Sunday, June 15, 2008

GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING

I'm up at the San Francisco Zen Center again. This place is getting to be like a second home or something. Or I'm getting to be like an unwanted guest who keeps stopping by and will never leave. But I'm here again anyway.

Starting Wednesday I'll be sitting a five-day sesshin at the Berkeley Zen Center. That should be boring. Don't know how I got talked into that one. But my friend Greg somehow managed to. This will be my second of four multi-day sittings I'm scheduled to do this year. God, how I hate them! And I'm not even leading this one! I'm just one of the grunts on the cushions.

I don't know if I should say I hate multi-day Zen sittings. I mean, I definitely do hate them. But I also enjoy them. The first time I did one I felt like I was embarking on a great adventure. After I'd done a dozen or so of them I started viewing them as a chore, especially when I started having to lead the damned things. Now I don't know how I view them. I have no real sense of anticipation or dread with this one. It's just a thing I'm doing. I'm still waiting for the company I work for (or do I?) to get their stuff together, which is supposed to happen sometime in July. So what else do I have to do? Might as well get some Zazen in.

I highly recommend anyone who's serious about Zen practice to do at least one multi-day sesshin a year. I think a two or three-day one is fine. Somehow the ones I lead in Shizuoka, Japan each year (see the link to your left for details) got extended to four days. And that's OK. But I kinda want to bring those back down to three again.

There's a depth of practice you get into in a multi-day sitting that just doesn't happen otherwise. It's good to get into this depth. But it's also important to come back out of it. Sometimes people get the mistaken impression that the deep stuff is somehow more important than the normal day-to-day stuff. And that's not true at all. Still, try a multi-day one sometime if you can.

But before that, I get to go talk at San Quentin again. That happens this afternoon. If I can, I'll post something about the trip tomorrow. That is, unless I get kidnapped in a prison uprising or something.

See ya(?).

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you do zazen together I'd suggest doing it the Rinzai way. Where everyone is facing each other. That way if someone tries to shank you you'll see it coming.

yudo said...

What I just hate with sesshins is that they're so bloody expensive. I can never afford one (at 300 euros a week-end, you get to think twice about it). If I had enough students, I might do one, but i have far too few, and I don't care for having more. (Or do I?)

Anonymous said...

Hungry ghosts haunt the comment section, ooOOooo, urgh? NEED MORE HARDCORE ZEN!!

As for getting shanked, anon #1, it is a matter of preference but, some people like a shanking from behind... lol.. :)

Jinzang said...

If I ever do a sesshin, it won't be the sitting that will bother me, it will be the damned oryoki. I once did a retreat at Karme Choling, where they also do oryoki, After a monk explained all the protocol that goes with oryoki, I let out a big sigh, and the monk gave me a dirty look. I lost ten pounds during the retreat. Couldn't gobble my food down fast enough with chopsticks.

Anonymous said...

what's the deal with you zennists and convicts? you all are fucking nuts. I'm a tibetan buddhist and you wouldn't catch me near an incarcerated brother. that shit would truly bother me.

Mysterion said...

Brad sed:
"I'm just one of the grunts on the cushions."

Congrats - an ordinary monk.

I will try to make it by except my boss is in AZ and I have to answer phones all week. If I miss you, you won't miss a thing.

Cheers,
Chas

Mountaintop Rebel said...

"what's the deal with you zennists and convicts? you all are fucking nuts. I'm a tibetan buddhist and you wouldn't catch me near an incarcerated brother. that shit would truly bother me."

So, what, are Tibetan Buddhists only cool with ex-cons when those ex-cons were locked up by the Chinese or something?

Anonymous said...

"what's the deal with you zennists and convicts? you all are fucking nuts. I'm a tibetan buddhist and you wouldn't catch me near an incarcerated brother. that shit would truly bother me."

I think its the "save all sentient beings bit", not just the ones i feel are worthy of my attention.

Regina said...

I would hope that you increase the days of the sesshin in Shizuoka one day.

Harry said...

I love that term "Tibetan Buddhist". What school of Budhhism? What lineage? What sect? What Lama?

"Why, Tibetan!"... the whole package.

Regards,

Hally (Mistah Japanese Buddhist-San).

Jinzang said...

I'm a tibetan buddhist and you wouldn't catch me near an incarcerated brother.

Go away, troll.

ローレン / Rōren / Lauren said...

I'm thinking of doing the Shizuoka thing this year. What should I be sure to bring? What do I need to wear. Does anyone have one of those camp lists for a sesshin that lists everything I'll need (except for name tags on my zafu). Do I need to bring my own Zafu?!

