Tom Chetwynd is the author of many books on dreams, myths, and symbols, including The Dictionary for Dreamers and The Age of Myth: The Bronze Age As the Cradle of the Unconscious. He lives in London, England.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Zen and the Kingdom of Heaven
“Let us guard the mind with all diligence from thoughts that obscure the soul’s mirror; for in that mirror Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God the Father, is luminously reflected. And let us unceasingly seek the Kingdom of Heaven inside our mind. Indeed if we cleanse the eye of the mind, we will find all things hidden within us. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, indicating that Divinity dwells in our minds.”—Saint Philotheos of Sinai, circa ninth century.
In this provocative and very human work, Tom Chetwynd tells the story of how his skeptical first encounters with Zen Buddhism led him to discover the rich-but largely forgotten Christian tradition of pure contemplative prayer. Chetwynd explores the surprisingly Zen-like teachings of the Desert Fathers and other Christian meditation masters whose practice stems from the very first Christian communities—and perhaps Jesus Christ himself.
- Academic & Translations
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- Tibetan Buddhism
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“Intimacy is based on the willingness to open ourselves to many others, to family, friends, and even strangers, forming genuine and deep bonds based on common humanity. Koshin Paley Ellison’s teachings share the way forward into a path of connection, compassion, and intimacy.”
—His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Each of us has an enormous capacity for love—a deep well of attention and care that we can offer to ourselves and others. With guidance that is both simple and wholly transformative, Koshin Paley Ellison, Zen teacher and psychotherapist, shows us how to uncover it: pay attention, be of service, and be with others.
With this inspiring and down-to-earth book, drawn from the Zen precepts and illustrated with anecdotes from Koshin’s own life and practice, you’ll learn how to
- explore and investigate with your own core values,
- identify the mental habits that could be unconsciously hurting yourself and others, and
- overcome isolation.
Each chapter closes with a contemplation to help integrate the teachings into your life.
This book is about getting back in touch with your values, so you can live energetically, authentically, and lovingly. This is an invitation to close the gaps we create between ourselves and others—to wake up to ourselves and the world around us.
It’s time to live wholeheartedly.
Sharon Salzberg: Loving-Kindness: More than Just a Concentration Practice
In this episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host Daniel Aitken speaks with Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned meditation teacher and practitioner, and New York Times bestselling author. Sharon is also cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre Massachusetts, the first ever western meditation center established in the United States. In this episode, you’ll hear Sharon discuss one of her all-time favorite topics: the practice of metta, or loving-kindness. Sharon talks about what initially drew her to the practice and its transformational effects over the course of her lifetime. In her down-to-earth style, Sharon explains the practical application of loving-kindness in daily life. As more than just a concentration practice, loving-kindness can function as an antidote to fear, anxiety, and emotional withdrawal. It can heighten a sense of connection with others, help us be more assertive, and even transform the most difficult of relationships. She compares it to what the Buddha taught as “gladdening the mind,” or ways of cultivating a loving mental environment in which to navigate the more difficult aspects of life and practice. If you’re interested in hearing more from Sharon, be sure to check out our first podcast with her, Sharon Salzberg: Faith and Doubt.
Daughters of Emptiness
Women played major roles in the history of Buddhist China, but given the paucity of the remaining records, their voices have all but faded. In Daughters of Emptiness, Beata Grant renders a great service by recovering and translating the enchanting verse—by turns assertive, observant, devout—of forty-eight nuns from sixteen centuries of imperial China. This selection of poems, along with the brief biographical accounts that accompany them, affords readers a glimpse into the extraordinary diversity and sometimes startling richness of these women’s lives.
A sample poem for this stunning collection:
The sequence of seasons naturally pushes forward,
Suddenly I am startled by the ending of the year.
Lifting my eyes I catch sight of the winter crows,
Calling mournfully as if wanting to complain.
The sunlight is cold rather than gentle,
Spreading over the four corners like a cloud.
A cold wind blows fitfully in from the north,
Its sad whistling filling courtyards and houses.
Head raised, I gaze in the direction of Spring,
But Spring pays no attention to me at all.
Time a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack,
The tap [of Death] at the door has its predestined time.
How should I not know, one who has left the world,
And for whom floating clouds are already familiar?
In the garden there grows a rosary-plum tree:
Whose sworn friendship makes it possible to endure.
