...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter...
April 8, 2003
Many find Zen brings peace to frenetic lives
3. An Irreverent Look at Zen in America ...A Talk by...
Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Dan Zen
5. Book Review: Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons
in Making Peace ...Bernie Glassman
6. Peace Quote...
2. Many find Zen brings peace to frenetic lives
...Kelli Lackett Gannett News Service
Wick's desire to understand the ultimate reality of things led
him to study physics. He even earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1967
from the University of California at Berkley. But physics failed
to furnish all the answers he was looking for.
he discovered Zen Buddhism.
liked physics, but it wasn't going to provide insight into the
ultimate nature of all things and how to deal with the problems
that one encounters in life," Wick says. "I explored
a number of different philosophies, but the one that seemed
to stick was Zen Buddhism."
is now a Zen master and spiritual director of the Great Mountain
Buddhist Center in Lafayette, Colo. He is addressed as "Roshi,"
which means "venerable teacher."
of its simplicity, Zen Buddhism has been adopted by cultures
on many continents during its 1,500-year history. Buddhism,
which is more than 2,500 years old, traveled from India to China
in the fifth century, where it combined with China's native
Taoism to form Zen, called Ch'an in China.
is in Japan, however, that Zen flourished. Zen's two schools,
now called Soto and Rinzai, took root there beginning in the
has been taught by teachers who studied in both schools. He
began to study Zen when it was first gaining popularity in North
America during the 1960s.
Zen found fresh soil in the '60s," Wick says. "I think
that we live such frenetic, fast-paced lives. When people begin
to see the gaps and realize that they are not really fulfilled,
they look for how they can maintain the necessities of life
and at the same time find inner peace."
the Zen Club at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, a
group of students and staff members meet weekly to meditate.
While some members of the group come and go, there are a few
who show up regularly.
President Camilla Kristensen is a graduate student in the cell
and molecular biology department. Kristensen is originally from
Norway and was raised as a Protestant, but has been practicing
Zen for 14 years.
appeal of Zen for me was the direct approach to spirituality.
The practice is stripped of all the frameworks that a lot of
other religions have. Christianity, for example, has a lot of
historical and cultural things involved in practicing the religion,"
Kristensen says. "Zen is very clear and concise: Be in
rituals are few compared to other religions, although some practitioners
include chanting and bowing as part of their practice. But Zen
does not exclude the practice of other religions. In fact, not
all Zen practitioners are Buddhists.
form that Zen takes at our center is Buddhism. But we used to
have Catholic priests come to our center and practice meditation.
People of other faiths appreciate how they can integrate Zen
into their lives," Wick says.
one can practice meditation without believing in a god at all.
was not a god, but a man who achieved enlightenment, Wick says.
don't have to believe in anything but your own true self. There
isn't any dogma. Zen is based on your own personal experience.
And being a science, you can try it out," he says.
"science" of Zen centers around sitting and walking
in meditation. Meditation techniques vary with the student's
experience level but generally involve sitting and being aware
of one's breath. The goal is to "hold the whole universe
in one's mind," in order to become mindful of things as
they really are, Wick says.
you first start mediating, you see how your mind jumps around
like a monkey from one branch to another. When you meditate,
you learn that you can be a lot more attentive to what is really
going on rather than your own projections," Wick says.
allows you to be much more open to people and to be more effective.
You can focus your attention at work, and you can learn how
to be calmer and more peaceful."
calming effect of Zen practice is something that members of
the Zen Club swear by. Club Treasurer Erich Stroheim says Zen
meditation can be especially useful for people who are busy
all the time and can't just stop and be in the present.
the Buddhist teachers say, 'Don't take my word for this. Find
out for yourself,' " Stroheim says.
3. An Irreverent Look at Zen in America
...a talk by Rev. Jñana
has had a significant religious impact in America for at least
half a century. For most of that time its influence has been
limited to literature and the arts in addition to a small, but
growing, sangha of ordained teachers and practitioners. In recent
years, however, popularized notions of Zen have entered the
cultural mainstream of American society so that Zen has become
a trendy buzzword.
fashionable impressions of Zen overlook, of course, such basic
concepts as our inherent Buddha nature, the possibility of sudden
enlightenment, or the importance of meditation, lineage, teachings
and traditions of the main Zen schools. The popular notions,
not altogether surprisingly, generally focus on Zen as a source
of coolness, serenity and clear-minded focus and concentration.
