iOS app Android app

Lewis Richmond
Lewis Richmond is a Buddhist writer and teacher, and the author of the upcoming Aging as a Spiritual Practice, to be published Spring, 2012. Lewis leads a Zen meditation group, Vimala Sangha, and teaches at workshops and retreats throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has published three books, including the national bestseller Work as a Spiritual Practice. Lewis also leads a discussion on aging as a spiritual practice at Tricycle magazine's online community site.

For more information please visit his website and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Entries by Lewis Richmond

Storybook Zen, Real Time Zen

(11) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 3:13 PM

I first encountered Zen in the 1960s through the books of Paul Reps, Alan Watts, and D. T. Suzuki (which were pretty much the only books available at that time). The representations of ancient sages engaging in cryptic dialogue, exchanging shouts and blows, and...

Read Post

The Dharma of Aging

(4) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 3:14 PM

Gautama the Buddha was among the first religious or philosophical teachers to discern the truth that "everything changes." This prescient insight, now embedded in the standard model of modern physics, is one of the most enduring legacies of the Buddha's teaching.

Since the publication of Aging as a...

Read Post

What Buddhism Says About Success

(365) Comments | Posted August 10, 2013 | 9:08 AM

The first thing Buddhism would say about success is that it is fleeting, like everything in this world. Impermanence was the Buddha's first great insight into the nature of reality. He also understood that as a consequence, loss and its consequent suffering are written into the fabric of human life....

Read Post

Buddhist Practice Is About the Kind of Person You Are

(15) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 11:09 AM

The world has always needed people who are kind and wise and who can effectively and skillfully relate to the cries of the world. It would seem that Buddhist practices and values are designed to produce such people. That is what attracted me to Buddhism as a young man, and...

Read Post

The Practice of Just-Awareness

(34) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 11:48 AM

There are many types of Buddhist meditation practice: mindfulness, concentration on a single object, visualization and cultivating positive emotion, among many others. These practices all have a venerable history and purpose. In the Soto Zen tradition, there is a practice called shikan-taza, usually translated as "just-sitting," which is...

Read Post

Right View: Seeing the World Through Buddha's Eyes

(126) Comments | Posted May 15, 2013 | 7:01 AM

Right Intention and Right View (or, as I prefer to say, Awakened Intention and Awakened View) are the first two practices of the Eightfold Path. Together they comprise the wisdom aspect of the path. They are, in a sense, a way to see the world through Buddha's eyes. Awakened Intention...

Read Post

The Buddha's Eightfold Path: An Advanced Teaching

(87) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 8:06 AM

The Buddha's Eightfold Path is typically thought of as an elementary or basic teaching--something taught in Sunday school or in introductory college classes. In this article I am taking the position that the eightfold path is actually an advanced or complete teaching, one that meditation students of Buddhism would do...

Read Post

No Delusions Doesn't Mean No Emotions

(14) Comments | Posted April 5, 2013 | 12:07 PM

In my last blog post I described various misunderstandings about the Buddhist term "emptiness," and included a section on emotional misunderstandings. One I didn't mention, but which is widespread among meditation Buddhists, is the idea that a person who has realized emptiness has transcended all negative emotion such as fear,...

Read Post

Emptiness: The Most Misunderstood Word in Buddhism

(565) Comments | Posted March 6, 2013 | 4:14 AM

"Emptiness" is a central teaching of all Buddhism, but its true meaning is often misunderstood. If we are ever to embrace Buddhism properly into the West, we need to be clear about emptiness, since a wrong understanding of its meaning can be confusing, even harmful. The third century Indian Buddhist...

Read Post

Is Meditation Narcissistic?

(278) Comments | Posted January 25, 2013 | 9:27 PM

Is meditation narcissistic? The short answer is: it depends. The act of sitting in silence, eyes closed or facing a wall, attention focused on the inner landscape of breath, body and mental activity, could at least be characterized as self-absorbed -- some might call it navel gazing. The term "navel...

Read Post

The Newtown Massacre: A Buddhist Perspective

(108) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 9:10 AM

As a Buddhist minister, I try to come up with some words of condolence about the Newtown, Conn., massacre to share with my own congregation. I try to think of some scriptural passage, some words of wisdom. But I keep drawing a blank. I have spent the last few days...

Read Post

Celebrating Bodhi Day for the 21st Century

(135) Comments | Posted December 8, 2012 | 7:48 AM

On Dec. 8 Buddhists the world over will celebrate Bodhi Day, the day when Siddhartha Gautama, on seeing the morning star at dawn, attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and became the Buddha, the "Awakened One." Buddha's enlightenment has for 2,500 years been the central article of faith for Buddhists...

Read Post

Is Meditation Buddhism Booming or Fading?

(72) Comments | Posted November 9, 2012 | 6:45 AM

I have often written that we are approaching the 50 year mark of Buddhist meditation practice in America. In many ways this style of Buddhism has become well established and familiar to the mainstream culture. Meditation, dharma teachers, retreat centers and monasteries, as well as some core terms (dharma, karma,...

Read Post

Mara Looks Just Like Buddha

(74) Comments | Posted August 24, 2012 | 8:29 AM

Mara is the master illusionist of Buddhism. He/she appears before Siddhartha the Buddha-to-be, who is sitting under the Bo tree on the verge of his final enlightenment, to co-opt and destroy Siddhartha's spiritual quest. Mara says, "How presumptuous of Siddhartha ... to assume the cross-legged posture on the seat of...

Read Post

The Bodhisattva as Compassion Warrior

(18) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 7:24 AM

In San Francisco's Asian Art Museum there is a stunning Chinese figure of a seated male Kuan-Yin (Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara in Sanskrit), with a powerful, implacable, yet sympathetic expression. Whenever I see this statue I think, "Don't mess with this guy"; and then I think, "In a real pickle,...

Read Post

7 Practices That Restored My Buddhist Faith

(42) Comments | Posted June 7, 2012 | 5:04 PM

Starting in my early 20s, I immersed myself in the study of Soto Zen, first with my Japanese root teacher, and after his death with his American successor. I lived in monastic or semi-monastic settings for a total of 15 years. Early on I was ordained as a priest; at...

Read Post

Buddhism And Meditation: Why Most Buddhists In The World Don't Meditate

(56) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 8:41 PM

It may be a surprise to many Americans, and even to American Buddhists, to hear that the vast majority of the world's Buddhists do not meditate. But it is true. Among the 250 million or so Buddhists alive today, only a tiny fraction have a regular meditation practice; this is...

Read Post

Aging and the Importance of Belonging

(1) Comments | Posted March 21, 2012 | 5:12 PM

Human beings of every age need to belong. This is a need so basic that we rarely think about it unless loneliness brings it to our attention. As children, most of us safely belong to our families.

Part of growing into adulthood is widening and deepening our various circles...

Read Post

Buddhism and Groundhog Day

(38) Comments | Posted February 2, 2012 | 10:03 AM

When I think of Groundhog Day in a Buddhist context, the first thing that comes to mind is this old Zen story:

Zen teacher Ummon said to the assembled monks, "I do not ask about 15 days ago, or 15 days hence. But what about today?"

When no-one could answer,...

Read Post

Western Buddhism: The 50 Year Lessons (Part II)

(278) Comments | Posted January 27, 2012 | 2:13 PM

A few weeks ago I began a series of posts called "Western Buddhism: The 50 Year Lessons." In that post I mentioned three lessons: enlightenment is not what we thought, meditation is not good for everything and religious corruption is universal. Outside of ethnic enclaves, Buddhism is really quite new...

Read Post