Category: spirituality

  • 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
  • Serve Lots of Wine Beatriz at Dinner a film by Miguel Arteta.  With Salma Hayak, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloe Sevigny.  ***1/2 “Why have an ending that negates everything that happened in the whole movie?” my wife said to me as we left Beatriz at Dinner?  I’d been troubled by the ending, though I wouldn’t have put so strongly.  She ... 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
  • The Wonder of Women Wonder Woman a film by Patty Jenkins.  With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright ***1/2 Arrival a film by Denis Villeneuve.  With Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker ***** A Quiet Passion a film by Terence Davies.  With Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff ***   I’m as happy as everyone else that we finally have a movie about ... 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
  • What’s Your Name, a film by Makato Shinkai, based on his novel.  With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita. I’ve been reading Kobun Chino’s commentary on the Song of Awakening, and the day before I saw this film read the following passage: “When the body of all the buddhas penetrates my nature there is interpenetration and fusion.  My nature ... Read more