Monday, December 10, 2007

ST. ANGER

I discarded the following as my new Suicide Girls piece for this week. But I thought it was sort of OK. So here it is for all y'all.

But before that, here's yet another song. This one was directly inspired by Dogen and is the climactic finale to my rock opera Hovercraft. It's called:

The Weight of Things

The intro is incredibly long. And if you listen close you'll notice that almost all of the instruments present in the intro drop out before the vocal starts and are replaced by other instruments. Since I only had 8 tracks to work with, I had to accomplish this by writing a section that allowed enough time to drop one instrument and grab another.

Anyway, here's what I wrote:

Some people just don’t get it. But that’s OK. Some people just aren’t ever gonna get it. And you have to accept that.

A certain segment of the audience that reads what I write assumes I’m just a seething bowl of anger. I’m really not. But I guess I can understand why people think I am. They see a sentence like “Genpo Roshi is a useless piece of shit and his Big Mind® process is a scam,” to take a recent example, and they think, “Gosh. The only time I would call someone a useless piece of shit and say his life’s work was a scam would be if I was totally enraged.” So they read their own emotional state into what I say and make assumptions accordingly.

This doesn’t just happen with me or the stuff I write, of course. It happens all the time, to all kinds of people who write or say all kinds of things. I probably get a bit more shit from it than some people because I’m writing in an idiom where you’re expected to project a bunch of phony baloney “inner peace” all the time. I just can’t play act that well, though. I’ll leave the play acting to guys like Genpo.

The question of whether I’m an angry guy or not is entirely irrelevant. But the matter of human communication is an incredibly important issue.

We human beings have developed language to a higher degree of precision than any other creature we know about. We are so good at communicating our ideas to each other that we can do all kinds of really amazing things like put people on the moon, cure gonorrhea, or build computers so that we can look at each other’s unbelievably cute kitty cats.

Because we’re so good at conveying certain things to each other, we tend to assume that everything we say is received exactly as intended by the people we say it to, and that conversely, whatever we think someone is saying is what they're actually trying to convey. Of course, if you ask anybody they’ll always tell you they know that’s not true. But check yourself some time and you’ll see that, in spite of knowing full well how things can get misinterpreted, you still tend to assume most folks you talk to know what it is you’re trying to say. And when you read or hear something you assume you get it. When that doesn't happen we’re pretty quick to blame the other guy.

When people don’t get what I say I’ve found it’s always more useful to assume I’ve communicated badly. I’ll even pretend that’s the case when I know perfectly well the asshole I’m talking to just wasn’t putting in the least bit of effort to try and understand me. It’s a good tactic to put assholes like that off guard and diffuse a situation that might get tense otherwise.

Part of the way in which we communicate is by making assumptions regarding people’s moods. And that’s OK. But it’s just as vital not to necessarily believe our own assumptions. It’s also not important to insist that people communicate in the way we believe they ought to communicate.

This is especially true in the current age of open communications. We’re already dealing with a deafening cacophony of voices spreading malicious misinformation, trying to incite anger, attempting to humiliate or intimidate and all kinds of other such stuff. It’s only gonna get worse. We need to find a way to deal with this stuff.

In my line of work I’m often told that I have a responsibility to express myself in ways that are incapable of misinterpretation, lest I lead others astray. But there’s nothing you can say and no way you can say it without someone misinterpreting you. That’s just how human communication works. Shit, Hitler thought Buddha’s message was, “Kill all the Jews.” No matter what you say, someone out there will take it wrong. That doesn’t mean you have to stop saying stuff.

Of course we are all responsible for what we say and we need to be careful. It’s important not to say things with the deliberate intention of inspiring anger, hatred, humiliation and all the rest. But even if you do take care not to do such things deliberately there’s no way in heck you’re ever going to be able to censor yourself so perfectly that absolutely nothing you say can ever be taken any of those ways. There’s really no point in trying to do so.

I take a lot of shit from people who believe that any kind of Buddhist teacher must express himself in the standard issue calming, soothing, stilling manner they’ve come to expect from guys who play Buddhist teachers on TV shows or scam artists who make money imitating that style while claiming to be the real deal. I just can't do it, though. I've tried a couple times in my life and it was awful.

Those of you assume I'm angry at Genpo -- or whoever you assume I'm angry at -- will assume whatever you want to assume. It's not my problem. If some of you would rather have me project an image that has folks assuming I'm all blissed out and sweet all the time, well, I'm sorry. But I won't. I've seen too much damage caused by that shit already. I refuse to contribute.

But more important than what I do or don't do is what you do. It's how you react to what you read that matters most. And not just to what you read from me, it's how you react to whatever you read. You are responsible. We all are. The Internets have created a world where everyone can broadcast whatever message they want very loudly. How do you respond to all that noise? Are you an information junkie, flitting from one blog to the next, wallowing in the muddy beauty of your own indignation or feelings of affirmation? Is that a healthy way to live?

