Thursday, April 23, 2009

GETTING LOTS OF PUSSY IN MONTREAL! and INTERNET ZEN


I've arrived in Montreal. And true to my history in this city (if you've read my new book) I am already getting tons of pussy. Linda Dydyk, my kind host here, has been providing me all the hot pussy I can handle. Yep. She has four kitty-cats; Squishy, Stinky, Freddy and Lola Granola. Sounds like the line-up for some undiscovered British beat group from the Sixties.

In completely unrelated news, my long-suffering publicist Kim Corbin forwarded me this message:

I did get to see Brad at a book signing, and asked him a question (which he said, coincidentally, was the same question that had been asked to him earlier in the day). The turnout was good, about 30-40 people on a Saturday afternoon at the bookstore. I didn't chat with him afterwards because he had a long line of Zen groupies waiting to meet him ;) but you can tell him that the girl with the bodacious tata's, tattoos and questions about group practice really enjoyed his lecture!

Which brings up an important message, girls with bodacious tata's and tattoos please push those Zen groupies out of the way and come talk to me at book signings! Or girls without tattoos, or with non-bodacious tata's, or anyone who is not a Zen groupie.

I really don't mind answering people's Zen questions. But, honestly, after a lecture I'm usually kind of "zenned out." Which is not my way of trying to set up the opposite problem and make people shy about asking heartfelt Zen stuff. Please ask (see first sentence of this paragraph for further clarification)! But also remember I'm a human being, not a Zen Answer Machine. It's often refreshing at these things to talk to someone about anything other than Zen.

The tour has now passed its halfway mark. Though it looks like a slight extension is in the offing. I'll be in New Mexico from May 20-23 for talks in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and El Paso. Details soon. I get around, baby!

Here's a question from the mail bag, variations of which I've been getting at several of my talks:

Where I live right now, there's basically no sangha at all. While yoga joints dot the landscape like dandelions, the nearest Zen groups seem to be hours away. I've seen the odd online groups, like Jundo Cohen's Treeleaf Zendo, but I'm not sure whether something like that would be beneficial or harmful to me as I get myself back into an everyday, active practice of zazen. What do you think about online groups like that? Do you think they can be valuable to someone who can only actually travel to a real zendo rarely? What do you advise for someone who's in the middle of nowhere, about going it mostly alone?


A guy in Dallas also asked me what I thought of the Zen groups on Second Life.

A number of older Zen teachers have asked my opinion on the on-line sangha phenomenon as well. I guess they expect me to be a kind of tuned-in member of the cyber generation. But, although I blog and use the Internet pretty frequently, I'm not all that crazy about it. I don't surf the web. I don't frequent chat rooms. I've never really gotten what things like Second Life are all about.

The most I do on the Internet other than blogging is look for oddball video clips on YouTube. I just got a Twitter account. But I don't really get that either, although I update mine most days. I know you young whipper-snappers are looking at that stuff on your new-fangled portable telephone contraptions, but that's about it.

The problem I see with the on-line stuff is that it's all very much in the head. It doesn't address the rest of the body. Take on-line dokusan for example. Dokusan is supposed to be a face-to-face meeting with a teacher to talk about practice. Nowadays some teachers are using Skype, webcams and other such technology to offer cybernetic versions.

But talking to someone on a webcam is not the same as talking to someone in the room with you. The smell of the person, the shared physical space, that little bit of electrochemical interconnectedness that occurs when you're near a person, these subtle but vital areas of communication are lacking. Yet the webcam and other such technologies do such a tremendous job of mimicking those few areas of communication our thinking minds take note of (visual and audio) that we are easily fooled into believing we're having the same experience as being in the room with the person.

It's very easy for the Master to appear more ethereal and holy when you can't smell the garlic on his breath or let your eyes roam around and see the unwashed tea cup over in the corner or feel the subtle charge of tension he exudes when you step into the room. It's deceptive nonsense to claim that any cyber sangha is just the same as a brick and mortar zendo.

That being said, they can serve a function. In the past Zen teachers have communicated with students at a distance through letters. Some of Dogen's most famous pieces, such as Genjo Koan, originated as letters to students living in far off places. I've had a lot of heart-to-hearts with my teachers via telephone when I was living away from them (but I knew them in person first, an important difference). The newer technological communication tools can be used the same way.

