Talk:James Ishmael Ford

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Controversial?[edit]

As a student of James's, I was surprised to learn that he was "somewhat controversial." Nor do I think of him as similar to Stephen Batchelor, aside from being very non-doctrinaire. An elaboration of these statements would be most welcome.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to consider Ford Roshi "somewhat controversial." As one looks at the website of the Zen organization he leads, Boundless Way Zen, it appears his approach to Zen is considerably more "liberal" than "traditional." Obviously he's an important figure in contemporary Zen, but he might also reasonably be considered a "Zen heretic" if not a "A Zen liberal."
Please state what it is on the Website that leads you to say "he might also reasonably be considered a "Zen heretic" if not a "A Zen liberal." If I can understand your criteria, I might understand your application of these terms. Minkfoot 18:01, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
OK, I reread the last article and followed the link for "Liberal Zen." I can see how it seems like James endorses that in a teisho titled "A NOTE ON LIBERAL BUDDHISM." Yet the words are chosen carefully and nowhere does he give an absolute endorsement for "Liberal Zen/Buddhism" over traditional forms. The piece is a description of a current with great influence as Zen is becoming established in the West. He does not claim to be outside that influence, and his tone is generally sympathetic to modern developments, but he does not abandon traditional Buddhism, either. One needs to make a distinction between institutions and teaching. In teaching, James follows the Hakuin curriculum pretty much as passed down by the Diamond Sangha, and otherwise teaches straight Soto. Even in the intitutional forms under his control, he is not more innovative than many other contemporary, non-Asian teachers. So what I question is his being seen as especially more liberal than other teachers in the current American Zen scene. Minkfoot 20:37, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

References[edit]

Deleted the "unsourced" reference. It appears Roshi Ford's biography is available at the Boundless Way Zen website as well as at other locations around the web.