Mzansi Zen (Jacana) published in 2016

StoepZen BookMzansi Zen is an affectionate, challenging and witty blend of stories, commentaries and poems about life in present-day South Africa. These are threaded through a day in an actual Zen retreat and are accompanied by wonderful photos and original drawings.

The author’s familiar and authoritative Zen style inspires us into taking up this life with both hands, calling us into an intimacy that is already beneath our feet.

Read it. It will change your mind and open your heart.


Zen Dust (Jacana) published in 2012

StoepZen BookIn this follow-up to his much loved Stoep Zen, Antony takes a trip down the lesser known back roads of the Karoo, from Kimberley to Colesberg, finding divinity in the dust and a Buddha in every pothole.
We are all of us on our way home. And, as Osler’s journey teaches us, as long as our eyes and hearts are open we belong wherever we go. In this way, however far we travel, our true home is always where we are.
With gentle wisdom and deep compassion, Osler connects with the people he meets along the way and shares their stories, past and present, as well as his own personal history and insights. The road is sprinkled with his special brand of poetry and interwoven with a fresh telling of the tale of Gotama, the man who would become Buddha.
Whether on familiar terrain or new territory, Antony never loses his sense of wonder. And he doesn’t shy away from the conundrums of a country in flux. Instead, he delights in the ordinary and infuses it with grace. Each encounter is a gift and his generosity in sharing will become a treasure on every bookshelf.


Stoep Zen (Jacana) published 2008

StoepZen BookLao Tsu meets Oom Schalk Lourens in this delightful meditation on what it means to practice Zen in a changing South Africa.
Antony Osler contemplates life as it passes by the stoep of his Karoo farm, sharing anecdotes and conversations, poetic images and indelible characters, watching the seasons, the people and his country as everything changes - sometimes radically - just so.
South Africa has experienced one of the most riveting, frightening and inspiring political revolutions in history. How, Osler asks himself, do we dance with this? How do we reach down through swirling emotions into quieter space where we can see a little further, love a little deeper, laugh a little louder?
‘I lift my eyes to Loskop and fear no evil. But if I don’t watch my step, I will fall into an aardvarkgat.’
Zen practice is to find the heart of each moment. Osler’s book is as full of heart as it is of wisdom; his musings on humility, acceptance, reconciliation and love are gentle - and often humorous - reminders of what it is to be human.


Mzansi Zen, Zen Dust and Stoep Zen can be ordered from good book stores, on-line book sellers, and from Emoyeni, Bodhi Khaya and the Buddhist Retreat Centre. All three books have been reprinted.

Signed copies can be ordered directly from Margie at Poplar Grove.



















This morning I looked at the long list of Poplar Grove Zendo preceptees – all 85! – and wonder where some of them have gone. I remember the enthusiasm that once spilled over for them here when they took their vows. And I want to encourage them to come and find that energy once more, that quiet current of aliveness that appears by itself on an in-person retreat, when the mind and body have a chance to be still and clear and connected. Of course, I am not only talking about those who took precepts, I am talking about us all.

Genuine retreat practice is not dependent on having any particular style, size or length of retreat; it is only dependent on the willingness to turn up and give ourselves to a setting that supports the deepening of our life. At PGZ we live in the veld far from town, we use candles for light and long drops for ablutions; so we do veld practice, candle practice, long drop practice. Then there is no problem. Later, when we go back to the city, our practice goes with us; we do traffic practice and family practice and there is no problem there either. Our style is not based on like or dislike, right or wrong, hard or soft; it is based on finding our life wherever we are and whoever we are with. But retreats are a fundamental building block of this.

This sounds simple – and it is – but we know it is not always easy. There are so many things pulling us away that the call to set aside time for retreat begins to fade; we find reasons to stay at home and we believe what we think. But it is my job to blow on the embers of your commitment. And it is with great appreciation that we welcome those who make regular retreat practice a part of their life.

So, when we hesitate to get in the car for such a long journey to such a far place, we turn the key anyway and take to the road, because our direction is stronger than our hesitation. And when we come to do retreat in this way, our resolve is already deep. We find support in the teachings and in the friendships; in the blue sky and wide veld, in the grove and stream, in the silence, in the pots and pans and cushions, in the absence of internet and in the presence of others who value the same thing. Then we are simply – as Chuang Tzu put it – wandering boundless and free in the selfless unfolding of things. We look forward to seeing you here, dear friends!

Poplar Grove Zendo