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

zero

Kevin said...

Great post, Brad. This is a concept we discussed as part of my university coursework (I am a communication major). I find often that people respond to what is said on this blog or on suicide girls or even on other buddhist message boards in a way that says "I've got it figured out and you obviously don't, so let me help you." Usually, however , people end up arguing about semantics and about what a "true buddhist" should say and do. The funny thing is that buddhism, and zen in particular, at least in my experience, is not about semantics. It is above words, yet we still continue to argue "for the sake of the religion", as if it is our duty to make sure that only the correct form of Buddhism gets passed on. In my opinion there is no correct form, since there are so many schools to begin with, and ultimately it is up to each individual to understand it for themselves. We all struggle to conceptualize the teachings when ultimately the truth lies beyond conceptualizaton. When arguing about ethics and what should or should not be said, it becomes about personal opinion, since it is not the job of "zen" to guide our ethics. Zen is there for us to wake up.

Jordan said...

Brad,
Thanks again for teaching.

Jared said...

Brad,

Thanks for responding to the anger issue. Good post! I agree with you when you say that we have to be responsible for what we say and how we say it, but I think it extends a little bit farther than you insinuate in your post. While we obviously can't help how people take what we say, I do still think we owe explanation if our words are mistaken, but I can absolutely see how, after having explained, there's no longer anything you can do about it except continue to affirm how you actually meant it.

I think communication nowadays lends itself well to confusion like this. You can't really have a tone-of-voice in a text message or a blog post, and so while anyone HEARING you say "Gempo is a shithead" might immediately know you're joking around, it is a completely different story when simply read. But on the other hand, I don't think this gives us free license to say just about anything we want (as joking as we may be) and use the excuse, "Well I was obviously joking, and I can't help how people take things." I agree that it's a really fine line between our responsibility as a speaker to make sure people understand us as much as possible, and our responsibility as a listener to give the speaker the benefit of the doubt. So much responsibility....arrrrggghhhhh

-Jared

leoboiko said...

Re the last two questions: yes, and no. Damn, stop breaking the fragile willful ignorance I built about myself.

HezB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cometboy said...

A very cute kitten. Thanks.

Something that I am getting increasingly aware of since I've started meditating (only since april, I'm a newbie)is the information overload that I'm getting from being on the internet.

I like seeing the fantastic things that other people build. Pretty harmless, right? Unfortunately, when I go into my garage and start working on my own project, I start thinking of all the other wonderful projects that I NEED to be working on and start getting into this rush to finish what I'm working on, so I can start the next wonderful project.

Not very peaceful.

I was not immune to this before the internet, but now it's like I'm always running at 11 on the accomplometer dial.

Gonna have to do something about that. Maybe (?) it's sitting and staring at a wall.

Mark said...

Great Posting! I don't no why you feel the need to defend yourself Brad? If I misinterpet what you say, well so be it, I'll write a little post and that's that. You owe me nothing, you have no influence on me what so ever. I come here because I enjoy reading the dialogue, im always learning something from someone in here. And I get a free lesson in viewing my own reactions to other people's posts. But who cares how I view what others say and who cares what they think of me. Even if say someone is inciting anger, racism or fear in here, maybe they should ask themselves why someone has incited anything in them at all? Why are they so affected by simple words? I never understood that. Ive had friends who were war criminals, smugglers, dealers and other bad things but they never made an impact on me, why should they? I know who I am. In a conversation I respect the person who is speaking, who or what they are doesn't matter, all were doing is having an information exchange at that moment. And moments come and go but I still end up right here. Keep on writing what ever you wish or who knows what kind of hell hole well all end up in.
Peace out. Mark

Anonymous said...

Cute Kittens.
The rest was a waste of time. Ha Ha.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtOvW9NDxzA

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

I was sitting at ZMM and I read this. Has anyone else had any experiences there?






The Eight Gates of Zen: A Program of Zen Training
by John Daido Loori
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.46

Availability: In Stock
52 used & new from $6.97


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Trust Yourself. This is a gemisht Zen, November 24, 2007
Having lived at ZMM for quite some time I have experienced and practiced the training put forth in this book. There are many faces to this program of training depending on your level of commitment. I've spoken with many people living outside of ZMM who attend periodic workshops and retreats and find this training nourishing and helpful. Many who live there would make the same claim. Then again, I have seen some people whom I believe were quite damaged by this so-called training. So of course there are different perspectives. My experience is that once I deepened my commitment,investing more time and money, what I saw and experienced shifted almost imperceptively and over a period of time.

In my opinion, a better title for this book would be "The Eight Gates of Totalism." This fascist little treat and the training matrix put forth are the unquestionable truth, the "sacred science" of the group. It's difficult to explain just how powerful and effective these kinds of totalistic systems are. They can take a person, and with time, leverage and manipulate one's identity and psychology into that of a timid sheep. Once in that state one is molded and empowered through a new group identity.

