Wednesday, September 26, 2007

RETREAT REPORT and GENERAL GRIPING

I'm back in Tokyo now after the annual Dogen Sangha Zazen Retreat in Shizuoka, Japan. A good time was had by all. Except for one guy who literally ran away. Well, I'm not certain if he ran or walked. But he left the zendo during one of the kinhin periods and just never came back. This created some problems for us later on because we began finding certain jobs left not done as they'd been assigned to him. So if you're going to leave a retreat, leave. But tell someone you're leaving. Or risk being called an asswipe on this blog.

Asswipe.

A little aside while I'm thinking of it, you must RSVP for the day-long micro-retreats in Santa Monica. In case people show up by accident thinking it's a regular Zazen day, we'll start announcing it's a retreat at the beginning. But if you see a lot of food service stuff being brought in, that's a clue. The schedule, once I know it, is always posted on this blog in the links over there to your left. And speaking of that, you're allowed to help us carry stuff inside, people. I guess everyone's too busy chatting to notice us huffing and puffing and lugging a million things into the house.

The Shizuoka retreat went well. What minor problems there were all came from people who spaced out and did not pay attention to what they'd been assigned to do. For example, five minutes before the beginning of Zazen a big wooden thingy is struck to call people to the zendo. This only actually happened at about half of the sittings and never once happened at the mid-morning sitting. I've got too much on my plate at these retreats to go yelling & screaming about stuff like this. I may need to hire a drill sergeant type for next year.

A couple of people were really concerned about what to do mentally during Zazen. Dogen's instructions in Fukanzazengi just say "Think the thought of not thinking. This is different from thinking." Some people really, really wanted me to give them permission to count breaths or to do one of those Tich Nhat Hahn-isms where you're like, "Breathing in I breathe the thought of compassion. Breathing out I breathe the thought of a pizza with mushrooms and anchovies." Or whatever. Actually the dude who left was the one who wanted to do that.

Here's what Dogen says in Eihei Koroku regarding breath counting:

In our zazen, it is of primary importance to sit in the correct posture. Then, regulate the breathing and calm down. In Hinayana, there are two elementary ways (of beginner's practice): one is to count the breaths, and the other is to contemplate the impurity (of the body). In other words, a practitioner of Hinayana regulates his breathing by counting the breaths. The practice of the buddha-ancestors, however, is completely different from the way of Hinayana. An ancestral teacher has said, “It is better to have the mind of a wily fox than to follow the way of Hinayana self-control.” Two of the Hinayna schools (studied) in Japan today are the Shibunritsu (the precept school) and the Kusha (the school based on Abhidharma-kosa).

There is also the Mahayana way of regulating breathing. That is, knowing that a long breath is long and that a short one is short. The breath reaches the tanden and leaves from there. Although the exhalation and inhalation are different, they both pass through the tanden. When you breathe abdominally, it is easy to become aware of the transciency (of life), and to harmonize the mind.

My late teacher Tendo said, “The inhaled breath reaches the tanden; however, it is not that this breath comes from somewhere. For that reason, it is neither short nor long. The exhaled breath leaves from the tanden; however, it is not possible to say where this breath goes. For that reason, it is neither long nor short.” My teacher explained it in that way, and if someone were to ask me how to harmonize one's breathing, I would reply in this way: although it is not Mahayana, it is different from Hinayana; though it is not Hinayana, it is different from Mahayana. And if questioned further regarding what it is ultimately, I would respond that inhaling or exhaling are neither long nor short.


Next, in case you're wondering, the image on this post is the cover of the new Puffy (I refuse to call them Puffyamiyumi) CD, Honeycreeper. It was just released in Japan and it's fuggin' awesome. Plus the photos in the little booklet make me melt.Here's the new video for the song "Oriental Diamond." Dig the glokenspeil.



Also check out "Kuchibiru Motion" (the sexiest promo video ever created) and "Boom Boom Beat" (with the line "You all wanna see, us act happily, not reality") also from the new record.

I'm staying with Ren Kuroda swordsman extraordinaire and his tolerant wife Hiroko and cute baby Ton-chan (little pig). The view out the window looks exactly like a miniature set from a Godzilla movie. I'll see if I can upload a photo.

