Sunday, February 04, 2007


I haven't updated this blog for a while, have I? I've been running all over the place for the past week or so. I put together the final(?) version of my movie Cleveland's Screaming to send to Scat Records who will be issuing the DVD this Summer.

A bunch of people forwarded me the following commercial, which played on the Superbowl today:

I don't usually post commercials here & Garmin's not paying me. But the commercial is pretty funny. The company I work for had nothing to do with this. But I can even tell you which Ultraman episodes the guys who made the commercial referenced when making it. The setting appears to be based on the one in the episode featuring the monster Neronga (it's like ep. 2, or 3 or 5, one of the early ones). The monster seems to be based on Keronia, who appears in one of the later episodes. And, of course, the hero is a knock-off of Ultraman.

Been reading a lot of Beatle books lately. I always like reading about The Beatles. Something about the obsessive nature of Beatle fans is fascinating. You're just looking at a period of about 10 years in the lives of 4 people. You'd think you could exhaust the information that could be mined from such a narrow subject pretty fast. But it seems to be endless. Then you have the JFK assassination guys who seem to be able to extract endless data from an even that took just a few minutes to transpire. I don't have any deep theories about that. Just something I was noticing.

Is there anything anyone out there wants me to write about?


Heather said...

I'm maybe sorta starting to date someone.

Write about romantic love, please.

G said...

Yeah Brad - please write something about having a cold - it's terrible!

(interestingly when you're ill your natural Buddah nature seems to retreat inside of yourself and you become pretty selfish until you're better - or is that just me? :) )

Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

Dear Brad,

Before you started with the Ultraman folks in Japan, what were you doing?

Why did you go to Japan in the first place?

Did being abroad and out of the states change your perspective on things? How?

What Beatle do you identify with the most?



guyropes said...

I wondered if you can explain what you mean when you refer to "the rule of the universe". This occasionally sounds scientific, and at other times, god-like. I am sure you mean something else. Please, please clarify.
Thank you, and keep it up with the blog. It does mean a lot to everyone here I think.

Anonymous said...

February bring Valentines Day and all the lovey dovey stuff. I'm facing a divorce and being single again. I thought my life was great. I undertand now how everthing changes.

Maybe it is a good time to write about romance, relationships, love, divorce and change.

Stille said...

Yeah. Love is always an issue... :-)
Then again: What about engaged Buddhism?

Pupster said...

You should blog some new book teases.

Ok, some MORE new book teases, excerpts, cliff-hangers (*buy the book to find out what happens…*)

Maybe some transcripts of your dharma talks.

Anonymous said...

i wanna see some analyzations. about anything. fear, doubt, sex, moslty doubt. i want you to explain what gpes down when you start doubting everything and the demons come out. and how you move through it, maybe if your up for it some of the realizations that you've had. i know it's popular to say that some of these things should be kept to yourslef but who cares it will help everyone. and i think the best thing for anyone to know about this (and brad i think you'll agree) is to know that zen and this philosophy isn't all fun and games, not even in the slightest. as osho said "i love to disturb people. it makes them think. people have been consoled for centuries. i don't want to console anybody. because the more you console them the more and more retarted they become"

Anonymous said...

or how about writing about the popular belief that we are all right now undergoing a "shift in the collective consciousness".. how people supposedly are now "waking up" more than ever. and it's not only peopel of this order that believes this. i watched a documentary on evangelical christianity yesterday and they all think something is going down. they say it's like people are just changing. honeslty i think this could be very dangerous for some people if anythings really "happening".. because if something is happening, these christians (or anyone who's extremely arrogant in their beliefs) have dark times ahead of them

Anonymous said...

or how abot you opinion on tibetan or any religious type of buddhism

Anonymous said...

or advaita vedanta

Anonymous said...

or how about whether buddhists should pick their nose, lol j/k

Matt said...

i'd love to hear about something related to bass guitar - underrated bassists, fave bassists, how Buddhism informs your bass playing, dream basses, over rated basses. . . I think you get the point.

Looking forward to the next book.

Gray said...

As a polyamorous person who just had a 5 year relationship with a girlfriend and a 4.5 year marriage (8 years of relationship) come to a rather abrupt ending, yeah, I'd also like to hear more about maintaining equilibrium when it feels like your whole world is tearing apart, relationship-wise.

I will say this: I've been sitting more than ever. Not because it helps, but sort of in a "well, here's at least one thing I can do. Just sit here."

Anonymous said...

i'm curious about the buddhist take on free will

Anonymous said...

