Friday, January 15, 2010


Just so nobody forgets, we'll be having a day-long Zen and Yoga retreat tomorrow at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica starting at 10am and finishing at 3:30pm. The full info is at this web page.

The morning will be a full Yoga class taught by Nina Mikkelsen, an experienced Yoga teacher who also sits with our regular group a lot. Nina teaches mainly at Karuna Yoga in Los Feliz, but also teaches at a number of other centers and does private lessons and corporate Yoga classes in the LA area.

The afternoon will be a Zen sitting with a talk emphasizing the parallels between Yoga and Zen. I will do a short introduction to the practice first, followed by two rounds of Zazen and finishing with a group discussion.

Some people have asked about our suggested donation. Please remember that this is a suggested donation. No one will be turned away for lack of funds and no one will check to see what you put in the donation basket. But considering what other places around town charge for day-long intensives, this is still a bargain price.

Hope to see you there!


Anonymous said...

Yooza! #1

Harry said...

Yaaahblitz! So close, so very close...


Anonymous said...

3 is a magic number.

theloneranger said...

Help her brad!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robjones said...

Sounds like a great program. My fiancee is big on the benefits of yoga, but has a bit of a healthy skepticism on those of daily zen practice. I'd love to hear the talk. Please record if you're able to. Hope to have you up north; any San Fran or Berkeley Zen Center dates in the works?


Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I've never tried yoga before, but I'm looking forward to trying it tomorrow. Since I'm not very flexible, right now the only pose I can do is "Unbending Two By Four". We'll see how it goes...


Ren said...

Wish I could attend!

Harry said...

Well, Rob, can you nibble your own bumfluff yet?



Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Well, yoga is different than I was expecting. If you'd asked me before what it was I would have replied, "It's a type of stretching". But there's a mental aspect to it that surprised me. Nina took it easy on us, but there were a couple of times where an arm or leg started shaking from being held in an unusual position.

Nina seems to be a very compassionate teacher. At one point she was "making adjustments" on us as we held a pose. She put her hand on my back and made small circles, to encourage me to relax my back. Her touch reminded me of my mother's touch when I was a kid. I think I may adopt a few postures as a pre-zazen warmup.

I don't remember the talk, so it must have been good. Something about the difference between yoga philosophy and Buddhist philosophy, and trying to attain a state rather than observing the state you're in.

And no, Harry, I cannot nibble my own bumfluff yet, but you can if you want. Call me.


Anonymous said...

I very much liked the combination yoga/zazen for the all day retreat
I also liked the yoga for the start of the day and one zazen period before the lunch break, with more zazen after the lunch break
felt good
felt right
I also was brand spanking new to yoga and was surprised at the strenuous aspects of very simple postures
I think Nina is a very gifted teacher to find a way to get to some classes...

Ran K. said...

"Remember, even
if the countless buddhas in ten directions, as numerous as the sands of the
Ganges, tried with all their power and all their buddha-wisdom to calculate
or comprehend the merit of one person’s zazen, they could not even get close.".

(Bendowa, the Nishijima Cross translation, p. 6. (p. 7 on the PDF.))

Ran K. said...

It seems somewhat different from some people opinions.

I don't like to rely on quotes, though I don't understand this one.

Though I tend to believe that what Master Dogen is saying is true somehow, is not just talk.

I find it extremely stupid to try and rely upon contemporary so called "science" - in particular brain research - in order to understand zazen

Harry said...

Rob, so nice chatting to you on the phone. See you Thursday then.



Anonymous said...

How were the gorms at the skypen place?

Anonymous said...

One thousand.

Anonymous said...

Zen and the Art of Justifiable Paranoia

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'll have to call Rob and find out fer sure--are you going to be in this neck of the woods?!!
Hope you aren't just jokin'

slevi said...

Common Anon.. Harry might have been pulling your short leg.

Anonymous said...

Enough already with this
bumfluff-nibbling buffoonery!

(BTW, is 'bumfluff' Queen's English
for American idiom 'dingleberry'?}

Just for the record, even Dogen would
probably agree that pie-holes and
arse-holes should stay poles apart from
each other-- just on sanitary grounds!

Anonymous said...

Bumfluff is a term used to describe lint found in your hairy butt crack. I was under the belief that a dingleberry was a American idiom, for a piece of shit that is left to cling to pubic hair around the anus. Not sure about England, but here in Australia, Dingleberry's (where we still speak the Queens English[or at least a close approximation to it!], rather than the garbled mess that the seppos seem to have made of the beautiful language of Shakespeare), are colloquially referred to as "dags".
Just so you know.

Harry said...

'Dingleberries' are a rare delicacy that grow in the misty groves around the sleepy County Kerry town of Dingle, Ireland.

If you visit those parts I heartily recommend their much lauded dingleberry pie.



anon #108 said...

