I wrote a nasty piece about Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind™ — a new process for Zen practice Genpo claims will give you Enlightenment in just an hour — for this week’s Suicide Girls article. It’s going to “go live” — as they say — at Noon Pacific Time on Saturday (March 3, just 2 days before my birthday). Ever since I wrote a couple scathing paragraphs about Big Mind™ in a review of the movie "What The Bleep" about two years ago (click on the title of this article if you want to read it) I’ve been hearing from lots of people who’ve been involved in Big Mind™, or BM as I like to abbreviate it. And, man-o-man it sounds like it's even worse than I imagined! I’ve also heard from Zen teachers nearly everywhere I’ve gone to speak how appalled they are at this new development in the world of Zen. I’m starting to think that, maybe more than being just an obvious bit of low-rent sideshow hokum, this could possibly end up being the stuff of scandal sheets and Movies of the Week before too long. Of course, I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then. Oh how the wheels of commerce do turn.
Anyway, I’ll leave it till Saturday before the serious Big Mind™ bashing begins. But while I was writing, I was fishing around on-line for a quote I recall seeing in which John Daido Loori praised Big Mind™ as an excellent skillful means or some such thing. The quote came from a printed hand-out someone got at a Big Mind™ seminar and kindly sent me, which I then kindly lost track of. I was hoping the same stuff ended up on the Internets somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. So I guess Daido gets a reprieve this time. Maybe he wisely told them to take his name off the list of supporters. Although I wouldn’t give too much credit to the guy who wrote the very worst book ever written in the history of books about Dogen (the reprehensible "True Dharma Eye," may every copy burn in Hell).
Anyway (again) I didn’t find the quote, but I did find a thing someone wrote way back in the golden year of twenty-ought-five about li’l old me. It’s always funny to see this kind of thing. I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what they said:
“Notice that Brad Warner hasn't actually claimed to have tried the Big Mind™ process, or holosync for that matter. His ideas on what meditation/Buddhism must be are frustratingly stubborn. ‘That's not Zen! THIS is Zen! And I'm the rootin' tootin' toughest Zen cowboy in town!’”
Haw! Is that what I sound like? I am definitely not the rootin’ tootin’ toughest Zen cowboy in town. What I am, though, is honest. Real Buddhist practice is hard work. Guys like Genpo Roshi and the makers of the holosync try and con you into thinking there are easy peasy ways to get to the same place. There are not. This isn’t just my personal opinion. It’s a fact.
The dude goes on to say, “If Big Mind™ works, if it really can give you a little satori within hours (I'm also doubtful, but I have no right to claim anything until I've tried it) then it doesn’t matter if Genpo Roshi is a 30ft drug taking meerkat.”
I’ve heard this argument a lot, that I shouldn’t knock it till I’ve tried it cuz, who knows, maybe it really does work. But it isn’t a valid argument. Let me give you a metaphor. Let’s say a Martian came to Earth and an unscrupulous Earthling handed him a gram of coke and a straw. He tells the Martian that the coke is what we on Earth call a “piano.” He tells the Martian to suck it up thru the straw into his proboscis. The Martian does so and he goes back to Mars and tells his friends, “When I was on Earth I sucked a piano into my nose through a straw and it felt GREAT!” Now the Martians may believe him. But will anyone on Earth?
The only reason anyone falls for this kind of malarchy is that they don’t have any understanding what words like satori, kensho or enlightenment mean, just like our Martian friend has no idea what we on Planet Earth call a “piano.”
This doesn’t mean I’m calling all y’all dummies. I’m the biggest Neanderthal in town. But does it make sense to you that some new fangled technique is gonna get you 15 years of Zazen experience in just an hour? And if you don’t know the answer to that one, how about this? Do you think a new fangled miracle diet pill is going to help you lose the fat it took 15 years to put on in a single week? I thought not. Then why would you imagine a lifetime of misuse of your brain and body can be undone in an afternoon? (actually Genpo claims BM can give you Enlightenment "before lunchtime.")
So there's your sneak preview. Enjoy the Suicide Girls piece this weekend. Remember it’s free to look at my stuff up there. No need to join or risk accidentally seeing any tattooed nudie cuties.
*****POST SCRIPT March 8, 2007*****
I dug up the quote by John Daido Loori about Big Mind. It's from an article called "Genpo Roshi's Big Mind." The author is John Kain but the original source is not noted on the copy I have. I believe it was a hand-out given at a Big Mind™ seminar. Here's what it says:
"Zen teaching is like fishing," says John Daido Loori, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, dharma brother to Genpo Roshi and author of numerous books including, Making Love with Light (Daido Roshi is my teacher and has a much more traditional approach to practice than does Genpo Roshi. I'd asked him what he thought of Genpo Roshi's less traditional method). "Every fisherman has a technique. Some use flies, some lures, some bait. The key is to get the student hooked. Genpo Roshi uses the Big Mind process. I use the Arts, and Tetsugen (Bernie Glassman) uses social action. What counts is what happens when the student gets hooked. Genpo Roshi has shown, through the strength of his successors, that he is good at the essential part of Zen training. His successors are excellent."
There you have it. Although I'm not really sure just what Daido is saying here. It's not quite as supportive as I'd recalled. In fact, it may be an obtuse way of saying he doesn't support BM. It's impossible to know. Which may be the problem (see my March 7 article). I do have a problem, as well, with the idea that it's OK to hook a student with something deceptive. Or to hook students at all. This may be a matter for another article.