I want to know how to practice. Sure, you sit down, look at the wall and it's all good, but I rarely get that far. My mind is swimming in thought, like a disease. I have work to do and it's not getting done. My modern way of living is screwing with me. Why?

And the above question of free will. What's that all about, because if I had free will surely I'd be able to do this stuff?

That's what I want to see; less of the internet gossip and more of the real thing.

Teach me man.

Colin said...

Boy, you sure asked for it, didn't you Brad... ;-)

But since you asked, I'd like your take on vegetarianism/veganism. Some things you've written have given me the impression you may be a vegetarian or vegan, but you haven't been explicit. I also have seen you in a leather jacket (or was it a "pleather" jacket?). I have read thoughtful Buddhist arguments on both sides of this issue and would like to hear your thoughts.

drunken monkey said...

Hey Brad, could you talk about artistic creativity in zen.


Anonymous said...

What do you think about teaching students what they're ready for in their time vs. terrorizing them(albeit correctly) to see if they run away? I can see the wisdom in both, but I tend to lean toword the in their time thing.Guy

sonnyblue said...

Brad, write something about why most of us know that doing zazen is good for us but it’s so hard to do it. Or instead of sitting zazen, can we just bring awareness into our daily life? Is that good enough? To most of us (especially the young kids with the Internet and cell phones), sitting still is so against our natural instinct. (Imagine our cave men thousand years ago were sitting zazen while surrounded by a dozen of tigers!).

Anonymous said...

Could you write some more about TV commercials, can't get enough of that.

daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

colin, brad is a vegetarian. he wrote an article on vegetarianism for this veggie website a while back. its called something like are you a vegetarian cos you love animals or cos you hate plants? or something like that

11:12 AM

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad

on another website of yours you have a link to an article you say refers to the concept of reincarnation and i would really love to read it - can the link be repaired or can you point me in another direction?

also is it OK to have tattoos and be practicing zen? i dont see that it makes a difference but some friends have questioned it - any thoughts?


aumeye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jules said...

Hi Brad,
I'm curious to hear your take on the role fantasy plays in life. You work in the fantasy industry, but spend a lot of time talking about living in reality. I'd like to hear your comments on the importance of dreams and fantasy, the way they affect our motivation and goals. I'm interested in your perspective on escape vs. entertainment.

Kirk said...

Hi Brad. I would like to hear more about what you have to say about death. I too have experienced the death of a parent this year. I have to say, when you look at what is important or worth getting worked up about when you know you will soon die, it can change one's perspective. So, yeah, that's what I'd like you to write about.

A Strange Day said...

Brad, I was wondering if you could comment on koan 2-81 in the Shinji Shobogenzo:

"One day, in the order of Master Nansen Fugan, the head monks of the dormitories fought against each other because of a kitten. Looking at their quarreling, the Master held up the kitten, and said: If you can say a word of truth I will not cut the kitten in half.

The monks did not answer.

The Master cut the kitten in two.

Later Master Nansen reported this story, and asked Master Joshu's opinion. Master Joshu took off his straw sandals and, placing them upon his head, walked out.

Gesus said...

Beening reading this blog for a while. And after reading Heathers post reminds me that ve never read anything about Love!
For many of us, Love is a massive chuck of our hopes and dream, for it to be absent seems kinda odd.
I mean, if everything is impermanent, wot about love? or marriage? and our hopes and dreams of love or/& marriage? Are they just as temporary as (say) a flash of lighting in a storm?

"is it OK to have tattoos and be practicing zen?"
Kinda Ilrelative...
The mean question is why are you PRACTICING zen,and not DOING zen??

muddy elephant said...

Brad wrote:

Then you have the JFK assassination guys who seem to be able to extract endless data from an even that took just a few minutes to transpire. I don't have any deep theories about that.

Ok, given that you don't have any deep theories about JFK etc... I think that conspiracies/prophecies/cosmology are at heart all about an ongoing theme in your writing: questioning reality. What's your further take on this kind of thinking?

I think romantic love would be a great topic as well.
Keep up the great blog! Thanks.

Lone Wolf said...

LOL! I was wondering if Brad saw that commerical went it aired last night.

I would like to hear some teachings on karma in relation to action in the present moment, student/teacher relationship in Zen,and talks on zazen in general.

I don't quite grasp the whole concept of "action" in the teachings on philosophy of action. So anything on that topic would be nice.

Thanks for continuing this blog Brad! It's very appreciated.

cromanyak said...

