the teacup and the skullcup – book review

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in book review, vajrayana, zen

One day I searched ‘zen trungpa’ on the internet and the Amazon page for The Teacup and the Skullcup: Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on Zen and Tantra came up first. So intriguing! I have been a zen student for a while and also read a majority of Chögyam Trungpa’s work. He has been my main ‘book’ teacher. The book was published in 2007. This is not so much a book review but rather a summary of what I discovered in connection with my own experience while reading it.

The material is drawn from two seminars that Trungpa Rinpoche led in 1974 in the US. It starts with an informing introduction by David Schneider where one learns about the close personal connections between Trungpa and the early American Zen teachers (Suzuki Roshi, Kobun Otogawa, Eido Roshi and Maezumi Roshi who founded ZCLA). At the time a lot of Zen students were drawn to Chögyam Trungpa’s teachings and he adopted a lot of zen practices in his dharma centers in the West, using zafus, working with the breath and performing kinhin. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind was read at retreats, calligraphy and kyudo were practiced at Shambhala and Trungpa was also an ikebana artist and accomplished calligrapher (I recommend reading his writings on dharma art). Stories of Trungpa and his American Zen friends abound, involving drinking sometimes!

sex, sin and zen – book review

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in book review, zen

I don’t read many buddhist books, I don’t read many buddhist blogs either. I did read Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen a long time ago and I enjoyed it for it’s freshness and different approach. I bought his latest book, Sex, Sin and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between, as a iPhone Kindle book for $7.99 after browsing through it on the shelf at a bookstore. Usually on my iPhone I read books that I don’t really care about, something I can read when I’m standing in line somewhere. At the end of the day I truly enjoyed this one again.

Brad Warner adopts a fresh and casual tone, he is a master at using the modern Western culture and language to translate old concepts or sometimes show why they should be adapted. There’s humor, he also doesn’t take himself seriously and he’s a daring explorer of cultures. All this indicates that he probably is a good natural dharma teacher.

Although there are many juicy bits (BDSM, abortion, masturbation, porn, prostitution) somehow it ends up not being a book about sex, it’s just writing about american zen and the facets zen has today in this country, on its own and in contrast or harmony with the heavy Christian luggage the culture is still carrying. Mr Warner uses sex as a vehicle to expose more general buddhist concepts and how they apply to modern practice in this society. Quite softly he ends the book with a How To Do Zazen chapter, I thought that was touching.

zen e-course // day 61 – feedback

Written by arnokroner on . Posted in studies, zen

Exactly what the doctor ordered! An extra assignment! I though I’d be relieved or facing some e-course withdrawal but nothing happened when the assignments stopped from coming. Because they didn’t, the assignment of the day is FEEDBACK. What do I think? Do I even still think? But of course!

First, I think Roshi is awesome. Hooray for fearlessly experimenting and starting something new while building on a tradition of teaching. It is truly modern dharma. What is modern dharma anyway, just dharma now then it’s just dharma! Thank you. Overall the course was a way to bring focus on every day’s reality and extract the essence of some facets of reality. As they say “Time is nature’s way of making sure that everything doesn’t happen at once” (Anonymous) the assignments were a way to make sure everything didn’t happen at once too. The assignments allowed to push the record button and review the dailies frame by frame!

Second, during the e-course i never felt I was doing something separate. The assignments integrated seamlessly into whatever reality was at that time. This made the assignments often feel relevant to what was going on in the phenomenal world or absolute world at the time but that’s no coincidence or synchronicity, it’s probably because they were well thought out. Thank you for the skilfull meaning!

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