By Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Often I am asked how do I integrate my work as a Zen Priest and my work as a diviner and holder of the Black Angel Cards.  I recognize it as a question that comes from the tendency to view things as separate.  It also comes from a curiosity in how one can embrace their whole life—every aspect.

First it is important to note that the Black Angel Cards, a deck of illustrated divination and healing cards that I brought through in 1996, came in a spiritual lucid dream during my first seven years of walking the path of Buddha’s teachings. As I walk the path of Buddha’s teachings the desire for healing intensified.  At the same time chanting and meditation, without reaching to accomplish anything, enhanced my awareness, developed a deeper heart knowing, and opened me to the dialogue of body sensations that signaled the arrival of profound wisdom from here and beyond the physical world.  The awareness enabled me to enter unexplored realms of existence that are unexplainable and meant to be so.  As the volume of confusion was turned down the volume of my true voice increased.

In February 1996 I had a lucid spiritual dream revealing that untouched place of suffering within and affirmed that not all of me had suffered at the hand of hate and harmful acts.  I was not completely wounded.  There was great light inside bursting through small openings.  The dream itself was an expression of that light– that fire.

The dream was about angel of which I had not particular interest.  The angels in the dream were healers delivering messages to me as I wallowed in a dangerous place of suffering. They were unlike any angels I had ever seen or heard of.  They were not the angels of a specific religion or tradition. They were not of this earth. They were free from intellectual meaning. They were dark, filled with light. They were a community of spirits, guiding light, in the darkness. They came from my dream world to awaken a dormant place within.  The dormancy had created an inability to connect to people and brought on feelings of wanting to end my life.  The dream brought healing waters to my fire and saved my life.  I shared the dream and the manifestation of the dream in the Black Angel cards with many around the world, including Trinidad, Brazil, Canada, England, and of course the United States.

Before the dream, without question or doubt of my actions, I dug my feet into the earth of Buddha’s teachings while chanting and meditating.  I came to the temple to heal, not be calm or quiet.  In the temple, with my feet planted, I felt the root of all that I had suffered.  My feet remained buried next to those roots until the earth opened up into a canyon a million miles wide.

Today, I sit in that canyon with my gift to see clearly the present and the affects the past has had on it. The true opening of the eyes Buddha speaks of occurred in my life and continues.  With opened eyes, not the physical eyes but the ones you cannot see, I respond to requests for readings with the Black Angel Cards, which I refer to as divinations.  Divination goes further than a psychic reading in that in a divining session with me you are attuning to the nature of your life, to who you are.  You are coming aware of overlooked wounding.  I do not so much predict the outcome of earthly matters but help to create an understanding of suffering and how the earthly matters have come to be.  Your ancestors that attend the readings assist me.  I hear and see them, without my ears and eyes.  I assist and join many with crossing the bridge between the seen and the unseen worlds.  I help and join many with learning how to develop their own heart attunement to life and the world around them.  To tune into the wisdom and not the chaos, so that the chaos can be responded to in a state of well-being.

In divining I see the connection of human beings across generations, gender, race, etc.  I see our wounding and I am glad to be trained in using the breath to sit with such wounding.

In essence my work as a priest is as a diviner. I am neither Zen teacher nor guru. I am of the earth that feeds me.  I imagine that is the reason my mother named me Earthlyn, despite the fact that she had no idea of what to name me when I was born.  So, I left the hospital without a name.  Several days later she name me Earthlyn, without knowing where the name came from or the meaning of it.

When I received my vows as a priest I was given the name Ekai Zenju (Ocean of wisdom, Complete Tenderness).  I use Zenju (as instructed), meaning complete tenderness, because it is a name and essence I must work at.  A Zen teacher gave it to me because I was not tender and yet she saw that I was. As the tenderness became a divine work, my nature as a diviner has seasoned.

I trust that my relationship with my work in the world as diviner it is complete aligned with the ancient esoteric traditions of many Buddhist practices and Zen.  It is my personal path to sit in the Zen temple, where I wear robes, to continue cultivating integrity, tenderness, and purifying my heart-mind of confusion, and trusting that my work as a diviner will season because of it.

I bow to you and I stand with you.  May all that you have come to do on the earth unfold before your eyes.  If you would like to contact me send an email to