James Ford

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KeithA
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James Ford

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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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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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
Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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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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A Zen Priest Reflects on the Flower Sermon: Gateless Gate, Case 6 January 16, 2019 by James Ford

Post by fuki » Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:14 am

Once upon a time the world honored one was at Vulture Peak. Before a vast crowd of lay practitioners, nuns, and monks, angelic creatures, and even gods, he held up a single flower and twirled it. Of the assembled crowd only the disciple Mahakashyapa, responded, breaking into a wide grin.

The Buddha, lord of wisdom, physician of the heart, announced “I have the eye treasury of the true Dharma, the marvelous mind of nirvana, the true form of no-form, the subtle gate of the Dharma. This wisdom does not depend on letters, it is transmitted outside all formal teachings. I now entrust it to Kashyapa.”

Gateless Gate, Wumenguan, Case 6

I’ve always loved this little story, one of the foundational teachings of our Zen way. In his anthology that gathers this case, Wumen appends an appreciatory verse.

Twirling the flower
The snake shows its tail.
Kashyapa breaks into a smile
And the world is startled into silence


Pretty much a complete summation of the Zen way.

Of course what that actually is, isn’t aways so clear. I was rummaging around the interwebs and found a number of comments on the case. Among them was a straight forward explanation that this was an example of the Buddha using telepathy to transmit his authority as some sort of mysterious “energy transmission.”

Another commentator offered a much more helpful suggestion that the event was not unlike William Blake’s wonderful pointing in his Auguries of Innocence.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

And I very much like that this appreciation of the moment as something astonishing is not the secret treasure of a single culture or religion. If it is true, it should be accessible, it should have precedent in any number of locations. And it does.

Still, as to this particular event it’s a central image in Zen’s evolved origin story. It is in part a response to the critical Chinese question to the new Buddhists, who are your parents? And it is something more.

The story actually has no analog in Pali texts, or for that matter, Sanskrit. It’s totally a Chinese thing. The core point is attributed to Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen in China sometime early in the fifth century. It is that more in the story of the twirled flower and the answering grin.

A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not depending on words and letters;
Directly pointing to the mind
Seeing into one’s true nature and attaining Buddhahood.

While these various points are a summation of the Zen inheritance, they actually aren’t put into Bodhidharma’s mouth until the beginning of the twelfth century. Similarly, the whole story of the twirling flower has no documentary attestation, as a scholar might say, before Wumen’s wonderful version in the Gateless Gate, itself a twelfth century document.

So, maybe not the words of the Buddha. Or, his twirling flower. Nor, for that matter Mahakashyapa’s answering smile.

And. But. That turning. Here we are invited into a liminal time where history, myth, and something else begins to present.

Whoever wrote the Wikipedia article on the Flower Sermon chose to cite an observation from Carl Jung and C. Kerenyi.

“One day the Buddha silently held up a flower before the assembled throng of his disciples. This was the famous “Flower Sermon.” Formally speaking, much the same thing happened in Eleusis when a mown ear of grain was silently shown. Even if our interpretation of this symbol is erroneous, the fact remains that a mown ear was shown in the course of the mysteries and that this kind of “wordless sermon” was the sole form of instruction in Eleusis which we may assume with certainty.”

Certainly better than telepathy. And I kind of like that straight forward showing. Not unlike the transformed wine and bread presented by the priest at the Christian communion. Or, the offering of a stick of incense at a Zen morning liturgy.

Just this.

But that’s not the whole of this story. There’s also that grin. Something of a Cheshire Cat commentary. A smile. Just a smile.

Like a box and it’s lid. It’s like the moment that follows the showing of the blessed bread and wine – the actual reception of communion.

And in that just this the marvels of past and present. Each absent in that moment. And, each fully present. The flower just as it is. The grin just as it is. They’re independent actions. Full. Complete. And, connected.

The whole world. All of it. Our lives and our stories collapsed in a moment of noticing.

Just this. And from this noticing. From that flower as it twirled. From that smile, that lovely grin. Just as it happened.

An invitation into all that is. And was. And will ever be.

Everything follows, every blessed thing.

meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

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