Giving Thanks

At least it was nice one day…

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the USA. For those of you reading this in other countries, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival that supposedly commemorates a day of cooperation between European settlers and native people. No comment on how things went after that.

Anyway, it’s traditional to say things you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. So here goes. The order doesn’t indicate any ranking of thankfulness. But I am listing things I think readers of this blog might be more interested in first.

I’m thankful that I encountered zazen early in my life. I’m thankful to Tim McCarthy for being there to make it available. I’m sure the job paid lousy and I know that returning to Ohio brought him a lot of trouble. Zazen has been the most valuable thing I have dedicated myself to. It’s helped me in ways I cannot possibly ever explain fully.

I’m thankful to Gudo Nishijima for his dedication to making the writings of Eihei Dogen available to English speakers like me. For many years, his translation of Shobogenzo was the only complete version available in English. Other scholars were simply not up to the arduous task of tackling the whole thing. He did it by himself in his little office on his own free time without any university backing him up and put them all to shame. Those guys think they’re hot stuff. But Nishijima was the real deal.

I’m grateful for the folks at Angel City Zen Center for sticking with it for so long. Particular shout-outs are due to John Graves, Nina Snow, Rylend Grant, Craig French, and Dave Cuomo whose dedication has helped the group endure against all odds. We’ll never be as big as the other guys out there. But we will always be better.

I’m grateful to my father and mother for a very weird upbringing. They decided to take two kids, aged seven and five, to Africa, where we lived for four years. It opened my eyes to the world in a way that never could have happened if we had stayed in Ohio.

I’m grateful to my sister Stacey for being strong and smart and cool and for raising Ben and Skylar who have grown to become more than a nephew and niece to me. They’re my friends now. I tend to forget we’re even related sometimes. Weird, huh?

I’m grateful to all the wonderful people in Europe who keep inviting me back year after year. Special shout-outs are due to Annette Mann in München who organizes stuff without any reward, and to Rebecca Habergham in Hebden Bridge and Marko in Helsinki who have had me back more than anyone else. So many people in Europe have opened their homes to me I can’t possibly list them all here. Thanks. Danke. Kiitos. Dank je. Merci. Gracias. Tack.

I am grateful to Tommy Strange, Jimi Imij and Mickey X-Nelson for accepting me as part of Zero Defex, the hardest hardcore band ever to stalk the stages of the Midwest. They didn’t just hire me to be in a band, they made me part of a big extended family. Thanks also to Jeffro Smull for keeping the flame alive.

I am grateful to Tsuburaya Productions for hiring me, particularly to the late Noboru Tsuburaya who took a chance on a weird nerd from America who dreamed of working for his company. I still feel like a part of Tsuburaya Productions even now. I was very happy to see them finally win their twenty plus year-long court case last week and take back the rights to the shows they created.

I’m grateful to Adriana for being the coolest chick in the history of cool chicks.

And finally, I am grateful to you, dear readers.

Without your kind support, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. I get royalty checks every few months for book sales. But I couldn’t possibly live on just that money. It’s barely enough to cover a couple months’ rent each year. Going out on tour brings in a bit more, but even that wouldn’t be enough to live on. It’s your donations that really make all this possible.

You are the reason I am able to write and run retreats all over the world. Without those donations, I’d have to get a “real job,” which would prevent me from traveling and would rob me of the necessary time to write — especially books requiring very intensive study like the last two I put out. I literally could not do that without your contributions.

I used to write individual thank you notes to every donor. I can’t do that anymore since I lost track of the numbers long ago. Most of you only donate a couple dollars a month. But now that there are a lot of you sending in donations, it works. So even those small donations mean a lot to me.

I hate to sound like an ego-maniac. But if I didn’t know that my writing was good, I’d have given up long ago. Still, not many people are competent judges of quality — especially when it comes to writing about Buddhism. There’s tons of fluffy cotton candy spirituality and stodgy over-intellectual hokum out there that will always outsell anything I write. You folks know better than the general public and have made it possible for me to keep giving you the good stuff.

Thank you very much!


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Every Monday at 7:30pm there’s zazen at Angel City Zen Center (NEW TIME, NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!

Every Saturday at 10:00 am there’s zazen at the Angel City Zen Center (NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!

These on-going events happen every week even if I am away from Los Angeles. Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

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DON’T BE A JERK is now available as an audiobook from as are Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up and There is No God and He is Always With You!

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I have a YouTube channel now! Check it out!


Thank you very much for making this blog possible! Your donations are my main means of supporting my teaching. If you find a little bit of truth in what I’m saying remember that even a small donation helps. Thank you!