Shinzen Young

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Shinzen Young Teaching at Harvard, 2012

Shinzen Young (真善, Shinzen) is an American meditation teacher. He leads residential and phone-based meditation retreats for students interested in learning the Vipassana (insight) tradition of Buddhism. Shinzen was originally ordained in Japan as a monk in the Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) tradition.[1] He has studied and practiced extensively in other traditions, including Zen and Native American traditions.

He frequently uses concepts from mathematics as a metaphor to illustrate the abstract concepts of meditation. As a result, his teachings tend to be popular among academics and professionals.[2] His interest in integrating meditation with scientific paradigms has led to collaborations with neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School,[3][4] University of Massachusetts Medical School, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Vermont.[5] He is working on various ways to bring a secular mindfulness practice to a wider audience using revamped terminology and techniques as well as automated expert systems.[6]

Shinzen has adapted the central Buddhist concept of the five skandhas or aggregates into modern language, grouped them into sensory categories with potential neurological correlates, and developed an extensive system of meditation techniques for working with those categories individually and in combinations.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Shinzen Young was born as Steve Young in Los Angeles, California. His parents were Jewish. While in middle school, he became fascinated with Asian languages and cultures. After graduating from UCLA as an Asian Language major, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin's Ph.D. program in Buddhist Studies. In order to gather materials for his doctoral dissertation, he was ordained as a Shingon monk at Mount Kōya, Japan in 1970.[7]


  • Break Through Pain: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Meditation Program for Transforming Chronic and Acute Pain (2006) ISBN 1-59179-199-5
  • The Beginner's Guide to Meditation (2002) ISBN 1-56455-971-8
  • The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works (2016) ISBN 1-59179-460-9

Audio publications[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Fall 2005 By Polly Young-Eisendrath, in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review Archived June 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2014-12-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Understanding Enlightenment Could Change Science - Psychology Tomorrow". Psychology Tomorrow Magazine.
  4. ^ Shinzen (2 April 2012). "Shinzen's Blog: Basic Mindfulness - Basic Science".
  5. ^ University of Vermont. "Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit : University of Vermont".
  6. ^ "BG 102: Shinzen Young: The Hybrid Teacher" (Podcast). Buddhist Geeks: Seriously Buddhist, Seriously Geeky. 2008-12-28. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
  7. ^ "New Page 1". Archived from the original on 2013-05-13.

External links[edit]

Essays outlining his meditation system[edit]