Sunday, February 08, 2009

NEW SG ARTICLE: WHY CAN'T WE ACCEPT GOOD SPIRITUAL ADVICE UNLESS IT COMES FROM SUPERMAN

My new Suicide Girls article is up now click here to see it. They also have an RSS feed which is here and may be accessible by people using networks on which the Suicide Girls site is banned. The new article is about my new book and it's called "Why Can't We Accept Good Spiritual Advice Unless It Comes From Superman?" This is one of the central themes of the book.

Of course, some smarty pants out there in comment land is bound to say that mine is not good spiritual advice. Fair enough. But why can't we seem to accept any spiritual advice unless we believe the source of that advice to be somehow divine? I think this is a very important question.

243 comments:

1 – 200 of 243   Newer›   Newest»
Mika Rantanen said...

Personally I take any spiritual advice from anyone with a grain of salt, and maybe with extra serving if it comes from a highly dubious figure, and judge it's value based on how it works for me personally. Heck, you can even get some good pointers from things that were probably not constructed to give any in the first place!

Your's is as good as any.

Justin said...

"But why can't we seem to accept any spiritual advice unless we believe the source of that advice to be somehow divine? I think this is a very important question."

Maybe some people are like that.

For me, the important question is why anyone would take spritual (ha! you used the s-word) advice from someone who wasn't able to successfully implement that advice in their own life. If someone who was unhappy, hostile, mentally unstable and whose life was generally a mess, told me that if I just followed the same philosophy and attitude as them, and did as they did for many years then maybe, just maybe I could reap some of the same benefits as they had - I wouldn't be too impressed.

This is why, when choosing a teaching I would choose someone who was happy, peaceful, kind and generally had their shit together as well as compatible with me.

If a 'spiritual teacher' has not benefited from their own advice then it's just a lot of hot air.

Bucko said...

I don't think most people expect their spiritual teachers to be magical or superman these days. But they do expect them not to be complete hypocrites.

I have no problem with Jimmy Swaggart getting blown by prostitutes...but while he's doing this, he's also preaching to everyone else about the evils of pornography. Ted Haggard has every right to make mistakes, take meth and have sex with gay prostitutes...but he was also telling his parishioners how to live and preaching against those things.

If Jesus said turn the other cheek and love your enemies, but then went on a killing spree, this has no bearing on whether love your enemies is a good teaching in itself, but it does call into question whether jesus would be worth listening to at all.

If the Buddha claimed to show the way to end all suffering...then spent every evening in his hut crying, depressed and contemplating suicide, no-one would likely have paid much attention to anything he said.

No problem if Brad has all the foibles and neurotic issues that plague the rest of us, but it does call into question the worth of his spiritual advice.

The argument that 'if not for zazen, so and so would be much worse' is complete BS. I hear Chrsitians voice this sort of justification all the time. All religites do. "I killed 10 chinese during the last war. But if I hadn't done zazen I'm sure I'd have killed 20." "Since I've found jesus, I still sin, but now I feel really bad about it."

At The Moment said...

"some smarty pants out there in comment land"

Where is this Comment Land? Next to Oz or Narnia?

Anonymous said...

On returning from a retreat, the Buddha notices that there are far fewer bhikkhus present in the area than before, musing that before he left, "The park seemed ablaze with bhikkhus". When he asks Ananda about it, Ananda replies that after the Buddha’s last teaching the bhikkhus became ‘repelled, humiliated, and disgusted with this body’ and they had committed suicide. The sutta says that as many as thirty bhikkhus took their lives each day. Ananda, then requests that the Buddha give another teaching. The Buddha calls for a great assembly of bhikkhus and tells them to concentrate on breathing. - Samyutta Nikaya pp.1773–4.

jundo cohen said...

Brad,

As someone who as taken issue with aspects of your book, I think your suicide girls posting is beautiful and brilliant and needs to be shouted from the mountains. I do applaud what your goals were in writing the book regarding points like this ...

Sometimes we like our guys to be Great Ancient Masters reincarnated right in Beverly Hills or possess psychic abilities and beatific vision. And even when we’re not after those sorts of blatant conjuring acts we still look for people who conform to our image of spiritual purity. Those who are spiritually pure shouldn’t be like ordinary people. They need to be perpetually serene and unaffected, liberated from bodily desires and distress. When we find out that they’re people just like the rest of us we’re liable to rebel and turn upon them viciously.
...
I wanted to write a book that told the truth about teachers in Eastern spiritual traditions. Because there are still a lot of illusions out there about those of us in this game. The public has been conditioned by the media to believe that teachers in Eastern traditions aren’t like our garden-variety preachers, priests, imams and rabbis. Yogis, Gurus and Zen Masters, we’re told, have this special something called “Enlightenment” that makes them transcend the world of ordinary humans.

Anonymous said...

Brad, I still feel that this "convenient shorthand" is actually adding to very problem that you are writing about. The very word is defined as relating to something not of this world or super-natural.
Ive read your first two books, and read your blog, and you have NEVER taught of anything super-natural. Actually, quite the opposite. From my understanding, all of the Soto Zen teachers emphasize the reality that we live in.
So by referring to yourself or others w/ the "s" word, there is already the implication of some knowledge of some supernatural or insight that the student cant see.
You have some, great experience in your life, and your are a good writer and communicator. You have the ability to teach others what you have learned. And it is much appreciated.
Please drop the "s" word.
It can only help.
MJ

Todd said...

Interesting that you'd post this article, especially considering this little article on Elephant Journal: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/02/dorje-chang-buddha-has-returned-to-this-earth-and-is-now-living-in-america-too-bad-heit-cant-afford-a-decent-web-designer/

I ended up going to check out the site directly (http://www.zhaxizhuoma.net/index.html), and couldn't help but think about some of your rants and especially chapter 5 in your new book (for those that haven't read it yet, go order it/pick it up... seriously)... as Waylon observed, funny how the 2nd sentence hits you up for a purchase. Wonder if their book will help you to get a "Big Mind"? ;)

Anonymous said...

"But just because no spiritual teacher is Superman doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot through the practice of meditation."

I got that.. zazen is the real teacher. But who are you and Jundo? Seriously, after your advice to sit, what use are you?


"it has become urgent that we kill the idea of the spiritual Superman and start looking at how we can accept good spiritual advice even from people who burp and fart and -- fuck."

I am starting to think that the best spiritual advice is No spiritual advice. Solicited spiritual advice is corrupted by the fact that the questioner wants something. Who knows what the advice giver wants. Their egos inflated? Even if they sincerely want to help, there is a good chance they'll give bad advice. It is hard to know.

Jinzang said...

It won’t happen, so you might as well give the money to me instead!

If you need help setting up a PayPal link, I can walk you through it.

satanlubsU said...

"I got that.. zazen is the real teacher. But who are you and Jundo? Seriously, after your advice to sit, what use are you?"

ROFLMAO!!!

This whole zen teachers aren't supernatural beings stuff is pretty self-serving imho. Who actually believes that crap? Since the 1980's eastern gurus and zen roshis have been endlessly outed as beings who have human shortcomings. It's all in books and all over the web. You'd have to be living under a rock not to know all this.

St.John said...

I'll take it one step further and ask: "Why can't we accept information from people who don't have a college degree?" I know plenty of people with profound knowledge on any number of topics whom never received a degree, yet I am confident that they have obtained far more knowledge than many with Ph.D's, etc...

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

St.John said...
"Why can't we accept information from people who don't have a college degree?"

Indeed, when you can see for yourself,

who needs a degree

or a religious title?

Anonymous said...

"A college degree is an indication that you had enough commitment to finish SOMETHING."

That, and enough money to afford it. George W Bush has a college degree and is famously quoted as saying, “My job is to do my job.”

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

For spiritual advice, I consult Willie Nelson:

http://www.amazon.com/Tao-Willie-Guide-Happiness-Heart/dp/B001B2G4PQ

Frank Zappa said...

"Cosmik Debris" by F. Zappa

The Mystery Man came over
An' he said: "I'm outa-site!"
He said, for a nominal service charge,
I could reach nervonna t'nite
If I was ready, willing 'n able
To pay him his regular fee
He would drop all the rest of his pressing affairs
And devote His Attention to me
But I said . . .
Look here brother,
Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?
(Now who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?)
Look here brother,
Don't you waste your time on me

The Mystery Man got nervous
An' he fidget around a bit
He reached in the pocket of his Mystery Robe
An' he whipped out a shaving kit
Now, I thought it was a razor
An' a can of foamin' goo
But he told me right then when the top popped open
There was nothin' his box won't do
With the oil of Afro-dytee
An' the dust of the Grand Wazoo
He said:
"You might not believe this, little fella, but it'll cure your Asthma too!"
An' I said . . .
Look here brother,
Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?
(Now what kind of a geroo are you anyway?)
Look here brother,
Don't you waste your time on me
Don't waste yer time . . .

I've got troubles of my own, I said
An' you can't help me out
So take your meditations an' your preparations
An' ram it up yer snout
"BUT I GOT A KRISTL BOL!", he said
An' held it to the light
So I snatched it
All away from him
An' I showed him how to do it right
I wrapped a newspaper 'round my head
So I'd look like I was Deep
I said some Mumbo Jumbos then
An' told him he was goin' to sleep
I robbed his rings
An' pocket watch
An' everything else I found
I had that sucker hypnotized
He couldn't even make a sound
I proceeded to tell him his future then
As long as he was hanging around,
I said
"The price of meat has just gone up
An' yer ol' lady has just gone down . . . "
Look here brother,
Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?
(Now is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?)
Don't you know,
You could make more money as a butcher,
So don't you waste your time on me
(Don't waste it, don't waste your time on me . . . )
Ohm shonty, ohm shonty, ohm shonty-ohm
SSHONTAY

Anonymous said...

Me, too...
Willie knows.

Sebastian said...

I didn't have to subscribe to SG to read the articles!!!! Crap

Personally, I take advice from Tom Cruise. Yeah, he speaks to me from time to time, when I need it.

Flyingpig said...

"I got that.. zazen is the real teacher. But who are you and Jundo? Seriously, after your advice to sit, what use are you?"

Zen is useless; Zen masters are good for nothing, too.

But they're great company in the zendo. Hardly ever flinch.

kudra said...

"who needs a degree"


my oncologist.

Hoo_u_Tinka said...

Blogger Flyingpig said...
"I got that... Zazen is the real teacher. But who are you and Jundo? Seriously, after your advice to sit, what use are you?"

I dunno 'bout Jundo, but Brad writes books worth reading (especially at $10 a pop). Also, the Q&A at his book signings is well worth the price. I plan to appear at each of his four SFO events as a different persona - Born-yet-againer, Krishna-like consciousness, Santa Clause, and Wiley (with a chicken pot pie). Not only that, I offered to drive him to where ever he needs to go in the immediate area - providing he let's me wear my Elvis outfit.

Al Coleman said...

Dammit Brad! You keep forgetting to put "Opening The Hand of Thought" on your "Zen Books That Don't Suck' page.

Anonymous said...

supermen? sure.
but when you get down to the nitty gritty, it's the addicts dilemma. we seek out what we feel we need. and for most, it's the need for something "bigger than" one's self.

the prophet, the drug, the church, the arena. it's the idea that you can surrender yourself to something "more than" yourself and not have to do all the work yourself.

if the prophet was wrong, you are absolved, if the drugs "go bad" you are absolved etc.

it's a denial.

Anonymous said...

Al Coleman shut up and go play with your white balls

Rex Exterior said...

If you do not sit with the determination to die, you will not be able to find the way of zazen. When you hold onto anything - even your own life - you will be just wasting your time.

Jinzang said...

Personally, I think the first question a student should ask of a Buddhist teacher is if what they teach is in accord with the dharma. You should study on your own and make sure that what your teacher teaches doesn't disagree with that.

But I agree with Brad here, a lot of people expect too much of their teacher. Then they are disappointed when the teacher doesn't deliver.

Definitely practice cuts through your delusions and attachments. But it only does this gradually. You start with the smallest of the small, and work up to larger attachments as your practice deepens. What this means is that normally a long time practitioner will seem calm and serene. But if something stirs a deep attachment, they'll be just as wild and crazy as if they never practiced, or maybe more.

Often people judge a person by their worst behavior. When the teacher acts out, they think, now the mask has fallen and we see the teacher as they actually are. Measured by this strict standard Zen seems to have no benefit and seems a fraud. But measured by the more forgiving standard of everyday behavior, you can see the benefit of Zen day by day as you continue to practice.

Jinzang said...

Seriously, after your advice to sit, what use are you?

Well, usually people have questions as they continue to practice and need a little guidance so they don't run off the rails.

Rick said...

I'm willing to take advice from anyone who knows what they're talking about.

gniz said...

Jinzang said: "What this means is that normally a long time practitioner will seem calm and serene. But if something stirs a deep attachment, they'll be just as wild and crazy as if they never practiced, or maybe more.

Often people judge a person by their worst behavior. When the teacher acts out, they think, now the mask has fallen and we see the teacher as they actually are. Measured by this strict standard Zen seems to have no benefit and seems a fraud. But measured by the more forgiving standard of everyday behavior, you can see the benefit of Zen day by day as you continue to practice."

