Thursday, January 25, 2007

VIDEO FROM HASTINGS COLLEGE

For those of you who have asked, here are some videos of my talk at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska in the Fall of 2006.

On Getting into punk:


On my teacher, Gudo Nishijima:


On the connection between punk rock and Zen:


By the way, I'm available for weddings and bar mitzvahs...

(seriously, I do personal speaking appearances, so write me if you want details)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

LIFT THE SEAT

I’m in Peet’s Coffee Shop on the Sunset Strip as I write this. Just a couple minutes ago a lame-ass pseudo punk rock dickhead with a big Mohawk and a high priced leather jacket walked in. How do I know he was a dickhead? Here’s how.

He walks into the place, makes a beeline for the toilet, does his business and then leaves. Now the fact that he did not “pay the rent” by purchasing a drink already makes him a candidate for dickhead status. But maybe he’s destitute or in a big hurry, both of which I doubt, but maybe.

Here’s what makes him a dickhead for sure. I went into the toilet just after he departed and discovered he left about a cup of his piss all over the seat.

Just how much effort does it take to lift up a toilet seat? I suppose he’s all punk rock and stuff thinking, y’know, like “fuck these straight ass conventions of lifting the seat, I do what I want!” Or whatever. Or maybe he doesn’t even consider such things at all.

If you want to understand Buddhism, which I’m sure this dickhead never will, the first thing you need to understand is that, if you’re a dude, you must always lift the seat before you take a piss. You must pay your way into the club, not sneak in through then back. You are not allowed to write graffiti anywhere except in places where you are specifically encouraged to do so.

Do you get what I’m saying? Because if you’re a dickhead you never will. If you’re a dickhead you need a big long list of do’s and don’t’s and you need a guy with a big long stick standing behind you at all times to whack you over the head whenever you do one of the don’t’s or don’t do one of the do’s. You will never be a Buddhist with that attitude. And if you bring it to one of my sittings I will send you away.

Buddhist morality is lifting the seat. It’s vacuuming the carpet once a week. It’s dropping your candy wrapper in a trashcan and not on the sidewalk. These are all moral choices.

Do what is right and don’t do what is wrong. And don’t pretend you don’t know the difference because you do.

Friday, January 19, 2007

ZAZEN TOMORROW (January 20, 2007)

I just wanted to make sure everyone knows there will be Zazen at the Hill Street Center in Santa Monica on Saturday January 20, 2007 at the regularly scheduled time. But I will not be there. There's a link to your right with all the detials.

Thanks again for all the messages of support.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

THANKS EVERYBODY

Thank you for all the condolence messages. My dad is telling friends and relatives that instead of sending flowers or anything they should donate to the Huntington's Disease Society of America. You should be able to get to the page to make a donation by clicking on the link below or in the previous sentnce if I got the hypertext or whatever you call it right. HD is still pretty mysterious stuff, so maybe your donation will help people like my mom live better lives in the future.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sandra Sue Warner



1941-2007

Rest in Peace, Mom. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Am Not Marilyn Manson


I would like to point out here that I am not Marilyn Manson. Yesterday I got a phone call. "Is Br(unintelligible) there?" asked a female voice I did not recognize.

I said, "This is Brad."

Long silence. "Hello?" I said.

"Hello," she replied. More silence. Then, "Are you Marilyn Manson?"

"No," I said, for truly I am not.

More silence. Then, "Do you know his phone number?"

"No," I said, for truly I do not.

"Thank you. Have a nice day," she said, then hung up.

This morning I checked Marilyn Manson out on Wikipedia. I've heard of him, of course. But I'm not really up on his history at all. Except that I know he's from Canton, Ohio, which is a few miles south of where I grew up. The only things there are the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Belden Village Mall, which used to have an OK record store we'd go to sometimes.

Anyway, I found out his real name is Brian Warner. So this girl must have looked up every B. Warner listed in Los Angeles and decided I was Marilyn. I think she called once before. I got a call about a year ago which consisted of two teenage-sounding girls giggling and telling me I was the coolest guy ever.

This may be so. But for the record, I am not Marilyn Manson. OK?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

ENLIGHTENMENT Part A Million

For those who haven't noticed yet, I have a new article up on SuicideGirls. You should be able to get to it by clicking on the words "new article up on SuicideGirls" in the previous sentence. I'm really bad with this HTML mark-up stuff. So if that didn't work, there's a link over to your right that will also take you there.

The latest article is a kind of a response to some of the endless chatter my last post generated. Sometimes I say things here in an offhand way, forgetting that I'm supposedly some kinda celebrity or some such garbage. I commented about that webpage maintained by that person whose students have been advertising in the comments section of this blog — which I think is just a really weird thing to do, actually. Anyway I kinda wish I hadn't said anything because I couldn't give a shit about her in particular or her students. There's a much more serious problem.

See, lots of the stuff that various wanna-be Masters out there claim as the basis for their supposed Grand Awakenings are pretty much the same stuff I encountered a number of years ago as part of the normal process of doing this zazen stuff. Not just me. Lots of practitioners encounter this stuff. In my case, I was also pretty jazzed up about it. I remember walking around thinking, "Yeah, bay-bee! I am the King of All Creation and you better believe it!!!" I was ready to start collaring the monks I saw begging for loose change at Shinjuku Station and challenging them to Enlightement Smackdowns. Had they seen the great truths to which I was now privvy? I thought not. HA! What fools they were compared to ME!

But if you study the koans, you'll see over and over and over again instances of young monks all jazzed up on their initial experiences in the practice being told off by their teachers. If the relationship between teacher and student is a healthy one, this usually works. When it's not, the youngsters often end up breaking away from their teachers convinced that they have surpassed even the great masters in the depth and power of their new-found enlightenment. This is nothing new. It's been repeated countless times over the past couple thousand years.

This is one of the reasons Dogen advised people not to study Buddhism without a teacher. I devoted a whole chapter to this in my upcoming book. But the upshot is that it's OK to do zazen without a teacher. Unless you're really obsessed with obtaining some kind of big experience from the practice, it won't do you any harm and, in fact, will probably do you a whole lot of good. But if you find yourself getting truly serious about the practice, a teacher is absolutely necessary. Among other things, a good teacher will keep you from declaring yourself the One True Messiah upon your first shallow rumblings of understanding.

We've been so conditioned to look at and understand the world we live in a specific way deemed by society to be "normal" that when you first start to get an inkling of how things actually are it can be quite a shock. The severity of that shock depends on how deeply you bought into the supposedly "normal" way of looking at things. If you really, really, really bought into it without question, you're gonna be in for one hell of a surprise upon encountering even the merest shadow of understanding how things really are. If you've had questions and doubts about what most people see as "normal" all along, the shock may not be quite as severe. The people who are the most severely shocked are the ones most likely to believe they are now the New Savior of Humanity the moment they get a glimpse that things might not be as they've been told. Still, the difference between what life really is and what you've been told it is, is so great that pretty much everyone is surprised by it.

I think there's a real danger in what's going on with all these supposed Enlightened Beings plying their trade nowadays. Someone who is very persuasive can have you believing just about anything. I told the story in Hardcore Zen about how deeply impressed I was by the former leader of the Cleveland Hare Krishna temple. He was later allegedly involved in a murder case in West Virginia. I recently came across a copy of the book Monkey On A Stick, which details the case and has a photo of the guy. Looking at him again after 20-some years I shuddered to think what might have transpired had I not held on to that little bit of skepticism towards what he was saying that I felt at the time. I know exactly how people get involved in those horrible gloom-and-doom cults because I could easily have been one of them.