—Chan Master Jingnuo
Chen-Chiu: The Original Acupuncture
Chen-Chiu: The Original Acupuncture is based on an historic Chinese acupuncture text that remains vital to this day: the Ling-Shu-Jing. Dr. Claus Schnorrenberger, who has produced a well-known translation of Ling-Shu-Jing, here applies his personal medical experience—as a lecturer, and moreover, as an orthodox Western physician and Chinese acupuncturist/herbalist—to the principles of the text.
The result is a new view of the prevailing Western perceptions of Chinese medicines. The author calls into question such concepts as Chi, the meridians, and even acupuncture itself, in order to correct erroneous translations still in use by many to this day. Chen-Chiu provides an epistemological reflection on what Chinese medicine and acupuncture really mean, and adds new contrast and insight into Western and Eastern views of healing. This, the author rightly contends, is essential for the successful integration of Chinese medicines in the West.
Schnorrenberger’s book is well-balanced and much-needed, appropriate not only as a reference for students and practitioners of Chinese medicine, but also as a learning aid for patients, health-care workers and administrators, Western physicians, and more.
The Ceasing of Notions
Among the writings from the Dunhuang Caves, discovered in the mid-twentieth Century, are the Zen equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls—ancient texts unknown for centuries. The Ceasing of Notions is one such text. It takes a unique form: a dialogue between two imaginary figures, a master and his disciple, in which the disciple tenaciously pursues the master’s pity utterances with follow-up questions that propel the dialogue toward ever more profound insights. And these questions prove to be the reader’s very own. Soko Morinaga brings alive this compact and brilliant text with his own vivid commentary.
This volume also includes a generous selection from Morinaga’s acclaimed autobiography, Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of my Own Stupidity.
Business and the Buddha
When it comes to business, everyone wants to do well. But can we do good at the same time? Lloyd Field (and, indeed the Dalai Lama, who provides the foreword here) says, unequivocally, Yes. Field’s Business and the Buddha lays out the guidelines for putting ideas about individual and corporate social responsibility into practice without sacrificing the bottom line.
No longer can business—big or small—afford to focus solely on profit. Real assessment of a business’s worth must take into account its consideration of our shared human values, and the realities of our shared planet. That doesn’t mean a business can’t or shouldn’t compete; it means that investing in efforts to build a better society can be, on many levels, an asset.
Drawing in a substantial and sophisticated way on traditional Buddhist teachings, Lloyd Field shows how decision-makers and entrepreneurs can achieve new levels of happiness and security both inside and outside the company, and take a power-position as a force for positive global change.
Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved
Since its beginning, Buddhism has been intimately concerned with confronting and understanding death and dying. Indeed, the tradition emphasizes turning toward the realities of sickness, old age, and death—and using those very experiences to develop wisdom and liberating compassion. In recent decades, Buddhist chaplains and caregivers all over the world have been drawing on this tradition to contribute greatly to the development of modern palliative and hospice care in the secular world at large. Specifically Buddhist hospice programs have been further developing and applying traditional Buddhist practices of preparing for death, attending the dying, and comforting the bereaved.
Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved contains comprehensive overviews of the best of such initiatives, drawn from diverse Buddhist traditions, and written by practitioners who embody the best of contemporary Buddhist hospice care programs practiced all over the world today.
Contributors include Carl B. Becker, Moichiro Hayashi, Yozo Taniyama, Mari Sengoku, Phaisan Visalo, Beth Kanji Goldring, Caroline Prasada Brazier, Joan Jiko Halifax, and Julie Chijo Hanada.
Buddhism is famous for bringing inner peace, but what about social harmony, human rights, and environmental balance? We have a responsibility today to work directly with our own suffering and the suffering in our communities, the world, and the environment.
Buddhist Peacework collects—for the first time in one place—first-person descriptions of the ideas and work of eminent Buddhist leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Maha Ghosananda, A.T. Ariyaratne, Daisaku Ikeda, Shih Cheng-yen, Sulak Sivaraksa, and Robert Aitken. These 18 essays are divided into three sections that explore the newest Buddhist social developments, the principles that guide Buddhist peacework, and the importance of ongoing inner peacework in developing a sense of kinship with all people.
A table of contents for this book can be found here.
Buddhism of the Heart
Jeff Wilson started his walk on the Buddha’s path as a Zen practitioner—taking up a tradition of vigorous self-effort, intensive meditation, and meticulous attention to rectitude in every action. But in Jeff’s case, rather than freeing him from his suffering, he found those Zen practices made him nothing short of insufferable. And so he turned to Shin Buddhism—a path that is easily the most popular in Zen’s native land of Japan but is largely unknown in the West.
