Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A NASTY BIT OF WORK**

I been reading this weird-ass Buddhist flame war on the Internet lately. I don't usually follow such things, but a friend of mine pointed me in the direction of this one and I started following it the way you might follow One Life to Live or General Hospital. One of the players in the thing is a would-be Zen Master who has lots and lots and lots and lots to say about various ceremonial structures and about Newton's Laws of Motion and a whole bunch of other stuff.

He also has some very serious beefs with his former teacher, who he denounces and yet two sentences later begs to be re-admitted into his order. Some of the stuff he says about the guy is truly unbelievable. The person who turned me on to this soap opera especially recommended one post in which he tells his former Master, an elderly Japanese man, something like, "The time will come soon when you will go to Hell." His former Master apparently once worked in the automotive industry, so the ex-student accuses him of being responsible for global warming and the general paving over of the countryside. In another particularly comical posting the ex-student says something like, "I will now drop the atomic bomb and wait for the Japanese surrender" before launching into some bizarre theory which I couldn't make heads or tails of.

Judging by the response this guy is getting, pretty much no one actually takes him very seriously. But there are some people posting on the site who do seem to think the guy has something to offer. A couple of these are obviously the man himself posting under assumed names. But others appear to be real. Their logic seems to run like this: While the guy may be mean to his former teacher, nasty to everyone else who posts to the site and generally rude, uncouth, foul-smelling and obnoxious, there just might be something to his various theories.

That way of thinking is not Buddhism. Here's why.

Buddhism is not intellectual or theoretical. It is practical. Practical means it is not something which works in the realm of theory and abstraction yet which does not work in real life. Buddhism is also a philosophy of morality. Morality to Buddhists is not abstraction either. Buddhist morality is practical morality. If you tell an old man that the time is coming soon for him to go to Hell, that is an immoral act. If you taunt a Japanese person who lived through World War II with casual remarks about the atomic bombs that killed his countrymen and quite possibly his neighbors, friends and relatives, that is an immoral act. It does not matter what ends you are trying to achieve with such an immoral action either. Bad manners are not Buddhist. Never were, never can be. You can rack up all the "Enlightenment Ecperiences" you want, if you cannot behave yourself, you have no Enlightenment at all. To be Enlightened is to behave politely. Being able to act like a decent person is an essential part of being a Buddhist. End of story.

If this guy on this website and the people who seem to believe him were the only example of this kind of behavior, I wouldn't bother writing about it. After all, he has a total of one student as far as I can tell, and even that one student doesn't like him very much. Unfortunately, though, the guy is just an extreme example of something that's tragically common. There are a number of other people like this guy who are far more successful at what they do by virtue of their ability to keep their emotions slightly more in check. These aren't always -- or even usually -- Buddhists. But they are always trouble.

Here's the deal. Buddhism is about what is really obvious. So if someone comes off as a nasty bit of work, but seems to have Deep Knowledge, that's exactly what he is — a nasty bit of work who seems to have Deep Knowledge. Lots of people can affect the "seems to have Deep Knowledge" bit. It's not hard. Any good actor can come off really "Zen" if they want to. But it's a lot harder to keep that persona up off stage. Seemingly Deep Knowledge that's just out of reach if only you could grasp it has no value at all.

There may be people who are mathematical geniuses but also wife beaters. But there are no Enlightened Masters who just happen to be impossible to get along with.

Another thing about Buddhism is that it is a tradition and it is a social structure. If you repudiate your teacher and the things he or she taught you, you may very well still have something of value to say. There are lots of bad teachers out there who deserve to be repudiated and to have their teachings denounced. But, if you repudiate your teacher and the things he/she taught you and go off on your own with no teacher at all, then whatever it is you have to say -- valuable or not -- is not Buddhism and can never be Buddhism. There are no exceptions to this. It is not Buddhism by the very definition of Buddhism. No tradtion, no Buddhism. That's all there is to it.

This is something I struggled with for a long time. I do not like traditions and social structures. I got into punk rock in order to tear down all traditions and social structures. It was very difficult for me to accept the role of one who carries on a tradition and plays a key role in a recognized social structure. But I found that Buddhism, in spite of its being a tradition, had something of real value. As I got deeper into it, I began to see that it was specifically because it is a tradition and social structure that it has the value it has. There's a very good reason the ancient monk scribes created fictional teachers for Buddha himself in order to prevent him being an exception to the rule that all Buddhist Masters must have a Master of their own. It is an absolute requirement of Buddhism that one must have a teacher. It may be acceptable in extreme cases to repudiate a bad Buddhist teacher and to take another teacher. But if you do not do the second step, if you don't find another teacher, you are not a Buddhist. No "buts" about it. You just are not.

So the moral of the story is: Don't read Buddhist flame wars on the Internet. They're a complete waste of time. Plus you'll end up writing dippy articles like this one.

** "Nasty Bit of Work" is the title of a song by Starvation Army on their Exection Style album (Rave Records, 1990). Sorry for the obscurity of the reference. Sometimes I forget the rest of the world doesn't know about what happened in Ohio....

80 comments:

anonymous jones said...

Hi! I've always thought, "good manners: world peace". I'm not a Buddhist, but that is obvious to me.

moo said...

