Jundo Cohen is a Soto Zen Priest, founder and teacher of the Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha located in Tsukuba, Japan. He was ordained in 2002 and subsequently received Dharma transmission from Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi. He is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and the American Zen Teachers Association.

Taigu Turlur began Zen Practice at age 13(!) in his native France, was ordained in 1983 at age 18(!) by Rev. Mokudo Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage, and received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2003. Devoted to the sewing of the Kesa (Buddhist Robes), he now resides in Osaka, Japan and teaches at Treeleaf Sangha.

Could Buddhist holidays be more family-friendly?

Yes, says Zen teacher Jundo Cohen of Treeleaf Zendo, who proposes that Buddhists would do well to take advantage of this season of giving and receiving and find ways to present the heart and central messages of Buddhism to celebrants of all ages.

He has some feelings about how this might be done. What about you? After the jump, watch a video-talk from Jundo, and join him in sitting meditation. And don’t forget to share your ideas about how Buddhist holidays could be more family-friendly. Continued »

Flavors of Buddhism / Avoiding the jive and hype

By Jundo Cohen of Treeleaf Zendo

There’s a flavor of Buddhism for everyone, it seems, especially in the West. There are groups and teachings of all stripes — the monastic and the “out in the world” types, the traditional and the tradition-breaking, and many in between, mixing and matching. The Western Buddhist world comes in ten thousand colors and flavors!

And that can be GOOD, so long as you find the path and teacher(s) right for you. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

The internet is changing our brains. Can we change them back?

Texting, Googling, tweeting, flitting from this to that… the internet is literally changing our brains!

“I became aware of changes in my own thinking a couple of years ago,” Nicholas Carr, author of the new book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, told CNN. “… I came to realize [that] I was losing my ability to pay deep attention to one thing over a long period of time. When I’d sit down to read a book, for instance, I was only able to sustain my concentration for a page or two. My mind would begin to crave stimulation and distraction — it wanted to click on links, jump from page to page, check email, do some Googling…”

Our whole day to day is filled with running from here to there, no time to stop, places to go and things to get done one after another! Zazen is a moment of stillness and wholeness amid all that running around. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video from Jundo Cohen.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — Sewing the Buddha’s Robes

Among the preparations for Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts) at our Treeleaf Sangha, we sew a Rakusu… a small version of the Buddhist robes.

Maybe most of the folks who sew a Rakusu have never really sewn anything before, yet almost all find it a beautiful experience. It, too, is Zazen.

[Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — What does it mean to commit to the Buddhist path?

What does it mean to commit to the Buddhist path? Each year, our Treeleaf Sangha provides an opportunity for people from around the world to symbolize their commitment to the Buddhist path by joining our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts) Ceremony.

What does that mean, and what is it to “undertake the Precepts”?

[Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Here the way unfolds

Master Dogen wrote:

Accordingly, in the practice-enlightenment of the buddha way, meeting one thing is mastering it — doing one practice is practicing completely. Here is the place; here the way unfolds. The boundary of realization is not distinct, for the realization comes forth simultaneously with the mastery of buddha-dharma.

We always want to keep track of things and witness what happens. The urge to know, to be aware of, to grasp intellectually is precisely what Dogen sees as being an illusion. We don’t own realization and it cannot be measured or known. No traces are seen, and understanding doesn’t take place before of after practice. [Click through to sit along with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — Fallacies of Awakening, Part IV: Is it sudden or gradual?

Is enlightenment “sudden” or “gradual”? It’s a centuries-old debate in the Zen world (and in other realms of Buddhist practice, too). Zen’s answer has always been “yes” and “yes” –  for while the realization of insights may be in instants beyond time, the cultivation and realization (that is, making real) is done via practice instant by instant in life.

Kensho (seeing original nature) is necessary and vital to this path. Can such happen in an flash? Yes, but it usually ends up a flash in the pan – unless cultivated slowly, step by step, and made a part of one’s life. Must enlightenment happen in an flash? No, for the Buddha’s Truths can pierce our marrowless marrow slowly, step by step, with steady years of practice. In either case, arriving at “no beginning no end“, or any other destination, is not the end of the trail, nor the beginning. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Allowing sand castles

A few people have written me recently who have a spouse or loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease or a similar condition. There are some people in my own family now struggling. My mother suffered a series of strokes before her passing a few years ago which left her increasing confused, until she could not recognize her children some days.