I'd really like to see something written about self-esteem. I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. That's the technical term. What it is, is that I just freeze up when I'm talking to people that I don't know. Like my brain goes into overdrive searching for something to say. There's even people that I've know a long time that I feel really self conscious around. Zazen has helped alot with this, but I still freeze up around people on a daily basis. I know that everyone gets this way sometimes, but not to the extent that people like me do. I know Buddhism teaches to just accept things as they are, but there has to be another side to this coin.


Lone Wolf said...

I am with Jules on the fantasy and reality thing. You wrote about this breifly before about Zen and Creativity. But the fact that I love to write and read fiction and use my imagination seems very contradictory when it comes to living in reality moment by moment.

At the moment, when I am using imagination while writing fiction I just do it, when I'm sitting Zazen I just do it, but when I'm not writing fiction or practicing Zazen I sort of go back and forth between just enjoying reality to brainstorming ideas for writing and such.

Got advice?

Lots of people want to hear about "love." I'll go along with that, though if I recall correctly, you breifly touched on that in Hardcore Zen.

Esmerelda said...

Dear Anonymous, who is probably a troll, I suggest you not get tattoos on your butt if you want to sit zasen.

Dear Brad I think fantasy AND romantic love go together as a topic. They sure are hanging out together a lot in real life.

Anonymous said...

How come Zen teachers rarely
hang out together? For example,
you've said good things about
Joshu Sasaki, and you're both
in LA, so, how come y'all don't
introduce yourselves to each
other and compare notes?

If Zen has anything to do with
"reality", how come Zen people
from different lineages seem to
avoid each other. At least in
the sciences, scientists get
together every now and then to
see what they can agree on and
where they might have gone wrong.

Anonymous said...

hi cromanyak,

You may want to talk to an expert
in neuropharmacology; in other
words, find a good psychiatrist
who can prescribe some good drugs. There are some chemical imbalances
that zazen can barely scratch the
surface of. And there are drugs
that can have pretty dramatic
positive effects on things like
Social Anxiety Disorder.

Brad may be an expert in Zen, but
that doesn't make him an expert in
brain chemistry. Just because he
disapproves of drugs doesn't mean
you should deny yourself the
benefits of modern science and
suffer needlessly.

Experiment for yourself!

Good Luck!

sunzi61 said...

I have been meaning to ask you to write something on relationships as well. perhaps on lying in relationships and what it means and healthy vs unhealthy relationships, thanks
ps i enjoy your blog alots

Anonymous said...

Just read the latest post over at
Suicide Girls...

Who'd a thunk that Nancy Reagan was
really just Brad in drag:

"Just say No!"

But what about Bodhidarma:

"Just say Know!"
No, no, I mean
"Don't know."

Oh, a wise guy, eh?
nyuk, nyuk, nyuk...

What's the big idea?

Why I oughta...

"Just say Moe!"

No, no,

"Just say Mu!"

No, no,

"Just say Moooooo!"

No, no,

"Just eat mor chikin'."

No, no,

"Just Lust For Life!"

Kids, don't do drugs while
reading books on Zen,
watching The Three Stooges,
eating Chik-fil-A, and
playing Iggy really LOUD...

very un-balanced.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and drugs cause
spelling errors...

It's 'Bodhidharma', dufus!

Lone Wolf said...

Has anyone here seen the documentry Jesus Camp?

Evangelical boot camp for kids.
Training children to be warriors for God's army.

I recently rented the film, and it was very strange. If you like the idea of kids crying in sinful guilt, talking and tounges, and praying for a life size cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, check it out.

Here is the link if you want to check out the trailer and see some plump head preacher woman yell "THIS MEANS WAR" to the kids at Jesus Camp.

For those who just havn't got enough Scientology satire watching South Park, check out MC Lars' (post punk laptop rapper who has that hit song "Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock") video pod cast here:

UncaDan said...

My favorite Beatles books are "Chronicles" and "The Recording Sessions" by the Mark Lewison. The first being a record of all their live shows from the beginning to the end and the second one gives extensive details on how and what they recorded during the same time frame. Very informative and hard to put down.

How about a discussion on the common threads and ideas in all religions and that how once you strip away the rites, rituals and dogma they really say the same things.

Looking forward to the new book.

