing
presence of mind, versus default mode of mind-wandering


dealing with, in daily life
meditation, dealing with mind-wandering in


examining in meditation

morality – also see precepts

buddha’s first teachings on moral behavior

Nirvana (Nibbana)

early Buddhist view of
Heart Sutra, as discussed in
liberation from cycle of transmigration, as

not-self (or no-self)also see anatta 

Buddha’s teaching: not-self is a practice, not a view there is no self

nun (Buddhist) – see bhikkhuni

oryoki (Zen formal meal ritual)

sesshin, in context of

pain (discomfort you can’t do anything about)

dukkha, contrasted with
sesshin, dealing with pain in

Pali Canon (in general)

Buddha’s life story in
historicity of narratives within

Pali Canon (references)

Discourse on the Not-Self Characteristic (Pañcavaggi Sutta)
Eightfold Path, first teaching (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
Four Noble Truths, first teaching (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
islands/refuges unto yourselves (Maha-parinibbana Sutta)
knowing for yourself (Kalama Sutta)
middle way, first teaching (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)
refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha (Dhammapada)
shooting yourself with a second arrow (Sallatha Sutta)
two sorts of thinking (leading to affliction, or liberation)

Patimokkha (precepts for fully ordained Buddhist monks and nuns)

content of, glimpse into
origin of (in Buddha’s time)
purposes of the patimokkha

physical challenges (in practice)

sesshin, physical challenge of

practice, Zen or Buddhist

aspiration, as
definitions of
inquiry, as
traditional versus experiential
what is zen practice? (full episode)

prajna paramita (the perfection of wisdom)

Heart Sutra, as discussed in
mantra, presented as a (in Heart Sutra)

Prajnaparamita Scriptures/Sutras

Heart Sutra, relationship to

Pratimoksha – see Patimokkha

precepts (Buddhist) (guidelines/rules for moral conduct)

evolution of the Buddhist precepts (two full episodes)

preoccupied (mind-state)

recognizing and dealing with in meditation

rebirth – see Transmigration


meaning of taking refuge
part of original Buddhist ordination ceremony
refuge unto yourselves, taking (one of Buddha’s last teachings)
Three Treasures, taking refuge in the

religion (Buddhism as)

tradition can only be fully conveyed through Sangha (community)

retreat (meditation) – see sesshin

right action (part of Eightfold Path)

Buddha’s first teachings on moral conduct, part of

samsara – see Transmigration

Sangha (the/a Buddhist community)

conforming creates harmonious community
definition (traditional and modern)
importance of (Thich Nhat Hanh)
meaning, different levels of
potato practice (benefiting from friction with others)
practicing in sangha: joys, challenges, and value (full episode)
refuge in, meaning of taking
service to others, as
social support in Sangha as essential support for the Buddhist path

scattered (mind-state)

recognizing and dealing with in meditation


challenging our assumption of self
conventional “self” versus attachment to a view of self
forgetting the self (what that means)
studying the self according to Dogen: what self do we study?

self-concern (self-attachment, I-making and my-making)

Buddha’s teaching on “attending inappropriately” to questions about self
explanation of life-long process of I-making and my-making
practicing with by not taking things personally

sesshin (silent meditation retreats)

definition, description, value of (full episode)
physical challenge of
rewards of

sexism (in Buddhism)

eight special rules for fully ordained Buddhist nuns (bhikkhuni)

shikantaza (“just sitting” zazen)

definition of
effort vs. non-effort in
how to do – see Zazen
versus koan introspection

Shakyamuni Buddha – also see Siddhartha Gautama

enlightenment (what did he realize? full episode)
first teachings (as part of life story)
name, explanation of use of (versus Siddhartha Gautama)
teach, decision to, and first students
teaching career, 45-year

shunyata – see emptiness

Siddhartha Gautamaalso see Shakyamuni Buddha

enlightenment (becoming Shakyamuni Buddha)
life story (brief)
name, explanation of use of (versus Shakyamuni, Buddha, etc.)
sources of information on (physical, textual)
spiritual struggle and quest

silence (practice of)

sesshin (silent meditation retreats), silence in

skandha(s) (aggregates)

dukkha, sources of (if we identify them as I, me, or mine)
Heart Sutra, mentioned as empty in

study (Japanese, “narau,” to learn)

studying the self (in Dogen’s Genjokoan – what it means)

stupa(s) (memorial mounds)

as part of the physical evidence of Buddha’s life

suffering – see dukkha

Three Characteristics of Existence (a.k.a Three Marks)also see anicca, dukkha, and anatta 

Buddha’s teachings on
emptiness, trumped by (shunyata; in Heart Sutra)

Three Marks – see Three Characteristics of Existence

Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha)

becoming a Buddhist through refuge in the Three Treasures
meaning, different levels of
Three Treasures – definitions and practice in detail (full episode)

Transmigration, Cycle of

arhats and buddhas as beings free from
Buddha’s enlightenment (his insight into past lives)
Buddha’s teachings on, compared to other religions of his time
doctrine of transmigration in ancient India

Twelve Links of Dependent Origination

Heart Sutra, as discussed in

viewssee dropping views


patimokkha, relationship to
essential to long-term survival of the Dhamma
petty vs major rules in
purposes of

zazen (Zen meditation) – also see meditation

definition (what is zazen?)
how we sit zazen is how we do everything
mind, what to do with your
posture, physical
sesshin (silent retreat), sitting zazen in (full episode)
thinking, how to deal with lots of (during zazen)
zazen, detailed instructions for how to do (Episode 3 and Episode 4)

Zen Buddhism

emergence of the Zen (Chan/Seon) school (historical)
five things that make Zen “Zen”
how Zen relates to other schools of Buddhism



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