Monday, July 28, 2008

COMICON SCORE: Mr. NATURAL!

I'm back from the San Diego Comic Con. While there I scored a copy of the book Comix: A History of Comic Books in America by Les Daniels. It came out in 1971 and featured a lot of then-current underground comics. I had it when I was a kid and lost it long ago. One of my favorite things in the book was the Mr. Natural comic by Robert Crumb that I have scanned and put up today. Click on it and it will open up bigger.

This is one of the first of Crumb's Mr. Natural strips. Here he is clearly called "Mr. Natural the Zen Master." Later on his designation as a Zen Master was dropped. But it's pretty clear that Crumb was referencing Zen teachers with Mr. Natural. Since he lived in San Francisco at the time he started doing the strips, I've often suspected he may have attended some of Shunryu Suzuki's talks or perhaps even had some relationship with Suzuki, Katagiri, Kobun Chino or others from San Francisco Zen Center. I don't know for certain.

Crumb usually gets it right, though, with the dialog he puts in Mr. Natural's mouth. My first teacher, Tim McCarthy was a big fan and I almost consider Mr. Natural himself as an early Zen teacher. He's often far better than supposedly legitimate books written about the subject. In this little strip he sets a very good example.

I had fun at the con. Didn't do a whole lot of what you might call "business," though I did get one deal sorta happening. We'll see if that materializes. Of course, I'm talking about my film biz work, not Zen. I was surprised to see, though, that Deepak Chopra attended the con plugging some sort of "spirituality in the comics" thing. Ha! Maybe I can get him interested in the often talked about but never acted upon graphic novel adaptation of Hardcore Zen.

I saw lots of Jedi knights there. Those robes are so close to Zen robes it's funny. I shoulda worn mine. I'd've fit right in with all the other geeks. Of course, in most senses that matter Zen people are precisely like comic book/sci-fi geeks. They do exactly the same things. And when they get together they act exactly the same way — always trying to out-geek the other geeks.

The thing with sci-fi geeks is that at home they're usually the only guy who's an expert in, like, Klingon syntax or whatever. Then when they get together with a bunch of geeks, suddenly their uniqueness is threatened. The response is to try and recover that uniqueness by out-geeking the other geeks. Totally the same thing happens in Zen places. It's hilarious! At some Zen factories (Eiheiji, Sojiji and all the rest included) it's even institutionalized with stuff like color coded rakusus (bib thingies that Zen geeks wear) to show you at a glance who's higher on the scale of Zen geekdom.

One day when the Jedi knights get their stuff more together maybe they'll have retreat centers and all the rest too. The San Diego Convention Center will become a place of holy pilgrimage. Hey, stranger things have happened. Look at Scientology.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CLARIFICATIONS & RETREAT INFO

Before I forget here's the link toVolume 4 of Shobogenzo translated by Gudo Nishijima & Chodo Cross. It's showing up listed as "Master Dogen's Shobogenzo" (no volume number) and doesn't seem to link to the other 3 volumes. My friend Peter is working on fixing this.

Secondly, someone wrote me an e-mail telling me there was stuff in the comments section recently saying I should take PayPal donations. I've stopped reading the comments section. It's too depressing and troll-dominated for me. But anyway, I wasn't belly-achin' that I need cash. I was trying to point out that when you go to a Zen place (any Zen place, not just mine) the stuff costs money. Pay up.

And speaking of stuff that costs money, I'm pimping a little for the Maezumi Institute Young Buddhists Retreat at which I'll be appearing August 28-31. It costs $200, which does not include lodging, but does include musical performances, talks, workshops, meals and other stuff (follow the link above for details). This is the first time I've ever participated in this kind of Buddhist event (I don't consider sesshins to be events). I'm very curious to see how it goes. $200 is comparable to a ticket to Burning Man or Coachella or Bonaroo or what have you. I think Burning Man is less per day. But it's still a substantial fee to ask for from the 18-34 year old audience they're trying to attract.

For my part, at the Young Buddhists Retreat I'm just gonna do what it is I do. If I'm to speak before an audience I'll be entertaining the way I am at a college or someplace like that. But since they're billing it as a Buddhist retreat, I'm gonna be as Buddhist retreat-y as I can be under the circumstances and hope it isn't too much like a rave or something. We shall see. In any case, I do expect it to at least be fun. Fun is OK by me.

