The Problem of Our Suffering: A (Modernist) Zen Buddhist Meditation

  I’ve found myself tangled in a conversation with the always wise Dosho Port. He is wondering what a modernist Buddhist might be. And as he is aware I worry about that issue a lot, kind of like a dog with a bone, he’s put some hard questions to me. So, modernist Buddhism. Other terms that have been used in addition to modernist Buddhism are “liberal Buddhism,” “secular Buddhism,” “naturalist Buddhism,” (my personal favorite) and also generally as a pejorative,… Read more

A Zen Buddhist Tries to Define God

When I was in seminary, and so much smarter than I am today, I was asked what I thought that word God meant? I replied that God is a hole in the language into which we throw all our hopes and fears. To which one of my friends replied, Oh yes. God is a whole in the language into which we throw all our hopes and fears.   Read more

The Three Steps on the Spiritual Path, Or, Maybe Five. A Zen Reflection on Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite

According to the late fifth early sixth century Syrian monk we know as Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, himself drawing heavily upon Neo-platonism, there are three steps to the path of holiness. As a Zen practitioner, I find them a useful if not complete map. Perhaps you might, as well. Writing in his Celestial Hierarchy, Dionysius names these steps, or, maybe modes would be a better term, “purifying, illuminating, and perfecting; or rather it is itself purification, illumination, and perfection.” In this… Read more

Noting the Beginning of an Interfaith Zen Community in Kentucky

As Jesus was greeted by crowds of people, he climbed a mountain. At the top, he sat down with his disciples and began to teach. Blessing them, he said: In the barrenness of your longing, you taste heaven’s riches. There is comfort in your broken heart. Open to life you are content with who you are and what is, you walk free on life’s path. In your hunger and thirst, here, in your very desire for righteousness, you are filled…. Read more

Zen in Long Beach and the OC: Ruminations on Endings and Beginnings

    A pause to catch my breath. And in writing down some words to help focus what is going on. So, here, just a brief description. I am deeply committed to the transmission of the Zen Buddhist dharma to our Western shores. I have devoted a great deal of my life to the project of “liberal religion,” that is the rational spirituality and the calls out of that to the work of justice within Unitarian Universalism. That acknowledged, the… Read more

What Latin Sounded Like

              Weene Weede Weeke, anyone? Read more

The Awakened Life: A Zen Meditation

The project of Zen is awakening. It is experiencing the reality of the universe without a veneer of self-deception. Read more

A Brief Guide to Reading About Soto Zen’s Bodhisattva Precepts

I believe it is fair to say the Zen way has three aspects to it. They are wisdom, meditation, and a moral vision. I address wisdom or awakening here. I address Zen meditation here, and koan introspection as a subset of Zen meditation here. This brief essay is meant to provide pointers to a reflection on that moral vision which is a critical aspect of Zen’s teachings, I would say, equal to wisdom and meditation. Like several other spiritual traditions this… Read more

The Dangers of Irony in Literalist Times: Thinking of Guillaume Apollinaire

It was on this day in 1911 that Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested under suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa. Apollinaire was a renowned critic, poet, pornographer and the man who coined the term “surrealism” as well as “cubism.” He would come to be considered one of the signal Western literary figures of the early twentieth century. One could see why he would fall under suspicion. He had, after all, once called for the Louvre to be burned to the ground. And, well,… Read more

Recalling Issan Dorsey: American Zen’s First (Openly) Gay Priest

It was on this day, the 6th of September, in 1990, that Issan Dorsey, Zen priest and abbot of the Hartford Street Zen Center died from complications related to the AIDS virus. Tommy Dorsey, Jr, was born on the 7th of March, 1933, in Santa Barbara. The youngest of ten, he was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. He dropped out of college and joined the Navy, only to be discharged when discovered in a relationship with another male sailor…. Read more

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