Omg synchronicity! I subscribed to Nishijima-sense's blog a week ago, and only today got to reading some posts. There's a person in the comments, "Mike Cross." I don't know, what's his backstory, but he looks like a kook. Why would an "enlightened" person like himself be so bitter and arrogant? A kook for sure.

Some of the Nishijima-sense's answers are awesome though (Mike called him "little yellow liar"): "It is true that I am a little yellow, but I have never told anyone even a bit of wrong Buddhist philosophy at all."

And then within the same hour you post this. No need for me to write "dippy articles," yay!

>> there just might be something to his various theories.

That was my immediate impression of this "Mike."

>> Being able to act like a decent person is an essential part of being a Buddhist.

Yes!

Moral well taken though.

BlueWolfNine said...
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RepeatDose said...

A while back Brad wrote a post on this subject he refered to the man in question as a 'total prick'. The man seized on this insult and his rage at dogen sangha escalated.

Now he is branded a 'nasty piece of work'.

I know Brad has never claimed to be perfect, or enlightened or infalible in any way. However, when he castigates a man for impoliteness and starting flame wars whilst refering to him as a 'total prick' and a 'nasty piece of work' his point is somewhat undermined.

Posts like this add fuel to the flame wars, and the more this man is insulted the more he will insult others.

Dan said...

repeat dose has a point. i've done my fair share of mike baiting before so i can't really talk (it's just so irrestible!) but it does seem that the best strategy is to do what Nishijima does. Let him rant but don't rise to it.

however, i will say one thing in brad's defense. i dont believe he was lying when he called mike a total prick. where as most of mike's insults are lies or distortions.
of course you'd first have to provide an objective definition of what constituted being a total prick in order for my argument to be valid. i dont think i'm gonna find that in the dictionary though.

any suggestions?
have the first and second halves of my post completely contradicted themselves?
i think they might have.

gniz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nobody said...

I think that "repeatdose" has a point. And while I agree with this post in a lot of ways--I think if enlightenment is anything, it's what you do and how you regard and respond to others, not what ideas about abstract concepts you have--I also am wary of the tendency a lot of people have to believe that it is impossible for a good teacher to behave badly and make mistakes.

I'm fascinated by stories about the personal scandals of Buddhist teachers, not so much because of the enjoyment of the soap opera drama (though there is that, too) but because it blows away what I think is the false notion of a perfect teacher. Some Zen master (I forget which one) said, "There are no enlightened people, only enlightened actions." I agree that someone who throws harmful, unconstructive insults at someone, lies, or drinks too much isn't engaging in enlightened behavior, but that someone falls into difficulties doesn't negate that they have expressed and will likely continue to express enlightened wisdom and action.

We're all human, and I firmly believe that the human condition cannot be overcome, and most importantly, doesn't need to be overcome in order for us to find, realize, and manifest perfection right now. We have the timeless perfection of the Absolute and the messy biological realities of life on Earth, and the former can only be expressed through the latter.

Annie Dillard talks about seeing "the tree with the lights in it"--we can find our way to that tree, but when we see it, the shadow, the moss, the fighting birds do not disappear. We stumble and fall, and get back up. This cracked world is the perfection we seek. The manifestation of enlightenment is caring for that cracked world. But we can't help but screw it up too--that's the human condition. But we can keep picking ourselves up and coming back to doing the right thing, without the baggage of thinking that things will only be OK when we can match some ideal notion we have in our heads of what our perfect selves will be like.

gniz said...

Brad, in this new post, reminds me of how various media personalities criticized "the media's" endless coverage of the OJ Simpson trial.
On one hand, denouncing the coverage, on the other, capitalizing on the sensationalism.
You cant have it both ways.
Brad, wasn't it you who talked one time about feeling like you had "brought about" a chain of events that led to random people beating you on the street?
Here, you show none of that sense of causality for something far more obvious. And your newest post merely fans the flames.
Somehow, your responsibility in this obvious scenario is lost on you.
g

nobody said...

Also, I think one of the most unenlightened things we can do is to set ourselves apart from others and deride them as inferior. I don't think that the door of the enlightened heart is ever closed to anyone. We recognize our common mess and do our best to keep the sidewalk swept clean and the welcome mat sitting in front of the door, but we don't deny anyone's company in those chambers because their shoes have mud on them. We might want to point out that the mud is there, but if we do so with disgust, we've fallen a million miles away from it, whatever "it" is. It's not as if mud only sticks to the soles of certain kinds of shoes worn by certain kinds of people. And we all have to walk through that mud every day. No way around it. But we can wipe off our shoes--or even better, take them off--before we walk through the door.

Michael said...

Hi Brad,

Thanks for being such a shining example of practicing what one preaches.
If Mike Cross is a total prick for lashing out at Nishijima-sensei and you, then you're a complete a-hole for egging him on.
What was that you wrote about Buddhism being equated with respect and morality?
It takes two to tango. Maybe you should include dancing lessons in your repertoire.

docretro said...

You should add links to his posts. Complaining about someones saying is of no interest as long as your audience can't have a look at it themselves.

docretro said...

The guy posting something about loving Brad ain't the real Mike Cross. Just have a look at the link to his profile: It's a different account.

Don't be deceived ;)

gniz said...