One of the most insightful things i've ever read and makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

excellent SG article
wish it were the epilogue to the book

JB said...

my main teacher has said the teacher/student relationship is as if the student fell asleep and had a dream that they married the teacher. And, then they wake up and go for a walk and bump into the teacher having a chat with some other girl/boy, and they are all upset.

personally, I think you have to watch the teacher for a long time before you give them your trust. but, then you have to do it fully.

i dont know about wanting the teacher to be divine? but, i really want to see that they are pretty darn good! why would i want to entrust the most important thing to an idiot?

I look and see if they have been doing the practise for a long time, have credibility with their own teacher and that they don't just tell people what they want to hear.

Stephanie said...

Definitely practice cuts through your delusions and attachments. But it only does this gradually. You start with the smallest of the small, and work up to larger attachments as your practice deepens. What this means is that normally a long time practitioner will seem calm and serene. But if something stirs a deep attachment, they'll be just as wild and crazy as if they never practiced, or maybe more.

Ding! Thanks Jinz.

And I think Bucko made a good point about comparing the words of a teacher to that teacher's actions.

And, of course, just as not all Dharma teachers are made alike, so not all Dharma students are made alike.

I've had several folks say that perhaps Buddhism isn't the path for me because I say that ending suffering is not my primary concern. But the thing is, knowing the truth about reality and the mind are my primary concerns, and Buddhism absolutely seems to be the best vehicle for developing this knowledge / insight. So my practice, what I do and what I emphasize will differ from the practice and emphasis of another person for whom the cessation of suffering is the primary goal. This is why I don't always fit in among other Dharma practitioners and I understand this.

But I apply the same sort of analysis Bucko is talking about--the kind of practice that makes one more judgmental and dismissive of those who are different is not one I uphold as wisdom. If your practice just makes you more of an arrogant dickhead with ever more refined ways of looking down on other people, what the hell kind of bodhisattva practice is that? Fuhgeddaboudit!

So my standard isn't that a teacher has to be serene. Actually I find the kind of idealized notion of Buddhist serenity a bit boring. I've always liked people that were a bit crazy. No, what I'm looking for is not serenity as projected in some kind of floaty California hippie persona, but rather the inner peace of mind that transcends all that, that is as much at home with chaos and drama as with lah-dee-da.

Because another aspect of what I look for in a teacher is an emphasis on and skill with compassion. You've got to be a little bit crazy to really hang with the crazies, a little bit wild to hang with the wild folks. You don't behave the same way they do--but you have to have some capacity to relate, to appreciate the value and validity of a life that is different from your own. It's only then, when another being recognizes that you appreciate and accept them, that you can reach them in terms of helping them with what suffering they want help with.

So to me, the virtue I look for above serenity is courage. It takes courage to confront and expose some of one's most intimate and vulnerable issues as Brad has done in this book and as some folks seem to have done on TL. When I see that sort of bravery, especially when coupled with a deep sense of acceptance and joy and humor, that's what makes me want to listen to someone.

I'm a passionate creature by nature and it's the folks who ride out to meet the beasts and contend with them, and who do so with insight and compassion rather than force, who do so with humility rather than certitude in their own superiority and rightness, who inspire me and fill me with respect.

Jizo Bodhisattva's vow to walk through hell with the beings in it until there were no beings left in hell anymore--now that is inspiration to me. I could care less whether Jizo is a bit crazy or fucked up. Maybe he's got a little drinking problem or likes to sleep with a bazillion people or whatnot else. What matters is that bravery, that loving heart, that determination and fortitude of will, that endless concern for all beings, that ability to set them at ease... that is my 'superhero' ideal. But the funny thing is, there's a lot of people like that. You just have to learn how to look past the superficial qualities and into a person's heart and that's where you can see it.

Anonymous said...

yeah stephanie, when I was 25 I thought I had it all figured out too. good luck.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Brad, when I'd been sitting for 25 years I thought I had it all figured out too. good luck.

Anonymous said...

why does the zen teacher who does great fund raising with people who know quite well he is only human and don't expect to have, any more then a bit of insight into themselves, and some fun and can afford the money,,,why does he bother you so much,,,?


zenair

zen watch said...

There are other Zen teacher feuds going on currently. This one involves Dogo Barry Graham, who links to this blog, and Kobutsu Malone, who provided a back cover blurb for Brad's first book.

In the six years that I have been blogging, I have never criticized any individuals by name, with the exception of some criticisms of elected officials. This post is, I hope, the closest I will ever come to doing so.

The American Zen community is small, and gossip gets around. When I heard recently that I have been the subject of some scurrilous rumor-mongering by a couple of former friends and colleagues, my first inclination was to ignore it, but I have received enough messages from distressed friends that I am moved to make this one response, after which I will be silent on the matter. I am not interested in feuds, especially with someone in poor physical and mental health.

The person responsible for these attacks is a former close friend and teacher, Kobutsu Malone who has identified himself as a priest "in the Gempo-Soen-Eido lineage." However, Eido Roshi wrote a letter last year denying this, and urging people to avoid him. I have a copy of the letter, part of which says:

He came to Dai Bosatsu Zendo in the early eighties, saying that he was a
former student of Chogyam Rimpoche. He then attended a few sesshins with
me and expressed his interest to become our care taker. He came with his
wife to live at our gate house, where two boys were born and raised.
During these years, as a care taker, he did not do any formal practice
with the sangha. After a few years, he left DBZ and i would see him
sporadically, when he would offer to help with the maintenance of our
city temple, New York Zendo. At that time, he was living in New Jersey,
with his two boys, separated from his wife. From the beginning of our
relationship, he asked me to ordain him as a Buddhist monk, and i kept
refusing, because of his lack of commitment to Zen practice. At some
point, he became interested in chaplaincy, especially defending the
cause of death row. Again, he begged me to ordain him, telling me that
he needed some kind of credential to support his chaplaincy work in
prisons. I finally agreed to ordain him...

[An execution he witnessed]was written all over the newspapers,
including the New York Times. This is when his ambition to be a
recognized teacher grew. After this, I never saw him again for any kind
of practice...

I hope this information will help clear the doubt in your group as well
as any Dharma seeker who may have the misfortune to run into Mr.
_ _ _ and believe in the untruthful statements about his past
and present practice. Your request for information about Mr. _ _ _'s
claims is the third i received in a year. I hope my clarifications will be believed and spread.

Gassho, Eido Shimano


I have a letter written by this man last year in which he begs a Japan-based teacher to make him a roshi. The teacher, through his attendant, politely refused.

Eido Roshi observed that this man is hungry for celebrity. During our association, he repeatedly asked me to write about him, an article or even a book.

He has also claimed to have spent years as a student of the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, but there is no evidence that this is true, and in fact some people who were with Trungpa at the time have denied it.

This man has, in the past, been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, when a woman he was involved with contacted authorities. His physical health has deteriorated, and his mental health seems to be going the same way. He lives in a remote village, is disabled, and spends much of his time picking fights online with anyone he disagrees with. The letter written by Eido Roshi was in response to the leaders of a British meditation center whom this man had been harassing.

It was not long after this that my association with him ended. I decided not to say anything negative about him to anyone, for two reasons. One reason is that gossip is not something I am inclined to indulge in. The other reason is that I had considered this man a teacher, and in Zen it is considered bad form to criticize one's former teacher.

However, his anger towards me appears to have turned into an obsession, and recently he has been egged on by a young former monk who was recently convicted of assaulting two people (and who tried to persuade me to have my sangha raise money to pay the fine that would keep him out of jail) and whose focus nowadays is on campaigning for the legalization of marijuana rather than on the Buddha Dharma.

I have little interest in anything anyone says about me, good or bad, but I realize that my continued silence has helped this man continue to be taken seriously, and, in a perfect example of karma, his being taken seriously means that whatever he is saying about me (I have not read anything he has said about me and don't intend to) might also be taken seriously, and therefore might be a hindrance to the activities of our sangha. It is only for that reason that I put these facts on the record, and from here on in I will say no more about it. - Dogo Barry Graham



With a heavy heart....
I have never successfully posted to any blog before, but circumstances prevail that compel me to take public action.

I accepted the position of serving as Barry Graham's "teacher" some time ago. I did this without ever having met the man face to face. I gave him the name "Dogo." I provided him with many hundreds of dollars worth of materials and cash over the past two years. The monk's robe and rakusus he wears came from me, as did the sound instruments used in his "zendo."

I made a serious error in judgement in taking his word as to his credentials and allowed innumerable unfulfilled promises on his part to go unchecked.

It has become increasingly apparent that Barry is in serious difficulty and that his words and actions have become increasingly erratic and delusional. I withdrew my support from him on December 7 of 2008. I did this as an act of desperation due to his unwillingness to communicate with me, refusal to return my repeated telephone calls and the innumerable promises he made to me that went ignored and unfulfilled.

He has alienated and hurt a number of people recently including my son Rev. Ryushin, myself, his former senior student Mui and now Ven. Gomyo. Last night he removed all reference to Ven. Gomyo from his blog because Ven. Gomyo requested confirmation of his ordination and recent claims to hold inka in the Soto Zen tradition.

I have taken this highly unusual step in bringing these facts out in public because I am partially responsible for validating him by allowing my name to be used in the role of "teacher." It was a grievous error on my part and has resulted in harm to others. For this I express my profound contrition.

I have genuine love for Barry, he has some remarkable characteristics and skills. However, it has become painfully obvious of late that he has slipped into a state of delusional thinking and blatant denial.

This public action on my part is being done out of concern for Barry's mental well being and with great concern over the potential damage he may cause others.

With deep apology and profound regret,

Kobutsu Malone

Stephanie said...

Anon-I don't think I have everything figured out. But I know what I value and what inspires me. I would hope that most people do, whether they're 16 or 61.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mumon said...

Ummm...First Noble Truth.

That's why.

→ Anybody who opens their mouth is mired in the muck of Samsara.

→ And anyone trying to transcend finds the muck sticking to their feet like that goo in those carcinogenically wonderfully old plastic molding toys (WTF were were they thinking back in the 60s?)

Mumon said...

BTW, I agree with Jundo.

It also applies to politics, economics, business and so forth.

But I do have to say in your article you never really answered your own question; perhaps you do in your book.

Anyhow the answers are variously, The First Noble Truth, and Be a Lamp unto Yourselves. More or less.

Anonymous said...

don't have a teacher and not likely to find one where i live. can't sit perfect lotus, don't chant, do rituals, etc. so i'm wasting my time with zen according to brad. okay, i'll quit and find something else.

Anonymous said...

don't have a teacher and not likely to find one where i live. can't sit perfect lotus, don't chant, do rituals, etc. so i'm wasting my time with zen according to brad

Actually the only thing form that list of I can'ts that Brad would recommend is sitting in lotus. A teacher is not necessary when you're beginning practice, but at some point you're bound to hit some questions / aspects of it you'd want to talk with someone who's done the same thing - and that's the point when you should look for a sangha/teacher.

Chanting, rituals etc. are unnecessary baggage.

Oh, and one other thing that I think both Jundo and Brad agree upon is that if you are serious about Zen you drop the excuses. If you can't do full lotus now, sit in some way you can but work towards it. There's a link somewhere on this site for some yoga poses that help you loosen up for quarter-half-full lotus in time.

The Lone Ranger said...

Chogyan Trungpa


Cosmic Pancake

Our ordinary approach to reality and truth is so poverty-stricken that we don't realize that the truth is not one truth, but all truth. It could be everywhere, like raindrops, as opposed to water coming out of a faucet that only one person can drink from at a time. Our limited approach is a problem. It may be our cultural training to believe that only one person can get the truth: "You can receive this, but nobody else can." There are all sorts of philosophical, psychological, religious, and emotional tactics that we use to motivate ourselves, which say that we can do something but nobody else can. Since we think we are the only one that can do something, we crank up our machine and we do it. And if it turns out that somebody else has done it already, we begin to feel jealous and resentful. In fact, the dharma has been marketed or auctioned in that way. But from the point of view of ati, the ultimate view, there is "all" dharma rather than "the" dharma. The notion of "one and only" does not apply anymore. If a gigantic pancake falls on our head, it falls on everybody's head. In some sense it is both a big joke and a big message. You cannot even run to your next-door neighbor saying, "I had a little pancake fall on my head. What can I do? I want to wash my hair." You have nowhere to go. It is a cosmic pancake that falls everywhere on the face of the earth. You cannot escape—that is the basic point. From that point of view, both the problem and the promise are cosmic.

the Lone Ranger said...

Stephanie said, " But I know what I value and what inspires me."

How do you know what you value?
How do you know what inspires you?

You feel it?

How do you feel it , if so?

Respectfully.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said:

"Only the constipated accountant needs to work it out with a pencil."

words of wisdom. i hope your reading his words, stephanie.

Anonymous said...

anon said:
"Chanting, rituals etc. are unnecessary baggage."

You must not have read Bradley's new book yet. According to zen master bradley, 'there is no zen without rituals and ceremonies'.

Anonymous said...

"don't have a teacher and not likely to find one where i live. can't sit perfect lotus, don't chant, do rituals, etc. so i'm wasting my time with zen according to brad. okay, i'll quit and find something else."


those are some fine excuses..

Uku said...

Brad,

you wrote:

But why can't we seem to accept any spiritual advice unless we believe the source of that advice to be somehow divine? I think this is a very important question.

I agree, that is a very important question. And I believe, through practicing Buddha's Way we can answer to that question.