I still can't believe it happened, but I began to mistrust myself and my own intuition, relying more and more on the group and it's doctrine. I began to think in "us versus them" terms, closing off, shutting down, identifying with the group and thinking "group think". I was always in a state of inner dissonance. Instead of standing on my own two feet, I found my mental health and integrity as a person becoming more and more dependent on the group.

Like many cults leaders the author is very charismatic, ambitious, and extremely controlling. He doesn't train people anything like he was trained. He has set up a limitless net with levels and levels of realization. Even my shikantaza was captured by that net and manipulated into some weird kind of koan study. His successors aren't even out of the net. They are still at the stage of "nurturing the sacred little baby", then comes "nurturing the sacred walking little baby". Then the stage of "nurturing the sacred whiny little two year old" and so forth and so on. HOW SILLY! But what a truly powerful and effective tool to manipulate and mess with people's heads.

He is so controlling that it borders on a weird kind of paranoia. He rules the group with absolute authority, doesn't sit with sangha, is prone to explosions of anger. Lives the high life while everyone else lives as worker-bee-renunciates in some sort of zen labor camp, forever working in the shadow of his ambitious and messianic vision. And the whole meshuge is rationalized with the "ends justifies the means" premise. It's skillful means right? It's killing the ego right? And then there's my favorite, "crazy wisdom", which has been used by many a cult leader. Subscribe to this logic and you're in for a world of pain and humiliation.

Anyone who questions the doctrine is shunned, you are kept tired all the time,and the authoritarian structure constantly makes it's presence felt with their endless "encouragements" and corrections. With time you actually begin to feel like a little child. This is not exactly what I had in mind when I started this practice. MESHUGE!

There is a really annoying and strange theme of confession where many practitioners feel the need to continuously meet with the "seniors" and seek there advice. It's almost like a competition that proves the depth of your practice. Strange to see grown men and women act like helpless children who don't know how to navigate their own lives. It actually serves as a way of bonding with the "seniors" and authority. I think the overall effect is to further infantilize someone. And all this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Anyhoo... Azoy vert dos kichel tzekrochen (That's how the cookie crumbles) Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Great points on communication, Brad. All true. But you might want to sweep around your own door too. You regularly do the same thing that you say others do to you. Massive assumptions and psychological projections.

I have a brother-in-law that used to say really mean, nasty things to people, but if you called him on it, he'd swear he was just joking. It's a convenient way to have it both ways. Say someone is a worthless piece of shit and then if they assume you are angry, you claim that wasn't your mindset at all. Go to a nearby biker bar and call the biggest, meanest dude you can find a worthless piece of shit and find out what he assumes about your mindstate and observe his reaction. If you and Genpo are best buddies or something, then that's a different story. Maybe it's ok to kid around that way. But unless I'm mistaken, you aren't. Such statements or verbal attacks positively lend themselves to hostile interpretations.

Anonymous said...

yes, I tend to agree with the above.

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

Great post, thanks!

vinegar said...

"I was sitting at ZMM and I read this. Has anyone else had any experiences there?"

Interestingly Daido Loori received Dharma transmission from the same guy as Genpo, Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi.

I'm not putting them in the same camp just saying they received transmission from the same teacher.

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

I was sitting at ZMM and I read this. Has anyone else had any experiences there?

Sat a sesshin there once and the
scene was indeed creepy. Finished
out the week, but never went back.

The only person to come out of that
Maezumi clusterfuck lineage
OK appears to be Joko Beck.

YMMV.

Al said...

Hello, Self-Justification, how was your day today?

Al said...

In other words, I don't care what what self-justification you say to yourself, Brad, in order to feel good about how you act.

If you call someone an asshole all of the time, people are going to treat you like a person that calls someone an asshole all of the time, regardless of your spotless Bodhisattvic intent.

Personally, I appreciate that if I go to the Kanzeon Zen Center's website or listen to their talks, I don't hear Zen teachers there talking shit about you or anyone else. What is it that makes you think that you have to behave, verbally, like an aggressive asshole in order to be heard or be effective?

cde said...

The posts you've written in the last month have been some of the best, for me anyways. I don't envy the things you are going through that are inspiring them, but I do envy your ability to pull the words together and put it out there. I wouldn't attempt to tell you or anyone the correct way to be a Buddhist, but I don't find anything you write to be what I'd consider "improper" Buddhist thoughts. You write like a friend, and yet you always convey a message or something that gets people to think. I relate to things you say to a large extent on an age/experience level...your 40's can be brutal in many ways. In your 30's life kinda taps you on the shoulder and whispers that things may not always be as they seem. In your 40's, at somepoint,life whacks you in the head with a ballbat and then right there in front of you, it kicks the crap out of any illusions you have left. And while you may not become enlightened, it often unlocks things in you that you didn't know or forgot were there. Well, that or you just continue to delude yourself for a couple more decades to the grave. Your books and your posts have helped me in understanding and utilizing some of the things that I unlocked in myself. Thanks, dude...and please, don't ever stop writing!

go_beets said...

