These Nights’ Sleep These Days

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Yogi of Oslo is the master of our chanting recordings. Now we are cleaning up some excellent recordings of the temple bell at Zen Center Regensburg.

Yogi has peaked my interest in nasal- (versus mouth-)breathing. So, I’m now trying taking out the so-expensively constructed polymer mouthpiece that broke in one try. I’m going more low tech!

The NASA-grade polymer prosthesis (Schnarschiene, auf Deutsch) fellow and was made unusable. It had to be replaced. A new one is molded together. The new sharp stabbing pain makes it unusable, for all intents and purposes, until I can reshape it. It feels like fucking whale-bone corset of my sleeping mouth. Several years running, at least 1.5, 2 years now I’ve drifted into sleep with a polyethylene hair shirt on: in my mouth, from lights out, a plastic mouthpiece. I’m told I need to give this brain and heart more breathed-in oxygen and rhythmic release. Not these long unbrearging cliffhanger sleeping experience. My apnea is pretty severe, so it is very important to use this thing daily. But now, I’m going bareback, with low-tech packing tape on the maw. Try this for a few weeks.

Not taking apnea seriously merely makes much stronger the probability that I will need to confront something neurologically degenerate, over a period of years, that winds me down a gyre into senility. It runs in the family, you could say, on the German side. Some Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. I could be susceptible for it, though my parents both retained remarkably agile minds well into their final months and even hours of life.

Me declining from this is not such a problem. As I grow more useless and incommunicable, surely there will come the inevitable point where people can finally leave me alone. I will not be looked to for making meditation gatherings and events happen, and could meditate more without entanglements, just nursing at my own solitude.

I could let things go. That would be no problem. To be desired!

But without a family, the mental decline aspect of aging — in this hyper-connected digital age — places burdens necessarily on the shoulders of people around me, going forward, and they will feel obligated to add this aging burden (me) to the already looming pack of concerns that they carry on their backs just to survive in this hard-charging world.

I read something recently about more liberalized euthanasia practices in Switzerland. I noticed myself making a mental note to go back and look into these people. I will want to have that option already fully researched while I still have sanity. This is actually a project on my to do list.

I saw it with caring for the aging monks. Things reach a point where there is just this utterly helpless dependence on others. Some old monks and nuns even needed to have their own asses wiped sometimes by other people. I flipped poo-nuggets out of the trousers of one old monk, in a public bathroom at a restaurant where he had misjudged the sensation to “release gas“, depositing instead in his pants a solid package in place of something felt as gaseous. In the case of this monk, his senses and mental faculties were in such decline that he did not notice the massive plume of stink that was coming from his pants as we sat together in a coffee shop at a restaurant in Seoul. Several other monks and him, enjoying lunch. And him not even realizing that that fart he was releasing his instead a poo-packet, and it was evidently lodged against his leg in his pants. The smell covered several tables in our area of the restaurant. We had all noticed that this fart was lingering far, far, far long – – no parabola curve on that one. The old Mont had pooped his pants, we realized, and needed to scramble him to the public bathroom to rectify it with our bare hands. I have seen this, how old monks and nuns decline. There is a cascade of bad developments that become and incapacitating torrent. And you are at the mercy of who is around to help, since you gave up your family to pursue this path.

Actually, aging as a monk is a blessing. For these old Korean monks I was with in their decline, there was a very grateful temple community surrounding them which lavished all of the attention and care for them and their weirder and weirder bodily needs as they descended into mental detachment and eventually total entropy, systems failure. Remember, aging monks in a temple are people who have lived there perhaps since their childhood, at least since young adulthood. They are ingrained in the very fabric, the very sinews of the place. These nuns-and-monks-in-decline had a community to attend to them.

And attend they most certainly did. Shuttled back-and-forth to doctors visits, the support crew making sure that medicines were ready and taken on time, doctors brought in to them when they needed it, a real family effort!

But I am living alone, and could become a non-functional In an apartment somewhere without even a single legal family member committed to seeing that I am at least OK. That is the path that you choose as a monk.

So, being more mindful of reducing the apnea, to mitigate neurological decay/incapacitation, and having the reliable contact for a good Swiss euthanasia firm.

A new technique to try. Some clamp on this dirty mouth-trap spewing such ego-filled sewage instead of true Dharma. A muzzle on this barking snout. Like an attack dog that’s traveling on the UBahn or SBahn.

Dharma Combat from New York

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I get this photo in a WhatsApp message a few days ago from my old buddy DS Sunim. Where did he come up with making this? I guess he’s responding to these machine-learning sites that modify photos in ways that only skills in PhotoShop Pro could enable before.

And he left a BAM! message along with this:
If I post this somewhere on social media, ”You will up your following by 1,000,000,000 LOL”.


