Monday, February 25, 2008

SUICIDE GIRLS and UTNE READER (didn't even KNOW her!)

My latest article for Suicide Girls went up this morning. Who knows what sort of response this one will invite. Not me, that's for sure.

If you pick up the latest issue of UTNE READER (March-April 2008, with that guy from 40 Year Old Virgin on the cover) I don't just have an article in the mag, the title they've given to the article appears on the front cover. Gosh. Nobody told me this was happening, of course. I just found out when a friend of mine who reads the magazine congratulated me on it. This is how the world of being a writer works. The piece itself is an edited excerpt from Sit Down and Shut Up (see ad to your left). It's on page 76.

Remember I'll be starting my class at Karuna Yoga on March 9th (Sunday) at 8 AM. Details and a map are linked to the posting below this one.

Again, those of you in the Atlanta area may want to know about the retreat I'll be leading at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. That happens February 29th - March 2nd. Should be fun. If you like staring at walls for a very long time.

Also April 25 - 27 I'll be leading a retreat at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in North Carolina. So don't y'all forget about that.

And on May 4th, 0DFx plays at the Kent Stage in Kent, Ohio in commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the infamous shootings by the National Guard.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

KARUNA YOGA CLASS

I keep forgetting to hype my class at Karuna Yoga here on this page. On March 9, 16 and 23 (which are all Sundays) I'm going to be teaching a class starting bright and early at 8 AM. The class will start with 30 minutes of Zazen, followed by an hour long lecture and discussion about Dogen's Genjo Koan. Of course, as things go with me, what starts off as a talk about Genjo Koan could range anywhere from an examination of issues involved in PTSD and Zen, to a deep philosophical discussion of Godzilla Vs. Megalon. Karuna Yoga is in the very cool Los Feliz section of Los Angeles at 1939 1/2 Hillhurst Avenue, just north of Franklin, zip code 90027.

Also, those of you in the Atlanta area may want to know about the retreat I'll be leading at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. That happens February 29th - March 2nd. Should be fun. If you like staring at walls for a very long time.

Also April 25 - 27 I'll be leading a retreat at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in North Carolina. So don't y'all forget about that.

And on May 4th, 0DFx plays at the Kent Stage in Kent, Ohio in commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the infamous shootings by the National Guard.

Somebody wrote me saying they were going to make a special trip up to Santa Monica on March 1st to see me at Hill Street Center. I can't find your e-mail anymore! There will be a Zazen class that day at Hill Street Center, but I won't be there because I'll still be in Atlanta and I haven't quite mastered bi-location yet.

Does anyone out there have MP3's of the band OM's new album Pilgrimage? I bought the vinyl and the copy I got is flawed so it skips several times on the first track on side 2. I bought the bastard up in Ventura, almost 2 hours drive up the coast, so taking it back for a replacement is gonna be pretty daunting. I'm really grooving on the record, too. Here's an MP3 provided by the band's record label as a taster. LAZARUS!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

SEX ABUSE AND ZEN or MAKING AN ASS OUT OF YOU AND ME

Assumption is a huge part of reading. It’s impossible for any writer to communicate his or her whole life to you. And anyway you wouldn’t want to hear about their painful bowel movement following last night’s Indian dinner or the new toothbrush they just bought at the 99 cent store. Or maybe you would if the writing was really superb. But even if they told you that, they’d be leaving out a whole lot of other stuff.

When you read someone’s writing you fill in what the writer leaves out either with your own personality or with your imagined version of that writer’s personality. Reading the comments section of this blog gives me a sense of the imagined version of me that’s coalescing around the things I write. It’s kind of fascinating because it’s so vastly unlike the kind of person I am. Seeing this has caused me to drop my own tendency to imagine what the writers I like to read are really like. I just don’t know. Dropping that imagined voice of the writer has actually allowed me to enjoy a wide range of writing in a much more satisfying way.

