Wednesday, March 07, 2007

THE 6th AND 7th PRECEPTS


I am stunned and amazed by the response to that last post. It proves once again that I have no idea when I’m being controversial and when I’m not. I’ve put posts up here previously that I was certain would set off riots with blood flowing freely through the streets and no one seemed even to have noticed. Then something like my thing about Big Mind™ — which I felt was a pretty minor rant, standard issue for me and a tad boring — doesn’t just get over 140 responses here, but sets off a long, long thread at something called the Buddhist Community E-Sangha (don’t ask me, I never heard of it before someone sent me the link). Maybe it’s cold out in most of the country this time of year and people don’t have much else to do but sit and type on their computers.

I looked at most of the comments. Some were pretty impressive. The one video link someone posted of Ken Wilber wired up to what looks like an Etch-a-Sketch with blinking Christmas tree lights Scotch-taped to it to prove he can go into the most macho deep Samadhi the world has ever known is classic, by the way. Honestly, I cannot even comprehend why anyone would fall for something like that.

The comments about the sixth and seventh precepts deserve a little discussion, though. These are the precepts telling us not to criticize others (or “other Buddhists” as it is sometimes given) or to be proud of ourselves and slander others. One of the great problems I see in Buddhism today is the way these precepts can be twisted to give just about anything deflector shields worthy of a Klingon Bird of Prey against all criticism by anyone involved in Buddhism merely by stating that what one is doing is a form of Buddhist practice. The very worst example of this was in 1995 after the “Buddhist Master” Shoko Asahara used poison gas on the Tokyo subways. My friend Taijun, a Japanese Buddhist nun, paid close attention to the TV, newspaper and magazine coverage of that event in Japan. Though a huge number of Buddhist monks and nuns were interviewed about Asahara, and though all of them condemned the attack, not one of the monks or nuns Taijun saw or read about said that what Asahara taught was not Buddhism. It’s as if they couldn’t bring themselves to cross that line.

Since the Sixties, words like Enlightenment, Awakening, Satori, Kensho and all the rest have entered into our language and popular culture. Lots of people think they want these experiences, but have no idea just what they really are. As long as the deep confusion about these words remains, it’s easy for unscrupulous people to define anything they please as Enlightenment. In the Sixties and Seventies lots of folks in the West thought that the brain damage caused by the use of various psychoactive chemicals was Enlightenment. A few years ago a couple of pinhead burn-outs tried to revive that idea with a popular book and, amazingly, found a large number of supposed “Buddhists” who either supported or were unwilling to criticize their position. Now we have organizations trying to promote the idea that Enlightenment is something that can be had instantly through some special technique that — Surprise! Surprise! —they just happen to hold the patent on.

One of the posters at Suicide Girls pointed out that the purported Buddhist Master I’d criticized there recently was the head of a large and highly respected Buddhist organization. I had actually deliberately left that detail out because, to me, that makes it all the more troubling. So long as no one from that group points out that what this man is selling is clearly unrelated in any way to Buddhism, the rest of us have to assume the organization as a whole supports and agrees with it. And that is a sad state of affairs.

It is very important for those who practice and teach Buddhism to be willing to speak out when some popular trend claiming to be Buddhist is clearly not. That doesn't always mean shouting from a soapbox. But maintaining noble silence may not be the only alternative. As Buddhism becomes more fashionable and establishes itself as a mainstream philosophy the tendency for all manner of charlatans to latch on to the air of sanctity available to anything that labels itself “Buddhist” will only increase. If we don’t criticize these things because we fear we may violate the precepts we’re doing a terrible disservice to people who want to know what real Buddhism actually is.

287 comments:

1 – 200 of 287   Newer›   Newest»
Anatman said...

Well said, Brad.

katie said...

VERY well said. As someone who really does want to know the truth, I appreciate you calling out the lies. And it's so sad that there are so many...

Anonymous said...

Real Buddhism. What is that? Buddhism has no trade mark. Neither has Zen. Buddhism evolves by branching out and personal questioning. Different branches evolve in different directions. Some parts die out. In Japan young monks ask from you: Soto or Rinzai? When they hear the answer, you can see from their face if you are real Buddhist or not. How stupid.

I think those Japanese Buddhists were right when they declined to comment when they had no personal experience of the Ashara group.

In your lineage, the famous Kodo Sawaki encouraged killing other people. Do I condemn him. No. I do not know other peoples mind. All I can say that my understanding is that gas attacks and war mongering are something to be avoided.

BigMind people just do what some Tibetan masters have claimed to do for long time. I do not follow them because my intuition tells me that it is not correct practice, but what I know.

muddy elephant said...

The Big Mind idea of multiple voices is very much like this blog and comments is it not?

Being that "cyber-Buddhism" and all blogging in general is still young it is interesting to watch the development and interaction of thoughts that previously had no easy and accesible way in which to be communicated.

Maybe it's all just more illusion, acceleration of entropy.

All of this chatter serves to obscure the mundane. Does truth still reside in the Zen maxim: "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep"?

When in doubt, blog?

Anonymous said...

Brad....as much as you disagree with "Big Mind", a criticism I agree wholeheartedly with, was it really necessary to use the term "butt buddies" in that criticism? I don't think it got your point across anymore than if you didn't use it and it's just flat out name calling.

I don't want to turn this into a "PC" debate: this is an honest inquiry. Words affect people and I'm aware that we cannot control how people interpret them. The human mind is great at twisting words around to justify anything. But obviously we use words all the time to communicate. There's gotta be some "limitations". You've said before that limitations can be actually good for us right?

In that vein, what is your take on "correct speech?" in Buddhism?

You've addressed how the precepts address fellow Buddhists. What about human beings?

Anonymous said...

Can you write a little bit about Real Buddhism please?

muddy elephant said...

Which brings to mind Katagiri Roshi's words which Brad has previously noted: "You have to say something."

earDRUM said...

Happy (belated) birthday Brad.

I have been pursuing zen buddhism in one form or another for more than 20 years. My path has meandered a lot. I investigated all sorts of things. I found some things useful at certain stages of my path. But I noticed that most of the ideas fell by the wayside, later on.
I was in search for a way of life that held up to ALL scrutiny. I tested ideas by investigating my thoughts and intuition. I questioned each idea to its core. I was searching wor a worldview... a model to live my life by. For me, it felt like a life or death issue. I felt that my sanity was on the line. And back then, it was.
Soto Zen Buddhism was the only one that held up to my test. I trust my intuition on this.
One can point to individuals in the lineage who might have done things that were not morally correct. But that doesn't mean that the lineage is not right. We are all human. And when we are aware, we learn from our mistakes (and the mistakes of others).
Teachers are important. But in the end, I think we have to examine our own thoughts and experience. I think we have to be careful to examine self-delusion. When our minds are clear, it is all very obvious. And it becomes easy to spot delusion. But when we are deluded, we have trouble seeing clearly. We latch onto anything that makes us feel better, (and we shy away from anything that isn't pleasant) in the short term. (For instance, if the voices in our head seem to be helping us, we think they are helpful.) When our minds are clear, we are able to think long-term. We can spot problems before they happen. (We notice that the voices in our head are actually our own voices, and that they take too much energy to sustain.)

I also fount it interesting how the "butt-buddies" comment riled some, but not others. It was especially interesting to see that a gay individual saw it as a harmless, endearing term. We often assume that being politically correct is the best way to be, since it seems to be the friendliest. But being politically correct is subscribing to somebody else's rules. A lot of assumptions are made. Reality has very little to do with assumptions.

That's how I see it, right now.

Elizabeth said...

Real Buddhism involves sitting zazen. I think we can agree on that. If BM actually provides an "enlightenment" experience (a problematic concept anyway), should we pity the Buddha since electricity wasn't invented back in his day? There are no quick fixes. Zen is sitting, period. Brad is right on that point, if a little obnoxious sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Who is to define real Buddhism? While discernement is a healthy practice, what about humility?
Could you explain how you came to determine (possess) what Buddhism and is not? You really sound like a "Ken Wilber" on that one (i.e Full of it) ...

Anonymous said...

eardrum I don't think it's so simple. There is a thing called "internalized" homophobia. While I do not know as to whether the gay man who took it as an endearing term has "internalized homophobia" I do not think you can dismiss the "butt buddies" comment as not homophobic just because one gay man took no offense. As far as "political correctness" being wrong because it is subscribing to someone else's rules, what about the Buddhist precepts? How we treat and address other people is a very important thing....You can work around the responsibility by attributing it to "political correctness" but the fact is as Buddhists, we are concerned about the well being of all sentient beings.

Hence, my inquiry into correct speech.

Jinzang said...

Real Buddhism. What is that? Buddhism has no trade mark. Neither has Zen. Buddhism evolves by branching out and personal questioning. Different branches evolve in different directions.

This reminds me of the endless arguments over what is real homeopathy. Someone hooks you up to a machine and has you hold a bottle in your hand. If the needle moves, what's in the bottle is the right homeopathic remedy.

"That's not real homeopathy," I say.

"Oh, homeopathy has evolved," they say.

"No, Hahnemann said what homeopathy is very clearly in the Organon. That's not what's in the Organon."

Similarly, Buddhism is what Buddha taught. He taught a method for seeing the mind as it is. This method is based on direct experience. Direct experience means no one can tell you what it is. It's experiential truth as opposed to conceptual truth. That means it can't be taught. It can't be learned. It can only be seen.

The way you sit down and look at your mind until you see that what you thought you were isn't so. Being told this is not good enough, any more than being told that working on scaffolding fifty stories up isn't dangerous and you shouldn't be afraid. It's only through getting used to working on the scaffolding that you won't be afraid.

Sitting down and looking at your mind is meditation. It's harder than it sounds, especially at first. And it takes time and patience to practice, because our minds chase after dreams and don't want to remain in the actual experience of what mind is like.

People don't like hard work and would rather listen to people who tell them why hard work is unnecessary. That's why you see so many ab exerciser machines advertised on cable. And it's why the spiritual seminar business is thriving.

Anonymous said...

nice one jinzang!

Dan said...

"In your lineage, the famous Kodo Sawaki encouraged killing other people."

ignorance. do some research about his troublesome comment (notice the lack of plural) and you will see that it is not as straight forward as ' kodo sawaki encouraged killing people'

if anyone is at all interested in this tell me and i'll tell you all about the research i did on that quote.

Anonymous said...

"Similarly, Buddhism is what Buddha taught."

How do you know for sure what Gautama taught?
What you have been taught is a living tradition that has evolved over time.
Just read about the history of buddhism (not just Zen). You will find important distinctions and differences across its expression. It seems that sitting and observing will lead to many different conclusions, depending of the individual. Genpo had his shared of sitting, as Brad did. Why do they disagree? Why these variations ( hopefully on the same theme!) that cannot be just brushed away?

"Buddhists" have killed or fought other "buddhists" yet both groups
were sitting.

Moreover, about buddhism and sitting, I would suggest the reading of the interesting article
Getting a wider perspective can never hurt ...

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/jeff_wilson/3723-1.html

earDRUM said...

Good one, Jizang. I have enjoyed your comments lately.

Anonymous, a common characteristic of zennists is a sense of humour. I took Brad’s “butt buddies” comment as a jest. I am familiar with his writing style. I enjoy the sense of humour. In fact, humour is one thing that seems to be sadly lacking on most of the other Buddhist websites. This makes no sense. Buddhism doesn’t have to be austere and solemn. We need to laugh. We need to cry, and to feel all of our emotions as they are (without getting attached to them). I think there is a misconception that Buddhists live emotionless, dull lives. The key seems to be aware of our emotions, not controlled by them.

