Friday, June 06, 2008

THAT'S ZENTERTAINMENT

I've been thinking about my love/hate relationship with this blog, its comments section, writing, and Zen in general. As so many nice people have kindly pointed out, the quality of writing on this here blog is not up to the standard of my books or Suicide Girls articles. And to that I say, d'uh!. And possibly even, no shit Sherlock.

The whole point of blogging is that it's spontaneous, immediate, uncensored and largely unedited. Plus I don't get paid for writing this stuff, which gives me even less reason to sit and labor over it for hours and days and weeks and months like I do over books and pieces for Suicide Girls and other paying customers. I often write this stuff here as a kind of warm-up for writing "better" stuff later. It's funny how writing works almost like exercise in that way.

Anyhow, take the comments section. Please! At first I was really jazzed about it because of the promise of immediate feedback for my writing. Then when I started reading the comments it got really depressing because even a lot of the nice people seemed not to be really getting what I was trying to put across. Then there were the trolls. And by "trolls" I'm not simply referring just to people who question or challenge what I say. That's fine. I like that. I'm talking about people who are deliberately trying to be hurtful and mean. If you've ever clicked on the comments section here you know exactly what kind of responses I'm talking about and exactly which ones I'm not talking about. But click down there right now and I can guarantee you some troll is pretending he doesn't.

Whatever.

It's let me know that real communication is a very rare thing. Possibly one of the rarest things in this world. We talk and talk and talk at each other. We write mountains of words. I was in a Jewish bookstore on Fairfax with Ben yesterday marveling at hundred and hundreds of books I'd never even suspected existed. Yet here were all these words trying desperately to mean something to someone. Just like all the Buddhist books at Bodhi Tree bookstore over on Melrose Avenue. But it's so seldom anything really penetrates that when some random thing does get through it seems like a miracle.

Which is why I'm fed up with providing Zentertainment. Zentertainment is Zen as entertainment. It's when you stand up in front of a bunch of people and make Zen noises at them and they look up at you and go, "Oooh" and "Ahhh" in response. I talked about Dharma talks last time. And afterwards I started wondering where this phrase "Dharma talk" even originated. It's certainly not a phrase I ever heard used by either of my teachers. I can't say I've even once heard a "Dharma talk" by either Tim or Nishijima. And yet I've gotten all warped and corrupted by the corporate Zen world and have been trying the last few years to deliver the foul things.

But I don't feel like I'm communicating anything at all when I get into that mode. It satisfies the punters. But it does nothing for me. And, seriously, I don't think it does anything good for the audience either. It just gives them fantasies. And if I want to give people fantasies I'd rather give them fantasies about monsters and flying saucers than about Enlightened Beings and The Great Dharma.

Which doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to communicate. As Katagiri Roshi said, "You have to say something." So I'm gonna keep on saying things. But it's gotta be more real than it's been lately.

Anyway, that's just some random unedited bullshit I'm throwing out to you before I have to go find things to keep my nephew from bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day.

See ya!

106 comments:

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

Hey Brad,

Let your nephew have a go a your blog. It'd be interesting to know what he thinks of the whole zen scene or at least what he's seen his crazy uncle go on about (if he has any particular view at all).

It's tough being on this side of the screen too. I blogged my own bit the other day about "blog-lust".

I often wonder if I should be quipping and such here instead of doing something that 'matters.'

From some point of view, messing around in this sandbox seems to be a good way to test ideas and learn a little something now and then - from another its just enforcing delusion and a waste of time (ego chasing).

If I didn't do it here, I wouldn't have any place in 3d land to do it (or maybe its if I ddn't do it here, I would go and make it happen in my 3d world)

Get the paddles, I'm going into mental fibrillation.
-Lauren

DT said...

Quick! Trademark "Zentertainment"! It may help pay the bills. At the very least, it will go down as one of the blogosphere's most excellent expressions!

flamingnerd said...

http://emiliewood.com/photos/june2005/7-june-05-flower.jpg

PA said...

If I were you (and I am, aren't I?) I'd be done with the comments section. It is becoming like Zentertainment! I quickly read your post then straight to the comments to wade through a load of rubbish, ignoring the temptation to click on suspicious looking links. Then a couple of hours later, I've completely forgotten what you'd written and am ready to give up the computer for good.
Your posts are often really good. There's always something to ponder on. They're unique. Why waste it with a really junk-ridden comments' section?
I wouldn't.
(Yeah, I know, I don't have to read them! But there's a lot of bad stuff I'm not in daily contact with. Doesn't mean I don't want to put a stop to it.)

Anonymous said...

Brad,
Maybe you could rig it so people have to post their real names in order to comment? Might be worth some of your time.

Please keep up the posting, though, I for one greatly enjoy the richness and texture it adds to my own practice.

And you know, it's so great to hear about this stuff from someone who's not a crunchy granola hippy or some dipshit New Ager.

best,
jason

Anonymous said...

this is the thing that I like about all this Buddhist stuff in general - it ain't never dry, it ain't never dull. Opinions get put to the test in all sorts of ways, but the cool thing is everyone is pretty much on the same page with regards to finding some kind of self-improvement, just with different slants and angles.

What I like about Brad's postings is you kind of get an idea of how one particular individual sees things from his 'Buddhist' perspective and that's interesting whether you agree or not.

You know, a person can go completely mad trying to absorb all that's written on Buddhism this and that's, but it's the day to day stuff of how people handle certain situations that interest me.

Too bad there weren't more sites out there on just that - what would a Buddhist do (in general) to any given situation? What would a Buddhist (in general) say?

