Amazing Euro premier of Cleveland's Screaming last night. Lots of terrific questions from the audience. Who'd've thought the Finns would be so into Ohio punk? Not me.
Tonight I'm at Balderin Sali, Aleksanterinkatu 12, Helsinki at 6PM.
I've been doing interview after interview after interview since I've been here. And there's one thing I've found myself saying over and over. It's that I got into the practice of zazen because it was practical and useful for me. I did not get into it because I had any desire to be "a Buddhist" or because I wanted someday to be a monk or a teacher of Buddhism. I don't self-identify as a Buddhist or a monk except when it's necessary because of the job that I do. In fact I don't even know if I really qualify as a monk by most people's standards. I use the term because after I took jukai with Nishijima Roshi I asked him, "Am I a monk now?" and he said, "Yes. You are a monk now." His attitude is based on Buddha's who ordained monks by just saying, "Welcome monk."
This relates to my bottom line. I can't remember if I've told this story here already or not. But last year I went to a sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center. I signed up for dokusan with Sojun Mel Weitsman. During the dokusan I complained to Mel about some problems I'd been having with my little Saturday morning group in Santa Monica. They seemed to see me as something I clearly was not, a kind of a spiritual leader or some shit like that. By extension a lot of the people I was talking to on tour or via Suicide Girls and this blog also seemed to see me that way.
Mel said, "What's your bottom line with your Saturday morning group?" I said that as far as I was concerned, I sat zazen on Saturdays at 10 AM at Hill Street Center and the door was open for anyone who wanted to join me.
It was a funny moment because up till then I'd never really thought of it that way. But I said it very easily and spontaneously. That's the magic of dokusan with a good teacher, I guess.
This is also my bottom line with everyone to whom I introduce this practice. It's something that I do, which I have found extremely useful and you can do it too. That's pretty much it.
I didn't get into this because I wanted to try and live up to someone else's bizarre ideas of what a Buddhist ought to be. There have been occasions when I've tried to do that and it made me intensely miserable. I didn't get into Zen practice to be miserable.
I only do what I do to the extent that it helps make my life a little better. I allow people access to my personal story because I think they also might find something beneficial there the way I found it beneficial to hear my first teacher Tim's and Nishijima Roshi's stories.
Sometimes when I complain about my current job people say, "Why don't you just quit and go work in an office or something?" But I've lived long enough to know that no job is ever without problems. And I know myself well enough to know that I'll always complain. Big deal.
But I also know that it doesn't make any sense to simply up and quit your job because it's not perfect. The next job you get won't be any more perfect. I only quit a job if it becomes totally unworkable (that's a grammatically odd sentence but I like it, so I'm leaving it). So far this one has not. At least not yet.
I have yet another interview to go to, so I'm gonna leave it at that for now. Just thought you might like to know.