Monday, March 31, 2008


I spent nearly all my spare time this weekend with my nose buried in Bob Spitz’s book “The Beatles,” which I finally finished. (All 800-plus pages!)

It’s interesting to learn more about the band I thought I already knew so well. I never knew, for example, that Ringo Starr was so sickly as a child, and as a result had little formal education. I also never knew just how strung out John Lennon got, or how much Paul McCartney worked to hold together the Beatles’ empire (in ways that often made him seem controlling and demanding). Spitz clearly isn’t enthralled by Yoko Ono, but drugs were the real villain in the Beatles saga. How could anyone work and maintain a business empire with that much LSD and pot and, in John’s case, heroin coursing through their veins?

I loved learning about individual songs and how they came about - I never knew that “Bungalow Bill,” for example, was written about a pair of American guests at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India who went off on a hunting safari one day. Fascinating!

Anyway, when I wasn’t reading, I was out exploring. My friend Kate and I went walking through parts of Queens and Brooklyn on Saturday - we ultimately spent about six hours on the hoof, and I have lots of photos to show for it. Then Bob and I went out Saturday and again last night, and I went to the gym.

I skipped the Zendo. I am definitely in a retreat phase in my formal Zen practice. I could say that I’ve had a lot going on, and that’s certainly true, but the real truth is that at the moment, I just don’t feel like practicing much. I’ve been feeling some doubts lately - about whether I’m replacing the distractions of daily life with the distractions of ceremony within the Zendo, for example. Aside from the sitting, which I do believe to be important and effective, isn’t it all - the robes, the incense, the liturgy - just another distraction?

(Photo: Bench at the New York Botanical Garden, March 2008)


Anonymous said...

I don't think any spiritual path is true to our human spirit without crises of faith.

It's good to doubt, good to question and really good to take a break from EVERYTHING.

Bless those Beatles! What a wonderful focus. 800 pages? Wow. I might have to read it.

Anonymous said...

Dennis thinks the path is a long and winding road.
Dennis shares today with Merle, even though he is across the universe.

Anonymous said...

I agree -it's the sitting that is MOST important and meaningful. HEY - I leave for New York State tomorrow - while I'll be 8 hours away from you in Buffalo, I will be seeing New York plates. Job interview at Buffalo State College!

Anonymous said...

800 pages! I'm lucky if I can get through an issue of Road & Track in a week! Still need to read Tampa Boy, and finish the book I'm on, and play with the baby, and.....

Be a good chap and ship your brother some spare time!

On a personal note...There is some irony in persuing simplification just to find it creates opportunity for complication of a different flavor...might I suggest working on a bicycle? :)

Anonymous said...

Don't be judgmental of your intentions. What happens, happens.

Oh, and happy birthday too, Dennis.

Anonymous said...

distractions? or part of the stuff of life too?

everything goes through phases and ups and downs doesn;'t it?

Anonymous said...

Steve: this for you

"I had dokusan with Suzuki Roshi during
sesshin. I felt lost and far from home at that point in my life,and I asked him if big mind was lost
in the dark,too.

He said,"No, not lost in the dark, working in the dark!" and he moved his arms about, demonstrating. He said it was like the many-armed
statue of Avalokiteshvara, and he made the statue come to life for a moment."

From David Chadwick and Shunryu Suzuki's "To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki"