Monday, January 12, 2009

NEW SG ARTICLE: BUDDHISM IS NOT SPIRITUALITY

My new Suicide Girls article is up now. It's called "Buddhism is Not Spirituality."

Also I have revamped my YouTube page extensively. There are now a ton more videos from lectures and suchlike up there, for those of you who enjoy that sort of thing. Plus a Zero Defex performance where the bassist is wearing Buddhist robes...

I'm still adding stops to my 2009 World Domination Tour (gotta think of a new name). The link is to your left. If you want to arrange a stop in your neighborhood, please contact me and we'll talk. The e-mail address is also on that page.

I want to continue discussing this "roshi" business. But I think the matter of Buddhism and spirituality is a lot more important. But just so you know, when I say something like "I am a roshi" or "I am a Zen Master" I'm trying to be ironic. Please don't call me either of those things. More on that later.

As far as the idea of spirituality is concerned, there's one thing I cut from the Suicide Girls article for the sake of space. I can accept the word "spirituality" being applied to Buddhism in certain cases. For example, it's certainly not a secular philosophy. So if your only choices are spiritual or secular, I'd probably go with spiritual. Also it does address spiritual matters, just not to the exclusion of material matters. Words seem to sometimes have as many definitions as there are people who use them, and the word "spiritual" is especially tricky. Still, in general Buddhism is not spirituality.

ONE MORE THING! I will be in Dallas, Texas from January 19 - 23. It's a family visit. And it's too early for book promotion. But if anybody wants to try and set something up for later, or have me come to some Zen group or whatever during the week, let me know at spoozilla@gmail.com.

74 comments:

Ven.Grandmaster said...

when I say something like "I am a roshi" or "I am a Zen Master" I'm trying to be ironic. Please don't call me either of those things.

Thanks for clarifying that, Brad. Irony often doesn't come across well via internet or letters. May I suggest something different, like "World Honored One"?

Anonymous said...

I bow deeply to the venerable HHBW.

ratboy said...

Great SG article. One of your best, imo. The only quibble I would raise is that you seem to confuse two different 'materialisms'.

There's the belief that reality is made of 'stuff', matter and energy. Then there's the belief that the purpose of life is the aquisition of 'material' things, cars, houses, tv's. They are not necessarily the same. You can believe the world is pure spirit (as you say, that too is another concept) but still base your life on accumulationg stuff. Or you can fully embrace scientific materialism, yet live a life of simple, voluntary poverty with no lust of material possessions.

Anonymous said...

Ven Grandmaster makes a good point. Irony, while often very funny face to face, is often lost in blog text. Especially to us serious buddhist ball-busters..

Seraphina said...

when I say something like "I am a roshi" or "I am a Zen Master" I'm trying to be ironic. Please don't call me either of those things.

Brad, you rock my tiny Zen socks off :)

Jinzang said...

he Heart Sutra says, “Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form.” In other words, matter is the immaterial, the immaterial is matter.

Emptiness does not mean the immaterial. The Sanskrit compound (dvandva compound for you Sanskrit mavens) for mind and matter is namarupa. Rupa is form and nama is the collection of the other four skandhas, which get mentioned next in the Heart Sutra: "In the same way feeling, perception, concept, formations, and consciousness are emptiness."

Anonymous said...

Sit down and shut up. When you open your mouth you show your vast ignorance about 'Buddhism'. Thankfully, and the reason why this is not that important, is that 'Buddhism' is not really what is important. The menu and the meal.

Alef said...

That was a great article. Thank you Brad.

JFM said...

Ratboy has the right of it when he says there's materialism, and then there's materialism. In fact, Epicurus, one of the original big-M Materialists, the Greek guys who brought you materialism, came to remarkably similar conclusions about the problem of suffering, and what to do about it, to Gautama.

earDRUM said...

good SG article brad.

an aside...
i am reminded of subatomic physics, which tells us that even matter itself is not just simple "matter". in quantum theory, sometimes matter behaves as a particle and sometimes it behaves as a wave.

alan watts used to talk about how matter is mostly space... tiny electrons, quarks, gluons, and such, in vast amounts of space. what we see as "solid" is just as much an illusion as the "motion" we think we think we see in a series of photographs on film (movies) shown at 30 frames per second.

the word "spirit" comes from the latin word for "breath".
watts also used to talk about how it is impossible to define ourselves as separate entities. he used the example of our breath... we breathe air (the sky). the air is absorbed into our blood through our alvioli. so where does the sky end, and where do we begin? there is no hard line between. so, in a sense, we and the sky (and everything else) are one. defining ourselves and other things as separate entities is just a convenient way to communicate. but at the heart of reality, all things are connected, and one.

i suspect that people came up with the idea of a soul/spirit in order to allay fears of everything ending with death. and i suspect that most spiritual thoughts are a result of this kind of thinking.

