December 03, 2008

Zen in the Land of 10,000 Lakes


Steve Hagen's Dharma Field Zen Center in Minneapolis is housed in a former church. Steve told me a few years ago it caused a bit of a stir in the neighborhood when the Zen group brought down the steeple but all was calm when I visited a few summers back. I'd gone there to meet Steve and to visit Martine and Stephen Batchelor, who were at Dharma Field leading meditations and giving talks on the life of the Buddha.

Many of the typical Zen trappings are not in evidence at Dharma Field--Hagen has long since dispensed with robes (they're sitting neatly folded in a closet) and in the zendo a simple stone evokes the figure of the Buddha. Although Hagen has authored a few books, his center has not garnered the attention some of its larger cousins on the coasts have. An heir of the late Katagiri Roshi, Hagen, working with Norm Randolph, who assists with teaching at the center, has had an understated presence on the Zen scene. The center's website is a great place to visit, though, and beginners will find a lot by way of opening instruction and introductory talks there.

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Jolie's picture

Today I was talking to a friend about my ties to Christianity and her Atheist/Agnostic upbringing. She asked me, if I loved ritual so much why don’t I practice Tibetan Buddhism? I said I really wasn’t into ritual or icon worship; I appreciate the relative secularism of Vipassana and Insight practice. Then I remembered having seen this photo here last week. I remembered how chilled I was to see the stone in place of where I am used to seeing a Buddha. It seemed cold and lonely to me. I told her I would send her the link so she could tell me what she thought.

So, Lissa: this one’s for you!