Brad has gone a long way to proving that so-called Zen Masters are just as petty and nasty as everyone else, with this latest post.
Each new entry lately has been composed of his rants against fake enlightened masters, flame wars, and the like.
Is this really the work of a man who has been studying zazen faithfully for decades? Yikes.

oxeye said...

One of the weirder aspects of sordid story is why do Brad and Gudo keep this little soap opera floating when they could easily end it or at least keep it hidden away. all that needs to be done to is to censor mike cross out of their blogs and refuse further comment. instead nishijima says we should never read mike cross's opinions while letting him post them to his blog.. and now Brad says we should not read buddhist flame wars on the internet while pouring on more gasoline and admitting that he started following it the way you might follow One Life to Live or General Hospital. Where is the wisdom here?

Dan said...

it's true oxeye. it occured to me that nishijima might not realise thjat you can/ know how to to block unwanted comments. he is in his 80's after all. maybe someone should email telling him how.

brad, if i were you i'd nip this in the bud now and delete this particular blog entry before it ends up with 100's of people going apeshit back and forth again.

oxeye said...

Dan, the truth is that master nishijima has considered it fair to let mike cross post on his blog. but he is now thinking of asking him to stop. if mike refuses any such request, master nishijima said he will then "solve the problem".

distractedwax said...

Long time lurker, infrequent poster. I think this post is ok. At some point, someone said that it is ok for a Buddhist to defend themselves (when talking about buddhism and war). And MC has been attacking them for a long freaking time. I am impressed they showed so much restraint. Yes you can continue to turn the other cheek, but eventually your face will hit a wall and have nowhere else to go.

Drunken Monkey said...

Brad made a mistake in the past. So what?
The past is past, its long gone.
Stop fussing over trivial matters.
Go and do some zazen.

So Daiho Hilbert said...

Hello All, As one who has been in this shit himself, let me only add that Zen Masters, Teachers and Practitioners all eat and crap and piss. We each get in a lot of trouble when we hold a Master to a different standard as a human being.The most important point isn't the manure that's tossed, but that which is caught and savored.Be well.

Vince Anila said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vince Anila said...

My first teacher once said to me, "Sometimes you have to call shit 'shit'." Whether or not Nishijima-sensei is an enlightened being who can take it, blah blah, is no excuse for thinly veiled racism and telling an elderly man that he'll be dead and in Hell soon.

gniz said...

Nobody said Mike Cross isn't nuts.
The point is that
a) nobody takes him seriously
b) there's no such thing as bad publicity so all this does is encourage him
c)Brad once took personal responsibility for a beating he received from some thugs, randomly, in a bad area of town. But he refuses to take an ounce of responsibility for his part in the creation of the character that is Mike Cross.

Matt said...

talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't....

Dan said...

i hear what you're saying gniz but hard as it is to believe there are a fair few who do take mike cross seriously. read the comments of his blogs

(of course i wouldnt be entirely suprised if it turned out that most if not all of the positive comments left on his blogs turned out to be him posting as another name)

so maybe it does need to be pointed out to some people that he's a nutter. maybe not though... it's likely that anyone who does take the time to interact with him will soon realise he's a nutter. i don't know.

" But he refuses to take an ounce of responsibility for his part in the creation of the character that is Mike Cross"

i wonder though if brad had been nothing but sweetness and light to mike and never said anything bad about him whether mike would still have trashed him and got angry all the time. mike has an almost equal hatred for what he perceives to be mike luetchford's wrong views, (luetchford is another dharma heir of gudo) and mike luetchford, to my knowledge has never stood up and called mike out for being a dick.

mike cross doesnt seem to really need any provocation. he does most of it himself. which isn't to say that i think its helpful to provoke him which is why i've decided to stop commenting on his blog. i'm trying to stop reading it as well but i do have a kind of perverse fascination with him. the very existence of a zen expert who's that unbalanced raises so many questions....

i agree though there's no such thing as bad press so it seems wisest if everyone who thinks he's full of shit just stopped talking about him and to him and let him do his thing on his own. which is also why i agree with oxeye about blocking mike from gudo's blog.

Dan said...

and yes, the irony of me talking about him while at the same time saying its best not to talk about him is not lost on me....

gniz said...

btw my point isnt even that Brad actually IS responsible for anything Mike Cross is doing.
My comparison is based upon things that Brad has written in the past where he took responsibility for some really bizarre stuff and ruffled a few feathers in the process.
But Brad, its a lot easier to "take responsibility for everything" when that "everything" is far removed from YOUR LIFE. Its a lot harder when some goofy zen master you once knew starts popping up.
Then its time to resort to name calling, eh? No, i am not damning Brad if he does, damning him if he doesnt.
I am holding Brad to the standard he has set for himself with his writings and through common sense.
Sorry if what i say isnt treating him "differently" from everyone else.

Lone Wolf said...

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't.

If Brad said nothing, I feel people would critize him just the same. I'm glad he speaks his mind, and doesn't give a big fake smile for the camera while trying to cover up his shit like a cat.(I have no problems with cats people, its just a simile) At the same time, I feel he comes from a much more balanced place then the subject of the article (who/which was really not the subject of the article but many others seemed to think so). For one thing, Brad is not acting like a facist. He is not trying to push his "truth" upon anyone. He just teaches Buddhism the best he can and if you don't want to hear what he has to say. I think he would agree, no problem.