The problem is our unfamiliarity with these tools of communication and the aforementioned ability of these tools to fool us even more effectively than the tools we had in the past.

Nobody in the 13th century would have thought a letter from Dogen was the same as a meeting with him. But folks in the 21st century are often fooled into thinking a Skype chat with someone where both parties have webcams (or whatever) is the same as actually meeting them. I feel this very keenly when I talk to people about their various cyber excursions. It's like they really do believe they've gone to these places and talked to these people when all they've actually experienced were icons and typed messages on a screen. "I talked to so-and so," they'll say. And I'll often ask, "Did you talk with him or did you type messages to each other?" Usually it's the latter.

The other problem is there is way, way, way too much information for anyone to ever take in. So we have a tendency to want to try to absorb everything, which leads to skimming over stuff in a very cursory manner rather than getting very deeply into just one thing.

This is a common trend in the age of information overload. We think we have to audition absolutely everything before we can commit to anything. But there's no way we can possibly look at everything that's out there. So we never end up committing to anything at all. It may have been better before when our choices were more limited.

This is why I always encourage people to go to their local sangha no matter what it is before they start doing the virtual zendo thing. I've seen people pass up really terrific places right around the corner because they've gotten it into their heads that some guy with a website (maybe even this guy -- me -- with a website) is better because he's more famous. It ain't always so. And, in my case, it almost certainly is not so.

But, yeah, just because something comes to you via the Interwebs does not mean it's bad. I'm certainly not saying that. You can find good people who will help and support your practice that way. Still, it's not the same as face-to-face communication -- even when you can see their face on that little plastic screen.

109 comments:

gniz said...

I swear to God you take a shot at either Jundo or treeleaf every single blog post....

gniz said...

Sorry, edit that first post to say "I swear to God you take a shot at either Jundo, treeleaf or Big Mind every single blog post...

Mumon said...

Heh...

It's very easy for the Master to appear more ethereal and holy when you can't smell the garlic on his breath or let your eyes roam around and see the unwashed tea cup over in the corner or feel the subtle charge of tension he exudes when you step into the room. It's deceptive nonsense to claim that any cyber sangha is just the same as a brick and mortar zendo.It's actually the other way around: in person-to-person dokusan or sanzen you have to get past the REALITY that THIS human being IN FRONT OF YOU is IMMOVABLE to ANYTHING you can POSSIBLY DO.

If they're on TV, you might as well be watching Green Acres.

But that's just me.

Mumon said...

Oh, and thanks for this:


I've had a lot of heart-to-hearts with my teachers via telephone when I was living away from them (but I knew them in person first, an important difference). The newer technological communication tools can be used the same way.Oughta call my teacher.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I think you managed to hit the nail directly on the head, especially when you said "The problem I see with the on-line stuff is that it's all very much in the head." Bullseye!

Not only that, but the internet tends, in my opinion, to involve our "heads" in the worst possible way. Compare, for example, actually READING Dogen to, say, arguing about Dogen in some online forum. Both are primarily intellectual activities, but that's where the similarity ends.

Harry said...

Based on my own experience of forums and on-line sanghas I tend to agree with the Bradster on this one... that doesn't make him or me 'right' of course.

Horses, courses et cetera et cetera...

Regards,

Harry (not 'right').

Anonymous said...

Very thoughtful and I appreciate the points you are making

Even in-person face to face meetings with a teacher are not always here and now: I have had the experience of one teacher for example who would imitate HIS teacher (speak like and use phrasing of his deceased teacher)
There was something about this that just missed the mark for me--like hearing a reverberation at the end of the canyon and not have been present for the circumstance/situation in which the remark was first uttered

So while this echo of words is perhaps meaningful to the teacher, there was no connection felt

This in itself was extremely helpful: after giving the relationship a fair amount of time with which to develop, and nothing seemed to be developing, I moved on to a different teacher--while he did not give formal face to face meetings there was ample time to encounter his and my 'realness' in immediate situations in the context of sangha

I would concur cyber exchanges cannot replace the being togetherness of being together

Blake said...

Of course I agree with Brad on this point. I tried the online deal and am now with a local Sangha. The two don't even compare and I am one of those technoids who has an account everywhere, use every gadget available and actually instruct people on emerging technologies.

