I will lead Zazen tomorrow at 10 am (Sat. 9/29) at Hill Street Center 237 Hill St. Santa Monica, CA 90405. Come 10 min early for instructions if needed. We do this every week. And every week you, dear reader, fail to show up. What have we got to do to entice you?
How about this? Tomorrow we will make our first attempt at conducting a true life Zen morning service. This may end up looking like a Zen morning service or it may end up being a complete train wreck. For you see, dear reader, I shall attempt to train people how to do the ceremony (which I barely know myself) and then immediately thereafter do the ceremony before your very eyes and ears. Now is that irresistible or what? And you can go to the beach after. It’s the fucking beach! Do you know how much people in Ohio will pay just to get to a beach? A lot! That’s how much. And all you gotta do is drive on the 10 for 25 lousy minutes. Don’t be such a wuss. The 405 is closed this weekend. So don’t try to use that to get there, OK?
In other news, my roommate and movie director extraordinaire Pirooz Kalayeh and I are working on The Brad Warner Show, which we intend to debut next month. The opening sequence has been shot and is presented for you above. Watch it and imagine how exciting the actual show will be.
Sometimes during the practice of zazen you have small moments of total clarity. And sometimes you try to find words to describe those moments.
They cancel evening zazen at Tassajara far too often for my liking and on days when that happened I’d always try to find a way to squeeze my own zazen time into the schedule. On one such day I was sitting by myself in the zendo and things got all nice and sorted for a little while.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Isn’t that what happens every time? You’ve been doing that zazen shit every day for almost thirty freakin’ years, Warner! You’ve even written books about it! What gives?”
My zazen these days is always much clearer and nicer than it was ten or twenty or twenty-five years ago. That’s true. I’ve had some moments of really astounding insight. But, alas, day-to-day zazen is rarely spectacular. Mostly it’s just nice. But every once in a while the stars align just right and something surprising happens. You can’t wish for this kind of thing. Well you can, but it doesn’t help. You can’t force it to happen. You can’t will it to happen. You just sit and wait and sometimes God goes, “Oh! There you are! I was busy with other stuff for a while. Here. Have a moment of clarity. It’s on me.”
So anyway, this particular little moment left behind a phrase that I will give to you for whatever it’s worth. Here it is — Silence is always available.
We tend to think that when we’re in the middle of noise and confusion, silence is gone, that it’s retreated somewhere, that it’s not with us anymore. But that’s never the case. Silence underlies everything, even our moments of deepest noisy confusion and pain. It’s always there. It is the basis of everything.
It’s not always easy to locate it. But it’s there.
Sometimes we fear silence. We think of it as dark, scary, a place where we might get lost forever. So we try to shut it out. But we can never really shut it out. We can only turn away from it. It never leaves us. Not even for a single moment. Because it can’t leave us. We are constructed only of silence.
You can’t buy silence. But if you want to you can donate to this blog and help Brad be able to buy Cheerios and cat food and gas to get to Santa Monica and sit by himself.