By the way Brad, if I visit you, can you arrange for the Suicide Girls to entertain me?

cheers

Anonymous said...

Brave on, Brad!

You're the only Zen teacher
with the cojones big enough
to allow anonymous comments.

Trolls are part of the process;
take us with a grain of salt.

If anonymous commenting got
turned off, though, that would
probably be a good thing, for
then your blog would join all
the other Buddhist blogs that
I don't read, and I'd have one
less way to procrastinate.

Tienes grandes cojones, amigo!
Bravo!

Ay caramba! Es tiempo para
sentarme y callarme!

Anonymous said...

Comments :
My sitting is just sitting but my experience of the world is different then before I started sitting. I try not to figure it out , i just sit.
I need a teacher. There is one in my neighborhood. I am at the point where i need a teacher because there is a part of me that sez, if everything is empty then what the hell? not a solid attitude i realize.
taking responsibility for my life moment to moment.
Intellectual understanding of dependent arising is not enough but I guess i have to start somewhere.
Maybe this is just zentertainment, or just another judgement. This blog and the two books have helped deepen my practice.

Anonymous said...

yes please kill us off.

Mike H said...

Brad,

it doesn't matter. Write about dinosaurs or anything else. The Zen will always be there between the words - and you already know this. You've done it often enough.

The same people will miss the message and the same people will get it. I rely on it all the time.

So have some fun. Write about whatever you want and have behind it an intent to convey some truth. The truth will leak through.

For example:

Write about T-Rex and compassion without mentioning compassion.
You might even succeed...

But, hell, you know this shit.

Anonymous said...

brad,

better to keep the anonymous comments,
otherwise you'll end up like
flapping pie-holes
or some such shit.
y'know,
borrring!

earDRUM said...

Brad, I have been reading your stuff for several years now... since the early days when you posted essays and invited a handful of us to email comments. Those essays were early versions of what became your first book. So the writing was good. Those were good days for me. I learned invaluable lessons, and I am eternally thankful to you for that. It changed my life.
Then you took to writing articles that were still somewhat serious in their intent, yet maybe wouldn't be included in your next book. Those were very good articles too. More insights for me.
Then this blog appeared. At first, I loved it. The posts were fun, quickly-written thoughts and insights. Lots of fun irreverence. And occasionally there was some deep stuff about zen. Back then, the comments section was inhabited by a nice bunch of people, who had some very thoughtful things to say. I learned a lot from those discussions. I want to thank those people.
But lately, I get the impression that you're getting tired of this thing. I sense mostly frustration in your posts, even when disguised as humour. Occasionally there are wonderful blog entries with useful things. But I'm finding myself less drawn to this blog.
The comment section just pisses me off 90% of the time. It isn't worth my time to drudge through anonymous troll crap.
So I can understand how you feel. Maybe it is time for a change...

tc

Stephanie said...

But it's gotta be more real than it's been lately.

I wholeheartedly support this statement.

Anonymous said...

Brad, just gotta take blogs and comments for what they are.
The best and worst thing about this new crazy blogosphere is that anyone can chime in on anything.
You get the best part of freedom of expression, and multitude of viewpoints, and the worst part of haters, trolls, and everything in between.

A blog is not a book, a book is not an article, and so on.
Use the blog if it helps you, but just take it for what it is.

MJ

Mysterion said...

Neo woke up...

Good for you Brad - an increment.

And QUESTION people. The time they talk reduces the time you may need to talk...

Sometimes we forget the things in our life that count - the flower on the weed growing in the cracked sidewalk rather than the crack in the sidewalk.

As a like long slumberer, I'm going back to sleep...

Ga-sho-nuff
O-cha-ryu
(Tea, in nest)

The Architect said...

Brad,

You just need a holiday. :) Whenever I feel like this I just take a break, and then I feel better about it all after a while.

Also, think about this. If this blog is upsetting you then what is this 'you' that it is upsetting? That's an interesting thing to ponder. Yeah, I know that's just basic Buddhist fodder.... and you're a Zen priest, and I'm a nobody trying to tell you about Buddhism, but sometimes it's easy to miss the simple things in life, especially when you are an "expert" on the subject.

Anyway, I'm hoping you don't stop. You make a difference in the world, even if you don't realise it. Keep on keeping on.

Alef said...

It's funny how I think I understand this post perfectly well even though I probably got it wrong in at least some way … and it's wonderful somehow.

Anonymous said...

are you not zentertained?!

Rich said...

Brad's above writing on Zentertainment is the dharma talk. the books and articles for pay is for the continuation of his conciousness to enable the dharma talks.

Anonymous said...

That's Zentertainment...


ZENITH RANT STATEMENT !!!

Mountaintop Rebel said...

1) We're all pretty much anonymous on the internet anyway. If Brad banned anonymous comments, I could just start a blogger account with this same name on it. For all I know, Brad could be some Thai Orphan in Bangkok. If he somehow rigged it to where it could only display "real names", I could post that my "real name" is Mortimer J Harrifellow Von Thelonious the third or whatever. I also live between three towns, so messing with IPs wouldn't do anything.

2)I used to (a couple years ago, when the blog started) post a link to my blog, and it got inundated with stupid comments from Brad groupies very quickly. I don't mind criticism (like Brad, I only delete actual spam) but I'm not setting myself up for people who really are trolls (unlike all but maybe 2 or 3 commentators here).