Jinzang said...

Sit down and shut up. When you open your mouth you show your vast ignorance about 'Buddhism'.

One day I'll reach the awesome enlightenment of Brad. Until then I'll console myself by paging through Whitney's Sanskrit Grammar.

BTW why the scare quotes on 'Buddhism'?

Mumon said...

Yeah, with all due respect, and I really, earnestly do mean respectfully, there's soooo much poo-poo that comes out of some of these folks called "roshis."

But I digress from your point in your SG article too, from an etymological standpoint:

If Buddhism is anything it is "spiritual," it's about being alive, it's about breathing.

It's also a religion, in the original sense of the word: coming from Latin religare, to bind back.

Yeah, neither materialism nor idealism is correct, but that's yet another skillful bit to achieve the end: transcendance of dukkha, which is in itself a spiritual goal.

Yeah, if spiritual = ideal, Buddhism doesn't live there to be sure.

But the word just doesn't mean "spirit world."

Justin said...

Emptiness does not mean the immaterial.

Jinzang is correct. Emptiness refers to not to 'the immaterial' but to Sunyata which means 'no self nature'. Things exist interdependently rather than absolutely or separately.

Also, 'spirituality' is a very vague term. It doesn't mean any particular philosophical viewpoint (such as Idealism, even if a lot of 'spiritual' people are Idealists). It's catch all term, which can be a useful way to describe Buddhism to people who know nothing about it. It's also helpful to clarify that it doesn't have much to do with 'spirits' or 'Idealism' or 'invisible energies' or 'toxins'.

Allison said...

Went to a Borders book store a while back. Was bored, decided to look at what books they had on Buddhism. I looked in the Religion section...it's 2 full aisles of Christian stuff, a couple books on Judaism, etc. Nothing. I go over to New Age, gritting my teeth. Nothing. I ask someone...turns out it's ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK under PHILOSOPHY. I guess you can tell who owns that store.

My husband and I registered for the Asheville retreat in April...look forward to meeting you! Are we allowed to ask you to sign books, or is that un-Roshi-like?? ;-)

Ruairi said...

Brad, that is your best SG article so far, in my humble opinion. An excellent piece of writing.

Reminded me of Alan Watts.

Keep it up.

Lone Wolf said...

Nice article!

I've been studying secular humanism and atheist/agnostic views recently. It seems that Buddhism fits with the secular humanist point of view. I'm not sure what you mean by Buddhism not being secular?

My view of secular is not regarding the dogmatic fairy tales that religions make up and claim to be truth. Most so called Buddhist sects also have many dogmatic ideas that I would rather not bother to try to wrap my head around because it can't be proved (six realms, reincarnation).

Brad's understanding of Buddhism seems to make the most sense! I feel Buddhism seems to fit more with the secular or atheist view than bringing an old bearded guy in the sky into the equation. To me, Buddhism is just Humanism. Although, Humanism doesn't advocate Zazen, maybe it should.

The phrase Secular Spirituality would seem to be more of a fit world for what Buddhism is.

NellaLou said...

Following on comments by ratboy and JFM.
The definition of terms in the article is a little confusing. Materialism and Idealism are two ontological viewpoints. Materialism meaning consumerism is a different matter all together. We can also add into that the concept of spiritual materialism, which is not related to spiritual swag (one of Brad's older posts), but is something like trying to accumulate "merit" "purity" "grace" "enlightenment" and all the other non-physically tangible ideals of many spiritual practices, schools and religions. Language is a slippery thing and definitions of concepts and the use of a thesaurus are not necessarily bad things.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

I feel that maybe the term emptiness simply means things and phenomena are void of any thoughtful definition. A dictionary description is not the thing itself. As anonymous referred to the old saying, "the menu is not the meal". How this may relate to the quote from the heart sutra, I dunno.

Jinzang said...

