On The Mystic’s Path: Part Four

I studied Buddhism and discovered how diverse the different branches can be.

I won’t go deeply into detail about those here, but suffice to say that Zen is the branch of Buddhism that really spoke to me, although I did enjoy studying all of them.

The story of a Zen master from Japan really spoke to me. Zen Master Dogen lost both his parents at an early age. Because of this he was inspired to become a mystic and explore Buddhist practice.

I lost my parents too, although as a teenager, not as a kid like Dogen.

He was inspired to travel to China and look for authentic Buddhist teachings. He became a Zen master and returned to Japan and founded the Soto Zen sect. He’s a very important figure in the history of Japanese Zen, which was the first type of Zen to reach across the ocean here to the United States.

(later other Zen teachers would mean a lot more to me. Ikkyu is the one that I consider my personal hero. But Dogen was the first one I studied.)

So, I studied Zen and started thinking seriously about it for a while.

I read many of the most well known Zen texts: The Diamond Sutra, The Platform Sutra, and others.

But, I was still resistant to the idea of looking for a spiritual community.

Really, I was resistant to really being a Buddhist (whatever that means). I thought of it as something I was studying rather than something I was becoming.

Although I did start sitting in meditation every day, following the instructions Dogen gave.


About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher living in Kansas City. He gives online teachings through the Open Heart Project. His writing has appeared in Lion's Roar, Patheos, Tattooed Buddha, and Elephant Journal.

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