Not long ago I had a Skype conversation with my old friend the scholar and author Rick McDaniel. His books are wonderful narrative accounts of Zen, tracing it over various volumes from China to Japan to North America. And now he has a new book project he’s working on and wanted to ask me some questions. I thought we were going to be talking about my ordination master Houn Jiyu Kennett, and indeed we did talk a little… Read more

      Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons by James Ishmael Ford (Somerviille, MA: Wisdom, 2018) 262 pages. The Buddha he done touched the ground And not the other way around, When asked the witness to his art And that’s the most important part. This book don’t even mention koans until page seventy and seven, ‘tis apropos as they are not the only way to knock at heaven’s Gates. From somewhere else they came you see…. Read more

    It was on this day, the 17th of August, in 1549, that the Battle of Sampford Courtenay concluded the Prayer Book Rebellion in England. Between this oddity of ecclesiastical history and my friend the music theorist Stephen Slottow’s current researching of Zen liturgies in the United States I find myself thinking  a fair bit about the place of liturgy in the spiritual life and more specifically liturgy within our emerging Western Soto Zen Buddhist sanghas. We definitely are… Read more

    In Japan today, the 15th of August, is marked as a time to celebrate the life of the second founder of Soto Zen in that country, Keizan Jokin. Seems important to me. Keizan was born on the 13th of November, 1264 and died on the 22nd of September. His mother was a devote of Eihei Dogen, eventually establishing two convents, one of which she served as abbess. At the age of eight Keizan entered Eiheiji, the monastery Dogen… Read more

      Today the lovely Episcopal Church commemorates as a feast in honor of a martyr, the life and death of Virginia Military Academy graduate and Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels. It was 1965. He was twenty-six years old and a second year student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he joined those who answered the call of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Selma. While there Jonathan worked to help desegregate the… Read more

          We are called by the world itself to growth and depth and the miracles of change. Here I find myself thinking of our being bodies, and especially of the mysteries of our being sexual beings. If you’re not up  on such things, here’s a little help. Along this way of our full humanity, of being bodies, of being sexual beings, we also need to understand constraint, we need to know time and place. We need… Read more

          Lecture six of six delivered by the Reverend James Myoun Ford on the 10th of August at the Eliot Institute at Seabeck Conference Center, Seabeck, Washington. The monk Fayan visited Master Dizang who asked the young student of the way, “Where have you come from?” Fayen replied, “I wander from here to there on my pilgrimage.” The master asked, “What is the point of your pilgrimage?” Fayan answered, “I don’t know.” Master Dizang replied, “Not… Read more

Stop that War on the other side of the River. Seventy-three years ago, Monday, the 6th, the American military dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, today, the 9th, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Today, we are shadowed by the anniversaries of these bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. There are those who say it quickly ended a war that would have lingered in a terrible, terrible way, costing perhaps millions more lives. Others say this was… Read more

I begin with a story I adapted from the writer A. S. Byatt. Byatt’s original words are in regular type, while summaries by me are in italics. (I strongly encourage you to buy the book and read the real version of her story. It’s longer and much better… That said, you might think of my little adaptation as the text for my reflection, which follows… *** Once upon a time, in a kingdom between the sea and the mountains, between… Read more

          Let me make a categorical assertion. Spiritual practices are not about making you feel better. They are about walking through a door from one place to another. We have a number of terms we like for that place. God is the big one. Heaven is another. In my circles the Pure Land is not unheard of. Though, maybe, we prefer words like the “real,” or “this very place, this very moment.” Sunyata. The farther shore…. Read more

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