Friday, August 24, 2007

NEW YORK RADIO — updated (again) edition

Check out this new interview on the Busted Halo website.

I'm going to New York next week. I'll re-post the dates here. But while I'm there I'll be doing some radio. Here's the info.

Monday Aug. 27 (or Tuesday Aug. 28, if you want to think of it that way) at 2 AM I'll be on the Joey Reynolads Show on WOR radio AM 710 in New York. More info about the show is here:


At 1:45 PM on Aug. 28 (Tuesday) he'll be on the radio show "Soundcheck" on New York's WNYC

more info about that is at:


Here's the previous gig list (remember, attendance is mandatory, any of you who think I already get plenty of butts in seats at these things, think again):

New York City, New York:
• August 27, 2007 at 7 PM at The Interdepedence Project at Lila Center 302 Bowery at Houston (this will be the most like a formal lecture among all the NYC appearances) RSVP soon, space is limited.
• August 28, 2007 at 7:30 PM Barnes & Noble in Greenwich Village 396 Ave of the Americas at 8th Street, New York, NY 10011

Montreal, Quebec:
• August 30, 2007 at 7 PM at McGill University’s Education/Counselling Psychology Department 3700 Rue McTavish Room 233

Boulder & Ft. Collins, Colorado:
• Monday September 10, 2007 - 7:30 pm Boulder Bookstore 1107 Pearl Street - Author Event

• Tuesday September 11, 2007 Noon - Colorado State University Bookstore - The Lory Student Center at CSU Ft. Collins, CO

• Tuesday September 11, 2007 7 PM - CSU Anthropology Club The Lory Student Center at CSU, Ft. Collins - Author Event

• Wednesday, September 12, 2007 Interview for Elevision TV show. Be part of the live in-studio audience! Doors close at 7pm. The show will be at Trilogy, 2017 13th St. in downtown Boulder

Shizuoka, Japan
• September 22 to 25, 2007, Tokei-in Temple, 1840 Hatori, Shizuoka City, 421-12 (Prior registration is required. See for details)

Cleveland, Ohio
• Oct. 6, 9:15 PM - my movie "Cleveland's Screaming" will have its Cleveland priemier at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Cinematheque
(I may not make this showing personally, but I'm gonna try. Be there anyway!!!)

Akron, Ohio:
•November 7,2007 at the Akron Public Library I think I'm on at 7PM. I'm certain it's either at 7 or 8 PM. More details later...

Cleveland, Ohio
•November 9, 2007 "Cleveland's Screaming" movie showing at the Beachland Tavern along with live performance by 0DFx!

A little thought on Zazen posture for the day -- the reason 1/2 lotus, full lotus or Burmese posture are Zazen and sitting in a chair or on a seiza bench are not the same thing is because when you sit in these postures your weight is distributed among three points, like a tripod. On a seiza bench or chair the best you can hope for is to try & balance on one point -- your butt. In fact, most folks I see doing it in chairs just sorta lounge and rest their back on the chair providing absolutely no balance whatsoever. For people with leg troubles, try a higher cushion or put cushions under the knees. Yoga exercizes are also good. Visit your local McYoga, take the free sample lesson, and ask the teacher about this at the end (don't tell me there's no yoga studio near you unless you're writing from Antarctica). Then be nice & go back for a few more lessons.


Colinski said...

I'm not going to argue about whether or not zazen in a chair is zazen or not, but I have been doing 15 minutes in a chair at work during my breaks from time to time to bring more regular meditation into my schedule (unless I purchase another zafu and zabuton I see no other way to do it at the office - I've tried on the cushions available and it's just not workable). Regardless of whether it is zazen or not, I am balanced on three points (my legs and my butt on the edge of the chair) and my spine seems as straight as it does while in lotus. It took me a while to discover the right spot, but I balance on the edge of the chair (a cushiony office chair) and my legs are half-folded so my knees point downwards. My feet are sort of resting on the balls only.

Now that I think about it for a second, perhaps you'd say that you're not like a tripod because most of the weight is on the butt in a chair. Perhaps, but then maybe I'm doing zazen in lotus wrong because there's definitely more weight on my butt than on my knees (how else could one's spine be straight - wouldn't you have to lean forward quite a lot to evenly distribute your center of gravity onto all three points?).

Mysterion said...

Brad sed:
"A little thought on Zazen posture for the day..."

Click on: Translation

Chas - for 2 years - used 3 points of balance in a chair: rump, the ball of the left foot, the ball of the right foot.

