Style Magazine Health & Wellness – Interview

zen0001Interview with Su Byron

I was interviewed for Style Magazine health/wellness column (Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s monthly magazine). Here is a transcript:

During the past 40 years, lay Zen Buddhist Will Rauschenberger has studied with teachers from various spiritual paths and mystical traditions. He is dedicated to adapting Zen Buddhist teachings to Western culture and founded the Ordinary Zen Sangha in 2015. Group meditations (zazen) are every Sunday at 6 p.m. at 1718 Main Street, Suite 310, Sarasota. RSVP is recommended, as space is limited.  For more information, visit

 How did Zen Buddhism come into your life?

I first realized that Buddhism had a place in my life when I went to India in 1986 and visited the holy places of various religious traditions—Hinduism, Sufism and Buddhism. One of those places was Bodh Gaya where Buddha reached enlightenment. That was a peak experience for me. You could also say Zen, by whatever name it is called, is awakening from the dream, not something you add to your life to make it better.

What inspired you to start the Sarasota Ordinary Zen Sangha?

I lived, for many years, at the American Zen College in Germantown, Maryland, and practiced Zen with Zen Master Gosung Shin. At that time in my life, Zen became like a rock foundation that helped me survive, heal and grow as a human being. I want to pay it forward.

What do you mean by the phrase “Ordinary Zen?”

Being ordinary means not being different or special in any way. It means not seeking anything special, clinging to any concept of a special Zen. It’s just being your authentic self.

What form of meditation do you practice?

I practice zazen. Zazen has the appearance of being meditation, and we often call it meditation. However, it is not contemplation or introspection. Zazen is sitting Zen.

Who is welcome to come to your sangha?

Our sangha is a small gathering of practitioners who enjoy the benefits of sitting together. All are welcome and you do not need to have any experience. Beginners are always welcome.

What advice do you have for people who say they absolutely cannot meditate?

The question is what do you think meditation is? When you are playing softball and are up to bat, are you daydreaming? Not if you want to avoid being hit in the head by a ball! You absolutely can meditate, if your life depends on it. And it does.

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