July 5, 2020

    FIFTY YEARS A ZEN PRIEST James Myoun Ford This world of dew Is a world of dew, And yet, and yet Issa Fifty years ago, today, on the 5th of July 1970, I received shukke tokudo, also called unsui tokudo, ordination as a novice Soto Zen Buddhist priest in Oakland, California, from the Soto Zen priest Houn Jiyu Kennett. Peggy Teresa Nancy Kennett was born in Sussex, England, in 1924. She studied medieval music at Durham University and… Read more

June 28, 2020

        THE LANGUAGE OF WONDER A Zen priest reflects on religious naturalism James Ishmael Ford   Let’s talk about natural religion. First that word religion. It is a slippery term, no doubt. In the Nineteenth century when various European scholars began the project of religious studies, they saw religion as that part of a culture devoted to God or gods, and the attendant ritual life. By the middle of the Twentieth century it became obvious that term… Read more

June 21, 2020

  A MEDITATION ON FATHERS & FATHERING IN HARD TIMES Featuring a little Carl Jung, some James Hillman, and a dash of Zen James Ishmael Ford “When one has not had a good father, one must create one.” “When one has not had a good father, one must create one.” Friedrich Nietzsche Last year in a meditation on Father’s Day, I noted those jokes about children so often giving neckties on this day and how that implies something about the… Read more

June 15, 2020

          Zen’s Precepts in Five Minutes James Ishmael Ford When most people think of Zen, if they do, they probably think of some kind of expansive consciousness. Based on what I see on social media, expansive into vagueness. That “moment of Zen” is usually a non sequitur of one sort or another. Others envision a libertarian spirituality where the moment is all about feeling good. With ten minutes of study one realizes Zen is actually an… Read more

June 14, 2020

              ZEN AT THE END OF THE WORLD James Ishmael Ford First it was toilet paper. Toilet paper. Who would have thought? For something less than three months Americans were asked to self-quarantine. When we had to go out, we were asked to wear masks, stand at least six feet away from others if at all possible, and to wash our hands with all the energy of Lady Macbeth. As it turned out for… Read more

June 13, 2020

      Zen & Solving the Climate Crisis? Tom Bowman June 13, 2020 Empty Moon Zen Now, you might wonder why climate comes to mind at a time when so many other crises consume our attention: the pandemic, the economic meltdown, and all that surrounds the horrific murder of George Floyd. About fifteen years ago, I was working with climate scientists on a project. It was my second time. And, in the course of a meeting, one day, one… Read more

June 8, 2020

          ZEN & SOCIAL JUSTICE Ten Rules of Thumb for Times of Crisis, Danger, & Possibility James Ishmael Ford For a while here in the West there was a saying that the Chinese character for crisis was a combination of the strokes for danger and possibility. Turns out that’s not true. Now, it may not be true for the Chinese word, Crisis. But it is true that in times of crisis there is danger, can be… Read more

June 7, 2020

        WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED A Zen Priest Reflects on the Nature of Sacred Spaces James Ishmael Ford Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come. Come. Attributed to Jelaluddin Rumi   In this moment. At this time. We’re caught in a confluence of evils. This moment we… Read more

June 3, 2020

I was recently contacted by a podcaster who wanted to gather a few faith leaders’ thoughts on current events and how faith fits into the matter, or doesn’t. I thought it does. And said sure. The text that follows is mostly what I said for the podcast. However, I then recorded a somewhat more expanded version a tad more specifically grounded in Zen. I offer both… A HOPEFUL DOUBT James Ishmael Ford I’m among those who’ve found it necessary to… Read more

May 31, 2020

  RACISM, MURDER, & ZEN Or, When is Silence Enough? James Ishmael Ford. Zen is a spiritual perspective and a practice. Its primary focus is a constellation of disciplines that invite silence. And, so, what about right now? Now, in a moment like this? Now, in the wake of what on the face of it, on that video most of America has seen of a police officer murdering George Floyd for allegedly writing a bad check for twenty dollars. And… Read more

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