I learned to eliminate my own homophobia more through humour and benevolent media portrayals of homosexual people than by listening to someone tell me that “homophobia is bad”.
I see the Buddhist precepts as “guidelines” for a new Buddhist student, not as hard-fast rules or “commandments” that can never be broken. The way I understand it, we are to do what is right for the present circumstances. Sometimes it is right to disobey the precepts.
Anonymous, I am reminded of the story about the two monks crossing the stream. I put the pretty woman down a long time ago. You still seem to be carrying her.

p.s.
I wish all of you “anonymous” people would get themselves a Blogger profile, so that we can tell them apart. Don’t be a chicken, get a profile!
(Nothing against chickens, by the way.)

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Re: White Plum Sangha. For the last couple years, I was desperate for a place to learn and practice--this was before I learned that Brad held zazen every Saturday and before I moved from the LA area. Boo!

In any case, I went to the Zen Center Los Angeles as it seemed to be the real deal--I mean Maezumi Roshi is the shit! I went probably about once a week for sitting. I joined the membership after about 6 months, as they seemed to walk their talk. Then a translator called "Red Pine" came and gave a workshop. I don't know how many of you all know this guy's work, but it seems pretty pedantic & scholarly, not poetic, really not practical. The Roshi and most of the membership loved this guy's stuff. THEN the Roshi put up a poster for Genpo's "Big Mind" workshop and encouraged people to attend. I think it may have even "counted" for core classes for members of the center could count toward their study time or whatever they have as requirements for taking precepts. I thought is sounded pretty odd myself--I mean--I thought the ZCLA was a really respectable place.

After these two incidents, I slowly stopped attending and revoked my membership. So, Brad, I think you're correct when you say that Genpo's activity is supported by the White Plum Sangha.

nobody said...

Great post.

The sixth and seventh precepts are a bit tricky... So far, my understanding is not that it is never acceptable or appropriate to criticize, but that the spirit, tone, and intent of any criticism is important. I've seen a lot of people who have gotten to the point where far more of their energy is devoted to criticizing others and pointing out flaws than taking care of their own practice or offering helpful guidelines to others. It becomes an exercise in ego that helps no one.

For example, it's one thing to tell someone who did not use an essential ingredient or overcooked or undercooked something, "I don't think this dish is quite right," while it's another to scream, "OH MY GOD! YOU'RE TRYING TO POISON ME, AREN'T YOU?" And the tone of the last post seems to be a bit like the latter to me... ascribing certain kinds of intent to others where there likely was no such intent. The post wasn't simply, "I think Big Mind is not correct Zen teaching," but a lot of accusations about it being a "con" and a "scandal." None of us have any proof of such motives in Genpo or even in Wilber. All we know is that they are teaching techniques that seem like malarkey to a lot of us.

And I still think it's to the point that the people freakin' out the most about this are people who have not worked with Genpo. I think many of Brad's points are still relevant regardless, but a lot of it amounts to making up drama where none really exists, which I think is often a product of boredom, and sometimes can be really "dangerous," to use one of Brad's favorite words. We'll stir up a lot of misery just not to be bored, and we especially love the form of it that boosts our sense of self and our belief that "our Zen is better than their Zen." Which all may be worse malarkey than Big Mind ever could be.

Jules said...

Bravo, Brad.

I think every dogma (whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, or Buddhist) creates its own blind spots. And I think every religion has its own characteristic dysfunctional behavior that's typical of its adherents.

But I think all of them have their good points too. I used to be a lot more critical of Christianity than I am today. I think Buddhist practice, ironically, led me to a much better understanding of Christianity.

Jules said...

By the way, when I do BM, I have an enlightenment experience every time.

Usually once a day, sometimes more or less if I haven't been eating well.

other said...

Ha Ha.. Good one eardrum. That chicken jest was side splitting. You such a great zennist sense of humour. And you have eliminated your homophobia too.. that's wonderful.

Zen_Jawa said...

hello eardrum. . . I'm the anonymous poster who asked Brad about the nature of "correct speech" in Buddhism. Again, it was a sincere question.

I don't think the precepts are strictly for "new students" of zen. There is no getting around that the precepts are an expression of Dharma. Kinda like there is no getting around that zazen involves keeping your spine straight.

The following of Zen precepts would've prevented many a zen scandle among them being abuse of power. My understanding is that their relevance, their meaning, increases the more time you've spent on the cushion. This doesn't go to say that you become a "zen-bot" and follow the rules like some good little catholic school girl.

I am sure you are a gay man's best friend, I'm just questioning your reasons as to why the "butt buddy" comment was alright. Maybe you are right on the money. Maybe you aren't.

How you arrive to a conclusion is just as important as getting there.

Francisca said...

"If we don’t criticize these things because we fear we may violate the precepts we’re doing a terrible disservice to people who want to know what real Buddhism actually is."

Hmmm, this is tempting Brad. As a novice I would like to know what "real" Buddhism is about, but when reading all these commends with all these concepts, names and jargon I am not sure I really want to know these things at all. I have been reading so many books in my life already that this time I feel I shouldnt read anything about Buddhism and/or Zen. I am curious about it all, but somehow feel I should just "do what needs to be done" and that is sitting. What is your (or any other persons..) advice on this. Should you become more informed to understand the practice better or should you just sit and thats that???

Thanks!

Jinzang said...

Let's leave aside what Buddha taught for now. The word Zen means meditation. Calling a practice without meditation Zen is like talking about dry water. If someone tells you that you can get the results of Zen without meditation, well, that's a pretty big claim and they ought to back it up with more than marketing materials.

MikeDoe said...

I'm not a fan of precepts and I have no issue at all with you saying that X or Y is a deranged fool who knows nothing about Buddhism if that is what you believe.

It is more difficult for me when you offer no basis for the statement - "BM is bunk cuz I says so". These days I [unfortunately] think of such statements as Crossisms.

So far your only critique about BM is that it looks to easy.

I'm neither for nor against BM - it may or may not be bullshit

Justin said...

The precept against criticising others is a bit of a tricky one. I'm sure it's intended to avoid bitching and back-stabbing in the community and that's important. On the other other hand, criticism can be justified - someone (Buddhist or not) may be deceiving others or causing harm in some way - freedom of speech is valuable. Fortunately I haven't taken the precepts yet.

As far as Big Mind goes, I know very little about it, so I wouldn't comment on whether it works or not. As far as I can tell Brad (much as I love him - in a non-butt-buddy way) knows no more than me, but he is very OpinionatedTM and already KnowsTM that Big MindTM is Horse Shit. Although Brad can be pretty bold and creative in his approach, in some ways he quite conservative. His idea about Satori is more-or-less limited to his interpretation of Soto doctrine. However, if Buddhism really is talking about something universal to the human condition - the relationship between the ego of sentient beings and the whole cosmos - then we should expect many religions, philosophies and psychoanalytic techniques to be 'getting at the same thing' through different approaches. Even drug-taking might, under some circumstances give (temporary and chemically dependent) insights into our relationship with reality. There is no reason in principle why a different or hybrid approach might not be as good as or even better than zazen. There is no reason in principle why something which works quickly should be more temporary than something which slowly. I'm not saying that I think Big MindTM is good, by the way, only saying that none of us know.

Anonymous said...

god i love you brad

gniz said...

Well-said, Justin. I love that all the people I have a positive opinion about somehow make great posts that i totally agree with!

Its funny, i tend to agree with Brad. But somehow, the nature of things is that the MORE we speak, the more fucked up and inconsistent everything we say becomes.

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Jordan & The Tortoise said...

I am not sure if this is the best translation, but I think everyone interested in Master Dogen's Zen might benifit from reading this.

http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/C%20-%20Zen/Ancestors/Dogen/Bendowa/Bendowa.htm


May you be well and happy!
Jordan

Jared said...

I noticed a ton of people are getting on Brad's case about him using the term "real buddhism". It reminded me of a post that Anatman made on the Flapping Mouths blog. Here's the quote:

"In Buddhist scripture, we hear of people questioning the Buddha, saying things like, "How can you say you have compassion for all sentient beings, when all is one, so there really are no individual sentient beings?"

And the Buddha would respond with something like, "Look smartass, I know there are no individual sentient beings, and you know there are no individual sentient beings. I use the term 'sentient beings' because I have to use words and labels, otherwise, we would just be sitting here staring at eachother stupidly, hoping for a psychic 'Communion' and you know and I know that shit just aint going to happen. So I use the term 'sentient beings' "for the sake of expediency." "

You can debate your life away over what is official Buddhism, or official Christianity, but that's why sects exist! Variations are tolerable, and beneficial, as they add flavor and different viewpoints to Buddha's teachings. No one knows for sure what sutras are carried down from actual talks that Buddha held and which ones were made up, but as Brad points out in Hardcore Zen, it doesn't matter. The words matter, the message matters. So look at the words and the message and you'll be able to tell what "real buddhism" is.

You can call it whatever you want, but I prefer to call it the truth.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, Buddhism is what Buddha taught. He taught a method for seeing the mind as it is. This method is based on direct experience. Direct experience means no one can tell you what it is. It's experiential truth as opposed to conceptual truth. That means it can't be taught. It can't be learned. It can only be seen....

And let's not forget the part where Buddha taught that this is the only way to achieve enlightment, the only proper way, the only possible way to have any inside into anything.
He said that he is right and everyone else is wrong, so if anybody comes along claiming that they found other ways they are clearly crazy, or lying, or trying to cheat you and get your money.

Anonymous said...

"Today, though, I'm going to point fingers, knowing full well there will be a backlash for having taken a stand against wealthy, well-connected and powerful people who will not like what I have to say." Said Brad

and now he is: "stunned and amazed by the response to that last post. It proves once again that I have no idea when I’m being controversial and when I’m not....something like my thing about Big Mind™ — which I felt was a pretty minor rant, standard issue for me and a tad boring — doesn’t just get over 140 responses"

make up your mind Brad

Anonymous said...

" So look at the words and the message and you'll be able to tell what "real buddhism" is. "

I do not mean disrespect but this a really naive statement.

Just look at the troubled spiritual world in America - or anywhere else around the world. It is freeking mess. It is pretty safe to say that in most cases "you" (generic you) will not be able to tell the true (buddhism) from the false (buddhism) .

gniz said...

Anonymous poster said:
"And let's not forget the part where Buddha taught that this is the only way to achieve enlightment, the only proper way, the only possible way."

This stuff is what Buddhists constantly do. They tell themselves and us what Buddha did, what he meant, and how that pertains to enlightenment.

Would you mind telling me a little more about Buddha? What was he like, how did he dress, how many times did you hang with him?
Oh, you don't know Buddha personally? Could've fooled me.

This is like where Christians sit around and quote bible passages that conform to their various interpretations of scripture.

"Nobody knows anything" will get you further than that garbage.

Oh, and yeah...some people MIGHT know something, but when you spend your time imagining what it is they MIGHT have figured out, you just make a mess of it.

Better to find out for yourself and then see if you're right.

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Jared said...

Anony said: "Just look at the troubled spiritual world in America - or anywhere else around the world. It is freeking mess. It is pretty safe to say that in most cases "you" (generic you) will not be able to tell the true (buddhism) from the false (buddhism) . "

I think that yes, most people have a lot of trouble deciding what religion or leader to follow. But that's the issue. You should lead yourself, not follow someone else. I really truly believe that if you ask questions and look at yourself and the world around you honestly, you'll know what's right and what's wrong. Society, and our own minds, condition us to accept and to lie to ourselves. Instead, I think we should do as Brad suggests and question everything!

