Writing to Study the Self


3:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Meets Sundays, 3-5pm ET, every other week: September 8, 22, October 6, 20, November 3, 17

To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.
—Eihei Dogen, “Genjokoan”

How might the practice of writing allow us to look deeply at our personality, karma, history, and social conditioning—a sustained engagement in studying the self? How might writing with community support us and offer mirrors for each other? How might we write not to harden or fix identities but to actualize the myriad things of the world?

Participants in this three-month course will be offered craft talks, prompts, and practices to look deeply at the self. Sessions will feature guest teachers along with BZC practice leaders in a non-dual exploration of dharma and writing. Guest teachers will offer prompts and exercises that participants will work on between class sessions, then share among a peer breakout group at the next session. The shares will not be to critique or ‘improve,’ but to support the process of self-inquiry in a tender and intimate environment.

This course is open to all participants, whether new to writing, or those with a long-term writing practice exploring a project. The course is open genre/ multi-genre. At least one peer group will be for BIPOC (Black Indigenous, and People of Color) participants, upon request.

Course Outline
September 8: Introductions, Course Layout, Meeting Cohorts, First Prompt
September 22: Writing Shares, Chenxing Han Talk
October 6: Writing Shares, Ruth Ozeki Talk
October 20: Writing Shares, Norman Fischer Talk
November 3: Writing Shares, Jenny Xie Talk
November 17: Writing Shares, Closing

Course Facilitators: Ryan Lee Wong and Charlie Schneider


What will a typical class session look like?

Each participant will generate new writing each week. The class will be broken up into cohorts of 8-10 people, and the first half of each class will be a writing ‘share’ within each cohort (Zoom breakout rooms), where each person reads for about 5 minutes. The second half of each class will be a full-class lecture or presentation from one of our guest teachers, who will offer a prompt to write from for next week’s share.

I don’t have writing experience, can I still attend?

Yes, all are welcome and encouraged. The course is structured to be open to those with no experience as well as those with an established writing practice who want to explore writing and dharma together.

Will I receive workshop or instructor feedback on my writing? 

No. Sharing one’s writing and hearing others’ is itself a powerful learning experience. While feedback is helpful in some instances, it is often distracting and can even be harmful for writers. The writing shares will abide by our Community Agreements, allowing participants to share freely without commentary.

How do I request a BIPOC cohort?

Once registration closes, we will be in touch with participants to ask who wishes to be in a BIPOC cohort and assign participants accordingly.

Is there a hybrid option?

This course is online only.

BZC is committed to offering classes, workshops, and retreats on a sliding scale in an aspiration to move towards equity within our sangha. To that end, we offer an equitable pricing model as a mindfulness practice and a mirror of our relations to histories of wealth. Please see the Equitable Pricing Model to determine your registration rate level.

If you’re unable to pay at the lowest rate, please use this form to apply for an exemption.

If you have any questions or concerns about registration, please contact us here.

Lack of funds is no barrier to participation. If you’re unable to pay at the lowest rate, please use this form to request an exemption.

Registration closes Tuesday, September 3

For weekly updates and upcoming events, request to join the BZC Community List here.

For community news and updates on offerings at the Millerton Zendo, please request to join the Millerton Zendo Community List here.

COVID Protocol: We ask that all participants be fully vaccinated and boosted. Masks are optional. Please see the BZC Covid Protocol for more information.

In-Person and Online Option: In-person participants will gather at the Millerton Zendo, 1 John Street, Millerton, NY. Parking is available behind the building. Online participants will receive a zoom link for the class, and are encouraged to participate fully in questions and conversation.


​​​​​Chenxing Han (she/her) is the author of Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists (2021); one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care (2023); and numerous articles and book chapters for both academic and mainstream audiences. A frequent speaker and workshop leader at schools, universities, and Buddhist communities across the nation, she has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, Hemera Foundation, the Lenz Foundation, and the University of Michigan. ​Chenxing holds a BA from Stanford University, an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, a certificate in Buddhist chaplaincy from the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. She is a founder of Listening to the Buddhists in Our Backyard; May We Gather: A National Buddhist Memorial for Asian American Ancestors; and Roots and Refuge: An Asian American Buddhist Writing Retreat.

Jenny Xie (she/her) was born in Anhui province, China. She is the author of Eye Level (Graywolf Press, 2018), a finalist for the National Book Award and the recipient of the Walt Whitman Award and the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and The Rupture Tense (Graywolf Press, 2022), a finalist for the National Book Award and the CLMP Firecracker Award. Her chapbook, Nowhere to Arrive (Northwestern University Press, 2017), won the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. She has been supported by fellowships and grants from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Kundiman, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Vilcek Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. Xie has taught at Princeton University and New York University and is currently an assistant professor of written arts at Bard College. She lives in New York City.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Norman Fischer has been publishing poetry since 1979. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a masters from the Graduate Theological Union at the University of California at Berkeley. Norman has been a Zen Buddhist priest for nearly 30 years, serving as abbot for the San Francisco Zen Center from 1995-2000. Founder and teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation, he is one of the most highly respected Zen teachers in America, regularly leading Zen Buddhist retreats and events.

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest, whose books have garnered international acclaim for their ability to integrate issues of science, technology, religion, environmental politics, and global pop culture into unique, hybrid, narrative forms. Her new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, published by Viking in September 2021, tells the story of a young boy who, after the death of his father, starts to hear voices and finds solace in the companionship of his very own book. Her novels, My Year of Meats (1998), All Over Creation (2003), A Tale for the Time Being (2013) and The Book of Form and Emptiness (2022) have been translated and published in over thirty countries. Her third novel, A Tale for the Time Being, won the LA Times Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Book of Form and Emptiness is the winner of the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction as well as the 22nd Annual Massachusetts Book Award, the BC Yukon Book Prize, and the Julia Ward Howe Prize for Fiction. Her work of personal non-fiction, The Face: A Time Code (2016), was published by Restless Books as part of their groundbreaking series called The Face. Ruth's documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She is now Professor Emerita of English Language & Literature at Smith College, where she was the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, she divides her time between Western Massachusetts, New York City, and British Columbia, Canada.

$395 - $630
Writing to Study the Self