Taking the last piece I put up on this page as an example, all I really gave you was a photo and a very brief description of the events surrounding when it was taken. From that little snippet, several people invented fascinating worlds of debauchery, insecurity, infidelity and all kinds of other juicy stuff. None of it was real. Yet our own thought inventions are very compelling to all of us and we often get completely lost in them.

When you see someone taking action that you cannot understand it may be best not to assume too much. It’s a big waste of time, effort and energy to do so anyway.

I decided today to try and explain publicly a very small degree of what’s been going on in my life lately that has led to me doing some things I’ve been writing about. Once you finish reading this, you won’t really know much more than you did before and you will fill in what you don’t know with various assumptions of your own. That’s OK. I only ask you to be aware of the fact.

When I write about going to a strip club or to a party for the Suicide Girls, a lot of people fill in their own details about why I went there. They assume I was there to get my rocks off, to party hardy, to indulge in debauchery and filth. I won’t try to convince you that’s not the case because, I’m really sorry, but I just don’t care what you think. It’s not worth my time, effort and energy. You’ll probably even think that I’m writing this piece because I want to convince you of something. You’ll make a whole lot of assumptions and you’ll believe them absolutely. There’s no point in my trying to change that.

But I would like to start talking about something that’s become very important to me and the snippy self-righteously holy little tirades I’ve been seeing in the comments section here allow me a convenient “in” to bringing this stuff up.

My work with Suicide Girls over the past year and a half or so has opened my eyes to a lot of aspects of our culture that I hadn’t been aware of before. One of those things is the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse and its impact. In the past year I’ve heard some truly heartbreaking stories from remarkable women. Not all of them have been SG’s. But the fact that I write for Suicide Girls has made some of these people far more comfortable with telling me their stories.

In fact, the theme of sexual abuse survivors has recurred a number of times in my Zen practice. One of the members of the first sangha I was part of was a sex abuse survivor. But I was too young and full of myself to be of any help to her.

I’m starting to think a lot lately about the many issues involving zazen practice as a means of confronting the issues sex abuse survivors have. Of course, zazen is good from pretty much whatever ails you. But there are some specific aspects of the practice that sex abuse survivors might want to be aware of should they get involved in zazen.

One of the interesting issues from my own standpoint as a Zen teacher is how incredibly hard it is for someone with these kinds of issues to talk to a meditation teacher. Meditation teachers are generally very straight-laced, sexually repressed people. Even when a specific meditation teacher is not that kind of person, the aura of holiness that surrounds them can be very off-putting for people who need to talk about rather unusual aspects of their sex lives. Many sex abuse survivors have rather non-standard sex lives, not just because they've suffered abuse, but that the abuse they've suffered has made it difficult to interact sexually the way so-called "normal" people do. As a result a lot of people who could use a bit of what meditation has to offer will never approach it because of the mistaken impression that they are somehow too “dirty” to be involved in such lofty things. This is sad.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to sex abuse survivors. I, myself, would have found Zen utterly unapproachable if I hadn’t come across someone like my own first Zen teacher who was not afraid to curse and fart and offend nice people. Though I’m not an abuse survivor myself, I too had assumed I was far too “dirty” for the kind of purity required to do what I saw as pure and holy activities like meditation. I will be forever grateful to Tim McCarthy and all his vile jokes.

I’m going to try to start writing about these issues in the form of a blog in the hope that it will generate material that I’ll eventually be able to digest and put into the form of a book. Because I’m taking this approach, the blog will be pretty experimental and I expect I’ll find myself taking some wrong steps and following a few blind alleys. But I believe this is necessary.

