Monday, February 16, 2009

MORE SNAPPY ANSWERS


For those of you up North on the West coast, this Friday I will be at:

An Lac Mission (Ventura Buddhist Temple)
901 S. Saticoy Ave. Ventura, CA 93004
Phone numbers: 805-659-9751 or 805-758-2028

Talk, Zazen, Book Signing:
Date & Time of event: Friday, February 20, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Plus I put 2 new pages up on my Old Dinosaur Books webpage. The link is to your left. The new ones are "Animal Ghosts" and "More Japanese Dinosaur Oddities."

Now some more of the Q & A:

The problem I'm having is this- I can't seem to find the 3 points of balance: I can get into half lotus position, but my spine feels like it's bowing way out to one side when I have both knees down. I can sit in the "Burmese" style, but it still takes me a good 10 minutes to find a position where I feel balanced and my spine is straight. If I'm correct, you also tend to discourage this posture. (?) I can't reach a full lotus position for more than a few seconds without ripping some tendons in my feet.... though I keep stretching! The closest I've come seems is quarter lotus, with one foot sort of tucked in the fold of the opposite leg below the thigh.

My question is this- What is most important until I can get to full lotus.... both knees down with spine curved? spine straight with one knee down and the other hovering slightly off the ground? Burmese? Quarter lotus? Any ideas?


Every so often I find someone on the internet telling the world that Brad Warner says, “Anyone who can’t get into the full lotus posture the very first time they do zazen ought to just give up the practice entirely and furthermore we should send all such people to forced labor camps in Siberia!”

I know my writing style is often difficult to comprehend and I have been working on this for a while. But honest to God I know I was never anywhere close to as much of a posture Nazi as some people seem to believe.

However, I have said, and I still say today that proper posture is crucial to zazen practice. This is because so many folks in the meditation game like to depict posture as a purely arbitrary matter. I’ve been to meditation centers where people are lying on the ground or slouching back on weird “meditation chairs” or just plain sitting around in a sloppy manner. That’s not zazen.

I’m also not a big fan of zazen in chairs. OK. If you absolutely have no other choice but to do your zazen in a chair, then fine. It’s better than not doing it at all. But I see a lot of people doing zazen in chairs who I know could be doing it on a cushion on the floor if they tried. Chairs force their own kind of balance upon the body and rob you of the chance to find that balance for yourself. The difference might be like the difference between riding a tricycle and riding a bicycle.

When I went to Japan I discovered that we Americans love to invent handicaps for ourselves. I had no idea that we did this -- that I did this. It’s part of establishing an identity to be handicapped in some way. We’re allergic to Spam or we’re cellulose intolerant or we can’t do zazen without a chair. Of course there are people who can legitimately make those kinds of claims. But it wasn’t till I got to Japan that I was told this thing of even the healthiest among us having some hidden handicap that makes us special is a cultural characteristic of my country. “Oh you Americans are all allergic or sensitive to something!” my friends would say when I’d tell them my various intolerances.

Sorry for the tangent. To answer your question, the key thing is to keep the spine straight. What you do with your legs is secondary, but it does help establish the straight spine. Full, half, quarter lotus or Burmese posture are all perfectly fine. Some people put extra cushions under their knees to help establish balance. There’s a link over to your left about some Yoga exercises to help get into the various lotus postures.

Don’t hurt yourself! Take it slow! Do the best approximation of the posture you can until you’re able to get it right. Zazen is not supposed to be painless and comfortable. But it shouldn’t be excruciating.

Good luck.

Next question:


I feel the sincere desire to train under the guidance of teacher, like yourself, with whom I feel a strong resonance, though, given my limited finances, I am not sure if/when I will ever be able to make it out to Santa Monica. They do have a small Zen group that meets sits together here, but their Sensei only visits occasionally, and it is located across town from me, and lack of transportation currently makes it near impossible for me to access them.

Should I continue to practice on my own here, in isolation and without the guidance of a teacher, and just wait for things to unfold naturally, or do you think - given what I've told you - that its time for me to make some kind of bold move to shake myself out of the circles I seem to find myself going in? In either case, could you offer me some general thoughts on approaching the koan of my current situation?


You’d only be disappointed in me if you made it out here. Many people have been. For the record, I refuse to train anyone. That's not what I do. Couldn't do it if I wanted to!

The image people create of teachers they read about never matches up to the teachers themselves. When someone goes a long, long way to find some very special teacher they’ve heard about they usually end up being bitterly disillusioned and often drop out of the practice entirely. No one can possibly live up to the idealized image we create of them.

So I don’t encourage bold moves like the one you’re talking about. I mean, what would you do in California? Would you expect me to provide you a place to live, to feed you and get you a job? I’m not trying to be mean here. In fact I'm not even asking this of you in particular, but of all the many people who send me e-mails like this. What if you got here and I moved away? God knows I’d love to get out of Southern California! The stuff I’m saying here doesn’t just apply to me, but to any teacher you might be considering uprooting yourself to follow.

Still, I know it’s sometimes useful to make a big break and go somewhere else. I did that when I moved to Japan in 1994. And I don’ regret it. But I didn’t go there looking for some teacher.

There are places you could go, like San Francisco Zen Center or Antaiji in Japan where they’ll take in people who want to practice. But even these places make you earn your own keep. Plus they’re big institutions with all that goes along with being big institutions.

Whether you stay put or go somewhere else isn’t really the key thing. It’s the effort you put into practice that matters. If you are truly driven to find a teacher, you will find one no matter whether you stay or go.

Next!

My question is this. Why do all of the articles I read say something to the effect of all of "us," us being humanity, being miserable all the time? I am not a Buddhist of any sort, not that I have a problem with it or anything. I am interested in it in an academic context, which is why I am asking the question. It seems to be a central tenet of Buddhism, or maybe just Zen Buddhism, that because life is pretty much miserable, the adoption of a Zen Buddhist lifestyle is necessary for inner peace. So what about people who consider themselves content with their daily lives without being Zen Buddhists?

If you’re perfectly content then you don’t need zazen!

I can’t really answer this in an academic context. To me, zazen is purely practical. Might as well write an essay on masturbation as write one on zazen. And yet I seem to be in the profession of writing essays on masturbation -- I mean essays on zazen!

Still, essays on zazen are about as applicable to zazen practice as essays on masturbation would be to real masturbation.

Anyway, it’s not that we’re all miserable all the time. Nobody’s miserable all the time. Except maybe Morrisey from The Smiths*. But when we’re in our idealistic mode we envision a life for ourselves that’s utterly impossible to achieve. Our thoughts are always idealistic and, therefore, always different from real life. So what I think Buddha meant when he said “All life is suffering” or "unsatisfactory experience" (dukha in Sanskrit) is that, when looked at from the idealistic viewpoint even our most enjoyable moments have a quality of suffering and dissatisfaction. We know someday our happiness will end, and that knowledge always underlies even our most blissful experiences. In fact, suffering is more of a component of bliss than it is of a non-blissful experience. The more bliss you feel the more suffering is pasted to its underside.

From the materialistic point of view we can’t speak of suffering or bliss. Things are what they are. From that point of view the most fantastic blow job you ever got is the product of neurons being stimulated and chemicals being released into the brain. A simple, mechanical process and nothing more.

In real action both the idealistic, mental side and the materialistic physical side are always present. We may attend to one or the other more fully. But they’re always together. In zazen we practice action in the present moment in order to find a balance between the two.

I’ve never met anyone who was perfectly content with their life. I wonder if they exist. In zazen practice we don’t strive to rid ourselves of discontent. We strive to see and experience discontent for what it really is. And ultimately, like all emotions, it’s just a passing state of mind.

As for achieving inner peace, that’s mostly just P.R. I wouldn’t put much stock in anyone who advertises inner peace.



*He's miserable because he has a tree branch stuck up his butt (watch the video carefully).

160 comments:

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Don't read this, bradley.
Caught ya lookin!

Stephanie said...

Nobody’s miserable all the time. Except maybe Morrissey from The Smiths.

lol!

I <3 Morrissey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PHQ5QdNj9U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qF0yHY9q6Us

Anonymous said...

I heard someplace, that Dukkha and chakkha (pali for chakra) have the same root (kha), meaning wheel. And that dukkha means something more like an ill-fitting wheel. So we can imagine riding in a chariot 2500 years ago thru the foothills of the himalaya, with this chariot with a dodgy wheel, that might throw us around some, doesn't mean the views not awesome or the dirty jokes the charioteer keeps cracking aren't hilarious, but we will be constantly reminded by the sudden lurchings of the wheel that their is an unsatisfactory undercurrent to our journey. Thats what dukkha seems to me anyways. Apologies to all language geeks out their if the linguistics don't work out, its just the explanation i got from a buddhist teacher when i asked the same "why is buddhism so centered on suffering question.
Che Che,
Matt

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

"You’d only be disappointed in me if you made it out here."

Remember the David Carridine flick "Circle Of Iron" ? The main character dude travels many miles, fighting all these weird monkey-men and going through various trials, just to get a look in the 'the book of enlightenment' that contains the secret of life. At the end of the movie, main dude looks in the book to see the pages are made of mirrors. He realises that what he was looking for all along was just himself. As the entry on wikipedia puts it, "showing him that the secret to enlightenment and all knowledge is already within himself."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_Iron

Something else I like about Brad, he doesn't use all these silly archaic foreign words like dukkha, samsara, gobbledy gook, lukkea skywalker and what-not scholarly bullshit terms. Thanks for sticking to the english language when possible Brad.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Brad, a grizzly bear might take a tyrannosaurus rex? Who are we trying to kid here.

At The Moment said...

I think is going soft as he ages. ;)

grisom said...

@Matt:

The linguistics don't quite work out, but they turn out to be pretty close. The word cakka, which means "wheel", doesn't derive from kha. But dukkha does, and kha apparently means (among other things) "axle-hole", so the dodgy-wheel image still works.

Totally aside from the language-geek aspects of it, I do like that image. Life is a squeaky wheel!

Moon Face Buddha said...

If Brad is seeking to improve the clarity of his writing then I humbly suggest taking a look at E-Prime and the theory of General Semantics developed by Alfred Korzybski.

Thus Brad would clarify his statement "I’ve been to meditation centers where people are lying on the ground or slouching back on weird “meditation chairs” or just plain sitting around in a sloppy manner. That’s not zazen.", and alter it slightly to "I’ve been to meditation centers where people are lying on the ground or slouching back on weird “meditation chairs” or just plain sitting around in a sloppy manner. That’s not the form of zazen that I practice and teach.

proulx michel said...

Matt said...

So we can imagine riding in a chariot (...) with a dodgy wheel, that might throw us around some, (...) we will be constantly reminded by the sudden lurchings of the wheel that their is an unsatisfactory undercurrent to our journey.

This is one of the reasons for which I consider one of the best known buddhist hymns around to be "Satisfaction"...

grisom said...

Totally aside from the language-geek aspects of it, I do like that image. Life is a squeaky wheel!

This guy goes to the foreman to complain that his barrow wheel goes 'squeeeak, squeeeak, squeeeak'. The foreman replies: "That won't do at all! The wheel should go "squick, squick, squick, squick, squick, squick..."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Philbob, that we can do without exotic sounding words being thrown around (especially Karma, i hate that word!!!), but modern day buddhists seem to have to do a lot of cleaning up after early pali/sanskrit translators who have lumped them onto the nihilist band wagon by describing dukkha as suffering, when the meaning is not so negative. I think its important to understand some words like that. Karma in buddhist terms is often misrepresented to be more like the hindu meaning (although from what i gather Tibetan buddhist understanding of Karma is closer to hindu than eastern mahayana buddhist definitions), me I prefer the western translation ie Causality or cause and effect, which is something any westerner can grasp without a whole heap of eastern philosophical hooey.
Che Che,
Matt

Anonymous said...

