The Zen Studies Podcast

Recent Episodes

260 – Ten Fields of Zen Practice Chapter Two: Bodhicitta, Way-Seeking Mind

This episode on Bodhicitta, or Way-Seeking Mind, is chapter two of my book The Ten Fields of Zen Practice: A Primer for Practitioners.” Bodhicitta is the first Field of practice because without it we never even begin practice, and, if we don’t nurture and sustain it, our practice will wither and die. I discuss the first arising of Bodhicitta, its function, how to cultivate it, and its profound nature.

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256 – Do Your Own Practice: Spiritual Translation Versus Transformation

One way to frame our practice is to say it has a "translation" aspect and a "transformation" aspect. Translation means to apply Buddhist teachings and practice to our life to free self and other from suffering, and live with greater wisdom and compassion. Transformation means to seek transcendence of the self and all of its limited views through a relentless process of inquiry, for the sake of an even more profound and stable liberation. I discuss how each aspect is valuable, how they differ, and clarifying what you want out of your own spiritual path.

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255 – The Medicine of Emptiness When Witnessing Suffering and Injustice

When we witness - or experience - suffering or injustice, the medicine of emptiness can give us strength and equanimity. It should also increase our compassion, allowing us to be open, sensitive, and responsive without getting overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, fear, anger, or hatred. I talk about what the "medicine of emptiness" is - and isn't - and how to access it.

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254 – Practice is How You Live Each and Every Moment – Part 2

Everyday life gives us countless opportunities for "awakening work." I discuss ways to practice each and every moment in order to awaken to the truth of Dukkha and the ending of Dukkha, and to the truth Emptiness. In Part 3 I will talk about how we can similarly work on a direct, personal experiences of Suchness, Buddha-Nature, and the Two Truths (absolute and relative) in the midst of our daily lives.

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253 – Practice is How You Live Each and Every Moment – Part 1

The formal aspects of Buddhist practice – the things you can look at and identify as “Buddhist practice” – are very important. These include meditation, Dharma study, and time with Sangha. However, unless you’re a monk in a really strict monastery, over 90% of your time is spent outside of formal practice. It’s important to remember that practice each and every moment – how we choose to live our life, just as it is – is the most important thing.

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250 – In Zazen We Stop Imposing Ourselves on the World and Meet It Instead

In zazen we stop imposing ourselves on the world either through our habitual thinking or through any effort to control or judge our meditative experience. Only then can we meet the world us it is unfolding around, within, and through us - but this meeting requires energy and participation. This episode addresses the two essential aspects of zazen practice: What we are not doing, and what we are doing. Both are equally important and both are easily misunderstood.

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249 – Are the Buddha’s Teachings on Renunciation Relevant for Householders? – Part 2

In this second half of a two-episode discussion, I briefly review the limitations of sensual or worldly pleasures. Then I explore how engagement with the world, contrary to simply being a compromise, can be its own path of practice. Finally, I talk about how the Buddha’s teachings on renunciation are not only relevant but deeply meaningful and useful for householders.

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248 – Are the Buddha’s Teachings on Renunciation Relevant for Householders? – Part 1

The Buddha was pretty clear. If you wanted to experience complete liberation, it was best to leave all worldly things behind: Family, sex, alcohol, fancy food, music, entertainment, frivolity, etc. Why did the Buddha recommend this? Why do fully ordained Buddhist monks and nuns still live this way? Are the Buddha’s teachings on renunciation relevant for householders?

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