Wednesday, April 08, 2009

WELCOME TO MY LIFE TATTOO (that's a reference to The Who, in case you don't know)

I once saw an interview in which Gene Simmons was bragging that KISS was cooler than any other band because people tattooed the KISS members' faces and the KISS logo on themselves. "When you're in the KISS ARMY," he said, "you're in for life!"

Well here you go Gene Simmons! IN YOUR FACE!! Check out this tattoo from Jorren, who came to my book signing at The Regulator bookstore in Durham, North Carolina on Monday! When you're in the Hardcore Zen Army, you're in for life! Is this the Number of the Beast? Will we all one day be required to have Johnny Crap's drawing for the cover off Sit Down And Shut Up tattooed on ourselves lest we be cast out of the Antichrist's dominion? Who knows? But I think it's very cool.

The talk at the Regulator was groovey. Many good questions were asked. I was nervous as hell because two friends of mine from high school were there. I received Southern hospitality far beyond the call of duty from the most wonderful Lori and Catie who invited me to their pad around the corner to watch the UNC game. Don't tell anyone in Detroit that I was watching it. But if someone asks, I was strictly non-partisan. I'm not a big basketball fan. Most sports sort of confuse me. I think sports are great. They just confuse me.

The talk last night at Chapel Hill Zen Center was totally different. Man, they have a most impressive set up. The closest to a traditional training temple I've seen outside of SFZC or some of the places in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Josho runs a tight ship there! I love the place! I always feel a bit out of sorts in temples like that because I came from a tradition that is so loose about forms. But I have mighty respect for traditions that are strict with them.

I really have to go write a new Suicide Girls article like RIGHT NOW. So I'll sign off here. Next stop is Nashville. Details are on the link to your right. There's a retreat and a book signing. Be there! Then on to the great state of Text Us!

37 comments:

Harry said...

Oh yeah!

Anonymous said...

Harry, You Bastard!

Mysterion said...

At one level, Buddhists kinda don't do tattoos, piercings, and such.

Not a judgment call, when the tattoo is reduced to white ashes, it will just be white ashes.

Anthony said...

I just have to say that the people at the Chapel Hill Zen Center made me uncomfortable last night. I'm sure they're nice enough, but last night, one of the robed ones (I don't want to call him or her a monk/nun, since I don't know much about rank and status of the cloth, and I don't want to describe the person, as I am also not posting this to call someone out) grabbed my arm and "barked" at me when I went to help with breaking down the wall so that we could sit in a semi-circle and listen to some punk-rocker-turned-zen teacher talk. As I understood it, "we are now going to move the [wall pieces?] against the wall in the back of the room" meant 'we' in the sense of those of us able to help. So, I, being near to one such wall piece, moved to begin helping in this process, and this is when the robed one grabbed my wrist, rather violently, and said "don't" in a very gruff and aggravated way. Is this because lay people are not supposed to participate in rearranging the zendo, or why would someone do that?

I wasn't able to stay for tea and cookies, as I was with my mother-in-law, who prefers to go to bed around 9pm, lives an hour away, and is not a Buddhist. Maybe if I had, I would have gotten to know the folks at Chapel Hill Zen Center a little bit better. The professional set up they have there is interesting, and I'm sure I could learn a lot about the details of both monastic and lay Zen practice, but not a single robed person was in any way friendly or welcoming to me last night, except for that previously mentioned punk dude.

All that said, since I live in Durham, less than thirty minutes away, I'll probably still go there fairly regularly, and I'm glad I live in a place where there is actually a zendo available to me.

Oh, and by the way, nice Tattoo. I do think the designs on all your books are pretty cool, but I'm not sure I need the sleeves. Now, I might get a tattoo of some other creature with a "Zen Wrapped in Karma, Dipped in Chocolate" sleeve on its arm. I'll let you know.

Jinzang said...

the robed one grabbed my wrist, rather violently, and said "don't" in a very gruff and aggravated way.

One thing I learned from going to Catholic school is that when people are too strict with their own conduct, they build up a suppressed anger and lash out at the perceived faults of others.

Mr. Reee said...

"...why would someone do that?"

A good question, but perhaps one with no answer. Humans are strange--especially monks--so it may be best not to take it personally.

Like the story of the monk who carried the woman across the creek--leave them on the other side of the creek without a second thought and move on. No need to dwell.

Anonymous said...

or why would someone do that?