Jundo is a complete fraud. And not only that, he is manipulative, entirely self-serving, and dishonest. He has understood nothing of what Nishijima Sensei teaches. Isn't this obvious?

jumbo shrimp said...

If it was so obvious, someone besides a chicken-hearted anon might say it.

chickenhearted anon said...

"Jundo is a complete fraud. And not only that, he is manipulative, entirely self-serving, and dishonest. He has understood nothing of what Nishijima Sensei teaches. Isn't this obvious?"

Brad, I thought you did not read the comments, much less post here.

Anonymous said...

Forget about that balanced nervous system BS!

The real secret to the efficacy of zazen is
that you can't do it with a tree branch
sticking out of your butt!

Rich said...

"Jundo is a complete fraud. And not only that, he is manipulative, entirely self-serving, and dishonest. He has understood nothing of what Nishijima Sensei teaches. Isn't this obvious?"

Gudo called him a Sravaka.

"Sravaka is a term for the disciples of Theravada or Hinayana Buddhism, who have grasped many essential doctrinal truths but have not yet attained the selflessness of the boddhisattva, the ideal Mahayana Buddhist figure who postpones his or her own entrance into nirvana until all sentient beings have been enlightened."

I think he is just stuck in some thinking which causes him to act manipulative. I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water.

leoboiko said...

omg it's true! about the tree branch. morrissey songs make SO much sense now

Jinzang said...

The Pope of Mope has a new album out today.

Jinzang said...

If Gudo really wanted to insult Brad, he would have called him a icchantika.

Anonymous said...

Jundo is not a complete fraud, and anyone who says that does not know the man, so stop making such ignorant statements. It's fine if you disagree with him, but he has a lot to teach. If he's not your cup 'o tea, no problem. I can say that he has been nothing but honest in his posts, so give the guy a break.

Whatever is going on with him and his teacher is really their business, but personally it seems that the Nishijima's views of Jundo has completely and utterly colored how he relates to him. HE gave Jundo transmission for Christ's sake. Now he says he can't call him a Buddha (whatever THAT means). This speaks volumes of what Nishijima himself thinks of his own transmissions. Generally speaking, I don't think he has a very good track record on that account anyway.

mom said...

Jundo.. is my chubby little rascal!

PKB said...

reposted from previous thread:

anon said:
A good teacher would never say that their way is the only way, the best way, or the most complete. Sectarianism is a manifestation of a small, narrow, ego-centered mind.

I have to disagree a bit. Obviously not all ways are as good and why would you study or teach something mediocre or less than the best? Why settle for less?

Saying that all traditions are as valuable or all paths lead up the same mountain (as the other famous mouthpiece goes) is just being a pussy afraid of confronting the frauds. When I looked at the ZFI I saw lot of that kind of mellow smiling and pussyfooting around attitude there and I think one of Brad's most valuable contributions to the Buddhist scene in the West is that he is not afraid to point out that the master has no clothes or say things aloud when they need to be said.
5:36 AM

--------

Anya said...
I don't disagree, anon. My problem with Brad is not that he does not hold every tradition in equal esteem, which I agree would be silly. My problem is that he badmouths teachers and traditions he admits to knowing almost nothing about, often on very flimsy pretexts. His ridiculous criticism of 'mindfulness' because some other teachers at Tassajara leave the room a mess is just an embarrassing example of sniping. Since I'm Theravada, I don't regard Mahayana as being of equal value, because I have trouble with the idea of praying to Manjusri or Sutras that were written 600 years after the Buddha's death to be authoritative. But I'd never launch into a tirade about how Zen is stupid because I've met thoughtless Zen teachers, or claim that key Buddhist concepts never existed just because I didn't know much about them. The Buddha was pretty clear that not all paths lead to enlightenment; if that was his message then there would be no Buddhism, he could have easily just told his followers to stay Hindu, become Jains, or whatever else was available. Brad claiming he believes his school of practice is the best one is not an issue, since we all probably believe this about our path to some extent. When he starts publicly saying that everyone besides Gudo Nashijima and a few buddies are hacks, because of things he's too lazy to study, that becomes an issue,as does him being a self-promoting Buddhist teacher who shows a shocking lack of basic Buddhist knowledge.

--anya_baranova@hotmail.com

NewB said...

Okay, I am confused. I'm trying to be a good buddhist, but I can't tell if I'm supposed to be against, Brad or Jundo or Gudo.

I have been searching all over for the right teacher to dislike and you guys are just confusing me.

Please, can you just explain who the worst teacher is?

Once I know who I am supposed to be against then I can get on with the true mission of a Boddhisatva which is blogging about how bad they are.

Thanks for your guidance,
NewB

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that Jundo Cohen thinks that Mike Cross has a mental defect. I have noticed that Jundo thinks that Brad Warner has a mental defect. I have noticed that Jundo thinks that Gudo Nishijima has a mental defect. I have noticed that Jundo thinks that various others have mental defects. I have not noticed that Jundo says much about his own mental defects. These are my observations.

Anonymous said...

But, but wait! Brad is supposed to be a Svavaka (boy, that sounds awful) because he took a toke (but didn't like it) and because he was in the same room with a woman that wasn't wearing a shirt.

I can't take it! Screw this Buddhism stuff. I'm going to convert to some fundamentalist form of some religion.

Anonymous said...

"I can't take it! Screw this Buddhism stuff. I'm going to convert to some fundamentalist form of some religion"

Where've you been? You've already found it right here! I used to believe buddhism and especially zen were immune to fundamentalism. Esangha and these crazy DSI folks have opened mine eyes.

jamal said...

Yeah, Gudo calling Jundo a shvartze was kinda weird.. It almost seemed like put down..

At The Moment said...

"I have not noticed that Jundo says much about his own mental defects. These are my observations."

Then you have not read closely.

Anonymous said...

I think (/hope?) that this whole Gudo calling Jundo names in his blog is due to some gross misunderstanding on Gudo's part or perhaps some inter-DSI/personal glitch there in the land of the rising sun.

I certainly hope it's not because Jundo so openly criticized Brad who happens to be Gudo's successor...

Anyway, I hope they can meet face to face soon and resolve the issue. It would be a shame if this stubborness/senility/mistranslation caused some irreparable damage in their relationship.

In aftermath, perhaps a bit miscalculated move for Jundo to bring the issue to Gudo's blog - especially in English - and not make absolutely certain it comes through the right way.

The best part of this whole charade is that it just underlines Brad's new book's message - there are no spiritual supermen, not Brad, not Jundo, not even Gudo. They each and all have their shortcomings and strengths as Buddhists, Zen Masters and human beings. As do we all.

If I rubbed a lamp and got one wish, it would be to throw those three in the same sesshin and make them talk things through, try to resolve the differences and work as friends again. :-)

OsamaVanHalen said...

Brad has gone too far this time. It is preposterous to say that a tree branch stuck up Morrissey's butt would make him miserable. Poppycock!

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Now that Nishijima Sensei has officially told Jundo to fuck off, in a very buddhist and gentlemanly way,
can we return to issues and ideas brought up by Brad's columns?

gniz said...

I find it interesting that when reading blog comments of some very non-Buddhist blogs I find so much wisdom and compassion and caring from the most unlikely folks. And then I read comments on this Buddhist blogs (and others) to find the least compassionate, most hateful and angry posts around.

BTW, most of my comments can be included in this observation.

My question is: Why?

Anonymous said...

Does Philbob have a function besides kissing Brad's ass? I'm just wondering. I haven't seen evidence of one.

Rich said...

"HE gave Jundo transmission for Christ's sake. Now he says he can't call him a Buddha (whatever THAT means). This speaks volumes of what Nishijima himself thinks of his own transmissions. Generally speaking, I don't think he has a very good track record on that account anyway."

I don't know about the general standards of transmission, but since everthing is just action and changing, changing, changing; in theory it would be possible to be a Buddha then Sravaka then Buddha in a time frame of moments or kalpas (that's a huge amount of time). I don't think there is any warrantee or guarantee on transmissions -)

Anonymous said...

The sanskrit word usually transliterated as 'sravaka' (pronounced shravaka) derives from the route sru, 'hear'. Hence, one who hears. When used as a perjorative label - as I believe Nishijima intends in his reply to Jundo - the word usually refers to a disciple well-versed in the literature and theory of Buddhism but lacking true insight (whatever that might be).

Just FYI. Not taking sides.

A smart-arse.

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

... there are no spiritual supermen, not Brad, not Jundo, not even Gudo. They each and all have their shortcomings and strengths as Buddhists, Zen Masters and human beings. As do we all

This comment is absolutely right, I think (Of course, I'm fallible, so I could be wrong). It is always risky to tell the emperor that currently he has no clothes, especially when the "emperor" is a 90 year old Japanese samurai who does not appreciate or tolerate any disloyalty. Fortunately, I remember Nishijima Roshi for what he was.

Now, by my count, over just the last few years, over --15-- of his long term students and 'Dharma Heirs' have left him or no long speak to him. Others go about their business (teaching what they want to teach while paying "Nishijima Sensei" lip service).

It was not always this way.

Those who remain around Roshi are largely a few "True Believers" (a couple of rather glassy eyed fellows who would believe in 'dowsing rods' if Sensei said it were true), newbies still awe-struck by the idea of a "real Japanese Zen master" (there are more than a couple of apple polishers around him, like that one fellow who always writes "thank you for your inspiring and clearminded post! I agree, it's all about [whatever you just said which I really don't understand]"), a character who can spew out any schoolboy "I said a bad word" double-talk as a "teaching" (I actually do not think Nishijima reads English well enough to understand the books ... Mike Cross and Mike Leutchford did all the heavy lifting on their "translations"), and some of those "lip service" folks who pay homage (but --only-- from the safety of their Zendo, a few continents away, where they can otherwise do what they wish cause nobody is looking).

I honor my teacher for what he was. His idea of "Four Philosophies" is and was brilliant, his idea that Zazen has a certain neuro-psychological basis was way ahead of its time. But, any good idea or "theory" can be stretched to the breaking point (and I also believe that certain extreme claims still require a modicum of empirical evidence). There comes a time where a "litmus test" for unquestioning belief in a certain doctrine becomes simply cult-like (the equivalent of one of those strange cults where everyone believes that Jesus came to earth as a spaceman and built the pyramids). It is not anywhere as bad yet, but I am not prepared to see this Sangha which I love turn into a low-budget version of Scientology.

I could just pay "lip service" to my teacher(People can say I have my own "ulterior motives", but I assure you that the safer course would be to smile and say nothing. I have my own gig, and I could just smile and walk on by the scene of the crime). Perhaps to just pat our old and sometimes angry and confused "grandma" on the head would be the kinder and more compassionate course (certainly the safer and less troubling for me), merely to say "grandma, whatever, all is fine". But would I really be doing him a service by doing so? Would it be honest?

Gassho, Jundo

Jinzang said...

My question is: Why?

Brad's blog has a attracted a bunch of 20-something 30-something guys. Guys this age don't play kissy face with one another, they'd rather fight to show who's boss. In other words, testosterone poisoning. Me, I'm a relic of the 70's who's just looking for a little peace and quiet.

Anonymous said...

