Joan D. Stamm received shihan, formal authorization to teach, from the Saga School of Ikebana headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. Her essays have appeared in Utne Reader, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, The Best Spiritual Writing series, Weber Journal and other publications. She currently lives on Orcas Island, WA.
“Stamm’s prose is gorgeously poetic.”—Shambhala Sun
HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FLOWERS
Reflections on Ikebana and Buddhism
2011 Nautilus Book Award — Silver Medal in Religion & Spirituality — Eastern Traditions
In this lovely meditation on ikebana—the Japanese art of flower arranging—Joan Stamm shows us how her twin paths of Buddhist practice and artistic endeavor converge and indeed become thoroughly intertwined.
Stamm’s lush, elegant voice weaves childhood memories of her mother’s joy at a just-bloomed morning glory with meditations on the symbolic importance of bamboo, of pine, of the lily. She takes us with her on her travels to Japan as she learns the essential principles of ikebana, and lets us join her as she teaches flower arranging to women in a nursing home who, though they won’t recall tomorrow the rules of arrangement or even the flowers’ names, nonetheless partake in the joy and love that celebrates all living things, however briefly they endure. And, when Joan shows us the natural symmetry of a blossom, we find that we too have regained our balance.
Includes 16 full-color photographs of the author’s original ikebana.
- 192 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 inches
- ISBN 9780861715770
- 192 pages
- ISBN 9780861718696
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.
The concept of nonduality lies at the very heart of Mahayana Buddhism. In the West, it’s usually associated with various kinds of absolute idealism in the West, or mystical traditions in the East—and as a result, many modern philosophers are poorly informed on the topic. Increasingly, however, nonduality is finding its way into Western philosophical debates. In this “scholarly but leisurely and very readable” (Spectrum Review) analysis of the philosophies of nondualism of (Hindu) Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism, renowned thinker David R. Loy extracts what he calls “a core doctrine” of nonduality. Loy clarifies this easily misunderstood topic with thorough, subtle, and understandable analysis.
“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.
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.
From October 16, 1973, to August 17, 1974, Tim Testu walked all the way from San Francisco to Seattle, bowing his head to the ground every three steps. And that’s not even the best part of his story.
Tim Testu was one of the very first Americans to take ordination in Chinese Zen Buddhism. His path—from getting kicked out of school to joyriding in stolen boats in the Navy to squatting in an anarchist commune to wholehearted spiritual engagement in a strict Buddhist monastery—is equal parts rollicking adventure and profound spiritual memoir.
Touching Ground is simultaneously larger than life and entirely relatable; even as Tim finds his spiritual home with his teacher, the legendary Chan master Hsuan Hua, he nonetheless continues to struggle to overcome his addictions and his very human shortcomings.
Tim never did anything halfway, including both drinking and striving for liberation. He died of leukemia in 1998 after packing ten lifetimes into fifty-two years.
This landmark work is simultaneously a manifesto, a blueprint, a call to action, and a deep comfort for troubling times. David R. Loy masterfully lays out the principles and perspectives of Ecodharma—the Buddhist response to our ecological predicament, a new term for a new development of the Buddhist tradition.
This book emphasizes the three aspects of Ecodharma:
- practicing in the natural world,
- exploring the ecological implications of Buddhist teachings,
- and embodying that understanding in the eco-activism that is needed today.
Offering a compelling framework and practical spiritual resources, Loy outlines the Ecosattva Path, a path of liberation and salvation for all beings and the world itself.
Prepare to be inspired, motivated, and encouraged.
Zen on the Trail
Evoking the writings of Gary Snyder, Bill Bryson, and Cheryl Strayed, Zen on the Trail explores the broad question of how to be outside in a meditative way. By directing our attention to how we hike as opposed to where we’re headed, Ives invites us to shift from ego-driven doing to spirit-filled being, and to explore the vast interconnection of ourselves and the natural world. Through this approach, we can wake up in the woods on nature’s own terms.
In erudite and elegant prose, Ives takes us on a journey we will not soon forget.
This book features a new prose poem by Gary Snyder.