Brad - good thinking. Don't throw out any of your rejected SG shit. just run it by us. we'll tell you if it sucks or not.

daiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yudo said...

When Dogen came back from China, he found there was a guy in Japan who posed as THE Zen Master. Name was Nonin. He had understood that Zen is only sitting and no study, no reading, no instruction. Something that must have existed even in India, since the Lanka Sutra mentions the heresy.
Whatever, Nonin had never met an authentic teacher and had asked for, and obtained, transmission by mail. Which is why Dogen so much insists upon FACE to FACE transmission. Dogen had extremely harsh words against Nonin and his Zenshu, going as far as calling them "shit eaters and piss drinkers". Talk about bad words!
The same Zenshu was also the object of Nishiren's ire, who condemned it just as harshly.
In Europe, Deshimaru founded a school which is just like Nonin's Zenshu. And when one sees the ravages that such crap inflicts upon the unwarned newbie who goes to them for instruction and gets trapped into a psycho-rigid mold which turns them into nasty, humourless, pretentious arseholes always intent upon telling YOU you ought to get rid of your ego (they themselves having nothing left to do about that...), you get to think that warning about the scam is also a matter of being honest. We probably ought not to insist too heavily, since "an unsollicited advice is always understood as an attempt to seize power over the advised". But yet...

Anonymous said...

I love the posts that defend all the stupid shit that Brad does by bringing up Dogen each time.

Brad isn't Dogen unless I see him knocking the other Zen teachers on their asses and reforming Zen. Hell, Brad isn't even a Zen master. He's just a priest who talks shit.

Anonymous said...

Cometboy, IME, when you are dealing with meditation and energy in the body,sometimes (maybe often?), you can end up with more energy in you and this is intensifying your existing issues. The issues then seem larger because they are fueled by more fire, so to speak. I think (but am by no means an expert) that whatever is in you, it basically shines brighter now, and that includes good aspects of yourself as well as problem aspects of yourself. Everything has been inflated and sticks out more and you feel it more. A lot of smallish problem issues that sort of flew under the radar before and so you never really had to deal with it, now will bug you more and you will notice it more. You become more aware of yourself. I think this is what they mean when they are talking about always looking into yourself for the answers. IME, you gotta look at what you are thinking and how it is not logical and not good for you and gotta work really hard to change those irrational and destablizing thoughts to get into new habits of more beneficial thoughts. It's a process of self monitoring and seeing where you are going off track and really being determined to fix it. YOu have to really look at each of your thoughts and start noticing which ones are not reasonable and not good for you and you work to think in a more reasonable way. You have to be ready to be honest about all bad traits as well as all good and be ready to forgive yourself for not being perfect. Only when you can be fair and kind to yourself can you really allow yourself to see all issues and start dealing with them. This is not easy but it's the only way I know. Maybe others know other ways,, but this is what works for me. It's a long process, one that I liken to slogging up hill in heavy sand against the wind with lead shoes on, because the longer you work, the more half buried issues you find that you have to deal with. Once in a while, you get a pretty view while you are slogging! Rumor has it that the pretty views (nice experiences) get better as you go up. Perhaps this is because (I think) that the good is inflated as well as the bad but good people will try to fix the bad but will leave the good. Anyway, this is my conceptualization of it. Perhaps others differ.
-theloonybin

Holger said...

Who the fuck cares if Brad is a zen-master or not? Important is: Does his shit make sense? Zen-master or not, he's bringing up some good arguments on issues, especially on the anger issue, and that is what counts. Angry or not, I'm glad Brad says things the way he does about guys like Genpo - because they're really dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Is Genpo Roshi dangerous?

I call bullshit.

I challenge people here to quit being lazy and to go listen to some of the normal talks that Genpo Roshi does at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City.

Brad is a one trick pony on Genpo Roshi. He doesn't like the Big Mind technique. I think we all got that a while ago. Going on and on about it in multiple blog posts makes you wonder why Brad keeps doing so. Most of what Genpo Roshi teaches is very traditional Zen.

Of course, that isn't what Brad teaches since Brad ignores most of the Zen tradition, discards it (how's that for revisionism) in favor of being a one trick pony focused entirely on sitting. Zen is a richer tradition of practice than that. Let's hear Brad talk about his Koan practice... Oh, that's right, he doesn't do that. He doesn't do any of the things that Zen teaches except one...

Holger said...

... like Kodo Sawaki and Dogen. The best thing about the only-zazen-attitude is that it makes it much easier to divide the real deal from the assholes. By the way, I saw that Genpo guy ones in the Netherlands. What a waste of time...

Anonymous said...