Nothing comes close to direct human interaction.

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to add that there are folks who can not take being with people
I'm not going to get into diagnoses here-- but suffice it to say there are folks limited in this capacity and a cyber relationship, a cyber sangha may be a pretty good fit for a while, certainly a solace from what's 'out there'

Not saying this is good or bad

I'm just saying...

Surely Not Really? said...

gniz said...

"I swear to God you take a shot at either Jundo or treeleaf every single blog post...."

Yes, Aaron, I know you immediately edited that post, but it was no more accurate the second time. I hold no brief for Brad, Jundo or Genpo, but let's deal with your point. Here's what Brad wrote:

"The problem I see with the on-line stuff is that it's all very much in the head. It doesn't address the rest of the body...But talking to someone on a webcam is not the same as talking to someone in the room with you...It's deceptive nonsense to claim that any cyber sangha is just the same as a brick and mortar zendo.

That being said, they can serve a function...This is why I always encourage people to go to their local sangha no matter what it is before they start doing the virtual zendo thing...But, yeah, just because something comes to you via the Interwebs does not mean it's bad. I'm certainly not saying that. You can find good people who will help and support your practice that way. Still, it's not the same as face-to-face communication -- even when you can see their face on that little plastic screen. "

Forgive me for reprinting just about the whole post, but given that Brad's writing a blog, on the net, addressing net issues, WHERE in ANY of that do you hear "shot-taking"? Pointing out the undeniable limits and qualititively different nature of the virtual experience, yes, but "taking shots"? I don't think so.

Rich said...

Quoting myself from earlier today:
'Since joining this online community, I've thought about this and concluded they are just different. Online is mind to mind thinking without the extra sensory input. Sometimes online is better, sometimes face-to-face is better.'

Online you really hear what people are thinking. Face-to-face you really feel everything.

One doesn't exclude the other.

morley said...

I swear to God gniz, you take a shot at either Brad or Jundo every single blog comment....

Monstermunch said...

GO FOR IT BRAD!
GET ALL THE PUSSY THAT YOU CAN!!

LIFE IS SHORT!

Mysterion said...

If it's not the posture, it's the vibes. Something about sangha over solo.

Never bowl alone... it there is an option.

Cheers,
Chas

P.S. People who are hyper-sensitive of criticism while being ultra-critical of others are either neurotic, psychotic, Republican, Fundamentalist, or two or more of the same.

I am an agnostic dyslexic insomniac. I sit up some nights wondering if there really is a dog.

chiming in said...

Cyber-interactivity is still in an experimental phase. Anyone who says that one can replace the other is foolish, but that's been established. Some people are better able to speak their minds with the written or typed word. We will never be able to meet Dogen, but we have his essentially virtual teachings to study in the form of words. Are the words less meaningful when they are on a computer screen instead of a piece of paper? Well, maybe...

For freshly-fresh newcomers, a cyber-based practice is probably not a good place to start. It's too easy to slack off. If you're going to gain anything positive from the study and discussion, it requires a pretty deep personal commitment and a great deal of self-discipline. However, it's a great way to study with someone if you appreciate their viewpoint and you can't be with them physically. In that event, you can probably go and visit them at some point to decide for yourself if they're the real deal or if they're just really clever with words and look good in a robe. Speaking of which, I'll have to include Santa Monica into my travel itinerary sooner or later.

All in all, there's a great danger of fraud inherent in such an arrangement. Practice is practice.

==Bowing before the laptop==

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

IMO every person who takes up this practice, no matter how they were exposed to it, makes the world a better place. I agree that face-to-face is best, but don't forget the numbers.

If someone gives a talk, they talk to 5, 20, or 100 people (that last number was for Noah Levine). If they travel around the country giving talks, they talk to how many? Dozens, or hundreds, maybe thousands. But if someone builds up a presence online and gives a talk on SL, or blogs, or posts a video; they can reach thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions.

If someone believes this practice lessens and ends dukkha, reaching large numbers of people is a good thing (my mind said so!). And they can always tell people it's best to find a local teacher.

Rob

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

Personally, I believe that Zen can --never-- be taught by online/distance/virtual learning, and anything short of fact-to-face is --not-- true human contact. I instruct you --never-- to participate in any online Zendo practice, so it is either face-to-face or nothing.

