vanTomorrow I leave the USA to start my 2015 European Tour. The dates are listed at the end of this blog. All of the events are open to more people, so if you want to come along, please do.

These tours I do are a lot more like a punk rock band going around to whatever hole-in-the-wall bar will have them than they are like the anything the Dalai Lama or Thich Naht Hanh or Ekhart Tolle or whoever do. I travel alone because I don’t earn enough from the stuff I do to bring an assistant along, much less an entourage.

I get paid mostly in what they call dana, which is a Sanskrit word meaning “generosity.” I am fully dependent on the generosity of my hosts. There are no guarantees. For those of you not familiar with musician-talk, a “guarantee” in rock-n-roll tour terms is what we call it when the hole-in-the-wall club you’re going to makes a written promise to pay you in gas money and baloney sandwiches or whatever. I don’t get those. I can sometimes wrangle a vague promise, but about half the time I get far less than I was promised along with a heartfelt apology. Have you ever tried to pay for falafel in Vladivostok with a heartfelt apology?

I’ve heard that Ekhart Tolle charges $50,000 for a single speaking appearance. I don’t think I’ve made that much from every talk and retreat I’ve led over the past five years all added together. The other guys whose faces grace every other issue of the meditation magazines at your local New Age bookshop and healing crystal dealer get paid about the same. That’s probably why they look so radiant and beatific.

There’s not a whole lot of difference between the worlds of touring rock and roll bands and touring spiritual masters. The people everyone knows about rake in the money and the groupies. The rest of us make do with whatever we can get. It’s just another part of the entertainment business. The only difference is the rock stars get to enjoy their groupies. When spiritual teachers do that it’s a big scandal.

I did not attend the Dalai Lama’s Birthday Bash or any of the Rolling Stones’ recent shows at whatever Mega Dome they play at these days. Not because I hate the Dalai Lama or the Stones, but because it really doesn’t matter if I go or not.

If you see a small band in a little theater or bar, you’re supporting someone who actually needs your support. You’ll be part of an intimate audience who will experience a real connection with the people on stage. You might even be able to buy them a beer after the show and ask them how they got that guitar sound.

When you go see a big band, all you really get is spectacle. The only big band I’ve ever been very interested in seeing is KISS because at least the spectacle they offer is usually worth the ridiculous ticket price. I saw The Who a few years ago. I have loved The Who since I was 14. The show was as good as it could have been, I guess. But it was really nothing at all in terms of really being there with a band to whom your presence actually means something. I did not matter to Pete Townshend.

It’s the same deal with spiritual teachers. When you go see the Dalai Lama or whoever, all you can expect is a big spectacle, a massive incense scented party where everyone pats themselves on the back for being so spiritual. If you want to participate in that, fine with me. I’ll stay home. When you go to a smaller gathering with someone less fashionable you’ll have a chance for some real connection, some genuine learning and growth. I cherish every moment I’ve had in every musty little former donut shop I’ve sat in with Tim McCarthy. I could not care less if I ever get to sit 400 feet away from the Dalai Lama in a stadium filled to capacity with bleary-eyed devotees and Richard Gere.

I don’t hate the Dalai Lama any more than I hate The Who or KISS. But if I’d rather support someone to whom my support actually matters.

I hope that doesn’t sound bitter or jealous. The Dalai Lama et al have their karma and I have mine. I’m happy with the way things are going. I wouldn’t want to have to try and lead a retreat attended by the kinds of numbers that flock to meditate with Thich Naht Hanh. That sounds like a nightmare to me. I’d probably give up the business if it ever came to that.

I do, however, enjoy pointing this stuff out every few months (or whenever I do, I know I seem to write this same article a few times each year). It always gets lots of people hot under the collar. I think it’s important for at least one of us in this business to tell the people what it’s actually like.

I hope to see some of you at the places I stop in Europe over the next two months. Know that if you do decide to go, your attendance will really mean something to me. It might mean the difference between paying for my falafel with a few Euros or trying to pay for it with yet another heartfelt apology.


