Background for this Site

I am continually awestruck by the ways this thing we call Buddhism, so steeped in centuries of Indian, Tibetan, and Asian cultures, is merging, and at times colliding, with Western Judeo-Christian culture. It’s like two massive currents joining forces – with so much above the surface, and so much below. Particularly relevant to Zen is the fact that the psyches of Asians and Westerners differ in certain fundamental ways, and so naturally some of the ways Dharma practice moves through us are also profoundly different.  These are issues that will be explored on this website, but in truth, there is another perspective as well. My understanding is that the purpose of Buddhism and psychotherapy is to help us experience, as deeply and vividly as possible, this place of inseparability where our hearts open. So the largely unexpressed hope  woven throughout this site is that in this time of intense global exploitation and desecration, the opening of our hearts will help lead to a deeper and truer understanding of what it means to be a human being – and in doing so, help us reconnect with the sacred nature of all existence.

On a more practical scale, though, my hope is that this site will stir up interest in both Dharma practice and Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) – things I’ve been involved with for some years now. My interest in Buddhism and psychology began in the late 60’s, when I began my sitting practice, and went off to college. In 1971 I graduated with a BA in psychology, and later that year became a student of Roshi Philip Kapleau. As for so many others of that era, his first book, The Three Pillars of Zen, made a lasting impression on me.

Over the next 15 to 20 years I worked to complete my formal koan and precept training under Roshi, and then, in the late 80’s, became drawn to the work of Dr. Davanloo and his ISTDP.  In the early 1990’s I saw my first therapy tapes of Dr. Davanloo working; gratefully thrashed through my own therapy; and completed an MSW degree with a concentration in Buddhist Social Work. For me this was also a time of revisiting the whole issue of what happens in terms of Zen practice and the unconscious, and the implications of that for Buddhism as it finds its way into Western culture.

Since that time I’ve been sanctioned and ordained by Roshi Kapleau, and continued my studies with Dr. Davanloo in Montreal. As a Zen teacher I’ve lead numerous sesshin, and as a therapist have worked with a good number of clients, many of whom were involved with some form of spiritual discipline. These life-wanderings, combined with certain personal experiences that significantly changed my life, have all added fuel to this work.

I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to have known two remarkable teachers, and to have been helped and inspired by so many other fine and extraordinary people, my wife Sunya in particular. Good teachers, colleagues, students and clients – and the great generosity of spirit of so many others along the way. This site itself has taken many hours, and would not have been possible without the dedication of many others, particularly the web-skills of Magda Kadlubowska and the illustrative assistance  from Richard Wehrman. Finally, it would be remiss not to mention that truly without the decades of support from my mother none of this work would have been possible.

It might be mentioned that aspects of this work have been considered controversial; and there are some who feel it does not respect certain boundaries. I’d also like to acknowledge that over the years I’ve made mistakes (mistakes of commission and omission; some I know about, no doubt others I don’t), and so would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my own shortcomings.