I Leave This Old Heart to the World: 3 Poems by the Zen Priest Ryokan

After our Boundless Way Zen West three day zazenkai in Seattle, while on my flight home I was reading a small collection of Sam Hamill's poetry and translations. I was especially taken with three of his renditions of the Soto Zen priest Ryokan's poetry.Alone in this strange machine hurtling through the air down the coast of the North American continent I found them catching my heart, capturing in some ways in my imagination my own life.It occurred to me you might like them, as … [Read more...]

A Poem Composed on the Occasion of My Sixty-ninth Birthday

A poem composed on the occasion of my sixty-ninth birthday I pityanyonewith no regrets Old Zen priest Myoun … [Read more...]

Blue Cliff Becoming Boundless Way Zen West

Big changes are afoot for our Zen project here on the West Coast. And I thought I'd take a few moments to share with you where we are at this moment.If you're familiar with Boundless Way Zen, you know that it is something enormously dear to my heart. About fifteen years ago I began a collaboration with some amazing people, chief among them as founders of this project were David Rynick, who would become a dharma successor in the lineage of the Korean Linji master Seung Sahn, Melissa Blacker, … [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 was young and callow and ill educated, and, truthfully, wasn’t … [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 for coloring within the lines.I gave no guidelines beyond Zen and Buddhism and … [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 it. I said okay. And after a bit he said go ahead.Today is June 17We begin a 9-day Silent Illumination retreat … [Read more...]

Great Awakenings: A Small Zen Meditation on Hope After Teleology

Teleology: “A noun meaning the study of evidences of design in nature & particularly the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena” (adapted from Merriam Webster)I was reading an article at the always interesting Lion’s Roar, when I stumbled upon a quote attributed to the poet and Zen pilgrim Gary Snyder. “To be devotional is to take great faith in life as it is.” I admire him both as a writer and for a life devoted to the Zen project. And that line, well, it just ca … [Read more...]

LOVE & MONEY: A Zen Reflection that Starts With a Christian Text

LOVE AND MONEY A Zen Reflection That Starts With a Christian TextJames Myoun Ford Blue Cliff Zen SanghaI stumbled on a version of what follows that I'd written a couple of years ago. Thought I could tighten and tweak and that it might be useful. Especially right now...Paul in his first letter to Timothy asserts, “For the love of money is the root of all evil…”I recall that line being thundered from the pulpits of my childhood. Ours was a poor people’s religion, and our preache … [Read more...]

Zen and the Boundless Way: Reflecting on the Blue Cliff Record, Case 61

Fengxue said, “If you raise a speck of dust, the nation flourishes. If you don’t raise a speck of dust, the nation perishes.”(Xuedou held up his staff and asked: “Do any of you, at the bottom, live and die like this?”)Blue Cliff Record, Case 61Fengxue Yanshao was born at the end of the ninth century, and became one of the great Zen masters of his era. Stories of his teaching or of encounters with him are the stuff of quite a few classical koan. And his two sentences in this three sent … [Read more...]

My Uncertainty Principle: A Modernist, Or, Perhaps Its a Post Post Modernist Zen Buddhist Priest Reflects on What’s What

Early morning thoughts...I find my heart and mind wandering to the thought of axioms. By axiom I'm thinking of an assertion that a person thinks is self-evidently true. And by a person, I'm thinking me.What are those things that are the foundations of my conscious life? For the most part they're derived from my Zen and Buddhist experiences wandering through the depths of my heart and mind. There is a rationalist and broadly humanistic sense as well, which has led me to align with the … [Read more...]