Friday, August 04, 2006


This morning I put together the latest in a series of rough cuts of my documentary film, Cleveland's Screaming. If you go to my blog about that (link to your right) you can read a little about it.

The process of artistic creation is a little like Zen. Or maybe a lot like it. The problems your piece has are always obvious and the solutions to them are equally so. Yet it can take ages to notice this and ages more to finally get down to work and make the necessary changes. Quite often this never happens.

One of the reasons most big budget movies are so unremittingly bad is because there are far too many people involved. The artistic process is stifled when the group of people involved in the decision making gets to be too big. The same thing may be true of meditative practices and groups involved in them.

I've always been wary of any "spiritual" organization that's too big. The bigger they are, the worse they are. I've yet to find any exceptions to this. It may be that, in trying to please the greatest number of people, you need to make the greatest number of compromises. That kind of compromising attitude never really works, unless, of course, your goal is simply to increase revenue.

When Zen is compromised everyone loses. Although I believe Zen is for everyone, that doesn't mean you can compromise it to make it appealing to everyone. Compromised Zen is not Zen at all. It's not really an appealing practice, when you get right down to it. It wasn't terribly appealing to me. But once I got into it, I could see its practicality and truth. It's like dieting and exercise. Dieting and exercise are hard work. But it's really the only way to lose weight. Other methods may be quicker. But they never really work. We all know this. Yet still we hope there might be an easier solution. There isn't. And there never will be. It's inherent in the problem itself. The human body just works like that. Same deal with Zen, which is very practical and very much physical labor.

Tomorrow we'll be meeting at the regular time at the Hill Street Center. See the link to your right for details!

By the way, Nishijima Sensei's blog has gotten very interesting lately. I've never seen an old Japanese Zen guy write so autobiographically. I never knew any of this stuff.


Chica said...

"Although I believe Zen is for everyone, that doesn't mean you can compromise it to make it appealing to everyone. Compromised Zen is not Zen at all"

I have been sitting for a couple years by myself . Only about 20 mins a day (and still I persist because it seems there is nothing better out there, so i see it as some thing to at least anchor myself with it - and I wonder if this an appropriate reason to do it even)
Anyway, I have had some minimal contact with a zen center here. Even did a 4 day retreat and that was really tough adn had a screy experince in my sitting on 3rd night. So I have not done a retreat since last yr. I know that I read that that is a cop out, but i don'yt know whsat the F this "practice is for me' I am just rambling...

Anyway, I do not feel I have had exposure to any big organization like you refer to. I have heard abotMountain and Rivers monastery...

SoI do not know what you are referring to when you say 'compromises"

Can you give me examples?Thanks.

jlhart7 said...

Hi, Mr. Warner/Brad/whatever you want to be called:

I should mention that I saw Zero Defex at Cleveland Screaming a couple months ago, and you guys rocked!

What I really wanted to say though, is that I think you might be interested in putting your two cents into this blog-post-comment-discussion I've been having with a bunch of people at this address:

It's about the use of drugs in attaining mystical states of mind. I take essentially your position against a bunch of folks who sound like they've been reading Zig Zag Zen.

ryunin said...

hi chica, i can only speak for myself, but the big Buddhist organizations I experienced meant that there was almost no chance to have a regular, intimate contact with your teacher and to have a regular, intimate contact with a teacher that is really connected to you, someone who is learning who you are and you are learning who he or she is, is crucial, i think, for studying and practicing zen

other than that, I think you don't have to worry about reasons why you practice, just practice, be it 20 min a day or 5 min a day

and retreats, in my experience, are hell for a beginner, but once a year it is good to go through it, i guess

docretro said...

Hi Brad,

I was just browsing apple's trailer-site and found a movie covering a similar theme. Maybe you are interested in this kind of stuff:


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