Wednesday, January 16, 2008

CROOKED CUCUMBER and INTERFAITH VOICES

... but not in that order. Yesterday I did an interview with a public radio show called Interfaith Voices. My interview will be on next week's show, from Thurs. Jan 24- Wed. Jan. 30th. Here's the list of the 40 stations we're on to find outwhen to tune in: http://interfaithradio.org/tunein. If your local public radio station isn't on that list, you can check out the story on their Web site, www.interfaithradio.org, starting Friday the 25th. They also have a podcast you can subscribe to by clicking on the purple "add to iTunes" box on the top left of their home page.

When I was up at San Francisco Zen Center I got to meet the legendary David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki and one of my all time fave books about Zen and Japan, Thank You and Ok!: An American Zen Failure in Japan. Go buy them both. He also maintains a great website about Shunryu Suzuki called cuke.com. David was attending the cremation ceremony for Idilio, a longtime Zen Center resident.

I have moved into my new home. But I am still without an Internet connection of my own. So I have to rely on cafes and libraries. Right now I'm in Whole Foods in Torrance using their kindly provided free wireless internet. I may become an expert at finding free wireless internet since my income has shrunk drastically lately. This means I have even less ability to respond to all the nice e-mails people send me than I did before.

I was sitting Zazen this morning and this thought flew by. A lot of people sit Zazen and find their brains full of noise and chatter, then they think that this stuff is a distraction to their "real" practice. No. That chatter and noise is your real practice.

I'd venture to say that about half the questions I get from book and blog readers are some variation on this problem and my answer is some variation on that answer. No matter how many times I rephrase it, though, someone always comes along with a "Yeah, but..." and I need to find a new way to say the same thing. This is fine, since it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. And my various rephrasings of this same answer continue to sell as new books and Suicide Girls articles.

Gotta go look for new ways to make money now. Gotta eat, you know. Suggestions welcome.

Enjoy!

36 comments:

eating dust said...

Hi,
I really enjoy your blog and wanted to share this that I saw on lifehacker.com
http://lifehacker.com/software/wifi/find-hotspots-with-hotspotr-239538.php
free wifi hotspot finder :)

Have an awesome day,
eating dust

Chris Austin-Lane said...

I often tell people that are starting to sit or are considering to sit that it's not a matter of "peacefulness" but of paying attention and of their being some value to knowing what stupid thoughts keep floating through one's mind. It's not that the thoughts' content are so important, it's that knowing you can't go more than 3 minutes without worrying about what you will say when you next see person X. Or what person Y meant in that email. Or whatever it is that keeps you stuck worrying about stupid thoughts.

salvador dali parton said...

ugh. whole foods. i'm glad you're stealing their bandwidth. or whatever.

chadwick is cool. have both books

Charles Blair said...

"Kindly provided free wireless" is fine if it is provided free for customers. Otherwise, it's wireless theft, and can be prosecuted. It's something to be careful about.

kenlayinhell said...

"wireless theft"

That is why entire cities are starting to provide 'not free wireless.' Internet access is becoming like air access, we breathe, we web surf, we blog. @30¢ a gigabyte, cities are finding a way to provide this service for (example) 1/4¢ sales tax or .o1% income tax.

Enron would like to sell you air or let you suffocate. Oh, Enron died? Did they suffocate?

plaudertasche said...

BRAD: "always comes along with a "Yeah, but..." and I need to find a new way to say the same thing. This is fine, since it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. And my various rephrasings of this same answer continue to sell as new books and Suicide Girls articles."

Human Beans seem to be born to do just that: make simple things difficult.

Based on that given, I foresee a stable financial future for you !plastcpen23

Lone Wolf said...

After a long lazy spell, I sat Zazen yesterday and today. I don't know what it is, but there is something beneficial about sitting up straight with my legs in a pretzel, though, as Kodo Sawaki would say, "it's good for nothing."

Let's see how long I can keep my daily practice up this time, hopefully until I bite the big one.

Jinzang said...

A lot of people sit Zazen and find their brains full of noise and chatter, then they think that this stuff is a distraction to their "real" practice. No. That chatter and noise is your real practice.

