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Ancient Way explores the ways in which the Sōtō Zen tradition remains authentically alive in the modern world, both East and West. It takes its name from Dōgen Zenji’s poem:
The Way of the Ancestors
coming from the West
I transmit to the East.
Yearning for the ancient ways,
Catching the moon, cultivating the clouds,
Untouched by worldly dust fluttering about—
Thatched hut, snowy evening, deep mountain.
Ancient Way is committed to the belief that the investigation of traditional Sōtō Zen practice remains relevant to modern people around the world. It’s not always easy to find solid information on elements of the Sōtō Zen tradition in the West, however, and Ancient Way was conceived to fill that gap. It began its life almost two years ago as a quarterly print-on-demand magazine. Most readers, however, have been engaging with the publication in its digital, rather than paper, form. Thus, it has been reborn as a completely online magazine in the interest of timeliness, flexibility and economy. Back numbers remain available in both paper and digital versions.
Ancient Way does not shy away from posting content that is somewhat academic, uses non-English terms and diacritical marks, or is based on the traditional practices taught in a Japanese training temple. While there are articles of interest to both laity and ordained clergy, our writers are not required to aim their work at a broad audience, to adopt a personal or first-person point of view, or to dispense with technical references. Ancient Way assumes that its valued readers are capable of understanding high-level as well as more general discussions of the tradition, and that they will explore the publication to find those pieces of content which are most interesting and helpful to them. It aims to provide a variety of gateways into the Sōtō Zen tradition for those who wish to understand the rich context of the practice.
Ancient Way is a publication of Dharma Light, an organization whose mission is to develop an informed and competent Western Sōtō Zen sangha 1) with a deep understanding and appreciation of the teachings and traditions; 2) with a comprehensive and realistic view of the full scope of Sōtō practice, positioned within the context of the cultures and history from which it arose and was transmitted; and 3) equipped to function in a healthy and useful way at both the lay and clerical levels—in the words of Uchiyama Kōshō, “cooperating with one another and aiming to create a place where sincere practitioners can practice without trouble.”