PODCAST- E47 - Training through the Body in Zen Buddhism and Hawaiian Spirituality ft. Doshin Shim Roshi

April 20, 2024
In this enlightening podcast episode, host Alex Greene engages in a deep conversation with Doshin Shim Roshi, exploring the intersections of Zen Buddhist meditation and Hawaiian spirituality. The discussion delves into their personal spiritual journeys, the rigorous demands of Zen training, and how these experiences are integrated with the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii. Key topics include the physical role of the body in Zen practice, the transformative nature of live-in training, and practical ways to apply Zen principles in everyday life. This episode offers listeners a profound insight into how diverse spiritual traditions can converge to deepen understanding and personal growth.

Exploring the Depths of Zen and Hawaiian Spirituality with Doshin Shim Roshi

In a deeply reflective and insightful episode of the podcast, host Alex Greene sits down with Doshin Shim Roshi to delve into the interweaving paths of Zen Buddhist meditation and Hawaiian cultural spirituality. This discussion not only sheds light on the personal spiritual journeys of both speakers but also explores how these traditions converge to shape spiritual practice and understanding.

Zen Lineage and Training Experience

Both Alex and Shim Roshi share a rich history in the Chozenji style of Zen Buddhist meditation, a lineage that emphasizes rigorous physical and spiritual discipline. Shim Roshi recounts his formative experiences with Zen, starting from being introduced to the practice by his father, to deep residential training that shaped his early adult years. These stories highlight the demanding nature of Zen training, which not only molds the mind but also physically conditions the body to harness spiritual energy effectively.

The discussion on Zen lineage serves as a powerful reminder of the tradition’s depth and the personal transformations it demands. Listeners gain insight into the commitment required in such training, where the boundaries between physical endurance and spiritual enlightenment blur, creating a foundation for profound personal growth.

Integration of Hawaiian Spirituality

Shim Roshi brings an intriguing element to the conversation with his deep connection to Hawaiian culture and spirituality. This integration is a significant part of his teaching and spiritual practice. He discusses how Hawaiian spiritual concepts and Zen Buddhism intersect, enriching his spiritual depth and teaching approach. This cultural blend provides him with a unique perspective on spirituality, one that is deeply rooted in the sense of place and ancestral wisdom.

The Hawaiian influence in Shim Roshi’s spiritual practice highlights the importance of cultural heritage in shaping one’s spiritual journey. It enriches the Zen practices with a layer of Hawaiian spirituality that emphasizes harmony with nature and the ancestral wisdom passed down through generations.

The Role of the Body in Zen Meditation

A significant portion of the conversation focuses on how the body is used as a tool in Zen meditation. Alex and Shim Roshi discuss the physical aspects of Zen practice, such as posture, breathing, and the cultivation of 'Ki’ai' (vital energy). They elaborate on how these physical practices are integral to developing spiritual awareness and energy.

This focus on the body in spiritual practice underscores the holistic approach of Zen Buddhism, where the body is not just a vessel but an active participant in gaining spiritual enlightenment. The discussion demystifies the physical demands of Zen meditation, making it more accessible to listeners who might be intimidated by its physicality.

The Significance of Live-in Training

The concept of live-in training, where practitioners reside in a temple and immerse themselves in Zen practices, is another highlight of their talk. Shim Roshi shares personal anecdotes from his own experiences, discussing the challenges and transformative impact of such intensive practice. The live-in training is portrayed as a crucial phase for deep spiritual growth, offering a structured environment that fosters profound personal and spiritual development.

These stories bring to light the commitment and sacrifices involved in traditional Zen training. They provide listeners with a clear view of the discipline and dedication required to pursue such a path, emphasizing the transformative power of full immersion in spiritual practice.

Spiritual Enlightenment and its Challenges

Shim Roshi speaks candidly about the challenges of reaching spiritual enlightenment. He shares insights into the mental and physical hurdles that come with deep meditation practices, such as maintaining intense focus and overcoming physical discomfort. These discussions are vital for understanding the less discussed aspects of spiritual practices that test one's limits and resilience.

The conversation about these difficulties adds a layer of realism to the spiritual journey. It prepares aspiring practitioners for the challenges ahead and provides comfort in knowing that difficulties are part of the process.

The Integration of Spirituality into Everyday Life

Lastly, both speakers discuss how Zen principles can be integrated into everyday life. They talk about the practical applications of Zen teachings in daily activities, emphasizing how these practices can enhance personal well-being and mindfulness. This part of the discussion is crucial for listeners who seek to apply spiritual lessons to enhance their daily lives.

This practical approach to spirituality is especially appealing as it offers tangible ways to incorporate Zen teachings into everyday activities, making spirituality accessible and actionable for everyone.


This episode with Doshin Shim Roshi offers a profound look into the integration of Zen Buddhism and Hawaiian spirituality, providing listeners with a rich tapestry of cultural and spiritual insights. The conversation not only highlights the depth of these traditions but also the personal journeys of those who walk their paths. For anyone interested in spirituality, this episode is a treasure trove of wisdom that connects deeply personal experiences with broader spiritual practices, inviting listeners to explore their spiritual path with renewed perspective and vigor.

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