Such single-mindedness is thought to lead to self-improvement
and success in business or personal affairs, contributing to
Zen’s special cachet.
there certainly are elements of truth in these notions, it unfortunately
remains likely that popular culture’s embrace of Zen is
a mile wide but only inches deep. And it is here that the seriously
irreverent portion of my talk begins. The unorthodox approach
I’ve adopted for this talk is to view the way Zen has
permeated popular culture in America through the prism of some
titles of selected articles in various popular, trade and professional
publications, reflecting differing aspects of American culture
and taken from publications of just the last four years. Please
remember that all of the titles quoted here are real and from
bring us up to speed let’s first look at Zen titles in
the context of automobiles and transportation. We can begin
with the basics as in “Engine Zen”, an article in
HOT ROD magazine, then move from an expected focus on specific
car models in “The Zen of Nissan: the classic Z car is
back….” to a WALL STREET JOURNAL feature on renting
a car: “Cranky consumer: Zen and the art of car rental”
to the experience of riding the bus in “The Zen of the
bus” in the NEW YORK TIMES.
of course, carry us to sports and outdoor activities, where
Zen-related titles seem to proliferate. Zen in golf doesn’t
surprise us, as in “Fairway Zen” but perhaps “Zen
and horses: lessons from a year of riding” does. In contrast
to the earlier article in HOT ROD there is also the opposite
take in “The Zen of no engine”, which is an article
on sailing. There is also Zen in the great outdoors as in “Wilderness
Zen” or, closer to home, “Of moss and men: the Zen
of green gardening”. If too much exertion has taken place
with all of this outdoor activity there is always “Zen
and the art of anti-inflammatories”, which appeared in
golfers come from business and industry and in this field we
arrive at some of the more heartwarming titles in our survey.
First up is “Zen and the art of propane safety”
in the trade journal LP-GAS. Or how about “The Zen of
contractor relations”? Zen is indeed everywhere as we
can see from “Zen in the warehouse”, an article
found in MODERN MATERIALS HANDLING, another trade journal. So,
not surprisingly, another publication gives us “Zen and
the art of security maintenance”. If we really want to
zone out we can investigate “The Zen of corporate capital
structure neutrality” in the MICHIGAN LAW REVIEW.
plays very well in the bits and bytes world of computers and
information technology as seen from these not dissimilar examples:
“Zen and the art of operating system maintenance”
and “The ZEN of NetWare server management”. Thinking
more globally there is “Zen and the art of IT governance”
or more personally there is “Zen computer: mindfulness
and the machine”, this last one having appeared in THE
and law enforcement interests provide us with two contrasting
approaches to justice as indicated, on the one hand, by “Zen
and the art of jurisprudence”, again thanks to the MICHIGAN
LAW REVIEW and, on the other hand, “Zen and the shoot
house”, an article in professional publication LAW &
field of leadership and management has proven rather disappointing
for its Zen-related titles, as one would expect more from these
folks. They did, however, provide us with the provocative “Throwing
the elephant: Zen and the art of managing up” in TIME
magazine as well as the possibly oxymoronic “The Zen of
meetings” in the trade publication SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS.
religious traditions offer us “Zen gifts to Christians”
published in the ANGLICAN THEOLOLGICAL REVIEW or a book entitled
“Zen Judaism: for you a little enlightenment”. More
encompassing perhaps is another article, this one simply entitled
and architecture are sometimes closely related to religion and
Zen, of course, figures in their publications as well. There
is this Zen-like title in ART NEWS, “Zen No Zen”
or perhaps more enlightening is “The ZEN of luminosity”
in AMERICAN ARTIST. Architects vary in approaching the subject,
as witness the challenging notion of “Zen tectonics”
in one publication or the simple “A splash of Zen”
in ARCHITECTURAL RECORD. The architects also confirm what we
already know, that “Zen is in the details”.
has penetrated perhaps as deeply in the areas of decorating
and design as anywhere in American culture. We all could learn
from “The Zen of kitchen storage” in BON APPETIT
or perhaps “…The Zen of bathing” in the less
accessible magazine PROFESSIONAL BUILDER. METROPOLITAN HOME
reminds us some people have it all with “Island Zen”.
However, I bet you didn’t know it was so easy as “Zen
on a hanger”. Or perhaps it isn’t so easy, as suggested
by ”Zen and the art of award placement”.
world of music should not go unnoted, such as the article from
DOWN BEAT entitled “Drumming with the Zen of trane”.
