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February 16, 2012

By Stephen Damon

This is my first blog entry so I thought I should introduce myself. My name is Stephen Damon and my Dharma name is Korin Shodo which means Ancient Forest, Illuminating The Way. I have had a meditation practice which has taken various forms since 1978. In addition to my meditation practice I have studied and taught comparative religion and philosophy. For the past thirty years I have owned Browser Books in San Francisco. Since 1998, I have practiced Soto Zen with several teachers, trying to find a community in which I felt at home in the deepest sense of the term. Finally about a year and a half ago my search for a teacher and a community came to an end when Rev. Val Szmanski of Bamboo in the Wind agreed to be my teacher. On September 10, 2011, Rev. Val ordained me as Soto Zen priest. In October I started a weekly sitting group, which meets Monday nights at 7:30 at Sei Ko Kai Church, 2140 Pierce St, San Francisco. If you are an experienced sitter or a beginner we welcome you.

The Board of Directors of Bamboo in the Wind, of which I am a member, has been working on ways of making our practice more accessible to the wider community. By publishing this weekly blog we hope we can further our goal of integrating Zen practice in everyday life. Of course, since there really is no difference between Soto Zen practice and everyday life, all we will be doing is talking about the changing scenery on our path to self-awakening and the liberation of all beings. So, sometimes we may talk about a recent one-day sitting at our home temple, Jikoji Center in Los Gatos, and sometimes we may talk about a book or a poem we’ve read, and sometimes we may share a conversation we had with a homeless person. That is, we will be talking about what goes in our lives—in our hearts and minds as devoted practitioners of Soto Zen.

I say “we” because I hope that interested members of our sangha will write guest blogs from time to time as well as post their comments to what I have written. Rev. Val will also post regular entries. If you would like to write a guest blog you can respond to this post or email me at



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