http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... April 8, 2003


In This Issue:

2. Many find Zen brings peace to frenetic lives
3. An Irreverent Look at Zen in America
...A Talk by... Rev. Jñana
4. 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

* http://www.theolympian.com/home/news/20020629/living/5509_ARC.shtml

Gerry 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.

Then he discovered Zen Buddhism.

"I 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."

Wick 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."

Because 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.

It is in Japan, however, that Zen flourished. Zen's two schools, now called Soto and Rinzai, took root there beginning in the 12th century.

Wick 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.

"Here 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."

At 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.

Club 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.

"The 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 the now."

Zen's 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.

"The 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.

Furthermore, one can practice meditation without believing in a god at all.

Buddha was not a god, but a man who achieved enlightenment, Wick says.

"You 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.

The "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.

"When 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.

"This 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."

The 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.

"But 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

* http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma6/irreverentzen.html

Zen 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.

These 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.

While 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 actual publications.

To 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.

Wheels, 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 CLIMBING magazine.

Many 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.

Zen 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 LUTHERAN magazine.

Legal 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 & ORDER.

The 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.

Non-Buddhist 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 “Zen ecumenicism”.

Art 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”.

Zenishness 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”.

The 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.

If 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”.

Parenting, 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.

America 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 entitled WEATHERWISE.

Perk 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”.

Leaving 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.

No 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.

Please forgive me and may you be peaceful, happy and well.

4. Dan Zen

* http://www.danzen.com/cover.html

Dan Zen is a site of unique and creative Web games, gadgets, mysteries, and more.


What's new on Dan Zen. Currently the Kirputnik Cam - a view in to Dan Zen's Invention Workshop


Hip Cats, Spy-mail, Prediction Train, Gallery 2020, Headline Machine, Dens


Web Ouija, Tower Of Babel, Word Warp, Yesumno, Gycopo, Grim Reaper's Age Guesser


Salamander, Gorgolon, Save Earth, Password Paradox


Spirogram - secret message gadget,

Opartica - op art maker, Teleporters - inventive interface for surfing


Baron Digbody's Castle Mystery, Kula Pu Idol - Hawaiian Mystery, Lady With Brooch - Beatnik Mystery, Utopia - Erotic Mystery, Moustache Mysteries


Kirputnik Cam - view of Dan Zen Invention Workshop, Photos, Danisms - offline inventions


A 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
...Bernie Glassman

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0609803913/wwwkusalaorg-20/

From 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. Raul Nino

Amazon.com- 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.

Amazon.com- 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.

This 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.

There 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.

Buy it, read it, let it seep into you!

6. Peace Quote...

"A 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.

The 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,

silence, understanding, will war disappear."

OSHO, from: 'Zen: The Path of Paradox, vol II'


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