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For the past twenty-five years I have been compelled to use everything I know from my Zen training to understand how we can best face the suffering of others

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Zen Training outside the Dojo

8 February 2020 I finally self-published the book I’ve been working on: once called Wrestling with Angels, now called Facing Suffering. When originally describing it, I would say that it is an account of my three months of training as a hospital chaplain. Now I’m realizing that is not what the book is about. Out […]

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Blog #5

Aug 9, 2018 One reason I like mowing the meadow is the fresh smell every few seconds as different plants are sliced while the tractor chugs along. There is a news stream to the nostrils that I can’t decipher but I love to receive it anyway. What the plants are expressing is important, and maybe […]

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Blog #4

June 13, 2018 Here’s a strange bit of suffering, something of my own. It feels vague, ill-formed, self-indulgent, but also real. Something I often tell medical students when talking about suffering is that I try not to judge degrees of suffering – “this suffering is much more significant than that suffering.” We first have to […]

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The Weight of Suffering

24 April 2018 I’ve just finished participating in a day-long symposium on Suffering and Caring: Perspectives from Medicine, Philosophy, and Zen, held at the University of San Francisco. I was the Zen representative, working with two philosophers and a physician and an audience primarily of USF students. Over the course of preparing for the symposium, […]

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Given a choice between Heaven and Hell…

I got a phone call from a long-time Zen student, one who knows how to cut to the chase in most conversations. He asked, “Does suffering end?” Without thought, I answered, “No.” We then got into the story of his suffering and I explained more of my “no.” But later I was reflecting on why […]

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When Breath Becomes Air

I saw a man in the intensive care unit last night, close to brain death. Tubes and monitors all around. The hospitalist on duty is carefully explaining to the family of this forty-three-year-old man the sequence of events likely to take place over the next several hours as his skull continues to fill with blood […]

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