Thursday, January 29, 2009

REBUTTAL TO SOCK MONKEY'S LATEST RANT

Sock Monkey has put another video up on YouTube, this one concerning my new book:



I would like to make some corrections to what he has said in this video. While the book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate: A Trip Through Death, Sex, Divorce, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the True Dharmadoes contain some material concerning sex, it does not contain "dirty parts" as Sock Monkey says. The book is in no way pornographic at all. I admit that at one point I wrote a somewhat pornographic version. But even there it was more an attempt at parodying a naive Fifties style one might find in an old dime store sex novel than actually trying to be "dirty." This didn't work so I revised the text and eliminated those portions.

He says there are scenes of drug abuse. It is true that drug use is mentioned, but not in such a way as to glorify or condone it. This is a very important point. I have made my stance on drug abuse abundantly clear both in this book and in other writings. I am 100% against the use of drugs especially when it comes to the so-called "meditative" or "enlightenment-producing" qualities of these substances. They have none. Drugs have no place at all in the true quest for one's original nature.

Finally he states that the book contains, "insults towards many Zen teachers who are nice people who should not be insulted." This is completely false. No Zen teachers are insulted in the book. I wrote about certain trends that worry me in American Zen. But I did not mention anyone specific save for a few references to the late Frederick "Zen Master Rama" Lenz, who couldn't really be called a Zen teacher in any case.

As to his allegations that he wrote the book while I "sat in (my) room picking (my) nose all day" this is patently absurd. Sock Monkey did not write this or any of my books. All allegations that my books have been "heavily ghost written" are completely false. One can compare the writing style in this blog to the style in my books and see that they are all the work of the same person.

Furthermore his statement that he played all of the bass parts on the new Zero Defex CD, this is also a lie. I played all of the bass guitar on that CD and there are numerous videos available to prove it. Does Sock Monkey appear in any of this video material? No.

Sock Monkey also ignores the rest of the contents of the book, which is a sincere attempt to look at how the Dharma fits into real life in the 21st century. The material he talks about is there only to give examples of how Zen practice and Zen teaching is a real activity done by real people, not by cartoon-like "Enlightened Beings" who couldn't possibly exist in any case. To ignore this material is to ignore 90% of the book while focusing only on the small portion that is controversial. This is an immature response to the work. Though I would hardly expect maturity from a stuffed animal made from undergarments, I did expect better from Sock Monkey, who I have known and respected for a long time. I am sincerely shocked and saddened by his reaction.

Frankly I find it very odd that he first insults my books and then attempts to take credit for writing them. His position is indefensible.

All I can say to Sock Monkey and his threats is, "Bring it on!" I will not be silenced by the likes of you.

P.S. Don't forget about my appearance on February 1st (Sunday) at Dharma Zen Center in Los Angeles. All information is in the post just below this one.

206 comments:

1 – 200 of 206   Newer›   Newest»
jundo cohen said...

Oh my gosh. I am Gummo! :-)

GUMMO

Anonymous said...

I bet sock monkey has sat longer than you have.

Sebastian said...

Sorry, i believe the Sock. And he is a primate! not a monkey, come on lets get more pc here. Please still be doing that right? pc?

Cephas Infinity said...

A 100% cotton primate? Seriously? I am edified.

Anonymous said...

free nirvana
to the first enlightened being
who can identify Zeppo

leoboiko said...

this is clearly a publicity stunt. I bet monkey is brad's puppet.

Anonymous said...

Nishijima roshi gave transmission to the wrong monkey. Roshi Sockmonkey should start his own blog to give Brad more time to pick boogers.

Harry said...

That video was unduly socksually explicit.

H.

Zen Trixter said...

When I meet the Sock-monkey, I will kill the Sock-monkey. I never trusted the Sock-ya clan anyways. Buncha friggin' mystics...

Blake said...

I've seen Socrates Q. Monkey play bass. It's all muffled because of his soft little monkey hands.

redslime said...

Hmm, I think you are trying to be funny, but it comes across a little serious. Oh well ...

Matt said...

^ buzz kill :P

Jinzang said...

Every day Brad called out, "Sock Monkey"
And Sock Monkey would reply, "Yes sir."
"Sock Monkey, be sober!"
"Yes sir, yes, sir."
"And Sock Monkey, do not be deceived by others!"
"Yes sir, yes sir."

And after several weeks of this, Brad was hauled into a hospital, sedated, and put under observation.

Mysterion said...

When all else fails, we just have to buy the book and read it for ourselves. There were very few film critics that I ever trusted and the same is true for book reviewers. Most of the film critics have never directed a film an so too, most book reviewers have never written a successful book. Oh, and most meditation reviewers have never experienced a successful session of meditation (where most success is, by far, no success).

ga-sho-dang-nuff-yo

cha-ryu

Marcus said...

Does the Sock Monkey sit and observe the Brad Warner mind?

:)

kudra said...
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kudra said...
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dzj said...

Sometimes I wonder if in your attempt not to take yourself too seriously, you take yourself too seriously.

Anonymous said...

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate: A Trip Through Death, Sex, Divorce, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the True Dharma..

Ack! It just doesn't flow as a title. I'm talking about the soon to be made major motion picture. I think maybe "Zen Wrapped" will be good enough. But who will play the role of Sock Monkey..

dochong, jdpsn said...

Hey Brad,

are you friends with Geri Larkin? I mean her last book was the "Chocolate Cake Sutra." Your new book is titled "Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate."

Is this a new conspiracy of the chocolate industry to take over zen practice in the west?

Let me know, cause I'm not eating any of the M&M's in my house till I feel safe again.

Dochong, JDPSN

Korfballman said...

I don't trust that monkey. I don't even think he's using his real voice. The lip sync is all wrong.
Never trust a dubbed monkey.

ooooooh...gross! said...

idea for sock monkey

the old joke goes, what is a stranger?
a stranger is when you sit on your arm til it goes to sleep, then masturbate

what's better than sex with a stranger?

gniz said...
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Day said...

Techno Viking has just read Brad's new book.

Anonymous said...

leoboiko said...
this is clearly a publicity stunt. I bet monkey is brad's puppet.

YA THINK?!

Rick said...

Sold! I'm going to get the book after my next expense check shows up. I'm looking forward to it.

The Kentralia Kid said...

Sock Monkey sounds exactly like Michael Ian Black of The State.

I suppose Michael Ian Black is just stealing his routine.

Anonymous said...

brad is immature

this is not a judgement call and it's not a put down,
it is just a statement of fact.

how old he is is of no consequence. he is not mature.

but to make this statement is the same as saying he is not famale, blond haired, pierced or tatooed either.*
it is just a fact that he isn't these things

but unlike being female, blond, pierced and tatooed, maturation, while not a given, is highly likely to come to him.

it will come to him like it does to all of us humans: just like enlightenment, sudden or gradual realization, or seemingly not at all: just this undeniable state others recognize in us, but we ourselves are not consciously aware of

his books are a reflection of his current state, how could it possibly be any other way? People who put Brad down have issues with immaturity/issues with 'youth' -- and that is a shame, because all of us come from that place: immaturity/ignorance
When he talks dharmically, his understanding is clearly put forth: there is no ignorance there. Some might think it too bad the book can't just be distilled into a 20 page pamphlet just covering the buddhist concepts he elucidates so very freshly and so well, but I think it is good, this contrast between his understanding which is quite mature (the fruit of 20+ years of practice,) and his descriptions of his various life experiences with death/jobs/sex of the past 1 1/2 years which are written in a style, and perspective of a very young person.

Both these things are simultaneous: his maturity and his lack of maturity. He is honest and forthright about both.

There is no need for brad to write from any perspective but his own, and how could he, anyway? His perspective is quite wonderful, and it takes me back to my own young sexually active days, my own failed relationships my own exciting dalliances, my own dilemmas of job, romance, where to live....etc

To have a book written by a zen teacher which sets forth the fact that a teacher is an ordinary person just like any ordinary person is ultimately very helpful


perhaps others, as the book is read, will want to bring up various aspects of the book specifically for discussion?

