I have given a number of dharma talks over the years, and a few series of classes. Most of them are listed down below, in reverse chronological order.
Outside of a strict zen context, I have recorded short meditation guides for Simple Habit; you will need to pay to listen to these, but if you need regular bursts of short instructions, go for it – and of course doing so helps support me to pay the rent – according to the stats for that site, I reach way more people on the app than any other method.
I also record online meditations at Core, which again requires a financial commitment; if you would like to get your own Core trainer with a discount, use code SITWITHSHUNDO – this benefits you, me, and them.
In July I offered a four-part class series on Dogen’s Bendowa. As always, trying to teach Dogen is a challenging business, but I really appreciated the conversations I had with the group on our Zoom calls. Here they are in order:
It has been lovely to connect with the Hebden Bridge sangha (in lieu of being able to visit in person in March, as had been intended), and their events are drawing in many friends around the UK, and further afield. Catherine Gammon and I have been offering short talks on alternate weeks, and developing a conversation to reflect on the times we are living through, which has been a good practice for me. Here are my talks from the past few months, in chronological order from April to August:
Recently I have been offering the zazen instruction for Zen Center, which I have done many times, but not from my room until now; I have managed that not once but five times now. The videos of these are available at the Zen Center website, and also on the new Dharma talk app. You could have fun trying to spot the differences in the sessions.
I gave a dharma talk at Zen Center in December, which was an extended version of the talks I had given during my trip to England, on The Path to Kindness. The audio version is on the website here, and if you prefer visuals, you can watch the video recording of it here.
While I was in England in September and October, I gave three talks. The first was to the Dancing Mountains group at Newmarket, on the subject of Spiritual Friendship:
Then I offered a talk to the Wimbledon group, for which my title was The Path to Kindness:
which I remixed the following weekend for the Hebden Bridge group:
Here is also the zazen instruction I gave earlier the same evening. I haven’t compared it with the one posted below from three years ago; I suspect it is mostly similar.
In July I offered a series of four classes at Zen Center, revisiting the Bodhisattva Vows. Here they are – part of the third class is missing.
I offered three classes at Zen Center during January, for which the subtitle was ‘How I learned to stop worrying and love Dogen.’ Here they are in order:
I gave five talks to different groups while I was in England in September and October. A couple of times I revisited the Bodhisattva Vows; this is the discussion we had about them at Hebden Bridge:
It was an honour to be invited to the Deshimaru group in Brighton while I was in the area. I have edited out the biographical introduction; the rest of it was extemporised, and I felt that it took a question from Clare to really bring what I wanted to say into focus:
Finally, after sitting all day in Glastonbury, I spoke while we relaxed with cups of tea; if I was going to add a title, I would call it ‘Chocolate cake is wonderful’. I am just posting my initial remarks rather than the full discussion in this case:
Over the course of a few months in the summer, I gave a series of four talks at the newly renamed Marin Zen Meditation group in San Rafael (at the same beautiful location on the Dominican University campus!), on the Bodhisattva Vows. Here they are in order.
After reading Sharon Salzberg’s Real Love while I was in England in the autumn of 2017, I wanted to offer a talk based on some of the themes in the book, and how they resonated with where I wanted my practice to strengthen. That is now online at the Zen Center website.
The second of the two talks I gave in January was at the Dharma Eye zen group in San Rafael. I thought of it as a remix of my Zen Center talk, in that the Bodhisattva’s Four Methods of Guidance was the starting point rather than the conclusion. It is now here:
My dharma sister Djinn sent me a link to the joint talk that she, dharma sister Ann, and I gave in Belfast while I was there in May 2017. Listening back to it again, I appreciate how the years of practice we have all put in have given us closely aligned, but nonetheless individual, views and approaches.
Also from my trip to England in the spring of 2017, here is an podcast I did with Alan from Wimbledon Zen, which is now available; it tells some of my life story and tales of my initial impressions of practising at Zen Center.
I started helping Zen Center with their backlog of talks to be published. As such, it was nice to get my dharma talk, from City Center at the beginning of April 2017, online as part of that. I had to listen to the first few minutes of it to remember what I actually talked about, and wondered whether I should be embarrassed about forgetting, but then I thought number of different teachings I had offered in the two months since – in England, at Tassajara, and back in San Francisco – and did not worry about it. It was about thusness…
There was a request to record and post a zazen instruction for people to be able to refer to. This is what I said to the group in Glastonbury in October 2016:
There were two talks at Hebden Bridge on that same visit to England – a long look at the Tenzokyokun in the afternoon, and an evening talk which took a couple of those themes and blended them with other things I was thinking about, including a familiar koan. One of the first talks I have done with basically no notes:
I gave two talks during my summer at Tassajara in 2015; the first is a more formal zendo talk, the second a shorter, less formal talk given in the dining room during work period:
This is a talk I gave at City Center, back in May 2015, on the occasion of Bike to Worship week. There is also a video version. Speaking about bicycles and zen was not at all hard for me; it was my first Saturday talk, and also the last I gave as the director of City Center.
Prior to that, here is a Wednesday evening talk from January 2015, inspired by someone from Young Urban Zen and their phone – ‘After all, what would you do with it?’
From 2014, my first summer dharma talk at Tassajara; I was co-leading a zen and yoga retreat called ‘The Dragon Song’, so I talked about music. And Dogen, and dragonflies.
Also from 2014, a talk called ‘Vessels of Enlightenment’, a phrase that just popped into my head one day, as many good things do.
‘Entering the Way with Everyday Mind’ is another City Center Wednesday night talk, from October 2013, grappling with a famous koan.
The first dharma talk I gave at City Center is from January 2013, having gone from being head monk at Tassajara to being director at City Center. Probably the only one where I reference the Queen.
Browsing in the Zen Center archives recently, I came across a recording I had made while I was ino, of one of the monthly Full Moon Ceremonies (also known as the Bodhisattva Precept ceremony). It was a bit of self-indulgence on my part, as I was the kokyo, leading the chant, and thus quite audible – Anna Malo was the trusted doan ringing the bells in this case. The full ceremony (I must have previously edited it to begin with the second roll-down of the densho) is here:
If you don’t want to listen to the first five minutes of bells and bowing, a shorter version is here: