Integral Zen started in about 2005, in Denver Colorado, 18 blocks from the Ken Wilber residence.
Our local Zen community (Sangha) in Denver was really a laboratory where we experimented. We experimented with ways that we can add things to this exquisite waking up Dharma, the Buddhist Dharma, the Zen lineage, the teachings of 2,600 years, and more.
This is very important, but the task of adapting it to this crazy culture that we live in is a very hard task. It keeps me up at night, it brings me to my knees again and again.
Integral Zen is about breaking your heart open so you can take home this connection to selfless compassion and share it with those that you love. Every retreat you come to, you’ll take more home.
“Sentient beings are from the very beginning Buddhas, like ice and water, apart from water no ice can exist.” - The Song of Zazen
And so fortunate you are to have these teachings available, and you stumble into this! This is a rare occurrence.
This richness of the deepest truth of who we are is so close, and we seek it far away. What a pity this is.
The cause of our suffering is that we are on the dark path of ignorance. We must go beyond the dualistic opposites. Go where there is no conflict.
Where is that? It is here, everywhere. What a gift this is.
If you really practice meditation, if you really experience directly this suchness, for just one sitting, all of your twisted karma is erased. It may take years or lifetimes for this to happen.
The gate of the oneness of cause-and-effect is open. The path of non-duality into clarity runs straight ahead.
And what we are doing at Integral Zen, is adding a few things to the teachings of the last few thousand years. It is not enough just to awaken in this modern, postmodern age. You must awaken... it is the most important thing.
But you must also continue to evolve. There is great growing up that needs to happen.
And that’s not enough. You must mess up, and learn from each mistake, and then clean it up immediately. You must clean up all your shadows, and your traumas must be healed, and your attachment issues must be mended. And then you can start working on the karma… the karma that you are creating still and the karma that you have created, and the family karma, and the collective karma.
This is a lot of work that needs to be done. A lot of cleaning up.
And only then can you show up as an awakened, clean, healthy, compassionate, human being.
And if you really realize this, will you rearrange the priorities in your life so this gets the attention it needs. Most of us won’t.
But at least now you’ve been exposed to it. The rest is up to you.
And just rest assured, I will be leading retreats for the rest of my life. Inshallah, as they say! That’s what happens when you take my seat. That’s what it means. This is what I’m going to do. Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the only thing I can do to really benefit all beings, which includes you and me.
So deep gratitude that you are here. We can only clean up our own messes. We can only awaken individually.
Take responsibility for your shadows and your traumas, and if you need to find a therapist, find one. Do whatever you can do; make it a priority.
Learn about the evolution of consciousness and Integral Theory - what these stages mean - if it serves you.
Get a practice together. Start sitting every day. Your very life depends on it! We are here to help you on your journey.
But most important, with a reverent heart, assume you’re doing it correctly, and leave yourself alone.
Doshin Hannya Michael Nelson Roshi
Founder and spiritual leader of Integral Zen.