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The Zen Studies Podcast

Learn about traditional Zen and Buddhist teachings, practices, and history through episodes recorded specifically for podcast listeners. Host Domyo Burk is a Soto Zen priest and teacher.

Popular episodes

188 - What Does Practice Look Like When Your Country Is Broken?

Dec 1 • 34:27

When our country - or global community - is broken, how do we practice? Faced with incomprehensible violence, injustice, lies, greed, and destruction, how do we cope, let alone respond in accord with our bodhisattva vows? Our first responses are usually anger, fear, judgment, and an effort to assign blame. Then may come a desire to check out - to ignore what's happening be...

187 - Lotus Sutra 5: Step Right Up to Get YOUR Prediction of Buddhahood

Nov 20 • 39:06

In the Lotus Sutra, thousands of the Buddha's disciples line up, each requesting their own, personal prediction of buddhahood. What is this about? Shouldn't advanced practitioners of the Buddha way be beyond any concern about themselves? I share the stories from the Lotus Sutra and discuss the teaching contained in them - namely, that we all have self-doubt, and that spiri...

186 - Making Peace with Ghosts: Unresolved Karma and the Sejiki (Segaki) Festival

Nov 12 • 34:38

The annual Buddhist ceremony of “feeding the hungry ghosts,” or Sejiki, offers rich mythological imagery as a teaching. Metaphorically, a “ghost” is anything painful or difficult which continues to haunt the present although its causes lie in the past. Sejiki and its surrounding mythology encourages us to make peace with our ghosts: We acknowledge them, set appropriate bou...

185 – 14 Ways to Enliven Your Zazen – Part 2

Oct 29 • 28:45

184 – 14 Ways to Enliven Your Zazen – Part 1

Oct 22 • 27:26
When we sit zazen, it can be difficult to remain wholehearted and attentive. Because of the momentum of habit energy, we get wrapped up in thoughts about the past and future, or we fall asleep, fantasize, or brood in worry or negative judgements. Our meditative practice (zazen) gives us nothing to concentrate on, nothing to do, so how can we enliven our zazen? I suggest 14...

183 – Natural Koans: Engaging Our Limitations as Dharma Gates

Oct 11 • 43:45

Formal Zen koans are short stories or statements by past Chan/Zen masters which have been passed down through the generations for study and contemplation by Zen students. Each koan contains a Dharma teaching, and until you personally experience and digest that teaching, the koan remains a closed gate you need to pass through - on the other side of which is greater freedom,...

182 - Answers to Interview Questions from Eastern Horizon Magazine

Sep 29 • 30:26

I share with you questions and answers from my 2020 written interview for Eastern Horizon, a tri-annual magazine of the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM). There are some basic questions about Zen, and then some questions about what Buddhism has to offer with respect to understanding and coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Thought you might enjoy hearing a differ...

181 - Bodhicitta: Way-Seeking Mind, or the Mind of Enlightenment

Sep 22 • 38:41

Bodhicitta can be translated as Way-Seeking Mind, or the Mind of Enlightenment. It's the part of us that recognizes and seeks truth and goodness, inspiring our spiritual search and motivating our practice. In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhicitta is seen as essential to the path and a cause for gratitude. It also can be seen as the primary source of redemption for humankind, even ...

180 - The Dharma of Staying Calm When Facing Challenges

Sep 10 • 35:50

179 - Inadequacy to Abundance: Rewriting Our Self-Narrative

Aug 30 • 29:47

As human beings we have a self-narrative, and for most - if not all - of us, this narrative includes a sense of inadequacy. When we conceive of ourselves as a "small self against the world" we will always feel inadequate, and consequently our generosity is inhibited. Fortunately, we can rewrite our self-narrative to include our buddha-nature, because the "boundless self wi...

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