August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT

August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE

August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR 

August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany SCREENING OF HARDCORE ZEN MOVIE WITH TALK

September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP

September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED

September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT

October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”


All of these events will still happen each week while I’m away.

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!

Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

* * *

I’ll make a bit of money while in Europe (I hope) but it usually only barely covers my expenses. So your donations are still important. I appreciate your on-going support!


33 Responses

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  1. mb
    mb August 10, 2015 at 12:48 pm |

    If the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh or Eckhardt Tolle had been musicians before they became spiritual teachers, the scene around them might be a little more humble too!

    I just played a (jazz) gig at a coffeehouse 2 days ago. The establishment gives us free coffee (cookies and pastries cost $$$) – all else comes from the ol’ tip jar. We had a good night – the generous audience threw in $60 all told – that’s $15 apiece.

    I just watched a Herbie Hancock lecture at Harvard from 2014 where he discusses his particular flavor of Buddhism (Nichiren). He was praising Rev. Ikeda generously throughout the lecture. I don’t get those people – most people are chanting for Cadillacs (in the name of Buddhism no less). Herbie, who by all accounts had it made in the shade before he discovered Buddhism in 1972 (and who therefore isn’t lacking for money) says he chants before concerts with the intent to “make a heartfelt connection with the audience”.

    Herbie Hancock explains his relationship to Buddhism

    As to paying for falafels with a heartfelt apology: “I’m terribly sorry I have to do this” as you grab the falafel and run off down the street…

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 10, 2015 at 2:51 pm |
  3. davidgates776
    davidgates776 August 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm |

    Thich Nhat Hanh no longer gives tours after his serious stroke of 11 November last year — just as a point of information.

  4. Cygni
    Cygni August 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm |

    I feel you on this one Brad, im really impressed how you manage to go around teaching the way you do. 50000 for a talk? I haven’t made 50000 in the last 5 years combined. I’ve seen The Who twice, which was great, but neither time did I pay for the ticket. One time I volunteered for a Kalachakra initiation with HH the Dalai Lama, it was one of the best two week periods of my life but I never could have afforded to pay my way. I’ve pretty much given up on the Shambhala path that I was involved with, its financially out of reach at this point in my life. The good news is that even if you have to work a retail or fast food job you can still practice and have a good time, I can still get a good meal at my Mom’s, and there is a bucket of homebrew fermenting. The only material possession I’m really attached to is my Rickenbacker 4003. Poverty is relative, 1st world problems…

    1. Fred
      Fred August 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm |

      Hey man, maybe we could kick in a couple hundred bucks, shave our heads, put on a robe and come on tour with you. That would be a hell of a lot of fun.

      Have a blessed tour, bro.

  5. Fred
    Fred August 10, 2015 at 5:22 pm |
      1. Oh Matty Blue
        Oh Matty Blue August 11, 2015 at 3:55 pm |

        I’ve heard that if you use window drapes as a robe and glue cotton balls to the grommets, it will make your mind more silent, but only when coupled with a black eye-patch. Then and only then does one truly reach a state of “superior seeing”; the inseparable Twin Peaks of emptiness and compassion.

        ….I need more coffee….

  6. km
    km August 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm |

    Sometimes I wish your life was just a little easier. Some of those times I click on the donation link.

    1. constantine
      constantine August 11, 2015 at 12:20 am |

      “Sometimes I wish your life was just a little easier. Some of those times I click on the donation link”

      Oh thank goodness. The struggle sure is real.

  7. km
    km August 10, 2015 at 6:02 pm |

    Uh….where did the donation link go?……………………………………

    1. mtto
      mtto August 11, 2015 at 8:56 am |
  8. Zafu
    Zafu August 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm |

    Perhaps if some punk were performed during the spiritual performance an extra heartfelt falafel might be danaed.

  9. Cygni
    Cygni August 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm |

    It’s such a lonely world

  10. Mumbles
    Mumbles August 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm |

    It’s pretty disturbing to see you refer to what you’re doing as “the business” and “this business” for some reason. Are you giving us “the business” Brad? Is that you on bass?? Sorry, that was a falafel joke.

