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Hi Stuart,
I'm a high school student and for a class I need to gain more information about Buddhism. I wanted to interview someone who actually practices the faith in question. These questions would be a big help if they could be answered.
Questions:

How have you used meditations and koans to help you in you day to day life?

How do you feel Buddhism has affected the world today?

Is there an aspect of Buddhism that you do not subscribe to? How do you justify the separation from the mainstream beliefs?

How and when were you introduced to Buddhism? What about it drew you to this belief system?

Why were you drawn to this particular sect? What is an important distinction from other sects.
Thanks,
Bryan

Answer
> How have you used meditations and koans to help you in you day to day life?

In "meditation," you take a very very simple situation (sitting still and silent), and practice it with 100% attention. As this clear attention gets stronger through practice, it helps in every life situation. For instance, if you're driving, and your mind is filled with hopes and fears and regrets and ideas about past and future, you may run through a red light and kill someone. But if you're just driving with clear attention, you'll stop when the light is red, then go when the light turns green. So meditation or koan practice isn't different from ordinary, everyday life.

> How do you feel Buddhism has affected the world today?

If you don't keep a clear mind, then you may not even notice when beings around you are suffering. But by simply keeping a clear, questioning, attentive mind, you can perceive each moment just as it is. So when you encounter someone suffering, you can try to help them. Each act of clarity and compassion affects the world.

> Is there an aspect of Buddhism that you do not subscribe to?

Buddhism means waking up to this very moment. Just now, what do you see, what do you hear, what are you doing? There's nothing to subscribe to.

> How do you justify the separation from the mainstream beliefs?

Beliefs don't matter. What are you doing right now?

> How and when were you introduced to Buddhism? What about it drew you to this belief system?

I've never liked following ideas just because other people, or some authority, tell me to believe them. I'd rather explore and question and see for myself. I'm drawn to Buddhism because it's a practice of doubt, not belief.

> Why were you drawn to this particular sect? What is an important distinction from other sects.

Other religions create ideologies that people try to believe in. Zen is distinct in that it's not dependent on words and ideas... it only points you to a clear perception of this very moment.

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Stuart Resnick

Expertise

I'm a long-time practitioner in a Korean-style Zen school. I can answer questions regarding Zen, formal sitting meditation, self-inquiry, the practice of "koan" transmission, and offer the particular perspective of this school on the great life questions.

Experience

18 years of formal practice with the Kwan Um School of Zen, currently with the Empty Gate Zen Center of Berkeley, currently a "Senior Dharma Teacher" at this center, I give periodic talks and informally answer questions of students interested in Zen practice and teaching style

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