Zen Study Group

See our practice schedule for meeting times.

September 2021

September Zen Study Group
Led by Bob Tremmel

The September study group will make another pass through the poetry of Zen. Our first meeting will focus on the roots of Zen in ancient China and selections from Tao Te Ching, which, according to translators Gia Fu-Feng and Jane English, dates from somewhere in the vicinity of the sixth century BCE. This collection, attributed to Lao Tsu (or Laozi), is a classic text surviving from early Taoism, which, along with Confucianism, was a progenitor of Chinese Zen.

The second meeting will focus on selections from the poetry of Hanshan/Cold Mountain, a
figure almost as shadowy as Lao Tsu. The poems attributed to Hanshan were written and
collected from stones, walls, and trees in the 8th century CE and represent a point of view that, to some extent, sketches in the outlines of a Zen counterculture reacting against the dominant
institutional monastery system. The selections we’ll take up will be taken from Red Pine’s
translation.

The third meeting will focus on poems excerpted from the work of Gary Snyder. The poems
we’ll take up will come from Turtle Island (1974), Axe Handles (1986), and Mountains and
Rivers Without End (1996). We’ll also look at a couple poems from Nanao Sakaki’s Break the
Mirror (1987). Like the poems of Hanshan, Snyder and Sakaki’s poems also represent the voice
of a Zen counterculture that is occasionally at odds with what many regard as orthodox Buddhist principles.

September Readings:

September 8 – Poems Selected from Tao Te Ching
September 15 – Poems Selected from the Collected Poems of Cold Mountain.Trans.Red Pine
September 22 – Poems selected from the work of Gary Snyder and Nanao Sakaki