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...]

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...]

Mary as Quanyin. Quanyin as Mary. Liberation Theology and Engaged Buddhism.

Helder Pessoa Camara was born in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil, on this day in 1909. Today he is remembered as Dom Helder Camera, the late Roman Catholic archbishop of Olinda and Recife in that country, a fierce opponent of the military dictatorship, and an advocate of Liberation Theology.There is in fact a move within some circles of the Catholic church to canonize him. I find it about as likely as Dorothy Day or that other troublesome priest Thomas Merton getting the nod from the official … [Read more...]

The World is a Burning Hut: A Zen Meditation

There was an old woman who supported a hermit. For twenty years she always had a girl, sixteen or seventeen years old, take the hermit his food and wait on him. One day she told the girl to give the monk a close hug and ask, “What do you feel just now?”The hermit responded,An old tree on a cold cliff; Midwinter – no warmth.The girl went back and told this to the old woman. The woman said, “For twenty years I’ve supported this vulgar good-for-nothing!” So saying, she threw the monk o … [Read more...]