Well, there are whole books written on the subject of emptiness and the interpretation of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras. One could read them and maybe understand them and then one wouldn't have to wonder what emptiness means in Buddhism. Or make simple mistakes when trying to explain fundamental Buddhist concepts to others. But the idea of approaching Buddhism as if it was something that could be understood intellectually seems to be taboo in Zen. They would rather shout and hit each other with sticks. Pity.

Mysterion said...

Ven. Brad sed:

"We constantly swing back and forth between materialism and idealism. When materialism doesn’t satisfy, we try idealism, when idealism lets us down, we swing back to materialism."

Swami Hoo U sez:
"Some swing back and forth between past materialism and future idealism. When the past doesn’t satisfy, we become depressed. When dwelling on the future, we become anxious."

The place to be, therefore, in in the present moment. Oh, you need to plan ahead - like slowing for the yellow streetlight ahead that will be red before you get to the intersection. But you need not dwell on what you will be doing this time NEXT YEAR. That sort of thing leads to suicides around Xmas and, in some countries, around the time High School Entrance Exam scores are posted in public.

That's why I got involved in a continuation high school project in Japan. Suicide prevention following High School Entrance Exam score posting. Which brings me to the point - when you don't have anything to do, consider doing something for someone else - like a random act of kindness.

tattoozen said...

It seems like the longer I sit the less any sort of word can describe whats going on.

Anonymous said...

the quotes around Buddhism in the earlier post are not scare quotes, but utilize what is known as the use/mention distinction.

The idea being that 'Buddhism' is the idea, the concept, the textual and historic tradition of words said by and about various teachers and teachings. Since all this is not what is of importance it is not a great fault to be ignorant of it.

But the real strength of Brad's tradition is "no dependence on words and letters" and "direct pointing". Let scholars blah blah about such things. Brad should just stick to practice and whenever possible remind others to do the same.

Katsu!

Justin said...

Zen is not anti-intellectual. This is a npopular misconception. Zen is not anti-anything. Intellect has its proper place and it's proper place should be seen. When using language and concepts, they should be used clearly. However, emptiness is something that should to be experienced and recognised directly not just thought about and talked about.

It's a bit disappointing that a Zen monk who has received dharma transmission thinks that 'emptiness' refers to 'the immaterial'.

Emptiness in the Heart Sutra has a very clear meaning which does not need to be guessed at.

According to Buddha in the Pali Canon, all phenomena can be categorised into 5 skandha (aggregates). They are:

Form/matter (rūpa)
Sensation (vedanā)
Discrimination (samjñā)
Volition (samskāra)
Consciousness (vijñāna)

I'm not sure exactly what Brad means by 'the immaterial', presumably everything that isn't form/matter. But it isn't saying that rūpa (form) = vijñāna (consciousness), etc.

The Heart Sutra talks about 'Emptiness' meaning 'no self nature', but this emptiness is not something that exists apart from the aggregates, it is the aggregates and the aggregates are empty.

Form/matter is no-self-nature
No-self-nature is Form/matter
Sensation is no-self-nature
No-self-nature is Sensation
Discrimination is no-self-nature
No-self-nature is Discrimination
Volition is no-self-nature
No-self-nature is Volition
Consciousness is no-self-nature
No-self-nature is Consciousness

More about Sunyata
More about the Heart Sutra
More about the Skandhas

Anonymous said...

so Brad doesn't want to be a zen teacher
s'alright with me s'long as he continues to be zen writer, or rather a writer about things zen: he does a pretty good job s'plaining it

Mike H said...

Brad:

How about "Big Air™ [Guitar] World Tour 2009".

or "Where's Warner?"

Harry said...

Hail All,

The material/immaterial thing is likely just a continuation of Nishijima Roshi's (slightly Marxist?) understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

I imagine that it is influenced by his Three Philosophies, One Reality theory as he interprets it from the start of Shobogenzo Genjo-Koan (that is: 1. Idealism 2. Materialism. 3. 'Transcendent' Action/Practice 4. Reality of life).

So he's probably contrasting 'the material' with 'idealism' or 'the immaterial' there.

From the point of view of this Buddhist system it is not imperative that a practitioner has a sky-piercing understanding of philosophies of 'emptiness', but that they directly realise 'it' (or rather that 'it' realises them) using themselves via sitting up straight and non-thinking.

