Everything has gone online. Our daily practice at Zen Center Regensburg is also online, as a free twice-daily YouTube livestream.
But we’ve realized that the YouTube livestream-experience is not giving people clear training in the fundamentals that we would give in a normal retreat. One can’t just expect people to turn on YouTube and sit there along with us, right out of the blue, without having been instructed in the ways to use this mind-hack technology properly. You can give an experienced driver a wonderful car, and maybe there is a chance they will drive it well from the free gift alone; for beginners, you need to give them, along with the car, clear and meticulous instructions on driving and maintenance. There needs to be a more structured training in how to build an at-home practice, especially since public gatherings and retreats have become such a fraught affair.
So, an online course is appearing.
I will be introducing Zen practice from the ground up. Everything from the sitting posture, how to work with breath, and how to regard the “great question“. It will be structured, and topical, attempting to meet the common issues faced by people who attempt to build a practice, whether in Sangha or alone. And in these times, with pandemic social distancing and the lack of gatherings for retreat, now more than ever it seems necessary to provide the fullest possible curriculum for folks to use to build a practice, right where they are.
The course will be subscription based: It has required thousands of dollars to produce these videos and this curriculum. Equipment needed to be purchased — stuff I never thought I’d own before. And, on top of that, the viewers will be receiving the juice of a 30-years’ practice, distilled and organised to train them as if they took a weeks-long course from a breathing Zen master. Just because the teacher is a penniless monk doesn’t make that fact any less salient. The funds that are received, after covering the enormous (to me!) investments in equipment and professional assistance from a team of extremely skilled people (among them, two PhDs!), will all be used in support of Dharma work. Ain’t no one buying lux vacations out of this.
We expect the course to come online in around beginning to mid-October. It’s REALLY looking good. I have been calling this “my symphony” — it truly feels like such an airtight presentation of the three decades of practice and intensive training, the teaching and experience leading retreats the world over. I’m really happy to be offering it — soon — in full public view.