Going For It

Every once in a while our Zen group gets an email from someone, often a younger someone, expressing great enthusiasm and wanting to know how to dive deep with us. They're hot to get enlightened and save all beings. I've had similar experiences at church, where someone has had an encounter, heard a sermon or attended an event, and has felt, this is "it!" They see how this liberal church is the place where they can grow in depth, become better parents and people, and do something in the world that … [Read more...]

Why I Deleted My Advertising

Actually, what I deleted were my Google ads.I'm completely comfortable with advertising. I have no brief against Google.However, the way they target advertising based upon content in my blog has them repeatedly posting advertising from people and organizations with which I find myself very uncomfortable being associated. For instance there have been almost continuous advertisements for a "Zen" teacher who appears to have made up her title. Might be a great spiritual teacher, I wouldn't know. But … [Read more...]

Give Me That Old Time Gnosis

TOMMY: Have you... have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?HEDWIG: No, but l... I love his work.TOMMY: No. What he was saving us from was his fucking father. What kind of god creates Adam in his image and then pulls Eve out of him to keep him company? And then tells them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge? He was so micromanaging. So was Adam. But Eve... Eve just wanted to know shit. She took a bite of the apple, and she found out what was good and what was evil. … [Read more...]

A Unitarian Universalist Response to Knoxville

Just a brief note regarding the tragedy at Knoxville.On the one hand it was the act of a deranged mind. Such a thing could happen anywhere and to anyone. And the odds of a repetition here at First U are slight.And, at the same time, it was a conscious assault on religious liberals and very specifically on Unitarian Universalists.There was something particularly awful in the fact this attack took place at a children's performance. it invites a greater sense of anxiety than might otherwise be the … [Read more...]

Shake and Shake

Rummaging around the web for inspiration for a posting I noticed how today is Edgar Guest's birthday.During our recent Zen meditation retreat, one of our teachers, David Rynick quoted Guest in a Dharma talk.You shake and shake the Ketchup bottle,none will come and then a lot'lI loved it, as did many of us.In some ways it points to the gradual/sudden dichotomy that has followed Zen throughout its history, between those who emphasize the practice itself and those who point to those moments of … [Read more...]

A Footnote on Pain in Zen Meditation

There was a brief comment on a recent posting I made regarding Zen meditation in which I alluded to the pain associated with the discipline, particularly within the context of intensive meditation retreats.The writer, a practitioner of Aikido, spoke of several practices that involved kneeling, of which only one was particularly familiar to me. The point the commentator was making, as I read it, was that painful practices are not not necessary. At least as regards Aikido. I did not feel the … [Read more...]

Reflecting on the Knoxville Shootings

Jan & I are just back from our annual Summer dai-sesshin, a seven-day intensive meditation retreat at a rural facility in New Hampshire. During this time I had minimal connections with the news of what was going on beyond our retreat beyond what I stumbled upon checking emails briefly and mostly only to see if there were emergencies. Because of this, by Tuesday or Wednesday I was aware of the shootings in Knoxville. But, other than a brief note to my congregation's listserv saying I would be … [Read more...]

Briefest from Sesshin

I've only peeked at emails twice since coming to sesshin.The tragic event in Knoxville haunts as I follow the ancient rhythms of retreat life...Getting up in the dark...Walking to the meditation hall...Sitting...Teacher meeting student...A meal...More sitting...More meeting...A meal...Liturgy...A talk from the center of things...More sitting...More meeting...A meal...More sitting...More meeting...More sitting...A close...A walk in the dark...Sleep...In the midst of all this, many, many … [Read more...]

A Few Random Thoughts Before Taking off for Sesshin

I only just noticed today is the birthday of both Carl Jung and Aldous Huxley.Both people profoundly touched my life and I'm glad to acknowledge them.In my adolescence as a fan of Science Fiction I first read Huxley's Brave New World. From there I found myself intrigued by his explorations of psychedelics, The Doors of Perception. From there I began to read his other novels. In passing I found myself exploring the work of his grandfather. And most significantly I discovered his friends and … [Read more...]

More on Zen Community

Among the comments I received about my posting concerning money and Zen communities I particularly felt moved by "Jack's" remarks.  As I have a few minutes of free time, I want to at least make a tentative response...Jack observes how many sanghas (and here I think we're both thinking specifically of Zen sanghas) ask members to contribute time and money, but rarely to have actual decision making responsibility. Jack says the enterprise is almost always owned by the teacher. And the truth is that … [Read more...]


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