Shin emphasizes an “entrusting heart,” a heart that is able to receive with gratitude every moment of our mistake-filled and busy lives. Moreover, through walking the Shin path, Jeff comes see that each of us (himself especially included) are truly “foolish beings,” people so filled with endlessly arising “blind passions” and ingrained habits that we so easily cause harm even with our best intentions. And even so, Shin holds out the tantalizing possibility that, by truly entrusting our foolish selves to the compassionate universe, we can learn to see how this foolish life, just as it is, is nonetheless also a life of grace.
Buddhism of the Heart is a wide-ranging book of essays and open-hearted stories, reflections that run the gamut from intensely personal to broadly philosophical, introducing the reader to a remarkable religious tradition of compassionate acceptance.
The Buddha’s Apprentices
Sumi Loundon’s Blue Jean Buddha was hailed by the New York Times Review of Books as “a bellwether anthology”—mapping the spiritual trails followed by a generation of American Buddhist youths. The Buddha’s Apprentices examines that territory in fuller detail, telling twenty-six more stories of this powerful spiritual path, including the stories of many teenagers. The book shows us the common challenges that spiritually hungry young adults of today might face, with a focus on the identity issues around personality, profession, and lifestyle. Also included are several affirming essays from prominent older Buddhists, recalling their first encounters with Buddhism. The Buddha’s Apprentices inspires, examining the tectonic shifts that young, spiritually-inclined people undergo as they leave home, search for partners, consider commitment and marriage, and build their lives. Furthermore, they tell of how Buddhism changes and enhances their abilities to face life’s difficulties.
Sumi Loundon’s rich and youthful commentary lets us appreciate each contributor’s individual voice, and helps us to see how they contribute to the always-evolving chorus of modern Buddhism.
The Buddha’s Apprentices can be considered a sequel to Sumi Loundon’s Blue Jean Buddha, but goes beyond that work by giving extra attention to teens and young adults and including pieces from Thich Nhat Hanh, Lama Surya Das, and a truly diverse array of younger author/contributors.
Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures
As both Buddhism and psychotherapy have grown and diversified in Asia, as well as in the West, so too has the literature dealing with their interaction. Today, Japan and the United States are the two largest psychotherapeutic cultures in the world, and this volume brings together seminal contemporary thinkers in both disciplines on both sides of the Pacific. Both Buddhism and psychotherapy are cultural institutions that evolved over time as their native cultures evolved, as the configurations of the self evolved, and as new cultures assimilated them. And both have transformed the cultures in which they have evolved. Cross-cultural interaction occurs not only between the two disciplines of Buddhist and psychotherapeutic practice (involving various schools and approaches within each) but also across geographical and ethnic boundaries, within the practitioner him- or herself.
Contributors explore the creative possibilities emerging from the synergy of Buddhism and psychotherapy. Many conference participants came from a Pure Land Buddhist background (the largest stream of Buddhism in East Asia), specifically that of Jodo-shin (commonly known as Shin Buddhism), although Buddhist teachers and scholars of the Zen, Tibetan, and Vipassana traditions were also well represented. This volume in particular brings together world-class specialists from the United States and Japan, including Jack Engler, Anne Klein, Jeremy Safran, Naoki Nabeshima, Yasunobu Okada, Taitetsu Unno. They are versed in various forms of psychotherapy and counseling including clinical practice, therapist training, the care of the terminally ill, and in the practice of Tibetan, Zen, Vipassana and Pure Land Buddhism. This ground-breaking volume offers rich reflections at many levels.
The Book of Mu
The word “mu” is one ancient Zen teacher’s response to the earnest question of whether even a dog has “buddha nature”. Discovering for ourselves the meaning of the master’s response is the urgent work of each of us who yearns to be free and at peace. “Practicing Mu” is synonymous with practicing Zen, “sitting with Mu” is an apt description for all Zen meditation, and it is said that all the thousands and thousands of koans in the Zen tradition are just further elaborations of Mu.
This watershed volume brings together over forty teachers, ancient and modern masters from across centuries and schools, to illuminate and clarify the essential matter: the question of how to be most truly ourselves.
