A Great East-West Teaching Embraced by Teachers of Multiple Faiths

Genpo Roshi began developing the Big Mind process in 1999, after having taught traditional Zen meditation and koan study for more than twenty years as a senior student, then Dharma successor of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and as a Zen Master in both Soto and Rinzai lineages. The process is intended to allow anyone —including non-Buddhists—to experience the enlightenment of the Buddha. The process is designed as a combination of Eastern meditation and Western psychological techniques to transmit the essence of Zen teachings in a way that is readily accessible and relevant to Westerners, a realization they can further deepen through meditation. The Big Mindprocess enables participants to get in touch with various aspects of themselves by inviting them to identify as and speak from these aspects or states of mind. He walks them through interactions with different aspects of their mind, including ordinary, finite ones such as the Protector, the Skeptic and Desiring Mind; and less familiar, transcendent ones such as the Non-Seeking Non-Grasping Mind, the Way, and Big Mind and Big Heart.

Zen teachers and masters, including such representatives of the tradition as Bishop Gengo Akiba, Abbot of the headquarters of the Soto Zen school in North America, have embraced Big Mind as a profound blending of the heritage of Zen with western culture which is pointing the way to the future of Zen, not only in the West, but in the world. Among leading representatives of Western spiritual traditions, Father Thomas Keating has written of his “great admiration of the creativity and originality” of Genpo Roshi’s work, predicting that “it will make a significant contribution to the East West dialogue and the needs of the growing populations of those seekers who are attracted to move beyond seeking.” And Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has written, “The masters of Jewish mysticism guided advanced seekers to the levels of Great Mind and Extended Heart. In our day Genpo Roshi, aka Reb Merzel, offers the trans-denominational seeker a contemporary gate to the highest awareness.” In the foreword to Merzel’s book Big Mind, Big Heart, author and integral theorist Ken Wilber wrote about the merits of the Big Mind process: “The Big Mind process founded by Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel is arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism. It is an astonishingly original, profound, and effective path for waking up, or seeing one’s True Nature. . . . It will show you that part of your own awareness, which is already enlightened, already one with Spirit, already fully awakened. Once you spot that, an entirely different world opens for you.” Wilber ends the foreword by expressing deep thanks to Dennis Genpo Merzel for discovering this simple and innovative process.

Find more videos on Big Mind Network

South Park Creators Animate Alan Watts

These are some great shorts by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that are set to Alan Watts‘ recordings. Enjoy!

Wrathful Guardians: Iconography of Tibetan Buddhism

A magical walk in Sikkim

Traveling to Sikkim in India, I came across loads of images of fiery demons in intricate and colorful paintings and mandalas. We spent our days in Sikkim walking many miles on narrow roads in the ethereal Himalayan mist to visit the various monasteries, where this art form was at its spectacular peak.

There are many ‘wrathful deities’, some of which are called ‘dharmapalas’ which is Sanskrit for “defender of the dharma.”  They may be off-putting at first glace, especially to the Western eyeball. Worship of the dharmapalas began in the 8th century when the holy Padmasambhava is believed to have conquered the demons in Tibet and forced them to protect Buddhists and path of Buddhism from that point on. The demons were transformed, and became agents of the divine. They represent the kind of fierceness we should have against obstacles of the spiritual path. We are meant to be warriors, the protectors of our own path, defending against the inner and outer enemies.

A key group of wrathful deities are the eight dharampalas of Vajrayana (the diamond thunderbolt vehicle) Buddhism:

  • Yama, the God of Death;
  • Mahakala, the Great Black One;
  • Yamantaka, the Conqueror of Death;
  • Kubera or Vaisravana, the God of Wealth;
  • Hayagriva, the Horse-necked one;
  • Palden Lhamo, The Goddess;
  • Tshangs Pa or ‘White Brahma’;
  • Begtse, the God of War.

For more pictures and descriptions of myths surrounding each ‘wrathful deity,’ click here.

A great exhibit on the Tibetan Book of the Dead from University of Virginia.

Full text of Tibetan Book of the Dead online

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