Monday, September 29, 2008

NPR LINK


The NPR (National Public Radio) thing is here for anyone who wants to listen. As usual when there's a story about Noah Levine and me, they used a picture of Noah. He's more everyone's image of punk rock, I guess (not a "garage band poser from the suburbs" like me ~ you guys are too funny, I like Noah!*). Well, at least they didn't put my name under his photo like someone did a while back. And if Noah put the title of one of his books on one side of his neck and the other on the other side of his neck, what's he gonna do if he writes a third book?

Maybe we shouldn't ask...

I'm bored stiff with the topic of Big Mind™. But there's a guy in the comments section who can't understand the difference between Nishijima Sensei's acceptance of patronage from the Ida Cosmetics company, for whom he also worked as an adviser and financial consultant, and Genpo asking for $50,000 to spend five days at a luxury resort with rich people and give them Enlightenment. Nishijima never promised Mr. Ida he'd get any sort of special experiences or merit for his contributions. If you don't think Genpo is saying the folks who pay him $50,000 are going to get something that people who pay less can't get, you'd better read his pitch again.

Meeting with a real Zen teacher for personal instruction is indeed a rare opportunity. But it can't be bought or sold. Never. When the emperor of China asked Bodhidharma what merit could be got by studying with him, Bodhidharma said, "None at all." The emperor was most certainly asking this to see if he wanted to become Bodhidharma's sugar daddy and give him some cash and a temple and stuff. Had the emperor wanted to study with Bodhidharma anyway in spite of the lack of merit to be gained, I'm sure Bodhidharma would have accepted him as a student. Honesty is the key. Patronage can be accepted when the relationship between teacher and patron is an honest one.

And FYI, ain't nobody offering me $50,000 for a few days in a hotel with them. But if they did I'd send him packing. Homey don't play that. I don't like hotels anyway and it sounds seriously creepy. "Free money" is never free. If, on the other hand, New World Library offered me a $50,000 advance for my next book (Ha! I wish~!) I'd take it in a heartbeat. I prefer to work for the money I get. You always do anyway, even when the money is "free." And when I do real work, I will take as much money as the work is worth. I have no qualms about that at all. Sorry.

As for people traveling long distances to study with me, I always discourage it. A number of people have asked about this and I always say the same thing. There is no reason anyone should spend a lot of money and effort to study with me. I will only disappoint you.

These questions are trivial. The thing that really bugs me is when people (Genpo's people, I assume) start throwing that whole "The precepts say you can't criticize other Buddhists!" stuff around. There is a very dangerous notion growing among Buddhists in the West that if anyone calls himself a "Buddhist" or calls what he's doing "Buddhism," we as Buddhists must not call him on it no matter what it is for fear (and fear is the operative word) we will be breaking the precepts. This is why there is no outcry from American Buddhists against some of the flagrant abuses already present. As Buddhism continues to grow in popularity, the number of people who see it as an easy way to get rich will increase. We cannot be shy about pointing out when transparent scams masquerade as Buddhism. If Buddhists don't speak out, who will? If hucksters know they can get away with anything because Buddhists are afraid to say anything about it there won't be any real Buddhism left before long.

This is a serious matter.

Whether people like what I say or how I present myself or not doesn't matter a whole lot to me. I feel duty bound to say what needs saying in the best way I can.


*Hey! I just found out that Zero Defex's songs "Drop The A-Bomb On Me" and "Better Way" (aka I Bleed USA) (no YouTube link, but go to Nader's official page & it's there)are being used in official commercials by the Ralph Nader campaign! Gosh.

ADDENDUM

I just saw this in the comments section and I thought it was an interesting observation. Having had some very minor interactions with community the commenter's speaking about, I think this is a very good point. I had considered writing something like this myself, and on the subject of "lifestyle players," which exist in both the BDSM and spiritual communities. I should say, though, I have some deep misgivings about what little I've seen in the consensual BDSM community. I do see some therapeutic usefulness in it. But this may be canceled out by the actual trauma involved. Anyway, I'm no expert & that's about the extent of what I can say on the matter. (I wonder if this is Nina Hartley's post...)

Brad, here is my hunch.

Folks are paying mega bucks to folks like Genpo not just for the verbal teachings.

My hunch, and it is strictly my own opinion, is that a lot of people think they are into being spiritual, but covertly are thrilling to power and to power imbalance.

If they were conscious about this, they'd explore these issues via psychotherapy, or via consensual adult BDSM.

I do not practice BDSM but I am more and more convinced these days that the adult kink community does a far better job than the spiritual seeker's scene, because the kink practitioners are thinking consciously about power, thinking clearly about what they desire, and have learned to communicate, beforehand, what they all want, what the boundaries are.

More than once, Ive been told that there are lots of people who want to be dominated and paddled, but very few who are willing to function as 'tops'--that is, as the dominants who administer the pain.

Why, in the kink scene, are there so few tops, and so many bottoms?

Because in the kink scene, POWER COMES WITH ACCOUNTABILITY. The top has to answer to an ethos of care and pay attention to whether the bottom is signaling for the session to stop. And the top is the one who is answerable if something goes wrong.

But in the spiritual scene, there is no shortage of wanna be gurus/tops. There are lots of bottoms in the spiritual scene, but also plenty of gurus, eager to accept the power offered to them by the bottoms.

Why?

Because IMO, in the spiritual scene, its a set up where the guru/top enjoys total power and zero accountability.

If anything goes wrong, in the spiritual kink scene, all the blame is foisted onto the bottom.

And in the spiritual kink scene, people are going around being unconscious. They're obsessed with power, but unconscious of it, and determined to stay unconscious of it, and there is no way to talk consciously about power, about what one desires, and no safe words a bottom can use to signal that he or she is being traumatized instead of challenged and wants to scene to stop.

In fact, in the spiritual kink scene, you have no way to know if you are walking into someone's BDSM dungeon or not.

At least in BDSM the dungeon is clearly designated as such.

Result is, in the world of BDSM kink, people examine and name their desires and set it up so everyone, the top and bottom, exits the scene feeling satisfied.

Which is more than can be said for many sectors of the so called spiritual scene. I suspect many don't feel they are spiritual unless they are thrilling to a power imbalance.

Brad once wrote how someone at his old Japanese company said that their cartoon stories taught children to worship power--that some benevolent being could come to the rescue, every time.

Some worship Ultraman, or the Science Team.

Others worship Genpo Roshi.

And never examine the deep structure of all this.

And if you pay 50,000 USD, you have an incentive NOT to want to examine this, because its too painful to face that you paid 50 grand to fulfill a child's fantasy of rescue.

220 comments:

1 – 200 of 220   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

well said

Anonymous said...

There is no reason anyone should spend a lot of money and effort to study with me. I will only disappoint you.

here, at last, we agree

yes yes, excuses and explanations for everyone's bad behavior but you own

fraud!

Anonymous said...

I feel duty bound to say what needs saying in the best way I can.

which is

Genpo Roshi is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get rich by cheating stupid people.

Well, Brad Warner is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get famous by cheating stupid people.

Al said...

Brad,

I've said this before but perhaps you weren't reading comments that month.

You can criticize what a Buddhist teacher is doing. You can state that you think their teachings aren't really Buddhism or correct Dharma. You can even criticize their content (if you bother to become familiar with it).

No one has ever said that you can't or shouldn't do these things.

What you shouldn't be doing, by your own voluntarily taken vows, is criticizing another teacher.

As your own teacher, Nishijima Roshi, says in his essays on the Precepts on his own website:

"No.6: Don’t discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be
critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life. "

You constantly conflate criticizing the ideas or teachings of a person and attacking the person, saying that when people tell you not to attack a Buddhist teacher, not to call them vulgar names, etc., that they are stating that you cannot criticize what they are doing or teaching. No one has said that though. They are saying to respect your vows as taught by your own teacher. It is intellectually dishonest (because I don't think you're really missing this point in the first place) for you to pretend that you don't understand the difference.

You can disagree with someone without attacking them personally and you should do so since you are an ordained teacher of the Dharma. No one forced you to take on the precepts. If you cannot follow them, please give them back to your teacher and quit acting like you're ordained.

Al said...

And before someone says "But you violate the 6th precept by criticizing Brad!!!", I'm not an ordained Zen priest and I've never taken on this precept. Brad has and should follow it or quit pretending he is a priest.

Ted Biringer said...

Concerning the whole question about speaking up when “the roshi has no clothes” (be wary about sitting in his/her lap!) here is something I posted back in ’06 over at the “Dogen and the Shobogenzo” blog. It is a kind of Dogen/Blake thing. Anyway, there may be something interesting in it.

Using William Blake's "Marriage of Heaven and Hell" as a model:

Lore of Priestcraft

Priestcraft operates by exploiting Mans deepest fears and highest aspirations. The primary medium of this sorcery is Lore. Ever aware of its main objective, subjugating the lay society to the Priesthood, Priestly Lore’s foremost concern is instituting and maintaining a rigid caste system. Such Lore posits:

1. There are two kinds of Men: Buddhas and ordinary mortals.
2. Delusion is the state of ordinary mortals; Enlightenment is the state of Buddhas.
3. Delusion merges Man with old age, sickness, and death; Enlightenment separates Man from old age, sickness, and death.
4. Enlightenment is extremely difficult, complex, and mysterious.
5. Ordinary mortals are incapable of realizing Enlightenment without the intercession of the Priesthood.
6. True aspiration for Enlightenment is demonstrated by passive acceptance of authority, total submission, and unquestioning obedience.

Such views are inculcated in efforts to conceal these truths:

1. There is no distinction between Buddhas and ordinary mortals.
2. Ordinary mortals are Enlightenment and Buddhas are Delusion.
3. Delusion separates Man from old age, sickness, and death; Enlightenment merges Man with old age, sickness, and death.
4. Enlightenment is facile, simple, and completely lucid.
5. Ordinary mortals are only capable of realizing Enlightenment on their own.
6. True aspiration for Enlightenment is demonstrated by unflinching readiness to challenge and disregard all forms of authority, unyielding perseverance, and obstinate autonomy.

A Man that blindly submits his own unique existence to authority transforms the Blessing of Life into a Curse of Death; true Life demands Independent Activity and Creative Expression.
When sacrificed by stages and gates, Independent Activity and Creative Expression stagnate like still pools where larvae flourish; and the limitless potential of Life becomes an abundance of misery.

Dogen Zenji’s writings testify to this principle, where submission and obedience are called sect, or school, and the enemy of Buddha-Dharma. The usurper and enemy illumine the Carved Dragon, thereby concealing the True Dragon in darkness.

The illegitimate children of Dogen call the Carved Dragon the True Dragon, and call sitting meditation Enlightenment, and call suffering Buddhahood, and say that the Wisdom of Sages is Nothing Special.

Nevertheless, the True Dragon howls with laughter in the Withered Tree, for the worshippers of the Carved Dragon cannot discern True Words.

Although it appears that the True Dragon has been extinguished, the few have kept the sacred flame for the resurrection of Shobogenzo and the revelation of Ichchantika.

Samsara is Nirvana!

As revealed in the Vimalakirti Sutra when Buddha released the supernatural power that he had exercised with his toe and the world returned to its impure appearance so that Emptiness would have a field in which to play. Nirvana is Samsara. The Buddha is no other than he who rejoices in old age, sickness, and death.

Hyakujo may have lived 500 lives as a wild fox, but before he was born as a fox, and after the cremation ceremony he was Kasyapa Buddha.

Gassho,

Ted Biringer

Uku said...

Whoever writer was, well said! I think this is The Point in this stupid Big Mind- scam:

And if you pay 50,000 USD, you have an incentive NOT to want to examine this, because its too painful to face that you paid 50 grand to fulfill a child's fantasy of rescue.

Good job, Brad,for bringing Genpo's "zen" to daylight! Genpo has nothing to do with Dharma, not at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh so the True Meaning(TM) of the precept 'Do not criticize others' is:

1. It's OK to criticize others (when Brad thinks they they deserve it),
2. but you must not criticize Brad for not keeping the precept. That's 'unBuddhist'.
3. Oh and it IS OK for Brad to criticise others for criticising him over the criticism he made in the first place.

Brad you are so full of shit. Shut up, get your head out your ass, stop whining about other people and teach some zen. Period. If you can't then at least admit to yourself that you have a problem with it. You need to take a good long look at yourself and the real intention of the precepts and stop being an arrogant self-deluded fool. You need a good strong teacher to recognise your massive ego-attachment and deal with it.

Maybe like this:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=NUXJrO_FiWk

Anonymous said...

al et al.

Criticism is necessary and healthy. A lot of Koans revolve around criticism of teachers -.e.g. "The last word of Zen"

I've been very critical of brad at times and he has been very critical of me. It's healthy. It's how we both learn to be better at what we do.

The precepts are not sacred laws of the universe written in stone by god they are a bunch of useful suggestions.

A lot of damage has already been done in the US in the past by teachers being elevated to god-like status and criticsm of teachers being discouraged.

Any real teacher will listen to criticsm and learn from it - whether the criticism is valid or not.

Anyone who thinks their teacher is above criticsm or any teacher who thinks they are above criticism is heading away from Buddhism and into deep, deep trouble.

Criticism has to be based on something stronger than "I don't like what you are doing".

If you really have "A will to truth" you will listen to wherever that truth comes from.

Situations like SFZ in the past happened because people did not feel that it was nice to criticise teachers.

However, I'm sure that if some teacher was fucking your teenage daughter you wouldn't say "Oh well, he's a teacher, I mustn't be critical".

The West seems to want to have a sweet hippy-shit version of Buddhism that is dangerously one-sided a new agey "Let's all be friends" that just allows us all to live with our delusions rather than to face up to them.

