WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A Buddhist Meditation on a Christian Text

WHO IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A Meditation for Hard TimesJames Ishmael Ford5 March 2017Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaThus have I heard.A lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus told a story.“ Once there was a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was set upon by thieves, who beat him severely, stripped him of his money and even his clothing, and left him lying in the road, half-dead. A series of people passed by the man. The first was … [Read more...]

Handy Curses for Those Who Borrow Books and Do Not Return Them

Wandering around the webosphere can be worth the trouble. You just never know what you're going to learn.This time I've learned some nifty curses for people who borrow your books and don't return them.For instance.“For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy & all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, & let there be no surcease to his … [Read more...]

What is the Spiritual Life? A Brief Meditation

I look at myself and at others and I see some common realities. I believe we have divided hearts. That is we are pulled in multiple directions at the same time. And the consequences of this pulling and our many forced choices, most of which made from this sense of division leads to hurt for ourselves and for those whom we love.I believe the call of the spiritual life is a call to something hard, and to something necessary. It is about the healing of these wounds, it is about the … [Read more...]

Recalling the One, the Only Doc Watson

Arthel Lane Watson was born on this day in 1923. Doc, as we all call him, was a master of the flat pick.Benjy Eisen writing Doc's 2012 obituary for Rolling Stone summarized Doc's contributions. "Born in 1923 in Deep Gap, Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson influenced generations of country, folk and bluegrass artists with his flatpicking approach to the guitar. Watson went blind at age one following an eye infection and quickly grew immersed in music thanks to his parents, who performed in the local … [Read more...]

William McGonagall: A Small Celebration of the Worst Poet in Great Britain

It all started when I noted that the eighth and last attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria took place on this day in 1882. The attempt was by Roderick McLean, a poet who appears to have been offended by what he considered a curt response when he had sent a sample of his work to the Queen.That led me to think a number of things, not least of which, was, oh my, eight assassination attempts? Considering the length of her reign that's basically one every eight years.But, actually where I … [Read more...]

Gary Snyder Talks Religion

Old Zen hand, Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist, and the poet laureate of Deep Ecology Gary Snyder shares a panel with religious studies academics Christopher Patrick Parr, Bron Taylor, Christopher Ives, with Mary Evelyn Tucker pressing.He takes questions.But no prisoners... … [Read more...]

A Dream for America

Words from Valarie Kaur.One of the more beautiful reflections I've heard in a long time.I can only hope it is true. … [Read more...]

Zen teacher Dosho Port on the Three Ways of Zen Meditation

There's a lot of confusion about Zen meditation, breath counting, just sitting, and koan introspection.Zen teacher Dosho Port's talk, the Three Ways of Zen Meditation lays it out as well as I've seen.Out of my years of practice and study, I feel much of what is presented about Zen meditation is not very helpful. This talk, however, is about as clear an exposition of what I understand to be the discipline, presented clearly, and compassionately. The talk itself is about twenty-five … [Read more...]

Alan Watts on Psychotherapy East & West

Alan Watts' book Psychotherapy East & West was first published by Pantheon in 1961. It has just been reissued by New World Library, which is becoming one of my favorite spiritually oriented publishers. I was invited to re-read it and if I wished to write a review.I read it. And, absolutely, I would like to share some thoughts.New World's publicity folk wrote a pretty good summary of what the book offers."Before he became a counterculture hero, Alan Watts was known as an incisive … [Read more...]

That’s Entertainment: My Reviews of the 2017 Best Picture Nominees for the Academy Award

Over the years Jan & I have said we'd love to go the movies more. But, the reality was we never did much. A big part of this was my work life as a Unitarian Universalist parish minister and with the erratic hours that parish ministry meant doing something regularly was difficult. And, we chose to guard the time for our Zen community rather than anything else.And time flows, and things change.Now, in the first year of retirement we have started doing things that we just couldn't put … [Read more...]