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Showing posts from June, 2016

So You Want To Practice Zen In Japan?

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Hello everyone and thank you for participating in the great 2016 True Dharma Eye Exam Fundraiser! I believe I have raised enough money for that pesky eye exam, and possibly for new glasses as well! To be honest, I am really enjoying receiving money right now. It so rarely happens. It feels so nice I am inspired to write another blog post.

I have made many wonderful friendships and connections through my blog, and strangers continue to write me with questions. Sometimes men send me poetry or overly detailed descriptions of their heart sutra tattoos, which is lovely and endearing depending on the person. But actually the all-time most popular email I receive is people writing to ask me for recommendations on where to practice Zen in Japan. In the two years or so I have been writing this blog, I have received about ten or fifteen of these emails and responded to exactly zero. One woman asked me about practicing at Nisodo specifically, and I did respond to her because she was a Zen pries…

Okesas I Have Sewn (What's Lineage Got To Do With It?)

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I’m moving to Los Angeles in August, and this week my friend at Green Gulch asked me if I would like to start a “branching streams” sitting group with her in LA. “Branching streams” is the name of groups and centers affiliated with Shinryu Suzuki Roshi. My friend feels pretty strongly about staying within that lineage. Because I am pretty simple minded, I immediately answered, “Yes!” My brain didn’t do a lot of analysis and just went “Yay zazen! Yay people! Yay zazen together with people!” I don’t really care what lineage I am in or what lineage the people are who are sitting next to me because we are all sitting looking at the same, boring wall, not attaining the same non-thing. This is a pretty Japanese attitude of me. In training monasteries in Japan, people from dozens of lineages come together in one monastery to practice together. There’s no concept of a monastery for only one kind of lineage. 
But what does it mean to be in a certain lineage? In Japan, I was usually left out of …

In Defense Of Trying

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Today after lunch I grabbed my bag and headed out the door. "I'm going to vote," I said to my roommate. 
"Why?" she asked. 
It's a good question. I almost didn't. I had thought about this "why" question for a long time, and told my roommate that. I don't really like any of the presidential candidates, and I don't feel very informed. I also have pretty negative opinions about American democracy and imperialism that I don't think are adequately addressed through voting. 
"Well," I said. "Because fatalism feels shittier than not-fatalism." 
This is pretty much my reason for continuing to practice Buddhism as well as for continuing to not kill myself.  I was first diagnosed with depression when I was nineteen years old, when I described to my therapist that I felt like my life was a car and I was lying in the dark in the backseat with someone else driving, unable to see or control where I was going, and too tired to car…