But, I agree, the 'Zen anti-intellectual' thing is latter day waffle and it is certainly not what Master Dogen was about; so clear language/meaning, correct pointing and thorough study is always welcome methinks. Dogen's teaching was based in reason informed by direct practice and so he saw the famous 'finger pointing to the moon' as just the moon itself. No gaps or gulfs.

Regards,

Harry.

Mumon said...

I'd add one other thing to what I wrote above: Buddhist sutras are not quite "proof texts" that Christians make of the bible; I for one find it difficult to believe that much of the Mahayana literature was ever considered to be understood as anything but allegorical.

I'd rather liken them to the opposite of "The Guide for the Newly Deceased" - they're useful for someone who just regained consciousness and figured out he's in a great deal of pain, and he's on top of a 100 foot pole, and he's got (on CD ROM) a copy of the Perfection of Wisdom, the Lotus, the Lankavatara Sutras as well as the Tripitaka. OK, he might also have Nagarjuna as well for good measure.

There's a great deal of depth and wisdom and practical advice in this "Guide for the Newly Awakened," but the depth and wisdom and practicality of said advice is authenticated by the user.

Just like Brad's title "roshi."

The club of roshis wouldn't matter if not for recognition by the sangha. True, there's a bit of Life of Brian here:

Followers: He is! He is the Messiah!

Brian: Now, f!@#$ off!
[silence]

Follower: How shall we f!@#$ off, O Lord?


But part of being responsible as an adult is figuring out which teacher's real and which is bogus, and to do this before you get any nice calligraphy scrolls.

Anonymous said...

Form is Motion
Motion is Form

Only Motion
No Thing
Thing Cling to Motion makes Friction

Harry said...

BTW,

As another perspective, consider Dogen's 4 Genjo-Koan perspectives from the point of view of directly realising 'Sunyata':

1. 'When all things are seen as the Buddha-Dharma...' or 'thinking'.

2. 'When the myriad things are each not of the self...' 'not self' or 'not thinking'.

3. 'The Buddha's truth is originally transcendent over abundance or scarcity [of thought]...' dynamic 'non-thinking' or 'thinking realising not-thinking'.

4. 'flowers die, weeds grow': Enjoy it while it lasts... oh and you'll get pissed off from time-to-time about silly and not-so-silly things regardless.

Regards,

Harry.

Justin said...

The material/immaterial thing is likely just a continuation of Nishijima Roshi's (slightly Marxist?) understanding of Buddhist philosophy.

Nishijima Roshi's teachings of Buddhist philosophy are sometimes at odds with contemporary and historical understandings. When I see this I try to understand why there is a disparity and who's interpretation is the most insightful. For a long time it has seemed to me that Nishijima Roshi has shoe-horned much Buddhist philosophy into his own reformist theories. The '3 philosophies, one reality' thing and the balancing the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system thing are Nishijima Roshi's idiosyncratic theories. My recommendation when reading Nishijima Roshi is not to rely on his interpretation exclusively but to read more broadly.

I imagine that it is influenced by his Three Philosophies, One Reality theory as he interprets it from the start of Shobogenzo Genjo-Koan (that is: 1. Idealism 2. Materialism. 3. 'Transcendent' Action/Practice 4. Reality of life).

My understanding of the Genjokoan is that it's about conventional truth ('as all things are Buddhadharma...') and ultimate truth ('When the myriad things are each not of the self...') and their mutual harmony/non-separation ('The Buddha's truth is originally transcendent over abundance or scarcity...'). This fits in well with the history of the rest of Mahayana philosophy.

So he's probably contrasting 'the material' with 'idealism' or 'the immaterial' there.

Shoehorning I think.

From the point of view of this Buddhist system it is not imperative that a practitioner has a sky-piercing understanding of philosophies of 'emptiness', but that they directly realise 'it' (or rather that 'it' realises them) using themselves via sitting up straight and non-thinking.

Maybe, but sutras can be helpful sometimes. And if you are going to teach what sutras mean then you should have a fairly good understanding of them.

But, I agree, the 'Zen anti-intellectual' thing is latter day waffle and it is certainly not what Master Dogen was about; so clear language/meaning, correct pointing and thorough study is always welcome methinks. Dogen's teaching was based in reason informed by direct practice and so he saw the famous 'finger pointing to the moon' as just the moon itself. No gaps or gulfs.