Thank you for your new SG article.

Take care,
Uku

Anonymous said...

zen watch said... Eido Shimano

Just for the record, in his book
"Original Dwelling Place", IIRC,
Robert Aitken refers to Shimano
as a "sociopath".

So many ugly stories can make
one wish they had never heard
of "zen".

Jinzang said...

When you no longer feel smug and superior when you hear of the shortcomings of others, but feel distressed instead, that is the first faint stirrings of genuine compassion, and you will know that your practice has had some benefit.

nobody said...

About quitting...

How can you quit something that you haven't started?

If there is no "Zen" Franchise nearby, try Yoga Meditation or another alternative. One of the things you should concern yourself about is the relative comfort of sitting. Posture counts! The Zafu counts, too.

1. The Yoga Stretch
2. The bigger (large) Zafu...
3. The $100 Zafu
4. More

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

"When you no longer feel smug and superior when you hear of the shortcomings of others, but feel distressed instead, that is the first faint stirrings of genuine compassion, and you will know that your practice has had some benefit."

I disagree dear Jizz-ang.
I think that genuine compassion may be found in actions, not feelings. One of my sisters tends to get upset watching Lifetime movies and the nightly news. Or when some relative we never had anything to do with dies, she'll be seen boo-hooing it up at the funeral. But when her child or messy home needs attending to, forget it, she can't be bothered with something so trite. And she calls ME a monster for some immaterial lack of empathy. No. I'm compassionate. I take care of my shit.

jundo cohen said...


Stephanie said...

Jundo - stop being weird. You're the only person here who calls me "Stef" and you're the only person I know of on the Internet who tells me I should sit zazen and how to sit zazen even after I've said that I sit.


commenting on


Anonymous said...

Stef,

Actually several of Brad's blog posts both here and in SG have made the point that it's the physical activity of sitting that is most important - perhaps all important - in shikantaza (you know, the main practice of Zen) and sometimes even suggests that whatever your mind does is completely irrelevant.


Hi Stef,

That was not written by me, because I do not tell people that advice and, frankly, that may be one reason that Brad's Zazen (and approach to life) is so screwed up in that book. The mere physical act of sitting in the Lotus Posture works no 'magic' of itself (although it is incredibly stable, and balance in body does facilitate balance in mind, not two). If you do not also learn to sit while dropping judgments, goals, fears, regreats, likes, dislikes, thoughts of this and that and all the rest ... you can sit in the Lotus Posture until the cows come home, and still have a head full of clutter.

And that is, I am sure, why Brad's book displays a head full of clutter.

In all of his writings, Master Dogen devoted no more than a few ambiguous sentences to the "nuts and bolts" of sitting in the Lotus Posture, and hundreds of paragraphs to the philosophy of sitting in the Lotus Posture. Brad does not seem to understand or teach this view of "dropping body & mind" (the self) by dropping the self's judgments etc. (I never see it mentioned in his writings), which may explain a hell of a lot.

Gassho, Jundo

jundo cohen said...

By the way, my teacher Nishijima Roshi is kind of a naturally peaceful guy, with a very balanced an unemotional personality. (Nothing really perturbs him, at least not visibily). That is one reason, I believe, he assumes that everyone sitting in the Lotus Posture will automatically become naturally peaceful, emtionally balanced, with a rather calm personality.

I think that you do not have to look far to see that simply relying on the posture itself is a bit optimistic. Heck, you don't have to look far, or beyond Brad's writings, this blog and some others, to see that relying on the Lotus Posture to "naturally" bring all that is a bit optimistic.

Most teachers of Shikanataza teach that true "goalless" sitting involves "dropping goals" in both mind and body (not two), whether sitting Lotus, standing, walking or skipping down the street.

Gassho, Jundo

Mysterion said...

There are generally two incompatible goals in sitting Zazen:

1) to develop "tranquility."
2) to develop "insight."

Insight is not the same as a quiescent mind while tranquility (whatever THAT means) is supposed to be a tranquil mind - a still pond. Insight is applying your errant perspective to your inner self. How can that go anywhere?

The real goal of sitting Zazen is sitting Zazen. It might have done something for Gautama, sage of the Shakyas, and it might do something for you too. If your expectations are beyond that, then you demand too much.

Forget the infighting amongst Zen Masters - that has no meaning. As Ikkyu said long ago: "Politics is vulgar."

If two Zen Masters want to fight - let them (it should neither pick your pocket nor break your leg). I used to have Hotei (by Miyamoto Musashi) watching two roosters square off to fight as an avitar but decided it was counterproductive. If Zen masters want to emulate roosters, let them. Zen Masters, in fighting, only make folly of their own 'Zen.'

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

There are generally two incompatible goals in sitting Zazen:

1) to develop "tranquility."
2) to develop "insight."

Insight is not the same as a quiescent mind while tranquility (whatever THAT means) is supposed to be a tranquil mind - a still pond. Insight is applying your errant perspective to your inner self. How can that go anywhere?

The real goal of sitting Zazen is sitting Zazen.


I would not describe "tranquility" and "insight" as "Incompatible". However, they must both be nourished or one will lack. In Zen Practice, we nurture both.

We do not seek a "tranquil" or "quiescent" mind, in the meaning of "tranquilized" or "numb". Instead, we do obtain through Practice a mind that finds stillness amid the storm, silence in the words, calm amid living life with passionate emotions (while avoiding to be a prisoner of greed, anger and excess harmful emotions). We are not numb, but live a kind of self-actuated life (by seeing the self as just the self, all while seeing right through the self). The only "litmus test" for one's Zazen, I believe, is whether that is tasted is one's life.

Yes, the real "goal" of Zazen is sitting Zazen ... but how one "sits" Zazen makes all the difference in the world.

No body is "fighting", by the way! I do not fight. I am merely speaking my mind like everyone.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

"I do not fight. I am merely speaking my mind like everyone."

Jundo, You are as ambitiously combative as it gets.

I no longer trust your judgment. You have gone weird one too many times with your comments. I would tell anyone considering you as a teacher to keep looking..

jundo cohen said...

"I do not fight. I am merely speaking my mind like everyone."

Jundo, You are as ambitiously combative as it gets.

I no longer trust your judgment. You have gone weird one too many times with your comments. I would tell anyone considering you as a teacher to keep looking..


Well, combative I am. I let the truth or falsity of comments speak for themselves.

Anyone looking for a teacher, like a car, should shop around, look under the hood, kick the tires and see what fits them.

Gassho, Jundo

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

"I let the truth or falsity of comments speak for themselves."

Jundo, We all can read. Your words of the last few days have told the story. Attacking one day, apologizing the next. Back and forth. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand why Brad is so optimistic of a Buddhist future. You need real functioning Buddhists for that. Where the hell do you find them?

At The Moment said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
At The Moment said...

Why is debating considered a fight here??

Dave66 said...

Why can't we accept psychological advice unless it comes from a sane therapist?

Why can't we accept physical fitness advice from a sick, fat guy?

Why can't we accept musical instruction from the tone-deaf?

Why can't we accept sexual advice from guys that can't get laid?

Anonymous said...

"Why can't we accept psychological advice unless it comes from a sane therapist"?

Mysterion, Any ideas?

"Why can't we accept physical fitness advice from a sick, fat guy?"

Jundo, You take that one.

"Why can't we accept musical instruction from the tone-deaf"?

Brad, That's you.

"Why can't we accept sexual advice from guys that can't get laid"?

Philbob?

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

Jundo, We all can read. Your words of the last few days have told the story. Attacking one day, apologizing the next. Back and forth. Weird.

Hi,

What have I to apologize for? You mean that I said I applaud the SG article? I do. I see what Brad was aiming to do with the book. The problem for me is where his arrow ended up.

And Mr. Mysterion,

BTW, I put up a link over yonder to a Buddhist Nun in Japan (Pouring Down Rain) that is Nationally respected for her pornographic novels. Our view of Buddhism in the West tends to be from the shallow end of the wading pool.

This merits a little chuckle. Jakucho Setouchi's novel could only be termed "pornographic" back in 1957 when it was published, and that was long before she was ordained. In fact, her message now could be called the "Anti-Karma Dipped in Chocolate". While she is all about priests and everyone admitting their worst human faults, she is also all about our working to soften those faults through the Buddhist teachings and not doing harm. As she writes in the article you linked to "It is nearly impossible for you to be happy while hurting others. I think many of you have done such things, and I also did them so many times." I am a big fan, as she is in the media here in Japan several times per week.

Yes, when did debating come to be considered fighting?

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

Jundo sed: "I let the truth or falsity of comments speak for themselves." and

"What have I to apologize for?"

"I got caught up in my words in the heat of the moment. Not the best image. I apologize for that."

Jundo, I was just observing that you are all over the place with your feelings and comments, a little unbalanced.

Anonymous said...

GAWDALMIGHTY!

Jundo get some self respect, man.

You've got your own soap box.

Sell your own soap over there on it.

Don't even be peepin' your beady eyes this way. Stare at a wall instead.
Make notes to self "Don't go there"
Stay the heck off this space. It's got to be bad for your blood pressure. Do something nice for someone in your immediate vicinity--like a family member or a neighbor.
Stay away from here--THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH AND WELL BEING--make your comments on your own web space.
Why do I say this? BECAUSE YOU CAN'T JUST POST A COMMENT AND THEN LEAVE THINGS BE, BECAUSE YOU KEEP COMING BACK AND COMING BACK AND COMING BACK WHERE YOU HAVE LITTLE OR NO BUSINESS--
you clearly are addictive about this and it ain't healthy
the only way I know of for you to see this clearly is
to ask that you NOT come here, and explore all the feelings arising when you stay away.
It seems it is calming for you to keep posting your analyses of Brad/his books/his life/his (in your view) character flaws.
Really really this is not a healthy activity for you to pursue.
Now for the rest of us, it is a different matter, it isn't so unhealthy for us or unhealthy for Brad
when we chew his book or his sorry ass to smithereenees

Why is it different for us and not the same for you?

That's your koan, man

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

You've got your own soap box.

Just to make this clear, I was invited here.

Not to mention, this little book has effect on everyone in our lineage (not to mention a lot of others, mostly newer Zen folks, who will be impacted by it), and is worthy of comment.

As with all comments, if you do not care for mine, please skip over them baby.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

"he who knows, dose not speak
he who speaks, dose not know."

Lao Tzu

how can you accept anything even resembling wisdom out of the mouth of a fool that doesn't recognize when to STFU?

anonymous, you take that one

daveincanada said...

In the dead of night
A chorus of dogs barking
At their own echoes

Anonymous said...

29 out of 79 posts and counting. perhaps anonymous should give some time to his attachment issues rather than this blog.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Anonymous said:

"Why can't we accept sexual advice from guys that can't get laid?
Philbob?"

You know, as I slowly scrolled the screen down, I just KNEW what wuz cummin' next.

LOL :)

And you know what else? I'm starting to enjoy Gummo's presence here. He keeps ya'll fired up dang-it. And if Gummo prefers to be addressed as Jundo or Mr. Cohen (as in Leonard's brother), than I'll start callin' him by that.

anonymouse said...

awesome third book brad. you definitely achieved your objective of smashing the zen master as superhuman image. i am thoroughly convinced. and i thank you sincerely. in this country of quick fixes and get rich quick schemes, you blow the cover off of all of it. HEY EVERYONE! BRAD WARNER IS HUMAN! HOLY SHIT! so much for the tooth fairy and santa claus... ah well, its better to know this now than later, right? your third offering somehow nods big time to your first literary foray when you said and i quote, "Question. Question Authority. Question Society. Question Reality. Question Yourself. Question your conclusions, your judgements, your answers. Question this. If you question everything thoroughly enough, the truth will eventually hit you upside the head and you will KNOW. But here's a warning: It wont be what you imagined. It wont even be close...This is not the same old crap you've seen in a thousand books you dont want to read [but already have]This is zen for people who dont give a rat's ass about zen. This is the real deal"

thank you for shattering my preconceived notions of zen.

and thank you for preaching the practice of "just sitting" without preaching but instead selflessly using examples from your own life to illustrate the benefits of ZAZEN. if there's one thing for certain, being a good if not great "zen Master" requires BALLS. thank you Venereal Brad Warner San for your testicular constitution and strength.

...Sid Vicious would be proud, you aging punk rocker you....

daveincanada said...

You know, for what it's worth, I think Stephanie does have it all figured out. Not to brag or anything, but I realise now that I did too when I was 25--trouble is, shortly after that, I got convinced that I didn't have anything figured out. It's only in the last couple of years that I've finally pulled my head out of my ass and I haven't quite got used to the daylight yet...

Anonymous said...

zen is for EVERYONE

p.s. said...

yeah, thanks for bringing it all home.

a bone for mysterion said...

The Spirit Of '68

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/students-are-revolting-the-spirit-of-68-is-reawakening-1604043.html

lou said...

...no i havent got the time-time, too busy sucking on a ding-dong...

!$!$Cha-CHiNG!$!$ said...

gee, i am suddenly compelled to read brad's first two books 'hardcore Zen' and 'sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up!!!' all over again ... HOORAY!!!

tubthumper said...

