Mindful Leadership

If you go to see people speak at a conference on "Mindful Leadership," you are probably a follower.  If you think the speakers are "thought leaders" on "mindful leadership" then you really aren't being a mindful leader, even if you fork over approximately 400 bucks for the "early adopter fee."

If you think:

Workplace leadership is all about growing the business, meeting the deadline, closing the deal, and finishing the project. And the speed and pace can be intense - getting it done faster, better, cheaper and smarter. Such a work style with all its ambition and energy has its benefits no doubt, but it also has a profound blind spot: in our relentless pursuit of ‘success’, we often forget to live our lives. When we lead a career that is excessively focused on being more successful, more admired or just more comfortable, we can deceive ourselves into neglecting the world around us, where we end up managing our lives rather than actually living them. 

and you're not some guy named Michael Carroll, that's another person's narrative, somebody else's picture of a rice cake, so to speak. 

Where do you find yourself?

Video: James Brown

James Brown. James Brown. James Brown.

Are you ready for the Night Train?

out of the hospital

Out of the hospital today after a week's stay. Came home with a bushel of meds and a laundry list of good and sometimes well-intentioned advice and I am exhausted. Heart and liver seem to be of interest. I am grateful for well-wishes and thankful for those held in reserve. Thank you, everyone.

I see Joshu Sasaki died in the week's meantime ... there always seems to be a "meantime."

I see no one has discovered who put up the white flags on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City over a week ago. They ran DNA tests. The cops came out with guns ... but somehow no one could get the story. One of those robotic, buxom newscasters with shoulder-length hair and a sense of self that would do Gaza and Israel proud commented about the flags, "we are not amused," as if perhaps her wisdom would flush the perpetrators.

I see Israel and Gaza are talking once again as if they really did care about a ceasefire.

Across the street in the 4:30 afternoon light, a gaggle of small brown sparrows seemed agitated by the fact that some of the flock had become trapped behind the screening on a neighbor's porch. There were birds on the outside of the screens while others fluttered within -- as in a rich man's airy collection. I called over my neighbor since I could not walk across the street and asked him to let them go.

And he did.

The conversation moves on…

I was sitting the first mini-retreat I'd been able to have in years  - or returning therefrom - when Joshu Sasaki died.

Brad Warner somewhere talks about saying something about Sasaki and getting a bunch of vitriol in return.

The vitriol was in hindsight reasonable to have been expected.

But...  the retreat....

We have an essence that is fundamentally empty and awake, and we can know that fundamental emptiness and awareness of subject and object, host and guest,  ailing and caregiver.  Putting all thoughts and conceptions away - including the one about putting all thoughts and conceptions away - is key to this awareness.

This awareness is very....important...it's sort of the thing that is.

In view of that, your transgressions, my transgressions, Joshu Sasaki's transgressions are not excused,  and are certainly not condoned or encouraged, but they're also ... harmonized, or in a sense "justified."  By justified I don't mean that it was in any way morally or ethically correct for any of us to transgress, but rather by justified I mean that word in the sense that the transgressions are exactly in the place and time they are in, and in the presence of boundless compassion, are not really so problematic.

It presents a couple of new koans though... such as OK, so we're all awake fundamentally, so what to do with perpetrators of transgressions, those who've done things significantly more harmful than dropping cigarette ashes on a stone Buddha?  And what to do with those who can't even get to the vantage point to be able to ask the last question?

It's why I had some questions recently about some teachers' "teaching," in response to the scandal thing.

But I must say I don't have great pat one-size-fits-all answers to those questions, and perhaps we're not supposed to have them.  Your view? 

Scintillating Sounds

I'm moving in two weeks, so my life is pretty much centered around preparing for the move--attorney phone call, change of address forms, and packing. Yesterday I was in the middle of a workout on my home gym when I was gripped by an urge to straighten some tools in the corner of the basement. Soon I found myself rotating between shoulder presses and boxing painting supplies.

It wasn't a rushed or anxious back-and-forth, but more like the kind we do when cooking several dishes at one time. You stir the sizzling onions, then strain the pasta, check the quiche in the oven... Like that.

I pulled the peg board off the wall, where I hang light tools like a saw and hammer, and began to remove the metallic posts and pegs. The board stands about three feet square, and the pegs were stuck in holes scattered across its surface.

At first I tried holding onto the pegs once I removed them, but there were too many and soon they started falling out of my hand onto the cement floor. Eventually I just let them fall where would.

What I noticed was that pegs made high pinging notes as they struck the floor. Depending on the height of the drop, the peg produced a higher or lower note. Metal pegs and posts rained, and sharp, beautiful notes sounded.

