Here I am once again in San Francisco. I have not eaten any rice-a-roni yet. But they tell me it is delicious.
Those of you in the Bay Area will have loads of opportunities to hear my words of Deep Cosmic Wisdom™. Or at least a few bad jokes. And I will draw stegosauruses on your books for you.
The dates are over on the link to your left. Or, if you can't be bothered with that much dragging of a heavy mouse and clicking with your sore, tired, old finger, here they are:
•TODAY March 18, 2009 (Wed), 7 pm - Diesel Bookstore 5433 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618 firstname.lastname@example.org
•March 20, 2009 (Fri), 6:30-9 pm - San Francisco Zen Center Dinner & Talk - 300 Page St. San Francisco, CA 94102
•March 21, 2009 (Sat), 4 pm - Green Apple Books 506 Clement St. at 6th Ave. San Francisco, CA 94118 email@example.com
•March 22, 2009 (Sun), 1:30 pm Copperfield's Books 140 Kentucky Street Petaluma, CA firstname.lastname@example.org
(note that the scheduled gig in Petaluma on Thursday night has been canceled)
I'll also be on Pirate Cat Radio 87.9 on your FM dial (I hear FM radio is in stereo!) at around 2 PM on Thursday March 19th.
Also, Uku Leitinen has put up a whole bunch of very new audio files of his talks with Nishijima roshi on his blog. These were recorded just a couple weeks ago. Listen while they're hot!
Also, also, the folks at the Interdependence Project in New York City wanted me to remind you that I'll be speaking there on Wednesday March 25th at 7 PM. Last time I was there it was a sell-out crowd. So they wanted me to mention here that if you're planning to go, please reserve yourself a spot now before they're gone. That's at 302 Bowery (Buzzer #2), New York, NY 10012.
I've been thinking a lot about institutional Zen and its position in the world of Buddhist practice. I do this every time I'm at San Francisco Zen Center. I'm not a member of the place, nor is it my lineage. But I have a lot of friends here.
If institutional Zen were the only type of Zen there was I would never have bothered with Zen at all. Yet I'm not against it, really. I'm happy that places like SFZC and even the dreaded Soto-shu exist. But it's hard for real practice to survive at a place like this. Hard, but not impossible.
Of course, it's hard anywhere (that's what she said!). What may make it worse at a Zen institution is the illusion that it's not hard there, that it is provided for you at a place like that. Practice is never provided for you. No matter where you are, you gotta do it. Just because a pretty space is offered and there's a schedule with the requisite mean looking people to enforce it doesn't mean you don't have to put just as much into it.
Nor are the big institutions the only place where practice can happen. I get a sense from some of the mail I've received that some people may think so. But that's like thinking you can only be a good Catholic at the Vatican.
My computer is being a little poopy to me today, which is making it rather difficult to type this out. So I'll take that as a sign from God (or whoever) that I've said enough.
Maybe more later...