Recalling Abba Moses the Black Together With A Small Meditation on the Religions We Choose

It is the 28th of August. In the Christian calendar a lot of people are celebrating today as a feast for Augustine of Hippo, bishop and theologian. And, let's be frank, while there is much about him that is attractive, his approach to the idea of an original sin and our humanity simply drips with Manichaeanism, and has been the source of much of Christianity's more unhealthy attitudes about how we exist in the world. Let's just say, he's not my guy.Rather my attention for this day goes to … [Read more...]

Christopher Isherwood Takes His Turn on the Great Stage

Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was born on this day in 1904 in Cheshire, England. He attended Cambridge, but left without a degree. He kicked around a bit, had a fitful attempt at studying medicine, and then moved to Berlin. Some of his experiences there would become the basis for his Berlin Stories, which would later be the basis for the film Cabaret. Eventually with his on and off again lover W. H. Auden he came to America, starting in New York, but then taking a Greyhound bus to … [Read more...]

The Scandalous Life of Lady Jane Digby. Apparently Bad Girls Do Go Everywhere.

I was bereft of subjects to share for today, and so fell back on my old standby in such situations, a brief walk through Wikipedia's listings of events and births and deaths of any given day. There I noticed it was King Ludwig I of Bavaria's birthday. And, briefly confusing him with Ludwig II, the so-called "dream king," I started reading the Wikipedia biography. It didn't take long to understand my error, but before I lost interest, I noticed the line "Ludwig had several extramarital affairs … [Read more...]

Reading Stephen Batchelor’s After Buddhism

I can't believe Stephen Batchelor's After Buddhism sat in my bedside pile of books for a full year. Having just finished it, I'm really sorry I waited so long.The book opens with two quotes. The first from the Buddha himself. “The dharma is clearly visible, immediate, inviting, uplifting, to be personally sensed by the wise.” Paired with it is one from the ninth century Chan master Linji. “The dharma of the buddhas has no special undertakings. Just act ordinarily, without trying to do anyth … [Read more...]

Go See Kubo & the Two Strings: You Don’t Need to Read Any More Than That

But if you want a little more.The other day an old friend who is Zen teacher as well as a math professor said that on a scale of one to ten, Kubo and the Two Strings is a twelve. For a math professor to make that kind of comment raises an eyebrow. She added the film is “amazing.” And, she cautioned, “See it in 3D.” With that kind of endorsement, Jan and I felt this had to be our weekend film.Oh. My.According to Rotten Tomatoes “Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation … [Read more...]

Enter Krazy Kat! And, With that, the Briefest Meditation on Race in America

George Herriman was born on this day in 1880. The Wikipedia article on him says his creation Krazy Kat was "more influential than popular." And that's probably so. But I adored the strip. And in the years since Herriman's death his recognition as a major figure in the advancement of the comic has become a critical tidal wave. Modern cartoonists from Charles Schulz to Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb and Bill Patterson have all acknowledged his influence.Herriman was a black Louisiana Creole born … [Read more...]

The Zen of Seeing: A Dozen Random Observations About the Way Things Are

Just some random observations from a Zen life. Some come whole cloth from somewhere in the depths of my heart. Others I heard some or all of, but eventually they became my own. Take what you think is helpful. Leave the rest for someone else...1. Look at your checkbook and you will know what your religion is.2. Ideas always betray you.3. Each of us is precious, all of us are connected; there are no exceptions.4. Within the Western season of Passover and Easter there is an even … [Read more...]

Cross Cultural Talking About Zen: Living Life Within the Margins

This picture is of my ordination cohort back in 1970 with our preceptor, the Reverend Houn Jiyu Kennett. I'm the kid in the second row on the far left, the one with the ears. Looking at it set me to thinking about various things. Age, you bet. And aging. The years that have flowed in between. And, about the strange directions my life has taken, and back then, what is it now forty-six years ago, how I can guarantee you I had no idea, absolutely no idea where this was going...Today there is a … [Read more...]

Thank You, Arthur Waley!

Arthur David Schloss was born on this day in 1889, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. He assumed his mother's maiden name, Waley, during the first world war. There appear to be two reasons for this. The presenting issue is nicely conveyed in an anecdote he once told about being followed by boy scouts and then reported to the police as a possible German spy. In this regard he and his family were following a pattern among many English of German ancestry at that time. However, his family was not … [Read more...]

The Nineteenth Amendment is Ratified

It should be noted that it was on this day in 1920 that the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified, guaranteeing women the franchise.The struggle to this day was long, it was hard, and it was vastly overdue.But finally ninety-six years ago these words were added to our constitution.The consequences of this event continue.These are perilous times. And there has been the rise among us of an ultra right nationalism that has captured one of … [Read more...]