3) Brad, what's with the fucking whining? You say "And by "trolls" I'm not simply referring just to people who question or challenge what I say" but it's pretty clear that this is exactly who you're referring to. "I'm talking about people who are deliberately trying to be hurtful and mean." Pot, kettle, black. You having the balls to criticize people for allegedly being unconstructively insulting is chutzpah at its finest. Quit being such a friggin baby because there are people who don't kiss your ass. Jeez.

"As Katagiri Roshi said, "You have to say something." "

Didn't he used to bang his students? I'm sure some of the uber zennies on here have some reason that this was ethically okay. Not that this invalidates what he did as a teacher; I'm just not clear on why guys like him are considered, at worst, flawed geniuses by zen dudes but when a Tibetan/Hare Krishna/whatever does it, suddenly "you can't seperate teachings from a teacher".

noiret sym laden said...

The Sermon of Nasrudin

One day the villagers thought they would play a joke on Nasrudin. As he was supposed to be a holy man of some ineffable sort, they went to him and asked him to preach a sermon in their mosque. He agreed.
When the day came, Nasrudin mounted the pulpit and spoke:
"O people! Do you know what I am going to tell you?"
"No, we do not know," they cried.
"Until you know, I cannot say. You are too ignorant to make a start on," said the Mulla, overcome with indignation that such ignorant people should waste his time. He descended from the pulpit and went home.
Slightly chagrined, a deputation went to his house again, and asked him to preach the following Friday, the day of prayer.
Nasrudin started his sermon the same way as he had before. This time, the congregation answered as one:
"Yes, we know."
"In that case," said the Mulla, "there is no need for me to detain you any longer. You may go." And he returned home.
Having been prevailed upon to preach for the third Friday in succession, he started his address as before:
"Do you know or do you not?"
The congregation was ready.
"Some of us do, and others do not."
"Excellent," said Nasrudin, "then let those who know communicate their knowledge to those who do not."
And he went home.

Anonymous said...

Cant we love each other

http://digg.com/odd_stuff/Royce_You_Know_Nothing_Weird_Funny_Sad_MUST_SEE

Anonymous said...

for those of us who come away with encouragement from your blogs, please keep it going
for those of us who are challenged by your blogs, please keep it up

for serving as a 'troll feeding station' and thereby keeping trolls from messing up someone else's blog by providing them a place right here to be all troll-y and such, keep it up

I have always hated and loved that this blog is open to all. I read the hater comments and I wonder 'what are they reading?'
and of course it's not what they read, it's what they read into
the wind, the flag and the mind all waving
It sure makes my day
to be able to 'check on the blog' and have something new and yummy be there
is this zentertainment?
It's more like checking the mailbox

You will never be a zentertainer, Brad

That doesn't mean there won't be people who are zentertained: these are the same people who turn everything into entertainment and who will do anything to avoid the only thing there is to find facing the wall

I liked how the guy described sitting at HSC--
your blog is like that too
an opportunity
we each make of it what we will
this opportunity
this blog
this one life

Did I thank you yet for what has been so helpful for me, but appears to be getting painfully tediously a pain in the ass for you?
Don't let it's helpfulness for me keep you a moment longer doing what you don't have the heart to do any more.
Just now, while the blog is still up and I'm alive and typing let me say THANK YOU

Jinzang said...

Maybe you should talk less and listen more. And instead of guiding people where you think they should go, you can help them get where they want to go. If some guy comes in thinking Zen will help his kung fu, figure out some way you can help his kung fu. By listening and helping instead of teaching and guiding, first, you'll surprise people, and, second earn their gratitude. And that will create the basis for them listening to you.

I'm not saying you're particularly bad at listening and in need of remedial listening lessons. The problem is pretty nearly universal, which is why I can recommend it though I've never been to your group.

Anonymous said...

good luck bud. the life unfolds :-)

pete said...

I don't read the comments on your blog brad, that's not why I tune in
(except this one of course)
I like the fact that you blurt like george costanza
it's refreshing and it aint hurting anyone
pete
New Zealand

mindless troll said...

"You having the balls to criticize people for allegedly being unconstructively insulting is chutzpah at its finest."

Mountaintoprebel, Great observations. Next week tune in as Brad denounces zen teachers that call people nasty names and those that hold onto narrow dogmatism.

Brad, you keep insisting that so many readers here don't get it. It may be more profitable if you'd really ask yourself if you get what others are saying as well. Specifically, if there's anything in some of this criticism you get here that may have some substance to it. Rather than just being defensive or dismissive, try really looking at what is being said. There is no self-knowledge apart from relationship and our fiercest critics can be our best teachers.

Get back in touch with your inner doubtboy. Let go of all the importance that goes with being a writer or zen teacher or head of DSI. Question everything, especially yourself. Honestly examine the teachings / dogma that have been handed down to you, whatever the source. You have respect and affection for your own teachers. Do not let this blind you to their faults or keep you from questioning what they have taught you.

You have enormous potential.

Mysterion said...

MULLA NASRUDDIN: THE SUFI JESTER
here

Sufi alludes to Sophia (wife of god).
Sufi it the plural form of Sufiya, from the Greek 'Sophia' meaning wisdom. more

Genesis 1:26

"Let Us create man in image - Ours and after Our likeness - male and female."

Who was El speaking to? Sophia.

Oooooh... history, anthropology, archeology.

Mike H said...

mountaintoprebel:

Ironically, there is one troll I can think of who is now almost an anti-troll.

Only a few days ago I found him teaching the truth to a deaf person. I almost fell off my chair in laughter at the irony.

This particular troll had spent a considerable time finding out for himself whether 'meditation' had any benefit. He found out, poor bastard!

