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...]

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...]

One of Those Moments: Another of Zen’s Small Intimations

I was at a retreat with my teacher John Tarrant, one of many held at St Dorothy’s Rest, a somewhat run down Episcopalian retreat facility in Camp Meeker, up in the redwoods of Sonoma county. We were in the interview room each sitting on pillows in the interview room, knee to knee.It was a period after I’d “clicked” with koans. And, I was responding to his questions, one after another. Like the old line “two arrows meeting in mid-air.” Then he paused, looked at me, and smiled wickedly. John le … [Read more...]

Zen Teacher Desmond Gilna received Denkai Transmission

As the hour approached midnight on the evening of the 11th of March, 2017, in a private ceremony, I gave Denkai transmission to Desmond Gilna, Keido Gando, Osho.(Here I originally said that with this Desmond became the first Irish koan Zen teacher. But, of course that isn't true. Maura O'Halloran was the first. And, today, there's also Barbara Joshin O'Hara, Sensei, heir to Josho Pat O'Hara Roshi. Thanks to all for the corrections.)In the Japanese inheritance Denkai, or precepts … [Read more...]

A Love Letter from the Deep: a Zen Reflection on Case 15 of the Gateless Gate

I opened my email today to find the poem of the day from Panhala was by the Medieval Japanese Zen monk and poet Ikkyu. In Sonya Arutzen's translation.Every day, priests minutely examine the Law And endlessly chant complicated sutras. Before doing that, though, they should learn How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.Sojun Ikkyu is one of my favorite Zen teachers. He was born sometime in 1394 in a suburb of Kyoto to lower ranking noblewoman and, some … [Read more...]

Gary Snyder Talks Religion

Old Zen hand, Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist, and the poet laureate of Deep Ecology Gary Snyder shares a panel with religious studies academics Christopher Patrick Parr, Bron Taylor, Christopher Ives, with Mary Evelyn Tucker pressing.He takes questions.But no prisoners... … [Read more...]

Zen teacher Dosho Port on the Three Ways of Zen Meditation

There's a lot of confusion about Zen meditation, breath counting, just sitting, and koan introspection.Zen teacher Dosho Port's talk, the Three Ways of Zen Meditation lays it out as well as I've seen.Out of my years of practice and study, I feel much of what is presented about Zen meditation is not very helpful. This talk, however, is about as clear an exposition of what I understand to be the discipline, presented clearly, and compassionately. The talk itself is about twenty-five … [Read more...]

Every Day is a Good Day: Zen teacher Mary Gates comments on Case 6 in the Blue Cliff Record

Mary Gates is a past interesting person.She's a psychologist.She's an Episcopal priest.She's a Zen teacher in my lineage.And, oh my, finally we seem to have gotten it right.You want a taste of authentic Zen in a Western flavor? Here you go, Dharma Holder Mary Gates pointing to the great way. … [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...]