Firethroat Press

Publication Announcement
Becoming Literate in the Process of Awakening
by Dale Verkuilen

Becoming Literate in the Process of Awakening by Dale Verkuilen is the prequel/sequel to the previous offering of Tending the Fire: An Introspective Guide to Zen Awakening. Becoming Literate presents an analysis of the inspirations behind Tending the Fire, along with an unambiguous skillful means that responds with precision to Zen Master Chinhul’s  forewarning that, “To seek the path of Buddhahood while not knowing the proper sequence of practice…is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

In Becoming Literate, a series of symbols are devised that graphically encapsulate Yogacara Buddhist teachings. The symbols are based on Shakyamuni Buddha’s “how to gain Noble Wisdom” teaching of the Lankavatara Sutra. In the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha explains the steps leading to realization, incorporating Mahayana and Yogacara teachings. Quotations from the sutra are placed in chapter headings and other locations as the guiding concepts for creation of the symbols.

Becoming Literate in the Process of Awakening teaches a means of transformation of consciousness based on accessing and employing intuitive information uncontaminated by interpretation by either the teacher or student. The blended model offers a creative means of understanding and fulfilling the process of awakening. 

[E-book available at Amazon, paperback at]


Tending the Fire: An Introspective Guide to Zen Awakening 
Tending the Fire: An Introspective Guide to Zen Awakening by Barbara and Dale Verkuilen is offered as a clear and easily understood process for studying the constituents of self before and after transformative experiences.

The application of this model assists practitioners in learning to trust their deepest intuition through an innovative systematic approach for working with conditioned states, the third aspect of dukkha – the cause of suffering. It offers an expedient to self-discovery called the Resolution Sequence that assists practitioners with structuring, organizing, and understanding the process of awakening.

Dokusan with Dogen: Timeless Lessons in Negotiating the Way
Originally published in 2011, Dokusan with Dogen: Timeless Lessons in Negotiating the Way by Barbara Verkuilen continues to make new friends.

The book’s ten essays on Master Dogen’s teaching clarify oftentimes misunderstood tenets of Zen philosophy, such as non-attachment, selflessness, emptiness, and requisites for authentic practice. Dokusan with Dogen blends modern scientific findings, Zen lore, and contemporary anecdotes to provide a unique formula that is equally entertaining and informative.

The author guides us with a gentle literary voice along an old, but relevant spiritual path, demystifying the mindful practices of “just sitting.” This book is not a scholarly work about Dogen, but rather a personal reflection of the master’s influence on her own Zen life.

Unfolding the Eightfold Path: A Contemporary Zen Perspective
Unfolding the Eightfold Path: A Contemporary Zen Perspective by Dale Verkuilen presents a novel interpretation of the Fourth Noble Truth: a dynamic view of the nature of the “right” elements of view, thought, effort, concentration, mindfulness, speech, action, and livelihood.Nine distinctive explanations for each of the elements explore an evolutionary view of their creative development from conceptual knowledge to liberating insight. The book recounts how a holographic image of twenty-seven factors of awakening resulted from years of reflective examination.

The Tale of Zen Master Bho Li  by Barbara Verkuilen won the Eric Hoffer Award for Small Press publication excellence in the Spiritual category. It also was a finalist for front cover art. Although the story was originally written for adults, teens and preteens grasp and and enjoy the fable’s messages on their own, and reading the tale to younger children opens their appreciation of the illustrations. An unabridged reading by the author is also available. 

“The well-told, fast-paced story is a dramatic one with many sympathetic characters. The book is successful on several levels. As pure entertainment, it is fun to read and enjoyable. It functions as a gentle introduction to Buddhist philosophy for children and has inspiring words for readers of any age …”       –U. S. Review of Books

Words within Silence and Lost Time, two books each 108 Poems of Zen Awakening by Joe Kyugen Michaud, an Iowa City, Iowa writer and Zen Buddhist who in his later years has tapped the creative source, producing this engaging and instructive collection of contemporary Zen poetry. Take a moment and click over to sample his encompassing insights.

 Where the Dragon Gains the Water: The Founding of Ryumonji Zen Monastery “Dragon” is a written and audio compilation that describe the efforts that were made to bring about the construction of the Ryumonji, the first monastery built in the West following the four building model used in China and Japan.
Information, excerpts, and ordering details can be found in our Catalog.