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Welcome!

My wife of 44 years and 4 months passed away on the annual (lunar) celebration day of Guan Yin bodhisattva, which this year was Sunday, March 22. She was diagnosed with a terminal illness on February 25. Within one hour of being admitted into the hospital, the cruel, highly unprofessional doctors at the hospital told us she had 4-6 weeks to live and one of them added "maybe three." Needless to say, this site has been ignored since February 25. We are now trying to re-start the newsletter and the podcasts; please bear with us as we try to get up and running again. Today I begin a re-writing of the site to reflect what I have learned in these past few weeks. A lot of changes will be made. This site offers a unique ten step course on how to practice the Buddha Dharma, not limited to the Zen school, and includes a novel approach to Zen koans. The full website is accessed through the navigation buttons at the top of this page or by clicking on the five rotating photos above.

Interviewing Zen Masters is a free podcast produced by The Zen Practice Foundation. These rare interviews granted by outstanding teachers from all schools of Buddhism (not limited to Zen) will add depth to the practice of beginners as well as advanced practitioners. Our subscribers form the Metta Sangha.

Subscribers are entitled to the following benefits:

    • A free written transcript of all interviews.
    • Our free weekly publication: The Zen Practice Newsletter
    • A forum where members of the Metta Sangha can communicate with one another.
    • A Certificate of Membership in the Metta Sangha.

You can help us share the Buddha Dharma by taking these important steps: 1) Becoming a podcast subscriber now; 2) Downloading and listening to an episode when we launch (subscribers will be notified); 3) Going to iTunes and giving the podcast a five star rating; and 4) Asking your social media friends to do the same. iTunes is the primary podcast portal and without downloads and five star ratings, the podcast will not be listed under "New and Noteworthy" by iTunes and may not survive. We need your support! Our mission is to bring to each subscriber the Dharma as taught by the greatest Buddhist teachers in the world. You will hear them here if you subscribe by filling in the (safe) info below. If you are new to podcasts, please click on How To Find And Rate A Podcast in the navigation bar above. [inbound_forms id="4338" name="Call to action"] Find us on Google+

Where Has All The Wisdom Gone?

The U.S. President now wants Congress to authorize the use of military force in Iraq, again. Having ended “combat operations” (murder) in 2014, now we...

Hoorah for Putin, Not for Congress

Congress, now completely controlled by war-mongers, seems eager to start a war with Russia. As always, they generate lies to support their insane plans. They...

A Funny Bit Of Zen History

In the early days of the Clear Water Zen Center, several members of the Miami Zen Center would cross the Florida peninsula from east to northwest to...

The Pope Leans Toward Zen

For many years meat-eaters have tried to cure me of my vegetarian views by advising me that animals, unlike people, have no souls and therefore...

Tranquil Wisdom Zen

    Don’t just sit there – do something! Conventional wisdom Don’t just do something – sit there! Buddhist wisdom This website is about practice;...

Present Moment Awareness Zen

Introduction to Buddhist Practice Nirvana is the highest happiness…the Buddha, as quoted in The Dhammapada, verses 203 and 204.  If we complete this course, it...

Loving Kindness Zen

Step 2 – Finding the Footprints The Ninth Dharma Realm Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints. Even under the fragrant grass, I...

Silent Present Moment Zen

Step 3 – First Glimpse of the Ox The Eighth Dharma Realm I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind...

Mindfulness Of The Body Zen

Step 4 – Catching the Ox The Seventh Dharma Realm I seize him with a terrific struggle. His great will and power are inexhaustible. He...

Mindfulness of Feelings Zen

Step Five – Taming the Ox The Sixth Dharma Realm The whip and rope are necessary, else he might stray off down some dusty road....

Mindfulness of the Mind Zen

Step Six – Riding the Ox Home The Fifth Dharma Realm Mounting the Ox, slowly I return homeward. The voice of my flute intones through...

