Gesshin Claire Greenwood
Gesshin was born and raised in San Francisco. She began meditating when she was 19, and then studied abroad in Bodh Gaya, India, where she received temporary ordination in the Burmese Theravada lineage. She received a BA in English from Wesleyan University in 2009, and spent the majority of her twenties in India and Japan practicing Buddhism. She ordained with Seido Suzuki Roshi in 2010, and received dharma transmission in 2015. She is currently completing a master’s in East Asian Studies from the University of Southern California, where she focuses on women in Buddhism and feminism in a transnational perspective. thatssozen.blogspot.com
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Bow First, Ask Questions Later
What happens when a free-spirited, modern American girl goes on a spiritual quest into structured, traditional Japanese Zen life?
Gesshin Claire Greenwood was a liberal, free-spirited American girl who found meaning and freedom in disciplined, traditional Japanese Zen life. However, she came to question not only contemporary American values but also traditional monastic ones.
This book is about becoming an adult—about sexuality, religion, work, ethics, and individuality—but it is also about being a human being trying to be happy. Questioning is a theme that runs throughout the book: how can I be happy? What is true? What is authentic? The reader is invited along a journey that is difficult, inspiring, sad, funny, and sincere.
- Academic & Translations
- Children's Books
- Tibetan Buddhism
- All Topics
Koshin Paley Ellison: Making All of Life a Place of Practice (#125)
This episode of the Wisdom Podcast, recorded live as a Wisdom Dharma Chat, features a conversation with Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison. Koshin is an author, Zen teacher, Jungian psychotherapist, and certified chaplaincy educator. Koshin and host Daniel Aitken discuss the Commit-to-Sit: 90-Day Commitment to Practice he ran earlier this year; his most recent book, Wholehearted; his wisdom for making all of life a place of practice, from the bedsides of the dying, to intimate relationships, and to the heart of New York City and beyond.
Remember to subscribe to the Wisdom Podcast for more great conversations on Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness. And please give us a 5-star rating in Apple Podcasts if you enjoy our show—it’s a great support to us and it helps other people find the podcast. Thank you!
Chris Ives: Meditations on the Trail (#115)
This episode of the Wisdom Podcast features a conversation with writer, professor, and Wisdom author Chris Ives. Chris has published two books with Wisdom: Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage and Meditations on the Trail: A Guidebook for Self-Discovery, which came out on May 11, 2021. In this conversation, Chris and host Daniel Aitken explore the idea at the heart of these two books: that the hiking trail and the spiritual path can often be one and the same. When we bring a certain presence to our time in nature—whether it’s a city park or the Appalachian trail—that time can become a profound and spiritual experience. And our time in the outdoors can also lead to insights and wisdom that we can then take with us to the cushion, or wherever our spiritual practice takes place. Topics discussed include
- how to turn preparing for a hike into a mindfulness practice;
- shared values between spiritual practice and hiking, such as simplicity;
- how to prepare a mindful and respectful mind-state for entering the hiking experience;
- how to be more fully present while hiking;
- the difference between various terms that can be helpful for practicing mindful hiking, such as mindfulness, immersing yourself, and presencing;
- and much more.
Remember to subscribe to the Wisdom Podcast for more great conversations on Buddhism, meditation, and mindfulness. And please give us a 5-star rating in Apple Podcasts if you enjoy our show—it’s a great way to support us and it helps other people find the podcast. Thank you!
John Tarrant Roshi: Koans, Uncertainty, and Insight (#103)
For this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Zen teacher John Tarrant Roshi about one of John’s favorite topics: Zen koans. As a meditation teacher, koans are a core foundation of John’s teaching methodology, and he has spent a lifetime refining his understanding of their function as a gateway to insight as well as a teaching tool. For John, a koan is not a gadget but a method and an environment. Instead of viewing Zen as a set of rules and procedures, he discusses koan practice as a creative process. Like a poet who trusts that the next line will appear in his or her poem, engaging with a koan requires a similar leap into uncertainty. Likewise, uncertainty can itself function as a method and an object of trust. John also speaks to the function of beauty, art, and music as being koan-like in their ability to spark insight.
A native of Australia, John also considers the parallels between Aboriginal spirituality and Buddhist practice and shares stories from his early years meditating in the rainforest that laid the foundation for his spiritual practice. The podcast concludes with John sharing a reading of “The Master Song Man: An Australian Koan” from his book Bring Me the Rhinoceros.
John is the Dharma heir of Zen teacher Robert Aitken and is also the director of the Pacific Zen Institute, which has centers in California, Arizona, and Canada.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Zen
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Zen offers a comprehensive overview of Soto Zen Buddhism in a delightfully captivating way. Complete with dynamic, detailed illustrations, Soto Zen Priest Seigaku Amato uses a semi-narrative style to take you on a visual tour of Buddhism and, using specifics to illuminate universals, dives deep into the practices and forms of Soto Zen.
