Saturday, May 03, 2008

SHOW TONIGHT

Zero Defex's first show on our 2008 tour is tonight at Pat's in the Flats in Cleveland. Tomorrow we're at Kent Stage in Kent. The complete gig list is in the post below this one (too lazy to cut and paste this morning).

The weather here in Akron is gray and chilly. I love it! It's been so long since I've been able to enjoy some chilly gray-ness. Santa Monica is always sunny and warm. That's nice. But I enjoy clouds sometimes, and cold, and rain. Even snow.

I was noticing the other day how, when people want to try and get at some Zen teacher, they'll say "That's your ego!" It happens to me a lot and Brian Victoria tries the same thing with that monk at Antai-ji he writes to (see below). I guess this is supposed to be the most hurtful thing you could say to a Zen teacher or monk, and is intended to make that person defensive in return. It's not my ego, it's your ego!! I have no ego! Nyah! Sometimes it works, too. Just look at the Zen forums on the Internet. Leggo my ego! Cute stuff.

And speaking of cute stuff, I just saw that the latest photo set on Suicide Girls today features Dusti, one of my SG friends (though we've never met in person), posing with Noah Levine's book Dharma Punx. Nice set. She's cute.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

One!

(have a great show :0)

AnonyMouse0))) said...

"But I enjoy clouds sometimes, and cold, and rain. Even snow."

come to vancouver washington. you could even crash at my place if you'd like. dont worry we dont bite... too hard

-anonymouse

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...

"If a person can be a fully acknowledged and respected zen master and yet hold such deep delusions, then despite all the cute answers, zen (at least as these people have practiced it) is worthless and one could as well spend that time masturbating or reading books while declaring such activity is the manifestation of buddha nature."

Or, one could do some real good
that eases the suffering of all, such
as finding a sustainable energy source
before global warming causes severe
pain for all on this planet (you know,
war, famine, pestilence, death,
and all that jazz).

Anyhow, extremely well said, anonymous.
So far, no one has adequately addressed
the issue you bring up above. Maybe it's
time to throw out my zafu and spend that
freed-up time studying more math, physics,
chemistry, biology, and computer science
(and, I'd have more time to masturbate ;)

Thanks.

ricki4000 said...

The problem is that people look for the person (call it ego if you like it) not what there just is.

Indeed, as long as teachers like Brad keep pushing people to zazen and buddhist dogma people WILL look for pure, perfect people in their teachers. He said often on this blog that he thinks people will "change/improve" through zazen.

It's like pretending that changing the government will make me get my dishes done.

Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky.

Being an experienced "Zen practitioner" (and then teacher) is a little bit like being a good sculptor. You can be an asshole at the same time, it doesn't change your sculpting skills. But the chance to get your stuff sold decreases when you act like an idiot. And the nice guys get all the chicks...

Fark, so far for buddhist morale for today.

Mettai Cherry said...

I was at a public talk with my current teacher and someone in the audience asked him

"How much of your ego do you have left?"

He answered:

"All of it."

Oddly enough, zen teachers get hecklers in person too.

anonymous said...

buddhism could be seen as rising awareness that i am/have an ego.

once i really accept that i might change or not.

the place where this all happens is untouched.

Anonymous said...

I've certainly got an ego... AND I'm deluded!

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Did Sawaki torture and kill innocent people? I don't know shit about Kodo Sawaki. I've read some of his Zen stuff and it seems pretty on the beam to me. Victoria seems to be upset that Sawaki went to war at all, and I can see his point. But what about all the Buddhist US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, are they all bad people? Everyone has good and bad in them, and we could talk about it for a long time, but my question is 'what am I doing right now?'

What I've noticed about the lines I draw are that they're not fixed. It's not like I've got this line and some things are on one side and the rest on the other side. It's more like I see something or someone I like or don't like and quickly draw a line. Right this second Sawaki's role (good or bad) in the war doesn't really have much effect on me. Maybe later I'll learn more and it will.

The bit about sitting without a goal isn't something mystical. If you're doing anything else and precisely sitting, you're not "just precisely sitting" (shikantaza). But sure, zazen has an effect on you. It's usually positive, but humans can and will fuck up just about anything. One of the nastiest arguments I ever saw was on a Buddhist Vegetarian forum. Enlightenment isn't a state, it's an act, and everyone knows right and wrong in each moment.

Why sit zazen? Why do yoga, or jog? Why eat right? I've masturbated for decades, and sat once a week for the last four years. I'm very good at the former, but in my experience the sitting has had a more positive effect, and I noticed this after sitting regularly for just a short time. I recommend sitting zazen and have little bad to say about masturbation.

