Before I forget, check out the new issue of Alternative Press magazine. In issue #231, October 2007, with the band Chiodos semi-nude on the cover you'll find an op-ed piece by little old me on page 26. Alternative Press started out as a local fanzine for the Cleveland punk scene. When they started getting big they gave Dimentia 13 a lot of nice reviews (thank you). Now I got to make my contribution. Though reading the rest of the mag I realize how incredibly out of touch I am with the music scene these days. You kids and your whipper-snappin' punk rock!
I just got back from Montreal last night. The talk at McGill University up there went really well. The previous day I was a guest on a show on Montreal's CBC radio called Radio Noon with Anne Lagace-Dowson. Anne really knew her stuff about my book, which is rare in radio interviewers. I also did an interview with John Maciel of CKWR FM Radio, which was pretty cool too. Those shows generated so much response we got moved from the small room we'd originally been booked into to a larger lecture hall. And even that was standing room only. Gosh. The same thing happened at the Interdependence Project in New York City, the place was packed beyond capacity. Don't people on the East Coast have anything better to do?
While I was up in the Great White North yet another researcher wanted to scan my brain. Last year I got brain-scanned down in the great state of Georgia. So this is the second time I've participated in a study where scientific types have wanted to peek inside the brains of meditators to see if our are different from those of just plain folks. I'm always game for these things. I think it's great that such research is being done and I'm as curious as the next guy to see how it turns out. Maybe my brain is like totally round and has developed a special gland that can shoot out lazer beams or unhook girls' bras from ten feet away or something. That would be rad!
While I really support this kind of research, I wonder if the changes that years of Zazen practice causes in the brain can be measured by MRIs and suchlike. I'd imagine they can. I certainly feel a lot different now from what I did before I started this practice. But I also imagine the chemical and physical changes to the brain might be subtle. But what do I know about brains anyway? I'm like Fred Flintsone when it comes to brains. Ask the Great Gazoo.
Montreal was fun and French. After my brain scan I went with the guy who'd scanned me to sit with the Association Zen de Montreal, a group founded by Taisen Deshimaru. Deshimaru Roshi was a pal of Nishijima's. Both were students of Kodo Sawaki. They used to meet every time Deshimaru Roshi came back to Japan from France. Nice group. I didn't get to see a whole lot, though, in the short time I was there. They sit with black kimonos on, which are provided for everyone who shows up. I've seen other Zen places that do this. It's nice in that everyone gets to wear something very comfortable to sit in no matter what clothes they were wearing when they showed up. It also creates a nice "Zen" type atmosphere to see everyone wearing them. It's probably not a practice I'll adopt because the folks who come to see me sometimes tend to freak out over matters of costuming and suchlike (Calm down, OK? It's just clothes).
I really like Montreal and hope to spend some more time there in the near future. I like places that get cold sometimes.