Bringing Zen to Zenfest

August 7th I’m going to an event called ZenFest to lead a meditation workshop. It’s at the Gaea Retreat Center in Mclouth, Kansas. It was at this same location that I led a meditation workshop at the Heartland Pagan Festival. I had a great time at that event and I’m sure I will have a great time at this one. I’m bringing my wife and kids and we are camping.

What is ZenFest?

It’s not a meditation festival. As far as I know I will be the only teacher of traditional meditation. I’m not sure why they call their event ZenFest. I suppose it’s just because the term Zen has largely been co-opted and just means relaxation to many people.

ZenFest is an event that includes numerous presenters of different workshops and activities. It includes many of what I would call hippie type activities like: fire spinning, yoga, contact juggling, and drum circles.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities. They are stretching the word ‘zen’ by using it, but that’s okay. I’m sure there are plenty of Zen Buddhists who bristle at the idea that such a festival exists. That they use the word Zen, which means meditation, for their festival.

But what does bristling at the idea accomplish?

I could be irritated that ZenFest doesn’t have any Zen. Or I could bring the Zen to ZenFest.

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The Dharma of Jack Kerouac

I was reading Jack Kerouac’s book “Some of the Dharma” and I really like how he elucidated the core teachings of Buddhism. This book is a collection of notes that the beat writer took while he was studying the Dharma. It’s incredibly insightful and worth reading.

And I quote: 


1. All Life is Suffering  INDIVIDUALITY IS PAINFUL

                                      BIRTH DECAY DEATH ARE PAINFUL

2. The suffering is from ignorant craving.

                                   LUST OF FLESH       LUST OF LIFE

                                                  PRIDE OF LIFE

3. The suffering can be suppressed

                                DESTRUCTION OF CRAVING DESIRE



1. RIGHT VIEWS-that all life is sorrow and suffering and torment in spite of occasional appearance….correct doctrines, free from superstition or delusion.

2. RIGHT ASPIRATIONS-ambition to destroy suffering and ego, attain greatest happiness known to man as soon as possible-a clear perception of correct doctrines

3. RIGHT SPEECH-ask and answer necessary questions, speak to instruct, radiate mental peace and compassion in silence-inflexible veracity, kindly, open, truthful.

4. RIGHT CONDUCT-The 4 Precepts (don’t kill, steal, lust or deceive)-No sloth and intoxicants-Purity of conduct, peaceful, honest, pure.

5. RIGHT LIVELIHOOD-live in the open-bringing hurt or danger to no living thing-a sinless occupation

6. RIGHT ENDEAVOR-continual awareness loving all-energetic guard over progress-correct efforts-perseverance is duty-effort in self training and self control

7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS-avoid outgoing projecting multiplicity thoughts, anoint thee with incoming intuiting unified thoughts of Essence-Active watchful mind-Holy Meditation

8. RIGHT CONTEMPLATION-daily practice of dhyana for the attainment of Samadhi and Samapatti and attainment of Highest Perfect Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient life-earnest thoughts on the deep mysteries of life-mental tranquility