Zen Vows for Daily Life
Zen Vows for Daily Life is a collection of gathas, vows in verse form for daily practice, similar to prayers or affirmations for use at home, at work, and in the meditation hall itself. Reciting these poetic vows can help us be fully present in each moment and each activity of our lives. These gathas serve as gentle reminders to return again and again to our highest aspirations, with acceptance, joy, and compassion—for ourselves and all beings. Zen Vows for Daily Life will be a steadfast companion in keeping the reader inspired and committed on their spiritual path.
“Each act in a Buddhist monastery—washing up, putting on clothes, entering the Buddha hall, sitting down for meditation, getting up from meditation—receives its own Dharma poem. Events on pilgrimage—encountering a tree, a river, a bridge, a dignitary, a mendicant—likewise offer entries into truth. My purpose in this book is similar: to show how ordinary occurrences in our modern lay lives are in fact the Buddha’s own teachings—and also to show how we can involve ourselves accordingly in the practice of wisdom and compassion with family and friends, with everyone and everything.”—Robert Aitken, from the Preface
“In [Zen Vows for Daily Life], poetry and meditation always go together. Poetry is comprised of images and music, and images make the practice easy. Robert Aitken Roshi is a poet who deeply appreciates practicing with these gathas. He offers us many beautiful verses, sterling examples of this practice, that we can use to reflect more deeply on what we are doing. I am grateful to Aitken Roshi for offering us this beautiful book.”—from the Foreword by Thich Nhat Hanh
A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace
The message of the Tang-dynasty Zen text in this volume seems simple: to gain enlightenment, stop thinking there is something you need to practice. For the Chinese master Huangbo Xiyun (d. 850), the mind is enlightenment itself if we can only let go of our normal way of thinking.
The celebrated translation of this work by John Blofeld, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po, introduced countless readers to Zen over the last sixty years. Huangbo’s work is also a favorite of contemporary Zen (Korean: Seon) Master Subul, who has revolutionized the strict monastic practice of koans and adapted it for lay meditators in Korea and around the world to make swift progress in intense but informal retreats. Devoting themselves to enigmatic questions with their whole bodies, retreatants are frustrated in their search for answers and arrive thereby at a breakthrough experience of their own buddha nature.
A Bird in Flight Leaves No Trace is a bracing call for the practitioner to let go and thinking and unlock the buddha within.
Lack & Transcendence
Whatever the differences in their methods and goals, psychotherapy, existentialism, and Buddhism are all concerned with the same fundamental issues of life and death—and death-in-life. In Lack and Transcendence (originally published by Humanities Press in 1996), David R. Loy brings all three traditions together, casting new light on each. Written in clear, jargon-free style that does not assume prior familiarity, this book will appeal to a wide variety of readers including psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, scholars of religion, Continental philosophers, and readers seeking clarity on the Great Matter itself. Loy draws from giants of psychotherapy, particularly Freud, Rollo May, Irvin Yalom, and Otto Rank; great existentialist thinkers, particularly Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre; and the teachings Buddhism, particularly as interpreted by Nagarjuna, Huineng and Dogen. This is the definitive edition of Loy’s seminal classic.
The Mountains and Waters Sutra
“Mountains and waters are the expression of old buddhas.”
So begins “Sansuikyō,” or “Mountains and Waters Sūtra,” a masterpiece of poetry and insight from Eihei Dōgen, the thirteenth-century founder of the Sōtō school of Zen.
Shohaku Okumura—renowned for his translations of and magisterial teachings on Dōgen—guides the reader through the rich layers of metaphor and meaning in “Sansuikyō,” which is often thought to be the most beautiful essay in Dōgen’s monumental Shōbōgenzō. His wise and friendly voice shows us the questions Dōgen poses and helps us realize what the answers could be. What does it mean for mountains to walk? How are mountains an expression of Buddha’s truth, and how can we learn to hear the deep teachings of river waters? Throughout this luminous volume, we learn how we can live in harmony with nature in respect and gratitude—and awaken to our true nature.
Zen and the Gospel of Thomas
Imagine that the Buddha asked Jesus to write a text for a Zen audience that would explain his take on the mysteries of his Kingdom. Imagine also that Jesus chose to present it in a set of short koanlike sayings similar to the classic koan collections of the Zen tradition. This is, in essence, the gnostic Gospel of Thomas. A Zen reading of Thomas allows us to access the living Jesus through Buddhist eyes so we can add to and refine our own practice with his wisdom. Likewise, Thomas can be a gateway for Christians to make use of Zen.
