Monday, May 12, 2008

LEAVING AKRON

I'm at the Akron-Canton Regional Airport taking advantage of their free, uncensored wireless Internet service. If you follow this blog you'll learn which airports in this country have it. Not only can I look at all the tits and ass on Suicide Girls (and cock if I were to so desire, they now have Suicide Boys) that I want, I can also read this article about war protesters invoking Lucifer for their cause. Wonderful. I often wonder if some of these people aren't just hired by the Powers That Be specifically to make their opposition look bad. Sadly, as attractive as that explanation sounds, I highly doubt it's true. People are really, really, really, really, really, really dumb.

The talk at Visible Voice Books was fun. A wonderful time was had by all.

I spent a lot of time with my first teacher Tim this week. That was very nice. He is the genuine article. How I managed to come across someone like him and later Nishijima Sensei boggles my mind.

They're playing "Take It Away" by Paul McCartney and Wings (I think that one was released under the Wings moniker). A pretty obscure tune for airport muzak. I'm pretty much of a Beatle geek, tho I haven't followed Paul's solo career that closely. In Akron I spent lots of money at Time Traveler Records stocking up on Beatle bootlegs. I got a double set of rough mixes and out-takes from George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. And a 3 disc set of out-takes from Public Image Limited's early works including the entire Commercial Zone album, the great "lost" PiL record that went unreleased after John Lydon and and guitarist Keith Levene quarreled. Levene issued his version of the record, Lydon sued and the record disappeared.

Speaking of unreleased things, I got a chance to read my friend Dave Materna's novel Big Yellow Car. The book was almost issued by a major publisher back around 1992. But the dorks got cold feet at the last minute. Too bad for them because it's a work of genius! A real portrait of punk rock in Akron, Ohio.

In a few hours I'll be in Milwaukee where I'll lead a two day mini-sesshin this weekend. That should be hoppin'. Show up and buy a copy of the new Zero Defex as a souvenir (and help pay my expenses in the bargain). Or order a copy from CD Baby. (But buy it from me personally if you're there)

Oops! It'll be more live several hours before I get to Milwaukee. The flight has been delayed and they didn't mention that little wrinkle to me when I checked in. See, the woman behind the counter was being hassled by her supervisor to make sure she charged extra for any bag over 61 inches. My bass came out to 61 and a quarter inches and I was duly charged $50. I coulda sent it to myself cheaper! Oh, and her flustered-ness also caused her not to check it thru to Milwaukeee, which, luckily, I noticed when I, uncharacteristically, looked at the tags she gave me. The supervisor needed to be told to focus on important issues instead of dicking people over for extra change for their bags. This I did not do. Not a major failure on my part. But I could have achieved the necessary communication without being harsh or nasty and I should have done so.

So it's airport food for me tonight. Oh boy. I'm sure glad I didn't elect to spend six months in Tassajara. Not. But you really can't remain in places like that very long anyway. You eventually have to leave. I met people up there who'd successfully hidden from the outside world for three or four years. But it never lasts. If you are the kind of person who gets rankled by things you will find things to rankle you no matter where you go. Guaranteed. It's not the surroundings that need changing.

I got called today by a reported from NOW magazine in Toronto. This getting called for quotes is becoming a regular thing. Weird. I'm an expert, I guess. Anyway, her article was about gossip and she wanted a Buddhist perspective. I told her that there is a precept against spreading gossip. I've always found that one sort of funny. I mean, the other precepts cover big issues like killing and stealing. But they chose to include a vow not to gossip in there too, right with the "grave precepts." It seems kind of trivial by comparison. But it must be important. Even so, every Buddhist temple or retreat center I've ever been to is a non-stop gossip factory. It's like being at a hair salon or something!

I think the key thing is that gossip always points way from yourself. You pick out faults in others. But you do not know the lives of others. There is no sense in pretending you do. It's a waste of everyone's time and energy. You can't say, for example, "That guy over there is violating the precepts!!" You do not know what the precepts are for that guy. Never. Ever. No. Forget it. If someone's hurting someone else maybe you should intervene. But such cases are very rare. Mostly it's none of your business. Even in such cases it's never good to assume an air of superiority. Just do what needs done. Gossip always assumes the gossipper is morally superior to the gossippee.

She also asked about thinking before you speak. I told her that in Buddhism we don't really view thinking as the best basis for deciding what to do. In my own case, rather than thinking before I speak, I tend more to look at my state of mind and body before I speak. If I feel that I'm about to say something defensive or hurtful, I usually stop. If that means not speaking at all, fine. Most of what most of us say doesn't really need to be said anyhow.

