Zen Talk: The Mundanity of Zen is the Essence of Its Profundity

“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but merely concentration on our usual everyday routine.” – Shunkyu Suzuki

I think that’s a point that people miss a great deal. Zen is existing in the present by having control over our minds. It’s not some exciting, shining AHHHHHHH that endures at every moment overpowering all that is. Zen is existence in the moment, or as Suzuki puts it, “concentration on our usual everyday routine.” Most of us are thinking of other things as we shower in the morning, brew our coffee and travel to work. We are planning, daydreaming, dwelling on yesterday or lord knows what else.

Zen is not doing all of those things with a feeling of blessed majesty surrounding us. Zen is doing each of those things with complete awareness of what we are doing and total existence in the moment. Zen is taking the shower and feeling the hot water as it courses over our bodies. Zen is smelling the coffee brewing and basking in its aroma. Zen is seeing all that passes us as we make our way to work. Zen is not being distracted by the constant running of our minds but existing in the constant presence of the moment.

Practice mindfulness and being present. Enjoy your life in each moment as it happens. Don’t constantly plan for the future and dwell in the past. Live moment to moment. That is, in essence, living.

What do you think about this quote? What does it make you think?

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Tweak’s Underpants are Getting Stolen and the Boys Take on Big Business and Harbucks in “Gnomes,” South Park Episode 217

I love the underpants gnomes. Not only are they a great part of South Park mythology (and also Santa’s little helpers during the Holiday Season), but they teach us great lessons about our understanding of big business in this country.

We have a lot of trouble understanding how exactly big business and corporations do what they do. People with small businesses and little coffee shops like Tweek’s father like to think that big corporations are evil and terrible, but they started out small once too and got to where they did being good.

This misunderstanding is most clear when the gnomes show us their business plan. Step 1: Collect Underpants. Step 2: ?. Step 3: Make money. We just don’t know what it is that corporations are doing to get rich.

And it’s awful the way Tweek’s father uses the boys to make his case against Harbucks, the evil coffee chain he thinks is trying push him out of business. The commercial, however, is hilarious.

The episode is funny and has some great points. Check it out.

Do you like this episode? What’s your favorite part?

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“Something Wall-Mart Comes This Way,” South Park 809, Teaches That We Are the Soul of Wal-Mart

“If you want it to go away, all it takes is a little self control and personal responsibility,” Kyle tells people about how to get Wal-Mart out of South Park.

A lot of people don’t like Wal-Mart because they think it’s a big, giant, evil company. Moreover, it destroys local businesses by undercutting their prices. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m not that interested in mom-n’-pop stores most of the time. I know it sounds cruel but I like options, comfort and convenience. That’s not to say that I love Wal-Mart.

I used to love Wal-Mart when I lived in Atlanta, but for some reason, the Oakland Wal-Mart (there are none in San Francisco proper) sucks. The prices are high and it’s not that great. I don’t know why. Target, I found, was much better, but it still poses the same problem to small local business.

However, are these problems and the evil Wal-Mart does in the world reason enough for it not to be allowed somewhere? I don’t think so. If Wal-Mart buys the land and builds the store and you don’t like it – don’t go! That’s exactly what Kyle was trying to say. It’s not Wal-Mart that destroys local businesses – it’s our personal decisions to go there and buy its crap. It’s a free market and the choice lies with us. Have some self control and accept personal responsibility and Wal-Mart won’t matter.

People say similar things about Starbucks being evil and a big corporation and that it destroys local coffee-shops but you don’t have to buy your coffee there. People just do. Starbucks failed in Israel and Australia because the people just wouldn’t buy it. They thought their own coffee was better. Big corporations don’t have to succeed – we allow them to succeed. So, don’t bitch about Wal-Mart. You don’t like it? Don’t buy it.

Do you hate Wal-Mart? Do you like this episode and its message? Do you think I’m an idiot and need to tell me so?

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Funny Definitions to New and Old Words

Thought you might enjoy these as a nice change of pace. In keeping with the spirit of this blog, I’ve bolded the religious ones. Hope you enjoy – make sure to comment about which one is your favorite and let me know if you have anymore.

