Thursday, April 19, 2007


Dear Flappers,

I'm Jundo "Jimbo" Cohen. Hi. I have been a silent reader for a long time of what goes on here. Usually, very interesting. I already know many or most of you from other places such as Nishijima Roshi's blog.

You know, Dogen Sangha is something like the "Island of Misfit Toys" (for those who remember the old Rudolf the Reindeer animation they showed each year ... the one with Burl Ives as the snowman). Nishijima (another sweet old guy, not unlike Burl Ives) is someone who has given refuge to a lot of serious Zen folks who couldn't find a home in stuffy ol' Soto-shu. I mean, I was not one for funerals, gold statures, fancy hats and other farting around. I just wanted to sit Zazen. I was a teacher of law, and thought at some point, I could teach a little Zen (and I think my students can do worse than me). So, I found Nishijima and he found me several years ago.

Frankly, "misfit" might mean a bit too "misfit" in some cases. I am sorry for the troubles the arise in some quarters from time to time ... but I know that it keeps you guys amused. Some of our toys have their mainsprings wound a bit too tight perhaps ...

Well, anyway, I'm crazy too, as a loon ... but I always like to think "crazy in a constructive way." My latest crazy construction, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you ...

I have made a vow to sit Zazen online, every day (rain of shine) for the next 9 years. It is and will be netcast from wherever life takes me, on happy days and sad, no difference. It is part of a project by me to create an online resource, a Sangha (Island of Misfit Toys?) for people who cannot easily commute to a Zen group. Some have serious health concerns, some are elderly and do not drive, some live in remote areas, or just have to stay home to take care of their kids or other family members. Each has been cut off from participation in a Sangha on a regular basis. Now, by 'tuning in' to our 'Daily Zazen' broadcast, they can join in a Soto Zen sitting and Sangha.
So far, we have people sitting along with the netcast in the US, UK, various places in Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.

And I would invite you to look at it too ... except that the video provider is still in Beta, and has shut down for the day. So, please have a look tomorrow. Like I said, I will be there every day, whatever comes ...

In the meantime, I posted on the blog a short essay and video talk, and I wonder if you would take a look and give any thoughts you have. It is a Zen Buddhist perspective on war and violence, poverty, hunger, disease and general world-suckiness. I call it "Acceptance without Acceptance." I was working on it before the shooting this week in Virginia (and the 5x that number of people who died in Iraq the same day, and however many other people just got shot in liquor store robberies or whatever this week). But, it is appropriate to the subject.

I also hope that you will allow me to drop my two cents on your flappin' posts from time to time.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - Oh, and please feel free to download our nifty Mp3 Zen timers from the homepage ...


At April 20, 2007, Blogger Samantha said...

I thought I recognized you... (e-sangha)... Great job!

At April 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lot's of interesting points here.

"I'm crazy too, as a loon ... "

Why bother to think that you are/are-not Crazy. What does it matter! It's an arbitrary definition based on the assumption that a person has inherent characteristics.

There is no such thing as a person being a Misfit. That is our natural state. A Misfit is just someone who is not conforming to some convetion that works for the people he hangs out with.

You and Brad and others do in fact conform to some standards - it is just those of one school over those of another. So you could easily argue that you are all a Fits and not Misfits.

For you to define a Misfit you need to define a Fit. For that you need a set of defined characteristics that are associated with a person or a thing. The flaw in that argument is self-evident.

A video Zazen session is an interesting idea. A live video broadcast of a guy sitting very, very still.

At April 20, 2007, Blogger Jinzang said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 20, 2007, Blogger Jinzang said...

If you can't get the webcast of the meditation session, you can always look at the closet webcam instead.

At April 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even so, I do aplaud what Jundo is trying to do over at I think it's a great idea and is being well executed.

Jundo has started to post up talks and videos on various topics. This is cool. I can learn a lot more (about the speaker) from watching a video compared with reaind a transcript.

For instance Brad comes over one way in his writing and quite another in his videos.

I wonder if the various Zen schools should get together and set up a rival to MySpace and Call it ZenSpace. When you go to the site you are never sure whether there is something there or not and each time you go there it seems different somehow...

At April 21, 2007, Blogger jundo cohen said...

Hi Guys,

I just want to say thank you for the comments. Not sure if we are all crazy-sane or sane-crazy, misfit misfits or a fit fits.

But if you look closely at the closet webcam ...

closet webcam

... you can see us all inside.

Maybe being a human being is just coming out of the closet?

Anyway, I made my 'vow' to broadcast the sittings for homebound folk every day for the next nine years (hmmmph ... except days like today when the technology craps out ... should be back 'on the air' tonight). Please sit-a-long from time to time, and let anyone known who might be sitting (seemingly) alone.