Jinzang said:

"I'm...just looking for a little peace and quiet"

Kidding, right?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Attention Gummo:
Then why can't you just drop it?
Opinions have been made. Minds have been set. You're not changing any minds here. And no one here is gonna change your mind or your follower's minds. Why hijack someone else's blog?

Maybe it's just pure jealousy, maybe?

WELL Jundo, write a manuscript, contact a publisher, get a book deal and maybe you'll have some success with your opinions on precept-breaking and whatever else has lodged itself in your craw.

Hey, I like to read some of your ideas as opposed to Brad's or Nishijima's, but there is a way of putting your points across without constantly attacking someone personally.

Sheeshhhhh!!!!!!!

nondual said...

From my personal experience, the closer you get - religio-philosophically, the uglier it gets.

I dated my first Buddhist girlfriend a while back and we fought like I've never fought with anyone about what the essentials of Buddhism were (I still think she's full of shit, LOL).

So it doesn't surprise me that things are ugly in the comments of a Buddhist blog. What we agree on is a vast topic, but no one goes there because there's not much to talk about when everyone agrees. For some reason, intra- and intersectarian arguments are always more vehement. It's almost like 'You're so CLOSE, you should KNOW better than that, dammit!'

nondual said...

Personally, I think Brad's full of shit when he says zazen shouldn't be comfortable, but then again - I am a lazy Westerner...(and I sit seiza on a bench).

Mr. Krabs said...

"but there is a way of putting your points across without constantly attacking someone personally."

Philbob, you do know there's someone else very close-by that does this on a regular basis, right?

Rich said...

"Now, by my count, over just the last few years, over --15-- of his long term students and 'Dharma Heirs' have left him or no long speak to him. Others go about their business (teaching what they want to teach while paying "Nishijima Sensei" lip service). "

He probably feels like me when my kids grew up and left me and sometimes hardly speak to me and do whatever the fuck they want - thank God and what a relief. Isn't Gudo now retired - he just reads and writes a little?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Large Zafu said...

Large Zafu

above link broken.

http://www.zafustore.com/zafu.html

PKB said...

I thought it a little odd that Nishijima referred to Jundo as a sravaka. What was he trying to say?
First, some definitions on the web:

In Mahayana Buddhism [the term Sravaka] refers to a person in the Theravada school who exerts himself to attain the stage of Arhat by observing 250 precepts in the case of monks and 348 [or 375 in some texts] in the case of nuns. This is a lower stage than that of Bodhisattva" (Yoko: 289).

Maybe it's related to Jundo's insistance upon the importance of the precepts as above.
Or

Sravaka: Hearer; a disciple not yet capable of independent progress.

Not yet capable of independent progress. Wow. This one seems more of indictment of Nishijima himself. He transmitted and gave someone permission to teach that is incapable of independent progress?

for those wish to achieve Enlightenment, but they are only able to achieve limited Nirvana, due to small heart and mind.

He thinks Jundo can only achieve limited Nirvana due to a small heart and mind. Kind of like the Grinch, I guess.
But then I found this on Nishijima's blog itself from April of 2007:

"In other words a Buddhist, who is keeping a little stronger sympathetic nervous system, is called Sravaka, usually having rather intellectual tendency, is not esteemed so well in Buddhist societies, and another kind of Buddhist, who is called Pratyeca-buddha, usually having rather sensitive tendency, is not also esteemed so well in Buddhist societies. Therefore we can notice that, in buddhist societies, believers, who are a little intellectual, or a little sensitive members, called Sravaka, or Pratyeca-buddha, are not so revered in Buddhist societies well, and I suppose that in Buddhist societies, believers, who have rather intellectual, or sensitive tendencies, might be esteemed a little lower than Buddhists, who can able to keep always the balanced autonomic nervous system." ----Nishijima roshi

So the verdict is in. Gudo Nishijima thinks that Jundo is a bit intellectual or sensitive and has a sympathetic nervous system that is out of balance. Ouch! That's gotta hurt! I'm so relieved my teacher never told me my nervous system was out of balance.

Rich said...

"Those who remain around Roshi are largely a few "True Believers" (a couple of rather glassy eyed fellows who would believe in 'dowsing rods' if Sensei said it were true), newbies still awe-struck by the idea of a "real Japanese Zen master" (there "

Trash the teacher, trash the veterans, trash the newbies. After trashing everyone you may be reborn as a trash collecting zen master.

Anonymous said...

So the verdict is in. Gudo Nishijima thinks that Jundo is a bit intellectual or sensitive and has a sympathetic nervous system that is out of balance. Ouch! That's gotta hurt! I'm so relieved my teacher never told me my nervous system was out of balance.

LOL

Jared said...

Words, endless words, I've said to serve the moment.

Anonymous said...

just got caught up on the hoopla here

Jundo, hoisted by his own petard, eh?

gosh

Other Stupid DS guy said...

Jundo's description is mostly true.

Now, let it go man.

Anonymous said...

I think it all very sad, really.
Why can't Jundo just be fully happy and completely content doing his own work with his treeleaf and beliefnet and magazine write ups and all.

Why not just let the rest of the world take care of critiquing brad's book.

Why bother Gudo at all about anything? Just inquire about his health and send him some kind of treat or small thing he enjoys. Thank him, show him gratitude.

There really is no need to drag anything to any light, to any forum, to any public setting.
Nothing needs to be 'cleared up' It has always been clear, right from the beginning

I can only imagine it has been a painful teaching to demonstrate. I am very grateful for it, as I think it may serve to save me from similar error in the future. At least I hope so.

Anonymous said...

The rains came, heavy at times

The air is so clear now

And everything is refreshed,

Justin said...

Rich

Trash the teacher, trash the veterans, trash the newbies. After trashing everyone you may be reborn as a trash collecting zen master.

Spongebob,

Hey, I like to read some of your ideas as opposed to Brad's or Nishijima's, but there is a way of putting your points across without constantly attacking someone personally.

Hey I thought you guys respected Zen teachers who were prepared to call a spade a spade, to be honest, to 'tell it like it is' without pulling their punches? Can we have a little consistency? Jundo goes over similar points more than once because some people seem hellbent on misunderstanding him. I find his account to be far more constructive, polite, balanced and based on evidence or direct experience than most of Brad's rants.

Anonymous said...

Jundo, Why do you believe that Gudo was naturally peaceful, balanced and emotionally calm before he practiced zazen for so many years. He might not have been the calm man that you imagine. I think Brad has hinted at this. Regardless, I do not think it is necessarily true that people are born to a certain disposition and then cannot change. I think some people work very hard to attain a more balanced demeanor. Why else would Buddhists practice?

Moon Face Buddha said...

My question is: Why?

Because some people think that they can only validate their self image as a 'true buddhist' by making everyone else into 'false buddhists'?

Maybe Saint Bob had it right all along...Animals outline their territories with their excretions, humans outline their territories by ink excretions on paper.

A fellow hamster on the dharma wheel.

Anonymous said...

While reading Brad's new book, especially the Porno Buddhism section, I got a few questions for Jundo (if he still reads these).

In the book Brad says that after he was appointed the new head of DSI you said / vowed to make him the laughingstock of the buddhist community. He also said that you contacted the monastery where they hold the annual DSI retreat (usually headed by Brad these days) and tried to get them to cancel it.

What do you say to these allegations? What is your side of the story?

I think these are pretty grave issues, but as Brad has been more than forthcoming with his failings in his writings, I hope you can too.

I know these things happened long ago, but the book brought them up again.

proulx michel said...

Concerning the idea that zazen, by itself, would bring the upholding of the precepts, I have found out that many Japanese teachers, Deshimaru included, have thought this.
I think that they underestimated the formatting that they received from having grown up in an overall buddhist society.

Applying this concept indiscriminately in France has led Deshimaru's students to implement catholic views and frameworks, rather than strictly buddhist. That is hierarchy, grades and, as for the overall Christian framework, a biased attitude towards sex. Protestants (French Protestants are presbyterian, as a whole) tend to be dourer, but still quite sexually repressed.
In short, my belief is that some minimal Buddhist instruction is necessary, if we don't want people to apply Christian principles where they ought not apply.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point from brother proulx! Not many people realize the huge cultural difference there is between Japan and most of christian West especially in regards to bodily aspects such as sexuality.

Justin said...

I think this is precisely why zazen alone is not enough to understand Buddhism. Almost universally, every Zen ancestor or teacher in the history of Japan or China had a thorough education in Buddhist philosophy, ethics and so on, before he began to train in Zen - the school of Buddhism that emphasises meditation.

A good understanding of 'conventional' Buddhism was a given.

Rich said...

" If I did not care about you, I would keep my mouth shut and lie to you. Many do. "
"While you still have time on this earth, I hope that you might change a little. "
"Please know who really cares about you. "

This is such a personal relationship issue that I'm a little uncomfortable and embarrassed reading it, but the soap opera attraction is too much for me to skip it.

believeme said...

Jundo, thankyou for your insightful posts.

You should write a book.

jundo cohen said...

In the book Brad says that after he was appointed the new head of DSI you said / vowed to make him the laughingstock of the buddhist community. He also said that you contacted the monastery where they hold the annual DSI retreat (usually headed by Brad these days) and tried to get them to cancel it.

What do you say to these allegations? What is your side of the story?


Al Pacino in Godfather II: Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in ! I really wanted to let things rest, but I suppose I have to respond to this:

The below is the first part of the quote from this very blog. There, Brad twists what I said to make it sound like the cause was jealousy about his "fame":

To the extent that I'm famous, which is not very much, it's generally a pain in the ass (like those lizard men). People you thought were your friends suddenly turn on you. I had one "dharma brother" tell me, “I wonder what you have been up to on your tour of TV shows and magazine articles as a minor celebrity over there in the US, sitting around in your bright golden robe and waving your stick around.” Another one said he was going to, “go public with every resource I have privately and on the internet to make you a laughingstock, to tell folks what I think of you, to embarrass you. I will speak out, you embarrassment to yourself, our teacher, (and) all of us associated with this.” Jealousy is fun stuff.
http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2008/05/whornz-not-horns-and-fame.html


Well, it had nothing to do with jealousy, and it certainly had nothing to do with his being elected the Head Cheerleader.

Believe it or not, until very recently (when I really decided to wash my hands of the situation), I was very protective of our teacher Nishijima, who I thought was really in a fog, really getting confused, and really unaware of what was going down with Brad (the rumors of sleeping with students and all that). This was the time many of us were hearing rumors about all the stuff going down described in his book (I don't think the book tells the whole story), and I was upset about what I perceived as his complete disregard for the shame he was casting on our teacher (believe it or not, I once cared about that. I don't care so much anymore). I think the trigger was some article he wrote about getting a lap dance in an S&M club or something as a "Great Buddhist Teaching". Something like that was the spark.

Thus, in a moment of passion, I wrote him the above stupid irate e-mail.

The guy is so vain to think that it was about "jealousy". Apparently, from it appearing in the book, he carried around a grudge about it for 2 years. My god.

I never contacted Tokei-in about "stopping the retreat". I think I wrote Brad that "the retreat --should be-- stopped if he was going to keep acting like an ass" or that "I want to have the retreat stopped" or something like that. Frankly, I cannot remember, except that I did not ever attempt to contact Tokei-in.

Okay? A stupid e-mail I wrote once.

Gassho, Jundo

jundo cohen said...

I never contacted Tokei-in about "stopping the retreat". I think I wrote Brad that "the retreat --should be-- stopped if he was going to keep acting like an ass" or that "I want to have the retreat stopped" or something like that. Frankly, I cannot remember, except that I did not ever attempt to contact Tokei-in.