It was everyday music like the clanking of spoons or the singing of birds.

When I was done removing the pegs, the music stopped. I gathered up the pegs, placed them inside of a box, and finished my shoulder workout.

36 Hour Tahoma Sesshin

Just enough for legs.

Very long ferry line on the way.

Clouds on Tahoma.

Joshu Sasaki

Roshi-in-the-mirror-1003x1024I heard this morning that Joshu Sasaki Roshi, founder of the Mt. Baldy Zen Center, passed away on Sunday July 27th at the age of 107. I found this out just a few hours after I arrived in Portland to visit my friend Logan who has stage four esophageal cancer.

I decided I should post something about Sasaki’s death to my Facebook page. So I said what I thought was just about the most neutral thing possible. I said, “One of the greats. Whatever else you might say about him…”

This elicited what, in retrospect, was a predictable series of comments. One said I was obligated to say what I meant by “one of the greats.” One wished for the desecration of his body. One said that his case proved that “MOST (in all caps) spiritual teachers are all sexual predators.” Hitler was invoked. It just keeps on coming.

A few said he was not one of the greats. But that’s wrong. If he were not one of the greats, there would be no conversation to be had. He made an impact on a lot of lives. No one can deny that.

But y’know what? I’m not in the mood right now to engage in any conversation or debate on the matter. I’m here in Portland to hang out with a very sick friend. Here is where you can go to donate to help him deal with the horrendous expenses of being ill in the USA.

The last time this “conversation” got started, it quickly turned very ugly and shrill. I was attacked for not joining in the chorus of accusations and character assassination against Sasaki and found myself being labeled as a “psychotic sexual predator” for that. Forgive me for not wanting to engage again right now.

But if you’d like to speak to me in person about this topic or any other, there’s a list below of where I’ll be.

*   *   *

Visiting sick friends on the other side of the country is expensive! Your donations help a lot! Thank you!

*   *   *

My on-line retreat at Tricycle.com is still happening. Check it out!

*   *   *

Here’s my upcoming touring schedule:

Aug. 2 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM Half Day Zazen at Dogen Sangha Los Angeles in the Veteran’s Memorial Building 4117 Overland Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230

Aug. 16 9:30 AM – Noon at Dogen Sangha Los Angeles in the Veteran’s Memorial Building 4117 Overland Blvd. Culver City, CA 90230

Sept. 6 Houston Zen Center All Day Zazen

Sept. 9 Austin Zen Center

Oct. 3-5 Helsinki, Finland all events to be determined

Oct. 6 Movie Screening in Espoo, Finland

Oct. 8 Lecture in Munich, Germany

Oct. 9-11 Retreat in Munich, Germany

Oct. 12-17 Retreat at Benediktushof near Würzburg, Germany

Oct 18-19 Retreat in Bonn, Germany

Oct 20 Hamburg, Germany

Oct 24: Lecture in Groningen, Netherlands

Oct 25: Day-long zazen in Groningen, Netherlands

Oct 26: Lecture in Eindhoven, Netherlands

Oct 27: Evening zazen in Eindhoven, Netherlands

Oct 28: Evening zazen in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Oct 29: Lecture in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Oct 30: Lecture in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oct 31: Movie screening in Utrecht, Netherlands

Nov 1-2: Retreat in Utrecht, Netherlands

Nov 4-6 (or 3-5 possibly) Retreat in Hebden Bridge, UK

Nov 7-8 Something in Manchester, UK (to be determined)

Video: Portaits of Diversity

Over the past few years, we've learned about the heartbreaking and dharma-destroying persecutions of Muslims by a small group of Buddhist monks in Myanmar.

Fortunately, Myanmar also has monastics who exemplify the Buddha's teachings in actions and speech. This video profiles one of these monks, Venerable Tayzar Dipati, a man who cares for young HIV patients and who also mediates intercultural harmony.

And the man's face . . . Oh, it's the gift of dharma practice!


Joshu Sasaki Dies

I’ve just learned that Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi died at 4:25 pm, this Sunday, the 27th of July, 2014, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was one hundred and seven years old. Sasaki Roshi was the founder and abbot of Mount Baldy Zen Center as well as head of the Rinzai-ji organization of [Read More...]

We Are Alone, Snow All Over: Commentary on Dogen’s “Plum Blossoms” (Part 6)

What follows is the last installment of the “Plum Blossom” series based on talks that Dainin Katagiri Roshi gave during Rohatsu sesshin in 1988. This was Roshi’s last Rohatsu Sesshin and one of the last talks he gave before he began his engagement with cancer that ended with his death on March 1, 1990. The recordings [Read More...]