Friday, December 19, 2008

SHUKKE and THE MONTY HALL DILEMMA (or DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!)


First the administrative stuff:

Tomorrow, Dec. 20, 2008 we’ll have our all-day Zen thing at Hill Street Center (details at link to your left). There will be no prepared lunch this time. I’ll be having a peanut butter sandwich at HSC. Others are welcome to join me. But bring your own sandwiches.

Also, I have updated my tour dates (link also to your left). If you want me to come to your town, please write me at spoozilla@gmail.com and we’ll try to work it out. I will have a lot of available dates (see below for details on that).

Now the article:

Shukke (spelled 出家 in Chinese characters) means leaving home and family. In the olden days, Buddhists monks literally left everything behind when they joined the order. These days the word shukke mainly refers to a ceremony that symbolically represents that act, although the monks themselves often continue to live as they did before.

Different lineages of Buddhism handle it in different ways. I’ve heard that in Thailand the custom is that one literally leaves home and family for a time but then comes back after a proscribed period. Sort of like doing a tour of duty in the armed forces. In Japanese-style Zen, though, it’s pretty rare to actually leave everything behind.

Whatever. I’m bringing it up today because yesterday I left my family of 14 years. For the past year I’ve been in a state of limbo with the Japanese monster movie company that sent me to Los Angeles to be their liaison. I got laid off at the end of 2007. But at the beginning of 2008 they said they wanted me back to work on a film project in the USA and so I began working for them again in a limited capacity. That film project never quite got off the ground. In September I went and met with them and they asked me to come back to Japan to do essentially the same job I used to do when I last lived there.

But I wasn’t really interested in doing that job again and, as much as I love Japan, I didn’t really feel like moving back there. Everybody keeps saying how the US economy is falling to pieces and I was being offered a relatively secure job with a steady paycheck at a stable company in a country where the economy was not going down the drain. So I thought hard about whether I ought to take the job or not.

This week I finally gave them my answer. I said no thank you in as polite a way as possible. They accepted and now I’m a free man. That company was very much like a family to me and leaving them was not easy. The photo I posted above was staged spontaneously by a bunch of guys from the Events Dept. as a surprise going-away gift in 2004 when I was just about to leave for LA. That's my family.

It was also a tough decision to make because the most rational, sensible course of action would have been to go to Japan. Try as I might I couldn’t make it add up any other way. I’m making a little bit of money off book sales. But if you average out what I get paid for a book compared to how long it takes to write one, my annual wage from writing is not impressive at all. I know there are professional authors whose sales are less than Eckhart Tolle’s and Deepak Chopra’s but who manage somehow. But I don’t know how. Guess I’ll find out.

It was a classic example of the Monty Hall Dilemma. Actually I didn’t even know there was such a thing as the Monty Hall Dilemma until I did a Google search just now. I was trying to remember the name of the game show hosted by Monty Hall in which contestants were given a choice between say, a year’s supply of Turtle Wax and whatever was behind door number three, which could have been something better than the Turtle Wax, like a brand new car, or could have been a bail of hay or a goat or something. Turns out the show was called Let’s Make a Deal. I can’t believe I wasted several hours of my precious and fleeting life watching Let’s Make a Deal. But I suppose it did me some good after all.

ANYWAY, the thing was that even though my rational mind told me the best way to go was to take the job in Japan, my instincts told me otherwise. And it wasn’t just my own rational mind that said it was a bad idea to turn down the job in Japan either. Everyone I spoke to about the matter, including two Zen teachers, told me the most sensible course of action was to go to Japan.

But in the end I made the irrational choice. Actually, though, I wouldn’t call it irrational. I’d call it intuitive. Intuition isn’t really irrational. It has its own sense.

Have I made the right choice? Who knows? Not me. When faced with decisions like these we never really know what the “right choice” is. I’m not even sure the concept of there being a right choice is very sound to begin with.

In Buddhism we always say that when you’re faced with a decision, the true way to go appears instantly. But we’re so locked into our thinking mind that we can miss it very easily. Still, once you’ve made your choice the only thing you can do is find a way to make that choice work.

In spite of everything, I feel good about this. It’s a bit of a test, though. I always say that the universe takes care of you. I believe that. Now I’ll get to see if it’s true.

It's kinda doubly weird for me. Because I've seen through things to the degree that I understand clearly that the universe isn't what most people say it is and does not operate in at all the way most people think it does. Yet the power of what most people think is very strong. You should never underestimate it. (This is one of about a million things wrong with the whole "let's get an Enlightenment Experience right this minute" mindset, by the way. But that's a whole 'nother article. Maybe a book.)