Because s/he is an asshole. Period.

ZenGirl said...

Anthony,

It might be worth sending a brief e-mail to the folks at CHZC and inform them that this happened - in matter-of-fact terms like you've described here. My guess is, they do not want to be the kind of place that is unfriendly to newcomers. You'd probably get at the very least an apology, and perhaps even a plausible explanation (maybe?), and in any case, they should know that they need to be more sensitive to the impression they leave on newcomers. In fact, they might appreciate being made aware of it.

For the record, my experience with being new at a number of Zen places (I've moved a lot) is that they are not overly friendly, but not unfriendly if you give them the chance.

The silence that pervades at Zen places can be off-putting and seem like unfriendliness when it's really just neutral silence. Also, as far as I can tell, the robed types sometimes go through a phase of being overly concerned with procedure to a degree that it hinders practice rather than supports it, and/or their delivery is harsher than necessary.

... but wrist-grabbing is uncalled for in the situation you described, so they should be made aware regardless.

Musigny said...

Sounds like a pretty cool group. Interesting that SFZC is the most hardcore in the US. Do you suggest doing a Sesshin there?

babbles said...

That is one crazy tattoo!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your talk. Thanks for coming.

Mysterion said...

If "the wall" you describe was actually a Shouji - Japanese Paper Screen, then I might side with the Abbot/Abbes. Ever since the USA ruined textile and paper making in Japan by outlawing Hemp cultivation, the Japanese paper screens are quite fragile.

Hemp seed makes the best bio-diesel (bio-diesel is bad for Oil Barons). Hemp fiber makes the most durable garments (bad for cotton barons). And the leaf competes with tobacco (bad for nicotine drug dealers). Oh, and hemp is the best paper stock.

green said...

Fiber and Paper hemp is NOT smoking hemp. There are 20 varieties of hemp.

Carmagnola: an old Italian hemp, widely cultivated in the north of Italy. Good productive ability and, above all, high quality fiber. It introduces greater vigor and has a greater yield.

Fibranova: in Emilia, of German origin. Regarded for elevated productivity and for a greater percentage of fiber.

Fibritalia Dioica: new cultivation, remarkable vigor, resistance to wintering, low level of THC and good yield in fiber. Most suitable for weaving. The maturation cycle is mean-late.

Fibrimor Dioica: good vegetation, lowest contained THC, productive biomass (carbon sink) and fiber. Suitable for varied use.

Red Petiole Dioica: Cultivated for quality fiber production for weaving. It introduces colored foliage (violet), contains lowest level of THC.

http://www.giladorigami.com/P_Godzilla_Maekawa_Viva.JPG said...

Calling all artists (deadline Apr. 10, 2009). here

former AIR Artist in Residence

Godzilla

Mr. Reee said...

Yup. I could tell by the way this convo was going that it was only a matter of time before we started bringing out the hemp.

Tattoos. Hemp. 'K. Let's keep it going:

Indian, Triumph, or Harley--which sucks the least?

Anonymous said...

Anthony--

The reason the priest grabbed your wrist is that there's a bit of a trick to taking the room dividers down and people who don't know how to do it have broken them in the past. I know she didn't mean to seem gruff, and would be appalled to know she came across that way.

She's a wonderful priest, and it's a very friendly group. Please do come back.

Alef said...

Happy Buddha's Birthday people!

Anthony said...

Thanks for all the replies. Sorry to steal your thread on this issue, Brad. I really do hope you enjoy the rest of your tour.

I have to say that while the wall was not made of hemp, I do understand the potential fragility of even a wooden or other-material temporary wall. I had actually just come back from a retreat with Brad this past weekend, and when we moved similar walls for a similar purpose (a lot more flimsy in fact, if you ask me), everyone just kind of pitched in and got it done. My primary concern was in what way I had offended this person (whom I will confess is probably not the "she" referred to by anonymous, but I suppose it is equally unimportant now as it was in my first post) or zendo overall. I considered many possibilities, and I suppose I simply allowed myself to get a little upset over it.

As mentioned before, I will likely continue to visit the center in Chapel Hill now that I know it's there, since it happens to be the only Zen center that I'm aware of within driving distance of my home. That makes a huge difference when you have zazen at 6am or until 9pm.

