Your Brain on Zen

Jim Austin the cognitive scientist and Zen practitioner was passing through Providence on his way to one of the Dalai Lama’s brain science conferences to make a presentation. He is a Brown alum, his daughter lives in the vicinity and he’s both an old friend and a friend of our sangha.So, instead of our usual Monday evening sit this week, we set up a lecture.(The Unitarians who love a good conversation about meditation came in droves.)Jim made his presentation on the relationship bet … [Read more...]

A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE BARELY RELIGIOUS A Meditation on the Currents of a New Humanism


A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE BARELY RELIGIOUSA Meditation on the Currents of a New HumanismJames Ishmael Ford26 October 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextBlessed are the man and the woman Who have grown beyond their greed And have put an end to their hatred And no longer nourish illusions. But they delight in the way things are And keep their hearts open, day and night. They are like trees planted near flowing rivers, Which bear fruit when they are … [Read more...]

Renowned Brain Researcher & Zen Practitioner Dr James Austin to Speak at the First Unitarian Church of Providence


Neurologist, researcher, and Zen practitioner, James Austin, MD, will be speaking at the First Unitarian Church of Providence this Monday evening. Professor Austin is perhaps best known as the author of the award winning Zen and the Brain (MIT Press, 1998). His most recent work is Zen Brain Horizons: Toward a Living Zen.Come for this illuminating, perhaps we should say enlightening talk on the relationship between brain research and Zen practice by a leading scholar and long time … [Read more...]

The National Women’s Rights Convention Gathers

lucy stone

It was on this day in 1850 that the first National Women's Rights Convention gathered in Worcester, Massachusetts.Two years earlier Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others had organized a gathering at Seneca Falls, in the Fingerlakes region of upstate New York. At that gathering they agreed there should be a regular gathering focusing on the issues of women's rights, with a particular emphasis on obtaining full voting rights.The organizers will forever be remembered as part of … [Read more...]

Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference, 2014

SZBA 2014

The 2014 Biennial Gathering of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, OregonPhotographs by Hoko Karnegis … [Read more...]

JULIA & SAMUEL A Meditation on Liberal Religion in an Age of Crisis

JULIA & SAMUEL A Meditation on Liberal Religion in an Age of CrisisJames Ishmael Ford19 October 2014First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextI went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these … [Read more...]

Time To Observe International Necktie Day

beau brummell

Most of my male friend decry the very idea of the tie. "The symbol of my subjection to the Man," moans one friend. Me, I've always liked ties. In addition to my regular collection, I have bow ties, and even a nice little stash of bola ties from my days in our great American Southwest, waiting patiently until I age into (I believe the line is 80) being allowed to wear 'em outside of Arizona or New Mexico.My feeling has been the tie is about the only article of clothing in a man's wardrobe … [Read more...]

Empty Sky Jukai

Empty Sky jukai class

This weekend Jan and I visited with our old friend Zen Dharma Holder Doug Phillips and his sangha where thirteen people received jukai near the end of a three day sesshin with the Empty Sky Sangha, dharma companions of the Boundless Way network. What a great crowd! What a delight. The Dharma is doing just fine in old Connecticut... … [Read more...]

IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD, AND ONE OF ANOTHER A Meditation on Covenant as Spiritual Practice Among Unitarian Universalist Congregations

mayflower compact

IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD, AND ONE OF ANOTHERA Meditation on Covenant as Spiritual Practice Among Unitarian Universalist CongregationsJames Ishmael Ford12 October 2014 First Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandText…

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc. Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and ad … [Read more...]

Roger is Convicted

roger williams

After annoying everyone for a lot of reasons for a long time, not least of which his insistence that there should be an absolute freedom of religious conscience and therefore an absolute separation between state and church, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts convicted him of sedition and heresy and ordered his banishment.The state of Rhode Island which he would found in his exile wishes to thank the great commonwealth of Massachusetts.Turns out freedom of religion is a pretty … [Read more...]