One of Those Moments: Another of Zen’s Small Intimations

I was at a retreat with my teacher John Tarrant, one of many held at St Dorothy’s Rest, a somewhat run down Episcopalian retreat facility in Camp Meeker, up in the redwoods of Sonoma county. We were in the interview room each sitting on pillows in the interview room, knee to knee.It was a period after I’d “clicked” with koans. And, I was responding to his questions, one after another. Like the old line “two arrows meeting in mid-air.” Then he paused, looked at me, and smiled wickedly. John le … [Read more...]

A Zen Priest Watches as Kali Swallows the World

Until I’d discovered Ramakrishna through the writings of Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood and their associates, my idea of what gods looked like was informed by my conservative Baptist upbringing modified by my father’s bare and no doubt reductionist atheism. Anyway, Ramakrishna prayed constantly for a vision of his goddess, Kali, the Divine Mother. He wanted to know her as she was, desperately. I personally understood this prayer. It was my own longing from some aching place in the pit of … [Read more...]

The Zen of You & Me: A Review

I've just finished reading Diane Musho Hamilton's The Zen of You & Me.The subtitle is "a Guide to Getting Along with Just About Anyone." Me, I'm not really a fan of self-help literature. So, not exactly a book I'd naturally be attracted to. However, I am glad I read it.This book offers a simple straight forward analysis of how we exist in this world and offers an invitation into how we can reorient and actually live in the world. It is not precisely a Zen book. But, there's no way in … [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...]

Zen Teacher Desmond Gilna received Denkai Transmission

As the hour approached midnight on the evening of the 11th of March, 2017, in a private ceremony, I gave Denkai transmission to Desmond Gilna, Keido Gando, Osho.(Here I originally said that with this Desmond became the first Irish koan Zen teacher. But, of course that isn't true. Maura O'Halloran was the first. And, today, there's also Barbara Joshin O'Hara, Sensei, heir to Josho Pat O'Hara Roshi. Thanks to all for the corrections.)In the Japanese inheritance Denkai, or precepts … [Read more...]

A Love Letter from the Deep: a Zen Reflection on Case 15 of the Gateless Gate

I opened my email today to find the poem of the day from Panhala was by the Medieval Japanese Zen monk and poet Ikkyu. In Sonya Arutzen's translation.Every day, priests minutely examine the Law And endlessly chant complicated sutras. Before doing that, though, they should learn How to read the love letters sent by the wind and rain, the snow and moon.Sojun Ikkyu is one of my favorite Zen teachers. He was born sometime in 1394 in a suburb of Kyoto to lower ranking noblewoman and, some … [Read more...]

Zen Lessons for All of Us: Everyday Spirituality

Sit down.The Buddha said there are four ways to meditate. Sitting, standing, lying down, and walking. So, by "sitting down," what I'm saying is marking out a time and a place and give your body as well as your mind that space and that period of time dedicated to exploring the wisdom of your body, heart, and mind.Shut up.Meditation is one of those words that has too many definitions, basically it only means "doing something with your mind." That "doing something" may be useful, and it … [Read more...]

Gary Snyder Talks Religion

Old Zen hand, Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist, and the poet laureate of Deep Ecology Gary Snyder shares a panel with religious studies academics Christopher Patrick Parr, Bron Taylor, Christopher Ives, with Mary Evelyn Tucker pressing.He takes questions.But no prisoners... … [Read more...]

Every Day is a Good Day: Zen teacher Mary Gates comments on Case 6 in the Blue Cliff Record

Mary Gates is a past interesting person.She's a psychologist.She's an Episcopal priest.She's a Zen teacher in my lineage.And, oh my, finally we seem to have gotten it right.You want a taste of authentic Zen in a Western flavor? Here you go, Dharma Holder Mary Gates pointing to the great way. … [Read more...]

The Birds of Heaven: A Way of Faith in Zen

THE BIRDS OF HEAVEN: A WAY OF FAITH IN ZENJames Myoun FordBlue Cliff Zen Sangha A Community of the Boundless Way Zen Network Long Beach, CaliforniaAmong my memories of studying with the late British born Soto Zen priest Houn Jiyu Kennett, was early on asking her a question. Now, I’d been practicing for a couple of years at a branch of the San Francisco Zen Center. But, this was my turning point from something I felt pretty serious about to what would become the bright thread r … [Read more...]