On Dropping the F-Bomb: A Preliminary Report of a Zen Experiment in Small Truths

A bit more than a week ago I declared to everyone on Facebook that I would try to expunge Anglo-Saxon epithets from my vocabulary. While I was thinking in the moment of the range of epithets that we English speakers derive from that ancestral language, I realized pretty quickly that I was actually thinking about one word, what some of my friends like to call the f-bomb.What I really wanted only gradually became clear over the next five days as I failed to make it through twenty-four hours … [Read more...]

INTIMATE, INTIMATE: On Friendship & the Spiritual Life

INTIMATE, INTIMATE On Friendship & the Spiritual LifeJames Ishmael Ford19 February 2017Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach Long Beach, CaliforniaYou may have noticed Valentine’s Day was observed last week. Possibly you celebrated it. Jan and I, we exchanged cards in the afternoon, after which we took off for our regularly scheduled Zen meditation group here at the church. When we returned we shared a couple of chocolate covered strawberries. I’m sure a lot of people who … [Read more...]

What’s a Friend For? A Small Meditation on Zen’s Inside Joke

One of those things I love about Facebook are those little factoids that one can pick up. Of course you always have to be careful. So, for instance, there is a meme going around my circles right now with a picture of the Stoic philosopher Chrysippus and the caption declaring he died laughing at his own joke.One has to dig around a bit, but I did. And as it turns out there are actually two stories about how the great Stoic (often thought of as the second founder of the school) died. One is … [Read more...]

What a Man Will Do for a Woman: Or, How to Gird Up Your Loins

Post cards from Long Beach, California #231The storm is raging...And we have the crockpot simmering away with a beef stew for tonight.Of course, one must have biscuits with beef stew. So, I was reviewing the recipe. I don't do biscuits often, well, don't do beef stew often, either, and realized we need milk - something we don't normally have in the house. Half & half and almond "milk" but no milk without the quotes.So, I girded up the old loins, put on a coat I haven't worn in … [Read more...]

Recalling Andre Norton: Grand Dame of Science Fiction & Fantasy

There is no night without stars.Andred NortonAlice Mary Norton was born on this day, February 17, 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio.By the time she was in High School she was writing and editing and produced her first short stories, published in the school's paper. She also wrote a book, which would eventually be published as her second novel, "Ralestone Luck."After graduating college she taught school, then went to work for the Cleveland Public Library, where she worked for eighteen … [Read more...]

Learning the Language of Dragons: Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship Convocation 2017

The Unitarian Universalist Buddhist FellowshipConvocation 2017Learning the Language of Dragons with Roshi James Ishmael FordExploring Zen Meditation and Zen KoansMarch 31 – April 2 Menucha Retreat Center Corbett, OregonJames Ishmael Ford, Zen teacher and Unitarian Universalist minister says that Zen meditation, both its “just sitting” or “silent illumination” discipline and “koan introspection” are in fact the language of dragons. In our time together we will be introduced … [Read more...]

James Ishmael Ford’s Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Sermons

As it happens it was on this day in 2005 that a group of college students launched YouTube. For me as with so many of these advances of our computer age that have become ubiquitous, I find it hard to conceive that it was a mere eleven years ago. I was serving at the First Unitarian Society in Newton, Massachusetts, the Boundless Way Zen network was just taking shape, this blog was still not even something I was thinking about, and wouldn't begin for another year. Today, anyone can go there and … [Read more...]

Bearing Witness: The Horror & the Glory of I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro is filmmaker Raoul Peck's imaginative recreation of James Baldwin's last book proposal, a thirty page treatment titled Remember This House. Mr Baldwin hoped to explore American's heart, and particularly the destructive nature of racism through the lives and deaths of three men he personally knew, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.Raoul Peck delivers.Owen Gleiberman, writing at Variety, tells us Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro is the rare movie that … [Read more...]

Ah… And, a Blessed Darwin Day to You!

One of my favorite koans, those Zen presentations of reality and invitations into the fullness of our hearts and minds is gathered as case twenty in the twelfth century Chinese anthology the Book of Serenity.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 kno … [Read more...]

A Song of Endarkenment: Zen Teacher Josh Bartok on Zen Meditation

Hakuin’s Song of ZazenAll beings by nature are Buddha, as ice by nature is water; How sad that people ignore the near, and search for truth afar, Like someone in the midst of water crying out in thirst, Like a child of a wealthy home wandering among the poor. Apart from water there is no ice, apart from beings, no Buddha. Lost on dark paths of ignorance, We wander through the six worlds, from dark path to dark path. When shall we be freed from birth and death? Oh, the zazen of the M … [Read more...]