Links of Buddhism Become Western: Noting Dorothy Hunt’s Golden Chain

The Golden Chain is a beloved gatha within North American Shin or Pure Land Buddhist communities, especially those associated with the Buddhist Churches of America. Golden Chain I am a link in Amida Buddha’s golden chain of love that stretches around the world. In gratitude may I keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful… Read more

Saving Everyone: A Zen Reflection

          Saving Everyone: A Zen Reflection James Myoun Ford A talk delivered at the Blue Cliff Zen Sangha in Long Beach My friend the poet Martin Nakell dashed off a small poem inspired by the four vows and gave it to me, inscribed on the front of a small chapbook containing another of his poems. That saving poem goes: Before I could save myself Mark Rothko saved me Now I can save myself. You can’t save… Read more

Zen Master Raven Tells Us How to Die

One evening toward the end of a meeting, Mole said, “I’ve heard that Zen is for old folks to teach them how to die. What do you think of that notion?” Raven said, “It helps young folks that way, too.” Mole asked, “They might have a fatal accident?” Raven said, “I’m all for accidents.” Zen Master Raven by Robert Aitken Read more

Recalling the Faithful Fool Kay Jorgensen

          I’ve just learned the Reverend Kay Jorgensen died today. She had just turned eighty-six. A Unitarian Universalist minister, she was co-founder with a Franciscan nun Carmen Barsody of the Faithful Fools. Drawing on the social justice visions of Unitarian Universalism and Roman Catholicism, then throwing in a more than passing interest in Zen practices, and whatever other foolish wisdom crossed their paths, they created a ministry. The Fathful Fools have proven a blessing to those… Read more

Endless Gratitude: A Zen Priest Pauses and Reflects on Community

Yesterday evening the Zen priest Gesshin Greenwood and her husband Gensan Thomson came over to our condo where, they, Jan Seymour-Ford and I outlined the schedule for our upcoming inaugural Blue Cliff Zen sangha February sesshin, intensive Zen retreat. Within that conversation I could see some of the broad outlines of what our new community is shaping up to be. Gesshin trained almost exclusively within Soto temples & monasteries in Japan. Gensan is a product of the San Francisco Zen… Read more

angel Kyodo Williams on a Possible Emerging American Zen Buddhism

      I found this at Youtube, and thought it worth sharing. Zen teacher angel Kyodo Williams speaking in 2015 at St Francis College. Soup to nuts its a few seconds less than forty minutes. Also, you might find Radical Dharma, which she co-wrote with Rod Owens & Jasmine Syedullah, worth a read. Read more

Clouds & Water: A Zen Priest Considers Some Turning Words

      I was delighted when I first saw the word “coddiwomple” and its definition “to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination.” I liked it so much I decided to look it up. While it is listed in various online references to slang, it isn’t in any standard dictionary. Not even the biggest of them, the ones that do include slang terms. Before long I had to reconcile with the fact it is neologism, despite its antique sound, cooked… Read more

That Over flowing Tea Cup: A Small Reflection on Not Noticing the Moment

      I’m no longer sure. Perhaps the first book on Zen that I read was Alan Watt’s Way of Zen. But equally possible was Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps’ wonderful little book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Whatever the order, these two books pointed me to the Zen way. I cannot say how important they were to me on my personal journey. I notice both continue in print. The Senzaki and Reps book included a number of stories, some of… Read more

Noting the Great Zen Master Linji, Together With a Couple of Pointers

    Today, the 10th of January, is the traditional date marking the death of Linji Yixuan in 866 within our common era. Linji is a signal spiritual teacher who gave his name to one of the two principal surviving schools of the Zen way. His precise birthdate is not known, nor, actually, the date of his death. He was born somewhere between the end of the Eighth and the dawn of the Ninth century to the Xing family in what today… Read more

Buddhist Wisdom: Three Principal Pali Buddhist Texts

              The harsh fact is that nothing attributed to Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha of history was written down before several centuries after his death, no fewer than three, and possibly as many as six. That said the compilations of his teachings collected in Pali (sadly, not the language he actually spoke) which claim to be his authentic teachings, are what we have. And, if we’re hoping to find the person and his teachings presented,… Read more

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