Vine Zen Writing: '23 Roundup and What's Coming in '24

I'm writing today to give you a quick and organized way to view what's been offered here from the Vine Writing Department over the last several months and what is probably coming in '24.

Vine Zen Writing: '23 Roundup and What's Coming in '24
Gitchi-gami, aka, Lake Superior, sunrise near the Neyaashi Zen Hermitage

Vine of Obstacles Zen is for those who take the dharma seriously and themselves (and others) lightly. And when we take the dharma seriously, it seems to me that the deep jokes embedded in this one life get clearer and funnier.

As you may know, Tetsugan Sensei and I live and teach from the Neyaashi Zen Hermitage near Gitchi-gami. We offer intensive training for householders and in-depth Zen writings. And this has been quite a creative period.

I'm writing today - before we take a couple weeks off - to give you a quick and organized way to view what's been offered here from the Vine Writing Department over the last several months and what's coming in '24.

Below you'll find three categories of posts - General, Great Compassion, and The Record of Going Easy - most all of these were written since the first frost. In addition, there are over two-hundred and ten posts on the site now, mostly from the last couple years.

And, yes, of course, if you aren't already, I invite you to become a paid subscriber (aka, "paid members" in Ghost - a Vine Friend, Supporter, Patron, or Sustainer). Your financial support makes this continuing work possible.

Speaking of which:

Visitors: Welcome! I invite you to sign-up for a free or paid subscription and check out what's offered here for subscribers.
Free subscribers: Welcome back! Please take a look at what's been offered here in '23 and what's coming in '24 (below). If you like what you see, I ask that you become a paid subscriber. The comment threads will then be open for you to interact with us. You will also be invited to our Sunday talks and gain access to a lot more posts. Your financial support would be deeply appreciated.
Paid subscribers: Thank you so much! Your financial support makes this continuing work possible.

See below for the links and more details.

What's coming in '24?

My basic approach to writing practice is to stay close to the vein of dharma energy, to be refreshed and surprised by what gushes up, and to go with it! In trusting the dharma, I'm sure there'll be themes that emerge in 2024 that I haven't thought of yet. Granted, that sometimes leads to quite quirky offerings.

One thing you can count on is more annotated translations of The Record of Going Easy, of course, and another is general feculence-flinging Zen writings.

I'll also be re-editing and posting new versions of some of the series offered over the past dozen years on the (now unplugged) Patheos Wild Fox Zen Blog. They'll be offered here for paid subscribers as PDFs. It looks like they'll be short books, really, and without the advertisements that negatively impacted the reading experience on Patheos. These will likely include:

Dahui's keyword method, I'm told it's one of my most helpful offerings for serious Zen practitioners; Hakuin's Zen, an introduction to the great spirit of Hakuin Zenji's teachings, including some squirrelly tangents; biographies of great ancestors who helped transmit the buddhadharma to Japan and their teachings that are still relevant today, with several translations that aren't available anywhere else; and my unorthodox views of Dogen's teaching.

I'll aim at getting one of these ready for you each quarter, starting with Dahui. Below are thirty mostly recent posts from '23:


  1. Breaking News: Hakuin Zenji Named Vine of Obstacles Zen Abbot Emeritus - open to everyone
  2. The Bliss of Retreat Meets the Horror of the Hamas Assault - open to everyone
  3. A Goose in a Bottle: How Will You Be Free? - open to everyone
  4. Zazen and Great Compassion: Realizing a Soft and Flexible Mind - open to everyone
  5. Throw Yourself Into the House of Buddha: The Dharma Talk by Kogen Czarnik Osho - open to paid subscribers
  6. Gifts for the Seven Wise Sisters from a Couple Brothers with the Same Mother - open to everyone
  7. Originally So Close - open to everyone
  8. Dainin Katagiri Roshi: A Conversation, an interview by Rick McDaniel - open to everyone
  9. Living With a Burning Question: The Heart of Zen - open to paid subscribers
  10. Belly Laugh and Special Experiences - open to everyone

And more with PDFs (I love offering PDFs)

  1. Happy Awakening Buddha Day, includes a PDF of five talks given at Rohatsu sesshin - open to all subscribers
  2. Gnawing Through Qiánfēng’s Three Illnesses and Two Lights, includes a PDF with my translation of an important difficult-to-pass-through koan with commentary - open to all
  3. Dogen’s Instruction for Householder Zen Training, includes a PDF of my translation of Eihei koroku Volume 8, number 14 - open to all subscribers

Great Compassion - all in this series open to all subscribers

  1. Practicing Great Compassion Through the Ten Line Kannon: How To Do It
  2. Confusing an Interpretation for the Real Thing: On What the Ten Line Kannon is Not
  3. What is Namo Buddha? A Bolt of Lightning
  4. A Sutra Found in a Dream: The Source of the Ten Line Kannon Sutra
  5. One With Buddha Cause: More on the Practice of Great Compassion
  6. Constancy, Joy, Self, Purity: A Wake Up Call
  7. Understanding the "Ten Line Kannon Sutra": Don't Do It!
  8. Mornings Nen Kanzeon: More on the Ten Line Kannon Sutra
  9. Not Apart From This Mind: Kanzeon!
  10. The Universal Gate: The Context for Great Compassion Training with “The Ten Line Life Prolonging Kannon Sutra”

Annotated translations of cases from Record of Going Easy (Shoyoroku) - all with PDFs for ease of use

  1. Case 12: Dizang Planting the Fields: “What Do You Call the Three Worlds?” - open to paid subscribers
  2. Case 13: The Method is Knowing How to Soar: Linji's Blind Donkey - open to paid subscribers
  3. Case 20: Not Knowing is Most Intimate - open to all subscribers
  4. Case 38: Linji's True Person - open to all subscribers
  5. Case 47: Unless You Know Bitter Suffering, You Won't Know Zhaozhou's Cypress Tree - open to paid subscribers
  6. Case 88: Linji's Great Satori and All-Encompassing Awe-Inspiring Great Function: Dharma Talk and Text - open to all subscribers
  7. Case 96: Absorption, Awakening and Spiritual Fascination: Juifeng Does Not Agree - open to everyone

Thank you! and a heartfelt wish to you for a Happy New Year

If you are interested in studying with Vine of Obstacles Zen - the most effective process available anywhere (online or in person) for householders to deeply realize the Zen Way, in our opinion - we may have a seat open for you early in the new year. You'll find more information here and here. You are welcome to contact us here and let us know about your interest. Please also tell us a bit about your background with Zen practice.