Since this stuff is a little different from what I established the Hardcore Zen blog to do, I’ve started a blog called The Porno Buddhist to address these topics. Who knows if I’ll be able to keep two blogs going at once. We shall see…

Friday, February 15, 2008

VALENTINE'S DAY WITH THE SUICIDE GIRLS


For all you folks wanting further evidence that Brad Warner is, indeed, The Porno Buddhist (I need to trademark that, it could make a good book title some day) and deserves to be made a laughing stock throughout all Buddhism, here is a photo from last night's big Suicide Girls bash on behalf of PETA 2. Yes, it's PETA 2 and not PETA. Don't ask me the difference because I don't know. I'm crap with names. But here's what my Zen-addled mind can cough up. The woman in red who I've got my arm around is Arabia, just behind her dressed in black is Aspen, who regularly attends our Zazen classes in Santa Monica and the woman whose left eye and left shoulder appear on the far left is Sam, another attendee of the Saturday Zazen things.

The party was loud. And I didn't stay too long because Aspen was my ride up there and needed to work the next day. This was fine by me since I'm not a late night dude anyway. I had fun for the hour or so I was out at the Roxy. But I just don't have the whole party animal thing going. So an hour was plenty. Sam was part of the fashion show, which consisted mainly of lingerie and fake fur. But no fake fur lingerie, which would have been interesting. My friend Cake was also part of the fashion show. But, sadly, I wasn't able to flag her down before we left. Cake, if you're reading this, no offense was intended.

I want to write something profound. But maybe not tonight. So just enjoy the picture and make up your own story about what went on before and after it was taken.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BETTER WAY, DENGUE FEVER, VEGETARIANISM, INTERVIEWS

Wow. Spanky Butt Bitch did another 0DFx video! Here it is:

Better Way - Zero Defects 0dfx

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Some people have been mouthing off (or is it "fingering off" since they were typing their comments, why does that sound so rude?) about vegetarianism, both here and over at Gudo's blog. I've commented on the subject numerous times. But here goes again.There's no requirement in Buddhism to be a vegetarian like there is in, say, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness or the Seventh Day Adventists. It's purely a matter of personal choice. I happen to have gone veg a year or so before I discovered Zen. In the past 25 years I've eaten meat about four times, and never because I really wanted to. I was either trying to be polite to someone who served it to me, or didn't know it was in what I was eating, or didn't want to food to go to waste. I don't crave meat and never did from the very beginning. I don't even think of it as food anymore. For me it's kind of like eating a shoe or eating a dead worm would be to "normal" people.

Neither of my teachers are vegetarian. Tim used to describe himself as a "liberal vegetarian," which, he said, was like being a liberal celibate. "Yeah, I'm celibate. But I still fuck sometimes!" Nishijima Sensei once told me he thought the world would be far more peaceful if more people were vegetarians. But he's not. He rarely eats meat, though he does eat fish pretty often.

The problem of vegetarianism in Zen practice is that it so often becomes a huge mental block. It's a tremendous way of defining the ego. This is why you'll hear stories of Zen teachers tricking their veggie students into eating meat. I probably won't do that to anybody, though. But you never know...

Anyway, tonight I'm going to go interview one of the members of the band Dengue Fever on behalf of Suicide Girls. The group plays Cambodian style rock and are the amazing beyond belief. Highly recommended.

I've got a number of interviews scheduled. It's a new thing, but maybe I can make some sort of a sideline career out of interviewing people. Coming up I'll be talking to Randy Blythe of the heavy metal monsters Lamb of God. Randy is a fan of my books and a Zen practitioner, a rarity in the world of metal as you can imagine. I'll also be talking to Nina Hartley, Eighties mega porn star whose new book Nina Hartley's Guide to Total Sex, starts off with her recounting how she grew up as the daughter of a pair of Zen Buddhists. In her e-mail to me she said it was the first time she was going to be interviewed by someone who practices Zazen. Should be interesting!

Tomorrow I'll be at a big Suicide Girls bash in support of their new association with PETA. I got mixed feelings about PETA, as you can imagine from the earlier part of this posting. But I do agree people should treat animals nicer. Besides, two of the SG's who'll be involved in the fashion show have been attending my Saturday morning sittings at Hill Street, so a reciprocal show of support is in order, I think.

