Friday, May 09, 2008

BURMA KARMA

Y'know, if I was newly minted punk rocker I think I'd call myself Linus Appalling.

The new Zero Defex CD is now available from CD Baby. Go order yours today! It comes in a groovy digipak with all the lyrics including my own appallingly bad words for my own song "Hypocrite." On the CD I sing it in Japanese because I didn't want to own up to the actual lyrics. But Mickey and Jeffro, who were in charge of the CD package, put the English lyrics on! Nooooooo!!! But now it's there for the world to see & you can't see it, world, unless you buy the damned CD. So buy it.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the guy who did this article about the cyclone in Burma. I only got one quote. But he spelled my name right, so that's a plus. And he didn't put in a photo of Noah Levine with my name under it (it's really happened before!!), another plus.

The guy called asking me what I thought of the fact that lots of Buddhists are saying the recent cyclone in Burma was karmic commupence (how do you spell that?) for the military crack-down on Buddhist monks there. I had to laugh. It's such a ridiculous idea. It sounds just like when Pat Robertson said the Sept. 11th attacks were God's punishment to all the gays and lesbians in New York (which is what I said that got shortened in the article). Or whatever Pat Robertson said. Just pure bullshit nonsense. Same with blaming the cyclone on karma. Stupid superstitious bull-hockey, I say! And I am the final word on everything!!!!

And even if it was their karma, which is wasn't, who gives a shit? People are in trouble. Go help them. No more analysis than that is necessary.

The guy wanted to know if this was a widespread type of belief across Asia. It's hard for me to say much about all of Asia. But, in Japan it's certainly not common to blame natural disasters on bad karma. I mean, when the Kobe earthquake happened it wasn't like everybody said, "Yeah, serves 'em right for having named their city after Kobe Bryant when he gave all those women AIDS." The closest thing I ever heard to this in the years I lived there was when we found some abandoned baby birds in the warehouse where the company I worked for stored the monster costumes. Someone said that the birds' fate was "Hotoke-sama's will." Hotoke-sama is what they call Buddha. But even in this case there was no recourse to saying this was the baby birds' bad karma from previous lifetimes.

If people do say this, then they don't know much about Buddhism. That's all I can say.

*****

Saturday May 10th at 7 PM I'll do a book signing and talk at Visible Voice Books in Cleveland, Ohio’s Tremont neighborhood.

On May 17th and 18th I'll lead a 2-day retreat at the Milwaukee Zen Center.

I'll be one of the teachers at this year's Great Sky Zen Sesshin August 9-16. Check out their webpage for details.

The annual Dogen Sangha retreat in Shizuoka, Japan will be September 20-23.

34 comments:

rokrok said...

Good thing you made yourself clear.

There is only ONE possible connection between an earthquake and human behavior:

1. Earthquake happens
2. People bother
3. People think of what they've done wrong
4. People think it caused the earthquake
5. People avoid doing the wrong stuff

If some people start acting differently because they fear the WRATH OF GOD or the BRUTALITY OF KARMA, fine, let them smother in their naive bullshit. But the only connection between this stuff is in our mind.

If people don't kill because they fear hell in their after-life (even a literal hell or a literal after-life do not exist) the effect is quite acceptable... ;-)

I think most religions in general worked in two ways:

1. A simplified version, built on fear, debt, guilt and crap like that
2. An arcane version, which really focuses on personal development

A lot of misunderstanding concerning religion is the fact that people don't see these two different POVs. The latter is indeed not very popular, so the magicians created the first variant for the peons :-).

ZenManDan said...

Comeuppance.

Anonymous said...

"The guy called asking me what I thought of the fact that lots of Buddhists are saying the recent cyclone in Burma was karmic commupence (how do you spell that?) for the military crack-down on Buddhist monks there."

This is what I meant about that idea being common in popular asian buddhism. It is crap, but it is common. Glad you made your view of that clear, brad. Good blog entry.

rat

lawprof said...

