The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

As it turns out, it was today, the 7th of July, in 1928, some eighty-nine years ago, the Chillicothe Baking company, in Missouri, sold their first commercially sliced bread. They used a machine invented by Otto Rohwedder. Two years later, Wonder Bread took the idea national. The world, as they say, would never be the same… Read more

I Ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist Priest

It was just pointed out to me that yesterday was the forty-seventh anniversary of my undergoing shukke tokudo, also called unsui tokudo, ordination as a novice Soto Zen Buddhist priest. It actually began the year before in 1969. Okay, who is to say when it began. But the immediate events leading up to my ordination – those began in 1969. I’d been practicing for a couple of years. And I decided I wanted to be a Zen priest. But I… Read more

Noting the Birth of the Universalist Sufi Saint Hazrat Inayat Khan

One hundred and thirty five years ago on this day, the 5th of July, 1882, Inayat Khan Rehmat Khan Pathan was born in Vadodara Gujarat. He is more commonly known as Hazrat Inayat Khan, Hazrat being an honorific. And sometimes by the title Pir-O-Murshid, which could be understood as senior teacher and head of a Sufi order. Inayat Khan came from a family of poets and musicians. And, critically, he was an initiate within three Sufi orders. Principally he was a… Read more

A Thought on First Thoughts

Yesterday, I wrote a draft of my blog posting intended for this morning. I like whenever possible to create a first draft, then let it marinade for a bit, then go in and do some rewriting. You know, tightening, putting in a period here and there where in the original there was a comma. Maybe dropping that paragraph digressing onto my current obsessions with the best chocolate in Long Beach and instead picking up the critical point I forgot in… Read more

The Dream Heart of the Republic: A Small Meditation for the Fourth

Blessed or cursed, I’ve never been strongly pulled by the call of crowds. Oh, some. Absolutely. But, not so much as most around me. Never felt any real need to cheer a baseball team. I’ve played at it when we lived in Boston. And I kind of want to for the home town team here in LA, particularly as in an earlier incarnation it was my father’s team. But, beyond thinking it would be nice, I’ve not gone much farther…. Read more

‘The Big Sick’ Is a Movie to Heal Many Ills

The plot for the Big Sick is simple enough. Boy meets girl. In this version of that old story boy is a Pakistani immigrant and an aspiring stand up comedian. Girl is a mid Western charmer working toward a masters degree in psychology. The tried and true plot then proceeds. But, then after we get to the boy loses girl part, we walk into the serious twist on the old plot. Girl is stricken with a rapidly progressing infection, and… Read more

Hesse Begins His Journey to the East

Hermann Hesse is one of the icons of my reading life. His books opened the door for me on my own Eastward walk. Or, at least helped to open that door. As it happens he became available in the English language in popular editions in the late nineteen sixties, early seventies, at just the right moment for me. And, actually, even the order in which I read his books accompanied me in critical ways in my spiritual formation. So, as… Read more

Reading Zen: Sixteen Zen Teachers Each Recommend Five Books

I asked a number of Zen teachers if they would give me five titles on the subject of Zen and Buddhism that they recommend. I originally did not intend to include five of my own, but somewhere along the line got excited about the project and so, in total we have sixteen Zen teachers offering five books each. Well, five more or less. As you will see going through the lists. Zen teachers are not as a rule well known… Read more

The Heart Sutra as a Pointer for Practice: Zen Priest & Scholar Glenn Taylor Webb

THE HEART SUTRA: A Pointer for Practice Glenn Taylor Webb For many years I recited the Hanya Shin Gyo, the so-called Heart Sutra, in Japanese, as I was expected to do in the Zen temples in Japan, where I was training, while doing doctoral research at Kyoto University. I frequently complained to my Zen teachers that I wanted to be able to put this sacred text into my own language. They always told me to go ahead and do it…. Read more

Theologia Belaruscia: Meditations on the Divine Nothingness by the Zen Pilgrim Weasel Tracks

A while back I received a note from my friend the wandering Dharma bum Weasel Tracks. I think of him as an American original. Our own prose Han Shan, with just a dash of Ikkyu into the mix. It was a bit of a ramble, maybe just a bit left field. And shot through with what in Zen we all the “eye.” I really, really liked it. I asked if I could post it. He said let me think about… Read more