That Genpo. Isn't it just obvious that he's only after your money? Writing book after book, column after column, appearing on every talk/interview show that will take him. Jetting around the country to share his great and special wisdom ("and buy my books, movies.."). And look at Genpo's private life: a mess! Can't keep a marriage or a job. Collects teenage action figures. Can't attract enough people to sit with him to play a decent game of cards. And his Zen "lineage"?! Wander over to HIS teacher's website and see sophmoric spatting between the dharma heirs each sure that he has got it just right. No sir. I'm sure glad I've found the One True Zen here.

Holger said...

Congratulation.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, that isn't what Brad teaches since Brad ignores most of the Zen tradition, discards it (how's that for revisionism) in favor of being a one trick pony focused entirely on sitting. Zen is a richer tradition of practice than that. Let's hear Brad talk about his Koan practice... Oh, that's right, he doesn't do that. He doesn't do any of the things that Zen teaches except one..."

Translation: I am have absolutely no idea what Soto Zen is and have never read so much as a paragraph by Dogen but parading my ignorance on the internet is my absolute favouritest hobbie of all. x)

gniz said...

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Anonymous said...

I guess the most important thing is to do your best in being aware of what you say and do, learn of what you said and did, and think about what you will say and do.

I don't think there are many situations in which the best thing to do is to appear hostile, the opposite being just as unpractical. Honesty and consciousness is probably the middle-way.

On a side note, I have read most of what Brad has written and learned a lot. However, I hardly ever find his writings funny, mostly because his jokes are really obvious and uncreative. That doesn't really matter though, because otherwise I find his writings really interesting and worthwhile.

Here's something I find funny:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0TZxFQaXkc

Be aware and bring about awareness.

Anonymous said...

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles."

Funny gniz, I started to post the same comment a couple of weeks ago. But since Brad thinks so many posters here are mental, I figured; "You shall know them by their fruitcakes" would be more appropriate.

"In Europe, Deshimaru founded a school which is just like Nonin's Zenshu. And when one sees the ravages that such crap inflicts upon the unwarned newbie who goes to them for instruction..."

But isn't Deshimaru Nishijima roshi's brother monk? Aren't they both students of Master Sawaki? When I first read Deshimaru I was very UNimpressed as I recall.

And as another poster suggested, Buddhism is much more than just sitting. Even Zen Buddhism is much more. If it were really that simple, the Buddha could have just given detailed instructions on how to sit on your ass and went on extended vacation. No need to walk all over and talk for all those decades. All those silly sutras. "Just sit. OK? Bye now." love, metta and shit...
Mr. Buddha
.

aumeye said...

One of my degrees in is in Communication. I find it a fascinating field of study and have always considered it an important ingredient in maintaining valuable relationships. One thing I've learned is that most of us are vulnerable to misinterpretation of our message. This is, obviously, especially true on the Internet.

There are myriad reasons for these misinterpretations. It can be that we are ineffective in our presentation or expression of our ideas or feelings. The person we are expressing ourselves to may have anger toward us that is coloring their intake of the message. We may have a hidden agenda, either conscious or unconscious that is affecting the message. The other party may be too distracted to comprehend what we are saying. Perhaps the person listening is upset and so turns everything into a negative. Maybe we are impatient and expect the other to fill in the blanks or just "get it." Some people are only waiting for us to be quiet so they can have their turn. Perhaps one or both of us is lazy and not properly attending to the communication effort. And so on and so on.

There are far too many possible explanations (these are just a tiny example) for communication failures, where any party involved is potentially responsible (in fact, we are all responsible, always), for us to assume it is only one of those possibilities that applies here.

What I find most valuable in my life when it comes to this issue, is that when someone I care about misunderstands me, I renew my effort; I try again in a different way to help them to understand me, just as I will try again to understand someone when I've failed to do so initially. If I sense that they do not want to understand me, then I may let it go and assume they are responsible for the problem. Even then, if that person matters to me, I may persist for a bit. Not because I need to be heard, but because I care about them and recognize that interactions are complex and sometimes need extra attention. Why not?

More importantly, regarding the kitty . . . too cute for words.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Blubbering Idiot said...

Hey Brad--

Wow, I really felt heard. Thank you for addressing this. When I read your teaching--like *silence* (or emptiness) pervading all dharmas, I saw the emptiness for the first time in a year or so...but all the cultural stuff, the *Brad* that comes out doesn't jibe with all my cultural stuff. I think I'm trying to see through my anger, and, really, my tendency is to disown it because I was so fucking angry for so many years--shit, I grew up on Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and so forth...and I just don't want to go there anymore. Everybody's a motherfucker from that place--it's a *world*...an unstable, emotion-fueled, inherently unsatisfying *world of becoming*...so I react strongly to it and probably repress it a bit because it's so goddam strong and it isolates me so much. I feel better when I drop my ill will, no matter what, every time. It's just my way in to my particular path, my access-route into the emptiness, and I can't see it when I'm enraged, at least not yet. Thank you for your teachings.

Rich said...