Like the Buddha, this Jesus of Thomas wishes us to realize, individually and personally, the truth of the eternal. He offers teachings for the whole of our lives, dealing with such topics as: the proper use of money; how to foster wisdom and insight; the nature of awakening and non-attachment; love and judgment; how to rest in the essential; and the nature of what it means to be an enlightened person. Like koans, the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas ask each of us to discover the same secrets of mystery that Jesus himself discovered and to live out that knowledge in our own unique way.
The Crow Flies Backwards and Other New Zen Koans
Traditionally, Zen koans—the teaching stories of Zen—are drawn from the words and teachings of ancient masters and primarily address the concerns of (male) monastic practitioners. In The Crow Flies Backwards, Ross Bolleter changes all at. The 108 modern koans offered within address sexuality and childbirth, family, parenthood, work, money and even the nature time itself. These koans are drawn from a variety of modern sources: Western philosophy, the Bible, contemporary and classic literature from Proust to Lewis Carroll and Mary Oliver and Anne Carson, as well as stories provided by author’s encounters with his Zen students.
Bolleter’s commentaries provide guidance to the reader on how to engage with each koan and koans in general, and direct guidance in to meditate with koans. An appendix offers rarely-seen intimate and in-depth accounts of the process of koan introspection, from four of the author’s senior students.
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.
Before Buddha Was Buddha
In the lifetimes before he was Siddhartha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha was many things: a gardener, a robber, a monkey—and even an ogre.
Yet even then, amid struggles and shortcomings, he was also just like us—as we see in this enchanting book from Buddhist teacher and master storyteller Rafe Martin. Martin starts with brisk retellings of jatakas—the ancient stories the Buddha’s past lives—then uses them to reveal what it means to be truly human.
Unfathomable Depths presents a concise treatment of Sōtō theory and practice, while delivering approachableadvice from Sekkei Harada, one of Zen’s most esteemed teachers. Rooting himself in Tong’an Changcha’s classical and enigmatic poem, “Ten Verses of Unfathomable Depth,” Harada intimately speaks to the world of Zen today, answering some of our most pressing questions:
- What is the true nature and function of Dharma transmission
- How do I appropriately practice with koans?
- How do I understand the “just sitting” of Sōtō Zen?
Making Zen Your Own
In this book, Janet Jiryu Abels traces the life stories of twelve Chinese Zen masters who, together, shaped what was to become known as Zen’s Golden Age. She presents their biographies, describes their teachings, and shows how their lives and teachings can inspire those who practice Zen today. The book is a presentation of ancient Zen insight vividly relevant for the twenty-first century, addressing both the needs of both new and longtime Zen practitioners. Its singular distinction is in bringing Zen history, ancestral teachings, and present-day application of those teachings into one work.
Although the book is based on scholarly sources and historical records, Abels stresses the humanity of these Zen ancestors, showing that they were not formed from a generic mold but were individuals with quirks, senses of humor, heartfelt enlightenment experiences, varied ways of living, and unique ways of expressing Zen. She tells their stories in a lively, accessible manner, shedding light on their paradoxical teachings with clarity and simplicity. She also shows that they all faced the same challenges that Zen practitioners face today.
Interwoven among the stories and teachings are Abels’ own insights into the dharma of Zen, as well as practical applications and encouragements that readers can bring to their individual practice of the Way. These insights are based on her more than ten years as a Zen teacher. She is the founder and co-resident teacher of Still Mind Zendo in New York City.
Thunderous Silence throws light on the Heart Sutra—a pithy encapsulation of the essence of Perfection of Wisdom literature—using stop-by-step analysis and an easy, conversational voice. Dosung Yoo examines the sutra phrase by phrase, using rich explanations and metaphors drawn from Korean folklore, quantum physics, Charles Dickens, and everything in between to clarify subtle concepts for the reader. This book invites us to examine the fundamentals of Buddhism—the Four Noble Truths, emptiness, enlightenment—through the prism of the Heart Sutra. Both those new to Buddhism and longtime practitioners looking to revisit a core text from a fresh perspective will find this work appealing.