Here's what's left of the gigs:

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.

48 comments:

Blake said...

It appears that we have the same ideas about gossip. I see this first-hand with my fiance's friends. See, she teaches high school and all of the teachers there are really young (why hire attractive girls, straight out of college to teach high school boys is beyond me!). Being young and new to teaching, they are unsure of themselves and their abilities. This naturally leads to gossip. But I don't think that gossip is simply a way of pointing towards something else. I believe that it's also used as a tool for self-evaluation. Albeit a crappy tool, but a tool none the less.

Personally, I think it's better to do the best you can and trust that if you screw up, someone will call you on it.

On that note, I would love to attend the Dogen Sangha retreat in Japan. *sigh*

courtesy flush said...

"If you are the kind of person who gets rankled by things you will find things to rankle you no matter where you go. Guaranteed."

Well said!

Dim said...

Hey, thanks for pointing out yet another layer of my stupidity that needs to be stripped away.

(flips brad the bird)

Seriously.

grisom said...

I hereby insert the obligatory comment about Lucifer having nothing to do with it. Still a silly way to protest, though.

My dad once said that while he doesn't like to gossip, he found it vital to listen to gossip in order to do his job—he needed to know what the various authority figures under him were up to and how people felt about them.

Lone Wolf said...

Brad - It's a bummer that I didn't get up north to see you at Kent like I had planned. Obstacles. Maybe next time.

Congrats on the new album release!

Later, man.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Blake said...

Mysterion: I wish they had hired hot teachers for my high school. No wait... I take that back. High school was hard enough... errr... difficult enough... as it was.

pot kettle black said...

Lessons in Self-knowledge for our beloved punk-sensei:

to brad, from brad:

"But I could have achieved the necessary communication without being harsh or nasty and I should have done so.

You pick out faults in others. But you do not know the lives of others. There is no sense in pretending you do. It's a waste of everyone's time and energy.
Even in such cases it's never good to assume an air of superiority. Just do what needs done.

Most of what most of us say doesn't really need to be said anyhow."

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

Brad,

Your Shizuoka link goes to the 2007 event. What gives?

Anonymous said...

your airport blogs are the best!

keishin.ni said...

Recently the topic of precepts came up on another forum where I posted this, thought I'd place it here as well:

From Book IV of Master Dogen's Shobogenzo (Nishijima/Cross translation) pages 178-179 of the chapter Kei-Sanbo (Taking Refuge in the Three Treasures), last night I stumbled upon a passage in which it would appear that precepts are to be found in abundance:
..."Typically, following the wrong teachings of non-Buddhism, [people adhere to] the ox precepts, the deer precepts, the rakssa precepts, the demon precepts, the mute's precepts, the deaf person's precepts, the dog precepts, the chicken precepts, or the pheasant precepts; or they coat the body with ash; or they make their long hair into forms; or they perform fire rituals for four months; or they take air for seven days; or they serve to various gods offerings of hundred thousand kotis of flowers; and all their desires by this means they [strive to] accomplish. There is no affirmation that such methods can become the cause of liberation"...

In this little excerpt, a whole new view opens for me vis a vis this word precepts.
It would seem that everybody, everywhere lives by precepts. It would seem that if an anthropologist were assigned to follow each of us around, observing our behaviors and taking notes, they'd be able to discern Rules for our behaviors and those rules would be our 'precepts'.

So Buddhist precepts are a special category of precepts among precepts. As far as I know, Buddhist precepts are a way by which harmony in the sangha can be engendered, maintained, protected. I get the sense that they serve as a kind of Amy Vanderbuilt/Emily Post etiquette for many different people living together in close monastic setting under conditions which could at times have additional stressors (rainy seasons, little or no food, etc.)
How to preserve harmony? Precepts!--but not just any ol' precepts--Buddhist precepts!
No one says you're limited to only practicing Buddhist precepts while in the sangha or while interacting with other Buddhists--why you can practice Buddhist precepts wherever you find yourself and with whomever you happen to be with: they are a means by which circumstances can be approached in such a way that harmony is maintained, (or engendered if it is not present).

