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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 01-26-06, 10:08 AM   #1
evanyc
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fixed gear and zen

so ya always read about people riding fixed and describing it as a "zen-like" experience, and in recent other threads there have been allusions made to buddhism, so i was just curious if anyone here was actually buddhist or practiced meditation.

i got into buddhism and fixed gear around the same time and it made an interesting coupling. I think riding can be a form of meditation, as it helps you focus on the here and now. It's not much different than walking medication really, especially if you're doing laps in prospect park or something.

Anyway, just curious. If you do practice meditation, do you go to any temples or meditation groups? I was going to the Fire Lotus temple on State St in Brooklyn which was nice, but perhaps a bit to formalized and religiousy for me. Plus I was living in Inwood at the time, so I stopped, but now that I'm in Broolyn I might start up again. I contemplated going to Noah Levine's groups (guy that wrote Dharma Punx) but I wasn't too into the book and heard his groups got a little too new-agey/self-helpish.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:12 AM   #2
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Zen is a religion.... fixed gear is a bike.
You wanna "zen" experience? Go to a Zen buddhist temple at 5am and sit quietly an still for an hour in a dark room an dthen get up and chant with the rest of the sangha.


---former "monk"
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Old 01-26-06, 10:18 AM   #3
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i've considered myself buddhist for a few years now, although i don't go to any temples around here in boston. "life" seems to take up all my time while at the same time i "know" i should be going... as far as the fixed gear connection, i can see a couple parallels. the simplicity of the bike, stripped down to the essentials with no extraneous parts or bling. the connection of the rider to the bike. the required forethought when riding. and so forth...

as for the 'noah levine' thing.. i liked the book, but didn't find it to be totally revolutionary. it was more autobiography than i was looking for i suppose. 'hardcore zen' was a great book in my opinion. the right mix of autobiography and practical information about buddhism.


p.s. - when're you guys playing a show in boston!? (=
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Old 01-26-06, 10:19 AM   #4
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i've done that, and it bears a striking similarity to when i do early morning rides... counting breaths, counting pedal strokes...

the chanting is part of what i can't really get into.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:21 AM   #5
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i want to do a weekend of shows up to boston and providence soon, so maybe in march!

and yeah, I enjoyed Hardcore Zen a lot more, partially because I think it was far more cynical and critical of Buddhism and it's institutions
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Old 01-26-06, 10:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by evanyc
i've done that, and it bears a striking similarity to when i do early morning rides... counting breaths, counting pedal strokes...

the chanting is part of what i can't really get into.
The chanting is the best part... I find myself doing it on the way to work.. very mind clearing. I used to argue that riding a bike is a meditation, but the preists just weren't having any of it. They didn't ride bikes.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:30 AM   #7
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Man, all of a sudden this mix of music and religion brought Shelter to my mind. Cappos and krishna-core!
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Old 01-26-06, 10:33 AM   #8
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f you do practice meditation, do you go to any temples or meditation groups?.
my friend ethan holds meditation and dharma classes throughout the week at a couple locations throughout the city: www.BeTheRigDen.com -- it's based in tibetan buddhism, however, not zen. here's a rough schedule:
Monday Drop-in Classes and Gathering w/ Ethan Nichtern
Monday, Jan 9, 2006 - Topic: The Truth of Interdependence
Mondays, 8:00-9:40 pm. $10 or any yoga class card
@ OM Yoga Center: 826 Broadway 6th Fl. & 12th street
http://www.omyoga.com/workshops/dharmasched.html#omega

Complete Beginners Meditation Course - Turning the Mind into an Ally w/ Ethan Nichtern
Six Tuesdays sessions (begins Jan 17), 12:30 - 2 pm. $100
@ Shambhala Meditation Center: 118 West 22nd Street, 6th Floor
http://ny.shambhala.org/program_detail.php?id=122
Call 212.675.6544 to register