Yes and it was also informed by a deep knowledge and understanding of Mahayana philosophy, sutras and koans. And sometimes he goes beyond reason alone into a sort of highly metaphorical, poetic philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Zen is not anti-intellectual. blah, blah, blah.. This is a npopular misconception. blah, blah, blah..
When using language and concepts, they should be used clearly. blah, blah, blah..

I'm not sure exactly what Brad means by.. (insert word here.)

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

Hi Justin,

Well, I don't expect everyone to match up to a highly educated, incredibly literate, highly practiced/realised, brilliant, life-long monastic Zen Master like Dogen Zenji... that seems a bit unreasonable.

Your own tidy little conventional truth/ultimate truth theory hardly scores high on philosophical elegance either.

Dogen never went beyond reason, but he often went beyond reason as a great many people consider it. He had strong words for those that considered the Buddhist teachings beyond reason: "unreliable fellows" is one translation, "scatterbrained people" is another... he says that only they do not understand the teachings.

Yes, 'understanding' Dogen style is not just a matter of neat theories that make so much sense to these faulty little lumps of flesh/electrical blips.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

There are many reasons why zen buddhists are instructed to be still. One being there is less chance of adding to the general confusion that way.

Justin said...

Well, I don't expect everyone to match up to a highly educated, incredibly literate, highly practiced/realised, brilliant, life-long monastic Zen Master like Dogen Zenji... that seems a bit unreasonable.

Nor do I, but I do think it's reasonable that when a teacher says 'The Heart Sutra says/means this...' that we should expect that what follows should be fairly accurate and well-balanced, just as we would if someone was teaching the theory of evolution. Perhaps its just me.

Your own tidy little conventional truth/ultimate truth theory hardly scores high on philosophical elegance either.

Oh its not my theory. And it's a theme that comes up in Zen teachings and Mahayana philosophy time after time after time. Going into it here would be a bit OT and time-consuming, but I suggest you look into interpretations of Dogen and the Heart Sutra in addition to Nishijima's.

Dogen never went beyond reason, but he often went beyond reason as a great many people consider it. He had strong words for those that considered the Buddhist teachings beyond reason: "unreliable fellows" is one translation, "scatterbrained people" is another... he says that only they do not understand the teachings.

True

Harry said...

Hi Justin,

I currently read the Nishijima, Kim and Tanahashi translations, and other bits and pieces from various sources. I augment this with whatever commentary/analysis I can get my hands on and am particularly impressed recently by Hee-jin Kims excellent, non-sectarian treatment of Shobogenzo.

I don't disagree with your little theory at all ('yours' in that you advance it and defend it), but I think Dogen Zenji was not such a philosophical 'one trick pony' as that and that the study and practice of Genjo-Koan will reveal much, much more.

Regards,

Harry.

Justin said...

Fair-dos. Interesting chat.

monson said...

I liked the SG article.
But, I just don’t understand the claim that Buddhism is not a religion. Sure, there is more to it than its religious aspects, but, Buddhism is practiced as a religion all over the world. Right?
Rituals.
Priests who do weddings and funerals, etc.
Robes.
Temples.
Sacred texts.
When I was a teenager I went to a Buddhist “church” that I’m pretty sure was of Japanese origin (long time ago) and there were pews and a pulpit – even hymns!
What am I missing here?

Anonymous said...

Brad is a punk
not talking what kinda musician either
just what he is
a punk
he is also writes

Kamaljit said...

Has anyone even read Hardcore Zen?

"Emptiness is not a nihilist concept of voidness. Emptiness is not meaninglessness. Emptiness is that condition which is free from conception as well as our perceptions. Its the world before we came along and start complaining about the stuff we don't like"

Page 70

Anonymous said...

or clinging to the stuff we do like..

Rich said...

"Buddhism doesn’t promise to fulfill our desires. Instead it says, “You feel unfulfilled? That’s OK. That’s normal. Everybody feels unfulfilled. You will always feel unfulfilled. There is no problem with feeling unfulfilled. In fact, if you learn to see it the right way, that very lack of fulfillment is the greatest thing you can ever experience.” This is the realistic outlook."

this is the most important statement in the article. For 'unfulfilled' substitute any feeling or perception like 'joy' 'fear' 'anxiety' etc. Accepting your condition and situation 100% is one view of reality. from this point correct action will change everything.

