Before reading anything else, perhaps check out MyZEN 101 to get a feel for whether the information here might be for you. If that resonates with you, then I encourage you to explore more. Start anywhere that feels good to you; there is no specific order of events beyond a few basics that may help get the wheels in motion for you. Those basics are outlined below.
Reading through any of the “ZEN JOURNALS” will give you a good idea of the questions that came up and continue to come up for me as I clarify my own truth. There are an infinite number more to write about, but there are only so many hours in a day. Then there’s the “DHARMA DISCOURSES” which are based on short stories called “Koans” that are nothing more than devices to help you clarify your own truth.
KEY POP QUIZZES
For me, there are two very easy “pop quizzes” that provide a great reference point for where I am in my present personal journey and clarify whether or not I am living authentically. The first one is what I call “Response or Reaction” and the second is called “Mirror Mirror. Read about them in detail on the “KEY POP QUIZZES” page and see where you are on your own personal journey.
STEP 00: A HEALTHY MIND
No matter what I discovered or thought I discovered, no matter how much I thought I was “getting it,” no matter where I looked, what books I read, teachers I spoke with, or spiritual practice I decided to engage in, none of it truly made sense to me until I spent several difficult years peeling away the layers of conditioning and indoctrination that I was convinced didn’t exist. This key aspect in realizing our own Buddha Nature is discussed in detail in the “HEALTHY MIND BEFORE ZEN MIND” page.
STEP 01: ESSENTIAL READING
I can only offer reading that was essential for me to help strengthen that framework and context for all I was discovering. It all started with an audiobook called “Breath Sweeps Mind” by Jakusho Kwong Roshi. I found it only because I was looking online for an online zen course. This is a perfect place to begin because it actually offers a series of sessions that would be offered if one were to study at a monastery. This is one of the only audio courses I’ve found and it was a beautiful place to help frame my own practice.
STEP 02: FINDING YOUR PRACTICE
For me, the very essence of Zen Buddhism is My Practice. We don’t need to shave our heads, put on robes and join a monastery to experience Enlightenment. We don’t need to go to Bible study classes and attend Church every Sunday to experience the Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke about. Living authentically, realizing that somewhere underneath the layers of conditioning all of us have been subjected to most of our lives is truly an illusion is they key to finding the path that will point the way to your own practice. I once dreamed of being a potter and purchased a pottery wheel expecting to churn out works of art the next day. I realized that anything worth doing takes patience and practice. This is no different when it comes to rediscovering our Original Selves, or Divine Nature, our connection with God, the Universe, our Buddha Nature.
STEP 03: RENUNCIATION OR NOT
This is something that I struggled with for quite some time. I have no desire in this moment to give up my home and friends and computer. It could be argued that I am not fully realized because of these attachments. It would be 100% true. But, awakening to oneself doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I used to think it did, until I realized that I can be Buddha enough to embody my own truth in whatever moments I choose. And that is why I feel there is Zen for the rest of us.
STEP 04: A BASIC FRAMEWORK
There were a few things that really helped me get started. One was simply knowing the suggested postures for Zazen, or sitting meditation.
Before reading anything else, it Might be a good idea to read MyZEN 101 to get a feel for whether the information here might be for you. If that resonates with you, then I encourage you to explore more. Start anywhere that feels good to you; there is no specific order of events beyond a few basics that may help get the wheels in motion for you. Those basics are outlined below.
Reading through any of the “ZEN JOURNALS” will give you a good idea of the questions that come up for me as I continue to clarify my own truth. There are an infinite number more to write about, but there are only so many hours in a day. Then there’s the “DHARMA DISCOURSES” which are based on short stories called “Koans” that are nothing more than devices to help you clarify your own truth. My ZEN JOURNALS are often inspired by the DHARMA DISCOURSES I have posted here; they’re just my own commentary rather than someone else’s. Read any of them at your own pace, use them as a springboard for your own realization and practice.
STEP 05: COURSE IN ZEN
It might make sense to get a feel for who Buddha was in terms of the XXXXXXX. One of my favorite books, partly because of the beautiful art on every page, is XXXXXXXX.