Thursday, September 27, 2007

ASSWIPE Part 2

First off, a new podcast of an interview with me is up. Click here to listen. Same old stuff from me again…

Also, if you haven't, please read part one of this article below, or at least just the quote from Dogen. It's a good one (the quote, I mean).

The guy who ran away from our retreat wrote me yesterday. He was upset I called him an asswipe on this blog. I’m sorry about that. I thought it was obviously a joke. I didn’t identify him in any way, so it was clearly not a personal attack. My intention was more to make the point that running away from a Zen retreat without notice is not proper behavior. I hoped that by saying so I might make future attendees — not just of our retreats but of Zen retreats in general — aware of this fact. A Zen retreat is not a visit to Disneyland or Club Med. You are not a customer or a guest. It is not the job of the organizers to serve you or cater to you. You are a functioning participant who is expected to work with the rest of the group to make the retreat happen. Leaving without notice is like deserting your job without notice. Everyone else has to take up your slack and that’s a problem.

According to him, “My reason for leaving was simple: It was your attitude. You come off as a self-centered, know-it-all prick in robes – with your conception of Zazen being the only one that matters.” He complained about, “the completely impersonal, mindless format of the retreat itself,” and said, “perhaps if we had been given more time to talk with and get to know each other personally, that wouldn’t have been a problem.”

These are points I think need addressing not just to him but to everyone who reads this page since some of you may be considering attending one of our retreats or attending Zen or Buddhist retreats held by other teachers.

If you attend a Dogen Sangha Zazen retreat it means you are agreeing to spend the time doing Dogen Sangha style Zen under a Dogen Sangha teacher’s instructions. This is the same with any retreat. If I go to an Ashtanga Yoga retreat, I expect to do Ashtanga Yoga and I can’t complain that it’s not Iyengar Yoga. I guarantee you that every decent Zen teacher believes that his or her conception of Zazen is the only one that matters. In fact I’d even say that if you find a teacher who does not appear to believe that you should stay away from that person. That’s one of the clearest telltale signs of a teacher who’s no good and will probably rip you off. All my teachers have been self-centered know-it-all pricks.

As far as the impersonal, mindless form of the retreat, our retreats are probably the warmest, fuzziest, most get-to-know-each-other retreats in the Zen business. From what I’ve heard when you attend a retreat by this fellow’s hero Mr. Thich Nhat Hahn not only can you not talk to the other participants, apparently you can’t even look them in the eye. I’m not sure it’s TNH who does this actually (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong), but I know it’s the case in a great many retreats. The dude in question wanted to know if he could hold his arms a different way from everyone else because he wasn’t familiar with our form. I encouraged him to do it our way. Shit, if you tried doing it a different way from everybody else in some retreats they’d scream and then whack you with a great big stick! No exaggeration. Sometimes I think we’re just way too fucking nice. Actually we expect our attendees to be a bit more mature than to need to be hit with sticks.

But the point isn’t whether our retreats are warm and fuzzy or not. The point is that you really ought to do some research before you sign up for a Zen retreat. Not just the guy in question, but you out there reading this. Not just our retreats either, but any Zen retreat. Or any other meditation or Yoga retreat. Every time someone gets disgruntled about our retreats it’s because they haven’t got the vaguest clue what to expect. I imagine this is not a problem confined solely to our retreats.

Before I went on my first Zen retreat I'd already read as much as I could about Zen retreats in general so I’d have some idea what to expect. And kids, this was in the days before teh internets so it wasn’t like I could just Google “Zen retreat” and get a million people’s diaries of their retreat experiences. Shit, you were lucky if you could find three books on the shelves of the Akron Public Library about Buddhism. And those were all written in 1874. I’m not just trying to give you the old “I used to walk ten miles through the snow to school” thing here. It’s just that I really can’t excuse anyone in the year twenty-ought-seven for not making the tiny bit of effort it takes to find these things out. Our retreats are basically like a nicer, easier version of whatever you find described elsewhere.

In any case, before next year’s retreat I’ll be making some kind of a guide book or something I’ll put on-line to let people know what they should expect from our retreats.

So sorry again to you, Mr. Wipe. Nothing personal. But thanks for the opportunity to make these points. And again, please understand this is not directed at you alone (I wouldn't waste the two hours plus it took me to compose this just to get back at some specific person). It’s really a much more general and widespread problem.

Over and out.

ADDENDUM:
Just to be clear, it is always perfectly acceptable to leave a Zen retreat at any time for any reason. But when doing so you need to tell one of the organizers directly. This goes across the board for all retreats in all traditions.

210 comments:

1 – 200 of 210   Newer›   Newest»
Mysterion said...

"You are a functioning participant who is expected to work with the rest of the group to make the retreat happen."

Duty - Duty is with us always.

DUTY
Inflexable as fate.
Exacting as necessity.
Rising with us in the morning, Waiting at our pillow at night.
Duty is with us always,
Imperative duty.

"old dog" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
"old dog" said...

"You come off as a self-centered, know-it-all prick in robes – with your conception of Zazen being the only one that matters."

Yeah. Since yer some stupid "yank" ya don't know anything. Izzatit? How ya think Mr. Robes earned them robes?

My retreats are not Zen, they're U.S. Army. (try meditating at parade rest) Complete dumbshits know more than you or I do about living the Army way. They've got he stripes to prove they know what they're doing and you don't, no matter how many times they prove that they're total dipwads. And yet, intelligent people fail to adapt to the dominant culture of the environment... I'm repeatedly amazed that people think they can come into a system that's older than dirt and make IT adapt to THEM. The young guys have it easy - they've never had life "their way" -- they've always had mom/school/society to rely on to hold their hand and tell them what to do, what to wear and where to go. It's old farts like me, only more ossified, that have trouble. They ask questions like "can I use my phone at the firing range if I'm not firing?" No! Leave it at the barracks. Just like it says in the brochure....

"Shit, if you tried doing it a different way from everybody else in some retreats they’d scream and then whack you with a great big stick!"

Drop and give me 20, soldier! What's your effing problem? Stand at effing parade rest when you talk to an NCO! Give me another 20!

I've got no sympathy for Mr. Wipe.

"old dog" said...

"comment deleted" above is me, trying to edit for typos.

"old dog" said...

Myterion's post brings to my mind the Soldier's Creed:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough,
Trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

(Soldiers will typically shout "Hooah!" at the conclusion of the Soldier's Creed.)

Duty is with us always.

Anonymous said...

Brad - how can you, a guy who has sat zazen for twenty some years, be such a total prick?..

gniz said...

I find that in this case I agree very much with everything Brad seems to be saying...and yet, I also find myself wondering if it really needs to be said the way he is saying it....it just seems a little vicious.

I do feel some compassion for Mr. Wipe, mostly because he was given the nickname Mr. Wipe.

Aaron

www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

These aren't the funnest things to say, but they are good to hear. Maybe it's because I'm a mom and it's nice to hear someone else's voice for a change. I have to say these sorts of 'carry your own weight' things. '(mine is a senior in high school, lord help me!).
Compassion takes on different forms under different circumstances.

I don't know who you are Mr. A. Wipe, but I thank you. One of my long long time friends cut out of a retreat. She just couldn't, couldn't stay. It was a case of really not wanting to be there a single second more. I think it is good when people take care of themselves. I also think it's important to take one's leave properly. But if you've never had the 'johnny cash take this job/sesshin and shove it' experience ever ever ever before in your life, then count yourself lucky that you now have a full sense of it: the headiness and the ramifications. I have to admit, walking out, walking away--leaving it all behind (except you really don't get to leave it behind--because it's your behind and it comes with you)but until it catches up--man, the feeling is great.
And then of course you know better, and the consequences and fall out just isn't worth it--just like other 'highs' out there...

Anonymous said...

"Brad - how can you, a guy who has sat zazen for twenty some years, be such a total prick?.."


it seems mr wipe has joined the discussion. what is so controversial

mr wipe,if you are reading this,if i turn up to a karate class having done kickboxing for a few years i'd be a total asswipe if i started getting all pissy about having to practice karate and not kickboxing!

can you not see that that's basically what you were doing?
you went to a karate class and got annoyed that the teacher stubbornly refused to allow you to practice your kickboxing moves!

if you want to do kickboxing go to a kickboxing class not a karate class. is it really that hard to understand?

and as for that 'getting to know each other' comment, wtf? it's not band camp for christ's sake! If you want to go on a retreat to get to know other people go to a holiday camp or something. I thought the whole point of a zen retreat was to deal with yourself on the cushion not an excuse to make friends!

what an asswipe

dan

Anonymous said...

sorry should have deleted the words 'what is so controversial' from the bove post. forgot to

dan

Patrick said...

I've been on two retreats with Brad and both times the people who left early were completely new to zazen and got in over their heads.

How about in the future making it clear that this retreat (or any retreat) is not for absolute beginners?

I've also attented a TNH retreat and, despite the silence it really is a much warmer, fuzzier affair, because, well, it's not cold, uncompromising, merciless Zen!

Yudo said...

Yet, TNH IS a Zen master, albeit in the Linchi lineage.

It is not a matter of liking or disliking TNH, it's a matter of going to a retreat with Brad and not being surprised that the teacher is Brad...

As for the warmth of the people, better not blame it on the teachers, but mostly on the average idea that Zen + Japan + Martial Arts means being cold and military-like.

DB said...

First off, this whole incident sounds like it would make good fodder for an SG article.

I've only ever attended one small retreat, a one-day thing held by the group with whom I sit regularly. It wasn't particularly warm and fuzzy and the rules were pretty simple: no talking, sit when we're sitting, kinhin when it's time to do kinhin, eat in silence. In short, we're here for a purpose.

At a longer retreat, I'd expect more of the same. It sounds like there was a disconnect between what this guy expected and what he found.

That said, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave, but if you do it without a word to the people you're sitting with, you've shown them great disdain so you should probably expect them to wash their hands of you same as you did of them.

Again, sounds like the guy had some expectation that he could just turn his back on everyone and yet there'd be no consequences. Nope, doesn't work that way. I once walked off a job I couldn't stand, leaving everyone in the lurch. If they talked bad about me, so be it. I deserved it, but it was worth it to get out of there. If you hate the experience, I see nothing wrong with ending it early, but accept that your actions have consequences.

Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't waste the two hours plus it took me to compose this just to get back at some specific person"
Ego talking. Yes "it" would spent if someone got hurt.

Mr. Wipe said...

So many things need to be said here that I doubt I can cover them all, but here goes:

1. I didn't grip about anything, nor was I trying to change 'the system.' I simply asked Brad a question about form, since I am a newbie, and his reply was anything but compassionate or encouraging.

2. I didn't leave without notice. I left quietly to avoid making a ruckus, and then immediately sent an cell-mail to my friend (who was also at the retreat) telling him I had done so. If my friend failed to inform Brad of this, I am sorry, but that does not make either of us an 'asswipe.'

3. To the Boot Camp guy: Buddhism has nothing to do with the military - or at least it shouldn't IMHO. That hasn't always been the case, though, as you can see here: http://www.mandala.hr/5/baran.html

4. I readily admit that I should have researched the thing better before going, but that doesn't justify name calling.

5. Thich Nhat Hanh is not my personal hero, but I think Brad could learn a lot from his book, THE HEART OF THE BUDDHA'S TEACHINGS, especially when it comes to right speech. And if what Brad says about Plum Village retreats is accurate, I would probably walk out of a Plum Village retreat as well. (And I would no doubt do it quietly.)

6. I did in fact get a lot out of the five or six Zazen sessions I attended, and plan to continue doing Zazen in my own way: that is, sitting Indian style, arms akimbo, allowing my mind to turn and off as it sees fit.

7. I finished HARDCORE ZEN yesterday and am already halfway through his new book, and although I think they are both wonderful books, Brad's tone was often rude and condescending: especially the frequency with which he uses terms like 'idiot,' 'moron,' 'asswipe' and 'bunghole.' Also, it find it quite odd that talk of Buddhist ethics - such as mindful compassion - are almost completely lacking from his book.

8. Finally, although my idea of Zazen may differ from Brad's, I left the retreat without any negative feelings, having got a lot of the actual practice. Taking the train to Tokyo, I went to Tower Books and purchased both of Brad's books in order to get a fair assessment of the guy and his take on Zen, and then met up with some friends. I was very shocked when I returned to Nagano to find that he had called me an 'asswipe' on his blog. Oh, well. It merely confirmed my first impressions of him: namely, that he is quite arrogant and rude. That doesn't mean you can't learn anything from him. It just means that I can't.

Mr. Wipe

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Mr Wipe you defended yourself well and made reasonable points. I take back my harshness earler.

Regarding Buddhist compassion here's my thoughts on it:

The trouble I have with people talking in detail about compassion is they never actually tell you HOW to be a good person. They just tell you what a good person should and shouldn't do.
Like: 'have compassion for all sentient beings' right have compassion got it..... hang on how exactly do i do that in my day to day actions?

I have found that it is impossible to conciously think 'be a good person all the time' and have this result in measurable changes in my habitual behaviour. The problem is that the thought 'be good' is just a thought and it is hard to turn it into real change.

Dogen's answer that you shouldn't worry too much about right and wrong and instead you should just sit zazen everyday makes sense to me because I find that from doing this I have started to change my habitual reactions to stressful situations and annoying people without really having to think about it. It's just like it gets harder and harder not to do the right thing. That's not to say that I'm still not a dick sometimes but it definitely is changing. slowly.

dan

Anonymous said...

it's weird, but my memory of the first asswipe post seemed much harsher than it really was.. I was a little taken aback by you calling the guy an asswipe but then on rereading it, it did seem pretty mild. unnecessary language maybe but not that bad.