Rob

Anonymous said...

"I was noticing the other day how, when people want to try and get at some Zen teacher, they'll say "That's your ego!" It happens to me a lot"

No doubt! LOL

My nation is the greatest, my sect is the closest to truth, my teacher is the best. My dad can whip your dad. The cure for such delusion isn't found in berating ourselves for having ego (or having this pointed out by another) but in penetrating honesty here and now. Honest awareness, not according to some dogma or creed, can illuminate the roots of the problem and bring freedom from it.

If our zazen is not identical to this open, honest inquiry, it's merely a technique for quieting the mind. Such superficial meditation, even when performed in the 'correct' posture for many years will not end delusion.

Everyone doesn't say things to 'get at' those they may disagree with. I realize this may be different from the (apparently acceptable) practice of trying to 'get at' other zen teachers and others with whom we disagree by calling them clowns, butt buddies, slimy ilk, dickheads, asswipes, idiots, etc. But simply pointing out that certain delusions are rooted in ego is not name-calling or insulting.

That which hurts, but is profitable, is drunk by the wise like medicine.
For the result, afterwards attained, becomes incomparable-------Nagarjuna

I have
discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing.
That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color -
something which exists before all forms and colors appear.
This is a very important point. No matter what god or
doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based
more or less on a self-centered idea ---Shunryu Suzuki

Only by accepting that the ego is a fabricated illusion do we walk the Buddha's way.----Master Dogen

By calling ourselves this or that, we ensure ourselves against further disturbance, and settle back. One of the curses of ideologies and organized beliefs is the comfort, the deadly gratification they offer. They put us to sleep, and in the sleep we dream, and the dream becomes action. How easily we are distracted! And most of us want to be distracted; most of us are tired out with incessant conflict, and distractions become a necessity, they become more important than 'what is'.
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.

The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.------J. Krishnamurti

Yudo said...

Another Onymous wrote (quoting Krshnamurti):
"When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence."

I'm not so sure.
I've noticed that having an identity, and knowing what it is, and not having problems with it is quite an efficient way of accepting the identity of others, and realizing that we are one mankind.

Those who manifest the worst racist, segregationist, xenophobic etc. tendencies tend always to be those who do not trust the value of their identity. Either they will mistrust the others for the menace they represent, or they will hate the other for the mere not being alike (but, deep underneath, because the difference is felt like a menace).

You need a strong ego to realise it's a fabricated illusion...

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

Or, one could do some real good
that eases the suffering of all, such
as finding a sustainable energy source
before global warming causes severe
pain for all on this planet (you know,
war, famine, pestilence, death,
and all that jazz).


Is this the old, "why meditate when you could be saving humanity" argument?

Technology enlarges our reach, but doesn't direct it. The direction usually comes from our desires and hates, which is why the world is in the messed up state it's in now. The world has enough wealth today to solve the problem of poverty and provide basic health care for all. And renewable energy sources are already here as well. So why doesn't anything get done? Well, turn on the television and see how much of the news appeals to our better side instead of our base emotions. We're whipped up into a lather of fear and anger every day. Maybe taking a step back, sitting down and meditating is the best way to start. A calm mind is the starting point for the solution to our problems.

Anonymous said...

jinzang said...

"Maybe taking a step back, sitting down and meditating is the best way to start. A calm mind is the starting point for the solution to our problems."

With all due respect, jinzang,
it appears you are missing the
point of the previous anonymous
posts.

The cause of concern was that
so-called "Zen masters" were
encouraging their followers to
follow State propaganda into
unnecessary wars of aggression.
These "Zen teachers" were people
who had spent 30 years or more
practicing meditation.

It certainly appears that sitting
did not make their words and actions
any more wise and compassionate
than your typical government-thug/
State-backed-gangster.

And a note to smoggyrob: I've been
sitting for a few years now and the
only change I've noticed is that my
knees often hurt throughout the day.
Why I continue, and for how much longer,
I don't know.

Anonymous said...

For the theists out there,
God was just a hallucination.

Anonymous said...

Please, please be careful of the knees
Injured knees happen when ligaments are compensating for what muscles should be doing
Find suitable posture for your physical ability right now (reality) and incrementaly (applied materialim) work to improve it (realizable idealism)

Jinzang said...

It certainly appears that sitting
did not make their words and actions
any more wise and compassionate .