Anonymous said...

Yes criticism can be a healthy thing and in some situations suppressing it can be dangerous.

However, it can also just be egotistical, sectarian ranting. There is such a thing as being over-critical and over-judgemental.

I think what makes the difference is having the wisdom to make criticism constructive, measured (not OTT) and motivated by compassion (and preferrably well-researched). Otherwise it's just egotistical attachment to views which is a poison to genuine Buddhist understanding.

Anonymous said...

And FYI, ain't nobody offering me $50,000 for a few days in a hotel with them. But if they did I'd send him packing. Homey don't play that.

You are a liar. There's no doubt that with your ethical history you would take the money and make up some excuse about it being right to do so. It is so easy to turn down an imagined $50,000. Phony. Conman.

DJ Voton said...

Noah Levine's "shaved head (is) hardly what one would expect from a teacher of Buddhism." Huh?! And my taxes support NPR.
Man, have you got a bad case of troll infestation on this blog. Time to call Terminex.

Dan said...

" Noah Levine's "shaved head (is) hardly what one would expect from a teacher of Buddhism." Huh?! "



Did it really say that? That's just bizarre.


"There's no doubt that with your ethical history you would take the money and make up some excuse about it being right to do so"

Could you give some examples of Brad's ethical history suggesting he would take the money and run?

Anonymous said...

Having watched the Big Mind DVD with 2 sessions Genpo has done, it's become clear to me that it has got nothing to do with Buddhism.

I think people interested in Buddhism can come to this conclusion themselves pretty easily. Brad doesn't need to go out of his way to warn them for it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

I think what makes the difference is having the wisdom to make criticism constructive, measured (not OTT) and motivated by compassion (and preferrably well-researched).

Yes!

I think criticism born of delusion tends to feed delusion. Criticism born of wisdom tends to feed wisdom - even if they both hurt the same.

Blake said...

This reminds me of Lethal Weapon 2.

You know... Murtaugh and Riggs run into Arjen Rudd, the minister of diplomatic affairs for the South African consulate in Los Angeles. In the final scene, Rudd shoots Riggs several times and while Murtaugh has Rudd in his sights, Rudd holds up his ID and shouts, "Diplomatic immunity!" Murtaugh takes the shot and says: "It's just been revoked."

Man I love that scene.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Genpo Row-row-roshi's con game and Buddhist Immunity.

Brad: It's just been revoked.

Anonymous said...

Regarding criticizing other teachers and/or their inevitable mistakes:

per 311:

"its one thing to make the same mistake twice, its other thing to make it all of your life."

Anonymous said...

Message from the person who wrote the reflections of spiritual kink and why there are so many willing to be gurus and why, in the BDSM scene, so few are willing to be tops:

Dear Brad, I solemnly swear on a stack of zafus, that I am not Nina Hartley. (I wish I had her intellect and business acumen, though!)

Take a look at this quote by Ken Wilber, written as the introduction to one of Andrew Cohen's books.

To my mind, this is a creepy hymn of praise to total power and zero accountablity for its use.

What is interesting is that Wilber has never put his ass in a guru's sling and submitted himself to being paddled. He sings the praises of assault but only recommends it for other people.

(strange)

(0ne excerpt)

"If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self-contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path of stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want Enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passionate Infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence, who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharin solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face."




http://www.globalserve.net/~sarlo/Ywilber.htm
from one of a bunch of google searches

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=rude+boy+gurus+ken&btnG=Google+Search

(Kenny is a buddy of Genpo Roshi, of Big Mind, and neither Ken nor Genpo ever were trained or licensed to practice medicine or as psychotherapists. Which is why it annoyed me to see that someone at my HMO was idiotic enough to let themselves be charmed and bamboozed into offering the snake oil Integral Life Practice package as part of the patient ed program at said HMO.

The other reason I am rather testy is that Ive mentioned Buddhadharma on other discussion venues, only to have some Wilberite pop up and prattle about Boomeritis.

When I quote Wilber's Rude boy essay and refer to his association first with Adi Da and then his current association with the problematic Andrew Cohen, these folks skidaddle.

Regarding right speech,my idiosyncratic reading is this:

If there is harmony, then it is wrong speech to utter disruptive words.

But if there is a hazard or ongoing pattern of harm, then it is right speech to state that this is so and present the evidence.

My analogy is a road hazard. Its not wrong speech but right speech for Caltrans to put out orange hazard cones and signage warning of the pot hole.

Ditto for dharma organizations. We cannot keep people from jumping into hazardous situations after we offer them information about the hazard. But we can at least help create conditions where information is available to support research and relatively informed consent.

For, life is short. And we dont know how much time we each have. So if we can offer information to assist our brothers and sisters to steer clear of time and money wasting sitautions, as well as abusive ones, and to think clearly enough to subject power, power imbalance and authority to penetrating insight, rather than going into an uncritical trance and thrilling to unexamined power imbalances and thinking all this is Dharma...

That's right speech.

End of morning rant. Keep writing Brad.

If anyone doesnt like what you say, they can click the mouse and go elsewhere in cyberspace.

Its not like you run an unmarked dungeone where people walk in, find themselves in straps and unable to leave when they want to.

People trying to leave Andrew Cohen were not always free to leave.

http://essentialwhatenlightenment.blogspot.com/2005/06/karma-will-literally-cost-you-and.html

(small excerpt here)

Many students have run from the community during the night. A couple of examples of this follow. The female student who made the $60,000 contribution and pledged her future inheritance, whose story was told above, did so after secretly escaping Foxhollow one night. Before she left, Andrew knew she was in a delicate condition and there was a danger she might leave. She had left once before. One night after receiving serious "feed-back", Andrew's wife Alka came to her room, and asked her for her driver's license, passport, and credit cards. She said she could not find her passport, but handed over what she claimed was her only credit card and her driver's license. She had previously hidden, however, another copy of her license and another credit card. She took them, along with her passport, "borrowed" the community car, and drove to a car rental office in Lenox. There she rented a car, left a voicemail message at Foxhollow about the community car's whereabouts, and drove off into the night. She didn't know where she wanted to go, just that she wanted to get far away. Eventually, she drove the thousands of miles from Massachusetts to New Orleans. She figured no one would find her there. A few days after she arrived and got a room, she went to return the rented car. There, to her shock, she found Debbie, an IEF community member, waiting for her. Debbie had waited at the car rental's Lenox office until she overheard a phone conversation from which she learned the student would be returning her rented car in New Orleans. She flew there and waited in the New Orleans rental office until the escaped student showed up. Debbie eventually persuaded her to return.

One Dutch student, who was close to Andrew and who had been a leader in his communities in Europe, fell into disfavor. He was put in a community home in London, where Steve Brett was told to keep an eye on him and prevent him from leaving. Steve slept just outside the Dutch student's room, so that he could not leave in the night without being noticed. But one night Steve failed to do this. The Dutch student packed a bag and threw it out his bedroom window to the ground below. Then he sneaked silently out of the house. He retrieved his bag, and found a pay telephone a block or two away, from which he called a cab. A couple of weeks before this, Rob, a close community member and an old friend of the Dutch student, had warned him against leaving. Rob was highly trained in martial arts, having been a member of a special division of the Dutch military, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy Seals or Special Forces. Rob had told his friend that if he ever left, he would find him and break every bone in his body. After the student escaped, he chose to go as far away as he could imagine, settling in Costa Rica. A few weeks after getting there, he got an e-mail from Rob. All it said was, "I'm coming." Andrew himself had instructed Rob to send this e-mail.(unquote)

(There are reports that since the WE? blog was published, things have improved in Andrew's community. That would be a very good thing.)

NellaLou said...

In the west there is a sad lack of spiritual literacy. Most people don't grow up in a religious context since secular society and separation of religion and state has been used to preclude any rational education about religion and its diversity in human culture(same can be true of political literacy as well).

The religious instruction one gets is generally dogmatic and closed to comment. Having been baptized as a Lutheran without my consent I do however appreciate Martin Luther's fuck you kind of stance towards the corrupt church of the day, which is somewhat similar to Gautama's stance against the corrupt priesthood of his day if one is into Indian history, but that hardly goes over presently.

When's the last time someone jumped up in a church and questioned the validity of a point of a sermon? So this becomes the pattern for future religious behavior. And the pattern for criticizing those who would jump up and ask legitimate questions. Sit down and shut up as it were!

Before we can consent we are baptized or circumcised or whatever and that is the introduction to the faith of our forefathers.

What is advertised as Buddhism sounds very nice. And the promises made sound very tempting. Everybody wants some kind of peace. And there are always those who will exploit this desire.

Sometimes I think, after nearly 30 years of Buddhist practice, that the first step to Enlightenment (with a big big E) is to realize one's naivete. Only then can anything substantial happen.

(So perhaps this Genpo guy is doing those folks a favor after all:)

mother earth said...

Spiritual Kinks--

Ha! This is the recognition that we refuse to look at.

In this way, zazen becomes a distraction , and indeed as philbob says, maybe sitting in the full lotus is a crock.

Spiritual kinks, Material kinks, Consumerist kinks, Political kinks, Philanthropic kinks...

This is the way of this world.

--Thanks anonymous for at least touching the veil we so smugly hide behind.

Anonymous said...

Oh no you criticised Andrew Cohen!

YOU MUSN'T CRITICISE OTHER BUDDHISTS!


Retards.

Rich said...

The issue of critisizing, calling insulting names to the actions of a person or to the person as a whole is a blurry distinction. also, what is said in writing and what is said in real transmission between two people is different.
Anonymous teachers have no credibility.

Anonymous said...

I call it as I see it, friend.

If we as a community cannot speak about a situation that is harmful or potentially harmful, that's like having a body without a functioning immune system.

Will assume Anonymous 7:41 am was joking.

If not...

A body without a functioning immune system gets overrun by opportunistic infections.

And if the Buddhist community cannot name and speak out when its tenets are misrepresented, it gets overrun by opportunists.

Which is exactly what Brad is trying to tell us, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Will mention an interesting matter:

Those who defend authoritarian teachers, leaders, and authoritarian gurus are actually taking few risks. They often assemble lots of folks who agree. They are never, ever accused of projection or wrong speech...ever notice that?

But, woe betide those who question authoritarian social set ups, who suggest that power imbalance be examined insightfully and consciously, and who suggest that there is something hazardous when someone possesses total power with zero accountablity (the classic crazy wise guru set up) or has total power and zero accountablity to any ethos of care, and if something goes wrong, all accountability is shifted onto the underlings.

(as in, the guru can do no wrong, its always the students who corrupt the guru).

Anyone who asks these kinds of questions can count on being flamed, is accused of projecting thier shadows. Kenny Wilber loves to make this accusation and he has never been trained or licensed to practice as a psychotherapist.

That is why a lot of us do prefer to post anonymously.

When you adore power and praise power, there is little risk. Most equate power with virtue and legitimacy.

But if you question this, you get flamed. Which is why some of us prefer to be anonymous when discussing these matters.

Again, I take it as a great compliment that Brad thought I was Nina Hartley. I'm a nerdy vanilla girl.

Anonymous said...

Is Noah Levine the East Side Los Angeles punk and Brad Warner the West Side punk?

Anonymous said...

Brad, the protector of REAL Buddhism ... get off your high horse

If you can't see a difference between righteous slander and criticism, then I don't think you are qualified to call yourself buddhist, let alone a REAL one

Anonymous said...

"I'm bored stiff with the topic of Big Mind™"

Are you now?! So much so that you went ahead and made a freaking movie about it?

Brad, maybe you haven't noticed, but you are the one who writes posts on this blog. Those discussions are simply comments to posts you have written, so .... who wrote those posts about Genpo in the first place? ... anyone? ....

Thing 2 said...

Totally off thread....

Does anyone have tried and true advice about finding more compassion. Thanks to the magic of divorce and remarry, I've got 3 parents in law that I will probably have to provide care for at some level in the next 2-15 years. They have not been ant-enough (as in ant and grasshopper) to make plans of their old age and lack savings, insurance and gumption to take care of themselves. Embarrassingly this fills me with anger at their ignorance and lack of planning. None of them have been strong contributors to my family in advice, guidance, help etc... so I am just freaking resentful at the prospect of having to sacrifice for their sake.

The kicker is I am quite sure this is not a good outlook on my part. I should find compassion for the 'ignorant.' and do what I can because their situation / my situation can't diminish 'me' because there is really no 'me' here...right?

Anyway, I don't believe myself. I'm angry at them and embarrassed by my own lack of compassion. What is the route to "freedom" (besides winning the lottery or going into sugar coated denial)?

-Thing 2

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Nellalou said:
"In the west there is a sad lack of spiritual literacy. Most people don't grow up in a religious context since secular society and separation of religion and state has been used to preclude any rational education about religion and its diversity in human culture(same can be true of political literacy as well)."

What country are you from? Surly not the good ol' US of A. Even my most atheistic friends have somewhat of a grasp on christian dogma just by living in this culture. How could there be "rational education" when religion itself is irrational? I too was indoctrinated as a child into the christian religion (church of christ). And lord knows (he-he, ha-ha), it's been a struggle to throw off the yoke of superstition. Instead of teaching religious diversity, let's try teaching critical thinking and reinforcing the sciences. AH, but then, even buddhism may come under the eye of the bullshit detector. And I say "buddhism" meaning the collection of rituals and religious precepts invented by those who came long after a man (from the country listed as Nellalou's profile home place), realized he thinks too much while sitting under a tree.

I say criticize away if that is your pleasure, just don't get upset when the turds come flying your way!