Thank you for the separation between karma and the wrath of god! That's very helpful.

I have a question, though: I've heard another Zen teacher say that nations have their own karma. Do you think that countries and other groups have a sort of "collective karma," or is karma purely an individual thing? I'd like to hear your thought on this. Thanks.

anonymous said...

There is super-individuality, otherwise sociology wouldn't make any sense. So I am not Brad, but yes, indeed: According to systems theory every system can tought as having its own "identity". So "cause and effect psychology" and therefore in Buddhist terms "karma" can apply to it, too.

I think it's even easier to tell with larger groups than with individuals.

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

lotsa my ancestors slaughtered lotsa my other ancestors. right here in this gol-durn country!

grisom said...

Stupid superstitious bull-hockey, I say! And I am the final word on everything!!!!

And even if it was their karma, which is wasn't, who gives a shit? People are in trouble. Go help them.


Awesome.

lotsa my ancestors slaughtered lotsa my other ancestors. right here in this gol-durn country!

Hey, mine too.

I've always like this bit of La infana raso:

...and those in strife for lordship of the land,
Barbarian and Roman hand-to-hand
these foes divided by a common hate
would after many ages meet and mate,
producing me, for the ancestral flood
through breach and bloodshed gave me flesh and blood.

cardinaljoe said...

I have sent a contingency of Holy Fathers from the Dominican Order to torture Burmese and determine if some factor in their Karma Lochrie prevents them from converting over to the devoted love of the mother of our Lord, the Holy Virgin. Amen.

just acll me joe said...

That was NOT funny.

just call me joe said...

That was NOT funny.

Anonymous said...

it is actually equally likely as it is unlikely.
and I agree that it is not helpful.

Zen Comics said...

The Spectre is actually the incarnation of the Wrath of God, who can exist and act on the Earthly Plane as long as he is given voice and direction by a human spirit unable, as yet, to go on to its final reward. source

I didn't know that Karma was brutal.

It is a Point of View issue.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the fact that the Junta is being blamed for the disaster is karma, though.

anonymous said...

Perhaps the fact that the Junta is being blamed for the disaster is karma, though.

BINGO!

buddha-builder said...

ditto what rokrok said. Plus, when people look at their own karma (cause and effect relationships) with the view to make improvements, that's fine, but when people look at other people's karma with the idea to place blame, there's a problem...

btw, Brad, have you heard of the punk, rock, gypsy band Kultur Shock?

anonymous said...

"Ask a sociologist why a group reacted in a certain way and he will refer you to a Cultural Anthropologist."

Hmm, no. But you studied it, right.

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

Shit happens. Or rather, just happens...

Hossen jo said...

Anonymous 'rokrok' said...

2. An arcane version, which really focuses on personal development

Alchemy

Hermetic sequence of Eulalia, Alexis, & Roland.

Freemasonry - It may help you in your personal development. 25 degrees

Buddhism - Kesa are constructed with a number of vertical divisions (Japanese "jo") denoting the rank of the wearer. The highest rank in Zen is perhaps 25 Jo; the lowest being about 9. The kanju ranks above the head monk, the shika.

Ukrainianwisdom said...

dude the new CD is kickass!

Anonymous said...

Jundo Cohen, another of Nishijima's Dharma heirs, posted this over at his blog. I wonder who he could be talking about?? Somebody asked if the Dharma Heirs of Nishijima Roshi should get the ball rolling and freely confess to all the resentment that has been bottled up, no?

Oh yes, Nishijima's various heirs don't self-expose on the internet enough! :oops: I resent when a Zen teacher, whether in or out of our Sangha, does not have proper respect for the Precepts, "Right Speech" "Kind Words" "Not Misusing Sexuality" and such. I have said that any number of times. I have very little patience for that, and an emphasis on Zazen without sufficient attention to the Precepts is a most dangerous way to play the game. I do not resent any person as a person.

Anonymous said...