Andrew Lyons said...

Hi Brad

I really like your posts, maybe just add a short note that zen is related to Buddhism which includes compassion.

I realise your post was about zazen.

Stay healthy,
Andrew Lyons, Australia

Mr. Wipeit's weird, but my memory of the first asswipe post seemed much harsher than it really was.. said...

Anonymous wrote: "it's weird, but my memory of the first asswipe post seemed much harsher than it really was.. I was a little taken aback by you calling the guy an asswipe but then on rereading it, it did seem pretty mild. unnecessary language maybe but not that bad."

That's probably because he wasn't calling you an asswipe. Anyway, I'm not comparing him to Hitler or anything like that, just saying that its not cool in my book. Perhaps I just have an all together different idea of how a "Zen Master" speaks, though.

Mr. Wipe

Jinzang said...

There's so much to comment on, but let me start here.

Brad's tone was often rude and condescending

Brad is rude for a reason. The point is that your idea of how an enlightened or holy person acts is wrong and you be glad that Brad shows you it's wrong. Your idea of enlightrnment is a kind of contrivance, where the genuine thing is a lack of contrivance. The point of practice is to see what contrivance is.

Blake said...

Off topic (I think everything has been said), I found a column entitled Vultures on a Carousel. It's Michael Rutschky's interview of Brad Warner. It was probably already posted or something but I missed it. I figured, though, if I had missed it, others may have as well.

Anonymous said...

Being able to recognize, acknowledge and see through self-deception, or self-delusion, is a fundamental aspect of zen practice (or any other for that matter) ...

Anyone who leads a retreat has to expect that some newbies will come without a clue regarding themselves - it is one of the reason why they are there ... Such incident happened, happens and will happen ...

And thus acting accordingly should seek to resolve such incident for the best of all. Which is clearly not not what happened if we look at the ripples, or crap, still arising out from the incident.

Hopefully, Brad will realize that in a way he has been an asswipe as well ... the incident reflects not only mr. wipe ignorance but Brad's own cluelessness ... but we know that he can handle it ...

Blake said...

Okay... so I'm pretty simple these days. The above comment is the article based on Brad's posting to the pod cast. Of course, when I clicked on Brad's link, it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

" Perhaps I just have an all together different idea of how a "Zen Master" speaks, though. "

It seems so. I personally don't have a problem with how Brad speaks but I can see why it would piss some people off. But the fact that he fucks up and pisses people off is refreshing for me. It is a reminder that being a zen techer doesn't some how render you above that kind of thing.

A lot of people seem to be disappointed that zen teachers are just like the rest of us. they think to themselves, well Brad gets it wrong and pisses people off about stuff but there still must be SOME buddhist teachers out there on a mountain or something that fit my idea of what an enlightened person should be.... maybe but if so where the hell are they?

a possibly unrelated quote that i like:

"Being offended by someone questioning your beliefs is a sign that you should be questioning them."

dan

dan

Blake said...

Working link to podcast on eCorsair.com. You'll have to sign up for membership to listen.

Mr. Wipe said...

Jinzang said: "Brad is rude for a reason. The point is that your idea of how an enlightened or holy person acts is wrong and you be glad that Brad shows you it's wrong. Your idea of enlightrnment is a kind of contrivance, where the genuine thing is a lack of contrivance. The point of practice is to see what contrivance is."

Like Brad, I don't believe in enlightenment. However, I would hope that 25 years of Buddhist practice, be it Zazen or otherwise, does not result in me being a self-centered, arrogant prick. Judging from what he writes in his books, Brad thinks the core of Buddhism is finding Ultimate Reality or the Truth (with a T) and enjoying every moment of life, and he believes that Zazen is the vehicle for achieving these two ends. I tend to think along the lines of what Thich Nhat Hanh says: namely that mindful compassion is the core of the Buddha's teachings. We clearly differ on the aim of Buddhist practice, although I would agree that Zazen is a key component to transformation and discovery. Because of these differences, I left the retreat. That doesn't I am right and Brad is wrong, or that Brad is right and I am wrong - it simply means that we have a fundamentally different notion of what is important. So be it.

Mr. Wipe

other said...

I think that if a teacher rubbed your face in shit, some of you might just consider it a lesson well learned. that is not a bad attitude.. but I think that if a teacher rubbed shit in my face, I might be inclined to return the favor. that is a big problem for me.. but there would be a lesson there too. it being, there might be a better way of dealing with people than calling them asswipes. that all of our actions have consequences. even the actions of a rude teacher.

Anonymous said...

May all beings be always well and happy;

May they be free from danger and enmity;

May they live peacefully

May all human beings be free from deceiving one another

May all human beings be free from looking down one another

May all human beings be free from causing miseries to one another.

From the Metta Sutta (The Discourse on Loving Kindness), as published by the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Burma.

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

"Judging from what he writes in his books, Brad thinks the core of Buddhism is finding Ultimate Reality or the Truth (with a T) and enjoying every moment of life, and he believes that Zazen is the vehicle for achieving these two ends. I tend to think along the lines of what Thich Nhat Hanh says: namely that mindful compassion is the core of the Buddha's teachings"

This is what I mean, how can we achieve mindful compassion?









"May all beings be always well and happy;

May they be free from danger and enmity;

"May they live peacefully

May all human beings be free from deceiving one another

May all human beings be free from looking down one another

May all human beings be free from causing miseries to one another"

Again, how can this become a reality and not just an idea?

Dan

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

People new to Zen think Zen should be all warm and fuzzy because of all the happy air fresheners and candles and potpourri at Target with "Zen" in the name. "Retreat" makes it seem all happy too. It ain't like that. A retreat is a lot of sitting and following along with how things are done. If you ask, there's always a reason things are done like they're done. It's usually pretty logical. I agree that someone who doesn't know what to expect should not go to a Zen retreat.
-Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

you sound like a pompous wanker

Brett
xxx

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Wipe said...

Perhaps the most annoying thing about Brad's Brand of Buddhism is that he puts down other traditions to exalt his own: the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh - he has nothing but negative comments for these great teachers. In the link I mentioned earlier, it says this:

> "In Japanese Zen," Toga explains, "loyalty is most important. Loyalty to one's teacher and the tradition is more important than the Buddha and Dharma," This makes frank debate on the war period difficult since many masters said things that could be criticized. He agrees but says that if he questions their teachings, he would have to leave the tradition. He is clearly uncomfortable with this topic. When I mention one of the more extreme quotes from Victoria's book, where a Zen Master promoted killing as Buddhist practice, he dismisses it, saying, "no one really taught that." I leave with a sense of sadness. There is so much that needs to be explored, but from this discussion, I see little hope. The Buddha never taught that loyalty was more important than truth or compassion. Blind loyalty outside the zendo can and did have disastrous results. Until key assumptions can be questioned, the roots of warrior Zen remain alive and well. Japan's major war began in 1931 with the invasion of Manchuria. From the mid-1930's, Zen academics and abbots embarked on an intellectual campaign to justify their war participation. They taught that "compassionate war" was a Bodhisattva practice and was of great benefit to Japan's enemies. As one Soto philosopher wrote, "there is no choice but to wage compassionate wars which give life to both oneself and one's enemy. Through a compassionate war, warring nations are able to improve themselves and war is able to exterminate itself." During this period, millions of Chinese were dying and cities were being decimated.

> In 1937, D. T. Suzuki was finishing Zen and Japanese Culture, in which he wrote that Zen "treats life and death indifferently" and "is a religion that teaches us not to look backward once the course is decided." He wrote that Zen "has no special doctrine or philosophy. It is therefore extremely flexible in adapting itself to almost any philosophy and moral doctrine as long as its intuitive teaching is not interfered with." Zen can be "wedded to anarchism or fascism, communism or democracy.... or any political or economic dogmatism."

Indeed, Zen can be wedded to anything. Thus we have Zen and the Art of Achery, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and now, thanks to Brad, Zen and Art of Being a Prick. He's taken it to a whole new level.

Mr. Wipe

Anonymous said...

You both sound like whining children, I would say grow the fvck up and let it go but no doubt my lack of zen mastery does not allow me to understand the worth of pointless bickering on the internet.

♪♪♪

Mikan Dorobo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Wipe said...

"my lack of zen mastery does not allow me to understand the worth of pointless bickering on the internet."

I a wont to agree with you, but this is not worthless bickering. We have hit on a primary difference in how to interpret the Buddha's message. Does the Buddha teach us that as long as we do Zazen for an hour a day, we can say and do whatever we want, or did he teach compassion and mindfulness above and beyond all else? I would tend to agree with the later interpretation, although many people who post on here would seem to subscribe to the former.

Mr. Wipe

Jinzang said...

I would hope that 25 years of Buddhist practice, be it Zazen or otherwise, does not result in me being a self-centered, arrogant prick.

I wasn't there, but from what's been written here, you asked Brad if you could hold your hands a certain way and he said no. You left the retreat and he called you an asswipe. Anyway, that's the story as I understand it.

Brad's been criticized for name-calling before, but I don't understand the self-centered, arrogant tag. Is it that he thought his way of running the retreat was better than yours? He's running the retreat, so he decides how things are done. It could be done a zillion ways, but it's his call. What's there to get upset at?

mindful compassion is the core of the Buddha's teachings

Mindful compassion is a good thing, obviously, but I think this falls short. Mindful compassion is a contivance. Cheri Huber said that the biggest she had withher students is that they tried to be good when they should try to be open.

Maybe you're misunderstanding compassion as being nice. That happens a lot: the teacher isn't being nice to ME, so the teacher isn't compassionate. Well, sometimes the teacher can't be nice. Sometimes the teacher has to smack you on the head (metaphorically.) It doesn't sound like this was one of those times. It sounds like what happened is a breakdown in communication. Brad said something. You didn't like it. But you didn't tell him you didn't like it. Instead, you ran. Well, been there, done that. Maybe next time, try a different approach.

Jinzang said...

the most annoying thing about Brad's Brand of Buddhism

You can cover everything with a cloud of words, like a squid fleeing in a cloud of ink, but the long and the short of it is that your feelings were hurt. Being hurt HURTS, obviously. But don't try to erect an intellectual edifice on a feeling.

Anonymous said...

Mr. A. Wipe:

I am very appreciative of your responses here.
At this point you might be wondering what it would have been like if you had just sat in the posture as everyone else, observed yourself doing your best with the zazen instructions as given--aspects of body, breath and mind--and just stayed with it, observing all that arose.
That is, after all, what sesshin is.
It is interesting to note (from my standpoint) that you considered yourself so insignificant and so non-essential to the sesshin that you could just walk off, not knowing the gaping hole you would leave behind. You wrote that you left a cell message to someone else at sesshin--but surely you know that many people leave their cell phones at home, certainly they are turned off, and I don't know of anyone who makes phone calls during a sesshin.
(I'm not saying it's unheard of, I'm just saying I don't personally know of anyone who has done it).
(I've only attended a scant handful).

As far as the 'fit' between teacher and student goes--I think that is very interesting to ponder.
I'm in the midst of leaving a group I've sat with for a while--going on 3 years--I've come to the realization that the teacher is a total jerk, but this isn't my first teacher, and won't be my last. I have continued to go, help out with the weekly sitting group. It would have felt delicious to tell the jerk off, but I chose not to. It would have been a load off to just announce "My schedule has changed, and I won't be able to sit here any more." But I chose not to. I've continued to sit, and I've watched this push/pull of interpersonal stuff between us in every little thing: how the zafus are put on the zabuton, how this is set up, how that is done... It has felt like going through a bad spell at work with the boss...I continue to sit with it.
There is something I want to get to the end of, and I might as well do it right here, right now.
I want to get over 'like' and 'dislike'
There's some growing to do too--anyone around who doesn't? I assume teacher and I are both grinding down something similar between us. I am glad I am in a place in my practice at this time that I have the patience and the ability to hold it, just hold it, I have no idea when the 'right' time will come--I will be walking out of that zendo. I guess I'm there until it absolutely makes no difference whether I come or go.
I'm also waiting for other people to start coming and learn how to set things up--I don't want to leave things in the lurch--and I don't want to go leaving others with any impression that there is a 'problem' between us.
(I've had the chance to see a side of me rub my hands in glee, fantasizing a huge blow up, my
telling teach just what I think, giving some very clear examples for everyone else to come to their own conclusions....then, all of us walking out together....)
Ah, me.
Well, I'm not the kind of person to act out fantasies anymore--at least not not that one.
I am very grateful because it is through the crappy behavior of this teacher that I set about finding another group, and another teacher and I happened upon the very Brad Warner you have your own issues with! I've only experienced him as humble, compeletly empty of self and unassuming. His response to questions is very direct and simple--no extra curly-ques or flourishes, and no dodges either.
But I really think this is extremely extremely personal stuff--this teacher/student business.
Can you be intimate with this person?
The jerk I've been talking about--well, it's like the analogy of dating someone--I like the person, their family, their ideas, etc, but I can't stand the way they kiss--so that's it--I'm keeping myself at arm's distance. And it has been very interesting to find out that I can, and am still learning which means that the jerk can and is, still 'teaching.'
With Brad, who is 100% Soto, this 'teaching' process is a bit different.
What can I say? You don't know what you're looking for, until you know. You don't know what 'practice' is until you know. You sit and sit and sit for years and then finally you do it--'just sit.'!
The obvious isn't until it is.

Mr. A. Wipe I have to say you have my admiration for coming here and continuing dialogue. I wish you the very best and I hope you post more of your experiences you have on the blog.
(maybe you can give yourself another bloggin name X , formerly known as Mr. Ass Wipe)

>>cowpie

Jinzang said...

