Great Awakenings: A Small Zen Meditation on Hope After Teleology

Teleology: “A noun meaning the study of evidences of design in nature & particularly the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena” (adapted from Merriam Webster)I was reading an article at the always interesting Lion’s Roar, when I stumbled upon a quote attributed to the poet and Zen pilgrim Gary Snyder. “To be devotional is to take great faith in life as it is.” I admire him both as a writer and for a life devoted to the Zen project. And that line, well, it just ca … [Read more...]

LOVE & MONEY: A Zen Reflection that Starts With a Christian Text

LOVE AND MONEY A Zen Reflection That Starts With a Christian TextJames Myoun Ford Blue Cliff Zen SanghaI stumbled on a version of what follows that I'd written a couple of years ago. Thought I could tighten and tweak and that it might be useful. Especially right now...Paul in his first letter to Timothy asserts, “For the love of money is the root of all evil…”I recall that line being thundered from the pulpits of my childhood. Ours was a poor people’s religion, and our preache … [Read more...]

Zen and the Boundless Way: Reflecting on the Blue Cliff Record, Case 61

Fengxue said, “If you raise a speck of dust, the nation flourishes. If you don’t raise a speck of dust, the nation perishes.”(Xuedou held up his staff and asked: “Do any of you, at the bottom, live and die like this?”)Blue Cliff Record, Case 61Fengxue Yanshao was born at the end of the ninth century, and became one of the great Zen masters of his era. Stories of his teaching or of encounters with him are the stuff of quite a few classical koan. And his two sentences in this three sent … [Read more...]

This Saturday: A One Day Zen Sit With Zen teachers James Ishmael Ford & Gesshin Greenwood

Zen in Orange CountyJoin us for a day-long Zen meditation intensive ledby Roshi James Ishmael Ford & Sensei Gesshin Greenwood.This event is sponsored by the Blue Cliff Zen Sangha & the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church.This is our inaugural Blue Cliff (soon to be Bright Cloud) intensive Zen meditation retreat. It consists almost entirely of zazen in twenty-five minute sessions broken with five to seven minute kinhin (slow follow-the-leader walking … [Read more...]

My Uncertainty Principle: A Modernist, Or, Perhaps Its a Post Post Modernist Zen Buddhist Priest Reflects on What’s What

Early morning thoughts...I find my heart and mind wandering to the thought of axioms. By axiom I'm thinking of an assertion that a person thinks is self-evidently true. And by a person, I'm thinking me.What are those things that are the foundations of my conscious life? For the most part they're derived from my Zen and Buddhist experiences wandering through the depths of my heart and mind. There is a rationalist and broadly humanistic sense as well, which has led me to align with the … [Read more...]

(Zen) Buddhism and the Unitarian Universalists

While rummaging around my blog, I stumbled upon this paper I delivered back in 2014. It's about some details of the meeting between Buddhism, really mostly the meeting of Zen Buddhism and Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. I consider it an important subject. It certainly has been in my life.A MEETING OF THE WATERSA Preliminary Report from the Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist EncounterA Paper Delivered at the Fraters of the Wayside Inn Sudbury, Massachusetts27 January … [Read more...]

ZEN AND A HOLY TRINITY A Zen Priest Meditates on the Vagaries of Love

ZEN AND A HOLY TRINITY A Zen Priest Meditates on the Vagaries of LoveJames Ishmael FordThen one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang … [Read more...]

Zen in a New World

One of my all time favorite images from an American Zen center is this one. It comes from the Brooklyn Zen Center. They're a Soto Center in the Branching Streams collective of centers in the Shunryu Suzuki lineage.I've loved that picture since the first time I saw it. It raises hopes in my heart. I hope you like it, too. I think it points to something possible, a promise of something.And there it sat. However, then this past Monday we kicked off our new Blue Cliff Zen sitting group with … [Read more...]

COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME! A Universalist Meditation for Pentecost

COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME!A Universalist Meditation for PentecostJames Ishmael Ford4 June 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaOne of the lovelier things that can happen for a writer is when something they’ve composed takes on a life of it’s own. In my Unitarian Universalist life this has in fact happened twice. Maybe twenty years ago I wrote a little piece called “An Invitation to Western Buddhists.” It was basically a suggestion that convert Buddhists who wer … [Read more...]

The Formation of Zen Teachers

For those among my friends who do not know, I am working on my next book, a study of Zen meditation with a focus on koan introspection.The following was deemed by my editor as not precisely on point for the book. Like much of what I write, apparently.However, thanks to my having a blog you can determine for yourself whether it has some merit on its own. I have added in a few things, and expanded on a point or two, hoping for clarity as a posting. And with that, here you are, some odds … [Read more...]