Tom Swiss

Tom Swiss describes his spiritual path as 'Zen Pagan Taoist Atheist Discordian', which usually baffles questioners enough to leave him alone. He has taught workshops to a wide variety of audiences on subjects spanning the gamut from acupressure to Zen and from self-defense to sexuality. Tom is an NCCAOM Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy, a karate teacher holding the rank of yondan (fourth degree black belt), a poet, a singer/songwriter, an amateur philosopher, and a professional computer geek. He is currently serving as Vice President of the Free Spirit Alliance. Information about his forthcoming book on Zen Paganism is on the web at

Self-defense as a Spiritual Practice

You are a manifestation of the divine, a child of the God and Goddess. That makes you a being worth defending; yet our culture's confused attitudes about violence, plus the self-esteem issues faced by many people in the Pagan community, often obscure the fact that self-defense is also defense of the divine principle within all of us. In this workshop we will try to cut through the fog and discuss attitudes and skills to preserve not just your body but your divine nature. Targeted for those without previous martial arts or self-defense training; but experienced students are also welcome. We will practice verbal and non-verbal communication skills for dealing with conflict, and a few simple self-defense techniques.

Zen and the Art of Love

The Buddha required chastity from his monks, holding that sexual desire was a sure path to suffering. Two millennia later, respected Zen Master Ikkyu -- noted for wearing his monk's robes to brothels -- wrote poems like "a woman is enlightenment when you're with her and the red thread / of both your passions flare inside you and you see." How do we resolve these teachings? Focusing on the "Red Thread" tradition of Zen, we'll discuss if and how we can apply the Buddhist principles of mindfulness, compassion, and non-attachment to sex and love.

Zen Paganism: or, Why Buddha Touched the Earth

Since its beginnings 2,500 years ago, Buddhism has existed with, borrowed from, and lent to poly- and pan-theistic paths including Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, and Bon. It even played a part in the creation of modern Wicca, through the works of Crowley and Gardner. The same dissatisfaction with mainstream Western spirituality that has led to the rebirth of Paganism has also resulted in a greater interest in Buddhism in the West, and many modern Pagans are finding that Buddhist ideas can lend depth to their practice.

We will discuss some of the history that links the Buddhist and Pagan revivals, and how the basic tenets of Buddhism (mostly from a Zen perspective) might be integrated with Neo-Pagan practice.

















Back to Top