It really doesn't matter too much who is or isn't there to run the zendo in terms of my personally being able to sit zazen. I would definitely say that I don't think the person was an asshole, and in fact I feel like maybe what seemed to me as gruff was a communication impediment, not intended for aggravation. I might suggest, although I don't know if it would make things better or not, making a rule of sorts that rearranging the zendo for any reason (other than moving my cushion on my mat) be done by monastic personnel only.

I was not put off by the silence of the zendo, and in fact I wish other religions would consider the less noisy forms of their own practice. This might seem like a worthless comment (and indeed, it likely is), but I still have mostly Christian relatives, which means on occasion I get dragged along for holiday services, and let me tell you that the sit down/stand up (like the radiohead song) routine combined with lots of aggressive/emotional speaking, and in some cases even offensive music (depends on the church I guess) really make anonymously sitting in silence facing a wall a lot more challenging!

That was a very round about way of saying that it was not the zendo itself which made me uncomfortable, and since that just leaves the people, I guess I should just learn to accept them and deal with it, or some such thing.

I do hope no one was injured by the 3-ton blog posts I dropped in Brad's corner here. Thanks for the opinions, and no hard feelings.

Victoria Zen Centre said...

There is always the North Carolina Zen Centre in Pittsboro http://www.nczencenter.org/ I'll be there next week for the Spring Zazenkai.

Anthony said...

Interesting... I did not know of this. Thanks for the lead!

Anonymous said...

Anthony--

Sorry. I read your post too quickly, and thought it was a she you were referring to. So it was the other guy, and again, he was just worried you were going to break the thing. And I'm not too familiar with leaving comments, so I should have signed mine. My name is David, and I live in Durham too. I've been practicing at the Zen Center for years. Really like the place. But the center in Pittsboro is good too.

David

Anthony said...

No worries. Thanks David.

mtto said...

At one level, Buddhists kinda don't do tattoos, piercings, and such.

I used to think that. But now I disagree. Now it seems to me that the Buddhist way of looking at tattoos and piercings is that they are kind of like clothes that last a little longer. But not that much longer. Saying Buddhists don't do tattoos is a little like saying Buddhists don't do neckties.

Also, there is a Buddhist tattoo tradition in Thailand. I really know next to nothing about it. Part of it is invisible tattoos.

proulx michel said...

Mr. Reee said...

"Indian, Triumph, or Harley--which sucks the least?"

Moto Guzzi...

proulx michel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jawa said...

"Indian, Triumph, or Harley--which sucks the least?"

Jawa

The Pirate Chaplain said...

Looking forward to seeing you in Nashville! The Zen scene isn't as big as, say, Chapel Hill, but I'm hoping you get a good size crowd there.

Anonymous said...

1964 Honda SuperHawk CB77

Anonymous said...

Your SuperHawk is definitely a hinayana.
Mahayanists prefer BMW. (It ain't about
the destination; it's all about the tripping ;)

Anonymous said...

Vajrayana for Jinzang.

Anonymous said...

Vespa for Mysterion.

Anonymous said...

Wood chopper for Stephanie.

Anonymous said...

Gandhayana for Brad.

Fluffy said...

The Chapel Hill Zen Center is 10 minutes from my high school. A seriously nice place, but having known and met several of the people who practice there, I understand where Anthony is coming from. I acutally found a Rinzai group with their own huge plot of land about 5 minutes from my house south of Chapel Hill that are supporters of the local Friends School (my high school that's close to the CHZC) that's a little more hospitable! I didn't know they were there until I moved to Tokyo and started sitting with Dogen Sangha! Maybe I'll see you in the fall for the Dogen Sangha retreat, Brad? Anyway, thought it was cool that you're blogging about my hometown!

Anonymous said...

Damn, someone stole my idea!...Guess I'll just have to be derivative...

Anonymous said...

And to Mysterion...Buddhists don't "do" tattoos?
Have you seen Noah Levine or some of the people who practice at DharmaPunx groups?
I myself have eight (quite nice) pieces and am shortly to be ordained as a Dharma Teacher.
John Daido Loori of Zen Mountain Monastery sports a forearm tat(although I will admit it's from his pre-Buddhist military days).

I see no conflict with Buddhist/Zen practitioners and tattoos. Can you explain your reasoning for your statement, because from where I stand, many Buddhists "do" tattoos.

When the tattoo is reduced to white ashes, it will be just white ashes
-but when the ink is in the skin, it's just a tattoo
_()_

Jorren said...

Hey thats me! didnt know this ever got posted :)