Join me on these pages in the following months and together we can all see how it goes…

60 comments:

Mika said...

Whoa. A big change and a great challenge. I hope everything works out for the best in the end and in the meantime I wish you good time with your new book and hope to see you in August.

Igor said...

Now this is getting interresting.

Eagle said...

I am excited for you. I respect your take on life and look forward to reading about where your path leads.

Anonymous said...

you probably do not believe in luck, but here's wishing you good luck anyway.

Anonymous said...

Things change.
You once spoke after sitting, not really a teisho, but it was a talk after sitting, or maybe it was on the walk to lunch after the talk after sitting--or at lunch, after the walk, after the talk after sitting.
or it was on the walk back, after the lunch after the ninja-bear-hunter, before which we had all stood around undecided where to go to eat after the talk after sitting....
but at any rate you had said Japan was your most favoritest place to live and you wanted to go back
and would jump at the chance
well I'm not quoting verbatim, but this was the sentiment conveyed
I remember feeling sad for you
that you were so far away from a place you loved.
But I knew that even if you were to go back,
well, you know,
you can never go home again
and that's because leaving home also never happens
can't get away from any of it, and can't get away with it can't do away with it most certainly can't make things stay

might as well slice a piece of ocean water (and you wiseasses know I don't mean frozen ocean water)

So for now you have declined to return to a place at one time was your most favorite of all.

And truly none of us can ever explain the 'why' of 'choice'
When it comes down to it
when it really really comes down to it
there is no choice to be made

welcome home!
(the one you can never leave)

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Everything is in flux. I'm glad you have chosen to take the ride with those of us who don't know where we're going and like it that way.

Uku said...

Brad,

great decision! It's really important to listen our intuition; and as we know, practicing Zazen can help us also in that matter.

Life ain't so serious and hard when our minds are not so deluded.

Thank you keeping it real.

Take care,
Uku

NellaLou said...

Could make good grist for another book. Wandering monk going from place to place trying to help out the troubled and deluded. Sounds familiar somehow.

Rich said...

"In Buddhism we always say that when you’re faced with a decision, the true way to go appears instantly. But we’re so locked into our thinking mind that we can miss it very easily. Still, once you’ve made your choice the only thing you can do is find a way to make that choice work."

Congratulations on your acceptance of this great growth opportunity. There's nothing wrong with salaried employment but self employment has a way of smacking you in the head if you don't pay attention to what needs to be done. take a vacation in 6 months.

Anonymous said...

Decisions that appear rational often are not. Decisions that appear irrational often are not.

In the end I don't think it matters. You make a decision wholeheartedly and then live with it wholeheartedly. Perhaps real decisions make themselves. I don't really know.

fuyuasha said...

First thought best thought Brad-san

proulx michel said...

Cromwell is somehow quoted as saying something like "No one goes so far as he who knows not where he's going".

I've never really known where I was going, and don't feel I've gone that far, but still, doesn't seem my road is over, and I'm sometimes amazed at what I've gathered for a not so much rolling stone...

I feel some concern and a lot of care for you, Brad, but I'm sure you'll survive, just as I did.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate...

Chris Bogart said...

Jesus Jones says there's no such thing in the world as a right decision.

Dōkō said...

Wherever you end up in the foreseeable future, I hope you are documenting it. (As Leonard Cohen sang, "I hope you're keeping some kind of record." And not only on the blog, but on film as well.

I think you are a talented filmmaker with a lot of clever ideas and the world needs more thoughtful, fun, and even outrageous media. In other words, let's see the further adventures of Sock Mokey Roshi!

If you ever need anyone to read a script or hold a boom mic, I'll be there.

Jinzang said...

Whenever I run into a difficult patch, I reread Edward Conze's autobiography. Here's a guy was born into a wealthy family but lost it all when the Nazis took control in Germany and he was forced to flee to England. He dedicated his life to translating the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. Translating Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit is obviously not the path to great financial reward, but he was offered a professorship in the USA at the start of the Vietnam War, when the State Department was anxious to find scholars to explain to them what was going on in the minds of those strange little men in orange robes who were setting themselves on fire. He lost his visa and his lucrative position after denouncing the war on campus radio. Still, he succeeded at doing what mattered to him, showing that "boundless impudence" is not a bad attitude to take to life.

Thing 1 said...

Close eyes
Jump
What an adventure!

Many hands reach out
to guide
and slow
your free fall

Mysterion said...

It will go well.

JB said...

cant leave a blank comment.