Anonymous said...

"I think we should do as Brad suggests and question everything!"

well, Brad may be suggesting it, but it's not quite what he's doing.

Rather he says - I am right, this BM guy who "calles himself" Roshi is clearly wrong and it is my mission to let everybody know and thus lead them away from danger!

It's very american thing lately, isn't it, this "saving people from other people" thing

Maybe Brad should progress from advising to question everything to questioning himself

Deliciously Large said...

"Real Buddhism involves sitting zazen. I think we can agree on that."

So those traditions that do not sit is zazen or do NOT place any emphasis on sitting are NOT Buddhism then?

So that leaves out Shingon-shu and Tendai-shu, Sokka Gakai, Shinnyo-en etc....

Come on, imposing the methods of one tradition over another and claiming that the others are NOT Buddhism is fundamentalism at its worst.

Genshin said...

The precept against criticising others is a bit of a tricky one. I'm sure it's intended to avoid bitching and back-stabbing in the community and that's important. On the other other hand, criticism can be justified - someone (Buddhist or not) may be deceiving others or causing harm in some way - freedom of speech is valuable. Fortunately I haven't taken the precepts yet.

To be Buddhist is to be critical - to be able to make distinctions. Buddhism should not be uncritically tolerant, as in hongaku shiso.

If I may ask, Brad would you mind giving us your take on hihan bukkyo?

Boundless Darkness said...

I think that yes, most people have a lot of trouble deciding what religion or leader to follow. But that's the issue. You should lead yourself, not follow someone else. I really truly believe that if you ask questions and look at yourself and the world around you honestly, you'll know what's right and what's wrong.

Within Satanism we say, "Nothing should be assumed to be true. Everything should be tested. Old teachings should be constantly tested and re-evaluated whenever new knowledge comes to light. Religious fundamentalists, those who simply accept what is told to them by a preacher or a book, are unable to find truth or enlightenment. All that they will find is what they want to find - to feel sure that they're right, after all. To be safe in their knowledge.

To be easily convinced is to be weak. To be strong is to take truth seriously. If you doubt everything you are told, then you are compelled to search for truth rather than condemned to accept misinformation and confusion. To avoid confusion, you must question everything!

When people believe that their beliefs are above questioning, that heir beliefs alone are beyond all doubt, then they are deluded and it’s then that they become a danger to society. Fixed religious belief is the force behind every evil act in the history of mankind. The stronger their belief the more evil they can be.

People must freely choose what religion or philosophy they will follow and they must be able to adapt it to their own individual needs. A person must be able to adjust and modify his/her beliefs at will to suit their needs and circumstances. If there is a rigid set doctrine in place, it will serve no real purpose in life.

It is absolutely impossible to find truth by giving up your own authority and following the beliefs of others. Doing so will lead only to an opinion, whether it is yours or someone else’s.

If you want rules, make them up. If you follow rules, then someone else made them up."

Anonymous said...

"People must freely choose what religion or philosophy they will follow and they must be able to adapt it to their own individual needs."

You are ready to reconsider(doubt) your belief that man is as free to choose as you suggest?

Boundless Darkness said...

"You are ready to reconsider(doubt) your belief that man is as free to choose as you suggest?"

Naturally, man is free to believe whatever he wants.

Anonymous said...

In relation to the Bodhisattva Precepts, one of our teachers said that every single one of the precepts is linked to the others.

Yes, we must not engage in harsh and destructive speech.

But...what about safeguarding the three treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha?

What if someone is presenting something as Buddhism that actually isnt?

What if someone is running a project in which people are being harmed?

To cite an earlier example, no one accuses Caltrans of wrong speech if they put out signs and orange cones warning of skid traps, road hazards, and so forth?

If a spiritual community cannot speak up when someone is mis-representing the tradition, that's the equivalent of a body that lacks a functioning immune system.

One reason why there are an astounding number of very hurtful people in the Dharma lite scene is because the rest of us are afraid to speak up.

What if a restaurant consistently produced food that made its customers sick from salmonella?

What if all the health inspectors clammed up because they feared to say something negative, such as 'There's an unacceptably high count of Salmonella X in this food.'

There are a lot of fast food chefs running toxic spiritual fast food restaurants, calling themselves Dharma teachers, and people have been getting sick on their food for years--and no one in the Dharma world has had the guts to protect the three treasure by speaking up about it.

Once a guru gets endorsements from various celebrities in the spiritual circuit, those endorsements remain forever, even if that guru later goes off the skids and embarks on a clear pattern of harming people.

Do we accuse a smoke detector of violating the precepts by beeping harshly when there's smoke?

Unless we link right speech with safeguarding the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the Dharma world will be like a house without smoke detectors.

Chica said...

"It is very important for those who practice and teach Buddhism to be willing to speak out when some popular trend claiming to be Buddhist is clearly not. That doesn't always mean shouting from a soapbox. But maintaining noble silence may not be the only alternative."

Absolutely. I wish I had had the benefit of some 'insider' opinion in my past when I engaged with dubious types that ended up being scams. I was too ignoirant to not know until I was majorly mind F---- and disillusioned. It made me step back from the whole Buddhist beleiuf structure I was adopting as a way of life. I came back to my practice but it was not a given and could have been a fatal detour for others.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but notice that all those who call Genpo dangerous and say that he sells something that isn't Buddhism and does all those other nasty, condemnable things mentioned by Brad, are those who never met Genpo and never did BM. Brad included.

Reading the comments I got an impression that those few who did BM workshop have a very balanced view of it. They had an experience, beneficial more or less, they don't claim to be enlightened. They don't seem harmed to me, they certainly don't claimed to be harmed. So who is harmed here? Some imaginary "students"? Anyone who feels harmed by BM (but only those who actually did BM, please) raise a hand!

If I may be so bold - I'd like to say that self-righteous people who call themselves Zen teachers and who claim to know what the "right way" is, what the "real zen" is, might be causing much more harm than those who present an alternative way.

Al said...

You still seem to be missing a fundamental point about the precepts, Brad.

The man is a Buddhist teacher and was recognized as such (and giving transmission as such) by a generally accepted and well-regarded Zen lineage.

Whether you like him personally or not, you still violate the precepts that (as far as I know) you have sworn to follow by criticizing him in public to others.

Which part of this simple concept on following the precepts is so hard? Do the rules about criticizing teachers only apply to teachers you like (which seems like an oxymoron since you wouldn't criticize them).

While I've previously ignored your rants denouncing Vajrayana practitioners as not being "real" Buddhists, the hypocrisy here is getting a little deep.

Al said...

As a side note,

Deliciously Large said:

"So those traditions that do not sit is zazen or do NOT place any emphasis on sitting are NOT Buddhism then?

So that leaves out Shingon-shu and Tendai-shu, Sokka Gakai, Shinnyo-en etc...."

Tendai-shu actually practices zazen, it just isn't the only practice. People (perhaps Brad) forget that Dogen was a trained as a Tendai priest, as was Nichiren, Shinran Shonin, and the others that formed new Buddhist sects in the Kamakura area. Many of the practices of those sects existed in Tendai before those sects were formed in that era.

I'm not sure if it is because of background or inclination but Brad doesn't discuss the other Japanese sects in any of his work. Considering his opinion of other non-Zen schools, I wonder if he considers them "real Buddhism" or not. I sincerely would be interested in why or why not, depending on his answer.

Al said...

That should be "Kamakura ERA" not "area".

Oops.

Lone Wolf said...

"Real Buddhism" is an interesting topic.

I was talking to my good friend that practices Tibetan Buddhism (like I once did). I was explaining to him that I can't see Buddhism having some kind of goal in the practice without ruining the practice. He asked me,"So you don't think people that do other practices besides Zazen are Buddhist?"

I told him I guess I do because that is my veiw of what Buddhism is and that is what I practice as a Buddhist. But on the other hand, I'm sure he believes what he is practicing is real Buddhism. It doesn't make since to practice something that you do not feel is the real thing. We could argue for eternity whats real or not real Buddhism because different people do different practices for many years and benefit from them/it in some way and of course their going to feel they have the right way. So yeah, what I practice is "real' Buddhism, but at the same time others could pick out of the sutras why they practice what they do and call it "real" Buddhism. I'm not going to argue with them about it or say no your not practicing Buddhism, and if I did would that really have an impact on them. Probably not. So really people could argure about what real Buddhism is till their blue in the face. Another thing me and my friend talked about is how all the different versions of Buddhism seem to pick out what they need to call what they practice Buddhism. Most change some of the sutras wording around, such as the case of Nishijima's take on the Four Thoughts (Which I like more then the "original") So if people are going to pick and choose what they feel then what part of the sutras are true and which ones are wrong then what is the critera of Buddhism anyway. Though Buddha said don't rely on sturas lol.

Buddhism can only be defined by those who have used their logic and reasoning and experimented with the different Buddhist sutras and commentaries and came to a conclusion based on their own capacity. And people are going to come to different conclusions. If one was to go around and say my way is right and everyone else is wrong, I doubt if that person would attract much people. I feel the best way to go about things is just to teach my way as just my way. Yet at the same time, you got to call shit, shit at times. It like a balancing act.

What I am trying to say is probably not coming out so well. It's sort of hard to describe. I agree with Brad on his pointing out some of the bullshit he sees being talked about as Buddhism. Yet on the other hand I am not going to argue with my friend that practices Tibetan Buddhism that he is not practing real Buddhism. (Well, we might have a good healhty debate one the subject, which could be beneficial for both of us.) Well, It's sort of like two beer drinkers arguing over Budwiser and Heniken, then a guy comes in with a fake as Sharp. I think it's good that one of the other beer drinkers points out that the Sharp is a fucking fake. Eventhough Heniken is the best of all.

By the way, I gave a speech in class on the differences between Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism a couple days ago. It was like my first Buddhist sermon because everyone was asking me questions afterwards with interest. One thing I noticed is that everyone was asking about Tibetan Buddhism and not so much Zen Buddhism (even though I tried to explained Soto Zen Buddhism as being more real or true). Goes to show that Zen is boring, and people are attracted to the more trippy spaced out stuff.

Here is my speech outline:

Topic: Contrast between Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism.

Specific Purpose: To explain in three points how Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism are different.

Central Idea: Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism differ in their beliefs about the afterlife, in their approach toward the teacher and student relationship, and in their method of Buddhist practice.

I. Afterlife

A. Tibetan Buddhism believes in reincarnation.

1. Many of TB’s teachings are based around the belief of reincarnation. Example: Precious human rebirth.

2. The Tulku system and The Tibetan Book of the Dead

B. Soto Zen Buddhism does not believe in reincarnation and does not propose a theory on afterlife.

1. In the sutras, Buddha was asked about reincarnation. Buddha’s reply was, “Your answer does not fit the case.”

2. Soto Zen believes true reality is at the present moment, and doesn’t place emphasis on predicting posthumous matters. Zen believes when one dies, one will die at the present moment, and death will take care of itself at that moment.

II. Teacher and Student Relationship

A. Tibetan Buddhism teaches guru worship.

1. In TB, one is taught to think of their teacher as Buddha himself (more dogmatic).

2. TB practices guru yoga (to mingle mind with guru).

B. Soto Zen Buddhism teaches that the teacher is a friendly guide.

1. One is encouraged to question the teacher (less dogmatic).

2. The teacher plays an important role in Soto Zen as experienced scholar and practitioner, but is not worshiped.

III. Method of Buddhist Practice

A. Tibetan Buddhism has many practices which are done in steps.

1. Meditation practices consist of preliminary practices called Ngondro(Prostrations, Mandala Offerings, Vajrasattva practice, and Guru Yoga),Deity practice, Tsa Lung (winds and channels), and Mahamudra or Dzogchen. Example: like stair steps.

