This blog is a project of Meredith Hotetsu Garmon, a Buddhist practitioner since 2001, a Unitarian Universalist minister since 2004, and a former philosophy professor.

Meredith began Buddhist meditation training with Vipassana teacher, John Orr, in Durham, NC for one year. After moving to El Paso, TX in 2002, Meredith studied with Harvey Sodiaho Hilbert (Matsuoka lineage) for six months, and then with Sidney Musai Walter (White Plum school) for one year.

Starting in 2004 and for the next 10 years, Meredith was a student of Ruben Habito (Zen master at Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, TX, of the Sanbo Kyodan school of Zen). During that time, he traveled to Dallas for sesshin (intensive Zen retreats of 4 to 7 days) 20 times -- and has also attended sesshin and Zen training in Tucson, Austin, Toronto, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Japan. He has also attended kenshukai (Sanbo Kyodan's koan review seminars for teachers) in Holland and in San Francisco.

Meredith received jukai (taking of lay vows; “confirmation” as a Zen Buddhist) in 2007, at which time he was given the Dharma name Hotetsu.

In 2014, Meredith joined Boundless Way Zen, and became a student of James Ford, and then David Rynick. During 2019-2020, Meredith was in residence at Great Vow Zen Monastery for six months. In 2022 October, Meredith left Boundless way and spent a year as a "Zen Pilgrim" without formal affiliation with any Zen teacher or organization. Then, in 2023 October, he joined Open Mind Zen and became a student of Al Fusho Rapaport.

From 2006-2013, Meredith led the Dancing Crane Zen Center in Gainesville, FL before moving to White Plains, NY.
"In recent years, I have been privileged to share in the inestimable bounties of regular Zen practice with our sangha at Hokoku-an led by Seido Ray Nonci, in the activities of Show-Me Dharma, led by Virginia Morgan, and in those of the Dancing Crane Zen Center, led by Meredith Garmon." (James H. Austin, M.D., "Acknowledgments," Meditating Selflessly: Practical Neural Zen, 2011)
From 2013-2022, Meredith led a practice group in White Plains, which, from 2014-2022, was Boundless Way Zen of Westchester.

The Harada-Yasutani Lineage

White Plum, Sanbo Kyodan, and Boundless Way, among others, are all branches of the Harada-Yasutani lineage of Zen, a hybrid of two Japanese schools: Soto and Rinzai (in the Chinese: Caodong and Linji).

Japanese Zen master Harada Daiun Sogaku (1871-1961) received Dharma transmission in both the Soto and Rinzai traditions. Harada’s student and Dharma heir, Yasutani Haku’un (1885-1973) formally founded Sanbo Kyodan in 1954. Western Zen teachers in the Harada-Yasutani Zen lineage include Philip Kapleau (1912-2004), Robert Aitken (1917-2010; founder of the Diamond Sangha), and Taizan Maezumi (1931-1995; founder of White Plum Asanga). Each of these trained in the Sanbo Kyodan school before forming their respective independent organizations

What Is Zen?

Zen is an awakening to the dynamic reality of the present moment. In Zen practice, we meditate to bring calm and attentive focus on “right here, right now.” Through meditation practice, we grow increasingly able to live our lives in the present moment throughout the day.

Zen is a spiritual path, a path of inter-connection, of seeing through all duality that separates “me” from “other,” of living the awareness that there is no separation. The practice of Zen is life itself, embodying radical inquiry into the true nature of the Self and the true nature of reality. To practice Zen meditation is in itself an expression of this reality, an embodiment of the awakened state.

Zen meditation develops a centered, focused awareness, integrating body and mind into the heart of life itself. In zazen (seated silent meditation), we assume a posture of dynamic relaxation and experience fully the natural, relaxed flow of the breath as the mind’s attention comes to the present moment.

Zen practice grew from the initial experience of the enlightenment (awakening) of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha (the awakened one), 2500 years ago. The practices and teachings of the Buddha spread from India to China where they picked up influences from Daoism. Daoist influenced Buddhism spread to Japan, where it was called “Zen” – derived from the Chinese word "chan," which derived from the Sanskrit word “dhyana,” which means meditation. The emphasis in Zen is on meditation rather than study of sutras.

One oft-repeated characterization of Zen is attributed to the semi-legendary figure founder of Zen, Bodhidharma (5th and 6th century CE):
A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence on words and letters;
Direct pointing to the mind;
Seeing into one's nature and attaining Buddhahood.

Is Zen a Religion?

Zen is a practice of spiritual deepening available to anyone of any religion. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, and atheists have all found their religious experience and awareness expanded through Zen. You don’t have to change your religion in order to take up Zen practice and gain the insights of 1500 years of Zen masters.

Some Zen practitioners adopt Zen as their religion, finding in Zen a complete religion of practice, teachings, experience, and community. Others, however, maintain their Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, or other faith while finding that Zen practice facilitates openness to a fuller experience of God. Boundless Way Zen communities (sanghas) offer nonsectarian Zen practice.

Zen is a wonderful practice of wisdom, compassion, living in the present moment, and realizing your true self. This practice is available to people of any, or no, religion.

How To Meditate

The simple basics:


Sit up straight. Sit on the front edge of your chair or cushion. Extend your back, lifting the top of your head as high as it will go. In a chair, place feet flat on the floor about 8” apart; shins perfectly vertical.

Let your shoulders and arms completely relax. With your hands resting in your lap, cup one hand inside the other with the tips of the thumbs just barely touching.

Almost, but not quite, close your eyes. Leave them open a slit, with your gaze directed downward 45.


Bring attention to your breathing and count each exhale to yourself. Count up to 10, then start back again at 1. Repeat counting 1 to 10 throughout the silent period.

When your mind wanders, make a note of what it wandered off doing (e.g., planning, remembering, fantasizing), then gently bring yourself back to this moment and start again at 1.

MORE: Please read the more detailed instruction in this PDF, produced by Zen Mountain Monastery: click here.


  1. Thank you for your translation and commentary on Hyakujo and the Fox. One comment on the translation of the turning phrase may be helpful.
    More detail will be found in Xiankuan's Six Pathways to Happiness, Vol 2, to be published later in 2021. Here is the Chinese etymology.

    The turning word or phrase, the answer to the old man-fox’s question, was given as 不昧因果 bùmèi yīnguǒ, literally, “no concealing cause and effect.” There is a key etymological point here. Conceal, 昧 mèi, is a tree 木 with young branches springing up 屮; hence, the tree has not yet attained full growth so it cannot conceal the light of the sun 日. For cause and effect, the phrase used is not the usual causes and conditions, 因緣 yīnyuán. Instead, effect, 果 guǒ, is a picture of fruit on the tree. Karma 業 yè is the foliage 丵 of a flourishing tree 木. There are tree branches, fruit, and foliage.

  2. Informative, extensive, well presented, and insightful website! Inspiring for me. Best wishes.