October 10th, 2002, Serial No. 00973

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our intention
will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there
rumi as a shrimp or a it's a very famous sufi poet
who was born eight hundred years ago in afghanistan and
i was born seven hundred and fifty years after release in newark new jersey
i think it is the afghanistan of the west
my i actually i grew up in the i i was born in newark but i grew up in the suburbs of new jersey and
most of my childhood was an centered around sports on i i think when i was
when i was ten i wanted to be a professional baseball player
when i was thirteen i want to be a m
professional bowler but spent most of my time in bowling alleys in baseball fields and then i discovered golf and the i have spent many many years on the golf courses
and and actually one of my
one of my claims to fame is that i
i got a a full katie scholarship to rutgers university
but my i think is a i think of myself as a child of have been i was pretty much sleep can you guys hear me okay is working
i was pretty much sleep and
i think at age when i was thirteen i discovered that my father was manic depressive which i think was probably having a huge impact on my life and i just didn't i didn't know it and i remember my mother
sharing this with me when i was thirteen years old and
and i could see that she was she was very distressed and and she was kind of county on me to be the strong one so i was er that's that's what i thought in the house so i i can remember just taking this in and hearing her stress her distress and then i remember going up in the bathroom and crying
ah just i was totally kind of puzzled with what em what was happening and what this
life was about and i can remember
i think soon after that making a a very strong vow that i would find some way to help my father that
that it was just puzzling to me that that the mind could be so out of control that there could be and i remember watching
his ups and downs and actually
his ups were quite wonderful and everything i would go in and go and work with him and he'd be up
he'd wake me up it
five o'clock in the morning to go golfing and we'd have we'd have really good times together but it's also very painful isn't his spirit was mostly about kind of making it through the day and
very difficult to watch that
i found in a in high school i again it was a physical kind of physical practices that were that i was drawn to and i kind of threw myself into high school wrestling and i just loved i loved that sport and i became i was captain of my high school wrestling team
actually put paul i remember telling the story at a board meeting in years ago but
one of the teams that we wrestle with a high school called jp stevens and our team like most teams
when we came out on the wrestling mat we were everyone was running and cheering and there was all this kind of macho you know what kind of showing off
well this jp stevens
they walked out quietly and they all wore black and their heads were shaven
and i knew right then that was the team i wanted to be young

when i'm when i went to college you know i was as i said i think other than other wrestling with pretty much my whole life i think i had no i had a few a few friends but
i was pretty much as as pretty much sleep i feel like i kind of woke up when it came time to wrestle
yeah i was in those days it was about being lean and mean i i used to lose about twenty pounds to wrestle at the lower weights because you are you are stronger and bigger than people but everybody lost all that weight so you you had to do it to equal the playing field

in college i i fell in love for the first time against the first time that i that the strong feelings
of wanting to be with a woman arose and it was so it just totally totally threw me to be feeling all these things and and to have a this beautiful young woman who seemed to be interested in me just was pretty miraculous i thought and i note
just them
i think i i was quite on clingy and she soon she soon left me and i remember being i was totally totally heartbroken and depressed and in a way it was the first time that i had that i had felt that kind of deep deep
the feelings that again we're we're all kind of them think i was putting aside
and it was right in that time when this was i was a freshman at rutgers and i was taking a psychology class and one of the books that we had to read was a book by abraham maslow called towards the psychology of being and in that book he
muslim made it his life's work to study human beings and particularly he was interested in why some people seem to really stand out from others in terms of their the richness of their life and he was trying to study and categorize things like joy and
joy and
pain and sorrow and and connectedness and looking at what what it was about some people that was
that was really different than others that you talked about people having peak experiences people having times of great emotion or great insight and as i read this book in the midst of my own kind of depression i was
i was just tantalized and amazed by what i thought masala with saying and i realized i had i had never really given any thought to myself like it was like i i
i didn't think about my own strengths and weaknesses or that or that i could do anything that could have any effect on them and as this book just blew me away and i remember being reading it from beginning to end and i had never particularly read much other than what i had to read and i'm ever staying up most of the now
night reading this book again and
and i felt like i had this very strong ah
this kind of vow this kind of sense to myself that know what could be more what could be more important than this working on myself that that nothing nothing else seemed to matter
and that i felt like i couldn't how could i help my father or help anyone if i didn't have a clue about about who i was and what my own strengths and weaknesses were and i began reading everything i could get my hands on
having to do with
with psychology and
and i discovered i'm alan watts so i read the book
the way of zen think was was an important book for me i started reading
carl young and rollo may and all of the kind of both religious teachers and
and humanist psychologists of the times and i started taking i took every class that was offered and wreckers on religion and spirituality and and buddhism which there were not so many so i think i'm an actor
you know i think by my by my sophomore year i had exhausted all the courses that i can take and
more and more i felt like
i didn't want to be reading about these things i i wanted to actually be doing them and
i think
somewhere in there a an old friend of mine returned from san francisco
and told me that he had just gotten back from a
a place in san francisco called the humanist institute on the a masonic and it was a small a small community that were there was a teacher named tolbert mccarroll who taught meditation and there are kind of classes on eastern and western mysticism

