Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lebowski Koans

Things were a little different this Saturday. Bernie Glassman and Moshe Cohen were giving the talk as part of their weekend workshop. When I came up from the zendo at ten, I was worried on two counts - one that perhaps nobody had shown them the form for entering the Buddha Hall, and all the other ritual that precedes a dharma talk, and then, once I saw that the previous session of the workshop was still in full swing in the dining room, that we wouldn't have time to get this all straightened out and still start on time. Plus I had to figure out a multitude of microphones for the video livestream as well as for the audio for the people who were actually here.
Happily I realised, once the two of them were waiting for me outside the Buddha Hall,  that it was clear that the thing for me to do was let go of my usual ideas and just enjoy the unfolding of the event. As Bernie said, they don't really plan anything. I have just watched the first few minutes of the video, and you get a sense of how it was - Mary the jiko and David the doan did an admirable job of going with the flow as well. Luckily the ancillary comedy routine of Mary and I trying to disentangle all the wires is off-camera...
Normally I am not big on clowns - I fall into the snooty category that Moshe mentions in the talk - but I was laughing a lot during this, and also deeply appreciating the points that were being raised. We need people to shake us out of our usual frames of reference from time to time. Watching the way they offered incense and did the bows and the 'backwards gassho', I felt how closely it cleaved to the strict formality we are used to in such circumstances, and which is such a big part of my job, while shining a fresh light on it all. And the 'Lebowski koans' that were invoked by Bernie, notably 'new shit has come to light' are not separate from anything we do. As he said, new shit is always coming to light.
Anyway, if you want to know how it was, watch the video, it is much funnier than I am.

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