I'm waiting for the day Brad says something nasty about the Dalai Lama, so I can lay down some smack on him.

Thich Nhat Hanh said...

"Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small." (samyag vac)

Our words are powerful. They can give someone a complex, take away their life purpose, or even drive them to suicide. We must not forget this. Right speech is based on right thinking. Deep listening and deep looking are the foundation of right thinking. If we cannot listen mindfully, we cannot practice right speech. When communication is cut off, we all suffer. When no one understands or listens to us, we become like a bomb ready to explode.

Sometimes we speak clumsily and create internal knots in others. Then we say, "I was only telling you the truth." It may be the truth, but if our way of speaking causes unnecessary suffering, it is not right speech. The truth must be presented in a way that others can accept. Consider each word carefully before you say anything, so that your speech is both right in form and content.

Restoring communication is an urgent task. We all have a part to play.

Jared said...

Looks like the issue stems from both Mr. Wipe and Brad seeing the other as not having acted with compassion or mindfulness. I am glad that, for the most part, both are trying to use their perception of what happened to further Buddhism rather than their own egos.

I also want to say that I am glad Mr. Wipe is expressing himself clearly, with maturity and confidence in his position. Intelligent criticism can only serve to strengthen Brad and Mr. Wipe as individuals and practitioners, regardless of who is "right".

Anonymous said...

good to have you back Jared!!
How's things on campus?

Anonymous said...

Who else haven't we heard from in quite a long while
shout out to KOOOUUUUDELLLLKAAA!!!

Anonymous said...

"I wasn't there, but from what's been written here, you asked Brad if you could hold your hands a certain way and he said no. You left the retreat and he called you an asswipe."

I would guess that Brad has never called anyone an asswipe to their face. He has mentioned here more than once of his fear of being punched in the nose.

Mysterion said...

"In Japanese Zen," Toga explains, "loyalty is most important. Loyalty to one's teacher and the tradition is more important than the Buddha and Dharma"

And this, to me, is BULLSHIT. Buddha constantly encouraged all to adopt what is beneficial and reject what is harmful.

Theravada Retreats demand 'Noble Silence.' That means you shut the f*ck up from the moment you enter until the moment you leave.

Buddhist view, Buddhist meditation, and Buddhist conduct are the locus of the Theravada (Hinayana) Snagha. Now you know why I am on the rim of the community.

Theravada Zen??? Cold heart or warm heart is not the question.

I seriously doubt many today would long tolerate the passage through which I traveled.

PA said...

I really enjoy Brad's writing and have been helped along my merry way by what he has written.
But it feels all too easy to call someone an asswipe over the internet. It's like a trap people fall into online: they feel they can write just about anything.
Read as a piece of comic entertainment, it's fine, but surely given the wide readership of this blog, it's not a particularly wise thing to write...
Just seems a little silly.

Anonymous said...

pa - Brad says he does it because he thinks it is funny. It might be funny in his head but sometimes when you read it, it doesn't seem that funny.

Chris said...

Here in Ireland, we have a way of relating to one another called 'banter' or 'slagging' its not meant to be truly offensive, but can offend sensitive or those unfamiliar with it. I appreciate Brad's direct style of teaching and speaking, and I also see that its not without compassion, and can be the act of compassion itself at times. But yeah, also maybe having a clear information sheet about what to expect is a good idea here. Hell - each situation is what it is!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Brad was actually calling Mr. Wipe a buddha as in the following koan from the Mumonkan translated by R.H. Blyth:

A monk asked Ummon, "What is the Buddha?"
"It is a shit-wiping stick," replied Ummon.

Note: I've also read it translated as "shit stick" and "dried dung".

Another question: What's brown and sounds like a bell?
Answer: Dung.

scooterjonz said...

Here are my thoughts on Brad's form of teaching:

You are not you. I am you. And you are me. And we are here together. Coo coo ca choo. The middle way teaches us that Brad cannot enrage/amuse/have no effect whatsoever on us. Our reaction to Brad is exactly that - ourreaction.

Should Brad change to please you? I think not. Brad needs to be true to Brad. I've seen Brad on a TV interview. He looks like the kind of guy I would avoid in High School because I thought he was a dweeb. He still looks like he's in High School. But I really like his books. I don't have to look at him to read his books. I just put my thumb over the author's picture and read. In truth, after about the seventieth reference to punk bands I start skimming over that shite. But that is his frame of reference and he uses it to make good points, clearly. This I appreciate.

So, is Brad and Ass Wipe himself? If that is your perception of him, then to you, he is an ass wipe. Or he may be a great communicator. In my perception of Brad, he is a former dweeb who has learned well - with the exception that he is too attached to how cool he thinks he was when he was doing punk. That is how I paint him.

If I thought his verbiage or behavior in some way would harm me, I would avoid him. This is you option, too.

If Brad offends/annoys/hurts/irritates you, and yet you continue to read him - or hang out around here and snipe, then perhaps you enjoy being pissed off? Mayhap you are addicted to your Dukkha? (Did I spell that right?

Zen teachers have a history of being annoying/confusing/overbearing/drunk/oversexed.They are human, after all.

American Buddhism is unfolding. There are as many ways to be Buddhist as there are flavors of Christianity, or sects of Islam. Because all of us have different (perceived) needs.

Perhaps Brad is not your flavor. Okay. Move on. Remember, though, that how you leave is often more important than how you enter. Make your endings peaceful. Each ending is a new beginning. Who wants a new beginning with baggage.

'nuff said.

Mysterion said...

Why I put mindful (and inflammatory) effort into Brad's blog:

I crossed from the wilderness of the economically, intellectually, and spiritually impoverished East Bay to the San Francisco Zen Center to meet this young upstart. All the Buddhists from my day are getting old, dying, or dead. Who will carry the torch?

"We need all the young Buddhist intellects we can encourage to lead the community once again and wrestle the decedent Sangha back to its sacred vocation. But are these organizations and their sadly limited Sangha committees open enough? If they do not reform themselves to attract youth to their ranks, I foresee a rapid dissolution of the Buddha Dhamma"

"The issue of who can to be ordained, by whom, and by what manner, has plagued Buddhism since the death of its founding member. While the Buddha preached that there be no divisions amongst his disciples but that they agree to disagree, the question of ordination and monastic discipline has led to the formation of countless sects throughout the Buddhist world."

We (Buddhist Communities) seem to hang in there without fleecing the flock, buying a fishing fleet, or Corporate Sponserships.

I have reasonable hopes for Brad's success.

Lena said...

One of the most useful "mantra's" I have learned since becoming a mother is "Assume Positive Intent". It is so easy to look at others (in particular our children, but this also extends to our clients/customers/students) and see the wrongs they do and what they should have done and sometimes even make a leap about them as a person. If someone DOES a stupid thing, he IS a bad person. Or asswipe.

I found that my life improved immensely when I started giving people the benefit of the doubt. This has nothing to do with letting them walk all over me, I still tell them what is unacceptable, but I tell them in a kind way. It doesn't cost anything extra to be nice, and I find that constructive discussions are much more productive than name calling and us-vs-them dualism.

I don't believe in the "tough teacher" idea, at least not until some attachment is formed between teacher and student.

Lena said...

BTW, thanks Mr Wipe, for joining in. Your perspective is much appreciated and I tend to agree with what you say about compassion. That has nothing to do with my idea of how an enlightened or holy person should act. I have known way too much "holy persons" to know that they are no impeccable saints. But right speech should mean something. Oh well, I know that Brad talked about this some time already and that he feels differently.

Benjamin W (FtC) said...

I suppose I have a slightly different take on this. I was recently given the pleasure of spending a day with Brad after having had a total of twelve hours (really) to read a few of his blogs and the review of his book on Amazon (I didn't start reading his book until today, two weeks later). So I am left only with my impressions from spending time with him. I have seen a great many Zen practitioners in my life subscribe to the New Age philosophy of love and peace and roses in the barrel of the evil oppressors. That, to me, is not helpful, nor realistic. After watching his respect for a Jamaican street performer, the time he spent for a personal unscheduled interview with a journalism student, and having real conversations with him, I can say he is probably one of the most realistically compassionate people I have met in a long time. I don't come from a cuddly-bunny practice of Zen. I commit most of my practice through the martial arts and academic study. Zen has always been entwined with violence, compassion, politics and such, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

As for calling something an "asswipe", I can see a lot of value to not coddling those who can't follow along. In some branches of Zen, they HIT you. Having your feelings hurt is only as damaging as you let it become. Being hit with a shinai is much less forgiving. Not only is the deconstruction of your expectations (of your teacher, of Zen, of yourself, of lunch) key to practice, but also so is the idea of jarring you out of your comfort zone. Not to mention the fact that this is a religion, not a do-it-yourself hobby time with your atman. There are protocols and rituals, foremost being respect for those who are trying to help you grow.

Being rude is a Zen tradition. It helps people get past what I feel is the single greatest obstacle: our feelings. Compassion, to me, is not about making people feel good. It is about helping people grow. My older sister has been one of the most formative people in my life, and she has called me an "asswipe" so many times I should trademark it. My father is an amazing man, Marine, police officer, and perhaps the most compassionate man I ever known (and not in the hippy sense). He showed that compassion through helping me understand the importance of physical labor, the value of discomfort, and importance of control. Was it pleasant? Hell no. At the time, did I bitch and moan, walk out and shirk my duties, and generally make life miserable for everyone because I couldn't get past my own feelings? Definitely. It's been thirty years and I just now starting to "get it." Between these two people in my life, their
"tough love" taught as much about reality as it did about compassion.

All that being said, I feel I need to justify my existence with a quote from someone famous: "Sacred cows make the best hamburger" - Samuel Clemens. In other words, humor and coarseness about what we hold the most dear (especially our own egos) is perhaps the most valuable aspect to human nature. If you can't laugh at yourself, Ill try to be compassionate enough to do it for you. I invite you to do the same for me.

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

I'll chime in with my thanks to Mr. Wipe for posting here.

It's kind of funny, I spent over a year practicing with a group in Thich Nhat Hanh's lineage. By the way, eye contact was not discouraged at the sesshins I attended. But speech was considered impolite and we were asked to refrain from speaking to each other outside of a couple scheduled focused discussion groups unless absolutely necessary. And even then, off-topic speech was discouraged.

What's funny is that the biggest reason I left was that I couldn't stand the warm, fuzzy fluffy-bunnies-and-daffodils INSINCERITY that pervaded the group. Given a choice between honest but somewhat rude speech and phony warmth, I'll take the straight talk every time, thanks.

Don't get me wrong, there was a great deal of genuine warmth in the TNH group. But the general aversion to "rude speech" encouraged a lot of phoniness too.

The "let's make sure nobody's feelers ever, ever get stomped" attitude is well-intentioned, but in my opinion is unrealistic and encourages phoniness.

esmerelda_verde said...

Benjamin W said 'Compassion, to me, is not about making people feel good. It is about helping people grow.'

Jules said 'trying never to hurt feeling encourages phonyness'

I think they really understand what it really is, the fluffy feel good stuff is cotton candy. It makes the 'compassioner' feel good and doesn't really help the 'compassionee', I think Brad is funny and his no bullshit approach is true to all the cranky old monks in the stories. Mr AW. may have been hurt but I think he did learn something maybe more than he would have gotten from the retreat. I am glad he is posting here.

Anonymous said...

Mr. AW has benefitted all of us immensely.
When Brad uses technical buddhist terms like 'asswipe' he is using a time honored vehicle to drive home to each of us our own asswipiness.
This sesshin story is the story of each one of us: it addresses the part of us somewhere in our nature that 'gets up and walks out' This can be our very wavering and flickering attention on the zafu--we let that mind of ours leave, and take us with it!
This can be the part of us that gets up and walks out on our lovers--even though our body is still right there, going through the motions.
This can be multiple instances throughout the day in which we have wandered off.
There is an asswipe in every single one of us.
Let us hope our own personal asswipes are mindful enough to come back and sort things out.

Lena said...

Mysterion said:
One could EXPECT compassion as a form of entitlement. Expect nothing.
But you could say the same to Brad. He seems to expect compassion (for the other students who now, how horrible, have to do Mr Wipe's chores) from Mr Wipe. Why?

Benjamin W (FtC) said:
He showed that compassion through helping me understand the importance of physical labor, the value of discomfort, and importance of control. Was it pleasant? Hell no
Discomfort is not the problem. My child is in discomfort often. When she does not get to eat icecream for breakfast, she sometimes cries. I teach her that that is not acceptable. She also has to obey to certain rule in the household. She learns that life goes the way it goes and that it does not always go the way she wants it to go. But I don't need to resort to namecalling or other "tough love" techniques to let her learn that.

Mr. Wipe said...

"BTW, thanks Mr Wipe, for joining in. Your perspective is much appreciated and I tend to agree with what you say about compassion. That has nothing to do with my idea of how an enlightened or holy person should act."

Brad is neither enlightened or holy by his own admission - as if we needed it.

Mr. Wipe

Mr. Wipe said...

Benjamin W said 'Compassion, to me, is not about making people feel good. It is about helping people grow.'

Jules said 'trying never to hurt feeling encourages phonyness'

The problem is, it would appear that Brad actually goes out of his way to say hurtful things - to call people names, to dismiss other Buddhist traditions and teachers - and I don't think he does this from some enlightened perspective to help us grow, I just think he perversely attached to his version of Buddhism and rabidly opposed to anyone or anything that is not his Buddhism. He comes off as being a child.

Mr. Wipe

Mr. Wipe said...

Benjamin: "I have seen a great many Zen practitioners in my life subscribe to the New Age philosophy of love and peace and roses in the barrel of the evil oppressors. That, to me, is not helpful, nor realistic."