My ass is back on the zafu after loosing 16 pounds of disgusting fat (no more factory-raised chicken!). You know you are getting too fat when your wife tells you that you look like a beached whale in bed.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mysterion, we've had enough of
your Barney Fife-like know-it-all-ness. Please keep yo' comments off
Master Nishijima's blog. By the looks of your picture, you must really be Harvey Firestein. See, flamers can be zen too!

Jess said...

I was wondering if you were ever going to come to Buffalo, NY.

esmerelda_verde said...

Brad's Lila Center gig is sold out, they just emailed me to suggest:

6:40 or 6:45 if you can!


apparently they do not have enough.
So either the post about zazen in a chair is either amazing insight or a random accident.

PS. I normally sit on my office chair in lotus or 1/2 lotus all the time because its more comfortable to me - probably too much yoga. But its pretty easy to do. Most of the chairs are big enough. You have to not care about coworkers thinking you are strange. A good thing in its own right.

oxeye said...

Yo Brad - I don't get your distaste for the seiza position. A person sitting seiza has a very strong tripod base but without the torque to the knees. I can't sit like that myself, but some people like it..
In my twenties I was limber enough to place both of my feet behind my head. Then three years ago, because of a hip problem, I couldn't even cross my leg over my knee when sitting in a chair. Now I can sit a very decent half lotus again. What I did was to settle into the position very gingerly and then slowly increase my sitting times from about 5 minutes to my present 30 minutes. I think it might have actually helped my hip aliment..

Mysterion said...

Hey Mysterion, we've had enough...

"We've Had Enough"

In the shadows where the heads hang low
You hear voices as the wind blows, asking "can't you see?"
Reminding you to breathe
It's only time before it catches up to you and all your broken luck
I found a better way to get even with my memory

In the darkness where the angels cry
Give us water, give us back our eyes
Our bed's this concrete floor, and it's all we have left to live for
A day we'll never face
We're only second-handed, sick, and lonely
Fighting back the tears and every urge to Van Gogh both our ears

That said, we've had enough
Please turn that fucking radio off
Ain't nothing on the air waving the despair we feel

In the shadows where the heads hang low
You hear voices as the wind blows, asking "can't you see?"
Reminding you to breathe
It's only time before it catches up to you and all your broken luck
I found a better way to get even with my enemies

That said, we've had enough
Please turn that fucking radio off
Ain't nothing on the air waving the despair we feel
That said, we've had enough
Put "Walk Among Us" on and turn it up
Ain't nothing on the air waving the hatred we feel

This is our biggest fear
The only tunes that we hear
Come via antenna through your car raid-ee-uh-oh-oh-no

That said, we've had enough
That said, we've had enough



How bathetic, a coward who purports to speak for the group does so from a position of anonymity.

"old dog" said...

Hey, Brad. I'm confused. Is Zazen all about being a tripod, or is being a tripod just a means to an end?

I thought sitting was not about the sitting at all, but about taking the time to listen to all the random jibber jabber going on in your head, and learn to shut it off and pay attention.

I do that in traffic, waiting for lights to change. Okay, it's not
"zazen," but it's what I do on the cushion, in traffic, and standing in Formation at Parade Rest.

I like a lot of what you say, but this one ....

babbles said...

Brad, or others for that matter, what are your thoughts on sitting in seiza but not using the seiza bench?

Due to my previous practice in jujutsu I got somewhat used to sitting in seiza. Also for a few years now I have been practicing the shakuhachi where one has to sit in seiza, so over the course of a few years I just got used to seiza and prefer it.

I personally can't stand sitting on an actual seiza bench and due to some childhood hip problems that are now acting up on me (as I inch near 30) I do not have that sort of flexibility to make sitting in lotus or half-lotus comfortable for any significant amount of time.

I do think seiza benches are pretty weak as they still allow one to sort of slump and be 'lazy' as you sit.

Anonymous said...

Brad, Brad, Brad....

Just wait till you get old. Sid forbid you should be injured or have leg surgery. My right knee ligaments are completely shot; I can't even bend down to touch my toes on that leg, and I had a triple arthrodesis of my left ankle, which means the foot is fused and won't bend under for even seiza.

I sit in my computer chair. I put a nice big silicone cushion on it to raise my butt, similar to a --gasp!--hemorrhoid cushion. Then I put my feet flat on the floor (butt is higher) and straighten my back and put my little hands into the cute mudra. My spine is nowhere near the back of the chair. It's quite balanced.