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.

12. Karmageddon: It’s when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes, and it’s a serious bummer.

13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you

14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

18. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

1. coffee, n. the person upon whom one coughs.

2. flabbergasted, adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. abdicate, v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade, v. to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. willy-nilly, adj. impotent.

6. negligent, adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. lymph, v. to walk with a lisp.

8. gargoyle, n. olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. flatulence, n. emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. balderdash, n. a rapidly receding hairline.

11. testicle, n. a humorous question on an exam.

12. rectitude, n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. pokemon, n. a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. oyster, n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. circumvent, n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Got any others? Which was your favorite?

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Around the World Pic of the Day: Spinoza Street in Amsterdam

Jay at Spinoza Street

Jay at Spinoza Street

After 5 trips to Amsterdam I finally made it to the only place that I ever really wanted to go (aside from coffee shops and live sex shows, of course): Spinoza Street.

I really never cared about seeing that much else in Amsterdam, though I guess I have. Five times there and I’ve still never been to the Anne Frank House. I just don’t care. I’ve taken canal tours, hung out all over the city, relaxed in parks, and seen plenty of the great sites and museums. Once, two friends and I even took a nice day trip to Utrecht (beautiful place).

But here I am at Spinoza Street. Why do I care about this and why am I sharing with you what hardly seems like a religious site? Well, Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza was perhaps one of the greatest and most important philosophers to ever think and write about religion. His thought pretty much changed the face of the European Enlightenment, sending it in directions no one could have predicted. His intellect was truly mind-boggling and his words sensationally fascinating.

One of my favorite books of all time, Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, is overwhelmingly incredible in the scope and depth of its thought as well as the magnitude of its impact. I can read it again and again without my amazement ceasing even momentarily. Everyone should read this book (click HERE to purchase it now!).

Spinoza, though not the first to know it, was the first to make a stink out of the fact that there is no conceivable way that Moses could have written the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis-Deuteronomy), also known as The Five Books of Moses (I was asked if this could be the subject of a Fun with the Bible Monday – it will be). He investigated the Bible in a truly scholarly way, and indeed, was the first person ever known to live outside of any religious community. In abandoning his Judaism he never actually converted to Christianity, an unprecedented move that resulted in an amazing, if lonely life.

My reverence for Spinoza and his brilliant mind made me concerned only with visiting the street in Amsterdam – his home town – that bears his name. So, it’s a “religious” site for two reasons. First, because it commemorates a man whose life was dedicated to the scholarly study of religion and philosophy and second because I effectively made a pilgrimage there (even though it took me five times to get the pilgrimage right, but hey, Amsterdam can be a pretty distracting place….pretty lights…).

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19 Ways to Enjoy Life a Little More

I thought I’d change it up a bit today and share something with you that made me laugh. My favorite was definitely number 7 and any of you who knows the spirit of this blog will understand why. Here’s a list of 19 things that might help you enjoy life a bit more. Sure, they’re not all great, but the execution of one or two could be pretty special.

1. At Lunch Time, Sit in Your Parked Car with Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer at Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don’t Disguise Your Voice.

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that.

4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It ‘In.’

5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once everyone has gotten over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.

6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write ‘For Smuggling Diamonds’.

7. Finish All Your sentences with ‘In Accordance With the Prophecy.’

8. Don t use any punctuation.

9. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.

10. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat…use a serious face.

11. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is ‘To Go.’

12. Sing Along At The Opera.

13. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don’t Rhyme.

14. Put Mosquito Netting around Your Work Area And Play tropical Sounds All Day.

15. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can’t Attend Their Party Because You’re not in the Mood.

16. Have Your Coworkers Address You by Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.

17. When The Money Comes Out of The ATM, Scream ‘I Won!, I Won!’

18. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking lot, Yelling, ‘Run For Your Lives, They’re Loose!!’

19. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. ‘Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go.’

Which one’s your favorite? Do you have any you’d like to add to the list?