Before I forget. I just found out some good news and some bad news (for me). The good news is that my upcoming book "Sit Down and Shut Up!" is now listed on Amazon with a release date of April 28, 2007. I first heard about this, naturally enough, from a guy who came to my lecture in Hastings, Nebraska last night. Publishers, they never tell you nuthin'!
The bad news is that some assholes have usurped my URL, www.hardcorezen.org, and put up some kind of bullshit new age crystal gazing crap there. Don't use it! It's a rip off! I believe I was paid up on that URL and I'll be looking into this matter. Anyone who knows about such things feel free to contact me.
I'm on my way back from Knee-braska now waiting at the Phoenix airport for a delayed flight to Los Angeles. It was fun. Hastings is a little tiny Christian college in the middle of nowhere. It took 2 hours to get there from the Omaha airport. When you're 2 hours away from Omaha you're way out there. One of the girls who showed me around said her high school graduating class had 26 people. Another person I met had gone to school in a trailer in Wyoming with like 3 other kids. Amazing. I mean, I thought Wadsworth, Ohio was a remote outpost of civilization.
Anyhow, I did one lecture and two other smaller talks while I was out there — I sat in on a philosophy class where the prof suddenly asked me to speak and I did this thing they call "Table Talk" where they sit around at lunch time and talk philosophy and religion. Hastings is a happening place!
Anyway, at every one of these talks I got some variation on the question, "Where do we go when we die?" This was kind of interesting because I can't recall the last time I got that question at all and here I got it three times in one day. Obviously this was a big concern. I think it's a major concern of religious people in general. And, I won't lie to you, it was a big concern of mine when I first got into Buddhism and all that. But, oddly enough, it's not a concern at all anymore. That's one of the things I've pretty well answered for myself that I mentioned a few postings back.
At Table Talk, I shared the floor with another guest speaker at the college, a preacher of some kind. He was of the opinion that when you died, if you were Christian, you went to Heaven, which was a real place where the streets were paved with gold. OK. It doesn't sound incredibly attractive to me. I don't like gold all that much. The image reminds me of, like, Beverly Hills or Bel Air on steroids. And I really find places like that repulsive. So every time I hear I might spend eternity there, it sounds like a kind of punishment. I don't want to live in a Heavenly mansion. I don't even like the ones they have here.
When Buddha was asked questions along the lines of "Where do we go when we die?" he either maintained silence or he said, "The question doesn't fit the case." It's the wrong question. It assumes things that are not true. So any answer you give to a question like that is really irrelevant.
To a Buddhist, lnear time is just a convenient fiction. It works to a certain degree. But it's not real. There is no real past and there is no real future. There is just now. You are born and you die, according to the old Buddhist texts, something like 64,000 times a second. Or some big ass number like that. It doesn't matter. The idea is that you are born and die all the time. Where you go when you die is right here. There's nowhere else you can go.
Uh-oh! My plane just got here. Gotta go!