Audio Recordings of Talks on Buddhism

This page has audio recordings of talks on Buddhism with my teacher Gudo Nishijima. You're welcome to download these for your personal use. If you'd like to use them for any other purpose please ask.

Buddhism, Reality, Zazen, Human

Gudo Nishijima

This is a chat I had with Gudo Nishijima about what Buddhism says about reality and matter, and what Buddhism calls the gdharmah. He also talked about the reason to do zazen and about what Buddhists refer to as the balanced state. Nishijimafs idea is that when we do zazen our body and mind become more balanced, and that balanced state is the natural state of humans. So when we do zazen we notice what it means to be human. Our talk went something like that anyway.

Hands During Zazen

Hands during Zazen

A friend asked me recently about a problem she has when she does zazen. My friend sits zazen in the full-lotus or half-lotus posture, and places her hands on top of her upper foot. But she noticed that the weight of her hands on her foot makes her foot go numb after a while. She was wondering what to do. I asked Nishijima about it. He said the main point about our hands during zazen is that the upper part of our hands (our thumbs) should be in front of the navel. Some people do this by placing their hands on their upper foot when they are sitting. Other people do it by just holding their hands in front of the navel without placing them on their foot at all. He says it depends on each person's physical characteristics. He also said it's good to switch the upper and lower leg or just move our legs a bit if they go numb while we're doing zazen.

Pedaling Buddha

                  man and his bike

This is part of a chat I had with Gudo Nishijima about the difference between doing zen meditation (zazen) regularly and not doing it regularly or at all. Nishijima thinks doing zazen regularly is the most important part of Buddhism. It helps us stay "balanced" (most of the time, anyway). He compares doing zazen to riding a bike. If we keep pedaling we can stay balanced and the bike keeps going, but if we stop pedaling we end up losing our balance and falling off.

November 2008 - Gudo Nishijima's 89th Birthday Talk

Gudo Nishijima

Gudo Nishijima doesn't usually give lectures in English nowadays, but he agreed to give one at Dogen Sangha's Zazen meeting in Tokyo in November 2008, as it coincided with his 89th birthday. Some of the things he spoke about were how Buddhism is different to idealism and materialism, his ideas about Western civilization and Buddhism, and whether Buddhism is a religion or not. He also talked about how he used to doubt if there really was something called "the truth". He answered questions on Zazen practice and other topics for about 15 minutes at the end.

October 2008 - Gudo Nishijima on Buddhism, realism, intuition, and precepts

me and Nishijima

This is a recording of a talk I had with Nishijima Roshi at his appartment. Nishijima talked about Buddhism and reality, andabout his theory on how doing Zazen helps balance our nervous system. I also asked him where he thinks Buddhist intuition comes from, and his ideas on the Buddhist precepts.