December 03, 2008
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.