The people with the most sufferring are the ones that might well be the most willing to listen. They also might not be fun to be around.

Some trolls are here to troll, some might be here to listen and learn. You can never really tell.

Mike H said...

mountaintoprebel:

I have also been known to go trolling if I thougt it would help.

I've also been known to go troll-hunting if I thought it would help.

I also am mindful of one incident when I was trolling a troll and my behaviour was as bad as that of the troll. The blog owner did not condone or condemn my behaviour but he did permit it to continue for as long as it was necessary.

Brad has met that particular blog owner and we both recognise him as a teacher who has imperfections like all of us.

Mike H said...

mountaintoprebel:

...and I have over the years repeatedly put myself into reach of two trolls - one 'Buddhist' and one not.. I found it beneficial.

Trolls sense weakness and will attack. It's a quick way to learn where your flaws are.

Eventually the troll has nothing left to bite on and/or you no longer react.

The sun is shining and I'm going for a walk. It's saturday after all.

Urban Bodhisattva said...

Brad,

Your early internet articles were fresh and easy to understand. Check this out - it was a classic:

Zen is boring

It's a bit cheeky and irreverent but it has a great point. A good alternative to some of the fuzzy New Age interpretations out there. It was very influential on me in the early days of my own practice.

But there's a fine line between iconoclasm and arrogance. Some of your more recent stuff has degenerated into pointless criticism of virtually every other Buddhist on the planet and without much real substance to the article. It's not surprising the quality has dropped after all this time and with books and SG articles to write. Of course some people will take offense - no wonder some people bite back in the comments. Why is that a surprise? What goes around comes around. Call it karma if you like.

As mother used to say 'if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all'. My suggestion is that you post here less often, giving yourself more time to write a quality piece.

Best regards

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

Go Brad, Love you and your Zen outlook. Cheers for taking time to blog.

JB said...

Do it. Bring it on, man! I thought some-one said "can" the comments. Not sure about that one? Conversation is good. Even bad conversation tells you something. It is sure easier way to know what to write!

noiret sym laden said...

Mysterion completely misses the point.
Again.
At least he's consistent.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." RWE

JB said...

& for the record: you inspire me to do some zazen aswell (as the other people that have confessed..).

JB said...

i am sorry. but, i just read someone saying you should only post when you have something nice to say. hahahahahahahahaha. (like i said, sorry..)

JB said...

okay. i swear this is it. i just read another one (naming this one!) by mindless troll.
"you have enormous potential"..

O! M! G!

not sure if it is really obi-wan in disguise or the son of man himself! who the fuck are you to decide what another person needs to do to progress along the spiritual path? either you are aware how embarrassed you should feel or you just don't know what megalomanical arrogance looks like from the inside out. fuck me.

Mountaintop Rebel said...

JB wins this week's stunning lack of irony award.

Anonymous said...

Very good Blog today Brad. You know this is my first post but I check your page each day. I am a firm believer in the ancient Buddhist adage: When all is said and done, more is said than done!
It is always somehow refreshing to read your stuff but it is the silence,the gaps between the words, syllables and letters where you really speak.

Anonymous said...

Who could disagree with, "I'm talking about people who are deliberately trying to be hurtful and mean." Can't think of anyone who wrote a few books that might refer to? Maybe one of the Three Stooges of Bite Me Zen: BBB, Tim and Gudo? Get rid of those Trolls, sit with your faithful few, get laid, get $$ and keep your groupies happy.
.....Troll

Mysterion said...

noiret sym laden sed...
"Mysterion completely misses the point. Again."

I was just back-filling information for those who are not familiar with MULLA NASRUDDIN and the Sufi (followers of Sophia) crowd.

The introduction of the Magna Mater cult in Rome, which was brought from Pessinus, was in BCE 205/204. The cult of Cybele is another Magna Mater (Great Mother) cult. The Mary Cult of the Catholics and the Isis Cult of the Egyptians are others.

Sofia fits neatly into this genre.

see: H. Berneder, Magna Mater Kult und Sibyllinen.

UncaDan said...

I've been a passive observer for a while. In the last year I have commented maybe twice. I have found 90% of the comments uninspiring and at times pointless. That said Your(Brad's) books and blog posts have been informative and helpful or at least just a little bit of reality. Not enough to send me to a Buddhist temple or zendo, but enough to help me see things a little clearer. What attracted me to your writing was not that you seemed to have an all-knowing insight into all things, but that you were able to explain those things I needed to know in a way that I could understand and relate to. We have similar backgrounds, born in the Midwest about a year apart, hated popular radio, became a bass player/musician, explored spirituality, had mystical experiences etc. I have read my share of books and only a few have won a place on the shelf next to me on my desk. in the end it's all just words, what is, is (cliche, I know) everything else is just perception, perspective and interpretation. Keep writing and I will keep reading.

Mike H said...

I've been wanting to write something about vows without being trollish. I think this covers it.

Over five years ago I had some serious legal shit to deal with and had already been screwed over by one lawyer. Another offerred to take my case Pro Bono but there were conditions.

He flew into London to meet me. He agreed to take my case on the condition that I agreed to see it through to the end. This was not a lightweight promise that either of us was making. We both knew that the case could take years. We also both knew that for me to appear in court would not only be traumatic but expensive since the court was in a different country.

When I made that vow I mentally thought that I could maybe keep it for a year, no more before I went mad.

In fact to see things through to the end took five years and cost us both a lot.

Every time that I needed to appear in court I had to take 3 days off work and hop on a jet. Every court appearance required papers to be filed - which meant translation and Fed Ex fees and court filing fees.

