I'm in Munich now. Finland is finished with me. At least for now, although I'm sure I'll be back. The Finnish edition of Zen Wrapped in Karma comes out tomorrow. The Finnish title translates as "Zen with Karma and Chocolate Sauce." Apparently the word for karma sounds like the word for caramel -- as it sorta does in English. It's a good title. The photo I've put up is from a photo session in a park in the center of Helsinki for a mag called Libero.
I hit the cities of Turku, Helsinki, Espoo and Jyvaskyla (sorry, I have no idea how to put the dots above the a's). Did more interviews than I can possibly count. The Zen scene in Finland is young and growing fast. It's definitely a tiny minority, but I feel like it's headed somewhere good.
Of course the usual garbage is already going on there as it seems to go on everywhere. People complaining about too much formality. Other people complaining it's not formal enough. No wonder the Complaints Choir got its start in Helsinki! Which is not to say complaining like this is anything unique to Finland. It's just that I met one of the organizers of the Complaints Choir and thought they were cool, so I wanted to give them a little plug.
The formality vs. informality thing is especially funny for me. I think I come out about even in terms of the number of people who think I'm way too casual and the number of people who think I'm much too formal. This makes me think I'm probably doing it right. Basically I wear the robes and do the services when it seems appropriate to the setting or when I just happen to feel like it. It's a waste of time, effort and energy to worry too much about who likes the way I dress and who doesn't. As the old song goes, "You can't please everyone so you'd better please yourself."
Being famous is also a weird, weird, weird thing. Apparently there are already people going thru my writings to find statements to prove their own ideas about me or even -- please don't laugh -- to hold me up as some kind of an authority. Please don't do that. It's only going to bite you on the ass in the end. I'm not the least bit consistent. And nothing I say has any real bearing on anything at all.
It occurred to me recently why I like to trash my own image. It's because you should never do this Zen practice stuff because you think your teacher or the leader of some group is a Great Person. Of course I entered into this because I trusted and respected Tim and Nishijima. Trust is one thing. But to the extent that I tried to put them on a pedestal as perfect people I suffered. Sometimes a lot. Your practice is your own. It doesn't belong to anyone else. Don't give your own power away by tying your practice to your opinions about other people. It has nothing to do with them.
Thanks to everyone in Finland for making my stay there so incredible. Special thanks go to Markus Laitenen for putting it all together, Ilias Biris for getting it started, Anne Rutanen at Basam Books for getting those books out there and making people buy 'em, Mikko and Sike for filming the whole thing, Susanna Kekkonen for fine photos and Thai soup, the folks at the Espoo Cine Festival for screening Cleveland's Screaming! and bazillions of other people who made the whole thing so great!
A much more complete list of people who need to be thanked can be found here.
I'm wasting all the time I have for seeing Munich typing on the damned Internets, so I'm just gonna leave it at that. You ought to go outside and play too!
I'll be in England next. See the link about my tour schedule over to your left for details. All the talks in the UK are open to anyone who wants to attend. Hope to see you there!