Peace, J

At April 22, 2007, Blogger MudderPugger said...

Do the Soto Zen Square Pegs have a kickball league?
I like the uniforms.

You guys are rebels.

At April 22, 2007, Blogger MudderPugger said...

I'd apply for membership, but I'd probably miss all the meetings (and fail the piss tests).

Also, I could never change my birth name to something Japanese. I was named after my great-great grandfather, MudderPugger Johnson.
My family would never forgive me.

At April 23, 2007, Blogger dan said...

"There is no such thing as a person being a Misfit.... A Misfit is just someone who is not conforming to some convetion that works for the people he hangs out with."

well then there is such thing as a misfit. you just gave a definition of it.

also, anatman. for some reason i'm listed twice on the team members. not sure how that happened. feel free to delete either one

At April 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not quite. Misfit is not an inherrent characteristic. JC was describing himself (and others) because he perceives himself as somehow different from an arbitrarily chosen group of people.

The problem with the idea of a Misfit is you are chosing to assign a set of characteristics to a group which is a subset of all the characteristics you might assign (which are in any case arbitrary) and then choosing to highlight where those characteristics are somehow lacking in yourself.

At April 24, 2007, Blogger dan said...

why are they arbitrary?

At April 24, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...


Are you sure that "Dan" and "dan" are both you? Each one has a different profile...

If you would, please click through on the profiles and confirm that they are both you, and then let me know which one you want to delete.

At April 25, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Let's take a look at four friends - Bill, Ted, Wayne and Garth. All are Lakers fans. Bill and Ted are seriously into the Lakers, Wayne and Garth are less so.

Bill, Ted and Wayne all love Coldplay wheras Garth hates Coldplay and love the Chemical Brothers. All Love Queen.

Bill, Ted, Wayne and Garth also all love Mexican.

These are just a few of the things that we know about these 4 guys.

Garth claims that he is a misfit because he loves the Chemical Brothers and the others do not.

Garth has focussed on one of a thousand things that he knows about himself and his friends, chosen one and used that as evidence to support his idea that he is a misfit.

It's like romance. When you first meet someone you can claim that your compatibile because you both have a second cousin called Bob. When you split up you claim that you are incompatible and prove it by citing that your third cousin is called George wheras theres is called Harold.

It's all arbitrary. The reality is constructed to fit the belief. This happens with lots of beliefs.

At April 25, 2007, Blogger dan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At April 25, 2007, Blogger dan said...

well you mean a misfit in the sense of the kid at school deemed a misfit because they have a different set of music and style tastes than the majority. this sense of being a misfit is arbritrarily decided.

i would suggest there is another sense of being a misfit that is more universal which is quite simply defined as someone who lacks or has very poor social skills. they cannot emphathise, listen, ask questions, react to statements, know when to shut up and when to leave and laugh etc.

a person who cannot interact with other humans in a way that is conducive to social harmony (i.e doesn't make those around her uncomfortable) is a misfit in the true sense of the word i think.

human characteristics are fairly universal and the similarities between different groups vastly outweigh the differences so it is not arbritary in the sense that common posession of certain traits and abilities such as the capacity to 'get along' with people who are different to you, is a requirement of humansc in order for them to to successfully create a working society.

anatman, they're both me. i made a second one when the first one stopped working when google suddenly owned blogger but then it started woking again so now i have two. delete the one with the meditating dhalsim avatar cos i might actually use the blog on magic that i've started on the second one.


At April 25, 2007, Blogger dan said...

however i think i agree with you that misfit as used by JC was closer to the arbritralily decided sense that my second example

i think from an outside POV dogen sangha is way more similar to tibetan buddhism for example than it is different. i do not think that dogen sangha are misfits. their message and attiude is basically the same as other types of buddhism just with a different (arbritray) style/flavour/colour.

At April 25, 2007, Blogger oxeye said...

"I have made a vow to sit Zazen online, every day (rain of shine) for the next 9 years."

Jundo - Like mike said, this is a very interesting idea. That you have vowed to continue filming your zazen for 9 years is amazing. What makes it especially interesting, at least to me, is your zazen videos are made not to be viewed at all. You will make approximately 3,280 20 minute videos of yourself sitting quietly and motionless, not be watched but to function as a taped invisible companion for someone else's zazen. You could make one video and show it 3,280 times but you have vowed to make at least one a day. It's terrific..

At April 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think I would agree with you in general with both your definitions of Misfit.

In the second case you have described someone who is unable to (or unwilling) integrate.

I was as you spot keeping to the specifics that In JC's case he was basing being a misfit based on arbitrary criteria of his own choosing.

At April 30, 2007, Blogger Justin said...

Hi Jundo Cohen,

This is a great idea - as good as

Tune in to watch your cheese/self ripen


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