Personally, I prefer “Zen and the art of opera”
from the NEW YORK TIMES.
music is in the background can food and drink be far behind;
certainly not if it is “The Zen of frosting” in
GOURMET or “Zen and tonic” from the LOS ANGELES
TIMES. If we turn to the ‘art of’ approach to Zen
we find “Zen and the art of fettuccini” or, even
better, “Zen and the art of chocolate-making”. Less
exciting but more serious is “Zen and the art of dishwashing”.
we gather, can teach us something about Zen as well, as noted
by “Zen and the art of motherhood”, with the offspring
being “Zen baby”. The mother part I think I can
conceptualize but I would like to meet such a baby.
is obsessed with attention to self and the person so it is fitting
that this is another area rich in Zen interest, as evidenced
by the following disparate examples: “Zen and the art
of pedicure”; “Lose weight the Zen way”; “Being
Black: Zen and the art of living with fearlessness and grace”;
Zen and the art of skin maintenance” and the curiously
titled “The Zen of Alzheimer’s”. We can escape
from all of this self-centeredness with “Zen and the art
of fleeing to safety” from a weather-focused publication
up your ears now for we’ll pay some fleeting attention
to sex-related issues. The fun starts with “Zen and the
art of lechery” in, where else but, VANITY FAIR. This
can get out of hand, of course, as referenced by “The
Zen of sexual harassment”, which sounds like a primer
on how to do harassment really well. A happy ending is provided,
however, by “Zen sex: the way of making love”.
all of this serious stuff behind us now, let’s note that
writers love to make puns on the word ‘Zen’, as
witnessed by “Zen pecked” and “Zen and now”.
Groan along with me when confronted with at least six different
articles, each of which is entitled “Now and Zen”.
The perpetrating publications range from the SPORTING NEWS to
the NEW YORKER to SPC: SOAP, PERFUMERY, AND COSMETICS.
seriously irreverent survey of this subject can conclude without
reference to one title which gave me particular pause, and this
from a publication that normally provides few reasons for pausing,
USA TODAY; this little gem is “Zen and the art of cooking
up Italian mysteries”. And with that, the zentral thread
of my discourse has unraveled.
forgive me and may you be peaceful, happy and well.
4. Dan Zen
Zen is a site of unique and creative Web games, gadgets, mysteries,
new on Dan Zen. Currently the Kirputnik Cam - a view in to Dan Zen's
Cats, Spy-mail, Prediction Train, Gallery 2020, Headline Machine,
Ouija, Tower Of Babel, Word Warp, Yesumno, Gycopo, Grim Reaper's
Gorgolon, Save Earth, Password Paradox
- secret message gadget,
- op art maker, Teleporters - inventive interface for surfing
Digbody's Castle Mystery, Kula Pu Idol - Hawaiian Mystery, Lady
With Brooch - Beatnik Mystery, Utopia - Erotic Mystery, Moustache
Cam - view of Dan Zen Invention Workshop, Photos, Danisms -
set of links for you to help grow and share Dan Zen including
Telepathy, Loudmouth, and the Dan Zen Garden
5. Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace
Booklist... In January 1994, as Zen teacher Bernie Glassman
marked his fiftieth year, he did something special, founding
the Zen Peacemaker Order. This order would comprise a community
of activists, both organized and individual, and would provide
them with a center from which to share stories and information.
Yet, most important, the order's core would be spiritual--a
universal spirituality. Glassman, who has been very active in
social service activities, founding entrepreneurial ventures
in economically blighted communities as well as spearheading
the founding of some of this country's first AIDS hospice centers,
is not new to spiritual action. He brings a centered, even,
and balanced perspective to what one might do to better the
current state of social affairs. Through the people Glassman
meets and ordains as Peacemakers, the reader gathers a sense
of what it means to devote oneself to the universal task of
making peace with the here and now and, most important, past.
Reviewer: Gary W. Janka from Santa Barbara, CA... For
anyone interested in making peace both within and without, or
who is interested in combining spiritual practice with social
action, Roshi Glassman's book is a "must read." He
does a fine job of articulating and describing the spititual
foundations of peacemaking in a very clear and straightforward
manner. I found them both moving and helpful in my own search
for a peacemaking path.
Reviewer: Mark Meyer from Kenmore, NY USA... This book
is a masterpiece because Bernie Glassman's life and work is
a masterpiece. His activism is truly awe-inspiring.
book will touch your heart and make you think deeply about life,
your own comfortable life with heat and light and computers,
versus the dirty, cold, unsafe life on the streets.
are just too many things to praise about this book that I can't
write them all. Suffice it to say that all of it is a jewel,
a gem, a lotus flower blooming from the mud of everyday life.
it, read it, let it seep into you!
6. Peace Quote...
man of peace is not a pacifist, a man of peace is simply a pool
of silence. He pulsates a new kind of energy into the world,
he sings a new song. He lives in a totally new way his very
way of life is that of grace, that of prayer, that of compassion.
Whomsoever he touches, he creates more love-energy.
man of peace is creative. He is not against war, because to
be against anything is to be at war. He is not against war,
he simply understands why war exists. And out of that understanding
he becomes peaceful. Only when there are many people who are
pools of peace,
understanding, will war disappear."
from: 'Zen: The Path of Paradox, vol II'
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