A Couple of Random Thoughts on Zen and the Science of Consciousness

A few random thoughts from the monkey mind...Neurologist Norman Farb at the University of Toronto has devoted most of his research to consciousness and what happens during mindfulness meditation. . He identifies two ways we normally perceive things within our human minds.He calls one narrative—the process by which we take the discrete events of our lives and weave them into a story. This mode is essential to our sense of identity. The other is the experience of the moment, free of any p … [Read more...]

The Zen of Weight Loss: Further Reflections on my Consciousness Diet

Today I officially became a life time member of Weight Watchers.What that means is that I achieved my official "goal" weight, and now six weeks from that weigh in I've been able to stay within four pound range of my achieved goal weight (two tenths of a pound over the mid-point, thank you for asking). And now as long as I keep within some parameters, mainly not exceeding that goal weight by more than two pounds and weighing in at least once a month, there are no continuing fees for my … [Read more...]

On the Nothingness of God: A Zen Meditation

Back in 2008 I read a review of the book Merton & Buddhism: Wisdom, Emptiness & Everyday Mind edited by Bonnie Bowman Thurston. The reviewer cited a particular line that I’ve not been able to shake. “(W)hen the Dalai Lama was asked if he believed in God, he replied ‘It depends on what you mean by ‘God’: if you mean by ‘God’ What Thomas Merton means, then yes, I do.'”This very much caught my imagination. And, I wrote on the subject, on the yes, and the implied no, and within that the p … [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...]

David Chadwick, the Zen Failure Who Won Big as Biographer of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

I've been a fan of David Chadwick ever since I read his memoir of four years studying zen in Japan at the end of the nineteen eighties, Thank You and OK.I was pleased that we would end up meeting and spending some time visiting on several occasions. I really like him. And so I'm just happy as a clam to discover an extended interview with David where he talks about many things including his magisterial biography of the great Shunryu Suzuki as well as his amazing archive, Cuke dot com.So … [Read more...]

Soto Zen: A Collection of Videos

There is an ever increasing library of videos regarding Zen available on Youtube. As one might expect, they are of varying quality and usefulness. Here are a handful I believe are useful for someone looking to know more about Soto Zen, and particularly Soto as it is taking shape here in the West, and more specifically in North America. The ancient way with some new wrinkles... First, an historical overview. Not the best, but serviceable... In … [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...]

When is walking Meditation? A Zen Reflection

I have friends who suggest anything they really like doing is a meditation. When they’re not just being cute or ironic the principal they seem to rely on for this assertion is that such things as knitting, bowling, cooking, all involve concentration and at best, perhaps, an achieving of a sense of “oneness” with the object of their concentration. I have little argument with such an observation and indeed many of the so-called Zen arts such as tea ceremony and archery are such joining of action an … [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...]