As Things Fall Apart


In the Way of the Elders family of Buddhism the Buddha’s death is folded together with his birth and awakening into a single holiday, Vesak or Wesak, usually observed in May. However, within the traditions of the Great Way family of Buddhism the Buddha’s death is marked as Parinirvana Day or sometimes Nirvana Day, in solar calculation most commonly on the 15th of February, but for many the 8th of February.As he lay dying he continued what he had done for the forty years following his great a … [Read more...]



Zen Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, and Finding a Life that Matters,Or, Like Someone in the Middle of the Night Reaching Behind Her Head for the PillowA Sermon by James Ishmael Ford7 February 2016Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach Long Beach, CaliforniaTextYunyan 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 … [Read more...]

Enter the Sultan of Swat

Babe Ruth

George Herman Ruth, Jr, was born on this day in 1895. Better known to us as "the Sultan of Swat," the "Bambino" and, of course, simply as "Babe."The Babe was a left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox, but was sold to the New York Yankees in the off season of 1919-20, where he gained his greatest fame as a "slugging" outfielder, establishing records for runs batted in, bases on balls, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, and, of course, home runs, delivering 714 in his career.He would … [Read more...]

Happy birthday, Bill! Okay, maybe nineteen years after William S Burroughs died is a bit late, but…


Bunches and bunches of years ago I was working in Moe's bookstore in Berkeley. Moe told me that William Burroughs was going to do a reading at the store and he, Moe, wanted me to make a flyer to post around the area announcing it. I wrote up the copy, you know something along the lines of William Burroughs, author of Junkie & Naked Lunch speaking at Moe's Books, address & time, then got some magazines and a newspaper and cut out the letters and an occasional word and then cellophane taped them … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Rosa!

Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born on this day in 1913. The world, at least our corner of it, is a better place because of that... … [Read more...]

Bob & Ray Call It a Day

Bob & Ray

I was saddened and I admit a little surprised to learn that Bob Elliott, of the comedy team Bob & Ray, died this past Tuesday. He was ninety-two. His comedic partner Ray Goulding died in 1990.His wife Lee died in 2012, but he is survived by his children Chris, Coloney, Amy, Shannon, Robert jr., eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.Oh, yes, and all of us...Rest in peace Bob. And thanks for the laughs! … [Read more...]

Carol: A Review

Sunday Jan and I went out for what is becoming an at least once a month and often twice a month film and dinner.We saw Carol.It’s 1952. A young girl, Therese, an aspiring photographer working in a department store in Manhattan has a chance encounter with Carol who is looking for a present for her child. When Carol leaves her gloves at the counter, Therese mails them to her. Carol responds with an offer of lunch as a thank you. As their relationship unfolds, the complexities of their l … [Read more...]

Zen in an American Style: Boundless Way Zen Comes to Southern California

BoWZ West

This coming Thursday evening, the 4th of February, at 7pm, at the Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, our forming Blue Cliff Zen Sangha will bring Boundless Way Zen to the Los Angeles/Long Beach area.Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274This evening we will start a monthly informal sit and dharma talk at the church, it will feature a talk by me on the subject Why Zen?Then next Tuesday, the 9th of February, we will … [Read more...]

WHAT WOULD THEODORE PARKER DO? A Meditation on Theodore Parker and the Call of Liberal Religion as a Compass in Hard Times

Theodore Parker Preaching

WHAT WOULD THEODORE PARKER DO? A Meditation on Theodore Parker and the Call of Liberal Religion as a Compass in Hard TimesJames Ishmael Ford31 January 2016Pacific Unitarian Church Rancho Palos Verdes, CaliforniaThe compromise of 1850 was meant to dampen the smoldering tensions between free states and slave, and, I guess, in the narrowest of senses it was successful. At least in that it pushed the final and it seems inevitably bloody ending to that terrible sin which poisoned … [Read more...]

Leonard Cohen and Zen

leonard cohen

Leonard Cohen's Zen life is one of constant interest to many. Here are a couple of interesting clips that explore aspects by and about. … [Read more...]