December 12, 2018

                  It was on this day in 1531 the Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared to the indigenous peasant Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. The local bishop was convinced of the reality of the vision when the Virgin caused a poncho to imprint with her image. Who am I to argue? Well, okay, me. It is in my nature to be suspicious of supernatural claims. In fact it is my observation that the best any… Read more

December 11, 2018

Okay, our little sangha has been going now for a good two and a half years. But, our name, Blue Cliff, was also used by another group, and so we decided to avoid confusion we should change ours. That led us to renaming ourselves Empty Moon just ahead of this sesshin. This was our fourth retreat, the third at the lovely Pine Mountain Zen monastery in the Ventura mountains above Ojai. But, also, our first as Empty Moon. It was… Read more

December 10, 2018

        Thomas Merton, Catholic Trappist monk, memoirist, essayist, activist, and mystic, died on this day in 1968. He was participating at an interfaith monastic conference in Bangkok, Thailand. It appears he touched a faulty floor fan and it sparked a heart attack. By coincidence it was the twenty-seventh anniversary of his entrance into Gethsemane Abbey, a rural Trappists monastery not far outside of Louisville, Kentucky. And. Today is the fiftieth anniversary of his death. To my mind, to… Read more

December 4, 2018

      “If I am asked to define my personal tastes in religion I must say that they lie between Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism, with a certain leaning toward Vedanta and Catholicism, or rather the Orthodox Church of Eastern Europe.” Alan Watts I believe that some sort of perennialism or universalism is the undercurrent of modern Western spirituality. That is a very large percentage of people within our culture assume that “all religions are different paths up the same… Read more

December 3, 2018

      It was on this day, the 3rd of December in 1927 that Laurel & Hardy made their film debut with this little bit of nonsense, Putting Pants on Philip. And, well, here it is. You’re welcome… Read more

December 3, 2018

      It was on this day, the 3rd of December in 1960, that the musical Camelot debut on Broadway. I lovely trifle. And, somehow it became forever identified with the new Kennedy administration… More than a half century has passed. And much bitterness has flowed under many bridges. So many bridges. Death. Suffering. Hypocrisy. So much hypocrisy. And, yet, still, maybe its just a human thing, I find I still dare to dream… Read more

December 2, 2018

      As it happens it was today, the 2nd of December, 1961, that the San Francisco Zen Center published the first issue of Wind Bell. An unsigned article at tells us: “From its humble single-sheet newsletter beginnings on December 2, 1961, prior to San Francisco Zen Center’s incorporation, over the decades Wind Bell has grown into a much admired chronicle not just of Zen Center but of emerging Western Buddhism. Library Journal has praised Wind Bell as… Read more

December 1, 2018

      Today, as it turns out, is Rex Stout’s birthday and therefore, of course, Nero Wolfe’s. While I missed noting this last year, mostly I try to observe this date. I reprint my thoughts updated each time around… Rex Todhunter Stout was born on the 1st of December, 1886. He was a writer, best known for his mysteries. I’ve read, I’m moderately confident, every one of his Nero Wolfe mysteries. Certainly all thirty-three novels, and probably all forty novellas… Read more

November 29, 2018

    Two noted Christian writers were born on this day. Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898 & twenty years later in 1918, Madeleine L’Engle was born. C. S. Lewis was a member of the Inklings, an informal Oxford literary group with wide ranging influence. His books included popular apologetics such as Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy. I remain particularly fond of his Screwtape Letters. But he may well be best remembered for his children’s series the Chronicles… Read more

November 26, 2018

      I’ve just learned that David Loy’s monumental study Nonduality will be released in a second edition next year. It’ll be issued by Wisdom Publications, which devotes its entire list to the propagation of Buddhist insight in the English language. I’m very excited. His Nonduality has been very important to me as I’ve tried to understand the way of the wise heart that I entered into some fifty years ago. Like most people who stumble into a spiritual… Read more

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