Entries by Stanley Lombardo

Does Zen give you any special powers?

Stories about magical powers are certainly not unheard of in Zen — tales about great bodhisattvas and Zen masters who were able to do such things as make waterfalls flow back upstream or transport a woman to the Tushita heaven. These powers are sometimes classified as “freedom from cause and effect.” They are said to […]

Does it matter which meditation technique I use?

In Zen there are a number of techniques that are commonly recommended. Among them are attention to the breath, counting breaths, slow mantra repetition, fast mantra repetition, and holding a question such as “What am I?” I usually recommend working with a great question, but any of these methods can be effective for a given […]

When I first started practicing it felt really good, but sometimes now it’s hard. Does it have to be that way?

Sitting meditation, the heart of Zen practice, can be pleasant and refreshing at first and in short stints. In the long haul, the many hours of sitting in an intensive retreat and of many retreats over many years, the practice is undeniably austere. It is so by design and necessity. The direction of our practice […]