Zen is ordinary, dead ordinary. Don't expect 'bells and whistles' enlightenment. To find clarity or freedom get to know your self and see what you make of the world.On these pages you see my offer to help you in this process, and a bit about me and my experience.
Our esteemed teacher, Zen master David Ferguson, retired in 2007. He asked me to take over some of his work. So I'm on duty now as Zen master.
For more information on groups, sessions, retreats...., e-mail me

The focus of my work is on how to incorporate Zen practice into daily life.

Zen practice: that's meditation and mindfulness.

How to meditate: you sit quietly, you might have read about watching your breath or counting it, but then what do you do?
What about all those thoughts, and what to do about that itch on the nose? Am I supposed to be able to sit immobile for hours like a Buddha? And will that make me happy?

What about mindfulness? Everywhere you hear about it now, how good it's supposed to be. Is it that you focus on your food when eating, making sure you chew properly? Is that it, and what has that got to do with Zen?

Meditation and mindfulness practices are tools, they are not an end in themselves.
Zen practice is learning to observe. This never stops, no matter how long you have been doing it. It is what I do.

Of course you need to be able to stay focused to observe properly. Whenever you are distracted, come back to focus, - gently, no recriminations. Focussing on your breath is very useful in meditation.

Mindfulness is focussing on an activity. It can be anything, but repetitive tasks are good to start with. Or washing up, or driving alone in a car.
Keeping your attention on something, that's focussing. The emphasis is on >keeping<, staying with it, not getting distracted.
The only difference between meditation and mindfulness is that in meditation you are sitting still and focus inwards, with mindfulness you are focussing on an activity.

But the purpose is to observe your mental activity. For example, you are focussing on doing the washing up. Likely you start thinking (may be that you are always the one doing the washing up, or that you hate it, or some daydream). The intention is to notice these thoughts. Just notice and leave them be, come back to your activity. (Or your breathing when meditating)

You will notice that this is the difficult bit, leaving the distractions be, not being carried off by them. That's the practice, it needs practice, you can never do enough of it. (and that itch on the nose, just scratch it)

This is where it's good to have help and guidance, to keep you on track, to point out pitfalls and help you with any problems arising.

We have regular groups to talk and discuss anything to do with this work, on the third Tuesday of the month near Taunton, Somerset, on the second and fourth Tuesday every month here at my place (Mid Devon). Talk / discussion in the morning, individual sessions after lunch.
Apart from that, sessions or mini - retreats over one or more days with two daily sessions can be arranged on request.

If you are interested in any of the above, email me.

Every so often I have to remind myself to let people know at least of my existence as a Zen teacher and that I can possibly help.
Trouble is whenever I try to write something, it seems so superfluous. Let's face it, there is enough advice out there on what you should do and on what is right and wrong. And no shortage of people who want to tell you, either.

So what can you expect if you work with me?

No "higher Truth" or anything like that.
But I can teach you how to meditate,
what to do with a busy mind,
how to deal with the stuff that comes up when you try to meditate,
how to "observe the mind with your mind".

What works best is to respond to the problems at hand. We will always be looking at the nature of the self, of identity, how it is made, what it is good for. We can work on understanding on how the mind functions, how and why we form attachments and why we always look for meaning.

Lets face it, you are interested in this because you wonder if you can achieve a higher state, enlightenment or something like that, some fundamental, existential relief. May be you are desparate to find a solution to the human condition. You might be driven to desparation by a black hole in your guts like I used to be.

Answers? I don't have answers for you. I point where you could look. I suggest what you can do to find out for yourself. I will tell you when you make an identity of your search and suggest how you can overcome this obstacle.

So, is it possible to attain to a state of peace, clarity, higher consciousness, Buddhahood or whatever you might be after?

Definitely. All those pointers, hints, reports, love songs, poems from all ages of human culture are no lies. There were always those who needed to know and succeeded in finding out.

But it is not possible for the self. "I" can't have it. Whatever "I" have, will be a particular state, an altered state of consciousness for example or a trip - like refuge from 'ordinary' life.
How can we get away from the 'I'? Is it possible to get beyond? Is there an awareness without the one who is aware?

There is only one way to find out, you'll have to go and look. - Look at your self, observe your mind, learn to find stillness there, and see where that takes you.

Contemporary Zen

Contemporary Zen is Zen Buddhism for modern people living in western culture. Getting to know yourself, exploring your mind, seeing your true nature (Kensho), finding an answer to existential questions like 'who am I', 'what is our purpose here on earth', can be approached through meditation and mindfulness. Contemporary Zen is not a religion, it is an inquiry into fundamental, existential questions, and about integrating them into ordinary life.

Whilst we work with old, ancient even, insights and methods, from Buddhist and Zen Buddhist tradition, we acknowledge fully that we live in the western world with its culture and peculiarities. Our minds are conditioned by us growing up in this culture and to our minds we have to turn to observe and get to know our selves.

This is Zen for our times, enabling you to bring meditation and stillness into your life, without the need to renounce anything. This teaching is based on acknowledging and accepting what is, including your self, your ego, your mind. Just like Zen helped the Samurai warriers hundreds of years ago, it can help you now to come to terms with the demands of life and questions you might have about existence, life and death, and why we need to find meaning in our lives.

We take into account and find it useful to look at new developments in neuroscience, psychology, but also to the implications of developments in physics, cosmology and mathematics. After all, science tells us how we perceive the world, and how, through communication, we concur about appearances, and through this, form our concept of reality.
Therefor we consider the nature of suffering and how it arises from desire (which is an old Buddhist concept) and also look at the reward cycle in the brain, cognitive systems; the effects of neurotransmitters, for example (which are the modern, scientific take on the same thing). Trying to understand the self, its functions and nature, it is helpful to learn how we form attachments all through our lives.
Another point is the search for meaning. It is important in connection with conditioning in childhood and how a sense of self is (necessarily) forming. Looking at our lives and mental activities, we easily see what importance we give to this search for meaning. And of course, it is 'I' who looks for meaning, and any meaning found has the effect of an identity established and an attachment formed, which is the only substance the 'I' can ever have. Meaning is not intrinsic to the world, the things we perceive, it's the mind receiving the perception that ascribes meaning. The consequence of this is rather profound. Meaning gives substance to the self. Try to catch yourself every time you place meaning on something... and whilst you are at it, find out who that is exactly.


On this page I will try to keep up with current events, provide information about groups and retreats, and post the occasional text about an interesting discussion or a theme that came up in a group.

The other pages on this site are historic, the oldest texts are the poems on "falling off the cliff" followed by "What happened", which is an e-mail I wrote to someone who wanted to know exactly that. I decided to leave those pages, since I can't find anything wrong with them, and they might provide an insight into the subject matter.

For information on groups and sessions, contact:

The New School of Contemporary Zen:
(David Ferguson's website):