It is possible (I really don't remember) that I threatened to call Tokei-in, like "I'm gonna call Tokei-in". I don't think I did, but it is possible. But, anyway, I never did call or try to call.

Jared said...

People are getting crazy in here - who cares what Nishijima said about Jundo's 'heart-mind'? Who cares what Jundo may or may not have deleted from his website?

Seriously, though - who is it that cares?

Justin said...

Philbob?

Lo said...

Anonymous PKB said...
"Sravaka: Hearer; a disciple not yet capable of independent progress.

Wow. This one seems more of indictment of Nishijima himself."

The three ingredients are (sans Sanskrit):

1) An instructive tongue
2) An attentive ear
3) A faithful heart

(Watch 'Croutching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' again - Jen must prove her 'faithful heart' at the end (a mystical 'taking the dive.')

Assuming 1 and 2 above, Nishijima-sama could be implying that #3 is missing.

Or not.

Anonymous said...

Thus, in a moment of passion, I wrote him the above stupid irate e-mail.

Thanks for clearing this matter up Jundo. As for the S&M article (I think it was one of this SG ones, I remember it too) I thought at the time and still think that you misunderstood the context, venue and point of the article. It was never about hanging out in S&M club (and actually all the piercing and whatnot mentioned didn't happen when Brad was around, he was just quoting hearsay).

But let's put a lid on that can of worms and let matters rest. I suggest you do the same with Brad and Nishijima.

Anonymous said...

Jared said,

Who cares what Jundo may or may not have deleted from his website?

Am I missing something here? Where did this come from?

gniz said...

Hey Jundo,

You've taken quite a beating on here and on Gudo's blog recently. I apologize for being part of the feeding frenzy. I really hope that this can all be resolved and that it does not cause you too much more pain and difficulty. Remember, even those of us (like me) who give you a hard time do not really wish you ill.

Sincerely,

Aaron (Gniz)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing this matter up Jundo. As for the S&M article (I think it was one of this SG ones, I remember it too) I thought at the time and still think that you misunderstood the context, venue and point of the article. It was never about hanging out in S&M club (and actually all the piercing and whatnot mentioned didn't happen when Brad was around, he was just quoting hearsay).

This article? Hearsay?

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

Ms. Edgeplay stripper wrenched my friend’s nipples and stage-whispered to her how wet she was getting. As if I couldn’t hear. Humped her leg like a dog in heat. God wasn’t far away at all. If I ever doubted Her presence She showed it to me by grabbing my cock and telling me how She wanted to feel it inside Her.There is no God and she dances for tips at Tigress.
http://suicidegirls.com/news/culture/22947/


I guess it was a hearsay cock

Justin said...

LOL That was funny

Anonymous said...

This blog is nothing if not good for a laugh. Mysterion, Gniz, Philbob, Justin, Andrew, Everyone..

Thank you all..

Anonymous said...

It pretends to be the zen version "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" - but it's more reminiscent of a zen version of "The Bold and the Beautiful".

Anonymous said...

Yes Anon @ SG copy&paste. If you take the time to actually read through that article, you can see that none of the piercing etc. happened at that time.

The original post didn't have all those "she said" parts there, so that's why some readers stuck to the S&M bits and thought the stripper had her labia pierced and hang from hooks while Brad & co. were watching.

And as that confusion seemed to cause quite a lot of agitation among certain people, Brad clarified it a bit.

Anonymous said...

If I ever doubted Her presence She showed it to me by grabbing my cock and telling me how She wanted to feel it inside Her.There is no God and she dances for tips at Tigress.

More hearsay? Brad just fanatasizing?

Anonymous said...

From Jundo's irate email I have deduced that even if you BELIEVE in the precepts, you will break them.

The precepts are not a magic armor which insures you do the right thing all the time. Nor are they a weapon with which to bludgeon others with judgement. The precepts are just a compass; they aren't even North.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

All right, let's lighten the mood:

What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor? "Make me one
with everything."
***********

What did the hot dog vendor say when the Buddhist asked for his change? "Change comes from within."
***********

Did you hear about the Buddhist who spilled his coffee while driving to work? He had bad kar-mug.
***********

all courtesy of
http://bellevuecollege.edu/philosophy/jokes.htm

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

I think it's really telling that Jundo, who gives lip service to the importance of 'right speech,' who doesn't like to see people using curse words or being mean, would then turn around and slander his teacher in such a disgusting way.

From reading Nishijima's blog, I don't get the impression of someone who is "senile" or "unable to take criticism," but someone who, as is often the case for passionate thinkers of any age, is enamored of his own ideas and stubborn in relinquishing them. I personally find no evidence of the wildly irrational, senile man he's accused of being in his blog posts or comments. I only see evidence of mere eccentricity. It seems to me that the way some of his students talk about him amounts to slander and character assassination. To talk this way about the teacher who gave you Dharma transmission--it just seems dirty to me, like stabbing your own mother in the back before she can write you out of her will. Nishijima was great when they wanted something from him, but now that they have it, the coveted authority of Dharma transmission, which gives them power to lord their own eccentricities over others, he's useless and they can trash him as they like.

I think it might behoove Jundo and some of the other DSI folks who have written Nishijima off to consider what he has to say from a position of humility, from the position of a student. Before jumping to the conclusion that because he is critical of you and not critical of someone you dislike, his mind has gone, you might want to consider that he sees something in you in an accurate way. Maybe you haven't yet engaged your practice as deeply as you could have, and your teacher is giving you a teaching that might help you move past that block. I see many strong threads of truth in what Nishijima says, even if I don't agree with all of it. He's calling out people that are taken with idealistic views as people who have not moved beyond a certain place in their practice. And this is at the heart of his "simple teaching," that neither idealism or materialism capture reality. For what his teaching lacks or fails to address, for whatever ways it may or may not be correct, I think this is a vital point.

Probably the biggest "lesson" of my whole spiritual life is that it is necessary to relinquish idealism and needs for sentimental affirmation in order to come to the truth. I believe that Jundo is deeply idealistic to the extent he lets his notions of purity and correctness get in the way of a deeper, more nuanced vision. Perhaps it's not that Nishijima is 'senile' and unaware of Brad's 'failings,' but that he sees past them to what is vital--a deeper sort of engagement that goes beyond idealism. Not that Brad hasn't been guilty of the 'sin' of idealism as well, but in his life it seems he's been willing to move away from it in order to better engage with the wider human community. Maybe Nishijima's not troubled with Brad's involvement in the world of sex and porn and angry music not because he doesn't realize that these are bad things, but because he realizes that they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Stef,

You really should work on this diarrhea of the mouth you've got there. Stop dwelling so much in your mind and words and sit, sit and then sit some more. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and the perfect practice a lot!

Stephanie said...

Anon @ 11:26 AM:

I do practice, and do make pains to be aware of the extent to which my thoughts create my sense of reality.

That doesn't mean I have to stop thinking. While I am in complete agreement with Zen teaching that thinking can only approximate the ultimate, not arrive at it, I also think that the capacity to think freely, in a critical and questioning manner, is vital. Without the capacity to think and to question what we read and are told, we would never arrive at the doorway of spiritual inquiry at all.

In other words: I am not troubled by the fact I have the ability to think, in the same way I don't see stopping thought as the point of zazen practice. The point is to see through thinking. That doesn't mean discarding it altogether. Thinking has great utility in helping us question and drop concepts that hinder us, it just cannot ever fully resolve our deepest questions. That resolution of what is beyond thought's ability to grasp involves "the leap," as Kierkegaard would put it. To leap, one must go beyond Kierkegaard's concept of the leap and actually leap, but that concept helps one understand what one must then do.

You might try to use distorted versions of Zen teaching to encourage me to stop questioning and thinking critically, but you're barking up the wrong tree--I'm past that. Take that nonsense to a more sheep-like individual who's happy to surrender her freedom to you.

jumbo shrimp said...

Stephanie, You really shouldn't even respond to him. But you made his day.

Hell is other people. - Jean-Paul Sartre

truepunk said...

Brad is pathetic. He actually posted Jundos comment on suicide girls. WTF do they care?

http://suicidegirls.com/news/culture/22947/page5/#commentStart

It just goes to show that Brad is a fucking crybaby/

Anonymous said...

Steph, nobody gives a fuck. Get the fuck off my internet.

Stephanie said...

Anon @ 11:54 AM: Now that's more like it! LOL!

One of my favorite koans, from Eminem:

"My middle finger won't go down--how do I wave?"

;)

truepunk said...

You might try to use distorted versions of Zen teaching to encourage me to stop questioning and thinking critically, but you're barking up the wrong tree--I'm past that. Take that nonsense to a more sheep-like individual who's happy to surrender her freedom to you.

You are way too paranoid.

Anonymous said...

crazy girls are the best in the sack. can i gat a date steff ?

Kamaljit said...

In the end...

It all comes down to acceptance. Is my heart large enough to embrace this?

Nonacceptance is suffering.

Anonymous said...

Koan of the Day:

Man repeatedly walks into fist. Where does blame lie?

Jundog_koanhead said...

Brad loves the comments on Suicide Girls but hates the ones on his own blog. Why?

Do the people on SG have a deeper grasp of dharma? Or are they just less experienced with zen and more impressed by his "zen master" credentials?

nondual said...

I haven't read everything Jundo has written here, but the more I hear from him the more I respect him. As the writer of many irate emails and the speaker of many incredibly poorly thought-out diatribes, I respect his ability to admit he said something dumb and basically say, 'my bad'. I've seen him do this a few times, and it's shocked me every time, mostly because he doesn't seem to try to put himself in the best possible light, either.

Say what you want about Brad, he does seem to hold a grudge. There are many reasons to dislike Ken Wilber for instance, but I get the unshakable impression from Hardcore Zen that he was determined to dislike KW from the get-go because someone disparaged Brad's 'teaching', such as it was at the time, and said that KW was SOOOO much better. You can literally HEAR the grudge as Brad goes on to totally toast KW (not that it is or isn't warranted or funny).

As for the Suicide Girl stuff, what was posted here in the comments was absolute gibberish and a good reminder about why I don't read his SG stuff. Brad's written and online persona is about the EXACT opposite of what he's like in person (at least what I detected - I don't claim to know him very well). He comes across as introverted, shy, very thoughtful, extremely courteous, and somewhat socially maladroit (none of those are cuts, I am all of those things except thoughtful and courteous). When I was 17, I thought pussy was God too - and probably for many of the same reasons. To be so impressed with an S&M stripper in full stage persona seems a smidge adolescent - as does Brad's continual need to shock. That Brad attributes Jundo's and others' actions to jealousy about his fame seems like projection - Do we really hate it when our friends become successful? I think it's more a matter of feeling that, BECAUSE of his fame, Brad's distortions and blind spots are a bit more dangerous to people who come to Brad as the sole purveyor of Zen wisdom. Let's face it, Brad's continual derision of 'fakes and frauds', also subtly assumes that surely HE, Brad Warner, is not a fake or a fraud (or just plain wrong). Although Brad's criticism is often hilarious and feels spot on, one must question his almost pathological need for polemic. I doubt that even he has a full grasp on it.

