On Thursday night (my frikkin' birthday) I will be speaking up at Ventura College. Here's the info:
Thursday, March 5 at 7:00-9:00pm
At the Staff Lounge next to the Food Service Area
in the Ventura College Cafeteria
It's open to anybody. But you'll have to check the Ventura College website for specific directions. I've never been there myself so maybe we can wander around looking for it together!
Also, on Sunday March 15th, I'll be at Dharma Punx in Hollywood leading zazen and speaking (I am listed as "and others" on the website, uh, thanks...). This will be a monthly thing. Although I won't be there for the April one and I'm not 100% sure about May, my Dharma Brother Kevin Bortolin will lead the ones I can't make it to. The address is 4300 Melrose (between Heliotrope and Vermont) Los Angeles, CA 90029.
My talk at their Santa Monica place on Monday was fun.
My friend Nina found this great clip of Louis CK's appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Click on the words "Louis CK's appearance" for a clearer version of the clip. I've embedded a less clear version below:
It's really true that we take the most amazing things we have for granted or complain about them. The title is "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy."
My friend Bret pointed me to this article on the human brain. Check out #1 on the list, "Subconscious Behavior aka Best Guessing." This is something Nishijima Roshi talks about a lot. We make our decisions instantly and then think about them. The process of thinking can sometimes lead us away from doing what intuition has already told us we ought to do. This is why we sit zazen, to learn to trust our innate intuitive abilities.
Finally, I thought of something during my talk on Monday at Dharma Punx. But I didn't say it because I didn't quite have the words yet. So I'm gonna try saying it here.
The reason we sit the way we do in zazen is to practice stability. If you've ever been on a boat on a choppy sea you know how good it feels to get back on dry land. The experience of the stability of the solid Earth is not just a physical sensation. It calms your nerves. People pay good money to go to amusement parks and get swung around and turned upside down and suchlike all to experience disorientation and instability.
Zazen is the ultimate stable posture. It is the real practice of stability itself. This is why the posture is absolutely crucial. And I'm not referring here to the twisting up of the legs (although full lotus does seem more stable than most other postures, if you can manage it). I'm referring to sitting on a cushion using your knees to form a tripod and keeping your back straight such that your spine balances on top of your hips. This posture makes you feel stable physically and mentally in a way that no other posture possibly can.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009