James Ford's new book

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KeithA
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James Ford's new book

Post by KeithA » Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:05 pm

It looks like Roshi Ford has written another book, this one about koans. I will drop that one in the kindle, as I like James' style and he writes in an engaging way.

Reading Dosho Port's review reminded me of some of the back and forth we have had here. It will never be "solved", but the topic can be interesting, I suppose.
Ford Rōshi’s new book is an excellent resource especially for students interested in exploring the kōan way AND for teachers and students of just-sitting Zen. My bet is that a careful read will dispel many myths about kōan work. Not that this book is the one and only way to see it – kōan work, like just-sitting Zen, has many flavors and focus points. And as always with us large-brained primates, to paraphrase Max Weber, there is more difference within the kōan group than between the kōan group and just-sitting Zen.
Anyway, looking forward to reading it. :112:

_/|\_
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desert_woodworker
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by desert_woodworker » Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:17 pm

Thanks, Keith, that interests me. I'll try to track it down.

(I know James and have sat sesshin with him while we were students. One famous sesshin here in the desert, we were between zendos -- had been renting, and had not yet bought a building -- and so we sat that week in a large rented party tent in a member's back yard, 28 people and two teachers. The zendo floor was green grass lawn, here in the desert, a great surface for our kinhin and cushions. Our teacher Pat Hawk Roshi was indisposed for that year [cancer treatments and surgery], and visiting teachers John Tarrant Roshi and Joan Sutherland Roshi were substituting for that time while John was still affiliated with the Diamond Sangha. James Ford was Tanto on that tent-sesshin, and I was John Tarrant's Jisha, facilitating dokusan and serving as John's attendant. Someone else was Joan's Jisha, one "Hoshin", someone whom Linda also knows [Linda of this forum]. This was in the month of May, and temperatures soared over 100 deg F in daytimes. We had rented a portable evaporative-cooler that week -- "swamp-cooler" -- to cool the tent and its retreatants, which blew cooled air into one end of the tent. One of my jobs was to keep the cooler full of water several times per day by filling it from the garden hose. All the while during the 7-day residential sesshin, the comet, Comet Hale-Bopp, hung in evening twilight, very bright and beautiful. James was a very solid Tanto. During those years, James also headed a Unitarian Universalist church in town, and for a while rented a church space there to our sangha. I have his first book, and his later THE BOOK OF MU. With regard to koans and koan practice, James' new book sounds a bit like his teacher's first two books, John Tarrant's THE LIGHT INSIDE THE DARK; and, BRING ME THE RHINOCEROS. Looking forward to having a look! Tnx).

--Joe

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clyde
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by clyde » Sun Jun 17, 2018 6:40 pm

I was surprised to learn (or perhaps, be reminded) that John Tarrant was a teacher of James Ford. So I googled and found this worth sharing, not because of the mention of scandal, but because of James' approach to spirituality and teachers:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-is ... 18110.html
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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KeithA
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by KeithA » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:19 pm

clyde wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 6:40 pm
I was surprised to learn (or perhaps, be reminded) that John Tarrant was a teacher of James Ford. So I googled and found this worth sharing, not because of the mention of scandal, but because of James' approach to spirituality and teachers:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-is ... 18110.html
A nice, balanced essay.

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KeithA
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by KeithA » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:25 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 1:17 pm
Thanks, Keith, that interests me. I'll try to track it down.