Everyone starts meditating with some sort of expectations about it. And when they see long time meditators behaving badly, they have doubts about the value of practice. So they want to know what they can reasonably expect from practice, without any BS. This is a tricky subject to talk about for several reasons. First, because it's difficult to talk about what happens to the mind in meditation because Western languages don't have the framework to discuss it. Second, talking about what happens in meditation can create expectations, and these expectations are obstacles to practice. But, I'll do my best.

One analogy often used for meditation is a pail of muddy water. Normally the mud is stirred up by our daily activity, but if we sit quietly, the mud settles to the bottom, leaving clear water. So this is calming the mind, the first stage of meditation.

Let's extend the analogy by saying that a golden statue is in the pail of water. As the water clears, the statue becomes visible. You don't have to make the statue, the statue was always there, only it was hidden. Similarly, as the mind becomes calm, its real nature becomes apparent. This is glimpsing the real, the second phase of meditation.

You might think, that's the final goal of practice, but it is not. After that, one must apply what one has seen to daily life. This is not any easy or automatic thing, it's quite a difficult practice. Even experienced practitioners make mistakes here and sometimes seem to behave worse than someone who's never practiced. If you judge a person by their worst behavior, certainly it will seem that a long term practitioner has made no progress. But there is a difference. A practitioner will be learning from their mistakes, but a non-practitioner probably will not.

There's another side to this. A practitioner's behavior is guided by their understanding of the precepts. Have some understanding of things as they are does not automatically make your behavior spotless. If you misunderstand the precepts, you're going to have learn them the hard way. So practice and keeping the precepts go hand in hand. This is why the idea that enlightened practitioners are beyond the precepts is false and destructive.

Getting back to the original question, the problem with Japanese Zen masters who supported the war is not that their practice was faulty, it was that their understanding of the precepts was defective. This is not so surprising. People who are kind in everyday life can be blood thirsty when it comes to international relations, shouting "Bomb them back to the stone age!" So many Japanese misunderstood the precepts, and they certainly learned their value the hard way.

So the point is that meditation may be the heart of Zen, but it is not the whole of Zen, You cannot expect meditation practice to do for you what it was not meant to.

As far as your personal practice is concerned, a feeling that you are making no progress is quite normal and expected. In fact, it can be said that you can't make progress without sometimes feeling this way. I don't mean to be clever or Zenny, but that's the nature of the beast we are stalking. The best thing is if you can talk to your teacher about it. The other best thing is to continue to practice every day without expectations about what will or should happen.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not so sure.
I've noticed that having an identity, and knowing what it is, and not having problems with it is quite an efficient way of accepting the identity of others, and realizing that we are one mankind."


Most christians, muslims, jews, buddhists, hindus, communists et al aren't so sure either. We are loathe to look closely at or loosen our grip upon the various labels, names and concepts which we have identified with.
This has nothing to do with identity or labeling in the superficial sense. When a survey asks what race you are, you can still check 'asian, etc'. When someone inquires about your nationality you can still answer american or chinese. Ego identity is real in a limited sense. In the sense that dreams are real dreams. But you are not your name. You are not any label that you identify with.

You speak of having an identity and knowing what it is...do you know what it is? Is it a name? a nationality? a member of a religious sect? All such labels and identities are born of conceptual thought. Brad wrote an excellent essay once about unity and diversity where he used the example of a hand and the fingers of that hand. We usually see only half the truth. As if we could only see a group of five fingers, individual and separate. The other side is that even though each finger is unique, they are yet one hand. K isn't suggesting erasing the individual fingers or combining them into some monstrous glob of oneness. Even the idea of 'we are one mankind' can be just another idea or fabricated abstraction. Only direct perception of the nature of identity brings any clarity.

J. Krishnamurti was / is a lousy teacher for beginners, imo. It was only after many years of daily zazen that I could even begin to comprehend what he was getting at. Bad teacher for beginners, but many dharma teachers would do well to read his teachings more closely.

The Buddhas and all sentient beings are only one mind; there is nothing else. This mind, since beginningless past, has never been born, never perished; it is not green, not yellow; it has no shape or form. It is not subject to existence or non-existence, and is not to be considered new or old... This very substance is it; stir your thoughts and you miss it. It is like empty space; it has no bounds and cannot be measured. Just this one mind itself is Buddha. Buddha and sentient beings are no different; it's just that sentient beings grasp appearances- seeking outwardly, they become more and more lost.---Master Huang Po

Just don't attach to names and words, classification and phrasing. If you have understood all things, naturally you won't be attached to them. Then there is no multiplicity of gradations of differences; you take in all things; but all things won't be able to take you in. Fundamentally there is no gain or loss, no illusions or dreams, no multiplicity of names. You should not insist on setting up names for them. ---Blue Cliff Record

When this body is regarded as mine, body-karma is produced; when this speech is regarded as mine, speech-karma is produced; when this mind is regarded as mine, mind-karma is produced. Whereupon covetousness follows, precepts are violated, anger arises, and indolence, distraction, and an evil way of thinking against the Six Paramitas. This is not the way of the Bodhisattvas.---prajna paramita

Anonymous said...