2. TB practices are conducted with future goal of enlightenment in mind.

B. Soto Zen Buddhism has only one practice.

1. Zazen (Shikantaza) is not meditation, but is act of just sitting in correct posture. Example: jumping of a cliff.

2. Zazen is practiced with no goal in mind. One sits Zazen for Zazen itself.

Conclusion: I explained how Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism are different in three main points. Please keep in mind the three ways that Tibetan Buddhism and Soto Zen Buddhism contrast, which are Tibetan Buddhism teaches that reincarnation is the truth; where as Soto Zen Buddhism does not place emphasis on the afterlife situation. Tibetan Buddhism uses the worship of guru or teacher as part of Buddhist path, but Soto Zen Buddhism looks at teacher as friendly guide. Soto Zen Buddhism has one practice that is done without goal in mind; in contrast Tibetan Buddhism has many practices that are done step by step with the goal of a future enlightenment in mind

Lone Wolf said...

Well I tried to make a point, and after reading the first two paragraphs of that last post, not sure if I had one or could understand it based on my terrible writing.

It's late, and I worked...... blah blah blah Excuses are lame.

door knob said...

You know, I'm going to make a declaration that is rather obvious to normal people (i.e., people who aren't stuck in the Buddhist ghetto). Normal people can see this Big Mind stuff for what it is: it's fucking bullshit. I don't know why you morons are even debating this.

I'm sure I broke a few precepts there or something, but I'm just normal, not Buddhist. BTW, I know exactly what normal is because I grew up in Normal.

Lone Wolf said...

I listen to Natlie Goldberg's audio book The Great Faluire at work the last few days. It spilt all the rotten beans about the abusive behavior of her father and the sex scandal of her teacher Katigari Roshi six years after he died. It was pretty good. I am inspired by Natlie's ability to reveal all her shit as well as the shit of her father and her zen teacher. There is something good about speaking honestly and fully, even if your speaking on the shit of others or yourself. I enjoyed this line by Ikkyu that she recited.

"Satori is mistake after mistake"

Deliciously Large said...

Zen is NOT Buddhism....so I've been told by two Japanese Zen monks. Zen is so far removed from the all encompassing, many faceted teachings of early Buddhism that it can no longer be considered Buddhism.

Nyoraizo (tathagatagarbha) thought is NOT Buddhism at all.

Anonymous said...

Hey Door Knob, when did you attend a Big Mind teaching? If you haven't attended one, on what basis do you make your judgement?

johnnyBgood said...

Hi Brad and others,

Re: The Buddhist Community/E-Sangha

Thanks for visiting us.

Just want you guys to be aware that we have a RUTHLESS CENSURESHIP regime. The moderators delete any postings that hint vaguely on not very literal interpretations, or even say: "I am a teenager", so to speak.

Largely responsible for this is an Australian guy who calls himself Retrofuturist and who looks like he might be selling juicers door-to-door. Anyways, you get suspended for a few days and punishment points added to your warning level. Scary, but they manage to keep the Forum relatively bland and un-Buddhist.

Anonymous said...

"As Buddhism becomes more fashionable and establishes itself as a mainstream philosophy the tendency for all manner of charlatans to latch on to the air of sanctity available to anything that labels itself “Buddhist” will only increase. If we don’t criticize these things because we fear we may violate the precepts we’re doing a terrible disservice to people who want to know what real Buddhism actually is."

So what then is REAL Buddhism? When Shinran decided to branch off and make HIS branch of Buddhism based upon HIS ideas and understanding, did others claim that his version was not REAL Buddhism? What about when Kukai formed HIS version of Mikkyo teachings? What about when Shinjo Ito founded Shinnyo-en? Or how about Rissho Kosei-kai?

Are all these REAL Buddhism? Aren't all the interpretations and various cultural colourings REAL Buddhism? If they aren't then what pray tell IS?

Is Zen the only REAL Buddhism?

And who are YOU to decide what is and isn't REAL Buddhism?

Buddhism is an IDEA, a philosophy that can be/and has been interpreted by many others to suit their needs.

On this note, I witnessed a heated verbal argument which almost ended up in a physical confrontation just a few years back. It occurred during Wesak between a Japanese Zen monk and a Chinese Pure land monk. I don't know what the argument was about - but you can guess the impression that many hundreds of people got from seeing two supposed "Buddhists" fighting in a crowded public place.

Religions are just as good at causing pain and grief than releasing it.

By claiming one teaching is REAL over another is also doing a terrible disservice to Buddhism itself.

Zac in Virginia said...

Dan, I'm interested in hearing Sawaki's story again. I think Brad might have posted on it before, or maybe someone left a comment referencing it, but please, refresh my memory! :)
Eardrum, well said about internalized homophobia. As a bisexual guy, I've definitely done that a lot, and though it's not the end of the world when people say stuff like that, at least recognize that it's not the most welcoming thing for people to hear or experience when they already have to deal with homophobia in so many other parts of their lives.
I'm amused that Brad didn't mention that aspect of the response to his BigMind post. It made me chuckle. :)
By the by, "politically correct" is basically a term people use when they don't want to admit they might have hurt someone's feelings. While terms like "vertically challenged" are demeaning and make "PC" into a big joke, it's nice to have people not call me a faggot, you know?

Anonymous said...

Would we be having this conversation about getting over it if Brad had said "spook" instead of the remark he did make?

Homophobic slang/remarks are still a lot more acceptable to some people than overtly racist ones. I find it interesting that Brad didn't even touch on that in his follow-up.

Anonymous said...

"Have you tried the Big Mind Process?"

It's irrelevant if Brad or anyone else who is critical about the HYPE surrounding the Big Mind Process (the hype created by Ken Wilber and Genpo Roshi which Brad quotes some of in his Suicide Girls essay) has tried it.

As Brad has explained, it's impossible to suck a piano through a straw into your nose. Anyone who asks, "Well, have you ever actually tried sucking a piano into your nose through a straw?" is seriously out to lunch.

Brad's assertion is that it's impossible to attain kensho, satori, or enlightenment in an hour (as Ken Wilber asserts) or before lunch (as Genpo asserts), and that whatever perfectly legitimate experience one may have as a result of doing the Big Mind Process ain't kensho, satori, or enlightenment.

If someone wants to debate Brad's point, that's the point to debate. Asking Brad or anyone who agrees with him on the Big Mind Process if he's tried the Big Mind Process is irrelevant to the issue.

Let's say that someone who tried it comes away from the experience saying, "Yep, I attained satori in an hour" (or "before lunch"). Brad isn't questioning that they had what to them is a Big Experience. Brad is saying, that ain't satori or enlightenment.

What I heard Genpo doing on the radio (something I mentioned in a comment to Brad's previous post) was bullshit. He told the interviewer that she'd just realized what the Buddha realized, and this was after doing the "Big Mind Process" with her for a few minutes.

Anyone familiar with Wilber knows that to him, enlightenment is having 24/7 "unbroken witnessing consciousness" measurable on an EEG machine. This may have something to do with the goal of some Hindu schools, but it's got nothing to do with Buddhism. Ask Brad, or reread the section of Hardcore Zen where Brad discusses the relationship between such experiences and Zen.

Anonymous said...

Leave the butt-buddies, bum-chum, poo-pounder stuff for the poofters to worry about. Does it really matter?

MikeDoe said...

"...Brad is saying, that ain't satori or enlightenment....that to him, enlightenment is having 24/7 "unbroken witnessing consciousness" measurable on an EEG machine....it's got nothing to do with Buddhism...."

There are several points here that are worth clarifying.

1. I do not believe that Brad is the least bit clear in his own mind about either satori or enlightenment. The current teaching that he receives is ISTR that enlightenment is zazen and zazen is enlightenment. This is at best disengenuous.

2. What Ken Wilbur describes is everything to do with buddhism. You can find very clear descriptions in texts such as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead".

His machine may be a gimmick but it is merely measuring what is there. There have been extensive studies done on the minds of meditators using some very high-tech instrumentation. The bottom line is that Buddhist 'experiences' such as Satori and Enlightenment do produce brain activity that is consistent between different practicioners.

Remember, if Satori or Enlightenment are real they must have some physical manifestation which is measurable. If they are not real and it is a mere belief then there will be nothing to measure or see. If there was not some sort of physical manifestation how could you have "the marks of the buddhas"?

Just because someone brings Science into the loop it does not discount the Buddhist viewpoint.

There has been a lot of talk on this blog about butt-buddies and such nonsense.

And yet people are reacting to Ken Wilbur and Genpo Roshi with the same sort of reactions that would be condemned if it was not Buddhism. Because people do not recognise what either party says as being 'pure' Buddhism they mistakenly assume that it must all be bullshit. Buddhaphobic?

Such a view arises from a strong attachment to Buddhist beliefs and a fear that they might not be the only valid ones.

OBTW I have no axe to grind either way with any of the parties mentioned.

muddy elephant said...

There is a real Buddhism. Period.

If you disagree re-read Jared, chica, and doorknob's comments on this.

Real Buddhism is like waking up in the morning. Everything else is like hitting the snooze button.

To those who are pissed about Brad's rants:

Is his abrasive and politically incorrect style really that bad? Maybe it is because so much of what is pretending to be Buddhist is so ridiculously, pothetically unabrasive and mushy.

Even the good ol' standby phrase "Kill the Buddha" has been repeated so many times to be practically meaningless. And furthermore, we can't forget that the history of Buddhism is full of holes. If it were a raft to take you to the other side of the river you would find yourself neck deep in the rapids and your favorite guru aint gonna be there to throw you a life preserver.

Anonymous said...

It is different to criticize what people do and criticize the persons behind the actions.

Calling people by names is not good behavior, Buddhist or not. And doing that on the basis what you have read from Internet is just silly.

guyropes said...

What is inherently "wrong", I think, with the whole Big Mind doo-dah is the idea that 'enlightenment' is something to be got - to be 'had'. That is Brad's point. It might very well alter the function of the brain, but if there is the slightest hope that "enlightenment" can be gained (before or after lunch), then there will be no enlightenment. The Big Mind thing encourages an attitude, a perspective which suggests that you can grasp, hold on to, and own 'enlightenment'. Sitting just to sit does not encourage that attitude. That is why sitting just to sit is 'real buddhism' and plugging yourself up to a machine SO THAT your brain is temporarily altered SO THAT you can temporarily feel a 'higher state of consciousness'SO THAT you can rejoice in a state of blissed out enlightenment is as far removed from real buddhism as it is possible to be. Big Mind is ultimately, symptomatic of our grasping/getting society. I don't think that is buddhism.

Jared said...

I couldn't agree more with Guyropes!

Enlightenment, in my humble opinion, and as Guyropes seems to say, is just the moment(s) where you truly understand your own nature. It isn't something you are given, something you can buy, or something you can learn. It's you "solving life's problems". Similarly, anyone trying to tell you otherwise, or sell you something that guarantees this sort of realization is yanking your crank (and not in the good butt-buddy way :-p )

Speaking of it, I am a little disappointed that Brad didn't address his butt-buddy comment. I totally love Brad's irreverent style and generally caustic writing, but as many people are pointing out, it's not necessarily a matter of just chilling out and letting it go. In reference to a comment on the other post, it's one thing for people involved in a community to use certain slang (i.e. blacks and the word "nigger", or gays and the word "fag") but as anyone in those groups will tell you, it's quite another for someone outside the community to use it, especially in a derogatory tone. So it is, in a very large way, the same as if Brad had used a racial epithet or slang to put down the Wilbur and the Roshi, and I think the reason it's causing such a stir isn't because people need to relax a little and not be "so PC", it's more that the comment was genuinely innappropriate.

