Buddhist Studies

Summer 2021: What Is Buddha?

This body is the bodhi tree.

The mind is like a mirror bright;

Take heed to keep it always clean

And let not dust collect upon it.                                                                                                                                   ~Shen-hsiu

There is no bodhi tree.

Nor stand of a mirror bright.

Since all is Void,

Where can the dust alight?                                                                                                                 ~Hui-neng

Taught by Genpo Michael O'Neal and Joen O’Neal

The word “buddha” means something like “enlightened being.” But what does that mean?


From the time of the Buddha, the term was understood as referring to something more than the body and mind of an individual person. The “Dharma body” of the Buddha was pointed to, and later Buddhist teachers expanded this understanding to include three “bodies” of Buddha.


When Zen became established in China a thousand years after the time of the Buddha, two short poems, famous in Zen history, presented two perspectives on the relationship of “buddha” to our own life and practice, in terms of dualism and non-dualism. And Zen Master Dogen also wrote about the real body of the Buddha.


In this course we will explore “what is Buddha,” grounded in the presentation of Dainin Katagiri Roshi in his book, The Light that Shines through Infinity.

Dainin Katagiri Roshi was the root teacher of Michael and Joen O'Neal and one of the most influential Zen teachers in the West. Copies of the course text will be mailed out as needed to course participants.

Registration Information

Wednesdays, June 9–July 28 (eight sessions) (#B98)

7:00-9:00 P.M.

$185 (members $165) (people who already have the text may deduct $15 from course fee)

Note that this course will be conducted online via Zoom.

Member rates apply to members of all local Buddhist centers. Reduced fees are offered as needed; please contact the Center at (612) 781-7640.

Enrollment for classes is limited, and early registration is encouraged. You may print and mail a registration form or register online.

Register online. Enter the appropriate amount under Program Fees: Buddhist Studies

  • $185 for non-members (course text will be mailed to you)

  • $170 for non-members (if you already have the book The Light that Shines through Infinity)

  • $165 for members (course text will be mailed to you)

  • $150 for members (if you already have the book The Light that Shines through Infinity)

Printable registration form (PDF) to print and mail.

Current Course Dates

Spring 2021 (#B97): 

Wednesdays, 7:00-9:00 P.M.

March 31–May 19

Future Course Dates

Fall 2021 (#B99): 

Wednesdays, 7:00-9:00 P.M.

September 22–November 10