Furthermore, I can sit anywhere in the world without (a) spending money I don't have to buy a cushion (other than a small pillow or the silicone cushion I already have) and (b) dragging the cushion around from venue to venue. I thought the object of zazen was to drop body and mind, not to give orthopedic surgeons more money.

The computer screen with an opened Notepad on it doubles as a great "blank wall".

If you'd ever come to Austin, we could argue about it over my husband's homemade fake meat fajitas.


Jinzang said...

In my opnion sitting on the floor in lotus or half lotus is the best way to meditate. I sat in a chair for a while after tearing a ligament in my knee, and it wasn't nearly the same. Obviously, if you can't you can't, but I'm 52 and manage lotus position. It's worth making the effort.

Lone Wolf said...

Arigatoo gozaimasu Brad sensee...ah for teaching Buddhism over the internet.

On Wednesday, I offically started learning Japanese. I don't remember the last time I had to remember so much. Though I'm not so good at remembering the sound of all the Hiragana syllables, It's pretty fun learning to write them.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of sesshins, here are
some interesting articles from
on breaking down psychological barriers

Psychology 101

Psychology 102

Anonymous said...

No question, posture is of utmost importance.
Try eating food without chewing--this is to digestion what poor posture is to zazen.
body/mind really is one
Physical idiosyncracies can be adjusted for, but
while we are among the 'temporarily abled,' it is invaluable to practice the posture as specifically described by Dogen to the best of our ability.
Over time, this makes more and more sense.
In the beginning, we tend to say 'what's the fuss, sitting is sitting, right?'
Zazen without the posture isn't zazen, it just isn't. Obviously you are making sincere efforts, but it's not zazen.
If you can't sit in the posture, you can't do zazen--you are doing something else.
This seems very harsh to say, but it is true.
You are doing the best you can, and that is wonderful, it isn't less than or more than, it's just not zazen.

Anonymous said...

> I did a dharma talk. All the other
> teachers did Zen talks and mine was
> like a Krusty the Klown routine.

How about posting summaries of
the various Hokyoji Dharma talks,
especially yours?

DB said...

For what it's worth, I'll chime in with some support for sitting in seiza position. I mostly sit half lotus, but every once in a while seiza just feels right. I just use the cushion for it as well; the benches don't feel right for me. Using the cushion, it still feels like a tripod, butt and both knees being the primary contact points.

On a totally different subject, what's up with your company, Brad? Are they dumping you or merely shipping you somewhere else?

Silent said...

Hey um way to be random. Cause that's what I'm gonna be but...

C'mon... Punk? Punk is cool, but bor.. Punk is dead!


Sorry, it's over...

I mean, I'm not sayin punk's not due for a comeback... but.

Cave In

Queens of the Stone Age

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

These bands got it goin on.

Sorry. That's all I gotta say.


diarmuid said...

I've enjoyed how almost everyone responded to the lotus or half-lotus position with a universal groan.

"Aw... c'mon, * I * don't have to do it like that, right?"

It's kinda like we're sitting in the same room. Kinda. Admittedly, it does take some limbering, but there's no other way to skin this particular cat. Is there?

gunderloy said...

erm.. I'm guessing that it is ok to try and make things as easy as possible when sitting, just not easier..

Stephen said...

I cannot get my knees closer than 1 foot from the floor,I figure in about 10 years with practive when I am 70 I maybe be able to manage lotus, what do I do in the meantime??

Anonymous said...

"it is our duty that we make the conditions of Zazen easier as far as possible. But at the same time it is also necessary for us to pass some kind of painful process to get the Truth, and so it is necessary for us to experience such efforts in our daily practice too.

Even though in Soto Sect recently they sometimes recommend for secular practioners to use chairs for Zazen, but I think that such a kind of idea might be serious rebellion against Gautama Buddhas' teachings.

In the case of utilizing seiza chair, I think that the practitioner will avoid the suppressing their legs with the weight of their body, and so the effects of Zazen might be decreased.

- Gudo Wafu Nishijima

roman said...

my take - why half lotus or full lotus but not seiza, not chairs, not anything else

Most ppl wondering why seiza or chair is not enough miss a point about buddhism, which is quite important. It is not how you feel or what you think but also what you do. In Buddhism HOW you do things matter very much. Dogen says that zazen itself is satori, but he means full lotus or half lotus. not seiza. We do not practice zazen to achieve something, but to experience zazen itself as the elementary practice of buddhism. As much as you cannot play tennis with a baseball bat, you cannot practice buddhism without doing the traditional buddhist practice, which is zazen. So anyone can feel free to meditate in any kind of position you can imagine, but if you want to practice buddhism, it is zazen in half or full lotus. It is freedom of choice, not something you have to do. Nobody has to practice zazen.

