Words from a Western Dharma Master

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every s … [Read more...]

Hot Dogs! Hot Dogs! And from there on, Mickey Mouse Never Shuts Up…

It was on this day in 1929 that Mickey Mouse, unlike many other stars of the silent film era, made his successful cross over to talkies.While there were nine films featuring the plucky mouse before this one, here, for the first time he speaks.The Karnival Kid also introduces Minnie Mouse (no relation, one assumes), his love interest for the next eighty-seven (and counting) years... … [Read more...]

Benny Turns One Hundred, Seven, and Remains as Cool as Ever

Benjamin David "Benny" Goodman was born on this day in 1909.One of the greats.No doubt... … [Read more...]

Joan Goes to the Stake

It was on this day in 1431 that a girl who had been bothered by visitations from various angels importuning her to raise an army, did so, proved to be a passible general, at least for a bit, was ambushed, captured, given a fixed up trial by the people she had been beating, convicted of miscellaneous noxious stuff, cross dressing being a big part of it, was duly burned at the stake. … [Read more...]

CLOUDS OF WITNESSES A Memorial Day Meditation on Abraham Lincoln, the American Republic, and the Great Dream of Human Possibility

CLOUDS OF WITNESSES A Memorial Day Meditation on Abraham Lincoln, the American Republic, and the Great Dream of Human PossibilityJames Ishmael Ford29 May 2016Pacific Unitarian Church Rancho Palos Verdes, CaliforniaJan and I’ve been to this nation’s capital four times. One of the few things we’ve done every time was visit the Lincoln memorial. If we go again, one of the few things we will surely do is visit that shrine. And it is a shrine. I believe in a way different than any … [Read more...]

Happy birthday, James Bond! Hmm. I Mean Happy Birthday, Ian Fleming!

Ian Lancaster Fleming was born on this day in 1908. He was a journalist and at one time a British naval intelligence officer who turned his hand to spy novels and created one of the great franchises of the genre. The Bond catalog includes a dozen novels and two volumes of short stories. Two of the Bond novels were published after Fleming's death showing once again there really are gifts that keep on giving. Pastiches and sequels by other hands continue. And the movie franchise seems to, even at … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Vincent Price! And, at No Extra Charge: He Reads Poe’s the Raven

Vincent Price was born on this day in 1911, which means he would have been one hundred and five today, except, of course, for the small thing of having died in 1993.In my childhood the master of happy horror, a camp monster although neither too camp, nor too gory. A perfect chill for a summer evening.Miss him... … [Read more...]

DON’T BE A JERK A Review of Brad Warner’s Paraphrase & Commentary of Eihei Dogen

DON'T BE A JERKAnd Other Practical Advice from Dogen, Japan's Greatest Zen MasterBrad WarnerNew world Library, Novato, 2016Don’t Be a Jerk has been sitting at my bedside for a couple of months, and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it.This was no surprise. It’s a good book.Now, I’ve written about Brad Warner before. He traveled to Japan to work for the firm that made Godzilla movies, but once there found the independent Soto Zen teacher Gudo Wafu Nishijima. Nishijima Ros … [Read more...]

When Worlds Collide: A Meditation on Religion and After Religion as we Know It

It was 1977. Actually, it was this day in 1977. The Chinese government officially lifted a long standing ban on owning or reading or, well, performing William Shakespeare's plays and other writings. Apparently it has become the incident that some people like to use as a marker for the end of the disastrous Cultural Revolution.I think a lot about multiculturalism and internationalism and the good and the ill of it. Here in the United States we are struggling with that shrinking globe and its … [Read more...]

Like A Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan Turns Seventy-Five

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on this day in 1941.Bob Dylan provided a great deal of the background music of my youth. And, somehow over the years he just kept rolling along with one reinvention after another. But who would have thought three quarters of a century? … [Read more...]