The Spirit Rests Where It Will. A Zen Priest Does a Little Scriptural Exegesis

I have a favorite trope that I cite from time to time. It goes "the spirit lists (or rests) where it will."While I know it is biblical, I have to admit I'd forgotten the actual citation. So, I googled it. Using quotes around the phrase in either variation I was distressed to discover me providing the first two quotes each time. And there were very few references following.I did find an interesting citation from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 11, verses 25 and 26. In the King James version … [Read more...]

On the Nothingness of God: A Zen Meditation

Back in 2008 I read a review of the book Merton & Buddhism: Wisdom, Emptiness & Everyday Mind edited by Bonnie Bowman Thurston. The reviewer cited a particular line that I’ve not been able to shake. “(W)hen the Dalai Lama was asked if he believed in God, he replied ‘It depends on what you mean by ‘God’: if you mean by ‘God’ What Thomas Merton means, then yes, I do.'”This very much caught my imagination. And, I wrote on the subject, on the yes, and the implied no, and within that the p … [Read more...]


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...]

Mysteries of the Soul

If we’re not bewildered by the mysteries of the soul, we’re not thinking clearly, to paraphrase the scrawling on the subway walls. For the soul’s mysteries compress the most profound mythic questions that have always intrigued human beings: Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go when we die? But there is some consolation built into consternation, as the Sufi mystic Mevlana Rumi knew when he wrote seven centuries ago that “Bewilderment is intuition.” From pharonic Egypt to Delt … [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...]

A Feast for John Donne

John Donne was born in London on the 22nd of January, 1573 and died on this day, the 31st of March, in 1631.His family were recusant Roman Catholics. He studied at Cambridge but was not awarded a degree as he could not take the oath of supremacy, which included acknowledging the sovereign as head of the church. Donne then read the law, and was admitted to the bar.Rather than take up a practice he traveled through Europe giving him the opportunity to master several modern languages. And … [Read more...]

Dreams. Memories. And, a Spiritual Path.

Spirituality is difficult for us to touch because it flows to and from the invisible, from love and the mystery of death. It comes out of the “meltdown” that we know as love and compassion and the surrender that we know as death. It flows from the ground of our relationship, not only between human beings, but also between all beings, including mountains and rivers. It is often born from suffering, and it evokes within us compassion, which allows us to see through the eyes of innumerable bei … [Read more...]

Teresa of Avila & Her Prayer of the Heart

Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born on this day, the 28th of March, 1515. We know her as Teresa of Avila.She is one of only four women to be named a “Doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, and to my mind one of the greatest of Catholic theologians. She is one of my favorite believers in the Christian religion. And a glorious example of its potential for leading people into lives of depth and authenticity.Teresa and her special friend and sometime confessor St John of the Cross are … [Read more...]

A Zen Priest Watches as Kali Swallows the World

Until I’d discovered Ramakrishna through the writings of Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood and their associates, my idea of what gods looked like was informed by my conservative Baptist upbringing modified by my father’s bare and no doubt reductionist atheism. Anyway, Ramakrishna prayed constantly for a vision of his goddess, Kali, the Divine Mother. He wanted to know her as she was, desperately. I personally understood this prayer. It was my own longing from some aching place in the pit of … [Read more...]