Oh boy, this is very interesting and informative but I have to get back to my present life and death matters.

daiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yudo said...

an onymouse (whom I suspect to be Mr Arsewipe) wrote
"In Europe, Deshimaru founded a school which is just like Nonin's Zenshu. And when one sees the ravages that such crap inflicts upon the unwarned newbie who goes to them for instruction..."

But isn't Deshimaru Nishijima roshi's brother monk? Aren't they both students of Master Sawaki? When I first read Deshimaru I was very UNimpressed as I recall.

Deshimaru SAID he was a student of Sawaki, but those who were Sawaki's disciple did'nt see him often. Whole parts of Deshimaru's life are shrouded in a mist of mistery. However, it does seem that Sawaki was a friend of his family. Still, that doesn't make Nishijima his dharma brother.

Anonymous said...

Why is Brad so hard on John Diado Loori?

Anonymous said...

"most of a generation is lost following their arrogant incoherent japanese masters arriving like locusts after world war 2 to take advantage of amerrycan innocence goodheartedness and sex. to leave as dharma heirs very suspect individuals who have continually shown bad character yet retain some following due to that foul japanese connection."

Only those zen masters that arrived after WWII have those negative qualities? Surely no current japanese masters leave suspect individuals with err..'bad' character? Right? Suzuki roshi was one of those post WWII masters that left a suspect dharma heir too. (read Shoes Outside the Door) And Deshimaru? Have you read all the cultic crap associated with his organization?

But we may be attacked for critisizing Deshimaru here because of the close association with master Sawaki and Nishijima roshi and the very similar ideas they share. (see Brad's earlier post on the subject) Wait! I thought we weren't supposed to question authority? Surely you're not questioning the authority of all those post wwii zen masters?

The Blubbering Idiot said...

And too, what's really awesome: This, then that...then this. It's so difficult to map Buddhism--or spiritual experience in general--onto the social world...emptiness makes all of this irrelevant, but it (the social, political and economic world) does need to be addressed. The hierarchy in monasteries is one way it has been addressed--but lateral relationships--intermonastic, or interlineage--have always been touchy. To work through this inherent anarchism, diplomacy and at least a show of good will has been found to work well. Without it, things descend into acrimony. The end result of this is, as we know, the Middle East. Religious teachers/radical mullahs issuing fatwas on other religious teachers/radical mullahs and little chance of pulling out of the spiral. Who wants such a thing in their minds and their bodies and their neighborhoods? Especially since we know better. I don't know, maybe I'm just a Blubbering Idiot. Thanks for reading.

daiji said...

any mouse said
"Surely you're not questioning the authority of all those post wwii zen masters?"

i sure am.
moast of those japanese cowboy elvis impersonators talk in circles dropping conceptual
doctrine definitions which are lapped up as wisdom.
read some of the older zen teachers then try and read the 20th century crop. decide for yourself. and i did say most 20th c. zen masters but not all are fakes. it is a job with benefits after all being a zen teacher;ask genpo, baker, glassman etc......

zenshred said...

I liked your post. I fully agree with you. I dont really think I would be reading your blogs or taking you seriously at all if you didnt have something that reminds me that we are in reality and zen is not some drug that makes us feel happy until our next sitting.
Relying on your blog would be wrong, but I come here to look at different perspective, but overall it doesnt matter, not that I dont value your input on various topics but even if I didnt read your blogs I would still be having the same problems with sitting that I face everyday. "I really should be sitting more" , but " I'm too tired for this, I wish I had more time then I could do it more" ... "oh fuck it, just do it"....

Thanks Brad.

zenshred said...

I think this Genpo is just part of the hilarious design of the world. I think we encounter dudes like him on a daily basis, maybe weekly. It might not be on the topic of zen but we are inspired in the same way.
He may be tarnashing zen and pulling it into the mainstream by force for the sake of money, making what we find special, and by special I mean not so special. He's spitting on our faces, but I think this is one of those "separate the men from the boys" (for lack of a better phrase).
Take it, learn from it, be yourself.

Jared said...

"That Genpo. Isn't it just obvious that he's only after your money? Writing book after book, column after column, appearing on every talk/interview show that will take him. Jetting around the country to share his great and special wisdom ("and buy my books, movies.."). And look at Genpo's private life: a mess! Can't keep a marriage or a job. Collects teenage action figures. Can't attract enough people to sit with him to play a decent game of cards. And his Zen "lineage"?! Wander over to HIS teacher's website and see sophmoric spatting between the dharma heirs each sure that he has got it just right. No sir. I'm sure glad I've found the One True Zen here."

I seriously don't think Brad is after our money. The dude pays for the Zen Center himself, and last I checked Hardcore Zen is selling for 10 or 15 bucks as opposed to some of other New Agey books about Zen (content aside) that are more like $25. Who can blame him for throwing in references to his DVD or book when the reason why half the people started reading this blog was because they liked that he was into Punk music? As for promoting his books in interviews, that's sort of what authors do...

cometboy said...

