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James Ishmael Ford

Amercian Zen master and Unitarian Universalist minister, James Ishmael Ford (Zeno Myoun Roshi), was born in Oakland, California, 17 July, 1948. He has a BA in Psychology from Sonoma State University, as well as an MDiv and an MA in the Philosophy of Religion, both from the Pacific School of Religion.

Ford began his Zen studies in 1968 at the Berkeley Zendo under the direction of Mel Weitsman Roshi. He was ordained unsui and later received Dharma transmission from the late Jiyu Kennett Roshi. After leaving Kennett Roshi, Ford continued koan introspection for nearly twenty years with the lay Harada/Yasutani Zen master Dr John Tarrant, from whom he received Inka Shomei in 2005.

In 2004 he participated in the first Dharma Heritage ceremony of the forming North American Soto Zen Buddhist Association. This event designed to be the equivalent of the Japanese Soto Zuisse ceremony was a public acknowledgement of Ford as a senior member of the North American Zen community.

Ford guides Boundless Way Zen, a network of Zen meditation groups mostly in Eastern Massachusetts. Ford is also a Unitarian Universalist minister, and served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Wisconsin and Arizona before becoming senior minister of the First Unitarian Society in Newton (MA).

He is co-editor of The Transient and Permanent in Liberal Religion and is the author of In This Very Moment: A Simple Guide to Zen Buddhism, both from Skinner House Books, as well as two books forthcoming from Wisdom Publications, A Brief History of Zen Buddhism: Tracing a Tradition from Ancient India to Modern America and Sitting With Mu: Essential Writings on Zen's Most Famous Koan.

James Ford lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, Jan Seymour-Ford and family.