Anonymous said...

mikedoe says that Ken Wilber's EEG "machine may be a gimmick but it is merely measuring what is there. There have been extensive studies done on the minds of meditators using some very high-tech instrumentation. The bottom line is that Buddhist 'experiences' such as Satori and Enlightenment do produce brain activity that is consistent between different practicioners.

Remember, if Satori or Enlightenment are real they must have some physical manifestation which is measurable. If they are not real and it is a mere belief then there will be nothing to measure or see. If there was not some sort of physical manifestation how could you have "the marks of the buddhas"?

Just because someone brings Science into the loop it does not discount the Buddhist viewpoint.
"

Based on this, if Ken Wilber intends his foreword to Genpo's book as anything but bullshit, his claim that it produces enlightenment in an hour should be scientifically testable, right? We should get the same readings on EEG, SPECT, fMRI and other such brain measuring equipment from participants in "Big Mind Process" seminars after an hour or "before lunch" that we get from an enlightened Zen master or Tibetan lama.

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

Remember, if Satori or Enlightenment are real they must have some physical manifestation which is measurable. If they are not real and it is a mere belief then there will be nothing to measure or see.

Actually, no, In philosophy this is known as the type token distinction. Let me give you an example from computer programming. Suppose I write a program in C to sort a list and compile it. There is no way to from the sequence of compiled bytes whether it is a sort program without knowing the meaning of the bytes. There's simply an infinite number of ways to write sort programs.

By a similar argument, there's no way to physically measure whether someone is enlightened. Enlightenment is an activity and not a material state.

Dan said...

"So those traditions that do not sit is zazen or do NOT place any emphasis on sitting are NOT Buddhism then?"

what was the buddha doing when he was enlightened under the bodhi tree? was he counting his breaths? was he visualising pink bunnies? was he using the Big Bullshit process?

no

he was sitting zazen. zazen is just the japanese word for wat he was doing. most buddhist schools say you have to go thru lots of stages but the end goal is always zazen as the 'highest' form of meditation. the other forms are like water wings or training wheels preparing you for zazen. fair enough i can see the logic behind that but i prefer to just sit zazen.

but any school that does not recognise zazen as the ultimate goal of buddhism is not real buddhism. it's that simple

Anonymous said...

Dan says "what was the buddha doing when he was enlightened under the bodhi tree? was he counting his breaths? was he visualising pink bunnies? was he using the Big Bullshit process? "

Was he picking his nose? For christ sake, the bodhi tree story is likely to be just a story, a myth (which, nevertheless, expresses fundamental truths) but please don't use it to "prove" the supremacy of zazen! This is ridiculous.
I guess a deaf, mute and blind individual who lost his/her two legs and arms but who still alive has no chance to enlightenment or to practice really Buddhism then?

"but any school that does not recognise zazen as the ultimate goal of buddhism is not real buddhism. it's that simple"

This fixation on sitting is very interesting. What about dukkha (and thus the great Doubt in Zen)? The four noble truths?
Is the Unborn of bankei reduced to and contained by the reality of me crossing my legs or keeping a stationary position?

gniz said...

Truly, those who believe that SITTING meditation is the only valid meditation are fools. Period.

People who believe they actually KNOW what Buddha did under the Bodhi tree are even bigger fools, if that is even possible.

Learn to think for yourselves folks.

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

gniz said...

BTW I am proud to NOT be a Buddhist.

I shit on your Buddhism.

Wingedgopher said...

Ugh... I hate it when people try to sell stupid crap like that. If yo could sell enligtenment a lot more people would buy it.

Anonymous said...

uh oh.. gniz is starting to channel chodo cross. And this is after the countless scoldings he gave him about HIS behavior. This is getting weird..

straightedgejacket said...

There seems to be a trend over here in the last few days. People calling other people morons, pinheads, butt-buddies.. anyone who resorts to swearing or name calling is a fucking idiot.

MikeDoe said...

"uh oh.. gniz is starting to channel chodo cross."

There have been a lot of Crossisms around. Even though his Blog has died his spirit lives on through others.

Anonymous said...

well, you know what they say - do you want to know who the teacher is - look at his students.

I agree, the particular brand of buddhism presented in this disscussion is rather scary, dogmathic, rightous like hell, has so many rules and regulations, so many scripture to remember and obey - I wouldn't want anything to do with it.

Uku said...

I think real buddhism is what Gautama Buddha ment: sit down and shut up. Avoid bad things, do good things to yourself and others. Less talk, more action. Philosophy is b*llshit when you want to know yourself and reality. That Gautama Buddha ment and that is real buddhism.

Anonymous said...

Olivaw here:
All i want to say is that Buddha told his followers to question everything he taught them. I do..I also question Brads teachings, Shunruy Suzuki...Just name them..I don´t say they are wrong, but i want to find out for myself..I listen, practice and THINK. Don´t follow, ever. Walk beside me, Brad, Buddha, Jesus, or whoever you find worthy, but don´t ever follow anyone.

Anonymous said...

I read a lot about pop buddhism (pick what you think is right, what you like, define enlightenment in your own terms bla bla bla) in recent messages. Yet, an important message of many spiritual tradition (including some real and false buddisms :)) is that we are all too prone to self-delusion and self-deception. How do you know that what you like and what feels right is necesseraly the "real" thing?

gniz said...

I meant what I said, knowing full well how it sounds. I AM an IDIOT.

I know it.

Now, when are all of you gonna stand up and admit it, too? Huh?

Haha...

Nah, you're all too busy hanging out with Buddha and telling us what he was REALLY like.

gniz said...

Sorry, now I'm being a hypocrite.

I shouldn't have written such disparaging comments. I get very frustrated by what I view as fundamentalism and ignorant, baseless statements.

The one's that really set me off are when people claim to KNOW what Jesus or Buddha or some other dude who lived 5,000 years ago thought, lived, etc. And then they want to tell me all about it.

But that doesnt change the fact that I was an idiot. I do apologize for channeling Mike Cross.

Namaste y'all

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

nobody said...

Who fucking cares whether something is "real Buddhism" or not? What is "Buddhism" anyway? It's just a label--a brand name. I think that fixating on it is every bit as shallow as fixating on a particular brand of shoes. I suspect that Shakyamuni himself wouldn't have given a fuck less whether people were practicing "real Buddhism." All he'd care about was that people were practicing in a way conducive to awakening.

Personally, I've never believed that Buddhism has a monopoly on practices and teachings conducive to awakening. So I can't figure out why I should care whether or not something is "real Buddhism," when I don't even care whether it's "Buddhism." All I care about is that it's conducive to an awakened mind. And I've found that the world is full of teachers--and I don't mean this in some cloying, Hallmark way. Wisdom is an odd thing, very free in its expression, and it's an essential part of the fabric of things. "Buddhists" don't own it or have it trademarked.

And here's the thing. We don't have to grope in the dark and bitch on Internet forums to discern for ourselves whether or not a teaching or practice is conducive to awakening. Once one has sat long enough to gain even just a bit of stability and clarity, it becomes a lot easier to discern what is conducive to awakening and what is not. You don't have to rely on anyone else's authority any more, because as Brad has quoted from a koan, "You can't deceive yourself."

Francisca said...

After reading all these comments I have decided to stay ignorant, I like being ignorant. Just sitting by myself not knowing...

Pff, people stop making such a fuss...shhh....

Waylon said...

Good call Nobody. I tend to go through phases when I spend a lot of time online and my zazen suffers. I'll tend to justify my online time with things like, everyone needs hobbies and shit like that, but more often than not it ends up that I am just trying to justify and reaffirm my own personal thoughts and views of the world....to be honest I don't need any help in that department.

Jules said...

Real Buddhism is simply what the Buddha taught. I don't think anyone would argue with that, but it raises the question: exactly what did the Buddha teach?

Well, there's room for argument there, but I'm going to side with Brad, the guy who's spent 20+ years following the practice that the Buddha recommended to develop one's own insight.

Morally relativistic "everybody's right, don't criticize" arguments are one of the common dysfunctions you see in a lot of people who follow Buddhist dogma. Just like unreasonable moral certainty is one of the common dysfunctions of Christians and Muslims.

gniz said...

Jules, you said:

"I'm going to side with Brad, the guy who's spent 20+ years following the practice that the Buddha recommended to develop one's own insight."

I dont see how Brad or you or anyone else knows what Buddha recommended.

Please explain.

Prof Wes said...

I may not know what Buddhism is, but I know what it isn't...

...and so does Brad, and lots of y'all too.

muddy elephant said...

Waylon said:

"...but more often than not it ends up that I am just trying to justify and reaffirm my own personal thoughts and views of the world....to be honest I don't need any help in that department."

Bingo.

I don't need any help in that department either, dude. In fact, I think that department of mine is in need of a serious clearance sale.

Half off all neurotic attachments and butt-buddy underoos! Sale ends Monday!

drunken monkey said...

gniz, I don't think it matters if Buddha practiced or not, but rather if it works.

As for Big Mind, from my knowledge, it is intended to strive for a kind of spiritual state (universal consciousness). Zazen is not that.

Zazen is much better. Its about staring at walls, getting bored and focusing the mind and body in the present moment.

gniz said...

Drunken Monkey,

I couldnt agree more. I think we all are looking for what works.

Based on the evidence at hand we can conclude that either:

a) meditation simply doesnt work (ie doesnt enlighten anyone)

b) certain meditations work and others do not

c) meditations are only as good as whomever is practicing them

I probably missed some possibilities.

The most likely explanation is either a) that none of them work or c) meditations are only as good as the person doing them.

Either way, what I can be reasonably sure of, is that none of you fuckers has met the historical buddha and none of you has a goddamn clue what he practiced.

Anonymous said...

"Zazen is much better. Its about staring at walls, getting bored and focusing the mind and body in the present moment."

zazen must be some kind of early self-hypnotism. I tried doing it a few times and I cannot understand why it is considered a useful practice. It seems like it would make more sense get up and focus the mind and body while being engaged in some activity.

Jules said...

gniz: Yeah, I suppose I have to admit, it's true. I didn't meet the historical Buddha. I don't even know if he existed. All I know is that there are a bunch of 2300 year old documents which repeatedly recommend dhyana (or zazen) as a practice to develop one's own insight. And a bunch of people who claim that practice works, and who claim a lineage of using that practice which leads all the way back to the historical Buddha. But no, you're right. I haven't personally met the dude. For that matter, I haven't personally met President Bush and I have only the media's assurance that there's a war going on in Iraq now. You are one annoying bastard. :-)

gniz said...

Jules,

We might know he existed. But for god's sake, stuff John Kerry said two days ago gets twisted.

Let's put this in some perspective.

Nobody knows what some dude did 2500 years ago.

Anonymous said...

it's true. only nobody can know.

Jules said...

anonymous: It's very different from hypnotism. It's not about going into some special mental state. It's just about learning to quiet down, to settle in and notice what's real and what's not.

When you're focused on doing stuff, your attention is captured by what you're doing. When you're doing nothing, you are capable of noticing things you wouldn't see otherwise.

Anonymous said...

i see your intent in distinguishing stuff from nothing. since consciousness arises along with it's object, eventually both are experienced as transient. no self making elements are left to be attached to. in this way nobody knows.