He is not hijacking other peoples blogs and trying to persuade them to follow him, while ridiculing the blog author. Though many will disagree of course, I find him alot more respectful then, who I like to call "Beautiful Mind, but not so beautiful". You might think that is somewhat harsh, like "total prick" or "A nasty peice of work", but really I DO NOT wish Beautiful Mind "to go to hell" or for him to have an "atom bomb" dropped on him. I don't think Brad does either. I hope the guy finds peace. I notice if one is more peaceful within and takes care of themselves, they will not cause so much problems for others and will attract people because they want to know why this person is so balanced and peaceful. Some will probably mention that I am trying to defend Brad, but I am just stating how I see things. (And of course the way I see things is the indisputable absolute truth, right? Just kidding)

Those that can't stand what Brad has to say, and gets infuriated by his comments. You might want to stop wasting your time here and head on over to join Alexander's Beautiful Mind Cult and start learning what ever you will be learning.(Then maybe he will write on his own blog more often). With all due respect.

You may choose if you want to turn this comment into fuel or not. I would hope for the latter. I was not on fire(metaphor for anger) when I wrote this comment.

P-Nutz said...

NO Buddhism without tradition ...

... hmmmmmmm

RepeatDose said...

Buddhism is, in part, a process of interrogation, of getting at truth. The back cover of 'Hardcore Zen' carries the slogan:

'Question Authority. Question Society. Question Reality. Question Yourself'

What I, Gniz and others are doing is questioning aspects of Brad's teachings as represented in this blog. I am not saying that Brad is a bad teacher, or a hypocrite or vastly inferior to Mike Cross, or that, as a teacher of Zen, he should be perfect/enlightened/infallible.

It is just a process of interrogation, an attempt to get at the truth.

Grim said...

"There are a number of other people like this guy who are far more successful at what they do by virtue of their ability to keep their emotions slightly more in check. These aren't always -- or even usually -- Buddhists. But they are always trouble."

I might be one of these.

RepeatDose said...

Lone Wolf:

A couple of points in response to your post.

1. 'Damned if you do, Damned if you don't.'

In this case there is a direct causal link between the insults directed at Mike Cross by members of Dogen Sangha and his escalating anger. A link made explicit in Cross' blog, The Middle Way. Damned if you do, perhaps.

If members of Dogen Sangha had dealt with the matter differently, or responded with inaction, what would have been the consequence? Who knows. Here's a verse from the dhammapada:

'Hatred never ceases through hatred. Only through love does it cease. This is an eternal law.'

2.

'I feel he comes from a much more balanced place then the subject of the article (who/which was really not the subject of the article but many others seemed to think so).'

He makes the subject pretty explicit when he refers to a mention the atomic bomb, a direct reference to a post on Cross' blog.

Jules said...

Repeatdose: the subject of the article is "What is and what is not Buddhism." Mr. Cross is simply used as an example, he's not the subject. The article is saying that if you don't have a tie to Buddhist lineage (or when that tie is cut) it's not Buddhism you're part of. It might be Crossism, but it's not Buddhism. And maybe Crossism is as valid as Buddhism. I don't know enough about it to make that decision, because I'm not particularly interested in Crossism.

gniz said...

I am going to state it again because it bears repeating.
Brad took responsibility on his blog not too long ago for an incident in which he and a group of friends were attacked while walking late one night in a bad neighborhood. He said that at some level he "knew" instinctively he had "caused" the event to come about.
This level of causality is unacceptable to most people, and yet, I respected what he wrote at the time. Maybe in some way we do cause everything. Fine.
Now, along comes pesky Mike Cross. Not only does Brad actually interact with MC in many ways, but they shared a dharma teacher. MC helped translate the works of Dogen into english.
Pesky MC acts up and nowhere can Brad be found trying to teach his responsibility in the matter, his subtle understanding that perhaps at some level, he has "caused" this situation to come into being.

Why? My guess is that when being beaten up randomly on the street, it is easier to feel a kind of distance from ones attacker. When you get attacked for no reason, your ego isn't threatened at all because you know you didn't do anything wrong. So then it becomes easy to say, oh at some level I "caused" this.

But when it comes to annoying personal interactions, taking responsibility and saying "I had a part in this" means maybe you actually did something wrong!! Gasp! And when is the last time you heard any of these "masters" admit they made a mistake? Huh??? Huh????

So I think it isn't damned if you do, damned if you don't. Sorry. No.
I think it's a simple case of the Emperor's New Clothes, and as far as I am concerned, Brad is as naked as a newborn baby.

Based on his own inconsistencies.

Aaron

RepeatDose said...

Jules:

No Jules, the title of the post is 'A Nasty bit of work.' The lack of tradition argument is simply another element of the critique of said 'Nasty bit.'

SteveP said...

What's really going on here?

Matt said...

just a few questions as I peruse this for the commenters:

do you think that if someone has an issue with the conduct of another person out here in the "Blogosphere" then that person's own blog is the place to do that? i.e. do you think this is the way to do it rather than take someone to task on their own blog? (Not only of writings in another blog but participants in said flame wars? Especially since Brad must know that readers of his blog read the others)

In terms of calling others out on their responsibility to things--by my readings on this blog (pre-'blog-swipe') including that article where he and his friends got jumped; isn't that kind of impossible? Can we ever really say "hey...you were responsible for that, buddy" without including ourselves? It's not that others don't share it, but that doesn't change your part in it, right?