As for the 'sleeping with students' thing - I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say, 'Who gives a fuck?' As a man in full possession of his sexuality, I have to say that it's very hard to resist a beautiful woman who thinks you are 'teh awesome'. You can almost HEAR the porno music start playing. "Gee, Mr. Zen-master, you are SO smart! *blink**blink*" I also think that anyone who thinks these relationships are purely predatory needs to check him- or herself. If you want to cast the man as the predatory wolf in this scenario, then you also have to cast the woman as the poor little sheepish Bambi who is stupid, blind, and defenseless. I don't think either one of these characterizations is very accurate. Trust me, the woman in this situation knows EXACTLY what she is doing, even if she doesn't know why ("Yay! I'm fucking the super-smart, super-wise Zen guy that everyone thinks is SO cool!"). I'm going to go ahead and assume that the man doesn't know exactly why HE'S doing what he's doing either. Anyone who wants his or her Zen teacher to be in complete control of his or her unconscious drives is just simply asking too much.

PA said...

I respect his ability to admit he said something dumb and basically say, 'my bad'. I've seen him do this a few times, and it's shocked me every time, mostly because he doesn't seem to try to put himself in the best possible light, either

Not with regard to Jundo especially, but I often admit I am wrong to put myself in the best possible light.
Weird,huh.

Rich said...

"I think it's really telling that Jundo, who gives lip service to the importance of 'right speech,' who doesn't like to see people using curse words or being mean, would then turn around and slander his teacher in such a disgusting way."

I feel the same way. The way he has tried to demean, manipulate and discredit his teacher is shocking and mean spirited. This is not acceptable behavior by any standards. Gudo's teaching has been simple, consistent and direct. Trash talking about him or anyone in a public place is just wrong. period. end of story.

nondual said...

Wow, PA - good call...

And yet, self-serving self-honesty is still better than self-harming self-deception.

Unless I'm deceiving myself about that.

mother earth said...

@ Moon Face Buddha

Hey that was a very nice point and subsequent "correction" that you made regarding Korzybski and E-prime/general semantics.

Brad has always been very consistent in his use of the is.

This is zazen. This is not zazen. This is Buddhism, etc..

It certainly seems to rub people the wrong way most of the time.

Here's an excerpt from a much earlier blog post of Brad's that I found to be very important.

"And yet Buddhist philosphy (or Zen, whatever) is only one. A long-time practitioner can recognize Buddhism and can recognize what is not Buddhism. But that recognition is a rather subtle thing. It's not definable in words and no set of rules could ever contain it. Buddhism is balance. What is out of balance is not Buddhism. You can know what is Buddhism the same way you can balance a pencil on your finger and can know that you've lost that balance when the pencil falls to the floor.

If I’ve ever given the impression that the things I say and do are somehow supported by some nebulous thing out there in the ozone called “Zen,” I apologize. I’ve never deliberately set out to do so. Ain’t no such thang anyhow."


Ciao.

Anonymous said...

"Not with regard to Jundo especially, but I often admit I am wrong to put myself in the best possible light.
Weird,huh."

So. If Jundo doesn't admit he is wrong, tsk-tsk.

If Jundo admits *he is* wrong, tsk-tsk.

Ok. Gotch! Tsk-tsk.

Stephanie said...

Goes to show the power of subjectivity, because the Jundo with whom I have interacted is nothing like the person described by his fans and admirers.

But y'know, enough ad hominem toward the guy. I think the main thing is that we're all flawed. The significant point here in relation to the Dharma is that you don't have to fix your flaws first, if at all, to practice and realize the Way. This is my main point of contention with Jundo and used to be a point of contention with Brad, until he published a book that was a beautiful testament to exactly this.

Obviously, some people don't get this, and that's to be expected--it's not an intellectual point; it's only something you 'get' once you've been through a certain emotional process. If you haven't gotten to the point where life has stripped your idealism away from you, you're not going to understand this matter. The spiritual life can be a process that is painful because if you're invested in a beautiful fantasy, it is painful to let it go, though ultimately freeing.

It is not so for all, but it is necessarily so for some. Because if your soul is sick, you cannot truly be well until you immerse yourself in that sickness. Dharma does not manifest in the same way in every person's life. Just as much as I disagree with Brad or anyone else who teaches that the exact position of your legs is the key thing in zazen, I disagree with Jundo's 'teaching' that we all have to sit nicely at our Zen 'pianos' and hold our hands in a certain way to be truly practicing. If you don't got demons to wrangle, good for you, but that doesn't mean that the folks who do are any more 'incorrect' in dealing with the actual reality of their lives and minds than you are in dealing with yours.

And naturally, the folks on either side are going to look a little bit cock-eyed at one another. I personally find something a little bit twee and precious and 'inauthentic' in 'sweetness and light' types--but that doesn't mean they're not being true to themselves. That's my perceptual filter. And of course, those on the other side will see/say the same. That if only the dark-tempered folks ate the right breakfast cereal and sat in the right position and did the right calisthenics they'd be as placid and sweet as the folks who only deal in rainbows & kittens.

Anon @ 12:23PM: Ah, yes, I see you have studied the Buckcherry Sutra on the virtues of differently minded women ;)

http://carolmcht.multiply.com/video/item/50

Stephanie said...

BTW:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfuhQn_FQfs

:D

nondual said...

Steph:

"Anon @ 12:23PM: Ah, yes, I see you have studied the Buckcherry Sutra on the virtues of differently minded women ;)"

It's a cliche, and it's not always true - but you'd be amazed at how true it is.

Stephanie said...

Well, it depends on the kind of 'crazy.' Some damage leads to more inhibition in the bedroom, some less.

IMO it's about being comfortable with who you are, enjoying being a sexual creature, knowing what turns you on and how to communicate it, being able to get the other person to communicate what turns them on and being able to intuitively understand how to make it happen, being creative, having a sense of humor, and having an open mind. And being willing to recognize when you're sexually incompatible with someone (e.g. you like it rough and they don't). It's all about getting past the shame and anxiety about being judged for what gets you off.

And that's the sad thing about buying into the dogma of social norms in a society in which sex is seen as dirty or shameful--only the 'crazy'--i.e. the folks who stand outside what are considered 'normal' (repressed) ways of being--are comfortable enough to be completely natural and relaxed with their freaky selves.

Jundog Koan said...

Goes to show the power of subjectivity, because the Jundo with whom I have interacted is nothing like the person described by his fans and admirers.

Specific examples please! Please tell us something juicy.

PKB said...

"Say what you want about Brad, he does seem to hold a grudge. There are many reasons to dislike Ken Wilber for instance, but I get the unshakable impression from Hardcore Zen that he was determined to dislike KW from the get-go because someone disparaged Brad's 'teaching'"

nondual, that whole post was an excellent analysis. I agree 100%.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Stephanie said:
"The spiritual life can be a process that is painful because if you're invested in a beautiful fantasy, it is painful to let it go, though ultimately freeing."

Amen !
Or, substitute "spiritual life" for:
a bad marriage
dead end jobs
endless barroom crawls
watching your elderly parents' health fail

Hard to let the last item go, though.

Stephanie said...

Specific examples please! Please tell us something juicy.

I could, but no.

And I think claiming that Brad's issue with Wilber is due to 'envy' is really stretching it. Wilber irks me just as much and it's simply due to the extent he's an annoying douchebag, a pompous blowhard who has mastered the art of selling snake oil to easily conned yuppies looking for a quick fix in the modern New Age spiritual supermarket. His whole system of spiritual levels appeals perfectly to people who need to justify their feelings of grandiosity but to hide it behind a pseudo-intellectual smokescreen. I think he is a Grade A example of a spiritual bullshit salesman and I figure that's exactly why Brad picks on him.

Jared said...

Anon @ 6:54 AM:
"Jared said,

Who cares what Jundo may or may not have deleted from his website?

Am I missing something here? Where did this come from?"

Someone thought Jundo was over-editing the message board on his own website.

Anonymous said...

Steph said:

"Wilber irks me just as much and it's simply due to the extent he's an annoying douchebag, a pompous blowhard who has mastered the art of selling snake oil to easily conned yuppies looking for a quick fix in the modern New Age spiritual supermarket."

Congrats!
You are well on your way to getting transmission in the Dogen Sangha. Brad will be proud of your ad-hominem dharma teaching.
Bows

Stephanie said...

Congrats!
You are well on your way to getting transmission in the Dogen Sangha.


Is that like getting an STD?

nondual said...

Steph:

"And I think claiming that Brad's issue with Wilber is due to 'envy' is really stretching it. Wilber irks me just as much and it's simply due to the extent he's an annoying douchebag, a pompous blowhard who has mastered the art of selling snake oil to easily conned yuppies looking for a quick fix in the modern New Age spiritual supermarket. His whole system of spiritual levels appeals perfectly to people who need to justify their feelings of grandiosity but to hide it behind a pseudo-intellectual smokescreen. I think he is a Grade A example of a spiritual bullshit salesman and I figure that's exactly why Brad picks on him."

Except that in his book, he precedes his diatribe by mentioning that someone else disparaged his teaching and mentioned KW as someone to emulate.

I'm not saying these people (Wilber, Genpo Merzel Andy Cohen) don't need a little sand kicked in their faces, I'm saying that Brad's whole kick was launched by someone saying someone was way more on-point than he. It looks petty, and Brad practically embraced the pettiness by telling the story the way he did. Holy shit, this guy's more punk than me!

In his persona, Brad embraces snottiness. This is probably better than the love-n-light bullshit you see pretty much everywhere re: Zen. I myself have been accused of being a pretty shitty Buddhist for being far from the 'love-n-light' ideal. Nonetheless, what Brad's approach brings to bear in intensity and honestly, it woefully lacks in maturity. The reason you see so few mid-30s punks is because the punk ethos is very adolescent. It's an ethos of rejection, as is much of Brad's approach to Zen. Hell, much of what we know about Brad's approach comes from his criticism of other teachers. Sure, it's necessary and the 'love-n-light' Buddhists possess so very little of the critical nature necessary to honestly tread a Zen path, but an approach that is dominated so much by polemic and criticism is grievously incomplete. I mean, other than saying that so many Zen teachers are wrong, Brad's approach to Zen seems to be that 'posture is important' and 'zazen is boring - get used to it'. The 'zazen is boring - get used to it' message is EXTREMELY useful, by the way. Still, a lot of the usefulness of Brad's message is drowned out by the sheer weight of his indignation at the follies and foibles of others. Is he really so shocked - SHOCKED!- that ego has subverted so much of the Zen Buddhist institution? Is that really so outrageous?

For now, Brad is limited by so much of his audience. The punks, neo-hippies, hipsters, and Suicide Girls and their fans that relate to him do so because they are similarly stuck in what's become a never-ending cultural adolescence. That's cool, it's important to draw the youth into this Zen thing if we don't want to see it die. For myself, I can't wait for the inevitable point at which Brad truly challenges himself and his audience (of which I count myself) to grow the fuck up. I think Brad's got a lot of the core shit straight and it's just his lingering teenager-ism that's fucking him up now. It's fucking up a lot of us right now, actually...and as it stands, in order for a lot of US to mature, we're gonna have to subsist on more than just Brad to meet our daily Dharma requirements.

Anonymous said...

nondual, just what is your idea of "grow up"?
conforming? i'd rather be the sheepherder, not the sheep.

pkg said...

The reason you see so few mid-30s punks is because the punk ethos is very adolescent. It's an ethos of rejection, as is much of Brad's approach to Zen. Hell, much of what we know about Brad's approach comes from his criticism of other teachers. Sure, it's necessary and the 'love-n-light' Buddhists possess so very little of the critical nature necessary to honestly tread a Zen path, but an approach that is dominated so much by polemic and criticism is grievously incomplete. I mean, other than saying that so many Zen teachers are wrong, Brad's approach to Zen seems to be that 'posture is important' and 'zazen is boring - get used to it'.

nail on the head

Specific examples please! Please tell us something juicy.