Anonymous said...

route to freedom is straight into gnarly mess, beginning inside you.

compassion begins at home.

get to exactly how you experience anger, etc, and be forgiving to yourself.

then it's easier to xfer that attitute to others.

metta practice (theraveda) and tonglen (tibetan) are geared towards this - self-other practices.

work hard! this advice is tried and true. took me about 4-5 years to begin to notice things were getting easier with difficult people.

At The Moment said...

Most people don't grow up in a religious context since secular society and separation of religion and state has been used to preclude any rational education about religion and its diversity in human culture(same can be true of political literacy as well).
===
You are confusing classes on comparative religion vs indoctrination. The former are allowed not the latter.

Jules said...

Some worship Ultraman, or the Science Team.

Others worship Genpo Roshi.

And never examine the deep structure of all this.

And if you pay 50,000 USD, you have an incentive NOT to want to examine this, because its too painful to face that you paid 50 grand to fulfill a child's fantasy of rescue.


Simply awesome, Vanilla Girl. Thanks for sharing your insight.

--

yes yes, excuses and explanations for everyone's bad behavior but you own. fraud!

--

Well, Brad Warner is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get famous by cheating stupid people.

--

Brad you are so full of shit. Shut up, get your head out your ass, stop whining about other people and teach some zen. Period. If you can't then at least admit to yourself that you have a problem with it. You need to take a good long look at yourself and the real intention of the precepts and stop being an arrogant self-deluded fool.

--

You are a liar. There's no doubt that with your ethical history you would take the money and make up some excuse about it being right to do so. It is so easy to turn down an imagined $50,000. Phony. Conman.

--

I don't think you are qualified to call yourself buddhist, let alone a REAL one

--

My goodness, why so upset? Maybe Vanilla Girl touched a nerve...

Anonymous said...

"Genpo Roshi is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get rich by cheating stupid people. And anyone dumb enough to pay for his "teachings" deserves exactly what they get. "

My goodness, why so angry?!

If you want to compare the number of angry slurs I have a hunch that Brad might emerge victorious.

Anyway - as teacher as students, right?

Anonymous said...

Al said...

And before someone says "But you violate the 6th precept by criticizing Brad!!!", I'm not an ordained Zen priest and I've never taken on this precept. Brad has and should follow it or quit pretending he is a priest.

How do you know what vows Brad took? Ordination vows are different between lines of Buddhism, between Zen sects, even between different Soto lines.

Anonymous said...

Al said: What you shouldn't be doing, by your own voluntarily taken vows, is criticizing another teacher.

Who says Genpo is a real teacher?

Anonymous said...

Maezumi Roshi who gave Genpo Dharma Transmission says Genpo is a real teacher

Who says Brad is a real teacher?

Mettai Cherry said...

The 6th and 7th precepts in my Soto lineage are worded as:

"See only your own faults – Do not discuss the faults of others.


Know self and other as one – Do not praise yourself at others’ expense."

First, they say nothing about teachers. Second, they say nothing about actions. Criticism of dangerous actions can be made without criticism of the actors.

The way I've interpreted what Brad is saying about Big Mind (tm) and Genpo does not violate these precepts. He is not discussing faults of a person, he is discussing the danger inherent in the actions of that person/group.

Al said...

How do I know what vows Brad took?

Well, I can infer he took on that precept because:

1) It's standard for Soto Zen lineages.

2) I'm quoting the very man who ordained Brad, Nishijima Roshi.

One suspects that when Nishijima Roshi writes an essay listing the standard precepts and discussing them, that he is actually using them in practice and passing them on to his students. I know it's a stretch but we'll just have to make it.

As to who says Genpo is a real Roshi...well, as someone has pointed out, a very well known (and fairly respected) Roshi did and a long time ago. I'd have to check dates but I suspect that this happened before Brad was ever ordained.

I'm not saying that I agree with what Genpo Roshi does, though having heard a number of his Dharma talks from his center (via the recordings made of all of them...), I don't think he's completely out to lunch in general. That said, the problem isn't criticizing Genpo Roshi or what he teaches. The problem is that Brad doesn't do simply that. Instead, he attacks another, recognized, teacher of the Dharma. This is something that isn't done because it damages the Dharma in the eyes of people, attacks another person, and violates Brad's own vows.

Brad clearly feels that he can justify it by saying that Genpo Roshi isn't a teacher of the Dharma or because Dogen was such a badass and he did it. I'm pretty skeptical of Brad's justifications.

Al said...

So, Mettai Cherry, when Brad calls another person an "asswipe" or two people "bumbuddies", he's not actually attacking that person? He's just being funny and they should laugh and smile because it isn't an attack, just Brad's colorful use of English?

Anonymous said...

And what is often forgotten is, we have taken vows to protect the three jewels of buddha's teachings, dharma and sangha.

If there is a pothole masquerading as dharma that is actually an expensive and abusive distraction from practice, it is only kind to put out some hazard flares on the highway.

Those who dont want hazards will be glad the flares are these.

Those who are into risk taking will ignore the flares.

But again, its protecting the three jewels to say, 'Hey, this isnt in line with what Buddha taught.'

And power and power imbalance should be used for the benefit of all, no matter what their rank...not just to accumulate treasure in the hands of a priviliged few, while forbidding us to even discuss this matter openly.

Al said...

It would be much more convenient for Brad if Nishijima's essay on the precepts was removed. Then we wouldn't have the specific wording of Brad's vows or the ability to point out the glaring hypocrisy of Brad by comparing his specific vows to his behavior.

When your behavior concerning the precepts contradicts the specific instructions of your own teacher, it looks kind of bad.

Anonymous said...

"But again, its protecting the three jewels to say, 'Hey, this isnt in line with what Buddha taught.'"

Couldn't agree more

This is not, however, what Brad is saying, what he is saying is:

"Genpo Roshi is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get rich by cheating stupid people. And anyone dumb enough to pay for his "teachings" deserves exactly what they get. "

one statement is criticism, the other is a handful of slurs and slanders

translation said...

Brad has a habit of going off on someone, and then later, when people question him on it, he suddenly claims to be bored stiff with the topic.

Translation: Brad is embarrassed and would like to drop the subject.

Al said...

Hey, you know, I'm a pretty sarcastic guy and swear like a sailor at times. I even call people "asshole" on occasions or flip somebody off.

The thing is that these personality features are not virtues or me simply being authentic. They are angry habits with underlying causes in me, not others. They are grist for the mill in improving my practice.

So, really, I generally wouldn't get on someone like Brad for throwing a few f-bombs or somesuch. It's the fact that, as the author of a few books and an ordained priest leading a sitting group, he is perceived as an authority and, possibly, example to others. He may claim that he doesn't like that or want it but those are the facts of the matter. If he doesn't want his trash talk to be noticed by others and criticized as trash talk, he probably needs to not lead a group and to quit writing books (or doing interviews as a Buddhist teacher and author on NPR).

You'll notice that Noah Levine, Brad's shadow twin, has no reputation for talking shit about people or attacking others.

Mettai Cherry said...

For those of you who like irony, the following is the banner ad I saw on Google mail when I went to look at this thread:

"Genpo Roshi on Eckhart - www.MasteringThePowerOfNow.com - Top Spiritual Teachers offer Free Co"

ghostrider said...

And if the Buddhist community cannot name and speak out when its tenets are misrepresented, it gets overrun by opportunists.


The problem is that, like other religions and sects, each buddhist sect thinks it's own interpretation of those tenets is the only "real" one...thus Brad going on about what is or isn't Real Buddhism (TM). The fanatics in charge of EShangha believe that people like Nishijima and Brad are misrepresenting those tenets by not accepting literal rebirth. Brad believes other Buddhist sects are misrepresenting Real Buddhism because they differ from his own approach. Christian preachers constantly bash other preachers on precisely these grounds. Each believes he is right.

Know self and other as one – Do not praise yourself at others’ expense."

First, they say nothing about teachers. Second, they say nothing about actions. Criticism of dangerous actions can be made without criticism of the actors.


Exactly. It is possilble to disagree with a pov and crticize someone's action without personal attacks or insults. I agree it has nothing to do with Brad criticizing other teachers or whether they or Brad are "real" teachers. It applies to everyone, not just teachers you disagree with.

The way I've interpreted what Brad is saying about Big Mind (tm) and Genpo does not violate these precepts. He is not discussing faults of a person, he is discussing the danger inherent in the actions of that person/group.

And the way I'm interpreting your own view on this is that you are trying mightily to rationalize Brad's manner of criticism.

If I were to write:
"Brad is a phoney worthless piece of shit, asswipe" I fail to see how this could possiblly be interpreted as not finding fault with him personally, but only of his actions. This is twisted logic in the extreme. Brad's attacks upon genpo and others seem very personal, cruel, harsh and well beyond simply criticizing their actions or pov.

So, by your criteria the person who wrote this:

"Well, Brad Warner is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get famous by cheating stupid people."

is not finding fault with Brad or attacking him personally or breaking any precepts or even behaving unethically? I'm not buying it. If I post here that Brad is a worthless pile of shit then I would indeed be guilty of the same behaviour as Brad. I am not a student or admirer of Genpo at all. I agree completely with Brad's assessment of the efficacy of BigMind. But I also disagree with Brad on many points and believe I can see both sides of this. It has nothing to do with using 'nice' words either. Many of the old masters used crude language. Brad's fans seem divided on whether Brad is indeed at fault and those of us that point this out are committing the same offense as Brad...while others try to justify what he says as being good and acceptable since he's defending Real Buddhism.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, what is interesting is how so few of us are staying focused on this new topic of power dynamics and how very many in the spiritual scene seem unconscious of this, in contrast to the conscious BDSM kinksters who know what they want and, unlike many a spirtual seeker, do not end up being paddled in a dungeon unless they WANT TO BE THERE AND WANTED TO BE THERE FROM THE BEGINNING.

Instead, what are we seeing?

The same, very tiresome personalized insults to Brad.

I suggest that when a topic is making certain folks uncomfortable, rather than sitting and facing the zazen wall of the anxiety triggered by the topic, they take flight from that practice opportunity by blasting a bunch of energy by name calling.

proulx michel said...

Anonymous said...

Brad, the protector of REAL Buddhism ... get off your high horse

If you can't see a difference between righteous slander and criticism, then I don't think you are qualified to call yourself buddhist, let alone a REAL one


I'm under the impression that Mr Arse Wipe never really left us...

Anonymous said...

Instead of teaching zen, what do we usually find on this blog?

The same, very tiresome personalized insults to Genpo.

I suggest that when a topic is making Brad Warner uncomfortable, rather than sitting and facing the zazen wall of the anxiety triggered by the topic, he take flight from that practice opportunity by blasting a bunch of energy by name calling.

Anonymous said...

I found this on theworsthorse.wordpress.com


It’s apparent that Brad likes to fight.
He says he cares a lot.
He says he doesn’t care. He cares what people think of him.
Mind you I don’t know him. Never met him.
Put up your dukes? He’s very passive aggressive with his writing. NOt much action in his words. He should practice Zenga.
There’s too much thought and No Poetry to his writing. It’s just commentary. Boring. Zazen can be boring enough.
Do not write characters on the walls, and do not draw lines in the earth with the shit-wiping-stick. The stick is to wipe your ass after you shit.

gniz said...

Brad is an interesting writer, and I enjoy his books quite a bit. His blog is also interesting.

I also agree with him about Wilber and Genpo Roshi (Big Mind).

At the same time, I find that Brad is a sensationalist. Whether he means to be or not, I think it gets harder and harder to buy the notion that Brad is surprised when people react to his outlandish and insulting comments.

Brad cannot possibly be that stupid.

Brad, I believe, knows full well what he is doing as far as trying to drum up readership by making news with his antics.

No doubt, he might also feel a real obligation to speak out against frauds, but i think that's secondary to his desire to make a living as a writer of Zen-style books and articles.

There may be more parallels to Brad and Genpo then Brad would like to admit. Is it really that much different to purposely ignite tempers and stoke the flames of anger in order to make your writing more interesting or be noticed?

Brad admits he is trying to make money off the dharma--he somehow ascribes a difference to it because he is writing a book or an article, rather than simply charging large sums for an audience...

But the books he is writing are about Zen. So any opportunity he takes to gain publicity, stir controversy, etc. comes at the expense of the teaching and the message. So it turns in on itself.

I'm not saying what Brad does is as flagrantly insulting to his audience as what Genpo Roshi or Ken Wilber do, but it's really just a matter of degree here.

The moment you start compromising your values and ideas in order to make a living off spirituality, i think you begin the process of corruption. Thats not to say i think anyone who writes a book or charges money for a retreat is corrupt; rather, i think it's what the driving forces are behind ones actions.

I cannot be certain what causes Brad to act in ways that are so at odds with the Buddhist teachings, or even simple common sense--but it would seem that his need for money, fame, and power are as good an explanation as any.

Anonymous said...

somethings (gniz) never change.

Anonymous said...

"its one thing to make the same mistake twice, its other thing to make it all of your life."

Are you talking about Genpo or Brad?

Rich said...

Saying its Ok to call the actions names but not the person is playing with semantics and is not correct. The actions and the person is not separate - the person is just action.

the precepts is between you and Buddha or God or what's his name. Do business with those that can help you. Avoid those that can harm you. Use teachers, don't depend on them.

"Anyway, I don't believe myself. I'm angry at them and embarrassed by my own lack of compassion. What is the route to "freedom" (besides winning the lottery or going into sugar coated denial)?"

Stop projecting. the route to freedom is sitting in the garden.

Anonymous said...

We're still personalizing and not examining why so many thrill to power imbalances orchestrated by abusive teachers, and consider these power imbalances so priviliged that any attempt to examine them is labelled as a violation of right speech, when nothing could be finer speech than discussing these issues consciously, with precision and stating, with precision that these are not Buddhadharma.