I think gniz has a point about how it must be harder to accept the responsibility for something the closer it hits to home. At the same time, I don't think it's really helpful to accuse someone of not doing that. It's not unlike me discussing the concept of right livlihood, even though when a bug landed on me today I reactively (perhaps the keyword in the context of this conversation) smacked it rather than brushed it away.

And as usual, in terms of perceiving others' responsibility in matters in general, should we not be aware of the authority we are granting others? Anyone who speaks on the web is speaking with the authority of text-based immediacy and a good amount of anonymity. It's not that anyone saying anything on here doesn't have a right to say what's on their mind, but the subjects in question are people who for some reason we all are trying really hard to care about what they are saying in the right way?

Just my $0.03 (interest rates, ya know)

btw, anonymous jones, I just realized what your icon is, and i find it terrifying LOL!!

Jules said...

Repeatdose:
Yeah, you're absolutely right. I just reread the article and I have no idea what I was thinking, sorry.

Lone Wolf said...

I find it funny how some think Brad is the cause of Mr. Cross's behavior. Kodo Sawaki said you can not even exchange one fart with another person. I think Mr. Cross has been acting the way he has way before Brad posted his two articles about Buddhism, which made references to Mr. Cross(One which was taken down but was a very good teaching on Buddhism). Mr. Cross didn't get booted from Dogen Sangha because DS members "hate" him, it's because he started teaching AT claiming it was Zen trying to use Nishijima for credentials to propagate his so called "Buddhism". He could easily solve his problem by just teaching AT or finding another "zen teacher" that would buy into his teaching. Like I said, those that don't agree with Brad, head on over to Mr. Cross's sight, I think he might be able to give you "enlightment". Then you can rejoice in his multipule attacks at Brad and Nishijima, while thinking "Ohh poor enlightened master, Brad caused you to suffer so much and act so rude and unbalanced."

Some of you could really use some more humor in your life. I recommend any of Chritopher Moore's books. I am currently reading "Island of the Sequined Love Nun". His latest novel is called "A Dirty Job", it's a horror comedy(which is almost impossible to pull off, but Chris does it). I laughed my ass off to these two, plus "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ Childhood Pal". I'm on a misson to read all of his books.

I'll leave off with one of my favorite quotes from "A Dirty Job".

"Charlie had Sophie strapped to his chest like a terrorist baby bomb when he came down the back steps. She had just gotten to where she could hold up her head, so he had strapped her in face-out so she could look around. The way her arms and legs waved around as Charlie walked, she looked as if she was skydiving and using a skinny nerd as a parachute."

gniz said...

Lone Wolf, I think its funny how you can continually say "some people think Brad is the cause of Mike Cross's behavior".
If you are referring to me, well I never said that. Not once.
Not for a minute. Stop repeating that nonsense. Read what I wrote a few times if thats what it takes.

I, and a few others merely stated that BRAD has spoken on a few occassions about taking personal responsibility for large scale, seemingly impersonal events.
Yet now, when a smaller example of an attack occurs, Brad's notion of personal responsibility flies out the window-- not a mention of it.
Did i SAY Brad is personally responsible for Mike Cross' actions?
No. Not once. NOT ONCE.
I questioned Brad on the basis of his OWN words. I questioned why he would take some responsibility for being randomly attacked by thugs, for wars that take place on another continent, for other issues-- but he would refuse to take an ounce of responsibility his interactions with one petty nut called Mike Cross.
You, Lone Wolf, have totally missed the boat.

Aaron

karen said...

None of what was written in Brad's latest has anything remotely to do with Buddhism. When did pointing out other peoples short comings, without being asked become a part of the Noble Eightfold Path? Even if someone did this to try and warn people so they didn't fall victim to someone who is obviously mentally ill, I thought that the Buddha implored people to be a light unto themselves. People will figure it out on their own if they read enough of this and they are sincere students of their own lives. I agree with gniz, Michael and nobody. It's kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.

Grim said...

Don't stop at questioning others. Question yourself, question your answers. Assumptions are useless playthings.

Focusing on anything at all and judging worth will never establish any sort of truth. Whether or not Brad or Mike knows this is irrelevent. Who is Brad? Who is Mike? Figments of our imaginations. Voices in our head.

Stop yelling at the voices in your head. Right or wrong can never be established in the realm of words. It is an endless arguement. Our minds revel in this kind of distraction and reinforcement.

oxeye said...

Brad, you say your “Nasty bit of work” title referenced an obscure punk song title. Maybe so, but it is also strikingly similar to MC’s habit of calling one of your Sangha brothers “A nasty piece of work”.

It is very easy to get side-tracked away from your main points by your decision to condemn MC and fan the fire of his odd behavior. Unless you are drawing a line in the sand and calling out MC in some kind of dumb-ass dharma combat it doesn‘t make much sense. I have no doubt that you and MC both track each other’s blog missiles. So Brad, please do not complain when people miss the gist of your words because of the brightness of the surrounding flames. When you neatly tied up your latest post by saying, "Being able to act like a decent person is an essential part of being a Buddhist", I think I missed your point.