Anyone who disagrees with me is a fool.

Gassho, Jundo

PS - Of course, what is "distance" "human contact" "face-to-face" "virtual"?

Now, that is a Koan which only a True Zendo can let one resolve ... while a teacher across the same room from you, or even a millimeter from you, can not even touch it.

Anyone who thinks there is anyone to disagree is a fool.

PPS -

(According to both traditional Buddhist models of mind and modern neurology) your experience of your self and of the world is ultimately a fiction created when brain, sense organs and the 'outside world' (everything that is "out there" in the world really, whether you experience it or not) come together ... much like a movie you call "me and the world" created when the world is 'virtually' recreated inside the brain via data that is collected by the senses, passed by chemical-electrical signals to neurons, then (in processes we still barely understand) mixed with all the inner emotions, instincts and everything else the brain has learned about interpreting, organizing and responding to the world since you were a baby. The result is the inner movie you call your "experience of life". In fact, you have never actually seen "the world" at all, only a virtual recreation inside your head of light that entered your eyes, somehow recreated and interpreted within the lobes of the brain as objects that, for example, you stick names on and find pleasing, displeasing or neutral.

PPPS -

Ultimately, the only true "wall" to face or "quiet room" to sit in (as Master Dogen recommends) is "up to you", "within in and without out", "just you and empty of you". To know that taste is the true "Quiet Room".

Master Dogen and other teachers instruct us to sit Zazen in a quiet room, facing a wall. But they also instruct that there is nothing which is not Zazen. Thus, while it is good to sit in a quiet room daily as it aids a settling of the mind ... ultimately, the only wall you are facing is of your own making, the true "Quiet Room" sweeps in the whole universe (and is Quiet even when not quiet).

PPPPS -

Please drop all thought of here there now then. Please sit with us, wherever and whenever you are and are-are not.

Sure, we have a couple of limitations on which senses we use at any one time ... but in Buddhism, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Does Buddha-nature depend on the senses? Can a blind and deaf man sit Zazen? Who is that "true man of no rank always going in and out of the face of every one of you"?

So, free your mind and sit-a-long!

PPPPPS -

Oh ...

(everything that is "out there" in the world really, whether you experience it or not)I did not mean to imply that there is actually an "out there" apart from "in here"

Also, the terms "blind" and "deaf" are not PC ... but what is "PC" about this blog?

jamal said...

"The smell of the person, the shared physical space, that little bit of electrochemical interconnectedness that occurs when you're near a person, these subtle but vital areas of communication are lacking."

"The problem I see with the on-line stuff is that it's all very much in the head. It doesn't address the rest of the body."

Sheeit.. let's cut to the chase. Brad seems to believe that Buddhism is better transmitted with a touch of sexual intimacy between the teacher and the student. It's not that I disagree, I'm just saying..

Anonymous said...

did brad ever answer the question?

barry

mtto said...

mu

Alphonzen said...

"Sheeit.. let's cut to the chase. Brad seems to believe that Buddhism is better transmitted with a touch of sexual intimacy between the teacher and the student. It's not that I disagree, I'm just saying.."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ahem.. I agree with Brad. Having an online sangha is abit like having an online girlfriend. Its not quite the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I think Jundo has made a good point (he made a couple but I'll focus on this one):

"Does Buddha-nature depend on the senses? Can a blind and deaf man sit Zazen?"Does Brad think a blind or deaf person cannot sit Dokusan with a teacher or is it merely more 'deceptive nonsense'?

James said...

Jundos view is materialistic. Theres more to perception than through the senses.

Nobody can explain the one-ness of the universe through relying on senses alone. There is something much deeper than this.

Really and Truly said...

I think I understand.

Sitting in front of a computer; "sitting with" a computer; writing to people, and reading what people have written, via computer, are all very DIFFERENT experiences from sitting/"sitting"/listening and talking with physically present people.

Different. Yes, I can understand that. And, without expending too much energy thinking about it, I find myself unable to disagree.

Michel said...

Wow talk about Synchronicity.

I just recently found out about Mr. Warner and i am looking forward to seeing or meeting him in Montreal. (if you want to explore the french speaking side of Montreal let me know).

My profession is hypnotherapist and it so happens that one of my specialties is internet addiction (the other being pain control). I can tell you from experience and as a professional (yes this is a profession and not a new age thing) that communication without physical contact can be nocive to any type of relationship IF and only if it is the only type of relationship you have with the individual and is also influenced by the duration of the relationship.

I will not get too much into the psychology of it since this is supposed to be only a comment but it has to do with lack of sensory input and the creation of "false" input to replace them in the subconcious mind.

On another subject. If Mr. Warner is reading this i would like to know if he ever has been under hypnosis and if so if he can compare the experience with zazen. If not go to my website and give me a call. I would be honored to "put you under" if you want to give it a try.

Justin said...

There are limitations the 'Book Zen' and 'Blog Zen' (as used by Brad) too. But for people who would not otherwise be able to communicate - it is far better than nothing.

Isn't he just sniping at Jundo again? Projecting his aversion out onto the world and presenting it as a dharma teaching?

Anonymous said...

Michel, I would be interested in learning more about how internet relationships can be harmful. Could you provide some references to journal papers that address this topic.

Many Thanks,

RJ said...

I've been to lots of Zazen groups in the U.s. where people come for a few sittings, have limited chance to talk and know each other (the main activity is sitting, after all, not socializing), then stop coming after a few weeks or months. I know groups where people come for years and years, but only once or twice a week and don't really know each other. I know that Brad's sitting group is a handful of people, and most people stop coming after awhile (even Brad doesn't seem to be there that much these days). Unless folks are living in a residential thing, I don't see that they really see the teacher that much either during their visits.

So let's be realistic about meatworld groups.

leafer said...

I will second what RJ said about the "meat world" places I've sat. Treeleaf is a great place. It is not perfect, but the people talk to each other every single day and support each other. Jundo is a sincere and caring teacher. They have people sitting together from all over the world. It is not for everyone I am sure, but everyone should try it. It is free too.

gniz said...

Surely not Really? said:
"but let's deal with your point. Here's what Brad wrote:"

I appreciate the effort, Surely, but not really...really. No really.

Actually, I was sort of goofing with those first couple posts I wrote, or at least, exaggerating.

But in actuality, Brad's very passive agressive in the way that he takes shots at Jundo, often not referring to him by name...only folks who've been reading the blog for a long time or are aware of their history can spot just how often he does it. It's a lot. I am sure he would either deny this or make light of it.

So I apologize for using a bit of hyperbole to make my point. I'll try to be more academic and cite my sources properly next time!

Aaron

Mumon said...

Jundo:

(According to both traditional Buddhist models of mind and modern neurology) your experience of your self and of the world is ultimately a fictionIt's not quite a "fiction."

It's just "low-fidelity" compared to reality.

Or as we information theorists might put it: an errored, distorted reproduction.

And I would have no problem sitting with you at any point in time, even if you didn't get atheism right.

Stephanie said...

Online interaction has its rewards.

'Real life' interaction has its rewards.

However, the rewards of each are not the same. Having practiced in 'meatspace' sanghas, I could not possibly delude myself that interacting with others online is at all the same thing. I have found a lot of inspiration in the online interactions I have had, but there is something about the 'hyperreal' world of the virtual that I think makes it impossible to communicate or experience the fundamentals of sangha. It is so easy to hide behind a computer, to present an idealized version of yourself and never deal with the real nitty gritty of the not so ideal experience of your personhood. And the fellowship is not the same--I've experienced amazing interactions with people online that were and are incredibly valuable, but it's not the same as 'really' knowing someone 'IRL.' Again, it goes back to how easily people can control their self-presentation online. There's a lot of contrivance in the online world that is just impossible to realize on the same level in real life.

If and when I get to another point where I really want to focus more intensively on my practice, I know I will need to find a 'realspace' sangha. To me, interaction in online Zen communities is an enjoyable diversion, a source of intellectual engagement, and a way to find encouragement and inspiration through the sharing of words with others, but I find the notion of taking Jukai or committing to a teacher or doing dokusan, etc., online to just be ludicrous if one really wants to practice intensively. So much of the experience of practicing at a Zen center for me is the simplicity of the daily life and the interactions, the simple chores done in silence or with very little talk, what is communicated with glances and gestures, the physical and emotional experience of sitting with others in a Zendo, the experience of interacting with a teacher, formally or informally, and this interaction not just being dependent on words. Online, words are all one really has.