Whether you are just taking your first step or have been practicing Zen for years, this creative and profound book will be a constant companion and guide on your journey as it explores topics such as:
- A brief history of Buddhism
- An iconographic overview of various buddhas and bodhisattvas
- An introduction to the various practices of Zen including meditation (zazen), work practice (samu), and meditative eating (oryoki)
- A what’s what of holidays, ceremonies, temple instruments, and religious vestments
- A how-to guide for setting up a home altar
“This is a cute book! But it’s not just cute, it’s also deep and profound, and is one of the best guides to Zen practice I have ever come across. The illustrations are delightful and the written sections are clear and easy to understand. I give it a million zillion stars!”—Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen
“I loved this book and smiled the whole way through. But don’t be fooled by its whimsy! There’s a wealth of experience, knowledge, and devotion behind these illustrations. This book is a perfect guide for a beginning Zen student and makes a delicious snack for the more advanced practitioner.”—Gesshin Greenwood, author of Bow First, Ask Questions Later
Meditations on the Trail
Meditations on the Trail offers a rich array of do-anywhere meditations that will help you explore and deepen your connection to nature, and yourself, in new ways, making the most of your time on the trail.
This small book—perfect for throwing in a daypack or a back pocket as you head out for the trail—is filled with practices to take you into the heart of the natural world and uncover your most vibrant self. You’ll return home grateful, more aware of interconnection, and maybe just a little wiser.
I See You, Buddha
An instant classic, this book will help children (and their parents) learn patience and to see the good in everyone—including themselves! It will also help children meet difficult circumstances, such as being sick, doing chores, and not getting everything they want—and help them overcome low self-esteem and negative self-talk.
I See You, Buddha is based on a chapter in the Lotus Sutra, one of the most influential Buddhist texts worldwide—a classical scripture that has inspired a whole genre of works, especially in Japan, known as Lotus Literature. The Lotus Sutra teaches the way of the bodhisattva—a being engaged in compassionate, enlightened activity in the service of all—by offering examples of what this activity might look like in the world. One such model in the text is Bodhisattva Never Disrespectful (or Never Disparaging), who, despite troubling encounters with and even harsh treatment from others, bows down respectfully to everyone, recognizing their Buddha nature and honoring their own journeys along the bodhisattva path to enlightenment—whether they know they’re future buddhas or not!
Listen to author Josh Bartok as he reads I See You, Buddha in this video reading.
Grieving is Loving
A new book of poems, quotations, reflections, and stories from the author of one of the most beloved books on grief & loss.
This book is a companion to carry with you throughout your day, to touch in with and be supported by when bearing the unbearable pain of a loved one’s death—whether weeks or years since their passing.
In the style of a quote-a-day collection, this book from Wisdom’s bestselling author Joanne Cacciatore distills down the award-winning book Bearing the Unbearable into easy-to-access small chunks, and includes much brand-new material, including new prose and poems from Dr. Jo and other sources.
If you love, you will grieve—and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human.
Our culture often makes the bereaved feel alone, isolated, broken, and like they should just “get over it”—this book offers a loving antidote.
Open to any page of Grieving Is Loving and you’ll find something that will instantly help you feel not alone, while honoring the full weight of loss.
This book is comprised of quotations from Bearing the Unbearable, and other sources as well, plus an enormous amount of new material from Dr. Jo. Especially well-suited for the grieving mind that may struggle with concentration, just 30 seconds on any page will empower, hearten, and validate any bereaved person—helping give strength and courage to bear life’s most painful losses.
“Grieving Is Loving is a wise, moving, and compassionate book. Reading it brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of the loss of loved ones 30 and 45 years ago. Not only should its message be read and internalized by those suffering the loss of a beloved, but also by those with friends who have lost or are likely to lose someone in the future—in other words, by everyone.”
—Irving Kirsch, PhD, Harvard Medical School, University of Connecticut, University of Hull, author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
The Grand Delusion
In The Grand Delusion, bestselling author Steve Hagen drills deeply into the most basic assumptions, strengths, and limitations of religion and belief, philosophy and inquiry, science and technology. In doing so, he shines new light on the great existential questions—Why is there Something rather than Nothing? What does it mean to exist? What is consciousness? What is the nature of truth?—and does so from an entirely unexpected direction.
Ultimately, this book reveals how all of our fundamental questions stem from a single error, a single unwarranted belief—a single Grand Delusion.
