Below are some resources for individuals interested in learning more about Zen Buddhism.
Sister Sanghas in the White Plum Lineage:
Flowing River Sangha: Located in the Wilkes-Barre area, the Flowing River Sangha is under the spiritual direction of Sensei Dong Jen Weintraub, Sensei ZhiSin Pollyann James, and Sensei Courtney Gessho Burgess-Michak. For more information please contact https://frsangha.com/.
Soji Zen Center: SZC holds Sunday morning zazen and Dharma talks in addition to an all-day retreat (zazenkai) each month. The Sangha is under the spiritual direction of Sensei John Ango Gruber. For more information please visit their website www.sojizencenter.com.
Zen Community of Baltimore/Clare Sangha: ZCB is under the spiritual direction of Sensei Anthony Hoetsu Falcone, Sensei Jon Seichō McCollum, and Sensei Andrew Ryūshin Santanello. ZCB sponsors an all-day retreat (zazenkai) each month in Pikesville, MD. For more information please visit their website www.zcbclaresangha.org.
Zen Peacemakers Sangha: Red Rose Sangha is a member of the Zen Peacemakers Sangha, www.zenpeacemakers.org, a family of sanghas in the lineage of Bernie Glassman Roshi.
The Story of Buddhism: A Concise Guide to Its History & Teachings by Donald Lopez (2009). If you are interested in acquiring an overview of the development of Buddhism over the last twenty-five centuries, you can’t go wrong with this highly readable account.
What is Zen? Plain Talk for a Beginner’s Mind by Norman Fischer and Susan Moon (2016). Adopting a “frequently asked questions” format, this highly readable book addresses some of the most commonly posed beginner’s questions about meditation, beliefs, and ethics. It offers an excellent introduction to the practice of Zen.
Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment by Lama Surya Das (1997). The author is an American who trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk for many years. Bringing a Western sensibility to many key Buddhist teachings, he extensively explains the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: 50th Anniversary Edition by Shunryu Suzuki (2020). “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” It is difficult to overstate the influence this book has had in both Zen and, more generally, Buddhism. If you pursue the path of Zen, you’ll often encounter references to this modern classic.
Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons by James Ishmael Ford (2018). Homer Simpson once grappled with the question: What is the sound of one hand clapping? This is a koan—a paradoxical question deliberately designed to frustrate our rational minds. Koans ask us to transcend ordinary ways of seeing the world and expose us to different points of view. They may even help you to develop a beginner’s mind. By the way, Homer didn’t successfully answer the koan.
The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen by Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Franz-Karl Erhard, and Michael S. Diener (1991). Sooner or later, a Zen student needs a handy, affordable dictionary. This book will serve you well over the years.
For the Younger People
Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom by Dharmachari Nagaraja (2008). As the title suggests, these bedtime stories are illustrated lessons on patience, perseverance, honesty, and generosity. These stories are recommended for children between the ages of three and eight years old.
Buddhist Stories for Kids: Jataka Tales of Kindness, Friendship, and Forgiveness by Laura Burges (Author), Sonali Zohra (Illustrator) (2022). The Jakata tales are narratives of the Buddha’s adventures and lessons learned over the course of many lifetimes. These stories are recommended for children between the ages of four and eight years old.
Buddhism for Kids: 40 Activities, Meditations, and Stories for Everyday Calm, Happiness, and Awareness by Emily Griffith Burke (2020). The title just about says it all. The materials presented are recommended for children between the ages of two and eight years old.
Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Meet a Sangha – https://tricycle.org/magazine/red-rose-sangha/
Zen Peacemakers, 35 Backpacks – https://zenpeacemakers.org/zpi-publishing/35-backpacks/
Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for our Time, A Practice You Can Count On – https://www.lionsroar.com/a-practice-you-can-count-on/