Man, this posting has taken way longer that I ever thought. I gotta go! Bye!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

TWO MINUTE HATE

I was trying to embed this. Hope you all can see it. If there's no video down there, click the link below to see the new 0DFx (aka Zero Defex) video.

Two Minute Hate - Zero Defects 0dfx

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The video was put together by the immortal Ms. Spanky Butt Bitch of the Screaming Smoldering Butt Bitches. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Nice combination of stuff shot at our shows in Akron and Cleveland last year plus some vintage footage. The soundtrack is from the new recordings we did last year, which will hopefully see the light soon.

I got the world's worst Internet connection. My next door neighbors, an organization called Insight LA, gave me their password and told me to use their wireless all I wanted. The problem is that the signal is unreliable. Sometimes it'll be so strong I can sit there watching YouTube videos and sometimes it's like the dial-up I had in 1997 that took two hours to download an e-mail (and I thought, That's so cool! It takes a whole week for a letter to arrive in the mail!). Is there any kind of antenna I can hook up to my iBook? Or rabbit ears or something? Right now I'm on my back porch, where the signal is stronger. It's a little chilly. But it's not like February in the real world, here in Santa Monica. Chilly in February here means it's below 60.

I got invited to a Suicide Girls party on Thursday at the Roxy. That should be fun. I'll see if I can get some better pictures this time. Surely the "Brad is the Porno Buddhist" guys need something new to post rants about. I found a big long thread all about that the other day. Good God in Heaven, don't people have anything better to occupy themselves? The Internet must be the greatest time wasting device ever created.

This afternoon I had lunch with one of the Suicide Girls. A certain spiritual teacher of hers caused her much grief by saying that she couldn't be a real Buddhist if she posed naked on the Internet. I just find that attitude incredibly weird. I do not get it at all. Not even when I try to get it. It's such a pervasive attitude that I sometimes wonder if I should think there's some kind of problem with people posing naked on the Internet. But I don't. And I don't imagine I ever will. It's art. Deal with it. Sorry, world.

Steve Gay, who flies all the way out from Phoenix to attend our Zen things in Santa Monica, posted a couple quotes from an author he likes named Byron Katie to our Dogen Sangha Los Angeles Google group. I've never read any of Katie's books. But I do like these quotes, so here they are:

"Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything
happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.
You don't have to like it - it's just easier if you do."

and

"The great way is easy. It's what reveals itself right here, right
now. "Do the dishes." Answer the e-mail." "Don't answer the e-
mail."

Have a nice day!

Friday, February 08, 2008

BOOK PROGRESS UPDATE

I've sold my third book. In writerspeak, this means that my agent and I approached a publisher, got an offer on the book and agreed on the price. I haven't signed the contract yet, but I'm gonna. The book will be published by New World Library, the nice folks who published Sit Down And Shut Up last year. They didn't offer quite the king's ransom I'd hoped for. But it'll be enough that I won't have to stand around at highway off ramps with a cardboard sign that says, "Will Tell You The Secret Of Life For Food" just yet. Maybe next year.

Plus Tsuburaya Productions recently won their ten year long court case against the gentleman in Thailand who said he invented Ultraman. How did he invent Ultraman, you ask? Apparently in 1962 he showed Eiji Tsuburaya a picture book of Thai Buddha statues and said, "You ought to make a movie about a superhero that looks like Buddha." Which is like saying that you created Star Wars because in 1971 you had a drunken conversation with George Lucas in which you said, "You oughta do a movie about outer space!" Amazingly this blather fooled enough people that the case went on for pretty much the entire time I worked for the company. Anyway, it looks like they want me to do some work for them In Hollywood for which they will pay me a wee small bit of cash. So I am officially no longer sweating it about money. At least not whole lot. I'll be considerably poorer this year than I've been for a while. But at least I won't starve and I won't have to get a real job.

Which is not to say there aren't some advantages to having to get a real job. I actually like having a schedule and a clear goal for each day. The work of an independent freelance writer has probably as many bad points overall. Except I can go sit on the beach at 2 in the afternoon on a Monday and pretend it's my job.

