The Zen Studies Podcast


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

♦ creation of (within first 200 years of Buddhism)
♦ 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


♦ edicts (stone inscriptions)
♦ Dhamma conquest (spreading Buddhism or Dhamma beyond his empire)
♦ first Buddhist emperor – facts and legend (two episodes)
♦ stupa construction
♦ third Buddhist council, role in

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)

♦ as recognizing the preciousness of what already is/what you already have/are
♦ being verified by all things, and dropping off body and mind
♦ immoral behavior by “awakened” people



becoming one with our activity

♦ process of (in Dogen’s “Instructions to the Cook”)

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
♦ vinaya, effects of, on monastic ordination lineages

bhikkhuni (topics specific to)

♦ precepts – extra rules and precepts for bhikkhunis compared to bhikkhus
♦ ordination lineages dying out (Theravadin)

bodhi-mind (way-seeking mind)

♦ as evidence of the existence of “something greater”


♦ China, appeal of bodhisattva ideal in
♦ 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

Brahmajala Sutra – see Sutra of Brahma’s Net

buddha (general term) – also see Shakyamuni Buddha

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


♦ experiencing your buddha-nature
♦ not defiled or obstructed by your small self/limitations


care – see taking care

Chansee Zen

chanting (Buddhist practice)

♦ participating at a practice center if you’re not comfortable with chanting

Chanyuan Qinggui

♦ oldest extant set of Chan monastic regulations (1103)


♦ cultural encounter with Indian Buddhism, early (1st century BCE on)
♦ precepts, transmission of (to China from India)

councils, Buddhist

♦ first council (between 544-480 BCE)
♦ second council (between 444 and 380 BCE)
♦ third Buddhist council and King Aśoka


♦ in meditation (importance of)
♦ finding a way past obstacles in meditation, using


Dependent Co-arising/Origination

♦ Heart Sutra, as discussed in
♦ karma, as related to (complex system of causation with many places for input)


♦ positive use of desire to motivate practice

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

Dharma Transmission

♦ ceremony
♦ criteria for giving
♦ Soto Zen ritual of teacher authorization (two episodes)
♦ utility and limitations in modern Zen

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


♦ as a good thing in practice (to a degree)


♦ Inmo (the Ineffable), Dogen on
♦ to study Buddhism is to study the self (and why that’s not selfish, full episode)
♦ “zazen is the dharma gate of joyful ease”
♦ Tenzokyokun, Instructions to the Cook – Work as Spiritual Practice (two episodes)


♦ “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

dropping preferences

♦ dropping preferences while taking care of each thing as if it’s the body of the Buddha

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)

eight precepts

♦ practice of, in Theravadin Buddhism

Eightfold Path

♦ Buddha’s first teaching (as part of Buddha’s life story)
♦ Heart Sutra, as discussed in
morality and precepts, relationship to


♦ 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)

emptiness – see shunyata



♦ 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

♦ first five moral rules for Buddhists

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



♦ tricky Mahayana trap of “there’s nothing to attain”

Gautama – see Siddhartha Gautama 


♦ work, practice of generosity in (as a source of joy)

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

Hakuin Ekaku (Zen master Hakuin)

♦ this very body is Buddha (Song of Zazen)
♦ without beings, no buddhas (Song of Zazen)

Heart Sutra

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


♦ description of awakened mind by
♦ original brightness (in discussion on the Ineffable)
♦ silent illumination (“inner illumination restores wonder”)

Hui-Neng (sixth ancestor of Chan Buddhism in China)

♦ Dharma Transmission, story of


immoral behavior

♦ by “awakened” people, teachers, leaders

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
♦ immanent in water and rice (each and every thing)
♦ Zen’s version of God, as

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
♦ openings during/related to meditation and how to deal with them

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
♦ Buddha’s teachings on karma (entire episode)
♦ doctrine of transmigration, karma as part of
♦ four kinds of karma (including karma that ends karma)
♦ karma is not the only causal factor determining your circumstances and experience
♦ 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)
♦ “zazen is like returning home and sitting in peace”


lay practice (householder practice)

♦ inclusion in the term “Sangha” in modern times (formerly meant only ordained)
♦ patimokkha, relationship to the (monastic code of discipline that made monastics dependent on lay people)
♦ precepts and lay people in Theravadin Buddhism
♦ view of lay practice in the early Sangha (time of the Buddha)

letting go

♦ Buddhist practice of

Lin-chi I-hsuan – see Rinzai Gigen

lineage transmission (in Chan/Zen)

♦ Chan myth of lineage, origin
♦ Hui-Neng’s Dharma Transmission (the first classic lineage story in Chan/Zen)

