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There's an excellent blog called Wild Fox Zen that you really should be reading. It's written by Dosho Port, a Soto Zen priest and disciple of Katagiri Roshi, the legendary Zen teacher who helped bring Buddhism to the American midwest. Dosho was kind enough to lead a discussion during Tricycle's online ango, The Big Sit, and is the author of the book Keep Me in Your Heart Awhile: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katakiri.
Dosho's most recent blogpost is long and covers a lot of ground, including a discussion of Dogen interwoven with his own story of coming to the dharma. He writes:
Returning to the passage on joyful mind, Dogen makes a couple of other points. First, what a drag it would be to be born in heaven and have perpetual bliss! What a drag? If we were born in a heavenly realm, we wouldn't have enough rub, enough difficulty, to arouse the determination to practice, to live a creative life, to take responsibility for our life and to hold up a "single wilted piece of lettuce and make it into a golden body.” We might just sit back and wallow in god or goddess realm indulging in sense pleasures.
I saw a documentary this past week that reminded me of one of our god realms – rock-n-roll fame. The film was about the rock group the Doors and Jim Morrison, a gifted young guy suddenly reborn in a heavenly realm. He could have anything he wanted so he went completely crazy indulging in excess in all kinds of wildness – alcohol, sex, cocaine, and fast cars. He soon crashed and burned, dying in a bathtub in Paris at twenty-seven.
Barbara O'Brien took issue with Dosho's description of burning karma from this same post. Read her thoughts and the very good discussion that follows here. An earlier, much briefer post recounts a discussion of Dosho's with a co-worker about karma pertaining to rebirth, a serious subject treated with good humor.
Dosho also covers books about Zen, many of them quite intimidating, but his discussion of them is not. For an example of this, see "Was Dogen Enlightened? An Important New Book on Genjokoan." His posts move effortlessly back and forth between remembrances of his teachers, stories of Dogen and his disciples, and references to popular culture. They are, in essence, dharma talks, a teacher writing his thoughts out for you. In a time when many Buddhist blogs just point elsewhere to news stories or push one idea or agenda, Wild Fox Zen seems like a rare and precious stone.
Visit Wild Fox Zen. Your time there won't be wasted.
For those of you in the heartland, Dosho will be leading a sesshin, an intense practice period involving all-day sits, in Omaha Saturday, June 26 - Sunday, June 27 at the Nebraska Zen Center. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org