Haven't yet read the book, but looking forward to it. There's a karate saying: something like, "get knocked down seven times, get up eight"--or maybe "get knocked up eight times"...anyway, point is, maybe you wouldn't want to study karate with some guy who couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag; but then again, the best senseis have probably lost more fights than you'll ever know about. It's all about getting up again...right, Sisyphus?

Justin said...

Jundo,

Constructive criticism can be very healthy. And as I see it, is sorely needed here at times. Praise is always welcomed here as are numerous Brad impersonators. It takes courage to speak out in disagreement. And many will criticise and try to undermine you for daring to. Thank you for taking the time to come here and throw water on the inhabitants.

The mere physical act of sitting in the Lotus Posture works no 'magic' of itself (although it is incredibly stable, and balance in body does facilitate balance in mind, not two). If you do not also learn to sit while dropping judgments, goals, fears, regreats, likes, dislikes, thoughts of this and that and all the rest ... you can sit in the Lotus Posture until the cows come home, and still have a head full of clutter.

I've noticed this too. I don't recall Brad mentioning what the mind is doing during zazen at all. He recently published 'How to do Zazen' instructions online which went into the posture in great detail but neglected to mention what the mind should do.

And he published an article criticising the near-universal Buddhist concept of 'mindfullness', saying 'the mind should just get out of the way'.

What the mind is doing is essential to Zen - far more important than the posture. We can awaken Buddha mind standing on one leg (as the Shaolin monks did) or walking around the supermarket. And we can be Zen-demons sitting in full lotus posture while full of grasping and delusion.

What is needed is patient attention without grasping.

by seeing the self as just the self, all while seeing right through the self

This is beautiful.

You may not have Brad's cool image Jundo, but your teachings about Zen add up.

Anonymous said...

Poor Jundo.
Banned from esangha
and now many good folks here want to ban him from brad's comment section too.

If we could just ban everyone that offers anything but glowing praise for brad, we could have some real peace and end the fighting.

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

Stephanie,

So my standard isn't that a teacher has to be serene. Actually I find the kind of idealized notion of Buddhist serenity a bit boring. I've always liked people that were a bit crazy.

It isn't about getting your preferences though is it? Its about finding what is beyond them.

No, what I'm looking for is not serenity as projected in some kind of floaty California hippie persona, but rather the inner peace of mind that transcends all that, that is as much at home with chaos and drama as with lah-dee-da.

Well that is true serenity.

I'm a passionate creature by nature and it's the folks who ride out to meet the beasts and contend with them, and who do so with insight and compassion rather than force, who do so with humility rather than certitude in their own superiority and rightness, who inspire me and fill me with respect.

Jizo Bodhisattva's vow to walk through hell with the beings in it until there were no beings left in hell anymore--now that is inspiration to me. I could care less whether Jizo is a bit crazy or fucked up. Maybe he's got a little drinking problem or likes to sleep with a bazillion people or whatnot else.


Maybe that is a Bodhisattva ideal. But I don't think it means that everyone is able to do that immediately.

If you have not tamed your mind when you enter hell you will be overcome.

Justin said...

Anonymouse

HEY EVERYONE! BRAD WARNER IS HUMAN! HOLY SHIT!

Yeah - NEWSFLASH! Highly opinionated man with possible anger/hostility issues who writes in sensationalist, entertaining but slightly confused way about Zen and whose life is at least as messed up as most people's is ordinary guy not superhuman being after all!

Where have you been?

Mike H said...

Justin:

"If you have not tamed your mind when you enter hell you will be overcome."

All very well and trite. The only question is how do you know when your mind is sufficiently tamed beforehand?

Justin said...

The only question is how do you know when your mind is sufficiently tamed beforehand?

I suppose by paying attention to it and by taking the advice of those who are appropriately experienced and wise.

Mike H said...

Justin:

I suppose by paying attention to it and by taking the advice of those who are appropriately experienced and wise

This is a circular argument.

How would you or they know that you'd suppressed rather than tamed?

How would you know that they are appropriately experienced - after all they cannot see your mind and you of course cannot be sure that you have seen all that's to be seen in your own mind. What if they are wrong in your case or just clueless?

Might it not always be the case that you cannot know until you jump?

All the analogies about "Jumping off the 10,000 fathorm cliff" do suggest a level of committment and finality and also a level of risk do they not?

Justin said...

How would you or they know that you'd suppressed rather than tamed?

By paying attention. People who have repressed feelings give them away. A good teacher could spot this. You can spot it yourself (in mind or behaviour) if you are truly honest with yourself. This is what our practice is.

How would you know that they are appropriately experienced - after all they cannot see your mind and you of course cannot be sure that you have seen all that's to be seen in your own mind. What if they are wrong in your case or just clueless?

Well there is no such thing as absolute certainty. How do you know anything at all? I think it comes down to experience - to being as sincere with yourself as you can and to listening to the advice of others who have already demonstrated that they are worth listening too.

Might it not always be the case that you cannot know until you jump?

All the analogies about "Jumping off the 10,000 fathorm cliff" do suggest a level of committment and finality and also a level of risk do they not?


Maybe, but I don't think there is a real cut-off point between 'practice' and 'life' where you move from one to the other. Attachments and delusions arise in a monastery and in our day-to-day practice. If they throw us off kilter then maybe we're not ready to enter the brothel in the role of 'Jizo Bodhisattva'.

Justin said...

To put it another way, if you are experiencing depression, mood swings, anxiety etc then the idea that you could 'enter hell to be a hell Bodhisattva' is completely mistaken.

Some people want to 'enter hell' just because they desire drama and excitement.

Mumon said...

Jundo:

With all due respect both to you and the Ven. Mr. Warner, regarding you guys & debating, Yun-men you and Mr. Warner ain't.

Then again neither am I.

Gassho.

Mike H said...

Justin:

To put it another way, if you are experiencing depression, mood swings, anxiety etc then the idea that you could 'enter hell to be a hell Bodhisattva' is completely mistaken.

Who would think such a thing?

Some people want to 'enter hell' just because they desire drama and excitement.

I've not met anyone like that. Have you?

jundo cohen said...


You may not have Brad's cool image Jundo


Hey, I'm a pretty hip cat, daddy-o

jamal said...

yeah, you cool Jundo. but that dude next to you in the KKK hat has me worried.

Anonymous said...

"To Serve All Sentient Beings"

OMG! It's a cookbook!!!

NellaLou said...

Assorted quotations.
"The only question is how do you know when your mind is sufficiently tamed beforehand?"
"Some people want to 'enter hell' just because they desire drama and excitement."
"I've not met anyone like that. Have you?"

When there are no more questions would be indicative of the mind being tamed. It would not require validation-that would be a question. For some people there is no hell to enter. The hell is within them. Maybe within everyone at particular moments. Just like heaven, "boundless joy" etc.

Thrill seekers, danger freaks and adrenaline junkies abound. Just watch reality TV some time.

That's my take on it for whatever its worth. Or not.

Anonymous said...

Dear Stef,

We are not Jundo.

PS. We just picked up your nickname from his post here.

Jinzang said...

I don't recall Brad mentioning what the mind is doing during zazen at all. He recently published 'How to do Zazen' instructions online which went into the posture in great detail but neglected to mention what the mind should do.

I don't know how your teacher gives meditation instruction, but this is traditional in Soto Zen. It's correct because ultimately there's nothing to do or alter in meditation. One just rests the mind as it is.

But personally I don't think this is the right way to teach meditation. I think you should start by counting the breaths, then drop counting and watch the breath, then drop that and watch your thoughts, and finally drop that. So you wind up at the same place, but you have something to keep you entertained until you get there.

Justin said...

I don't know how your teacher gives meditation instruction, but this is traditional in Soto Zen. It's correct because ultimately there's nothing to do or alter in meditation. One just rests the mind as it is.

Well I guess all my traditional Soto Zen teachers (some with transmission from the head of Soto-shu) must be getting it wrong then.

I have never come across a teacher other than Brad and maybe Nishijima who do this.

Every other teacher I have come across teaches the direction of attention. For example, when you think or dream, gently bring your attention back to reality, the breath for example.

A 'zazen' practice which doesn't train the mind is no different from sitting on a bus.

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

O Superman

The previous link (deleted) was an incomplete version of the video, plus this one has all the lyrics typed up on the side. Pretty cool lyrics.

Anonymous said...

Justin, You are Teaching that a 'zazen' practice which doesn't train the mind is no different from sitting on a bus." Whereas Dogen taught a distinctly non-attached type of action, an activity completely unconcerned with benefits (training the mind) or the accomplishment of goals.

Flor de Nopal Sangha said...

"Well I guess all my traditional Soto Zen teachers (some with transmission from the head of Soto-shu) must be getting it wrong then."

It may...maaay...depend if the teacher is from Japan or not. And I say that with a big ass MAY. Personally, the three Soto Zen teachers I have asked (in person, via forum, and via email, all have started with the beginners steps of proper posture and the 'what-to-do's" once you have found the proper posture. Of course, the three of them were in the US.

You know, looking at Brad's post on how to meditate, I had not noticed that part is "missing."

Flor de Nopal Sangha said...

Whereas Dogen taught a distinctly non-attached type of action, an activity completely unconcerned with benefits (training the mind) or the accomplishment of goals.

You are missing Justin's point.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

We sit to balance the autonomic nervous system. With practice, all dealings with mind will follow and set themselves in place.

ANS:
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4463

- Zen. An enlightened state of letting go of judgmental and self-conscious thinking and instead living in the moment.

Harry said...

For what it's worth, Nishijima Roshi recently clarified for me/us (yet again!!!) that the body and mind are instantly unified (as they are always in reality) through the REAL EFFORT of body/mind sitting Zazen.

Quoting him from from his blog:

"When you make your efforts to concentrate your body and mind to keep in the posture of Zazen regularly, you can enter into the area of Action, and then the strength of your SNS and PNS will become balanced after several seconds. Therefore you can stop your thinking and feeling from that moment.

And when you will continue your efforts to maintain your posture further, you can continue your efforts (Action) to keep your spine straight vertically without thinking and feeling."

This is not messing around with the 'clouds' (thoughts) and the 'clear sky' (clear mind or something) which Jundo recently taught via his blog, nor is it sitting and just letting everything hang-out or wallowing in our own crapulence (as Brad *might* give the impression at times).

...It's Fully Sitting, real effort becoming natural real effort or 'dropping off', with all our faculties making no right/wrong, body/mind, cloud/sky, crap/chocolate sauce etc discriminations.

For what it's worth.

Regards,

Harry.

element said...

"I don't know how your teacher gives meditation instruction, but this is traditional in Soto Zen. It's correct because ultimately there's nothing to do or alter in meditation. One just rests the mind as it is.

Well I guess all my traditional Soto Zen teachers (some with transmission from the head of Soto-shu) must be getting it wrong then.

I have never come across a teacher other than Brad and maybe Nishijima who do this."

http://www.antaiji.dogen-zen.de/kimyou/2004/eng-0310.html

http://www.antaiji.dogen-zen.de/kimyou/2004/eng-0311.html


Brad in Choco Zen: "... Dogen was obviously not down with the whole counting the breath thing ... ...But he wasn't completely negative about a bit of mild fixation on the breath as a means of settling the body and mind down during practice." p. 173
Brad, you betrayer!

In my opinion Zen works unconsciously. Mindfulness, Advaita with consciousness.

In the AZI Dojo I go they also teach to follow the breath ...

Villagfe Monk said...

The Village Buddhist

Under the Sri Maha Bodhi tree
A village Buddhist fends;
The monk, a calm old man is he,
With Maha, Vin, and Zen;
All the hairs of his shaven head
Now short and long have been.

His hair once gray, now black his robe,
His face is smooth and nice;
His chant unending though slow in pace,
He earns pickles, soup, and rice,
And shows the whole world in the face,
For he shares his kind advice.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear him chanting low;
And see his inner glowing light,
With measured beat and slow,
Like birds avoiding wing to flight,
When the evening sun is low.

Rich said...

Jundo says
"Brad does not seem to understand or teach this view of "dropping body & mind" (the self) by dropping the self's judgments etc. (I never see it mentioned in his writings), which may explain a hell of a lot. "

I wouldn't pretend to know what Brad understands. Are you saying you have some special teaching technique to attain/accomplish 'dropping body & mind' that brad doesn't have?

Jinzang said...

Well I guess all my traditional Soto Zen teachers (some with transmission from the head of Soto-shu) must be getting it wrong then.

It wasn't my intention to put anyone down by making comparisons (traditional=good, modern=bad). My point is simply that the technique or tactic of not telling the student what to do with their mind is traditional and did not start with Nishijima.

A 'zazen' practice which doesn't train the mind is no different from sitting on a bus.

The key point of meditation is subtle and easily misunderstood. Until it is understood, I recommend using a technique like following your breath too. But when the key point is understood, sitting on the bus manifests meditation perfectly.

The mind of the future and past cannot be grasped, nor can the mind of the present. Which mind are you going to train?

Jinzang said...

Another supporting quote from the Antaji site:

I received instruction in the tradition of Sawaki Kodo Roshi. What I was told was to just shut up and sit. Things like concentrating on the breath or counting the breath are forbidden there, that is why the demons of sleep overcame me, or I was usurped by random thoughts, and even though I was able to calm down my mind at some times, after the sesshin is over every thing would be the same again.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

A 'zazen' practice which doesn't train the mind is no different from sitting on a bus.