Lone Wolf said...

Gniz,

Are you talking about responsibility as being unseperable from all things in the universe? I feel you take what people say and use whatever angle you can to be pessimistic(like I'm sure you will with this comment). Don't worry, just my thoughts, that don't explain who you truly are.

I have heard Brad many times talk about how he is that sucky job, and the idiotic Hijackers that flew into the Twin Towers. This is just expressing that he is not a seperate thing from everything else in the universe.(If I understand correctly, who knows?) But at the same time, each one of us creates are own karma that cannot be shared with another. Not one, Not two.

Brad might even agree that he IS the "total prick" or "nasty bit of work" he mentioned in the article.

I have pretty much kept quiet about the "Flame Wars" at Gudo San's blog. I felt the way I interpreted Brad's article was different from most of the other comments, so I decided to say how I saw it. But I shall not(I would hope) speak about the silly flame war anymore. So flame on Dude, flame on.

If you are the boat captin, then I'm glad I missed it.


Here is a few quotes from Brad that might help explain what I said at the beginning of this comment.......

Brad:

........You are not you because you are everything.

This isn't just a philosophical position I'm taking. It's the real truth of the matter. It's something any human being can become aware of, and once you become aware of it it's impossible to doubt. You won't suddenly learn the secret numbers to everyone in the world's bank cards. Yet you will come to understand in a very profound way that you and everyone else share exactly the same body and mind. Or, as Buddha said, "I, along with everything in the universe, have become awakened."

And yet you find you can't really express it to anyone. Even though anyone you might care to try and express it to is you and therefore sees it just as clearly as you do.

Ironical, ain't it?

You are everything because there is nothing else you can be. You are reading yourself. There's really nothing else that could possibly be happening. There is nowhere else to go.

And, just by the way here, when you see that everyone is you and you are everyone, you'll also come to understand that everyone in the world is just as dumb as you are. This will alleviate a lot of the stress you feel. It's hard to worry what other people might think when you realize their thoughts are just as dopey and meaningless as yours............

from a different article:

".........But to a Buddhist, the whole world is myself. I am that sucky job. I am the girl who doesn't love me as much as I love her. I am the pair of "vegetarian" Doc Martens I special ordered by mail which pinch my feet so bad I can't wear them for more than 10 minutes and yet cost over a hundred and fifty non-returnable bucks. And this isn't just a way of thinking about things, a philosophical speculation. After a few years of practice this becomes the only possible way of looking at the world that makes any sense at all. You are forced to accept it whether you like it or not."

Lone Wolf said...

I do see where your getting at with the whole subject thing, repeatdose since the article is titled "A Nasty Bit Of Work", So I admitt that mistake, though I still say alot of the article was about Buddhsim.

gniz said...

Lone Wolf,

I love those Brad quotes.
My feeling is that someone who actually "lived and breathed" those statements would never write the trite, petty, biting comments about others that Brad writes on his blog.
His more recent posts are self-inflated, whiny, self-pitying diatribes that lack the basic essence which drew me to his earlier stuff.
If you ever read my old comments, I very rarely flamed Brad. But hey, i calls em as I see em.
And i'm probably wrong, unlike these Zen Masters who are never wrong somehow.

Aaron

the lorider said...

well, I appreciate your post. I was considering flaming someone and now I won't. I feel better already.

;) ciao

Dan said...

karen,

" None of what was written in Brad's latest has anything remotely to do with Buddhism. When did pointing out other peoples short comings, without being asked become a part of the Noble Eightfold Path? "

but arent you doing the same thing by pointing out brad' s shortcomings in this comment and elsewhere without being asked? and aren't i doing the exact same thing by pointing out your shortcomings (in this respect at least), to you?
so that leaves two possibilities. either it really is true that those who know do not speak and those who speak do not know or pointing out other people's shortcomings unasked is sometimrs ok or even right.

its difficult for me cos i can understand the whole 'don't criticise other buddhists' precept but i can also understand what vince anila's teacher meant when he said, " sometimes you have to call shit 'shit'". not that i mean to say that you were calling brad shit or i was calling you shit by pointing out aforementioned shortcomings!

(as always) theres a middle way between the wisdom of:

"if you dont have anything nice to say dont say it at all"

and


"sometimes you have to call shit 'shit' "

where that balance is depends entirely on the particular situation. its also a balance which is incredibly hard to find. i dont know whether i've struck it in this post for example. maybe this post reads differently to how i intended it to sound. i hope i've come close though. does anyone see what i'm trying to say?

Lone Wolf said...

Gniz,

You proved me wrong about the whole "pessimistic" comment I made. I appreciate your honesty in this last comment.

It seems we can easily start putting certain standards on Zen teachers about the way they should act. Brad has never claimed to be some "enlightened being", he actually goes out of his way to explain that "enlightment" is a crock of shit. I also never heard him say he doesn't do anything wrong or make mistakes. He wouldn't be human. But he does seem to act and speack with honesty, whether others think it's appropriate or not, that comes from a certain balance(maybe not completely balanced, but who is?). I think it's necessary to question anyones teachings and it's fine to agree with some teachings and not others based on your own understanding. I myself don't agree with all of Brad's teachings 100%, but is there anyone you can agree with 100%? I don't know of any. But again, these are just my thoughts, and what the hell do I know? I atleast try to act or say things from an honest place.