Thanks for the information, anonymous aka theloonybin.

I can see what you are saying, it is interesting. The self reflection part seems to be true, for a few months I kind of felt like I was under the care of a screwed up full time therapist (ie me). It was a little bothersome.

I'm just going to keep going. I have many fears, many questions and I have to say (again) that I hope sitting just stays as a kind of tedious annoyance for as long as it will. At least so far it is a predictably tedious annoyance.

I do fear my monsters because I have met them a few times, pre- meditation. And honestly, I don't want to meet them again. But, I am told that I really don't have any say in this matter. So we shall see.

Al said...

I'm glad that we have Brad as the second coming of Dogen to show us the errors of the current Zen ways.

If other teachers are such shits, is it really necessary to constantly talk about it instead of just doing your thing, Brad?

Anonymous said...

Cometboy, I think a lot of the problem is that society teaches us stuff from birth that screws up our heads. Most of us no longer fear starving to death, but instead we spend our time worrying about if we ate too many french fries yesterday or if our shirt has static cling, thus causing us to be horrified and embarrassed beyond all reason, or something. Just look at all the silly stuff tv commercials try to get us to worry about! I think much of what we have to get over is stuff that has been ingrained in us and all those around us. We don't get much help because all those around us are also living by the same loonybin rules. I often find myself playing a neverending game of 'what if,' what if soandso doesn't like it, what if I am wasting my life, what if there is an unexpected flood and water gets into the hole I dug and then leaks under the house foundation and and and. I mean, a lot of this stuff is so ridiculous to be worrying about, yet I think worry and and it has become such a habit that if there is nothing serious to worry about, I can find myself scraping around for something or anything to worry about and it can be so natural that you barely think about it, barely even analyze yoru own self talk from second to second as you drive down the street. It's not the things that trigger it, it's the bad habit inside us and negative emotions society has cultivated and fighting with it can sometimes feel like pushing sand uphill because you have a lifetime of baloney to deal with.

Sometimes anger also builds up and it will want to get out be you being angry at somebody for something. I think our mistake is assuming that other people and events cause our feelings, but we have to take responsibility for them. Like soemtimes if you are in a really good mood and then something bad happens, it can be much easier to not be bothered by it cause you are too swept up in the good mood. Other times, you are in a bad mood and when something bad happens it seems really bad to you, yet the thing that happened could be the same thing. THose emotions exist in us and wish to express themselves at times. I think the good news is once we begin to get those under control, we essentially begin to control all our own existence. We are no longer a slave to all the baloney of the world and what it has engrained in us. So often there is this fear but I wonder is that fear really of valid worries of that which is around us or is it of ourselves or is that fear a fear of having to change ourselves?
-theloonybin

Anony Mouse said...

brad, thanks for pointing out phony teachers like genpo. i Really appreciate it.


-AnonyMouse

The Lone Ranger said...

I have technical sitting question. When sitting I have a problem that happens on occasions and can become quite uncomfortable and even painful and that is I sometimes sit on my testicles. That is my testicles get squashed slightly under my buttocks. During sitting at home I have no problem adjusting, sort of speak, but at the Zendo, well, that's another thing. I'm sure others must have the same problem. If you have any suggestions please let me know.
Sincerely,
The Lone Ranger

Anonymous said...

" I sometimes sit on my testicles."

It took balls to ask that question.
I've had the same issue though. When I first sit down I'd check to see if everything was in place. If not, I simply raise slightly up and forward while using the zafu itself to reposition things. Of course I always sat in a sitting robe / kimona thing when with a group. Not sure if it works with pants.

This is a very important point, so please make every effort to get your testicles in their proper position. It is impossible to practice real zazen while sitting on your gonads. Dogen said; "He who crack nuts, never grow bodhi tree." Sorry, that's just the way it is. Deal with it.

posture nazi said...

blah blah Big Mind blah blah Buy my new book blah blah zen nazi blah blah

Leave_your_comment said...

I don't have balls, never will. Growing them would put me on the front page in the grocery store.

What you said about Genpo ... agreed. It gets mightly tedious, however, have you no other material?

Ellen said...

yeah, I wonder if communication is sometimes a game of telephone in which the message is garbled in transmission more than we care to admit. Anger is really interesting to look at.

how many times have i thought, "wow, the teacher must HATE me; didja see how curt she was?" and all the time she's got a dying mom or a hangnail or something else going on. there was NO anger there from her. it takes two to communicate and my input may be faulty. or hers.

i just say what I have to honestly, I try to have as much knowledge of my own motives and intentions as i can when i speak. (meditation helps w/that).

But what people make of that is up to them.

Chris Austin-Lane said...