David said...


if you freeze up around people, i think it helps to remember that they are You

Zah said...


thanks for the comments about my question. Gesus is right - i should be doing zen, not practicing it.

esmerelda, i dont know what in my comment led you to think i am a troll but your advice on my not getting a tattoo on my butt is eminently sensible.

i havent learnt anything about whether or not to finish off a tattoo i had started pre-zen. i know of someone recently was not going to be ordained because of his tattoos but he refused to remove or cover them as they were part of his past. in the end he was ordained. so maybe he should serve as my example.

brad, thank you so much for this blog and for hardcore zen. i have bought several copies over the past couple of years. my friends love it so much i dont get the book back!

ride the lightning

Evan said...

How about your thoughts on the existence (or lack thereof) of free will and how that squares with the Buddhist notion of doing the right thing.

Here's one article about science's current take on the subject:


mike said...

yeah I love relapsing back into beatles addiction. This x-mas I sat at home and watched the anthology and Hard Days Night and listened to all the albums i owned, including the new remix album, Love, which is awesome. You should watch the movie Backbeat. I'm trying to find it, it's a Beatles film set around their early hamburg tours. I heard Dave Grohl talk about it in this essay he wrote about Ringo since he's on the soundtrack as the drummer for the superband that they made up to do the songs in the movie.

As far as topics go... either on Japan rolling back to of it's pillars of pacifism (teaching patriotism and something else...) or the crisis in tibet. The new Rolling Stone says that tibet's compassionate and peaceful response to the chinese invaders is going to lead to their eventual demise as a civilization, and some young tibetan buddhists are trying to fight back.

trbecker said...

I would like to see you talking about punk rock/hardcore bands that talk about buddhism, or the link between some punk rock/hardcore bands music and zen.

Anonymous said...

Lol, boy, how telling these comments are. People asking Brad about relationships, cosmology, philosophy, sociology, psychology and... tattoos. Does anyone really believe he has any profound insights into these things? You would be better served at the self-help section of the bookstore for that stuff, I think. Maybe save questions about Buddhism for Brad, which he knows a thing or two about, and monster movies & punk stuff of course.

Anonymous said...

on a previous post Brad wrote:

"Basically I hate talking "Zen." I'd much rather discuss just about anything at all other than Zen. This is because most people who want to talk Zen have no real interest in the subject. They're not serious at all. They'd never even consider sitting on a cushion for an hour every day facing themselves down the way you'd face down an angry Rottwieller intent on making mincemeat out of your internal organs. I'm not interested in discussing Zen the way you might discuss whether the Lakers are better than the Celtics or whether Emo is cooler than Screamo or whether Elmo is cooler than the Cookie Monster or whatever. On the other hand, if a person is truly serious about the subject, I'm always available.

Screw it anyway. You don't care...

oxeye said...

I don't see the contradiction between reading or writing fiction and living in the moment. If you were having fantasies about suicide girls when you were trying to read or write about something else, then you might have a problem.

Colin said...

I know Dan was trying to be helpful, but Brad seems to have taken down the essay on vegetarianism, as it is no longer on the website that "VeggieDharma" links to. I am more interested to truly know why Brad is a vegetarian. Again, I have read many essays on the subject on both sides of the issue and I find both sides compelling.

For instance: Various animals, sentient beings, are killed in droves by all modern human food production, whether or not it involves meat. The animals killed in meat production just happen to be ones more "attractive" and sympathetic to humans. Animals die as a result of all human activity.

Anyway, feel free to repost the previous article on your website. I'm not asking you to spend your time writing something fresh, I just never got a chance to see anything on the subject! I particularly enjoy and relate to your take on things, Brad.

cromanyak said...

I think drugs have too many side effects. Plus they're addictive. Especially the ones they perscribe for my condition. I think that Zazen can correct chemical imbalances. When I was younger before I even knew about Buddhism I knew intuitively that awareness could restore balance. I just didn't know what a slow process it would be. If I was so bad that I couldn't hold a job I'd probably consider taking medication.

Jim said...

If you haven't and nobody mentioned it, I recommend "Beatles Gear", which focuses on how they physically made the music, rather than...all that other stuff.

Anonymous said...

How about your take on the relationship of Taoism to Zen? Not the historical connection, but the connection in actual practice?

Oh, The Beatles- Abbey Road is my "stranded on a desert island with a lifetime supply of batteries" album. A masterpiece!

rchinn72 said...

