Friday the 13th

Friday 13th

No, not the movie.The day.Like today.According to my go to first check (and, no, not my last stop when I want to be sure...), Wikipedia, most scholars say this is a superstition of relatively recent origin, like the nineteenth century. While some like to find origins in the Middle Ages apparently there's little to support this assertion. It doesn't get big 'till the twentieth century...On the other hand various cultures have their bad luck days, too. In both Spanish speaking and … [Read more...]

A Feast for Henry & All Beings

henry bergh

Henry Bergh died on this day in 1888.If Unitarian Universalists were just a tad more Christian in our current incarnation, I'd suggest this day be a feast in his honor. Given our givens, probably we should be celebrating his birthday, August 21st.Whatever, his life should be marked out as special and special in a spiritual sense.He was the son of a shipbuilder and a successful one. He attended Columbia University although he left without taking a degree.Henry met Henry Whitney … [Read more...]

A Small Hurray for the Newspaper

daily courant

I see that it was on this day in 1702 that the first issue of the Daily Courant, according to Wikipedia, "England's first national daily newspaper" was published.While I am less concerned about the decline of the print newspaper, in our current parlance, as a platform for the distribution of news and opinion than some of my friends, I am with all who see the intelligent, fair-minded collection, curation, and publication of news as critical to a free society.As the complex but inarguably … [Read more...]

Zen: A Reading List


Sensei Josh Bartok, in addition to being a Zen teacher in the Boundless Way Zen school, is also a senior editor at Wisdom Publications. He may be the best read Zen teacher in the West. Certainly one could make that argument. A couple of years ago he compiled a reading list. I suspect if he had time, he might update it. I'm thinking of a couple of books that have come out since the list, such as the lovely anthology of women Zen teachers writing, The Hidden Lamp. But, I think it still quite … [Read more...]

Noting the Passing of the Preaching Genius

Fred Craddock

I was saddened to learn that the Reverend Fred Craddock died two days ago, while I was deep in retreat. I never had the pleasure of meeting the old master preacher, but his book Preaching was my textbook in seminary, and it exercised a profound influence on me as a speaker, at least in a meta sense. Many of the details in his instruction proved irrelevant to someone neither lectionary nor even scripturally oriented. But the larger view, oh my.He was a teacher of the deep way...May he … [Read more...]

Zen in Western Poetry: Starting a List & Taking Names

buddha in snow

An old and dear friend sent me a link to a reading of Wallace Stevens’ the Snow Man, suggesting here’s some winter Zen. I replied that I’d seen it used in the liturgy at at least one, and if I recall correctly two Western Zen communities.One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitterOf the January sun; and not to t … [Read more...]

Guifeng’s Five Styles of Zen, and Mine

Guifeng Zongmi

I was talking with a friend about the mistakes we sometimes make in Zen, and I recalled something on the subject I’d read in the Three Pillars of Zen. When I found it I saw it was actually a reflection on Guifeng Zongmi’s (called Keiho Zenji for Great Master Keiho Shumitsu in the book) classification of five styles of Zen, contained in some lectures by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi. And in fact it isn’t five mistakes in Zen, but rather five approaches to Zen, although each containing subtle errors one ne … [Read more...]

Thinking of King Kong


And who doesn't, from time to time?It was on this day in 1933 that the film opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York City... … [Read more...]

It’s Dr Seuss Day!

Dr Seuss

The wonderful Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr Seuss, was born on this day in 1904. Cause for celebration all by itself, but also, the National Education Association has designated his birthday as Read Across America day.So, get on it!Read a book.Or, better yet,Help a child read a book.Or, if you can't do that,At leastMake some green eggs & ham... … [Read more...]

HEAVEN & HELL: A Love Story


HEAVEN AND HELL A Love Story1 March 2015James Ishmael FordFirst Unitarian Church Providence, Rhode IslandTextOne day while walking quietly together, out of the silence the Buddha’s attendant Ananda declared, “Teacher, to have companions and comrades on the great way is so amazing! I have come to realize that friendship is fully half of an authentic spiritual life.” They proceeded along quietly for a while more, before out of that silence the Holy One responded. “No, dear o … [Read more...]