A Guided Course in Zen Meditation

For that one student meditator in each and every class I have taught who asked: “Why haven’t you written a book on this?” This is for you!

“A Guided Course in Zen Meditation” by the Venerable Daiju Zenji, draws upon his extensive experience practicing and teaching meditation across various countries. Inspired by his decades of conducting workshops on Zen Meditation, the book offers a non-denominational approach, welcoming practitioners of all cultures, faiths and philosophies.

Ven. Daiju structures his teachings around zazen, emphasizing its similarity to mindfulness practice and its alignment with the concept of the Noble Eightfold Path. The steps on this path are:

Right Seeing
Right Thinking
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Living
Right Effort
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration

A Guided Course in Zen Meditation assists readers in exploring the basics of sitting meditation and encourages them to deepen their awareness of the present moment. Instructions are provided for proper posture and techniques. Each chapter includes guided opportunities for meditative practice, reflection and inner peace.

Available as eBook & Paperback

Leaves scattered on a Forest Floor

May 9, 2024 – CELIBACY

I recently had my 5 seconds of fame on the weekend thanks to an article in The Guardian on Celibacy.

May 4, 2024 – Celibacy affords absolute clarity of mind

From a spiritual sense celibacy deserves a closer look.

Merriam-Webster defines celibacy as:
1 the state of not being married
2a abstention from sexual intercourse
2b abstention by vow from marriage

In a Zen monastery we are expected to practice physical celibacy but it was not until I experienced “true celibacy” that I came to understand how liberating it is.
True celibacy is that state of mind of having neither sexual awareness nor desire; one is literally unable to see anyone (male, female or the spectrum of sexuality between) as an object of desire.

In essence it is the ultimate acceptance that the cause of desire is oneself.

That is to say: YOU cannot MAKE me desire you. The desire is already within me and I consciously or unconsciously choose to manifest it through you.

I am going to work this into a larger piece on Buddhism’s Three Poisons (Ignorance, Desire and Anger) and Male Violence at another time because this is an important topic with huge ramifications for society. For now I thought I might explore some more on this question of sexuality vs true celibacy.

Buddhism is founded on the concept of The Four Noble Truths.

The Truth of Suffering – to exist is to suffer.
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering – suffering is caused by Attachment, particularly to the Three Poisons (Ignorance, Desire and Anger).
The Truth of the End of Suffering – there is a way to live without suffering, to end attachment.
The Truth of the Path that Frees us from Suffering – This is Noble Eightfold Path. If you want a Zen view of this please see my book.

When we look at sexuality we see that it is inherently based on desire, and desire is one of the Three Poisons that so easily leads to attachment and thence to suffering. This is why monastics (and not just Buddhist ones) default to physical celibacy. The energy that is sex runs almost as deep as the questing need for spiritual understanding; the difference is that it is much more easily accessed.
This is why Mumon Roshi said “The closest most people come to enlightenment is an orgasm“.

It is this dominating nature of sexual desire that is the reason why so many religions impose restrictions upon it. However even if we deny it physically what do we do with the endless thoughts and emotions that it stirs within us?

We can walk past a cake shop, see some delicious cake and yet move on. We are not carrying that cake around with us in our mind for the rest of the day. We saw something we liked, appreciated it, decided it was either unavailable to us or it was healthier for us to not partake and moved on. Within a few seconds it is forgotten.

This is not so easy to do with sexual desire. It speaks to a place deep in our core and our response to it is visceral. A stray glance is carried around all day. A random touch suddenly lights our neurons making us weak at the knees and weakening our resolve. It matters not whether we act on these things. We are already being pulled around by them and losing our way. We are attached to it. Our responses to this sort desire is a direct reflection of our integrity as a person.

To be truly celibate is to not even allow that internal desire to rise in the first place. If we wish to not impose our desire on the world and not not be pushed and pulled around by that desire then we become its master through the Eightfold Path. The path of personal responsibility.

Zen is the path of personal responsibility in each and every moment of existence.

I want to be clear on one point. In Buddhism sex in and of itself is not ‘evil’ nor ‘impure’. It is a natural human expression of our physical, emotional and even spiritual self. ATTACHMENT to sex is the problem. and attachment is born from desire. If we are not the master of desire then desire masters us.