* I really can't state this for a fact as I've never seen him nude, but you guys know what I'm trying to say here

kudra said...

i have finished the book and read the above commentary. I agree with the authors assessment but Mr. warner is 45 years old. if he is going to be the lineage holder of a very noble and respected tradition such as zen then it's about time that he gives up "childish things" and starts being a little more responsible about how he represents that tradition. honestly, i do need a certain degree of confidence in my teacher and i do like and appreciate them at least trying to demonstrate a reasonable degree of sophistication. frankly, what they do in their private lives is their personal business. they can just keep their infidelity, predilection for pornography, misogamy,and vulgar language to themselves. the exposure of that sort of thing by anybody can function to cloud whatever message it is that they might be trying to transmit to the world. notwithstanding, i believe that brad has a lot to contribute to american buddhism. i have no reservation at all in saying that he very talented and insightful. we currently live in a culture that encourages the exposure of private business and personal stuff. for christ sake where has everyones sense of decorum and privacy gone ? i didn't want to hear about all of his stuff. i mourn the loss of respect that i previously had for him. (by the way, I'm the "pretty girl" in the front row with the incredible "rack" brad) (bad,bad bad) i think that brad should stick to transmitting the dharma in it's purity and steer away from having to feel that he has to expose his personal stuff all over the place. I'm sure that if he developed such a policy that he could garner himself a little more respect and i do believe that he really wants respect. the author above may be correct but we as a sangha should not have to wait around for mr warner to put his big boy pants on. you all need to stop making excuses for him. obviously Nishijima Sensei thought that he was realized enough to take the reins of power in your organization. mr warner should rise up and meet the honor and consider more carefully how he conducts himself in thought and deed. sorry ya all, but thats what us underlings expect from our dharma leaders.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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PhilBob-SquareHead said...

" honestly, i do need a certain degree of confidence in my teacher and i do like and appreciate them at least trying to demonstrate a reasonable degree of sophistication."

That's what mommy, daddy, and jesus are for. Grow up.

Andrew said...

"but thats what us underlings expect from our dharma leaders.'

the attack of the "clones for genpo"?

oh ye of the no name

one thing in brads favour is his permitting criticsm of himself on this board, that makes him a non cultist whereas i cannot think of any other zen teacher who would permit such criticsm and that makes them what they are, cult leaders

yea i have a name

Andrew

and even a website, but don't visit it because it has a health page dealing with developmental disorders

too real u see

no name anon said...

"obviously Nishijima Sensei thought that he was realized enough to take the reins of power in your organization."

And Suzuki roshi thought that Richard Baker was realized enough to take the reins of power at Zen Center. That didn't work out very well. I think many Japanese masters were and are too anxious to spread their zen to the west and tend to give dharma transmission too quickly to westerners. But given how haphazardly zen has been transmitted in Japan itself, it is little wonder. (Dharma transmission being given to family members and to those without any degree of insight at all.)

kudra said...
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kudra said...
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Andrew said...

kudra

an hypothesis

"realisation and enlightment" are nonsense self promoting constructs

to what extent is that true? entirely?

like "jesus and buddha are novelistic characters and there are no such historical people"

YEAH!

so odd to supposedly be pursuing what is true, but avoided like the plague

well its entertainment and passing the time mainly isn't it?

kudra said...
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Anonymous said...

kudo's to Kudra!
I love your vegan cookies, cooked for your very own pet stove! (if you truly are who you say you are then you know I know you).

yes, he is an immature babykins, beavis and butthead
n' all
he will grow up
or not

only time will tell.

at any rate nothing stays the same, and the 'liquor, didn't even know her,' stuff, the 'heh, heh, I said ____(fill in the blank with a any sexual inyouin and inyouout the window')
These things are funny in a casual setting.

There are many little odd things in the book: such as brad not wanting to dress in robes at the Great Sky sesshin, until someone asked him to dress as the other teachers were dressed (why he couldn't just see for himself what was expected and follow suit without causing a problem, and certainly without whining about it--)
yet he writes about the person who wanted to sit a different way at the sesshin he led in Japan and goes on about this guy not following what is expected at a sesshin: basically "doing as one"--sitting as one, eating as one (oryoki), walking as one--each one supporting everyone else in this concentration of zazen--

He certainly explains well his lineage did not 'train' him, and it is my personal opinion that Nishijima Roshi gave transmission to a lineage of marsupials:
immature puny little dharma darlings which, if protected in some marsupial pouch somewhere for the needed period of time would emerge fully formed and formidable.
That 'pouch' for most zennies is an established zen center or a zendo--some place where there are several generations of teachers of all kinds of different personalities who have all learned or rather are in the continual process of learning how to keep a diverse group of people with diverse levels of practice together practicing, and especially establishing their own daily practice at home.
Because the Nishijima Roshi lineage don't gots no home temple, these guys are in the marsupial pouch called 'the world' while they gestate.
Harsh and hard, but as real as it gets, and certainly not without appeal I imagine to a 'straight edge/edge play' kind of guy. I am in awe and admiration of it. At the same time this is how we happen to get to see this particular teacher's immaturities.
It is painful to read, and it is wonderful. It is embarrassing and it is poignant.
Lucky us: we all get to see developments as they develop thanks to his willingness to be candid and to show himself 'actual size,' not smaller or bigger than he actually is.


I certainly hope he continues to write, and maybe some day his style will be different from the informal myface spacebook bloggishness he seems to revel in but I doubt it.

It's part of his charm, and it's why we love him, no?

kudra said...
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kudra said...
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kudra said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't think I am, but s'ok, s'alright. Whatever our identities, (or ident tities HAR!--that one's for you, bradikins!j) there is no mistake.

kudra said...
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Jinzang said...

one thing in brads favour is his permitting criticsm of himself on this board, that makes him a non cultist whereas i cannot think of any other zen teacher who would permit such criticsm

There's a bunch of Zen teachers with blogs these days. If there's not much criticism in their comment sections, probably it's because they haven't said much that invites criticism. Brad likes to stir the pot.

Jinzang said...

"realisation and enlightment" are nonsense self promoting constructs

Well, that's the Soto view. Or, rather, how it's often misunderstood. I've given my opinion on the subject here before and it would be tiresome to repeat myself.

jesus and buddha are novelistic characters and there are no such historical people

This was the opinion of some Nineteenth Century historians, but I doubt you could find a respectable historian to agree with it today. (Sorry, Mysterion.) It's become the received view among modern Skeptics, who, for all their worship of reason, are pretty poor scholars.

Mysterion said...

Jesus and Buddha are from different cultures.

IXOUS (Jesus, Ictheus, fish) is from a culture in which one did not name real names - it was strictly taboo. Thus an Isiah is not really "Isiah" at all but a mythological figure in oral folklore based on some outspoken person who could of been named Shem or Ion or Kephas. Also, then the bible states "Jerusalem" in might, in fact, be alluding to Hazor.

Buddha is from a culture where a rich and detailed written recorded history dates back to the 3rd millennium BCE if not the fifth millennium BCE. Gotama, who became Buddha, was the wise sage of the Shakya Clan. The Shakya clan lived along the Rohini River and Gotama was the eldest son of the tribal elder (roughly Raj or king).

Maha-Raj means, roughly, great king or great leader. Indeed, my wife wears, on a chain, a silver punch-mark coin from the very time of Buddha (e.g. 585 BCE).

The first Indian coins were minted over 2600 years ago!

Then, consider that the widow's mite of biblical lore is, in fact a Buddhist coin! One side is the anchor of Seleukos II, a Buddhist convert, and the other side is the wheel of Dharma.

"Menander was the most famous king. He ruled from Taxila and later from Sagala (Sialkot). He rebuilt Taxila (Sirkup) and Pushkalavati. He became Buddhist and remembered in Buddhists records due to his discussions with a great Buddhist philosopher in the book Milinda-panha."

ga-sho-dang-so

kudra said...
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Andrew II said...

any chance of you letting us take a look at that supposed "incredible rack"?

kudra said...
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Andrew said...

whereas with jesus u can say there are historical records he should appear in and doesn't

(apart from the forged interoplation in josephus - as well as the wholesale plagarism from josephus by the gospels)

i don't know of any contempary records referring to shakayamui, its all the usual novelistic fiction later by vested interests

its fiction because its all so unreal it has to be fiction and so slanted towards promoting certain interests as objects for almsgiving

i can understand that, its you on this board who get no financial benefit from promoting such nuttiness that look truely crazy

to Andrew II, unless thats your real name, please don't use it at all

Anonymous said...

so let's discuss other parts of the book, such as the girlfriend (and while it is understood brad is still in the beginning, enamored phase of this relationship, and has found ways to justify the sex-with-a-student situation), there are reasons why a zen teacher having a boyfriend or girlfriend in the zendo is a no-no:

I've sat with a couple of groups where the teachers took on lovers who had originally come to the sangha as zen students.
When a teacher takes a student as a lover it cuts a sangha in two: it divides the sangha into intimates and outsiders.
Anyone who has had a friendship as early as middle school/high school knows what happens when that friend gets a boyfriend/girlfriend. The dynamics of the friendship aren't the same. Your good ol' buddy or galpal has to check in and see if doing things with you is ok with their girlfriend/boyfriend's calendar/schedule before they can make a plan with you. Things always seem to come up at the last minute with the girl/boyfriend and they can't make it.... Some of this is reasonable and makes sense.
There are other aspects having nothing to do with reason, and more to do with power, possession, possessiveness. The girl/boyfriend might not like you and tensions arise now where there were none before between you and your friend. The boyfriend/girlfriend needs assurance and proof that they have the 'all access pass' to your friends time, attention, feelings. Insecurity sucks.