Wednesday Drop-in Classes and Gathering w/ Ethan Nichtern
Wednesday Jan 4 - Topic: The Four Noble Truths.
Everyone welcome regardless of experience. Guided meditation instruction is part of each class.
Wednesdays, 7:00 9:00 pm. Donation
@ Lila Dharma Center : 302 Bowery & Houston, Buzzer #2
www.BeTheRigden.com

Lunchtime Classes - Foundations of the Buddhist Path - The Six Transcendent Actions w/ Ethan Nichtern
Thursdays (begins Jan 19), 12noon - 1:40 pm
@ OM Yoga Center: 826 Broadway 6th Fl. & 12th street
http://www.omyoga.com/workshops/budd...oundations.htm
Call 212.254.9642 to register

Thursday Drop-in Classes and Gathering w/ David Nichtern aka "Big Poppa" & Ethan Nichtern
Thurs Jan 19: Find Out For Yourself (The Example of the Buddha) with David Nichtern
Thursdays (begins Jan 19), 8:00-9:40 pm. $10 or any yoga class card
@ OM Yoga Center: 826 Broadway 6th Fl. & 12th street
http://www.omyoga.com/workshops/workshopTemplate_10.htm
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Old 01-26-06, 10:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by transplant
i've considered myself buddhist for a few years now, although i don't go to any temples around here in boston. "life" seems to take up all my time while at the same time i "know" i should be going... as far as the fixed gear connection, i can see a couple parallels. the simplicity of the bike, stripped down to the essentials with no extraneous parts or bling. the connection of the rider to the bike. the required forethought when riding. and so forth...

as for the 'noah levine' thing.. i liked the book, but didn't find it to be totally revolutionary. it was more autobiography than i was looking for i suppose. 'hardcore zen' was a great book in my opinion. the right mix of autobiography and practical information about buddhism.


p.s. - when're you guys playing a show in boston!? (=

Stripped down to the bare essentials maybe, but no bling? Fixed gear bikes are all about bling! In S.F. they are a bloody fashion statement.

Noah is a nice enough guy and I really like what he is doing for kids. He sure likes to talk about himself a lot.

I've been wondering a lot about non-religious meditation groups and maybe even dharma study groups a lot. Don't think one can study dharma without the religion. After all, the books were written or translated by one sect or another of buddhISM
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Old 01-26-06, 10:38 AM   #10
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ISM doesn't automatically make it a religion. most philosophies have ISMs and i personally see buddhism more as a philisophy than a religion. however, it has been turned into a religion by some, with the deification of The Buddha... which it seems to me is very against the original intentions... i dunno. like i said, i'm not deep into the stuff and if you were a monk you have far more insight into it that i do, but for me personally, it's not a religion and i try to avoid that approach to it.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:40 AM   #11
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Stripped down to the bare essentials maybe, but no bling? Fixed gear bikes are all about bling! In S.F. they are a bloody fashion statement.
mmmm, yeah, the ideal meets reality. i should talk after what showed up from ups today....
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Old 01-26-06, 10:42 AM   #12
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trudy - thanks for the tip! i might check some of those out... daytime sessions work nicely for my unemployed evening school self. $20 a session though doesn't! hehe
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Old 01-26-06, 10:48 AM   #13
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I don't know if I'd count it as Zen, but I've recently been having these rides where I'll go 50 blocks at a time without really being fully aware of what happened afterwards. I mean, I'll know that I was riding, but I get soo focused that everything else dissapears and my mind is kinda of blank, which is really nice.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:55 AM   #14
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i got in to buddhism way before i was ever in to fixed gears, about 3 years ago, but i can see some of the connections with meditation like qualitys of riding fixed.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:00 AM   #15
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The chanting is the best part... I find myself doing it on the way to work.. very mind clearing. I used to argue that riding a bike is a meditation, but the preists just weren't having any of it. They didn't ride bikes.
I'm nt really a very educated student of Zen Buddism, but isn't "walking meditation" a part of the practice? Bringing meditiation into physical activities. Doing physical repetitive work, like raking leaves, and digging holes? The cyclical repetitive movement of cycling can easily be that sort of meditation if you practice it as such.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:03 AM   #16
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I thought this was going to be a thread on bicycle maintenance or the art thereof.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:09 AM   #17
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Zen is a religion....
---former "monk"
no zen monk would call zen a "religion".
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Old 01-26-06, 11:13 AM   #18
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there's the book: 'Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'

i started reading alot of buddhism texts for the past two years now and i consider riding a form of meditation for me, its where i let alot of **** go. and like evanyc said - i find myself counting alot, there's alot of flow involved. if i didnt have my bike, i'd prolly be pretty ****ing depressed around this time of year.