JB said...

what i wanted to say was, thanks for sharing. i really identify with what you are saying.. and, i hope it works the way you want it to. those guys in the photo really do look like family, like they love you. it must have been hard.. hard taking a the risk, hard to follow/fight for your dreams, in the face of everything that is sensible and practical. i hope you keep writing.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Buena suerte, Brad.

VINCENT: So if you're quitting the life, what'll you do?
JULES: That's what I've been sitting here contemplating. First, I'm gonna deliver this case to Marsellus. Then, basically, I'm gonna walk the earth.
VINCENT: What do you mean, walk the earth?
JULES: You know, like Caine in "KUNG FU." Just walk from town to town, meet people, get in adventures.


Rob

Anonymous said...

Wherever you go,
here we are

Anonymous said...

Dump wife; get laid: check.
Dump job; sell zen: check
Mission Accomplished

frostay said...

Gambatte Burado. Faitoh, Ippa-tsu! Hen-SHIN!

Anonymous said...

Who made the choice?

DJ Voton said...

Good luck, Brad!

Mysterion said...

Small world:

Haiku Zendo

Ga-sho-nuff

p.s. Brad, please read the link.

Anonymous said...

Another thing about "Let's Make a Deal" was that in order to become contestants, audience members wore goofy costumes to get Monty Hall's attention. Did you wear your Godzilla suit when you made your decision?

Sean said...

I sold all my things and bought a plane ticket out to Vancouver from Toronto about five years ago. It was rough at first since I had nothing out here but it was the best decision I've ever made. Hope your life3 works out the same

R0ss K!err said...

i bought your #2 book. you're welcome for the money. do your best

Mysterion said...

Speaking of "Let's Make a Deal," I used to watch Monty Hall rehearse that show (without contestants) in studio 55 over on the Prospect Ave. lot in 1974 (when I worked for ABC TV). Hall could play the contestants like a piano! LOL

Television is illusion! News is infotainment. No wonder I completely stopped watching TV after 1981...

Jinzang said...

Strange Santas of Japan

tattoozen said...

In the hindsight of my 38 short years it is apparent that every time ive made a decision that went against my gut instinct I ended up kicking my own ass and swearing to trust my gut the next time.

The result has been these days I end up taking some paths that friends and family have worried about or even actively opposed and yet, sooner or later end up having been the best way to go.

I have a feeling you are going to not only do just fine, bu that this will be the best thing you could have done. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

antaiji needs help.

Anonymous said...

everywhere help is needed

and good help is hard to find

Anonymous said...

The Science Patrol needs help
bringing the traitors to justice!

must…reach…Beta Capsule...

大爆発五秒前。

Anonymous said...

After receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

"We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it,'" said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to."

Anonymous said...

Yes! Help Captain Hayata
identify this man:

Psyop Traitor Number 1

Anonymous said...

Brad, just remember that the universe taking care of you doesn't necessarily mean the 'taking care of you' will always be to our liking. The universe also took perfect care of victims of the inquisition and the 6 million jews of the holocaust. I think Joko Beck is the one that wrote that the universe may want me to be a baglady or have some painful illness. Still, thy will be done. Good luck.

Rich said...

From the Platform Sutra:

The insurpassable great nirvana
Is perfect and bright, always serene and illuminating.
Foolish ordinary people call it death,
And the heretics grasp at it as annihilation.

Those who seek the two vehicles
Refer to it as unconditioned.
Of all that is considered by sentient beings—
Of [all] the sixty-two [heterodox] views—it is the fundamental
[source].

To falsely posit empty names—
How can these be true doctrines?
It is only those who go beyond thinking
Who penetrate and are without grasping and rejecting.

Thereby does one understand the teaching of the five skandhas
And of the self within the skandhas.
Externally manifesting the images of form
And all the characteristics of sound.

[Considering all these to be] universally “same” like dreams or
phantasmagoria,
Not activating the view of [the distinction between] ordinary people
and sages,
Not forming an interpretation of nirvana,
The two extremes [of viewpoint] and the three limits [of time] are
eradicated.

Always responding to the functions of the senses,
But not activating the thought of “function.”
Discriminating all the dharmas,
But not activating the thought of “discrimination.”

Even though the eon-[ending] fire burns to the floor of the ocean
And the winds pound upon the mountains like drums,
The true bliss of permanent quiescence—
The characteristic of nirvana—is suchlike.

I have now resorted to words to explain it,
So that you would discard your false views.
If you do not follow this verbal interpretation,
You may be able to understand a little bit.

fourth said...

Right, wrong... Who knows at the moment of making the decision? Intuition can be as wrong as hours of thinking.You take a shot and see what happens. If it works out you say you made the right choice. If it doesn't - you were wrong. Take your loss and move on. That's the problem with most people though, difficulty to admit they were (are) wrong.

