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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer


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max at 9 months

George Bush is a table

I’ve been reading an excellent book called Zen Keys (amazon.com | amazon.ca) by the famous Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and there’s a small section in it on nonduality. It’s so terribly dense that I couldn’t even follow it though, so I’m not going to bother writing about it here.

He did, however, continue with a common concept of his called “interbeing,” which is a term he coined to reflect the intrinsic interconnectedness of the whole of life on Earth and in the universe. The examples he commonly uses are a table, and an apple. A table is not just a table if you can see beyond its current physical state and recognize the carpenter who assembled it, the miller who cut the wood, the logger who felled the tree, the tree which grew in the forest, the sun and the rain and the air which cultivated the tree in the first place, and so on. A similar chain of causation can be drawn with the apple, starting with the grocer who laid out the apples in the store for you to buy, the trucker who brought the apples to the store, the shipper who packed the apples for freight, the grower who cultivated and harvested the apples, and so on.

I really like this concept, and it’s useful to meditate upon if you’re ever feeling down about all the bad shit that’s going down in the world. It’s easy, for example, to get upset by the news I’ve been hearing that Bush and Cheney are planning to bomb hell out of Iran before they leave office, even though the conventional wisdom would dictate that they’re at least 3 years away from refining enough heavy metal to make their first warhead (or nuclear power plant, as it were). But if I recognize that Bush and Cheney are my true brothers, and that we come from the same place and breathe the same air and are directly related through our interbeing in the universe, then it’s a little easier to assuage some of my latent hatred for them. I mean, they’re clearly the product of a first-cousin union or something -- don’t they have to be genetic mutants or something, to be as nuts as they are? -- but they are still my brothers, and I love them.

Sort of.

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iamom November 11th, 2007
Yeah, except for Joko Beck's book, which is imminently accessible and easy to read and to understand!

The Shambala Buddhist nun Pema Chodron has a lot of excellent books that are similar in nature to Charlotte Joko Beck's, though. I'm sure you'd dig them.

Maybe only women can write about Zen in a way that laypeople can understand...

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iamom November 12th, 2007
Uh, I've read some about him, so I know a bit about his background, and I've also read a bunch from his blog, but didn't find it to my liking. Maybe I should try his book, though.

In Zen Keys, Thay says that he doesn't think there's a true Western Zen tradition yet, and that what Zen monasteries there are, are mainly copying the Oriental traditions. I don't know a lot about that, but suspect that he's correct (he's correct about most things, after all), and wonder if practitioners like Brad Warner and Leonard Cohen might be the kind of Westerners that could be the seeds for a truly Western tradition of Zen. Like, what would the Zen aesthetic look like in a purely Western context?

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iamom November 12th, 2007
Very good points, all...

(Anonymous) November 12th, 2007
Check out Thich Nhat Hanh's Dharma talk videoes on Google, if you haven't heard him in person...
His speech is like rain nurturing the seeds of love and happiness in you :) it makes you become alive!
this man is a BEAUTY! He is it!

dizziedumb November 13th, 2007
aha, love it!

baal_kriah November 16th, 2007
don’t they have to be genetic mutants or something, to be as nuts as they are?

Is it insane to be selfish? It doesn't seem to me that they are inflicting all this suffering on others for pleasure or for no reason at all or even for the reasons they aver. As disastrous as their policies have been for their nation and the world, there is no denying that they have poured immense riches into the coffers of their friends and families.

iamom November 17th, 2007
No, you're right to call me on that. Your description of their motives are sound, and those motives are not, indeed, insane.

Perhaps my commentary should have been on the ineptitude and ambivalence of those who voted in the election? I dunno -- it just doesn't seem right to me. Not enough people are asking critical enough questions (or any questions at all), and too many people are ignorant of the awful effects of this administration on thousands and millions of people throughout the world. It's not a proud legacy, but not many Americans seem to know that, or care.

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