The key point of meditation is subtle and easily misunderstood. Until it is understood, I recommend using a technique like following your breath too. But when the key point is understood, sitting on the bus manifests meditation perfectly.

jundo cohen said...

A very interesting discussion. But, for my opinion, I believe that people are "wrong" to think that there is but a single "right" way to sit Shikantaza Zazen. "One size fits all" is a kind of fundamentalism. There are many "right ways", just as any of a bicycle, a car, a truck or roller skates will get one to the same destination (or, in our case, 'non-destination').

I teach what I teach (open, spacious 'just sitting' focused on everything and nothing in particular, allowing thoughts to naturally drift from mind, allowing judgments, like and dislikes, ideas of "right" and "wrong", opinions and names to drop from mind). Some form of that (namely, dropping "good" and "bad") is good Shikantaza, but there are many forms of that. I think the practice I recommend is good for most folks I encounter (so I recommend it), but I do not claim it is "my way or the highway"

For me, the central question is whether the selected vehicle gets ya' where you are going (which, in our view, is no place to go even as life keeps moving). In our way, the voyage --IS-- the arrival, and we are always returning to our home right here, where the rubber meets the road. That is when practice is "working" (by attaining nothing and getting no where).

But, just as there may be many "right ways" (of dropping "right" and "wrong"), there are many clearly "wrong ways" too.

I certainly have a sense when someone's practice is likely not going in a good way. How do you know when a particular way is wandering or off course (without being the "aimless" non-seeking we seek), and how do you know when one is lost in delusion? When one runs off the road time and time again (not just once in awhile), runs repeatedly into the guardrails of life with friction and resistance, bangs into all the other "selves" on the road, feels like one is wondering aimlessly. When the driver is constantly on edge, angry (not just once in awhile, for that is true of all of us. I mean LOTS!) Then, the road is still the same road, but YOU are lost!

You are simply a bad driver, and you method of driving needs changing.

Sure, we all run off the road sometimes, but beware of any teaching or teacher that seems to lead to running off the road A LOT!

I was in a real "bad car crash" awhile back.. Car smashed, bodies broken and hurting, lives changed. Yet, within that there was tasted a stillness and embracing of the tragedy that has lasted to this day. That is how I know that the practice is on a good way, even if there are bumps in the road.

Gassho, Jundo

Justin said...

I'm not talking about breath counting or even following the breath. We are taught zazen 'from many different angles' and is consistent with what Jundo said. It's also consistent with 'just sitting'. But normally when people sit they don't just sit (they think, dream, try to achieve things etc), so methods are needed to eliminate all the unnecessary stuff.

We are taught in slightly different ways by different teachers, but essentially to be completely aware of the present moment, to be expansive, allowing the mind to move freely without obstruction or clinging. It does involve a subtle directing of the attention. When the mind gets caught in a train of thought we either simply observe the thinking in a detached way and it fades away naturally or we gently guide the attention to the breath or the points of the posture. It isn't a dualistic 'I am being mindful...' activity. Duality tends to fall away.

But without some sort of method to help us to 'just sit'. The mind has a tendency I think to carry on with its ordinary activities of dreaming, thinking, planning, trying and so on in a state of non-awareness. Why wouldn't it?

PA said...

I've always been taught (through 5 Japanese Rinzai and Soto teachers and a similar amount of English teachers) to notice when I'm drifting off into thought and to just come back to not drifting off into thought. I find observing the breath tiring although I do sing a song in my head when things get really boring!
One of the first zen temples I went to in Japan gave me probably the best advice I've ever had to this day - 'let your thoughts flow, like blood. Don't stop them.' Hmm.

jundo cohen said...

But without some sort of method to help us to 'just sit'. The mind has a tendency I think to carry on with its ordinary activities of dreaming, thinking, planning, trying and so on in a state of non-awareness. Why wouldn't it?

I think so, for sure. It might be "making efforts to keep in the posture" as Nishijima Roshi recommends, breath following (although Dogen did not care for that, and I see a great down side much as with a Mantra or Kana Zaza ... which tend to induce extraordinary states of mind and may not be as "portable" off the Zafu). I recommend a definite "object of meditation" on which to fix the mind too, although (in my case) it is "everything and nothing in particular".

But if one is sitting there, on the Zafu (even in the most beautiful Lotus Posture) filled to the brim with thoughts of this and that, regrets for the past, anger, longing, worry for the future, likes and dislikes, judgments, rehashing ... wandering and wild thoughts and emotions, then one is simply not sitting Shikantaza Zazen correctly. Especially if the person convinces himself that the point of Zazen is just to sit there, and to live, with all that head cluttering "stuff".

Gassho, Jundo*

* By the way, I am re-reading historian John R. McRae's "Seeing Through Zen", which is a wonderful revisionist history, refreshing for his knocking down of various stereotypes and assumptions. ALL of these "methods" and 10,000 more were recommended by different teachers at different times over the centuries. It is not so much whether you drive a yellow or a blue volkswagon, or even take the train. The point is that it is reliable transport (to no where).

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

've always been taught (through 5 Japanese Rinzai and Soto teachers and a similar amount of English teachers) to notice when I'm drifting off into thought and to just come back to not drifting off into thought.

Yes, that is typical advice by Soto teachers. Neither stir up the thoughts nor chase after them, allow the mind to settle on its own. It may not every day, but if it does not on most days (and in the rest of your life off the Zafu too ... that's the REAL practice place), then your Zazen is off key. Thoughts and emotions themselves are not the problem. It is getting tangled up, and bound up, in the thoughts and emotions that is the problem. I believe.

Gassho, J

Justin said...

PA,

"notice when I'm drifting off into thought and to just come back to not drifting off into thought. "

This is the same as I'm talking about really. A subtle directing of attention when we become aware that we have got caught up in the virtual reality of our heads.

"One of the first zen temples I went to in Japan gave me probably the best advice I've ever had to this day - 'let your thoughts flow, like blood. Don't stop them.' Hmm."

Yes, I've had the same advice and it was possibly the most valuable zazen 'tip' I've had.

Justin said...

Jundo,

That is pretty much what I'm saying. This 'objectless awareness' you describe is an aspect of the AZI practice too. Focusing on the something specific such as breath or posture I think is seen as a sort of 'crutch' to use if you can't manage objectless awareness without going off into fantasies.

But I'd also say that we're taught not to try to stop the thoughts and 'clutter' or to see it as an obstacle. Rather we tend to be told to see it clearly but without identifying with them. To observe all phenomena as they arise, evolve and disappear. Thoughts appear and disappear like any other bodily function, or like clouds in the space of open, objectless awareness. I think this is what is meant by 'hishiryo' (but I may be wrong).

Harry said...

A latter day psychological-type analysis might interpret what Dogen advocated ('droping off body and mind') as the acheivment of some sort of mental quietening. But this is not what Dogen was talking about at all, because then Zazen would be about some frozen state of mind and not the 'dropping off of body and mind'. Also 'quiet mind' is just more mind candy and reduces Zazen to a personal mental experience because there is a mind and a thinker, this is just another type of personal therapy, a thing to improve me me me... a thing to be dropped, not to be taken up in the first place if we are practicing what Dogen Zenji and Nishijima Roshi point to.

In a particularly important and pithy chapter of Shobogenzo called Zanma-o-zanmai Master Dogen speaks of three theoretical foci: sitting with the mind which is different from sitting with the body, bodily sitting which is different from sitting with the mind, and sitting which is free of body and mind which is free of "sitting which is free of body and mind" (i.e. the concept of doing it, or anything no thought, no thinker etc).

The first two foci seem dualistic, don't they? Well, we must start by putting our mind right and putting our body right because that's the way we think but, after we really begin the REAL ACTION we are already 'There' because such unified body/mind action is far beyond our transitory thinking. 'There' is not a state of mind, a state of silence, or even a state in the sense that it is a zone, or a metaphysical realm. Dogen is clear that it is a dynamic state of 'dropping off', Buddha-nature expressed is manifesting 'being without' Buddha-nature or anything else using our mind and body's 'dropping off'.

I appeal to anyone who is really interested in practicing this to drop any of the latter day psycho-babble that has been attached to "Dogen's Zen" and to find a 'good counselor' who has clarified this point by correctly and directly following the direction of a teacher such as Nishijima Roshi.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the points sensei Nishijima makes is that if your position is correct it will cause physiological changes in your body through the autonomous nervous system (which he seems rather fond of!) which will manifest as the kind of just sitting mind we/you/us all seem to talk about.

Perhaps a different approach? Some focus on the mind-first-body-follows while some recommend the get-the-body-right-and-the-mind-will-follow-suit way of doing things.

So I don't think Brad is actually recommending that you can sit zazen with whatever dreams and crap go through your mind, but rather that if you sit zazen with correct posture even with all that crap and dreams and thoughts flying through your mind being in the proper posture itself will eventually cause your body and mind to become calm.

Perhaps this could be why Brad and Gudo stress the posture and not the directing your mind, because the latter can easily lead you astray if you start directing too much!

Justin said...

Shikantaza is 'just sitting'. But how do we just sit? When an ordinary person tries to just do anything he or she is thinking, imagining, trying, hoping and so on and all this is delusion that gets in the way of the simple act. So some sort of practice and method is need to get ourselves to settle and be completely present with what we're doing.

The issue is summed up in this teaching:

[Hyakujo] was once asked, "Do you ever make any effort to get disciplined in the truth?"

"Yet, I do".

"How do you exercise yourself?"

"When I am hungry I eat; when tired I sleep".

"This is what everybody does; can they be said to be exercising themselves in the same way as you do?"

"No".

"Why not?"

"Because when they eat they do not eat, but are thinking of various other things, thereby allowing themselves to be disturbed; when they sleep they do not sleep, but dream of a thousand and one things. This is why they are not like myself".

Justin said...

Harry,

I think 'dropping off of body and mind' is an expression of the disappearance of duality or self-view.

Justin said...

Anonymous

So I don't think Brad is actually recommending that you can sit zazen with whatever dreams and crap go through your mind, but rather that if you sit zazen with correct posture even with all that crap and dreams and thoughts flying through your mind being in the proper posture itself will eventually cause your body and mind to become calm.

Yes I think that is what he is saying or implying. And different strokes for different folks. From personal experience, correct posture isn't enough. I could dream all day in the lotus position if I didn't pay attention.

One day a man of the people said to the Zen master Ikkyu:
“Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?”
Ikkyu immediately took his brush and wrote the word “Attention.”
“Is that all?” asked the man. “Will you not add something more?”
Ikkyu then wrote twice running: “Attention. Attention.”
“Well,” remarked the man rather irritably,
“I really don’t see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.”
Then Ikkyu wrote the same word three times running:
“Attention. Attention. Attention.”
Half angered, the man declared: “What does that word attention mean anyway?”
And Ikkyu answered, gently: “Attention means attention.”

Harry said...

ps.

That appeal is based on the fact that I wasted months, maybe years, of practice just frustrating my conditioned self by toying with my conditioned mind. Such practice was based on the spurious teachings of people who I assumed knew better (they wore the uniform).

Regards,

Harry.

Justin said...

Perhaps this could be why Brad and Gudo stress the posture and not the directing your mind, because the latter can easily lead you astray if you start directing too much!

I think this body-first-mind-follows approach is an attempt to completely bypass the intentional mind. However, I don't think it succeeds because the posture still has to be assessed and corrected by attention and action. It is also completely dependent on the truth of and extent to which the mind naturally follows the posture of the body. (I don't doubt that it influences the mind, but how much? Should we entrust our entire practice to this tendency?) Rather than excluding the personal mind - to try to shut it out and pretend it isn't there - as I see it, the best approach may be to see the activities of what we call 'personal mind' in their proper place as Jundo said earlier:

by seeing the self as just the self, all while seeing right through the self

And to achieve this by cultivating detached observation.

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

Hi Harry,

A latter day psychological-type analysis might interpret what Dogen advocated ('droping off body and mind') as the acheivment of some sort of mental quietening. But this is not what Dogen was talking about at all, because then Zazen would be about some frozen state of mind and not the 'dropping off of body and mind'. Also 'quiet mind' is just more mind candy and reduces Zazen to a personal mental experience because there is a mind and a thinker, this is just another type of personal therapy, a thing to improve me me me

This is not, at least, what I am saying. Nobody is proposing either a frozen mind or tranquilized or quiet mind. No, Buddhism, from day 1, has been about dropping the "self" (what Dogen means by "dropping body-mind"). The "self" is the cause, in Buddhist terms, of suffering arising from the self's judgments, desires, fears, disappointments, dissatisfactions and divisions from what it itself perceives as other "selfs". "Dropping body-mind" is just another way of talking about "dropping the self".

How is that attained? Many ways, such as losing oneself in the body (as you and Brad and Nishijima Roshi seem to advocate), or by dropping the mind (dropping the aforesaid judgments, fears, disappointments, dissatisfactions desires and divisions) or (as I advocate) both. But if you think that throwing oneself into the body will automatically bring about Dogen's insights into "thinking not thinking" ... think again!

