Writings of Stuart Lachs (Adobe PDF)
NEW (February 2012):
The Hua-Tou practice: perspectives and examples of an ancient and potent Chinese Chan practice
Introduction To Articles
An Interview with Stuart Lachs
Coming Down From the Zen Clouds
Dressing The Donkey
Means of Authorization
Richard Baker and the Myth of the Zen Roshi
The Aitken-Shimano Letters
When The Saints Go Marching
Stuart Lachs was born in 1940 and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Brooklyn College, part of the NYC college system, where he received a B.A. and M.S., majoring in mathematics. He worked at Bell Labs in the mathematical physics department for a year and afterward, in the ship design industry for a few years.
He started Zen practice in 1967 in NYC. That Spring he went to San Francisco because he had heard that the San Francisco Zen Center was opening the first American Zen monastery. With luck and the generosity of the Center, he was accepted and attended the first training period of Tassajara, their new monastery.
He returned to NYC and became a member of the Zen Studies Society. He remained a member for about two and a half years and then went to Maine to study with Walter Nowick at what became Moon Spring Hermitage. For many years, he was head monk, head of the Board of Directors, and in charge of new members, instructing them in meditation, zendo protocol, and the ways of the group.
After eleven years he left and returned to NYC. Shortly, he found the Chan Meditation Group under the leadership of Shifu Sheng-yen, a Chinese teacher from Taiwan. He did not become a member of the group at first, though after a few years he was given much responsibility, including the important task of giving private interviews during seven day retreats and running classes when Shifu returned to Taiwan, every other three month period. He eventually became a member. From 1982 - 1999, he traveled frequently, spending three months in a Korean Monastery (Songgwang Sa), some time in Japan at both a Rinzai and Soto temple, and two stays at Shifu's monastery in Taiwan. During one of the stays in Taiwan, he did a solitary thirty day retreat. He also visited the Diamond Sangha in Hawaii twice, and spent two months with the London Zen Group as a guest of Morinaga roshi, their Japanese teacher. He stayed at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, Ca. twice for a few months at a time, as well as visiting other places.
In the early/mid 1990's he became interested in an academic look at Zen, which included institutional history, myth making, and the interaction of Zen and the state. It was an eye opener, as he had seen much over the years that bothered him and did not make sense, but he could not put it all together. He also became interested in the sociology of religion. His articles are the result of years of practicing with Zen groups combined with his academic studies of Chan/Zen as well as the sociology of religion and institutions. Since 1999 he has practiced with a few friends or on his own.
Stuart Lachs can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.