San Francisco Buddhism: Passing Memories of Convert Buddhists From Before the 1960s

It was 1969. I threw my lot in with the English Zen priest Houn Jiyu Kennett, who'd just arrived in the San Francisco Bay area and after a brief stay at the Zen Center in San Francisco opened a small "temple" in a flat on Potrero Hill.That was when I first became aware of an earlier generation of convert Buddhists. There is almost nothing written about these people, and I think its a shame they seem to be passing from memory. Their credentials were often confusing, some coming out of brief … [Read more...]

Emptiness as the Dance of the Real: A Small Zen Meditation

I find myself think about the Buddhist teaching of emptiness. A lot, actually. For me it is one of the central pointers on my journey of spirit. And, I know this has been true for many others, as well. And, there are an astonishing, at least astonishing to me number of ways people turn it into something other than what it is.The most popular of these misunderstandings over the years is that it is an assertion of meaninglessness. Another perennial is that it is Emptiness with a capital “E,” so … [Read more...]

Alan Watts on Psychotherapy East & West

Alan Watts' book Psychotherapy East & West was first published by Pantheon in 1961. It has just been reissued by New World Library, which is becoming one of my favorite spiritually oriented publishers. I was invited to re-read it and if I wished to write a review.I read it. And, absolutely, I would like to share some thoughts.New World's publicity folk wrote a pretty good summary of what the book offers."Before he became a counterculture hero, Alan Watts was known as an incisive … [Read more...]

Alan Watts on Buddhism & Christianity

I have found myself thinking of Alan Watts recently. And then within that mystery some like to dress up with the fifty cent word "synchronicity," I received a note asking if I'd be interested in reviewing a forthcoming re-issue of Watt's Psychotherapy East & West. I said I'd be happy to re-read it and if I felt I could be mostly positive, I would write it up. We'll see if the terms are acceptable.Alan Watts was in fact the first person to write popular books about Zen in the West, … [Read more...]

The Wisdom Way: A Zen Buddhist Reflects on the Feast of the Epiphany

Today is the feast of the Epiphany. A wonderful celebration within the Christian tradition. And one that I as a Buddhist find worth reflecting on. Back when I was serving as a Unitarian Universalist minister I rarely missed an opportunity to visit this holiday. And, even today I continue to see value in it for all of us.There are many perspectives on our human condition, and I've found whatever our particular path might be, we can be enriched by looking at how others engage the great … [Read more...]