Upcoming Author Events
Steve Hagen will be leading a weekly online Grand Delusion study group beginning January 6 at 7:30 p.m. CST, providing a chance for readers to consider in greater detail subtleties in the text that might not be immediately apparent. These observations will include additional material that was culled from the original text in preparation for publication. Depending on how many are in attendance, this study may also provide an opportunity for readers to take on the role of ANYONE and question the author. Visit the study group website for access to live Zoom meetings and for audio archives of the study group. Please contact the Dharma Field Zen Center office for more information.
The Zen Master’s Dance
A fresh take on how to read Dōgen.
In The Zen Master’s Dance, Jundo Cohen takes us deep into the mind of Master Dōgen—and shows us how to join in the great and intimate dance of the universe. Through fresh translations and sparkling teaching, Cohen opens up for us a new way to read one of Buddhism’s most remarkable spiritual geniuses.
Zen and Psychotherapy
This book is an intimate dialogue that examines the interplay of emotional and spiritual development through the lens of Zen Buddhism and psychotherapy. Zen and Psychotherapy artfully illuminates the intrinsic connections between the two practices, and demonstrates how the traditions can be complementary in helping to live a truly fulfilled and contented life.
Zen teacher and psychologist Joseph Bobrow deftly shows how the major themes of trauma, attachment, emotional communication, and emotional regulation play out in the context of Zen and of psychotherapeutic practice, and how, in concert, both provide a comprehensive, interactive model of fully functioning human life.
The Zen of R2-D2
Did you ever wonder why R2-D2 is
- always calm and cool under pressure,
- the key to the rebellion’s survival, and
- the one who never fails to save the day?
Could it be because he’s secretly a Zen master?
Discover your inner R2—and the truth about who you really are!
This delightful and illuminating romp unfolds in the form of a fictional dialogue between the author—a die-hard Star Wars devotee with a deep connection to Zen—and two cosplayers dressed as C-3PO and R2-D2 who insist on being called by their character names. Along the way, you’ll come to see what everyone’s favorite astromech can teach us about peace, happiness, and life’s true meaning.
Sculpting the Buddha Within
Sculpting the Buddha Within is the first major biography of Shinjo Ito, the founder of the Shinnyo-en tradition of Buddhism and one of the twentieth century’s most innovative spiritual teachers. Ito was schooled in Shingon, the millennium-old esoteric Buddhism of Japan, and used that as the basis for developing a unique lay practice grounded in the principles and concepts of the Mahayana version of the Nirvana Sutra.
Ito’s wish was to help his practitioners see their own potential for goodness so that they, too, would be inspired to work diligently to shape and give form to their inner buddha. Rather than encouraging his followers to believe in a fixed system of practice or beliefs, Ito taught how to live life in accordance with one’s buddha nature—and the gratitude, creativity, and happiness latent within it.
The Illustrated Lotus Sutra
The Lotus Sutra is regarded as one of the world’s great religious scriptures and most influential texts. It’s a seminal work in the development of Buddhism throughout East Asia and, by extension, in the development of Mahayana Buddhism throughout the world. Taking place in a vast and fantastical cosmic setting, the Lotus Sutra places emphasis on skillfully doing whatever is needed to serve and compassionately care for others, on breaking down distinctions between the fully enlightened buddha and the bodhisattva who vows to postpone salvation until all beings may share it, and especially on each and every being’s innate capacity to become a buddha.
This illustrated edition features more than 110 full-page and two-page illustrations by a world-renowned and award-winning artist, and brings the fantastical and image-filled world of the Lotus Sutra vividly to life. Demi’s illustrations are both classical and contemporary in feel, perfectly complementing Reeves’s masterful and modern translation.
Entangling Vines (Paperback)
The most contemporary of the the classic koan collections—representing centuries of practical refinement by Zen masters working with their students.
Entangling Vines is a translation of the Shumon Kattoshu, the only major koan text to have been compiled in Japan rather than China. Most of the central koans of the contemporary Rinzai koan curriculum are contained in this work. Indeed, Kajitani Sonin (1914–1995)—former chief abbot of Shokoku-ji and author of an annotated, modern-Japanese translation of the Kattoshu—commented that “herein are compiled the basic Dharma materials of the koan system.”
A distinctive feature of Entangling Vines is that, unlike the Gateless Gate and Blue Cliff Record, it presents the koans “bare,” with no introductions, commentaries, or verses. The straightforward structure of its presentation lends the koans added force and immediacy, emphasizing the Great Matter, the essential point to be interrogated, while providing ample material for the rigors of examining and refining Zen experience.
Containing 272 cases and extensive annotation, the collection is not only indispensable for serious koan training but also forms an excellent introduction to Buddhist philosophy.