Lotus Sutra

♦ parable of the jewel in the cloak re: our relationship to our true nature
♦ parable of the lost son re: difficulty in accepting our true nature


Mahayana (Buddhism)

♦ brief description of
♦ China, appeal of Mahayana in (as Buddhism spread to China from India)
♦ prajnaparamita scriptures, and
♦ precepts, Mahayana/bodhisattva (from Chinese scriptures)
♦ precepts, unique perspective on the


♦ 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
♦ openings during/related to meditation and how to deal with them
♦ 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

moments that make you dance (openings, insights, transcendent experiences)

♦ celebrating then and then letting them go (particularly in meditation)
♦ experiences related to zazen


♦ Chan monastic regulations, origins of

monastic regulations (Chan/Zen)

♦ examples from Chanyuan Qinggui
♦ origins of, and relationship to Indian Vinaya

morality also see precepts

♦ centrality of morality in Buddhism
♦ non-theistic tradition, morality in a


♦ examining in meditation


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 

♦ as our true nature (Mahayana)
♦ Buddha’s teaching: not-self is a practice, not a view there is no self

nun – 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 (code of discipline for fully ordained Buddhist monastics)

♦ contemplative practice, creating ideal conditions for
♦ content of the
♦ importance to Buddhist tradition as a whole
♦ origins of the
♦ practical reaons for (Sangha dependence on lay support, reputation, harmony)
♦ Vinaya, relationship to

physical challenges (in practice)

♦ sesshin, physical challenge of

politics, Buddhism and

♦ Aśoka, king (impact of his legend on relationship between Buddhism and state)

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
♦ morality, unique description of (compared to original Buddhism)

Pratimoksha (Sanskrit) – see Patimokkha (Pali)

preferences – see dropping preferences

preoccupied (mind-state)

♦ recognizing and dealing with in meditation

precepts (moral rules/guidelines in Buddhism) – see also Patimokkha

♦ bodhisattva precepts from Sutra of Brahma’s Net
♦ Buddha’s first teachings on moral behavior
♦ Mahayana, or bodhisattva, precepts (from Chinese scriptures)
♦ Mahayana, unique perspective on
♦ precepts in Buddhism – origins and development (two episodes)


qinggui – see monastic regulations


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)


♦ Chinese resistance to monastic ideal of (as Buddhism spread to China)

retreat (meditation) – see sesshin

Rinzai Gigen (Zen master Rinzai)

♦ on having faith in yourself


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

sectarianism (in Buddhism)

♦ eighteen schools of early Indian Buddhism
♦ first schism (within first 200 years)


♦ 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


♦ as unnecessary for awakening

sesshin (silent meditation retreats)

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

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

♦ death
♦ 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 (translated as emptiness, boundlessness)

♦ 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)
♦ morality, relationship to (perfect behavior that transcends conceptualization)
♦ 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)

Siddhartha Gautamaalso see Shakyamuni Buddha

♦ birth
♦ childhood
♦ enlightenment (becoming Shakyamuni Buddha)
♦ homeleaving
♦ 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)

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

skillful means

♦ Mahayana approach of goal of goallessness as skillful means

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

Sutra of Brahma’s Net

♦ apocryphal sutra of Chinese origin
♦ Mahayana/bodhisattva precepts in


taking care (as Zen practice)

♦ doing the best job you possibly can
♦ dropping preferences while taking care
♦ taking care with each thing as if it’s the body of the Buddha

tenzo (chief cook in a Chan/Zen community)

♦ role of the tenzo described


♦ Dogen’s “Instructions to the Cook” (two episodes)

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 – see Dependent Co-arising


upaya – see skillful means


Vinaya (ancient code of discipline for fully ordained Buddhist monastics)

♦ Chinese response and additions to when Buddhism spread to China
♦ effect on monastic ordination lineages
♦ Mahayana practice, reconciling with (in China)
♦ petty versus major rules
♦ relationship to Patimokkha

viewssee dropping views


women – see also bhikkhuni

♦ ordination, Buddha’s resistance to (for women)

work practice (in Chan/Zen)

♦ work as spiritual practice as according to Dogen’s “Instructions to the Cook” (two episodes)
♦ origins of work practice in Chinese Buddhism
♦ practice and work are not separate


zazen (Zen meditation) – also see meditation

♦ deepening your zazen (whole episode)
♦ definition (what is zazen?)
♦ difficult, why zazen is (relaxing completely while completely attentive)
♦ 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)
♦ walking on a tightrope, how zazen is like
♦ 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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