Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Always easier to hate on dudes, nahmsayin'? I shit on Breaking Open the Head and 2012 before: fine.

Not saying you shouldn't read 'em — I just put 'em on the same level as books by Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Paramahansa Yogananda, or Jed McKenna: pulpy plane-flight entertainment.

Here're a couple books whose authors speak more lucidly, more eloquently and more experientially about practice, its means, its ends, and the various highs and lows in between.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa

According to Georg Feuerstein's Crazy Wisdom, as well as many other accounts, Trungpa was one very weird dude who got up to some ultra-weird shit. Another instance of an Eastern adept unable to handle the West? Maybe.

Still, this book ought to be mandatory reading for anyone with a daily practice of any sort.

Two asides: First, isn't "Chogyam Trungpa" such a great fucking name? It's an amazing potpourri of consonants and syllables, all arranged most flavorfully. I often wander the house reciting aloud it and its many variations: Chogyam Trungpa, Chungpa Trogyam, Chogpa Trungyam.

Second, and this is empirically proveable in a laboratory setting, but Georg Feuerstein possesses the supernatural ability to string together words — any words! in any combination! — in such a way that sleep is automatically, instantaneously induced in the reader. Sorta like chugging a bottle of NyQuil or being sapped with a velvet-covered blackjack, only without the attendant aches.

Not only will a Feuerstein book stun its reader to unconsciousness, but all Level 3 characters or lesser within a 10-foot radius must make a Saving Throw against Sleep Spells or else succumb to a deep slumber that lasts for three rounds.

Remember, Feuerstein's Enchantment won't work on oozes, constructs, the undead, or Richard Freeman. Mainly because Richard doesn't actually need to read yoga books — he merely glances at a yoga book's Library of Congress summary to parse its contents.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Sunryu Suzuki

I can neither confirm nor deny any weirdness on the part of Sunryu Suzuki, though I'm sure there're some tell-alls out there. As with Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, though, it doesn't matter. This is a collection of transcripts of many of Suzuki's talks. He hits on aspects of practice in a clear, lucid, no-nonsense manner.


I copped a pair of used Chuck Taylors (blue) at Buffalo Exchange ... what, maybe 3 months ago? They were $14.99. "Gently worn," as the tag said.

Some d-bag stole 'em this morning from in front of the door to the yoga studio. Never mind the logistics — like, who's trolling around at 8 a.m. in an empty building? Who would steal a pair of wet, dirty, well-fucking-worn pair of Chuck Taylors? (Well, a smack/crack/meth-head, of course.)

After the incredulity passed, I gleefully entertained fantasies of laying hands on this individual, catching him in the act, as it were, and administering "frontier justice," a stiff dose of pure himsa — "harm" or "wounding."

Also, maybe a little bit of himsa for anyone who chirps "Guess it's just another lesson in non-attachment!" Not so much for the sentiment, of course, but for refusing to acknowledge the dynamic, energizing reality of anger. Anger exists. It's not going away, nor would we want it to.

Reminds me of one of those Buddhist guys — I think Milarepa — whose son was killed by bandits. Milarepa weeps, ragged and wet with tears, and one of his students asks, "But Milarepa, I thought all was illusion?"

"Yes," said Milarepa, "but some is super-illusion."

The shoe-theft anger sparked, swelled, raged, faded. I commiserated with the wife and have since funneled that heat into this post. Consequently the flames have banked and cooled.

Of course, now I'm in the market for another affordable pair of Chucks. I'll take 'em "gently used," too.