A Nun to Know

Harumi Setouchi, famed in Japan for her modern Japanese translation of the Tale of Genji, as well as notorious for her erotic life detailed in her novels is now a Tendai Buddhist nun, the Venerable Jakucho Setouchi. For details of her life and career, go here. Read more

A Unitarian Universalist Easter Story

The following is extracted from a 2001 Easter sermon by the Reverend Michael McGee adapted from a story by Jim Wallace.A group of friends of various religious denominations were seated in fellowship discussing the true meaning of Easter one Sunday when the Baptist said: “I believe we place too much emphasis on chocolate bunnies, colored rabbits and Easter eggs instead of the spiritual aspects, which is the real meaning of Easter. That’s what I believe,” said the Baptist. “Me too,”… Read more


What I want to know is simply this:Who rolled away the stone?Did Jesus, reviving from the touch of Judas’ kissturn miracle to muscle on his own?Or did some savior of the Savior moce the rockto let life enter from outside -Resurrection as a sort of picking of the lockThat separates the bridegroom from his waiting bride?Perhaps the stone itself got boredwith waiting for a happy ending to the story,And rolled itself away, to set the body it had storedUpon the… Read more

New Buddhism

Okay, I’m a sucker for critiques of Buddhism, at least for those that resonate with my precious opinions. I’m sure no one who reads my blog falls into this trap. Sadly, however, I do… One of the books I most love in this regard is Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs.Now, I have to add David Brazier’s The New Buddhism to the list.Here’s a very interesting review by Brian Victoria, who raised a bit of a ruckus with his study of… Read more

My Argument With the Four Noble Truths

Recently a friend asked me to provide a summary statement of the Four Noble Truths for a publication. I was immediately reluctant. I thought of the fact that the Four Truths have only in modern times become the normative statement of Buddhist wisdom. I also was concerned with how easily they can be misunderstood. So, after fretting a bit, this is what I provided:The Four Truths (Using Sanskrit terms. Pali is the other major language of sacred texts)1) Dukkha: Human… Read more

On Zen Koans

An old friend who is a UU minister, an old hand at Buddhist meditation mainly within the Vipassana tradition, and has slowly become a meditation teacher, wrote me with an interesting question. A colleague of hers, someone in a similar situation, who leads a meditation program in a women’s prison asked about how appropriate it was to respond to people’s questions about koans.Koans as you may know are a unique spiritual discipline within the Zen tradition. They are usually framed… Read more

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

“Make of yourself a light ” said the Buddha,before he died.I think of this every morningas the east beginsto tear off its many cloudsof darkness, to send up the firstsignal – a white fanstreaked with pink and violet,even green.An old man, he lay downbetween two sala trees,and he might have said anything,knowing it was his final hour.The light burns upward,it thickens and settles over the fields.Around him, the villagers gatheredand stretched forward to listen.Even before the sun itselfhangs, disattached, in… Read more

“That’s Not Writing,

It’s typing.” goes Truman Capote’s famous, if snide comment on Jack Kerouac. According to Mass Moments (a project of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities) which sends out daily notes to subscribers about events that occured on the current date in Massachussets. It turns out that on this day, March 23rd, in 1948 (just shy of four months before I was born) Jack Kerouac began writing what would be his first novel, The Town and the City. He would finish… Read more

Maha Ghosananda

Years ago I was at a conference of Buddhist meditation teachers at Spirit Rock. (What a center! Talk about the Upper Middle Way. I was very impressed…) The event was jointly sponsored by Spirit Rock and the Dalai Lama. As things turned out it would be the first of several times I missed being able to meet him. On this occasion I had to leave the conference before the Dalai Lama arrived in order to attend a UU clergy conference.Now… Read more

Of War, Peace and Fighting Monks

I’m currently trying to write, or perhaps its put off writing, this Sunday’s sermon on the issue of Peacemaking, pacifism and Unitarian Universalism. There is a call for considering whether UUs should formally become a “peace church.” While this isn’t a historical position of either Unitarians or Universalists (who, among other things were largely in favor of a civil war in America if it led to the freeing of slaves, for instance), it seems a majority of contemporary UUs are… Read more

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