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James Ishmael FordJames Ishmael Ford

The Rev. James Ishmael Ford, a UU World online columnist, is a Zen Buddhist priest and senior guiding teacher of Boundless Way Zen as well as senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island. He is the author of several books, including If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life (Wisdom Publications, 2012). He writes the Monkey Mind blog.


Embracing a new universalism
We find our completeness in knowing that we are woven out of each other and the cosmos itself.
By James Ishmael Ford 9.1.14

How to know God
An atheist mystic meets the goddess of love.
By James Ishmael Ford 4.21.14

Gone sitting
A few words on going to a Zen retreat.
By James Ishmael Ford 12.16.13

How to become a peacemaker
Four broad, ancient guidelines for human behavior at the heart of every religion.
By James Ishmael Ford 10.14.13

You don't say
We can’t help seeing through words, but it’s worth trying.
By James Ishmael Ford 8.12.13

A few words in favor of Jezebel
Is Jezebel the baddest of the bad girls of the Bible?
By James Ishmael Ford 6.10.13

Writing to the general
Or, how I realized that copying letters for Amnesty International was a spiritual discipline.
By James Ishmael Ford 4.8.13

Unitarian Universalism's two truths
What is our healing message? To what are we being beckoned when we gather?
By James Ishmael Ford 12.31.12

The taste of awakening
On having a spiritual practice.
By James Ishmael Ford 10.15.12

The Zen koan of Baizhang’s fox
We are what we do. And whatever we are, unless we notice and take corrective action, we just become more of it.
By James Ishmael Ford 9.3.12

The koan
The 'I' of me is a snapshot of something in motion.
By James Ishmael Ford 9.12.11

A report from the front lines of the culture wars
Why my church voted to support same-sex marriage.
By James Ishmael Ford 3.28.11

Stirring up gratitude
In a flash, memories of joy and sorrow mingle in thanksgiving.
By James Ishmael Ford 11.22.10

The demon of certainty and the curious heart
Certainty is the most dangerous demon of all.
By James Ishmael Ford 9.27.10

Crying out for justice
Everything is perfect, and needs a lot of work.
By James Ishmael Ford 9.1.10

Protesting Arizona's new immigration law
We must respond with love to the fear that drives the debate about immigration.
By James Ishmael Ford 6.1.10

On the death of a child
Buddhist wisdom honors a brief life.
By James Ishmael Ford 11.1.07

What is Unitarian Universalist Buddhism?
The history of UU engagement with Buddhism and its growing significance.
By James Ishmael Ford 5.21.07

Buddhist basics
Central concepts in Buddhism.
By James Ishmael Ford 5.15.07