Keeping my vow to him was the most unfun that I've ever had. It also cost the lawyer a lot to keep his vow to me - including several late nights preparing documents and several trips to visit various people - at his cost - and of course hopping on a jet to go to that country if he wasn't there that week.

The vows we made to each other were unconditional. We didn't know if we could keep them. We didn't know if they would make a difference. We did know that we would do all that we could to keep them regardless of whether or not it was easy or difficult or pleasant or unpleasant.

I think after five years he was as fed up with the matter as I was. But he kept his vows and I honour that. In keeping my vows to him I also kept the vows I made to a charity who helped and I wrote them a cheque.

When we appeared in court and he donned his robes the colours indicated how senior he was. When people saw me in that courtroom they knew that I had flown into the country just to be there. It all helped. People could see that we were serious.

If the lawyer in vowing to help me had put conditions on it or I had put conditons on it such as "until it became inconvenient" or "until it wasn't fun anymore" I think I would have been screwed.

Mike

Mike H said...

I should also mention that when we met we could each see in the other the cost of keeping that vow. We didn't have to say anything, it was in our eyes.

It was a matter of honour to both of us to keep our vows.

Anonymous said...

48

Anonymous said...

mike h, did you get $$?

Al Capone said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"mike h, did you get $$?"

Not only did he get money, he got triple-berry pie with vanilla ice cream at Baker's Square.

We all end up with out just deserts.

Anonymous said...

Al,

"with out"

funny typo?

noiret sym laden said...

And Mysterion continues to completely miss the point. Be sure to let us know how that works out for you. Let us know in excruciating detail with multiple cross references, weblinks and academic analysis that is completely wrong. Maybe you should even start your own blog. Oh, wait. You already have a blog. A blog that nobody reads or comments on. Which is why you continue to pollute this blog with your pretentious bullshit and misinformation.
SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!
\kyosaku/
\kyosaku/
\kyosaku/

Anonymous said...

I'd like to get back to the question "How come there are fewer women on the zafu than men" (as a rule).
Someone could do an interesting study just on this topic (and get to meet women who practice zazen).
Women of zen--why do you stay?
Women who came and didn't stay--why did you leave?

......discuss.....

StardustinPrison said...

Hey Brad, I'm new to this site and from what I've read so far, I'm very curious as to who you are and what you're all about (so you bet your ass I'll be coming back). That aside, I'm in a Buddhism community on Livejournal and I was talking about how I just started a community about Noah Levine's "Dharma Punx" and its basically about how the book has affected people, buddhist punks with similar issues and even buddhists struggling with addiction. Anyway, someone said that I should run it by you, if you wanted to check it out. THEN another person said that you said you didn't have much in common with Noah and probably wouldn't be interested. In either case, just figured, I'd give you the site address and you can either check it out or not. =) Can't wait to check out your next entry.
Namaste
Mel

StardustinPrison said...

Duh, I spazzed and totally forgot to include the address http://community.livejournal.com/dharmapunks/profile

mindless troll said...

jb, I'm not obiwan. I'm not a teacher. But I did stay in a holiday inn express last night.

"decide what another person needs to do to progress along the spiritual path?"

Don't all zen teachers do exactly this? My advice wasn't meant to be mean-spirited. Just trying to be helpful. Unless Brad is master kenobi himself, he should be in need of feedback as much as any of us. I feel no embarrassment. Your diagnosis of megalomania is difficult to make going only on someone's written words. Must one be an egomaniac to criticize or give advice to Brad or any other zen teacher?

JB said...

lol. again, sorry.. i know i really should not do this..

but, no. i dont actually think that is what zen teachers do. i think they do what they do, and if you extract some benefit from what they do then all the better for you!

sorry, are you equating yourself with a zen teacher?

JB said...

and yes. if you criticize or give other people advice you are an egomaniac. (i am aware of the irony here..)

greenie said...

"decide what another person needs to do to progress along the spiritual path?"

I don't quite get the criticism of this.

Nobody can decide for Brad - of course - goes without saying.

Decide what one thinks Brad should do ... maybe.

But this still isn't necessarily what Brad should do!

Besides, what does 'progression' mean? Truth is here all the time. Maybe progression occurs but the spiritual path is surely about being aware of what you are (or are not) rather than keeping in mind some distant goal.

OK, Devil's advocate here, but just felt like sayin' it!

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the article, but I was watching one of Brad's talks on YouTube and under related videos it said "Tera Patrick rides the Sybian on Howard Stern." I though that was pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Given that there's 60 some comments here already, and I can guess without reading them all that you haven't answered anyone, usually the people who are going to write a comment at this point are just the ones that like to hear themselves talk and aren't actually listening to you anyway.

Thing is, sometimes a word or two gets through to someone. Dharma talks are like that. You're not likely to hear from folks the Dharma talk gets through to as much as you're likely to hear from the folks who like to hear themselves talk talk talk. Sometimes, people NEED to just hear themselves talk talk talk, so let's not be too harsh on them. You're not going to know when anything you have to say about the Dharma gets through to anyone, that's the point here. When you sometimes DO get a glimmer, that's even more rare than someone else getting a glimmer from you. When you get a glimmer that a student hears something from you, a glimmer strong enough that you KNOW they get it, well, so far as I understand Dogen, that's when you'll be transmitting the Dharma to someone else and they'll be fulfilling your transmission from your teacher.

I'm just saying, it's that rare, and you should know that, shouldn't you? When someone "gets it," that's very little to do with you, much more to do with them.

Just what I think. But I need to sit more often, so maybe I'm just talking 'cause I like the sound of my own voice.

yukontodd.livejournal.com

Anonymous said...

me thinks there are too many people here trying to get others to read their own blogs.

6.3 said...

63

When I'm ... said...

64

Harry said...

Everyone who reads my blog receives a t-shirt in the mail with the slogan "I'm gay for Zen"

on the back shall be the slogan "Dharma talk" atop an arrow pointing towards the wearer's evacuation hole.

Regards,

H.

MTroll said...

"and yes. if you criticize or give other people advice you are an egomaniac."

Yes jb, much irony there. By this criteria you are also suggesting Brad (& yourself) are egomaniacs since he frequently gives advice and is never short of criticism.

As I think Brad mentioned in another blog entry, we all tend to habitually impute various mindstates to people based upon their written words. It's a fools game, but we can't help ourselves. We often project our own inner conflicts and attitudes upon others. Like criticizing other's for being insulting or rude while engaging in this same behaviour (as mountaintop pointed out).

JB said...

hey MTroll,
i guess my point is just that you (and I) are not Zen Teachers.

So, the addiction to commenting is HIGHLY likely because of our ego.

Does this logic apply to Brad?

I guess that is up to whether you see him as a Zen Teacher or just another person.

Either way, I think it is respectful to consider yourself just a normal person.. which unless I was not paying attention (again HIGHLY likely!) Brad seems to.

The question is does Brad dish out advice and critize?

Call me a groupie. But, no. He does not. Not to my mind at least anyway.

Why not?

Because he does not care how the other side of his argument reacts or takes what his says. He has very little interest in the outcome (while not being without interest or care). I am not going to say his words are empty.

Whatever.. Too much bullshit talking. (I should have just stopped at: "i guess my point is just that you (and I) are not Zen Teachers")

and Brad might be..

Mtroll said...

jb, You assume brad doesn't care how other's react to what he says because he is a 'zen teacher'. From reading his comments I get the impression that he probably does care. Either of us could be mistaken.

I don't place much importance in such labels as 'zen teacher'. Brad's value as a zen teacher depends upon his own understanding and ability to teach zen and not upon labels or certificates.

Cleary writes:

"After the Song dynasty, with the weakening of institutionalized Zen, there was increasing interest in lineage and transmission among some Zennists. Nevertheless, some of the most universally recognized Zen masters of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) did not fit into any lineage at all. In Japan, on the other hand, where Zen was transmitted from Song dynasty China, in an era when institutionalized Zen had already been highly formalized and deeply corrupted, there was generally more intense interest in official succession than there had been in China. (p. xix)"

From Ken Kraft's book Zen Tradition and Transition:

"Today all but a few monks are sons (usually the eldest sons) of temple priests, and they are expected to inherit the positions held by their fathers. (p. 165)

Because Dharma transmission is a prerequisite to becoming the head priest of a Soto branch temple, virtually all Soto priests meet this ritual requirement at a relatively early stage in their careers."
(p. 173)

"Dharma transmission has been awarded and is still awarded for many reasons besides spiritual attainment. In fact, it was often not based on spiritual attainment at all, most especially so in Japanese Soto Zen, which is the sect of Suzuki, Baker and the San Francisco Zen Center. In this sect, Dharma transmission is commonly a father-son transmission ritual culminating in the son's inheritance of the family temple. Spiritual attainment, insight into timeless truth(s) or any other profound changes in one's inner life play virtually no part in the majority of these Dharma transmissions or in the every day functions of these roshis.

But the Soto sect tries to have it both ways. It allows bureaucratic transmission, but it also uses "historical" biographies of eminent masters presented as desireless beings, the koans, and the many Zen stories and dialogues (mondo) to legitimize and to enhance authority, that make clear that transmission is given because of a deep insight into reality or spiritual attainment. Read any of these texts of Zen, The Book of Serenity, a Soto sect koan collection, being one prominent example, and this will be abundantly clear."--Stuart Lachs

Not to misunderstand, I believe Brad has genuine insight and he does practice zazen. But in my view to be a zen teacher requires much more than simply practicing zazen x number of years or being approved by your own teacher. As I said, he has great potential, which is why I continue to read his blog and books.

oas said...

If Brad wanted to hone his teaching skills... he could try one of about 35 colleges in the area.

Or he could broaden his base from Dogen.

There's always the Ph.D. at UCLA

Stanford is better.

Hayduke said...

I check in now and then and take what I can, leave the rest.

Some trolls are just hilarious false personas, but most are tiresome and apparently aren't as funny as they think they are.

You're the only Zen Buddhist I know of that talks about the stuff you do- fucking and jerking off come to mind immediately, but I know there was some other colorful stuff. Not too pretentious- that's gotta be worth something.

Keep going or not- I'm sure your readership will get by one way or another. I for one have been entertained. Thanks!

Hayduke said...

Oh shit! I posted from my false persona's account!

Well- Aloha over and out- Terminal Misanthropy.

Simone said...

Brad,

If it's all getting to be too much hassle, stop blogging. Maybe if you stop, you'll see how (un)important it was. Then decide to start again. Or not. This is the first time I've read your blog, although I like your books a lot. (Hey, Zen and Punk rock! Two of my favorite practices!) I'd like to sit with you one day. I grok your style. God, I sound like a groupie. I hate that.

steve said...

Brad:

If you can't come up with a ZENphone and pose like THIS guy, or THIS guy, or THIS guy, then perhaps you can partner with Apple to create some iZEN thing.

Anonymous said...

TROLL ALERT:

As Katagiri Roshi said, "You have to say something." So I'm gonna keep on saying things.

American politicians are beginning to
WAKE UP!

Time to inject some reality into this blog:

A moving picture is worth 10,000 words.

Anonymous said...

TROLL ALERT:

As Katagiri Roshi said, "You have to say something." So I'm gonna keep on saying things.

American politicians are beginning to
WAKE UP!

Time to inject some reality into this blog:

A moving picture is worth 10,000 words.

plaudertasche said...

I agree with Brad. By reading most comments you can tell most don't get it. What's to get? That there is nothing to get. Just open your f'en eyes and step beyond mind and words...LOL Its between the absents of words people!
Stop trying to get it and be it.
We are a bunch of little monkeys driven by shinny things and a lot of words. Ahh the irony of it all, must make you laugh.

Anonymous said...

76 coments because Brad san threw his toys out of the pram.

Sit Down and Shut Up indeed :)

Anonymous said...

hi mike c. !!

Anonymous said...

Please let me be wrong, please, please, please
I got the feeling that this was a good-by blog
I was checking on the blog at work, because this blog is such a boost for me when I'm on my break or at lunch.... of course all around me are wonderful things if I look,..but this 'checking the blog' is so very cool. Using my electronic toy to hold this blog in my hand, 'like a candle in the wind.'
Of course all of this can be put down and put aside,
and maybe after all, that is best.

But I'm telling you, I'm going to miss this blog, miss putting on my high water waders and slogging through the comment section, panning for the gems.

Brad, You are better than the best! I'm sorry I haven't expressed my true appreciation of your sharing your thoughts regarding the stark, stripped down version of zen you favor. And then it has been such fun to have a sample of whatever else is in your mind or come across your path such as the various bands you've let us hear songs of, etc.
Especially when you've been on the road, I've liked learning of the adventures (the killer cat in the night, etc).
My heart says you are, but tell me you aren't saying:

uubdee uubada uubdee ubada

THAT'S ALL, FOLKS!

Anonymous said...

Out of the ashes, arising in Phoenix...

Don't ya just hate disco?

Anonymous said...

Brad, sounds like you need a bit of positive feedback so here it is. I listended to one of your 'dharma talks' that you posted on this blog. As I recall there wasn't a mention of any 'skillful means' or any other Zenbull, just a bit of ramble about needing to say something to someone and God knows what else. But it was a great talk. I listened to it twice and still think about it. What was so good I couldn't say, other than that it conveyed a certain attitude that I'm sure I somehow learnt from.

Keep it up and stop whining.

Tom.

Anonymous said...

Buddhist cliches suck. After a while they become a barrier. All talk on Buddhism should be banned here with only vague allusions to it allowed. From now on we talk only in metaphors.. Our language will be poetry!

Harry said...

Brad,

I think the standard of writing on this blog is very good compared to most other blogs.

What may suck more than Zen clichés is making too big of a deal about Zen clichés. If we don't clarify it for ourselves, regardless of clichés or the absence of clichés, we may as well just follow our silly little byroads of devout Clichéism or devout Non-Clechéism.

Gassho, Regards, Namaste, In Mindfulness, Bite Me etc. etc. etc.

Harry.

Anonymous said...

As soon as you see something you want to slap a name on it and put it in it's proper box. And as soon as you decide on a name and put it in it's proper place, you are no longer seeing it as it is.. You are only thinking you are seeing it. You are making it fit to your thoughts about it which is ass-backwards. Cream pies to running dog zen sloganeer's!

Rich said...

Thinking, feelings, perceptions come and go.
Practice just being.
Letting go or attaching - who is that?
The moon is real when you experience it.

Anonymous said...

here's a moon for you:

OO

Ifthenwhy said...

I don't know, Warner.

Perhaps you "protest too much"?

I'm thinking you really dig all this "Zentertainment" horse shit. If you didn't one would think that you'd just kill the comments and/or shut down this blog.

Simple solution yes?

Jules said...

I prefer my zentertainment to address more interesting subjects. Cannibalism, for example.

TODD: What is that?
LOVETT:
It's fop.
Finest in the shop.
And we have some shepherd's pie peppered
With actual shepherd on top!
And I've just begun --
Here's the politician, so oily
It's served with a doily,
Have one!
TODD:
Put it on a bun.
Well, you never know if it's going to run!
LOVETT:
Try the friar,
Fried, it's drier!
TODD:
No, the clergy is really
Too coarse and too mealy!
LOVETT:
Then actor,
That's compacter!
TODD:
Yes, and always arrives overdone!

I'll come again when you have JUDGE on the menu!

z0tl said...

more w0rds for you to ban:

transmission - because the kind you've got is worth even less than the ceremonial shit they do in japan + you're into the soto shit (daily ignoring your personality which is CLEARLY rinzai) where what use is there to transmission anyway since you guys have all already seen IT clearly, now just kinda sit to pass time & bullshit...

dharma - this one you should replace with wharma, brought to you by warner litezen, sponsored by godzilla industries or whoever your japanese monster movie friends are.

you know, give wharma talks to make people's hearts all fuzzy with joy and suicide girls.

you know what else you should do? change your sitting ways, because 45 minutes with beginners will cause people to lose their cookies with numbness/pain.

you know, you could do 2 x 30min with just a bell for shuffling in between and keep your kinhin only on the hour.

2 hours (sit,bell,sit,kinhin,sit,bell,sit) stretches is what you aim for anyway if you want to prepare your sangha for real sesshins, not the kind where you have to call grandma zen hardcorezen and laugh at anyone who dares tell you that you're a baby.

Harry said...

Oh, sweet Jesus...

I think I am secretly rinzai as well; but how tha fuck am I gonna tell my dad, he's soooo old fashioned!

H.

Jinzang said...

Is there anything sillier than a zen student using words to tell you zen is beyond words? I guess there are no true propositions in zen. but there are true propositions in meta-zen.

your personality which is CLEARLY rinzai

In my limited experience, zen students tend to be rather meek souls. Brad strikes me as an ordinary guy, which makes him several shades bolder than your average zennist. Not that there's anything wrong with meek. Jesus dug meek.

The truly depraved souls are the fake tantrics, who lie about being recognized as tulkus, get drunk on the best whisky to show their lack of concern with convention, and seduce their female students.

Anonymous said...

hardcorezen = zentertainment

Sorry for pointing out the obvious!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're not going to stop trying to communicate, Brad.
Blogging is its own interesting phenomenon.
It seems to bring out the middle school/high schooler in people. By that I mean the cheap shot retorts and such. Many folks might say that your style of writing might incite this or encourage it, I really don't know.
I have always found your style to be playful, and funny, but from comments clearly others take offense and get their elbows out roller derby style to flatten you every chance they get.

As much as I come away 9 x out of 10 from reading your blog with something very helpful to my zen practice (meaning my life in general) I can urge you to please continue communicating. Wasn't there talk at one point of you going back to an old fashioned typewritten paper 'zine?

I actually think that would be way cooler. We could subscribe to the thing and you could get some income for these articles--

Please think about it.
And of course we could send letters to the editor--bet you 99.9% of the school yard taunting will go away.

I used to think it was a kindness to give such folk a place to exercise this behavior--so they wouldn't be doing it elsewhere, but I'm thinking now that it is kinder to get rid of the opportunity which engenders opportunists. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm hoping your summer is going to be a good one. Take good care of yourself and start that 'zine up, you know you want to!

Ted Winkworth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted Winkworth said...

Hey Brad... I hate that I'm posting this here but I'm not finding your email and I want to give this to you. You've been really influential in my writing and I've ripped you off in more ways than I can count. Just want you to have some awareness of the positive influence you're having to balance out all of the shit talk... sincerely, thank you.

I am the Messiah

Anonymous said...

Brad - I always get the biggest kick out of looking at your avatar. Is there anyway you could be having more fun.. And what was that crap you said about wanting to be bored?

Anonymous said...

Jinzang - Do you think that Chögyam Trungpa was a truly depraved soul? He seemed to have met most of your criteria. At the same time he was able to accomplish a lot of positive things and had a friendship with the rather meek Shunryu Suzuki.

98 said...

98

Jules said...

LOVETT:
Here we are, now! Hot out of the oven!
TODD:
What is that?
LOVETT:
Zen priest. Have a little priest.
TODD:
Is it really good?
LOVETT:
Sir, it's too good, at least!
Then again, they don't commit sins of the flesh,
So it's pretty fresh.
TODD:
Awful lot of fat.
LOVETT:
Only where it sat.
TODD:
Haven't you got poet, or something like that?
LOVETT:
No, y'see, the trouble with poet is
How do you know it's deceased?
Try the priest!

(In case you're wondering, I'm trying to freshen the air a little in here. Reeks.)

Anonymous said...

Just take time off from this blog. Even zen teachers have the right to recover from an overwhelming workload.

David said...

re: being in the moment, here's a nice dhammapada quote from daily wordz of the booda:


Let go of the past, let go of the future,
let go of the present, and cross over to the farther shore of existence.
With mind wholly liberated,
you shall come no more to birth and death.

Dhammapada 24.348

z0tl said...

never mind, i'm a fukken idiotroll, you DO sit 30 min rounds & where the 45 idea came into me, i can't tell.

but okay, i agree with tom, less whining/defending and more of doing whatchu be doing.

& just try some rinzai man, not because soto is the shiznit and rinzai is the pits, they're just meant for different personalities.

soto (water method) is for softies.

rinzai (fire method) is for headbangers balls.

you are a very rowdy guy who makes a lot of noise (you call music), so what you need is a master who beats the shit out of you with the keisaku/kyosaku in sanzen/dokusan every day.

every time you write a whine post, WHACK! every time you defend something you do, WHACK! every time you threaten to take your toys away and stop playing with them evyl trolls, WHACK! every time you stop being the dick that you are and try to act all compassionate pussy, WHACK!

WHACK, WHACK, WHACK!

you think your style to beat on zen teachers is oh so daring and new?

have you tried reading some hakuin, yo? put your dogen sleepware in the closet for a while if you really want to come out with that new book of yours that's really meant to shock anyone.

as it stands, you can't even match a troll, but you wanna be all "cocky" and write a book about how fucked up the masters are.

Anonymous said...

Headbangers Balls Zen – Doesn't quite roll of the tongue as well as Hardcore Zen but it's worth looking into.

babbles said...

I enjoy Brad's writing and hope he keeps it up. For better or for worse it is usually entertaining and more often than not it is just a wee bit educational.

ignoring your personality which is CLEARLY rinzai

My astrology chart of the day totally said my personality was going to be rinzai for the rest of the month before it wanes into a bit of soto near the end.

Anonymous said...

If one is called a horse's ass 3 times, perhaps it's time to buy a saddle.

As another anonymous already posted:
pot, kettle, black

I say, right speech.

Anonymous said...

I am very thankful for this blog