Lets not mention Brad again in this thread and focus instead on whether there is indeed a strain of unexamined, covert BDSM kink that runs through the so called dharma world.

Because, I will at least bow to the leather people for this reason: by dressing in leather, with the color coded hankies, slave collars and whips on their belts, they signal that they're interested in playing with pain, power, and tension.

What worries me far more are the people who are into playing with pain, power and tension, but who dont wear the kinds of clothes or use the kind of language that allows a person to know, well in advance, that this is what is on the menu.

The scary thing are people who run BDSM dungeons and present as gurus or meditation masters, rather than saying up front, 'Lick my boots and call me Master or Mistress.'

Its when the kinky power games are not named as kinky power games and instead are called spiriutality, that the trouble begins.

Its bad enough to worship authority without questioning it.

But when one cannot even attach accurate terminology to the situaion because we are told thinking and discussing power is negative, its impossible to apply discerning insight (vipassana) to the situation.

And if covert BDSM is going on with folks wearing robes, rather than being honest enough to wear leather and boots, its right speech, not wrong speech to state that this is not Buddha Dharma.

Vanilla Girl

Al said...

It's not "any attempt to examine them is labelled as a violation of right speech" at all.

Talk about the actual abuses and the issues that you have with them instead of simply calling the teacher nasty names, personally.

Why is this so difficult for certain people here to grasp?

If you think big mind is a shit technique, state so and state why. You don't need to say "...and Genpo Roshi is a fucking asshole" in order to do it, do you? Are people really that limited in their ability to discriminate the difference between these two sorts of actions?

gniz said...

Vanilla Girl,

I personally kinda feel like both you and Brad are reaching a little in comparing the two (BDSM and the spiritual con-game).
Maybe you're kind of interested in BDSM as you seem to know a bit about it.
But honestly i dont see how the two relate.
Thats like saying the political game is reall BDSM.

The only thing in common is power. Of course, power is used to get sex, money, etc.

Does that mean anyone involved in corruption and power is secretly into BDSM?

I just dont see the point. Its an interesting note to say, hey this marginalized activity (BDSM) is actually a lot healthier than much of what goes on in the spiritual community. But that doesnt mean the people involved are substituting one for the other, or are secretly into sadomasochistic sex games, etc.

Sho'Nuff said...

Gniz,

I think the comparison between BDSM and the spiritual guru trip isn't that they are interchangeble practices, it is that the role of dominant parallels the role of guru and that the role of submissive parallels the role of "spiritual seeker". Even if there is no abuse of power, I think the parallel is clear and insightful on Vanilla Girl's part.

The guru/spiritual seeker trip is the opposite of zen practice, if you go by the teachings of Linji (Rinzai), Dogen, Huineng, Sengcan, etc. as the definition of zen.


Al,

I understand the differentiation you are trying to make. But as Rich pointed out, you are wrong. The actions and the person is not separate - the person is just action.

Al said...

Ah, but Rich is full of shit then. :-)

Al said...

If the person and the action are not truly separate, then Brad should have no problem only discussing the actions in the future and leaving the person out of it, right?

We all know he won't though.

Jinzang said...

Maybe everyone is right and everyone is wrong? Brad was right to criticize Genpo's $50,000 sesshin and others are right to criticize the language Brad used to do it? And everyone is wrong for painting these two teachers who undoubtedly have many good qualities as if they were entirely bad?

Jinzang said...

Edward Conze once defined power as the ability to ignore the wishes of others. Given that differences in power are inevitable (parent and child, boss and worker, and yes, spiritual teacher and student) it seems to that all such relations should be based on friendship and mutual concern. It seems that we in the West assume that in all relations both parties are only seeking personal advantage. However, in the East the relation between superior and inferior is seen as supportive and mutually beneficial. This is probably the most important spiritual lesson I took away from studying the martial arts.

Sho'nuff said...

If the person and the action are not truly separate, then Brad should have no problem only discussing the actions in the future and leaving the person out of it, right?

Wrong again. The person and the action are the same. The person and the action are the same. The person and the action are the same. When you discuss one you inevitably are discussing the other BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME. It is impossible to discuss one without the other. Of course we can play linguistic games that make it seem like we're discussing one or the other.


But they are... that's right, you guessed it!

the same.

Al said...

Sorry, I call bullshit.

It's just an excuse for Brad to attack people and not to have to live up to his vows.

Spin it however you want.

Sho'nuff said...

Al,

Would you really feel that much better about it if Brad said "Genpo's behavior is that of an asshole."

Al said...

Why talk about Genpo's behavior at all if it is what he is teaching that causes the problem? Brad could simply explain why that teaching was bad Dharma and leave Genpo out of it except as the source of the teacher. That way he wouldn't have to call Genpo various vulgar names at all. We can call that, for the sake of argument, "constructive criticism."

Of course, as Brad has admitted, he actually doesn't know what Genpo actually teaches. He also declines to even talk to Genpo when it comes up.

Why excuse Brad's bad behavior? You notice that I don't feel a need to call Brad names here. I'm happy to simply discuss his behavior without saying he is a jerk or a piece of crap or the like. Why is he unable to do the same with people he disagrees with?

Max said...

Christ, ya'all need to switch to decaf. Quick. This blog and these comments are just a bunch of religous wackos wackin off about how their one true belief is better than everyone elses. Every time I read these I get fed up with people...Wait! I got it! I'll stop reading the comments! Thanks Brad, looking foward to the new book!

jamal said...

"I'm happy to simply discuss his behavior without saying he is a jerk or a piece of crap or the like."

bro, it's implied without you using the words.

Anonymous said...

"bro, it's impl'ied without you using the words."

bro, how is it implied? If I tell someone that I think you are mistaken about something, it's the same as saying you are an asshole? Even christians understand that you can hate the sin but love the sinner. The Buddha condemned lots of different behaviour and views without calling out specific teachers or individuals associated with such views and calling them names.

Another attempt to rationalize. Which does not imply I'm calling you a jerk or asshole, by the way. I disagree with my kids views on lots of stuff, but I just tell them I think they are wrong. I don't tell them they're assholes, nor is it implied.

Anonymous said...

Al's behavior resembles that of a pompous douchebag.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

I see that you removed the controversial words from your essay on Farts:

Genpo Roshi is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get rich by cheating stupid people. And anyone dumb enough to pay for his "teachings" deserves exactly what they get.http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2008/09/big-fart-circle.html

Is that because you suddenly saw light on Right Speech? Or is it because your principles of "talking truth" and "to hell with the money" went right out the window when somebody threatened to sue your ass for $50,000???

Anonymous said...

Gniz, you hit the nail on the head. This train came off the tracks.

But the books he is writing are about Zen. So any opportunity he takes to gain publicity, stir controversy, etc. comes at the expense of the teaching and the message. So it turns in on itself.

I'm not saying what Brad does is as flagrantly insulting to his audience as what Genpo Roshi or Ken Wilber do, but it's really just a matter of degree here.

The moment you start compromising your values and ideas in order to make a living off spirituality, i think you begin the process of corruption. Thats not to say i think anyone who writes a book or charges money for a retreat is corrupt; rather, i think it's what the driving forces are behind ones actions.

I cannot be certain what causes Brad to act in ways that are so at odds with the Buddhist teachings, or even simple common sense--but it would seem that his need for money, fame, and power are as good an explanation as any.

Anonymous said...

Al said: Why excuse Brad's bad behavior? You notice that I don't feel a need to call Brad names here. I'm happy to simply discuss his behavior without saying he is a jerk or a piece of crap or the like.

anonymous said:
Al's behavior resembles that of a pompous douchebag.


Oh, SNAP!

pot_kettle_black said...

Rich, you have it exactly backwards. Suggesting that a persons actions and the person are 'the same' is indeed playing with semantics.

From one view, a person is many different actions, not just one or some. All the actions of that person can be said to be that person. But Brad isn't talking about all the actions of genpo, only a few that he finds disagreeable. Just as the hand is 'the same' as five fingers and palm, but is not identical to any one finger. If I suggest one of your fingers is broken, it is not the same as suggesting your hand is broken. To criticize someone's actions or views is not identical to criticizing the person as a whole. Calling someone a slimy asshole, asswipe, dickhead, etc is condemning all of the actions that constitute that person, not just one or some. Besides which this type of criticism (name calling) is so non-specific and juvenile as to be ineffective and nonconstructive.

Modest MouseO))) said...

"i get up
at just about noon
my head sends a message
for me to reach for my shoes, and then i walk.

gotta go to work!
gotta go to work!
gotta have a job!"

-'Custom Concern' off the album 'This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About'

Anonymous said...

If I suggest one of your fingers is broken, it is not the same as suggesting your hand is broken.

Uh... yes it is. If your hand is broken, it means part of your hand is broken. If you say my hand is broken, I don't think anyone would automatically assume that every bone in my hand was broken. If your finger is broken then it is a true statement that your hand is broken.

NellaLou said...

@at the moment who said:
You are confusing classes on comparative religion vs indoctrination. The former are allowed not the latter.

I am not confused about this. And I am not necessarily talking about formal classes in anything. I am talking about awareness. Literacy be it spiritual or otherwise is an ability to not only read what is in the lines but what is between them as well. Indoctrination is happening all around all of us at every moment in every culture, however subtle it may be. Far more things are "allowed" than any rule/law book tells you.

NellaLou said...

@philbob-squarehead (you are one of my favorite people here-no crap)
said:

How could there be "rational education" when religion itself is irrational?

I am not talking about any education in terms of learning dogma. Just about learning the difference between dogma and dog shit.

You said it right when you talk about critical analysis. I fully agree no religion should escape scrutiny. Its even written in the Buddhist dogma that one should take what is useful and discard the rest. But the ability to differentiate seems to be the big problem (with oh so many things)

Maybe just an education in common sense would be more in order.

(and no I'm not from the U.S.-am your neighbor from the north by citizenship (Canada) but have lived elsewhere (most recently India) for quite a number of years)

Justin said...

Brad makes some good points sometimes, but he is strongly attached to his reactions to a certain type of person (a large percentage of the first generation of American Buddhists would be included in this).

He is presenting his hate as 'True Buddhism'. This is not true Buddhism. Buddhism is not an ideology or value system. Buddhist practice is seeing our judgements and feelings arise and pass, not identifying with them or projecting them outwards but recognising them as impermanent aspects of mind.

NellaLou said...

@jinzang
said:

However, in the East the relation between superior and inferior is seen as supportive and mutually beneficial. This is probably the most important spiritual lesson I took away from studying the martial arts.

That would be true in a true guru/disciple relationship which is generally viewed as symbiotic. But it is often used outside of that to justify oppression (ie the caste system). In martial arts, which I enjoy also, the relationships of power are clearly defined. Everybody knows the rules, rituals and positions and their limits. In every day life that is rarely so.

@general comments


With regard to BDSM, authoritarianism etc.

Power is security. Those who have power have security and those who don't, want it. Power can be economic, spiritual, sexual, commercial, aesthetic or whatever.

BDSM and the like are similar to the martial arts scenario above. The rules are spelled out. Religion and general social roles are far more amorphous things. There are too many variables that have to be considered to make rules that can be comprehensive enough to cover every circumstance. Religious leaders have to pretty much "wing it" on a daily basis unless they dogmatize to the nth degree. Then they are just religious robots.

But dogmatists can deliver something the more flexible kind of person cannot and that is security. You do something wrong there is a defined consequence. The rituals and rules are all laid out. This kind of confinement by thought and emotion can become very comfortable. And habitual and finally sought and ecstatically embraced. (how many "cults" could I name here?)

To my way of thinking the reason people seek authoritarian experiences (be it the various Communist revolutions, fascism or religious institutions or persons)is because of a desire for security. Even a desire for eternal security as irrational as that sounds. To be at a place in life where the road is marked from cradle to grave and all one has to do is follow the signs and stay between the lines. And in the end there will be a big reward. The ultimate reward. So tolerance of authoritarianism is accepted as the price to be paid as long as the prize at the end is deemed to be available. Anything outside of that eventually becomes unthinkable.

And for those who crave power, of whatever variety, promises of the delivery of the ultimate (be it sexual or religious) experience, help keep the individual followers in line.

There seem to be far fewer people who crave power than those willing to surrender their power to them. Ambition or will to power to use the philosophical phrase, is a difficult road. Its an awful lot of work and requires specific skills such as planning, discipline, aggression, organization, confidence, etc. And it requires a certain kind of narrow thinking which does not allow doubt. Not everyone is equipped socially or in terms of their personality structure to fill that role. Maybe there is also a biological-genetic role there (as an anthropologist I consider that a definite possibility). Human society cannot function if everyone is equally ambitious.

Dependency which becomes the outcome of reliance upon authority over time is a self-sustaining state of being. I am not talking about interdependence or mutual dependence but a debilitating dependence which does not foster individual growth and survival. It is almost pathological if not parasitic in nature in that the habit of dependency is very similar to addiction.

Inequality sustained does not have a good ending.

In all, the point is, elevation of a spiritual leader ultimately leads to unhealthy dependency which is an obstacle to realization and spiritual growth.

And any leader who fosters this is full of shit.

Dan said...

" Calling someone a slimy asshole, asswipe, dickhead, etc is condemning all of the actions that constitute that person, not just one or some. "

That doesn't make sense. What if someone was really great in all of their actions but then they kileld someone? You could say then they were an asshole without implying that all of their other actions were bad no?

For the record I think Jinzang's most recent post pretty much nailed it.


"Maybe everyone is right and everyone is wrong? Brad was right to criticize Genpo's $50,000 sesshin and others are right to criticize the language Brad used to do it? And everyone is wrong for painting these two teachers who undoubtedly have many good qualities as if they were entirely bad?"

Anonymous said...

Genpo Roshi is not in any way shape or form a Buddhist teacher. He is a garbage salesman, a slimy little piece of shit out to get rich by cheating stupid people. And anyone dumb enough to pay for his "teachings" deserves exactly what they get.http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2008/09/big-fart-circle.html


Yeah, why did you remove it from the essay if you were talking truth to power? Something get to you?

Anonymous said...

Found this on theworsthorse.wordpress.com


It’s apparent that Brad likes to fight.
He says he cares a lot.
He says he doesn’t care. He cares what people think of him.
Mind you I don’t know him. Never met him.
Put up your dukes? He’s very passive aggressive with his writing. NOt much action in his words. He should practice Zenga.
There’s too much thought and No Poetry to his writing. It’s just commentary. Boring. Zazen can be boring enough.
Do not write characters on the walls, and do not draw lines in the earth with the shit-wiping-stick. The stick is to wipe your ass after you shit.

Justin said...

Do not write characters on the walls, and do not draw lines in the earth with the shit-wiping-stick. The stick is to wipe your ass after you shit.

Genius

Justin said...

...or asswiping stick even

Anonymous said...

Prince Shōtoku:
"X. Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary men. How can any one lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For we are all, one with another, wise and foolish, like a ring which has no end. Therefore, although others give way to anger, let us on the contrary dread our own faults, and though we alone may be in the right, let us follow the multitude and act like them."

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Seventeen-article_constitution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Sh%C5%8Dtoku

Anonymous said...

Sho Nuff wrote:

"I think the comparison between BDSM and the spiritual guru trip isn't that they are interchangeble practices, it is that the role of dominant parallels the role of guru and that the role of submissive parallels the role of "spiritual seeker". "


Actually to me the salient difference between BDSM kink and unconscious spiritual kink in which folks submit to and romanticize abusive dungeon daddy gurus is...

at least in BDSM kink, all parties know what they want at a conscious level and TALK CLEARLY ABOUT POWER AND ITS BOUNDARIES before entering the scene and enacting the roles. And..there are clearly designated signals by which to exit the scene and special clothing (eg leather) is worn in the scene and no where else, protecting the boundaries.

In the covert spiritual kink scene, which I hypothesize undergirds far too much of the spiritual seekers circuit, these power roles and games are NOT NAMED OR DISCUSSED in terms of power.

Indeed, there seems a determination to avoid discussion of power and boundaries rather in the seeker's scene, as if the topic is so terrifying that people have to act it out unconsciously and act it out disguised as spirituality, when in fact, I think its more accurate to call it BDSM that is unconscious, un-named, and thus at risk of going out of control.

At least if some folks were to call their ashrams BDSM dungeons, or domination parlors, it would be truth in advertising, they'd get clientele who actually want what goes on there, and everyone would go home satisfied.

That's my warped hunch.

Vanilla Girl.

Again, its intriguing that folks are endlessly yelling about how awful and naughty Brad is, rather than getting insightfully curious about power.

andro said...

The guy isn't a poet for sure. I'm not even sure he is a musician. I know he does not like to fight. He will always back away from that. He often says he doesn't care or that he is bored. I think that is because he doesn't know himself very well.

How could he?

What is amazing to me is that he has become comfortable not knowing.

THAT is unusual.

Harry said...

This blog needs more of a woman's touch:

Boys will be boys!

Regards,

Harry.

gniz said...

I also find it interesting that Brad would remove a passage from his blog, and never even mention why he did it.

Maybe he realized it crossed the line, or maybe upon re-reading, he just thought it was plain old bad writing.

But in any case, I think it points to a lack of basic honesty in his writing. Part of Brad's literary style is to indicate that he simply tells it like it is.

But over time, I've found his writing absolutely riddled with contradictions. And not the kind of contradictions that one can just excuse because spirituality is all about accepting contradictions.

Rather, Brad basically wants to have is cake and eat it too. He insults people and makes ad hominem attacks, then criticizes anyone who does so with him. He claims that we cannot judge his character based on his writings, but then he judges others based on their writings.

See, even the comments I'm making right now are not about Brad the person--I don't know him. Rather, I'm commenting on his body of work, his writings and talks. They don't hold up because they aren't truthful.

Brad often says he doesn't make money from Zen. That's patently false. He is a writer of Zen books and articles, period. He doesn't write about anything BUT Zen, so his argument is false. If you took away his Zen credentials, his writings would be in a drawer somewhere.

As a writer, Brad admits he will market himself and do what he needs to do to promote his work. But Brad's work as a writer IS all about his Zen practice...which means, that's right--he's PROMOTING the hell out of his take on Zen Buddhism. Which means he's doing basically the same thing that Genpo and Wilber and others do.

And remember, Genpo and Wilber did not spring fully formed into this world as con-men. Rather, over time, and with growing popularity, and advancing age, they began to charge more money and change their teachings and style.

Brad has already changed dramatically as a a writer in just a few short years. Compare his earlier writings from a few years back--they are nowhere near as inflammatory or sensationalized as the newer stuff.

So who is really being disingenuous here? People like myself who've been following Brad's work and noting a precipitous decline and change in tone?

Or the fanboys who assume that anything Brad does is okay, because they'd like to believe it's true.

Kodo Sawaki said...

"17. To you who say you don’t get along with others

Everyone talks about their own point of view, but who really cares? It’d be better if you just kept your mouth shut!

Some say, “Who do you think I am anyway?” An ordinary person, what else?
Some are proud of their wealth, others of their name and position, still others of their satori. In this way they’re just showing off how ordinary they are – people these days are so stupid!

You cry out, “Peace, peace!”, but if you would only be quiet, it would be so much more peaceful. You say, “In my opinion...”, but it’s precisely when opinions and theories come into the picture that the bickering starts.

“Both you and me are just ordinary people.” [Prince Shōtoku, 17-Article Constitution]
Since, in any case, it’s just ordinary people who wage war on each other, everybody is wrong, friend as much as foe. The winner and the loser are in any case just ordinary people.
It’s so sad to watch the world’s conflicts. There’s such a lack of common sense. One hothead swings a sword, another fires a rifle."

http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/kodo-sawaki-to-you.shtml

gniz said...

Vanilla Girl,

I understand what you're pointing to, but honestly, I can't comment on the guru trip and its relationship to BDSM cuz i know very little about that world.
Clearly, you see parallels and i agree they are there. But there are parallels everwhere in life. There are parallels between religous life and BDSM, to the corporate world, to family life, etc.

I agree it's interesting to note how certain repressed urges become expressed in these strange and bizarre ways (such as followers giving sexual power to their guru), but i dont think it needs to be discussed ONLY in this one way you are interested in.

And discussing Brad on Brad's blog isn't all that strange. Believe me, I don't go around talking about Brad on my college message board or during casual dinner conversation.

Fanboy said...

"Or the fanboys who assume that anything Brad does is okay, because they'd like to believe it's true."

This fanboy thing is starting to annoy me slightly. Who are these fanboys who agree with everything Brad says?

Seriously, hands up if you agree with everything Brad says.

Jinzang said...

That would be true in a true guru/disciple relationship which is generally viewed as symbiotic. But it is often used outside of that to justify oppression (ie the caste system).

Here in the United States democracy and freedom are used to justify war. That doesn't make freedom or democracy bad.

Here on this blog the precepts are used to justify verbal attacks on Brad. That doesn't make the precepts bad.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, Only a Shlub could be That jealous.

Mumon said...

Too much attachment to Brad Warner, Dennis Merzel, and what they say.

Muppet said...

Yeah, maybe we should talk about Zen or even better - practice Zen

Anonymous said...

". But Brad's work as a writer IS all about his Zen practice...which means, that's right--he's PROMOTING the hell out of his take on Zen Buddhism. Which means he's doing basically the same thing that Genpo and Wilber and others do."


Uh...no. Unlike Genpo and Kenny, Brad is not trying to pretend he's something he is not.

Brad's never said he is anything other than one Zen teacher among many.

Two, and more importantly, Brad has not consulted experts in American style huckter mass marketing, and is not packaging his stuff on DVDS and persuading Health Maintainance Organizations like Kaiser Perm to use his stuff as part of their patient education programs, as has been the case with the Wilber/Genpo Integral Life Practice set.

My objection is neither Ken nor Genpo are licensed to practice medicine or psychotherapy and thier stuff has never been tested by well designed double blind research protocol, which is supposed to be done before an HMO adopts something for use in patient ed programs.

And if anyone ventured to dump on Ken anything that comes close to the vituperation people feel free to dump on Brad, Ken would turn quite nasty.

Here is Ken's famous riff.

http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/46

And rather than admit he committed an act against Right Speech, Ken had the nerve to suggest that anyone offended by it was stuck in an inferior mode of development ('first tier) and incapable of seeing this as humor.

Koudelka said...

Why do you guys waste your time arguing here when there's so much more fun stuff to do in the world?

Rich said...

"Ah, but Rich is full of shit then. :-)"
"Rich, you have it exactly backwards. Suggesting that a persons actions and the person are 'the same' is indeed playing with semantics."

don't know mind is just action. So Genpo writes about providing glimpses of enlightenment for $50k or $150. Brad calls him names and says Budhist teachers shouldn't do that. Everybody discusses it, thinks about it, and acts on it. I'm not planning on visiting Genpo or Brad but will buy Brad's new book. Sorry for the semantic play but words are all I have for a blog.

Matt said...

when did Brad ever say you can't criticize him? I don't eve recall him saying that? (now back to the rest of the comments...)

Matt said...
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Matt said...
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Matt said...
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Matt said...

k, basically my $0.03 is I'm sure we can all think of plenty of good reasons to have changed the language on the blog entry in question. I mean, how many times have you ever wanted to just mouth off to someone and then thought better of it? How many times have you said it when you shouldn't have?

Also, good god almighty this conversation is nuts! I'm wondering what the goal of the commenters are? I feel compelled to clarify what Brad has written not on the basis of content but on the sheer hyperbole with which some are attacking HIM!

He's a big boy, he can take care of himself, but it seems obvious to me what is worth getting yer panties in a bunch and what isn't for some reason. Have a field day with the fact that I'm commenting, I can't post that I don't care, lest I get the same treatment as the blogger in question.

Now, maybe I'm beating a dead horse, but is it even a good argument to piss and moan about somebody being 'mean' or 'breaking a precept' when all they're doing is calling bullshit? Even if they perceive some vague level of hypocrisy?


Also, maybe this card doesn't play anymore, but I think some people forget about the punk aspect of Brad. No, I'm not speaking to 'right or wrong,' just that I'm surprised that some are surprised that Brad comes off as vulgar sometimes.

I'm imagining people ignoring the teachings of Lin Chi because he is violating "right speech" by introducing the phrase "shitstick" into the Buddhist vernacular.

I mean, we're all obviously free to say what we want, but to me I really can't understand why people are so up in arms right now.

I mean, smoke a joint or somethin' will ya? (ruh roh...)

peace,
matt

Thing 1 said...

Dear Anonymous "compassion begins at home."

Thanks for the advice. Thing 2 looked up some tonglen info and it seems helpful (from Pema Chodron).

It also brought to mind a silly joke a'la muppets.

Gonzo: "Rowlf, I know you've tried different things to awaken compassion. I'm curious, how's tonglen?"

Rowlf: "I don't know. I've never tongled" [snicker]

==============

And just because it hasn't been said yet in this thread....
Brad is a doodoo head and Gempo is a doodoo head and X, Y and Z are also doodoo heads, and I'm right and they all break precepts, and I'm right, and here a reference to prove it (http://whatever) and here's a quote from a famous patriarch Hu-Blu-Beetzu "yada yada" and I'm right, so there, and stop breaking precepts you doodoo heads.

Koudelka said...

Big Skull: http://crystalheadvodka.com/

Anonymous said...

The money and the drugs. It’s just beyond everything. What does it mean? What is it leading to? It’s the tide. It’s the dismal tide. It’s not the one thing. Terrible men walk the world, and there’s never anything one can do except maybe flip a coin, and resign oneself to the notion that evil, like the western plains, is a barren wilderness that can never be mapped or understood.

Anonymous said...

evil is anger driven by inner shame

Anonymous said...

inner as in dissociated

Anonymous said...

I have a better idea!!!!

The full text says "Suggested Donation: $50,0000". The key word here is Suggested.

So, why not get 3-5 guys/gals to ring up, ask if there are places on the next scheduled one and then get them to say "Gee, You know what, I cannot afford $50,000 but I can afford $1. Can I suggest $1 as a donation?"

See what happens.

Then maybe you'll find out a bit more about his motivation....

But a business will often fill empty spaces in a high-priced event just to make the list-price payers feeel better.

Dan said...

"http://www.kenwilber.com/blog/show/46"

I literally have no idea what Ken Wilber is saying. Ever.

Anonymous said...

An interesting discussion here, and in the comments, there is a report and a thoughtful assessment by 'eslow' who reported attending one of Genpo's workshops and made what seemed well informed observations about differences between actual Zen and what Genpo's BM is about.

http://dashh.typepad.com/ilife/2007/03/brad_warner_on_.html

Anonymous said...

Do not write characters on the walls, and do not draw lines in the earth with the shit-wiping-stick. The stick is to wipe your ass after you shit.

That is Great!!

That has Brad written all over it. Genius.

jamal said...

Did Brad write that? It doesn't sound like him.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Brad projects himself into these monsters that take over Japan.