I think you have to approach meditation practice in a simple minded way. At first there is paying attention and being distracted. And when you are distracted, you return to paying attention. In other words, distraction, bad, paying attention, good. Not that you should try and keep score or beat yourself up about it.

After you practice a while, this becomes too simple minded and the act of labeling some thoughts distractions is more a distraction than the distraction itself. At that point you can take a more relaxed, less dualistic approach.

It's like climbing a ladder. You start on the bottom rung and climb up to the top rung. You don't start at the top.

Bija Andrew said...

That chatter and noise is your real practice.

I think of this sometimes when beginning meditators ask for a way to keep time in zazen. Many of them want some trick to be able to tell when twenty minutes (or whatever) has passed without having to look at a clock. But sometimes your real practice is looking at a clock. That's your mind as well.

ratboy said...

" Many of them want some trick to be able to tell when twenty minutes (or whatever) has passed without having to look at a clock.

I find an egg-timer works great.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

My meditation has become transcendental recently.

mariejke said...

Maybe you saw this before, but have you ever thought about becoming an advice columnist?

LaserJack said...

Brad, honestly, your challenging situation seems to inspire the "quality" of your teaching and your practice quite tremendously! I think you should *really* consider becoming a full-time teacher, what you do is a GOOD thing.

LaserJack

dan said...

Yeah you should be an agony uncle for Vice magazine or something. You'd have to swear twice as much and be way more un-pc to get the job though. Just make sure to include photos of you wearing REALLY skinny jeans and you should be fine.

It's worth emailing them and sending them writing samples etc.

vice magazine

Anonymous said...

"I think of this sometimes when beginning meditators ask for a way to keep time in zazen. Many of them want some trick to be able to tell when twenty minutes (or whatever) has passed without having to look at a clock. But sometimes your real practice is looking at a clock. That's your mind as well."

It's good, really good to see that practice comes back to this place. Away, conspiracy freaks!

--IceBucket

Artaud said...

Hi Brad and zenbuddies,

I got an email from www.urbandharma.org yesterday telling me about this link:

http://urbandharma.org/udharma12/shobo.html

Rev. Hubert Nearman, O.B.C. has spent the last number of years translating the shobogenzo into English, and for whatever reason is giving it away as a free pdf file.

It's an 8Mb download (1144 pages!) and seems to be genuine enough and virus free, check it out and let me know what you think.

John said...

Hi Brad!
I hope that you are well.
I recently came across your blog, and am enjoying it. Thanks for doing it!
A question for you. Sorry if it pains you. Are you still married, as you state in Hardcore Zen?
I have had 2 wives leave me, and recently, a partner of 2 years. I see this as my karma, which I am trying to accept. Zen and sitting are helping.
Thanks Brad. Keep it coming...

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJr2BdUTYkU

http://www.lamathunderbolt.com/largetrailer.htm

Really funny Mockumentary

Blake said...

Why would you want a quiet brain? Really, who wants to be a zen zombie?

OH! Great idea for a movie! Zen Zombies!

Gate, gate, para... braaaaaaaains...

Gerry Gomez said...

Brad:

You did not mention your article in the March, 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun.

It is very good! Thank you!

Gerry

mysteriondan said...

Gerry, how did you get a hold of a copy of the March, 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun?

ator said...

When my brain is really scattered, one thing Ive found that helps is that I picture myself on the beach staring out at the waves while sitting. I usually think of a beach I know in Oregon where I have meditated before, and it's amazing how vivid a picture you can get when your mind gets focused, and then it helps to settle things down. At the same time, I make sure to stay in the moment and not get too carried away.

Gerry Gomez said...

"Gerry, how did you get a hold of a copy of the March, 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun?"

I subscribe, and it came in yesterday's mail. I don't know when that might be available on newsstands.

Gerry

Howard Stern said...

Hi Brad, Why don't you become a radio talk show host?

scooterjonz said...

Why do people complicate things so much? Zen is constantly returning, gently starting over, all the time.