Mindfulness Of Mind Objects Zen

Step Seven – Self Alone, Ox Forgotten The Fourth Dharma Realm Astride the Ox, I reach home. I am serene. The Ox too can rest....

Dependent Arising Zen

Step Eight – Both Self and Ox Forgotten The Third Dharma Realm Whip, rope, person, and bull — all merge in No-Thing. This heaven is...

Super Power Mindfulness Zen

Step Nine – Reaching the Source The Second Dharma Realm Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to...

Stream Entry Zen Part One

Entering the stream means that we have at least loosened the fetter of belief in an independent self, we no longer have much doubt in...

Stream Entry Zen Part Two

Sotapanna is the Pali word for stream entry. We enter the stream by lessening the first three fetters of the ten fetters, i. e., the...

The Core Meditation of Zen

There are numerous meditation techniques. Some use mantras, some use Zen koans, some, like vippasana, monitor thoughts. But the core meditation taught by the Buddha...

54 prostration verses for Zen

A complete Buddhist practice, in my opinion, includes a prostration practice. Complete instructions on how to perform a prostration are found under the heading Prostrations...

Zen Yes, Religion No

It is OK to believe that exercise is good because there is evidence to support that belief. It is OK to believe that a vegetarian...

Zen: Be Kind and Shallow

Many Buddhists have heard the story about the fellow who was a good meditator and was proud of it. He developed an arrogant personality and...

Outflows, Inflows and Zen Practice

The irony of Zen is that more words have been written about it than any other branch of Buddhism although the central teaching of Zen...

The Garden of Zen Practice

Buddhism teaches that there are three worlds: The world of sense desire (the crude one we’re in now; it has six realms and is often...

Zen From An Unexpected Guest

Buddhism is a method of cultivating the mind. Since Buddhism affirms that the universe is governed by impersonal laws and not by any creator-god, it...

Mudita And Zen Always Win

  Of the four Brahma Viharas, mudita is the one we find to be a little strange. When we cultivate mudita, we are never envious or...

Zen Practice and the Sixth Fetter

In the list of ten fetters, the higher the number, the more subtle the fetter. The more subtle a fetter is, the less seriously we...

Greed, Zen and the First Paramita

When preparing to write on a Buddhist topic, I first read what others have to say on the subject. Then I try to find something...

Mean Zen, Good Results

So Time magazine tells us that the U.S. Marines are into Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. My first reaction was that using MBSR to increase the...

Zen, Mindfulness, and Ignorance

This week’s Time magazine’s cover story reports that mindfulness practice is becoming a mainstream practice despite its Buddhist origins. People who won’t listen to monks...

Zen and the Quantum

I grew weary decades ago of the tiresome claims of new age non-scientist novelists that ancient spiritual masters knew all about the implications of quantum...

Zen, Dokusan and Mu!

Dokusan, or private instruction, provides an opportunity for Zen students to work directly with a teacher in a confidential, face-to-face setting. In the early days...

The Magic Of A Zen Sesshin

Sesshin is the Japanese word that we use in the world of Zen for a meditation retreat. A sesshin may last one day,  a weekend, three or...

Zen And Eating Meat

Becoming a vegetarian is the single most effective thing that a single individual can do to inhibit global warming. It dwarfs the impact of switching...

Zen, The Stones and Scientology

We Zen practitioners have no bigotry or bias and we practice non-opposition so as a Zen practitioner I have no beef against Scientology. Actually, only Zen...

Zen. the Self, and External Objects

People who have never given the teachings of the Buddha a second thought know all about subject and object. They know that cars, trees, bodies...

Why does Zen admire rocks?

Ever wonder why rocks are so highly esteemed in Zen? They are esteemed because they exist in the realm of formlessness (the third world referred to...

Zen And Thrill Seeking

All of us have seen the interview conducted by admiring journalists after someone has run up to a cliff and jumped off it into the abyss with nothing but a hang...