I observed something very interesting about Nishijima Roshi that you should watch for. He is someone who, when he sits Zazen, attains a sensation of balance he calls "balance of the autonomic nervous system" (we could call that by many other names, and other teachers do, but that is how he chooses to describe it). He is personally able to place himself into this when he is sitting in Lotus so he naturally assumes (without much empirical data to back him up) that (1) it is the posture that is causing the sensation (the so-called "fallacy of correlation as causation)

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

and (2) that it will work for other people the same way it works for him. Well, you only have to look at what an angry, judgmental, clutching, often disappointed, territorial, dissatisfied and divided bunch (ring a bell with the above definition of a "self" not "dropped?????) so many of his students are to see his "theory" does not work for many of his followers.

In all Dogen's transcribed writings, he devoted but a few paragraphs to the mechanics of sitting, almost nothing to the bodily and physical sensations of dropping body-mind, and countless pages upon pages to the mental & philosophical experience and outlooks of one who has dropped body-mind. You just have to open Shobogenzo to see that Dogen was a very cerebral fellow in discussing dropping body-mind.

I ask you, Harry. Has the method you propose allowed you to drop all friction between your self and the world, even off the Zafu? Further, has it allowed you to drop all friction EVEN WHEN there is friction in you life (You know what I mean: dropping the self even amid the self's problems and tussles in life). If the answer to either is "no", then the method you propose is intellectually elegant but of little use.

Gassho, Jundo

PS-

after we really begin the REAL ACTION we are already 'There' because such unified body/mind action is far beyond our transitory thinking. 'There' is not a state of mind, a state of silence, or even a state in the sense that it is a zone, or a metaphysical realm. Dogen is clear that it is a dynamic state of 'dropping off', Buddha-nature expressed is manifesting 'being without' Buddha-nature or anything else using our mind and body's 'dropping off'.

By the way, I know that what you write above is true. One can, and often will, lose one's 'self' in this way in pure 'action'. It is not so hard really. But if you do so, what is the point of it? Is it an insight into true 'Reality'? Would Dogen reject as 'not Reality' the times in life when we are not experiencing 'that'? (I don't think so). Finally, can you carry that off the Zafu that whatever to make yourself at home throughout all your life (the method I propose is a kind of self-actualized life in which one is 'always at home' even while vibrantly living. If your method can't give that, I will keep my "wrong" method. But I really do not think it is wrong). :-)

jundo cohen said...

There is also a third fallacy of Nishijima Roshi:

Because Nishjima Roshi is naturally both a very sweet, kind and Precept abiding man on and off the Zafu, he assumes (3) that attaining his "balance of the Autonomic Nervous System" on the Zafu will automatically cause everyone to be sweet, kind and Precept abiding off the Zafu. He thinks that precepts automatically arise out of sitting in the Lotus Posture.

Well, I guess Brad's book proves that that is not so easy to say, and my experience with several of the other "less than sweet" students around Nishijima Roshi proves to me that it is not necessarily so.

element said...

Jundo wrote: "He is someone who, when he sits Zazen, attains a sensation of balance he calls "balance of the autonomic nervous system" (we could call it by many names, and other teachers do, but that is how he chooses to describe it). He is personally able to do this when he is sitting in Lotus so he naturally assumes (without much empirical data to back him up) that (1) it is the posture that is causing the sensation (the so-called "fallacy of corelation as causation)"

I can approve Nishijimas ability to get balanced during zazen.
Maybe people who doesn't, are doing it not right.
Is your posture really right?
For example, I noticed the importance of the tongue.
It should be pressed a bit to the upper teeth, mouth area.
If the tongue is loose you can feel it moves when you are in thoughts, it is talking in silence. If the tongue is stuck it is much harder to think.
Also the neck, head is important, and other details too ...
And then there will also be thoughts, but at some point that isnt't a problem anymore ...
Don't you get the difference when thinking and then getting the posture right again, in this moment of body movement you are acting, although you do it the whole time, but man notice intuitivly when you make sport
Don't get me wrong, I often sit frustrated and hate it, but not always so ...

jumbo colon said...

There is also a fourth fallacy of Nishijima Roshi:

Accepting jundo as his student.

Anonymous said...

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でしこ
soul source production
ベトナム シーフード
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element said...

"Because Nishjima Roshi is naturally both a very sweet, kind and Precept abiding man on and off the Zafu, he assumes (3) that attaining his "balance of the Autonomic Nervous System" on the Zafu will automatically cause everyone to be sweet, kind and Precept abiding off the Zafu. He thinks that precepts automatically arise out of sitting in the Lotus Posture."

I don't think that anybody can live up to your ideals.
Maybe you are the strong Übermensch kind of guy.
You have your faults like Brad has his, Nishijima has his, and i have mine.
It's hard to see ones, and to do smthg. I think Brad precept failures haven't harmed anyone, so what the heck.

Why are we not perfect?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3-Xv1ya94E&hl=de

jundo cohen said...

There is also a fourth fallacy of Nishijima Roshi:

Accepting jundo as his student.


I am not a "yes" man. You can agree with my opinions or not, but I offer them to him and others sincerely.

People often think that a Zen disciple has to express everything exactly the same as his/her teacher, and agree with all words and ideas that the teacher uses to express the often inexpressable.

That is not so, any more than a Jazz pianist needs to play note for note just like his piano teacher, a physicist needs to stick to the same precise theories as his college science professor. What they share is a love of the music and Truth. In fact, I cannot think of a single Zen teacher in all history who ever taught exactly what his teacher taught (including old Dogen and his teacher Ju-Ching). We are just Jazz musicians (and classical and punk musicians) playing the universe.

Gassho, Jundo

element said...

Jundo: I agree with that!

Ratboy said...

"From personal experience, correct posture isn't enough. I could dream all day in the lotus position if I didn't pay attention."

Ditto.
Great discussion here. One of the best, imo. Thanks for the valuable input, especially Jundo, Justin and Jinzang.

Shunryu Suzuki said...

"While you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, your experience will become deeper and deeper, and your experience will cover everything you do in your everyday life. The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas. In other words, just practice zazen in a certain posture. Do not think about anything. Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. That is to say, your own true nature resumes itself."

Ratboy said...

SS said: "your experience will become deeper and deeper"

If that isn't a gaining idea itself, I don't know what is. Soto's gaining ideas are just different from Rinzai's gaining ideas.

Suzuki also said; " just practice zazen in a certain posture."
He didn't say just sit in a certain posture, he said 'practice zazen' in a certain posture.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

" We are just Jazz musicians (and classical and punk musicians) playing the universe."

I get to be Ornette Coleman. No, second thought, I'll just be Phil.

Deshimaru said...

The three main things in zazen are posture, breathing, and attitude of mind and correctly practiced, they lead to the very principle of zazen: hishiryo consciousness, thinking without thinking. You cannot stop thinking entirely during zazen. in fact, you think even more than usual because there are also the thoughts that come from the past. In your ordinary activities you don't pay attention to them, but during zazen you can see the thoughts coming. You cannot stop your thoughts. Some forms of meditation teach that you must not think. Others say you must think about God. You must form images of God or beautiful things, or you must think about a koan or some philosophical problem. That is not the right attitude. You cannot go on without thinking for any length of time and if you try to concentrate on just one thing. It's the same as trying to stop thinking altogether. In Zen what you must do is let your thoughts pass by. As soon as a thought arises, let it go. If money thought comes, or a young lady, or sex, or food or Buddha or God thought or Zen thought, let them go. In zazen, concentrate on your posture and let everything else go by. After a while, what is in the subconscious rises to the surface because when conscious thinking stops the subconscious mind can be expressed. If you practice zazen you can understand the subconscious coming back to the surface. You must let it come up and in the end it wears itself out: one year ago, five years ago, when you were a baby. And you get back to what is original, to complete purity. That is satori.

Justin said...

In Zen what you must do is let your thoughts pass by.

Ding!

Jordan said...

Wow, A discussion on a Zen blog about ZaZen! Thank you all for your sincere efforts in practice. This is (for me) the most interesting and fulfilling dialog I have seen here in a long long time.

In gratitude,
Jordan

Mumon said...

Mysterion:

The way of Zen is Zazen (and, in Rinzai, Koan). And the purpose of Zazen is to become "less."

Uh...no.

The words for Rinzai and Soto are different; the goal is ultimately the same (right Jundo: real practice is off the zafu!)

There is a slight difference in emphasis between Rinzai and Soto, though these are blended back and forth between sects and amongst teachers, but the short answer is this: Rinzai, to a certain extent relies on one's own agency or joriki cultivation to achieve what Soto would say is already there and might not need so much effort.

But in either case body and mind will drop away...

Others, D.T. Suzuki, IIRC, have said the difference of emphasis is mirrored in the story of Hui Neng; the Soto version would be (according to Suzuki):

The body is the wisdom-tree,
The mind is a bright mirror in a stand;
Take care to wipe it all the time,
And allow no dust to cling.


whereas the Rinzai version would be:

Fundamentally no wisdom-tree exists,
Nor the stand of a mirror bright.
Since all is empty from the beginning,
Where can the dust alight


Finally, Rinzai's emphasis on Koans is not meant to get one to be good at solving riddles, but to be able to see the Ultimate in the Everyday, and to live and act where Absolute and Relative collide and to express this collision like THAT!

But in Rinzai, you too, have to zazen to get there.

Mumon said...

Jordan:

Of course if we're talking or writing about zazen...

Anonymous said...

Apropos of spiritual supermen: what happens when our contemporary spiritual supermen prove to be incompetent and ordinary persons with kryptonite in their bellies get organized?

Consider the following:
http://integral-review.org/documents/Anderson,%20Such%20a%20Body.%20Micropolitics,%20Vol.%204%20No.%202.pdf

THOMAS AMUNDSEN said...

Brad, Jundo, you are mistaking your own lack of realization with a supposed impossibility of such a realization.

To make an analogy, suppose we actually did land on the moon. You guys are like the people who claim we never landed on the moon. That is fine. But, you then try to "prove" we never landed on the moon by saying that you made your own half-assed attempt to get their on your own, and it was impossible. How can you ever say that the cessation of suffering is not possible if you've never actually taken the medicine the Buddha prescribed?

The words from Brads latest book that ring the truest were "to the extent that I don't take the Buddha's advice, I suffer."

Stephanie said...

Just last week, I fortuitously stumbled across a great book while browsing in a bookstore, titled The Wisdom of Imperfection by Rob Preece. It's almost uncanny how much it relates to Zen Wrapped in Karma... almost as if it was written as a commentary on Brad's book. It makes a great companion piece and I highly recommend it to anyone who liked Brad's book or who is interested in this discussion about spiritual supermen and what we look for in spiritual teachers.

Preece expresses a lot of the thoughts and opinions I've been expressing, but better than I can or have. He is a Jungian/psychodynamic therapist who also has extensive practice experience in the Tibetan tradition, which is somewhat irrelevant to the content of the book as it applies to the fundamental aspects of any Buddhist practice, but I make note of it as some have been dismissive of Tibetan teachers in this thread and so may refuse to buy or read the book because it "is Tibetan, not Zen."

An excerpt:

"The personality type described in psychoanalytic theory as schizoid fits into this pattern of disembodiment. The schizoid tendency is initiated when an infant in distress can no longer cope with the emotional pain it is in and actually dissociates, or splits off from being present. An adult who has this tendency will sometimes seem to be not really present. I see this sometimes with people who go into a slightly glassy-eyed state in which they may be just gazing into space or out of a window. They seem to have just gone. This can be somewhat disconcerting to be around because it leads to a feeling of not really being met. The person is not present in interactions.

Again, this disposition of disembodiment leads to a distortion of the experience of practices such as meditation. These people may well be able to develop quite deep absorption in meditation. The danger is that it will also be split off from relationship to being present with what is arising. They will be out of the body in a mind-state that has little connection to feelings and body sensations, even though it could be quite a blissful, peaceful state to be in...

When someone with this tendency looks to spiritual life as a means to resolve his or her emotional struggle, some curious side effects can be present. Not engaging with life is often validated in spiritual doctrines. Transcending the body and materiality in favor of some state that is peaceful and free, yet dissociated from the world, is a powerful longing. Meditation practices can take people into deep experiences that draw them further away from reality rather than keeping them present within it. Letting go of a sense of solid self is almost the most natural thing to do so as to merge with oceanic feelings of oneness. The question is whether these experiences are a move towards awakening or a regressive pull back into a primary state of unconsciousness...

Engaging in a disembodied spirituality is no solution to our life demands. It may be a way of experiencing states of mind that can be very seductive, even addictive. Seldom does it address the roots of our emotional problems. Transformation comes when we are willing and able to restore or develop a sound relationship to our body in a healthy way... Embodiment implies a full engagement in life with all of its trials and tribulations, rather than avoidance through disembodied spiritual flight. The value of meditation is that it can enable this engagement because it cultivates the capacity to be present and remain open, not grasping at or rejecting what arises. When meditation emphasizes presence rather than transcendence, this openness is a natural outcome."
(pp. 142-144)

Jundo and Brad both seem to be advocating a sitting practice that is embodied. The difference here is that Jundo believes that a good or authentic sitting practice will leave someone in a naturally 'balanced' state in which troubling psychological or interpersonal phenomena simply do not arise, or arise only on occasion. I think this points a bit toward the disembodiment / denial end of the spectrum, though it certainly reflects the Buddhist ideal that the enlightened saint appears as an avatar of earthly perfection.

