I've been reading Shoes Outside the Door, a fascinating book, although kind of a downer. I've always been struck by the success of San Francisco Zen Center: in addition to its City Center temple, it also has Green Gulch Farm on the Marin coast, and Tassajara, a hot springs resort down in Big Sur. My previous experience of monasteries was only Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills, which is a gorgeous place on a hefty chunk of land, but land in the hill of New York is way, way cheaper than real estate even in Marin, let alone in the middle of San Francisco.

As it turns out there's a complex, not to say sordid, story behind the place, involving the, erm, intense personality of Abbott Richard Baker, who turned the place into a world presence before it all imploded. It's an amazing and ultimately sad story, starting with the blooming of Zen Buddhism in America and climaxing with a bunch of apocalyptic revelations of the pretty thorough abuse of spiritual authority in almost every possible way, leaving behind a lot of damaged people, and apparently the aftershocks continue today, two decades after the event. I'm about 2/3 through, but it's an excellent read and I recommend it.

I have almost tamed my job, for the time being. It was sort of arbitrarily decided that I would close down all three of my projects by the end of Friday, but of course that was bunk for any number of reasons, but I think by the end of tomorrow they'll all be in a holding pattern, at least. I've been stressed, and it's sort of amusing to feel stressed, because I overreact to small things, and I really have more important stuff going on than work, with myself and my relationships and my aikido and zazen and generally wending my way back to being who I am. This is very important...the work of a lifetime, literally. Just now I'd like to maintain my intimate relationships in a free and expressive way; longer-term, I want to construct the life I want to live, with friends and family, love and sex freely given and accepted, a lasting community where we care about each other and pass our love and our curiosity on to all available generations, and lots of sushi and Indian food and the occasional ethically-unfortunate but oh-so-tasty foie gras.

One step at a time: maybe I'll have sushi for lunch tomorrow.

Autumn rain coming soon
Two small maples on the porch
Alive, leaves changing