Sunday, October 16, 2011

Report form France


I'm in Poitiers, France now. Yesterday I ran a day of Zen for 10 people at my friend Arnaud's house here. It was very interesting and very tiring.

The people who attended the event were not zennies for the most part. I know at least one of them had done zazen at a Zen temple setting before. I think the others had done zazen but only as parts of other forms of meditation. Some were students of another guy named Arnaud, Arnaud Desjardins who was an interesting spiritual teacher here in France. He was trained in the Advaita Vedanta tradition by a teacher named Swami Prajnapad. But he also sat zazen with Deshimaru. So he taught that as well. Arnaud passed away in August. So his loss is still keenly felt by his students.

Some others were students of an American teacher named Lee Lozowick who based himself in France. Lee is the author of a book called Zen Trash: The Irreverent and Sacred Teaching Stories of Lee Lozowick. They gave me a copy yesterday. I haven't read it, but I like the title. Lee passed away last year, so his loss is also still keenly felt by his students.

They were a pretty sincere group. I liked hanging out with them for the day. But this was only my second try at improvising a day of Zen Lite for people who were interested enough in zazen to want to do a day-long event but too inexperienced to feel up to handling the rigors of sitting zazen over & over & over & over for the entire day.

Lots of Zen teachers would just say, "Screw 'em if they can't deal with it!" and make the participants do a full-on day-long sitting. That's what my teachers did. That's what they'll do if you go to places like San Francisco Zen Center or pretty much any training center in Japan such as Antaiji.

But I'm trying out something new here. So far the results have been just sort of OK as far as I'm concerned. The problem is that it's too damned exhausting for me to do three hours straight of dharma discussion with a group. So I need to find other activities that will work and still not be too goofy. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

The day before that, Friday, I was the guest at a soirée (literally) held by Giles Farcet author of The Anti-Wisdom Manual: A Practical Guide To Spiritual Bankruptcy. I gave this book a glowing review last year. Maybe I'll dig that review out and put it back up here. Although I think they should re-publish it with a catchier title like How To Ruin Your Spiritual Life and a funnier cover.

I gotta run. But I've included some photos from France. The first is to prove to my friends in Montreal that the stop signs here in France say "stop" not "arret." And that Kentucky Fried Chicken is called KFC here, not PFK*. The final photo is to prove to the world that there is no such thing on the French McDonald's menu as a Royale With Cheese. But there are several sandwiches called "Royal" including the "Royal-o-Fish" and the "Royal Deluxe."

*Actually everybody in Montreal knows this already. So the photos are provided for them to show the language police up there.

39 comments:

an3drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
an3drew said...

"The problem is that it's too damned exhausting for me to do three hours straight of dharma discussion with a group."

that's the whole problem with zen, they expect you do to all the work and it's hugely draining for very little or no or negative reward.

usually negative

i

have

to

say !


the

moment
you
stop

providing

input

it

all

falls

away

they

are

too

slack

to

do

the

work

themselves and now

just hang

about

on

message

boards/blogs

like

this

shitting

over

anything
of
sense !

an3drew said...

it's

basically

too

much

work

for

too

little

reward

who

gives
a
fuck ?

i'm

just

going


to

look

at

the

southern

cross !

an3drew said...

zen


is


one


non-


economic


soup


and


tainted


at


that !

Anonymous Bob said...

Brad, Thank goodness you found a few good places to eat in that culinary back-water.

Captcha : rabil : I kid you not

anon #108 said...

So Jules and Vincent... were mistaken...or kidding... What?? I'm confused.

Mm-mm-mm.

Hi AB! Wondered where you'd got to :)

anon #108 said...

...Still confused...

Mysterion said...

I'll have a Royal with Cheese...

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous Bob, I did not eat at those places!

Anonymous Bob said...

Hi 108.
I've been around..
I guiltily enjoyed reading about the latest Jundo flare-up.
That guy is a pisser!
Of course I mean that in a positive, non-harmful way. :/

CAPTCHA :
ackgent
I
kid
you
not

Anonymous Bob said...

Hi Brad. Haha. I'm sorry.. I was just joking. I know you don't eat fried chicken or cow meat with Cheese. I was just a little amazed to see those "restaurants" in Poitiers, France is all.

HCZ Moderator said...

The comments area is shared space. Please keep comments and typography concise and horizontal.

Fred said...

zenburgers

Fred said...

Ego or brain configuration, Andy?

Some autists cannot drive because
they can't tell left from right or
far from close. So horizontal might
be a problem for some while writing.

Uncle Willie said...

I like my comments the same way that I like my women...concise and horizontal.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Devote each day to the object then in time and every evening will find something done.

Korey said...

Brad, what if someone spent years of their past accumulating negative karma from shitty descisions and acts they committed while using their own ego to hide from reality, and after taking on zazen practice for awhile they gradually realize they have less and less delusions to shield them from the truth. All the hideous revelations of what they have done in the past are bubbling up to the surface and it is tearing their conscience apart. What the hell do they do man?

an3drew said...

I apologize. Will keep within the rules in the future.

Sort of an attention whore, I am. (If I'm being 100% honest)

BD said...

You bet the language cops here in Montreal choke everytime they see this. There is more english in use in spoken French in France than here to be sure.
Thanks !

Fred said...

Gudo says that poof the
subconscious comes up in zazen
causing agitation and you let it
float away.

Love yourself the way it is.

Khru said...

This is probably the best and greatest comment thread I've ever seen on Bradley's blog...

Doug said...

