My Heart Sutra: A Zen Teacher Reflects on the Spiritual Life

My Heart SutraWhen the heart of compassion walked through the gate of wisdom, she looked into the body of the world and each of us, seeing each of us and the world itself is boundless. And with this all suffering vanished.Dear one, all things are boundless; the boundless is nothing other than all things. Everything in itself is boundless; Boundlessness is all things. This is true of us and our feelings, experiences, and consciousness itself.Dear one, the stuff of the world is … [Read more...]

Recalling A. Durwood Foster

I’ve just received a communication from the Pacific School of Religion announcing the death of Professor Emeritus A. Durwood Foster.Writing for the school, Dr David Vasquez-Levy briefly outlines Professor Foster’s teaching career. He was “An ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Foster was a graduate of Emory University and Union Theological Seminary. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar at Heidelberg, and was a visiting scholar at Gottingen, Columbia, Basel, Berlin, and Oxfo … [Read more...]

The Judgment of Paris

Hard to believe it was forty-one years ago.But, it was, on this day in 1976 at a Parisian wine competition, where renowned French wine judges were blindfolded and after sipping various vintages, declared several California wines among the best in the world.That moment has become known as the Judgment of Paris.And the world and California has never been the same... … [Read more...]

The People’s Palace: Hurray for the New York Public Library!

John Jacob Astor died in 1848. He dedicated a cool four hundred thousand dollars, estimated at about eleven million in today's dollars, to construct a library in New York's East Village. Other libraries were founded in the years that followed. The Lenox was funded by the state in 1870. It would become an amazing archive, including in its collections a fabled Gutenberg Bible. Finally in 1886 Samuel J. Tilden bequeathed the bulk of a nearly two and a half million dollar estate, roughly sixty four … [Read more...]

My Television Life

I am in some genuine ways a product of the dawn of television. I know this is generally considered a bad thing. And there is no doubt it brought with it a bucketful of difficulties. It was also something magical. I believe television was critical in knitting the country together. And, I guess, later in helping to unravel any false sense of ours being any kind of mono-cultural nation.We were poor people so we weren’t the first to get television sets. But, also as poor people we didn’t budget p … [Read more...]

A RAINBOW RELIGION: Or, Why Pride Day is a Unitarian Universalist Holy Day

A RAINBOW RELIGIONOr, Why Pride Day is a Unitarian Universalist Holy DayJames Ishmael Ford21 May 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaIf you wonder whether you’re an introvert or extravert, I have a small thought experiment that can clarify the matter for you. Simply ask yourself what you think of bed and breakfasts? If you like them, you’re an extravert. You may think you’re an introvert, but you’re not. Me, on the other hand, I draw up just short of rat … [Read more...]

Constantine Makes Himself a Church

It was on this day in the year 325, that the Emperor Constantine the Great who had invited all the bishops of Christendom to a conclave convened that gathering.There were an estimated eighteen hundred bishops in the known world and of that number somewhere in the vicinity of three hundred took the emperor up on his invitation. They came from as far away as Britain and Persia.The conclave has come to be called the First Council of Nicaea.If one was in a harsh mood, you could say it … [Read more...]

Malcolm X: A Meditation

Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska on this day, May 19th, 1925. I consider him one of the signal figures in the spiritual history of the United States. I've written here about him before. But, I never feel I've quote captured what I hope to share. So, one more time...Malcolm was the fourth of seven children. His father a Baptist preacher and an outspoken advocate of Black self-reliance. The family moved first to Milwaukee and then to Lansing.His father was killed when he was six … [Read more...]

Announcing our July Zen Meditation Retreat in Seattle with James Ishmael Ford

A Zen Meditation RetreatLed by James Ishmael Ford, Roshiand Janine Larsen, Practice LeaderWhen: Friday, July 14 through Sunday, July 16 (see retreat schedule) Where: University Unitarian Church (UUC) in Seattle. Plus: Optional Retreat Preview, Thursday, July 13, Woodinville UU Church (WUUC), 7:00 – 9:00 PMCost: Pay what you are able.And we have suggestions: The full retreat, $60. Friday or Saturday only (single full day), $40. Friday or Saturday morning or afternoon (half da … [Read more...]

Introducing Roshi Douglas Keido San’un Phillips

On Saturday the 13th of May, 2017, I had the great honor and enormous pleasure of publicly acknowledging my old friend the Zen teacher Douglas Phillips through the ancient and constantly renewed ceremony of Inka Shomei, "evidence of the mark."In addition to his work as a dharma teacher, Doug holds a PhD in psychology and maintains a psychotherapy practice in Newton, Massachusetts.Roshi Phillips has been practicing in the Zen and Vipassana traditions for more than thirty years. He began … [Read more...]