I'm not a Zennie who hates words or thought--I find deep thought to be one of the most sublime things I have experienced as a human being--but I certainly recognize its limitations. I don't think you can 'do Zen' online any more than you can fuck online. It all basically amounts to masturbation. Which can be a wonderful and necessary thing to do, especially if one has no other source of stimulation, but to say it's the same as having sex with another person is so ludicrous no one would ever entertain the idea. I find it surprising that people would give the notion that Zen practice online can be equivalent to Zen practice in a real sangha any more validity than the idea that jerking off is the same as sex. One can make interesting intellectual arguments, but everyone, if they stop and get real for a moment, knows it's not the same.

Also: Treeleaf is only supportive to the extent you think and act within the circumscribed boundaries Jundo finds acceptable, and which are somewhat arbitrary and based on his aesthetic preferences rather than ethical categories. If you're troubled, like I was and am, or if your brilliance and honesty come with a willingness to confront people who are being fake or ridiculous, as was the case with Harry, fuhgeddaboudit. In real life, it's harder to chase away the people who push your buttons or make you uncomfortable and people grow through their willingness to learn to appreciate and accept one another. The confrontive person and the troubled person can both help others get more real, while others can help them mellow out by helping them examine themselves in a supportive environment of people dedicated to the truth, for example. At Treeleaf, that doesn't happen--you either fit in with the 'mellow' paradigm, don't, or fake it. Online, I've found Zen Forum International to be a much more open and powerful forum for dialogue, as well as a place more open and supportive to people with different experiences and personalities.

gniz said...

I browsed through some of the more recent blog posts and came up with some quick examples of Brad taking subtle digs at Jundo....now people will probably accuse me of having no life....

From April 23, 2009
It's deceptive nonsense to claim that any cyber sangha is just the same as a brick and mortar zendo.

From April 21, 2009
There was some nastiness in the comments section of this very blog recently created by a Zen teacher who wanted to force others into the mold he created.

From March 31, 2009
This is why I have very little interest in so-called "cyber-sanghas." They really are not in any way shape or form the same as real face-to-face communities. Even with the most up to date technology they don't work in the same way. I know it's tough for people who feel isolated from any kind of like-minded Buddhists. But I don't believe the Internet can ever be a substitute for real life personal interaction.

From March 25, 2009
Kevin is also a dharma heir of Nishijima Roshi. And not a drama heir of him, as there seem to be a few of! Or at least one very loud and highly dramatic one of... (I can't believe the incredible bullshit that is being put out about Nishijima these days, though can anyone really wonder why the old man isn't talking to the person spreading this deceitful, self-serving ugliness?

gniz said...

BTW, I will admit that my active participation in the comments section of this blog usually relates inversely to the mood I am in on that day....so today is definitely not a good day so far.

Surely not Really? said...

Gniz -
I am aware of the history twixt Brad and Jundo(been lurkin far longer than postin), and of matters DSI, and of the hardly hidden references - admirably referenced by yourself moments ago - throughout the recent history of this blog. But I thought, on this occasion, that Brad had expressed his concerns about online sanghas pretty fairly, without resorting to ad homs. The issue, after all, is a live and pertinent one.

Personally, I only EVER comment in a mood of supramundane bissful equanimity.

Stephanie said...

I find often that some of my most powerful insights coalesce around a kernel of disagreement I have with someone, often one colored with personal emotion. Even if the initial impulse was simply dislike of the person, it often leads to a more objective understanding of a principle that informs my disagreement with another's approach and that helps me take up my life and practice with renewed commitment. I'm glad that Brad has taken the time to articulate his criticisms of Jundo's approach, as I think a lot of salient points have emerged from it. Jundo's got a forum full of people who kiss his ass; I think it's good that a few of us out here offer a competing point of view.

gniz said...
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gniz said...
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Michel said...