so i took am i took a one year leave of absence from rutgers
and and headed i'm headed west for this great spiritual journey
and ah
yeah it was pretty difficult that's pretty difficult for my parents and family to to see me leave i think i i'd always been i had always been kind of the perfect student i always got really good grades and did did the things that i was so that i felt like i was supposed to do
the humanist institute i i was there for about a year sitting zazen every morning with it with a small group of people and working think i was working in a the the skill i had i learned how to type and
i was supporting myself through typing
and i would take the six masonic bus every day from near in the hate area down downtown and i think a couple times i baked bread using the tassajara bread book and that's how i first heard of them
san francisco zen center and the six masonic bus would go right by the building everyday and i can remember looking at every day i would kind of peer out the window and look over at the building and the only person that i remember ever seeing this on tommy dorsey walking sweep sweeping the war
way with this bright colored best that is them were all the time i didn't i didn't know who who he was at the time and one day i got off the bus and i and i walked into the i walked into the building and i was just i felt just completely
lee at home when i walked through the doors of this building
it's it's amazing you know i i'd in some way i tell i tell my story at a lot
in a business context and
when i talk about this sometimes to help this part of the story and mostly people look at me like do you like what are you talking about so it's kind of amazing to be here with you all know just what i'm talking about
having such intimacy with this place
i really liked that no one seemed to care whether i was here or not
that was that was important to me no one was trying to sign me up for anything it wasn't that people were unfriendly but they were clearly not friendly
and i actually i actually i actually liked that and i remember i think i have this right i don't think i'm making this up that people were were smoking and drinking coffee in the the small would i still think of as the small group i don't know what let's what's it revolved around it
the student lounge
and i and i thought this places unfriendly and people are smoking and drinking coffee they're not you know you can this is a place where you can be yourself and
not that i smoke or drink coffee
but there was this there is his voice this quiet voice that that said that in my head that said this is a place worth ten years of your life that you should stay here for ten years
and i kept it
i started coming
every morning driving i was living i think at that time i was living in the sunset and i would get in my car and drive across town and started sitting every morning and i emigrate sat every morning in the same seat next to helen women and helen
who is no longer alive set she she was always the first one and the zendo and i think i was generally the second one in the said that i could never get here before helen
and then i moved i moved into the victorian just across the street when it got tiresome to be driving and then seem like shortly after that i was i was living in the building
i remember my it was not so easy for my my parents as my my one year leave of absence begin to suddenly stretch out and
yeah i think i lived so this was i lived in the building
things nineteen seventy four seventy five and then at the time
part of the program was that you need to that the next stop was tassajara and that's what sort through this magical place that i hadn't been to but that an order to go there and stay there
you needed to he needed to earn and save enough money to go there for a couple of years and
i i was working
i got a job in a law office as a
actually linda has gotten me this job down working in a huge law firm one post street like on the twenty second floor and
it was quite in congress and strange to leave here and go work in that building and at the time this was
this was the mid seventies so i was the only man working in that office that wasn't a lawyer
so everyone assumed i was aware when i got on the elevator i was a lawyer and i was the only lawyer who wore baggy thousand pants so i was a very strange very strange lawyer
yeah i i then
i saved i know it was very easy to save money there was i didn't do anything or go anywhere other than the here are occasionally i would go with
some of these people who were drinking coffee and smoking were really interesting people and they would take me on sunday mornings to the sheraton palace for margaritas
which i thought were just part of the practice these these were off seniors senior students and they seem very serious about practising
but i went to tassajara and think is the summer of nineteen seventy six i was the dishwasher
it was a wonderful kitchen i just totally fell in love with with the kitchen on steve weintraub was the
was the tensile and jordan was the phuket and there was a lot of playing and laughing and joy and it and seriousness in that kitchen and
and i loved washing dishes it was all by hand there was no there was no electricity in the kitchen area and
and i had some fabulous assistance i remember paul disco ones once my assistant and
he wants rigged this amazing we we used to when the when the food came back from the dining room we would eat you know again and again that's that was what i was told dishwashers did and there was this that there is a sterilizer that a gas flame underneath the hot water and paul disco
built this jerry rig this incredible holder right underneath it for putting the guests left over so that the food of the warm after we watch the difference
and and then i went and then i was i was in the kitchen i was in the kitchen for practice period and then i was
i'm not i'm not sure if i have these things right i know that i was baker and i know that the the summer that i was baker was the huge the test the fire in the wilderness there that people had to evacuate and that's another another whole story but i'm never taking the bowls and flour and things out to james berg and