Brian (Review the World) said...

i was reading the last chapter of "Sit Down and Shut Up" today sprawled out on my couch when i almost dropped the book.. - you were discussing Ultimate Truth, and you were making an example and said you were born in Hamilton, OH.. - that's where i live! - i know you were from Ohio, but had no idea from my own hometown.. - the hospital is only a couple blocks away, actually.. - here's hoping for a third installment in your novel series.. - be well!

Anonymous said...

Do not write characters on the walls, and do not draw lines in the earth with the shit-wiping-stick. The stick is to wipe your ass after you shit.

grisom said...

I've just finished watching assorted political debates (for Canada and the US), and I feel more excited about the political process than I ever have. I know why, too. I always used to get pulled into the mudslinging that happens in every campaign and wind up getting very cynical about everything.

Then I started following this blog and its comments section. The flame wars that sometimes (...okay, almost always) erupt here have been incredibly instructive. The way people on both sides often totally misinterpret what Brad said, the way the discussion often gets sidetracked on issues that have no real relevance, the way people nonetheless occasionally have a very good point, have all taught me to look at the flame wars of politics in a new way.

Thank you, internetters!

Anonymous said...

Brad is doing this Hardcore Zen and
it works alright for me.But,all the
comments here..man.The comments by
kodo sawaki,mumon and muppet were
really right-on.Sit down&shut up.

Anonymous said...

"My objection is neither Ken nor Genpo are licensed to practice medicine or psychotherapy and thier stuff has never been tested by well designed double blind research protocol, which is supposed to be done before an HMO adopts something for use in patient ed programs."

How on earth do you do a double-blind trial of any form of talking therapy/activity?

Anonymous said...

"How on earth do you do a double-blind trial of any form of talking therapy/activity?''

You do it something like this:

First, that research study on ILP has to be supervised by people who have no vested interest in proving that ILP works. It should not be funded by anyone associated with Ken or Genpo, either.

Two, the researchers should not, at any point whatsoever, know which subjects were assigned to the 4 groups. Its done at random.

And the subjects don’t know to which group they’ve been assigned. This is why they call it a double blind study. The researchers don’t know, and the subjects don’t know.

Get a sample of participating subjects. If this is being done at an HMO in the outpatient psych department, we can arrange for all subjects, at the beginning of the study, to fill out a variety of assessment forms such as the written tests used to measure one’s levels of self reported depression, anxiety, what time you go to sleep, what time you get up in the morning.

Have subjects take this test. To be really thorough, if subjects live with someone, you have really zero in by having their roommate or partner rate how depressed or anxious the person is at the start of the study.

Lets imagine this is a six month long study. Administer these tests each month. Note how much psych medication people are taking

Assign them at random to one of four groups:

A non talk therapy group (control)where you hang out and just yak about what happened last week. This is the placebo group.

Group 2) which consists of ILP

Group 3)which consists of instruction in something that has already been of proven worth such as cognitive behavioral therapy and

Group 4) a Zen sitting meditation group, teaching just that--no additional bells or whistles. Sit down and shut up and follow your breath.

Again, at NO time should the subjects know what group they’ve been assigned to, nor the researchers.

Administer the tests each month.

At the end, see if there are noteworthy differences in whether people could reduce dosages of their medication to a greater degree in any of the groups. Was there much of a difference between Group One (Control Group) vs the other two groups?

Was there that much of a difference in self reported depression, anxiety and medication intake in the CBT group vs the Zen Group and the ILP group?

If the ILP group isnt any different from the control group, it has no effect and should be ditched from the curriculum. Its medically inert.

If the Zen group doesn’t show much difference in result from the control group, it should be scrapped from the outpatient education curriculum. And..that is OK. ZEN IS NOT ABOUT WANTING OR GETTING RESULTS, ANWAY.

But if ILP turns out to be inert and no different from a control group, dump the ILP from the outpatient curriculum at the HMO. ILP is all about promised results, so if it doesn’t give measurable results in a double blind test, its not delivering on its promotion—especially grave, given how expensive it is.

If ILP is as a effective as CBT, then it should be any more expensive than CBT and there is no reason for Genpo to charge those high fees—and he really should go get himself licensed to practice medicine or psychotherapy anyway—and carry malpractice insurance. If ILP has an impact, that also means its powerful enough that not everyone should take it—just as any effective medication will have a list of indications and counter indications.

So…that is how one does a double blind study.

Anonymous said...

"How on earth do you do a double-blind trial of any form of talking therapy/activity?''

You do it something like this:

First, that research study on ILP has to be supervised by people who have no vested interest in proving that ILP works. It should not be funded by anyone associated with Ken or Genpo, either.

Two, the researchers should not, at any point whatsoever, know which subjects were assigned to the 4 groups. Its done at random.

And the subjects don’t know to which group they’ve been assigned. This is why they call it a double blind study. The researchers don’t know, and the subjects don’t know.

Get a sample of participating subjects. If this is being done at an HMO in the outpatient psych department, we can arrange for all subjects, at the beginning of the study, to fill out a variety of assessment forms such as the written tests used to measure one’s levels of self reported depression, anxiety, what time you go to sleep, what time you get up in the morning.

Have subjects take this test. To be really thorough, if subjects live with someone, you have really zero in by having their roommate or partner rate how depressed or anxious the person is at the start of the study.

Lets imagine this is a six month long study. Administer these tests each month. Note how much psych medication people are taking

Assign them at random to one of four groups:

A non talk therapy group (control)where you hang out and just yak about what happened last week. This is the placebo group.

Group 2) which consists of ILP

Group 3)which consists of instruction in something that has already been of proven worth such as cognitive behavioral therapy and

Group 4) a Zen sitting meditation group, teaching just that--no additional bells or whistles. Sit down and shut up and follow your breath.

Again, at NO time should the subjects know what group they’ve been assigned to, nor the researchers.

Administer the tests each month.

At the end, see if there are noteworthy differences in whether people could reduce dosages of their medication to a greater degree in any of the groups. Was there much of a difference between Group One (Control Group) vs the other two groups?

Was there that much of a difference in self reported depression, anxiety and medication intake in the CBT group vs the Zen Group and the ILP group?

If the ILP group isnt any different from the control group, it has no effect and should be ditched from the curriculum. Its medically inert.

If the Zen group doesn’t show much difference in result from the control group, it should be scrapped from the outpatient education curriculum. And..that is OK. ZEN IS NOT ABOUT WANTING OR GETTING RESULTS, ANWAY.

But if ILP turns out to be inert and no different from a control group, dump the ILP from the outpatient curriculum at the HMO. ILP is all about promised results, so if it doesn’t give measurable results in a double blind test, its not delivering on its promotion—especially grave, given how expensive it is.

If ILP is as a effective as CBT, then it should be any more expensive than CBT and there is no reason for Genpo to charge those high fees—and he really should go get himself licensed to practice medicine or psychotherapy anyway—and carry malpractice insurance. If ILP has an impact, that also means its powerful enough that not everyone should take it—just as any effective medication will have a list of indications and counter indications.

So…that is how one does a double blind study.

Alphonzen said...

No offense but does anyone get the impression that Noah is a bit of a poser?

This whole buddhism is the new punk rock is boring me to death.

C'mon lets be ORIGINAL.

Anonymous said...

Original! Yes!

Buddhism is the new [insert word that has never ever been said].

Anonymous said...

C'mon lets be ORIGINAL.

Noah published his first book in the same year as Brad if you're implying that Noah is a Copycat.

Anonymous said...

Zen is the original Punk Rock!!!

Jinzang said...

So…that is how one does a double blind study.

What you describe is an outcomes study, which is useful, but not the same as a double blind study. The point is that double blind studies have limited applicability outside of drug trials. If you study the effectiveness of meditation in treating medical conditions, it's going to be an outcomes study.

Anonymous said...

Punk rock has a lot more to do with repressed childhood shame and anger than any punk rocker will ever let on to due to their dissociation from these emotions as a survival mechanism.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a good recipe for Banana Nut Bread ?

Anonymous said...

"its one thing to make the same mistake twice, its other thing to make it all of your life."

Are you talking about Genpo or Brad?

this refers to anyone who makes mistakes - so anyone but me ;}

Michael Bardan said...

Banana Nut Bread

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs

1/3 cup applesauce

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Hemp Seed Flour

2 3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)

1/4 cup Shelled Hemp Seeds

1/4 cup chocolate or carob chips (optional)



DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix first 3 ingredients with mixer at medium speed until pale yellow.

Add dry ingredients alternately with bananas to mixture. Mix at medium speed until well blended.

Pour into greased or sprayed loaf pan (9 x 5 or 8 1/2 x 4 1/2). Bake 45-60 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean and dry. Let cool in pan 20-30 minutes before turning out onto rack.

Makes: 1 loaf

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 45-60 min.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe Bardan. Thats a lot of hemp. Anyone else have a Banana nut bread recipe? Or , how about a zucchini bread recipe. I would like to use something other than sugar. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

zucchini bread recipe no sugar

mother earth said...

gniz:

"At the same time, I find that Brad is a sensationalist. Whether he means to be or not, I think it gets harder and harder to buy the notion that Brad is surprised when people react to his outlandish and insulting comments.

Brad cannot possibly be that stupid.
"

Actually gniz, it is our own stupidity that we believe in...scarily enough.

I mean, look at all this crap here!

All I want to say is that we are doing the exact same thing that Brad is doing. Expressing ourselves.

But Brad has studied and sat and like it or not has earned his role--and because of this background I think he expresses himself without the same kind of intentionality that we all (mostly) express ourselves with.

Brad's intention has been very consistent: to show us that we have the responsibility on our shoulders to see clearly. He rants because so many in the western buddhist fold think otherwise and follow like sheep.

Brad's surprise that people react to his comments as such is that he really can't believe how seriously stupid people are to react to his personality--

--because the personality is not the message! the message is the message!!--

I think he is actually being really nice and compassionate to say "hey I'm surprised" instead of "hey you're a dipshit!"

Anonymous said...

Say the original punk rockers were 18 years old and angry in 1978. That means they were born in 1960. If they were born to parents who were 20-25 years old, that means their parents were born in 1935-40. That means their parents were 5-10 years old during WWII. Many children then lost a father and were brought up by a grieving non-nurturing alcoholic mothers. Oprah wasn't around back then. Stuff didn't get expressed, it got repressed. So you get an angry abusive mother who is traumatizing her children. A generation full of traumatized children who become abusive parents who don't know how to resolve conflict. They give birth to another generation. That's the origins of punk rock. And if you'll notice, punk stayed popular. That's because this culture has stayed sick. Sick with shamed identities passed from parents to children. Enraged, abused children.

Rich said...

After grasping matters which are thought about, we come back to this concrete place and act. Welcome to the acting Dharma Punks.
Sorry to hear about your mom.

Anonymous said...

For some, the instruction to release thought works well with existing strategies of dissociation from unconscious emotional stress.

Seriously, does zazen address these sorts of psychic wounds in the long run?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Double blind studies ARE commonly used in psychology.
They've also been used to dispel the myths of homeopathy.

Anonymous said...

"But Brad has studied and sat and like it or not has earned his role--and because of this background I think he expresses himself without the same kind of intentionality that we all (mostly) express ourselves with.


What a load of crap. I know lots of people who've been sitting longer than brad. I know lots who've studied zen much more than Mr. Dogen is the founder of Soto Warner. Nishijima decided to give him transmission. Genpo has that too. Lots of teachers have official transmission and still manage to screw up bigtime. It means squat.

When brad acts like an ass, it's for some "higher" purpose. When other people act like asses, their asses. When brad insults and attacks, it's not anger, he' so beyoooond that. When he bashes other teachers and sects it's not because he's a narrow-minded egomaniac, it's because he is protecting the rest of us bumpkins from false prophets. Yeah, and I got some subprime mortgage paper I want to sell you.

Anonymous said...

Since we are discussing recipes, does anyone have a favorite lasagna recipe?

Anonymous said...

Westerners tend to have a very idealized view of "Dharma Transmission". Anyone interested in Zen in the West must read the famous series of studies by Stuart Lachs ...

The term Zen Master is especially glorified, and together with the two related concepts of Dharma transmission and Zen lineage forms a conceptual triad that supports the structure of authority within the Zen institutions. The terms of the triad support and reflect each other and their mutually dependent connection is presented in an idealized fashion to establish the imputed power, sacredness, and otherness of the Master.

http://www.darkzen.com/Articles/meansofauthorization.htm

See also

http://www.geocities.com/jiji_muge/uszen3.html

http://www.mandala.hr/5/lachs3.html

Also his most recent

The Zen Master in America: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves
Stuart Lachs
Paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion,
Washington D.C., Nov. 18, 2006.

“It is almost always instructive to look at the actual evidence for what are taken to be ‘established facts’….”

Modern day Zen masters/roshi, while enjoying the decided advantage of being part of a tradition that imputes to them quasi-divine qualities, suffer the disadvantage of living in an age of widespread information. Thus, while the image of the Zen masters of the past bask in the unquestioned glow of hagiography, modern day Zen masters risk charges of alcoholism, sexual harassment, and the threat of lawsuits, all of which can end up in books, newspapers or on the web.



word file:

http://terebess.hu/english/Dressing%20the%20Donky%20Working%20Version%20Final%202.doc

Anonymous said...

another quote from the latest Stuart Lachs paper ...

