Jazzy music at Pizza Pazza at the corner of Juliusstrsse and Schulterblatt in Hamburg. The stocky Mediterranean-looking guy behind the counter is surly but figures out what I mean when I say, “Ein slice of funghi.” The guy before me was apparently arguing with him about something. He grabbed a bunch of old magazines from the counter and put down a coin. The surly pizza man yelled after him, holding up the coin. The guy with the magazines was gone. The counter guy rolled his eyes and slid my slice into the oven.
The cobblestone streets outside are damp from the chilled drizzle all day. Next door is the Rote Flora, an old theater that has been squatted since 1969 and now hosts punk rock shows. The few people in Pizza Pazza might have been from there, but maybe not. There’s hipster couple in one corner, a pair of blonde girls behind me talking intently about something important.
It’s just 9:45, but it feels later to me. I’m fighting a cold. Or ebola. Who knows? I just came back from a grueling Q&A session at the Hamburg Zen Dojo. My friend Logan is dead. I’m sick. I don’t want to talk about fucking Zen.
I want to be in Portland getting high on custom grown weed with you, Logan. Watching stupid videos. I want to be back in Akron at the Clubhouse sitting on the bed with you and Laura eating Riscissi’s Pizza and planning world conquest. Why did you buy Stroh’s? Even I know it’s garbage. Maybe there’s something on at the Daily Double. What a shit hole that place was. Even the name made you want to barf.
What am I doing with my life? People ask me questions as if I have an answer for them. I have no answer. I have thirty years of looking at my own soul and finding there was nothing there to look at after all. I took a vow to save all beings. I couldn’t even save Logan from getting eaten alive by his own guts.
Where are we going? Where do we come from? Why are we here? Does anybody care?
Deepak Chopra made himself a millionaire selling fairy tales about consciousness to people who desperately want to believe they’ll live forever. People blow themselves up on busses because someone said that was how to get to paradise. Famous people kill themselves because they just want the fuck out.
And here I sit in a pizza shop in Hamburg, staring out the window.
My teacher told JÃ¼rgen Seggelke, who he named Yudo, “Every action you take in your life is carved into the universe.”
My pizza. Carved into the universe.
Does anybody care? We careen into each other like dodgem cars. We plow through fast food suppers that were once cows that lived a few months in mounds of shit before being dragged off to slaughter houses, trusting their captors. Then we act as if it’s all gonna last forever. Watching fucking Duck Dynasty.
Slam! Bam! Crash! After a while we’re just wandering into department stores, shell-shocked at how it all passed us by. Wondering where everything we understood went. Why are the children we raised on a steady diet of plastic garbage so resentful? Why does their music suck? Why doesn’t anyone listen to me when I rage at the darkness that is another chain restaurant replacing the park where I first put my fingers inside someone and heard her whisper, “Oh God, please, yes”?
Why am I doing this at all? Riding foreign trains to places I can’t even pronounce. Trying to figure out if this stuff in the fridge of the apartment I’m in is sauce or toothpaste or something else. Sitting. Sitting. Sitting. As it all passes by. Lighting incense and candles. Bowing to nothing. Chanting the same stupid shit that they’ve chanted since forever ago because maybe this time it will work.
We’re like icebergs, I told them. What we know is just the tip. The rest of us goes on forever below, unseen, unknowable. We can’t understand it. We can only try to accord with it. You can call it God if you want to. Or you can pretend it doesn’t exist and bang into all the other icebergs.
You can make a statue of it and pray to it to spare you from the fate it has already decided on for you. You can wish for money and sex and power and fame.
Don’t stare at me with those “There he is!” eyes. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
You have made this world. It’s yours and yet you’re asking me to show you the way? What am I going to teach you? Are you even going to fucking shut up and listen if I try? No. You’re not. I never did. Why should I think you would? Don’t answer. Please.
Staring into the darkness of your own mind, what do you see? Are you afraid to look? Of course you are. Duck Dynasty is a lot more easy. There’s a mountain of porn at your fingertips right now. There are things to buy on eBay. There’s Deepak Chopra to tell you it’s all consciousness, that science doesn’t really know shit.
I want some God damned apple pie.
* * *
Donate and I can get plane fare to run a memorial for my dead friend. Don’t make me go on Indie GoGo.
* * *
Oct 24: Lecture/Movie screening in Groningen, Netherlands
Oct 25: Day-long zazen in Groningen, Netherlands
Oct 27: Evening zazen in Eindhoven, Netherlands
Oct 28: Evening zazen in Nijmegen, Netherlands
Oct 29: Lecture in Amsterdam, Netherlands at “De Roos” bookstore from 19.00-21.00 (P Cornelisz Hooftstr 183)
Oct 30: Lecture in Utrecht, Netherlands at “De wijze kater” bookstore from 19.00-21.00 ( Mariaplaats 1, Utrecht)
Nov 1-2: Retreat in Utrecht, Netherlands
Nov. 2: Movie screening in Utrecht, Netherlands at ACU
Nov 6-8: Retreat in Hebden Bridge, UK
Nov 9: Noon — 5pm Manchester, UK
Dec. 5-7 Three-Day Zazen and Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy (near Los Angeles, CA)
EVENTS YOU ALREADY MISSED
Oct. 1 Turku Panimoravintola Koulu, Finland– Movie screening
Oct. 2 Helsinki, Finland — Lecture Event
Oct. 3-5 Helsinki, Finland Zen retreat at Helsinki Zen Center
Oct. 6 Movie Screening in Espoo, Finland
Oct. 8 Lecture in Munich, Germany
Oct. 10-11 Retreat in Munich, Germany
Oct. 12-17 Retreat at Benediktushof near WÃ¼rzburg, Germany
Oct 18 8:00am — 6:00pm Retreat in Bonn, Germany
Oct. 19 4:00pm 3 SchÃ¤tze Shop Bonn, Germany
Oct 20 Lecture in Hamburg, Germany