I've just returned from three days of gallavanting in Galveston, Texas. There was lots of sun, lots of surf, lots of camping equipment. My sister and her husband bought themselves an RV and parked down there at an RV park.
Before that I was at the Houston Zen Center with the incredible Gaelyn Godwin. I gave two talks in one day, something I usually try to avoid. The first talk, at around 10 am was about Dogen's statement that:
"Although realization is not like any of the thoughts preceding it, this is not because such thoughts were actually bad and could not be realization. Past thoughts in themselves were already realization. But since you were seeking elsewhere, you thought and said that thoughts cannot be realization. However, it is worth noticing that what you think one way or another is not a help for realization. Then you are cautious not to be small-minded. If realization came forth by the power of your prior thoughts, it would not be trustworthy. Realization does not depend on thoughts, but comes forth far beyond them. Realization is helped only by the power of realization itself. Know that then there is no delusion and there is no realization."
This comes from Kaz Tanahashi's translation. The rest of this passage can be found here. That is, if I didn't mess up the link. Nishijima Roshi's translation is a bit better. But I don't have a link for that, unfortunately.
I recorded the talk and maybe one of these days it'll end up in a podcast. Is anyone listening to these? I think John Graves is doing a tremendous job with them.
The second talk was about my growing feeling that perhaps we really don't need Buddhist clergy anymore -- if we ever did in the first place. The talk was partly based on an article called Church Without Clergy. This article examines the problem of clergy from the Protestant Christian perspective. But most of what the author says could be applied to Buddhism as well.
A lot has been written in books like Scott Edelstein's Sex and the Spiritual Teacher: Why It Happens, When It's a Problem, and What We All Can Do and even my own latest book Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between about the problem of power differential when so-called "spiritual teachers" have sex with so-called "students." I got into a conversation recently with my first Zen teacher about this. And during the conversation the idea emerged (I can't recall from which of us, probably from him) that perhaps the problem is not how to deal with this power differential, but that there is any power differential at all involved. It does not need to be that way. This is a problem that goes far beyond any considerations of student/teacher sex and into the entire structure of Buddhist clergy.
It's a big topic and I've been trying hard to write an article about it. So far I have failed miserably. So you won't be reading that one today. But I think it's a very important subject.
I recorded that talk too. And maybe one of these days it will also end up in a podcast.
I also got to spend some time with my friend Christine Buckley. She writes a blog called Seeking Shama that is very good and wonderful and great. I keep forgetting to plug it here. Sorry Christine!
We ate ice cream and looked at bad art.