Speaking of fun, I'm at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend on behalf of the people who pay my rent. That's fun. I won't be at Zazen at Hill St. Center this Saturday. But it's still happening. Last I heard they were still deciding if it'd be a one-day zazen fest or a regular day. If you want to know, write me & I'll forward the message.

I'll also be at the Great Sky Zen Sesshin at Hokyoji Monastery in Minnesota August 9-16. But I'm pretty sure they're already fully booked up. I don't know, tho, so if you're considering going please check with them. This is a traditional style sesshin and probably won't be near as fun as the Young Buddhists Retreat.

Monday, July 21, 2008

NEW SUICIDE GIRLS ARTICLE (ABOUT SUICIDE!) and YOGA POSES and MAILING LIST


Got a new article up on SuicideGirls this morning.

I may come back and write more here about it later. But for now, this is the link.

The pic up there is what my friend Yoga instructor Patrick of Yoga Garden in Tokyo drew for me when I asked him what Yoga poses are good for people who want to work up to sitting 1/2 or full lotus. If you click on it you should be able to see a bigger version. It's saved so it can be blown up to A4 size, which is about the same as American standard letter size.

And finally, the folks who are putting on the Young Buddhist Retreat, which I'm gonna be at August 28-31 asked me for my mailing list. I have no mailing list. I feel bad just giving out the addresses of people who've written me saying "nice book" or whatever. So if you want to be on my mailing list, send an e-mail to spoozilla@gmail.com and make the subject heading "Mailing List." I will then construct a mailing list out of the addresses I get. This will be used for the Zen Peacemakers thing and future stuff. I promise you won't hear much from me because I'm very technically challenged.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

14 DOLLAR (Make Me Holler)

So yesterday we had our usual weekly zazen thing at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica (details at the link on your left). I'd say between 8 and 10 people attended. I really don't know for certain. Coulda been as many as 11. I took the money out of the donation box and counted it later. There was 14 dollars.

It costs $240 per month to rent the meditation room space at Hill Street Center. I spend another $50 to $100 per month on sundries used at exclusively or at least mainly by the group — tea, food for the one-day retreats, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. Even when everyone who attends contributes $5 a person, which is what I ask for on the website, it usually doesn't cover everything. This was not a problem when I was working full time for the film company I still rep for. But I'm no longer full time with them, so they pay me a pittance. I'm sure as hell not getting rich off book sales either. J.K. Rowling or Dean R. Koontz get rich writing books. Guys who write paperbacks about Buddhism don't. I don't have any wealthy sponsors behind the scenes either. What I get in the donation box is it, period.

So if you come to sit at Hill Street Center, please keep this in mind. I don't have any desire to make money off the zazen sittings. But I can't afford to pour my own cash into it either. When I could afford to, I did. Now things are different.

I hate to be a televangelist about all this. And I won't.

The bottom line for me with the Saturday morning things is this: I sit from 10 to noon on Saturdays at HSC and you're welcome to join me. The end. I'm not trying to start a movement or even a sangha. But I can't do this for free. It isn't free for me and it isn't free for the people who come join me.

Now, and this is totally unrelated but I was amazed someone put this on the Internet, listen to The Troggs Tapes.

Peace!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

HOW TO BUY SHOBOGENZO

Every couple months someone writes me to say that they tried to order Gudo Nishijima’s translation of Shobogenzo from Amazon but that the only thing they came up when they searched was a used copy for $187 or some such thing. I really don’t understand this. The original run of the books sold out ages ago. That’s what the crumb bums out there are fobbing off as “collectibles.” But new copies have been available as print on demand books for a few years. Whenever I search “Shobogenzo” on Amazon these are the first things that pop up.

I just went and did it again and the first three volumes came up right away. Here are the links:

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4 indeed showed up only as a high priced collectible when I checked Amazon today. But that shouldn’t be the case. I’ll check into it.

In any case, info on ordering volume 4 from other sites appears here on Windbell Publications’ site. It’s also listed at Amazon UK for a reasonable price. OK?

Monday, July 14, 2008

VH1 ROCK HONORS and DYING BUDDHISM

Before I forget, here's where I'll be at the end of August. Should be interesting...

So I went and saw The Who last Saturday at their VH1 Rock Honors thing over at Pauley Pavillion, the basketball stadium at UCLA. It was a pretty amazing show. The opening bands included The Flaming Lips, Pearl Jam, The Foo Fighters, Incubus, and Tenacious D. Adam Sandler, Sean Penn, David Duchovney and the hot black-haired chick from That 70s Show also appeared. She's got blonde hair now, a major disappointment. Each band got about 10 minutes to do their own versions of Who songs.

