Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

Random notes: February 12, 2013.

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

This Statesman story is notable because it avoids answering the key question: how does it smell?

Followup on the Tesla story: Elon Musk claims that the story is fake, and that the vehicle logs show something different than the NYT writer claims. The NYT vigorously denies this claim. Summary of the back and forth, with links, at Jimbo’s site.

The International Olympic Committee has decided to keep modern pentathlon in the 2020 Olympics. This makes me happy, as I have a fondness for modern pentathlon, the sport George S. Patton competed in. It strikes me as being a true test of all-around athleticism; the sort of sport true gentlemen compete in.

But wait, there’s more to the story: the IOC is keeping modern pentathlon…and dropping wrestling as a “core sport”. Yes, wrestling, a sport that was part of the first modern Olympics in 1896, and one that dates back to the ancient Greeks. I’m not a big wrestling fan, but this decision seems strange to me. Especially since the 2020 Olympics are also keeping taekwondo and field hockey.

The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history, continued:

Since arriving in Los Angeles from Japan in 1962, the Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki, who is 105 years old, has taught thousands of Americans at his two Zen centers in the area and one in New Mexico. He has influenced thousands more enlightenment seekers through a chain of some 30 affiliated Zen centers from the Puget Sound to Princeton to Berlin. And he is known as a Buddhist teacher of Leonard Cohen, the poet and songwriter.

Sounds like a great guy, right? 105 years old, charismatic teacher, hangs with Leonard Cohen?

Mr. Sasaki has also, according to an investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders, released in January, groped and sexually harassed female students for decades, taking advantage of their loyalty to a famously charismatic roshi, or master.


When the report was posted to SweepingZen, Mr. Sasaki’s senior priests wrote in a post that their group “has struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States” — their first such admission.

Quote of the day.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Over the weekend, I picked up a copy of David Chadwick’s Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki.

I haven’t read it yet, and I’m going to be up to my eyebrows in the Iranian Revolution for the next week, but I did find one rather striking exchange while flipping through the book.

The setup for this is that a group of Suzuki’s students were sitting around with Suzuki talking about some book “about the meeting of East and West”. The students were making comparisons between East and West, and the West was getting the short end of the stick.

As conversation continued in this vein, Suzuki spoke up, obviously upset. “If you want to be a good Buddhist,” he said, “first you’re going to have to learn how to be a good Christian.” Then he got up and walked out.

Zen and the art of military service.

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I’m fascinated by Zen.

I don’t practice it. I’ve thought about it, but

  1. I’m not sure how I would reconcile that with my other beliefs.
  2. I have problems with some aspects of Zen thought. For example, there’s a precept, “If you pick up a stone, you must be prepared to pick up all the suffering of the world.” What does that mean? Should we not try to help other people, lest we become responsible for their suffering? I’ll tell you truthfully, there are times when that appeals to me, but in the end, I can’t just stand back and not pick up the stone. Even when I suspect it would be better for everyone involved if I left it on the ground.

That said, I love reading about Zen. I’ve particularly enjoyed Shoes Outside the Door, a warts and all history of the San Francisco Zen Center, and Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey. Dorsey in particular is a fascinating character to me; if I were to take up Zen, I’d like to be like him (without the homosexuality and drug use, though).

I’ve got a bookmark on my system to Brad Warner’s wonderful “Zen Books That Don’t Suck” page, and will probably check a few more of those off the list as I find them. I’ve got to like a guy who not only practices Zen, but is a fan of monster movies and Ghoulardi.

Anyway, Warner also has a blog, and I wanted to highlight this post in particular (scroll down below the schedule information for the meat). I don’t know why, but there’s something about Warner’s response, and the way he phrases it, that I find deeply moving.

Peace has to be defended by people who are trained to kill those who would destroy it. I’m sorry. But that’s the way things are.

I wish this was not true. And I can wish all I want but that won’t make it so.

“I can wish all I want but that won’t make it so” reminds me of a ha-ha only serious joke I’ve used from time to time in business settings:

Q: How many legs does a dog have, if you call a tail a leg?

A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.