The Vital Way

Reality as it is

led by 

Brian Butsudo Turner Sensei
and Lisa Genki Gibson Sensei


A 6-week Online Course

including recordings of each session  


Fridays, 9-10:30MT

May 3 - June 14 (no class June 7)

Online via Zoom



What is Zen? people often ask. As with any powerful question, asking wholeheartedly is a pathway to liberation. 

“Zen” is a word that has been co-opted and integrated into our everyday vocabulary, taking on multiple meanings such as: chill, minimal, elegant and calm.

But what is Zen, really?


"Zen is a training,

but not a taming."

Teisui Sensei

Zen is both a training and a full inhabitation of our humanity. By directly experiencing the  life force and liberation always here now, we naturally respond as unconditioned compassion toward this moment, as it is. 



"I don't know who I am, but I'm confident about what my function is: to be compassionate to this One Life." 

~ Butsudo Sensei


What might happen right now if you open and extend attention, feel sensations in the body, and soften self-consciousness and the inner critic? What might this moment be like experienced freshly? 


If these inquiries pique your curiosity, cause your heart to stir, or induce a longing for a more intimate connection to this life, The Vital Way is an opportunity to explore and experience what Zen is and how it could radically inform your life.


“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self.  To study the self is to forget the self.  To forget the self is to be verified by all things.  ” 

 ~Eihei Dogen Zenji 

Our intention for this class is to engage the Buddha Way by studying and more fully experiencing the self.


Through the 6 weeks, we will engage different aspects of Zen that are foundational to engaging the practice, and are supportive in becoming intimate with reality as it is. We will explore the three treasures of the Buddha (the awakened mind), Dharma (Zen teachings) and Sangha (community) as pillars on the path.


We will also look at the interplay of form and emptiness as a way to engage more fully with each moment in our lives.

It’s our privilege to welcome you to the path, and then point beyond it. Throughout 6 weeks in The Vital Way: Reality as it is, we will lay frameworks and invite experiential participation in the following key topics in Zen practice:

Week 1: Buddha  In our first session, we will introduce the Three Treasures, a fundamental way of describing and relating to Reality and a pathway for our practice.  We will explore the first treasure, Buddha, the timeless boundless and indestructible unity inherent in all of our experience.

Week 2: Dharma  In the second week, we will encounter the second treasure of the Dharma Teachings). Dharma refers to the teachings of the Buddha and other teachers that describe and express how non-dual wisdom functions in this very moment in this unique life.

Week 3: Sangha The third treasure, Sangha, are all the relationships that inform and influence our experience of this one precious life.  Developing relationship skills, and choosing excellent friends are key to a life well lived.  

Week 4: Form In this class, we will investigate the myriad ways that we encounter form - that which stimulates the six senses and that which have a beginning, middle and end. We will practice some of the Zen forms that help us to extend our awareness and our engagement with each other.

Week 5: Emptiness In Zen practice, emptiness refers to the ultimate nature of reality which means it is empty of an inherent, separate existence or self. Experiencing and perceiving Emptiness is crucial for skilfully navigating the alive, dynamic, ever changing aspects of this one, precious life…and death


{ Week Off: Rest and Integration }

Week 6: Integration After establishing the felt sense of the Three Treasures, Form and Emptiness, we will examine and experience the interplay and dance of these elements of the Vital Way, and how they support our engagement with Reality as it is.


$180, $270, $360 USD

Please choose the price that works with your current financial context

(limited number of scholarships available ~ priority given to current students, BIPOC, and those with financial constraints) 

Who this course is for: 

This course is intended for any person wanting to become more intimate with abundant life force and inherent liberation, and wants to respond with spontaneous compassion to any and all conditions.  Whether you are new to practice or a seasoned practitioner, this course will offer fresh perspectives and powerful practice experiences that will leave you transformed. This course is for those who are genuinely curious about their own deepest questions, willing to engage and experiment with putting ideas into actual practice, and interested in Zen as a way to become more intimate (not less) with this life, while also realizing innate freedom in every moment.

What you can expect:


  • Six 90-minute live Zoom sessions with two transmitted Zen teachers, including teaching, meditation practice, and guided interpersonal practices with other participants to bring ideas alive in your experience
  • Downloadable recordings of each class, added to a video platform accessible for 90 days after the completion of the course
  • Up to two 15-minute one-on-one meetings with the teachers (Dokusan) to clarify your questions and explore your practice (optional)
  • Opportunities for online group meditation during the weeks focused on Zazen, and accountability partners to stay on track with practice commitments
  • An online Mighty Networks community page, to connect with the course community and explore questions between classes
  • An excellent foundation of learning and awakening to more fully engage with Zen practice and Sangha including retreats, ceremonies, community practice and future offerings.

What's expected: 


  • Participation in the six live Zoom classes (with camera on if possible, please) or via the recording later if you have to miss
  • Meditation practice during the weeks focused on Zazen - we recommend sitting at least 20 minutes daily; however, you can decide how much, and then honor your commitment 
  • Engagement with an accountability triad to keep practice commitments
  • Participation in the online Mighty Networks community page, once or more a week, to stay connected and enlivened between classes
  • An intention of doing your best/ holding a learning mindset



Lisa Genki Gibson Sensei

Lisa Genki Gibson Sensei has been practicing with Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi in the Soto Zen lineage since 2008 and received Dharma Transmission in 2023. As a Zen teacher and committed student of reality, she is passionate about the potency of Zen practice to deepen our expression of wisdom, compassion and joy in everyday life. Based in Vancouver, Canada with her family on the unceded ancestral lands and waters of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Wauthuth Nations, Lisa works as a coach, facilitator and educator, to support the wholehearted engagement of a more just, caring and sustainable world.


Brian Butsudo Turner Sensei  

Butsudo Sensei has been practicing Zen in the White Plum branch of the Soto lineage for over fifteen years. He received monk ordination in 2012 and Dharma Transmission in 2023 from Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi. He does his best to present the Dharma with warmth, humor and pragmatism. Butsudo loves the forms and rituals of Zen practice provided they are inhabited with intention and relaxation.  He lives in Erie with his wife and daughter and has two adult children.  Brian has a Ph.D. in physics and currently works as an engineer in an optics manufacturing company.