Anyway, I did a word count on the book just now and it currently stands at a whopping 82,257 words! A supposedly "average" novel in English is about 60,000. I know Hardcore Zen was considerably shorter, around 40,000, I believe. Sit Down And Shut Up probably clocked in at about 60,000. I can't remember.

The tentative title for the new book is Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. Although I am also pondering using the title Sex, Death and Zen. But considering how things have worked out for the previous two books, neither of these will be the title in the end. I'm pretty bad with titles.

In any case it's about sex, death and Zen. It's a chronicle of the year 2007 in which a lot of people and relationships in my life died, sex was had (I even became known as the "Porno Buddhist" -- I'm so proud!), and Zen was practiced and preached. The book will make a lot of people mad. I know this going into it, although I'm not really sure I'll ever understand why certain types of people get mad about the things they get mad about. Sex is a huge sore spot for religious people. Lately I've been getting to see just how deeply ugly the religious response to anything that involves sex can be. And I'm not just talking about some of the massively weird comments that have been appearing in this blog. Oy vey. Though those are certainly very puzzling...

But the book isn't just about sex. It's about death and loss and how we keep on going in spite of them. Not just that. It's about how death and loss can be the things that spur a person on to find out what's true in life.

Anyway, whatever. I hope the book gets out there by Spring time. But who knows?

I gotta go do some errands today.

Monday, February 04, 2008

FEAR (More Beer?)


A little clarification before we begin. A long time ago I put a note on the top of this page that says, "I enjoy getting your e-mails. But please be aware, if you send me e-mail, I may use it in a blog either here or on Suicide Girls." The note is over there to your left, down the page about a 1/3 of the way. I wish I could put it up higher.

Anyway, this applies to all e-mail I get in response to articles and books I've written or questions on practice and suchlike. If you don't want what you say to be published, please tell me. OK?

With that in mind, here's a little question from a reader some of you might enjoy:

Hey Brad,

How's it going? I'm a fan of your books. Read Hardcore Zen twice and am now reading Sit Down and Shut Up. Just for background here, I've been meditating daily for 5-6 years, and doing shik-an-taza (that might be spelled wrong) for a bit over a year (and am just starting to feel decent at it).

I've got a problem I'm not sure how to handle, and was hoping for some advice. My dad died about four years ago, and since then I've helped take care of my mom quite a bit. I've also been a stress case since then. Recently, probably through meditation, I realized that I'm stressing at all times about death, or to be more descriptive, a fear of death and, conversely, a fear of messing up my life. I'm scared to make any wrong action for fear of being hurt, or of doing something wrong that will make my life go the wrong way. When friends or family are going on a trip, I constantly worry they'll get into an accident or something, and feel I need to give all my time to them before in case something happens, as I don't want any regrets either. This is a problem. I can't really go about my life because I'm constantly worrying about shit. And I do know it's shit, and nothing more (at least intellectually). Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for a saviour, but if there's an action I can take, or any idea you have, that would help me, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again brother,

Matt


Matt,

Thanks for writing. I wish I had a magic solution to your problem. But there isn't any.

Ultimately even your most deep seated and seemingly real fears are just thoughts. Everyone fears something. The problem has nothing to do with the specific nature of the fear. Whether it's fear of death, or fear of high places, or fear of ducks in bowler hats, it's still the same stuff.

It's very hard to root out fear. You'll probably never succeed completely. I don't think anyone, even Buddha himself, has ever succeeded in getting rid of it all.

One thing that helps me is to face it down. Nishijima Sensei said something to me once like, "I always try to look at hated information." Meaning if there's something specific you fear it can often help to study that thing carefully. In my own case I used to have an intense fear of Huntington's Disease, the hereditary ailment that killed my mom. Then I just went out & read all I could about it. I was terrified to do this. But what I found in that literature was just a bunch of smart people throwing around theories. They really didn't know anything. That study helped a lot to remove my constant fear of the disease. The fear still pops up in my mind now and again. I just know there's no sense paying attention to it.