Is it too late for me to suggest subject matter? I guess we'll just have to see. I just recently have heard about this so-called "big mind" zen and was wondering if Brad, or anyone else had any thoughts about it.(Brad, I'm pretty sure you've touched on this, or something similar, a little bit)I'm thinking it'll fall into the realm of instant gratification or whatnot.
I just stumbled on it by googling ZEN

I went to the dude's website.
He wants $15 a month to be a member. He seems to be selling a large amount of stuff. He's also sporting a pretty fancy site. That pretty much seems to say it all for me. I was just curious to hear another take.

Also, I've been looking to find a decent zen center here in Chicago and every one that I've found seems to have these weird little quirks. For example, The most recent one that I've been looking into is The Buddhist Society for Compassionate wisdom.. seems pretty cool
but when I was looking through their site I found something about offering fruit to Buddha (which seemed like a waste to me. I guess I could be nitpicking, but crazy nonsensical rituals are what deterred me from religon in the first place...

Okay I'm done writing.

Lone Wolf said...

cromanyak - This might be to late to post this here, but I'll give it a try.

I had difficulties with anxiety myself, especially when I was 14. I was in a hospital for awhile and given alot of medication (zanex, anit-depressants, and other meds that made me feel like a zombie) then my insurance ran out. I finally took on the challenge to help myself. One of the things that helped me most was studying Kung fu, because my anxiety would come up during sparing. By facing the anxiety, I learned that the power it had over me was all in my head. So I suggest relaxing (this also means relaxing the tension in your physical body) when your in stiuations that give you social anxiety. Start out slowly and face these social situations and feel the tension and relax within the tension. The more you do this the more you will make friends with anxiety and you will see it's not the big powerful monster that seems to control you. But don't be massochistic and push yourself to much. Just keep working with it and face the situations that seem to bring tension more and more. Remember you will never get rid of anxiety fully, every one has it and for good reason, but you can work with it so it ceases to rule your life.

Zazen also helps calm your mind down and create balance. My difficulties with anxiety was major part of my attraction to Buddhism.

Also don't try to figure what other people are thinking about you because 1. who knows, and 2. who cares. Just be comfortable with who you are and do not worry so much about other peoples praise or (shit I'm having a brain fart)whats the other word, blame or something I don't know.

I hope this helps, because these were the key elements in helping me with my difficulties with anxiety. Hell, I couldn't even step foot out of the house at one point or I would go into a full fledge panic attack.

I contiue to approve my situation and my difficulties with anxiety to this day.

Ohh here is a letter I wrote a Zen teacher named Barry Magid (a student of Charlotte Joko Beck)who is a psychoanalysis guy once. I was talking about anxiety and Zazen making me sensitive to other people this is what he said:

On social akwardness of Zazen:

Sometimes sitting gets us so quiet we're out of synch with others' nervous energy - other times we go ga-ga over little things that nobody else bothers to notice and enjoy....I wouldn't make too much out of either...

On anxiety relapse at job "this is more complicated - practice is about facing stress we usually avoid, but you're right that it shouldn't become masochistic. We need to non-traumatically and gradually expand our boundaries. Panic attacks probably mean the job is pushing too hard and too fast. Try to find out what brings out the best in you - that can include the proper structure, support & encouragemnet you need to develop - not just what pushes all your buttons....

Here is a email quote from Brad when I asked him a similar question to yours about feeling strange and not knowing what to say in social gatherings. I was feeling like this at a party and I had been sitting alot of Zazen at the time.


"Are you dumb & dull now? Zazen won't change your personality, even if you hope it might.

If you apply yourself to learning something, you'll be better able to learn it by relying on what you've gathered from Zazen practice. You'll gain a better understanding of what's important and what can be ignored.

How important are these social gatherings, really? Could it be possible you make perfect sense when you talk, but no one can understand because they don't have any experience of hearing anyone talk sensibly?

There are times that Zazen makes you more aware of tensions you hadn't noticed before. This sometimes leads people to believe that zazen has increased their tension. But it hasn't really. Not in most cases I've seen, anyway."

When Brad said, "Zazen won't change your personality" it helped alot, because if you are acting strange or feeling akward or feel like you should be feeling better after practicing Zazen, then you might want to look closely if your doing correct Zazen. Because what I noticed was that I was doing Zazen with a subtle goal in mind and that ruins Zazen. You have to do Zazen for Zazen itself. Any sort of feeling that "I'm doing this so my thoughts will calm down", "so my anxiety will go away", "so I will feel different" . I did this and once I realized it. I sat Zazen without any special idea in mind and the weird after effects went away. I think I was subltly changing my personality and behavoir with these subtle thoughts in my Zazen.

I hope this helpful.

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