I try to space these postings apart, leaving at least two or three days between them, so as not to wear people out. Last week I started uploading the new audiobook version of Hardcore Zen (see the cover to your left). My plan was for the next posting (i.e. this one) to be all about the audiobook. I invested my own time and cash into this project, so you'd best believe I'm going to be pushing it as hard as I can. All the haters who hate when I advertise anything (cuz that's sooo not Zen, maaaaan), get your hatred ready!
BUT it's taking forever -- at least in these highly speeded up times we live in -- for the thing to "go live" (as we say in the audiobook biz). I screwed up a few things. Plus the audiobook itself is way bigger than an ordinary CD. I made a CD version for my friend Jimi and it took up six discs! I have no plans to press any CDs of the audiobook, by the way. If anyone wants to suggest an economical way to make some CDs, hit me up. Or a cheap way to put it out on a boxed set of 18 record albums for that matter. Otherwise, it'll just be available as a download.
I've even got two commercials for the thing ready to go, and I'm going to shoot a third one on Sunday at the weekly 7 pm zazen thing I host at Akron Shambhala Center (133 Portage Trail Ste 202 Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221).
Alas, I have to keep holding on to the posting in which I tell you the amazing story of how I recorded the audiobook and what I think of Hardcore Zen nine years after it was published.
But I will tell you something else and that is...
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
That's because I have been doing my taxes today. My annual income for 2011 was not quite as dire as I had feared. Which isn't to say it was really great. But it wasn't so godawful as I expected. When I looked at my yearly book royalty statements of $2,951.08 from New World Library for three books and $4,133.98 from Wisdom Publications for Hardcore Zen I was all like, "Jeez. That's what I earned last year?"
Kids, do not become a writer if you want to get rich. Yes there are a handful of writers who are filthy rich. But most of us are barely getting by.
As most of you know, I do not have a temple or a Zen Center or any other such organization that supports what I do Zen-wise. The so-called "Dogen Sangha" is basically just a name. There are some folks out in California working towards making it more than that by incorporating it as a religious non-profit. But at the moment it's still basically just a name. I think we're established as an entity. But we haven't got the paperwork that makes us a true non-profit that can accept donations yet.
However, what I do have is a little PayPal donation button on this here blog (it's to your left <<<). And I made more in donations last year than I did in book royalties. This is figuring in the donations I received while on tour in Europe and America. But still, the stuff coming in from that little button was not insignificant.
So thank you very much for that. There are several people who send in a little bit each month and that really helps. And sometimes someone sends me a large donation, which is always as nice as it is baffling. Because it's never someone I know and it's almost always someone from a foreign country that I've never visited.
I don't really like the idea of living on donations. I feel like a person ought to work to earn his keep. Donations seem like charity.
But on the other hand, I don't charge anything for this blog. The ad revenue it generates is negligible. If I were writing a column for a magazine I'd be getting paid out of what readers paid to buy the magazine. So it kind of amounts to the same thing. Only the way I do this, you get to cut out the middle men and send the money directly to the writer. So I figure these aren't really donations in that sense.
In my youth I was always disgusted by television evangelists begging for cash contributions on their shows while surrounded by the most gaudy opulent sets imaginable. You could tell those guys were getting filthy rich by promising rewards in Heaven.
But all religious type people live on donations. Your contributions aren't always going to buy fancy houses and multiple Mercedes Benzes. And there are some people out there who really don't mind supporting some religious dude's five-a-day luxury car habit. I don't get that myself. But I know they're out there.
I feel like honesty is the deciding factor. The Sex Pistols called their reunion tour the Filthy Lucre Tour to specifically emphasize that it was for the money. And yet you could see that they really enjoyed playing those songs again and that their messages were still relevant. So was it really just about the money? It didn't look that way to me.
I've been highly critical of certain filthy rich Zen Masters not because they got rich. God bless 'em for that! I've been critical because they got rich by being dishonest, by promising things they could not possibly deliver. By pretending that what they actually did deliver was something it was clearly not.
Even though I have no compunctions about getting paid for doing work, and even though I consider standing up on a stage talking for a few hours work (it's lots harder than it looks, trust me), I still get all creepy crawly feeling when I hear someone at a Buddhist temple I've spoken at reminding the crowd about the merit of "dana" -- Buddhist generosity. I know that speech is what's going to pay my gas money back home and maybe even buy me a burrito or a veggie burger. But it reminds me too much of the old televangelist con game or of some of the crud I hear spewing from the mouths of crooked phony Zen Masters.
So I remain deeply conflicted about the whole thing. Nishijima Roshi advised his ordained teachers never to try to make a living out of being Buddhist teachers. I've been trying to kind of skirt the issue by making my living as a writer. Yes, what I write about mostly is Buddhism, as well as about being a Buddhist teacher. But still, it's the writing I'm trying to live off of, not the teaching.
I dunno, folks. I just don't know...
But that being said, THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
And Crum the Cat thanks you too!