The fear of death and of messing up your life is just a thought loop in your head. It means nothing. You don't have to believe it. You never have to believe yourself.

I hope this advise has some use to you.

Brad

Saturday, February 02, 2008

BORED OF CORRECTIONS

I was looking at the comments section for the last piece I put up here. What a riot! I’m staying on the sidelines till the dust clears. But I did want to clarify one thing. It seems like most readers understood the picture I was trying to paint with my words of what happened on the evening I was describing at the beginning and end of the Suicide Girls piece. But a couple people took things way wrong, and the fault is mine.

Because of the poor way I worded the piece, some readers assumed that I had actually witnessed the woman in question being suspended by fish hooks and getting her labia pierced. Ugh! That’s way too hardcore even for me. Actually she just hung around after the dance and told us about having done that stuff. She also gave us her MySpace address, which had photos to prove it.

I don’t really give two shits what anyone thinks of my going into that club. What you think of what other people do is your problem, and I can’t help you. But I felt like maybe I ought to at least make that clarification.

Here is the first paragraph again with the corrections I added to it today:

I met a stripper with a Three Stooges tattoo the other night at a bar called Tigress. She bitch slapped one of my companions hard while she gave her a ferocious lap dance. Threatened my balls with spike heeled platform shoes. Hissed in my face that she was into edgeplay. She said she got giant fish hooks stuck through her back with which they hung her bleeding body from the ceiling till her screams careened off the hard brick dungeon walls. Said they pierced her labia with five-inch needles. Said she worked for Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Films for years. I’ve heard what that’s like. The lady could take some pain.

As to the issue of the Precepts that some readers have raised, it is very important to remember that the Buddhist Precepts are never, but never, to be used as a weapon. The Precepts are there as guidelines for us as individuals to judge our own behavior, not the behavior of others. When you observe the behavior of another person always bear in mind that you can never know the true circumstances that led that person to behave in some particular fashion. Of course if that behavior is causing harm or danger to you or someone else it may sometimes be proper to intervene. But in most cases it's probably none of your business.

Buddhism is an attitude. It's an approach to life. The Precepts are meant as helpers to guide us in establishing this attitude. They're not a list of rules that we, the Precept Police, are enjoined to enforce. There are many things in this life that are beyond our knowledge or even our capacity to know.

These days I am discovering how much deep and lasting harm has been done in this world by those who appear to society as the upholders of holiness and morality. The stories I could tell you! Maybe some day I will. But each time I hear one my heart feels like its been crushed. It is our duty as Buddhists to refrain from causing more of this kind of pain ourselves. That is our mission.

My friend Rob, who attends my weekly get-togethers at Hill Street Center and often posts here as SmoggyRob, said that his take on the Bodhisattva Vow of saving all beings was that it was his duty to save all beings from himself. We all need to have that attitude.

ANYWAY. Here, again, is the list of upcoming gigs I’ll be doing this year. Over the last couple years, a few readers have made their way to the sesshins at Tokei-in temple. That’s always very touching. If you’re planning to do this in 2008, please write me and I’ll do what I can to make the trip as painless as possible (unless, of course, like my exotic dancer friend you’re actually into pain).

February 29 - March 2 Retreat at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. I don't have contact info yet. So just check the webpage & see who it says to contact for info.

April 25 - 27 Retreat at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in North Carolina. Again, I don't have contact info, so check the website.

May 4th 0DFX gig at Kent State University (May 4th, 1970 was the day four students were shot by the National Guard at Kent State, the event immortalized in Neil Young's song "Ohio")

August 9-16 I'll be one of the teachers at the Great Sky Sesshin in Southern Minnesota. The webpage is still last year's info. But it's pretty much the same deal each year.

The annual Dogen Sangha Zen Retreat will be held in Shizuoka, Japan in early September and I'm planning to be there as well.