Sidelong intimate glances across the zendo between lovers is disruptive. To catch a glimpse of these kinds of communications/glances between lovers is to be placed in an awkward position-- it is as if you have unwittingly intruded upon something not your business--which it isn't--and certainly not the business of the sangha. While you can be happy for them in their happiness, the point is private glances between lovers does not belong in a sangha at all. Sanghas for the most part are silent places where there is minimum (usually) of talking and glances between people is the form communication takes: from teacher to jikido -- 'have you lost your mind? time to RING THE BELL' --with body language, eye brows, gassho 'I have to cut through the kinhin line now NOW, sorry!'--The varying degrees of awareness of sangha members of and for each other means the awareness of these private-between-us-two-as-a-couple communiques don't go unnoticed and just don't fly, --least of all from the teacher to the lover. (You honestly mean to tell me teacher and lover can't 'just sit' for the time it takes for zazen/kinhin/zazen and talk?!!)
And maybe it is just a harmless cutsie-pie, 'my gonads are thinking of your gonads' kind of thing.
Such stuff erodes sangha right out from under its very own nose by turning the lover/student into the the master (or mistress) of the zen master, making the zen master a private pet, and broadcasting the state of affairs in obvious and not so obvious exhibitionistic territoriality. The sangha is now a group of 'others' whom teacher and lover can't wait to have leave so they can be alone and get those gonads back together again.
Now I'd like to think everyone wishes for themself and for others, certainly for their teacher too, if he/she is not celibate, to have a wonderful sexual life, with a wonderful partner with whom they can have the relationship they both wish to have. But if other sangha members now no longer have contact with the teacher without the lover's constant presence, within earshot, or sitting right next to, maybe even draped all over the teacher--then, for all purposes you don't have a teacher anymore. You have a two headed, four legged four armed four eyed symbiosis.
If the lover has opinions about things, it is highly likely the teacher will be influenced by those opinions oftentimes taking them as his/her own. Lovers are powerful influences in our lives. A teacher with smitten with his kitten is a teacher under the influence. Whether that influence has a positive or negative impact on a sangha can be determined by the degree of the 'us' versus 'them' feeling between the teachercouple and the other members of the sangha.


It is also true that we can't help whom we love. We just love them. We just do. There is no explaining it and no way to explain it. Mystery.

I have come to think that taking on a lover/provoking or flirting with scandal is one way a teacher may be attempting to get out from under what has become a bigger and bigger burden: it's a way to divest oneself of 'sangha,' by pushing them aside to get a little bit of private life. Being imprisoned in a role of authority must at some point create a need for being 'in touch,' and sex is being in touch big time. The sexuality of a teacher does not necessarily negatively impact a sangha. The sexual behavior between a zen teacher and a zen student does not necessarily negatively impact a sangha.
From what I have seen problems between sangha members did not arise directly because of the sexual relations with the teacher, but when the lover (as a by product of the sexual relationship) was treated as a senior student, when in fact, their exposure to and practice of zazen had been brief. It seemed both teacher and student/lover confused the exchange of bodily fluids with dharma transmission. The lovers behaved as if they were now co-leaders of the sangha (in one instance the lover bought a house to live in with the teacher, and a zendo for them both be the head of-- no question she was very much supportive of the sangha,--despite only having sat a a grand total of a couple of months.
Of course sangha members are happy for their teacher's own happiness. Perhaps it is a natural time for the teacher to withdraw for a while, to enjoy some truly private life, to have a sabbatical of sorts and let someone else be in charge of managing the sangha while everything/everyone catches up with the changes. At least for the period of time that both are in the throes of love blindness.
In both of the instances I am thinking of, problems could have been averted had the student, once they became a lover, had continued their practice at a different zendo, studying with a different teacher. (I mean a lover taking up dokusan time with the teacher just makes no sense--people who drive a great distance once a week should have access to their teacher, a lover should simply get themselves a different teacher).
In both instances I am thinking of, the teachers appeared to be oblivious to the imbalances which arose in the sangha. In their behalf I must say I don't think starry eyed lovers are able to see anything other than their lover or their lover's perspective and that is just the nature of these things.
When a teacher is under the influence of 'being in love,' they're--well--under the influence.

Mysterion said...
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kudra said...
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kudra said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...

kudra said...
and mysterion... sorry to have taken a shot at you.

There is nothing to be sorry about. I am here as a target, mostly.

Anonymous said...

a hodge-podge of problems arise in zen centers around seniority and who gets to be in what positions and gets assigned what duties to attend to etc.
and there isn't a smidgen of sex going on--it's just a whole lotta rivalry--very human stuff

many places try to minimize this and rotate duties and give people a term in office for different positions so that different ones interested get a crack and helping the whole organization run.

Not a bad idea.


otherwise as far as taking the position that the lover/student needs to find another zendo/teacher to sit with I say
phooey!!
let the student/lover stay and let the zendo find a new teacher!
cut that old one out and let him/her start a fresh new zendo someplace else--maybe they'd be more careful with the next one and attend to all sangha members' needs as a whole and not just their own.

Andrew said...

just looking at this comment listing its sorta quite interesting, i don't think people actually care about whats true and in fact you are
estranged for any sense of it

human love overrides the divine so to speak

you have to be sorta on the edge of dying anyway to appreciate it

so cocky and assured and pleased with yourselves in your assumed sufficiency of human love

all the misdirection and bu&^%$#@ that surrounds it

zen runs as true to this as any other religion

kudra said...
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Anonymous said...

"There's a bunch of Zen teachers with blogs these days. If there's not much criticism in their comment sections, probably it's because they haven't said much that invites criticism. Brad likes to stir the pot."

I can't think of another teacher besides Brad who allows ALL comments.

Anonymous said...

This blog, even after all that it allows, is still the best around. The overall decency of the commentary is stunning on certain days. A sincere bow to you all.

Anonymous said...

'to Andrew II, unless thats your real name, please don't use it at all.'

Andrew, You do not have the right to ask anyone not to use a name. You are anonymous.

kudra said...
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andrew said...

i ought to be the worlds expert, banned from so many boards its not funny, in fact i keep expecting to see my posts deleted and me banned here

either they ban me outright or some believe in openess and non censorship to a degree so the pack rounds on me

he doing nothing board stopped accepting posts rather than have me continuing to post

the wildest most rabid board i have ever seen is the juilis it ug krishnamurti board

ug is good value for blowing the cobwebs out of your head

but in the end you need a good return on your time posting and reading so i have learnt to exit when the sands of utility have run out

the primary motivation appears to be compeditiveness, i can only assume brad is not competitive in that way which by itself places him head and shoulder above the rest

the only worthwhile teachers i ever found were toni packer and george bowman, ug is good (though he died last year)

they are all sorta getting on a bit, health not so good, in the end i have figured you just outlast the idiots but even that only holds for a while

yeah the idiots perpetuate and any authetic understanding is so rare it scarcely ever occurs

kudra said...
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Andrew said...

anonymous andrew 11

i take it your name is not andrew so you are sorta abusing my name a bit, especially in the context of what you posted

i know your type, u reserve the right to injure everyone as and how you see fit, no doubt anonymous for a reason

i'm not anonymous, am the developer the BCD (biofilm carbohydrate diet) which has a small following and write poetry which no-one reads :o)

if you click on my name it will take you to the BCD index

i must say you seem to be a bit sleazy to me, posting under different nicks on the board and no identification at all

kudra said...
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jundo cohen said...

He certainly explains well his lineage did not 'train' him, and it is my personal opinion that Nishijima Roshi gave transmission to a lineage of marsupials:
immature puny little dharma darlings which, if protected in some marsupial pouch somewhere for the needed period of time would emerge fully formed and formidable.
That 'pouch' for most zennies is an established zen center or a zendo--some place where there are several generations of teachers of all kinds of different personalities who have all learned or rather are in the continual process of learning how to keep a diverse group of people with diverse levels of practice together practicing, and especially establishing their own daily practice at home.
Because the Nishijima Roshi lineage don't gots no home temple, these guys are in the marsupial pouch called 'the world' while they gestate.


You hit the nail on the head. I adore my teacher, Nishijima Roshi, but he is very laissez faire about teaching his puppies.

Okay, that is not quite true, because many of us spent quite a bit of time with him, working on translation projects, observing from his side, just watching him and listening to him. So, that is what the Japanese call minarai, learning by observing. But when it comes to actually teaching some very necessary skills for a member of the clergy (how to perform a wedding or funeral, how to counsel a suicidal Sangha member ... even how to tie our robes) ... he could not care less. Okay, again, that is not quite true ... but his attitude was really "do what you feel is best".

Now that is actually not all a bad thing, because (he believes) Zen practice has to take on new forms and such when it heads West. He's right. However, it is also true that one should best understand very deeply what one is rejecting or changing BEFORE one rejects or changes it! To just say, "it does not matter, do whatever you feel like doing" is a two edged sword.

