feature conversation: frank jude boccio

Welcome to a new experiment on it’s all yoga, baby: feature video conversations with awesome figures in the yoga community! And first up is one of my favourite dharma and yoga teachers, Frank Jude Boccio, who graciously accepted my invitation for a Skype call. Basically, he was my guinea pig as I figure out how to ask questions, be on camera and edit video.

Frank Jude Boccio lives with his wife and baby daughter in Tucson, Arizona, where he teaches yoga, works on building sangha and is writing his next book. He is an ordained Zen Buddhist teacher, Interfaith Minister and a lay brother in the Tiep Hien Order established by Thich Nhat Hanh. While rooted in the Tucson community, he also teaches retreats and workshops around North America and is faculty on the Moksha Yoga teacher training program. His first book, Mindfulness Yoga, is considered essential reading for aspiring yoga practitioners.

I appreciate Frank Jude’s integrity, breadth of knowledge and ability to keep it real. Also, he’s so punk rock that he doesn’t even need to call himself punk rock. In this two-part conversation, we discussed the trials and joys of building community, the unifying threads in his eclectic background, a secular approach to zen practice, resisting the uniform of personal branding and making conscious choices.

The whole interview is almost half an hour long, so here is part one. The second part is right here!

  1. real –

    really – these are real folks

    the rest is interesting details, via an interesting split-screen

    mindfulness in hatha yoga, meditation, zen buddhism & zen naturalism

    not sure what i did or didn’t do, didn’t see part 2, maybe means coming later?

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Part 2 is coming, I’m just waiting for the screenshot to render, then I’ll put it on the blog.

  2. very cool…Frank Jude is great….met him at the first Mindfulness Yoga & Meditation Training at Spirit Rock in California….am all about mindfulness yoga, it’s the way I teach…

  3. Very nice. Normally I don’t like video conversations (prefer reading) but this was interesting. I like the part about “Zen Naturalism” in particular. Makes complete sense to me. I wonder if it is controversial in Buddhist circles?

    • Carol,

      I guess it’s accurate to say “controversial” with those who have strong investment in “tradition.” For instance, there’s been a long — and sometimes very heated, even very negative — line of criticism from folk like Allan Wallace in his response to Stephen Batchelor who also teaches a ‘naturalist’ approach.

      There is a growing “Secular Buddhist” movement, if I may call it that. And it’s interesting in that some within that movement dislike all ‘religious’ elements, and some (like me) utilize what may be called ‘religious’ elements but my understanding of ‘religion’ is in keeping with it’s etymology (religio meaning ‘to tie back’) as a form of yogic discipline.

      If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Secular Buddhist website that has links to the original Wallace criticism of Batchelor, Batchelor’s response and Ted Messier’s response: http://www.thesecularbuddhist.com/articles_response.php

      Also, my blog, Zen Naturalism, in particular, this link is to my fuller essay on the Four Noble Truths from a ‘process-oriented’ perspective:

      AND, thanks to Roseanne! I had fun, though of course as soon as we hung up, I started to think of all the ‘deep’ things I COULD HAVE SAID! 🙂

      Also, I notice that there’s some delay in transmission at times, and I appear to have talked over you. I am sorry for that! On my end, I didn’t hear you until after I had started to speak.

      • Frank, you said *plenty* of “deep” things! So many that it was difficult to edit this conversation down into 30 minutes. Thanks again for being part of my crazy experiment! And no worries about the wonky technology or “talking over” me ~ conversing through Skype is weird! Also, neither of us did a very good job of looking at the webcam to create the illusion of eye contact! oy… 😛

      • Frank, thanks for all these terrific references. I am planning to read them over carefully when I have more time (and am feeling more alert). I find the debate interesting as I read “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist” and liked it a lot. More to the point, I didn’t find it as dogmatic and totalitarian as all these critics depict it to be. In fact I was (and remain) surprised by the intensity of the criticism.

        To me, Batchelor was just very honestly explaining his journey and consequent beliefs. He writes, “however tempting it is for me to dismiss the existence of gos and spirits as outdated nonsense, I need to be aware of the equally tenuous foundations of my own beliefs.” This sort of awareness of how we are all influenced by our own cultures and how they can lead us in quite different directions on these questions – and that that’s OK – personally strikes me as much more in keeping with all the directives to accept impermanence and so on that I always hear from Buddhists.

        I am in fact rather baffled by how Buddhists, who are supposed to be all about flux and no-self and so on can be so rigid about these totally abstract questions with unknowable answers like rebirth. I read Wallace’s claim that it’s possible to directly experience past lives through deep meditation – perhaps, but I bet most practitioners don’t and if so, why should they take it on someone else’s word?

  4. Thanks for the interview! Frank’s work is so interesting and authentic, and his commitment so admirable… I really hope to get to one of his retreats sometime. Looking forward to part 2.

  5. Frank! Such a nice surprise to see you pop up on one of my fave yoga blogs! I enjoyed your lectures at the recent Moksha Victoria training immensely and really hope to make it out to a retreat soon. The whole concept of secular Buddhism and Naturalism really struck a chord with me. Since the training I’ve found myself devouring books on the subject of mindfulness, and especially, re-reading Mindfulness Yoga slowly and carefully and from a whole new perspective. The mindfulness training you introduced to us was, I feel, one of the most important things I took away from the training. It opened me up to something that has begun to change my life in very real ways. I thank you so much for all that you do. Eagerly awaiting part 2 of this interview!

    • Hi Meghan! Yeah, Roseanne’s blog is perhaps my favorite yoga blog, and she’s responsible (so you can blame her!) for ‘inspiring’ me to start the mindfulness-yoga blog on blogspot!

      Thank you for your kind words. I totally enjoyed my time in Victoria, and our time chatting. I’d still love to hear about how your presentation went sometime. You can e-mail me.

      May our paths cross again if conditions permit!


  6. Great. Two of my favorite people and top draft picks for Elephant Journal in one place. Well, Roseanne, you recall you already have your own page on Elephant, so you can resume posting whenever you want. Frank, whenever you’re ready, I’ll set you up.

    Bob Weisenberg

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