If I can think of better explanation, maybe i will post it as an article at my blog.

Heck said...

I think a lot of people might think Brad is just being mean by insisting on Buddhist traditional sitting. But it could be that he is being kind by not wanting us to waste our time..

roman said...

Buddhism is sometimes so rigid. You have no choice, you have to practice like this, not like this. This no choice is different from some kind of
human rights suppression. Because you don't have to practice buddhism at all. The thing is when you start to study, you ask someone who is experienced and who understands Buddhism, okay, so you ask
a master and he or she says, practice zazen, not seiza. You think, why the hell is THAT so important.

ANd this why is very important. Why is it necessary to practice in this way? So it is something we should explore sincerely. We should see and experience why it is necessary to stick to lotus in buddhism. And the only way how to find otu why lotus and not seiza is to practice lotus itself.

The only way how to find out what Buddhism is REAlLY about is to practice it ans study it sincerely.

I would say if there is a person who is in such a bad physical state that they have absolutely no chance to ever achieve lotus position due to health problems, they are incredibly unlucky.

On the other hand, nobody knows what it is like to be attached to a wheel chair and desire Buddhist practice - what is it like? Only a person attached to a wheel chair who absolutely wants to study Buddhism knows what they feel like.
I am sure such a person will find
a school of Buddhism where practicing in a wheel chair is perfect. It is just not Dogen Zen.
No big deal, is it?

roman said...

Brad somewhere wrote about the difference between a person in a Buddhist robe almost yelling at people THis is the Truth and somebody else in a fashist uniform yelling at people This is the truth.

The difference to an ordinary liberal is none. So that is why a lot of people run away from Zen teachers and say they sound like dictators.
The difference is huge, though.
Dictators will chase you and punish you if you disagree or do something that is not in accord with their philosophy. A Buddhist master absolutely does not care what you do in your free time in your private life, unless you really want to be his or her student.

The same with zazen. No need to practice it. But once you enter the
area of Buddhist practice and study, zazen is part of it. You can alway quit and leave Buddhism, no problem and nobody will try to punish you.

"old dog" said...

I just wonder, since I'm new to this, where the dividing line is between actually useful opinions, and opinions based on simply doing what your teachers said without understanding the deeper meaning of an act.

I think, for instance, about the rote ritualizations of Kosher, utterly divorced from any food-safety considerations arising in a non-refrigerated millenium, and how new converts to Judaism are notorious for being much more rigid than their relatives, who practice Kosher in a context of a life-long relationship with Judaism.

I sat the other night with a great-grandmother in orthopedic socks. She sat in a chair. I sit in a crappy half-lotus. My feet were asleep, as usual, after the first 25 minute session. For an 85 year-old that kind if thing can be fatal. (blood clots)

Not everyone can be a zen monk, but everyone should be free to practice. I think this fundamentalism is less than helpful. But then, I'm just some dork typing in a laundry room. What do I know?

roman said...

of course, everyone is free to practice, you just can't force
tennis players to call their game

there are differences and differences sometimes matter

the person who blindly repeats their teacher's words without knowing what they are talking about will run into a hard wall sooner or later

under "buddhism" different people mean different things so what can we do? we have to decide whom we can trust and then study their teaching and practice what they practiced or practice - to see for ourselves what buddhism really is

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


Thanks for the info about Karl Rove's
penis-piercing, homosexual father --I
was wondering what was behind Rove's
resignation-- and also, for the info
about the Bush-Nazi connection during
WWII --very interesting.

Anyone taking any bets on when the
Bush Gang gets arrested, indicted,
prosecuted, investigated, convicted,
and ultimately hanged for treason?

It's about time for another Nuremberg.

Anonymous said...

Zazen is the most effective way of practicing mindfulness. The posture, mudra, and mental considerations of Zazen were paired together for a very specific reason - it's the best way of balancing the autonomic nervous system. Obviously you can be mindful/balanced while sitting in a chair, or any other position, but that is not Zazen!

It is something completely different.


Anonymous said...

