#37 – Zen Buddhism

Written by The Natural High

In this episode of The Natural High I speak to the remarkable Susan O’Connell.

Susan is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and Spiritual Director for the Zen Senior Living Project at the San Francisco Zen Center.

Her story is fascinating and we will of course deep dive into the details during this podcast. She spent much of her adult life working as an actor in Hollywood and appeared in popular shows such as Ironside.


Her continued love of film led her to later found her own film production company as she spent over 25 years in the industry. But, as she approached the age of 50, a particularly challenging sequence of events changed her life forever.

At this point she found buddhism. Two decades later she is still living communally in the same place and is an ordained priest.


I’m delighted to have found Susan because she has so much to offer to the world in terms of her perspective and her actions. She is one of the more succinct people I’ve met and she doesn’t waste a word. Through study and meditation she seems to have found a wonderful awareness and balance in her life. And she expresses her ideas with rare clarity. I have learnt so much from her already and I’ll be processing and contemplating her words for some time to come. She’s amazing.

I can’t wait for you to hear this so, without further ado, let’s get down to it. You can find out more about Susan and her organisation by clicking here. And you can reach out to Susan here. Let me cast us off with the quote that she uses to sign off her emails as it’s another gem for further rumination.

It’s a quote by Anne Lamott and it reads:

“I have a lot of faith. But I am also afraid a lot, and have no real certainty about anything. I remembered something Father Tom had told me–that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
Thanks as ever for your support. Click an icon below to listen.

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