Because you’re an ardent fan of the DharmaRealm podcast, breathlessly waiting on the edge of your proverbial seat for any information, you’ve probably noticed that there hasn’t been a new episode in some time. Oh? You haven’t? Well, keep reading for more info…
Today’s bit of Dharma comes from my good friend Rev. Harry Gyokyo Bridge. This is a talk he gave last fall at the San Francisco Zen Center. Not only is it a good overview of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, he spends a good bit of time answering questions from those in attendance.
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I know I know. I never call. I never write. But it’s not for a lack of productivity. Here’s some stuff I’ve been working on (or care about) that I can share with y’all.
Last month, Shin Buddhist scholar Dennis Hirota delivered the Ryukoku Lecture at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Prof. Hirota is rather well known in both the academic and practitioner communities largely due to his translation work, much of which is used on a near daily basis in North American Shin Buddhist communities.
I have absolutely nothing new to say. In point of fact, I have many many old things to say. And some questions, of course, but I don’t expect anyone to have any answers.
Here’s a quick, digest-y post, full of all sorts of shameless self-promotion.
Some random, but no less important, digest-y thoughts for the waning half of January.
It is now Friday, December 4, 2009. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted anything, here at the end of a surprisingly quiet autumn for the buddha is my dj. I realize that I’ve been posting less lately. (And, my god, there’s been so much that I could have (should have?) written about!) There are real reasons for the scarcity of posts, to be sure, but rest assured the following: the primary reason I’ve been posting less is that I’ve been deeply engaged with some other projects this fall; and you can expect more from these parts in the new year.
Via the ever-wonderful RMS at the Worst Horse, I have discovered, downloaded, installed, and am now using Ommwriter. As my long-time readers know, I have a complicated relationship with all things marketed as “Zen” or “Buddhist” or in any way a part of the spirituality business to the extent that it rubs my leftist leanings the wrong way, raising my quiet indignation against the system, the market-saturated culture of oppression in which we often find ourselves.
But. I digress.
I digress because I may be a convert here. The experience of actually using Ommwriter is, to put it bluntly, pretty freakin’ cool. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it is because I was reminded yesterday about an article I read some years ago one of those articles written by a linguist or a statistician at MIT back when the Internet was still called ARPANET, the kind of paper that gets shuffled from hard drive to hard drive before ending up in some dusty corner of the web to be found by the likes of me. I can’t now recall where I found that article, but I do recall that its author claimed that word processing programs are evil. They are evil because they force users to become two fundamentally different types of people simultaneously: typists and typesetters. The art of writing, of typing, is something that requires focus and dedication. And word processing programs, to the extent that they distract you with auto-spelling corrections and troubling you with type face and fonts and margins and so on, get in the way of writing. A good writer, the author suggested, should just write and only once she’s finished, should she worry about Helvetica or Times New Roman, single or double space.
The most recently released IBS Podcast episode is a lecture by UC Chico’s Daniel Veidlinger, and it’s quite good. His overall project is to examine how changes in technology effect the way Buddhism is practice, and, in this case, he’s looking at the transition from a predominately oral and aural culture to a culture dominated by the written word in ancient South and South East Asia. In other words, the basic question is, what effect did this new invention of writing have on the early Buddhist communities? The answers may surprise you. Or, maybe they won’t, but either way the talk is well worth watching.
In other, completely unrelated news, my lovely and talented wife, a force of unrelenting good in this world, is doing a 10K run to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For those who don’t know, St. Jude’s hospitals do research to prevent childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases. So, you know, also damn good work but of a different sort than historical/textual scholarship.