Earth Day, the March for Science, and Three Things We Should Know

Today across the nation there are a number of public demonstrations set as a "March for Science." I'm an enthusiastic supporter of anything that holds up science. And, these days of political turmoil where we have stumbled into a fact free era, this isn't a bad time to pause and recall.As I hope everyone knows, today, the 22nd of April is also Earth Day. I suspect there was no coincide in this meeting of these two events.Earth Day is observed both nationally and internationally, and … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

Thomas Jefferson, America’s Second Unitarian President. Sort of…

Thomas Jefferson was born on this day, the 13th of April, 1743 at the family estate in Virginia.In my circles there is an ongoing debate as to whether Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian. Actually the short answer is simple enough. Yes. However, a slightly longer answer is yes and no.Jefferson's theology was a mix of deism and Unitarianism and he declared in a letter written late in life that if there were a Unitarian church in Virginia, he would be a member. That said, Jefferson had been … [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...]

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...]

William Ellery Channing: The Reluctant Radical

William Ellery Channing was born on this day in 1780 in Newport, Rhode Island. I try to acknowledge this every year. He is one of the more important people in my own spiritual life.William Ellery Channing was the grandchild of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. As a child Channing attended with his family an extremely conservative congregation led by the Reverend Samuel Hopkins. Dr Hopkins was a strict Calvinist who preached the utter depravity of humanity and how nearly … [Read more...]