Oh heck, if a sesshin is so boring and painful, maybe I'll just stay home and spend the money on a Wii Fit.

courtesy flush said...

Were you able to work in an exegesis of "A Boy Named Sue?"

(With all due respect to Kiss' Alive!, Cash at S.Q. is the Best. Live Album. Ever.)

Mysterion said...

Blogger / Rōren / Lauren said...
"I'm thinking of doing the Shizuoka thing this year."

1) bring yourself.
2) comfy (elastic) exercise outfit.
3) Samue optional - even pretentious

HERE is a link that you do not need.

"Good is restraint in body,
restraint in speech is good,
good is restraint in mind,
everywhere restraint is good;
the bhikkhu everywhere restrained
is from all dukkha free."

Dharmapada no. 361

ローレン / Rōren / Lauren said...

Myst,

Is jinbei too casual. I pick up a set last time I was going through Narita. Perhaps it is too revealing (particularly the tribal shark tattoo on my leg)?

I would prefer my Aikido dogi to a Nike track suit, but I don't want to appear too weird.

Thanks in advance for any more guidance.

-Lauren

zen girl said...

Samue? Pretentious? Try the $30-$40 ones on eBay if you're so inclined. The $130 ones in the above link seem a bit steep to me. Some people like official Zen clothes, some don't. How is it pretentious to wear particular clothes if the wearer feels that those clothes show a greater respect for Zen tradition?

plaudertasche said...

PLEASSSS Blog about your San Quentin experience! Great that you do that.

plaudertasche said...

Oh, one more thing: I agree, best,hardest and surprising thing I ever done: a 5 day silent retreat. Not sure if it has to be Sesshine Style retreat though.
Next stop for me: 10 day silent retreat...ohwei. My biggest concern is that I will be SOOO sore from sitting and in pain a lot. BUT, it's part of the fun I guess :)
BTW, this is free, I KNOW how crazy are those people not cashing in?! Bastards, taking away the excuse not to do it :)
www.dhamma.org
Vipassana Meditation Centers

Mysterion said...

Short pants are not perfect...

consider something LIKE this - e.g. not exactly this.

In theory, everyone is back-to-back facing a wall. Consider this picture from a few years ago (notice sweat pants).

Cheers,
O-Cha-Ryu

Mountaintop Rebel said...

I am going to say, just for the record, I think it's awesome that Brad goes and does work at prisons. Seriously, mad respect for that. I'm sure the "Tibetan" dude represents the way a lot of Buddhists feel about the incarcerated, like they're somehow lesser beings that needs to be treated as such. The truth is, in the US, we live in a prison country. We have a hard-on for building new prisons, sending people to those prisons, and keeping them there. We incarcerate more of out population that any other industrialized nation and many non-industrialized ones, and we've made prison a big business. Now, I disagree with Brad's assertion that all suffering comes from oneself and his tendency to place meditation as more important to making things better than direct engagement, and these both relate to the prison issue in general; but he's taking a huge, fairly gutsy step by doing this.

Unfortunately, in my experience, Mahayana Buddhism in the west often only comes in two flavors; thupka and white bread. It's easy to sit around talking about saving all beings as a Bodhisattva, as long as you can sit at a stupa in Sedona or a zendo in Seattle and not have to actually deal with those beings. So, hats off to Brad.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous zen girl sed...
"Samue? Pretentious?"

Yeah, my dutiful obedient Japanese wife of the last 24 years brought me a hemp Samue hand-dyed in in indigo last year. I wore it ONCE, in California. By the standards of the local Japanese, it was quite pretentious for a long-nosed round-eye hakajin to be seen in one.

I guess humble doesn't include wanna-be monk stuff Mou Sukoshi more than a few hundred bucks.

I dunno, maybe the color was just not right.

sdds said...

"By the standards of the local Japanese, it was quite pretentious for a long-nosed round-eye hakajin to be seen in one."

And you care? Wow.

Jinzang said...

'm sure the "Tibetan" dude represents the way a lot of Buddhists feel about the incarcerated

That "'Tibetan' dude" was a troll, someone who just wants to stir up trouble. Pay no attention to what he had to say.

What do I need to wear.

Ask the group you'll be sitting with. As a general rule, solid, dark colors are recommended. Black t-shirts and a pair of baggy jeans works for me.

Anonymous said...