DS is a canary in a coal mine. This lockdown-inspired public-facing YouTube presence every day live, together, might be leading my life as a practitioner-guide, for better and for worse, into some public notoriety which is distracting. Fame itself, renown, recognition, however great or small, can be among the most toxic polluting experiences, for the stability of mind.

It might be time to retire. I actually think about that — stop the activity that inspires the entanglements and the busyness, which only increase with increased renown. We do not know when the gaff will boat us out of this short time we have had to strive meaningfully for, and dwell in, simple awakeness, growing into awakeness, and growing back in.


If that is the case, if DS’s words and image of tussled blond hair and Lady Gaga-of-Zen look are riffing on that vibe, then this head must be shaven so fucking clean every fucking day. Every single stubble of it.

I notice the thought quite often flitting by: “Don’t generate that ‘fame’ experience again. So traumatic for a meditator, so toxifying.” But DS’s point looms already inside during the length of doing twice-daily livestream: having some public presence, leading this meditation. I worry about the attention coming in, and I notice the irony of using this tech and also being genuinely concerned that this does not run out of control into some other public volume. That is all. Zen Master Bassui: “My true desire is to relieve others of their pain, though I myself may fall into hell.”

So, clearly, I am hesitant about recognition, and also feeding it by doing this livestream, by sending out teaching-videos, by helping in my dumb way the Google/YouTube algorithm to spread out these teaching-videos to new viewers. But I have genuine worry that this could saddle with new obligations.

This dilemma of solitude versus the tug-and-pull of busyness which comes from any sort of retreat or organization, gives me pause with the forthcoming meditation app (due in May or June). It’s just a tool we’re tossing out there for the benefit of others. For free to access, or maybe just 1, max 2 EUR to cover all of this professional programming and the design needs. I’m not doing it to make some profit. I’m making it so that there is a skeleton, a minimalist architecture for individuals here and there to build out a consistent, daily practice in this hectic world. Online or not. The intention is (and I am certainly biased in this) one of simply wishing to give back. I’ve given strict instructions that any image of my face or person be kept to the absolutest of minimum, that this app not be built around some “identity” or figure. If there is some photo of me anywhere in the app — and there might be one fleck, for a human “connection”, it will be the back of my fucking head. Just a depiction of the meditating Everywoman, or Everyman. Not clear if male or female. Cutting off outside concerns. Only don’t knowwww… If there is a need for some image, it would only be that shaven bald back of a head hanging in inky space.

But will this new app bring in waves of interest that whip up all sorts of needless busyness and pulling again from people to travel here or there to “teach”? This is my sole trepidation with this. It’s so unnecessary. And yet, when you see the apps out there, so commercialised and focusing on just relaxation or stress-relief — you see that maybe such an app as this might be necessary, however much I hate to admit it. But its intent will be only to give a clear and totally portable frame-architecture of the daily practices themselves — Morning and Evening Practice. There will be timed sitting periods, unguided (default) and guided (for first-timers). There will be the option to receive randomly-timed “nudges” — soft-spoken admonitions to come back from the wandering thought-stream to the breath and Question. There will be the option also not to receive these nudges, and just sit left alone in your boundless vast space of this infinite right-Now.

New Video: “Terror, Retreats, and Zen” // 새 비디오 법문: “테러, 사찰식 묵언정진 수련, 그리고 선 (禪那)”

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Dropping a new video. Tell us if they’re no longer useful for supporting your daily practice, or just more distraction, we’ll stop cranking them out. Releasing each video feels like a spinning Tibetan prayer wheel sending some aspect of the Dharma out into the Internet space. This is only what is foolishly hoped for — using social media’s self-promotion algorithm gods who must be served. But we can stop. We are absolutely not committed to some sort of mission with this. Please tell — tell us when to stop!

The link to the as-yet unreleased video. It will premier during the regular livestream Morning Practice that we always hold except for this week.

https://youtu.be/ePEev70Rpes

Moment-to-Moment Man Haeng in Munich /// 뮌헨으로 만행

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I had a short visit out to Munich for one day, all masked up and super-vigilant. But now it’s after being together strongly over several days before that. Today was a lightning Munich return right after leading Sunday morning mainly Korean, any Q&A time, back here to Munich only to answer a kind and unexpected invitation to the home of a great matriarch before we all spread into several directions for work and cannot meet again for the next several weeks like this… A stopover in the nunnery, and laughing on the balcony under this brilliant sky.

In the morning before sunrise, up and caring for the livestream which we project remotely as a rerun now, I will be back in Regensburg early, back in the temple again before lunch.

See you all in the livestream beginning on Monday night live from Zen Center Regensburg again. Please forgive the lack of live transmission for this one day.