I'll buy that for a Dollar, er Euro.

Captcha: Ingles, no joke. :-)

laporie said...

I'd be more curious to see what was written on stop signs in Japan, Israel, Netherlands, Finland.
The French ones have an air of déjà vu...
Anick from Montreal

Blake said...

We've started doing a one-day Foundations of Zen retreat that sounds a lot like what you did. Let me know if you are interested in our syllabus. I can email it to you. It seemed really well received.

mekong46 said...

How can you ask more from a teacher? He even illuminates the relative veracity of popular film dialog. Thank you Warner. If you ever absolutely have to use one of those highly exotic Mysterious East names, I would dump your's (what is it? Go Go?)and insist on "Duh Duh." Or maybe "Bijou."

tattoozen said...

The Sesshin lite thing might work well if you just advertise it as a half day affair. Perhaps a sitting period, talk, sitting and then lunch and thats it?

I know a guy who had a tattoo shop in Canada called Point Saint Tattoo for 20 years, and when he repainted the building they insisted he paint the sign to say "Tattouage".

Brad Warner said...

Blake, send me that syllabus FAST! I have a few more one-day things coming up before I leave Europe!

Brad Warner said...

Korey said:
Brad, what if someone spent years of their past accumulating negative karma from shitty descisions and acts they committed while using their own ego to hide from reality, and after taking on zazen practice for awhile they gradually realize they have less and less delusions to shield them from the truth. All the hideous revelations of what they have done in the past are bubbling up to the surface and it is tearing their conscience apart. What the hell do they do man?

You and me both, brother!

Sometimes there's something you can do, like apologize. But often that doesn't help. Circumstances can be complex. There are situations where it's better to let stuff go than try to re-involve yourself.

Guilt is a tough one to work with. Mostly you just have to sit with it. If you can be very quiet, what you need to do sometimes becomes apparent.

Ran K. said...

“Although I think they should re-publish it with a catchier title like How To Ruin Your Spiritual Life and a funnier cover”, - that's cheap.

merciless said...

Warner, Do you realize you repeated the phrase, "So his loss is still keenly felt by his students" twice? Someone more cynical than me could read that as a play between the opposite and intended meaning of the statement.

Doug said...

Wow, the comment thread sure looks a lot better. Just saying. :)

@Korey: Speaking from experience, I've had to overcome intense feelings of guilt over stuff I did in my teens and twenties.

In addition to Brad's advice, you might also consider Ven. Thannisaro's advice on the healing power of the precepts, or you might also take up the nembutsu as well.

I took up the nembutsu myself about 6 years ago, and later took up the precepts after my baby girl was born.

Or somehow do all three (precepts, meditation and/or nembutsu). Choose what seems suitable to you. Good luck!

Doug said...

P.S. One other quote from Rev. Tagawa's book "Living Yogacara" which seemed appropriate to Korey's question:

Nonetheless, we still have the capability of saying to ourselves “this isn’t a good idea,” and from this moment forth, being to recreate ourselves as new beings. Indolence is transformed to diligence, and laziness is turned into zeal…Despite the fact that our present self has been created from our past activities and experiences, the past is still the past. We are now actively creating a future that has a different quality from this past, and it will be the focus of our experience henceforth. (pg 92, trans. Prof. Charles A.C. Muller)

kavin hill said...

He was trained in the Advaita Vedanta tradition by a teacher named Swami Prajnapad. But he also sat zazen with Deshimaru. So he taught that as well. Arnaud passed away in August. So his loss is still keenly

Kev said...

Deep bows for the compassion of Zen-Lite! I guess people can also sit non-lotus now?

Good news for the not so able bodied :o)

Fred said...

Apologize to the people who you
violated when you you were clinging
to various aspects of the ego.
Watching the self to forget the
self, you see the guilt arising
and you let it go.

Krishnamurti would tell you to be
with the guilt 100%, explore the
phenomena, embrace it and seeing it
clearly it will drop away.

Brad Warner said...

Kev said:
Deep bows for the compassion of Zen-Lite! I guess people can also sit non-lotus now?

I have never said people can only do zazen in the lotus posture. A lot of people seem to think I've said that. But only because they don't read very carefully.

Just felt I ought to put that out there.

The lotus posture, to me, means "full lotus posture." That is something you do with your legs. You can do zazen without twisting your legs up that way. Even Dogen was clear about that.

Doug said...

You can do zazen without twisting your legs up that way. Even Dogen was clear about that.

Huh. I am glad you mentioned that. I've often wondered about the posture. Sadly I've attended a Zen sitting in my life. Feel like coming to Seattle sometime for one of your "Zen Lite" or "Zen N00b" sessions?

Where does Dogen mention this by the way?

Kev said...

Hi Brad

Just to clarify it...

As 'proper posture required' was some time back are you saying that it is acceptable or not to sit on a bench/chair if you're not physically able to sit half loftus/full lotus/burmese?

And that this is still sitting zazen?

I'm just interested to know what you did mean. I would have liked to come to your sitting in England, but I struggle with many periods of sitting due to issues with my legs (24/7) and so didn't. It is some thing that would deter me from coming if you were to visit again.

That said I sit on a bench and if need be will lie down. it's still better than not 'sitting'

Kev

Shundo said...

Hi Brad,
I feel like I ought to say, as ino here at the City Center part of San Francisco Zen Center, that we would never 'make' anyone sit all day. If people haven't done an all day sitting before, we usually steer them towards a gentler introductory sitting first.

I hope you feel better soon.