    “I love to work at nothin’ all day.”

    1. Cygni
      Cygni August 12, 2015 at 9:12 am |

      Hey John,

      I checked out some of your Alchemical writings, wild stuff man!

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles August 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm |

        Why, thank you for taking a look. You might like looking at these too?

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm |

    Made it to the Berkeley Zen Center tonight for their pre-supper sit- quite a beautiful small zendo, much easier to sit there than at home, really. At least this afternoon.

    I’m grateful to Mel Weitsman, he was there. I missed his 80th birthday party, up in Tilden Park. He has certainly contributed mightily to the Zen scene in Northern California.

    I think Mel will lecture this Saturday, at the one-day sesshin. Maybe I’ll be there to hear him, though I’m hardly an empty cup for whatever tea he has to pour. Probably end up soaked in tea. Oh well.

    Old but not obsolete:

  12. Michel
    Michel August 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm |

    “Business”, from “busy”, being occupied, having something to do.

    Let’s get back to basics, folks… (and Engrish is not even my first language…)

    1. Andy
      Andy August 12, 2015 at 5:48 am |

      If we factor in context and usage, Brad’s use of the word does accrue some ambiguity, which I think is deliberate.

      A little corrosive, ontological instability re some well-worn ideological significations tends to induce a small thrill in me.

      1. minkfoot
        minkfoot August 12, 2015 at 6:29 am |

        Gosh, Andy . . .

        That’s awful short!


  13. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon August 12, 2015 at 4:00 am |

    Llamas cross over.
    Ticks cross over.
    Pay the toll.
    Cross over.

  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 12, 2015 at 2:42 pm |

    While we’re crossing over, why not some feen-a-mint?…

  15. Cygni
    Cygni August 12, 2015 at 4:54 pm |

    Fenament Laxatives lol

    I’ve seen The Blind Boys live, on Shrooms no less.
    Shivers down the spine indeed…

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon August 13, 2015 at 4:48 am |

      … sky blue …

      … sky blue …

      … sky blue …

      … sky blue …

      … sky blue …

      1. Cygni
        Cygni August 13, 2015 at 6:53 pm |

        … Cornflakes … *°*

  16. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon August 13, 2015 at 5:57 am |

    “In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris and Joseph Goldstein discuss the practice of meditation and answer questions that came from listeners in response to their first conversation, ‘The Path and the Goal.'”

    1. Fred
      Fred August 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm |

      Do you do mindfulness meditation, Grand Canyon? Do you do what Harris describes? Or do you present Harris’s words in order to counter the Buddhism presented here?

      If you were doing mindfulness, would you see the internal states arising and generating the trolling of a Buddhist message board. Or are you asleep?

      1. The Grand Canyon
        The Grand Canyon August 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm |

        Donkeys cross over.
        Horses cross over.
        Cross over.
        Cross over.

  17. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote August 13, 2015 at 8:53 pm |

    Brighty crosses down at the river, pays no mind to cactus; we’ll pull this party.

  18. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon August 14, 2015 at 4:08 am |

    “A teaching outside of the scriptures” does not mean “a teaching ignorant of the scriptures,” but some people who claim to be Zen Buddhists do not seem to know that Mindfulness is part of Zen Buddhism, part of all Buddhist sects, because it is part of the Eightfold Path.

    Buddhism crosses over.
    Mindfulness crosses over.
    Freds don’t cross over.
    Freds enjoy drowning
    themselves and others.
    Don’t be a Fred.
    Cross over.

  19. Fred
    Fred August 14, 2015 at 6:45 pm |

    Yes, but do you do mindfulness.

    Because 60 characters want to know.

  20. jason farrow
    jason farrow August 15, 2015 at 3:38 pm |

    sounds like fun!
    i bet it’s good for cultivation…

    i kinda like dali lama. and i like that pbs documentary that richard gere was part of….but yeah, small venues are so much better. although, i did love alice cooper when i saw him in a half stadium concert. but, that’s not the same as meeting a dharma teacher and asking questions in person, or learning from their posture.

Comments are closed.