Disney and Zen Practice

Walt Disney called Disneyland in California “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Walt Disney World in Orlando uses the same slogan. But having visited WDW scores of...

Zen, Christianity and No Self

  The Buddhist doctrine of no self is often misunderstood even by some Buddhists. People with low self esteem are known to embrace it: See,...

Tweet, Blog or Practice Zen?

The more I tweet, the less I meditate. The more I blog, the less I meditate. I just finished an hour of meditation. Even the...

The First Precept of Zen

The first precept of Buddhism, the one that drives many people away from Zen practice because they can’t keep it, is a call for not...

Zen And Buddha Name Recitation

Master Chin Kung and the Archbishop of Brisbane The Buddha spoke repeatedly of the Pure Abodes in the Pali Canon and taught that the sentient...

Zen And Christian Cursing

  I had a politically liberal friend, recently passed away, who said Jesus God! many times per day. Did you here what Rush Limbaugh said...

Zen Practice And Enlightenment

The Buddha identified four stages of enlightenment: Stream Entry (sotapanna), the Once Returner (sakadagamin), the Non-Returner (anagamin), and Buddhahood. The Buddha taught that Stream Entry is...

MBSR Demotes Buddhism #Zen

Buddhism is not involved in a rivalry with any religion. It is a religion, as Roshi Philip Kapleau explained, only to the extent that we...

Zen Mindfulness of Mind Objects

Venerable Ajahn Sumedo When our Zen (meditation) practice reaches the super-advanced stage of mindfulness of mind objects, we can start bragging that we are advanced,...

Mindfulness of the mind

  After arriving at the Still Forest Pool, the eighth stage of Tranquil Wisdom meditation, discussed in the previous blog, we sit in equanimity, i.e, our mind...

Mindfulness of Feelings

The previous blog post discusses the first four steps of the Buddha’s sixteen step meditation popularly known as Tranquil Wisdom meditation. Now we can briefly...

Zen Breathing: Diversity to Unity

Step one of Tranquil Wisdom meditation – In the words of the Buddha: “Mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out.” That’a about as simple...

Two Views of Anapanasati Zen

Of course the Zen school did not arise until a thousand or more years after the Buddha had passed away. However, in keeping with our...

Zen Koans and Mindfulness

Harnessing the power of what Ajahn Brahm jokingly refers to as super power mindfulness is the key to cracking open a Zen koan. Without it,...

Would the Buddha tweet? #Zen

Yes, but it would not just be a pithy quote of the type so many tweeters enjoy sending out. The Buddha lived before the age...

The Rise Of Zen Buddhism

Years ago, having read the delightful novel Don Quixote, I decided to read a scholarly criticism of the book. It was filled with fascinating insights,...

Zen darkness and light

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that forgetfulness is the darkness, mindfulness is the light. Trouble is, most people have no idea what forgetfulness is. I have...

Meat, Murder, Tofu And Zen

The first fold of the Eightfold Path, Right View, is sometimes translated as Right Understanding and is explained by many commentators to mean that one...

Zen Precepts: Black or White?

I had the misfortune of taking a tour of a Buddhist temple in Orlando today. It was a spur of the moment tour, taken only...

Zen: Happiness is a Warm Brain

With apologies to the late George Schulz, happiness is not a warm puppy. Puppies last a few weeks and then they’re dogs. And dogs don’t...

Zen: Life Is A Dream

Putoshan, a dreamy place indeed Dreams are so easy to leave. We just wake up when we’re rested. It seems quite automatic. If this life...

The Ambitious Zendo Project

  The U.S. government estimates that the number of church buildings in the U.S. is about 330,000. Although census reports have determined that about forty percent of...

Zen And The Ten Dharma Realms

This blog will highlight the content of howtopracticezen.com. There are only ten dharma realms according to the Mahayana (thirty one in the Theravada). Here goes: 1. Our...

Zen, Words And Nirvana

Mahamati asked the Buddha: “What do you mean by ‘nirvana’?” The Buddha answered the question but he prefaced his answer with definitions of nirvana propounded by “followers...