Jules said...

gniz: What's your point? You seem to be jousting with windmills again. Nobody knows what some dude did 2500 years ago? Come on. We have a pretty good guess, just like I have a pretty good guess what's going on in Iraq right now. If I started arguing "THERE MIGHT NOT BE A WAR AT ALL, NOBODY KNOWS WHATS GOING ON IN IRAQ, WE CAN'T TRUST THE MEDIA," to some extent that statement is true. But it would make me look like a complete idiot, because someone who's not just trolling will acknowledge that using the information that's available and drawing conclusions is a reasonable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Jule says :

" We have a pretty good guess"

No, we don't really have. That is why you may have arguments between different lineage holders

"All I know is that there are a bunch of 2300 year old documents which repeatedly recommend dhyana (or zazen)"

Actually, the early sutras seem to suggest that Gautama rejected samadhi and dhyana as goals of spiritual practice. Gautama "woke up" (awakened) to reality as nirvana.


http://www.zenonderdedom.nl/word/2005-SamadhiDhyana-BE-1.doc

gniz said...

Jules,

You're absolutely correct that we need to try and make sense of things by using the evidence at hand.
But the quality of evidence is part of it, as well as direct experience of the matter.

People DO debate exactly what's going on in Iraq right now, so just how will it be seen 2500 years from now? You think they'll know MORE what it was like? Or who GW Bush was?

What about that statement, "history is written by the winners?" It is the historians and academics who report to us their INTERPRETATION of historical documents and events from long ago.

I took history growing up and never even learned until seven or eight years ago that the American Indian populations were decimated when the Europeans came to America.

I dont think I'm jousting at windmills.

Its one thing to say that you believe sitting meditation works and is effective.
Its an entirely different thing to talk about what the Buddha did or didnt mean or talking about an enlightenment you've never experienced.

2500 years ago, things werent documented nearly as well as they are now. Even if they had been, there would STILL be questions about what Buddha did or didnt do.

So lets be truthful and state that we dont have a clue. If you trust Brad, it isnt because of Buddha. Its because YOU made a decision based on your own personal wants, desires, beliefs, etc.

Stuart said...

"Enlightenment" is a teaching word, nothing else. As the old monk taught, if you want something, you have a problem, so why hold any ideas about enlightenment? Any such idea could only cloud perception of what you're doing right now.

If someone says using LSD or Big Mind will get you enlightenment, he falls into this error. If someone claims it *won't* get you enlightenment, is that any less of a mistake?

If you drop acid or don't, use Big Mind or don't, the critical question is, why do that (or refrain from doing that)? What do you want?

Stuart
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

Jules said...

Y'all are absolutely correct. Believe whatever you want. I even don't know why I bothered posting.

Justin said...

I don't really want to get too involved in this, so I think this will be my last post here.

What is really striking to me is how different the activity here is to my Zen practice. I think that if there is any such thing as 'real Buddhism' it is not this sort of dogmatism and dualism and egotism. During a recent sesshin i asked one of my teachers Guy Mercier a question and he responded with a view of Buddhism which is very different to the divisive and dualistic view presented here. I asked him what was the difference was between practicing Zen and practicing Zen as a Buddhist. I was expecting to find out what distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist. Instead he said that in a sense everything was Buddhism and all religions are essentially about the same thing. The human condition is universal.

Buddhism is perhaps best understood as a spirit - an opening of the heart and mind to the whole of reality, non-attachment and, yes, surprise surprise, love. Egotistical attachment to this doctrine or rejection of that method are just that - ideas and ego attachments. They are not 'wrong', it may not even be helpful to call them 'not real Buddhism' but reality is much much more than ideas and ego - and seeing that is the goal of Buddhism. (Not all forms of Buddhism lack a conscious goal, BTW)

Buddhism has always stressed pragmatism rather than intellectual dogmatism. Of course there are practical things we can learn and teach other. And the ideas we share are part of those skillful means. However, to get embroiled in heated debates about 'my Buddhism is real Buddhism' / 'his Buddhism is false Buddhism' is to lose the spirit and get attached to ideas, value judgments, ego and dualistic thinking. Instead we should emphasise a good practice - attentive, with an open heart and a free mind.

Peace

Dan said...

ok i didn't say what i meant properly.

when you imagine an image of the buddha or when you see a statue of the buddha, what position is he in? yes, you can be mindful when doing stuff but if that was all there was too it then why is the buddha portrayed as SITTING? why is he not always portrayed in some other position? (and yes before some smart arse points it out, i'm aware that there are images of the buddha standing and lying down etc but the most common one by far is sitting.)

there is something very special about putting your body into that physical shape. i know there is more to it than that but when people say, ' what about dukka what about the precepts?' the way that buddhist teachings and ethics are practiced and experienced is intimiately bound up with regular zazen practice. If you don;t sit zazen everyday then you are not a buddhist. this is what gudo nishijima says and i whole heartedly agree. people get so riled up when you say something as seemingly hardline as that but for christs sake, it's just sitting! it even translates from japanese as 'just sitting' into english. why do people have such a hard time accepting the relevance of something so blindingly obvious as sitting quietly with no outside distractions staring at a wall. what is so hard to acceot about that? it's so simple. no special dvds no memorising chants just sitting. just sitting. so obvious that the answer to the question, what is buddhism? is staring you in the face every time you look at a buddha statue.

drunken monkey said...

"The most likely explanation is either a) that none of them work or c) meditations are only as good as the person doing them.

Either way, what I can be reasonably sure of, is that none of you fuckers has met the historical buddha and none of you has a goddamn clue what he practiced."

I know zazen works, I've tried it for myself. But if you refuse to try it, then you have nothing to say.

I guess its an intuitive sense that brings people to the practice, although it involves some trust in the words of great buddhist masters. Trust is good, to a point.

Am I a lemming for trusting my judgment?
Then call me a lemming. Im a lemming and proud of it!

Anonymous said...

I just think you should use less white on your new homepage cause it burns my eyes when I try to read interesting content. Too bad.

A Strange Day said...

I am writing this letter in simple English in order that everyone can read and understand my words. Perhaps before going on, I should describe the Buddhist blogging community to you. The Buddhist blogging community is ridiculous, ignorant, and flighty. Furthermore, it yearns to open the gates of Hell. Think about how easy it's become for superstitious good-for-nothings to use cheap, intemperate propaganda to arouse the passions of the worst types of unsophisticated perverts there are. My intention here is not just to expose the Buddhist blogging community's utterances for what they really are, but also to discuss the programmatic foundations of the Buddhist blogging community's pernicious monographs in detail.

We must bear witness to the plain, unvarnished truth. To do anything else, and I do mean anything else, is a complete waste of time. Not that I ever believed the Buddhist blogging community's lies, but at least before they had some kind of internal consistency -- a logic, albeit twisted, that invited refutation. But now, it seems it is desperately flailing about for any pretext, no matter how ludicrous or slight, to legitimate irresponsibility, laziness, and infidelity. What we're involved in with the Buddhist blogging community is not a game. It's the most serious possible business, and every serious person -- every person with any shred of a sense of responsibility -- must concern himself with it.

The Buddhist blogging community periodically puts up a facade of reform. However, underneath the pretty surface, it's always business as usual. The Buddhist blogging community is out to lock people up for reading the "wrong" sorts of books or listening to the "wrong" kinds of music. And when we play its game, we become accomplices. I want my life to count. I want to be part of something significant and lasting. I want to fight to the end for our ideas and ideals. The Buddhist blogging community's cock-and-bull stories are not witty satire, as it would have you believe. They're simply the flippant ramblings of something that has no idea or appreciation of what it's mocking. One last thing: I have a score to settle with the Buddhist blogging community.

Dan said...

strange day,

you didn't really go into any detail about what exactly it is that you dont like.

Dan said...

oh wait i just noticed the bit about ebuddhists being out to lock people up for listening to the wrong kinds of music and reading the wrong books.

wtf?

where? when?

A Strange Day said...

http://www.pakin.org/complaint

A Strange Day said...

Also, presented without comment.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=zT9y1YEUjy0

Stuart said...

If you want to get something, then all this disagreement arises. Someone says you'll get it from LSD, someone says you'll get it from Big Mind. Someone else says, no, that's awful, because that takes your attention away from zazen, which is what will *really* make you get it.

There's the different direction of questioning everything, putting down all ideas and opinions, including that we should get this or that. What is this mind that wants to get something?

There is a tradition of pointing directly to that thing that's not dependent on getting anything. "No attainment with nothing to attain," the song goes. It's been named Buddhism or Zen or whatever, but names can't be that important; if you call a dog's tail a leg, etc. Aside from all that, what is this mind that wants to get something?

Stuart
http://home.comcast.net/~sresnick2/socalled.htm

Jared said...

Getting back to the issue of Big Mind and Zazen...

Comparing causes suffering, as it is apparently doing here in the comments section of Brad's blog. Big Mind is not Zazen, and Zazen is not Big Mind. I think everyone here can at least agree on that.

To that end, you can't compare apples to oranges. Taking a big old bite of an apple and complaining that it's not very orangey (I know that's not a word, I've had a long day...) is ridiculous! So the same is true for testing out Big Mind and saying it is a shitty zazen, or that zazen is a terrible Big Mind session.

Well DUH! If you want Big Mind and what it offers, give Wilbur a call. If you want zazen and what it offers, sit down and shut up!

I think the biggest difference, though, is that Big Mind seems to be used with goal or end-experience in mind. Zazen is not like that at all. If you are sitting with the express purpose of becoming enlightened, or reaching a peak state or anything else, you're barking up the wrong tree because, to quote Buddha, "that shit just ain't gonna happen,".

Check out my (currently) new blog!

heavymetalbuddha.blogspot.com

conelpico said...

has anyone out there read Zen and the Psychology of Transformation, by Hubert Benoit?

Anonymous said...

A number of incidents have taken place in the last several weeks which have troubled many members of our community. Let's get down to business: Mr. Brad is doing everything in his power to make me tear off all my clothes and run naked down the street. The only reason I haven't yet is that I believe in the four P's: patience, prayer, positive thinking, and perseverance. Should you think I'm saying too much, please note that some time ago, in the aftermath of his last volley of attacks, a group of overbearing sybarites began to permit evil cult leaders to rise to positions of leadership and authority, and everyone with half a brain understands that. To believe that "metanarratives" are the root of tyranny, lawlessness, overpopulation, racial hatred, world hunger, disease, and rank stupidity is to deceive ourselves. You may be surprised to learn that I was once like Brad. I, too, wanted to break down traditional values. It interfered with my judgment, my reasoning, and my ability to think outside the box. I would like to close by saying that Mr. Brad spews out so many falsehoods, distortions, and half-truths, that rebuttal requires some lengthy documentation.

gniz said...

Drunken Monkey,

To the contrary, trusting your OWN judgement and experience is the whole point.

I really dont see what Buddha's got to do with it, or Buddhism for that matter.

If you like sitting and staring at a wall (as I do at times) then do it!

By the way, sometimes I sit and just stare at whatever is in front of me, sometimes its a TV, sometimes a wall, sometimes its a person speaking.

We have eyes in order to see. Its funny that people think paying attention stops when you get off the cushion.

Anonymous said...

118

drunken monkey said...

"We have eyes in order to see. Its funny that people think paying attention stops when you get off the cushion."

I have no qualms with this comment.

Its human nature to label things so that its easier to make a reference to them in language. Buddhism is just a label, but it is also the finger that points to the moon.
Ultimately, we don't know whether the buddhism we practice is what buddha practiced, but thats fine.
Words are never definitive anyway.