As far as all the philosophical thinking of current and past buddhas, the self nature uses it but does not depend or rely on it.

Mysterion said...

Some Buddhism is not spiritual...

Certainly Jodo Shu and Jodu Shinshu contain obvious elements of spiritualism layered above the philosophical foundation of Theravada. One who reads the Tripiṭaka (Sanskrit; Devanagari: त्रिपिटक; three baskets of wisdom) with a mind closed to the metaphysical message gains the philosophical facet alone.

Indeed, many Japanese Mahayana schools call Theravada Buddhism Hinyana. Hinayana is a pejorative term meaning 'Small' or 'Lesser' vehicle.

Yet one can hardly approach Buddhism through something like a single sutra or Shobogenzo. I often say Buddhists are Hindus who don't read much. Although there are well over 1,200 scriptures in the Mahayana schools, I seriously doubt that even the most serious of scholars has managed to read more than 200 or 300 of them.

My cop-out? The three basic books are enough - with a SMALL random sampling of the later 1,200.

ratboy said...

"But, I just don’t understand the claim that Buddhism is not a religion."

Monson, this is actually pretty typical. Nearly all religions claim theirs is not a "religion"...all those others are. Just as nearly all claim their way is either the only way to truth or the best way. Christians sometimes say that religions are made by man and are his attempt to find god, while christianity is god's attempt to reach man.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I was reading DSB and noticed that Mike Cross pointed out that (chapters 1-21 of the) Shobogenzo are available for free online.

Rob

Jinzang said...

the quotes around Buddhism in the earlier post are not scare quotes, but utilize what is known as the use/mention distinction.

I think you misunderstand the use-mention distinction, which is simply the difference between a name and that which is named by the name.

The idea being that 'Buddhism' is the idea, the concept ... Since all this is not what is of importance it is not a great fault to be ignorant of it.

Here's an analogy. If you wanted to get from New York City to Woodstock, a description of where the Port Authority Bus Terminal is, how much it will cost, how long it takes to get there, what stops are along the way, and what Tinker Street looks like would be very helpful. It's no substitute for making the trip, but could make the difference between getting there and getting lost. In the same way, the Buddhist teachings tell us how to practice, what attitude to take to practice, what we will need and what we should abandon. If we work closely with a teacher, maybe books aren't necessary, but that's only getting the teaching orally instead.

But the real strength of Brad's tradition is "no dependence on words and letters" and "direct pointing".

The direct pointing only works for someone whose mind has been made ready by study and practice. Brad has given a lot of talks. I doubt that the casual listeners who have attended them have walked out enlightened.

Brad should just stick to practice and whenever possible remind others to do the same.

An alarm clock could do as much.

Mysterion said...

I caught Brad during his FIRST trip to SFZC - when he was promoting "SD & SU."

I bought the book, he signed it (In other words, he didn't just waste his time, he made a buck).

During the Q & A, this lady went ON_AND_ON with a testimonial (!) about how Buddhism had enhanced her compassion toward other beings. Everyone was silent (as we should, respectfully, be). When she finished, she looked to Brad for a comment (or, more properly, his endorsement of her testimonial). To his credit, Brad said: "well, I don't know how to comment." and looked over at me (BIG mistake).

My comment:

You are what you are
and not what you think.

To a blind horse a smile
is as good as a wink.

(The no self can either smile or wink, it makes no difference.)

At a much later Book Signing (in New York?), Brad was subjected to a much longer Xtian testimonial. Of course his reaction was no reaction, no comment, no acknowledgment, no condemnation, no etc.

But I still got a laugh out of the tale of yet another testimonial, just the same. I'm not JUST telling you to buy the book get it signed & go home. I'm suggesting that if you go, stay more-or-less on topic. During the question period, ASK a question (If one comes to mind).

Anonymous said...

Brad really should not even attempt to give teisho talks
no doubt about that
but Brad should require anyone attending his zazen classes to ask him questions--may be drop them in the donation box at the start of sitting.