Yes indeed, OzMatt -

I am in a position to confirm that your understanding of the terms 'bumfluff' and 'dingleberry' is generally shared by the inhabitants of this royal throne of kings (snhht!), this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise, this fortress built by Nature for herself against infection and the hand of war, this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, which serves it in the office of a wall or as a moat defensive to a house, against the envy of less happier lands,-- this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

anon #108 said...


Bumfluff: " Facial hair that is so sparse it can be considered as good as the fluff on one's bottom"
(Urban Dictionary)

is the more usual meaning of the term in colloquial (english) English.

Harry said...

Yes, indeed, 'bumfluff' was used to describe the lacklustre attemps at moustache growing that we used to engage in as aspiring young men.

A 'five-a-side' was the other term for said item.



proulx michel said...

"Fairest Isle, all isles excelling
"Seat of pleasure and of love.
"Venus here shall make her dwelling
"And forsake her cyprian grove.
"Cupid from his favourite nation
"Care and envy will remove
"Jeaslousy, that pois'nous passion
"And despair that dies for love".

(John Dryden)

anon #108 said...

Merci, PM. Tres belle.

alan said...

Since I have no wisdom to impart on the subject of bumfluff, I'll comment on yoga and zen.

I've been doing yoga before I started sitting zazen, so the following observation was made before my contamination by zen think.

It will probably sound trivial (but it was not). After a year or so of doing yoga I noticed that during any given hour or so of yoga I would feel great, I'd feel terrible, I'd feel relaxed and I'd feel like walking out of class.

I would always go through the class and finish off the session.

One day I realized any given day at work was the same way. I'd feel tired, I'd feel energized, I'd feel discouraged etc. And I always make it through the day.

Now, to a small extent, I've learned from that yoga insight not to take how I am feeling at any given moment all so seriously. There are still times, frequently, when something at work overwhelms me and I get carried away.

But its a little less often.

As far as yoga followed by zen (at Hill Street last Saturday), it does pave the way for a very relaxed start to zazen. But soon enough, the old thoughts flood in and its back to the same old struggle.

My own feeling is that for me, yoga before zazen would be a bad idea. I would try to use the yoga to setup conditions for the "perfect" zazen sitting.

And that is a trap I'd rather avoid.

Anonymous said...

Anyone for a "ZEN & POLO RETREAT"
We sit cross legged on horses and chase a small ball around a field...

proulx michel said...

Well, for me, yoga has helped to allow me to sit, period. Concentrating on sitting when you can barely stand the pain is not exactly the "peaceful and joyful gate of Dharma". For me, yoga is stretching the limbs, and being fifty when I started, and particularly stiff, I have gained a lot from it. Of course, it isn't really "yoga" in the religious sense.

Anon #108, I feel that Dryden's poem is either a bit of sarcastic humour, or a demonstration of wishful thinking. Engeland, the "seat of pleasure and of love"? Baah...

Uku said...

Harry and Rob,

could you please send me some private pictures of you doing your bumfluff maneuver? Maybe you have pictures where you're both in the same position?

anon #108 said...

PM - I don't know much about Dryden, so I wiki'd: seems he was a real establishment kinda guy, and was poet laurete by the time he wrote King Arthur(1691), the play from which come the verses you quoted.

I'm surprised you doubt his sincerity. Having lived all my life in England, I can confirm that this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, this other Eden, demi-paradise, this fortress built by Nature for herself against infection and the hand of war, this happy breed of men, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, which serves it in the office of a wall or as a moat defensive to a house, against the envy of less happier lands,-- this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England is indeed the fairest Isle, all isles excelling; a seat of pleasure and of love; Venus here shall make her dwelling and forsake her cyprian grove.

Your just jealous.

amanda said...

Yoga is very much an extension of Zazen for me. When I push my body out of comfort to the very edge of what is possible before "pain," I find it impossible for my mind to be anywhere else.

It's really been great.

Anonymous said...


On a Zen and Polo retreat you sit cross-legged, enjoy the minty goodness of the sweet and contemplate the void at the heart of the sweet.

Does the void create the sweet or does the sweet create the void or are they codependently arising or is it just a marketing trick to sell smaller sweets?

Harry said...

Guy went to the doctor suspecting that he had a hole in his heart.

X-rays revealed that it was a Polo in his shirt pocket.


(N.B. Polos are the Old Worlde equivalent of Life Savers).

Ran K. said...

to anon #108: I thought you were American.

As for Dryden: It seems proulx michel had credited him too high.

Makes me think of the truth in an expression from another island: "Baka no gaijin".


It seems to me there is truly something noble coming out of the cold lakes of England, but Dryden’s "love" is contaminated with self pity. (Just from about the few lines here.)

One other thing I wanted to comment to - I am not sure it is correct that "concentrating on sitting when you can barely stand the pain is not exactly the "peaceful and joyful gate of Dharma"".

I think that sitting when you can barely stand the pain can sometimes be wonderful.

Anybody got a pair of used sport shoes?

captcha: "you think this is funny?"

I think it was meant for bb at 5:15.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your encouragements for zazen practice, Brad.

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