According to Zen, an enlightened being’s activity is beyond the judgment, comprehension, and understanding of “usual people.” Therefore, it is necessary to have a lineage of enlightened beings, sealed with Dharma transmission, to assure the unenlightened of the Zen roshi’s pedigree and his insight and enlightened actions. Yet, in each one of these cases all the prestige, purported wisdom and profound insight of the Dharma transmitted Zen roshi failed to guarantee Zen followers the unquestionable truth and certainty of their judgments. The validating roshi misperceived matters with which they were in intimate contact. More importantly, what they saw and told their followers was what the standard model of Zen, along with the social space they lived in, instructed them to see and say. Any suggestion of improper behavior, imbalanced power relations, limited authority, cultural differences or undue prestige was nowhere to be heard or seen. Rather, the Dharma heir was presented in such a way, so that, in the eyes of the beholder, all his authority and prestige was legitimated, as was the Zen institution.

word file:

http://terebess.hu/english/Dressing%20the%20Donky%20Working%20Version%20Final%20

Anonymous said...

another quote

In this essay, I will show that, in America, the idealized presentation of the Zen master is frequently, if not always, substantially different from the actual person who fills the position, or, in other words, that the supposed all-wise, all-knowing Zen master is more fiction than fact.

Some of these qualities imputed to the Zen master are simplicity, innocence, and lack of self-interest or desire. The master is said to be a person whose actions flow solely out of compassion for other sentient beings. He is imputed to possess a timeless and trans-cultural wisdom, the ability to see the truth behind appearances and to have the prerogative to speak expertly on all subjects. In fact, he is taken to be last in an unbroken chain of enlightened, unblemished masters reputedly going back 2500 years to the historical Sakyamuni Buddha. But, this portrait can only exist if we ignore the irritating complexity and contradictions of actual lives and real history.

This image of the perfected being in the person of the Zen master was originally popularized in the West by the Zen books of D.T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, and later, by the bestsellers The Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, each of which sold over one million copies. For those joining a Zen center, this image is further repeated in the talks (J. teisho) of the teacher, in the assurances of senior students, in readings in the vast Zen literature, in rituals, and, finally, for those practicing koans, in the practice itself.

This is not to say that Zen practice under a Zen master is without merit. The well-trained Zen roshi may possess admirable personal qualities, a multitude of insights, and the ability to both correct his students’ practice and inspire them to practice diligently. But, the image held up in the standard model of Zen more accurately describes Zen mythology and ideology than the way a real person can, and does, actually live.

jundo cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Bardan said...

LASGANA RECIPE

Ingredients

* 1 1/2 quarts spaghetti sauce
* 1/2 cup grated carrot
* 1/2 teaspoon oregano
* 6 cooked lasagna Hemp Seed noodles
* 1 (16 ounce) container ricotta cheese
* 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
* 2 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced zucchini
* 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
* 3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Mix carrots, oregano, and spaghetti sauce together.
2. \Mix Ricotta, spinach, and eggs together in separate bowl.
3. Spread ½ cup spaghetti sauce in bottom of 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
4. Layer 3 lasagna noodles, ½ remaining sauce, ½ Ricotta mixture, ½ sliced zucchini, ½ sliced mushrooms, ½ Mozzarella, and ½ Parmesan.
5.Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
6. Bake in 350 degrees oven for about 45 minutes

Anonymous said...

There's a reason for working inside the system. Dostoevsky said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, aggressive, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so future-less in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution.

Anonymous said...

Lunch recipes
or violent revolution
hardcore zen no preference.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Seriously, does zazen address these sorts of psychic wounds in the long run?

No. It unconvers the wounds and allows them to be seen and cleaned. Some will then need stitches, some will then need surgery. Some will heal once they have been uncovered and left alone.

Zazen is not a magic bullet.

In the west Psychotherapy of some sort is often seen as a useful part of Zen practice.

If you are sick it's a good idea to find the right type of doctor to heal you.

There are plenty of sick teachers around who having failed to heal themselves then go on to cause harm to others.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that makes sense.

I can understand why finding a reliable teacher can be a challenge.

Lauren said...

We must all, ultimately, teach ourselves. No description of 'reality' will ever match 'reality.' It must be seen directly. I suppose the/a gateway to this is zazen. Various teachers/masters may have ways of describing 'it' that are more successful for a particular student/seeker than another.

A teacher that says 'yes, I can definitely get you there' however, is against the thesis that 'there' can't be described. A teacher that says 'this is what it looks like to me, but for you it may be different' seems to be more truthful.

We all that are curious about these matters have the ability to get there, finally, on our own. Someone who has been traveling there before us, or is there, that can speak to us in a way that we each, individually, can hear, is a tremendous time saver. If we get nothing but confusion from a teacher, drop them like a hot rock.

If a teacher appears to be antithetical to where you posit you should be headed, drop them.

'There', in fact, is nowhere. Another key thesis is we have the very aspect (nature) already available (within us) to see reality directly (the 'buddhadharma') without the relativism of right-wrong, strong-weak, rich-poor, smart-stupid, evil-kind, etc... coloring what is in front of us.

Arguments over precepts can not be helpful because arguments are a focus on right-wrong relativism.

It simply cannot matter what someone else says. Words do not change 'it'.

There seem to be a very few key points of theory about this game, and those few key points have had thousands and thousands of pages written about them.

The points as I see them today
There is a reality here that we don't experience directly.
Neither good nor bad, just is...now.
It is clouded by a habit of relativism/idealism.
Description can not capture it, only direct experience.
Sitting zazen is a practice of experiencing directly.
With sitting we can see how busy our intellect is categorizing, dreaming of the past and future.
[the map is now more murky]
With practice, somehow, with time but suddenly, this veil through which we normally filter 'it' drops away, and we can be in reality.
Then we must take a piss....it ain't a fairy tale, it's just reality.


Quoting Frost (probably with error)
"We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows."

Good lasagna is a wonderful thing.
-L

Rich said...

"Seriously, does zazen address these sorts of psychic wounds in the long run?"

Becoming aware and feeling these wounds is a first step. Because some pain and suffering is so deeply rooted and habitual, it keeps arising. Zazen helps with the awareness and acceptance of the arising and the letting go of the arising.

Regarding Zen Masters: Zen is about finding your true self not the Zen Master's. Don't depend on the teacher. If yu need teaching and the teacher doesn't provide it, you may need another teacher.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich!

Anonymous said...

anonymous:

to re-iterate what Rich has said.

True teachers teach you to teach yourself. They don't provide answers or seek followers or seek your approval or take your cash or your girlfriend/boyfriend.

They are rare. You have to find them. They will never go looking for you.

Jinzang said...

It unconvers the wounds and allows them to be seen and cleaned. Some will then need stitches, some will then need surgery. Some will heal once they have been uncovered and left alone.

The way I see it, it's more like realizing the reason you have a headache is you keep slapping yourself in the head, so you stop doing that.

Anonymous said...

"If a teacher appears to be antithetical to where you posit you should be headed, drop them.
"

Great advice.

Anonymous said...

jinzang:

The way I see it, it's more like realizing the reason you have a headache is you keep slapping yourself in the head, so you stop doing that.

That is true for 'everyday' stuff.

For trauma and other serious things it is only partly true.

Mumon said...

I'm really glad somebody started bringing Stuart Lachs into this.

The guy's wise.

Jared said...

I'm bound to get a response here in the comments sections...

What is the name of that well-known Zen master who would get absolutely shit-faced, sleep with students, etc. ? I know he's been mentioned on this blog before but I can't remember his name

Mysterion said...

Jared said...

I'm bound to get a response here in the comments sections...

What is the name of that well-known Zen master who would get absolutely shit-faced, sleep with students, etc. ? I know he's been mentioned on this blog before but I can't remember his name...

Sorry, there were more than a few... NOT Alan Watts (he was an Anglican Priest who would get absolutely shit-faced, sleep with students, etc.)

Do you mean someone at SFZC? Other place? America? Europe?

LOL

Jared said...

I think he was teaching in America, not sure of his ethnicity or tradition. All I remember about him is that he would say things to the effect of "Do what I say, not what I do"

Anonymous said...

lots of good soap operas out there if that's what you need.

mountaintop_stubble said...

Jared, sounds like you may be thinking of either Maezumi roshi or Eido Shimano roshi. Of course Seung Sahn Soen sa nim also slept with his students and Richard Baker (Suzuki's successor) slept with a student's wife, but these guys didn't have a drinking problem as far as I know.

Zen blossomed in america amongst the free-love boomer generation and I think this accounts for at least some of what happened. Just as anecdotal evidence; I knew a young woman back in the 70's at a zen center that told me; "If there's no reason not to have sex with someone, I'll have sex with them." This isn't an excuse for those roshi that crossed the line, but most men would probably find such available easy sex to be irrestible in a moment of weakness. Sex was just no big deal back in the post hippie days and carried little, if any ethical connotations. Being a product of this age, I tend to be more concerned with those teachers that committed financial improprieties like Baker.

Anonymous said...

What is the name of that well-known Zen master who would get absolutely shit-faced, sleep with students, etc. ? I know he's been mentioned on this blog before but I can't remember his name

That could be about a dozen guys. You really should read the Stuart Lachs report

The Zen Master in America: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves
Stuart Lachs
Paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion,
Washington D.C., Nov. 18, 2006.

Vesa said...

Hmm. I've just discovered the certain book (in Finnish translation, of all things) and had a look at this blog. Couple of things come to my mind thought (me being who I am) they may be just restating the obvious:

People have disagreements and that's life. Face it. Some disagreements just are more prominent than others. Not the mention that there would not be different sects if zen masters would never disagree for various reasons. Stating that a certain kind of thinking is the "only true way" does not work.

(And if I'm not mistaken, that seemed to be Warner's point in that particular book I just read. His self-proclaimed "disciples" may of course disagree and may plan to publish "What Brad Warner Really Said" as soon as he has left this stage of existence.)

As for someone paying big bucks for teaching; there are people who think they can "buy their way into heaven" even if they are most uppity people there is. So, trying to "buy their way into enlightenment" is really not that unusual for people who think that money can be used for any kind of shortcut (including solving complex social problem's but that entirely different ice rink game...)

Detroit Techno said...

Funny that most people here agree with somebody (Brad Warner) who

1 talks cowardly with socks instead of people-inable to relate properly about a topic wich seems to be important to him

2 is clearly lying about the invitation thing in public (Brad GOT an invitation from kanceoncencenter)wich can evidently be found on the elephantjournalpage

3 is purposely ignoring the described intention of giving money from the rich to the poor from kzc about the 50000, not even telling the people on this blog what the big heart circle is about in Genpo roshis view

people:check your head before posting!!!

Anonymous said...

detriot techno:

Genpo's people allege that Brad was sent an invite.

Brad alleges this was not the cas.

Have you seen the invite?

Did brad receive it?

Was it intercepted by a spambot?

Who knows where the truth lies.

Dan said...

"Say the original punk rockers were 18 years old and angry in 1978. That means they were born in 1960. If they were born to parents who were 20-25 years old, that means their parents were born in 1935-40. That means their parents were 5-10 years old during WWII. Many children then lost a father and were brought up by a grieving non-nurturing alcoholic mothers. Oprah wasn't around back then. Stuff didn't get expressed, it got repressed. So you get an angry abusive mother who is traumatizing her children. A generation full of traumatized children who become abusive parents who don't know how to resolve conflict. They give birth to another generation. That's the origins of punk rock. And if you'll notice, punk stayed popular. That's because this culture has stayed sick. Sick with shamed identities passed from parents to children. Enraged, abused children."

Just out of interest how many punks do you know anon.? In other words what have you based this on?

Mumon said...

Lachs is required reading for anyone doing Zen.

But Warner is correct in that there are good teachers.

I'm a "student" of neither Warner nor Merzel, by the way, but it seems painfully obvious to me that even though Zen teaches nothing, the ethical structures that we in the West expect and demand in the clergy/laity and patient/doctor relationship and the normal student teacher relationship should apply, and Merzel's $50K for extra super duper special private time with him is clearly beyond those bounds, regardless of Merzel's stated intention of what he plans to do with those funds.

While I'm on the subject, I have no problem at all with temple stores but the stuff at the bottom of the page here gives me pause.

Should they be charging for items associated with taking the precepts?

That seems strange to me.

Mike H said...

mumon:

$25 for a souvenir Kechimyaku.

Toilet roll doesn't have the same kind of gravitas does it.

Spending money makes it all feel special doesn't it!

Isn't it strange that the first thing someone would learn during Jukai is that Buddhism is very expensive in monetary terms. It's an odd first lesson.

However $375 for a bowl ,now THAT is something special.

Mike H said...

Pay as you go ceremonies

Shoken: $100 to $150.
Jukai Tokudo: $150 to $300 + Kit.
Shukke Tokudo: $350 to $600 + Kit.
Life Vows: $350 to 600!!!

Are these for real?

Who the hell can afford to be enlightened these days if just getting started is so expensive???

Mumon said...

mike h:

I got mine for free; of course I contribute to the temple to which I go, and when I visit another temple I make a contribution.

But $375 for something that evolved from begging bowls?

I will say this, though; Genpo's published prices for weddings, birth ceremonies and funerals are not out of line with what Christians charge.

And it's not out of line with what I contributed for my wedding (without being asked for a "suggested donation.")

For whatever that's worth.

Mike H said...

mumon:

weddings, births and so on I'm kinda OK with.

I know the churches that I went to didn't charge the congregation for such things but sometimes did for outsiders. I know many churches make standard charges.

But when your charging $$$ for 'mandatory' ceremonies and accessories it makes it hard to differentiate between a pure commercial enterprise and Buddhism.

It's hard to tell with Buddhi$m what a teacher's motive might be.
Would they offer you Dharma Transmision in recognition of something or do they just need to pay this months' mortgage?

You can never be sure of motivation when $100's are required to change hands.

Mumon said...

mike h:


But when your charging $$$ for 'mandatory' ceremonies and accessories it makes it hard to differentiate between a pure commercial enterprise and Buddhism...


