Thank You, Arthur Waley!

Arthur David Schloss was born on this day in 1889, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. He assumed his mother's maiden name, Waley, during the first world war. There appear to be two reasons for this. The presenting issue is nicely conveyed in an anecdote he once told about being followed by boy scouts and then reported to the police as a possible German spy. In this regard he and his family were following a pattern among many English of German ancestry at that time. However, his family was not … [Read more...]

The Nineteenth Amendment is Ratified

It should be noted that it was on this day in 1920 that the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified, guaranteeing women the franchise.The struggle to this day was long, it was hard, and it was vastly overdue.But finally ninety-six years ago these words were added to our constitution.The consequences of this event continue.These are perilous times. And there has been the rise among us of an ultra right nationalism that has captured one of … [Read more...]

How to Get Over Yourself: Five Pointers from the Zen Tradition for a Whole Life

I've shared these points before. But, they seem worth returning to every now and again. A little Zen perspective on living a spiritual life here in the West. First, it counsels getting over various things that are not actually helpful. Then it suggests some ways to see the world and ourselves that maybe has some resonances with the way things actually are.Here you go.1) God isn’t a person. Get over it. There’s no need to project your image onto the sky. In fact it gets in the way. Rat … [Read more...]

Cesare & All the Beautiful People

It was on this day in 1498, that the cardinal bishop of Pamplona resigned from the episcopacy and became the first person in history to renounce the rank of cardinal. He was twenty-three, or maybe it was twenty-four, records are a bit scanty.Cesare Borgia was the son of Cardinal Roderick Llancol i de Borja, later Pope Alexander VI and his favorite mistress Vannozza del Cattanei. He had been named a bishop at fifteen, and a cardinal at eighteen.After leaving the church Borgia was set up … [Read more...]


THIRTY-THREE BOOKS ON ZEN & BUDDHISMAn Introduction to the Ways for Western ReadersA friend asked if I could recommend a bookshelf full of books on Zen. I could...FOUNDATIONSThe Buddha, Karen Armstrong (An accessible biography. For a review. )Historical Buddha, H.W. Schumann (A, perhaps the academic biography. For a review)What the Buddha Taught, Rahula Wapola (Good overview of Theravada Buddhist doctrines. For a review)In the Buddha’s Words, Bhikkhu Bodhi, editor ( … [Read more...]

Florence Foster Jenkins Is Pitch Perfect

After Florence Foster Jenkins ended, Jan and I left and both paused at the restrooms. When she exited, Jan said, "The word from the women's room is that the film is great. And that Simon Helberg stole the show."Peter Howell at the Toronto Star has a more mundane appreciation, "Enjoyable summer entertainment for grown-ups..." Me, I think it should be placed somewhere between enjoyable summer entertainment and great. It certainly is something more than our typical Hollywood fare. And, there … [Read more...]

Ernest Everett Just: Brilliant Mind, Mediocre World

Ernest Everett Just was born on this day in 1883. Dr Just was a brilliant scientist, who overcame much within a culture that seemed to go out of its way to block his work. As I said, he overcame much, but you want to see how racism hurts us all, you can just imagine what all our lives might have been had he been given the opportunities his brilliance called for. His is a story we should all know. Some gratitude. Some outrage. … [Read more...]

A Buddhist God? Or, A Verse in the Great Song?

There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, uncompounded. If there were not this unborn… then there would be no deliverance here visible form what is born, become, made, compounded. But sincere there is an unborn, unbecome, unade, uncompounded, therefore a deliverance is visible for what is born, become, made compounded.(Repeated in both the Udana and the Itivuttaka texts from the Khuddaka Nikaya, translated by Maurice Walshe, slightly modified.)I found this passage in Stephen B … [Read more...]

When Laurel Ulrich said “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History,” Was She Thinking of Lucy Stone?

Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts on this day in 1818.She would grow up to become one of the leading lights of the American suffrage movement and a leader for human rights in our culture.As a child she chaffed under her arbitrary treatment for being a girl. And as she looked at how her mother was treated, she realized the future was not going to be good. Brilliant, she studied diligently on her own, but saw that she needed more formal education. As soon as she could … [Read more...]

Mr Singer’s Amazing Sewing Machine

It was on this day in 1851 that Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.His was in fact not the first sewing machine to receive a patent. That was Charles Wiesenthal who received his patent in 1755. Others followed. In fact even Singer was in a neck and neck race, and some say John Fisher was the "true" inventor of what we would call the modern sewing machine. But Singer's had the patent. And his not only took advantage of every advance since Charles Wiesenthal's and, … [Read more...]