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Zen Blog

Unitarian Universalism’s Not Exactly Creeds


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Big things going on in Unitarian Universalist world. And I find it time for some reflection. The UUA I belonged to as a working minister between when received my first call to a parish in 1991 and 2016 when I officially retired, was framed by a document called the “Principles and Purposes.” We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant ...

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Robert Aitken: An American Zen Original


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Robert Baker Aitken, Roshi Robert Baker Aitken was born on June the 19th, 1917 in Philadelphia. At five his family moved to Honolulu, where, with some times away, he would make his home for the rest of his life. He would grow up to become one of the most notable Western Zen teachers of the Twentieth century. While Aitken Roshi was the teacher of my koan teacher, John Tar...

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Our Fathers. A Continuing Meditation


Our Fathers. A Continuing Meditation June 16, 2024 James Ford Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Joseph goes to meet his fatherCaspar Luyken (17th century) In digging through my files I notice every few years I share an ongoing thread of thoughts about Father’s Day. Some points I repeat. Others get dropped. While still others call for deeper consideration. I think of this project as a sort of spiritual di...

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Henry Thoreau on Not Knowing


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Walden Pondby Erik Granlund Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”  Fayan answered, “Around on pilgrimage.” Dizang then asked, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?” Fayan replied, “I don’t know.”  Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.” Book of Serenity, Case 20 (A passage from Henry David Thoreau’s lecture, Walking. He drew partially from his journals and in tot...

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Get Good at Finishing Things

Recently I had a reader write in to me about not being good at finishing things. A few examples of things they haven’t finished: They bought a course and never finished itThey can’t seem to stick to a dietThey’ve only gone on half of the hikes they want to go on in their area I can relate! It can be hard to finish things — we get excited about something at the start, but when we get busy or things get hard or boring, our commitment wavers. So how do we get better at finishing things? We have to deepen into commitment, and get support. Before we...

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Recalling the Remarkable Harriet Martineau


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Harriet MartineauPlaque at Tynemouth Harriet Martineau, British novelist, lecturer, abolitionist and theological thinker was born on the 12th of June, in 1802. She was also a Unitarian, a naturalist, and, eventually an atheist. Her influences within the Unitarian world would be immeasurable. She’s always been a favorite of mine. And I try to notice when this day rolls ar...

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A Bridging Spirit: Dreaming a Taoist Jesus


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Nestorian Crossfrom the Nestorian SteleTang dynasty I’m deeply interested in religious syncretisms. Possibly my favorite is the Luminous Religion, a Nestorian mission to China which flourished between the seventh and tenth centuries. Next to nothing was known about this mission beyond the so-called Nestorian Stele, which spoke of a missionary bishop named Aluoben and his...

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Our Mistaken Ideas About What Makes Us Happy

Most of us are operating on mistaken ideas about what gives us happiness — and these errors are costly. Think about how you normally spend your days — and then think about whether that’s making you happy. Now think about the cost to your health and long-term happiness. Let’s give a few examples, so you can see what I mean: Social media: If you spend a lot of your time on social media, perhaps for it’s entertainment value or distraction from things stressing you out … notice if this leads to better or worse happiness and mental health. For many,...

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Recalling the Zen philosopher Kitaro Nishida


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. School of Athenswith the Buddha Kitaro Nishida died on the 7th of June 1945. He brought a deep commitment to Zen Buddhism and western philosophical disciplines together. The founder of what has come to be called the Kyoto School, Nishida has been described as the most influential Japanese philosopher of the twentieth century. His ashes were divided into three parts. The ...

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Allen Ginsberg as Bard of the Holy Spirit


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Beat GenerationLucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs Allen Ginsberg was born on the 3rd of June, in 1926, in Newark, New Jersey. His father was a poet and school teacher, while his mother was an activist and Marxist. He had a brother Eugene. His mother’s schizophrenia was a constant issue within the family. Her illness would be a recurrent them...

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Building Trust in Yourself

I find that almost all problems are a breakdown in trusting ourselves. If we could trust ourselves fully, so many things become effortless. Let me give some examples of where we don’t trust ourselves: Procrastination: We procrastinate when we think we can’t handle the stress or difficulty of one or more tasks, or we don’t trust ourselves to handle any bad outcomes we fear from doing those tasks (people judging our work, for example). If we trusted ourselves completely, we could just do the task and deal with the stress that comes from it, and d...

