Tricycle is pleased to offer the Tricycle Talks podcast for free. If you would like to support this offering, please consider donating. Thank you! 

Charles Johnson is a novelist, essayist, screenwriter, professor, philosopher, cartoonist, and martial arts teacher—and he’s also a Tricycle contributing editor. Over the course of his career, he has published ten novels, three cartoon collections, and a number of essay collections that explore Black life in America, often through the lens of Buddhist literature and philosophy. In the February issue of Tricycle, Johnson wrote a contemporary retelling of a classic Zen tale called “Is That So?”

In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s editor-in-chief, James Shaheen, sits down with Johnson to discuss his path to writing, how Buddhism finds its way into his work, and why he believes that art should liberate us from calcified ways of thinking and seeing.

Tricycle Talks is a podcast series featuring leading voices in the contemporary Buddhist world. You can listen to more Tricycle Talks on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about our podcast. Write us at

Read transcript

Download transcript

Sponsored by St. John’s College

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.