And a Blessed Darwin Day to All!

darwin toast

Charles Darwin was born on this day in 1809.A great article at Wikipedia notes how his birthday has been observed as something special since his death in 1882. But in 1909 on the centenary of his birth a number of events marked the day out, including a gathering of over four hundred scientists and others at Cambridge where papers were read, and another event was held at the American Museum of Natural History, including the unveiling of a bronze bust of the master.Throughout the … [Read more...]

A Feast for a Poet


Some, most, all, I really don't know but I hope all, variations on the Anglican calendar mark out today as a feast for the seventh century poet Caedmon. He is the earliest English poet that we can name. A monk in the monastery of the equally, if not more remarkable abbess Hilda of Whitby. The story has it that he was a lay brother charged with tending the monastery's animals. He is thought to have been illiterate. One night he had a dream in which "someone" came to him and told him to sing to … [Read more...]

No Steps, No Strategies

mazu polishing

As a young monk Mazu was practicing at Chuanfa temple. One day while it wasn’t a regular meditation period, he was sitting in formal zazen. Master Huairang Nanyue, one of the most renowned of the Sixth Ancestor, Huineng’s Dharma successors, saw him sitting there. He saw something of value in the young monk, and walked over to him.When the young monk looked up, the master asked, “Why are you sitting in meditation?” Ma replied, “Because I want to become a Buddha.” The old man immediately sat d … [Read more...]

The Beatles Live on Ed Sullivan

Beatles Ed Sullivan

On this day in 1964.This little world would never be the same... … [Read more...]

Parinirvana Day: A Brief Meditation


There actually appear to be two dates in the solar calendar dedicated to Parinirvana, the anniversary of Gautama Siddhartha's death. Both in February, the one on the 8th and the other, more common, I gather, date on the 15th.Me, I plan on taking advantage to celebrate this twice.The Mahaparinibbana Sutta is clearly, at least by my reading, a digest of his teachings composed with an eye to the continuation of the community he led. I have little doubt a fair amount of it was added by those … [Read more...]

A Fool’s Errand: A Small Meditation on the Nature of the Zen Way


I no longer recall when I first heard the verse. But, somewhere early on it became the great pointer for me, an invitation to something I didn’t fully understand, but which I fully desired.A special transmission outside scriptures, Not founded upon words and letters; By pointing directly to one’s heart mind We see into our own true nature and attain Buddhahood.It was sung to us by Bodhidharma, it was sung directly into my heart, it was a beacon that I followed, a distant light in the f … [Read more...]

Those Lovely Episcopalians

episcopal mass

I was just "friended" as they say on Facebook by an old seminary friend, as in friend. He was on the Anglican path and ended up going off to Oxford, and we lost track. Glad for social media and the re-connect.I've long had a soft spot in my heart for the Episcopal Church, as they say, a bunch of Unitarians with a sense of style. Of course that's not really true, and within that "true" why I've never crossed the Thames despite my deep fondness for that gang.Among the things I do like can … [Read more...]

Lucky Lindy Is Born


Charles Lindberg was born on this day in 1902.Best known as the first person to fly solo from America to Europe, and with that the first person to be in New York City one day, and in Paris the next.Handsome and young, the acknowledgments rolled in. Already awarded the Legion of Honor, because he was in the US Army Air Corps Reserves, he became only one of three (I believe) awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for non-combatant heroism. Lindberg became the first Time magazine's Man … [Read more...]

Groundhog Day: A Meditation on Spiritual Practice, With Particular Reference to Zen Buddhism


Today the church is closed down due to the snow storm raging across New England. We've also canceled this evening's Zen meditation.Jan is in Long Beach working on the condo, while auntie, the cats and I are sitting together to watch the 1993 film Groundhog Day. A perfect way to spend February 2nd. (Breaking news: it has been announced here in the more or less real world Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning...)Groundhog day is a delightful film. Critics and regular people love … [Read more...]

Remembering Thomas Merton Just for a Moment

Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton was born on this day in 1915.One hundred years, today...While it is conventional among Christian churches to acknowledge their holy ones on the day of their death, when they go on to the heavenly reward, me, I vastly prefer acknowledging their birth. After all it is the dawn of something, and with Merton, one can argue he symbolizes a special birth, of a new era of interfaith dialogue, and more. His engagement with the spiritually mature across religious traditions, and … [Read more...]