My experience: this is a wrong view based on misunderstanding. Others argue differently. Who to believe? One's best bet is to trust what accords with one's own instinct and experience. If I got anything out of the year 2008, it was a renewed trust in myself and my own experience, and the impossibility of others being able to understand what is true or necessary for me. I cannot more strongly emphasize how incorrect I find Jundo's view to be, but given that he is older and has Dharma transmission, it is natural that people will and should take his word over mine. I respect, and don't mind that... there really is absolutely no reason people should just take my word for something. I just hope that people really look at their own experience, question what anyone says about anything, and really really ask themselves if their spiritual practice has truly changed how they feel at their core or if it's just pushed all of the old baggage deep into the basement and into the Shadow (which Preece also discusses extensively in this book).

Another excerpt:

"From a psychological perspective we may describe a range of experiences that could all be seen as in some way living under the umbrella of anger. Rage, outrage, resentment, frustration, and aversion are all familiar expressions of very different experiences of anger. There are also more passive manifestations that are often not recognized as manifestations of anger, such as some kinds of depression, passive aggression, and even boredom." (p. 147)

Passive aggression is just as much an expression of anger as a full-on rant. Passive aggression is a variation of what in psychoanalytic lingo is known as "projective identification," in which there is some part of oneself that one does not consciously own in awareness and so one subconsciously communicates this feeling to others who act it out for one so that one can identify with them as they express that part of oneself that one cannot identify with in a more direct manner.

This goes beyond someone who "pushes other people's buttons." Someone feels angry but does not accept anger, so one relates to others who are angry, and in a state of unawareness, provokes others so as to bring their anger out further. One then comments on these other people's behavior, often in a critical manner, as if one is disgusted by it--but truly, one is delighted by it because these other people is doing what one wishes one could do but cannot allow oneself to do. One resents their freedom but takes delight in being able to participate vicariously in this act of angry expression. One can pat oneself on the back for not being an angry person while vicariously living out one's anger through other people who express anger. In the same way that people resent the rules and laws that bind us in society and so find vicarious expression of their own feelings in the criminals who actually break the laws they uphold but resent upholding.

My impression is that Jundo is actually a much angrier person than Brad, who, as is obvious in his "scandalous" "tell-all" book, is really a pretty mild guy in terms of his problems and needs and "bad behavior." Jundo is in reality "turned on" (I don't mean this in a sexual way) by all of the things he outwardly denies or suppresses--cursing, passion, anger, etc., which is why he can't stay away from Brad or this page... and I'm starting to think he's been posting here more extensively and for a longer period of time than I realized as I suspect now he sometimes posts anonymously or under pseudonyms here.

I think what we're seeing is a psychodrama being acted out by people who play on each other's subconscious needs--Brad's need to rebel against controlling figures, Jundo's need to get others to act out his anger for him--not "Dharma combat" between two teachers motivated purely by different approaches to teaching. Though that, in the wonderful commingling of Dharma and ordinary humanity, is part of it too.

Reference:

Preece, Rob (2006). The wisdom of imperfection: The challenge of individuation in Buddhist life. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications.

Anonymous said...

"to the extent that I don't take the Buddha's advice, I suffer." I think the insight that Brad is the biggest point of the book. That is a very sobering statement, and a difficult one to make. I think people's expectations of Brad as a "Zen Master" prevent them from really taking that essential point to heart.

Facing oneself, is a exceedingly difficult thing to do, but something that is required.

Stephanie's above comment says so much. :-)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie:

I have been amazed by Jundo's inability to let the matter drop. He's made his point repeatedly over the course of several weeks now. Once was enough.

I'm reminded of the new show that CBS are looking at as a sequel to "Judge Judy". It's called "Judge Jundo". It's on every day and involves "Judge Jundo" turning up at your house every day and judging you.

Every day he judges the same case and reaches the same conclusion - "You've been very naughty, unlike me who is very good".

I think It's gone beyond valid criticism into plain rudeness.

Anonymous said...

"I'm starting to think he (Jundo) has been posting here more extensively and for a longer period of time than I realized as I suspect now he sometimes posts anonymously or under pseudonyms here."

Stephanie, That kind of speculation without proof is probably better left unsaid. We can fantasize all we want to about people but that seems to be at cross purposes with zen practice.

Stephanie said...

Anon @ 9:44AM:

To be fair to Jundo, Brad really called him out in his book in such a way anyone on the Zenternets familiar with both Brad and Jundo would know to whom Brad was referring. Any human being who gets "dissed" tends to want to challenge that and make his or her case.

I don't mind that Jundo is imperfect, any more than I mind that Brad is imperfect or that I am imperfect. What I mind is that I think what Jundo says and does reinforces a fundamental disconnect between people and their realities, thus perpetuating suffering and unawareness. By making people feel guilty that to be "doing it right" they always have to look a certain way, one encourages those people to "fake it" to themselves and others so as to get others' approval that they are a "good Buddhist" or whatnot.

It takes a certain amount of courage or simply a certain kind of personality to be immune to this kind of exclusion / out-grouping ("You can't be one of us if you are who you are, it doesn't matter if you value or do the same things--you do not belong here"), and so what's going to keep happening is that people are going to keep faking it in hopes they will someday make it. But they'll never make it in this way because in order to move past what one has been denying or suppressing, one has to let it arise and experience it. As long as one is "faking" it, that Beast chained up in the basement just keeps getting bigger and scarier. In some cases, something may "snap" and one may become the Beast, as in the werewolf legends.

It breaks my heart to see this because I see so many people come to Buddhism who have been broken down in their attempts to be "good," who really are good, kind folks but who feel fundamentally loathsome to themselves. In order to be loved or to feel okay, in order to be able to mute their sense of self-loathing, they had to force themselves into being something they were not. Others patted them and gave them cookies and said, "Good boys" and "Good girls" and underneath it all there's this despondency, this utter and absolute loneliness because "Good Girl" or "Good Boy" is a false self. When alone, they are haunted by "Bad Girl" or "Bad Boy," thinking, "The reason I feel this way or that my life is this way is because I am Bad and am not good at being Good... so I will try harder..." and that feeling never goes away. These people are so hungry for any sort of love or acceptance and because they have not truly extended it to themselves they will not be able to receive it from others for to do so, they would have to shed the "Good Girl" or "Good Boy" persona. This is because when others praise "Good Girl" or "Good Boy," they are praising someone that the real person knows does not really exist.

I've known for quite some time that I'm not "Good Girl." So I don't mind it when others tell me so. I don't need to be "Good Girl," though like anyone else, I desire to be loved as and for who I am. I'm still working on that. I've got a lot to work through. I'm far too intelligent for my own good and so I know it sometimes sounds like I think I know it all. But I don't. One thing that gives me hope is knowing that I don't know a lot of things I thought I knew. I don't know that "life is meaningless." I don't know what the hell life is at all! Yay!

The fact that Jundo is an angry guy is okay, just as it's okay that Brad has anger issues, and that I have anger issues, and that a lot of the angry people posting angry messages to this angry blog have anger issues. The problem isn't that anger is there, it's what we do with it. I try to use my anger as a way to develop compassion for others who suffer from afflictive emotions. The fact that I accept and process my own anger has helped me be of benefit to others, and has helped me maintain my calm in any number of intense situations.

I grew up a fighter in a family with outlandish skill and extremes in verbal combat and an inner core of anger is one outcome of that, but so is courage and cunning. We can make something good out of whatever we've had or have now. The way we make good of it isn't going to be the same for everyone, or look the same--that's the wonderful thing about people, that we're all so different. Else the world would be pretty boring! Some people are gentle, some are intense, some seem normal and some are just plain weird.

So I think an issue at hand here is a matter of audience--I think Brad's intended audience is more the "weirdos" out there, among which I count myself, while Jundo upholds a vision of normalcy that appeals to folks who don't celebrate their freakitude. But the thing is... I think there are a lot of people out there who feel like freaks and who hate themselves for it, and who gravitate toward ideals of purity out of a punitive attitude toward themselves and who are harmed by the culture of (to borrow terminology from Harry) "Rightism" and "Wrongism."

I post what I post out of my own needs and reasons to come to an understanding of my own life, but also in the hope that it might reach others who are at war with themselves. Jundo was trying to save me, and in my weird way I've tried to save Jundo but in the end it's all a bunch of nonsense because the only person you can save is yourself.

NellaLou said...

Well said Stephanie.

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

Thanks NL.

One of my favorite songs / videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQAHMj2qFxE

Anonymous said...

The fact that I accept and process my own anger has helped me be of benefit to others
What is that process? I ask out of genuine interest.
That not to act out anger necessarily equals suppression seems to be your, frequently made, point. I think I'd like it if that was a misinterpretation.

My nameless opinion is that the entertaining-quirky-whoopeee-freak / balanced-norm distinction is pure divisive fantasy. The cosy narrative of the lonesome wayward unhinged-one in their little dark corner of the universe is a tough, selfsatisfying crust of heartwarming-yet-woeful nonsense; the rut that holds the attention best in certain kinds (like mine). It can be done without.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't "diss" the book Stef recommended for it being Tibetan-buddhism oriented - even though Tibetan buddhism and Zen are two totally different vehicles and it's not really good way to compare or combine the two - but for it being outdated and misconceptioned jungian/psychoanalysis piece. There's no science there folks!

As for the "deep in meditation and dissociated" thing, the one thing you can do to detect who has been meditating properly and who is just schitzoid is that the one who has been meditating is anything but detached/dissociated when you are around then. If anything they are so present it's uncanny!

If you have ever been talking to someone whose whole attention - literally - is directed at listening you you'll know what it means.

Rich said...

The problem is not the thinking and feeling, the problem is not letting go of the thinking and feeling. This takes a little effort or will to the truth. For some it could be focus on breathing, or adjusting posture, or using a koan etc. For me, the fundamental answer to the question of What is this? is just Don't Know which brings me to this very moment.

And I have to go.

Stephanie said...

Anon @ 11:07AM:

I absolutely don't believe that one needs to act out anger at all. What I believe is suggestive of repression is one who says, "One shouldn't feel anger," or, "If one is truly Buddhist / spiritual / practicing correctly, one will not feel or be angry," etc. Of course, I could be wrong.

How do I "process" anger? First, I acknowledge that it is there, without any judgment "I should not be angry." I examine the root causes of the anger to the best of my ability. I may find, "I'm feeling angry because Person X said something hurtful to me." Depending on the context, I may realize that it was only my interpretation that made the statement seem hurtful. Or I may recognize it's part of a pattern of behavior on the part of Person X and that I need to address this with them, most likely through discussion. Or I may just let it go. The most important thing is not to deny that it's there or to fight against it. If examining the cause / source of the anger is not enough to calm it, I may try another method for dealing with it. I may listen to a certain kind of music for a while, or go write something, or work out extra hard, or sing, etc.

Learning how not to be afraid of my own anger has helped me not to act on anger in a destructive way (yelling, being hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, etc.) as much as I once did. It also means that the anger doesn't linger as long. I've also been learning a lot about how my childhood experiences have shaped my felt experience and character which has helped me better understand why I feel a lot of what I do and what I can do to work with that. The first and foremost thing is practicing compassion toward myself. I accept the helpless angry baby inside of me and hold it in a tender place in my awareness, which soothes it in a genuine and lasting way. This sounds weird and touchy feely, but it works for me and I don't know how else to explain it. Obviously, all of this is just arbitrary constructions used to organize one's experience conceptually, but I've found it helpful.

It's helped me in my work with others because I don't shrink back at expressions of anger and it's easy and authentic for me to express a non-judgmental (in the sense of not being morally dismissive--I do form opinions about people, as anyone does) attitude toward "difficult" and "troubled" people. I can go into difficult situations and handle them with some measure of humor and equanimity. I can help people cultivate a sense of acceptance toward themselves, which is profoundly healing and psycho-emotionally liberating. Of course, I haven't fully accepted myself and it's a process of working alongside my clients rather than working on them. The funny thing about people is, they generally only start to work to change if they feel accepted for who they are right now. And when you recognize that you and the others with whom you interact are not different in any fundamental way, and that you're working on the same things, you naturally convey a sense to them that you do not place yourself above them.

Anon @ 11:15AM:

What's outdated about it? A lot of people think psychoanalytic thought is "outdated"--I used to be one of them. But I've learned that it couldn't be more relevant to our modern predicament. If people can get past the often awkward analysis, they'll find that psychodynamic thought accurately captures many mental phenomena, including many that are not discussed or dealt with in Buddhism.

Stephanie said...

* "Often awkward analysis" above should read "often awkward language"

Anonymous said...

Stephanie:

Gummo did get get some criticism in the book. However, in fairness both the DSI Saga and the Porno Buddhist Saga were things that Gummo became angry about and laid into Brad about at the time.

Brad admits to being upset about it all in the book and rightly so.

Neither Brad or Jundo or you or I are perfect people thank [insert deity here].

But if we look at the events it seems Jundo made himself angry with Brad originally. Brads written about it and now Jundo seems angry at Brad. But it all in the end stems from the actions Jundo originally took.

It's fine for Jundo and Brad to argue over practice - it's part of the job.

But it does seem to me that Jundo appears angry over what is a self-inflicted wound.
Anon 9:44

foiuntaingrass_moisture said...

Sigh...
Once again what was a good, informative thread of comments about zazen and shikantaza has devolved into personality issues and anger issues between Brad and Jundo, and what's worse...psychobabble.

Anonymous said...

foiuntaingrass - Skip the things that don't interest you. It's easy, I do it all the time.