Dan-I agree with your comment about the middle way wisdom between not saying anything if it's not nice and calling shit shit.

Lone Wolf said...

Did anyone get this disgusted when Brad was talking about Ken Wilber or Andrew Cohen back in the Hardcore Zen era? I don't see how his two little articles that mention Mr. Cross is any different.

Some of you might want to find the whereabouts of Farting Man, that guy sure seemed to be enlightment.

LOL

Farting Man..... that was the funniest part of Hardcore Zen.

gniz said...

I saw a difference. Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen are two influential teachers with large followings.
Cohen in particular has been mired in scandal, and at the time, I thought it made sense for Brad to comment on what made people attracted to them.
The difference here is that MC is someone with almost no followers, and he also has a personal relationship with Brad and Gudo.
It makes Brad's comments seem petty, personal and vindictive.
I think that's a pretty distinctive difference. The difference between a wise teacher and a whiny bitch, I'd say.

G

RepeatDose said...

There is a direct causal relationship between:

1.Brad branding MC as a 'total prick'

and

2.MC's escalating anger.

This relationship is there for anybody to read in the archives of MC's blog.

Brad's insults are not THE cause of MC's problems but they are A cause, a contributing factor.

RepeatDose said...

I would suggest there is also a marked distinction between

1. A critique of MC's doctrines which adumbrates the flaws in his argument and methods e.g. the lack of tradition issue.

and

2.Insulting him, which

a.causes MC further suffering
b.Undermines the critique by leaving the author open to the charge of hypocrisy

and

c.Adds fuel to the flame wars.

oxeye said...

aaron, you are criticizing someone for their perceived questionable behavior while calling that person a whiny bitch. it is ridiculous..

oxeye said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
karen said...

Dan,
I am asking the question, "When did pointing out other peoples shortcomings, without being asked, become a part of the Noble Eightfold Path?" That is a question I have. Does asking that question mean that I am pointing out someone else's shortcomings? Or could it be that I'm asking the question of myself and everyone else that posts here if this is the kind of action taken by one who deems themselves to be a Buddhist teacher. IF it is, then I think I have, after 26 years, the wrong idea of what Buddhism is. That is not to say there isn't a place for truth telling. When obvious abuse is happening, such as has happened in the Catholic church, one would not point out on a blog that these kinds of things are going on, you would rather go straight to the police, Catholic or not, and turn the person in. People who are criminals as described by the law need to be dealt with as such. But, as I said before, I don't think that any of this has to do with Buddhism. I know Vince Anila's teacher and her teacher's teacher and her teacher. I have met Vince briefly and he is a sweet guy. BUT, you don't even want to know about the bullshit behind all the teachers involved in that situation. Yeah, you have to call shit, shit. But you don't have to make a career out of it. If you really want to do something about it, refuse to follow in your nemesis footsteps.

Drunken Monkey said...

Wow. People like to gossip, don't they?
But when it comes to practicing zazen, they are too lazy or just can't be bothered.

zenvolution said...

"BUT, you don't even want to know about the bullshit behind all the teachers involved in that situation." All of them? Really? Only one situation? Karen,please reread your own question about gossip and the Four Noble Truths. Its a good one for you too.Gassho,Devin

karen said...

Dear Zenvolution,
I know what I wrote. I didn't write anything about the Four Noble Truths or gossip. Someone did post after me commenting that people sure do like to gossip. I did question when pointing out shortcomings became part of the Noble Eightfold Path. My point is that I have experienced this situation before. And it seems to me that when it is convenient for any so-called "teacher" to call the kettle black, it's OK. Just don't YOU do it. And you especially better not do it to them. That doesn't just go for Zen teachers either. How many Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons have overlooked their own bad behavior to point the finger at other peoples bad behavior. Which is the reason for my original comment that none of this has anything to do with the teachings of the Buddha, except maybe to serve as an example of what they aren't. These kinds of sticky situations, where you are dealing with someone who is mentally unstable, are where the rubber meets the road, and as a teacher you naturally would be expected to act like one. And for the record, I think that Nishijima is a good example of what the Buddha taught. He isn't fighting fire with fire. His actions speak for themselves. And he obviously doesn't feel the need to respond to the outrageous comments made by one person. I mean think about it, would you get angry at a two year old for smearing poop on the wall? Honestly, they don't know any better.

Lone Wolf said...

Would anyone get mad if I smeared poop on the wall?

You really don't have to answer that, I just thought it was funny.

gniz said...

I agree with drunken monkey--only instead of saying, "do zazen" i say "pay attention."
Its much simpler, and i believe most people sitting on zafus arent necessarily paying attention to anything but how amazing it is that they can do the lotus posture.

Aaron

zenvolution said...

Karen,my point was more about what seemed a careless, broad implication you made about bullshit and a bunch of teachers. Since "When did pointing out other peoples shortcomings, without being asked, become a part of the Noble Eightfold Path?"

karen said...

zenvolution,
I think you are right. It was a broad and careless remark about teachers. And it does seem "gossipy". You have my apologies. I am far from a perfect Buddhist and am in no way shape or form a teacher. AS you can see by my post, it is very easy to spout off about what is a contradiction and then go on to prove yourself to be just the same as what you are pointing out. This is a very slippery slope because that little thing called the ego is always more than ready to step in and help you. And to lone wolf, you can only smear poop on the wall if you are two and under. After that, you know what poop is and where it should go. My three year old grandson can attest to that.

oxeye said...