things just thinks it was amazing the how things adapted that were driving over the road and seeing a fire everywhere and yet you know like went on and we came back you know i was part of the crew that came back in
i think
i felt like i was just settling into tassajara when i was tapped on the shoulder one day and told that it was time for me to go to green gulch and that was again in i'm not sure exactly how things work these days and if zen center is the way
it was probably none of you are very sure about how things work and that's that's good
but it was pretty you know someone tapped me on the shoulder and said that i was going to green gulch and i was going to be in charge of the draft horse farming program and i i asked if they had misread my resume
i did i did love gymnastics in high school and i and i was good at the horse but i knew nothing about i knew nothing about horses and our farming
and i had i had never really done anything particularly physical in my in my life although i did some at tassajara in fact one of the one of the things that i love about zen center is and i loved about my experience was that i somehow was always asked to do
things that were that seem to be the most difficult or most foreign to me like being she sounds like great
but i remember i was asked to be that when i lived at tassajara i was asked to be the town trip driver and i didn't know how to drive i didn't know how to drive a stick shift
and someone took took me on the tassajara road and taught me and they said you'll either learn or you'll die
and they weren't sure zen center had insurance anyhow so i learned how to and i learned how to drive a stick shift on the tous en route and and i loved it i just loved driving that truck over the road and doing which and doing the shopping in town i have these
you know amazing wonderful memories of backing up that truck for the first time into the newton's parking lot and hitting the pillar
but i learned and then
at green gulch there i was i arrived in and i was in charge of these horses and
when i got like i think three or four days of training and the person who trained me left for tassajara
a and
but i i i fell in love with these horses and and we had kept we were and there were cows were actually every day i was up early milking daisy and
and getting the horses in from the from the fields and there was a there was a very experienced crotchety old farmer who lived up in a lima who could have saved my life many times he when we couldn't get the horse to move or do something we'd call harold heart
and he would come down and and help us in
but i learned
i learned to sew harness and i mean my whole life was about i mean i was i was sitting i was sitting in the mornings most of the time though being a farmer it was it was always a tradeoff
but farming became my practice and
yeah i learned so and i learn to weld welding was a welding was a very beautiful practice and my my welding teacher in a person who became a teacher for me was a man in harry roberts
he taught me that he said welding is is a lot like our our lives that that actually
everything everything like the metal that you see in front of you is liquid and it just happens to be frozen and by applying heat to it you're bringing the metal back to its natural state and then you can shape it and you can do anything you want to it
this big laugh and he'd say in your life is like that you apply you apply hoot to your life and you'll see that everything is liquid that and that you can shape your life that way so welding i loved welding
after i'm i think
it was clear to me that this practice of farming and horses was um
was probably about a three generation commitment to really learn it it was a huge and and seeing know each day i would learn something new
and then one day i was tapped on the shoulder again and was told i was going back to tassajara that and that i was going to be the assistant cook in the kitchen
i had just started
i'm dating young guess student a woman women namely and and actually leaned i met at green gulch on the top of a pile of horse manure and and
she ended up i'm coming to we ended up going to toss a higher together
actually one i just want to backup for one second one and important green gulch moment was for me was finding out that might that my father was really ill and flying back
from gringotts back to new jersey and going to take care of my father
and no one had been them he was he was actually when i went back he was quite ill with cancer and no one was talking to him were explaining what was what was going on and i had incredible resources i had people yvonne brand and a few other people were
helping me a lot with this going back to be with my father who was dying and i was able to
when when i came i remember going walking you know right off going right to the hospital and finding my father
tied in bed and heavily drugged and with help i untied him took the drugs got him off of drugs fired the doctors and was able to
meet my father and let my father know just what was happening to him that he was quite ill and probably wasn't going to live and in a way it was this amazing meeting with my father and he
he for the he was so appreciative and i had never seen my father express appreciation and he began calling everyone he knew to express how much she loved them and he
and he expressed real appreciation for me and felt that
i mean this was i had this was probably i've been away for about five years and he said that he felt that he understood what my choice was and that he respected and appreciated what i had done
so i went back to i went back to talk to her where i was on i was the assistant cook and then i was i was ten zo and ah
i ran the reservation office for summer and then i was in nineteen eighty three i was director i was asked to be director and
again i just felt it was just this continuing pattern where i i didn't really understand why i was being asked to do these things that i didn't have any idea how to do but i felt it was a wonderful gift and