Fortunately, a lot of us were taken under wing by other teachers who showed us the ropes, whether how to hold the incense or how to conduct a retreat or how to deal with organizing a Sangha to how to counsel Sangha members going through a divorce. Most importantly, for example, one should not just do "whatever one feels like" on ethical issues, like not sleeping with your students. For example, many (not all) of the European Dharma heirs to Nishijima Roshi had spent years, even whole decades, with the Deshimaru Lineage before (for various reasons) splitting from that and finding a home with Nishijima Roshi. Some of us had other teachers who showed us what it means to be a minister and teacher messing with peoples' heads and lives (which is what we are). My other teachers showed me how to chant and how to bow, and now I take or leave what is meaningful to me.

I should know ... because I am GUMMO! :-)

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

Alright dude, we get it, you're Gummo. Big deal.

Anonymous said...

What does incense have to do with Buddhism? Some things are just unnecessary baggage.

jundo cohen said...

What does incense have to do with Buddhism? Some things are just unnecessary baggage.

Absolutely right. However, one should best know something about the baggage that one is casually tossing out the window. If a Zen teacher provides little or no training to his students, he is not much better than one of the fly by night Caribbean medical schools that turn out "doctors" without any particular requirement that they show up for class.

Well, there is more to being a doctor than having a white coat, and more to being a Zen teacher than having a funky robe. I mean, both untrained Zen teachers and untrained surgeons have a license to mess with people's heads and lives. Beware.

Gassho, Jundo

Jinzang said...

Brad's situation is somewhat different than the one described by our anonymous poster. A large zendo has a very different social dynamic than the small group, such as the group Brad runs. A small group of practitioners quickly becomes close friends. There is no inner or outer group among the regulars because the size of the group is not large enough for this distinction to arise. The distinction is between the old timers and new people who come and have a hard time integrating with the old timers.

One more point. It seems to me that a lot of the friction Brad has with other Zen Buddhists is a matter of personality. Brad has a more extroverted personality than the usually quite introverted ZB. It seems to me that ZB in America has become the refuge of a certain sort of personality and partly serves to confirm that personality. No surprise here, other institutions do the same,as the word geek suggests. But I think we need to draw a distinction between morality and personality, because the two are not synonymous. American ZB has quickly become encrusted with certain forms and usages that have little to do with the essence of Zen.

Jinzang said...

i don't know of any contempary records referring to shakayamui

I'll leave the historicity of Jesus to others. The historicity of Buddha lies chiefly on archeological evidence. There are no "contemporary records" because when Buddha lived there was no written script in India. All texts were memorized and passed down orally.

jundo cohen said...

One more point. It seems to me that a lot of the friction Brad has with other Zen Buddhists is a matter of personality. Brad has a more extroverted personality than the usually quite introverted ZB. It seems to me that ZB in America has become the refuge of a certain sort of personality and partly serves to confirm that personality.

Do you really think that is the reason? Hmmm.

Or do you think that no physician likes to see another doctor in town, with a degree from the Trinidad School of Veterinary Medicine & Auto Mechanics, butchering patients.

Of course, it could be just the introverted thing. :-)

Gassho, Jundo

kudra said...
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Mike H said...

Jundo Gummo Cohen:

I wonder if you always know which end of the knife is the sharp bit!

Still, I admire your love of your dharma brother for so freely offerring material for his book. ;-)

(Available in the UK one day)

Anonymous said...

let's talk about robes for a minute here
Something brad doesn't seem to 'get' is that robes are to 'teacher' what zafu and correct sitting posture are to beginner sitter: uncomfortable.
Just as brad instructs woosies to stop complaining about their widdle wegs, brad too needs to 'deal with it' and sweat like the Brad 'No Sweat' Warner he is!
As a teacher his practice now includes other things to have to attend to: posture and robes and little square kneely thingy and fly whisk stick...all of this is practice--advanced practice for advanced practioners
In truth brad has said he never wanted any of this--didn't want to be no stinkin' teacher with no stinkin' robes, didn't want to be no successor
But you know what brad, you said yes and saying yes means there are certain obligations and responsibilities
so man up

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:

Since Brad is now named as Gudo's successor one of the perks is that he gets to make the rules.

There is no rule that says monks must ALWAYS wear their robes.

My teacher rarely wore robes. Most of the time he wore ordinary clothes.

Andrew said...

jinzang

"All texts were memorized and passed down orally"

yeah its called fiction

well i think its goodbye, i know schizophrenia when i see it.

its is actually my opinion that zazen increases the degree of schizophrenia as so well illustrated by what happens to people when they do zen

kudra said...
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Rich said...

"his book is entertaining, informative and timely. i feel that it would especially be appealing to a younger up and coming generation of buddhists."

This may be true but this book is all about me and I don't fit into your box. Overall I give him an A for effort but some of the zen cliche talk got a little boring in the middle. Screwing Lieilani might have been a problem in a big organized sangha but I haven't heard any complaints from his little dinky zen group. Jundo - I'm starting to get you.

Anonymous said...

kudra:

I think respect would be to shoot with both barrels without hesitation.

If it later proves necessary to express regret then also do that without hesitation.

Anonymous said...

Anon: anon
Re: robes

Yes, as successor Brad can make his own rules and he can say 'In my lineage there are no robes or no undergarments under robes or there will only be thongs and pushup bras under robes or whatever change is fitting, but that means being--well--mature, instead of whining and being all knickers in a twist about it
Just make a simple statement
I haven't heard of any other teachers having issues or problems with the robes, which as I understand are extremely expensive, or can be One lineage in France don't wear rokusus, they wear kesas
Brad could ditch the robe and just wear kess over his punk rock tee shirt and say abida abida abida 'that's all folks!'
But that means meeting the 'problem' directly and responding to it so that an answer, a solution emerges fitting to the situation
Because the practice isn't only sitting down and shutting up, it also includes standing up and saying something
If the practice of wearing robes needs to change then change will emerge and brad if he so chooses can initiate this
God, Brad, show some initiative!

Jinzang said...

i know schizophrenia when i see it

This is the second thread where you've called me mentally ill. What's that all about?

Jinzang said...

Or do you think that no physician likes to see another doctor ... butchering patients.

I know you and Brad have a feud going. But comparing him to a butcher because he doesn't wear his robes well is too strong, don't you agree?

Mysterion said...

Jundo sed:

"Some of us had other teachers who showed us what it means to be a minister and teacher messing with peoples' heads and lives (which is what we are)."

And some of us got graduate degrees in psychology because Jung, for example, saw no reason to divorce psychology from whence it came - Buddhism. It's never about messing with peoples' heads and lives, it's about helping other people take responsibility for their own head and take responsibility for their own life.

Dependence is not responsibility, dependence is abdication of responsibility. From the very foundation of Buddhism, there is no abdication of anything.

kudra said...
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Andrew said...

ignore my last comment

kudra said...
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kudra said...
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Mysterion said...

Anony sed:

"problems with the robes, which as I understand are extremely expensive"

Indigo hemp koromo... A Koromo is a robe for a Rinzai Zen monk or nun. Summer robes are made of Chiffon and winter robes are made of a strong hemp twill. They look black but they are, in fact dyed with indego.

These robes are not purchased; each is made by the monk (or nun) who will wear it.

In Soto, a Kesa often costs up to $75,000. I have seen a $150,000 Kesa. There are other differences, but at it's heart, Rinzai is often humble.

Jinzang said...

mr. brad will not be remembered so much for the physical impact that he made on buddhism as how deeply he touched the lives of the people that were entrusted to him.

For better or worse, Brad is not the face of American Soto Zen. He's an author who's written several books that have sold well into a niche market. Gudo Nishijima appointing him as a successor means little or nothing. He teaches about a dozen students, who if they aren't happy could easily go to some other teacher in Los Angeles.

I'm very glad that his books and appearances have inspired a bunch of people to practice Zen. But what happens to these people depends more on the teacher they decide to practice with than on Brad.

I think this concern with whether Brad is correctly transmitting Zen are overblown. Whether Brad is upholding Zen or whether he is distorting Zen, things will sort themselves out and set themselves right. They always do.

jundo cohen said...

I know you and Brad have a feud going. But comparing him to a butcher because he doesn't wear his robes well is too strong, don't you agree?

I don't wear my robes all the time. Heck, sometimes I don't even wear clothes.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/2008/6/sit-a-long-with-jundo-bathtime.html

I don't think I have a 'feud' with Brad. I like him. But I think he tosses out bullshit a lot, then hides behind this 'Dharma Transmission' thingy as if the bullshit were gold. (Because I also 'have Dharma Transmission' out of the very same cracker jack box, I think that I can better call him on some of the bullshit that other folks around here can't cause he hides behind that). Dharma Transmission and Robes, like a paper diploma and a white coat, does not mean the guy can actually perform a heart transplant.