The Zen Way To Nirvana

  Let’s suppose you are the Master of a Buddhist sangha, or in Western terminology, an Abbot of a Buddhist monastery or convent. A student comes...

Can Zen Rename the Realms?

The ten dharma realms smack of religiosity. Whenever I tell my friends that Buddhism is not a religion of blind belief but a rational system...

Are Zen Buddhists crazy?

Many Buddhists sit on a cushion every day, counting their exhalations. Many Buddhists practice loving kindness meditation every day. And the sixteen mindfulness steps of...

In Search of Zen Teachers

I got on Twitter with the primary goal of communicating with Zen and other Buddhist teachers. Unfortunately, some teachers collect followers but don’t follow back...

Zen Practice And Indoor Pets

I attended a meditation retreat in the late 1980s in southern Missouri with about 500 people. It was by far the largest group I had ever sat...

Is Zen Practice Subversive?

  The Zen practice of zazen (sitting meditation) is subversive. In our gun-promoting, militaristic culture, sitting on a cushion and practicing metta is a practice that undermines...

Zen Mindfulness or Forgetfulness

What, really, is mindfulness? It is perhaps best understood by contrasting it with its opposite, which is forgetfulness. Most of us are robots, performing most of...

The Present Moment Of Zen

  I see quite a few tweeple in the twitterverse who tweet every day that they are beginning a meditation with Insight Timer or have...

Zen And the 2nd Amendment

The U.S. air force is unconstitutional because the Constitution gives Congress the power to raise an army and a navy. Thus, Congress has no power...

Zen Drops Off Body And Mind

What could be easier than just letting go? If we had nothing to hold on to, nothing to reach for, nothing to drop, what would that be...

Zen and the Flag of Japan

I laughed when I heard the Dalai Lama apologize for not being a good meditator. He said that with his speaking schedule and teaching duties,...

No Zen Practice, No Life?

Consider two people, one screaming his or her head off out of excitement over a football game on TV and another sitting in a meditation...

Zen, Clear Water And Muddy Water

My law partner walked into my office a few years ago and announced that he had just had an amazing conversation. You won’t believe this,...

Zen, Terrorism and Religions

This blog and its website will come down immediately (to the chagrin of a very few, if anyone) if I ever encounter a passage in a Buddhist...

Are Zen Buddhists Vegetarians?

I know self-proclaimed Buddhists who brag that they eat meat because they have transcended all notions of right and wrong and are no longer concerned...

Theravada and Rinzai Zen

The Anapanasati Sutta teaches the sixteen steps the Buddha followed to develop the mindfulness that led to his enlightenment. It is well-known to Theravada monks...

Zen And Dreams Within Dreams

We can all agree that nothing happens in a dream. Most dreams are classified as anxiety dreams – we dream about what we worry about. More than once...

Follow NASCAR or practice Zen?

  A client who had invented a very clever way to keep track of NASCAR driver standings (we applied for and obtained a patent for...

Zen Practice: Arousing the Mind

Rinzai Zen teachers assign koans to students in order to arouse the mind of the student. So we apply logic in order to answer the...

Dark energy and Zen

I have vented to some extent my outrage over Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs simply because I hold the strong opinion that such programs demote Buddhism...

Prostrations As A Zen Practice

I don’t recall any Buddhist sutra or sutta that mentions prostrations as a Buddhist practice. I don’t know the history of how prostrations became a part of Buddhist practice....

Zen Practice And Sakkaya Ditthi

Sakkaya ditthi, the wrong view of self, is the first of the ten fetters that bind unenlightened beings. Its counterpart or antidote is Right View or...

Zen Emptiness Is Fullness

“All sentient beings” includes ourselves but “no sufferer is found, no doer of the deeds is there.” No person enters Nirvana and the path has...

