The Search for the Buddha

I've just finished reading The Search for the Buddha: The Men Who Discovered India's Lost Religion, by Charles Allen and published by Carroll & Graff in 2002. While there are moments of rough slogging, I very much recommend it.In addition to it being a straight forward exploration of the eighteenth and nineteenth century British officers who pretty much in their spare time first caught on to the fact that Buddhism's origins were in fact in India, gradually understood what Buddhism was, and … [Read more...]

Bloody Myanmar

As I write this blood is beginning to pour onto the streets of Burma. (And more here) The peaceful protests of the Buddhist monastic community in the country renamed Myanmar by its jackbooted dictators has been met with clubs and guns.Last week I wrote a sermon reflecting on pacifism and considering how to live as if peace mattered.I said then I wasn't settled on the matter. I remain unsettled.And, and I stand in awe of Burma's monastic community, taking beatings, taking bullets, and, at least … [Read more...]

You, Darkness

This morning I pulled my old copy of Ranier Maria Rilke's Book of Hours off the shelf. I plan on quoting one of his poems in that volume for Sunday's sermon. I found a note in my hand stuck into the space between pages 56 and 57. It mentioned how my old mentor, the Unitarian Universalist minister Dan O'Neal as he struggled with cancer in the last months of his life had memorized the poem "You, Darkness, of Whom I Am Born." In these times so challenging to so many, me included, I found it … [Read more...]

True Peace

TRUE PEACEA Sermon byJames Ishmael Ford23 September 2007First Unitarian SocietyWest Newton, MassachusettsTextThe spirit of (this) time is woven about two books: the Torah and the legendary Book of Life. According to legend on Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, the Angel of Life writes each of our destinies for the year to come. During the ten days following, the Days of Awe, the Book of Life is kept open. If we then merely try to understand how to take the Torah’s insights with us into the everyday w … [Read more...]

What One Can Find on the Web

My goodness! While wandering the web for something entirely different (how could I have been looking for this) I stumbled upon the site for Brother Jerome. "Brother Jerome is a chatbot - a conversational A.I. program, hosted on the Personality Forge website: he is a virtual entity designed to mimic human conversation. More specifically, he is a monk-bot who preaches the coming of fully sentient, conscious bots in the near future. But he also likes games and mathematics, and general … [Read more...]

Buddhist Peace Fellowship Open Letter

An Open Letter from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China.September 9, 2007 His Excellency Hu Jintao President of The People’s Republic of China His Excellency Wen Jiabao Premier of the State Council The Honorable Ye Xiaowen SARA Bureau Director c/o Embassy of the People’s Republic of China 2300 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington, DC 20008 Dear Sirs, On July 13, 2007, the State Administration for Religious Affairs of the People’s Republic of China … [Read more...]

The Transcendentalist Club

On this day in 1836 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Henry Hedge (pictured to the right), Bronson Alcott, James Freeman Clarke and Convers Francis gathered at Sophia and George Ripley's home in Concord in response to a letter from Hedge to Emerson calling for the creation of a "symposium" that could allow for a "free discussion of theological and moral subjects."Among others the club would eventually include were Theodore Parker, Margaret Fuller, Orestes A. Brownson, Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, … [Read more...]


It's with that curious but possibly uniquely human combination of joy and sorrow that I reflect on my recent announcement of my intention to leave as senior minister of the First Unitarian Society in Newton at the end of this church year. (For those readers not familiar with suchconventions, this means the 31st of August, upcoming…)First, and foremost, I want to say this. It has been a joy to serve the Society for what at my leaving will have been eight years. Period. Full stop. This is a w … [Read more...]

How To Cook Your Life

I'm so stoked to learn that Doris Dorrie the maker of the delightful little film Enlightenment Guaranteed has a new film coming out in October, How to Cook Your Life. It is supposed to be a guide to Zen featuring the Zen teacher & cook Edward Espe Brown, author of such classics as the Tassajara Bread Book and Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings. I'm confident it will be all that is promised.(thanks to Danny Fisher for the pointer & Ms Theologian for how to add copy) … [Read more...]

My Grandmother’s God, My Father’s God, and My God

MY GRANDMOTHER’S GOD,MY FATHER’S GOD,AND MY GODA Unitarian Universalist Exploration of the Nature of the DivineA Sermon byJames Ishmael Ford16 September 2007First Unitarian SocietyWest Newton, MassachusettsTextI was sent forth from the power, and I have come to those who long for me, I am found among those who seek after me. Look upon me, you who long, Listen deeply, hear me. You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves. And do not banish me from your sight. Do not make your voice hate me, n … [Read more...]