Thinking of Books That Helped Me on My Spiritual Path

I would like to hold up for your consideration a small out of print book. Think of it as an invitation to hang out in used bookstores. While there look around for Simons Roof’s Journeys on the Razor-edged Path.  In 1955 Roofs quit his job, packed up his family, and spent the next two years in India. Journeys was the result of that adventure. I read it somewhere in my late adolescence at the very beginning of my spiritual quest, well before my finding Zen. On reflection, I suspect it, even mor … [Read more...]

The Zen of Attitude Adjustment, Or, Let the Sweet Two by Four of Life Draw You Into the Moment

Have you ever been mugged and had a friend ask you why you wanted that to happen? This actually happened to a friend of mine. The premise within this exchange is that we are in control of what happens to us. If we’re right with the universe everything we want will be ours. And, so, if we have cancer, we wanted it. If a child is born into a war and starves to death, well. They must have had unfinished business to deal with. If you’re raped. Born into poverty. Have a spouse that beats you. Are ric … [Read more...]

Mr Natural’s 719th Meditation

I recall this strip from my misbegotten youth. I'm not actually sure about the exact chronology, but I associate it with my early explorations of Zen meditation. At the time I found it helpful. Today, maybe a bit less so. Nonetheless, thank you, Mr Crumb. It was a trip... … [Read more...]

Southside With You, A Small, Delightful Film

Yesterday Jan and I saw the imaginative recreation of Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama’s first date, Southside With You. We left the movie smiling. Bottom line: a lovely, if slight film. But, then what else should one expect from a movie about a first date.As to what the pros think, when I googled “Southside With You” and “review” three brief quotes popped up. One by Manohla Dargis at the New York Times reads, “Sweet, slight, and thuddingly sincere.” Another by David Edelstein at Vulture g … [Read more...]

SIT: A Short Film by Yoko Okumura

Filmmaker Yoko Okumura turns the camera on her family, including the renowned Zen teacher Shohaku Okumura. Sweet. Sad. Human lives, lived. Twelve minutes. … [Read more...]

Recalling Abba Moses the Black Together With A Small Meditation on the Religions We Choose

It is the 28th of August. In the Christian calendar a lot of people are celebrating today as a feast for Augustine of Hippo, bishop and theologian. And, let's be frank, while there is much about him that is attractive, his approach to the idea of an original sin and our humanity simply drips with Manichaeanism, and has been the source of much of Christianity's more unhealthy attitudes about how we exist in the world. Let's just say, he's not my guy.Rather my attention for this day goes to … [Read more...]

Christopher Isherwood Takes His Turn on the Great Stage

Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood was born on this day in 1904 in Cheshire, England. He attended Cambridge, but left without a degree. He kicked around a bit, had a fitful attempt at studying medicine, and then moved to Berlin. Some of his experiences there would become the basis for his Berlin Stories, which would later be the basis for the film Cabaret. Eventually with his on and off again lover W. H. Auden he came to America, starting in New York, but then taking a Greyhound bus to … [Read more...]

The Scandalous Life of Lady Jane Digby. Apparently Bad Girls Do Go Everywhere.

I was bereft of subjects to share for today, and so fell back on my old standby in such situations, a brief walk through Wikipedia's listings of events and births and deaths of any given day. There I noticed it was King Ludwig I of Bavaria's birthday. And, briefly confusing him with Ludwig II, the so-called "dream king," I started reading the Wikipedia biography. It didn't take long to understand my error, but before I lost interest, I noticed the line "Ludwig had several extramarital affairs … [Read more...]

Reading Stephen Batchelor’s After Buddhism

I can't believe Stephen Batchelor's After Buddhism sat in my bedside pile of books for a full year. Having just finished it, I'm really sorry I waited so long.The book opens with two quotes. The first from the Buddha himself. “The dharma is clearly visible, immediate, inviting, uplifting, to be personally sensed by the wise.” Paired with it is one from the ninth century Chan master Linji. “The dharma of the buddhas has no special undertakings. Just act ordinarily, without trying to do anyth … [Read more...]

Go See Kubo & the Two Strings: You Don’t Need to Read Any More Than That

But if you want a little more.The other day an old friend who is Zen teacher as well as a math professor said that on a scale of one to ten, Kubo and the Two Strings is a twelve. For a math professor to make that kind of comment raises an eyebrow. She added the film is “amazing.” And, she cautioned, “See it in 3D.” With that kind of endorsement, Jan and I felt this had to be our weekend film.Oh. My.According to Rotten Tomatoes “Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation … [Read more...]