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September 20, 2021

    In Holmes Welch’s Parting of the Way: Lao Tzu and the Taoist Movement (pages 5-6) he offers some parallel sayings from the Tao Te Ching & the Christian Gospels.  The translations are from Lin Yutang and Arthur Waley. For the Bible he preferred the King James version. It is easy to note there are some stretches here. Still. There is something compelling in his project, even if it is simply reveals the longing heart; that reach for a commonality of… Read more

September 19, 2021

          SURPRISED BY JOY     A Meditation on Kensho in Zen, Buddhism, and Literature Delivered at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles September 19, 2021 James Ishmael Ford   “Each branch of coral holds up the moon.” Blue Cliff Record, Case 100 Let’s reflect on the spiritual path, just a little. Let’s consider the moment our heart’s turn. That grace when we are gifted with noticing the world with new eyes, where we discover the world… Read more

September 18, 2021

      While Edward Bouverie Pusey died on the 16th of September in 1882, and that day is observed as a feast throughout much of the Anglican communion, the feast itself in observed here in America on this day, the 18th of September. I noted this about six years ago. And what follows was largely written then. Although, while I continue to be charmed by the title and retain it, I have washed through the meditation lightly, to reflect… Read more

September 17, 2021

          I’m deeply moved by the Serenity Prayer which most of us know through the work of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its deep origins are probably the collective insight of the human condition. The sentiment appears first in English, best we can tell, as a seventeenth century Mother Goose Nursery rhyme. For every ailment under the sun There is a remedy, or there is none; If there be one, try to find it; If there be none, never… Read more

September 16, 2021

      Once upon a time the world honored one was at Vulture Peak. Before a vast crowd of lay practitioners, nuns, and monks, angelic creatures, and even gods, he held up a single flower and twirled it. Of the assembled crowd only the disciple Mahakashyapa, responded, breaking into a wide grin. The Buddha, lord of wisdom, physician of the heart, announced “I have the eye treasury of the true Dharma, the marvelous mind of nirvana, the true form of no-form, the subtle… Read more

September 15, 2021

The Ten Ox Herding Pictures (Chinese: shíniú 十牛 , Japanese: jūgyū 十牛図 , korean: sipwoo 십우) are a map of the spiritual journey within the Zen schools. The earliest use of a bull or cow or ox as the self in practice seems to date to the Nikayas, the earliest strata of Buddhist teachings, and may have been used by the Buddha of history. The earliest use of a series of images seems to date from the Zen schools in… Read more

September 14, 2021

      Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back, Guilty of dust and sin. But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack From my first entrance in, Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning If I lack’d anything. “A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”; Love said, “You shall be he.” “I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear, I cannot look on thee.” Love took my hand and smiling did reply, “Who made the eyes but I?”… Read more

September 13, 2021

          It was on this day, the 13th of September, in 1848 that poor Phineas Gage took a railroad spike through his head. What exactly happened after is disputed. What is indisputable is how this incident opened up wide the question of how much we are biological creatures, where our sense of self is in some manner epiphenomenal to biological processes. Our minds are something wonderful. They even have some quasi-independence. Three very interesting bits. Psychosomatic illness…. Read more

September 12, 2021

      “All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.” Hypatia Perhaps you’re familiar with the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia? An amazing figure, the daughter of an Alexandrian philosopher, she became a major thinker and teacher during the cusp of the fourth and fifth centuries of our common era. She was an astronomer, a mathematician, and most of all, a Neoplatonist philosopher. While commonly beloved Hypatia, is also recalled for her brutal… Read more

September 11, 2021

      Twenty years.  Hard to imagine. A life time, or certainly near to it. Men and women not yet born have fought and some have died in the conflicts that followed that terrible morning. I remember. The Sunday that followed 9/11 I was expected to preach. Casting about to find something that might be a word of hope I listened to stories.  One in particular captured my heart. Now, twenty years have passed and we’ve found ourselves mired… Read more




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