GETTING TO KNOW YOU A Meditation on Spiritual Community

GETTING TO KNOW YOU A Meditation on Spiritual CommunityMitra Rahnema & James Ishmael Ford18 September 2016Unitarian Universalist Church of Long BeachJAMESAn extremely long time ago, I believe there were still corners of the globe where dinosaurs lurked I was working in a large used bookstore in San Diego. Not long before that I’d been an inmate in a Zen monastery up near Mount Shasta, so the owner of the bookstore assigned me to tend to the religion and metaphysical s … [Read more...]

A Feast for the Sibyl of the Rhine

The truth is more than one religion finds its source in what outsiders would call hallucinations. I admit I'm past suspicious of any assertions grounded, if you will, in such things.Too often what is being packaged within the claims of these grand experiences is glaringly self-serving. Actually one spiritual director I worked with said, a pretty good way to tell whether any entity that presents itself to you with a word of counsel, was if you liked the word, it probably is a lying spirit. … [Read more...]

King of the Blues

Riley B. King was born near Itta Bena, in Mississippi on this day in 1925. He first sang in his Baptist church and later for a Pentecostal church where the minister taught him the rudiments of the guitar. At twelve he saved enough money to purchase his own guitar, or, maybe, such stories don't always square a relative gifted him with the guitar. He worked fields during the day but began playing for a local radio program in the evening. And then for another. Eventually he was able to work full … [Read more...]

Saicho and the Beginnings of Japan’s Bodhisattva Ordination System

The Japanese monk Saicho was born on this day in 767. A signal figure in Japanese Buddhism he was the founder of the Tendai school in that country. Rather more important for me is how in response to the tight control of the ordination platform at Todaiji in Nara which was required for Vinaya monastic ordination, he petitioned the imperial court for permission to establish a new ten precept ordination model based in the bodhisattva precepts contained in the apocryphal Chinese Bramajala Sutra. The … [Read more...]

Eat Your Chocolate Proudly: A Smallest Meditation on International Chocolate Day

Milton Hershey was born on this day in 1857. And the National Confectioners Cartel, I mean Association have declared with the full weight of the sugar lobby that this day be celebrated as International Chocolate Day. Works for me, particularly when I learned the principal way of celebrating is through the consumption of chocolate, ideally, in large quantities.Now, there is a schism among the chocoholic community as some would rather observe this glorious holiday on July 7th, the traditional … [Read more...]

Let Go or Be Dragged

Recently someone posted a meme that made its way to my Facebook page that proclaimed, "Let go or be dragged." The attribution for this bit of wisdom was "Zen proverb." Setting aside the value of the comment for a moment, which, okay, is fine in my book, what annoys me is the attribution. I’ve been doing this Zen thing for well past forty years, and I've never seen this "proverb.” Possibly someone can come up with a citation, it wouldn’t be the first time I missed something, but in this situation … [Read more...]

My Lesson from Nine Eleven

On that 11th day of September 2001, just before the first tower fell, trapped on the 105th floor where he worked for the investment bank Cantor-Fitzgerald, 32 year old Stuart Meltzer just had time to make one phone call. He called his wife. She wasn’t at home, so he left a message on their answering machine. “Honey, something terrible is happening. I don’t think I am going to make it. I love you. Take care of the children.”The wisest words are almost always small words. But they can summari … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Mary Oliver! Oh. And. Thank You!

The American poet Mary Oliver was born on this day in 1935. For those of us with some numerical difficulties, she is eighty-one years old.She was born in Maple Heights, a suburb of Cleveland. Oliver is said to have started writing poetry at fourteen. She went on to study at Ohio State and Vassar, but left without a degree. Her passion was writing. She was twenty-eight when her first collection of poems, No voyage and Other Poems was published to critical acclaim. Her fifth collection … [Read more...]

A Little on What Science Is, and With That a Tad on What Science Is Not

I was reading on Facebook a critique of the modernist Buddhist interpreter Stephen Batchelor's objections to the doctrine of rebirth (and because they are tied up intimately within Buddhist thought, karma). It is a subject of considerable power among many of my friends. Okay, I think about it, as well.But, among the thickets of opinions on the subject a sub-thread emerged discussing materialism and scientism. Often those who are in support of the traditional Buddhist view of rebirth or the … [Read more...]

Recalling Constance & Her Companions & the Madam

Sister Constance, born Caroline Louise Darling in Medway, Massachusetts in 1846, joined Mother Harriet Starr Cannon in the forming the Episcopal sisterhood of Augustinian nuns that we now call the Community of St Mary. She was sent as superior with several other sisters to found a community in Memphis, Tennessee.In 1878 a terrible yellow fever epidemic swept through the city. Many of those with resources fled. With a few notable exceptions who could have left but who remained to do what they … [Read more...]