I had a great time last night in Baltimore visiting my friend Laura Rachel, tattoo artiste extraordinaire. Laura and I shared the scuzziest house in all of Akron about a zillion years ago. Then a couple years back Laura flew all the way to Japan to attend one of the retreats I led at Tokei-in temple (guess which one in the photo is Laura). That was a big surprise. She liked my first book and got into zazen because of it.
Back when I shared a house with her I didn't really talk about my practice. I asked her last night if she was even aware of it in those days, and she said she wasn't. Even now I'm a little reluctant to talk about Zen unless someone specifically asks about it and seems sincerely interested. There's no sense in trying to convert anyone. It's too hard. You have to really want to do it.
And speaking of people who want to do zazen, what an audience I had at the Traditional Chinese Cultural Institute in Washington, DC (actually Potomac, MD)! I was primed to expect a bunch of middle-aged Chinese people who wanted to hear about the Chinese origins of Zen. Instead most of the audience was young punk rocker-ish types who wanted to hear about the finer points of zen practice! The kinds of questions they were asking were things I rarely get asked outside of Zen centers. Amazing. Plus they all dragged themselves out of bed to show up at ten in the morning! Thanks!
So far the tour has been going great, but I am really, really tired. Talking takes a lot out of you. The woman who organized my talk in DC told me it's because talking takes a lot of chi energy. I'm inclined to believe that's true. It takes a lot of something! That's for sure! Plus all the dragging around of big boxes of books.
If you want a review of one of my talks on the tour, take a look at Stone Darth's Live Journal page. Yes it's true. I told all those Zen nerds at San Francisco Zen Center that I hate zen. I do. Sometimes. It's important not to love it too much, I think. If you love it too much you have a tendency to get a bit too idealistic and dreamy with it. Hating zen is no impediment to practice. It's what drives me sometimes.
I got two days off. Well, not quite two anymore. I'll be with my sister and my niece Skylar. I wonder if she'll put me on her YouTube show again. Sock Monkey is traveling with me. I know he'd like to be on the show.
My brother-in-law (my sister's husband) is doing up some T-shirts for me. So I'll have those on some of the later dates on the tour (see full info about upcoming dates to your left). Buy them so I can buy gas and eat!