and i just found an audio book on amazon: 'Zen and the Surveillance of Bicycle Messengering' <- wtf?
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Old 01-26-06, 11:23 AM   #19
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I've been meditating every morning for around the same amount of time that I've been riding fixed. I can't stomach the religious aspect of anything, I get this sorta Woody Allen moment whenever they start chanting in yoga class, I can't help but think about that scene in Anne Hall where he walks by Jeff Goldblum who's on the phone frantically screaming "I forgot my mantra!". I like a coupla OM's here and there as they are very calming and unifying in a group but once they started speaking in Sanskrit, I'm pulled out. Too much reverence for "ancient" things just cause they are ancient.

Really it's all just awareness. Fixed gears make you more aware of your bike and your surroundings (particularly if you are brakeless) but I think you could have the same experience on a million gear bike with brakes if you learn to focus and pay attention. Fixed gears are sort of a crutch as they force you to do this. Remember when you first started riding fixed and you tried to coast or stop peddling for a moment? The bike gave you the equivalent of a zen teachers whack with a stick and you probably didn't do it again.

Lots of good books on Zen. DT Suzuki's are particularly good. But the best thing about it is that really it's the practice. Getting up every day and sitting quietly and/or riding. Different aspects of the same thing.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:34 AM   #20
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Sounds like y'all are doing more of the Thich Nhat Hanh style Engaged Buddhism. Props.

Buddhism can be whatever you want it to be. Skillful Means (upaya) is the Mahayana idea that; if it works, it is right. That there is flexibility in the teachings, and if you find a way to make them work towards the cessation of suffering, that is buddhism (if only for you).

The Tathagata said: "...whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide."

Word.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:43 AM   #21
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thich nhat hanh is the don.

btw a good book i read that was w/o a biased and was a good intro to buddhism was 'The Naked Buddha' by Adrienne Howley
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Old 01-26-06, 11:48 AM   #22
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thich nhat hanh is the don.
Mother****ingRight.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:55 AM   #23
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Mother****ingRight.
Seconded.

Check out Lama Surya Das as well. His writing gave me the impetus to look into Buddhism, and see it more from a "Western" perspective.

Beautiful and flowing.

Anything can be meditation. Washing dishes, taking a shower, typing on the computer, including riding. I think fixed riding allows you to be more mindful, since it's very repetitive and responsive.

But you could just as well sit quietly in a room.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:55 AM   #24
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You don't need to go to clinics or temples to properly meditate...
just learn to breath relaxed and deep in your stomach and you'll get it.
People have got to realize.. meditation is a very VERY natural thing and well, getting accustomed to being in groups or going to clinics or temples or whatever is just building a dependancy on those things to bring about your "dormant" meditative state. Maybe it's good for you, but singular meditation is where it's at, if you ask me.

Im not knocking where or how any of you do your meditations.. I just am not a big fan of groups for this particular type of thing.. meditation.
Martial arts, bikes, guitars.. those groups could and usually are productive.. but meditation is a self study and exploration... I've never understood the need for social, if you will, gatherings and events for it. I know someone will have an explanation, and it's fine, I personally like it that yeah, it's positive.. but, I stick to my guns and say that it's not as productive as meditating alone, or atleast around things you wont begin to rely on.
end of rant.
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Old 01-26-06, 12:03 PM   #25
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i kinda feel out of place if i meditate w/ a group, so i agree that practicing alone is where its at, but thats just me - whatever works for you, works :s
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