Hanging? That's far too lenient.
Such criminals deserve nothing less
than a taste of their own medicine:
rendition, torture, seizure of their
personal assets. It is only a matter
of time before soldiers returning
from overseas begin hunting down
their paymasters.

Jinzang said...

but that is not Zazen

If you hang around with Zen practitioners a lot, you're bound to get a lot of compassionate advice about what zazen is. "Zazen is sitting in lotus" or "Zazen is constant mindfulness" or "Zazen is wearing your kesa."

But it's very, very important to remember, whatever anyone may say, that zazen is no such thing.

Jinzang said...

Hanging? That's far too lenient.

Maybe we should remember that kindness and compassion aren't just for people who think like us or for good people, but for everyone.

When I first me my teacher the thing that shook me to my core was when I looked into his eyes there was no judgement, only love.

Anonymous said...


If what you say is true, it's too
bad such teachers are so rare.

As for the bad apples, before
practicing kindness and compassion
towards them, it's probably a good
idea to at least take their weapons

Even the Dalai Lama has said that
he wishes the Tibetans had been
armed with rifles when the Chinese
communists invaded.

BTW, the Dalai Lama eats meat, and
Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian.
Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Wait a second...

What if all this kindness and compassion
towards the bad guys crap was invented
by the bad guys to trick the good guys?

It's a trap!!!

Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! Ha! Too late!


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I don't know what Karl Rove's father
has to do with Zen, but the dude was
definitely hardcore, sort of like

Anonymous said...

Goatse and proper zazen posture?
I've heard that years of long zazen
practice causes hemorrhoids. Is it
true that that's a dirty, little
secret among senior monks?

As if excruciating knee pain
weren't enough.

Insult added to injury.

brendan said...

Hi all,
I'm curious about hand possition and zazen. I'm used to resting my hands on my lap. Is there a practical reason for holding them in that possition I see so often--with the fingers resting on each other, thumbs touching, forming an oval? It often looks like the hands aren't resting on anything, but rather, being held in that position in the area of the belly button.
Any comments welcome.

Anonymous said...

While some of you self satisfied zen schmucks have been congratulating yourselves on being able to do full or half lotus, and telling everyone that that is the ONLY authentic zazen, a lot of folks have been quietly sitting zazen on a chair or stool or laying down.

You idiots make me LOL :)

other said...

people who call other people idiots anonymously make me laugh.. as in laughing at you, not with you.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

What I've got from Nishijima Roshi's and Brad's teaching is that zazen is a mental and a physical practice, that in fact there is no real division into mental and physical. The posture you sit in is as important as what your mind's up to, and problems in one are mirrored in the other.

That said, I've seen people sitting with Brad in chairs, in burmese, in seiza, and with their hands palm up on their knees. Brad's never (in my presence) given anyone crap for not sitting lotus. So, sit lotus if you can, sit some other way if you can't. Just try to do what you can. Really, no one's asking you to do more than that.

I'm about as flexible as a 2x4 (physically and mentally). I usually start off in half lotus and push through pain in my calves and thighs. I switch to burmese if my knees start to hurt. I can go in half lotus longer now then when I started. I used to avoid the one-day sesshins and now I look forward to them.

But if you specifically ask either Nishijima or Brad for their advice, both will say "lotus or half-lotus." Don't get mad at the answer, you asked for it. There are plenty of teachers available who will tell you it's okay to "sit zazen" in a Lazy Boy. To quote Pulp Fiction:

"If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions."

While I believe that lotus is the best way to sit, that in no way means that sitting in other positions has no merit. The fact that someone is trying says a lot more to me than the position they're trying in.


Steve said...

Ok because I did not start at an early age and cannot push my knees to the floor ,and sit in agony and meditate, I am not doing zazen and not practising Buddhism, that is relief, I can go out and get drunk tonite.

Jinzang said...

BTW, the Dalai Lama eats meat, and Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian. Go figure.

The Dalai Lama started eating meat on the advice of his Tibetan physician. But he's now vegetarian again, as is the Karmapa. And I understand that Hitler's vegetarianism was a sometimes thing.

I'm not sure how this relates to my original point, though.

Anonymous said...

You asked about hand position.
I have been told that for those sitting in lotus, the feet form this nice self space for the hands to rest on, palms up, left hand upon the right, with the tips of the thumbs barely touching, forming an oval in front of the abdomen.
I can't sit lotus, so I can't tell you from my own personal experience, but my sources are reliable.