Anonymous said...

In the hindsight of my 38 short years it is apparent that every time ive made a decision that went against my gut instinct I ended up kicking my own ass and swearing to trust my gut the next time.

In the hindsight of my 40 short years it is apparent that every time ive made a decision that went against my gut instinct I ended up kicking my own ass and swearing --NOT-- to trust my gut the next time.

Anonymous said...

in my almost 60 years i feel short
well, I'm under 6 feet
anyway
there it is the 'wise' and the not so 'wise' decisions.
what was doing the thinking?
ultimately I could only do what I did
all those 'mistakes' needed making--
I couldn't help loving whom I loved
there's no choice: love is just there or not
I did learn that just 'cause I loved somebody, didn't mean I had to live with them--in fact a lot of those loves would probably have lasted longer had we remained living separate lives with delightful and delicious days of overlapping
but I succumbed to pressures (That's where any regrets lie I think--in succumbing to pressure--)
And it was interesting to live with people I didn't particularly care for (no not a spouse--talkn' roomates now) there are things to admire about people who are responsible: rent on time, not taking your food, cleaning up after themselves--carrying their own weight
you don't have to love someone or even particularly like them to get along well enough to co-habitate
needless to say lovers are not always the best roommates ....
well
so these short years have passed and I know less and less about more and more
I look around me, what needs doing?
can I do it?
can I help it get done?
while I can do, what do I do do?

Anonymous said...

nothing to do
we're all in deep do do

nubber said...

When Barack Obama won the presidential election, he sought some back-channel answers to questions not addressed in his classified briefing. His newly appointed Attorney General Eric Holder wrote..

Obama had said, 'If I put you over at Justice, I want you to find the answers to three questions for me. One, who killed JFK. Two, are there UFOs? And three, what is hishiryo?" Obama was dead serious. He had looked into all three questions, but wasn't satisfied with the answers he was getting.

Alan A said...

Good luck. I took the plunge three years ago. Been in free fall ever since. It's neat. You can do somersaults on the way.

Jinzang said...

Have a Twisted Christmas.

DT said...

Best, Brad. Keep writing.

Rich said...

In the northern hemisphere, with the winter solstice comes darkness and cold which gives rise to fears of pain and suffering. Let this go and share and find peace, joy and love in the Christmas time.
Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Ostracized at an early age for her mixed race heritage, international star Eartha Kitt defied criticism of her illegitimate past and conquered the entertainment world with finesse.

Eartha Kitt dead at 81.

Zen Trixter said...

Sometimes the best thing to do is fling yourself out of the plane and just hope you grabbed the parachute and not the backpack full of clothes...

Anonymous said...

Identification of human remains is an imperative element of any medicolegal investigation, and a challenging task for forensic experts and physical anthropologists worldwide. Three hundred adult hands (150 males and 150 females) belonging to south Indian population were studied to investigate sexual dimorphism of the index and ring finger ratio. The index and ring finger ratio is derived by dividing the index finger length by ring finger length. The index and ring finger ratio is found to be higher in females. Index and ring finger ratio ≤0.9700 identified 80% of males for both hands, and ratio >0.9700 identified 74% females for the right hand and 78% for the left hand accurately. This study may prove useful to determine the sex of an isolated hand when it is subjected for medicolegal examination.

FreePlay said...

I like your books and have a deep connection with all the dharma punx out there. Do what you want to do and as long as you do it well you will be supported by the community.
Keep up the good work and just because you inspired me tonight I'm going to sit Zazen tomorrow for the first time in a while. Thanks again
~evan
I write at www.punkrockpermaculture.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pisGeT4hhyI&feature=related

MJS said...

The only irrational choice is to let someone else make the choice for you. And remember, there will always be another choice down the road. You might as well enjoy the experience of this one.

Anonymous said...

Intuition is simply a kind of knowledge that hasn't caught up to the words yet. Good luck--you'll do well.

Anonymous said...

but what if your day job quits you......
as is the case for so many

then its really nice to have had hobbies and interests to coax into barter or money or favors to exchange with others

hell, just to have 'em to have 'em while you've got time on your hands

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad.. Are you still conducting interviews? When are you going to hook up with Eckart Tolle?

Stephanie said...

You seen Christmas On Mars yet, Brad?

You said...

think: Bodhisattvas. what does it mean to be a Bodhisattva?

Anonymous said...

Question:
What does it mean to be a Bodhisattva?

Answer:
The Shministim practicing ahimsa.

Palestinians are the new Jews,
Israelis are the new Nazis,
and the Shministim are the new White Rose.