Of Maezumi's heirs, Joko (based on her books) seems quite sound (although she has dis-owned several Dharma heirs, which is unusual at least). Hazy Moon is founded by a very late heir of Maezumi's. Also, I have heard good things about Kennedy Roshi's Morningstar (interfaith Jesuit/Zen) group (disclaimer: I sit with a teacher in that lineage).

If you read Big Mind marketing literature without finding this literature to be anathema to the Dharma, I think you are in danger of lacking the attentive mind that would keep you out of a cult. Not that I think Big Mind is a cult, but the marketing materials at least is so not in accord with the Shobogenzo, with the experience of paying attention, and with what it makes sense would work as far as deeply understanding the self.

Though reasonable people may disagree,

Chris

The Lone Ranger said...

Thank you Anonymous for your wise and practical advice of testicle placement.
I wonder, hmmmmmm, maybe someone will invent a sitting jockstrap type thing. Perhaps Genpo could market it with instant enlightenment. Big Mind -Small Balls™.
Sincerely,
The Lone Ranger

St. Fu said...

"!"

Anonymous said...

"That Genpo. Isn't it just obvious that he's only after your money? Writing book after book, column after column, appearing on every talk/interview show that will take him. Jetting around the country to share his great and special wisdom ("and buy my books, movies.."). And look at Genpo's private life: a mess! Can't keep a marriage or a job. Collects teenage action figures. Can't attract enough people to sit with him to play a decent game of cards. And his Zen "lineage"?! Wander over to HIS teacher's website and see sophmoric spatting between the dharma heirs each sure that he has got it just right. No sir. I'm sure glad I've found the One True Zen here."

OH NOES!11! BRAD FALLZ PROpHET!11!!
NOW I WILL NEVER GETZ MY ENLIGHTENMENTZ!1111!!

dood said...

terrible post - not one joke...

dood

dood said...

"Let's hear Brad talk about his Koan practice... Oh, that's right, he doesn't do that. He doesn't do any of the things that Zen teaches except one..."

fuck "zen tradition" WTF is that anyway???

the realization is pulling your head out of your own ass. zen practice is keeping your head out of your own ass - however YOU do that is up to you.

i don't need koans, sutras, chants, mandalas, or your opinions to help ME do that...

Zen is YOUR business with YOURSELF.

Now shut the fuck up and deal with yourself for a while...

take care,
DOOD

Anonymous said...

That song was brilliant! Please keep the music coming. I'm still listening to She Evil Carries Roses every day.

Anonymous said...

I liked that piece very much. Years ago, when I worked as a white water kayak instructor, I was e-mailed by a student who wondered if we carried a particular brand of boat. I told him that we'd just dropped that line and wished him better luck elsewere, "pal." I was in a good mood that day, hence the, "pal." It was a mistake. The student took it as sarcasm and was insulted --his reply to my boss nearly cost me my job. I was forced to be more, "tactful," --less cheerful. Who was it that said, "we don't see things as they are, we see things as we are?" E-mail's no exception! G'luck with the job Brad!
Garrett

Anonymous said...

Ya I have Genpo Roshi's Big Mind and I thought it was really amateur stuff. It makes me think that all the people at Ken Wilbers place don't know what they are talking about. Hey Kirk Cameron found a way to prove to you in 10 minutes that god exists. I wonder your opinion on that!

DJ Voton said...

I was sitting at ZMM and I read this. Has anyone else had any experiences there?
Yep, a very disturbing group, ZMM. I went there a few times when I first started out, because I fell for the shitload of advertising they do, and that post (from Amazon, I assume?), nicely sums it up. Never have I seen so many pissed-off, miserable people in one place, begging to drink the Kool-Aid for "Daidoshi". After one especially nutty e-mail, I wrote back and asked to be taken off their mailing list, because I don't do cults.
Brad, a great post. It's so difficult to communicate with people who are used to small talk, gossip, and catchphrases. "No matter what you say, someone out there will take it wrong. That doesn’t mean you have to stop saying stuff." Absolutely right.

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

I read "Brad Warner's Hardcore Zen: Big Mind™ is a Big Load™ of Horse Shit" on SuicideGirls and then came here.

After reading these posts about Big Mind, I noticed myself missing a sense of awareness around this: if it provoked such a strong reaction in you, then doesn't that point to your own attachments? I would have enjoyed hearing an exploration of that.

I'm also disheartened to see a consciousness on the blog comments that seems to be a "I'm a better Zen practitioner" or "They're a worse Zen practitioner" or "You don't know what you are talking about and I do". I'm wanting to see an awareness of how these statements do not generally lead to connection or understanding between people, or to more awareness of what drives the person saying them, and thus lead to more suffering, not less.

I hear in your post that you value authenticity and do not want to be "nice" but want to be real. I very much resonate with those values. I get not wanting to be the happy-smiley-fake kind of person. But I don't believe peace has to be inauthentic. I also believe that mindfulness around how we speak can lead to even truer expressions of our aliveness and lead to connections that are compassionate. And to me, compassion is the heart of Buddhism of all flavors.