Zen Practice And Judgement

The famous Bible (Matthew) verse: “Judge not that ye be not judged” has two (2) meanings, I think. The obvious, mundane meaning is that the law...

Empty the cup, Practice Zen

  A learned professor once sought out Japanese Zen master Nan-In. He told the master that he was well-read on Zen matters and did not...

The Zen Bell Tolls For No One

If there is no independent self, what is there? Buddhism teaches that nothing exists independently of anything else. Everything we see, hear, smell, taste or...

Zen Practice And Enlightenment

The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures provide a framework for the How To Practice Zen program. Although they were not intended by their artist to be used as...

Zen Master Ajahn Brahm

Venerable Ajahn Brahm does not teach the meditation techniques taught by the Zen school. As we have emphasized throughout the How To Practice Zen website,...

Why do we practice Zen?

Modern Zen practitioners usually sit on mats and cushions indoors but we practice outdoors whenever it’s reasonable to do so. Even the Buddha eventually established...

Zen and Foolishness

The word “Zen” means meditation. However, Zen meditation is unlike Hindu, Christian, and Islamic meditation. It requires no belief in a creed, a guru, a...

Zen And No Two Things

A man wrote a letter to the editor of The St. Petersburg Times in the spring of 2009, saying that he wanted oil companies to...

Mirrors, Mind and Zen Practice

The mind is deluded if it is not the awakened mind of a Buddha. A Buddha mind does not divide reality into categories, nor does...

Karma and the Satanic Mind

If we find ourselves today in an unpleasant situation, it is because every thought we have ever had, every act we have ever performed, has...

The Goal Of Zen Practice

As we work our way through the ten steps of the How To Practice Zen program, we will gradually begin to understand what the Augustinian monk...

Zen Psychotherapy?

My unenlightened, judgmental mind tells me that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction demotes Buddhism to just another stress-reduction program in competition with yoga classes, tai chi (taiji) exercises,...

The Zen bunny that cooked itself

The story about the rabbit that cooked itself indicates that the rabbit was already enlightened when it did its famous (among those of us who read...

Zen, the Sniper and Jesus

In the spring of 2009, I saw a pickup truck with “My boss is a Jewish carpenter” on one bumper and “This vehicle will be...

Zen Practice And the Ninth Fetter

The unenlightened mind suffers from agitation. A mind that is not agitated is a mind at rest. Although there are many techniques for quieting the...

Zen Practice And The Tenth Fetter

The last and final fetter that an arahat breaks in order to realize nirvana/nibbana is the fetter of ignorance of the Four Noble Truths. Funny,...

Zen And The Heart Sutra

Nor is there pain or cause of pain or cease in pain or noble path to lead from pain, not even wisdom to attain, attainment...

Zen Practice And The 7th Fetter

The Pali texts define the seventh fetter as attachment to formlessness. The three worlds are: 1. The world of desire, which is the one we live...

Zen And The 4th and 5th Fetters

Sense desire is the fourth fetter and ill will or hatred is the fifth of the ten fetters. Thus we wonder why there are Five...

Roshi Aitken, Zen Master

I decided to visit my sister in Hawaii for the first time in ten years and was determined to visit the Diamond Sangha at the...

Zen Practice And The Eighth Fetter

The eighth fetter, conceit, seems at first to be a lot like the first fetter, sakkaya ditthi, the wrong view of self. The eighth fetter,...

Zen Practice and Sakkaya Ditthi

Spirit Rock, pictured, is a Theravada practice center. However, we use Zen in its meaning of meditation and these practitioners are sitting in meditation. This...

Zen And The First Three Fetters

Sometimes we try to learn too much, too fast. That’s why it’s good to let the concept of sakkaya ditthi sink in for a long...

Practice Zen or Waste Time?

Entrance to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas One person quit our local Zen sitting group with the question: Why should I sit and torture...

Rebirth of a Hillbilly #Zen

It is not hard to imagine that after we are dead and gone, some other life form will appear. After all, we appeared after Ben...
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