Mr. Mysterion said ...

Buddhism. It's never about messing with peoples' heads and lives,

Yes, but "messing with people's heads" is just the reality of being a Zen teacher. Even if you say (correctly) that its not about "dependence", folks end up turning to your books and your blog and your your every bull crap babble and looking to you for guidance. It is a position of responsibility that needs to be handled with care.

Gassho, Jundo

PS- I respect Brad too for not banning me ... yet.

kudra said...
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PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Gummo* said:

"...end up turning to your books and your blog and your your..."

Would your YOUR be like the inner-self essence of reality in its enlightenment-est highest consciousness or what? If Gummo will give me dharma transmission, I'll jump over to his team.

* - Jundo made the decision to be addressed as this, not me ;-)

kudra said...
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PhilBob-SquareHead said...

"I think this concern with whether Brad is correctly transmitting Zen are overblown. Whether Brad is upholding Zen or whether he is distorting Zen, things will sort themselves out and set themselves right. They always do."

That's the wisest thing that I've ever read, that Jinzang wrote.

Anonymous said...

Jundo, I don't think Brad will ban you for calling him a cowardly butcher. He gets called worse than that here pretty regularly.

Mysterion said...

I don't think Brad "makes the rules." The guidelines Brad currently follows are the precepts (as he perceives them to be) and Dogen's Tradition.

Brad's rules for Zazen are: "Sit Down and Shut Up." I love it!

Oh, he will assist you with your posture but he will not tell you that you must see a sunset over Fujiyama during or before your second Satori or "you are almost there." The good news is that Brad recognized and appreciates an effective Dharma Talk. He may not often deliver one, but that is his choice, not ours.

One of my favorite Zen Comics is the one with the sign: "Master speaks. Tonight at 7 p.m." in the first cell. In the second cell, the master arrives at the front of the hall & sits down on the mat. In the third cell, the master is silent. In the forth and final cell, the master gets up and departs.

jundo cohen said...
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jundo cohen said...
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jundo cohen said...

i am just a student for christ sake. let me indulge myself in a little hero worship. I've just spent 20 years in the other tradition. I'm studying zen now because of Brad and his books.

Hi Kudra,

Stick with the practice, that is the heart of the matter, and nobody is saying no. I would not waste my time here if I thought otherwise. The sitting is worth the whole price of admission, and all you need to rely upon!

I noticed in a post you made elsewhere that you actually ARE a medical doctor. Well, just because you see one doctor accuse another doctor of misdiagnosis, or one surgeon who commits malpractice in the operating theatre, does not mean the whole medical profession is to be condemned. Does it? Some good, caring and competent doctors out there, like you I am sure.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - Sit Down & Shut Up is a great book.

kudra said...

to jundo;

thanks, you seem gentle and wise.

the POOP said...

I found it... Dharma Bummers - in TIME Magazine, 2002.

"Beware of men in robes. Fallen spiritual figures are in painfully plentiful supply these days, and as a sprawling new history of the San Francisco Zen Center shows, the list of faiths bedeviled by them very definitely includes Zen Buddhism in particular, the unique American variety of it that sprang into being in the '60s and '70s."

"Driving a white BMW and consorting with the likes of Jerry Brown and Linda Rondstadt, Baker grew increasingly out of touch with the center's early, earthy spirit, and ever more adept at concealing or justifying his behavior with an arsenal of Zen-style obfuscations and semantic tricks."

jundo cohen said...
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jundo cohen said...
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jundo cohen said...

Since the time of Baker Roshi, most Sangha I am familiar with (not ours apparently) have instituted various checks and ethical guidelines and mechanisms to prevent such things. The situation at San Francisco Zen Center in the 70's was unusual, due largely to the meglamaniacal personality of Baker Roshi (beware of "the rules don't apply to me" in a Zen teacher or any minister). The SFZC scandal was extreme (and even then didn't really involve physical violence, selling drugs stashed in the Zafus, seducing minors or anything like that). You should visit San Francisco Zen Center now to see what a treasure they have turned it into over the subsequent 30 years.

Gassho, Jundo

Rich said...

A Virtual Anonymous Sangha

Justin said...

There are many little odd things in the book: such as brad not wanting to dress in robes at the Great Sky sesshin, until someone asked him to dress as the other teachers were dressed (why he couldn't just see for himself what was expected and follow suit without causing a problem, and certainly without whining about it--)

Rejection is not freedom. Brad's uncomfortable relationship with robes speaks of his attachment to robes, to individualism, to his own culture and his own preferences.

A lot of Westerners find wearing robes a bit 'weird'. It challenges their sense of identity. It takes them out of their comfort zone. I didn't like it either. Someone gave me their kimono to wear and I wore it even though it didn't fit with my sense of self. The robes help to calm down our egos. We do it whether we like it or not we do it - just like zazen.

PA said...

I think to be honest wearing a robe doesn't calm down my ego - if I were Japanese then maybe, but in the West it will always be seen as something a little exotic and cool and something a Jedi wears. That's the trouble with Zen - it's way too cool. For the Japanese, Zen isn't cool at all and wearing a robe isn't cool. And saying gassho to everyone isn't cool. But in the West it is, so there's a fair amount of ego in all the formailites of Zen. So a tendancy to steer clear, sounds kinda wise to me. I tend to.
Gashho m(..)m ;-)

Justin said...

so there's a fair amount of ego in all the formailites of Zen.

There can be. But don't you see the ego also in rejecting it?

Whatever form the practice takes, the main point is to just do it and pay attention to any feelings of clinging or rejection without being a blind slave to them.

In the context of a sesshin where evereone is wearing robes, for me they calm the ego down.

Anonymous said...

A lot of westerners get a hard-on for things Japanese.
Japanese women, Japanese furniture, Japanese movies, Japanese robes, Japanese food..

And, if you're into zen, you can have all this and still pretend that you are somehow less attached to form than other people. It's sweet!

Justin said...

A lot of westerners in Zen get a hard-on for things Western and for rejecting things Japanese because they think that that's what non-attachment means.

And, if you're into zen, you can have all this and still pretend that you are somehow less attached to form than other people. It's sweet!

The point is not so much what you do but your motivations for doing it and your attitude while you do it.

Justin said...

Two Zen monks were travelling. They came to a ford of a stream that was running high, and the current was strong and frightening looking.

An attractive young lady was standing at the ford, looking nervous. She clearly was afraid to cross, but had an important reason to go.

Without a word, the older of the two monks lifted her in his arms and waded across the stream, and placed her safely on the far bank.

The younger monk looked shocked at this action, but kept his silence for quite some number of miles as they continued their journey.

Finally, he blurted out “You know that it is against the rules of our order to have any contact with women. How could you do that?”.

The older monk replied “I put her down when I reached the other side of the river. You, on the other hand, have been carrying her this whole way.”

PA said...

The point is not so much what you do but your motivations for doing it and your attitude while you do it

I think that's it. But people on the outside will just see robes and gasshos and think Zen is something weird and mysterious. Which is why I like the idea of some Zen people just doing it the no-robe way :-) Whether they're attached or not, I dunno, but it serves to show Zen in a more normal light.

NellaLou said...

To robe or not to robe for the average practitioner only seems to be a big deal in the west. Where Buddhism has been established for a long time robes are for monastics, teachers and laypeople who perform specific functions at temples. Not unlike Christian practices.

If someone wears their robes while playing bass what's the big deal about wearing them while teaching? Maybe there's some notion about deconstructing the symbolism of "sacredness" or "authority" or whatever but its a bit frivolous and affected.

Justin said...

Yeah I agree with that. I'm sure some people are put off by the robes and other ceremonial aspects. On the other hand, ceremony serves purposes that jeans and t-shirts can't. I think there's a place for both.

Anonymous said...

justin has yet to put her down

alan said...

Kudra,

I have also started sitting zazen mostly because of reading Brads stuff. I live close enough to Santa Monica to go sit with my "zen buddy". He is a lot less edgey in person than the persona that comes from his books.

My experience is so far to take what I can use from Brad, ignore or misunderstand the rest and try to keep seeing him as a middle aged guy who likes stupid monster movies.

Judging from my reaction to his latest book, I still have many illusions about Brad. I'll keep trying to identify them and continue to try and get from him what I can use. The book over all left me sad, I'm pretty sure that if Zen Dipped in.... had been his first book, I would have moved on.

And I feel that it would have been my loss.

And yes, some of the statements in the book concerning the women in his life made me wince, but I'm not writing zen books, which is a good thing.

Finally, I feel safe in borrowing some of Brads advice from his last book. I believe that its OK to think of your teacher as somehow special. I just try and realize that its only another thought and move on.

Anonymous said...

In the days of the Buddha, the robes
were sewn together from scraps found
at the local garbage dump.