"BTW, this is free, I KNOW how crazy are those people not cashing in?! Bastards, taking away the excuse not to do it :)
www.dhamma.org
Vipassana Meditation Centers"

They aren't just crazy, they are HERETICS! Don't you know Vipassana is not REAL Buddhism? They probably sit in the wrong posture and maybe even close their eyes. Run as far away from this faux buddhist group as possible. Only zen is real buddhism. Wait, no. Only soto zen is real buddhism...wait...no...only japanese soto zen as taught by master Dogen is real buddhism...no...only zen as understood and practiced by master nishijima and brad is real buddhism. Really real. Exactly how Siddhartha meant it to be...told me so hisself.

Anonymous said...

"Pay no attention to what he had to say.:

HA ha ha!

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
said the wizard to dorothy.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous sdds sed...
"By the standards of the local Japanese, it was quite pretentious for a long-nosed round-eye hakajin to be seen in one."

And you care? Wow.

Yep - harmony is what I care about, not the reaction of some individual. Our sociologist could explain it as tribal, I would use herd-minded. A few older people reduced the comfort level of my wife. No more than that.

If we lived in harmony with nature, we might be entering an ice-age instead of facing runaway global warming. A cold death is nature's way and we chose a hot death instead.

ローレン / Rōren / Lauren said...

A few things to make clear

First off I must apologize for my lunch-break-in-a-rush grammar earlier. English really is my first language. I meant to say....

"Is jinbei too casual? I picked a set up a set last time I was going through Narita [and find them very comfortable]."

Second, I appreciate the tog link, Myst. But why did you send me to the chick page (or were you suggesting ERC004?)? Don't let the name mislead you. Boku ga otoko desu.

Thirdly...was surfing aikido footage on youtube the other day and saw a group offering to "put the 'harm' back in 'harmony'." So maybe a sequined samue is the way to go? :P

-Lauren

Mysterion said...

Blogger ロ / Rōren / Lauren said...

Boku ga otoko desu. (I am a man).

Short pants are not perfect for men or women. In the picture link above notice - 1 dude in Bermudas. unkewl

just my 2¢

If you are small and thin, go for the $99 Samue (Black Cotton)

Samue (Blue Cotton)
Samue is the work clothing of a Japanese Zen monk. Made from cotton or linen and traditionally dyed brown or indigo to distinguish them from formal vestments, samue are worn by monks performing labour duty such as temple maintenance and field work. In modern times they have become popular as general casual or work wear.

Oryoki

Tea?

Meg said...

This is completely off-topic, but I thought you might find it interesting, perhaps even amusing in a remote way.

The picture of you with the Godzilla on your "Sit Down and Shut Up" webapge makes you look EXACTLY like Stephen King. The resemblance is uncanny, even your facial expression.

It was amusing, so I thought I would pass it on.

Roman G. said...

What to wear ?

Our sangha in Wichita is associated with the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. When Elliston Roshi (abbot ASZC) was here a few years ago giving the public zazen instruction portion of a sesshin, he recommended hakama pants for sitting.

As for the Japanese and samue: Should we, as Americans, turn up our noses when the Japanese wear sebiro (Western business suit) ?

Anonymous said...

meg, I seriously doubt your intent was anything other than innocent, and I don't mean to disparage anyone who does this sort of thing (MANY do) with the following comment, just to suggest . . .

No person wants to be told they resemble someone who is considered by most to be unnattractive. If ever you think someone looks like a famous person, unless you believe most others consider that famous person attractive, sharing your opinion with the "lookalike" can only serve to satisfy a selfish desire and possibly (in fact, probably, hurt the alleged "lookalike").

And, by the way, I completely disagree with the King-Warner comparison.

Wendell said...

This blog is silly.

Hardcore Zen is silly.

The I.D. Project's blog is not as silly as this silly blog. Those people know how to blog.

Check it out:

http://www.onecitybook.com

Mysterion said...

If zazen turns into 'what you are wearing' rather than 'you are there,' then it may be time to find another group to sit with.

Baggy pants and one size too large dark colored long sleeve tea shirt or lightweight sweats are just fine...

Hisako brought me the Samue because her maternal great-uncle is a 'big wig' in an elite temple. The Samue had the desired effect on the locals (California Japanese) and NOW, they get it... The 'old monk' and I have been close for a decade.

GET IT??? They were set up like so many bowling pins... and... LOL (keep it a secret - monks sometimes screw with the heads of the haute couture within.)

I am now 46 years a Buddhist.

jox pesock said...

oi.....oi.....
visit my blog
joxpesock.blogspot.com