Rain and Rhino

Love Letters from the Hermitage

On Taking Up Koan

From the October 2017 retreat, Furnace Mountain.

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Zen and the Refugee

An address given at an inter-faith service on behalf of refugees at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, KY, January 31, 2017. Zen Buddhist people tend to shy away from settled statements of principle, so when we seek insight and direction on matters of justice we often take a cue from other religious traditions, especially the Desert monotheism of our Jewish, Christian and Muslim friends, whose unique and perhaps greatest contribution to humanity may be their insistence on the central place in salvation history of the marginalized—the poor, the weak, the stranger—and the determination of their prophets to hold the powerful to account for how they are treated.

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In the Fall retreat Daniela Myozen Osho proposed that we look into the story of Sul, who was a great disciple of the Zen Patriarch Ma-tsu. Here is part of Sul’s story:

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“Under an Open Sky”

Thomas Merton, Ira Jack Birdwhistell and the Search for the True Self

Preface Ira Birdwhistell, more commonly known as “Doc”, was a professor of Religion at Georgetown College, the small Baptist school in Kentucky where I myself teach. He died unexpectedly in Feburary 2014, not knowing that he had just been selected to receive the Cawthorne Award for Excellence in Teaching. Tradition has it that the winner of the Cawthorne gives a lecture sometime the year following the award. It was known that Doc and I were friends and that we were both Thomas Merton readers, so it was suggested that I give the lecture in his stead.

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The Fire Altar and the Altar of Practice

Most Ashtanga practitioners learn eventually that in its early days Ashtanga consisted of four series: Primary Series Second Series Advanced A Advanced B Primary and Second Series were almost the same as they are now. The Advanced A and B series were each quite long, requiring at least two hours each to complete. Apparently at some point in the 1970’s Patabhi Jois created the third through Sixth Series that we know today by subdividing Advanced A and B and adding a few new postures.

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