So I'm back from the 2008 Great Sky Zen sesshin. I wanted to write all about it. But there's a sale at Rockaway Records in Silverlake I gotta get to. So this'll be short.
Oh! Before I begin, I checked my zillions of e-mail when I got home. I saw there that someone posted a thing on one of the YouTube videos of me saying (I kinda wish YouTube wouldn't send these to me):
Jimmy Swaggart, TD Jakes, Brad Warner. Anyone can cash in on religion. People will line up to buy their books without examining the kind of lives that these people lead. Swaggart with his hooker, Jakes with the money, and Warner with the fame. I mean come on, a Zen priest that listens to punk rock music and is into recreational drugs????
I don't really care if this guy thinks I'm cashing in on religion (if so, where, oh where, is the cash? Wish I knew!) or if I'm too famous for his liking. But when he says I'm "into recreational drugs" I have to draw the line. I've been pretty clear that I'm not, I think. If anyone out there is still unsure about it, check this blog occasionally for my recurring anti-drug rants or read Hardcore Zen (I forget which pages, but it's almost an entire chapter). Or better still buy the Zero Defex CD! "Your drugs suck! Don't push them on me! Your drugs suck! Get 'em out of my face!"
Here's the briefest summation of the sesshin I can give you:
Yes, that's right folks, this was the tune going thru my brain for a good deal of the sittings. We did seven days with nine 40-minute periods per day starting at with a wake-up bell at 4:30 AM and ending with lights out at 9:30 PM. Which was, by the way, 2:30 AM and 7:30 PM respectively for me since I came from the West Coast and Minnesota is Central Time. The teachers there this year were me, Tonen O'Connor of the Milwaukee Zen Center, Zuiko Redding of Cedar Rapids Zen Center, Myoyu Anderson of Great Plains Zen Center in Illinois, Rosan Yoshida of the Missouri Zen Center and Dokai Georgeson of Hokyoji itself (where the sesshin was held, in southern Minnesota). We each took one day as dohsi (practice leader), on which day we had to deliver a dharma talk and lead services. Leading services is a challange for me because in my tradition we do very few services. So I've no idea what all the dance steps required are. But Tojun Cobb, resident priest at the Milwaukee Zen Center, helped out a lot with that.
Thirty people showed up including a few readers of this very blog who found out about it from what I'd written. I think three people came solely because of that. Thanks for being there! It was a very nice sesshin.
I got hay fever. At least I hope it's hay fever and not a cold. But, ironically enough, my nose, throat and lungs seem to be functioning much better in the pollution of LA than they were in the wide open spaces and clear air of Minnesota. Maybe I've spent too much time in cities! I'm still sniffling some, though. At least I didn't get Lyme disease from the dreaded deer ticks that inhabit the area.
As in 2007, the best talk was the final one of the sesshin delivered by Dokai. He's a genius. But you had to have been there. I noticed they digitally recorded the talks this time. Maybe they'll get put up on a website somewhere someday. But even if you listened I don't think you'd really get a feel for what actually was said. You have to get steeped in zazen for eight hours a day with a group of people all working and living in close proximity for a few days before you'd really grok it. You hadda be there.
I think I had more to say. But I can't recall right now what it was. Maybe the lingering after-effects of the sesshin. I also made a point of not keeping a journal, which I did last year. If I come up with some more stuff to write, I'll put up another post.