Zen Study Group

See our practice schedule for meeting times.

August 2023

Led by Gendo Curtis Thornberry

We will spend the month of August reading selected chapters from A Gradual Awakening by Steven Levine and The Light That Shines Through Infinity – Zen and the Energy of Life by Dainin Katagiri. We will focus on ways the body-mind evokes experiences that meld into our (mistaken) sense of a self.

Books used for study group
Katagiri, Dainin and Andrea Martin (Editor)
2017     The Light That Shines through Infinity: Zen and the Energy of Life. Shambala Publications.

Levine, Steven
1989     A Gradual Awakening. Anchor Books, Doubleday.

August 16

August 23

August 30

September 2023

Led by Bob Tremmel

Opening the Hand of Thought by Kosho Uchiyama

It’s been my humbling experience, that over a span of time the work of maintaining a Zen
practice leads through an inevitable and unending series of changes—for me, for my practice,
and for my relationship with the practice. One dimension of this process is perhaps similar to
what happens to some people with their New Year’s resolutions, for example, resolving to get in
better shape, joining a gym, and working out with passionate regularity—for a while. Gradually
(or suddenly) the newness of it wears off, the workouts seem increasingly dreary, and at some
point it becomes much easier and more interesting to do something else—or not much of
anything at all.

Zen practice is different from that, but not much different. Over time—ten years, twenty years,
thirty years and more—inevitably I’ve run into periods in which gradually (or suddenly) my
practice starts to grow old and run out of energy—even as I am growing old and running out of
energy. And, again, over time, when that’s happened I’ve looked for ways of renewing and
reconnecting with my practice.

On more than one occasion I’ve looked to Kosho Uchiyama’s book, Opening the Hand of
Thought for help. As abbot of Antai-ji monastery, Uchiyama Roshi was an iconoclast and a sort
of fundamentalist, dismissing the traditional ritual and ceremony of accumulated time and Zen
karma, and focusing on zazen, on just sitting. I’m hoping that spending some time discussing this book in September will help you renew your practice if you need it, and deepen your practice no matter where you find yourself in your life right now.

The edition of Opening the Hand of Thought we have online is the 1993 edition. I chose that for
two reasons, first, it’s the edition I own, and second, it’s the only edition I could find that’s
available online. If you have, or are interested in getting, the newer revised and expanded
edition, that will work for our study group discussions just fine.

Following, in the order of listing, are passages I think are worth focusing on. If you get into the
book and find other sections you’d like to discuss, we could do that; just let me know.

Readings will be posted prior to the first Study Group in September.


Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice by Kosho Uchiyama. Translated by Shohaku Okumura and Tom Wright. Edited by Jisho Cary Warner. (PDF)


  • Pages xi-first full paragraph of xii: Shohaku’s preface
  • Pages xv-xvi: Jisho Cary Warner’s preface
  • Pages 8-12: The Self That Lives the Whole Truth
  • Pages 68-77: Waking up to Life


  • Pages 78-82: Sesshins Without Toys
  • Pages 114-118: Self Settling on Itself
  • Pages 123-129: Delusion and Zazen


  • Pages 132-135: Vow and Repentance
  • Pages 141-147 Direction of the Universal