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September 9, 2021

    Fifteen years In 2006, as I was getting ready to take off on my first (and it would turn out to be only) sabbatical I was advised by an elder colleague that it would be wise to keep in touch with the gang back home. You know, the people who are paying me to do this. Most of whom will never get a sabbatical of their own in their lives. Another, younger colleague suggested trying a blog. “You… Read more

September 9, 2021

      It was today, the 9th of September, in 1850, that California was admitted to the union. The name comes from a Sixteenth century Spanish romance, The Adventures of Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. In the novel Queen Calafia ruled a wonderful land  of black Amazon women. Of course there were already people there when the Europeans showed up. They’d arrived a very long time ago, at least 13,000 years. Some 70 ethnic groups existed at the time of… Read more

September 8, 2021

    It was on this day, the 8th of September, 1966, that the very first episode of Star Trek, “the Man Trap,” premiered. I came a tad late to the Star Trek thing. I missed pretty much the whole first season. This was the sixties, and my young adulthood, after all. So I wasn’t sitting watching lots of television. First there was sex, drugs, and some rock n roll. Then Zen came along. But I liked what I saw…. Read more

September 7, 2021

    I recall reading the introduction to Madam Alexandria David-Neel’s “Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects,” where she was advised by one of her teachers that there was no problem in publishing the secrets. They remain secret unless someone is ready to hear them. Sort of the truth about such things. With that, here’s the nub of Zen Buddhist wisdom, ready or not… For me the best religious analysis of our situation is found in three Buddhist terms:… Read more

September 6, 2021

    How do we throw ourselves whole heartedly into the way? How do we honor that vow? When our very lives are tangled, how do we make our way? When there are people who depend on us, how do we make our way? Another image comes to mind. I was talking with a clerk in a large Department store. It turned out he had been a Catholic monk for more than twenty years. He left because his mother was… Read more

September 5, 2021

    In the Episcopal Church today, the 5th of September is marked as a feast day for Bishop Gregorio Aglipay. I’ve always loved that they have a feast day for a Filipino revolutionary, dissident Roman Catholic priest, Independent Catholic bishop, and Unitarian. As those who know me might suspect, he’s just a favorite spiritual figure for me. Aglipay was born in 1860. He was orphaned early. When he was fourteen and working in the tobacco fields he was arrested… Read more

September 4, 2021

    I’ve noticed no one has a “good reason” for embarking on the spiritual quest, whether Zen or any other. Our motives for taking up any spiritual practice are always clouded. After all, in most cases, certainly in our human hearts, motivations are almost always multiply caused. And, sometimes, well, that presenting thing feels wrong to some observer. One example. Many years ago my brother and I took a hike in the mountains above Palm Springs. We met some… Read more

September 3, 2021

  For me the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers is a rich source out of which I not only appreciate the deep mystical traditions of Christianity, but which often directly touches my life as a Zen Buddhist. Somewhere along the line I became aware of Amma (mother) Syncletica. She lived roughly between the middle of the fourth century and the middle of the fifth. She was the subject of a hagiography attributed for many years to Athanasius of… Read more

September 2, 2021

    (A fragment from a larger work in progress) Somewhere along the way in our Western Zen communities, people got it in their heads that you weren’t supposed to read. Okay, there are reasons. Words are traps. Easy to make them into little shrines, offer some incense, and be on your way. But, within the vast literature there are many important pointers. And. Reading a little of the canonical literature of Buddhism and in particular Zen, can be enormously… Read more

August 28, 2021

    BURNING, BURNING, BURNING, BURNING Zen at the End of a World A Dharma talk at the August 28, 2021 Empty Moon Zen Zazenkai Edward Sanshin Oberholtzer. Guiding teacher at the Joseph Priestley Zen Sangha Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The public works department has been busy here in East Buffalo Township. For reasons that are beyond me,  in the midst of this summer’s blistering heat they decided to resurface the township roads. Ours got an especially thorough makeover – two inches… Read more




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