Flaming Lips were the best beyond any doubts with their medely of songs from Tommy. Wayne Coyne did the thing where he goes into the audience encased in a giant transparent rubber ball. I've always felt some affinity for the Lips. Back in the 80s, my band Dimentia 13 and the Flaming Lips were both so-called "neo-psychedelic" bands on indie labels. Probably sold about the same number of records to roughly the same audience. Wayne and I both worked tedious day jobs to support our bands, both lived in the middle of nowhere,etc. I first heard of the Lips when I saw their name appear in reviews of Dimentia 13 records. Sometimes I look at what they're doing and wonder what would've happened if instead of moving to Japan in 1993 I'd gotten a touring line-up of Dimentia 13 together and really put my efforts into that.

Pearl Jam was much better than I expected. I was never a big fan of that band. Not that I dislike them. They're just sort of there, y'know. Like linoleum. They did some Quadrophenia tunes backed by a string and horn section. The bass player even did a note perfect rendition of John Entwistle's part from 5:15. The Foo Fighters also were pretty OK. Incubus had the world's worst light show to accompany a well done version of I Can See For Miles, not an easy song to play.

The Who themselves were in fine form, although Townshend did stop a performance of You Better You Bet in the middle because he couldn't hear the monitors or some such thing. But he made up for that with a rousing version of My Generation in the style of the version on Live At Leeds. I first saw them live on the first tour they did after Keith Moon died. They seemed so old and tired. When I saw them again in Japan in 2004 they looked and sounded 20 or 30 years younger than they had in the 80s. They're still rocking. On stage that night Roger said they'd keep doing it till they were 90. I wouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, they're showing this thing on VH1 Thursday night at 9. If anyone can tape or put that on a DVD-R, please let me know. I'll pay or trade for it. I don't have cable TV myself. Write me at doubtboy@mac.com

Below is an article my friend Ren Kuroda sent me for the NY Times. Enjoy:

July 14, 2008
In Japan, Buddhism May Be Dying Out
By NORIMITSU ONISHI

OGA, Japan — The Japanese have long taken an easygoing, buffet-like approach to religion, ringing out the old year at Buddhist temples and welcoming the new year, several hours later, at Shinto shrines. Weddings hew to Shinto rituals or, just as easily, to Christian ones.

When it comes to funerals, though, the Japanese have traditionally been inflexibly Buddhist — so much so that Buddhism in Japan is often called "funeral Buddhism," a reference to the religion's former near-monopoly on the elaborate, and lucrative, ceremonies surrounding deaths and memorial services.

But that expression also describes a religion that, by appearing to cater more to the needs of the dead than to those of the living, is losing its standing in Japanese society.

"That's the image of funeral Buddhism: that it doesn't meet people's spiritual needs," said Ryoko Mori, the chief priest at the 700-year-old Zuikoji Temple here in northern Japan. "In Islam or Christianity, they hold sermons on spiritual matters. But in Japan nowadays, very few Buddhist priests do that."

Mr. Mori, 48, the 21st head priest of the temple, was unsure whether it would survive into the tenure of a 22nd.

"If Japanese Buddhism doesn't act now, it will die out," he said. "We can't afford to wait. We have to do something."

Across Japan, Buddhism faces a confluence of problems, some familiar to religions in other wealthy nations, others unique to the faith here.

The lack of successors to chief priests is jeopardizing family-run temples nationwide.

While interest in Buddhism is declining in urban areas, the religion's rural strongholds are being depopulated, with older adherents dying and birthrates remaining low.

Perhaps most significantly, Buddhism is losing its grip on the funeral industry, as more and more Japanese are turning to funeral homes or choosing not to hold funerals at all.

Over the next generation, many temples in the countryside are expected to close, taking centuries of local history with them and adding to the demographic upheaval under way in rural Japan.

Here in Oga, on a peninsula of the same name that faces the Sea of Japan in Akita Prefecture, Buddhist priests are looking at the cold math of a population and local fishing industry in decline.

"It's not an exaggeration to say that the population is about half of what it was at its peak and that all businesses have also been reduced by half," said Giju Sakamoto, 74, the 91st head priest of Akita's oldest temple, Chorakuji, which was founded around the year 860. "Given that reality, simply insisting that we're a religion and have a long history — Akita's longest, in fact — sounds like a fairy tale. It's meaningless.