The barely touching part as I have been instructed, is very important (seems like a lot of minutia is 'very important', and this is too). The thumbs should be loose enough so that someone could insert a paper between them, and tight enough so that the paper would be held there securely.

It is actually a kindness to have a practice focussing on stuff like this. It means that the mind has been given something to do--and minds like that. It also means while the mind is learning to do it and has to keep checking on itself doing it--it's letting the other things in it--like fantasies, daydreams, opinions, ruminations, etc. just float up and away, without getting caught up in giving any of them more mental fuel to keep them going longer--because it's too busy coming back again and again to the damn thumbs and what they're up to now (too tight and forming a pointy peak, too loose and fallen away from each other--now where did those tips wander off to?)

I can't sit lotus. So I've got a pillow under each knee (stable, three point position) and I have a small oblong pillow I place in my lap as a 'shelf' to rest my hands on. It's a whole lotta pillows, true dat, but it all comes together and gets me as close to real zazen posture as I can get at this time.

Posture makes an enormous difference. Which I am only recently fully appreciating.

It is very interesting, sitting body/mind--as I become aware of tension--say in the shoulders--and I make conscious adjustments with various muscle groups--I begin to see that as my mind drifts, the posture will 'drift.'

The body serves as a feedback loop for mind--and of course, it is a 'body/mind' not separate things we are talking about here.

Anonymous said...

Regarding one's posture in public,
from world-renowned biologist

Lynn Margulis

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

"By the way, nobode gives a rat's ass if Rove's dad was into body mods and an alternative lifestyle. What we DO care about is the massive suffering this turd and his cadre (including Shrub, Darth, and Rummy) rought."

mysterion - so why did you bring it up if you don't care? what does one thing have to do with the other?

Boonton said...

Saw Brad at the Bluestocking bookstore tonight. A nice talk, kind of an odd bookstore though....then again I'm from New Jersey and we partake of NYC in small doses if at all. I'm planning on going to the Independence session tomorrow.

I found getting to a Lotus position challenging but I did eventually achieve it for 30 minutes. There's a degree of pain when I first get into it...especially if I skipped a day or more. But as the muscles stretch the pain goes away after a while.

Getting a cushion helps. Those round little cushions (what are they called a zufu?) raise you up and hold you up just right so you can pull off a lotus. Pillows or blankets don't work very well in my experience.

There is something to the balance. Unlike sitting in a chair or laying down you are actively balancing yourself in the position. I think it's a bit deceptive to say the lotus position is one of perfect comfort or balance (which I've read). You have to actively balance yourself. If you drift off to sleep you'll topple over. It certainly isn't a position of perfect comfort either. Although there have been moments when I thought I could stay in that position foreever.

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

mysterion - that wasn't my question. why did you drag rove's father into the spotlight when he doesn't have anything to do with american foreign policy? you are treating him like a something less than human just to embarrass his son.

It's easy to say hate nothing,
think peace.

those are just words.

gniz said...

Personally, I guess its fair to say Soto Zen requires a certain type of position if that is fundamental to the teachings of Soto Zen or Dogen or whatever.

It seems to upset me when somehow I feel someone is telling me I've never really meditated correctly or something because I dont do Zazen in the lotus posture.

But i suppose they arent really saying any such thing.

There is baseball, football, and volleyball.

They are all sports.

There is Insight Meditation, Soto Zen, Iyengar Yoga, etc.

If I want to only do Soto Zen as told by Dogen, then I suppose I should probably listen to what Gudo and Brad and so forth have to say about it.

Makes good sense.


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

Mysterion, this is a buddhist blog and not some armchair political debating forum.

Just thought i'd point that out :p

Anonymous said...

mysterion - fine.. don't answer then.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"Mysterion, this is a buddhist blog and not some armchair political debating forum.

Just thought i'd point that out :p"

I agree. "a lust for power and the facilitation of greed for the powerful" is all about Buddhism. Didn't you notice?


dood said...

Brad -

You are so smart (tricky) - getting us to sit more by talking aobut posture....absolutely brilliant sir - well played!!!

take care,

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Diet Hardcore Zen is back by popular demand! Uh, popular demand for Brad to be somewhere else, that is.

Next Saturday, September 1st, I'll be performing the duties of Chief Door-Unlocker & Incense Lighter. I plan to delegate the duties of Chief Bell-Ringer. So join us at 9:30 AM at the Hill Street Center for three zazen periods spaced by two kinhin periods.

Diet Hardcore Zen -- a third more enlightenment and 100% Brad-free!

Rob said...

