Random Wednesday: The Woman in the Moon, The Awfulness of Jeff Sessions, and Mystic Plumbers

Welcome to another Random Wednesday here on The Zen Pagan, sharing some links that have caught my eye over the past week.

The Woman in the Moon

It’s a few months old, but if you haven’t yet seen Neil deGrasse Tyson’s explanation of the Woman in the Moon on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, check it out.

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The Awfulness of Jeff Sessions

Criminal justice reform advocate Radley Balko has some questions for Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions. Balko shows why, even if we put the allegation of racism aside, Sessions has no business in the AG’s office.

Mystic Plumbers

Brad Warner recently quoted somebody named John Rich, who said “If everybody contemplates the infinite instead of fixing the drains, many of us will die of cholera.” I’m not sure if Brad was being somewhat arch in quoting that or not, but I remember some years ago when I rented a heavy duty drain cleaner to clear tree roots out of my sewer line. It was a dirty job that got me splattered with sewage.

But as I experienced the expected revulsion about that, I also remembered an old Zen story. It is said that Master Yun-men was just coming out of the outhouse when a student asked him, “What is the Buddha?” The master’s eyes happened to fall on the paddle used to spread the outhouse manure into compost piles, and he answered, “The Buddha is dry shit on a stick!” And I realized that my reaction was just a thought, that in “truth” this raw sewage was no less sacred and no more profane than anything else.

It strikes me that rather than allowing some to only contemplate the infinite and others to only fix drains, the ideal is that we should all be mystic plumbers. With the right practice we can

..see a World in a Clog of Hair
And a Heaven in a Pipe that’s Copper,
Hold Infinity in the drain hardware
And Eternity in a rubber stopper.


By the time you read this, it may be my birthday. If you want to get me a present, you can send me money and I will send you an autographed copy of Why Buddha Touched the Earth or What Does It Mean for the Gods to Exist. (Or you can just send money, I’m not proud.)

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About Tom Swiss

Tom Swiss describes his spiritual path as "Zen Pagan Taoist Atheist Discordian", which usually baffles questioners enough to leave him alone. Over the past decade he has built a reputation as a lecturer on subjects spanning the gamut from acupressure to Zen and from self-defense to sexuality. He is an NCCAOM Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy, a godan (fifth-degree black belt) in karate, a poet, a singer/songwriter, an amateur philosopher, and a professional computer geek. Tom has previously served as President of the Free Spirit Alliance. He is the author of "Why Buddha Touched the Earth" (Megalithica Books, 2013). Find out more about his wacky adventures at www.infamous.net.