If you think Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama - the perspective in question here - are New Age idiots, then you clearly have no understanding of them as people or teachers. Do yourself a favor adnrRead a few of their books after you finish Brad's.

Mr. Wipe

Benjamin W said...

I said:
He showed that compassion through helping me understand the importance of physical labor, the value of discomfort, and importance of control. Was it pleasant? Hell no

Lena said:
Discomfort is not the problem. My child is in discomfort often. When she does not get to eat icecream for breakfast, she sometimes cries. I teach her that that is not acceptable. She also has to obey to certain rule in the household. She learns that life goes the way it goes and that it does not always go the way she wants it to go. But I don't need to resort to namecalling or other "tough love" techniques to let her learn that.

I respond:
I had a feeling, rereading my statements, that "tough love" would be misinterpreted (or correctly interpreted but I was misusing it). I did not mean to imply abuse in any of the cases mentioned. I have no idea from what place personally or emotionally Brad was coming when he used the term. What I meant was that we have a tendency to want people to be happy. We want to spoil our kids, but can't and shouldn't. We want to coddle those who come to us, but to do so is a disservice. We want to "validate" other people's feelings, when it is neither our place nor our ability to do so. All this is because we are taught to, encouraged to, and want to be "nice." Sometimes "nice" doesn't cut it.

As I mentioned, I practice primarily through martial arts. That's right, the art of hurting people. I practice so I do not have to hurt people, and so others cannot hurt me or the ones I love. Sometimes compassion for an assailant is breaking a wrist so he doesn't do something worse (and regret it).
Sometimes compassion for the ones we love is committing violence on those who would wish them harm.
Sometimes compassion for such values as free speech or freedom of religion means committing violence on those who would try to end them.
Sometimes compassion for your child who just ran into the street is controlled, loving application of pain (corporal punishment) so that they will forever associate pain with needlessly putting themselves and others at risk (often long before they have the capacity to understand what 'traffic' can do to them).

A lot of people use "tough love" as an excuse to abuse others. As a means to cover their own emotional investment in how others act and react to towards them.

As an example: When I was 18 I was pretty messed up. I was in constant pain, a bona fide misanthrope bordering on sociopathy, and desperately looking for some guidance spiritually. Somehow, I came to the conclusion that I should travel to India to study under some spiritual expert to find my center or some such nonsense. Luckily, I have a failsafe for my hairbrained ideas: calling my sister.
Now in a fluffy-bunny world, she would have listened to my idea, listened to my reasons, validated my feelings, and let me 'march to my own drummer'. She might nudge me away from this 'bad idea' (tm), but ultimately let me do what I thought I needed to do. Instead, she told me I was an idiot. She offered to explain why she felt this way, so it wasn't just a kneejerk response. Needless to say, I didn't go. Now, when I think of such hairbrained ideas, I have a bar to measure from.
I want to run off and live in a monastary = "ben, you're an idiot"
I want to sell off all of my belongings = "ben, you're an idiot"
I want to build a log cabin in the woods = "ben, you're an idiot"
All for very good reasons I might add. The point of this rambling response is that had she been "nice" about it, I don't think the message would have sunk in.

Is it the only response? No. Should we be careful about why we are using names? Yes. Should we be compassionate towards the people we speak to, with a baseline of respect? Yes. But sometimes the best thing you can do is be honest, and that includes letting me know if I am being an asswipe.

Mikan Dorobo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benjamin W said...

I said: "I have seen a great many Zen practitioners in my life subscribe to the New Age philosophy of love and peace and roses in the barrel of the evil oppressors. That, to me, is not helpful, nor realistic."

Mr Wipe said: If you think Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama - the perspective in question here - are New Age idiots, then you clearly have no understanding of them as people or teachers. Do yourself a favor adnrRead a few of their books after you finish Brad's.

My response:
I have a great deal respect for both (though the latter's political positions could stand some objective scrutiny). I believe they are both, however, invested in the idealism mode of thinking, and not in the reality. I understand why they focus on the modes and means they do. I just don't agree.

For the record, I don't agree with everything Brad says. I don't agree with everything my sister, or my Dad, or the President, or anyone says. I don't disagree with everything you say. These absolutes (like absolute peace, absolute power, or absolute anything) are ideals... and ultimately create more illusion.

As an aside, you mentioned that Brad goes out of his way to say hurtful things. Well, to be honest seems you go out of your way to be hurt. Being offended is not a right. I am sure you can find plenty of people who will not call you names no matter what you do, sit with them.

Mr. Wipe said...

Benjamin wrote: "Now, when I think of such hairbrained ideas, I have a bar to measure from.
I want to run off and live in a monastary = "ben, you're an idiot"
I want to sell off all of my belongings = "ben, you're an idiot"
I want to build a log cabin in the woods = "ben, you're an idiot"
All for very good reasons I might add. The point of this rambling response is that had she been "nice" about it, I don't think the message would have sunk in."

After his parents died, Dogen went to live in a monastery, and look how he turned out.

The author of Radical Simplicity (Merkel, not Price - Price never had any) sold off all his possessions and was able live his life as free and happily as a bird. I believe it was Einstein who said, "Every possession is like a rock hanging from your neck."

Thoreau built a cabin in the woods and become the most famous philosopher America has ever produced.

Those don't sound like idiotic ideas to me. The person who called you an idiot may very well have destroyed the catalyst of your personal growth. I don't see this as being a positive example of strong, demeaning language.

Mr. Wipe

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Wipe said...

Mysterion - You should really lay off the pontification.

Mr. Wipe

Mr. Wipe said...

If it's cool to be a Zen asshole, then I really don't understand why we need to practice Zen in the first place. I mean, we were already assholes before we got all high and mighty on our cushions. After reading over this blog, I'm beginning to wonder how the practice of Zen, as performed by many of the people who blog here, makes any practical difference in their life. Would you be any different if you didn't do Zaz? Or to put it differently, what tangible changes have occurred in your life after practicing Zazen? I really want to know, because unlike followers of the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, Brad followers show very few signs of spiritual growth. They are just the same old narrow-minded jerks, assholes, bungholes, idiots and asswipes they were before they started - only now they are more confident about their inner-asshole-suchness.

Mr. Wipe

Benjamin W said...

::sigh:: To clarify: I never said I didn't see a value in any of those ideas. In fact, I thought about them pretty long and hard, including the examples mentioned. It wasn't like I invented the idea of asceticism. They just weren't right for me. Wouldn't have been responsible, or fair to those who relied or invested in me. Wouldn't have fixed what I thought was broken. Wouldn't have allowed me to follow the current path I have which I feel is just as valuable. And most of all, would have been coming from a very selfish idea of what I should do, what I deserved, and I wouldn't have had the emotional growth or the grounding in reality necessary to get what I was looking for anyway.

Does that clarify?

Brion Emde said...

I left a retreat once, in 1990. I had been practicing for a few years on my own and it was my first retreat. The cause of my leaving was a lack of communication with the teacher. I did talk to the teacher before leaving and although he tried to get me to stay, I was beyond convincing. Although that teacher and I no longer communicate, we did come to a sort of resolution.

In retrospect, leaving that retreat, despite all my good reasons, set me back in ways that took over a decade to get over and I regretted leaving.

I have since attended many retreats, including other seven day sesshin. My attitude, after that first attempt, was that nothing, NOTHING, was going to shake me out of the retreat; the suffering that I brought on myself was far greater than anything I would have experienced had I stayed.

So, Mr. Wipe, the important thing is for you to find a teacher that you are comfortable with, or who can at least teach you in a way that you can appreciate.

I too appreciate your engaging with the cyber-sangha here. You have my respect.

Thank you all!

Jules said...

The problem is, it would appear that Brad actually goes out of his way to say hurtful things - to call people names, to dismiss other Buddhist traditions and teachers

He was arguably justified in doing so for the "Instant enlightenment" scam artists. I'm pretty sure he's never said anything hurtful about TNH or the Dalai Lama. Brad was actually the one who encouraged me to try sitting with my local TNH group. I'm glad he did, it was a valuable experience for me, and I learned a lot.

What is the correct response to bad behavior?

A) Say nothing and hope the person misbehaving self-corrects spontaneously

B) Correct the person in as gentle a way as possible, most likely miscommunicating the gravity of the misbehavior and the importance of correcting it.

C) Call it how you see it, whether your words are hurtful or not.

I think this debate is mostly cultural.

In my opinion, Brad is coming from a place where people can be honest with each other, and can remain loving, even when using harsh words. See (C) above. Superficial harshness is seen occasionally, always with some current of real love underneath, expressed through true honesty. Tough love.

I think Mr. Wipe may be coming from a place where people are not always honest with each other, and use gentle words while secretly harboring some anger (B). Harsh words in this culture are only used to express real hatred, though people in a culture like this are sometimes averse to being angry and simply ignore the problem, remaining silent (A).

"Even though one may resort to harsh words, if such words help the person to whom they are addressed, then they are worthy to be regarded as truthful words and gentle words. Similarly, though one may use gentle words, if they harm the person to whom they are addressed, they are in fact deceptive words, harsh words."
-Shan-wu-wei

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Mr. Wipe, thank you so much for coming to this forum. I'm really digging this conversation, it's bringing out stuff I wouldn't usually consider. Honestly, thank you, thank you very much.

Brad can be pretty caustic, particularly in his writing. In person, I've found him to be quite different, a very nice guy. I have noticed that he gets a little short with people right before we sit, when we're all yakking and he's setting up. More so on the one-day retreats. I take it as him being more focused on what we're there to do than we are. I'm quite surprised you had the reaction you did -- Brad's a pussy...cat.

Has sitting with Brad changed me? Yes. How? It's hard to say. I try to avoid intentionally making people suffer, which I used to do quite a bit. I usually characterize it as, "I used to be a Major Asshole and now I'm just a Captain." My wife, who thinks Zen is a crock of shit, encourages me to continue.

I'm sorry you had a trying experience at the retreat. Might I recommend you check out Jundo's Treeleaf Zendo? He's another of Nishijima's dharma heirs and I think you might resonate with him a little better.

It's funny how such a negative situation can bring about so much positive discussion.

Thanks again!

Rob

Mr. Wipe said...

Snobbyrob: "Has sitting with Brad changed me? Yes. How? It's hard to say. I try to avoid intentionally making people suffer, which I used to do quite a bit. I usually characterize it as, 'I used to be a Major Asshole and now I'm just a Captain.'"

I laughed when I read that. Thank you for that. Anyway, maybe its the same for Brad. Maybe he was a four star General Asshole before zazen, and is now just a two star General Asshole. Either way, I'm used to communicating with people who are much more respectful of others, be they students or other Buddhist teachers. Those of you who enjoy petty name-calling and the trash-talking of other traditions, Brad's your man. I'm glad you found something that works for you.

Mr. Wipe

b said...

Mr Wipe,

enough is enough please. Calling Brad on bullshit is one thing, painting all his 'followers' as 'bungholes' is another, especially when you have probably not met that many.

Most of the people at the retreat did not sit with Brad, and quite a few haven't even read his book. Many were there for the same reasons we were, to have the experience of the retreat, and maybe learn something.

To accuse Brad of name-calling and then going around and doing the same thing to people you don't even know is getting silly.

Like Thich said, before you write a response in anger, take a sec (or even a day) and see if your words are trying to hurt, or help. That is what i'm trying to do here.


Talk to you later, (lets hand out Monday nite if you are free)

b (asswipe # 2)

Smoggyrob said...

Hi again:

I forgot to mention that if you love to sit with Brad, but prefer Brad not to be there, Yuka is leading a three zazen, two kinhin sit tomorrow morning (Sat 29 Sep) at 0930. She's very different from Brad: one part "sweet as can be" and one part "the little sister you never wanted." To the greater LA area, you're welcome to come sit with us. T-Man, I'm talkin' to you.

You're right, Mr. Wipe. Everyone is pretty much looking for the same thing, but in a lot of different ways. That's the best thing about American Buddhism -- it's composed of every other type of Buddhism. All of which, except for the Nishijima lineage of Soto Zen (Mahayana) Buddhism, is crap. Take a look at Jundo's site, he's a pretty warm guy. He's doing this cool virtual zendo thing.

Rob

Smoggyrob said...

I apologize for being a post-monkey:

I should stand up for my teacher. Mr. W, you and he got off on the wrong foot, but I'm sure if you spent a little time with him you'd change your mind. He really is a nice guy, one of the most honestly compassionate people I know.

Rob (ooo-ooo-ah!)

muddy elephant said...

Brad--

I just want to say thanks as always for your sense of humor.

Take care, have fun, and keep on breathing.

Mr. Wipe said...

"Mr. W, you and he got off on the wrong foot, but I'm sure if you spent a little time with him you'd change your mind. He really is a nice guy."

Probably. But what I am wondering is, after writing and saying, "Hey, what's with the asswipe bullshit?" he apologized, and then continued to call me Mr. Wipe in his blog. It's a lot like this:

A: Sit down and shut up, fuckface.
B: Hey, don't call me fuckface.
A: Sorry, fuckface.
______

B - Sorry, bro, but the more I talk with these people (the hardcore followers of Brad, that is, which certainly isn't everyone) the more I realize that they get off on being hardcore in-your-face assholes. And that deserves a response. I'm definitely down for sitting with you next week, tho. I get goosebumps all over just at the thought of sitting next to your hot, Dharma ass.

Mr. Wipe

muddy elephant said...

Re: esmerelda, jules

Death to fluffy clouds!!!

No particular intention, whenever possible.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Wipe said...

Mr. Wipe sed: "Mysterion - You should really lay off the pontification."

