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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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and he works for the federal government. Once a Novice Monk in the Rinzai Tradition, he dropped out of monk school to become a regular person. He has taken his inspiration mainly from Zen renegades and madmen like Ikkyu and Han Shan. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages. He is a frequent guest teacher on Daily Dharma Gathering.

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