Brad is at his absolute best when he is answering questions
and Brad's best is BRILLIANT, and quite wonderful to behold.
just don't let him give a teisho talk which he admits he hates doing--they are crappy, no other way to describe them
and while he ducks the issue and passes around ultraman stuff and godzilla stuff--more of a show and tell sharing thing from pre-school than a teisho talk--kind of a sweet and dorky way, endearing even, to get out of presenting a talk
Been to a coupla of his 'book tour' lectures (SD & SU and HCZ), they were ok--on and on about his punk days and how he ended up in Japan and ended up with Nishijima, etc., in other words not much about buddhism, just about his own life and his own encounters with buddhism. However again, during question time, the Brad was something else--all I can say is from what I've seen, the guy requires questions, needs questions, so folks--keep 'em coming at 'im every chance ya get

Anonymous said...

Brad
I hope all is well with your nephew (he lives in Texas, right?) and by all means, get that cutie-pie niece of yours cook up something nice for us in the video department next blog you post from Texas.

proulx michel said...

Mumon said...

I digress from your point in your SG article too, from an etymological standpoint:

If Buddhism is anything it is "spiritual," it's about being alive, it's about breathing.

It's also a religion, in the original sense of the word: coming from Latin religare, to bind back.


I'm afraid that etymology is incorrect. It is one that was invented by Tertullian, a Christian writer of the Roman era. But modern day linguists would rather agree with Cicero who had it that 'religio' stems form 'religere', that is 're-read'.
In other words, ritual.

Mxl

Mike H said...

Anonymous:

in other words not much about buddhism, just about his own life and his own encounters with buddhism.

What do you think Buddhism actually is then???

Brad writes a lot about Buddism, it's in the stories about his life and his encounters with Buddhism. He doesn't annotate the text with Buddhist footnotes - that's your job!!!

Justin said...

What do you think Buddhism actually is then???

Brad writes a lot about Buddism, it's in the stories about his life and his encounters with Buddhism.


In that case my wife watching X-Factor is also Buddhism, but I doubt that's what the poster wanted. In one sense everything is Buddhism, but that doesn't mean that everything is helpful for realising the dharma.

Mumon said...

proulx michel:

Thanks for the info; I'll have to look that up some more.

On the other hand Cicero or Tertullian regardless, religions do have certain common features to them, Buddhism has many of those common features, hence due to those aspects Buddhism can be properly called a religion, if those common features are both necessary and sufficient to define a religion.

What "is and is not" seems to be a relatively common topic with those with whom I converse in cyberspace of late; in response to a bit on "Big Mind" by Genpo Merzel over at Tricycle I left a comment.

Brad's right on the subject of the ideal versus the real (some forms of "materialism" are themselves metaphysical philosphies, actually - they makes assumptions about that which is beyond the material world). Though you can go further: the "Identity of the Relative and the Absolute" as well as the Perfection of Wisdom material implies that the relative ant the absolute are precisely coincident with each other.

But the folks who, hearing that in a zendo or from a roshi go one step further and engage in sophistry saying there are false dichotomies because they don't like logical outcomes deny that form is form in a fundamental sense.

Anonymous said...

Mike H

my point exactly: (re: Brad not talking about 'buddhism' but about his own life, his experiences as a buddhist), that people are needlessly disappointed if they come with expectations about what a lecture 'should' be.

However, I will say this. There is not a single teacher who will fail to disappoint if you stick with them long enough (and hopefully you do stick with them even longer--all the way).

This disappointment and the accompanying pain is inevitable and a gift of sorts.

So with respect to Brad not failing to disappointment I can say I have not been disappointed in that regard: he has utterly and completely disappointed me.

humans and buddhas

may we all realize the buddha way together

Mike H said...

However, I will say this. There is not a single teacher who will fail to disappoint if you stick with them long enough (and hopefully you do stick with them even longer--all the way).

Disappointment is a wonderful teacher. It's much easier to hand a pedestal back than it is to step down off it and hand it back.

I think that people become disappointed with teachers because they want them to be perfect and project their own concepts of perfection onto them (which is just an expression of non-acceptance).

As for sticking all the way whatever that means. I think I stuck with my last teacher (on and off) until it was time to say good bye.These days I'm not looking to any one person for "The Answer".

Anyway, what does the end look like? Does everyone turn out the same? Different? Somewhere in-between?

This disappointment and the accompanying pain is inevitable and a gift of sorts.
Indeed, if you realise why the pain and disappointment are there. Some teachers are disappointing because they are not any good at teaching!!!!

So with respect to Brad not failing to disappointment I can say I have not been disappointed in that regard: he has utterly and completely disappointed me.

