I’m a writer and technologist, and I live in a Zen temple in Hawaii.


Recent articles & posts

Beyond Self Care, Part 2: The solution is community

Aug 8 — A 3-part series on the problems with self care—and what going beyond self care looks like.

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I put it out there that self care is fundamentally misguided — and maybe even bad for us.

I made three points:

  1. Putting the ‘self’ at the center of health and well-being is limiting and shortsighted; and as a result

  2. Self care ends up looking like self-isolation; and

  3. The oh-so-Instagrammable self care we know and love/hate doesn’t work.

So what’s the solution to self care? The short answer is: community.

But that answer is, actually, too short. Here, I am using ‘community’ as a kind of shorthand for what it takes to find actual, powerful and lasting well-being. Geographic proximity alone does not lead to this. Neither do shared interests. It takes not just being a collection of selves, but working in concert to transcend ourselves altogether. This means throwing ourselves away, over and over again, in small ways as well as large — but most fundamentally, by taking care of others before ourselves.

Keep reading…

Not for the sake of the beholder

Jun 26 — In the deep mountains the cherry blooms / Out of the sincerity of its heart

Tuesday and Friday nights are Kendo nights. In a warmly lit dojo at Chozen-ji, I do zazen (meditation) with a small class of Kendo students and teachers for 90 minutes. Then I lead our Kendo class warmups. Master swordsman, Zen master and Chozen-ji founder Omori Sogen once said if you do these vigorous stretches and exercises daily, you'll live to be 100. One of them involves flopping on the floor like a fish.

We practice the Hojo, a 500-year-old Japanese sword form—one student the shin or mind, the other the kage, shadow. In a choreographed kata, we advance, yell and swing our swords through all four seasons of the year. In spring, the sword rises over our heads like the first grass breaking through the snow. The burning wind of summer gives way to falling leaves that slice back and forth through the autumn air. Winter is not so much about how one swings a sword in the cold of winter, but—as with all the seasons in the kata—the swordsman becoming winter, the season itself.

Then, we do Kendo. Apparently, the average spectator thinks that all 125 pounds and 5'4" of me is formidable and intimidating when I do Kendo. The Roshi and Senseis think, even in my most ferocious-feeling of moments, that I am at least sincere.

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Spiritual Mixology

Jun 20 — Do's and Don'ts, but mostly Dont's

Thousands of Westerners are swimming in a syncretic spiritual slurry. I know this because I used to be one of them.

Three years ago, my life had a lively and bucolic rhythm. At the time, I was attending business school at Stanford and living in a bathroom-less shack nestled in the woods of Menlo Park, California.

Most mornings, I would wake myself up with asana yoga practice before 6AM, then do some Vipassana meditation to set my mind for the day. I would pull a tarot card before I left my shack to see what kind of day it might be and burn some sage. My favorite class in business school was colloquially called "Touchy Feely", an intense introduction to emotional intelligence and interpersonal psychology that was the kind of science-backed pseudo-spirituality Silicon Valley loves.

Unbeknownst to me, I was one of many victims of the Information Age and globalization, armed with just enough spiritual knowledge to be dangerous—dangerous to myself and my own long term development, but thankfully only envy- or eyeroll-inducing to others.

Keep reading…