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October 12th, 2011

An actual email exchange.

Hello, I am interested in Zen practice and live nearby. I’d like to schedule a visit sometime soon.

>Thank you for contacting us. We recommend that you first take the introductory Zen meditation class offered every Saturday from 8:30-10:30 a.m. It covers the basics of Zen Buddhism, meditation techniques and our lineage.

>>I am not looking for a class on meditation right now. The idea of sitting through a two-hour class is off-putting to say the least. I merely want to visit for 10-15 minutes.


  1. wow!

    Comment by imelda — October 12, 2011 @ 7:50 am

  2. Classic!

    Comment by Melanie J. — October 12, 2011 @ 8:45 am

  3. I am glad to read this because I will be in Los Angeles on Saturday morning (from the East coast) and so will be able to come to the introductory class!

    Comment by Jennifer — October 12, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  4. I laughed out loud ~ and ~ felt this incredible precious affection. I hope she or he can come sometime for 10-15 minutes to dip a toe and experience the invitation. Peace ~

    Comment by heather — October 12, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  5. oh my lord….yes, because practicing zen meditation is just SUPER-QUICK.

    Comment by Brittany — October 12, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

  6. Really, though, isn’t 15 minutes better than nothing? And aren’t you supposed to start where you are? Or is that Buddhism in general and not Zen specifically?

    To be honest, I detect a bit of Zen snobbery.

    Comment by Wendy — October 12, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  7. Yes, Wendy, there is both honesty and snobbery to detect depending upon where you look.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — October 12, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  8. It’s cute. Reminds me of a conversation I just had with my 3 year old. “I didn’t say I wanted to do that until lunch, Mama. I just wanted to do it now – for 4 minutes.”

    Comment by Chandra — October 12, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  9. This comes from Seinfeld’s “serenity now! serenity now!” school of thought, which is lives in all of us.

    Comment by Mary Castillo — October 12, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  10. hello, people. life, albeit instantaneous in our delivery of internet, entertainment, joy…takes work, time, effort, craft.

    Comment by k. — October 12, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  11. LOL, as we say here in the world of breakneck speed and instant gratification. At the same time, I have to appreciate this person’s honesty — and willingness to show up at all, even for 15 minutes. It’s a step in the right direction, and that’s enough, right?

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — October 12, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  12. If you’re not interested in meditation then you’re not interested in Zen. That’s all Zen is. Everything else is window dressing.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — October 12, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  13. I laugh but not too hard as this email could be from me depending on the day. From where I sit, pun intended, this email is one of the finest teaching examples I’ve ever seen. So many layers of stuff in just a few lines. Thanks Karen …

    Comment by Bobbi — October 13, 2011 @ 5:18 am

  14. lol!

    Comment by Jim Cuvelier — October 13, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  15. I’m curious if this was the end of the exchange or if there was a second response and what would it be? I laughed too, at the tone of the message (or the tone I imbued it with.) But then, every single day I have been saying ‘this is the day I begin again’.

    Comment by laura — October 13, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  16. First I laughed,
    … how typical, and then…looking inside,
    I realized how deep down I think some things should take no longer than that… I guess we are all guilty of the same disease in mysterious and hidden ways…

    Comment by Neri — October 13, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  17. Awesome. Teaching yoga (all 8 limbs of it, not just asana), this is pretty much my daily reality with new people. Amazing how the mind colors everything. The email exchange could be perfectly harmless – provided we don’t add our prejudices and pre-conceived notions, etc. to the soup. Right View/Understanding – the first limb of the 8-fold path. The 15mins she/he wants may be just enough to whet her appetite for more. Just maybe… Or she/he may be spending the next 10 yrs looking for happiness outside. Who knows.

    Comment by Jewels — January 31, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  18. For the record, the best place to window shop for zen is on the web like this. And most people do. The best place to practice zen is at a practice center. And few people do. Not all things are all things for all people. Browsers browse; practitioners practice. There is a place for each.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — January 31, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

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