SmoggyRob--Good going. Thanks for posting the info here. I promise not to press you into tree trimming activities right before sitting again.
Things get antsy enough on the zafu without creatures searching for more familiar habitat.

Boonton said...

Went into NYC to the ID Project to listen to Brad lecture and also try meditating in an actual Zen group (at least I think they are a Zen group). I was able to ask a question on how long one should meditate. The answer is about 30 minutes or so. Some places go up to 60 but you need a break of some sort.

But I think what I'm really curious about is how long one can meditate. Over in India is this kid who they claim has been meditating straight for months (years?) now...doesn't eat or take water. I'll be the first to write that off as a hoax of some sort but there are a host of stories about masters meditating for days on end. I saw a report a while ago about mummified monks found in Tibet...they basically meditated until they died in the lotus position and their bodies mummified in the dry cold air.

Is this stuff really possible or are these guys doing something other than zazen? What's the absolute limit before you push yourself to a breaking point with meditation and what happens if you push beyond that? Over on they mention something called 'meditation sickness' which can come from too much zazen. Is this real or is this just local folklore and myths combined with Buddhism?

Jinzang said...

Generally there are three things which limit how long you can meditate. Your mind goes wild and you just have to get up, you sink into a stupor and start nodding off, or your body starts hurting and you have to move it. According the the Buddhist literature with enough practice and skill you develop a quality the literature calls pliancy. When this is achieved your mind will stay clearly focussed on an object as long as you wish and your body can hold a position as long as you wish. When you achieve this a deeper level of meditation becomes possible, which is named samadhi. There are plenty of stories about samadhi in the Zen literature. For example, the Chinese monk Han Shan was doing retreat in the mountains and started meditating while his rice was cooking. He entered samadhi and was only aroused when someone knocked on his door. When he lifted the lid to his rice pot, he found it was covered by several inches of mold. He had no idea how long he had been in samadhi.

Of course, this is just what I read. I can't hold a position longer than ten minutes without moving.

Jinzang said...

Meditation sickness is a mental and physical disturbance caused by pushing yourself too hard in meditation. It can manifest as high blood pressure, dizziness, insomnia, or even paranoia. I think it's more likely to be a problem for the Rinzai than Soto style of practice. Just remember to r-e-l-a-x and there should be no problem.

Mysterion said...
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Boonton said...

Thanks for the feedback. Some of the stories seem fanciful. Did he really go so deep that he was out of it for months while the rice grew mold? His body required no food or water?

Or is this more like the Lives of the Saints in the Catholic Church that sometimes have somewhat implausible stories that you are not really expected to believe. (One story I recall was a saint who was so sexually modest that he stood up as a baby and chastized a woman who wanted to give him a bath)

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

BTW, the Dalai Lama eats meat, and Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian. Go figure.

hitler wasn't a vegetarian. he ate fish

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback. Some of the stories seem fanciful. Did he really go so deep that he was out of it for months while the rice grew mold? His body required no food or water?

Or is this more like the Lives of the Saints in the Catholic Church that sometimes have somewhat implausible stories that you are not really expected to believe. (One story I recall was a saint who was so sexually modest that he stood up as a baby and chastized a woman who wanted to give him a bath)

i think you've answered your own question. of course it is not possible to sit for longer than it is possiblwe to go without food and water. other wise you die. no one has ever got round the fact that our bodies need food and water to survive despite what those guys who pretend to live on sunlight would have you believe.

the other question is why the hell would you want to sit zazen for as long as humanly possible? exercise is good for you but that doesn't mean i'm going to run a marathon every day until i collapse from exhaustion.

doing too much zazen is an extreme. doing too little zazen is an's all about the middle way.

Anonymous said...

and to the guy who thought zazen gave you hamaeroids... i really hope you were joking. an office worker spends around eight hours a day sitting on his arse zen teachers ask you to sit about one hour a day. what's more likely to give you hamaeroids (which as mysterion rightly pointed out aren't even caused by sitting in the first place)? duh.

it amazes me the stupid excuses people will come up with to avoid sitting zazen. to everyone who says they are too stiff to do i so they'd rather sit in a chair or in seiza.... that's the point! it takes effort to be able to do it! keep trying and eventually it wont be so hard! it's like with any other sport (my teacher always says zazen is closer to a sport than a 'spiritual' activity), there is a particular way to do it right which will be difficult at first. when you have surfing lessons they tell you a particular method which is difficult to learn at first. for some reason people have no trouble hearing a surf teacher tell them to surf in a particular way but as soon as a zen teacher says the same thing, people get all retarded about it and start getting defensive and sarcastic ('what so someone with no legs and a deformed spine can never sit zazen?' No! they cant! for the same reason why someone with no legs will never be able to play soccer!)

surfing lying on your stomach is not real surfing but it is easier than surfing standing up. zazen sitting in seiza/on a chair is not real zazen but is easier than doing it in lotus/half lotus etc.