Mysterion sed: "To wit Myst saith: 'Mr. Wipe, please do not concern yourself with controlling me (or others). Focus your concerns on controlling yourself.'

I'm not trying to control you, Mysterion. I couldn't stop you from pontificating if I tried. I'm just giving you some advice about how to dole out the boundless wisdom you no doubt contain. You can take it or leave it, but I do hope you realize that pontificating sermons usually fall on deaf ears.

Mr. Wipe

Anonymous said...

Brad states in the blog:
"According to him, “My reason for leaving was simple: It was your attitude. You come off as a self-centered, know-it-all prick in robes – with your conception of Zazen being the only one that matters.” He complained about, “the completely impersonal, mindless format of the retreat itself,” and said, “perhaps if we had been given more time to talk with and get to know each other personally, that wouldn’t have been a problem.”

I really can't imagine calling any zen teacher leading a retreat 'a self-centered, know-it-all prick in robes.'
Mr. Wipe, just who do you think you are? This is completely unacceptable behavior.

I can only think that you (and you aren't alone in this) having confused the voice of the author Brad Warner, with the zen teacher Brad Warner came to the zen retreat with certain expectations.

You have a concept of what a zen teacher is supposed to be like (you know, more like TNH)

Brad is not TNH. Even TNH is not TNH, (the 'real' one is nothing like your concept of him--and of course the real Brad is nothing like your concept of him.
The experience has more to do with you and you--your incredibly rude behavior to the teacher leading the sesshin. (Which is really your disrespectful behavior to yourself), your walking out of the sesshin (which is really your walking out on yourself).
These are rich places: you could spend years mining them, they point directly at who you are in the deepest sense.
I think you know what I'm talking about.
I think you've confused 'question authority' with affronting authority.
I hope you get over 'what a zen master is like', for most of us, this does take a while, and it is wonderful when we get to put this down and not carry it around anymore.

>>buffalo chips

Anonymous said...

“perhaps if we had been given more time to talk with and get to know each other personally, that wouldn’t have been a problem.”
It sounds like this guy's missing the best part of a sesshin: it's the only place where people have to shut the fuck up! No one chattering away about American Idol, iPods, or their half-assed political opinions. It's great! That alone would be reason enough to go!
I didn't get much out of my first sesshin except a sore back, and the understanding that using a certain mudra, remembering to take my shoes off, bowing and stepping left foot first into the zendo, and all that other protocol, made me mindful, and humble, since I fucked up constantly, in front of an audience. Doing it the right way matters. You can't make it up as you go along. If you want to do that, become a Wiccan.
--DJ Voton

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

Wow.

I sit with Brad when I'm in town and not working. I also practice in TNH's tradition and have for the past three years. Yes, I've read a lot of his books, including Heart of the Buddha's Teachings, but not only that: I practice in this tradition with other actual human beings. My wife and I were married in a ceremony from the Plum Village chanting book and a good friend who is an Order of Interbeing member performed the ceremony.

Trust me, there is just as much drama and bickering, if not more in that group. Not only that, the Buddha had all kinds of drama and bickering amongst the original monastic sangha: his cousin Devadatta being the most famous example. It is a mistake to idealize practitioners in TNH's tradition. We are just people and people have problems. That's pretty much why the Buddha taught Buddhism, and that's pretty much what the first paragraph of Heart of the Buddha's Teachings says. - Not that Buddhism will solve all your problems. Nothing will solve all your problems.

I recently attended a 5 day retreat at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido with Thich Nhat Hanh. It was a huge group of people: 850-1,000.

There was a sitting meditation instruction period followed by Q&A, lead by a monk and a nun. I'd guess less than half the people attended! Meditation instruction on a Zen retreat and less than half the people attended!!! Apparently a good chunk of the people were there to see the big famous author/peace activist and not to practice Zen on a retreat.

The instructions were pretty much the same as the ones Brad gives (lotus or 1/2, three points of contact, sit up straight, chin tucked in a little, eyes open looking at the ground/wall a little in front of you, etc), but not as strict about following the instructions exactly. Which I think has the short term advantage of not turning off some newcomers, but the long term disadvantages of potentially screwing up their meditation practice if (1) they never get around to trying to following the instructions and (2) it makes a basically simple set of instructions rather complicated.

I think Brad's approach is better: here are the instructions in 5 minutes or less, do your best. Just my opinion...

In addition to the basic sitting instructions they explained gathas (what Brad referred to as Thich Nhat Hanh-isms). Gathas (Buddhist verses) are one of the 12 forms of practice. The complete list of all 12 is in one of the footnotes to the Uji chapter of Shobogenzo (also in the Sanskrit glossary of Shobogenzo Vol 1). But gathas are extra for sitting practice, the basic practice is pretty much the same for those who chose to actually follow the instructions. There are gathas for everything: brushing your teeth, taking a shit... The point is to remember that you are brushing your teeth or whatever. As Brad would say "you are the Universe and the Universe is you. Right now the Universe is brushing your teeth" or cleaning the toilet. Just don't use the same brush on your teeth that you use on your toilet.

Even with the loose it's-OK-to-sit-in-a-chair instructions, someone still asked "Is it all right if we do the mantra from TM?" I almost lost it and burst out laughing.

Many, many, many people do not want to follow simple meditation instructions no matter how soft (or hard) the presentation. If you want to practice the mantra from TM, go ahead, but why are you asking a Zen monk about it and why are you on a Zen retreat? If you are absolutely sure that the mantra from TM is better than the practice taught on the retreat and you don't want to waste even a few days of your life trying out the practice taught on the retreat, go ahead and silently recite the mantra: no one will know except you. But if you bothered to show up, hey it's only a few days, why not try something new? You can go back to your TM-ing when you get home. Zen monks on a retreat teach the practice of their tradition. This is not mean or nice it is just common sense.

Brad did not invent Soto style zazen. He does have a responsibility to the tradition to teach it accurately to the best of his abilities if he's going to teach zazen. It would be fucked up if he decided to present something else as zazen in the tradition of Dogen. Just my opinion.

I recently had an opportunity to try Kundalini Yoga meditation. It has nothing in common with Zen meditation and I'm not interested in it as a daily practice, but I gave it a shot anyway, because I was there. The Buddha did not smite me and I did not suddenly start believing in an atman.

The big difference in the schedule between the TNH retreat and the Dogen Sangha retreat (I know this because I looked at the DS website) is that the TNH retreat only had one sitting period per day. The rest of the day was dharma talks, prostrations, walking meditation, chanting, songs, work period (I cleaned the men's restroom of the meditation hall) and a small group discussion period. It felt very busy to me. Good dharma talks, good practices like chanting the Heart Sutra and doing prostrations to Bodhisattvas... but not really a lot of sitting meditation.

According to all sources, sitting meditation is what the Buddha did under the Bodhi tree.

Brad is one of the warmest, nicest guys I know and a great Zen teacher. He did contradict me once when I said I thought I was not such an asshole as I used to be. It kind of shocked me at that moment. On another occasion when I told him I thought he would be a bad cult leader, he quickly retorted, "but I am short!" That has nothing to do with anything else on this blog, but I thought it was too funny not to share.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s intention was to revitalize Buddhism in Vietnam. Similar to Nishijima’s critique of the Soto school as a bunch of funeral directors and emphasis on zazen. However the French and Americans bombed the crap out of his country and he realized it was ridiculous to just hang out in the meditation hall while all of this was going down, so he started the School for Youth and Social Service to start rebuilding schools and hospitals, etc. after the Americans bombed them. He refused to take sides so he got kicked out of the county for about 38 years. This is a guy that was sleeping in the zendo one night and a missile flew in the side of the building. His practice is based in experience and reality. But not quite enough zazen for my taste.

John said...

From what I’ve heard when you attend a retreat by this fellow’s hero Mr. Thich Nhat Hahn not only can you not talk to the other participants, apparently you can’t even look them in the eye. I’m not sure it’s TNH who does this actually (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong)

He specifically instructed us to make eye contact and smile. Maybe this is a change in recent years, or maybe your source was wrong. It doesn't sound like his style.

Also, a good chunk of the noble silence was not so silent.

I did talk to a friend on this retreat who did a vipassana retreat previously and had an experience like you're describing. She slipt and fell. No one even looked at her. She had a consulotation with the teacher who asked: "Were you hurt?" She replied, "No."

Mr. Wipe said...

"The experience has more to do with you and you--your incredibly rude behavior to the teacher leading the sesshin. (Which is really your disrespectful behavior to yourself), your walking out of the sesshin (which is really your walking out on yourself)."

Excuse me, but you are talking out of your ass here. I left quietly - with notification - and was called an 'asswipe' as I walked away. Who is trying to control who here? Who is full of unrealistic expectations? You people need to get over yourselves and your silly notions of what is true, right, proper and necessary - cuz most of what you have said about me and my actions is complete bullshit. You weren't there. You didn't see or hear what I saw and heard. You weren't the object of sarcastic comments in the first lecture, and you weren't the beginner who was put down for asking a question about the form and content of zazen practice. Moreover, you weren't the one who was called an asswipe in his blog, so you have absolutely no basis to speak from. It was my experience of Brad, not yours. I have mine, and you have yours, and that's fine. Like all people, Brad is a multifaceted guy who is different things to different people. To me, he is just a self-centered prick - or at least that is how he came off when I first met him. Not wanting to let a simple first impression color my feelings for the guy, I started reading his books and exploring his blog after returning from the retreat in Shizuoka - and poof - the guy is calling me an 'asswipe.' Not only that, he's calling imaginary people in his books 'asswipes,' 'idiots,' 'morons' and 'bungholes.' As an asswipe, I take offense to this language. Brad is not the kind of teacher I want, and I sensed that right away. Later, when I got deeper into his views, I confirmed that. Of course, that's just my perception of him. That perception of him may be severely limited and warped, and I'm most certainly not locked into it, but after meeting him, reading his books and perusing his blog, I have a strong working hypothesis of Brad's character. I don't need to go further. It would most likely just be waste of my time. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I wasn't walking away from myself when I left the retreat, I was walking toward myself, while walking away from someone who clearly disregards myself. And clearly it was the right action.

Mr. Wipe

Mr. Wipe said...

In the words of Shunryu Suzuki, "Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment....In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind. You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism."

Actually, it's not. Would you then say that a paraplegic could not attain the Zen mind? Of course not. Sitting in itself, and the posture of how you sit, is no sure or certain means of attaining the Buddha mind - and Brad himself is a good case in point. It is just one way of looking deeply into the nature of yourself and the universe, and by no means an infallible way at that. You could do the same thing standing on your head, with an equal amount of concentration and dedication. Enough already with the holy consecration of zazen as a posture and practice. There is nothing holy about it. You would do better to record your words and actions and reflect on how crude you present yourself for forty minutes a day. Or so I heard the Buddha say one time while stopping to give a lecture amid the misty mountains of Nagano on his way from Hokkaido to Kyoto.

Mr. Wipe

Smoggyrob said...

"A: Sorry, fuckface." Hmm, I'd put it more like, "A: Sorry, Mr. Face." Considering the circumstances, I think Mr. Wipe and Mr. Face are both cool handles. Come join us W, you're famous now.

If you're not scared or angry at the thought of a human brain being controlled remotely, then it could be this prototype of mine is finally starting to work. -- John Alejandro King, My War On Terror!

Reminder: we're at the HSC most Saturdays, including this morning (Sat 29 Sep) at 0930.

Rob (ooo-ooo-hoo-ah!)

Mr Wipe said...

"Come join us W, you're famous now."

Join who, where, what and what would it entail (or what would you expect of me)? As I've already established, I have high standards when it comes to studying under a teacher of any sort, and tend to want to do things my own way, right away, or hit the highway.

Monsieur Chiffon

Mr. Wipe said...

I Googled this HSC thing you speak of. Which one are you? The motorcycle gang, the soccer team, electronic supply company, the college or the consultant firm?

Mr. Wipe

Lena said...

Mr Wipe, you may want to read Brad's Suicide Girls articles. He wrote about right speech there a few times. If I remember correctly, Brad feels that "right speech" does not equal "right writing". He thinks that written words do not hurt people and that it is all funny, just his style of writing.

I don't understand the dualism in many comments. As if being opposed to name calling means that you are some sort of fake-holy-person. Even when I had not even heard about Buddhism, I still never used harsh words towards people. I just don't see why I would do that. That doesn't mean I speak with a kind, soft, friendly voice all the time. Sometimes I'm angry, sometimes I'm irritated, sometimes I'm tired. But I don't see how that has anything to do with calling someone an asswipe. My entirely non buddhist friends and family don't have the habit of calling names either.

Brad may want to read this article about accepting criticism.

Anonymous said...

Brad Warner is the kindest, bravest,
warmest, most wonderful human being
I've ever known in my life.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I'm a wimp and I've
never gone to HSC, because I was afraid
that I'd say or do something not quite
right and then be called a name on a blog.

Public humiliation sucks.

If you're a Genpo, you deserve it; if
you're an ordinary Joe Schmoe not trying
to pass yourself off as something special,
you don't.

When I sit alone at home, the only one who
calls me names is myself. That I can sort
of handle: "You idiot! Why do you waste
your time staring at a wall? L-O-S-E-R!"

Brad might do better to call people names
in private to their face and to criticize
any questionable behaviors anonymously in
public, unless, of course, they're some
famous Major League Asshole, like Genpo.

dan said...

" Brad is neither enlightened or holy by his own admission - as if we needed it. "

Right but you seem to be implying that there are other Buddhist teachers who are...... there aren't

You seem pretty keen on the dalai lama. so am i but if you want to find out about all the stupid hang ups he has just talk to a New Kedampa Tradition (NKT) follower. the dalai lama is very against them and they have been persecuted in tibet and in north india because of their beliefs. The dalai lama is also against homosexuaity........ I'm just pointing this out to show taht NO teacher is perfect and Brad is just as imperfect as any other.