But it is very interesting to note from this excerpt of Shobogenzo that the precepts--even Buddhist precepts--are not a place of refuge.
And when we take them on, it is personal--I take them, and I promise to keep them well, I don't promise to enter into a competition where I strive to keep them better than someone else. These buddhist precepts are like my underwear: I might call them a personal 'moral foundation garment' and as such they aren't a subject for typical social conversation. Only I know how often I need to 'freshen' my precepts so that they function non-offensively--both to myself and to others in contact with me. Some people wear 'push up precepts' or 'fanny enhancer precepts' and it looks like they've got precept cleavage, or abundant buttocks: an illusion. To my way of thinking, Buddhist precepts aren't there to make me look more attractive--(that might be the function of another kind of precept somewhere in the inexhaustible list of ox, deer, chicken, mute person, etc...)-- I believe when Buddhist precepts are fully functioning they aren't noticeable at all: odorless, colorless, formless, I believe it would feel like wearing nothing at all.

grisom said...

These buddhist precepts are like my underwear: I might call them a personal 'moral foundation garment' and as such they aren't a subject for typical social conversation.

That was wonderful. I'm going to have to start using that simile.

David said...

thanks for the notes on gossip. i've been a bad gossiper lately and it hurts inside. gotta stop doing that right now!

rokrok said...

She also asked about thinking before you speak. I told her that in Buddhism we don't really view thinking as the best basis for deciding what to do.

Funny thing is people only PRETEND to think before they speak. If you really try to think before each word, you cannot speak, you stutter. My childhood... Your childhood?

So-called "confident" people just tell you they don't have to think anymore and more blah-blah but actually they just babble like everyone does. Overwhelmed by their fears and desires because they don't recognize them.

So to be connected to your feelings is very important. It makes people appear "soft", also in a negative way for others who are not used to that. But you approach some state that some call "authentic". Whether that is a good thing, well, everyone has to find out herself/himself.

HezB said...

Poor Brad, poor us.

Because we like to think that we can someday be Zen Masters when we are perfectly enlightened (in fact, aren't we already... more enlightened at least?) we deeply resent the fact that Brad taints this wonderful picture by being a pervy, narrow-minded, vindictive hypocrite.

Such expectation, such anger.

A puppet cannot be considered an idiot because it doesn't really have a choice in what it does. We're not puppets, we have freedom and dignity. Look at what we do with it!

Regards,

Harry.

PA said...

I think gossip goes a lot deeper than just being 'talking about something we don't know'. It's a serious issue. Each time I want to talk badly of someone else to a third party I feel myself getting slightly elevated, as if I'm above the object of my gossip. The person I'm gossiping to, also becomes elevated. We become a unit against the object of our gossip. It's like propaganda, almost. To protect ourselves in a group we try to get as many allies by gossiping and creating our own group within the group till eventually you have a mass of people connected by a common enemy. I don't know whether I'm going overboard here, but I find gossip is really tempting in order to get power within a group.
So I try really hard to avoid gossiping and those who gossip...
Doesn't leave me with much :-)

DB said...
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Anonymous said...

Jundo is on about the precepts again. Ssnctimonious git. Just uptight if you ask me ...


And I do think that sex generally belongs within a loving and long-term relationship. But I also recognize that things happen outside of loving relationships sometimes, and I think it not a problem if nobody gets hurt by it. My attitude is much the same with regard to alcohol consumption: generally, it should be avoided or kept in moderation (I drink a glass or two of wine with dinner). But, all human beings have "nights out with the boys" when "more than a few are consumed". I find that no problem if (1) not every night ... if it is every night, there is a problem and (2) nobody gets behind the wheel of a car. The reason is that someone will or is likely to get hurt. It is the same for sex in my book.

The bottom line for me is always whether someone is getting hurt by conduct, or whether it is harmless, or helpful and heathful.


http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10634#p10634

gunderloy said...

Concerning you and Jundo

You wrote: "...rather than thinking before I speak, I tend more to look at my state of mind and body before I speak. If I feel that I'm about to say something defensive or hurtful, I usually stop. If that means not speaking at all, fine."

sorry, this would be a helpful line of thought if you were sincere about it but it sounds like a line of bollocks coming from you..

maybe you had this revelation after you sadistically mentioned for about the one hundredth time the unfortunate e-mail Jundo Cohen dashed off in anger and which he has publicly stated he wished he hadn't. You can justify repeating it everywhere by claiming to only be showing his own angry words but it is all too obvious what you are up to. (see the above posting for the fruit of your action) You are just as petty and vengeful as he is if not more so.

HRH Queen Elizabeth said...

My, how frightfully un-cricket of you.

Sincerely,

E.

HH The pope said...

Lizzy, you old bitch, you're every bit as bad!

See you at the races,

Ratz.

his holiness the dalai lama said...

aah, um, you ahh all foking um, nuts.

yah, um, see you at du races, rlatzie.

xx

Jundo said...

