Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond

Yesterday I finished the review of Isabel Stirling’s new biography Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki I promised to Buddhadharma. If they like it it should run in the next issue. The book is well researched, although unfortunately while a substantial bit of work, it also sometimes reads like it was written by a researcher. (Sadly, this is something I fear others will say about Zen Master Who? when it comes out in a month and… Read more

Children Running Through

I used to be shy.You made me sing.I used to refuse things at table.Now I shout for more wine.In somber dignity, I used to siton my mat and pray.Now children run throughand make faces at me.Coman Barks comments on his translation, the poem & Rumi: “In China they tell of three laughing Taoist masters, who taught by going into town and standing in the marketplace and laughing. One of them died. People curious as to how the remaining two would… Read more

Cool Buddhism

I recall a couple of years ago when I shaved my head for a Zen retreat where an ordination was going to take place. After the retreat while walking down the hall at the Unitarian Society where I serve, one of the late adolescents did a nicely understated doubletake then said, “Hey, James, you almost look cool.”And that seemed to be the deal on my coolness. Almost, but never quite…Until, that is, I found the Worst Horse. This has to… Read more

Recalling September 11th

My sermon following that terrible day was called Threads of Memory Read more

Liberal Religion in Brief

Jeff Wilson is for me one of the most interesting of the new generation of scholars, raised Unitarian Universalist, explored various schools of Buddhism before settling into a Shin practice and affiliation he is now finishing his doctorate in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Buddhism in America. As such I find him an intriguing thinker about how liberal religion might actually manifest. In fact Jeff wrote a brief notice to Philocrites about a blog he’s writing where he notes… Read more

Zen Blogs

It occurred to me as I’m now writing a blog it might be a good idea to actually read some. Up until this point the only blog I’ve in my “favorites” file is Philocrites by Chris Walton, the erudite and generous editor at UU World.This morning I thought I’d begin exploring some of the sites I’d dug up for links at this site. Here I’d like to briefly mention the three blogs I’ve found (so far) written by authentic Zen… Read more

Layman Pang & his Daughter

By tradition after the Sixth Ancester Huineng, Pangyun is the earliest master of the Zen way to be acknowledged while a layman. Huineng went on to ordain as a monk and became the source of all contemporary Zen lineages, but Pang remained in the lay life. In fact he’s best known with the title Layman Pang. He married and had children, all of whom according to tradition achieved awakening. Here’s one story about an encounter with his daughter.The Layman was… Read more

Wake Up and Experience Your Life

Wake up and experience your life this moment! Without thought, without separation, “What is it?” See for yourself! You don’t need someone else’s answer. If you do this and do not regress into thought, memory, or analysis, it is possible to see something new. Each moment it is possible to let go of the past and wake up to that which is new, fresh, vital, and sensitive. Your life and your relationship, this very moment, are full of unlimited possibilites.Ellen… Read more

Getting Married

Yesterday afternoon I walked the young couple through their wedding rehearsal. I swear when the wedding is done this evening I really will be on sabbatical. Now I’m at a point in my life where I only do weddings for members of the congregation, and their close relatives, or people I know and love, and their close relatives. This was a situation where everything came together, connections to the congregation and long time relationships with the family outside of church… Read more

We Set Goals

We set goals that we think will guide us through the course of life. But we forget that our goals are not so much conscious choices as they are aggregates of our innate disposition, our particular conditioning, and ever-changing life circumstances. To think that we can will our destiny is a false prop, the vanity of needing to see ourselves as the agent of change.Ezra Bayda with Josh Bartok Saying Yes to Life (Even the Hard Parts)(Boston, Wisdom Publications, 2005:… Read more