Count the breath, shikentaza, whatever. Count, drift, start over. 1 and what will I have for dinner and oops 1 and breathe and how do people with asthma do zazen, count the rasps? oh damn 1 and I'm really gonna be here for two tomorrow I gotta et those books Brad was talking about and damn, 1 and....

Thanks for the blog you rat-bastard inetrnet stealer punk!

Anonymous said...

Hey Howard Stern why don't you back him with all that money you got. It would be a good investment. Aren't you a TM®. How's the Mahareshi and David Lynch doing

Anonymous said...

@ator:

While I am in no position to criticize your practice you should at least consider that Zazen training should not focus on any special visualization or similar. Other meditation techniques imply special "objects" of your mind, Zazen should mean no special object.

We all tend to develop "our" tricks to achieve a certain mode or state of mind. The problem is: This is not the idea of Zen practice as I have been taught.

Still, it is okay to have any thoughts whatsoever, it is the awareness of these thoughts that leads to practice. But if you are not focussed, that's also practice.

@general audience:

The comments here have been much more insightful than in the last months I think. I still think that's Brad's merit, he made a great statement in a simple post to start with.

LaserJack

friendly neighborhood anonymouse said...

this probably would go better with brad's last post, but oh well, better late than never.

zen really is not this flowery feeling of good feelings and everything's gumdrops and airplane shots.

honestly since i've been actually sitting, the ugly shit about myself i would rather disbelieve in,and push aside bubbles up to the surface. no matter how much i try to not be distracted by these thoughts.
they pop up after sitting in my actual everyday life.
it's not all lotus petals and everlasting bliss.
it actually SUCKS sometimes.
if anybody knows of any good teachers, zen-dos or whatever in the vancouver washington area, please lemme know.
i need a good teacher right about now.
zen aint some mamby pamby shit to be taken lightly. i now realize that a good teacher is essential in helping keep one grounded.

HezB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HezB said...

The instructions for Zazen/Shikantaza as engaged by BW's lineage:

http://tinyurl.com/375gos

"Therefore, we should stop the intellectual efforts of researching words and pursuing speeches at once, and should begin to learn the study of stepping back by illuminating ourselves. (Then the consciousness of) body and mind will drop off from us naturally at once, and our original face and eyes will manifest themselves suddenly. If we would like to get such a situation as this at once, we should do it at once, without any hesitation at all." (Nishijima trans.)

Regards,

Harry.

your_fav_consultant said...

Make money fast now?

You didn't want donations! Ask yourself why.

So, next steps:

1) Register Paypal account.
2) Post on this site.
3) Don't feel guilty.
4) PROFIT!

cometboy said...

"A lot of people sit Zazen and find their brains full of noise and chatter, then they think that this stuff is a distraction to their "real" practice. No. That chatter and noise is your real practice."

I've added this to the set of two other quotes from Brad that have hit home the hardest.

Number one is : "Zazen is boring"

Number two is: "If You can stay reasonably still for the time period you've alloted yourself, you've succeeded"

Thanks again. I'll keep sitting.

Jordan said...

friendly neighborhood anonymouse

I am not a teacher, but I have been sitting for a bit, and I have also been looking to start some type of local Sangha type network here in Vancouver Wa. where I can sit down with like minded people. I have some people that I consider good friends in the area.

My email is in my profile, you will have to remove the spam trap.

Take care,
Jordan

ator said...

Laser Jack:

I hear what you're saying, but who's to say that Im visualizing it? Maybe I really am at that beach?!?

That probably sounds pretentious but my point is that when Im attempting to do Zazen, I sometimes feel like I could be anywhere at anytime. So, while Im sitting staring at a wall, sometimes I feel like Im at my favorite beach, while other times I feel like Im floating in my backyard, and still other times I feel like Im just sitting staring at a wall.

It might not be proper Zen practice, but it works for me so I just go with it!

DaBeiSyin said...

Thank you and OK is one of the first zen books I ever read, and your book is a lot like it. I love your book. Can I be a book groupie?
WTH is a book groupie?

Yudo said...

Talk about funny hats!

Someday, Brad shall have to wear one like that, too...

http://www.zen-occidental.net/photos/ceremonie.jpg