i really i i had i loved the position of being director of tassajara and
and my son was actually my son was born my son jason was born that year and i spent that summer
walking around with this little infant in the carrier
and so people were really nice to me that somewhere it's really it's i highly recommend this sort of walking route the baby because it was not it was not an easy job there are a lot of there are a lot of difficulties and it was also it was also that was i was richard bakers assistant as director and that was the
i i think of it as the year of awakening present center that
that it was though very painful difficult time
it was this huge change and and to me it opened up it opened up
the energy and and lots and lots of people
being able to
do things that i'm that they hadn't been before they were in it like for example
i know some people i think the other day gale
assumed that i had done many student talks there were never there was there was never such a thing as a student talk i mean richard baker and you know a handful of people spoke no one no one else would have spoke in public like this
while i was director i i notice that it was so it was my tenth year at zen center and
and i began having a strong it was almost like i was just as in some way that feeling of walking in the door here was like being craig is like being pregnant with that i had to be for ten years now
i became pregnant with this idea that i needed to leave that i needed to somehow find my place
outs outside of them world of the san francisco zen center and i kind of kick myself out i pan
and i i really wasn't i feel like i needed to figure out what i was going to do
and i realized that
though i felt that my practice was as a zen monk living in a monastery
that my work was about being i was actually running a business that tassajara
we had a business side to it that and that my my day to day activity was mostly about managing people and solving problems and
doing things like budgets and and i got this what i thought was this crazy idea that somehow
i would enter the business world even though i remember business had been kind of a when i was in college was kind of a dirty word i wouldn't have associated with someone who was a business major when i was wreckers
and i you're reading one of the books i read that summer was a book called in search of excellence by tom peters and using business language i felt that he was trying to get at how practice how you can apply practice to a business situation and
one of the guests that summer just a heart was the woman who edited in search of excellence and river she she helped me edit my applications to business school i decided that
that there must be some way to combine these practices and spiritual practice and business practice and that i had a lot of training in the spiritual world but no training in the business world and that the obvious next thing was to go to business school so
lee and
my son jason and i we went we
move back i gotta i got accepted to new york university business school and found myself
back on the east coast and
actually we lived we lived in long island while i went to new york university
and it was a very very difficult transition i felt i felt like i was i'm in another planet or like by with a a fish out of water being in in new york and i got as i got to see
how attached i was
to my own identity as as zen student and as
and as director of i felt you know a sense of i'm kind of a sense of status or and there was back in new york where know you know i was on
i was a thirty thirty year old who hadn't graduated from college and with no no recognizable work history on my know in my background and i can remember being in midtown manhattan looking for a i'm trying to get a temporary job as a typist
and who are wearing my suit and tie and going in and
handing in my resume which basically said you know that i hadn't spent my life at san francisco zen center and i can remember sitting in the in the waiting room and there is this group of young people over and over a desk and they were whispering and they seem like they were laughing and i thought i noticed one i'm pointing over in my direction
and i heard someone say there's a zen monk looking for a job here and
it's not so easy
finding work or finding my own place and and actually it's a it's a practice that i highly recommend i think
being in that context was
very very powerful and important and i spend a couple of years
i i got my mba degree and i worked in manhattan for a little bit and
i submit i i i really missed the sanga here and i missed the practice and missed mr people and actually remember i started a little newsletter at the time called from the marketplace which was a a newsletter of zen center alumni which
i was thinking other day might be good to restart something like that
i came back them i came back to the west coast and
what's the green gulch because i live in i live in mill valley and i was on the book was on the board of zen center for i think six years at that time during very turbulent times when decisions were being made about whether the abbot ship should be rotating are not that was the the big decision that spent years on
i started a
i started a company
called brush dance and
and actually
the original vision for this company was
making products base making products that were environmentally sound and that expressed on
a kind of spiritual some kind of spiritual expression and
yeah i need to stop okay
i won't stop maybe i'll just say one last thing to to in
i'll just
when i'm i've been i've been studying with them with norman fischer and ah
norman's advice to me as she so is i would actually offer the same advice to everyone in the practice period which is to be humble

to become friends to be friends with everyone else in the practice period and to see everyone as buddha
and and i would add to that
to also to keep knocking and let that joy arise

i appreciate having a i appreciate having this short time to talk with you all and i
i really look forward to spending this practice korea together