My background

JD 2011

I have been involved in Zen Buddhist practice since 1965.

I am an artist, writer and retired associate professor in art and philosophy at Plymouth University, UK – where I was also a teaching fellow.

Currently I am the Buddhist chaplain at Exeter University, UK, and I run secular and Zen Buddhist mindful meditation (zazen) workshops and courses for beginners and for more experienced practitioners.

For more information about mindfulness and zazen practice, and workshop news, click here: mindfulness & zazen

For more information about my work as an artist/writer go to:

How my interest in Buddhism and scepticism developed

It may be helpful if I say something about my background in Buddhism and how I’ve come to be interested in scepticism.

I have been involved in Zen practice for fifty years. I grew up in the Charnwood Forest area of Leicestershire, in a small mining and quarrying village near to the appropriately named town, Coalville. In the mid-sixties in the town library I came across a copy of a text by Dogen, a thirteenth-century Japanese Zen teacher. Dogen (1200-1253) is renowned as the most eminent writer and philosopher of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism – though I had no idea of this at the time. It is a mystery to me as to how this text, the Fukan Zazengi, probably in an introductory book on Buddhism, came to be in the library and how I happened to pick it off the shelves. Luckily Dogen’s essay provides very clear instructions for zazen – sitting meditation – and I started to sit following Dogen’s directions. At this time I was beginning a foundation course in art and design, and much of my spare time was taken up with writing and doing zazen.

JD as art student c.1965

JD as art student c.1965

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