The Vital Way

An Introduction to the Fresh

and Ancient Path of Zen

{Part 1}

led by 

Brooke Teisui McNamara Sensei
and Brian Butsudo Turner Sensei

 

A 6-week Online Course

including recordings of each session  

 

Sundays, 10-11:30 am MT

Coming Soon 

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.

 

  Zazen (Zen meditation) is the primary practice of realizing and expressing our inherent awakeness.

Before engaging in this practice, we will explore our human ways of experiencing - how we take perspectives, and how our senses, thoughts, feelings and emotions operate.

With this preparation, we will be well equipped to plumb the depths of who we are through through the practice of zazen.   

It’s our privilege to welcome you to the path, and then point beyond it. Throughout 6 weeks in The Vital Way (Part 1), we will lay frameworks and invite experiential participation in the following key topics in Zen practice:

Week 1: What is Zen?  In our first meeting, we will explore aspects of Zen - direct experience, vitality, becoming completely one with our internal and external circumstances, and attuned, compassionate functioning.

Week 2: Perspectives  We will take a tour of the three fundamental perspectives of I, We, and It.  By recognizing and refining our awareness of these perspectives, we will develop skill and nuance in our ability to interpret and communicate our experience and clarify our relationships with self, others, and the world.

Week 3: Senses and Thinking  In the third week, we will explore how we connect with the world via seeing, hearing, touch, taste, smell, proprioception, and thought. By clarifying how our senses and thoughts operate,  we will start to experience our oneness and interdependence with all of Reality. 

 

{ Week Off: Rest and Integration }

Week 4: Feeling and Emotion  In this class, we will investigate the spectrum of sensation to feeling to emotion to mood to personality.  We will look at ways of becoming more emotionally mature, engaging feelings and emotions as information for our choices and vital fuel for our actions. (Based on the work of Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi)

Week 5: Zazen (1) With the context provided from the first four weeks, we will establish and practice the physical posture, breathing and relaxation of zazen (“sitting zen”). We will also explore some of the obstacles to engaging a consistent sitting practice such as motivation,  lack of flexibility, pain, and distraction.

Week 6: Zazen (2) Having established the physical vehicle for zazen, we will explore the artful practice of shikantaza ( “just sitting”) and the balance of simply being willing to sit still regardless of experience and the relaxed, concentrated state of samadhi (complete identification with Awareness itself, and all experience).

Investment: 

$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 build on in the upcoming parts 2 and 3 of The Vital Way, as well as in-person classes and retreats

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

YOUR TEACHERS ARE: 

brooke

Brooke Teisui McNamara Sensei

Brooke Teisui McNamara Sensei is a Zen teacher, lineage holder, and poet. She has practiced as a student of Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi since 2010, receiving monk ordination in 2012 and Dharma Transmission in 2023. Prior to 2010, she was a student of nondual teacher and poet, Dorothy S. Hunt. Brooke has published two books of poems: Bury the Seed and Feed Your Vow, and has taught at Naropa University in Yoga Studies and CU Boulder in Dance. She holds an MFA, and teaches in-person and online courses and retreats to facilitate the awakening of innate wisdom, compassion, artistry, and play. She lives with her husband and two sons in Boulder, CO.

Butsudo-headshot

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.