Karen, I liked your last post. You admitted to making a broad and careless remark, much like what me and gniz and others do all the time. Brad does this too..

Drunken Monkey said...

gniz, zazen is about incoperating the concentration of both body and mind in the present moment. Think of it as an excercise in the present moment.
Trying to pay attention without some kind of excercise is impossible. Also with the kind of crap in our subconcious mind and how it penentrates our mind conciously and unconciously, even if your intention is to be aware of the moment, you are not all there with mind and body.
Once your mind/body becomes more balanced, you wouldn't need to care about being in the present moment because it happens spontaneously and you see thoughts as mere thoughts.

Of course, you could ignore what I just said and not believe a word, but its for your benefit, not mine.

Dan said...

" only instead of saying, "do zazen" i say "pay attention." "

mate, there's no way that sitting down and not moving for x amount of time could get any simpler.

telling someone to "pay attention" is pretty vague and so not actually that simple an instruction at all.

Dan said...

you've also kinda contradicted what you said on flapping mouths when you said.


"I believe bare attention (awareness to the present moment) can be practiced at any time, any place, but obviously the more simple the situation the easier it is at first."

again the simplest situation i could think of would be sitting down in a quiet room and not moving.

gniz said...

Drunken Monkey and Dan, you both make good points. Sitting still is the simplest thing one can do.
One can sit still and be quiet in a chair, on a lawn, or one can even stand still and lean against a wall. Sitting on a zafu is not a prerequisite to being still and quiet.
Its a good place to start but most people end there. My teacher says you need to pay attention to something that is constant, whether it be your breath, your vision, your hearing, something that is constant and follow it. Bring consciousness to the moment.
But you need to practice doing more and more things and keeping that awareness.
It seems many practitioners of meditation sit still and meditate, but then when they are talking, typing on a computer, etc etc, they cant do it anymore.
Its like an athlete. You can hit a tennis ball from the baseline, but can you hit it from the net, can you serve it, hit an overhead, while on the run, etc etc.?
Practitioners who simply sit on a cushion and meditate are like a tennis player who only learned to hit one shot. Yes, its better than nothing and better than most will ever learn.


Aaron

Bizarro said...

Hello.

I'm a little confused about Brad's comments that one needs a teacher in order to be 'Buddhist'. I'm hesitant to even say I'm Buddhist, but I do my best to practice zazen daily, and I try to stay mindful in everything I do, even though I frequently falter and get back on the path. Isn't that all that matters? Isn't that the heart of it all?

I may not have a formal Master (although I have deep respect for the importance of a Master and the sangha), but I've learned so much through other means, done my best to incorporate those principles and practices into my own life, and I know I'm on the right track. The futility of labeling aside, maybe I'm just an Agnostic that happens to practice zazen. But for the sake of not confusing others who ask the religion question, I don't think I'm lying when I choose to keep saying I'm Buddhist, or that I practice Buddhism. It's only a word, right?

This creates a tangential question in my head: Is a Christian who never attends Mass still a Christian?

Drunken Monkey said...

"It seems many practitioners of meditation sit still and meditate, but then when they are talking, typing on a computer, etc etc, they cant do it anymore."

I don't know how you can say that.
Have you magically entered the conciousness of somebody who has practiced meditation and noticed that they do not act in the present moment?

Its a baseless statement.

Drunken Monkey said...

I would just like to add that when a person practices zazen, the balance and awareness that comes from practicing zazen, naturally and gradually becomes incorporated in everyday life. Without personal effort to pay attention. It just happens. Naturally.

gniz said...

Drunken Monkey,

It isn't a totally baseless statement to say that I can tell to some degree when a person is paying attention.
When someone is paying attention and present, they exhibit certain characteristics. Their eyes tend to be still and clear, they tend to be relatively still and calm (when not engaged in a lot of activity).
People who are caught up in their thinking tend to be staring off into space, at the floor, their eyes dart around while they talk, they hold their breath, become agitated, etc. etc.
I cannot know for a fact that this person is not paying attention or is unconscious, but it is a good indicator.
From my own experience, I have found that I need to practice being aware and awake while sitting, talking, moving, etc etc.
Perhaps, as you say, this will naturally move into life activities without effort.
It has not been my experience.
Also, I have seen many so-called masters who are clearly lost in thought.
Perhaps I am wrong and I mean that sincerely. But it corellates highly with my own experience and thats the best thing I have.

Aaron

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Drunken Monkey said...

Gniz, I'm glad to see that you are sincere.

If you have the time, please read the short article; "seize the day" on Jule's Blog.
http://fleetingimpressions.blogspot.com/

A worthwhile read, most definately.

gniz said...

DM,

I am quite sure that Zazen can be used in such a way as to promote continued moment to moment awareness.
Whether it is effortless or not i do not know.
I practice what I practice because I have a teacher I believe knows what he is talking about.
It doesnt happen to be Zen but many of the principles apply.
I have seen some of those research articles as well.
Aaron

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