Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BC Report & c.

I did my first talk in Victoria, BC last night. It was very nice. There's a photo of the event to your left. It was Rinzai style Zen in the tradition of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

A couple days before that I gave a talk at another temple in the Sasaki tradition, Vancouver Zen Centre (they don't know how to spell the word "center" in Canada). That also went swimmingly. The talk was styled as a dialogue between me and Eshin, the head of the centre there. That was a good way to do things, I thought.

On the same day I gave a talk in Vancouver at a place called Yoga For The People. Can you get more hippy-dippy than that for a name? No. You cannot. But it was a very good talk. Got some nice questions.

I also sat at a place called Dharma Lab. The main thing I recall about that was the music from downstairs. I think it was Paula Abdul. No, not her. One of those people. Janet Jackson? I don't know. Who's the one with the butt? I also remember they showed Tank Girl and had a dance party afterward. That was fun.

The only talk I gave in Vancouver that I managed to video tape was the first one, at the Centre for Peace. I'll try and get some of that up on YouTube before the world freezes over, or burns to a crisp, or whatever it's supposed to do.

Which brings me to the one question I can clearly recall from last night. Someone asked whether it was truly "Zen" to worry about global climate change.

Whenever I get asked questions about that latest of the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scares, I think about my teenage years. When I read books like The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick, or watched films like The Day After (not to be confused with The Day After Tomorrow), or listened to songs like Electric Funeral by Black Sabbath or Missile Destroyed Civilization by MDC, I believed whole-heartedly and without any shred of doubt that these were predictions of an unavoidable future, that before the 80s were over the entire world would be destroyed by nuclear bombs. With Reagan in office I was absolutely certain it was going to happen.

And then it didn't.

So when I see people getting scared shitless of the inevitable global environmental melt-down I have to take it with a grain of sustainably harvested sea salt. BUT just as songs, books and films like the ones I mentioned above played a role in ending the threat of total nuclear annihilation, so too do the works of art warning us of environmental disaster help in educating people about how to divert that. At least I hope so.

In any case, I've noticed that among people who are concerned about the environment there is a culture of worry. It's as if worry itself is seen as a way to do something about the problems we're facing. If you're not dreadfully worried about this stuff, some seem to believe you're totally unconcerned. But I think it's not quite so black and white. There are lots of shades between worried to death and SUV-driving litterbug.

Worry itself doesn't do a whole lot of good. You do what you can, and when you're done doing what you can you do something else. Constantly wringing your hands about the problem is not a constructive way of addressing it.

It's also important to get yourself together so that you can face these problems with the kind of balance needed to really work on them. This is where practice is beneficial.

And speaking of important problems facing humanity, here's a website I've been enjoying: William Shatner's Toupee.

I'm still on tour with 2 more gigs in Victoria and three more in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Click here to see the full schedule.

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