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At the age of 25, Cristina Moon sat her first ten-day meditation retreat to prepare for the possibility of arrest and torture inside military-ruled Burma. While Moon acknowledges the naïveté of her initial intent, on the retreat she nevertheless discovered not only a method to withstand pain but also a new way of seeing the world that set her on a decades-long spiritual path.

Eventually, Moon found her way to Daihonzan Chozen-ji, a Rinzai Zen temple and martial arts dojo in Honolulu that emphasizes warrior Zen training. Her new book, Three Years on the Great Mountain: A Memoir of Zen and Fearlessness, follows her first three years at Chozen-ji as she learns ferocity and grace through swordsmanship, ceramics, and the rigors of all-night training.

In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle’s editor-in-chief, James Shaheen, sits down with Moon to talk about the importance of learning to face challenges directly, why the highest directive of a Zen priest is to give courage and take away fear, and how she’s learning to take herself less seriously while remaining entirely sincere.

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, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio.

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