The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life

The Tibetan Book of the Dead: a Way of Life is a quite interesting film produced by the National Film Board of Canada, Mistral Film of France, and NKH of Japan. Fractionally over an hour and a half. And as a special bonus it is narrated by Leonard Cohen.When this film was made in 1994, Cohen was just beginning that serious immersion in the Dharma which would lead him on a path that would eventually have him ordain as a Zen Buddhist priest.It was originally screened as a two part series. … [Read more...]

Reading Awake at the Bedside, Finding Life and Death Entangled Beautifully

What can I say? Even the Dalai Lama likes this book! And, absolutely, so do I.Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End-of-Life Care edited by Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast, and published by Wisdom Publications is a powerful addition to the literature on end of life care, both for those dying and those who accompany them. I would say most of all for those of us who are becoming aware of the complexities of aging, sickness, and, the always there truth of our … [Read more...]

Ten Years of Monkey Mind: Reflections on a Blogging Life

I find it hard to believe.But, it was today in 2006 that I posted my first entry for Monkey Mind.I was serving as parish minister of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, and while preparing for a sabbatical, my first, and as it turns out my only, a friend, I no longer recall who, but I am so grateful, suggested that a good way to keep up with the gang back home would be to start a blog. I was hesitant. And at the same time, intrigued.People were using the interwebs to publish … [Read more...]

Recalling Filipino Unitarian Bishop Gregorio Aglipay

For the past several years I've been careful to mark out today, making sure folk are aware that the Episcopal Church has a feast day for Gregorio Aglipay. He's just a favorite spiritual figure for me. And, I think he deserves to better known than he is.Aglipay was born in 1860. He was a priest and fervent Filipino patriot, one of the leaders of the revolution, who at the same time led a schism from the Roman Catholic Church, and founded the Philippine Independent Church.All the original … [Read more...]

A STORY OF EGYPT A Meditation on Labor Day, Black Lives Matter, & the Great Work of Our Lives

A STORY OF EGYPT A Meditation on Labor Day, Black Lives Matter, & the Great Work of Our LivesJames Ishmael FordDelivered on the 4th of September, 2016At the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, CaliforniaOnce upon a time, so very long ago we can’t count, and in a land so very far away no one alive today has been able to travel to it by road or ship, there was a great empire. Let’s call that empire Egypt. It’s not the Egypt on the map, a very interesting, if … [Read more...]

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill; Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own … [Read more...]

Fred Kellerman, The Last of the Weavers Dies

I've just read the Fred Kellerman, who was the last of the Weavers died yesterday morning. He was eighty-nine years old. He was preceded in death by Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, and of course, Pete Seeger.For my younger readers, Wikipedia tell us "The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and sold … [Read more...]

Crime Fiction in Old China

As many of my friends are probably more aware of than they care, I am currently working on a book on Zen meditation with particular reference to the Zen koan. (For Wisdom Publications, the working title is Learning the Language of Dragons, thank you for asking...) Anyway, as part of my researches I've been rummaging around the web looking for odds and ends on the subject.And that's how I stumbled upon something I wrote about a decade ago. The brief rumination was based on having recently … [Read more...]

Martha Dies, And With Her a Species Passes from the Earth

It was on this day in 1914, one hundred and two years ago, that Martha, the last known living passenger pigeon died.It is said that when Europeans first came to this continent the sky would be blacked out by the flight of passenger pigeons. While always hunted for food the killing of the pigeons moved to an industrial scale in the nineteenth century. The last confirmed killing of a wild bird, and I note this was also the last formal sighting was a killing, occurred in 1900.Martha was … [Read more...]

Thinking of Books That Helped Me on My Spiritual Path

I would like to hold up for your consideration a small out of print book. Think of it as an invitation to hang out in used bookstores. While there look around for Simons Roof’s Journeys on the Razor-edged Path.  In 1955 Roofs quit his job, packed up his family, and spent the next two years in India. Journeys was the result of that adventure. I read it somewhere in my late adolescence at the very beginning of my spiritual quest, well before my finding Zen. On reflection, I suspect it, even mor … [Read more...]