Anonymous said...

i'm calling troll on mr wipe. he started off making a bit of sense but now he's just doing that troll thing where he ignores all the replies made to his questions and continues to talk bollocks. this is what set off my troll alarm:

"I really want to know, because unlike followers of the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, Brad followers show very few signs of spiritual growth."

Anonymous said...

Those of you who enjoy petty name-calling and the trash-talking of other traditions, Brad's your man. I'm glad you found something that works for you.


PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE TROLL

dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...

"Actually, it's not. Would you then say that a paraplegic could not attain the Zen mind?"

Would you say that a paraplegic could not play in the NBA?

There are plenty of restrictions on disabled people.

If you say that zazen is enlightenment and then define zazen as sitting in a certain position thinking not thinking and you also do not believe in any seperation between mind and body then you are forced to conclude that a person with severe disabilities will not be able to sit zazen and so will not be able to experience 'enlightenment'.

this only sounds controversial because you, mr wipe. still want enlightenment to be a great big kick ass state of mind that is achieved mentally.

But if there is no seperation between body and mind then how can you say that?


"I have high standards when it comes to studying under a teacher of any sort"

I wouldn't advise studying under anybody. It sounds uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Brad, whatever the reason you call people Asswipe is, you should consider that most of the human communication assumes that what you say is what you mean (Asswipe is inslut btw.) If you have to apologize and reiterate what you really mean, this is strong hint that there is communications breakdown somewhere. I am person with black humor and I know irony. But inside humor that goes trough with your friends in Akron is not the way to communicate in the big world.

I think your message suffers from pretentious punk attitude. I doubt that you talk this way when you go to work. It's just that you play LA punk kid without really being one (correct me if I'm wrong). It is role you take when certain situations. Unlike some black kids living in ghetto, you actually know how to communicate if you are not playing games. This is the why you come out as pretentious, rude and dishonest, and they just speak that way. I'm just 19 year old and I come from low income family who lived in rough neighborhood. I know hot to "talk shit", but I try not to. Even with my friends. You are over 40 years hand still call people names, it is not cool.

Mr. Wipe said...

Mr. Wipe said, "Actually, it's not. Would you then say that a paraplegic could not attain the Zen mind?"

Dan said, "Would you say that a paraplegic could not play in the NBA? There are plenty of restrictions on disabled people."

So tell me, Dan, are you saying that paraplegics can't achieve what is called "Zen mind" or "Buddha mind"?

Mr. Wipe

mr. wipe said...

Anonymous said, "i'm calling troll on mr wipe. he started off making a bit of sense but now he's just doing that troll thing where he ignores all the replies made to his questions and continues to talk bollocks. this is what set off my troll alarm:

"I really want to know, because unlike followers of the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh, Brad followers show very few signs of spiritual growth."

Mr. Anonymous, allow me to reply to what you said. I didn't mean by that that I know very many Brad followers. I'm sure there are some great ones. (Although, actually, if they are true Brad followers, then they wouldn't follow him at all.) What I mean is that, judging from how loud-mouthed and judgmental the people who post on this blog have been about my not happily accepting Brad's calling me an asswipe (and clearly that is not everyone), I can only assume that the hardcore Brad enthusiasts are not guided by anything close to what might pass as ordinary, everyday understanding and compassion. In other words, they are off the deep end.

mr. wipe

Anonymous said...

"So tell me, Dan, are you saying that paraplegics can't achieve what is called "Zen mind" or "Buddha mind"?

Mr. W, here is my understanding.. no proper zazen, no dogen sangha soto zen buddhism. that is all.

mr. wipe said...

You are skirting the issue. Let's say a person does not have use of arms or legs - say, like the Dharma. Since proper form in zazen IS enlightenment, according to Suzuki and so many other Soto Zenheads, would that person then not be able to achieve enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it?

mr. wipe

Anonymous said...

It is places like this that make me despair for the internet...

I used to like Brad's writings until I came across the comments section in this blog.

You're all a bunch of asswipes. Take that!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought things were going really well with comments and dialogue....until they weren't...

babbles said...

What I mean is that, judging from how loud-mouthed and judgmental the people who post on this blog have been about my not happily accepting Brad's calling me an asswipe (and clearly that is not everyone), I can only assume that the hardcore Brad enthusiasts are not guided by anything close to what might pass as ordinary, everyday understanding and compassion.

Irony, much?

I have been reading this like tirade somewhat amused. At first, Mr. Wipe, you started off a bit sincere. However it has been downhill from that. Based on what you have written, there seems to be some sort of insecurity where you want to blame everything else around you for *something* and you endlessly go on about this. I first noticed it with your comment about leaving the retreat and texting your friend to inform people that you left; the skirting of taking personal responsibility and holding other people responsible for your actions says a great deal about your personality and mode of thought.

So I guess that is what it gets down to; you want to blame Mr. Warner, Mr. Anonymous, or somebody for whatever happens and that's just now how things work out.

Anonymous said...

Mr. W - the issue is not whether you can or cannot get into the proper sitting position, but whether you make the proper effort sincerely. a person with no use of his arms or legs cannot sit in the proper position, but a a person with no use of his arms or legs can make the proper effort. you CAN sit in the proper position, but you refuse to make the proper effort. sincere effort is the important point, not the results.

That is my understanding.

Anonymous said...

The Second Patriarch Huike cut off his arm
in the snow. (He must've seen too many
Quentin Tarantino movies.) Anyhow, having
just one arm means it was impossible for
him to do zazen. Therefore, any lineage
that traces their Dharma transmission
through Huike is completely fraudulent.

But, um, wait a second...

D'oh!

Anonymous said...

Started following some of mysterion's
"pontification" links.

'Sandoz' and 'Manchurian Candidate' led
to MKULTRA and Frank Olson and...

surprise, surprise

anthrax and Cheney and Rumsfeld!

Ever wonder why the media never mentions
the 2001 anthrax scare any more?
You remember, the one that happened just
before the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act
was speedily enacted into law?

Thanks, mysterion!

John said...

Mr. Wipe said...
In the words of Shunryu Suzuki, "Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment....In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind. You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism."

Actually, it's not. Would you then say that a paraplegic could not attain the Zen mind?


A parapalegic could, as stated above in someone else's post, with right effort, (and probably a lot of zafus) achieve the state of balance that is zazen. If you have arms and legs though, you have to deal with them. Pretending they don't matter is not realistic.

If you are physically healthy and intact, try the posture as taught before coming up with fantastic hypotheticals.

magik said...

mr wipe is gniz. Its quite obvious.

Anonymous said...

One link leads to another.

Amerika, torture and Nazis.

Oops, Godwin again.

--gniz

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

Mr. Wipe is obviously a homo.

dan

Mysterion said...

How to sit.

Principles of Zazen

Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma - Book 11
(Shôbôgenzô zazen gi)

mr. white said...

Babbles wrote, "I have been reading this like tirade somewhat amused. At first, Mr. Wipe, you started off a bit sincere. However it has been downhill from that. Based on what you have written, there seems to be some sort of insecurity where you want to blame everything else around you for *something* and you endlessly go on about this."

I think you got it backwards. Brad is insecure about people walking out of his retreats, so he gripes about how it 'messes up the duty schedule' and calls them 'asswipes' on his blog. I wouldn't even be posting here now if it hadn't come to my attention that he had called me an asswipe. Instead of looking at his own actions as a potential cause for my departure, and instead of simply delegating my 2 or 3 chores (ringing a bell) to a few of the other 20-some people there, he chose to bitch about it like a 13-year-old.

mr. white

Anonymous said...

Many thanks to the person who posted the link to zen habits!

To the rest... carry on... the wheel keeps turning...

Anonymous said...

125

Jinzang said...

Dear Mister White/ Wipe:

People are being killed in Burma (and in Iraq) and you're upset because Brad called you a NAME? Why not try using some of that anger energy in a more constructive way? Go hit a punching bag or lift weights. Anything other than posting more whiny comments on this blog.

Jinzang said...

Let's say a person does not have use of arms or legs - say, like the Dharma. Since proper form in zazen IS enlightenment, according to Suzuki and so many other Soto Zenheads, would that person then not be able to achieve enlightenment, or whatever you want to call it?

Don't be so literal. It's the mind that's important. Proper posture just helps. No one has ever ACHIEVED enlightenment, it's innate.

Jinzang said...

You seem pretty keen on the dalai lama. so am i but if you want to find out about all the stupid hang ups he has just talk to a New Kedampa Tradition (NKT) follower. the dalai lama is very against them and they have been persecuted in tibet and in north india because of their beliefs. The dalai lama is also against homosexuaity........

The NKT is a British group, upset because the Dalai Lama has condemned one of their practices as sectarian and divisive. The Dalai Lama has not persecuted anyone, other than refuse to give them empowerments if they do this practice. There are no NKT in India or Tibet other than tourists. The Dalai Lama's "opposition" to homosexuality is only his refusal to repudiate traditional Buddhist texts. He has never criticized gays and has met with them when asked.

All this stuff is discussed at length on the web. If you're genuinely interested, search for it.

Gregor said...

Puke, this back and forth crap is tiresome.

How's that for right speech?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Otto Kerner said...

Didn't Brad himself write: "Bad manners are not Buddhist. Never were, never can be. You can rack up all the 'Enlightenment Ecperiences' you want, if you cannot behave yourself, you have no Enlightenment at all. To be Enlightened is to behave politely. Being able to act like a decent person is an essential part of being a Buddhist. End of story."

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/07/nasty-bit-of-work.html

Calling people names when they do things you don't like, is that polite?

Otto Kerner said...

Sorry 'bout that. Here's the link.

Mike Doe said...

Brad:

You and Mike Cross should go on the comedy circuit.

You keep saying that this Faux Anger you express is funny but it looks more like the real thing to me.

AFAIC from your posts and thoes of Mr A Wipe his biggest crime was he did something that you didn't want - he walked. This then caused the week to be different to how you and others wanted it to be.

The guy is an adult. He can do what he wants. You're an adult too!

Someone doesn't do what you want. Ged over it...

I've personally met a FEW teachers who are not smug and arrogant. For that I am ever thankful.

Jared said...

"Didn't Brad himself write: "Bad manners are not Buddhist. Never were, never can be. You can rack up all the 'Enlightenment Ecperiences' you want, if you cannot behave yourself, you have no Enlightenment at all. To be Enlightened is to behave politely. Being able to act like a decent person is an essential part of being a Buddhist. End of story."

Like I mentioned earlier, I really think that all of this blown-out-of-porportion drama stems from the fact that Brad and Mr. Wipe both view the other as not having practiced right action. I doubt anyone here other than Mr. W was actually at the retreat, and no one but Brad and Mr. W directly experienced the situation. What's the point in any of us attacking Brad or Mr. W for their actions, which we do not know, in a situation we were not present for?

LAMEZORZZZZZZZZZZZ

-Jared

jundo cohen said...

Hello,

Since Rev. Brad's use of a given harsh word can reflect on other teachers in our Lineage, of which I am one, I am going to comment on this issue ... It is just my view ...

First, in my view, Brad could not be more correct in making the following comments ...

If you attend a Dogen Sangha Zazen retreat it means you are agreeing to spend the time doing Dogen Sangha style Zen under a Dogen Sangha teacher’s instructions. This is the same with any retreat. If I go to an Ashtanga Yoga retreat, I expect to do Ashtanga Yoga and I can’t complain that it’s not Iyengar Yoga. I guarantee you that every decent Zen teacher believes that his or her conception of Zazen is the only one that matters. In fact I’d even say that if you find a teacher who does not appear to believe that you should stay away from that person. That’s one of the clearest telltale signs of a teacher who’s no good and will probably rip you off.

Also, while everyone must be free to leave a Retreat at any time, a person's doing so secretly has effects on others in the group ...

This created some problems for us later on because we began finding certain jobs left not done as they'd been assigned to him. So if you're going to leave a retreat, leave. But tell someone you're leaving.

Brad is so right, I think, in saying the above. But what about calling the person an insulting name?

In my view, 'Right Speech' is speech that the speaker, in his or her heart, sincerely believes to be not harmful, and hopefully helpful, to its hearers. Harsh speech may be spoken merely out of anger, and may trigger additional anger in the recipient. It may be spoken only for dramatic effect or shock value or as a weapon. The result may only increase misunderstanding, as well as increase hurt, tension and dispute in this world. Those aspects would seem to overstep the realm of 'Right Speech'.

But if a teacher sincerely speaks words believing that doing so will be helpful to the hearer (for example, as a bucket of cold water over the head or a slap of the face for someone in need of a bit of a shock) in order to bring about some helpful result, then it is fully in keeping in the Precepts. The speaker should yet be cautious, however, as the words can also have harmful effects, such as creating increased hurt, tension and dispute in this world. So, such conduct may have both helpful and harmful ramifications, and thus may be more 'Wrong' than 'Right Speech.'

Only the speaker can know in his or her heart the true intention behind words, and the effects that are intended by that speaker in saying them.

Again, I speak only for myself as actions such as this can be misunderstood and will reflect on others in our Lineage.

Gassho, Jundo Cohen

ferris said...

The Asswipes say, "If you're all Zen and shit, you should be able to tolerate my bullshit!"

Seems like you get that a lot.

Anonymous said...

"My intention was more to make the point that running away from a Zen retreat without notice is not proper behavior."

LOL. And calling your students names IS proper behavior?