In the days of the hardcore Chinese,
the robes were what ordinary people
wore in that time and place.

Nowadays, the fetishizing of uniforms
is embarrassingly dorky and/or
scarily cultish.

Far saner it is... to wear everyday
clothes that blend in than to wear
expensive clothes that make one
stand out.

I'd rather sit and sweat in a friggin rubber
Godzilla suit than in pretentious robes
that add extra layers of artifice to
the ordinariness of what is.

Why wear robes unless you wanna
look like Roman Catholic priests
--a bunch of pious child molesters?

And whether it's 'gassho' or 'namaste'
or 'om' or whatever other new-age
latin mumbo jumbo you wanna spout,
it all makes me want to vomit,
Sid-Vicious-style.

BTW, hats off to Brad for de-mythologizing
the "Zen Master" in Western culture! He's
just as fucked up as the rest of us and
doesn't pretend to be otherwise.

Rich said...

This thread has revealed so many good comments. Thanks to all.

Culturally robes just never made it big in America. I think capes were in, during the 18th and 19th centuries. My Jalabba robe helped me survive one winter. So I like to wear a robe even if its just a bathrobe. Dogen made a big deal about robes (kasaya) and described how to make it and care for it. He had a lot of reverence for the robe and what it represented. Also the patriarchs passed on their robe and bowl to their successors up to Huineng. The robe is very functional and symbolizes where your practice came from so I accept the robe.

Mysterion mentioned something a ways back about accepting responsibility and I try to accept responsibility but I didn't start the fire -)

Anonymous said...

Rich - What is that in your image? I can't quite make it out, even when I make it bigger.

Rich said...

That's a Gecko, like the one on TV but he doesn't speak English yet but he does drive a car.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rich! Now that you've told me, I can see that's what it is. I love it.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Brad's book quite a bit. It was candid and showed he has balls.

I don't however consider from his description that Leilani was really his student. Also Brad has said a number of times that the people he sits with are just "sitting buddies", therefore he didn't really break any rules.

With regards to the infidelity, well... his wife started that.

kudra said...
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Anonymous said...

29 posts and counting. Perhaps Kudra should give some time to her attachment issues rather than this blog.

kudra said...

anonymous:

ok

Mysterion said...

A nony mouse said...
"29 posts and counting"

It's not the posts,

It's the intervals

between posts.

Andrew said...

men seeking women

women seeking men

is it a religion?

its called zen

Anonymous said...

its called life

bob said...

kudra, keep writing..

Anonymous said...

my understanding of brad wearing his robes when playing bass for the event commemorating the slain Kent State students (made famous by CSNY song Four Dead in Oh Hi Oh), was in fact, acknowledging this to be a ceremony in their memory
but that's just my take on it

kudra said...
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bob said...

kudra, quit writing..

miles davis said...

ah yes, the silence between the notes that makes it all possible....

Anonymous said...

during the past year brad was attending funerals, having steamy affairs, losing jobs, and attending retreats all over the place, and what all (wink wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean, know what I mean) he was not sitting with his zen buddies.
zen buddies kept sitting weekly regardless of brad being in or out of town
everything functioned smoothly without brad
in fact, brad was completely unnecessary to its functioning
now that's sangha for you

Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but help needed...

I read Brad's first book a few years ago
and started sitting half-lotus 30 minutes
per day. Recently, I attempted full-lotus,
and after just 10 to 30 seconds, I
felt a pop and had the sinking feeling that
I had just blown out my knee. I am currently
in the process of getting X-rays and MRIs
for what an orthopedic surgeon predicts is
probably a torn meniscus that will require
arthroscopic surgery.

I am unable to run or sit without crushing
pain, but I can still hobble without crutches.

What also sucks is that when I initially began
sitting, I had to force myself to do it
everyday, and now that I actually want
to sit everyday, I can't. It looks like I'll
have to give up my attachment to zazen.

Anyhow, if there are any knowledgeable
doctors or experienced patients out there,
any advice would be greatly appreciated.
(The orthopedist I'm consulting did not know
what the lotus position was.)

Thanks in advance,
Wounded-Knee-Idiot

kudra said...

i'm a physician and my opinion is that you should just kill yourself. then your knee will stop hurting.

kudra said...

at least we won't have to listen to your incessant whining anymore.

zen master roshi sensei said...

"i'm a physician and my opinion is that you should just kill yourself. then your knee will stop hurting."

...and she was enlightened!!!

kudra said...
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Andrew said...

male postureres

female predators

its all pretense

governed by fundamnetal dynamics

Justin said...

What also sucks is that when I initially began sitting, I had to force myself to do it everyday, and now that I actually want to sit everyday, I can't. It looks like I'll have to give up my attachment to zazen.

Just sit on a chair. I've been sitting in full lotus for 7 years (with breaks). It's good but there's nothing magical about it.

Andrew said...

Wounded-Knee-Idiot

well you are on a long and painful learning curve

a knee popping like that is indicative of systemic autoimmunity or other issues with cartilage being one casualty

nothing destroys the enjoyment of life like joint problems

the ac joint in my shoulder went and if i am careful and take a combination of vitamin d and use a uvb lamp i built it is ok

low dose msm aka the compendium http://tinyurl.com/dloa9n
also helps, but you need not to have any mercury amalgam fillings to do that

america is a waste land of autoimmunity, thyroid and biofilm health issues

zazen is also good for thrombosis, mild stroking in the watershed capillaries of the brain explains a lot of what happens in zen

Buddhist geek said...

Brad, what do you think of self-enquiry?

Ramana Maharishi proposed that the simplest and direct way of quietening the mind is to ask

"what is it that is seeing?"

When thinking, you ask;

"what is it that is thinking?"

Thinking revolves around an I, so what is that "I"?

I believe that self enquiry AND zazen is important for realizing ones true nature.

Anonymous said...

Justin said...
"Just sit on a chair. I've been sitting in full lotus for 7 years (with breaks). It's good but there's nothing magical about it."


If I remember correctly, both Brad and Gudo
say that if you're not doing at least half-lotus,
then it's not really zazen (something about
proper bodily balance and tension).

kudra said...
"i'm a physician and my opinion is that you should just kill yourself. then your knee will stop hurting.

at least we won't have to listen to your incessant whining anymore."


Cool.
I was leaning towards suicide anyway.
Besides, it's a lot more affordable than surgery.

Andrew said...
"well you are on a long and painful learning curve"


Hmm, I think I'll just avoid the pain
and go straight for the suicide. Thanks.

No more whining,
Wounded-Knee-Idiot

Andrew said...

buhddist geek

the i is also thinking and not thinking is also thinking

your brain is not up to this stuff

circulation and thyroid issues?

enjoy medical hell

Andrew said...

wounded knee idiot

i don't wish you ill, but if i did, i wouldn't have to do anything would i?

Justin said...

If I remember correctly, both Brad and Gudo say that if you're not doing at least half-lotus, then it's not really zazen (something about
proper bodily balance and tension).


It isn't Brad or Gudo answering your question though - it's me. Other Buddhist teachers and practitioners will give different answers and I suggest that it's not good to limit yourself to one opinion. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I am saying that in my experience it makes little or no difference whether you sit in a chair or in lotus. I have some back problems (from sitting in lotus) and while this is being treated I'm mostly sitting on a chair. What is most important is your mind. Buddha himself taught four postures for practice: sitting, standing, walking and lying down. When sitting we should be balanced and upright so that we can comfortably stay still for a long time without geting drowsy. Kinhin is not a stretch break between zazens. Kinhin is walking-zazen. Soto Zennists can sometimes get a bit fixated on just one way of practicing.

Andrew said...

justin

kinhin is to help prevent thrombosis from the lack of circulation sitting, not always successfully i might add

Justin said...

I believe that self enquiry AND zazen is important for realizing ones true nature.

Zazen is self-enquiry. We pay attention to everything that arises.

To study the Way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe.
To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others.
Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.

- Dogen

PA said...

I've been sitting in full lotus for 7 years (with breaks)

If I ever used 'lol' I'd use it now :-) I thought for a moment we had Bodhidarma on this little forum.

Justin said...

kinhin is to help prevent thrombosis from the lack of circulation sitting, not always successfully i might add

It's isn't just that. Paying attention isn't supposed to be limited to when we're sitting.