Your Holiness, your language is atrocious. There may be children reading this.

J.

Brad said...

Your Holiness,

Don't let him bother you, can I interest you in a subscription to this fascinating and topical website; it mightn't seem like 'your sort of thing' at first, but it actually contains Buddhist articles... ain't that funny?

B.

ps. Have you read my book?

Gudo said...

Ven. Brad,

You should know the poses which the young ladies are adopting on that website are not conducive to the balance in autonomic nervious system.

G.

Chris Crocker said...

Leave Jundo alone...

Jundo is off on his own solo trek with a new branch of Zen...

The Treeleaf Zendo book club is currently reading Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's "OPENING THE HAND OF THOUGHT."

Jippo juji setsu said...

good readin' here

UncaDan said...

"Take It Away" by Paul McCartney

The single from 1982's "Tug of War album. A post Wings solo effort.

Beatle Geeks are people too.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

Albert Einstein described belief in God as "childish superstition" and said Jews were not the chosen people, in a letter to be sold in London this week, an auctioneer said Tuesday.

The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion have been more ambivalent and fueled much discussion, made the comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.

As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other people".

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Albert Einstein regarded religions as "childish" and "primitive legends", a private letter he wrote a year before his death has revealed.
link

HezB said...

He also called the Beatles "gay" at a cocktail party in Lord Lucan's holiday chalet.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, The Vatican sez it's OK to believe in aliens now..

Anonymous said...

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time." -— Isaac Asimov

-----

Ouch! Giordano Bruno was born 460 years too early.

Anonymous said...

For any open-minded Buddhists at MIT
this Friday...

====================================
Topic: 9/11: Blueprint for Truth
Speaker: Richard Gage, AIA

Date/Time: Friday, 16 May 2008 at 7pm

Location: MIT Campus - Bldg 54, Rm 100
====================================

Anonymous said...

there is a whole new cottage industry springing up pandering to the conspiracy nut cases.
big money is being made catering to people's paranoia.

Blake said...

Just looked at the Treeleaf Book Club. Man they drag out a damn book!

Anonymous said...

I have a friend of a friend of a cousin who says the his sisters husband's half-brother who works in the cafeteria at NASA, told him that NASA is going to announce to the world today at 1:00 est that a huge UFO has been spotted behind the moon.

Anonymous said...

NASA has scheduled a media teleconference Wednesday, May 14, at 1 p.m. EST, to announce the discovery of an object in our Galaxy that astronomers have been "searching for for fifty years."

A little bit from NASA's site:

"To do that, thousands of people have been working around the world -- and off of it -- for almost 50 years, trying to answer some basic questions. What's out there in space? How do we get there? What will we find? What can we learn there, or learn just by trying to get there, that will make life better here on Earth?"

NASA was created 50 years ago.

Here is NASA's original mission statement (before it was changed:

"To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life."

HezB said...

I do hope they've finally found God; that would clear all this shit right up.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

that was a pretty cool NASA press conference until mysterion managed to phone in at the very end..

Anonymous said...

"I do hope they've finally found God..."

Funny! I guess when you do, you keep doing science anyways, if that's how you're earning your bread.

The funniest science is neurology - a brain studying a brain - hilarious!

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous sed...
"The funniest science is neurology - a brain studying a brain - hilarious!"

Metacognition

Neurology is the consciousness studying the 'vehicle of consciousness.'

Anonymous said...

If you had MS or ALS, you probably wouldn't think neurology was funny anymore.

Rich said...

From Jundo
http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10634#p10634
"My attitude is much the same with regard to alcohol consumption: generally, it should be avoided or kept in moderation (I drink a glass or two of wine with dinner)."

My past experience tells me that drinking a glass or two at dinner on a regular basis is not moderation or good karma. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system resulting in feeling less physical and/or emotional pain. Perception is altered and reality is not just like this. How can this be good for maintaining mindfulness, clear mind, don't know mind. The chances of not maintaining correct action and creating bad karma is higher under the influence of alcohol. It's called intoxification because alcohol is a toxin and is poison to the body. Moderation to me would be a few sips but not on a regular basis.

Jesus Control said...

It's not about alcohol or no alcohol of meat or no meat. Do not avoid that which is benefiical but avoid that which is harmful.

The polyphenols in red wine and raspberry extract are beneficial to digestion.

For middle-wayers, do not serve your wine from a small or large paper bag. Keep your bottle in a medium paper bag.

pcsolotto said...

Nice blog. Thats all.