This talk of being aware in the present moment without some form of meditative practice is nonsense.
Its almost impossible to have focus in everyday actions without a kind of regular activity to train the mind. I think zazen is best for this.

riv::: said...

greetings all!

concerning The Buddhist Community/E-Sangha

"Just want you guys to be aware that we have a RUTHLESS CENSURESHIP regime. The moderators delete any postings that hint vaguely on not very literal interpretations, or even say: "I am a teenager", so to speak... Largely responsible for this is an Australian guy who calls himself Retrofuturist and who looks like he might be selling juicers door-to-door. Anyways, you get suspended for a few days and punishment points added to your warning level. Scary, but they manage to keep the Forum relatively bland and un-Buddhist."

i would beg to disagree johnny! We do have to deal with some censorship but i for one find this kind of blog (here) rather claustrophobic. Much more room over at the e-sangha forum, you can start your own discussion topics, and the Zen forum moderators are much cooler and more lenient then in some of the other forums. They keep a cap on image posts, and edit fucked up language, but i for one enjoy the creative freedom...

But dont take my word for any of this. Please come check us out!! The site is free, you all are more then welcome, and i think the folks here (who hang at Brad's blog) would add something to (and enjoy) many of the threads.

Plus, sometimes the best way to change something is to invade enmass and conquer...!

peace,
riv::

Chan & Zen Buddhism Forum

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showforum=6

Discussion in Zen forum about Brad, Big Mind and this Blog:

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=45222

Beatnik (and Punk) Buddhism Forum

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showforum=13

gniz said...

Drunken Monkey said

"This talk of being aware in the present moment without some form of meditative practice is nonsense."

And luckily i never said any such thing. Well i probably did but i didnt mean it.

Anonymous said...

"but any school that does not recognise zazen as the ultimate goal of buddhism is not real buddhism. it's that simple"

I thought the ULTIMATE goal of Buddhism was release from samsara?

I don't recall the Buddha ever saying that the goal of Buddhism was to sit and meditate. Meditation is a METHOD, not the end result.

Anonymous said...

A great many of the people over at the Buddhist Community/E-Sangha have their own agendas and fixed biased opinions on THEIR way of practising. If you post anything that is against THEIR BELIEFS your post will be deleted.

Oh, and they are far from respectable a lot of the time - a bit like all the arguments going on here. I wonder if "Buddhists" are all that compassionate and peaceful.

"Western" (dare I say American only) Buddhists are no different from their Christian counterparts - they pick and choose which parts of the teachings they will adhere to and are quick to argue on any little difference of opinion.

This whole blog and E-Sangha is a good example of how fucked up "Western" Buddhism really is. Too egotistical.

Anonymous said...

All superstitions and religions should be wiped from the Earth.

Blinded by the Blight said...

I think everyone here would be surprised to see what is "accepted" as Buddhism is Australia. Kung foo schools, Tibetan Mystical healing, shiatsu and reiki, and a school of ninja are all registered as Buddhist schools in Australia. They are even supported as tax free from the government and members of the Buddhist Council. Some are even charitable organisations. There is a big Chinese temple that teaches Buddha is God and have some warrior monks too.

Buddhism is truly a joke in Australia.

Anonymous said...

125!

Anonymous said...

oooonnnnneeee twennysix!

Ian said...

Boy, if you were to print out all these comments and lay them end to end, they would reach from here to way over there.

Dip Shit said...

Zen emphasizes the practice of meditation as both the means to, and expression of, awakening. BUT MEDITATION IS NOT AWAKENING ITSELF.

Anonymous said...

what is enlightenment? just kidding.

Dan said...

BUT MEDITATION IS NOT AWAKENING ITSELF.

this directly contradicts dogen. i follow what dogen taught. i think it's just your expectation of awakening or 'escape form samsara' are a little mroe fantastical than sitting still with your back straight. try it every day tho before you diss it

Dan said...

the goal of zazen is to sit zazen.
just do it

Anonymous said...

Dan wrote "this directly contradicts dogen. i follow what dogen taught."

Dan - you are completely deluded. You follow what people - cough! Zoto zelots and I don't mean Brad here who I deeply respect - told you about Dogen, not what Dogen said.

Here is Dogen description of Enlightenment and practice:

To study the Buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly. - Dogen

Moreover he said

To fully actualize the entire world with the entire world is called thorough practice.

That is not just sitting - though sitting can be essential aspect of practice.

Anonymous said...

the goal of zazen is to sit zazen.
just do it


Dogen also said that you should "practice zazen like your hair was in fire" and "live every moment of your life as person who falls off horse." What this means? It means your life and meditation should have intensity. If you don't have that, you are not doing zazen. Keeping body and mind relaxed and mind completely attentive is what zazen is when you can do it. Until you can do that every day, you just try.

I guess my point is that there is just sitting and "just sitting". Just sitting legs crossed is not zazen and has never been. "one hour zazen is one hour enlightenment" can have some meaning only after 10-20 years of diligent practice. Until then they are just comforting words that your repeat to yourself when noting works :)

If you exercise physically without mental intensity, you still get some benefits. But in zazen, if you form habit to slack and get lost in thought year after year, you are not doing zazen well. You might get little more relaxed than before, but you are not doing zazen well. This is why good teachers, 7-day sesshins etc. are essential. 99% of people can't do zazen by themself until they have practiced under teacher many years. Quoting Charlotte Joko Beck: "Eventually you have to learn how to focus."

thinker said...

What is ignorance?

Anonymous said...

Dan

Read about Dogen to get a better perspective about the figure and man as opposed to blindly believe what you are fed by others.

Read the new book "Dogen on meditation and thinkging by Hee-Jin Kim for instance.

You will see the Dogen is a lot more than just your attempt to reduce him to "Just Sit!".

Jared said...

"Western" (dare I say American only) Buddhists are no different from their Christian counterparts - they pick and choose which parts of the teachings they will adhere to and are quick to argue on any little difference of opinion.

I think as far as arguing goes, this lot is much more civil than a lot of other online forums or groups, especially those focusing on religions/philosophies. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with discussion. That's one of the things that leads to understanding.

That whole bit about "happiness is easy, avoid picking and choosing" aside (since it isn't in regards to teachings), one of the most essential parts of (Zen) Buddhism is to question the teachings! If something doesn't resonate with you, or doesn't work, throw it out. Don't believe something just because someone tells you that it's true, or because it's called Buddhism. Pick it up, look at it closely, and decide for yourself. I think that's one of the strongest aspects of what you call "western buddhism".

Anonymous said...

Jared,

"Kill Buddha!" does not mean "Shop (for a) Buddha!"

Dan said...

"you are completely deluded. You follow what people - cough! Zoto zelots and I don't mean Brad here who I deeply respect - told you about Dogen, not what Dogen said."

no. i own the shobogenzo and have been reading it for a while. my perspecitive was formed by gudo nishijima's translation of the shobogenzo. i have been in contact with gudo and brad and mike l;uetchford for a while and i have made my own mind up. this is not me being spoon fed information. i just happen to agree with what my teacher says.

question for anon: do you sit zazen everyday?
have you read the shobogenzo?
do you have a zen teacher?

i once asked brad whether zazen was just sitting staring at a wall. he replied, well there's a little bit more to it than that but essentially yes that is what zazen is.

i'm not deluded in this, no more than the next fool anyway. dogen says, zazen is buddhism and buddhism is zazen. this is what gudo says and i agree basically. without the daily practice of zazen. everything else in buddhism is worthless

Dan said...

Read about Dogen to get a better perspective about the figure and man as opposed to blindly believe what you are fed by others.

i notice that you didnt say ' read dogen' you said 'read about dogen'
hmmm.

Jinzang said...

I used to study martial arts and read martial arts magazines. In the back of the magazine there would be advertisements for things like Ninja Fighting Secrets. "Our program will teach you in a few hours deadly fighting techniques even black belts don't know!," they would say.

Well that was then. Now I hear about Big Mind (tm), a new, faster path to enlightenment:

How easy is it to experience this Big Mind? The question is: How difficult is it to put aside the controlling self? It can take years, or with the right preparation, a few minutes. There is a breakthrough process leading directly to Big Mind. It's a technique I've developed out of Hal Stone's Voice Dialog therapy. Through this approach we become acquainted with the different functions--the voices--of the small self; appreciate them and then ask them to step aside for awhile, to allow the original mind to emerge.

Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical. You may ask, how do I know the program doesn't work if I don't try it? Well, I never bought the Ninja Fighting Secrets either. So I suppose you have a point.

But the problem with Ninja Fighting Secrets weren't the techniques themselves. They might be great fighting techniques. The problem is that there's a big difference between learning something and knowing how to apply it. The latter takes hard, dedicated work and there are no shortcuts.

My advice to someone who wants to do Zen or martial arts is the same: find a good teacher and practice according to their instructions. And the more you practice, the happier you will be with the results. But you won't find that advice in the back of the magazine, because there no way to sell what every person, deep in their heart already knows.

Dan said...

BUT MEDITATION IS NOT AWAKENING ITSELF.

gudo calls zazen 1st enlightenment. 2nd enlightenment takes years and probably wont ever happen to you so dont worry about it. first enlightenment is more than enough

Dan said...

find a good teacher and practice according to their instructions. And the more you practice, the happier you will be with the results.

exactly. in gudo nishijima and his dharma heirs i have found a teacher that i can trust and so based on that trust i follow their instructions. this is not blindly following spoon feeding or whatever. its just a free choice i've made to allign myself with a school that i believe to have totally nailed what buddhism is about.

gniz said...

Anon said: "If you exercise physically without mental intensity, you still get some benefits. But in zazen, if you form habit to slack and get lost in thought year after year, you are not doing zazen well."

I agree with this statement.

"Quoting Charlotte Joko Beck: "Eventually you have to learn how to focus.""

I literally just wrote about this on my blog--funny to see someone posting it here around the same time.

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Dan said...

this is what brad said when i asked him about what zazen was. i said to someone it was basically just sitting staring at a wall. the guy got angry, called me deluded etc (hmmm, notice a pattern?) and told me to to go fuck myself basically. so i asked brad about it. this is his response. i hope he doesnt mind me publishing it:

"The guy sounds like a jag-off to me.

Yeah. There's more to zazen than staring at walls. Yet, really when you get down to it that's what it is. This guy seems hooked on the idea of getting some result out of his practice. He wants you to get hooked on that too."

Anonymous said...

Dear Dan,
Since you ask:

Yes, I do sit daily (and "my sitting time" is better counted in hour units than minute units) As you, I also do think that it is very important to stick to the "daily" aspect of it. Yet, I do not confine the Unborn to "just sitting".

I do read the Shobogenzo. It is a spiritual treasure and I personally consider Dogen as one of the most profound human beings that ever walked on this earth.

I do sit weekly with two Shangas. One is led by a friend who has received "official" papers from a well know lineage.

"zazen is buddhism and buddhism is zazen. this is what gudo says and i agree basically."

I think the latter sentence really summarizes the point I was trying to highlight: you sincerely and earnestly practice Gudo's vision of Zen. Which is fine. I have respect for him as individual and his practice (for the bit I know). I just wish you would not inherit his absolutist conviction in some ideas such as, apparently, his theory of "Regulation of the
autonomic nervous system".
To the best of my knowledge (and Zazen practice) I see that there is a truth to it, yet my impression
(I need to read more carefully his ideas) is that he really reduces Dogen's spirituality to only that. This is where I have a problem. I remember reading on his blog that no one should never listen to what Rinzai buddhists have to say because they are wrong! It is an attempt to confine life, reality if you prefer, to a theory or a personal interpretation. It is what I call "trying to outsmart life" ; you can't.

