Zen Priest Seeks Work: Has Zafu & Kyosaku. Can Travel.

As many of my friends know I've worked principally as a Unitarian Universalist minister for the past quarter of a century. This has supported my family and me as I've also studied and then taught Zen. I like to think I've been useful.And now that I have retired from parish ministry I am devoting myself fully to guiding our Blue Cliff Zen Sangha, writing, leading retreats, and supporting a handful of Zen teachers in their early formation. There is no charge for joining our sangha, or that … [Read more...]

David Chadwick, the Zen Failure Who Won Big as Biographer of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

I've been a fan of David Chadwick ever since I read his memoir of four years studying zen in Japan at the end of the nineteen eighties, Thank You and OK.I was pleased that we would end up meeting and spending some time visiting on several occasions. I really like him. And so I'm just happy as a clam to discover an extended interview with David where he talks about many things including his magisterial biography of the great Shunryu Suzuki as well as his amazing archive, Cuke dot com.So … [Read more...]

Soto Zen: A Collection of Videos

There is an ever increasing library of videos regarding Zen available on Youtube. As one might expect, they are of varying quality and usefulness. Here are a handful I believe are useful for someone looking to know more about Soto Zen, and particularly Soto as it is taking shape here in the West, and more specifically in North America. The ancient way with some new wrinkles... First, an historical overview. Not the best, but serviceable... In … [Read more...]

MY ZEN BUDDHIST EASTER

MY ZEN BUDDHIST EASTER A SermonJames Ishmael Ford16 April 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaI served most of my years as a parish minister among our New England congregations. They are generally more traditional in their structure, and, frankly, more comfortable with our Christian origins and heritage than either our Midwestern or Western churches usually are.What that meant was that I was always expected me to preach about Easter on Easter Sunday, and … [Read more...]

The Zen of Holy Saturday: A Buddhist Reflection on a Hard Christian Holy Day

A couple of years ago I wrote a meditation on the Christian day before Easter, Holy Saturday. It continues to haunt me, and as the calendar has rolled around to another one, I thought I'd give it another go.Holy Saturday. Jesus is dead. With that in the Christian story, God is dead. Resurrection has not yet happened. Actually there's no good reason to even think of something like a resurrection. If you've lived any time at all you really know that when someone dies, they stay dead.Yes, … [Read more...]

B. R. Ambedkar and His Wonderful Vision for a New Buddhism

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was born on this day in 1891. He is better known as B. R. Ambedkar, sometimes Dr Ambedkar, and to the many whom he served throughout his life, as Babasheb. Dr Ambedkar is one of the singular figures of the Indian revolution. And, significantly, in the years that followed, as a religious reformer.I wrote an appreciation of Babasheb last year. He is someone who should be known better than he is, and recalled by those of us who do know him. I slightly expand that … [Read more...]

Holding the Lotus to a Rock: Boundless Way Zen Leadership Gathers in Worcester

The Boundless Way Zen network's leadership circle gathered this past weekend in Worcester, Massachusetts, for our third annual meeting. We currently have sixteen teachers. Ten hold one of our forms of Dharma transmission including the four roshis, three senseis, and three dharma holders. We also include our six senior dharma teachers, who while not dharma successors, all have permission, with guidance, to give talks and most importantly to provide practice interviews including supervising koan … [Read more...]

Zen and the Four Commitments: A Small Meditation

In 1993, a hundred years after the renowned World Parliament of Religions met in Chicago a second parliament gathered. The highlight for many was an address by the Dalai Lama. And certainly a worthy thing.For me, however, the most important thing to come out of that gathering was a document, “Towards a Global Ethic.” The principal author was the Roman Catholic priest and scholar Hans Kung. Father Kung is something of a controversial figure within his church, I once heard him described as the … [Read more...]

A New Zen Teacher in Town! Welcoming Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald Sensei

It is with great pleasure we announce that, late in the night of March 17, 2017, the Reverend Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, gave Dharma Transmission to the Reverend Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald, at a traditional private ceremony at Boundless Way Temple, in Worcester, Massachusetts.The ceremony of Denbo transmission within the Soto and Harada/Yasutani Zen lineages was witnessed by other teachers of the community. Shoshin Sensei is the second full successor to Myozen Roshi. Following this Shoshin … [Read more...]

Following the Scented Flowers: A Small Meditation on a Zen Koan

One day Changsha went off to wander in the mountains. When he returned, the temple director met him at the gate and asked, “So, where have you been?”Changsha replied, “I’ve been strolling about in the hills.”“Which way did you go?”“I went out following the scented grasses and came back chasing the falling flowers.”The director smiled. “That’s exactly the feeling of spring.”Changsha, agreed, adding, “It’s better than autumn dew falling on lotuses.”Blue Cliff Record, Case 36 … [Read more...]