A New Zen Teacher in Town! Welcoming Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald Sensei

It is with great pleasure we announce that, late in the night of March 17, 2017, the Reverend Melissa Myozen Blacker, Roshi, gave Dharma Transmission to the Reverend Diane Shoshin Fitzgerald, at a traditional private ceremony at Boundless Way Temple, in Worcester, Massachusetts.The ceremony of Denbo transmission within the Soto and Harada/Yasutani Zen lineages was witnessed by other teachers of the community. Shoshin Sensei is the second full successor to Myozen Roshi. Following this Shoshin … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday to the City of Angels

Of course trying to name the beginning of a city is a pretty hard thing.And for Los Angeles, it really is pick your preference.Humans appear to have been in the area for the last eleven thousand years. The Chumash were principally in the Santa Barbara area ranging down to modern day Ventura, but well may have had an outpost or two within the bounds of what we call Los Angeles. The Tongva peoples lived directly in the basin, although they also ranged out to the Chanel Islands. They … [Read more...]

A Feast for Martin

It was today, the 4th of April, in 1968, that the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was shot while standing on the balcony in front of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. After the police and FBI arrived, during all the confusion, people running around, agents trying to get a handle on what had happened, one agent informed his superior on a walkie-talkie how he just heard Coretta Scott King say that Martin’s dream would never die. There was, I gather, a pause. Then the agent’s superior in … [Read more...]

Soul Men: Gordon Tappan, James Hillman, and My Foray Into Archetypal Psychology

I'm futzing around with a memoir. Probably nothing that will ever be published, but at this moment in my life I see it as an opportunity to reflect back and consider. A privilege of aging. This is one passage about one mentor and something of how he marked my life.I began taking classes at Sonoma State University, studying psychology while Jan finished up some general education requirements at several local community colleges.I was working close to full time and I considered the BA … [Read more...]

Following the Scented Flowers: A Small Meditation on a Zen Koan

One day Changsha went off to wander in the mountains. When he returned, the temple director met him at the gate and asked, “So, where have you been?”Changsha replied, “I’ve been strolling about in the hills.”“Which way did you go?”“I went out following the scented grasses and came back chasing the falling flowers.”The director smiled. “That’s exactly the feeling of spring.”Changsha, agreed, adding, “It’s better than autumn dew falling on lotuses.”Blue Cliff Record, Case 36 … [Read more...]

A Feast for John Donne

John Donne was born in London on the 22nd of January, 1573 and died on this day, the 31st of March, in 1631.His family were recusant Roman Catholics. He studied at Cambridge but was not awarded a degree as he could not take the oath of supremacy, which included acknowledging the sovereign as head of the church. Donne then read the law, and was admitted to the bar.Rather than take up a practice he traveled through Europe giving him the opportunity to master several modern languages. And … [Read more...]

Thinking of Jesus’ Many Descendants

Okay, not really. What I am thinking about is that perennial desire among some, including friends that Jesus married somebody. Mary Magdalene is my personal favorite among the various candidates, in case you were wondering. And, there's more, there is also a deep wish that together with this spouse the holy couple had descendants. The good people at Wikipedia have traced how this narrative has evolved over the years. What follows is my summary of how this took place together with some asides, as … [Read more...]

Dreams. Memories. And, a Spiritual Path.

Spirituality is difficult for us to touch because it flows to and from the invisible, from love and the mystery of death. It comes out of the “meltdown” that we know as love and compassion and the surrender that we know as death. It flows from the ground of our relationship, not only between human beings, but also between all beings, including mountains and rivers. It is often born from suffering, and it evokes within us compassion, which allows us to see through the eyes of innumerable bei … [Read more...]

Teresa of Avila & Her Prayer of the Heart

Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born on this day, the 28th of March, 1515. We know her as Teresa of Avila.She is one of only four women to be named a “Doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, and to my mind one of the greatest of Catholic theologians. She is one of my favorite believers in the Christian religion. And a glorious example of its potential for leading people into lives of depth and authenticity.Teresa and her special friend and sometime confessor St John of the Cross are … [Read more...]

One of Those Moments: Another of Zen’s Small Intimations

I was at a retreat with my teacher John Tarrant, one of many held at St Dorothy’s Rest, a somewhat run down Episcopalian retreat facility in Camp Meeker, up in the redwoods of Sonoma county. We were in the interview room each sitting on pillows in the interview room, knee to knee.It was a period after I’d “clicked” with koans. And, I was responding to his questions, one after another. Like the old line “two arrows meeting in mid-air.” Then he paused, looked at me, and smiled wickedly. John le … [Read more...]