Opening Remarks

This Awakening Zen website offers up a critically hopeful view of what’s occurring in Buddhism as it merges with the stream of western culture and spirituality. The articles included here place particular emphasis on the unique ways meditation practices affect the western psyche; and in particular, the ways that intensified Zen practice mobilizes the unconscious. Although each article has been written to stand alone, all of them interrelate and at times overlap. Inevitably you’ll find some repetition, but hopefully in helpful ways.


This site is especially relevant for those engaged in non-dual practices that question into the essential nature of the “self.” Perhaps it will help shed light on some of the more unexplored territory of the psyche, particularly for those who may be practicing while actively struggling with a wealth of unresolved issues. It may also speak to those who find themselves a bit further out on the psychoneurotic spectrum and are seeking ways of utilizing their inherent fluidity.


It also addresses certain issues that may interest mental health professionals, or those with a particular interest in the relationship between dharma practices and psychotherapy. On another level, it’s for everyone whose at all interested in the significance of the unconscious patterning in our lives, and perhaps in exploring challenging ways of tapping more directly their own deeper issues. Its perspective may resonate with those in search of an expanded paradigm of the nature of dharma practice in the West. It speaks of Awakening, and is not easy work.


Some, however, will no doubt find this material too psychological; others may say it raises extraneous questions about the western dharma, or that it is overly critical of some so-called dharma teachers here in the west. Perhaps they’re right. I’ve struggled a long time with what for me have been some formidable issues: with the meaning of dharma practice in general, with the complexities and contradictions of western psyche, and with the amazing cultural differences between East and West. These writings reflect the insights that have emerged – ones that have evolved in my own practice, and through many intense hours working with others over the years.


I can say that these struggles have truly left me with a greater love and appreciation of the depths, power, and rich creativity of this amazing Zen path. Of course, my hope is that some will find what’s written here to be fresh and clarifying, and that in some way it will be of benefit to them in their lives.


To be sure, this site is a work in process: the currently posted articles will be periodically updated, and new content is already in the works. Some of the upcoming  postings will complement what’s already here, and before long there will also be a new section on beginning or re-energizing one’s dharma practice. If you’d like to be notified when updates or additions have been made, please leave your contact information here.


This website offers a unique psychodynamic view of what happens during intensified practice, a view that has evolved over several decades of teaching and practice. Here at Windhorse we’re exploring new ways of working that reflect this understanding, both in the context of traditional Zen sesshin and also in the ‘Zentensives’ offered a few times a year. If you wish to find out more about our Zentensive Workshop and Retreats,* click here.


If you’d like to know more about other programs being offered at Windhorse Zen Community, or if you’d simply like to financially support this on-going work, you can read about us, and/or make a tax-deductible donation here. Any and all support will be gratefully received!


Finally, I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies to be found in these writings. Nonetheless it should be said at the outset that the material presented here is a reflection of the efforts of many, many others, and I am deeply grateful for all their contributions. Above all I should like to thank my dharma teacher Roshi Philip Kapleau, and my teacher of the unconscious, Habib Davanloo, M.D. for their tireless efforts in helping to make this world a better place.


*Note: Zentensives are fully accredited advanced trainings, good for 30 CEs, including 2 for ethics, and open to anyone interested in exploring the role of the mobilized unconscious in Zen practice.