The Zen Studies Podcast

Recent Episodes

238 – Eco-Anxiety and Buddhism – Part 2

It's natural to feel some eco-anxiety as the earth’s natural life-support systems break down. Buddhism clearly admonishes us to refrain from killing, to actively care for all life, and see ourselves as being in the “same boat” with all beings. In what ways can our practice help us stay strong, and how can it help us respond to our climate and ecological crisis in a way that’s consistent with our Buddhist values?

read more

237 – Eco-Anxiety and Buddhism – Part 1

Eco-anxiety is fear that our earth’s natural life-support systems are in the process of a collapse that will be catastrophic to life as we know it. This fear may range in intensity between a vague, pervasive sense of worry to a debilitating condition. What does Buddhism have to say about eco-anxiety, and what does it offer us if we want to be responsible citizens and true to our aspirations as Buddhists – but we also want to avoid being overwhelmed with fear, despair, or a sense of powerlessness?

read more

207 – Dirt Zendo, Cloud Zendo, One Sangha: Buddhist Community in the Digital Age – Part 2

In the last episode, I talked about the new phenomenon of a virtual space for practice, including its merits and benefits. In this episode, I talk about the merits of practicing in a "Dirt Zendo" - a physical practice space, in-the-flesh. I then describe, at Bright Way Zen, we are attempting to create a sense of Sangha that connects and includes anyone who practices with us, regardless of whether they participate in-the-flesh, online (in our Cloud Zendo), or both.

read more

206 – Dirt Zendo, Cloud Zendo, One Sangha: Buddhist Community in the Digital Age – Part 1

Since COVID lockdown, Buddhist communities have greatly expanded their online practice opportunities. Virtual spaces are surprisingly effective for practice and building a sense of Sangha. Many Buddhist and Zen centers are now facing the prospect of permanently including options for virtual participation, which brings many opportunities but also many challenges. I discuss how the virtual and physical practice spaces look at my Zen center, and how we structure hybrid meetings. Then I talk about the merits of what we call the “Cloud Zendo.” In my next episode, I’ll discuss the merits of a good old-fashioned physical practice space, which we call the “Dirt Zendo,” and the ways my Zen center is trying to integrate and care for both of our Zendos and create a sense of being one Sangha.

read more

197 – Neither Avoidance nor Identification: Being with the Reality of Painful Situations

Sometimes there is no avoiding painful situations, whether the difficulty is arising in our own life or from witnessing suffering in the world around us. How can we respond to troubling conditions with generosity and compassion, but also without being overwhelmed? I discuss the Zen approach of being with the reality of situations – neither avoiding the pain, nor identifying with it.

read more

188 – What Does Practice Look Like When Your Country Is Broken?

When our country - or our global community - is broken, how do we practice? Faced with incomprehensible violence, injustice, lies, greed, and destruction, how do we cope, let alone respond in accord with our bodhisattva vows to help free all beings and end all delusions? Our first responses are usually anger, fear, judgment, and an effort to assign blame. Then may come a desire to check out - to ignore what's happening because we feel powerless to do anything about it. I discuss how our Buddhist practice can help us remain open, strong, and responsive.

read more

178 – Declaring a Climate War and What That Means to a Buddhist

It may seem strange for a Buddhist to suggest we declare war on anything, but I think it is the most natural and constructive way for us to shift into the mindset we need. In Buddhism, we wage war on the three poisons of greed, hate, and delusion, not on people. We wage war out of love for all beings. In wartime we come together for the common good. We sacrifice with dignity, and help one another summon all the strength and hope we can. We all contribute to the war effort, whether it is by serving on the frontlines, darning socks for those on the frontlines, or broadcasting messages to keep up morale.

read more

170 – Looking to Buddhism to Support Values and Beliefs We Already Hold – Part 2

Continuing with the case study of social action, I follow the discussion of Donald S. Lopez's article on whether Buddhism - in particular, the bodhisattva ideal - has much to offer in the domain of social action. Then I discuss why it matters to some of us that our faith tradition – whatever it is – encourages and supports the values we already hold, and what we might do about it when that isn’t the case.