I think he'd be pleased to hear that.


humans and buddhas may we all realize the buddha way together

No humans, no buddhas, no way.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

P.T. Buddha is hiring for his all-star Thought Circus. I told him to read these comments and he'd find some amazing mental gymnastics. You know, theories, quips, pretentious advice, etc...but nothing that could actually better a man's life.

Jinzang said...

..but nothing that could actually better a man's life.

I was going to post the entire Tripitaka, but it wouldn't fit in the comment box. So how about this: turn off your computer and go sit for half an hour.

Jinzang said...

There is not a single teacher who will fail to disappoint if you stick with them long enough (and hopefully you do stick with them even longer--all the way).

Trungpa Rinpoche once said that from ego's standpoint, enlightenment is the ultimate disappointment.

Jinzang said...

Brad is not the first Zen teacher to have something to say about the Heart Sutra.

Form doesn't mask emptiness, emptiness is the essence of form;
Emptiness doesn't break up form, form embodies emptiness.
Form and emptiness are nondual within the gates of Dharma,
Where a lame turtle
brushing his eyebrows
stands in the evening breeze.

Rich said...

"You know, theories, quips, pretentious advice, etc...but nothing that could actually better a man's life."

PhilBob -for personal reasons I'm going to take a break from commenting but you are right - having strong opinions can be a dangerous thing.

My last comment is on Mike H "Anyway, what does the end look like? Does everyone turn out the same? Different? Somewhere in-between?" the late Jim Morrisson had a song where he keeps saying 'this is the end' and explains the whole thing. It's hard to accept but this really is the end, but it's also the beginning.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Rich, I liked it when Jim said he wuz "gonna get his kicks before the shithouse went up in flames". 69, 79, 89, 99, 09.....still waiting for those flames Jim ?!?!

Jinzang, I did indeed go sit for about 30 minutes and feel a little better. Now, I'm gonna try to go to sleep with this god-awful cold I picked up god-knows-where!!!

Justin said...

It's hard to accept but this really is the end, but it's also the beginning.

The death of someone you know - especially someone your own age - helps to focus the mind. This is our last moment, our one and only moment.

Justin said...

Form doesn't mask emptiness, emptiness is the essence of form;
Emptiness doesn't break up form, form embodies emptiness.
Form and emptiness are nondual within the gates of Dharma,
Where a lame turtle
brushing his eyebrows
stands in the evening breeze.


Interesting. But I had no idea what the turtle bit was about.

Anonymous said...

The sacred turtle's tail sweeps away all his tracks..

Anonymous said...

Brad said:

Science happens to be a very good way
to look at the material side of reality,
so we need to accept science
(legit science, anyway).


yeah, that's right...
too legit to quit

Harry said...

I could never accept illegitimate science: my physics teacher was a real bastard.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

AE911 is hawking t-shirts, cards, stickers, cd's and dvd's on their website. All in the name of science I'm sure..

"Be one of the first to sport the stylishly bold "Explosive Evidence" T-shirt — a luxe, heavy weight Gildan Ultra, 100%..."

Hehehe..

Anonymous said...

Why bother with t-shirts and bake sales
when you can flat-out OWN the US
Goverment and Big Media, like AIPAC?

Adria said...

Thanks, Brad. From the bottom of my heart. You always help to put things in a perspective that I can understand and that, in a way, comforts me. You rocks my socks!

Jinzang said...

Interesting. But I had no idea what the turtle bit was about.

I don't know either. Hakuin does go on. But the hair if a turtle is one of the three examples used in Buddhism for non-existent things. (The other two are flowers in the sky and the son of a barren woman.)

Mysterion said...

Hmmm... _I_ hold a credential to teach High School Physics. Does that mean I'm defellowshipped, excommunicated, ousted, osterized, or otherwise shunned???

If Cicero and Tertullian played a singles match, would Crissy Everett officiate?

If Buddha and Jain played a singles match, would Dogen officiate?

Love is Mu.

Justin said...

The sacred turtle's tail sweeps away all his tracks..

So is he a ninja turtle?

leoboiko said...

The materialism thing is particularly bad cause it reflects a religious argument that goes like this: if you don't believe in God and paradise you're a materialist, and thus a despicable greedy consumerist fuck. It's a dishonest move based in stealthily equating the two separate meanings of "materialism".

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