Sunday, June 30, 2013

Amanda Palmer, on The Quietus

Also, Palmer on the letters of Korean Zen master, Seung Sahn:

When people come to me in times of real trouble, and sometimes they do, there's a couple of books I recommend as a way to feel grounded. One of them is a book by a Korean Zen Buddhist named Seung Sahn. It's a series of letters between him and his students. I read that book. Anthony gave me that book when I was about 23, and I took it on a trip to Australia, where I was going to street performances and try to make some money on the Adelaide street fringe. It's a long story, way too long for your article. But when I was in Australia I got accidentally arrested. I had just been reading that book that morning and the previous day. In the morning of sitting and talking to a bunch of Australian police, I really had the experience of watching my own mind battle myself and want to defend myself and get angry and revert to my old patterns of behavior. And instead I just calmly sat there explaining what had happened and feeling the power in non-reactivity and the power of not getting angry and the power of realising that these guys were just doing their jobs. And that was one of those life-changing moments. I've probably bought that book a dozen times and gifted it to people who were in need. I don't give them [a copy of] How To Understand The Music Business; I give them the Seung Sahn letters.

He also wrote this book, The Compass Of Zen. I wouldn't recommend starting with The Compass Of Zen. I would recommend starting with the letters. Because you have totally normal people dealing with totally normal problems. "I don't know what to do with my life. My parents don't fucking understand me. I keep being distracted." These are kids in the sixties and seventies. The problems are all the same. It takes no intellectual stretch to read these letters that these kids wrote to their Zen teacher, or a teacher they saw at a talk. And he writes back these beautiful, considered, really great, no-bullshit answers about what's important. He actually influenced my correspondence style. I read those books often, and I notice when my writing style tries to mimic it. I start speaking in these short, terse sentences as if I were a Korean monk who didn't speak great English.

No comments: