Dosho Port trained under the guidance of Katagiri Roshi for 13 years at the Minnesota Zen Center. He sees this book as "a collection of some of the things that I saw, heard, and learned" from this meditation teacher. Katagiri Roshi "emphasized zazen as wholehearted surrender rather than using zazen as a means to psychological healing or even to become a Buddha." He also thought very highly of the central role of the teacher-student relationship.

Here's one example of Katagiri's method of teaching:

"Roshi talked about bowing often, teaching bowing like a choreographer, both by words and by example.

"Standing bow, gassho, was to be done like this: Palms together with fingers touching, thumbs touching the palm, tips of fingers at nose level, forearms roughly parallel to the floor but not so as to look like it was 'Army training' (i.e., not militaristically stiff), bending from the waist but not too far.

"Roshi modeled gassho beautifully with every entrance and exit from the zendo, with every opportunity. For him there was no 'I'm-in-a-hurry-so-I'm-going-to-head-fake gassho.' There were no dress rehearsals.

"When giving his instructions for full bows, Roshi taught us with a twinkle in his eyes to raise our hands gently because in this part of the bow we were uplifting the Buddha. 'Do not flip hands up quickly or Buddha will fly over you,' he joked."

Katagiri taught four essential points for Zen practice: (1) the oneness of practice and enlightenment, (2) that shikantza is to bring wholehearted harmony to the self without attaching to enlightenment or delusion, (3) the Mahayana spirit to help others to live with others in peace and harmony, and (4) finding life worth living under any circumstances. There are also chapters on koans, not getting Zen, gazing at the moon, throwing open the heart, and cleaning under the hedge.