Kinhin (経行; Japanese: kinhin or kyōgyō, Chinese: jingxing), in Zen Buddhism, is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen..Kinhin (経行) is formed from the character 経 (meaning classical works, or religious teachings) and 行 (meaning "walk"). Therefore 経行 if taken literally meanings "religious teachings walk" or better translated would be meditative walk, or walking meditation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinhin

One should cultivate an unbounded mind, above and below and across, without obstruction, without enmity, without rivalry.
Standing, or going, or seated, or lying down, as long as one is free from drowsiness, one should practice this mindfulness.
This, they say, is the holy state here.
(The Buddha, Sutta Nipata)


Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.
(The Buddha, Sutta Nipata )


So one night Nyojo, his teacher, said, “Do you know the practice of slow walking?” And Dogen said, “No, please show me.” And Nyojo goes into a very deep appreciation, and he said, “You know, very few people these days know this practice. This is a very unusual practice, and I may be the only one in this whole area of China that really remembers how to do it.” And Dogen talks about how Nyojo walked up and down in the room and showed him kinhin, and showed him how to do it...So this is a transmitted teaching, a kind of yoga.
www.vimalasangha.org/documents/Walking1.doc

Andrew said...

the koreans used to use the lying down posture, its really the only useful one

the trouble with sitting is too much of the brain goes to maintaining the posture

if u ever want to get enlightened for want of a better word, you need all the brain function you can get to let everything go

of course zen teachers and thier clones have no idea what i am talking about because they only pretend to enlightenmnent, the real thing has never occured to them so they waste their lives talking rubbish and sitting

justin if you just repeat stuff and don't research or read outside the blather zen produces you are going to remain intellectually curtailed

dogens sophistication and views changed througout his life and if you look with open eyes you will see he is a poet

the best page of dogen i have come across

http://tinyurl.com/acn5a8

dogen is impossible to understand from the standpoint of zen

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
proulx michel said...

Justin said...

Other Buddhist teachers and practitioners will give different answers and I suggest that it's not good to limit yourself to one opinion. I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I am saying that in my experience it makes little or no difference whether you sit in a chair or in lotus.

Having begun the practice in middle age, and having always been rather stiff, even when young, I did develop knee problems at one point, and when I asked for help I was answered by the deshimarist "godo" that my knees were my ego!
That's where I started looking for intelligent advice, which I have offered to all in my pages about "growing a lotus"
(http://zenmontpellier.site.voila.fr/eng/lotus/lotus_intro.html)
When my knees hurt too much, and it has happened recently, I will rather sit burmese, and if that should prove impossible, on a chair.
Granted, what's important is to maintain an erect spine. But my experience is that, on a chair or stool, one lacks the stability afforded by sitting on the floor. When both your knees and your arse are well rooted in the ground and your head is well tied up to the sky, then you can enjoy the practice. Chair or stool do not give the lateral and forward/backward balance the other postures allow. I suppose if one does'nt have the choice, they can be resorted to. But it is best to train for more flexibility first, ---it is no luxury, I believe--- and then, progressively, without ever forcing the knees, to sit on the floor.

Justin said...

justin if you just repeat stuff and don't research or read outside the blather zen produces you are going to remain intellectually curtailed

Yes. That's my point

dogens sophistication and views changed througout his life and if you look with open eyes you will see he is a poet...
dogen is impossible to understand from the standpoint of zen


Yes, he's a poet. His poetry goes beyond conventional thinking.

Justin said...

proulx michel,

I practice in the Deshimaru lineage and they usually put a similar emphasis on a very specific posture. But if people really can't sit 'properly' they are allowed to sit on a chair (usually somewhere a bit out of the way).

Perhaps because of a posture problem I developed a pain in my back. I sat through it, moving as little as possible, but during a 9 day sesshin it grew until it was like someone twisting a knife in my back. Most of the time my entire conciousness was filled with this pain and trying to relieve it. This wasn't good practice for me - not just because it was painful but because it took me deeply into samsara. I should have used a chair. Since then I corrected my posture which has helped somewhat and I'm getting physiotherapy which has yet to bear fruit.

I never had any flexibility problems. I've been able to sit lotus since I was a child.

Andrew said...

dogens poetry at its best is like other poets who can see

wang wei and other chinese poets, emily dickenson, philip larkin etc

zen was a wrong turning for dogen, he would have been better to follow his nautral inclination rather than end up in a beautful but deadly to his health mountain monastry

you lot balk at reading a poem precisely because it strains your brain in the direction that would progress you

Justin said...

Poetry rocks!

Andrew said...

then try writing some, better training than 100 years of sitting

Justin said...

I was listening to a podcast by Genjo Marinello (an American Rinzai Abbot). He was discussing a koan 'It will be gone with the other' which describes the response to a metaphysical question from a student. Genjo then read a haiku by the late Rinzai teacher and poet Soen Roshi:

Clearness
Sky and water reflecting
My heart

When I heard this I had a sort of awakening experience. Someone going by the name of 'Genjo' later left an approving comment on my blog (http://ordinary-extraordinary.blogspot.com/2007/03/it-will-be-gone-with-other.html).

I recently started writing poetry again. Here is one of mine:

Choir voices soar
High into the vaulted ceiling
Even hymns and scripture readings
Cannot obstruct God

andrew said...

choir voices soar

high into the vaulted celing

unhinging it

Rich said...

Thank you Justin, Proulx, Andrew etc.

I like poetry that directly expresses something with few words.

Someone said:
Brad, what do you think of self-enquiry?
Ramana Maharishi proposed that the simplest and direct way of quietening the mind is to ask

"what is it that is seeing?"

I think this ends up at the same place as thinking of not thinking. But unless you experience this, you might think it is different. In either case sitting answers this question.

Mark said...

Bought the book from Amazon, it arrived yesterday, the nice lady from the post office literally running after me after we both decided the package wasn't there -- she discovered it at the bottom of the bag after I left my apartment's mail room.

Read it in 2 long sittings yesterday.

Pretty good, as before. It definitely covers more about Brad's personal life than his "zen life", as stupid as that sounds, since they're ultimately one and the same.

It's... inherently weird seeing a "religious leader" talk frankly about personal loss and things that other people would consider to be personal failings, such as his relationship troubles. That was the point of the book, though, so it works.

Of course, that more realistic viewpoint is why I continue to read Brad's books, and why I continue to be interested in Zen, so... yeah.


On a lighter note, ya know, some of the comments on this article have gotten pretty darned weird. :)

Mysterion said...

A nony mouse said...
"Recently, I attempted full-lotus... I am unable to run or sit without... pain..."
Wounded-Knee-Idiot

Yoga 101

Yoga 101a

Yoga 101b

Yogie Bear

Lauren said...

Wow! Leave for a week and look what needs to be read. After a quick scan...

Part of the Buddhist Thesis seems to be (as I see it)...Teacher and tradition are empty. They have no bearing on the here and now. Maybe they help you see it. Maybe you concentrate too much on how to hold incense or drape a robe and miss out entirely on "it."

Laissez-faire is a radical (and sensible) approach. Don't pollute the basic message with alot of pomp and circumstance.

I'm struggling with this issue myself these days. To do jukai or not. This blog comment string is hitting that nail right on the head. What does it mean, all this ceremony and special clothes?

Shak- informs me I already have Buddha Nature. A new name, and a shaved head are just a new name and a shaved head. They are not practice that helps me realize Buddha Nature.

While all that may have social significance, which is important. It has nothing to do with "the big message".... which grossly summarized is "you've got it, go realize it, start with zazen."

Mark said...

I wouldn't worry too much about sitting in lotus. The entire point of that position is to make sure you are well balanced. You can do the same thing on a chair -- there's just more of a worry about slouching or leaning back. Just make sure your posture is good (I'd sit forward, on the edge of the chair) and don't sweat the small stuff.

Of course, once your knee heals, I'd definitely consider switching back to some form of Lotus when you can. Sticking to lotus when it's obviously going to complicate a very real medical problem definitely falls into one of the cases where following the precepts directly doesn't make any sense.

If it turns out to be a chronic thing, maybe some yoga stretching exercises to get your knee limber enough again to handle it might be an option, but I wouldn't worry about that until I heard back from the doctors.

Justin said...

Lauren,

It's applied psychology. You can't stop your practice having some form or other. Both traditional and modern culture can be seen as 'baggage', but any baggage is really mental.

Formal practices force people to pay attention and help produce an atmosphere of stillness. Yes I think spiritual materialism can sometimes be a problem, but this is just as much a problem for those who reject tradition.

Personally I found it helpful to take Jukai even if ultimately nothing changed. It was only then that I became able to practice every day.

Formal ceremonies also fulfil social/cultural functions that are hard to replicate with and laissez-faire.

A memorial ceremony for someone who has died for example with a few mumbled words in jeans and t-shirts and a plastic buddha on a TV just would have the right dignity for example.

proulx michel said...

Mark said
If it turns out to be a chronic thing, maybe some yoga stretching exercises to get your knee limber enough again to handle it might be an option, but I wouldn't worry about that until I heard back from the doctors.

I'm sorry to repeat it, but it's not the knee that needs to be limber, but the hip!
Beware. That kind of thinking is likely to hurt the knee!

Jinzang said...

Lotus is the best posture to sit in, because it's the most stable. If you can't manage lotus, sit however you can. Don't try to sit through pain. That's stupid. Pain is your body trying to tell you, "Stop it!" so listen to it. Hope your back problem are better soon, Justin.