Mysterion said...

The Hitler Card (fallacy)
'Was Hitler A Vegetarian?'
Berry presented quotes from several sources, including well-known biographer of Hitler Robert Payne, that confirmed that Hitler's diet always included sausage, caviar, ham, and squab.

At least we know for certain that Hitler was neither Catholic nor Christian.

My father's mother kept a Hitler scrapbook. She (like all of my dad's family) was a confirmed cathoholic. Her konfirmation was in Bliedersdorf, Kingdom of Hannover.

They almost always had ham feasts on Corpus Christi Day (Easter) to 'out the Jews' in the neighborhood. I wolfed down a lot of fat pigs before I encountered my first Hindu medical Doctor.

Jinzang said...

Did he really go so deep that he was out of it for months while the rice grew mold? His body required no food or water?

Well, I didn't remember the story correctly, so let me correct that. In my defense, it's been years since I've read it. The story is actually in the autobiography of Hsu Yun, not Han Shan, in the account of his 63rd year (1902). Here's the account, decide for yourself whether it's true or not.

"Master Fo-cheng and others who stayed in nearby huts were surprised that I had not called on themfor a long time and came to my hut to present their New Year's greetings. Outside my hut, they saw tigers' tracks everywhere with no traces of man. They entered my hut and seeing I was in samadhi, they awoke me with a chime. When I returned to self-consciousness, they asked me, 'Have you taken your meal?' I replied, 'Not yet, the taro in the cauldron should be well cooked by now.' When the top of the cauldron was lifted, it was covered with an inch of mold. Fo-cheng was startled and said, 'You must have been in samadhi for half a month.' We ten melted ice, cooked taro, and ate our fill. They joked with me and left."

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...

Hitler's Vegetarianism in some detail.

To wit:
Hitler did not describe himself as a "vegetarian" until 1937... From that moment on, Hitler never ate another piece of meat except for _liver_ dumplings."

In John Toland's biography of Hitler, Dr. Kalechofsky comments: "This is consistent with other descriptions of Hitler's diet, which always included some form of meat, whether ham, sausages or liver dumplings."

So at least we can agree that 'vegetarianism' includes the consumption of _ham_, sausages, and liver dumplings. (pardon me while I hurl)

If you will buy into THAT, then perhaps you will buy into THIS:

"The nurture of the new humanity included the need to "encourage the growth of a violent, domineering, intrepid, cruel youth... nothing weak or tender in it." (Angeberts, p.209, Rauschning quoting Hitler) This reached its climax in SS training, and it corresponded to the Nazi view of "pure" Gnostic, Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, which did not teach compassion and gentleness, but Aryan duty and honor above all (Angeberts, p.220-221)."


It's using the 'Hitler Card' to attack Buddhists!

Anonymous said...

how did mysterion take over this blog with his unrelenting chatter? the guy is like a furby..

Anonymous said...

how did mysterion take over this blog with his unrelenting chatter? the guy is like a furby..

LOL :)

He doesn't seem to have an off switch :p
I suspect 'he' may really be a bot, his posts look like the output of one of those online random koan generators :p

Anonymous said...

Charlotte Joko Beck has said:

'Check your posture. No matter how you sit, the body should be erect (but not stiff), balanced, and at ease. The sitting place should be neat and pleasant. (But we can sit anywhere and in any position--even lying down if ill or exhausted).'

Who to believe?

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I found a short Ultraman reference in a comedy routine by Ernie Cline, a real funny guy. Warning -- there's a fair amount of cussing. And the line, "Ultraman is Airwolf" means, "Ultraman is very cool."


Jinzang said...

Who to believe?

You CAN sit in any posture. But some are better than others. This is not dogma or cant, it's my personal experience. Why would I bullshit you? If for some reason, you can't sit on the floor with your knees on the ground, you're better off using a bench or chair. But it's worth making the effort.

Anonymous said...

Brad - Dogen said that the kesa is the heart of buddhism.. yet you rarely mention anything about that. Give us your take..