I’m back in Los Angeles from my whirlwind tour of the Northeast.
It was good. It was fun. I met lots of really cool people. I did slightly better than breaking even and slightly worse than if I’d spent those same eleven days serving up Grande Lattes at a Starbucks. So it was a financial success as long as you define success fairly modestly. I sold all the books I brought with me and all the Audio Skulls. So that was good.
There are lots of things I’ll do differently if/when I do another one of these tours. I’ll build in some days off. I’ll find some other way to transport myself from place to place.
I also may have to work out how I can afford hotels. One of the interesting things I keep finding is that no matter how nice the strangers you stay with are and how nice their homes are, they’re still strangers and their homes are still unfamiliar. So there’s a certain degree of extra stress added just accommodating oneself to other people — even when they are perfectly nice people (which everyone was on this trip).
On the other hand, if I had to get a hotel every night there is no way on Earth I could ever afford to tour at all given what I make while touring. So this may take some figuring out!
One question that kept coming up was “Who did you write this book for?”
Honestly, I wrote the book for myself and I wanted the reader (me) to go away from it with a completed book that he (I) was happy with. Measured that way, I’ve been successful.
But nobody wants to hear that answer.
So maybe I wrote the book for people who wondered if there might be another way to look at this idea of God apart from True Believers who insist their view of God is the only one and True Non-believers who insist that anyone who believes in God is stupid. After going away from the book I’d like my hypothetical reader to know that there is another way and to understand that she can experience God for herself outside of belief or non-belief.
The True Believer’s view of God is narrow and sectarian. There is a God, but he is the God of their religion. He belongs to their sect and he behaves exactly the way their book says he does. He is all loving but he allows for Naziism and cancer and hair metal. He hides somewhere in a dark corner of the universe where nobody can find him and yet he’ll send you to hell for not believing he exists. It’s all incredibly stupid.
On the other side you’ve got people who say that anyone who believes in anything spiritual is just childish and silly. There’s no more reason to believe in God than to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Anyone who has had any sort of spiritual experience must be hallucinating or engaging in wishful fantasies.
Of course there are more nuanced views than those. But as far as my eyeballs see when looking at what people write about God and listening to what they say, it appears that these are roughly the two main alternatives on offer.
I feel like Zen Buddhism has allowed me a way to approach the subject of spirituality without having to view it through the lens of religious dogma and belief. Zazen offers a chance to quietly experience for oneself the deeper layers of human experience both spiritual and not-so-spiritual. It’s been good.
Next week I’ll be out on the road again. This time the schedule is far less brutal.
10 July 7pm
Upaya Zen Center 1404 Cerro Gordo Rd Santa Fe, NM 87501
13 July 2pm
Hope and Anchor 4012 North Mesa El Paso, TX
14 July 7pm
Center for Spiritual Living 575 N Main St Las Cruces, NM 88001
Then I’ll be out at Tassajara throughout August most likely bussing tables and serving food to rich folks.
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