I have much more respect for the person who decided to leave your retreat quietly when he realised it was not the right environment for him. I have little respect for the Zen 'master' who uses his public forum to abuse his students.

So Brad, take a long hard look in the mirror and repeat the word "asswipe" 100 times.

Anonymous said...

Mr 'Wipe', and others here who may be looking for a buddhist teaching that is in the spirit of the Buddha's teaching without trying to slavishly ape the traditions of the past, my well find Noah Levine to be worth reading.

His two books chronicle his life as a punk, his abuse of alcohol and drugs, his time in and out of jail, and his struggles to get clean (Dharma Punx). His second book is more of a 'how-to' guide to the teachings and practice of the buddha (Against The Stream).

Whilst I do not agree with everything he writes, I did find him to be open and honest about his struggles with craving and the ups-and-downs of the buddhist 'path'.

http://www.dharmapunx.com/index.asp

A few years ago Brad had some useful things to say. Since he has become something of a cult figure in the small pond that is yankee zen, and gained a group of followers, sadly his ego seems to be increasingly getting the upper hand. I doubt he would have the courage to call someone an "asswipe" to their face.

mysterion said...

Are all the 'mr wipe' that post here the same?
I don't think so. It is easy enough to fake :)

(a fake mysterion)

Anonymous said...

Master Brad and an Enlightened Monk were walking along a road, discussing retreats.

MB - I had this guy walk out of the retreat, and he DIDN'T say a word to anyone...dude just LEFT!

EM - Oh yes, that happened to me once.

MB - Yeah, and there was nobody to RING THE BELL! But I got him back, oh yeah. I called him an ASSWIPE on my blog.

EM - I noted a moment of anger when I realised the person had left my retreat without telling anyone, and the bell was not being rung... so I rang the bell myself.

Yueheng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yueheng said...

May all beings be free from harm and danger.

May they be free from mental suffering.

May they be free from physical suffering.

May they take care of themselves happily.

Fluffy said...

As a member of the much-talked-about-Asswipe retreat, I must say that things are getting blown WAY out of proportion by everyone involved.
1) The retreat was incredibly casual. I was actually surprised when Brad said, "Don't put your feet on the edge of the sitting tatami because the monks used to eat here." I did a retreat not three months ago where I took all of my meals on said edge... in full lotus.... with no exceptions.

2) "Asswipe," who I will refrain from calling "Asswipe" - from now on he's Freddy - seems like a totally cool, down to earth individual. When he left, yes, I thought maybe he should have told someone that he was going home, but he did pull his weight and try his best while at the retreat. His questions that he put to Brad were totally valid for a beginner.

3) Brad's responses to his quesitons were very straight forward, not insensitive. Anything Brad said that made him sound like Mr.-Know-It-All-Prick-In-Robes was said with a sarcastic tone and was in no way preached from a high horse.

In short, the retreat was cool, the zazen was productive, Brad was only slightly a hardass (but for good reason), and Freddy is a cool dude who tried his best but made one tiny mistake by not telling Brad he was leaving. I think this issue is just snowballing. At the time, what was said and done did not come with dire consequences for those involved like the posts and comments on this blog suggest. I think we should just recognize this as a learning experience and move on. I'm getting geared up for next year!

Anonymous said...

144

Mr. Wipe said...

Jundo Cohen wrote, "But if a teacher sincerely speaks words believing that doing so will be helpful to the hearer (for example, as a bucket of cold water over the head or a slap of the face for someone in need of a bit of a shock) in order to bring about some helpful result, then it is fully in keeping in the Precepts. The speaker should yet be cautious, however, as the words can also have harmful effects, such as creating increased hurt, tension and dispute in this world. So, such conduct may have both helpful and harmful ramifications, and thus may be more 'Wrong' than 'Right Speech.'"

So I could slap you in the face and, as long as the motives in my heart were pure, it would be fine? That sounds like what a Zen Master might call delusion, and what brad might call asinine - or perhaps buttwipage.

Mr. Wipe

mr wipe said...

Mysterion said... "Oh well, Mr. Wipe, may the force be with you. Take only photographs, leave only footsteps."

Wouldn't it footprints?

Les Wipe

Anonymous said...

Dear Jundo Cohen

It is a nicely imagined narrative regarding 'right speech' ... however there might be such things as self-deception and self-delusion


About other issues - and not addressed to JC in particuar ...

"My intention was more to make the point that running away from a Zen retreat without notice is not proper behavior."

What is proper? what is improper? Is it always relative to an identity (rock, person, group)?
Is the Dharma objective - and Brad got the right kind of objectivity to determine was is proper and improper? What was the Dharma and the meaning of "Vow to free all sentient beings" at the time of the Dinosaurs?



Did Brad imagine that Mr. Wipe wanted to screw him or the retreat by leaving without notice? (S)he did what (s)he thought was best at the time - as Brad did when he posted his wipe ass commentary ... in both cases it did not turn as expected I guess ...

I have a question: I have been to many retreats. How long does it freaking take to realize that someone is gone, improvise and reorganize the schedule? I have seen it happen (someone leaving without notice) and being taking care - without ever becoming an overblowed joke ...

What about Zen as the practice of ten thousand mistakes ...

Gerry Gomez said...

I have done Zen retreats (only day long) in the Diamond Sangha tradition. There is a brief instruction at the beginning regarding meals, bathrooms, chores, etc. And it is noted that if you have to leave, you advise one of the "officers". Then, total silence and no eye contact.

I have heard zazen described as "being locked in a phone booth with a total lunatic". Yes, sometimes it seems that running away might be the only option, but the lunatic always follows.

Gerry

jundo cohen said...

Mr. W. wrote ...

So I could slap you in the face and, as long as the motives in my heart were pure, it would be fine? That sounds like what a Zen Master might call delusion, and what brad might call asinine - or perhaps buttwipage.

A good kick or slap in the face is a Zen 'classic', and is in keeping with the Precepts if used for teaching. For example, these old stories of Master Rinzai (who was a little physical):

A monk asked: "What is the essence of Buddhism?"

Master Rinzai raised his fly-whisk.

The monk gave a Katsu shout.

The Master hit him.

*

Again, a monk asked: "What is the essence of Buddhism?"

The Master raised his fly-whisk again.

The monk gave a Katsu.

The master also gave a Katsu.

The monk hesitated.

The Master hit him.

*

The master asked a monk: "Where do you come from?"

The monk gave a Katsu.

The Master folded his arms and told him to sit down.
The monk hesitated – then the Master hit him.


Gassho, Jundo

mr. wipe said...

Gary said, "I have heard zazen described as "being locked in a phone booth with a total lunatic". Yes, sometimes it seems that running away might be the only option, but the lunatic always follows."

My zazen sessions were all productive, positive experiences - despite the sore knees. No lunatics, just deep concentration and unusual focus. In fact, every session was quite different. In one, at five in the morning, I had dialog with a spider. In another, I achieved the kind of no-thought I believe most Zen masters speak of. In another one, I delved deep into the nature of my mind, analyzing how I thought. In yet another, I followed bird song out into nature, and let my mind explore her wonders. As I have already said, Zazen was not the reason I left. In fact, Zazan and thoughts of leaving my friend behind, were the only things that kept me from leaving sooner.

Mr. Wipe

Anonymous said...

dear mr. wipe, why you did not inform any of the retreat organizers that you were leaving?

dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...

jinzang,

"The NKT is a British group, upset because the Dalai Lama has condemned one of their practices as sectarian and divisive. The Dalai Lama has not persecuted anyone, other than refuse to give them empowerments if they do this practice. There are no NKT in India or Tibet other than tourists. The Dalai Lama's "opposition" to homosexuality is only his refusal to repudiate traditional Buddhist texts. He has never criticized gays and has met with them when asked."


The fact that there are officially no NKT in india was kind of my point jinzang. The main dude fled to England because he was being persecuted. My friend is a member of NKT and when he went to North India he met a lot of tibetans who were still secretly practsing Dorje Shugden worship. They were doing it secretly because they were scared of getting attacked by the dalai lama's followers. Obviously the dalai lama has never personally condoned attacking shugden worshippers but it has happened in his name and i believe that it was a mistake for him to come out and try to ban shugden worship. I was just using it as an example of a supposedly 'perfect' teacher making mistakes.

Same with the gay thing. I think it is a mistake for him to refuse to say that some buddisht texts written huindreds of years ago are full of shit for criticizing homosexuality.
on a side note, it's nice to be discussing something with you other than the H word after all this time!


"Are all the 'mr wipe' that post here the same?
I don't think so. It is easy enough to fake :)

(a fake mysterion)"

Probably not. All the 'dan' posts aren't by the same dan ( i didn't call mr wipe a homo for instance). I don't really mind though. i think it's kind of cool that there are loads of people posting as others.


"I have heard zazen described as "being locked in a phone booth with a total lunatic". Yes, sometimes it seems that running away might be the only option, but the lunatic always follows."

lol. That's the best description of what zazen is ever. That's the explanatino I'm gonna give next time someone asks me what zazen is.

Te said...

God damnit Mr Wipe, (I'd call you by your real name but I don't know it.) can't you just leave it? I know he pissed you off and that you might feel like you look really stupid, but who gives a shit? Most of these people, or maybe all of them apart from Brad himself, don't even know you, so why does it matter?

It just looks to me like you can't stop posting back here because you can't let the fact that Brad called you an asswipe go.

Let it GO!

In the long run it just does not matter.

You obviously don't chime with the way he teaches, so go and find someone else who fits better.

I hope things work out for you, that you find someone you fit with a lot more, and that things go well for you!

Gerry Gomez said...

Mr. Wipe:

I did not mean to imply you were a lunatic. Glad your sitting was so positive, although the statement that Brad is a "self-centered, know-it-all prick in robes" makes me wonder about that. Sounds to me like you were sitting with a lot of anger. That's ok too. Regardless of your experience, basic courtesy would have been to tell someone you were leaving.

Gerry (not Gary--was that a typo or a lack of courtesy)

Anonymous said...

Brad has said on a couple of occasions that he writes the way he does (using terms such as asswipe) because it is funny (to him).
What I recall from reading his books, the comments are made to/about anonymous, amorphous entities and in scope are generalizations--"people, it doesn't fly"-- type of statements.
But in this instance something different happened:
the anonymous became identifiable--or self selected himself to be identifiable--(not that any of us knows who he is but he knows who he is)--as mr. wipe.
He walked out, true dat, but he came back, and he's been ringing more than the zendo bell, too!
************************
If Brad ever gets around to Jukai ceremony for those of us who sit with him--we've talked about the names we could end up getting from him--dipshit, shithead, snotrag, limpdick, dishrag, floormop--but I'd prefer one of those to 'moon lotus, heart mountain, truth mirror, etc.

Think about it--during samu someone says 'Hey, Dipshit, help me lift this rug! vs. 'Hey, Truth Mirror, get the door for me!

Wasn't it TNH who wrote a book, or was it an article 'Call me by my true names?' If memory serves me--it was about realizing that there is no human we aren't.

Gosh, it's been one of the most interesting, chock full of great comments blogs I've seen here in a loooong time.

It's reminding me a little of the two monks, the older of whom helped a young woman across a stream, carrying her on his back across. Miles later the younger monk brings it up (I guess he's really pissed at himself for not thinking of offering the lass his own back first!). The older one says--
"what? you're still carrying her? I set her down hours ago!"
For everyone else who was there, the four day sesshin has been over a week ago already!

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

mysterion,

Unfortunately, I cannot claim credit for the fake mysterion post. I don't know how to do that but thanks anyway!

Mysterion said...

Dan:

Oh... some of the fake Mysterion code appeared to be inside your code when I did the:
View - Page Source.

My error. Sorry.

Saburo and I just finished lunch. Nachi salad and steamed rice. Next - coffee!

Chas

esmerelda_verde said...

This is definitely one of the best discussions in a long time! Thanks Mr AW(or some of the AWs) for inspiring it. After reading everything I went back to the 'your life is not your own' article on SG because I realized its the same theme as Brads 2 AW posts. What we do affects everyone else whether we realize it or not. Whether its being high in public or leaving a retreat with out proper notification. The drunk and/or high guy and Mr AW affect a community they were not aware they were part of. But they were part of it none the less.

Ethan Nichtern's book 'One City' is more less about this as well and his efforts to do something. More Idealist than Zen.

PS my current teacher is way more cranky, opinionated, self centered, intolerant etc than Brad could ever be. That's what I like about him, it forces me to try to do things properly.

Mr. Wipe said...

Te wrote, "God damnit Mr Wipe, (I'd call you by your real name but I don't know it.) can't you just leave it? I know he pissed you off and that you might feel like you look really stupid, but who gives a shit? Most of these people, or maybe all of them apart from Brad himself, don't even know you, so why does it matter?"

You should really ask yourself why you are so adamant that I leave the conversation in which many people are still asking questions. Look, this is not about 'letting go.' The original issue is no longer relevant. It's been settled. I should have told an organizer that I was leaving (although clearly one has ever right to leave however he or she chooses, within reason) and Brad should not have called me an asswipe. Settled.

But people keep asking me questions, such as my motives for leaving, why I left without saying anything, what is or is not proper zazen practice, etc. The conversation has gone beyond the original gripe, and if you can't handle that, then perhaps you should be the one to practice a little letting go. Maybe stop reading the page. Maybe do some zazen. I don't know.

Anyway, to answer Mr. Anonymous's questions ("Dear Mr. Wipe, why you did not inform any of the retreat organizers that you were leaving?"): I didn't want to cause a ruckus. It was a small retreat, and I left a friend behind, so they should have known I was gone immediately after I had left. Moreover, I sent my friend an email saying that I had left just to make sure there were no questions about it. As far as I know, they were able to delegate my whopping three chores to other members without too much mental straining. Brad just felt like complaining in a very outspoken, rude manner. Go figure. He's a drama mama.

