Great Awakenings: A Small Zen Meditation on Hope After Teleology

Teleology: “A noun meaning the study of evidences of design in nature & particularly the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena” (adapted from Merriam Webster)I was reading an article at the always interesting Lion’s Roar, when I stumbled upon a quote attributed to the poet and Zen pilgrim Gary Snyder. “To be devotional is to take great faith in life as it is.” I admire him both as a writer and for a life devoted to the Zen project. And that line, well, it just ca … [Read more...]

LOVE & MONEY: A Zen Reflection that Starts With a Christian Text

LOVE AND MONEY A Zen Reflection That Starts With a Christian TextJames Myoun Ford Blue Cliff Zen SanghaI stumbled on a version of what follows that I'd written a couple of years ago. Thought I could tighten and tweak and that it might be useful. Especially right now...Paul in his first letter to Timothy asserts, “For the love of money is the root of all evil…”I recall that line being thundered from the pulpits of my childhood. Ours was a poor people’s religion, and our preache … [Read more...]

Zen and the Boundless Way: Reflecting on the Blue Cliff Record, Case 61

Fengxue said, “If you raise a speck of dust, the nation flourishes. If you don’t raise a speck of dust, the nation perishes.”(Xuedou held up his staff and asked: “Do any of you, at the bottom, live and die like this?”)Blue Cliff Record, Case 61Fengxue Yanshao was born at the end of the ninth century, and became one of the great Zen masters of his era. Stories of his teaching or of encounters with him are the stuff of quite a few classical koan. And his two sentences in this three sent … [Read more...]

Love Beyond Beliefs: Or, My Unitarian Universalism

The other day I posted a letter I wrote to a Unitarian Universalist ministerial search committee. In it I pointed out what I consider a terrible problem facing UU churches, particularly smaller ones.For complex reasons much of it involving a generational shift which I mention in that post, there has been a shifting in the broader theological perspectives of people coming into our congregations. Shifting perspectives are part in parcel with Unitarian Universalism with its deep belief in the … [Read more...]

This Saturday: A One Day Zen Sit With Zen teachers James Ishmael Ford & Gesshin Greenwood

Zen in Orange CountyJoin us for a day-long Zen meditation intensive ledby Roshi James Ishmael Ford & Sensei Gesshin Greenwood.This event is sponsored by the Blue Cliff Zen Sangha & the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church.This is our inaugural Blue Cliff (soon to be Bright Cloud) intensive Zen meditation retreat. It consists almost entirely of zazen in twenty-five minute sessions broken with five to seven minute kinhin (slow follow-the-leader walking … [Read more...]

A Letter to a Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Search Committee

(A real letter to a real Unitarian Universalist ministerial search committee, slightly edited, and with a few additions not thought of in the heat of the original composition. Offered in the hope it will be of use...)Dear (chair of the search committee),It was such a pleasure visiting with you and the committee. Our conversation was consuming, and I found myself falling in love with you, and through you all, with the (church).And, in the hours that have passed, visiting with my … [Read more...]

My Uncertainty Principle: A Modernist, Or, Perhaps Its a Post Post Modernist Zen Buddhist Priest Reflects on What’s What

Early morning thoughts...I find my heart and mind wandering to the thought of axioms. By axiom I'm thinking of an assertion that a person thinks is self-evidently true. And by a person, I'm thinking me.What are those things that are the foundations of my conscious life? For the most part they're derived from my Zen and Buddhist experiences wandering through the depths of my heart and mind. There is a rationalist and broadly humanistic sense as well, which has led me to align with the … [Read more...]

DREAMING OUR FATHERS Norbert Capek & the Unitarian Universalist Flower Communion

DREAMING OUR FATHERS Norbert Capek and the Unitarian Universalist Flower CommunionJames Ishmael Ford18 June 2017 Unitarian Universalist Church Long Beach, CaliforniaA StoryNorbert Capek was born in Bohemia, in what is today the Czech Republic in 1870. He was raised Catholic. But following a religious exploration he became a Baptist minister. Norbert was a social activist and realizing the governmental authorities had begun to investigate him, he and his wife and their children … [Read more...]

Remembering the Immortal James Weldon Johnson

The immortal James Weldon Johnson was born on this day, the 17th of June, in 1871 in Jacksonville, Florida. I think of him as one of those wonderful examples where genius rises despite astonishing obstacles.Against a backdrop of terrible racism and bigotry he made a life. Johnson was at various times in his remarkable life a poet, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and always, an activist. He was never interested in his success alone.James Weldon Johnson’s writings included the Auto … [Read more...]

(Zen) Buddhism and the Unitarian Universalists

While rummaging around my blog, I stumbled upon this paper I delivered back in 2014. It's about some details of the meeting between Buddhism, really mostly the meeting of Zen Buddhism and Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. I consider it an important subject. It certainly has been in my life.A MEETING OF THE WATERSA Preliminary Report from the Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist EncounterA Paper Delivered at the Fraters of the Wayside Inn Sudbury, Massachusetts27 January … [Read more...]