Photo of Mt. Fuji by Takashi Nakazawa

The endeavor to negotiate the Way consists in discerning all things in view of enlightenment,
and putting such a unitive awareness into practice in the midst of the revaluated world.”

– Dogen

This program is designed for practitioners living at home who yearn to realize and actualize the great matter of birth and death. We acknowledge the difficulty of following through with our practice aspirations in the midst of daily life and the truth that this very bind can be a dharma gate. This program is intended to support you in this entanglement.

The Vine of Obstacles Zen requires commitment to ongoing awakening and the capacity to carry out daily practice alone. It also requires regular meetings with Dosho via Zoom and email. Our primary avenues for cultivating verification are daily zazen (integrating earnest-vivid sitting and koan introspection), study, and engagement in the Vine forums and the world.

Intended outcomes

  • Practitioners will learn to embody the Buddha way, developing fluency in actualizing awakening in daily life.
  • Practitioners will become happy, powerful, and positive influences at home, work, and in the community, “making manifest the great earth’s goldenness.”
  • We will have a fun, lively, edgy time together.


  • Just-sitting/koan zazen.
  • Practice meetings with Dosho (the only practice meetings times: Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday evenings - US Central)
  • Weekly participation in the Engagement forums offer us the important opportunity to engage with each other as a practice group.
  • Study selected works, including the following:
    • Guidelines for Practicing the Way is a primer on Zen practice that focuses on intention, practice-enlightenment, body practice, and receiving and actualizing the fundamental. This course includes supplementary readings, audio and reflection work that is shared with Dosho.
    • Thirty Poems, Twenty Minutes helps you access Zen teaching through poetry. You will be invited to digest selections from some great masters of the Japanese tradition (Dogen, Ikkyu, and Ryokan), feel each poem, and find your own expression for the meaning and mood of the sample.
    • The Heart Sutra is our “Buddhism-in-a-nutshell-with-a-Zen-edge” course. As the pre-eminent sutra in the Zen tradition, it is often recited in daily practice. In this course, we dig into the meaning while embodying the teaching.
    • The Bodhisattva’s Four Methods of Guidance is about actualizing the altruistic heart of the Bodhisattva (awakening being) within the relationships of daily life.
    • Genjokoan (or Actualizing the Fundamental Point) is regarded as a central work in Dogen Zen, a beautiful and subtle resolution to the question the drove the young Dogen’s inquiry – “If we’re originally enlightened, what’s the point of practice?” This course is designed to shake up and intensify practice. It combines zazen, study and engagement in new ways – particularly in the use of koans within the text, to be actualized in daily life.
    • Buddha Nature has thirteen koans with commentary. Each case has one central case and a number of checking questions that explore different aspects of the koan, pulled from Dogen’s commentary. Students are invited to enter the koan and commentary such that they can be actualized in daily life.
    • The Healing Point of Zazen offers an in depth exploration of Dogen’s Zazenshin and includes important scholarly work on the fascicle, careful examination of Dogen’s commentary, as well as koans and checking questions.
  • We also have a Zazen Workshop that students can use as a resource as they choose.
  • Twice a year, we offer a twelve-week practice period, themes vary

Fees for new participants
Two options:

  • $125 a month for four meetings (15 minutes each) with Dosho and ongoing study reflections and feedback
  • $85 a month for, and two meetings with Dosho ongoing study reflections and feedback
  • Some scholarship spaces are usually available (but none are open at this time).

Application or more information

Contact Dosho at for more information and for an application.

Skip available courses

Available courses

This forum highlights the most important aspect of Vine work - making it real. What I envision is for all of us to share (mostly) positive (moslty) personal experiences of engagement to provide encouragement to each other that this path can be verified.

Sunday, September 9 - Wednesday, November 21

During Entering a Lotus Thread we will dig more deeply into sutra than we previously have, especially exploringthemes in the Vimalakirti and Lotus sutras. Waddell notes, and much of the material is concerned with the eight consciousnesses posited in the Yogacara or Consciousness Only school.

This workshop has resources for beginners and more "advanced" students. You are invited to play into it. 

This is a foundational course for Vine of Obstacles Zen, the recommended starting point in study (along with the Zazen Workshop).

The Heart Sutra is a great torch that lights the darkest road, a swift boat that ferries us across the sea of suffering,” said Fa-tsang.

This course is designed to help you pick up the torch and enter the boat. 

We will use Red Pine's The Heart Sutra: The Womb of the Buddhas and Hakuin's Acid Comments on the Heart Sutra. 

In this course we will study Dogen's "Bodhisattva's Four Methods of Guidance," developing fluency in giving, kind speech, beneficial action, and identity action.

This course offers thirty poems by three Japanese Zen masters - Dogen, Ikkyu, and Ryokan. Students will take one poem each day, write a brief reflection on the poem, and compose a poem in response that matches the structure of the original. 

The Awakening of Mahayana Faith, (大乗起信論 Ch. Dasheng qixin lun, S . *Mahāyānaśraddhotpādaśāstra; J. Daijō kishinron; K. Taesŭng kisin non), has long been a classic text for condensed dharma study, particularly in the Zen school. The teaching of the text is traditionally summarized as "One Mind, Two Aspects, Three Greatnesses, Four Faiths, Five Practices."

Dogen wrote Buddha Nature in 1241 – a decade after Guidelines for Studying the Way and Genjokoan – during an explosion of spiritual expression.  

The structure of this course will be similar to the Genjokoan course. Buddha Nature has thirteen koans with commentary. Each case has one central case and a number of checking questions that explore different aspects of the koan and are pulled from each of the paragraphs in Dogen’s commentary.