Introduction to Zen Koans is Now Available for Pre-Order

My next book is now available for pre-order through Amazon. Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons In her forward to the book Roshi Joan Halifax says, “This marvelous book opens the treasure house of Zen and yet, happily, does not dispel its mystery. James Ford, an excellent storyteller and longtime Zen practitioner, presents a detailed and beautiful description of the craft of zazen, including “just sitting” and various forms of breath meditation—but focuses primarily on koan introspection. “The… Read more

Gone Sitting: The Meeting of Hearts

  Last evening we launched into sesshin with the good folk at the Empty Sky Sangha in West Cornwall, Connecticut. I am leading it along with Doug Phillips & Mary Gates, two Zen teachers (and deeply interesting, also full qualified Vipassana teachers) whom I adore. I put this small reflection on the timer for Friday morning. After this I will be silent until sometime on Monday. As it happens today marks the Miracle of the Sun, an event that took… Read more

The Divine Samuel Clarke Is Born

        Samuel Clarke was born in Norwich, in Great Britain on this day, the 11th of October, 1675. He attended Cambridge where he fell under the influence of Newton’s natural philosophy. Professionally Clarke was ordained an Anglican priest and held various positions within the Church. As a philosopher he is considered to hold a position in the development of English philosophy between John Locke and George Berkeley. So, an important if transitional figure. When Newton died he… Read more

Who Would You Be Buried With? Recalling Colonel Shaw & the Massachusetts 54th

        It was on this day, the 10th of October, in 1837 that Robert Gould Shaw was born into the intellectual and Unitarian elites in Boston, Massachusetts. Before they sold the property at 25 Beacon Street, every time I would go up to the Unitarian Universalist Association denominational headquarters on Beacon Hill in Boston, I would stop at the monument to the men of the 54th Massachusetts that stands just opposite what was the UUA headquarters. It absolutely captured… Read more

Generosity in the World’s Religions

A little while back I was invited by the Sycamore, a journal published by the Episcopal Cathedral in Cincinnati to submit a reflection on generosity from a Zen Buddhist perspective. They explained it would be included with reflections from representatives of a number of religious traditions. I was happy to oblige. Well, it is now out, with reflections by Rabbi Mark Washofsky representing Judaism, Father Manoj Zacharia from the cathedral and representing Christianity, Selcuk & Sevcan Karahan representing Islam, William… Read more

The Power of Things That Do Not Exist: A Small Zen Buddhist Reflection

As it happens, today, the 8th of October, 1582, never happened. At least this day never happened in Poland, Portugal, or Spain. It was part of the general corrections that were implemented with the new Gregorian calendar. While calendars and what they mean and do not is certainly worthy of some reflection, as a dutiful Zen person the thing that most captures my heart is the no-thing, the day that did not happen. Of late I’ve found myself thinking of… Read more

The Ghosts in Our Lives & Healing a Divided World: A Zen Dharma Talk

      The Ghosts In Our Lives & Healing a Divided World A Dharma talk delivered by James Myoun Ford, Osho, at the Nebraska Zen Center. 1 October 2017 Read more

Dogen’s Fukanzazengi & the Koan of Shikantaza

  In his magisterial study, Dogen’s Manuals of Zen Meditation, Carl Bielefeldt begins by telling us “The Zen school is the Meditation school, and the character of Zen can be traced in the tradition of its meditation teaching.” As most people know, the word Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan, which itself is the Chinese pronunciation of Dhyana, which literally means concentration but is understood to mean meditation. Zen is a school of Buddhism devoted to… Read more

Now & Zen: Bodhidharma and His Two Entrances & Four Practices

    According to Matthew Ciolek’s interesting Zen Calendar, today, the 5th of October, is celebrated as a festival in honor of Bodhidharma the semi-historical, semi-mythic founder of Chinese Zen (and some branches of martial arts, and the originator of tea in China…). In the Zen tradition Bodhidharma, twenty-eighth heir in direct transmission from the Buddha Shakyamuni, is the great missionary carrying the Zen way into China in either the fifth or maybe the sixth centuries of our common era…. Read more

St Francis and a Blessing for the World

Many years ago I ran across a book describing a visit to Japan sometime before the second world war. I don’t recall a lot about it. Except, that is, for one thing. The writer described encountering a small Buddhist society whose members were following an adaptation of the rule of St Francis. I’ve long since lost the book and have never been able to find anything else about this little band, almost certainly consumed in the fires of that second… Read more

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