Zen: Simply Sitting: A Zen monk’s commentary on the Fukanzazengi (Universal Guide on the Correct Practice of Zazen) by Master Dogen, by Philippe Coupey
Forward by Lee Lozowick, Translator’s preface by Marc Shaver
Hohm, Press, 1890772615, 114 pp. (incl. notes, glossary and index), 2006
Zen: Simply Sitting is a book in two parts. The first is the text of the Fukanzazengi , written by Master Dogen (1200-1253) in 1227, and later revised into its final form in 1242-1243. It is the final version, the Rufubon, which is reproduced here. As we learn, fukan means “recommended for the people”, meaning that the text is intended for laypeople, not only monks and priest.
The Fukanzazengi is extremely brief, only a few pages long, and it deals with the practice of zazen, seated meditation. Master Dogen describes the correct posture and attitude one should maintain while sitting. His prose is sparse and direct, with clear guidelines on how it should be done. Continue reading
Dancing with Spirits: The Festivals and Folklore of Japan, by Denny Sargent
Megalithica Press, 9781905713523, 120 pp., 2010
The religions of Japan are among the least understood by members of Western society. This happens for a number of reasons, most prominently because they are so much an organic part of the culture that even many Japanese don’t give them much thought. In fact, one often hears Japanese say that they are not religious, even as they are participating in some festival, or entering/leaving a shrine. The religions are simply a part of daily life, and thus not considered a separate religious aspect.
Generally, religion in Japan breaks down into one of two major types – Shinto or Buddhism – but that is as simplistic as saying religion in the West is either Christian or non-Christian; true to an an extent, but failing to capture the shear breadth of the religious experience. Each of the two groups has unique observances, yet commonalities exist. Continue reading
Feast or Famine: Teachings On Mind and Emotions, by Lee Lozowick, with an introduction and afterword by Regina Sara Ryan
HOHM Press, 978-1-890772-79-6, 219 pp. (incl. afterword, appendix and index), 2008
Feast or Famine is a collection of partial talks and Q&A sessions given by Lee Lozowick to groups of his students. Lee is a spiritual teacher of 35 years, and the ‘spiritual son’ of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Lozowick himself had minimal involvement with the book, which was the project of one of his students, Regina Sara Ryan. In addition to editing duties, Ryan wrote the Introduction and the Afterword, which includes a selection of Lozowick’s devotional poetry. She also includes a passage from one of Lozowick’s diaries (which he publishes for the use of his students) as an appendix.
The book comprises 13 chapters on the behaviour of mind and emotions, which follow a similar pattern: Lee uses teachings from other spiritual traditions as a starting point for discussion. Lozowick is an eclectic teacher, drawing from Tibetan Buddhism (Chogyam Trungpa, Pema Chodron), Gurdjieff, Sufi Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Zen master Seung Soen, Swami Prajnanpad, Arnaud Desjardins, E.J. Gold, Dr. Robert Svoboda, and Carlos Castenada, among dozens of others. Continue reading
John L Crow hosted the popular podcast Thelema Coast to Coast, and is currently pursuing a PhD. in American Religious History at Florida State University.
This interview was conducted on Saturday, September 4th, 2010.
Psyche: Thelema Coast to Coast was an excellent podcast running from 2005 to 2007, one of the first of its kind and I believe the first to be solely dedicated to Thelema. It’s been almost three years since your last episode. Do you miss it?
John L. Crow: Yes and no. The podcast was certainly a product of its time and filled a particular need within the Thelemic community. I miss the interaction with the larger community, the feedback and so forth. But I honestly don’t miss producing the podcast itself. It was a lot of work and now that I am in graduate school, I simply do not have the time.
I have been asked if I will ever resurrect the show. Continue reading
Compassion and Meditation: The Spiritual Dynamic between Buddhism and Christianity, by Jean-Yves Leloup
Inner Traditions, 9781594772771, 165 pp., 2009
A French Orthodox priest teaching meditation in a Zen dojo, this might seem strange but such is the life of Jean-Yves Leloup. A long time practitioner of Hesychast, a Christian form of meditation, Leloup shares his experience in this form as well as his understanding of and connection to Buddhism. He believes that meditation without compassion is lacking something, and in the same thought that compassion without meditation is incomplete.
While it would be an oversimplification to attribute compassion to Christianity, and meditation to Buddhism, and try to combine them; Leloup does think that both systems contain both compassion and meditation, but that their differences and similarities can support each other. He is not alone; he briefly traces an interesting history linking Christian and Buddhist practices and ideologies in religious texts going back to the 1700’s. Continue reading