Took Kairi and the gang to Kelly & Yuka's Wedding.
Kairi and I spent most of the time wandering around, walking down stairs and up escalators, and doodling pictures. Ah, to by four again.
So I spent a few days in Tokeiin, a temple in the foothills of Shizuoka Prefecture, at a zen retreat. It was lead by Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen and Soto Buddhist Priest. And it was, surprisingly, a most beneficial experience. The food was awesome, too. Turns out the cook was a retired professional chef, so instead of the boring pious monk meals, we had some great stuff including tempura and veggie curry.
I was worried I'd be surrounded by crystal-hugging new age hippies, but was pleased to discover an international crowd (Spain, Canada, USA, France, Lithuania, Argentina, Ireland) of folks generally sincere and pleasant.
Typical day went something like this: 4:30 am wake up. Sit. Eat. Clean. Sit. Discuss. Sit. Eat. Sit. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
I am not entirely convinced that the religion of Buddhism is necessary, though it certainly seems a better alternative than any other religion (a quote I heard and a challenge I make to fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, and Jews: "The principles of Zen Buddhism will not oppose reality, the realm of science.") The zen however, is another thing altogether. I thought swinging a sword for two hours every day was hard. Try this: Sit with your legs crossed reasonably uncomfortably (I recommend full lotus). Relax. Now stare at the wall. And don't move. For 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 45 minutes.
Hard, isn't it? Not exactly inspirational, but the idea is that if you can sit and deal with your own random thoughts for half an hour, then all the other crap in life won't bug you as much. That's an extremely abridged version of an incredibly limited understanding, but you get the idea.
Oh yeah, I also did 20 minutes of yoga. It was incredibly grueling. I will never make fun of yoga hippies again.
So I am attempting some discipline and continue to wake up at 5:30 every morning and sit for half an hour. Does it help?