"That's why I think this place is beyond hope," Mr. Sakamoto said at his temple, which sits atop a promontory overlooking a seaside village.

To survive, Mr. Sakamoto has put his energies into managing a nursing home and a new temple in a growing suburb of Akita City. That temple, however, has drawn only 60 households as members since it opened a couple of years ago, far short of the 300 said to be necessary for a temple to remain financially viable.

For centuries, the average Buddhist temple, whose stewardship was handed down from father to eldest son, served a fixed membership, rarely, if ever, proselytizing. With some 300 households to cater to, the temple's chief priest and his wife were kept fully occupied.

Not only has the number of temples in Japan been dipping — to 85,994 in 2006, from 86,586 in 2000, according to the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs — but membership at many temples has fallen.

"We have to find other jobs because the temple alone is not enough," said Kyo Kon, 73, the head priest's wife at Kogakuin, a temple here with 170 members. She used to work at a day care center while her husband was employed at a local land planning office.

Not far away at Doshoji, a temple whose membership has fallen to 85 elderly households, the chief priest, Jokan Takahashi, 59, was facing a problem familiar to most small family-run businesses in Japan: finding a successor.

His eldest son had undergone the training to become a Buddhist priest, but Mr. Takahashi was ambivalent about asking him to take over the temple.

"My son grew up knowing nothing but this world of the temple, and he told me he did not feel free," he said, explaining that his son, now 28, was working at a company in a nearby city. "He asked me to let him be free as long as I was working, and said that he would come back and take over by the time he turned 35.

"But considering the future, pressuring a young person to take over a temple like this might be cruel," Mr. Takahashi said, after giving visitors a tour of his temple's most important room, an inner chamber with wooden, lockerlike cabinets where, it is said, the spirits of his members' ancestors are kept.

On a recent morning, Mr. Mori, the priest of the 700-year-old temple, began the day with a visit to a rice farming household marking the 33rd anniversary of a grandfather's death. Bowing before the home altar, Mr. Mori prayed and chanted sutras. Later, he repeated the rituals at another household, which was commemorating the seventh anniversary of a grandfather's death.

Increasingly, many Japanese, especially those in urban areas, have eschewed those traditions. Many no longer belong to temples and rely instead on funeral homes when their relatives die. The funeral homes provide Buddhist priests for funerals. According to a 2007 report by the Japan Consumers' Association, the average cost of a funeral, excluding the cemetery plot, was $21,500, of which $5,100 covered services performed by a Buddhist priest.

As recently as the mid-1980s, almost all Japanese held funerals at home or in temples, with the local Buddhist priest playing a prominent role.

But the move to funeral homes has sharply accelerated in the last decade. In 1999, 62 percent still held funerals at home or in temples, while 30 percent chose funeral homes, according to the Consumers' Association. But in 2007, the preferences were reversed, with 28 percent selecting funerals at home or in temples, and 61 percent opting for funeral homes.

In addition, an increasing number of Japanese are deciding to have their loved ones cremated without any funeral at all, said Noriyuki Ueda, an anthropologist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and an expert on Buddhism.

"Because of that, Buddhist priests and temples will no longer be involved in funerals," Mr. Ueda said.

He said Japanese Buddhism had been sapped of its spiritual side in great part because it had compromised itself during World War II through its close ties with Japan's military. After Buddhist priests had glorified fallen soldiers and given them special posthumous Buddhist names, talk of pacifism sounded hollow.

Mr. Mori, the priest here, said that after the war there was a desire for increasingly lavish funerals with prestigious Buddhist names. These names — with the highest ranks traditionally given to those who have led honorable lives — are routinely purchased now, regardless of a dead person's conduct in life.

"Soldiers, who gave their lives for the country, were given special posthumous Buddhist names, so everybody wanted one after that, and prices went up dramatically," Mr. Mori said. "Everyone was getting richer, so everyone wanted one.

"But that gave us a bad image," he said, adding that the price of the top name in Akita was about $3,000 — though that was a small fraction of the price in Tokyo.

Indeed, that image is reinforced by the way the business of funerals and memorial services is conducted. Fees are not stated and are left to the family's discretion, and the relatives generally feel an unspoken pressure to be quite generous. Money is handed over in envelopes, and receipts are not given. Temples, with their status as religious organizations, pay no taxes.

It was partly to dispel this bad image that Kazuma Hayashi, 41, a Buddhist priest without a temple of his own, said he founded a company, Obohsan.com (obohsan means priest), three years ago in a Tokyo suburb. The company dispatches freelance Buddhist priests to funerals and other services, cutting out funeral homes and other middlemen.

Prices, which are at least a third lower than the average, are listed clearly on the company's Web site. A 10 percent discount is available for members.

"We even give out receipts," Mr. Hayashi said.

Mr. Hayashi argued that instead of divorcing Japanese Buddhism further from its spiritual roots, his business attracted more people with its lower prices. The highest-ranking posthumous name went for about $1,500, a rock-bottom price.

"I know that, originally, that's not what Buddhism was about," Mr. Hayashi said of the top name. "But it's a brand that our customers choose. Some really want it, so that means there's a strong desire there, and we have to respond to it."

After apologizing for straying from Buddhism's ideals, Mr. Hayashi said he offered his customers the highest-ranking name, albeit with a warning: "In short, that this is different from going to a shop in town and buying a handbag, you know, a Gucci bag."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rest In Peace, Janwillem van de Wetering

I just got the following news from my publishers: 

Dutch crime writer Janwillem van de Wetering, 77, died on July 4, 2008,
following a struggle with cancer. Best-known for his Amsterdam Cops series,
Soho Press will be reissuing all 14 of van de Wetering's Soho Crime novels
in paperback, beginning this fall.


Janwillem van de Wetering is probably better known to Zen fans as the author of The Empty Mirror, A Glimpse of Nothingness and After Zen,three of the finest accounts of the Zen life I've ever read. Van de Wetering was also an early champion of my work and was helpful in getting Hardcore Zen and Sit Down And Shut Up into print. He was the only well known author to submit a blurb for my first book. We corresponded some when that was going on, but I'd lost touch with him a couple years ago. He told me, though, that reading the galleys of Hardcore Zen got him back into Zen practice after a lay off of several years. His disillusion with Zen is devastatingly well documented in his book After Zen.

I'd always hoped to meet him some day. He lived in Maine, last I heard, and said I could stop by his place anytime I liked and stay as long as I pleased. Too bad I never got the chance. I want to try reading some of his crime novels. He was a terrific writer and highly recommended.

BY THE WAY: There will be a Hill Street Center Parking Lot Sale in the HSC parking lot (where else?) on Saturday July 12th starting at 8:30 AM. You won't be able to park there on Saturday. So be aware.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer to help out or who wants to donate is welcome. I shoulda mentioned this earlier. But donations will be taken all the way till the sale is underway on Sat. morning. I've seen some of the stuff being donated & it is of higher quality & greater interest than your usual yard sale fare.

You're welcome to show up earlier to shop. Just be aware I'm not opening the center doors any earlier than usual (around 9:30). Gotta take my shower and eat my cereal and all that, you know.


ALSO BY THE WAY:
It looks like Tassajara has survived the fire mostly in tact. It finally entered the valley and burned up pretty much everything it could down there. Tassajara lost 3 or 4 smaller and non-crucial buildings around the perimeter (one cabin, the compost shed, one of the bathrooms...). The Zendo, dining hall, kitchen, guest and student cabins and stuff like that survived. Looks like the fire is now out of fuel so it's unlikely any more buildings will burn. The road is still impassable. More info is at Sitting With Fire.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

UGH!

Man. I'm listening to some dude give an explanation of a "Zen style walking meditation." He's telling folks that when you move one foot forward this represents that foot coming into fullness, while the foot behind is in emptiness, and then the other foot comes forward from emptiness into fullness, and so on. Where do people get this garbage? Kinhin, a.k.a. "Zen style walking meditation," is how you get your circulation back into your legs after sitting. That's it. Feet moving into fullness? Give me a break!

The church next door is having a big celebration of same-sex marriage to-do today. In conjunction with that I heard some passerby say that the number one supporters of same-sex marriage are the Buddhists, number two are the Catholics. His friend replied, "I understand about the Buddhists. But why the Catholics?"