I could, but no.


implying what? you just don't like that jundo told you to bring a written note from your mommy and your doctor

nondual said...

"nondual, just what is your idea of "grow up"?
conforming? i'd rather be the sheepherder, not the sheep."

They both seem like shitty gigs, don't they?

Stephanie said...

Some of the qualities common to adolescent experience are not bad or in need of discarding simply because they are prominent at this developmental stage. Many of the world's greatest movers and thinkers retained an "adolescent" rebelliousness against established order. If everyone "grew up" and stopped fighting the system once they got past their early twenties, many necessary changes for the ethical and spiritual development of humanity would have never occurred. Many of the world's greatest artists retain an "adolescent" capacity for intense emotional experience and the quest for the ideal.

"Adolescent" passion is often what drives some of our deepest pleasures and most powerful experiences in this life, such as falling in love or enjoying music with intense enthusiasm. To me, to be an adult is not to throw away every appearance of youthful energy, but to incorporate the best aspects of being young with the tasks we need to master as adults: namely, to be able to commit, be responsible, and place others and others' needs before our own. If we can do all that and still enjoy a good punk show and a hearty 'fuck you' rant every once in a while, where's the harm?

It's interesting to me how we have this ambivalent attitude toward youth in our culture: on the one hand, we celebrate it as the best time in life and something we should try to prolong as long as possible, while on the other hand, we feel ashamed for still being able to feel as we did when we were younger. What I've learned from the adults and elders I've admired and respected is that one of the keys to a happy and satisfying life is to be able to enjoy life in the same way as a child or teenager does without shame at our own enthusiasm, while also expressing adult qualities like patience, caring, and a refined sense of humor. No need to get rid of one to be able to accomplish the other.

As William Blake says, "Energy is Eternal Delight."

Anonymous said...

Stef,

Before you can talk about being an adult, you need to actually grow up. Sorry! (actually I'm not)

Kamaljit said...

Steph, there is a feeling of irritation in the throat whenever I read your posts.

Therefore..
Its important that you keep posting.

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

Nondual,

Thanks for bringing us your insight and maturity.

Bows,

"nondual, just what is your idea of "grow up"?
conforming? i'd rather be the sheepherder, not the sheep."

The emotionally immature don't become sheep-herders, they become ANTI-SHEEP! Instead of being masters of themselves, they are slaves to their rebellious impulses against what they perceive they are 'supposed' to be.
They are sheep with two masters and they are deluded enough to mistake it for freedom.

I've been there. I did the whole non-conformity thing. I was an anarchist, more punk than the punks. Eventually I grew up.

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

I wonder why Brad didn't advertise that article here like he usually does.

I liked this comment:

"...when I contemplate my insignificance in comparison to the grand cosmic totality of the universe, I don't then feel like then going on a preening macho ego trip that entails telling entire swaths of humanity that their spiritual views are shit that they're unworthy of even discussing with someone as awesome as me."

Hmmm

nondual said...

Steph:
"Some of the qualities common to adolescent experience are not bad or in need of discarding simply because they are prominent at this developmental stage. Many of the world's greatest movers and thinkers retained an "adolescent" rebelliousness against established order. If everyone "grew up" and stopped fighting the system once they got past their early twenties, many necessary changes for the ethical and spiritual development of humanity would have never occurred. Many of the world's greatest artists retain an "adolescent" capacity for intense emotional experience and the quest for the ideal."

"Drowning in my skin! These wounds they will not heal!"

Life hands you enough intense emotional experiences as you get older - divorce, the death of a child, the death of parents, job-loss, foreclosure, etc. You no longer need to manufacture them. The intensity of the emotional experiences of adolescence is caused primarily by self-centeredness and inexperience.

Teen angst is especially out of place in Zen - a religion that places little value in the attainment of the perfect external confluence of situational perfection. What room is there for idealistic indignation in THAT? You wanna change shit? Great! You're pissed because things aren't already changed? How productive! 'Let's all get pissed and throw rocks at anyone who stands up to do anything with which we don't agree!' It's childish and petulant.

But I don't think that's why people are pissed at Brad. I think people are pissed at Brad because he has some measure of authentic realization, and in a world where there really is a lot of fake bullshit passing itself off as Zen, we need more than just someone exposing the frauds (as important as that is). It seems to me that Brad intentionally shirks any sort of real leadership role while still reserving the right to take pot-shots ad liberatum.

But he doesn't step up because he doesn't appear ready to stop tearing shit down for long enough to build anything up - and his whole attitude has now put him in a place where a lot of people might be gunning to do just that to him. Anything he builds will, by the necessity of life in the real world, not live up to his own very high standards.

His contribution is still very much needed, though - so it'd be nice if he'd kindly stop getting into pissing matches with every-fucking-body over dumber and dumber shit. A punk rocker may gauge his success by how many people hate him, but a Zen teacher doesn't give a shit one way or another. Brad does care - he cares so much that he can't help trying to get people to spit at him. He's like a reverse-sycophant, LOL.

And that's the problem with adolescent rebellion - it says, 'What those guys/the system/the fakes are doing is wrong, let's do the opposite!' - as if those two options are the only options. It's like Brad measures legitimacy by how many people are pissed at him, even though I suspect he KNOWS legitimacy has nothing to do with any of that shit.

Stephanie said...

nondual - great post. I agree that many of the things you name are things most healthfully left behind as one transitions out of adolescence. But not all qualities or experiences that people label 'adolescent' need to be jettisoned--that's all I'm saying. It's just too easy for people to say, "Oh that's childish," or "adolescent," or "immature," without explaining why it is so or why it is a problem. IMO there's a healthy way to integrate the perceptions and thinking that begin in adolescence into an adult mindset. For example, the rebellion for the sake of rebellion that began in adolescence can be transmuted into critical awareness and willingness to act tempered with a greater faculty for critical thinking, more restraint, patience, pragmatism, and ability to listen to and empathize with 'the other side.'

And if there's some soccer mom who likes to listen to Linkin Park on her way to her teaching job or to pick up her kids, who cares? Should we mock her for being 'adolescent' because of the nature of her emotional experience, or appreciate the extent to which, as an adult, she lives in the service of others with a loving and patient heart? That's my point--that we miss what's vital, a person's real contributions, when we focus on aspects of their personality that are quirky rather than significantly problematic.

I think Brad challenging the Zen status quo is part of the good he has done as a teacher, not a problem. And I don't think he focuses on it as much as you imply. It seems to me his audience focuses on his rivalry or criticisms more than he does, because in my experience, those things are occasionally mentioned, and when they are, there's usually a point beyond just trash talking--such as a contrast to what Brad has learned is helpful or essential in Zen practice. Brad has focused the majority of his writing on matters of Zen practice in modern American life. How do you feel he has not 'stepped up'?

I certainly don't think he hasn't done plenty of things as a teacher that merit criticism. My foremost complaint against him has been his idealistic 'one true way' attitude, which he seems to have begun to temper lately.

Anon @ 10:52: I'm more 'grown up' than I should be, and have been for a long time. You have no idea. The story of why I became a Buddhist and a social worker is a sad one.

Justin: You've been posting absurdly hateful and detailed ad hominem against Brad here for as long as I can remember. The 'Bradzilla" you talk about is obviously only one of your imagination, a windmill you've been tilting at for as long as you've been posting here. Brad seems to light up some sort of 'Justinzilla' in your own head. You're obviously an intelligent guy and you probably have better things to do and say than keep attacking this one person over and over again.

Anonymous said...

JAN 31, 2008 09:14 AM
Thanks for all the comments. I do appreciate them.

You guys might be interested in this e-mail I received from one of my "Dharma Brothers" regarding the article. His name is Jundo Cohen. I'm sure he'd enjoy hearing your opinions on his teachings.

Here's his e-mail to me:

Brad,

You wrote this?

I met a stripper with a Three Stooges tattoo the other night at a bar called Tigress. She bitch slapped one of my companions hard while she gaveher a ferocious lap dance. Threatened my balls with spike heeled platform shoes. Hissed in my face that she was into edgeplay. She got giant fishhooks stuck through her back with which they hung her bleeding body fromthe ceiling till her screams careened off the hard brick dungeon walls. They pierced her labia with five-inch needles.

Ms. Edgeplay stripper wrenched my friend's nipples and stage-whispered to her how wet she was getting. As if I couldn't hear. Humped her leglike a dog in heat. God wasn't far away at all. If I ever doubted Her presence She showed it to me by grabbing my cock and telling me how She wanted to feel it inside Her.

I am going to go public, with every resource I have privately and on the internet to make you a laughingstock, to tell folks what I think of you, to embarrass you. I will speak out (you can fool others but you can't fool me ... you embarrassment to yourself, our teacher, all of us associated with this). It's not "edgeplay, man ... it's a 12 year old who giggles at the graffiti he drew on a bathroom wall. I will do what I can upon my return to Japan next month to stop the September Retreat at Tokei-in.

You are free to to turn your hanging out in nudie bars, getting "lap dance" from strippers into a profound "teaching" (there are fools born every minute who will buy it too. I think you are just a clown). But you are free to do it, and I am free to take the action I think is right.

You are a joke, and it is not a dirty one.

Gassho, Jundo

Justin said...

Steph,

I think that constructive criticism is very necessary here. In so far as I was being unconstructive, and ad hominem you may be right. I wasn't in good mood.

I retract it.

nondual said...

Steph:

I think Brad challenging the Zen status quo is part of the good he has done as a teacher, not a problem. And I don't think he focuses on it as much as you imply. It seems to me his audience focuses on his rivalry or criticisms more than he does, because in my experience, those things are occasionally mentioned, and when they are, there's usually a point beyond just trash talking--such as a contrast to what Brad has learned is helpful or essential in Zen practice. Brad has focused the majority of his writing on matters of Zen practice in modern American life. How do you feel he has not 'stepped up'?

Challenging the status quo is fine, but Brad's answer to the status quo is 'I have no answers'. While that's ultimately true, I think people need a little more than that. As an example, Brad talked about non-attachment as being unimportant to Buddhism. First off, that's a radically different interpretation than most - which is great, but how about justifying it or fleshing it out just a smidgeon? I mean, the guy he answered was getting neurotic in his practice, trying to be a 'good Buddhist' and basically really attached to the idea of non-attachment. I sure know what that's like! When Brad one-offs an answer like 'non-attachment isn't really that important to Buddhism', he's being disingenuous - even though he's really speaking to the guy. That guy really needed to hear that non-attachment truly isn't as important as he was making it out to be. That's not the same thing as saying it's unimportant to Buddhism in general, which is what Brad did and requires some serious reconciliation with a whole friggin' bunch of the dharma.

Furthermore, Brad consistently refuses the mantle of 'teacher' in the traditional sense, even as he takes great pains to lay low a lot of people who do accept the role - and this is very much put across with the attitude that there's something inherently sneaky or suspicious about the role in general. This leads to shirking a lot of the responsibilities of being a teacher - those of being a role model, particularly. He conjures his Dharma Transmission and Nishijima's sponsorship to lend weight to his arguments (albeit subtly), but then refuses to uphold some of the more arduous duties of being a teacher - 'right speech', most notably. A lot of teachers may maintain that they are not perfect and that they sometimes fall short, but Brad seems to take this to the level of not even trying to follow the precepts - almost to the point of treating them as vestigial.

I certainly don't think he hasn't done plenty of things as a teacher that merit criticism. My foremost complaint against him has been his idealistic 'one true way' attitude, which he seems to have begun to temper lately.

Well yeah, but you have that problem with a lot of people... :D. So much so that I'd say it's more your problem than Brad's or anyone else's.

