Hi. I’m Jeff Seul, and this is my blog about Zen and religion more generally.
Turning words in Zen prompt realization. Don’t expect that here. I’m just turning words, and I thought the name was catchy.
I’m a student of Fr. Kevin Hunt, OCSO, Sensei, the first North American Trappist (Catholic) monk to become a Zen teacher.
I was raised Roman Catholic, studied with the Jesuits, and began my sitting practice nearly 30 years ago. Tibetan monks in California and Germany taught me to meditate initially. I soon learned of the Christian contemplative tradition through a book by a Zen teacher. Around that time I met the Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Keating and became part of Contemplative Outreach, practicing Centering Prayer for many years. I also practiced Kyudo (Zen archery) during my Centering Prayer days, as a student of Kanjuro Shibata XX. I’ve been a formal Zen (sitting meditation and koan) practitioner for many years now.
I’ve thought and written a lot about the relationships among religion, conflict and peace. I spent a couple of years at Harvard Divinity School studying comparative religion, ethics, and conflict resolution. I spent some time teaching negotiation and conflict resolution at Harvard Law School (where I also studied), and now I teach a couple of courses on religion and peacebuilding at Harvard Divinity School, as Lecturer on the Practice of Peace. I also serve as co-chair of the Peace Appeal Foundation, an NGO that supports broad-scale peace processes in countries afflicted by violent conflict and broad-scale national dialogue processes intended to help avert violent conflict.
Metaphysical beliefs are not the most interesting or important element of religion for me, even though they seem to be the first thing many people think and talk about (particularly in the west) when they think and talk about religion. Whatever God, the Absolute, Buddha nature, or just your own pulse is for you, I sure hope it’s not just an idea.
Anyway, you’ll find me rattling on at great length about all this here. Pre-2017 posts were made when I was part of Boundless Way Zen, and some of those were dharma talks I gave from 2011 to 2016.
Please don’t attribute my views to any of the organizations or people with which I am, or have been, affiliated. As I said, I’m just turning words.