There is no easy way to see a loved one slip away. Yet, can we learn how just to be with someone we love during the time we can, and then be willing to let them go? [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo: The Absent Child

Every life and family is touched by tragedy. No house is free of times of sadness.

Our family is no exception, reminded as we are of an adopted little girl who was to come to us years ago, but never has. She is just a name to us, a shadow, an empty child’s room that has gathered dust.

[Click through to hear more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Doing one practice

Zen master Eihei Dogen said in the Genjo Koan:

Now if a bird or a fish tries to reach the end of its element before moving in it, this bird or this fish will not find its way or its place. When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point. When you find you way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point; for the place, the way, is neither large nor small, neither yours nor others’. The place, the way, has not carried over from the past and it is not merely arising now.

There is no need to hurry and nowhere to go. As soon as one practices fully, this place is the whole, full-blown moon. The self changes, everything changes, so movement occurs. But although movement occurs, we never leave this place. The time of practice is not even taking place now. So mindfulness is extra. The time and space that Dogen is talking about are different from the ideas we have about time and space. [Click through to sit along with today's video.] Continued »

Welcome to the future: Zen priest ordination performed simultaneously on three continents

Taigu and I (Jundo) are very content to announce that, last Thursday, our Treeleaf Sangha ordained three new novice Soto Zen priests in the traditional manner.

What was not so traditional, however — and rather groundbreaking and somewhat controversial — is that it was, we believe, the first time that a Buddhist Ordination has been performed simultaneously on three continents (with the preceptors, Taigu and Jundo, in Japan, and our three ordainees in Canada, Germany and Sweden) all linked by audio-visual media via the internet.

Well, welcome to the future… which is just the present all along! [Click through to read more and view video of the ceremony.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — Bienvenue Tenryu et Taigu!

One pleasant aspect of being part of a Sangha is the wide family connections it allows. Today, we are visited in Japan by my Dharma Brother, Jean-Marc “Tenryu” Bazy, founder and teacher of  l’association zen Dogen Sangha de Lyon-Villeurbanne, France. He is joined by several members from Lyon, all visiting Japan for the first time. Taigu‘s here, too (he’s also from France, of course)!

Please sit-a-long with our special 90-minute Zazenkai. It begins with a wonderful Heart Sutra recitation in Japanese by Taigu, followed by two periods of 30 minute Zazen, with 10 minutes of Kinhin walking in between. Le Zazen Formidable! Merci, Tenryu, Taigu et tout! [Click through to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Taigu: Practice is Awakening

Zen master Eihei Dogen wrote:

A fish swims in the ocean, and no matter how far it swims there is no end to the water. A bird flies in the sky, and no matter how far it flies there is no end to the air. However, the fish and the bird have never left their elements. When their activity is large their field is large. When their need is small their field is small. Thus, each of them totally covers its full range, and each of them totally experiences its realm. If the bird leaves the air it will die at once. If the fish leaves the water it will die at once.

This is a small-big reminder: to sit is to fully enter the realm of awakening. Dropping the body-mind, this collection of habits, tensions, expectations, desires… you find the place where everything is complete, nothing is lacking. [Click through to read more and to sit along with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — They Can’t Eat “Merit”

Robert Aitken Roshi, pictured at left at an anti-war demonstration, was one of the driving forces behind the “Engaged Buddhism” movement in the west. We mourn and cry for his leaving this visible world this week, although hand in hand we know there is no life or death, no place to go. Zen offers both ways of seeing.

Likewise, there is no where to go, nothing to attain, nothing in need of fixing, to add or remove. Yet, how we fix this world, nurturing the good and removing the bad, is largely up to us. We had best make this world better.

Roshi famously said that the phrase “socially engaged” and “Buddhism” is redundant. We practice to awaken… yet we practice to “save all sentient beings.” And those sentient beings, though never in need of saving from the start, cannot live on “merit” and “awakening.” [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »

Sit-a-Long with Jundo — Fallacies of Awakening, Part III: No Place to Run

Another common fallacy concerning awakening is that it we must run after it to attain it.

But in this attaining — by which the core attainment is the profound experience of no need to run, nobody to do the running, no separate place to run to, nothing which can be lost or attained in the effort — the best way of attainment may be to radically give up all running, and all need to attain. As with a dog chasing its own tail, what is here all along may be found by being very still and seeing just what is. [Click through for more, and to "sit-a-long" with today's video.] Continued »