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Barbara O'Brien

Barbara O'Brien

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Barbara Hoetsu O'Brien is a journalist and student of Zen Buddhism currently living in the greater New York City area.


Barbara began formal study of Buddhism in 1988, when she was accepted as a lay student of Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, NY. In the years since she has been actively engaged in meeting Buddhists from other traditions and learning about the many forms of Buddhism. She also is the author of the book Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World. She has written extensively about religion in America and how it impacts politics and culture on her personal blogs, Rethinking Religion (about Buddhism and religion in general) and The Mahablog (about politics and current events). She is currently a member of the Empty Hand Zen Center in New Rochelle, NY.


Barbara has a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri.

By Barbara O'Brien:

My own spiritual path began with mainstream Christian Protestantism, then diverged into an exploration of many traditions and philosophies until I became a student of Zen Buddhism in the late 1980s. Since then I have combined my Zen practice with investigation of all Buddhist history and traditions.


Through study, but even more through many encounters and discussions with other Buddhists, I have come to a deep appreciation and respect for the dizzying complexity of practices and doctrines that are called Buddhist. Gaudy and austere, rational and mystical, gentle and intense, simple yet impossibly difficult, after all these years Buddhism still fascinates and surprises me. I welcome this opportunity to help others ease into what might seem a dauntingly complex subject.


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