The Wise Use of Anger – A Lesson for (Us) Namby-Pamby Liberals

In my last two posts I have counseled thoughtfulness, caution, and compassion in our speech and actions as we navigate our new political environment. That's my job, as a priest and Zen teacher.However, the other day I watched this video, Aftermath 2016 by Tess Rafferty (click here for 3.5 minute version), and something in me recognized a truth I can't ignore. In sharing this video, part of me worries that as a priest I shouldn't associate myself with anything embellished with f-words and … [Read more...]

Politics and the Buddhist Precept “Do Not Speak Dishonestly”

13th century Zen master Dogen taught that "to study Buddhism is to study the self." Let me tell you, studying the self is a lifelong process! I constantly learn new things about myself, and much of what I learn isn't flattering.Most recently I have begun noticing how often I speak dishonestly when expressing my political opinions. Oh, don't worry - I'm not speaking dishonestly about how I feel. I'm completely honest about that. Here's how dishonesty creeps into my political speech:I ex … [Read more...]

The World Is Burning and Yet I Garden: Reflections after a Session on Climate Change at the Soto Zen Buddhist Association Conference

I feel that it is very important to say something right now, but it is very difficult to do so. I don’t think it’s so much that I can’t find the words. That’s not usually a problem for me. What’s difficult is to even get in touch with my current experience. Part of me is reeling from overwhelming shock and grief, another part of me is dumbfounded with confusion and disbelief, and yet another part of me continues to energetically and joyfully live my life as if the other two parts don’t even exist … [Read more...]

More Reflections on Activism as a Person of Faith

Yesterday I attended a rally in downtown Portland against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. I went by myself and incognito (that is, no one could tell I was a Buddhist, let alone a Zen priest). That was fine, but I did find myself wishing a had bunch of Buddhist buddies with me, and that we could march together behind a banner saying "Buddhists for Climate Justice" or something like that. The rally was organized by the Oregon AFL-CIO, so the trade unions were there in … [Read more...]

Let’s Start a Global Movement!

Would you be willing to adopt the following Seven Principles and become a Global Citizen?I dream of a mass movement: People everywhere - regardless of nationality, race, faith, class, political party - committing to these core principles, or something like them. Our future depends on living according to these kinds of values - as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species.I've personally longed for something simple to devote myself to. There are so many causes, so many issues... … [Read more...]

My First Protest Rally

Just thought I'd write a little report about my first protest rally. I'm guessing my readers will fall into two basic categories with respect to protests: Either you have attended them before and they're no big deal to you, or you haven't attended one before and they present awkward, uncharted territory. Until yesterday I was in the second category.The rally was pretty cool and only took a little over an hour. It was held at noon next to the offices of our U.S. representative and senator, … [Read more...]

Back to the Drawing Board with Meditation for the Homeless

I thought it would be a good idea to post an update on my efforts, chronicled earlier on this blog, to work up close and personally with people experiencing homelessness. My downtown Portland meditation group is on a hiatus as I go back to the drawing board to create something more in line with my passion and with unmet need. Part of me hates to quit anything and worries that I'm flaky, but actually I think the last couple months were very informative (and enjoyable) to me and helped me clarify … [Read more...]

When It’s Time to Speak Out as a People of Faith

Last week one of the largest Zen Centers in the U.S. published an open letter urging California governor Jerry Brown to ban hydraulic fracking in the state. I was thrilled, but not all Zen folks will be, even if they agree on this particular issue. Speaking out as people of faith can be powerful, but it can also be divisive and confusing. When and where do we - as individuals and as faith communities - take a public stand?I'll offer this simple answer for you to chew on: we should take a p … [Read more...]

Three Ways Activists Alienate People – and What They Can Do about It

If, like me, you want to be an effective activist, it's good to keep in mind how you're liable to alienate people instead of getting them on your side.Activist are people who are actively trying to bring about change in the world. Ideally they also try to be responsible and considerate people, but they go beyond this by working for positive change in the cultures, systems, and organizations around them.I've felt for a long time I should be an activist of some kind - that I should pi … [Read more...]

Our First Meeting – the Ideal Becomes Actual and… Ordinary

Last night was the first meeting of my Zen Center's "Downtown Portland Group." Over the course of one short evening, an ideal manifested as something actual. The strange thing was it didn't feel dramatic or particularly significant to me. Instead, it felt somewhat uncomfortable, somewhat normal, and just as constrained by my humanness as everything I have ever done. In other words, ordinary - in the sense of "neither very good nor very bad, not particularly impressive or special."At one p … [Read more...]