November 18, 2018

  It was on this day in 1865 that Samuel Clemens leapt onto the world stage when the New York Saturday Press published Mark Twain’s Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog. Considering who Samuel Clemens would become I see this as sort of an American holiday worth noting when it rolls around… There are now a couple of versions floating around. Here’s one. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County Mr. A. Ward, Dear Sir: — Well, I called on… Read more

November 17, 2018

    Yesterday my friend  Sensei Gyokei Yokoyama sent a mailing out to the Soto Zen Monastic Practice Group that he leads and of which I am a member. It triggered a small cascade of thoughts. The first was sort of an aside, sparking my ambivalence with the terms “monastic” and “monk” being used by non-celibates. Our phenomenon of “married monks” is a byproduct of the evolution of ordained practice in Japanese Zen. I actually wrote about that not long… Read more

November 15, 2018

    “Master Shih-shuang asked, “How will you step forward form the top of a hundred-foot pole?” Commenting on this, another ancient master said, ‘Even though one who is sitting on the top of a hundred-foot pole has entered the way of awakening, it is not yet authentic. She must step forward from the top of the pole and manifest her whole body throughout the ten directions. He must step forward from the top of that pole and manifest his… Read more

November 12, 2018

        What is now many years ago when Jan & I first moved to New England’s rocky and lovely soil, Jan wanted to go to the Cambridge cemetery to put a rose on Henry James’ grave. I was more than happy to join her as I wanted to put a flower on William’s grave. After consulting some guides we bought a small bouquet of roses and drove out to the cemetery which turns out to be just… Read more

November 11, 2018

      As most who follow my blog know, I am a Zen Buddhist priest within the Japanese-derived North American Soto school. But, and I hope that’s also clear, I am also an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. And actually I earned my keep for a quarter of a century serving UU congregations in Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island before returning home to California in my “retirement.”  This can happen because of the radical non-creedal stance of the UU church,… Read more

November 9, 2018

    Okay, I took advantage of the standard offer to put off responding to my jury summons. I had the opportunity to set it at a date that seemed without conflict. Well, assuming nothing untoward happened. More on that, anon… Now, in the abstract I had no objection to serving. (In theory) Yes. I believe that race enters into who ends up being arrested all too often. We have a serious problem with structural racism and it seems as obvious… Read more

November 8, 2018

      Dorothy Day was born on this day in 1897. In my youth there were two Catholic Christians who particularly influenced me. The first of these was Thomas Merton. He occupies my dreams to this day. The second was Dorothy Day. She too haunts my heart. Dorothy Day was, as I noted at the beginning, born on this day, November the 8th, in 1897, in Brooklyn. The family was nominally Episcopalian, but starting at ten Dorothy began taking… Read more

November 4, 2018

      I’ve just learned that the Zen teacher Bernie Glassman died this morning at about eleven o’clock Eastern time. His wife the Zen teacher Eve Marko was with him. I have no other details to share… Last year I wrote a small appreciation of this American one-off. With some small tweaks this is what I said: Bernard Glassman was born in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn New York on January 18th, 1939. He was the fifth child and only… Read more

November 3, 2018

      On my Facebook page a friend posted this quote from the philosopher Alexander Rosenberg: “Our demand for plotted narratives is the greatest obstacle to getting a grip on reality.” I really, really liked it. I think it points the great dilemma of our lives, our great strength which is also our great stumbling block. And how we engage what we have. On the one hand while some animals are strong, others are fast, and some are masters… Read more

November 3, 2018

It was on this day in 361 that the emperor Constantius II died. Just before his death he was baptized and also named Julian as his sole successor. A golden child of the Constantinian dynasty, Julian had been serving as Caesar of the western provinces. His army had proclaimed him Augustus the year before. Now, with the death of his rival Constantius he was acknowledged universally. Julian would rule for two years. Most notably Julian was the last non-Christian emperor… Read more

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