Judith’s Essays

Much of my current writing is in the form of posts on this blog. Below are brief summaries of essays printed in books or newsletters, with links to PDFs of those essays.

Daigo (Great Realization) — Shobogenzo Chapter 10

There is a great question: “What is awakening? What is enlightenment? What is this experience we seek, as silver-tongued Joshu great master says, like Buddha-seeking fools?” There has been great controversy over this question for a couple thousand years between different schools of Buddhism.

Many chapters of Dogen’s Shobogenzo attest to the importance of this question in Dogen Zenji’s teaching and in his subtle exposition of practice-enlightenment, and none more dear than in Daigo (Great Realization). Download essay on Daigo (Great Realization).

Joshu and Dogen discuss: Does a dog have Buddha-nature? Yes and no.

(From the “Bussho” fascicle of Shobogenzo)

Ordinary minds are caught between yes and no. All of Zen is directed towards learning to hold the paradox of non-duality. Life is happening; we exist. At the same time, if we look deeply into time and place, even the physicists are finding that we don’t exist as we thought we did. We are not just the appearance of things.

If this is reality, how do we live without denying or getting caught on one side of the dynamic functioning of existence and non-existence? Download essay on dogs and Buddha-nature.

Winter 2011 — The Seven Pound Shirt: Commentary on Blue Cliff Record 45

A monk asked: The myriad things return to one. Where does the one return to? Joshu answered: When I was in Ch’ing Chou I made a cloth shirt. It weighed seven pounds.

The strategy for great peace is ceasing to fight with duality. In this season of peace, there is quiescence with the opposites. Download Winter 2011 essay on the 7-pound shirt.

Spring 2011 — Zenki (Total Dynamic Working): the 22nd Chapter of Dogen’s Shobogenzo

We often hear there is no god in Buddhism. Yes, we can say, there is no centralized intelligence; there is no anthropomorphized god or personalized god following our every move. But there is something: the mystery of being, the functioning of the universe. Dogen addresses this something (which we can’t even call a “thing”) as Zenki, the total dynamic functioning. Download Spring 2011 essay on Zenki.

Winter 2010 — Trust In Mind: A compilation of Dharma Talks from Fall 2009

The radical nature of Buddhism is a deep challenge to how we normally see the world. This is the radicalness of living in the present moment. Our ordinary way of life expresses itself through the bondage of our mentally constructed stories about who we are and what we need. We live in the world of our internal chatter. This alienation from the true reality of life in the present … Download Winter 2010 collection of essays on trust in mind.

Spring 2010 — “Let the flower of your life force bloom”: Writing on Katagiri Roshi’s commentary on Dogen’s Zazenshin

When I would go up to Katagiri Roshi’s office, at almost any time, he would be studying. He was a diligent student and, by the end of his life, was known as a Dogen scholar. What I really appreciate now is that he digested many texts in the course of his study and would summarize the teaching in his own words. At the time, I didn’t understand him: his very thick Japanese accent, the incomprehensible dharma teaching and the spiral style of his talks. Now, twenty years later… Download Spring 2010 essay on the flower of your life force.

Fall 2010 — The Divine Abodes: a dharma talk given at on April 11, 2010 at Clouds in Water Zen Center

“How is it when a person of great realization returns to delusion?” From Dogen’s Shobogenzo fascicle, “Daigo” or “Great Realization”

This wonderful question from the koan of Zen teacher Hochi, “How is it when a person of great realization returns to delusion?” is one of the core investigations of Zen practice. It is taken up for study in Dogen’s fascicle “Daigo”. Dogen insists that we should study this completely. How is it when a person who understands interrelationship, who can see life beyond the individual story and psychological components of a self, and who can be completely. Download Fall 2010 essay on the Divine Abodes.

Winter 2009  —  Our Busy Lives (Yunyan Sweeps the Ground): a dharma talk given on July 22, 2007 at Clouds in Water Zen Center

Most all of us feel that our lives are too busy. This is our predicament. The American mantra is “I’m too busy; I’m too busy.” So maybe that’s why we’re all here at a Zen Center — to find out how we … Download Winter 2009 essay on our busy lives.

Spring 2009 — “Buddha’s eye and the spontaneous response of compassion”: a dharma talk

We all come to practice looking for ways to release our suffering. The Buddha taught in the first noble truth that life is unsatisfactory and filled with the tumultuous ups and downs of humanity ending with old age, illness and death. As our mindfulness grows and becomes more subtle, we can actually see the minute suffering that occurs everywhere … Download Spring 2009 essay on Buddha’s eye.