Everyone around here seems to like to think of Buddhism as equivalent to comfortable socio-political liberalism. But the Dalai Lama is a stronger critic of homosexuality than the Pope. Me, I don't really care who anybody marries or screws. I'd officiate a same-sex union as quickly as a heterosexual one (i.e. once in a blue moon and only if I knew the people very well). But the idea that all Buddhists would, of course, support same-sex marriage is a narrow minded and confused fantasy. This November there'll even be Buddhists out there voting for — gasp! — John McCain! Deal with it. It's a real shame how so many American Buddhist organizations marginalize or even exclude people of certain political views. It's no better when liberals do this than it is when conservatives do.

Whatever.

For those of you who like that sort of thing, Sue Slater, a New Zealander who lives in Japan and attends the retreats I lead each Fall at Tokei-in temple in Shizuoka, posted some videos of my talks there on YouTube. My Internet connection is so lousy I can't get so much as a single second of one of these videos to play. So I have no idea in the world what they're like. I look dorky as usual in the stills. The talks probably suck ass. But if you're into looking at me talking, there you go.

I've been thinking hard about what needs done at the weekly Zazen things I host in Santa Monica. Seems a lot of people were confused when I said I wouldn't do "Dharma Talks" for a while. That doesn't mean I won't talk or that we just Zen away until it's time to go. I'm just starting to doubt the efficacy of me being the featured entertainer of the morning. The focus is getting to be too much on everyone staring at me waiting for Words of Wisdom that will never come than on the practice. One of the guys who attends regularly wanted me to start doing this stuff 3 or 4 times a week! Gak! I hate being stared at. It's hard work. My typical Saturday involves me collapsing into a heap as soon as everyone leaves. No wonder Brittany Spears went crazy.

Anyway. I'm trying to continue the non-monastic Zen tradition I received from my teachers. I've been watching some of what's happened to the folks suddenly forced out of Tassajara by the fires. Many of them are having great difficulty finding ways to practice in the "surface world" (that's a term I coined, sometimes when you're there it feels like being in a Zen submarine). Monastic practice is a beautiful thing. Long may it survive! Go try some monastic Zen practice! Brad sez: "Monastic practice = good." Got it? (Can you believe people actually quote me sometimes? Then again, I often quote Curly Howard of the Three Stooges.)

But monastic practice is also extremely fragile. The road into Tassajara is a single lane 15 miles long through steep unpaved slopes. You reach the beginning of this road after traveling almost an hour from the nearest town. In order to qualify for a practice period you have to spend the first 5 days in non-stop Zazen from 5 AM till 9 at night with breaks only to use the toilet and eat. It's called tangaryo, and I've never done it nor do I have any intention of doing it. Nobody's there who doesn't really, really want to be. There are strict rules about how to conduct yourself in the valley in order to maximize the effectiveness of practice. Even making unnecessary eye contact is frowned upon.

The rest of the world does not operate by these rules. The practice I learned was based on how to lead a Zen life while continuously dealing with people who were not now and would never become practitioners. As tough as tangaryo is, sitting day after day through business meetings wherein you are the only one who knows exactly how silly the whole thing really is — yet still being a meaningful and situationally appropriate contributor to said meetings is also tough Zen practice.

It's hard to teach this stuff because there are no rules at all and no techniques. Every situation in a monastery is clearly defined. There are explicit rules to govern all social inteactions. The situations we face in life are not like that at all. It's this wild and wooly kind of practice that people like my teachers tried to impart. I have no idea how to do this.

But in terms of the whole Dharma Talks deal, I just felt like me sitting up in front of a bunch of people telling them about my supposed insights into some koan wasn't getting it. It's fun to know the koans. But there are a mountain of books, some good, most awful, that can tell you all you need to know about those. It's something else that's necessary here and now.

Friday, July 04, 2008

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY AMERICA

And let's hope Will Smith can save us from whatever aliens attack.

I'm back in Santa Monica and hard at work on book #3. We will be having zazen on Saturday in spite of the fact that no one in their right mind would stick around on the big holiday weekend.

The fires near Tassajara are still burning away. The place got evacuated almost as soon as I arrived. Those of you looking for up-to-the-moment reports can check out the "Sitting With Fire" blog they set up.

Someone wrote me while I was away bemoaning the fact that people were posting numbers in the comments section of this blog. Like if their comment is #175, they just post the number 175 and the next guy posts 176 and so on. I've seen that too. What is that? I'm not even interested enough to bother deleting it. I'll never be able to comprehend most of what people do on the Internet anyway.

Whatever.

There was a big parade here today. Dah-dah-dah-daaaahhhhhhhh!!!!