Five years ago I exchanged a chance at financial stability and a respectable career to see if I could make it on my own as an independent author and Zen teacher. My income took an immediate nosedive and initially the prospects for recovery were not really good. My speaking gigs were barely covering the money I spent to get to them. Often I lost money on them. My royalty checks were pitiful. The advances I got from New World Library dropped by nearly half between my second and third books and have remained there ever since.
Yet I had this weird sort of confidence that things would turn around. I had saved enough money from working at Tsuburaya Productions to make it through a year, I figured. Two years if I stretched it. If things didn’t turn around by then I could always go get a “real job” at the end of the second year. But things got just good enough that I didn’t need to do that.
I’m still not making much money, though it’s gotten better. But every single other thing about my life has improved so much it’s just astonishing. Who needs money if you can do what you want?
Today I finished up my five-day retreat at Benediktushof near Würzburg, Germany. Benediktushof used to be a Benedictine monastery. But it fell pretty much to ruins by the mid 20th century. In the 60’s, the locals organized to try and rebuild the place. Yet, once again by the 1990’s things looked bleak. But then a rich old lady who liked the work of a Benedictine monk named Wiligis Jäger decided to buy the place and let Wiligis run it.
Wiligis is an interesting character. His rather wild and liberal views got the Pope all hot and bothered at him such that he was forced to stop writing and speaking publicly or face excommunication. He shut up for a time. But then he couldn’t take it anymore and started making noise again.
Later on he got ordained by Japanese and Chinese masters in the Zen and Chan traditions and now teaches Zen in addition to Christian contemplation. I met him at Benediktushof and his a trippy old dude. I wanna be like that when I grow up.
24 people showed up for the sesshin, which was pretty great for how it was thrown together very late in the game and didn’t even make it into the catalog. We all sat together, chanted together and I did dokusan with everyone who attended, which might not have been possible if more people had signed up.
Then in the afternoon after the sesshin was done I did a public talk for 50-some souls in that little German town. It was groovy and my new friend Karan did an ace job of translating.
Those of you who aren’t showing up at these events do not know what you’re missing. Here’s a list of what’s still coming up:
• October 7th I’m speaking in Frankfurt on at Dogen Zendo. Info is here. Please stop by for a chat about Zen!
• October 9th I’ll be speaking at Dharma Buchladen in Berlin
• On October 11th, I’ll be speaking in Amsterdam.
• On October 12th, I’ll be speaking at Groningen University in the Netherlands.I think the details are somewhere on this page. But it’s in Dutch so I’m not sure.
• On Oct. 13 and 14th I’ll be in Bonn, Germany. The details about that are on this page. The 13th will be an all-day sitting and on the 14th I’ll do a talk in the evening.
• Thursday 17th October
In Conversation with Brad Warner and Jon Robb – The Punk meets the Monk
• 18-19 October Zen Retreat / 20th October Public Talk in Hebden Bridge, England
• 23 October 7pm, I’ll be speaking in London.
Caledonian Road Centre
486 Caledonian Road
London N7 9RP
• 24 October, 8pm, I’ll be speaking in Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Hosted the Neave Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2203213006/)
**Oxford University students only**
• 25 Oct In Conversation 7pm-9pm / 26 October Zazen Day
Merchant City Yoga Centre Glasgow, Scotland
• November 8-10 Zen and Yoga Retreat at Mount Baldy Zen Center in Southern California (1 & 1/2 hours east of Los Angeles)
* * *
I’m self-financing all of these, so please feel free to help out a little by sending a donation! Thanks!