Gordon Greene began his koan training with the late Tenshin Tanouye Roshi in 1978, becoming ordained in 1987 and receiving inka in 1997. He ended his work as a faculty member of the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii in 2006, moving to Southwestern Wisconsin in order to develop a rural Zen training center for Chozen-ji Betsuin/ International Zen Dojo of Wisconsin. He continued of his interest in helping people learn to face suffering by training as a hospital chaplain and then working part-time to deepen his understanding. While supervising the building of Spring Green Dojo, he recognized how readily the hard manual required reinforced the physical qualities necessary for useful meditation, leading to creation of an on-line course called “The Manual Labor of Zen Meditation.” Shodo (Zen calligraphy) is an ongoing part of his Zen training.
Shodo- Calligraphy The word “shodo” is poorly translated as “Zen calligraphy.” For us it would be more accurate to say that shodo is an intense form of physical training, one in which you cannot separate the brush, the paper, the hand holding the brush, the body that grounds the movement of the hand. We don’t readily translate the Japanese characters drawn because people tend to get stuck on the words rather than the physical experience of the calligraphy.
Facing Suffering For the past twenty-five years, I’ve been exploring how people whose work includes the alleviation of suffering – physicians, parents, chaplains, Zen priests – learn how to face those who suffer.
The Manual Labor of Zen Meditation I created an on-line video course in order to explain the physical nature of our form of Zen training. In this 16-part course you can see how the fundamental forces of breath and gravity work in a similar fashion whether you are sitting on a meditation cushion, swinging a training sword, or splitting firewood.
Zen, Pain, Suffering and Death This article is a chapter in the recent book, “Handbook of Zen, Mindfulness, and Behavioral Health,” published by Springer. It describes some of the ways in which my Zen training has shaped my work as a hospital chaplain, including an unusual description of the nature of compassion.