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Lion-Faced Guru Podcast Ep. 5: Lama John Hoag

In the 5th episode of the Lion-Faced Guru Podcast, Kim Katami interviews Lama John Hoag from the US about his in-depth experiences with Japanese Zen and how he eventually switched to Vajrayana Buddhism ending up studying with Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Chatral Rinpoche in Nepal. John and Kim also discuss the incomparable directness and simplicity of Tantric Guru Yoga comparted to the concentration-based approaches of Zen.


https://youtu.be/iU5zkyWy2xk?list=PLPFA6N4v0NFtgtUugnNSgmCV6t3UF6Uqw


► Topics discussed:

00:59 How Kim and John got in contact
02:04 About John's childhood and how he got onto the spiritual path
04:30 By the age of 15, John finds a book about Zen masters and gets introduced to Buddhism
07:38 By the end of university, John was determined to go to India or Japan to learn more about the traditions and start practicing
08:50 John gets a university fellowship in Kyoto Japan and immediately starts a sitting practice there.
10:36 John gets introduced to a Japanese professor who advices him to first try out Zen in the US with a certain Roshi before starting full training in Japan
12:24 Meeting with Rinzai-Zen Roshi Kyozan Joshu Sasaki at Mount Baldy Zen Center in LA
13:28 After the first Zen sesshin, John is blown away
15:34 Back in Japan, John meets philosophy professor Keiji Nishitani and decides against an academic career
17:20 John gets introduced to Hirata Roshi and gets invited to train at his Ryoan-ji Zendo in Tenryu-ji monastery
24:22 John gets sent to Omori Sogen Roshi in Tokyo where he stayed and practiced both with beginner and senior Zen students
28:00 Practicing with Omori Roshi in a very energetic way through calligraphy, Kendo and silent sitting
28:49 Using shouting to intensify one's energy and presence in practice
32:34 John follows Omori Roshi to his newly built Zendo outside of Tokyo to spend a year of practice there in icy conditions
35:37 One time in summer, John went to climb Mt. Fuji in the traditional Zen way and could avoid a lot of pain thanks to his tennis shoes
41:44 Visiting the Bo Hyun Sa Zen temple in Korea and being trained by Zen monk Yang Hik in Korean energetc Yoga practices to enhance meditation
48:20 John stays with Oshosan at Hakuin Zenji's Ryutakuji-temple for the off-season
51:40 The buddhist tradition in Japan was not up to what it had been before
52:32 Terayama Sensei understoood how to encourage Western students
57:27 Omori Sogen never completed high-school, yet was appointed the head of the Rinzai school university. He was highly respected for his experiental understanding.
59:32 How was Omori Sogen as a teacher? How were meditation one-on-ones with him?
01:03:31 The practice of MU had to be energetic and with absolute single-pointed direction to maintain 100% presence.
01:10:30 Kim's experience with Terayama Sensei
01:14:17 How Kim's time with Terayama Sensei has shaped the Pemako Bhumi model
01:14:55 Omori Sogen's energetic calligraphy practice and how it teaches you how look at the world
01:18:35 John's hard lesson of not being an art collector
01:23:10 How John got in contact Tibetan Buddhism, went to Nepal and learned about Dudjom Rinpoche
01:33:15 Meeting Trulshik Rinpoche and sensing the difference of energy compared to his Japanese teachers
01:37:30 Meeting Lopön Tsechu in Kathmandu
01:40:30 Finally meeting Dudjom Rinpoche and experiencing an overwhelming feeling of blessing from him
01:47:20 The open, direct and non-repressive approach of Nyingma teachers to "let it all come out" and go to the core of the ematter
01:53:50 About translations of Tibetan to English and which ones John recommends
01:55:45 Getting introduced to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and the difference of feeling John got from his presence compared to Dudjom Rinpoche
02:02:25 Surprisingly meeting Chatral Rinpoche in Dudjom Rinpoche's parking lot
02:07:45 The unbelievable mind presence of Chatral Rinpoche, being around him and the experiental core of Guru Yoga
02:09:02 Kim's experience and shift when he experienced Tantric Guru Yoga
02:10:10 John's appreciation for Kim's approach to go directly to the essence instead of the usual approach of having to do all gradual steps
02:11:16 Kim sharing more about his shift from Zen concentration practice to Tantric Guru Yoga and how it eventually led to the revelation of the natural state
02:14:18 Once you come face to face with the true presence of Guru, all other energy practices are "like tinkertoys" / more discussion on Tantric practice and how it can be exhausting but never damaging
02:19:05 Kim's experience when first meeting HH. Dalai Lama and receiving a blessing from him
02:21:34 A few words of John to Kim and his students about the effectiveness of Pemako buddhist teachings
02:24:06 Outlook on part 2 of the interview
02:25:21 Words of encouragement to Kim Katami and the Bhumi model

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