read more

169 – Looking to Buddhism to Support Values and Beliefs We Already Hold – Part 1

As modern, mostly lay Buddhists - particularly those of us who are western, adult converts to the religion - we may seek encouragement and guidance from within the tradition for values we already hold. How much support does Buddhism actually give for things like social action, the importance of justice, honoring our connection to nature, enjoying our family and our daily lives, and learning to love ourselves? If we don't find support within Buddhism for our values, do we simply look elsewhere, or do we expand Buddhism? In this episode I focus specifically on social action/activism, but the discussion is relevant for any deeply held concern or value you bring to Buddhism.

read more

160 – Bearing Witness without Burning Out

For the sake of ourselves and others, we need to learn to Bear Witness without burning out. Bearing Witness means exposing ourselves to the suffering in the world in all its forms out of compassion. At the root of all suffering are the three poisons of greed, hate, and delusion, so Bearing Witness also means being aware of those forces in the world and the effects they have. This practice can be agitating and emotionally exhausting, so we need to learn how to do it without burning out.

read more

158 – Social Strife and the Forgotten Virtue of Decorum

Recent events show how deep a divide has developed within the United States. Those guilty of crimes need to be held accountable, but how do we repair the social fabric of our nation? It may help to renew cultural respect for the value of decorum: Dignified behavior according to social standards for what demonstrates a basic respect for one another’s humanity and acknowledges our mutual dependence. I discuss the teachings on decorum in Buddhism, and how critical it is to social harmony.

read more

149 – Understanding People’s Actions Through the Six Realms Teaching

Understanding people's actions can be difficult. Sometimes we can't help but feel disbelief, judgment, or disgust toward people based on how they respond to the suffering of others - particularly regarding the problems we’re facing as a society such as the climate and ecological emergency, the serious undermining of democracy, continued racial injustice, an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. The Buddhist teaching about the Six Realms of existence can help us understand people's mind states and motivations, hopefully leading us to greater patience, less judgment, and – most importantly – insight into what might work best to get through to people and help them change.

read more

147 – Loving-Kindness (Metta) Practice as an Antidote to Fear and Anxiety

When we call suffering beings to mind and extend metta, we face reality while centering ourselves in our true self, which is boundless and interdependent with all of life. We recognize the wellbeing of others is not separate from our own wellbeing. This might seem like metta practice would open us up to even more suffering, thereby increasing our own fear and anxiety, but this is not the case. In fact, metta helps us face reality – an absolutely essential part of our Buddhist practice – while aligned with our deeper nature. This alignment results in a sense of plenty – of having resources to share. It results in a sense of strength, because we are centered in our boundless self and have given up our self-centered concern and defensiveness. Metta practice also counteracts our sense of powerlessness in the face of tragedy or difficult circumstances, and awakens our compassionate impulses to help.

read more

138 – Buddhist Images of Fierceness and Compassionate Anger

Despite the placid appearance of most Buddha statues and the Buddhist precept against indulging anger, there is a place for fierceness and compassionate anger in Buddhism. Especially when we're faced with injustice or need to protect others, we may need the energy of anger or fierceness to make ourselves heard. I discuss how respect for appropriate fierceness and anger appears in Buddhist iconography and mythology.

read more

137 – Sustainable Bodhisattva Practice when the World is (Literally) on Fire

Many American cities are on fire - literally - as tensions over systemic racism erupt. How do we enact our bodhisattva vows in the face of all of this suffering - caused by racism, the global pandemic, the breakdown of earth's natural life support systems, and global heating? Our vow is to "save all beings" but - at least in terms of an individual's goal - is impossible. How do we honor our bodhisattva vow in a vital and authentic way, as opposed to it being a largely irrelevant ideal?

read more

Subscribe via email to receive notifications of new posts:

Check out Domyo's other podcast:

Subscribe on your favorite podcatcher:

Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcherTuneInAmazon MusicGoogle PodcastsCastBoxiHeartRadioListen NotesPlayer.fmPodcast RepublicPodcast Addict

Spanish Translations