Jundo Cohen, another of Nishijima's Dharma heirs, posted this over at his blog. I wonder who he could be talking about?? Somebody asked if the Dharma Heirs of Nishijima Roshi should get the ball rolling and freely confess to all the resentment that has been bottled up, no?

Oh yes, Nishijima's various heirs don't self-expose on the internet enough! :oops: I resent when a Zen teacher, whether in or out of our Sangha, does not have proper respect for the Precepts, "Right Speech" "Kind Words" "Not Misusing Sexuality" and such. I have said that any number of times. I have very little patience for that, and an emphasis on Zazen without sufficient attention to the Precepts is a most dangerous way to play the game. I do not resent any person as a person.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=17340756&postID=1067675016160079410&page=1

Anonymous said...

LOL - Jundo is such a dipsh**t - how can anyone take him seriously..

Yudo said...

Another onymous said...

LOL - Jundo is such a dipsh**t - how can anyone take him seriously..

That's unfair. Jundo may have problems relating to Brad's way of doing, and one may think him wrong in that respect, think that he misinterprets the signs, but to say what you (anonymously, of course) said is perfectly unfair.

doug rogers said...

Doesn't excessive logging of the forests have something to do with the undiminished ferocity of this cyclone? Chain of causes anyone? The weather itself is not retribution, no.

Anonymous said...

Precepts
There are many:
SHOBOGENZO, Book IV, Kei-Sanbo (Taking Refuge in the 3 Treasures)--
the ox precepts, the deer precepts, the raksasa precepts, the demon precepts, the mute's precepts, the deaf person's precepts, the dog precepts, the chicken or pheasant precepts.

It would appear 'precepts' is not Buddhist specific--anyone, everything gots its precepts--only Buddhist precepts are Buddhist precepts.
knowing them and living them is something else again.

I take this to point to the fact we all live precepts (someone observing, studying our behavior is going to find that we follow certain 'rules').

Buddhist basis for the 'rules' called precepts is to promote harmony (not promote being 'right' or being 'more precept compliant than thou'

something worth thinking about and worth striving to live for--harmony--
take yourself to the situation of being friends with two people who are constantly trying to 'stir things up' between them and each wants you to take their side. That's what the Buddhist precepts are for--
when you care for all persons, you want to walk the walk and talk the talk in a way that all can come to harmony.
This is a full time occupation: it is a beautiful way to live: there is no one who does not benefit from this approach (the Buddhist precepts).

Anonymous said...

Mother's Day!

Mom, Moms! SG Girls!

Thanks for all the mammaries!

Rōren - no, that's not my real name, but my 'real' name is not my reality either. said...

Karma - One domino falls and hits another. There is no judgment of right or wrong, good or bad, deserved or undeserved, just domino's falling.

Action, not attitude drives karma, but watch out what actions your attitude brings forth.

n'est-ce pas?

Mettai Cherry said...

In Buddha's teaching there is one very clear connection between what people do and what happens to them: Karma. Unfortunately for most of us, when the concepts of emptiness and infinity are combined the connection is impossible to see.

There is a simple (but harsh sounding) connection for everyones' suffering - desire. In terms of the cyclone in Burma, the cause is that cyclones happen. In terms of why people were in Burma in the way of the cyclone, one cause is that they desired life and thus were born. This is not to say that it is their own fault and we should fail to have compassion for their suffering, but to realize that we are sharing it.

There is, however, a reasonable causal connection between suffering due to the cyclone and the repressive Myanmar government, which is that this government did not warn and care for its people appropriately to help with their suffering.

Another great Zen point of view on this topic (from 2005 in response to the tsunami) can be found on the blog of a dharma brother here. I was planning to use some of his quotes and when I googled for a source I hit him and thought he said it better.

courtesy flush said...

Just in case anybody was planning to rush an update to Kobe Bryant's Wikipedia page: he's innocent on that charge.

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agua de sobron said...

It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is what I think.