Norman is a Zen priest and abbot, a husband, father, and a poet, a teacher with wide-ranging interests and passions. During almost 30 years at San Francisco Zen Center, he served as director, tenzo, tanto, operations manager and other positions. Norman retired as abbot of Zen Center in 2000 to take his teaching out into the world. He continues his involvement with the Zen Center as a senior Dharma teacher. Norman believes in the possibility of engaged renunciation: living a fully committed religious life that does not exclude family, work, and a passionate interest in the world. In addition to his teaching with the Everyday Zen sangha in the Bay Area, Norman is guiding teacher to four other groups: the Bellingham (WA) Zen Practice Group, the Mountain Rain Zen Community (Vancouver, BC., Mar de Jade (Mexico), and The New York Zen Circle (New York City).
In this Dharma talk and discussion Norman Fischer presents his just-out book “When You Greet Me I Bow: Notes and Reflections from a Life in Zen,” a collection of thirty years of his Dharma essays, with his own contemporary reflections. Covering topics as wide-ranging as what is a Zen teacher, racism and Buddhism, politics and religion, women in Zen, and the dialogic nature of Zen practice, the book is a broad look at the Buddhist movement in the West, its challenges and changes over the decades.
Norman does some readings and talks about his work, and then opens the space for conversation and exploration.
Developing compassion requires us to learn to face pain rather than run from it. Gratitude practice helps us to see that we are connected to every thing- Good and bad. In the end we're grateful even for our pain, which turns out to be the gateway to a deeper love.
Suffering is pervasive-there's no escape. But we all suffer together in exactly the same way, so we are close to one another. Bodhisattvas know this means love and compassion are the most real emotions in our lives.