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...]

Zen Teacher David Loy Points to the Intimate Universe

The Universe is not a place where evolution happens, it is the evolution. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold, it is the unfolding drama itself. Loyal Rue, in Everybody's StoryIf the universe is not something that is evolving but is the evolutionary process itself, then another word to describe that development, in all its cosmological, biological, and cultural aspects, is creativity. Are the cosmic formation of galaxies, the biological ramification of spectating life forms, and the … [Read more...]

In This Moment: A Passing Thought on the Necessary Contours of Modernist Buddhisms

The Christian theologian Karl Barth said that one needs to preach holding the Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other. That reminds me of a recent flurry of thoughts and comments on various contemporary Buddhisms in the West, increasingly called Buddhist modernism.The knock on this contemporary and mostly, although certainly not exclusively Western Buddhism, what was at one time called a Protestant Buddhism, is that it claims to offer a stripped down and spare form of the Dharma, … [Read more...]

Emptiness as the Dance of the Real: A Small Zen Meditation

I find myself think about the Buddhist teaching of emptiness. A lot, actually. For me it is one of the central pointers on my journey of spirit. And, I know this has been true for many others, as well. And, there are an astonishing, at least astonishing to me number of ways people turn it into something other than what it is.The most popular of these misunderstandings over the years is that it is an assertion of meaninglessness. Another perennial is that it is Emptiness with a capital “E,” so … [Read more...]

Tolstoy’s Buddhist Christian Awakening

In his Confession and Other Religious Writings, Leo Tolstoy tells us:“There is an old Eastern fable about a traveler who is taken unawares on the steppes by a ferocious wild animal. In order to escape the beast the traveler hides in an empty well, but at the bottom of the well he sees a dragon with its jaws open, ready to devour him. The poor fellow does not dare to climb out because he is afraid of being eaten by the rapacious beast, neither does he dare drop to the bottom of the well for f … [Read more...]

How Does Guanyin Use Those Many Hands & Eyes: Reflecting on a Zen koan

Yunyan asked Daowu, ‘How does the Bodhisattva Guanyin use those many hands and eyes?’ Daowu answered, ‘It is like someone in the middle of the night reaching behind her head for the pillow.’ Yunyan said, ‘I understand.’ Daowu asked, ‘How do you understand it?’ Yunyan said, ‘All over the body are hands and eyes.’ Daowu said, ‘That is very well expressed, but it is only eight-tenths of the answer.’ Yunyan said, ‘How would you say it, Elder Brother?’ Daowu said, ‘Throughout the body are hands and ey … [Read more...]

Zen Lessons for All of Us: Everyday Spirituality

Sit down.The Buddha said there are four ways to meditate. Sitting, standing, lying down, and walking. So, by "sitting down," what I'm saying is marking out a time and a place and give your body as well as your mind that space and that period of time dedicated to exploring the wisdom of your body, heart, and mind.Shut up.Meditation is one of those words that has too many definitions, basically it only means "doing something with your mind." That "doing something" may be useful, and it … [Read more...]

What is the Spiritual Life? A Brief Meditation

I look at myself and at others and I see some common realities. I believe we have divided hearts. That is we are pulled in multiple directions at the same time. And the consequences of this pulling and our many forced choices, most of which made from this sense of division leads to hurt for ourselves and for those whom we love.I believe the call of the spiritual life is a call to something hard, and to something necessary. It is about the healing of these wounds, it is about the … [Read more...]