Sincerely,

Mr. Wipe

PS: All the posts by Mr. Wipe thus far have been mine. That could change anytime, of course.

Matt said...

John Gabriel's Internet Discussion Theory:

Rational Person
+
Anonymity
+
Audience
=
Total Dickwad

Mr. Wipe said...

Esmerelda said, "My current teacher is way more cranky, opinionated, self centered, intolerant etc than Brad could ever be. That's what I like about him, it forces me to try to do things properly."

So many questions here.

A) Does your teacher need to be a 'cranky, opinionated, self-cenerted, intolerant' person to be an effective teacher?

B) Doesn't the fact that you must be 'forced' to do Zazen properly throw up any red flags in your field of consciousness?

C) Who do so-called Zen masters often appear (is it just appearance, or does the job 'Zen Master' attract a certain kind of person) megalomaniacal?

Mr. Wipe

Mr. Wipe said...

Matt said, "Total Dickwad"

I assume that was directed at me. Anyway, if conversing in an honest, straight-forward manner is grounds for being called a 'dickwad' (clearly, you are a Brad fan), then I guess I guilty of being one.

Mr. Wipe

dan said...

"Doesn't the fact that you must be 'forced' to do Zazen properly throw up any red flags in your field of consciousness? "

i think she meant she forces herself rather than is literally forced.
In any other sport a teacher making you do it right would be uncontroversial but for some reason people always pissy at zazen teachers telling them there's a right way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wipe, I think you are going to be very jaded by many of the groups, philosophies, and doctrines you encounter in Buddhism. Hopefully these experiences will not deter you from Buddhism as much as Brad's comments seem to have deterred you from his group.

Te said...

mr wipe said :

"You should really ask yourself why you are so adamant that I leave the conversation in which many people are still asking questions. Look, this is not about 'letting go.' The original issue is no longer relevant. It's been settled. I should have told an organizer that I was leaving (although clearly one has ever right to leave however he or she chooses, within reason) and Brad should not have called me an asswipe. Settled.

But people keep asking me questions, such as my motives for leaving, why I left without saying anything, what is or is not proper zazen practice, etc. The conversation has gone beyond the original gripe, and if you can't handle that, then perhaps you should be the one to practice a little letting go. Maybe stop reading the page. Maybe do some zazen. I don't know."


hah, ok. I just skimmed through these comments (which took ages to even skim through.) and thought you seemed a bit overly stressed, that's all. As for not being handle where the conversation has gone....well it's a page on the internet, I'm sure I'll be ok. ;D

Anonymous said...

"A few years ago Brad had some useful things to say. Since he has become something of a cult figure in the small pond that is yankee zen, and gained a group of followers, sadly his ego seems to be increasingly getting the upper hand."

So, someone else has noticed this too. I agree. It's a shame. There was and is so much potential there.
In studying zen for several decades I've had 2 teachers and known 2 more before they became teachers. I wouldn't describe any of them as being opinionated, self-centered pricks, or anything remotely similar. Nor do I recall them calling anyone names. I hope Brad can rediscover his original beginners mind.

Anonymous said...

"In studying zen for several decades I've had 2 teachers and known 2 more before they became teachers. I wouldn't describe any of them as being opinionated, self-centered pricks, or anything remotely similar. Nor do I recall them calling anyone names. I hope Brad can rediscover his original beginners mind."

I think that's precisely the problem: Brad still has his original mind, the mind he began with, and not the mind of a beginner.

Mysterion said...

Well, Mr. Wipe is of one perception and the Ven. Brad is of another.

But none are as off the mark as Mr. Gilbert and Sir Sullivan.

The executioner would most certainly NOT be a 'high lord' nor would he be named Ko-Ko.

Then Prince Cohen steps in to loosen a leg on the throne of King Brad. ROFLMAO

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

The fact that there are officially no NKT in india was kind of my point jinzang. The main dude fled to England because he was being persecuted.

This is completely false. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the "main dude" of NKT, was invited to England to teach for the FPMT, the largest Gelugpa organization in the West. He decided to set up shop for himself and started his own group, the NKT. "New Kadampa" is an alternate name for the Gelugpa. All this is easily verifiable via Wikipedia.

You have a bad habit of making false statements about people and things you don't like. There's a not so nice word for this: slander.

i believe that it was a mistake for him to come out and try to ban shugden worship.

You're entitled to your own opinion. But since it seems uninformed by any knowledge of the issue, one might question its worth.

I think it is a mistake for him to refuse to say that some buddisht texts written huindreds of years ago are full of shit for criticizing homosexuality.

The texts don't criticize homosexuality, they say that oral and anal sex are immoral. It would be impossible for a classical Buddhist text to criticize homosexuality because homosexuality is a social construct. Different cultures think about same sex attraction and union in different ways.

droptheworld said...

Brad, do you still believe drugs are bad on the premise that if they were so good and enlightening, why can't one drive while on drugs?

Seems like you're the asswipe enjoying his otaku days in a lifeless uninspiring Japan.

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

Brad said, "Drugs are bad because you can't drive on drugs."

Well, you can't drive reading a book either, but that doesn't make books bad.

You are really taking this I'm-a-Zen-master thing too far. You are not a Zen master, no matter what robes you wear or what certifications you hold. You are just some straight edge geek with a horrible poverty of experience who likes brag about some shitty band you were in over 20 years ago. Pathetic.

::rolly eyes::

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

"ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, it is always perfectly acceptable to leave a Zen retreat at any time for any reason. But when doing so you need to tell one of the organizers directly. This goes across the board for all retreats in all traditions."

of course this was made clear to Mr. Wipe and all before he buggered off right?

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, it is always perfectly acceptable to leave a Zen retreat at any time for any reason. But when doing so you need to tell one of the organizers directly...."

"of course this was made clear to Mr. W before he buggered off, right?"

Excellent point! If not, here is a lesson for all to learn.

THIS is worth modifying to your own sect and retreat practices.

(But never assume that everyone reads it.)

babbles said...

"ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, it is always perfectly acceptable to leave a Zen retreat at any time for any reason. But when doing so you need to tell one of the organizers directly. This goes across the board for all retreats in all traditions."

of course this was made clear to Mr. Wipe and all before he buggered off right?


Seems like it should be common sense and courtesy to inform somebody if you bail out on an activity to which you previously agreed.

To justify leaving by citing that perhaps they were ill-informed seems like yet more of the blame-somebody-else-for-your-problems mentality.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd like to see this blog go to 200+ posted comments.
I'll do my best to get us there safely.
However, I would like those who continue, to join me in adhering to several parameters:
brief
funny and/or witty
civil
helpful (I'm not sure myself what I mean by this).
Thank goodness we can always count on mysterion for a good time.....

Anonymous said...

I meant to say I would join in getting us all there safely--
I mean, this blog is being steered by each of us.

Anonymous said...

"Personally, I'd like to see this blog go to 200+ posted comments."

who gives a flying flip if the post gets 200 or 20 comments.. what does that have to do with monks being murdered in burma?

Mr. Wipe said...

Whoever wrote, "To justify leaving by citing that perhaps they were ill-informed seems like yet more of the blame-somebody-else-for-your-problems mentality."

I didn't. Can't you read? I left silently to avoid making a ruckus, and it should have been obvious. We all slept in the same room, and my stuff was gone. I left a friend behind who would have noticed this. I even wrote him saying I had left. This is a really a no-brainer. If I made Brad feel stress for the two minutes it took him to adjust the duty roster, I apologize, but that is hardly enough to call someone an asswipe. In fact, if that was the only problem he had that day, he's really got nothing to complain about. I felt it would best not to disturb the group. That's why I left the way I did. In other words, I was thinking of the group. You people really need to cool your jets.

Mr. Wipe

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

This is how it's been for me in the local LA sangha. We usually sit zazen for 30 minutes, walk kinhin for 10, and sit another 30 minutes. Then we have a snack and listen to a dharma talk by Brad (or sometimes by Kevin Bortolin). When a teacher can't be there, a student will host the class, with extra zazen and kinhin replacing the lecture. Once a month we do a more intensive "one-day retreat" with more zazen and an oryoki lunch.

Brad is a quiet, funny, direct, compassionate and wise guy (both meanings). His dharma talks range from prepared topics to "I don't know what to talk about" riffs. Sometimes we hear about an upcoming Suicide Girls topic. Students, both regulars and first-timers, engage in a lively give and take. I have great confidence in Brad as a teacher.

Our local sangha is a warm, supportive, energetic environment, and in my experience a great aid to practice. The members of the sangha, all bright, fun, and wise people, support each others practice and even socialize together away from the cushion. We usually get something to eat after zazen and may go on some group activity. Sometimes we hang out together till quite late. Props to my sangha.

Yes Brad's writing is caustic. But that is part of his schtick. Most people reading this wouldn't be here if not for that schtick. Brad is expressing the teachings of the Nishijima lineage of Soto Zen Buddhism to the world in a personal style that is sure to please some and anger others, and this will happen again and again. The line to bite Brad forms to the left, the line to sit with him to the right.

Rob

Anonymous said...

Rob wrote, "Yes Brad's writing is caustic. But that is part of his schtick."

So his Buddhism is a sort of fashion or style, then? Neat.

Anonymous said...

Every teacher has a certain style quite quite their own.

Ah, teachers--can't sit with 'em, can't sit without 'em.

Yudo said...

Jinzang wrote:

"I think it is a mistake for him to refuse to say that some buddisht texts written huindreds of years ago are full of shit for criticizing homosexuality.

The texts don't criticize homosexuality, they say that oral and anal sex are immoral. It would be impossible for a classical Buddhist text to criticize homosexuality because homosexuality is a social construct. Different cultures think about same sex attraction and union in different ways."

And then the said texts talk about sexual behaviour between MONKS, in a monastery, because some of them might have been inclined to think that it was only sex with women that they had agreed to renounce.

Mr. Wipe said...

"Ah, teachers--can't sit with 'em, can't sit without 'em."

You most certainly can, and that's what I plan to do. I read in Brad's new book that you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE A TEACHER OR ELSE YOU MIGHT THINK YOU ARE ENLIGHTENED AND END UP GASSING PEOPLE IN THE TOKYO UNDERGROUNS, but I just don't buy it. Like anything else, with the proper know-how, D.I.Y.S. Buddhism would work just - and would be a lot cheaper. In fact, contrary to what Brad said, some of the most whacked out religious fanatics not only have a teacher but have turned him into a Messiah. In other words, they are unable to interpret things for themselves.

Mr. Wipe

Anonymous said...

"I guarantee you that every decent Zen teacher believes that his or her conception of Zazen is the only one that matters. In fact I’d even say that if you find a teacher who does not appear to believe that you should stay away from that person."

I do know VERY accepted and renowned teachers who despite their alledged arrogance would not agree to a statement like yours.
It's funny, this attitude is exactly what I don't like with your teaching, and I know it's neither neccesary not helpful for pratice (which btw, is not only Zazen but a lot more). For my practice I focussed on tolerance and a liberal attitude.

Somewhere else I read that the dialogue between religions would require that each religion should think that it is the best.

I do not think that my teacher is the best. I do not know how others are. And even then it's hypothetical to think about that.

For me, faith is not ignorance about other ways and approaches.

In some way, yes, it's the "best" because it's what I am doing. Classic Zen is fine for some people, but there are people doing fine with syncretic approach. Who am I to criticize them as "spiritual tourists"?

Anyway, while I never broke any rules by purpose at any Zen retreat I find this patriach style discipline shit at least distracting. I still attend, I don't think about it a lot, but if I do - my opinion never changed. General friendliness and not letting people do my work is not my style, for sure.

Looks like a departure. Out of here, Brad.

I wish you the best or even more. Bye bye!

--IceBucket

P.S.:
"You are just some straight edge geek with a horrible poverty of experience who likes brag about some shitty band you were in over 20 years ago."

:-)

I must admit - that was my impression before I read Brad's first book...

Anonymous said...

"The texts don't criticize homosexuality, they say that oral and anal sex are immoral."

Oh, that's indeed something we can accept, right? Stop defending history with supidity.

I state that commenting on blogs is immoral, doesn't mean that blogs in general are bad.

dan said...

jinzang,

read this

Jinzang said...

Oh, that's indeed something we can accept, right? Stop defending history with supidity.

I'm not defending, only clarifying. Go ahead and have all the oral and anal sex you want. Won't bother me a bit.

Anonymous said...

But you were right about Geshe not fleeing from Tibet. I misremembered. APolgies for that.

dan

Jinzang said...

read this

So what?

Anonymous said...

So what? Well I thought it would add weight to my claim that it was a mistake for DL to start dissing Shugden worship. But 'so what's' fine as well. You have got me in the mood nowto dig up a previous argument where you told me I was wrong.....
while I was not 100% correct that double blind testing was first used to debunk homeopathy, it was one of the first ever uses of double blind testing. In your face Jinz!


Finally found the source

dan

mr. wipe said...

Mr. Wipe said, "You just some straight edge geek with a horrible poverty of experience who likes brag about some shitty band you were in over 20 years ago."

Icebucket wrote, "I must admit - that was my impression before I read Brad's first book..."

That was my impression AFTER reading his first book, and was confirmed upon reading his new book - which contains even more "look at me, I was in a hardcore ban" type horn tooting.

Mr. Wipe

Jinzang said...

In your face Jinz!

Get a life.

Anonymous said...

198

Anonymous said...

Sheesh calm down I was joking. Jinz baiting is my new hobbie!

dan

Anonymous said...

200!

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