The doctrine of emptiness is at the heart of Zen Buddhism and all Buddhist traditions.

As important—and potentially liberating—as the teachings on emptiness are, they also tend to inspire hesitancy and misunderstanding, even among experienced practitioners. 

According to Kurt Spellmeyer, a Zen priest and a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, emptiness is the open door that allows us to step out of our ingrained habits and patterns into an awareness of the true nature of reality. Simply put, when we awaken to the awareness of emptiness, everything changes. 

Join Spellmeyer on Friday, April 29 for a discussion of emptiness in Zen Buddhism, the “two screens of the mind,” the practice of meditating with emptiness, and what happens after the experience of dai kensho, or “Great Awakening.” In this hour-long conversation with Tricycle Editor-in-Chief James Shaheen, Spellmeyer will also take questions from attendees about emptiness in Zen Buddhist philosophy and practice.

This hour-long Zoom event is free for Tricycle Premium subscribers and $10 for general admission. Subscribe to Premium or upgrade your existing subscription for free access.

Sign up now. 


Kurt Spellmeyer

Kurt Spellmeyer is a Buddhist priest and roshi in a lineage of Japanese Zen that goes back to the Ming dynasty and the Cold Mountain temple in China. Having trained with teachers in two branches of Zen—the Rinzai and Obaku—he has also drawn on elements of Pure Land practice and philosophy. For more than thirty years, roshi has led the Cold Mountain Sangha in New Jersey, and for the last eight, his writing has appeared frequently in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. He is the author of Buddha at the Apocalypse: Awakening from a Culture of Destruction.

James Shaheen

James Shaheen, Tricycle’s Editor-in-Chief, began his Buddhist practice in the mid-1990s, studying with teachers from a number of Buddhist traditions. He is particularly interested in Buddhism’s growth in the West and its applicability to Western politics, culture, and everyday life. He has been with Tricycle for nearly 25 years.


  • Date: April 29, 2022
  • Time: 4:00PM EST
  • Format:
  • Price: Premium subscribers: Free General admission: $10