John K. Nelson

John K. Nelson

Professor in department of religion at University of San Francisco
not to be confused with the late SFZC alum John E. Nelson

RIP John K Nelson who died on Dec. 18, 2023. Read Cuke obit below

USF page for John Nelson

Podcast with John K. Nelson 🔊 - posted Jan. 1, 2024.
That's a link to the podcast on Cuke Podcast home, Podbean. For links to the podcast on other platforms go to the Cuke Podcast page or search for “Cuke Audio Podcast” in your favorite podcast app.

John's blog: Far West Passage: Experimental Views on Asia, Buddhism, and the Awakening Mind

Interview for the Canadian Broadcasting System "Tapestry" Radio Program, Mary Hines, host.  February 26, 2016.

10-20-14 - Prof. John Nelson of USF report and photos of a major cremation in Bali around this time last year. - posted in Saunters

USF John Nelson eight month Far West Passage Blog - Bali page.

Statement of support for Cuke Archives is on the Dana 2020 page

9-29-14 - Experimental Buddhism: Innovation and Activism in Contemporary Japan


by John K. Nelson

Read about this book here or on Amazon.


At UCB: The Center for Buddhist Studies Announces the Winners of the 2014 Toshihide Numata Book Prize - and Experimental Buddhism is a winner!

He gave a talk recently at the SFZC City Center.

10-21-14 - Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

John Nelson, the USF Buddhism etc. prof whose Bali blog was featured yesterday wants to know who that is to the left of Shunyru Suzuki in this photo and also I'd like to know who that is behind him. I keep thinking his name is Larry. The SFZC has used this photo numerous times through the years. It's in the Shunryu Suzuki photo archive.

Update: the photo is in the archive as SR0120. The caption and notes say:

1969, Shunryu Suzuki with students at Tassajara summer training session. The person to the left is Alberto Balestrieri. The guy behind SR is Larry Whitney. Emma Bragdon behind Whitney.

2010 - John Nelson has for years been an advisor to Cuke Archives and the Shunryu Suzuki Legacy Project which reminds me to ask him for some advice again. - DC

From the Afterword for the 40th (and 50th) Anniversary Edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:

John Nelson, a professor in the department of religion at the University of San Francisco who teaches classes on Zen and Buddhism, writes,

What caught my attention was the combination of person, voice, and perspective. The person looked at me from the back cover as if challenging my assumptions about Zen and reality in general.  His voice on the page had a unique way of expressing key ideas and explaining the commonplace so that it took on new significance. Zen was not restricted to meditation but permeated all dimensions of life and consciousness. To a young man like myself in Kansas who was sorely disillusioned by Vietnam, race and cultural conflicts, and Watergate, the book offered an entirely new perspective on reality and human behavior.

May, 2011 - Did Shunryu Suzuki use koans - a question from one of John's students

Announcement of DC meeting Friday, 11-16-07, with Nelson students at USF

John Nelson at the Suw shrine in Nagasaki, 1987.

RIP John K. Nelson

24-01-03 - We just learned that John K. Nelson has recently died. John was the guest of the Cuke Podcast posted a couple of days ago. The actual conversation took place in October. while he was in Victoria, British Colombia where he had some teaching gig. He had moved to Eugene, Oregon, in recent years after retiring from the University of San Francisco. John has been a friend of mine and Cuke Archives for about twenty years. I first met him when he invited me to speak to his class on Zen at the USF. One of the books that was required reading for the course was Thank You and OK! 

Condolences to his widow and son, Max, who sent the following message.

On the morning of December 18th,  John Nelson passed away suddenly at the age of 70 in Eugene, Oregon. We were all taken completely by surprise as he ate healthy, exercised regularly, and had no obvious indicators of an oncoming medical event.  (On a personal note, I encourage everyone reading this to write down your logins and passwords on paper and store them somewhere your loved ones can find them, as this entire process would have been made even more difficult without those records. I actually told him it was a bad idea, but now I’m glad he didn’t listen to me.)

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