Adam Jogen Salzberg is an ordained Zen Buddhist teacher with Dharma Transmission from Jan Chozen Bays, Roshi in the Soto Zen lineage. He has practiced meditation for 25 years including 15 years of full time residential practice and study at Great Vow Zen Monastery. Four years of that time was spent in intensive silent meditation retreat. In addition to his Zen training, he has also trained in Voice Dialogue, Process Work, Dzogchen and the ParaTheatre medium of Antero Alli.

Since 2007 Jogen has taught meditation, led retreats and worked with students face to face. Through SolisLuna, he works one-on-one with clients, bringing the non-dual awareness practices of Zen and Dzogchen together with Voice Dialogue parts work integrating Waking Up, Growing Up and Cleaning Up.

Interview Transcript

History and Discovery

So let’s see, my my family is Jewish, not a religious family. Just. Bare bones, observances of Jewish holidays and things like that, there was nobody who was overtly spiritual as far as having any kind of ritual or meditation practice, except my grandfather, who I found out later had a good amount of meditation practice that he kind of kept behind closed doors because in those days it was a little bit fringe or unusual to be doing that. And so when I was my first introduction to meditation was probably in martial arts classes when I was a little boy. And I remember it being in a taekwondo class at the local YMCA and the instructor having us sit still in meditation for probably 30 seconds at that time. But that was, I think that was impactful. The first time I had some sense of stillness. And then Buddhism didn’t come back around until I was around 18 years old, I went to Japan with a friend of mine whose family was from Japan after I graduated high school and while I was away, my grandfather passed away suddenly. And upon returning, I helped my grandmother clean out his study. He was a book collector and I found various texts that I never really encountered this kind of material. Yoga books, books on Zen and also a new age meditation device that used sound and light to put yourself into a meditative trance. 

The other aspect for me is is the longer I’ve practiced
, the more and more I’ve naturally
been able to include and see as part of the Dharma
work or part of the expression of the nature of reality.

So I inherited all of that stuff. I was really fascinated by the yoga books by using the device. It was really helpful. It was the first time I actually was without anxiety, I think ever. It was the first time I had some sense of being deeply present. And then also the books about Zen, something about the Japanese Zen approach really spoke to me and I was just captivated my imagination. So I started meditating. Some, some more background kind of rewinding is when I was seven years old, my father died of cancer. So in my family and in my life, there’s this very early disruption and really clear. Impact of impermanence and loss. So I think growing up, I had this. Quality of sorrow in me around that loss, and the family is very fragmented by that.

My mother, of course, very impacted, my sister very impacted. So when I then later encountered the teachings of Buddhism, which really affirmed the difficulty of life, that was that was something I could I could enter into. I could trust that because that’s where it began. So I started meditating. I took to meditation really enthusiastically. I remember it being extremely frustrating and also exhilarating and affirming at the same time. I would sit in my room with a kitchen timer and try to sit for 15 minutes, and I remember many times throwing it across the room because I couldn’t sit still or couldn’t concentrate . Or there would be times where I would just dip in and have a sense of stillness and be really encouraged by that. At this time, I was also experimenting with psychedelics, so I was eating eating psychedelic mushrooms, and I think those experiences were also helping me break out of my fixed state of mind and get some, some freshness. I began going to various sitting groups and temples and doing retreat, and I just got further and further into it, and the more retreat I did and the more I sat, the more I wanted to.


So when I then later encountered the teachings of Buddhism,
which really affirmed the difficulty of life,
that was that was something I could I could enter into.

On taking refuge

Well, I found affinity with the Zen tradition. Early on. So I went to my first. Monastic experience when I was 22 and I loved it and I was challenged by it and I found the lineage beautiful, and I found that people who had practiced it for a long time inspiring and mature like I had never seen people before. And so I basically just trusted. And the more I got into the teachings and the history of the lineage, the more I fell in love with it. So for me, it was really a matter of heart, heart and kind of serendipity. I just fell into it. That’s what what presented itself to me, and it was what was natural for me to trust. So I would say that that is a primary thing is what do you trust, what teachings or tradition open the heart? What do you feel invites you in? That really matters? You know, I could think about, OK, I really liked the varjayana teachings, or I like the teachings from the Pali canon, but what really felt inviting was the Zen tradition for me. So I stepped I stepped forward into that. It was really vital for me to commit to a lineage and a teacher, and partially I just wanted to go to go deep. And that a lot of that had to do with the teacher student relationship is my teachers are zen teachers, and that’s what they had to offer, and I wanted to soak up what they had to offer. And so that meant really entering this tradition. And for a time, I really only practiced Zen. And probably a good ten years I just worked with them, did retreat in the Zen style. Occasionally we’d have guest teachers and other influences that other approaches that influence me, but I was really focused on what Zen had to offer. And I had a sense that you can’t really unpack the wisdom and heart of a lineage quickly. You can you can’t you can’t know what Zen is from one retreat. You can’t know what Vajrayana is from one book or one retreat, you have to give yourself to it. And then what it is and what it has to offer unfolds in your own being. And so I recognize that and that’s why I just said, OK, I’m going to settle down here.

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