Includes writings from: Dogen • Hakuin • Dahui • Thich Thien-An Zenkei Shibayama • Seung Sahn • Taizan Maezumi • Sheng Yen Philip Kapleau • Robert Aitken • Jan Chozen Bays • Shodo Harada Grace Schireson • John Daido Loori • John Tarrant Barry Magid • Joan Sutherland … and many more!
The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed
After the death of her six-week-old son, Liam, Katie Willis Morton embarked on a courageous search for solace and understanding. The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed invites readers to share in her voyage as she travels the world and the landscapes of her own experience. Interweaving what she witnesses—simple rituals like children’s baths and picnics, and birth and death rites—with her own recovery and growth, she discovers that the pain she has experienced is both unavoidable and necessary, a pivotal part of the process of healing that can lead to “a victorious kind of joy, of acceptance.” In discovering herself, Morton speaks to readers suffering similar tragedies, and indeed to all of us, in an intimate and inspiring story about enduring world-shattering pain and coming out whole.
The Blue Poppy and the Mustard Seed helps us confront the universal truths of love and loss that we all will eventually and inevitably encounter. This book will be a comfort to anyone who has faced a tragic loss, but not only that, it takes us all on a rich journey, through joy, suffering, and ultimately to hope, in a way that is quietly beautiful and, above all, utterly life-affirming.
The Book of Equanimity
The Book of Equanimity contains the first-ever complete English language commentary on one of the most beloved classic collections of Zen teaching stories (koans), making them vividly relevant to spiritual seekers and Zen students in the twenty-first century. Continually emphasizing koans as effective tools to discover and experience the deepest truths of our being, Wick brings the art of the koan to life for those who want to practice wisdom in their daily lives.
The koan collection Wick explores here is highly esteemed as both literature and training material in the Zen tradition, in which koan-study is one of two paths a practitioner might take. This collection is used for training in many Zen centers in the Americas and in Europe but has never before been available with commentary from a contemporary Zen master. Wick’s Book of Equanimity includes new translations of the preface, main case and verse for each koan, and modern commentaries on the koans by Wick himself.
Blue Jean Buddha
In an age when the Dalai Lama’s image has been used to sell computers, rock stars have used tantra to enhance their image, and for many, Nirvana calls to mind a a favorite band, what does Buddhism mean to twenty-somethings?
Blue Jean Buddha offers real stories about young Buddhists in their own words that affirm and inform the young adult Buddhist experience. This one-of-a-kind book is about the experiences of young people in America-from their late teens to early thirties-who have embraced Buddhism. Thirty-three first-person narratives reflect on a broad range of life-stories, lessons, and livelihood issues, such as growing up in a Zen center, struggling with relationships, caring for the dying, and using marathon running as meditation. Throughout, up-and-coming author Sumi Loundon provides an illuminating context for the tremendous variety of experiences shared in the book.
Blue Jean Buddha was named a finalist in the 2002 Independent Publisher Book Awards (Multicultural Non-Fiction—Young Adult) as well in NAPRA’s Nautilus Awards, in the Personal Journey/Memoir/Biography category.
Beside Still Waters
A compelling question for people of faith today is how to remain committed to one’s own religious tradition while being open to the beauty and truth of other religions. For example, some fear that Buddhism is a threat to Western faith traditions and express grave doubts about interreligious and cross-cultural encounters. Yet, many who have actually broadened their experience profess to have developed a deeper understanding of and a deeper commitment to their tradition of origin.
This is what makes Beside Still Waters: Jews, Christians, and the Way of the Buddha such a new and meaningful contribution. Rather than offering research or lectures, Beside Still Waters takes a deeply personal approach, allowing the reader to delve into the individual experiences of fourteen Jews and Christians whose encounters with Buddhism have truly impacted their sense of religious identity.
As Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography, says in the book’s foreword, “The Buddhist presence in the religious world is far larger than a head-count of Buddhists can reveal.” Beside Still Waters upholds this point by way of the diverse and eloquent authors who lend their perspective in its pages; these include Sylvia Boorstein, John B. Cobb, Norman Fischer, Ruben Habito, and other important members of the Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and scholarly communities. Their collected anecdotes and interviews amount to an unprecedented and enduring work, sure to deepen our ability to understand each other, and therefore, ourselves.
Awesome Nightfall: The Life, Times, and Poetry of Saigyō captures the power of Saigyō’s poetry and this previously overlooked poet’s keen insight into the social and political world of medieval Japan. It also offers a fascinating look into the world of Japanese Buddhism prior to the wholesale influence of Zen.