Lauren said...

Justin,

Thanks for the perspective.

I drop not's all the time, myself. I hope I am understanding this correctly.
"...and a plastic buddha on a TV just would *not* have the right dignity for example."

Cheers,
-L

Justin said...

Yes sorry I dropped a not!

Sebastian said...

Reading this right now. Yeah I put down Thich's Lotus Sutra translate to start your book. Love it so far, thanks being normal and writing about it.
Just kidding about the PC-primate thing. jeez!

Buddhist geek said...

To everyone,

You don't need to sit in weird postures to get the benefit of zen. In fact, thinking that your posture will bring ANY benefit, will be like mistaking the finger for the moon.

What do I mean?

Well, sitting is just sitting. Its not to arive anywhere, not to attain a special state, but to see what is your natural state. Its hard to maintain your natural state when your mind is all funky, so when your mind is funky, ask yourself "what is thinking?"

VERY QUICKLY, THOUGHTS SUBSIDE AND YOU BEGIN TO ABIDE THE NATURAL STATE. At first you don't notice, but with time, you will notice your natural state.

Buddhist geek said...

Justin, You have said zazen is self enquiry, but people have done zazen for decades without really having a clear realization of what they really really are. Dogen talked highly about awakening.

You need to have a visceral desire to know oneself. Its not a thought. It begins as one, but quickly becomes a subtle awareness of one seeing all that is. This is a kind of catalyst for awakening.

Just meditate on THAT which sees.

Justin said...

Justin, You have said zazen is self enquiry, but people have done zazen for decades without really having a clear realization of what they really really are.

This is progress. They start off 'knowing what they are' and the more delusions they see through the less they think they know.

Just meditate on THAT which sees.

The more I meditate he more I see there isn't a THAT which meditates as once I thought. Rather there is just suchness, emptiness, phenomena appearing and disappearing, the whole universe.

andrew said...

"Just meditate on THAT which sees."

this is the sort of thing that has convinced me that zazen induces mild stroking in the fine capillaries in the brain

i'm not joking

dogen was burdened by the rubbishy zen schema most of his life and did not become truely 'enlightened' until he was dying when he started to write poems like basho

explains a lot about how derailed zen is

the way dogen is presented in zen is a trap that the caught and clipped wing decoy birds called zen masters use to ensnare thier flock of the lame

"suchness, emptiness, phemonena" is just another load of cliched crap

there is another level lf understanding you have yet to be introduced to, if you work at it for 10 years you may get it, but you can't make progress until you release yourself form your existing conceptual investments

is it so hard to ditch kitschy junk?

it seems to be

jamal said...

"zazen induces mild stroking in the fine capillaries in the brain"

andrew, you sure got a poet's imagination.. wine might do that shit but not zazen.

Buddhist geek said...

"This is progress. They start off 'knowing what they are' and the more delusions they see through the less they think they know."

I see what you did there, you changed my word from realizing to "knowing" which is an intellectual description.



"Just meditate on THAT which sees.

The more I meditate he more I see there isn't a THAT which meditates as once I thought. Rather there is just suchness, emptiness, phenomena appearing and disappearing, the whole universe."

The more I mediatate, the more "I" seee....

What is that "I"?
What is it that is seeing?

Its just an experience now. Emptiness and all that stuff has become a memory. What is that which is reading these words NOW?

andrew said...

jamal you are ignorant of the science

in fact wine tends to be positively associated with a reduced probability thrombosis and being seated aka airline syndrome is associated with thrombosis

i actually knew someone who was killed by a stroke quite young from excessive sitting

you seem to share the american hatred of potery that is impressed by your education system, implying that a poetic imagination is false

in fact a poetic imagination is true and thats what you don't like about it

i don't love american culture, kitschy, aggressive, ignorant and boorish

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

buddist geek, what does the word "clone" mean?

why be one?

Justin said...

The more I mediatate, the more "I" seee....

What is that "I"?


Language

What is it that is seeing?

Your question is meaningless.

Its just an experience now. Emptiness and all that stuff has become a memory. What is that which is reading these words NOW?

Can't say.

Justin said...

"suchness, emptiness, phemonena" is just another load of cliched crap

Is this the creative writing class?

I hope there is 'another level lf understanding [I] have yet to be introduced to'.

Andrew said...

justin

look if you can't see what you wrote is a cliche and not get uptight about it..............

personally i welcome sensible criticsm, the main problem is the lack thereof, though criticism itself is in not short supply

humility is endlessly preached in the religious circuits and is the quality most in short supply

philip larkin who is a modern english poet would be a good introduction for you to the 'higher' level

start to untwist the zen winding you are bound up in

Justin said...

Thanks for the tip

Buddhist geek said...

Andrew, do you have any scientific proofs about what you are saying?

Only the part about stroking. I believe that zazen can lead one to see the truth, but the excessive sitting in the pretzle pose can be quite restrictive to the body.

The burmese pose is OK, me thinks, its not too hard on the limbs. You also need to have plenty of exercise too. At least 30-1hr a day.

Your friend probably over did his sitting. Thats unfortunate.

I aim for about 45 mins sitting aday, but 30 mins is what I achieve normally. The rest of the day is spent doing zazen in motion.

Not mindfullness, mind you. Mindfulness is superficial and an intellectual exercise. Not free, just restrictive.

andrew said...

buddhist geek

you and zen and zazen deserve each other

and the blog

do i deserve you?

yes if i keep reading and posting

Andrew said...

well the positive side is, if i ever had any doubts about rocks between the ears of zennists, i have no doubts now

Andrew said...

buddhist geek

u ask for scientific proof of thrombosis

what i have seen with people who make absolutely no progress like you is they don't do an ounce of work themsevles but have no compunction in battening onto others to do the work for them, in a word so slack they make a teatowel look like it has spine

can't u use google?

u can't search thrombosis and air travel for instance which while not zazen is situation of lower leg thrombosis induced by being immobile for a while?

i know u won't reply to this because incorrigable ratbags don't like being pulled up on it

you believe that zazen will lead you to the truth

well the truth is as i have written above

exactly where you don't want to be lead

get it

NO

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST

Andrew said...

zazen entrains existing patterns

you can sit for 1000 years

1000 years of entrainment in the wrong direction

even a year seems to do irreversible damage

Andrew said...

mediation is a mechanical analogue of self reflection

self relection however has no context and is not mechanical

Buddhist geek said...

What drives you Andrew?

Is it boredom?

Andrew said...

what u will never grasp

u are a feral in the lap of infinity

seen a few like you over the years

like a pearl that never sees the sea

in actual fact i am just working out stuff, have sorted out quite a bit so far, especially dogen and zen

renfield said...

I am so happy to see that Brad has now made me world famous by writing about staying at my house and doing my jukai ceremony! He even called me a sword master and a tought guy! Woot! Soon I will be rich and take over the world!
Or not.
Re. the ceremony, I asked (coerced) Brad into doing it, knowing that the only way to 'get myself serious' about zen was to do the ceremony. It was cool doing it at Tokei-in, but we could have done it in my spare bedroom when he was staying with me.
The ceremonies, the robes, the candles, it's all neat and keen and serves some (SOME) purpose, because organizing and motivating human beings takes effort.
But it has nothing (NOTHING) to do with zazen.
What is impressive about Brad? his punk rock t-shirts worn under his robes? His foul language? His ability to bed two hotties in a single book?
Or the fact that despite all of it; dead family members, crumbling home life, insecurity, instability, general reality in chaos, despite all of it, he sits twice a day, every day.
Which is really no. big. deal.

Except I can't do it. I try, I make excuses, hell I am even a genuine jukai'd MONK, and yet I can't sit twice a day every day for more than a week without some excuse to stop (kid, work, sleepy, pregnant wife, hungry, internet...)

Nishijima-sensei has a bunch of heirs and he chose Brad to carry on his message. Why? Because he is clueless? Senile? Politically savvy? Or because he doesn't really care so much about any of the other stuff (ceremonies, robes, candles, temples) and thinks just sitting is the most important thing?

Brad basically seems to be saying "I am human. I am not the solution to your problems. Get over it. You are the solution to your problems. Sit more and you will come to realize that."
Every problem everyone has with him (and anyone else) comes from the fact that everyone takes Brad SO seriously, far more seriously than he takes himself, and what is expected of Brad is not what Brad delivers...him teaching that message alone is enough.

The rest of it is all fluff and fun, but really, I have enough trouble putting my ass on the cushion, so anyone who spends any amount of time bothering with the rest of it, well if you are not sitting twice a day every day then less-chat-more-cushion, and if you ARE sitting twice a day every day then don't bother me with all the other crap and just keep reminding me to keep my back straight and stop fidgeting and worrying about when the damn bell is going to ring.

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