Wonderland Selected for The Best Buddhist Writing 2010

Wonderland Selected for The Best Buddhist Writing 2010

Doen Sensei’s insightful and though-provoking Wonderland:  The Zen of Alice, which was published by Parallax Press in October 2009, was recently selected to appear in The Best Buddhist Writing 2010, edited by Melvin Mcleod.  This is the seventh annual compilation of the most notable Dharma writings of the year,  compiled by editors of the Shambala Sun and published by Shambala Publications.
In recent years this annual compilation has featured the work of John Daido Loori, Roshi; Thich Nhat Hanh; the Dalai Lama; Pema Chodron; Sylvia Boorstein; Natalie Goldberg; and many other deeply respected teachers and writers.
In the brief six months since Wonderland was first published, its critical acclaim has been gratifying.  The book has received enthusiastic reviews, has climbed Amazon’s charts, and is being translated into several languages.  Congratulations to Doen Sensei!

Poem for Daido

Poem for Daido

It was everything really
The sound of the snow as I shifted from foot to foot.
The air sharp, thin and cold
The white pines long arms reaching skyward
Needles turning in the wind.
The chanting.
Fire in the stone pit
The smell of char.
The burned paper notes of remembrance float
Around me
In the wind:
they are passing through the needled branches of the white pines,
black moths
set free.
In memoriam, John Daido Roshi
~Caryn Silberberg

Photo by Ba Rea
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

The laugh’s on me:
  this year’s man
    is last year’s man.

            ~Ching An
A new year, a new decade.  Several of my friends have groused recently about new year’s celebrations.  Why make a big deal out of an arbitrary “turning point”?  It’s just a calendar date!  And I’ve felt the same way sometimes too.  New Year’s parties, sure; Times Square (even on TV), nope.
Others look at the first day of the new year as a completely fresh start, a genuinely new year.  The strike of midnight wipes the slate.  Out come the journals and lists, with reflections on the past year and resolutions for the new year.  Some very accomplished people I know set goals—monthly, quarterly, whatever—for the coming year.  And a few of them actually always attain those goals.
I’m writing this with about 45 minutes to go (in our time zone), listening to five amazing young girls running wild and getting ready to go outside and light fireworks and bang on pots and pans and scream “Happy New Year!”  I’ll ask them, but I’m pretty sure none of them have set any actual resolutions for 2010—yet their excitement is the most genuine I’ve known.  (Maybe it’s just staying up late and going outside and making lots of noise without getting yelled at by the neighbors?)
I’ve fallen somewhere in the middle this new year.  I enjoy the celebration, and parties with fires and lights and fireworks in the dead of Winter, so soon after the Solstice—so I’m not in the Bah, Humbug! crowd.  But nor have I drawn up a list of resolutions.  I do, though, have a few things rattling around that I’d like to work on, and an ineffable sense that the turning of a “new year” is as good a time as any to get going on them.
And maybe that’s my middle ground.  It’s as good a time as any, and any time is a good time.  January 1st  is a great day to start sitting longer each day, get more exercise, try to be more present when talking to my family and friends and while at the office.  But so are June 15th, and October 30th, and December 21st.   They’re all good days to let go of fear, drop off body and mind, and deepen my practice.
Wherever you fall in the celebrating-New-Year spectrum, I hope that 2010 is filled with beauty and delight.

Photo by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton
Hello, San Francisco

Hello, San Francisco

San Francisco
What do Alice in Wonderland, The Blue Cliff Record, San Francisco, and Kill Bill have in common?  Daniel Doen Silberberg Sensei, who has recently moved to San Francisco and will be holding the SF group’s first meeting next week.
On December 16th, Doen Sensei will hold an introductory class for anyone who is interested in Lost Coin’s unique blend of Zen, the Fourth Way, science, art, technology, and much more.  Doen Sensei is known for his accessible, humorous, and profound teaching style, and his newly-established San Francisco group is growing quickly.
If you’re in the Bay area, please stop by.  The meeting will be on December 16, 2009, from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at 77 Park Hill Avenue, near Buena Vista Park. There is no charge, and please feel free to bring a friend or friends.
If you’ve read Doen’s new book, Wonderland:  The Zen of Alice, you’ve already had a taste of Doen’s style. This is your chance to journey down the rabbit hole with him in person, without having to travel to Salt Lake City, Germany, Florida, England, or any of the other places where Lost Coin has a strong presence.
We hope to see you there.  If you can’t make it to the December 16th meeting, please contact us at contact@lostcoinzen.com, and we’ll let you know when the next meeting will be.

Photo by Frank Kehren

Protons and Neutrons

Protons and Neutrons: A Song

So here’s something a bit unusual, inspired by several things that Doen’s talked about lately.
A few weeks ago, Doen was talking about how the generation a bit younger than I am is really going to shake up the world because it’s the first generation when it’s been okay–even cool–to be smart.  That certainly wasn’t the case when I was young.  A few like-minded geeks tolerated it, of course, but for the most part being nerdy was just, well, nerdy.  Not in any way cool.  Even the bookish nerds stayed away from the sci fi nerds who stayed away from the band geeks, etc.
That all led me straight to the Nerdfighters, and Doen’s recent comments about focusing on being yourself.  Doing what you want.  Knowing that whatever you are is good, even if there are ways you want to improve.  Not caring what others think of you, but not being a jerk, either.
Wait–Nerdfighters?  Yes, Nerdfighters.  It’s an amazing community that was started (I believe) by two amazing men, the brothers John and Hank Green.  John writes laugh-until-you-cry funny, sublimely beautiful novels.  Hank’s a singer and an activist; his songs are geeky and quirky and not for everyone, but I really like him.  Between the two brothers and the Nerdfighters community, they’ve elevated “making it okay to be smart” to a level I never would have imagined.  They give amazing kids and young adults encouragement and space to be outrageously nerdy and geeky and whatever they are, and they bring a lot of beauty to the world in the doing of it.  (You can check them out at Nerdfighters or their youtube  page.)
Anyway, to bring the circle around:  Doen talked the other night, as he so often does, of “now” being all there is.  Just now.  For me at least, that ties straight in to the practice of being fully aware.  And tonight I heard for the first time one of Hank Green’s songs called “Protons and Neutrons:  A Song.”  When I heard it, and especially later when I watched the video, I felt very aware and in the now,  awed by the world, completely nerdy, and very comfortable in my nerdiness.  I could almost feel the protons and neutrons streaming through the photos and through the sounds of Hank’s guitar.  And yes, I realize how dorky that sounds.
Perhaps you won’t like the music, but I doubt anyone will find it grating.  Listen to the lyrics; they’re beautiful and point both to the beauty of being aware and our dizzying inability to see the full picture, at least when we’re not being fully in the now.  I also think the video is gorgeous.  I’m not well-schooled in the Minor White style, but many of the images in this video reminded me of his photographs.
I do hope you like it.   (Full-screen is much nicer.)
(So, I’m not a computer geek, even though I’d like to be.  I couldn’t figure out a way to embed the video in the blog so there’d be a cool image, or even how to copy the Nerdfighters logo.  No pretty picture with this post, but really–the video’s worth the three minutes!)