Category: religion

  • Only God Is Good A Buddhist Reads the Bible (And Can’t Stop Thinking About It) Ever since I read the story in the Gospel of Mark about the man that Jesus loved—the wealthy man who asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life—I have puzzled over Jesus’ statement, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”  ... Read more
  • Waking Up The Thing We Do Every Day.  Not the Other Kind Though I think of zazen as the foundation of my life, and often think and read about it, I sometimes don’t want to do it when I wake up first thing in the morning.  I feel slightly afraid.  In that waking moment it’s as if I’ve ... Read more
  • Man’s Search for Meaning While Life Goes On All Around When spiritual pilgrims went to visit the great Indian saint Vimala Thakar and unexpectedly got to see her, they asked her the purpose of life.  “To live,” she said. A Zen Master couldn’t have said it better. When I was in high school I read—with what I remember as an utter lack ... Read more
  • Overwhelmed The Happiness that Takes Some Time to Ripen We had sat down for the reception at my niece’s wedding—tables of eight arranged all around the room—when I realized how my brother had seated us.  It was the three living siblings from my generation—Bill, Rusty, and me, with our wives—along with our sister’s oldest child Tade and ... Read more
  • Why Can’t We Live in Paradise? Reflections on the Words of a Homeless Man At the homeless shelter where I volunteer, I was interviewing a man who was being admitted, and was following the prompts of a questionnaire. “Do you have any disabilities?” I said. “No.  No disabilities.” “Let me read the list,” I said.  The last one was Drug Abuse. “Yes,” he said.  “Drug abuse.  ... Read more
  • The Dharma of F.M. Alexander The Alexander Technique: A Skill for Life by Pedro de Alcantara.  The Crowood Press.  128 pp. I have never thought of the teachings of Buddhism and Taoism as the esoteric observations of a few ancient teachers.  I think of them as the truth about life.  The first canto of the Tao Te Ching, for instance, comes ... Read more
  • Same Thing Again for the First Time A Few Words About Sesshin I wrote some time ago about my dread of an upcoming Rohatsu Sesshin, and my subsequent reaction to it.  I had no such feeling about our spring sesshin; this was probably the first time I hadn’t felt dread before a retreat (going back 23 years).  The spring retreat is only five ... Read more
  • The Paradox of Desire The 10,000 pages of the Pali Canon  (Most of which I haven’t read) I have spoken before of an Amazon reviewer that I stumbled across some years ago, a woman named Laurie from New Zealand who writes wonderfully informed and opinionated reviews.  Most of them are favorable, but occasionally she gets puckish, especially with contemporary spiritual ... Read more
  • Absolute Belief in Zazen Embracing Mind: The Zen Talks of Kobun Chino Otogawa. Edited by Judy Cosgrove and Shinbo Joseph Hall.  Jikoji Zen Center. Kobun Chino Otogawa came to the United States for the first time to train the novice monks at the Tassajara Mountain Monastery, which had just been founded.  After a couple of years he returned to Japan ... Read more
  • Beckett in the Bardo The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. $15.95. The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me.  Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves for years—I finished the first two, but admitted publicly, in this space, that I gave up ... Read more