Anonymous said...

nondual:

Brad's recent posts have been definitely teacher-ish and his recent book and superman post does suggest that he's taking a step in this direction.

Starting with "I'm human and flawed" seems to be a sensible base on which to build.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to point out, for nondual for one, but to others too, to take a close look at what Brad writes about taking/giving power in teacher-student and leader-follower relationships.

I think Brad has stated many times (more than enough) the reasons why he does not accept the mantle of a leader - why he actually actively resists it.

It's all to do with the power. Most of the people who want someone to be their leader or teacher or whatnot also want the leader/teacher/pimp take their power away from them, that is, to tell them what to do, how to think, how to be, and ultimately taking away their responsibility. Just read his example from Hardcore Zen or his latest book, where he once tried to get Gudo's justification for what he thought was an enlightenment experience, but Gudo threw it right back to his face.

And I think it's great that he does it!

Lauren said...

Is Buddhism the tradition and thought created by a long history of Buddhists, or is Buddhism a basic practice to enter into reality as it is?

If B, then non-attachment has no role. Chants have no role. Oryoki has no role, etc ad nauseum

If A, then there are countless facts and points and idealisms you must be able to regurgitate before you can say you are a Buddhist.

"Non-attachment", "right speech" and all these other traditional terms are just a way of describing how people behave or not. They are not basic tenets of Buddhism as an active practice. They are idealisms.

If your concept of Buddhism does not allow that someone could be fully entered into the Dharma and yet not be able to parrot back ideas such as non-attachment, then you are not conceiving of the absolute Buddhism of action, you are conceiving of the Buddhism of relative human traditions and interactions. The Buddhism of delusive ideas.

Follower said...

And I think it's great that he does it!

There is a difference between being a leader with a light hand who lets people find there own way, and a leader who pretty much abandons his responsibility to provide some organized and meaningful teachings. With Brad, one gets the sense that he is very often not leading because he is not sure where the hell he is supposed to lead folks, is pulling his Buddhist ideas out of his ass, and is more confused than the people he is supposed to be leading.

Follower said...

Brad's recent posts have been definitely teacher-ish and his recent book and superman post does suggest that he's taking a step in this direction.

I think Brad has stated many times (more than enough) the reasons why he does not accept the mantle of a leader - why he actually actively resists it.

And I think it's great that he does it!


Thank you Brad for your comments. Why anonymous?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Nondual said:
"Challenging the status quo is fine, but Brad's answer to the status quo is 'I have no answers'. While that's ultimately true, I think people need a little more than that."

That's your problem...thinking. Don't worry about other people, worry about yourself.

"This leads to shirking a lot of the responsibilities of being a teacher - those of being a role model, particularly."

Realization is wiping your ass of role models.

Anonymous said...

Lauren makes a great point. Thanks! I totally agree and we should remind ourselves about this more often. Especially when these issues arise.

Anonymous said...

The blind Follower said,
leader who pretty much abandons his responsibility to provide some organized and meaningful teachings.

And this is exactly why Brad does not, nor should he, accept to be the leader to you or anyone else. Has he ever promised to lead you? Who has attributed to him the responsibility to provide teachings in one way or another? Perhaps it is exactly this, people pushing their personal ideas of what a teacher/leader should do and be, why Brad neither is nor wants to be the kind of a person to play up to your fantasies.

Stephanie said...

Challenging the status quo is fine, but Brad's answer to the status quo is 'I have no answers'. While that's ultimately true, I think people need a little more than that. As an example, Brad talked about non-attachment as being unimportant to Buddhism. First off, that's a radically different interpretation than most - which is great, but how about justifying it or fleshing it out just a smidgeon? I mean, the guy he answered was getting neurotic in his practice, trying to be a 'good Buddhist' and basically really attached to the idea of non-attachment. I sure know what that's like! When Brad one-offs an answer like 'non-attachment isn't really that important to Buddhism', he's being disingenuous - even though he's really speaking to the guy. That guy really needed to hear that non-attachment truly isn't as important as he was making it out to be. That's not the same thing as saying it's unimportant to Buddhism in general, which is what Brad did and requires some serious reconciliation with a whole friggin' bunch of the dharma.

Excellent point, and well said. I can get on board with that. Maybe you should e-mail Brad this? He obviously does read the comments here, but I don't think he does so consistently or thoroughly.

those of being a role model, particularly

It depends on how you look at it. I think Brad is a good role model in many ways. He's role modeling authenticity and responsibility for oneself--which in my experience are much more difficult qualities to attain or master than superficially 'pure' conduct such as not cursing or not fucking around, etc.

I think the extent to which he's a "precept breaker" is exaggerated, but then again I work closely with convicted criminals (and am sympathetic toward them) so my standards of what is shocking behavior may be a bit different than others' standards or even from what my own standards once were.

Nonetheless, Brad seems pretty mild-mannered and kind-hearted, and it strikes me as odd that he's become singled out as this example of bad behavior--because of what, that he's drunk alcohol and smoked pot once in the course of a given year? That he slept with a woman to whom he was attracted who wanted to sleep with him, who made him feel good about himself after his wife told him she no longer even saw him as a man? Brad didn't just say, "I'm a rock star now, I'm going to go fuck all these women," he was lonely and chose to act in a way to try to repair that loneliness instead of being stoic. I personally not only don't see this as problematic, but even see it as healthy. Not that a sexual relationship between a teacher and student isn't fraught with all kinds of potential problems due to the power dynamic and idealism / projection involved, but that's his piece to work out. Anyway, he probably enjoys it because he's been used to being the 'good boy' his whole life and now, even though he's as gentle of spirit as he's always been, he gets to feel like a bad boy and a rebel.

But it brings up an interesting story of a client I worked with recently. This was a fellow who projected a superficially 'positive' persona. He didn't curse or smoke and looked down on others who did, he talked about his positive goals and his religious faith. But it came to light that he was involved in activities in which other inmates were being victimized. His 'wearing' of superficially 'positive' qualities was a way of securing more power for himself. Whereas I've worked with inmates who cuss and express negative opinions regularly but who also manifest honesty and a sincere desire to better themselves and stop hurting others. As is the case in many a myth and fairy tale, often the best among us are not the ones who look the best upon superficial analysis.

Well yeah, but you have that problem with a lot of people... :D. So much so that I'd say it's more your problem than Brad's or anyone else's.

Perhaps. But sometimes one's 'problems' are no different from one's wisdom. The reason I rail so much against idealism is because I have such extreme idealistic tendencies myself, and saw quite powerfully how I was being deluded by them.

This tyranny of the ideal--our need for 'good objects,' to use psychoanalytic lingo--is behind many of the worst abuses and greatest failures of any religion or spiritual tradition. When a spiritual tradition reinforces your fundamental sense of being at war with yourself, of needing to shove yourself into someone else's view of how people should be in order to be acceptable or 'good,' this promotes neither happiness nor wisdom, but instead neurosis, misery, delusion, and conflict. Some people with a faulty conscience / superego need a bit of encouragement to move in the right direction but many people, especially among those who devote themselves to religion or spirituality, are already loaded with guilt and self-hatred and hardly need others to add more.

And this is something I was thinking about this morning as I dragged my sleep-deprived carcass to class: how people with less psychic damage pick on troubled folks and call them 'immature.' I took to heart for a long time that I was to blame for all of my problems and difficulties. But some education and self-discovery has revealed this is not so, just as is the case with many people. It's not that people wallow in adolescent emotional states because they are immature or just don't want to grow up. Many desperately fight to keep these states at bay, to bootstrap themselves into an appearance of normalcy. Because they have suffered damage that they have not yet healed, they cope in ways that seem pathological to others but in truth reflect their strength in having overcome the tendency to act in even more desperate or extreme ways.

The 'normals' love to berate the sad or the angry folks (precisely because these 'normal' individuals are ashamed of their own sadness and anger and cannot own or accept them) as creating their own problems while failing to realize the extent to which these people have to strive and to labor just to manage at the level the 'normal' individual judges as deficient. This tendency to dismiss the people who have been given the hardest lots in life as creators of their own psychic torment is similar to the way many among the wealthy and privileged say that those who are poor are poor only because they are lazy, morally flawed, or otherwise responsible for their condition. By making someone else 'bad,' I feel good about me--this is why compassion and wisdom are so intimately intertwined, because without compassion, without the ability to imaginatively enter into another person's condition, our judgments of why they are as they are, or why society is how it is, are hopelessly off-base.

This is not to say that we don't all have ways we create our own suffering and ways we can practice to overcome it. It is not to say that Buddhist practice can't also help us work with and reconcile that which we have suffered that is not our fault. It is good that we encourage one another to take hold of our own power to lift ourselves up--but I think it is just as necessary we show wise mercy by understanding that suffering is greater for some, that the work is harder, and that they did not deserve the things that happened to them growing up that configured their internal realities in such a way as to bring about certain emotional or mental states.

Often, people who have suffered in such a way are already quite strong and determined--they have had to learn how to be--and need kindness and understanding more than they need even the most well-meaning criticism. When life is hard, it does not gives us more strength for others to add to our hardship by mocking us in such a way as to evoke feelings of shame. Having learned this firsthand, I have an appreciation of the delicacy of the human being and its need for kindness and the extent to which it needs help that it often refuses to ask for. This inspires me to return to compassion again and again in my life and practice.

Anonymous said...

steff has some good points;
it's a good point to stay on your
ritalin dosage so you do not form verbal diarrhea

PKB said...

Lauren,
Strictly speaking, there is no practice that can cause you to 'enter reality as it is'. There are only various expedient means and teaching devices that may help or trick you into seeing what is already there. Zazen can be one such (very useful and effective, imo) device.

If you believe that the entire point of Buddhism is to sit in the correct posture, then all the other teachings of the Buddha and patriarchs are pointless.

I completely agree that it is not necessary to use specific buddhist terms or regurgitate the tripitaka (buddhist scriptures) in order to see directly the nature of reality, what you call entering the Dharma. This is one area where I strongly disagree with Brad. I believe there can be and are other tradtions or religions, or paths that can lead people (again, through various expedient means only) to awakening and actualization of Buddha nature. I don't see Buddhism or Zen having a monopoly on truth.

"Non-attachment", "right speech" and all these other traditional terms are just a way of describing how people behave or not. They are not basic tenets of Buddhism as an active practice. They are idealisms."

I strongly disagree. If they are idealisms, then the Buddha was an idealist. They are no more an ideal than sitting in the correct posture is an ideal. They are meant to be actively practiced, not parroted. The Buddha enunciated certain basic principles that he discovered might help people to either lessen their suffering or awaken completely if they chose to use them. Right Meditation (zazen) is just one of those basic principles. One of Eight. Without the other elements of the teachings, zazen itself can easily degenerate into self-hypnosis or just a calming exercise. In this, I completely agree with Jundo. Much more than zazen is needed.

In Zen Wrapped in Karma, Brad states emphatically that:

"There is no Zen without Ceremony and Ritual"

So are you suggesting that we should discard or treat as unimportant such basic Buddhist teachings as nonattachment, right speech, mindfullness, skillful means and whatever other basic buddhist teachings Brad chooses to discard next, but that we should retain the tradtional ceremonies and rituals? The eightfold path, four noble truths and countless other teachings of the Buddha and patriarchs are not arcana that we are supposed to memorize in order to parrot or regurgitate in order to prove we are real buddhists. They are central concepts that are meant to help us unravel our delusion. So we should keep the rituals and say thanks in japanese, eat with oryoki but discard the central tenets of Buddhist teachings?