You can never be sure of motivation when $100's are required to change hands.


This is why Buddhism, other than the ceremonial variety, isn't widely or enthusiastically supported in Japan in general.

People in Japan "expect" a Buddhist funeral, and "expect" ceremonies on New Year's Day and so on, and pay for them.

But people have gotten very cynical about "pricey" "better" Buddhist death names.

Most Japanese view Buddhism as a ceremonial/social thing, and I think don't really delve into the Dharma as a way to help all sentient beings transcend suffering, greed, hatred, ignorance, and attachments.

Kinda hard to do, as you say, when there's prices attached.

Anonymous said...

Dan, purely speculation - putting an idea out there.

mother earth said...

Hey Jared

You are thinking of Chögyam Trungpa, I think--founder of Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

Mike H said...

mumon:

Maybe a revised vow would be appropriate:

"I vow to save all sentient beings for a single downpayment of $800 per sentient being and an annual ongoing 'I've save you you ungraateful bastard' charge of $400"

It just doesn't give me a feeling of a heart motivated by love.

Still, Jundo in a Teisho said that he had 40 people going for Jukai. Let's assume that e-Jukai is cheaper than Jukai then he could suggest a donation of $300 from each person which would give him $12,000.

Add onto that the "official" accessories and you'd seen be earning good money.

I wonder if those 40 people feel if their Jukai is going to be somehow worthless because it's so cheap. Somehow I don't think so.

Jinzang said...

I was going to complement Genpo & Co. on their web design, but I took a peek at the source and saw they're using iWeb. Brad should use iWeb on his Doubtboy site. It could use a facelift.

Mumon said...

mike h:


I wonder if those 40 people feel if their Jukai is going to be somehow worthless because it's so cheap. Somehow I don't think so.


I agree.

Justin said...

Through the history of Buddhism temples have been supported by their communities in the form of alms and other support. How do temples get built? Statues made? Monks fed and clothed? In the west we're not supported by our communities so we have to cover the costs ourselves.

I agree that it could go too far, but to imagine that it should or could all be provided free is a mistake.

Justin said...

Anyway Brad charges for sittings, teachings, retreats and books, so it's a redundant argument. It just comes down to the intention behind it and the question 'how much is too much?'

Anonymous said...

Dogshit. Just read a lot by Chögyam Trungpa without knowing anything of his life. Reading about his conduct has been a quick toilet-flush to everything he said. No! Come back! but no, -what a disappointing but pathetically predictable thing to happen.

Mumon said...

justin:

In the west we're not supported by our communities so we have to cover the costs ourselves.

I agree that it could go too far, but to imagine that it should or could all be provided free is a mistake.


Very true. One should give, one should have the opportunity to give.

Charging for the wooden thingy in a rakusu seems a bout outre though.

On the other hand...

Through the history of Buddhism temples have been supported by their communities in the form of alms and other support. How do temples get built?

And the quid pro quo has not only been officiating at services and charity, but education.

There are and have been monastics in Japan and probably elsewhere that have made a living as artists, craftsmen, poets, etc., not to mention farming, and other endeavors

It's no crime for a monastery to be largely self-supporting, although some takahatsu now and zen's good.

(I guess that $50K is Merzel's idea of begging for alms.)

Jared said...

CHOGYAM TRUNGPA!! That's it! Thank you very much (although I looked into Maezumi, Baker, etc. as others had said. Very interesting stuff!)

Anonymous said...

"Dogshit. Just read a lot by Chögyam Trungpa without knowing anything of his life. Reading about his conduct has been a quick toilet-flush to everything he said.

It's about the message and not the messenger. Isn't that what all the Brad apologists are always saying? Nevermind what kind of life Trunpa lived, just read what wonderful dharmic wisdom he dispensed...right?

jundo cohen said...

Still, Jundo in a Teisho said that he had 40 people going for Jukai. Let's assume that e-Jukai is cheaper than Jukai then he could suggest a donation of $300 from each person which would give him $12,000. ... I wonder if those 40 people feel if their Jukai is going to be somehow worthless because it's so cheap. Somehow I don't think so.

Hello,

I don't usually care to jump in here, but since our Sangha and Jukai was mentioned, I would like to clarify this. Almost all of the 40 people undertaking Jukai at Treeleaf have been sitting with our Sangha a year or more, and participate in our daily 'online' sittings, retreats and other activities regularly. So, I believe that they know what our Sangha is about, and what Jukai is about. As well, we are now in the middle of a Precepts study course in preparation for that, and everyone is sewing their own Rakusu (we have an online 'sewing circle'). Please have a look if you are interested.

http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=7&sid=8bdff054ef6c2f4cbc8d288dd404da46

I do not accept donations for Treeleaf, as we have enough for what we do, but instead ask folks to make charitable contributions and engage in volunteer activities in their communities for people in need.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

I think the addendum with all the BDSM stuff would have been a perfect entry for the Porno Buddhist site which has seen little/no action in yea these several months.
At any rate whomever wrote it is clever, but not necessarily intelligent, and certainly does not understand zen practice, but is interested in politics of power.
I hope this person finds a good zen teacher to work with. They are out there.

What struck me was her (sounded like a woman to me--and a young one at that with not too much life experience it seems) concern for 'tops' being accountable (read that responsible) for what happens, and the pre-meet to the event in which one clearly states what one wants and the 'signal' gets agreed on and all....
So (someone correct me if I'm wrong here--I haven't been in any 'pretend' dungeon, with other people agreeing to act out skits with me/for me/to me--and when I wanted out all I had to do was 'give the signal' and they'd stop) so--the reality is it isn't the 'tops' who has the power, it's the bottom calling the shots, 'cause when the bottom gives the signal to stop, it ends right there. Tops is following orders given by the bottom.
I can understand a possible therapeutic component, a way to seek resolution or mastery over experiences at one time (childhood) one was forced to participate in.
I can not understand confusing BDSM role play and signals to stop the play with LIFE where there is no one to pin accountability onto (GOD?) and no one to signal that you've had enough already.
zen practice, in my experience of it, is about being accountable to yourself, which includes everything and everyone.
I am responsible for my own practice. There is no teacher playing the role of a teacher, and I am no student playing the role of a student. My pretending to sit quietly in zazen IS sitting quietly in zazen.
I do think there are fucked up folks out there who do live 'as if' lives and function in various roles from setting to setting. They are doing the best they can. Even a broken clock is right twice a day and even a role playing zen student with a role playing zen teacher can role play themselves into the surprising livingness of the unexpected called NOW.
Life does have a way of breaking in and entering--
how to meet life on it's unaccountable, no signals terms -- well, that's zen

Justin said...

Charging for the wooden thingy in a rakusu seems a bout outre though.

Who do you think should pay for it? A different practitioner? The state? Some temples might offer it for free, some clearly don't. My rakusu doesn't have one, but the fabric was given to me by a nun-friend. But we generally have to buy our own kimonos, zafus etc.

There are and have been monastics in Japan and probably elsewhere that have made a living as artists, craftsmen, poets, etc., not to mention farming, and other endeavors

Right. In the west, some might spend extended periods as monastics, but ultimately all the funding for property, food, materials etc comes from the wages of practitioners. The details of how that money turns into property, food and materials are surely just details. Who are we to judge?

Mike H said...

To clarify, following from Jundo's post.

I don't think my wording was wonderful and because of that some might have misread to suggest that Jundo was charging $$ for what he did.

I was using Jundo as a counter-example of how charging for everything was not necessary.

I used his current Jukai numbers coupled with Genpo'$ fees to illustrate how if one wanted to one could make a nice living out of Buddhism.

Jundo has been running the Jukai classes for some time now and is giving a very thorough introduction to practical Buddhism.

I have been known to learn a thing or two from his talks ;-)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:
At any rate whomever wrote it is clever, but not necessarily intelligent, and certainly does not understand zen practice, but is interested in politics of power.

I think an understanding of the politics of power is essential to all but beginner's practice.

A Zen Teacher has the power to tell a student whether or not they are 'Enlightened' and whether or not they can 'Teach'.

Many Zen Teachers will claim that their own 'Enlightenment' gives them the right to engage in all sorts of classic behaviour.

A Zen Teacher who is unaware of how power structures can be accidentally built could easily create problems for his students.

By default, a student going to see a teacher with the intent of seeking something is starting to build a power structure between them.

One way a student makes him/herself comfortable is by handing over power to a teacher.

The default student behaviour is often to establish a parent/child relationship.

A teacher has to often stop these things forming. They are seductive.

Sho'nuff said...

To 9:16 PM Anonymous:

You asked to be corrected if you were wrong, so...

I think you missed the point of Vanilla Girl's post. Her comments were not directed at real zen practice, but at people who pay and charge "megabucks" for spiritual teachings.

Your points re: responsibility, practice and zazen are of course right on. However, these points do not contradict the addendum.

Zazen is free. It is nice to have a zafu and zabuton, but these can be improvised with towels and pillows. Even if you insist on a "real" zafu, this is a one time expense. If someone is charging a lot of money for something, it certainly isn't for zazen, which can not be bought or sold, by definition. It is simply too basic, simple and boring. Like selling standing or walking. Therefore, the buying and selling of spiritual teachings for "megabucks" must be something completely different from zazen. And that non-zen different thing is what she was addressing.

To Justin, re: "How much is too much?"

I don't know exactly where to draw the line and wouldn't claim the authority to do so. But I think the difference between $5 and $150 is pretty extreme! What Brad is charging for isn't really instruction in zen practice, but rent for the space used. Sometimes he doesn't quite collect enough and goes out of pocket. Most yoga classes charge 3x as much. Maybe Genpo's rent is REALLY expensive, but L.A. real estate is generally much more expensive than Utah, so I'm inclined to doubt it.

Re: Mike H, Jundo Cohen, charging for precepts

Good for Jundo for not charging for Jukai. I took precepts in a different lineage and was not charged. I assumed that was the norm. It never occurred to me that you could buy and sell precepts! Religulous!

Justin said...

I don't know exactly where to draw the line and wouldn't claim the authority to do so. But I think the difference between $5 and $150 is pretty extreme!...

Yes I agree, but these are just your and my opinions/value judgements. Genpo can charge what he wants. No one is being forced to go.

Vesa said...

Yes I agree, but these are just your and my opinions/value judgements. Genpo can charge what he wants. No one is being forced to go.

Unfortunately this sounds a bit like the following discussion:

- I cannot afford that!

- So you think that's not worth of that to you. You are so cheap.

And that's a quote.

proulx michel said...

Sho'nuff said...

I think you missed the point of Vanilla Girl's post. (...).

Your points re: responsibility, practice and zazen are of course right on. (...).

Zazen is free. It is nice to have a zafu and zabuton, but these can be improvised with towels and pillows. Even if you insist on a "real" zafu, this is a one time expense. If someone is charging a lot of money for something, it certainly isn't for zazen, which can not be bought or sold, by definition. It is simply too basic, simple and boring. Like selling standing or walking. Therefore, the buying and selling of spiritual teachings for "megabucks" must be something completely different from zazen. And that non-zen different thing is what she was addressing.

To Justin, re: "How much is too much?"


Justin is (as I gather) a member of the AZI, the Deshimaru organization, which delights in Japanese trappings and hierarchical structures. Therefore the insistence upon kimonos, kolomos and such. Study is not highly recommended...

Mike H said...

Justin:

What you say is largely true. The problem is that messages can become mixed.

"In order to become a buddhist you need to give me $1000 and buy our $200 Sacred Rakusa kit and...." creates one message.

"In order to become a buddhist you need to first sew a Rakusa; you can buy everything you need at the mall for under $20 and..." sends an entirely different message.

The Rakusa and the Jukai are the first serious lessons in Buddhism that a practicioner will learn.

Sewing a Rakusa from scraps of cloth teaches one lesson. Sewing a Rakusa with expensive and beautiful accessories teaches another lesson.

Since the path of buddhism is all about getting rid of delusions anything that might stand in the way of that should be examined.

The last time I bought an ethnic beaded bracelet it cost me a couple of bucks retail. That means it cost well under a buck trade.

When I see a beaded bracelet being sold for $10 then I know that this is a high-end retail price that is justified by 'adding value' to beads on a string.

Charging serious money for things runs the risk of saying "this is valuable because it is expensive" which is a message that would encourage delusion.

Sewing a Rakusa is an exercise in meditation and contemplation. It is that which gives it the value, not the cloth or the accessories. Without that it is just an expensive and slowly made bib.

There is so much richness and symbolism in the process of something like Jukai that I think it's important not to let money drown it out.

I'm not saying that everything should be free or that there is a right price to charge for something merely that money and charging forms part of the message that is transmitted.

Mumon said...

jundo:

Very innovative.

Seriously, not a bad idea.

Palms together...

Mumon said...

justin:

$15 bucks for the wooden ring? I think not. Surely I can get one at Crafts and Things for substantially less. And don't think the stuff of Zen already hasn't been constructed from chain stores' wares; it has.

Who are we to judge?

We are, to put it baldly, the consumers and customers. That's who.

Or to put it another, loftier way, we are those sentient beings referred to in the 4 Vows.

How skillful are one's means if they appear to be those of the carnival huckster?

198 said...

198 !!!

Justin said...

We are, to put it baldly, the consumers and customers. That's who.

I suggest that if you don't like the pricing/over-commercialisation of Genpo's sangha you simply avoid it and opt for one that you're more comfortable with. But then I doubt you were actually considering it.

Justin said...

There is so much richness and symbolism in the process of something like Jukai that I think it's important not to let money drown it out.

I'm not saying that everything should be free or that there is a right price to charge for something merely that money and charging forms part of the message that is transmitted.


Agreed

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