To Be of Benefit

An interview with Ryushin Paul Haller, former abbot of San Francisco Zen Center

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“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake,” said Stephen Daedalus, James Joyce’s young alter ego in Ulysses. For anyone born in Ireland, enlightenment often begins with escaping the clutches of the past.

Ryushin Paul Haller, the former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, was born in Belfast. Like Joyce, he left Ireland when he was young, but he never became a complete exile. Twelve years ago Haller returned to Ireland and started a Zen center there, where he began to incorporate socially engaged Buddhism. He now returns to Belfast twice a year to teach at the center.

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