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A Zen Meditation on Foolish Wisdom


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Circus Procession1881 April 1st is marked out as many things. For one it’s the Assyrian New Year. For another it’s the feast for Mary of Egypt, a rather interesting desert mother. I also like to note it’s Edible Book day. And, of course, it’s April Fool’s Day. The only day in the year most everyone fact checks. I scanned my previous postings for this day, and there are a...

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Who Saves Us? A Meditation about Joan of Arc


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Joan of ArcHendrik Scheffer1843 The novelist Lidia Yuknavitch tells how once in her youth, “Joan of Arc visited me in a dream—in the dream, I was standing in our front yard and our house was on fire. She stepped out of the burning house and said ‘No one is coming to save you.’” Joan comes to us in dreams. She can do that. And those words. Well, if anyone knows those word...

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I asked ChatGPT about a possible second Trump presidency


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. The White HouseBenjamin Henry Latrobe1817 As I sense the falling sands in my hourglass slipping away, over the past couple of years my focus on politics has begun to wane in favor of the burning questions of life and death itself. These questions and our social lives, our political lives are, of course, not unrelated. But for me my heart is more and more focused on what ...

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A Zen Meditation for Trinity Sunday


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Info board, CSI Holy Trinity Church, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India Trinity Sunday. The old joke has it that on Trinity Sunday the congregations in the vast majority of Christian churches around the globe will be hearing some heresy or another. The Trinity is a passing strange thing. A wonderful attempt at at least approaching the mystery. And, so, perhaps its not a bad thing f...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson the Original Transendentalist


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grave, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on the 25th of May, in 1803. I try to note it every year as it arrives. Emerson was a central founder of Unitarian Transcendentalism. For most of America, Transcendentalism was a literary movement. However, in fact it was a theological and spiritual revolution within American Un...

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Recalling the Romani Saint Sarah e Kali


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Ancient mosaic calledGypsy Girl Mosaic of Zeugma     On the 24th of May, the Romani, or at least some Romani, celebrate Saint Sarah, sometimes called Black Sarah, or Sarah the Black, or Sara e Kali in Romani, as their patron. Like many popular saints in the Roman Catholic calendar, her historicity is shrouded. Some like the idea that her cult in fact came with the Romani...

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My Morning Routine

Lately I’ve been waking up early (5:30am), because I traveled to London for a couple of weeks to lead a retreat, and my sleep schedule shifted. I really enjoy it! Someone asked me recently what my morning routine is like, and I told them: It changes regularly, depending on what I need. That said, I haven’t shared my morning routine in awhile, so I’ll share it here. Please remember that this routine is provisional — it will change when I need it to. Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: Wake and brew some coffee. I went about 6 months without coff...

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Ritual to Greet the Day

Every new day is a tremendous gift. And yet we often take these days for granted, rushing into everything we need to respond to, distracting ourselves, forgetting to feel wonder. Wouldn’t it be lovely to create a morning ritual to greet your day? The purpose of the ritual is to practice full appreciation of the gift we’ve been given, and to set the rest of the day up for wonder. What would that create for your life, if you had a ritual like that? My suggestion is to create your own ritual, not copy mine, because ritual is best treated as a crea...

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Saving Ghosts: A Zen Meditation


Patheos Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Skeletons fromTales of Terror1808   What follows is a Dharma talk by Dr Chris Hoff delivered at our 18th of May, 2024, Empty Moon Zen Saturday morning gathering.  He is one of our Zen dharma teachers at Empty Moon Zen. Dr Hoff leads our Zen recovery sangha. He is also Executive Director of the nonprofit California Family Institute, which provides access to counseling ser...

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About TAO of Light

Yoga is a practice for everyone because it meets you exactly where you are in the present moment. From beginner students to advanced yogis and everything in between, Tao of Light Yoga welcomes everybody at all levels of their journey. There is a place for everyone inside our studio and it is our goal to make each and every student feel at home. It is your time on your mat that is important to us. We, at Tao of Light, will create a space that provides modern comfort for an ancient practice. As both a yoga studio and a sangha, we honor the tradition of the practice while respecting the diversity and individual beliefs of our students.

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