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.



















My teacher, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, said that when his monks understand the teaching of interconnectedness, the Dharma will have arrived in the west.

In the parlour game of popular science, connection is Zen’s version of a theory of everything. Like any other teaching, it has to be tested in our own experience. What does it mean? Is it true? How will I embody it?

We can safely accept that this teaching is not a conclusion in logic, a figment of religious hope or wishful thinking. It is about what we see when we open our eyes, what we hear when we open our ears, and what we notice within our bodies and minds in zazen, our meditation. And as we attend more closely, we notice that it is not so much about things in themselves but about the space between them; our relatedness. Put upside down; is there anything that is not connected?

I have never been convinced by scientific ‘proof’ of Dharma teachings. But I was still encouraged to encounter the same assumption of interconnectedness in a variety of secular disciplines like environmental science and ecology, trauma studies and somatic healing, quantum physics and engineering. Two examples come immediately to mind. In environmental studies, we are seen as participants in a multitude of dynamic interwoven ecological systems, all of which affect each other in countless ways. This is the place in which we live; whichever way we turn we see it, we feel it on our skin, we smell it on the wind. The world and I are not separate. And in dealing with human trauma and healing, we are sensitive living systems, porous to the world and vulnerable to it. Trauma causes us to contract away from this essential relatedness and our healing lies in our ability to re-connect. The body remembers.

So, in what we call the world of nature and in what we call our internal world, there is a continuity of connection. From this perspective, our sense of ourselves as inherently independent and self-sustaining is a fiction. We live, grow, decay, die and transform as part of the All. We are never alone. We are, in this sense, each other; I am the world. This sounds like a heady ‘mystical’ claim but it is one rooted in reality.

In my own experience of Zen practice, our self-fascination fades quite naturally as we become still. And - equally naturally - our sense of connectedness grows. As our practice deepens, this becomes true in ever-widening circles. We begin to hear its echo in classical Buddhist teachings like emptiness and non-duality, in terms like mutual co-dependency, intimacy, inter-being or interpenetration – the universe as Indra’s Net. And out of this fundamental reality come the classical teachings of impermanence, change, selflessness and the suffering of regarding oneself as separate. It is our core practice; How do I wake up to, and live as, this unfathomable web of relationship?

We come to Zen practice as an anxious self, determined to resolve our nagging disconnection. If we persevere in this, the world naturally comes closer. We discover that interrelatedness is our most authentic way of being – what is traditionally known in the trade as our ‘True Nature’, ‘Original Nature’ or ‘Buddha Nature’. The distinction between inside and outside begins to fray........ The whole world as a single flower.

At home in our body, we are at home in life itself. Endlessly in relationship, we are stained with intimacy. Compassion is then simply the most natural way to live, wisdom the natural breath of this understanding.

Please look after yourselves.

With affection and gratitude to you all,
Antony and Margie Osler (Dae Chong and Tae Ja Do, Oshos)
Poplar Grove Zendo, October 2023

Poplar Grove Zendo