It’s On This Day in 325 that Constantine Opens His Council and Christianity Begins to Be Defined

For those who like to say that Christianity was "invented" by the Emperor Constantine, well, this is your day! It was on this day in 325 that the emperor convened what has come to be called the First Council of Nicaea. While a birthday wish for Christianity is a tad over the top, it is an enormously significant marker in the consolidation of a Christian orthodoxy. The council, the first of seven recognized as "universal" within mainstream Christianity established what is now considered the … [Read more...]

Ruben Habito, Christian Zen Master

A friend posted this interview with Dr Ruben Habito, one of my favorite spiritual teachers. A Christian, for many years a Jesuit, and a fully acknowledged Zen master within the Harada-Yasutani koan Zen school. I consider Ruben a friend and a mentor. It's a little old, from the late nineteen nineties. Worth a watch. Challenging to Christians. Challenging to Buddhists. And, I am firmly convinced, a direct pointing to the real.And, so long as we're on the subject, at no extra charge here's … [Read more...]

You Complain that Buddha is Hard to Find

Just found myself thinking of the poet and sort of Zen guy, Hanshan.Talking about food won’t make you full, Babbling of clothes won’t keep out the cold. A bowl of rice is what fills the belly; It takes a suit of clothing to make you warm. And yet, without stopping to consider this, You complain that Buddha is hard to find. Turn your mind within! There she is! Why look for her abroad?(slightly adapted from) Burton Watson, translator Cold Mountain: 100 Poems by the T’ang poet Han-s … [Read more...]

Recalling Marriage Equality Coming to Massachusetts

The good folk at Wikipedia inform us that it was on this day in 2004, "the first legal same-sex marriages in the U.S. (were) performed in the state of Massachusetts."A heady time...As the century turned it was becoming obvious that marriage equality was going to happen, if only here and there. In the United States various marriages of fleeting legality had been performed, as well as in many quarters, marriages without legal sanction. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, at the time … [Read more...]

Karma, Rebirth, & Seeking the Great Healing

After I delivered my sermon in which I unpack the renowned "Fox koan" for a Unitarian Universalist audience, and I was greeting people as they left the church, a man waited until near the end of the line. When most everyone was finished we shook hands and he introduced himself as a psychotherapist. He said he was concerned about the idea of reincarnation for a very practical reason. He had patients who were suffering terrible events in their lives. And they had been told by adherents of … [Read more...]

THE LIFE OF A WILD FOX: A Zen Koan for Our Times

THE LIFE OF A WILD FOX A Zen Koan for Our TimesJames Ishmael FordDelivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno Fresno, California on Sunday, 15 May, 2016TextThe thought of renouncing this world is awakened. But when this state has been attained, still, still, the fox remains.Daiko MyoshuLet me tell you a story.Somewhere at the beginning of the ninth century, in China, at a brief flowering during the long decline of the great Tang dynasty the … [Read more...]

Buddha from Alabama: A Brief Recalling of Roshi Blanche Hartman

I just received a note from my old friend Rod Mead-Sperry at Lion's Roar.The American Zen teacher Blanche Hartman, Zenkei Roshi, died early this morning, the 13th of May. She was ninety years old.Images of Blanche just raced through my mind.We started Zen practice at close to the same time, both of us with Mel Weitsman at what was then called the Berkeley Zendo. Neither of us recall meeting in those days, although we were both confident we actually sat together on any number of … [Read more...]

Just Read that Article on Texas Seceding, and It Sparked a Whole Cascade of Thoughts

(Where are we going? Why are we in this handcart?)Yesterday Mother Jones featured an article titled "Texas Republicans Inch Closer to Secession."Of course this is all a bit bogus. Yes, secession is a part of the imaginary life of Texas. But as they like to say in Texas this tends to be all hat and no cattle. And as a bit of a reality check, it does say in the article that since President Obama came into office the "nationalist" party has added hundreds of new members. Emphasis on … [Read more...]

A Feast for Gregory Dix, and Some Thoughts on Liturgy

I have mentioned elsewhere how I ended up a student ("find a professor you admire and study whatever it is she or he teaches. You won't regret it.") of the brilliant Anglican liturgist Louis Weil. A passing strange fate for both the Anglo Catholic professor and a Unitarian Universalist Zen Buddhist seminarian. I did admire him for both his intellectual brilliance as well as a quality that one might call holy, a more than rare thing in a seminary. And at the time I was trying seriously to reclaim … [Read more...]

Thinking of the Diamond Sutra, the Oldest Printed Book

According to the date on the title page, an edition of the Diamond Sutra, one of the central texts of the Prajnaparamita cycle of Mahayana Buddhism, was published one thousand, one hundred, and forty-eight years ago on this day in 868. This makes it the oldest surviving printed book, more than half a a millennium older than the justly celebrated Gutenberg Bible (Acknowledging a major difference here is Gutenberg's addition of movable type, although even that has an older version, a Korean Zen … [Read more...]