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moon Face Buddha said...

I think Brad has stated many times (more than enough) the reasons why he does not accept the mantle of a leader - why he actually actively resists it.

And yet he chooses to appear on TV wearing his robes when it serves the purpose of selling more books?

If Brad is not capable of seeing that he is seen as a leader by some people then he is probably not yet ready to wear robes and tout his dharma transmission in public.

This is why a teacher/student relationship is not an relationship between equals, and as such is a breach of the Precepts.

And if you take what I just said at face value you are a cosmic schmuck :)

Dan said...

As a beginner, I really enjoy the variety of points of view expressed on this blog. I'm learning a lot.

I do find it funny some seem so attached to being right or wrong--especially when the subject is non-attachment.

And I'm not sure how telling others what they should or should not be doing really helps the commenter since others' beliefs' and behavior is something beyond our control. If anything, the comments reveal more about the person commenting than the people being commented on.

There's a lot of insight to be found though, and for that I thank you.

Anonymous said...

"And yet he chooses to appear on TV wearing his robes when it serves the purpose of selling more books?"

Exactly!

I am not sure if he ever denies he is a teacher, but you can't appear on TV with your robes or on articles being called a "Soto priest" and then chiding people for assuming that you are a teacher or willing to guide through a lifetime practice.

If you don't like "having students", then stop wearing a robe, correct folks who call you a Soto Zen priest, and live fully the life of a "lay person." Nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

Misguided Mysterion blurted,
If Brad is not capable of seeing that he is seen as a leader by some people then he is probably not yet ready to wear robes and tout his dharma transmission in public.

I bet you ten bucks that Brad is more capable and aware of what people would like to see him and make him be than you or anyone else on this blog. Still doesn't mean he has to act to fulfill their wishful thinking though.

You too should read his writings more closely, and not just this comments section.

Anonymous said...

"And yet he chooses to appear on TV wearing his robes when it serves the purpose of selling more books?"

Not only that, but allows himself to be introduced as a "Zen Master", not just zen teacher.

Anonymous said...

"That's your problem...thinking."

Spoken like a true fundamentalist hack, philbob.

Anonymous said...

"Not only that, but allows himself to be introduced as a "Zen Master", not just zen teacher."

....no...that can't be true...he is not a zen master nor Soto Zen Priest...come on!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0w_BTYQQL8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eak3DCgocM8


....oh....

Anonymous said...

I just read the chapter in the book about the "piece of tail". What a ripoff! With all the scandals rippling through the blogosphere I expected Brad would have at least nailed half of his students while his wife watched.

But doing it with a cute girl on her request after being celibate for six months and on the verge of a divorce with a wife who longer thinks you're a man? You can hardly call that a big deal, less alone a scandal of any magnitude.

I say, go Mountain Gorilla Zen Master! I only wish I could score one cute asian girl, Brad seems to be on the roll.

Anonymous said...

"he is manipulative, entirely self-serving, and dishonest."

"Nishijima Sensei has officially told Jundo to fuck off"

"Does Philbob have a function besides kissing Brad's ass?"

"Those who remain around Roshi are largely a few "True Believers" (a couple of rather glassy eyed fellows who would believe in 'dowsing rods' if Sensei said it were true)"

"a character who can spew out any schoolboy "I said a bad word" double-talk as a "teaching"

"You really should work on this diarrhea of the mouth you've got there."

"I see Brad is pissing of all the atheists now with his half-baked, philosophically bogus, arrogant proclamations."

"emotionally immature, has mutated his ego and self-importance to monstrous proportions"

"the intention of words has karma, and moreover, once they are out there, you have to go on from there. Care too has Karma. Choose care and the Buddha will smile." - Robert Aiken from his blog on February 18, 2009 5:39 PM

Moon Face Buddha said...

Steph, how can you be sure that Brad (or any of us) are being "authentic".

As Baudelaire may have once written;

C'est par le malentendu universel que tout le monde s'accorde.

Car si, par malheur, on se comprenait, on ne pourrait jamais s'accorder.

nondual said...

"Not only that, but allows himself to be introduced as a "Zen Master", not just zen teacher."

I'm pretty sure this is ironic.

nondual said...

Lauren:
Is Buddhism the tradition and thought created by a long history of Buddhists, or is Buddhism a basic practice to enter into reality as it is?

Really? We're stuck with either/or statements here? Clearly, Buddhism is both.

If B, then non-attachment has no role. Chants have no role. Oryoki has no role, etc ad nauseum

If A, then there are countless facts and points and idealisms you must be able to regurgitate before you can say you are a Buddhist.


Wow, talk about B not leading from A - your premise is deliberately obtuse. This childish extremism is exactly the stench of adolescence I've been talking about. "Either the practices are meaningless (except the ones I cherish) or you have to be the wikipedia of Buddhism." Yeah, or you can emphasize one while respecting the other.

"Non-attachment", "right speech" and all these other traditional terms are just a way of describing how people behave or not. They are not basic tenets of Buddhism as an active practice. They are idealisms.

And yet, you can't just throw them out as unimportant either. They were so important, Sidd made them his first and most fundamental teachings. If you think zazen in and of itself leads to ethical behavior, you are sadly mistaken - as can be seen by the history of Zen in the West.

If your concept of Buddhism does not allow that someone could be fully entered into the Dharma and yet not be able to parrot back ideas such as non-attachment, then you are not conceiving of the absolute Buddhism of action, you are conceiving of the Buddhism of relative human traditions and interactions. The Buddhism of delusive ideas.

I firmly believe you can have a realization experience and get a good part of the basic gist of Buddhism without understanding anything about the philosophy. That doesn't make you a good teacher, though. Some people are naturally gifted painters who can do photorealistic paintings without much practice. They are shitty painting teachers.

You're crazy if you think Brad doesn't have an intricate set of ideals - they're just adolescent punk-rock ideals.

Anonymous said...

Nondual,

I think your crazy for thinking you can peg Brad -- or anyone for that matter -- into an "intricate set of ideals".

Way too idealistic.

Anonymous said...

I have an appreciation of the delicacy of the human being and its need for kindness and the extent to which it needs help that it often refuses to ask for. This inspires me to return to compassion again and again in my life and practice.
Stephanie,
I did wonder, if you happen to read this, have time & wouldn't mind, whether or not you could comment on active thorough kindness feeding in circularity into 'inauthentic'ity, 'sweetness and light' living, and in what sense those
'normals' [that] love to berate the sad or angry folks
embody this absolute kindness or not. Slight pride is what I read in the easy antagonistic reference to 'normals'. I'm really not sold on the point that these normals exist out there, sparkling & boring & taunting, in opposition, those authentic ones sweating under their authentic burdens!

nondual said...

"I think your crazy for thinking you can peg Brad -- or anyone for that matter -- into an "intricate set of ideals"."

They may be unconscious, but they're there.

Anonymous said...

"Not only that, but allows himself to be introduced as a "Zen Master", not just zen teacher."

I'm pretty sure this is ironic.


The CNN announcer wasn't informed of this irony, then. In Zen Wrapped in Karma, Brad refers to himself over and over as a Zen Master. He keeps assuring us it is meant to be ironic, but in the context he keeps using it, it sure doesn't read that way to me.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie said...

Moon Face Buddha:

Certainly, one never knows how another person understands one's words. Does it matter? It seems people are able to understand one another even without words, but is that an illusion? How would we ever know? I used to mull over this sort of thing in my deepest states of despair, and I never got any answer, but for some reason it's not bothering me so much lately. All we've got to go on is our own instincts, and if they're fucked--well, they're fucked. You can see into or through your subjective conditioning but you can't escape it, so if the subjective tools you have are faulty, you're stuck with 'em nonetheless. Cause you might do all the therapies and practices in the world and still be hopelessly deluded--how could you ever know otherwise, than to trust yourself?

As for Brad--no, we can't know if he's being true to himself, or if what he's presenting is 'authentic.' That's between him and God. But to me, his willingness to admit fault and show his vulnerability is a reflection of the bravery that goes hand in hand with authenticity. The thing is, this book--it's not that he admitted sleeping around. That rarely is only a source of shame for a guy--usually it's a boast, even if there's shame too. No, it's the way he shared all these intimate details of pain and sorrow and humiliation. He really put his guts on a stick and stuck it there for everyone to see in this book. Even if those guts were rotten guts (which they're not), that alone would be an admirable act in my book, an act of authenticity: 'Here I am. Judge me.'

I felt something, reading these things, a sense of recognition--not because I've experienced those exact things, but there's a sense of loneliness and loss he evoked, one that comes out when you just can't hold your trip together any more. But also a sense of acceptance there too that is what gave this book the feel of a spiritual book and not just any old memoir. He was still trying to be cute and funny and wise in the book, his usual persona, but in those moments where he was writing about his mom, or grandmother, or wife, or girl, that stuff would just drop away for a moment or two. I recognized it--the emergence of a person who's letting go of the script a bit. Because you get to the point where it hurts enough that you just don't give a fuck any more and have to be real. Now, maybe what I saw isn't really there. Maybe even my own sense of having been in that place isn't quite right, it's just a bunch of thoughts and feelings and who knows what it means to be authentic. But it's all we got to go on, right? A feeling.

Anon @ 4:35: Good post. Thanks for the challenge. And you're right. I agree with you--no one is really 'normal.' We've all got that freaky little thing hidden away and it's why I love people. I can't tell you how many times I've been ready to write someone off, and then they show me a little something about who they really are behind the public face, and I just realize all my thoughts about that person were bullshit. We're all sweating under an authentic burden, and when we can tap into that we realize how much we're not different.

What I do have--is it pride, or is it contempt?--is directed toward the people who look at someone weak or hurting, alone or vulnerable, weird or in trouble, and kick dirt in that person's face because it's easy. They don't stop and sit down and look in that person's face. You know, I've been on both sides of that. I've looked away. I've even kicked the proverbial dirt into their faces too. And when I catch myself doing that is when I know I'm lost. But I do have a little pride, because I don't do it that much any more, because I've been on the receiving end too many times.

I'm suspicious of 'sweetness and light' types because almost invariably I find that (a) the 'sweetness and light' is a pose or defense against a lot of dark shit they've got inside that they don't want to own, which means they treat you, if you don't hide your own dark shit, the same way they treat those dark parts of themselves, or (b) they haven't really suffered enough yet to know the true significance of kindness. These folks may show you generosity, reach out to you, and it's lovely--it's not that they're bad people--but... it's not kindness. Because they pity you, or are a bit unnerved by you, and so there's this wall... there's them and there's you and you can feel it and in a way it's more demeaning than if they'd never smiled or offered a 'kind word' in the first place. Because you know what you are in their eyes.

It's not that they--or anyone--is incapable of kindness. It's just that they haven't knocked down the dividing wall between them and it, or had it knocked down for them. They have a conscience, but it's a guilt thing, a pity thing. Not a 'I've been in the same place as this person before, this is my sister or brother, I can give them a real word.' I often lose touch with my own kindness. It's only by virtue of having my face shoved in the shit again that I remember and come back to it. Maybe if I wasn't so stupid in this way life wouldn't have to keep doing that to me. Notably, when the kindness is more fully, authentically there, I feel less contempt toward those for whom it does not seem to be.

HernĂ¡n said...

Its sad to see that Warner's sangha main activity is bashing people. Not very buddhist at all, sorry.

I'dont know about Brad, but Jundo is really a great teacher.

Jinzang said...

Not many of the commenters on this blog are from Brad's sangha.

dfunk said...

Man,seriouly people (Brad too ) it's time to go out and play.I mean really.

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