May be my interpretation of his ideas is mistaken? As said I need to read more of it.

Anonymous said...

"The guy sounds like a jag-off to me.

Yeah. There's more to zazen than staring at walls. Yet, really when you get down to it that's what it is. This guy seems hooked on the idea of getting some result out of his practice. He wants you to get hooked on that too."


I elaborate little. When I trained in Japan, word kensho (見性, literally seeing the nature, usually translated as enlightenment in the west) was often used as verb. It is not something you aspire or gain, but something you do and must do again and again. After four years of full time training Roshi labeled one of my experiences as real kensho. More precisely, I did kensho and it was rapidly followed with "experience" part. I was quickly ordered to drop the experience part. In the same way, Zazen is something you do, not something you experience.

So you kensho (as verb) one moment at the time. This is what zazen is. Moment after moment again and again. You can't hold to anything. There is no final result and no emotional reward. Enlightenment is how you do life, not how you experience it.

At least this is my understanding, at this point of my life.

yours,
The Guy

gniz said...

Dan, you said:
"i said to someone it (zazen) was basically just sitting staring at a wall."

You certainly spend a lot of time reading books like the shobogenzo and conversing with Gudo and Brad for something so simple to do!

Maybe this is because you dont actually understand what it is yet?

6billionghosts said...

Brad, even after all this controversy, I hope we can still be butt-buddies.

UncaDan said...

This is why I have not committed to any isms. I don't believe that any one group or person has ever "gotten it right" completely or has the whole truth. So much depends on perspective. What attracted me to Buddha is the simplicity and clarity of the Four Noble Truths and The Eight-Fold Path, everything else is commentary and opinion based personal experience. Similar to Rabbi Hillel's explanation of the Torah in the first century B.C. when he said "Love one another as yourself, the rest is just commentary."

We as humans make things harder than they should be. The "truth" is right in front of us or inside of us, all we need to do is put ego aside and look and listen. If Zazen helps you do this then by all means sit. How you sit will depend on you and the "teachings" you agree with. For others prayer and contemplation is what works.

Lao Tzu wrote "The way of knowledge is to increase, the way of Tao is to decrease." I may have said this before and it appears as the subheading for my blog, but it's something I feel cannot be stressed enough, and that is that "No words contains only truth, No words contains only lies. Sometimes we must pluck lies from truth like weeds from a garden, other times we must dig through mountains of bullshit to find the smallest pearl of truth."

Happy digging.

Dan said...

You certainly spend a lot of time reading books like the shobogenzo and conversing with Gudo and Brad for something so simple to do!

Maybe this is because you dont actually understand what it is yet?

of course i don't. that's wh yi have a teacher and have been trying to learn. silly

if i understood it then i would be a zen teacher not a zen pupil

Dan said...

and actually, when you say 'a lot of time'. well, i've probably sent about ten emails in total and i've asked mike luetchford a few questions in person so i wouldnt say that i was obsessed with it exactly.

gniz said...

Dan, you wrote: "the goal of zazen is to sit zazen.
just do it"
I think this would have been more clear of you to say:

"I'm just a student and I am not sure of what I speak. I'm still learning and trying to understand what Zazen is. But it seems to me that the goal of zazen is to sit zazen."

This would be more accurate than your initial statement which implied authority based on experience.

Anonymous said...

153

Anonymous said...

Somethimes things are very important and it iss ennsebtisnn ddkdj$ 7d8 8hfep pe49h fhout kekjps coming around to the same thing.

Dan said...

you're right gniz but at the same time, my experience of zazen and my experience of learning from people i trust has all concluded that the point (i think point is probably better than goal) of zazen is just the act of zazen itself. what i know is that if you try and think of zazen as a means rather than an end in itself then you will end up dissappointed. the experience of what it's like to just be able to sit and genuinely relax just, as you would say, pay attention. that experience is good enough for me. i'm not interested in enlightenment or kensho or whatever experiences and all that mystical stuff. i just like to sit for the sake of it.

the reason why i said 'just do it' is because it seems that a whole lot of people on this site have never sat zazen but still profess to be able talk about it cohenrently (obviously not you anon. - the one who's been sitting for years)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone get time to sit zazen amidst the pointless shit they're discussing here?

drunken monkey said...

""Quoting Charlotte Joko Beck: "Eventually you have to learn how to focus.""

I literally just wrote about this on my blog--funny to see someone posting it here around the same time."

You know when I began zazen practice, I was so intense in zazen, that after practice I would go out in the sun and feel absolutely embelished in the moment. It was an amazing experience.

I really need to find that intensity amidst this busy lifestyle that I have. Its definately worth it.

gniz said...

Obviously we cant have time to sit zazen with all this talking.

We dont even eat or sleep!

Ummm, btw, there are more than two or three people talking here, sometimes people hop on and off the internet, etc. So what looks like constant posting to you is really just the sum total of a bunch of different people!

drunken monkey said...

"i just like to sit for the sake of it. "

Yup.

Zazen is basically being in the moment with body and mind. It wouldn't seem so absurd to someone who has actually practiced zazen with some sincerity.

That is why I sit to just sit.

Anonymous said...

YATAA!!

one-hunderod und sixtee!

gniz said...

"YATAA!!

one-hunderod und sixtee!"

God that post just made my day...

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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gniz said...

Lets see if we can get to 200 comments without complete and utter spammage

or spam away, but thats not as fun!

YAY!

Brad said...

162 and 163 are butt buddies.
160 is the real number.

Brad said...

That's not me. But I do miss having Mike around and I hope he's doing well.

gniz said...

I've got an idea that MIGHT get us to 200 comments.

Okay, rank these Buddhist masters from most enlightened (#1) to least enlightened (#10).

Brad Warner
Gudo Nishijima
Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi
Osho
Alan Watts
Joseph Goldstein
Chögyam Trungpa
Ramana Maharshi
Gandhi
Al Gore

A Fool said...

Ramana Maharshi
Joseph Goldstein
Chögyam Trungpa
Osho
Gandhi
Alan Watts
Gudo Nishijima
Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi
Brad Warner
Al Gore

gniz said...

My list order goes like so:

1.Ramana (takes it with solitude)
2.Osho (close behind with the beard)
3.Gandhi (took a bullet like a man)
4.J. Goldstein (nice guy)
5.Brad Warner (brought the punk)
6.Chogyam (gave us 100 proof enlightenment)
7.Gudo (best posture)
8. Genpo Roshi (why not)
9. Al Gore (enlightened about Global warming)
10. Alan Watts (tool)

a fool said...

should get back to doing work. this not useful & may be harmful.

oxeye said...

hmm.. That is a tough one. I vote for Eden Ahbez.

Most Enlightened Guy

Jules said...

I have an even better idea, gniz. Let's list the first 10 US Presidents, from least dead to most dead.

Anonymous said...

that yogi song is even stickier than brad's cake song. i'll never get rid of it now unless i listen to the cake song again. damn..

174 said...

I am 174

User 175 said...

and I am 175!

Winged Monkey said...

and I was the Winged Monkey!

me said...

Ok I'll help. Gniz - everyone is enlightened so you must be ranking these folks by some other criteria. Perhaps by how honestly they know they are enlightened?

gniz said...

Despite the fact that i know fuck all about who's enlightened, i did try to be somewhat accurate with my list. Like, my best guess. But not really.

gniz said...

Jules, the most dead to least dead presidents is easy. Whoever died most recently is least dead, and whoever died long ago is most dead

Anonymous said...

I'm eating microwave popcorn.

Jared said...

No way, gniz! If the 9th president was 20 years older than the 10th president and died 10 years sooner, he'd be 10 years his senior in death!

TAKES A LITTLE BIT OF MATH

Anonymous said...

zen spelled backwards is nez which means nose in french. nose spelled backwards is eson.

Anonymous said...

gniz spelled backwards is zing

drunken monkey said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2Pt5murBbs

OMG, check out Wilbers praise of Genpo.

Anonymous said...

Object

The goal is to capture more feces than the opponent.

Anonymous said...

hey you perfect posture guys:

take care of your knees.


i blew out my right knee in a stupid way, and i can't sit "properly".

but i also learned that there are other ways to practice formal zen meditation.

for example, walking meditation can be very powerful. if you put your heart in it.

it takes concentration, balance, coming back, and physical effort, all while being relaxed.

i think it's a fine training.

[disclaimer: training leads nowhere. there is nowhere to go. it is more a process of going down dead ends...]

[personal theoretical disclaimer: ...until one day we walk down the final dead end and realize we're already there and there's nowhere to go]

Anonymous said...

I find it scary, amusing and sad the number of Zen Fundamentalists there are here.

I hate to break it to you but while Zen is a wonderful path, it does not define all of Buddhism or all of Buddhist practitioners. If you aren't a Zen practitioner, you may still be a Real Buddhist (tm).

Or do all of you think that the Dalai Lama, to use an obvious example, isn't a "Real Buddhist" because he doesn't practice Zen and is a Vajrayana teacher and practitioner?

Hey, maybe Brad can call him names too?

Ken Wilbur said...

You all suck!

Francisca said...

Ok, I am tooo curious...cant stay ignorant for ever I guess...or can I?

Hmm, well if anyone feels the need to explain to me what "Enlightenment" is, what it feels, smells or looks like..you can comment on my post here;
'What the *bleep* is Enlightenment??'

Thanks, Francisca.

magik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yudo said...

Eardrum wrote:
"But being politically correct is subscribing to somebody else's rules. "

Italian semiologist Umberto Eco wrote at one point that PC is Vaseline language. (Or KY language)...

It's like when you keep running away from the word "nigger" which is only latin for "black". You keep replacing it by other expressions, but since you haven't purged it from its negative charge, that charge lingers on, and on...

Anonymous wrote: "in your lineage, the famous Kodo Sawaki"
Although Sawaki was the "root teacher" of Nishijima roshi, he isn't in the lineage.

drunken monkey said...

The original meaning of pc was compassion and understanding.

Unfortunately the right wingers have used the word pc as an insult to those on the left.

I am definately pc. And proud of it, fuckers!

yudo said...

By the way gniz, we may not truly know what the Buddha actually did under the bodhi tree, nor whether there was one, but the lenght, constancy and consistency of the tradition gives us a fair indication that this might have actually been the case.

yudo said...

Considering some of the posts here, about "true buddhism", I have thought of forwarding this. Since it comes from a source altogether different, it might reveal itself to be some food for thought. (Sorry, I had to retranslate it from Italian)

"Mind spends most of its time lost in fantasies and illusions, reliving pleasant or unpleasant experiences and anticipating the future with enthusiasm or fear. While we're lost in those desires and loathings, we are ignorant of what is happening right now, of what we're doing right now. And yet, it is sure that this moment, now, is for us the most important. We cannot live in the past: it is gone. Nor can we live in the future: it is forever beyond our reach. We can only live in the present moment. If we are unaware of what we're doing right now, we are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past and never succeed into reaching our dreams for the future. But if we succeed into developing the capacity to be aware of the present moment, we can use the past as a guide for putting in order our actions to be, so that we will succeed into our goals"

(S. N. Goenka)

Now don't get me wrong. We ought not have goals in our practice of Buddhism, but our everyday life does need them, I feel.

195 said...

195

Anonymous said...

being PC is just going along with whatever the herd thinks or is told to think.

Anonymous said...

197

Anonymous said...

198

Anonymous said...

199

Anonymous said...

200 - walk away

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