(I know James and have sat sesshin with him while we were students. One famous sesshin here in the desert, we were between zendos -- had been renting, and had not yet bought a building -- and so we sat that week in a large rented party tent in a member's back yard, 28 people and two teachers. The zendo floor was green grass lawn, here in the desert, a great surface for our kinhin and cushions. Our teacher Pat Hawk Roshi was indisposed for that year [cancer treatments and surgery], and visiting teachers John Tarrant Roshi and Joan Sutherland Roshi were substituting for that time while John was still affiliated with the Diamond Sangha. James Ford was Tanto on that tent-sesshin, and I was John Tarrant's Jisha, facilitating dokusan and serving as John's attendant. Someone else was Joan's Jisha, one "Hoshin", someone whom Linda also knows [Linda of this forum]. This was in the month of May, and temperatures soared over 100 deg F in daytimes. We had rented a portable evaporative-cooler that week -- "swamp-cooler" -- to cool the tent and its retreatants, which blew cooled air into one end of the tent. One of my jobs was to keep the cooler full of water several times per day by filling it from the garden hose. All the while during the 7-day residential sesshin, the comet, Comet Hale-Bopp, hung in evening twilight, very bright and beautiful. James was a very solid Tanto. During those years, James also headed a Unitarian Universalist church in town, and for a while rented a church space there to our sangha. I have his first book, and his later THE BOOK OF MU. With regard to koans and koan practice, James' new book sounds a bit like his teacher's first two books, John Tarrant's THE LIGHT INSIDE THE DARK; and, BRING ME THE RHINOCEROS. Looking forward to having a look! Tnx).

--Joe
Thanks for the input, Joe. That sounds like it was an interesting sesshin!!

I have also met James, and he is quite a character. He really lights up a room. :111:

I have read the first three chapters. They are a review of the Buddha's story and then a review of Bodhidharma and Huineng. As always, well written and a good read.

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Meido
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by Meido » Mon Jun 18, 2018 2:54 pm

Last post split to here: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=397

Keep discussion in this topic focused on the book and its actual content.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
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Madison, WI Rinzai Zen Community [機山龍源寺] - http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
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lindama
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by lindama » Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:08 pm

and this from Dosho Port's review which Keith referenced above...
“…The poetry of Zen,” he writes, “points to the heart’s awakening, that true entrusting into the mysterious reality that is this world. The disciplines, the practices all have this one point—the healing of a broken world, and with that the healing of our own broken hearts (p. 40).”
Warms my heart, I'm sitting around the campire with James, John T, Joe and all. This is where I grew up. Don't miss Jame's article Clyde referenced above... great generosity and love which I share. Fierce practice, this life, this body.

Sending love across the split to Jundo :110: Come sit with us .... Jame's book includes it all, so does Dosho....

If I have learned anything, I trust people to be exactly who they are. Same as all those famcy words like emptiness, awakened, non-dual, not two, etc. Nonin's expression, "impermanence", is another. :111:

Joe, I also have been in sesshin with James, he came to sesshin when I was Tenzo.... many yrs ago now. The secret is.... I remember him as a warm teddy bear. wordless energy.

linda

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KeithA
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by KeithA » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:10 am

Linda wrote:
Joe, I also have been in sesshin with James, he came to sesshin when I was Tenzo.... many yrs ago now. The secret is.... I remember him as a warm teddy bear. wordless energy.
Ha! Yes that describes him well. :)

He spent some time practicing with ZM Seung Sahn and, as he wrote in different book, left because he didn't like kimchi! Silly person.

James gave a talk some years ago at one of our Sangha days. The topic was another contentious topic here in Zen Space: the cat kong an.

There was a total "you had to be there" moment, but he described watching us bow from behind our cushion (as is our custom) and gave this little head shake and said "hmm..i don't know about that" or something similar. It was very funny and yes, like a warm teddy bear.



*I guess this post has created yet another little dust up. Please be kind to each other.

I actually thought the interesting part of the quote in the OP was this:
And as always with us large-brained primates, to paraphrase Max Weber, there is more difference within the kōan group than between the kōan group and just-sitting Zen.
Kwan Um uses kong ans in peculiar way, and in the early days, some practitioners didn't like it and split off and formed their own groups.

Round and round.

_/|\_
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Caodemarte
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:46 am

I believe Ford also worked with fomer Genpo Merzel. If true, I wonder if that is reflected in the book.

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KeithA
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Re: James Ford's new book

Post by KeithA » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:07 am

Well, googling both of there of their names together yields plenty of reading... :112:

Unfortunately, no evidence that I can find that they practiced together in any capacity.
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