"the problem with Japanese Zen masters who supported the war is not that their practice was faulty, it was that their understanding of the precepts was defective."

Thankyou Jinzang!
Another excellent analysis. It may not be the accepted view here, but it is common understanding in most of buddhism that without a proper ethical base built upon the precepts and the paramitas, meditation can be not only useless (regardless of time spent sitting or posture) but possibly harmful. Right meditation is just one of the 8 fold path. Without a comprehensive approach, meditation (or zazen) can easily degenerate into mere technique. Much of japanese zen seems to have become a cult of spontaneity.

If you can slice off your enemies head 'no-mindedly', this is a manifestation of buddha nature....Not

rugrat said...

"the problem with Japanese Zen masters who supported the war is not that their practice was faulty, it was that their understanding of the precepts was defective."

I second that.

Neo-Advaita often expresses inquiry without moral standard. That's the great thing about Buddhism, it doesn't create warlocks like Scientology.

DB said...

Quoting Jinzang: " one must apply what one has seen to daily life. This is not any easy or automatic thing, it's quite a difficult practice."

Yep. Very concise statement of the problem there.

Let me try to explain how I think my practice has begun to nudge, just a teeny bit, my everyday behavior.

This past week, I've behaved like the egregious butthead that I am. Never mind the reasons and the triggers that set me off. Those are just excuses now. I behaved like a twit, just like I always have behaved in the past.

And yet, there's one subtle difference. I think in the past that when I acted like I did this week, it was because I expected that behavior to make things better, to fix the problems I was experiencing. Instead, I knew, even as I was doing it, that what I was doing was just making things worse, that I was causing a whole lot of suffering for me and everyone around me.

While it was useless because I didn't act on it, I wonder if I would have that insight without this practice? The failure to live up to what little I think I've learned in my practice doesn't negate the value of the practice. In fact, I think it's just another step in the continuoum where I (hopefully) learn from past mistakes.

In essence, my practice forces me to face up to the fact that certain behavior IS a mistake. I can't dodge that by feeling justified or put upon or blaming external circumstances. It's easier to see after the fact, in a calmer moment, that I was behaving badly. The real trick is to see it in time to head it off. As Jinzang said, it's neither an automatic nor easy thing to do.

Rich said...

Everyone thinks Zen is a magic bullet. You practice, get enlightenment then everything is just great. Life and death become fun and easy to do. My experience tells me different. I have to work hard every day to keep even a shred of clear mind. Emotions arrive like storms that I have to ride out. But I keep trying, practicing because it makes me stronger. I hope it's like this for a long time.

sde said...

A practitioner will be learning from their mistakes, but a non-practitioner probably will not.

That's the fundamental difference.
Thanks.

Everyone thinks Zen is a magic bullet. You practice, get enlightenment then everything is just great.

That is caused my the misconception of "instant enlightenment". Hui-neng never meant you don't have to practice, he just said, you don't have to WAIT.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone thinks Zen is a magic bullet. You practice, get enlightenment then everything is just great."

About the only people that I know of that think this are those that do not actually practice zen or have just begun. Those old stories about x suddenly getting enlightenment remind me of the children's fairy tale ending; "and they lived happily ever after."

In rinzai zen (if I can be so heretical here) there are degrees of enlightenment. The initial kensho or first glimpse is usually considered the beginning of the path, not the end. Many years of cultivation are often required to bring the ox under control and many more before we can throw away the whip.

Just as certain soto zennies poo poo the whole idea of enlightenment, distorted ideas have also cropped up in rinzai where some believe that having some sort of kensho experience means their zen practice is finished.

"I have to work hard every day to keep even a shred of clear mind."

Same here. And that's with daily sitting practice. Most who imagine they can accomplish this without sitting meditation are simply fooling themselves. And I'd put most neo-advaita teachers in this category as well.

yoyo said...

Same here. And that's with daily sitting practice. Most who imagine they can accomplish this without sitting meditation are simply fooling themselves.

I would agree you need practice, but there are some people (not me) who really achieve this without Zazen but with other stuff like calligraphy or just a very modest lifestyle.

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