I wrote a poem today. It goes like this:
Spiritual schwag, spiritual schwag
Put a bunch of you in a bag
Take you home
Put you on a shelf
Then I’ll transcend
My illusory self
Spiritual schwag is, of course, all the dumb spiritual crap you find in New Age bookstores and the like. Healing crystals, little amulets, those little bracelet thingies with the beads on ‘em…
Maybe it’s because I came into this whole spiritual teacher thing ass backwards. I never really wanted to be a spiritual teacher or, even worse, a spiritual leader. I assume a lot of guys in this game did. That was their childhood dream. They practiced in front of mirrors and wished and hoped and eventually they realized their dream. Good for them.
Last Saturday at our weekly Zazen meeting at Hill Street Center a discussion broke out among the usual ten people who show up concerning how we might expand our operation. I told the people there that I had no desire to do anything of the sort.
A couple of these folks had gone a few days earlier to the other side of town to check out another Buddhist teacher. They were amazed to find that he got between 75 and 100 people to show up and meditate with him every week. How come we only ever got ten? And how come we were still renting a place when we could gather up donations and buy a permanent Zen center of our very own?
But there are problems with this kind of thinking. For one thing, Zen practice is never gonna be popular. Well, never say “never,” right? But it’s not gonna happen any time soon. And that’s fine. Even if 75 people showed up at Hill Street, there would still only be ten who were serious, plus 65 people who came to be entertained. And I’d rather not deal with those other 65 people getting in the way and making a mess.
The only thing those extra people really contribute is extra money. And the only reason you need that extra money is to make a facility that can accommodate those extra people. It’s like a snake eating its own tail.
So far I’m earning my keep through my writing and through my work in the movie biz. I’m happy with that situation. When it comes to writing, I want to sell as many books as I possibly can. I’ll promote that stuff till I’m ragged and run down. No problem. Buy some books. There’s a link right over to your left so you can order ‘em from Amazon. Or be a better person and buy them from your local bookstore. Go click on the link to my Suicide Girls articles ten times right now to make folks think I got a lot of readers. Buy, buy, buy!!
But my practice is pretty much a personal thing. It’s helped me and I’m glad to make it available to others. But I’m not trying to sell it. I sit on Saturday mornings and if people want to join me, good. If not, also good.
The only way I could see myself ever trying to earn a living as a spiritual master would be if I couldn’t get a real job and my books stopped selling. In other words, it would be an act of desperation. While other people tend to look at spiritual masters and ascribe lofty motivations to their actions, I tend to see them as desperate, needy people, a bit like the homeless guys who wash your windshield at a freeway off-ramp and try to get you to give ‘em quarters for it. But, then again, we all do that. We see someone doing or saying something, we imagine what conditions would make us do or say that kind of thing, then ascribe those motivations to those people. That’s why so many folks read my stuff as angry, I think. They can’t imagine themselves ever saying, “fuck” unless their blood was just boiling and assume I must be the same way. Which is my way of saying that even though I tend to see professional spiritual masters as desperate, I’m aware I could be mistaken.
Maybe someday I’ll open some kind of a center. I don’t rule out the idea entirely. But right now I’m not very interested. Plus, even if I did open up a place the stance we’d take would be the same; we sit at a certain time of day and you can join if you want.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I wrote a poem today. It goes like this: