Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 DOGEN SANGHA RETREAT REPORT


Lemme see... We had 20 participants at the start of the retreat and 16 at the end. Most of those who left had planned to go home early. One guy came from Europe and the jet lag proved to much for him so he opted out early from total sleep deprivation, which was probably a good idea.

A number of people came from Germany for the retreat. Two from Chile. And one guy from Finland. One from the US. The rest were from Japan, though even these were a mix of Americans, Canadians, English people and Japanese. All of these folks came specifically for the Dogen Sangha retreat and not to see me per se. The DS retreat was an on-going thing for about a decade before I ever even attended one, let alone started leading them. So I feel kind of duty bound to keep it the way Nishijima Sensei set it up.

A few of the people who'd been to other retreats were a little put off by the fact that we don't keep strictly silent. It's more or less standard operating procedure at Zen retreats that there is absolutely no talking. Even eye contact between participants is discouraged if not outright forbidden. The DS retreats have never been like that. It's a bit of a different atmosphere.

One woman who came from Germany said she felt it wasn't quite as deep when you allowed talking. I can see her point. Having done both silent and non-silent retreats, my take on it is that the silent ones do feel somehow deeper. But I'm not sure if they're necessarily actually deeper. What I mean is that I feel like Zazen has its own depth. Whether you notice it or not is something else. In that way maybe it's like sleep. While you're sleeping you're not really aware of the depth of sleep. It's more about what you feel like when you wake up. And my feeling following the DS style mostly, but not totally, silent retreats is a bit more stable than the feeling I have following totally silent retreat. After a silent retreat I feel a bit spaced out and funky. It's a good feeling. But it's a bit like being stoned, and there's a comedown just like when you're coming off some primo weed. I don't get that from retreats where a bit of social interaction is allowed.

Uh... what else? It seemed like I had more to say...

There was a funeral on the last day. So we got to listen to them chanting during our final round of Zazen. There was a lot of rain, though no typhoon. That passed us by the night before the retreat began.

I shot some video, which I'll put up after I get back to California. I didn't have enough tape to record the lectures. Which is probably a good thing. I guess they were OK. Seemed like people liked them. Peter Rocca was taping them on some kind of digital audio recorder. So maybe we can put the files up. I kind of improvised this time. Usually I follow Nishijima Sensei's tradition of doing a lecture on the life of Buddha, one on the life of Dogen and one on some aspect of Shobogenzo. But this time I did one on Fukanzazengi and one on Genjo Koan and then winged the rest.

Got some good shots of one of the gigantic spiders that live in the temple. That should be fun.

Guess that's it.

By the way, I'm starting to read the comments again. Things seem generally OK in there lately. It's always funny to see people make broad sweeping statements about what kind of person I am based on what I write, even though they've never met me. It's cute.

I'm at work. Gotta go do stuff.

Bye.

ADDENDUM

I know what I wanted to say. It's related to the above regarding what I'm like (as if that matters anyway, but people seem interested). I observed in my teachers a tendency to keep everything very open. This included being very open about themselves. I don't mean they confessed a lot of sordid details of their pasts. I don't know much about Nishijima's personal history, for example. But they presented themselves very clearly. They were not like the spiritual people I'd encountered before who seemed to hide behind the mask of a generic "spiritual person." They were, instead, very genuine.

My way of imitating that behavior is to be very clear about my own utter lack of holiness. Yeah, I write for a porn site (actually, Suicide Girls is not porn, but so many people say it is). Yeah, I dig Godzilla movies. Yeah, I'm pretty much a stickler for the type of practice I learned and I've got no time for anything else. Yeah, I think certain people are jerks and I enjoy saying so. I also downplay those aspects of my personality that might seem holy. Mostly this is because I've been so burned by "spiritual person" types.

When I was given the task of being a Buddhist teacher, I decided the only way to do it was to be myself. I briefly tried to play the "spiritual person" game, albeit in a very half-assed way. But it didn't work. I don't recommend it at all. It gave me headaches.

Shunryu Suzuki (I think it was him) said it's sometimes helpful to imitate the behavior of saints. I think that's true. But in my own case I've had to try to find a way to do that and still be genuine. That's the tough part.

In any case, it's not about me. I use myself as an example in hopes that might prove useful to others.

Shit. Now I really have to go back to work...

61 comments:

Lone Wolf said...

An old roommate of mine who studies with Shodo Harada Roshi once told me about the gigantic spiders in Japan. I'm looking forward to seeing the video footage of the DS retreat.

jamal said...

Brad, How is Nishijima nowadays?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good retreat.
The Suicide Girls article was excellent.
Glad typhoon passed you by.
I'm jealous about the rain
Haven't seen rain or been in the rain since I can't tell you when.
How's the finds from record stores?
Got any new faves to put up there for us?

Thanks!

Lauren said...

A comment by Jules to the previous post made me think out the value of the sesshin.

I got...

3 nights accommodation - granted I was sleeping on tatami with 10 or so other people in the room...but a room is a room. It was clean and sufficient, with a western toilet nearby, and a bath with good hot soaking water.

To start, a very nice soba lunch at the restaurant near the temple.

Then 9 meals that ranged from okay to very good at the temple itself. None were awful (to my taste). The cook at the temple has, I heard, been a professional chef for many years prior to working at the temple. The best was a wonderful tempura. There was also an eggplant stew that had my mouth watering long before it got to my plate. Yes the service was very formal and silent. The formality one gets used to, and the silence is priceless.

Ideal meditation facilities were provided for me.

I was sequestered in a several centuries old temple in a gorgeous mist-in-the-bamboo-forest, sharing the entire tea farming valley with only 22 or so other people and the occasional temple-tourist.

I was given leave to walk where I wanted, explore the temple (respectfully) as I wished, with no one scowling over me if my gassho was not done in the right place or right time.

So, in summary, 3 nights, 10 meals, ideal zendo, thrilling location steeped with centuries of existence. Plus some non-dogmatic guidance in the ways of Zen..and what did I pay? About 200 bucks US. The only one who made out sweet in that deal was me.

No wonder Brad has to work for a living and write books. He sure ain't making money running sesshins.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

thanks again for another superb retreat. You continue to be a great communicator of Buddhism. If you fancy a mini-break in sunny Kamakura, for some hiking, swimming, or sailing, let me know, and I"ll pick you up from the station. You can stay as long as you like. By the way, there are several restaurants here that serve excellent shojin-ryori.

In any case, have a good trip home.
hendrik

Regina said...

As I mentioned on our last day of the retreat I liked it very much especially it was held in the way it was: no perfect silence the whole day.
The location Tokei-in is a wonderful place and I felt familiar with everything there after only half a day.
Today we (the three from Germany) visited Eiheiji Temple and the first thing we attended was a funeral service there. When we came to the Hatto we had the chance to attend a special sevice for Dogen Zenji s successor Ejo and a monk (hearing that we just had participated on a sesshin at Tokei-in) gave us a book about a 25day march ... the end of a 60 years long journey for peace, bringing back a flame that came from "Trinity" and found its way to Hiroshima. Tears filled my eyes when I read it in the bus home to Fukui.
Anyway I loved to meet you all at Tokei-in and hope to see you again next year. I would appreciate it very much if Brad would find the way to Europe as well.
Thank you for all your efforts and engagement.

Regina

Anonymous said...

genpo!

Anonymous said...

polo!

Koudelka said...

I came here for an argument!

Anonymous said...

no you didn't.

Harry said...

We should combine the Big Mind debate with the issue of the Suicide Girls censoring their own website bondage/SM content on grounds of the new obscenity laws...

Result: GIMPO!!!

Regards,

H.

Voton said...

This sounds like a fantastic retreat. I hope to do it next year.

pot_kettle_black said...

" It's always funny to see people make broad sweeping statements about what kind of person I am based on what I write, even though they've never met me. It's cute."

Oh, the irony. Can't you even begin to see that you do this very thing on a regular basis?

I have little regard for the BigMind method and tend to share your own critique of it. But have you ever met Genpo?

Ken Wilber?

Other teachers that you've judged based soley upon their writings?

The many people here that offer criticism of your own views that you readily dismiss and make countless absurd assumptions about based soley upon what they write here?

Why is this OK for you and not others? You suffer from massive psychological projection in this regard, Brad. Wake-up.

Anonymous said...

genpo!

PA said...

Pot_kettle_black,

Many people assume Brad is the way he writes. They say he's childish, angry, arrogant etc. I don't think these were his criticisms of Genpo or Big Mind. He criticised Genpo based on what he teaches. A lot of people here think Brad's an angry, arrogant, and childish person based on the way he writes rather than the content of what he says...

It's getting confusing though, this criticising people for criticising people who criticise.

I personally don't think it's right to criticise people for criticising people who criticise people who criticise others.

But what do I know?

Anonymous said...

We should combine the Big Mind debate with the issue of the Suicide Girls censoring their own website bondage/SM content on grounds of the new obscenity laws...
===

BM--Who are you?

Participants--We are tattooed empowered porno womyn.

BM--What do you do?

P--.....Pose nude...?

Jinzang said...

But have you ever met Genpo? Ken Wilber? Other teachers that you've judged based soley upon their writings?

You don't have to meet someone to criticize their actions. Have you ever met Hitler?

Genpo may be a very nice guy, but the claims he makes are clearly false. He says that in the Big Mind™ seminar:

You'll have a real, tangible experience of being One with the entire universe — what Genpo Roshi calls Big Mind/Big Heart. I'm talking about the same experience a Zen master or other enlightened master has — something that usually takes decades of meditation and direct work with a spiritual master to achieve.

This is simply an outrageous claim. If someone in any other field of endeavor claimed to give you in a weekend what normally takes decades, you'd laugh at them and call them a fake. Why should the standard be so different in Zen?

pot_kettle_black said...

"Many people assume Brad is the way he writes. They say he's childish, angry, arrogant etc. I don't think these were his criticisms of Genpo or Big Mind. He criticised Genpo based on what he teaches."

I've never met Brad, but the people who post here who have attest to what you say. I completely agree with Brad's position on this point. It IS ridiculous to assume so many sweeping generalities about a person based upon what they write...or "teach" if you prefer. I only assert that he should apply the same standard to himself and his own unfounded assumptions based soley upon writings (or teachings via writing) by people he's never met.

Zen practice is supposed to increase self-awareness. We all have blind-spots and some are more difficult to illuminate than others. Those that are especially deep-seated, we often choose to remain blind to by projecting these very qualities onto others. From my point of view, Brad does this very blatantly...though he's obviously unaware of it. He opens himself to this criticism because he engages in this sort of behaviour himself so readily.

pot_kettle_black said...

"Genpo may be a very nice guy, but the claims he makes are clearly false."

I agree and believe that the claims Genpo makes are not credible. Brad should confine his critique to those claims and not make sweeping assumptions about, or ad hominem attacks upon, Genpo.

"Clown, fraud, butt-buddy, slimy ilk, useless piece of shit."

These are not critiques of BigMind or of any teaching, they are assumptions based soley upon what he's read or heard about Genpo.

The old chan masters sometimes criticized other teachers in a general way (but other than Dogen,) I can't recall any that singled out specific individual teachers to disparage in the manner Brad does.

Anonymous said...

polo!

Mettai Cherry said...

I'd love to hear more polite debate on the silence issue. At my center (ASZC - you were there in March) we are non-residential and have several remote affiliate groups. When we have retreats, we often see people that we haven't seen in long time and we don't simply make eye contact, we usually have quite a bit of hugging. Some social contact is not only OK in my mind, but essential if you wish to have a sense of Sangha with a group of changing people.

Some folks like to take it way over the edge. I've been to retreats where everyone carried little pads and pencils (handed out at the start of the retreat) and made totally useless comments to each other in writing - how silly. I also got scolded at one retreat when I was asked to lead a brief yoga session in the afternoon and did too much talking while doing so.

The hard thing to do is making sure that silence and quiet is maintained during zazen and making sure that the conversations are meaningful in the context of a zen retreat.

Alphonzen said...

I have a question for everyone;

I tend to sit with my eyes focused on a dot on the wall. This keeps me more stable in the posture and I often quiet my mind more quickly this way. Is this genuine practice?

Or is the focusing of the eyes (on a dot) something to be avoided?

Alphonzen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich said...

What a coincidence, there is a dot on my wall and somtimes I ACTUALLY FOCUS on it but I don't try to focus on it. Most of the time I don't notice it after awhile. I would stick with the practice that you learned from your teacher. To focus or not to focus is not the question.

brightheart said...

It may have been Thomas Merton on the "imitating saint" line. I'm relatively sure he did say, "You can be anything you want to be, ever a saint."

Harry said...

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"Rely on the Teaching not the Teacher"

That's the first of the four reliances, along with these: rely on the spirit, not the letter; rely on the definitive meaning not the interpretive meaning; and **rely on nondual wisdom, not discriminating consciousness**. (from Dosho Port's blog)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(**my emphasis**)

I conclude that the "discriminating consciousness" is not 'wrong' or 'useless' but that it is not to be wholly relied upon... and certainly it is no refuge.

From:

http://wildfoxzen.blogspot.com/2008/09/rely-on-teaching-not-teacher.html

Regards,

Harry.

Mumon said...

Yes, but why is it Genpo and not Gempo?

Just wondering...

Anonymous said...

polo!

Anonymous said...

Polo is my life..

Anonymous said...

genpo polo ?

Anonymous said...

marco polo.

Anonymous said...

genpo!

Anonymous said...

I agree and believe that the claims Genpo makes are not credible. Brad should confine his critique to those claims and not make sweeping assumptions about, or ad hominem attacks upon, Genpo.

"Clown, fraud, butt-buddy, slimy ilk, useless piece of shit."


If you're serious about your quest for intellectual understanding try to be more like a scientist: go for the explanation that takes the least amount of emotion to believe. To me it is plain that the above are just metaphorical imagery for "your conduct is utterly deplorable".

hendrik

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Alphonzen, the instruction I've received is that your eyes should be focused, but not on anything in particular. It sounds strange, writing it out like that, but it seems to make sense when I'm sitting.

Silence... we recently started maintaining silence in the zendo during our Saturday morning zazen. There's some necessary conversation, but not much. We yak outside. While I did my share of talking in the zendo before, I like the change. Shutting up for an hour or so has some value.

Rob

Anonymous said...

actually, when I really get to thinking about what some teachers (name not mentioned, but appearing frequently in certain recent posts) will do--truly in great disservice to the dharma--I'm actually surprised at Brad's restraint in depiction of them.

what also surprises me is that others in same lineage have been silent on the issue.

I mean Bodhidharma didn't trademark the wall he sat in front of reportedly for 9 years.

Although a young lad did get his finger whacked off for imitating the one finger pointing toward the moon of the master who 'invented' it.

Teachers can, after all, only teach their way into the understanding. Ways are myriad and understanding is infinite.

It sure is good, and saves possible unnecessary delusion by pointing out shit which can be avoided.
Why not save someone from experiencing one more thing that didn't work by telling them upfront--that shit doesn't work!?

To tell someone--that's a mistake--and have them find out for themselves that it IS a mistake means that their failure is not a fruitless one, it is a confirming one. It's not that 'zen doesn't work,' it's that the Big Mind (tm) stuff touted as zen doesn't work.

Anyway we live in very favorable times. There is access in all kinds of places and ways teachers and teachings and translations of sanskrit and pali
and people to sit with and places to sit and teachers and teachers.

Thanks be for all teachers--the ones we learn from how to be and the ones we learn how not to be from. Both are very essential.

It's a big picture.

It's one hell of a long ride, this Big Bang! Still banging after all these years!

Anyway, thank you Brad for calling it like you sees it, and thank you for being willing to take the heat for it.

All told, your comments were kept to minimal and were relatively benign.

Anonymous said...

a russian proverb fitting perhaps for Gempo and followers:


No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road: turn back!

Alphonzen said...

I think you guys are missing the point here. Genpo is not asking for much money: http://www.genpo.org/Big_Heart_Circle.html

Whats $50,000 to you? Its nuttin

Anonymous said...

silence to noise.

a ratio.

two extreme opposite ends/poles on One rod.

what is noise? what is silence?

says who?

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

Pot Kettle Black

"The old chan masters sometimes criticized other teachers in a general way

>>>>>(but other than Dogen,) <<<<<

I can't recall any that singled out specific individual teachers to disparage in the manner Brad does."

I think you just solved your own problem there.

Anonymous said...

>>>>>(but other than Dogen,) <<<<<

please provide a quote from Dogen, and especially, a quote of him calling anyone

"Clown, fraud, butt-buddy, slimy ilk, useless piece of shit."

he was critical of certain masters long dead in China, and he was strong in tone but polite about it too

Harry said...

Well,

He did refer to people as 'dogs', 'demons', 'croaking frogs' (referring to those who relied on chanting sutras) etc etc.

It's pretty strong stuff in places. He didn't name living teachers in this respect though... a bit of a coward in this respect maybe?

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

He also was labouring under a different set of rules/ a different society and culture. It would have been contrary to his mission to specifically offend indivduals from other schools who were really more powerful than him in terms of the existing Buddhist order of things in Japan.

As it was his not-too-specific criticisms landed him in enough trouble.

We don't have to worry about such things to the same extent.

Regards,

Harry.

Rich said...

I would pay $50000 for a glimpse of enlightenment if there was a money back guarantee if no glimpse appeared and if the glimpse appears it's guaranteed to appear for 30 days. -)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much I've spent on diversion, delusion and distraction - in this life alone!

proulx michel said...

Harry said...

Well,

He did refer to people as 'dogs', 'demons', 'croaking frogs' (referring to those who relied on chanting sutras) etc etc.

It's pretty strong stuff in places. He didn't name living teachers in this respect though... a bit of a coward in this respect maybe?


He did mention that some priests, catering to the vanity of lay people, "drank their piss and ate their shit"...
Old man could probably blow his fuse once in a while.

Dan said...

sadly i only have shobogenzo 1 and 3 and neither are to hand but Dogen definitely didnt pull any punches when it came to criticising other schools. i remember thats one of the things that struck me about his writing. it was very 'punk' for a 13th century japanese monk.

Koudelka said...

MOMMY BRAD SAID A BAD WORD ;_;

Justin said...

This is simply an outrageous claim. If someone in any other field of endeavor claimed to give you in a weekend what normally takes decades, you'd laugh at them and call them a fake. Why should the standard be so different in Zen?

I don't think kensho experiences (which is all that Genpo is claiming not full satori) necessarily take decades. I've read anecdotes of such experiences within a few weeks in a Rinzai context. Personally I've had 3 or 4 fairly profound insight experiences in six years of practice (But not confirmed kenshos of course because I'm Soto and we just try to let these things go).

I think that the impartial/open-minded/rational/empirical thing to do when someone makes a strong claim is ask them to provide evidence or test it ourselves rather than dismiss it out of hand because it doesn't conform to our preconceptions. I'm agnostic about Big Mind myself.

I agree that trademarking a method and charging a lot of money for it doesn't seem very 'Buddhist'. But different teachers have styles and methods. I'm sure Genpo could produce some sort of justification for it just as Brad comes up with justifications for some of his behaviours which might not fit with expectations of a Zen teacher.

I suspect the reasons that most people here accept Brad's justifications but reject Genpo's activities is simply a matter of the dominant social attitudes of his audience demographics.

pot_kettle_black said...

"please provide a quote from Dogen, and especially, a quote of him calling anyone

"Clown, fraud, butt-buddy, slimy ilk, useless piece of shit."


I said that Dogen was the only one I could think of readily that criticized individual teachers, not that he called them names like Brad. He was highly critical of Master Ta Hui, but never suggested he was a 'useless piece of shit' as far as I know.

Master Dogen's type of sectarian criticism and triumphalism is very common in japanese buddhism.

I can't see where what I wrote suggested I either 'have a problem' or was on some 'intellectual quest'.

The fact that Dogen was sectarian and singled out other teachers for criticism carries no weight with me. I agree with and like some things master Dogen wrote (it's been many years since I've read any of the shobogenzo though)but
I'm not soto and do not consider him some ultimate authority, any more than Brad would consider Ta Hui as such.

Koudelka said...

>>justin

You're a grade-A apologist dumbass.

andro said...

Justin - You concentrate way too much on the way Brad says things rather than on what he is trying to say. He might not have had all the "profound insight experiences" that you have had. He can be silly and crass as you love to point out. That is all you seem to be able to see.

Anonymous said...

Justin,
Do think Brad should own up to his mistakes?

Jinzang said...

I don't think kensho experiences (which is all that Genpo is claiming not full satori) necessarily take decades. I've read anecdotes of such experiences within a few weeks in a Rinzai context. Personally I've had 3 or 4 fairly profound insight experiences in six years of practice (But not confirmed kenshos of course because I'm Soto and we just try to let these things go).

Kensho is not an experience. This is not semantics, this is an important point. As my teacher said, "If anyone has an experience and comes and asks me, is this enlightenment, I definitely can say it is not."

Experiences are good and what you would expect given six years of regular practice. But they're not kensho. Experiences come and go, are remembered or forgotten, hoped for or dreaded, the whole nine yards. Kensho is seeing who remembers or forgets, who hopes and who fears. To use the Zen jargon, it's seeing the original face.

This is how I can know Big Mind™ is a scam without attending it. When Genpo says, "You'll have a real, tangible experience of being One with the entire universe." He's making the mistake of calling kensho an experience. It's as if I invited you to visit me and said when you get here you can shake hands with the Spirit of America. You wouldn't have to cross the Atlantic to know I'm joking.

Of course, Brad said exactly this in his Suicide Girls article.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the reasons that most people here accept Brad's justifications but reject Genpo's activities is simply a matter of the dominant social attitudes of his audience demographics.

yes, much of brad's audience will be looking for something more real in their practice when they finish puberty and/or move out of their mother's house. for some of the people around here, those two events may be decades apart.

Jinzang said...

The fact that Dogen was sectarian and singled out other teachers for criticism carries no weight with me. ... I'm not soto and do not consider him some ultimate authority.

The point is not whether Dogen is the ultimate authority. The point is whether using coarse or abusive language proves someone is not a genuine Zen teacher. If Brad fails that test, so does Dogen, Hakuin too, I think. So maybe you should be using a different test.

pot-kettle-black said...

"The point is whether using coarse or abusive language proves someone is not a genuine Zen teacher. If Brad fails that test, so does Dogen, Hakuin too, I think. So maybe you should be using a different test."

Jinzang, I don't recall saying anything about whether Brad's abusive language has anything to do with his being a 'genuine' zen teacher or whatever that may mean. I merely pointed out that the very thing he accuses others of doing (making all sorts of erroneous assumptions based soley upon what they write) is something he does as well.

Nor do I recall suggesting that I was looking for or applying some 'test'. So many assumptions.

BTW, that was an excellent explanation of kensho and experience. Couldn't have said it any better myself. And you managed a clear helpful explanation without calling anyone any names or suggesting that your sect, way, teacher was the bestest in the whole world. From what I read here, Brad should probably be asking you for teachings.

Anonymous said...

is brad using the bad language to teach or mostly as a show? maybe dogen blew his volcano once in awhile but brad has to project the bad boy image and drop a fuck shit with every posting. pure marketing that is as phony as big mind. maybe we should call it brad's "bad mind"ⓒ show

Jinzang said...

From what I read here, Brad should probably be asking you for teachings.

I'm glad you like what I write. But there's a big difference between being an Internet know-it-all (of which there are thousands) and a real teacher. I've got a lot of respect for Brad and what he's doing.

Rich said...

"Kensho is seeing who remembers or forgets, who hopes and who fears. To use the Zen jargon, it's seeing the original face."

Tell us more. Who or what is this?

pot-kettle-black said...

"But there's a big difference between being an Internet know-it-all (of which there are thousands) and a real teacher."

Are you suggesting you are an internet know-it-all? Is this something like calling someone an 'elitist' or 'stinking intellectual' ala mao?

And what is a 'real' teacher? Is this like 'real' buddhism? Someone who's received transmission from their own teacher? Lots of the old masters never received transmission at all. Tbere are huge gaps in the mind-to-mind tradition. If you write a book or lead a retreat does this make you a real teacher? If someone else finds your words helpful, does this make you a real teacher? Wouldn't a lot of internet know-it-alls also qualify then? Your grandmother?

BTW, Like Jundo and others, I agree with the great majority of what Brad writes. Having respect or finding someone's words helpful should not blind you to any shortcomings. It is simplistic and narrowminded to bag some teachers or people as 'all enlightened beings' or 'useless pieces of shit'. It's like the Sith (and the prez) saying you are either with us or against us. People are complex, the world is complex. Embracing dogma can give us a feeling of clarity and purpose and seem to simplify things. Both Bush and Palin are known for their clear certainty in their own judgment.

When we attack someone, even verbally, do we know who we are actually attacking? Are we aware of our own motives? What is behind righteous feelings of anger and indignation? As someone once said, zen is about being kind to the people around you.