Finally, some people talked me into adding the Google ads to this site and the very first one that came up is for the dreaded Holosync. The Holosync sucks. Don't buy it! I'm working on elmininating that ad. I don't know if I'll keep up with this ad stuff if it keeps being for bullshit products.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Call me old-fashioned, but
I prefer The 5.6.7.8's!

Erg said...

My little sister is real into Puffy, but they sound like a the beatles, yes, and the supremes caught in a blender

Anonymous said...

Way too cool...
Here they are on a
Ghoulardi-like show:
Go-Roku-Shichi-Hachi!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Ghoulardi gives me the cramps.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful fun music
Thanks for the update
I was at a sesshin where someone was believed to have died (or been in the process of dying).
One participant pointed it out to the one of the two 'minders' (the ones with the keisaku) And he got chewed out for breaking silence (that's Rinzai for you....everyone is to sit and go for kensho--if someone dies next to you well...
He was helped out of the zendo and then his zabuton was folded in half--marking his place, and then the little slate with his name one it, which also indicated his place, was removed. Later I learned he had been asked to leave the sesshin, because his health was not up to the rigors of it.

Anonymous said...

So much for dying on the cushion.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

While I like a lot of the music Brad /has/ been into, I pretty much loathe the music he's into now. But I'm going to save my copy of Puffy in case my new neighbors start another round of "This Little Light Of Mine."

The 5,6,7,8's! rock, and The Cramps, to borrow a phrase from Rodney Bingenheimer, are Godhead.

Oh, and just to cause trouble... 9/11.

Rob

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Brad said:
"A good time was had by all. Except for one guy who literally ran away. Well, I'm not certain if he ran or walked. But he left the zendo during one of the kinhin periods and just never came back. This created some problems for us later on because we began finding certain jobs left not done as they'd been assigned to him. So if you're going to leave a retreat, leave. But tell someone you're leaving. Or risk being called an asswipe on this blog."

pgs. 212-213 of Sit Down and Shut Up:
The Zen master says, "What about the situation in the zazen hall?"

"There is no one who is even aware of him."

-da da dum(rim shot)

Anonymous said...

mysterion-bot-v2.0:

Danger, Will Robinson! Someone must have
slipped some Orange Sunshine into my
tailpipe! Does not compute! Does not compute!

Ghoulardi is the father of

Paul Thomas Anderson who is the director of

"Boogie Nights" which is about 70s porn;

"American Hardcore" is not about porn, but
is about punk and features an interview with

Marginal Man bandmember Kenny Inouye

who is the son of Senator Daniel Inouye

(btw, smoggyrob is a troublemaker --
he just had to mention it).

Before Kevin Bacon there was Indra's net.

Now where did I put my Beta Capsule
and why is mrs. mysterion-bot so fond of it?

Anonymous said...

Beta Capsule?

And all this time I thought it was a
"Bator Capsule".

Kozan Bob said...

I was all bummed out because my local Zen group is going to shit. But if that video doesn't make you happy, there's something wrong with you!

Anonymous said...

brad - those chicks are hot!! I love how you managed to find a line by them that was slightly buddhist. Kuchibiru Motion is such an overt pubescent masturbation video. no wonder you love them. all you have to do is turn off the sound.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

Full circle!

I followed with interest Mr. Kuroda's martial arts posts elsewhere, and now it happens that you two are acquainted. Ah, it's such a small world...

Pherdacil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aumeye said...

Sexy polaroid.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colinski said...

Ooooh, BUDDHA RINGTONE!

Yeah, those sponsored links are pretty awful.

Anonymous said...

damn those chicks are HOT!!!

Anonymous said...

Jared:
If you're out there--I know college keeps a young guy veddy veddy busy...
I miss your perspective--the blog is missing your ingredient.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
calmly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Darren said...

so i think it's interesting that on this page http://www.sotozen-net.or.jp/kokusai/howtodozazen02.htm

he says the exact thing you say:

My late teacher Tendo said, “The inhaled breath reaches the tanden; however, it is not that this breath comes from somewhere. For that reason, it is neither short nor long. The exhaled breath leaves from the tanden; however, it is not possible to say where this breath goes. For that reason, it is neither long nor short.” My teacher explained it in that way, and if someone were to ask me how to harmonize one's breathing, I would reply in this way: although it is not Mahayana, it is different from Hinayana; though it is not Hinayana, it is different from Mahayana. And if questioned further regarding what it is ultimately, I would respond that inhaling or exhaling are neither long nor short.