Anonymous said...

Well there's a whole lotta lotta goodl zazen advice offered here by some super people

Justin said...

Bad karma

Flor de Nopal Sangha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flor de Nopal Sangha said...

Are anonymous posters using the Vulcan Mind Meld on Jundo's posts to ascertain his mental states?

Bad to good karma said...

I got interested in zen thinking that it was something I could do to benefit myself. Then only later, when I realized that I was doing it to benefit others, did a lot of the hard to understand parts start making sense to me.

Jordan said...

@ foiuntaingrass_moisture

Aw man that is an awesome handle. Brings up the image of condensation inside a Shakuhachi.

Rich said...

Jundo says:
"By the way, my teacher Nishijima Roshi is kind of a naturally peaceful guy, with a very balanced an unemotional personality. (Nothing really perturbs him, at least not visibily). That is one reason, I believe, he assumes that everyone sitting in the Lotus Posture will automatically become naturally peaceful, emtionally balanced, with a rather calm personality.

I think that you do not have to look far to see that simply relying on the posture itself is a bit optimistic. Heck, you don't have to look far, or beyond Brad's writings, this blog and some others, to see that relying on the Lotus Posture to "naturally" bring all that is a bit optimistic. "

To me your opinions seem to be degrading Gudo and Brad. It sounds like you are saying that Gudo's teaching wasn't complete for you and now you are adding that extra teaching to show you have your own way. I think your contributions to this blog would be more effective and credible if you weren't critical of other teachers, especially your own teacher. Your teaching needs to stand on its own. Gudo can't make your way.

Harry said...

"... Many ways, such as losing oneself in the body (as you and Brad and Nishijima Roshi seem to advocate)..."

Jundo,

You fundamentally misunderstand the teachings of your teacher and of Dogen Zenji, and you fundamentally misunderstand my own stupid ramblings on this matter in coming to this conclusion.

You do this, as you do so many things, by projecting your values, and anti-values, onto things which are not even remotely the self-made Buddhist Priest 'Jundo' or anything like the self-styled Buddhist Priest'Jundo'. You are a sucker for your own sweet opinions/assumptions.

I don't really want to discuss your failings on the internet, even on a forum such as this which you have not barred me from (as you did from Treeleaf Zendo when I announced that you do not teach what your teacher or Dogen Zenji teach/taught... which you clearly don't).

Now, get on with your bad episode of Dallas.

Brad is still J.R., while you, I'm afraid, are Cliff Barnes.

Regards to you and yours as they exist far, far from all this crap,

Harry.

kudra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PA said...

Junod said:Yes, that is typical advice by Soto teachers. Neither stir up the thoughts nor chase after them, allow the mind to settle on its own. It may not every day, but if it does not on most days (and in the rest of your life off the Zafu too ... that's the REAL practice place), then your Zazen is off key.

Shit, my Zazen is off key :-)
It's a problem for me this. But I'm trying to take Zazen off the Zafu more and more. Otherwise it only lasts 30 minutes a day :-(

m(..)m

Justin said...

More bad karma

PA said...

Sorry. Jundo! Not Junod!

I'll get my coat...

Harry said...

"In all Dogen's transcribed writings, he devoted but a few paragraphs to the mechanics of sitting, almost nothing to the bodily and physical sensations of dropping body-mind, and countless pages upon pages to the mental & philosophical experience and outlooks of one who has dropped body-mind. You just have to open Shobogenzo to see that Dogen was a very cerebral fellow in discussing dropping body-mind."

Well of course... your point?

Is 'dropping the body and mind' a personal experience or not?

Should/can Brad drop all the 'crap' that is so against Jundo and Jundoism or not?

C'mon, priest: Speak!

Jundoism seems a little unreliable all of a sudden, no?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

psychobabble alert. the lowest form of self inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie said, " But I know what I value and what inspires me."

How do you know what you value?
How do you know what inspires you?

Anonymous said...

How do I "process" anger? First, I acknowledge that it is there, ...
Dear Stephanie,
Thank you very much, your reply was a pleasure to read.
From
anger-process-question Anon.

Dear Psychodynamical vocabulary,
You're alright by me.
From
firstperson-analytics-endorsement Anon.

Anonymous said...

It is my sincere wish that Brad and Jundo could openly address one another on these issues . . . or be men enough to meet privately and come to some agreement to agree to disagree. Or smack some sense into each other. Both parties end up undermining their students' confidence in them. Brad has taken the "high-road" of silence in forums, but he did write stuff in his book that Jundo might feel a need to respond to. Jundo has taken the challenge as a debate, and appears to want to discuss actual issues. My feeling is that both men have gotten their feelings hurt and are responding to that hurt in their own, characteristic and yes, habitual, way.
As to the "understanding" of Dogen's and Nishijima's teachings, both men have it in spades. But, the dharma has always been taught in many different ways according to the teacher's gifts and the students' gifts. I think both guys are spot on. They are both speaking the truth and because of that, they disagree.
There is no dharma outside of the flawed individuals who pass it on. No supermen, no untouchables, just humanity slowly coming to learn the truth (and arguing about that truth as they see it).

Peace and love to Brad Sensei and Jundo Sensei.
Shout out to bodhisattvas Harry and Stephanie. I miss you guys at Treeleaf, but I understand that not every teacher is right for every student.

Mysterion said...

What's his name sed:
"Yes, when did debating come to be considered fighting?
Gassho, Jundo

A rose by any color is still a rose.

If you want to meet Brad over a hot cup of green tea and debate with him the merits of your approach, then do so. However, invading Brad's Blog to trash him is just a little across the line, in my errant perspective.

I think Brad has some amusing qualities which he comments on in his reflective writing. I am also certain that those who read your books find a quality in them that they enjoy.

Ga-sho-dang-so-desu

Harry said...

... yeah, go psychobabble! As a student of psychology I can see it's place like every other Woody Allen of us.

Here's some of mine (not academic at all):

What is it about people like Jundo that make we want to stop pretending that I'm not angry?

It's funny; I'm not angry with my teacher (even tho we disagree on some things), I'm not angry with Brad (even tho I don't 'jam' with him really), I'm not angry with Nishijima Roshi (even tho he seems inconsistent and says things that seem a bit askew sometimes)...

I'm an angry person, from an angry family, from an angry place/time in an angry world... I look at how I could have turned out (it's BAD) and I think 'Harry, you angry nearly-middle-aged-fuck, you ain't so bad...'. This disarming process is not thanks to the self righteous automatonic do-gooders of this world, this is down to a process of me getting on with it.

Why doesn't Jundo chase down the real bad fuckers in this world, why doesn't he waste his time instead criticising people who are really hurting people? Is it because, when he thinks of "Brad Warner: Head of Dogen Sangha International" he sees a moral offence where a perfect little Jundo-sized hole has had a squared peg rammed into it?

Is Brad really hurting people?

What's his beef.........really?

It doesn't seem so simple, does it.

I applaud Nishijma Roshi for putting a jaded, sometimes pain-in-the-ass of a work-in-process at the head of Dogen Sangha. Not because I think Brad is particularly anything special in that sense (he may well be... I really don't know the guy) but because his being head of Dogen Sangha points directly to exactly the sort of bullshit we ourselves will have to confront including the disingenuous bitching of self appointed authorities on everything that they deem right for us.

Now, Jundo, should I drop that off/ can I drop that off? Speak, Priestboy.

Would you like to be frank about your feelings regarding the leadership of Dogen Sangha? Who would you appoint?

We're still good on psycho-babble, right?

Regards,

Harry.

Jinzang said...

There's no science there folks!

Most of the wise things said in this world were said before science was thought of. As Edward Conze, said, "Men were wise long before they were clever."

Jinzang said...

Folks are arguing here as if there were some kind of award for being the Zenniest Zen teacher. Seems to me that all practice is only an expedient means, that is, even when it's right, it's wrong. Seems like there's room for different approaches to suit the needs of different students. As long as the teacher has a clear eye and the student is willing to be guided, things will probably work out all right. Which makes argument over the best approach a little silly, IMO.

Jinzang said...

Here's some meditation advice from Ari Kiev, who is a translator for Gar Rinpoche. It comes from the Kagyu mahamudra tradition.

The Tibetan word for meditation is gompa, or familiarization. It's as simple as that. We are always familiarizing ourselves with something. In meditation we familiarize ourselves with awareness. Buddhahood is only the uninterrupted experience of awareness. All beings have awareness, but most beings go through life after life without seeing this, for they are obscured. Awareness is mind seeing the mind. When you do this awareness is strengthened and when you don't it is weakened. When you practice awareness, there is a clarity and an ease. It is true relaxation. We have gotten wrapped up in so many concepts and beliefs that we have become exhausted. So in meditation, we experience some sense of peace. That peace is the buddha. We shouldn't think that we are so separated from the buddha. The mind of buddha pervades all beings.

There are many techniques for being aware. When we cultivate awareness, often in a state free from thoughts, a thought will arise. There is no problem with this. Often one thought will lead to another. When a thought arises, we should look right at the face of the thought and in awareness the thought will dissipate. Mind and thought cannot be separated. It is like waves on the ocean or clouds in the sky. There is no esoteric teaching or technique for this. It's really very simple. One merely abides in mind's awareness of mind. One merely is aware of each thought as it occurs. It is like balancing a broomstick on the hand. There is an agility in sustaining awareness. So I would like to stop and do a short meditation. Breathe naturally, ideally though the nose, and look at the mind with the mind and look for their source. The moment you look, there is nothing to be seen.

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

Hi,

Well, I go to bed for a few hours, an all degenerates into innuendo, distraction and ad hominin attacks. A couple of Buddhists with anger issues too. That is not necessary folks.

If you do not like what I write, feel free to disagree or skip over my comments. It is just one person's opinion, same as anyone here. Also, read the following with a soft voice in your head, as I mean the words to be strong and direct, but not mean.

THOMAS AMUNDSEN said...

Brad, Jundo, you are mistaking your own lack of realization with a supposed impossibility of such a realization.

To make an analogy, suppose we actually did land on the moon. You guys are like the people who claim we never landed on the moon.


Thank you for writing. Are you, I suppose, what you define as a "fully enlightened being?" Or maybe you have met in person your image of such a perfect creature? Or is that just something you read about in a Buddhist story?

Stephanie said:

Jundo believes that a good or authentic sitting practice will leave someone in a naturally 'balanced' state in which troubling psychological or interpersonal phenomena simply do not arise, or arise only on occasion.


Hi Steph,

I have told you many times that that is not what I 'preach', but let me do so again. With witnesses! :-)

Zazen is not a cure for many things. It will not fix many a psychological condition, nor will it fix a flat tire, diabetes or a broken marriage. It is not a "cure all". I do not believe that Zazen will lead one to a state where "troubling psychological conditions or interpersonal phenomena" will not arise. Please stop saying that I do (you seem to want to believe these things).

I say that: (1) Zazen has been shown to assist in relieving -some- forms of neurosis and depression based on "overthinking" (drop the thinking, some thinking based problems go too);(2) Zazen will allow us to "accept what we cannot fix or change", be it grief at a loved one's death or divorce or diabetes ... we learn to just allow the emotions and conditions to arise and exist without resistance (although by our not resisting, they do lose --some-- of their fire) --- if Zazen will not cure your depression or panic attacks, for example, just be depressed and panicked; (3) for other conditions, probably someone needs to seek medical help or find some other way to treat it or work with it apart from Zazen (you don't go to a Zen teacher for your diabetes, you go to a urologist. Same with seeking help via medical treatment or other avenues in the case of, for example, bi-bolar or schizophrenia).

Stephanie says:

What I believe is suggestive of repression is one who says, "One shouldn't feel anger," or, "If one is truly Buddhist / spiritual / practicing correctly, one will not feel or be angry," etc. Of course, I could be wrong.


But you are absolutely RIGHT and I agree (for what that is worth)! I have always told you so.

Feeling angry, sad, regretful, worried or any other emotion is not the problem, is human and healthy (I believe). Even sometimes falling into really excess or harmful emotions in natural and human sometimes. We all get angry and "blow our tops" sometimes (ask my wife for confirmation!) :-)

But there is a qualitative difference between that and becoming a prisoner of our anger and other harmful emotions, tied up --day after day-- in unending regrets, constantly rehashed worries, imagined fears, magnified jealousies and self-created neurosis day after day with no ability to escape.

Can't you see the difference?

LET ME REPEAT: My issue with Brad's book is --not-- that he frequently got angry, sad, depressed or a hard on for a student. My issue is that he (1) seemed in the book unable to see through, or even describe to readers, any of those states from a Buddhist perspective as the "self" created "mind games" that they often are; (2) he seemed unable to bring his Zazen practice to bear on redirecting or reducing any of those emotions when in excess (for example, Zazen will not cure anger, nor should it, but it will reduce the fires of excess anger when one is all tied up in that) (2) he just stayed there month after month and eventually even raised up being twisted up in each of those states (anger, confusion, sleeping with a student, his "I vow to stay an asshole") onto a pedestal as an expected, necessary and even positive outcome of Zen Practice. They are not, any more than driving day after day (not just accidentally once in awhile) on the wrong side of the highway is "good driving" (especially if you are supposed to be a professional driving instructor).

I hope that is clear now, Steph?

Gassho, Jundo

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