In reply to Anonymous

This phenomenon (internet addiction) is relatively new so you will find a lot of kitchen psychology in references or books on the subject outside of specialty papers.
However i'd suggest you look at compulsive behavior problems to get a glimpse of what internet addiction is because a lot of the symptoms are the same. As for how it can be nocive if really would take a long post to explain. The zen way i guess would be for me to point you in the right direction which would be to look at, find information on sensory deprivation and how it relates to the brain. Also take a look at this article's references at the bottom http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/dangers-of-the-internet/. It is a jewish faith website but the references are a good start. FYI i'm not jewish, it's just a start up point.
Keep also in mind that not all internet relationships are unhealthy (i apologize if my post gave that impression) but that the lack of "multisensorial stimulation" associated with emotions can have harmful effects.

Hope this helps.

Alphonzen said...

I was kicked out of treeleaf, a few days ago.

It didn't feel like I was part of a genuine and meaningful sangha. Treeleaf zendo is just a forum chatroom and some youtube clips.

Take what you will from that.

Anonymous said...

"Jundo's got a forum full of people who kiss his ass; "

You see. When teacher agrees with you, you think he is the greatest. When he disagree with you, you think all the members of the sangha are ass kissers. More heavy delusion. More wall sitting for you!

Anonymous said...

"I was kicked out of treeleaf, a few days ago."

You were kicked out for being such a Brad sock puppet. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, we get it, you think Jundo's an asshole, you and Brad should start a club or something.

Leafer said...

I was kicked out of treeleaf, a few days ago.yes, you were acting like an ass.

Alphonzen said...

"Get over it."

Thats the thing. It didn't feel like I was being kicked out of anything. I was indifferent to it, because it wasn't a real sangha.

Anonymous said...

Gniz, what is it with your compulsion to continually point out that Brad is much like yourself? It is comical.

Harry said...
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Harry said...

Isn't it interesting (the sad sort of interesting): Just as so-called 'Buddhists' want their Masters to be JUST LIKE ME! (say that in an sing-song, infantile tantrum voice for desired effect) so it seems some Zen Masters want other Zen Masters to be JUST LIKE ME (ditto re sound effects)!

Grow up kiddies. Buddhist practice is for big boys and girls. Sure, we all have our endless infantile wants and needs for the affirmation and assurance that mummy never gave us... but let's not confuse that with what Old Golden Balls & co. suggest/suggested we do.

In other words, let's not lower ourselves to that level and think we're doing something righteous.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

"Thats the thing. It didn't feel like I was being kicked out of anything. I was indifferent to it, because it wasn't a real sangha."

but you say...

"I was kicked out of treeleaf, a few days ago."

You are so indifferent you had to mention you were "kicked" out. Man.Get it over it. You were just being a** at TL. Maybe you need to act out like that at your local sangha to feel the kick in your ass.

Anonymous said...

"Stephanie, we get it, you think Jundo's an asshole, you and Brad should start a club or something."

The Stef&Brad Asshole Hair Wax Club for Men.

Alphonzen said...

"You are so indifferent you had to mention you were "kicked" out. Man.Get it over it. You were just being a** at TL. Maybe you need to act out like that at your local sangha to feel the kick in your ass."

You seem like a very friendly chap.

Is that Jundo?

Anonymous said...

Brad and Jundo!

Anonymous said...

It's getting HOT in Montreal!

Jinzang said...

You were kicked out for being such a Brad sock puppet.

You are not using the correct terminology. A sock puppet would be Brad posting under another name. You term you are looking for is fanboy or groupie.

Jinzang said...

Old Golden Balls

That is NOT one of the thirty two marks of an enlightened being.

Anonymous said...

Treeleaf is a nice shady place of a zendergarden for those who wish a kinder gentler practice


I take my reality straight, no chaser
or as straight as I can take it
chaser? didn't ever KNOW her!

Jinzang said...

If Mr. Warner is reading this i would like to know if he ever has been under hypnosis and if so if he can compare the experience with zazen.I've been under hypnosis. The two are not anything alike. Our normal day to day existence is a kind of hypnosis and real shikantaza is waking up from it.

Anonymous said...

Until I can confirm for myself
that sitting is not a waste of
time, I feel that sitting with
others is somehow dishonest,
a grand charade -- just another
ostentatious pretense.

Jinzang said...

I'm glad Treeleaf exists for people who are nowhere near a zendo. I think Jundo is providing a needed service. But Brad is right, if you have a zendo in your area you should head there instead.

Jinzang said...

There are limitations the 'Book Zen' and 'Blog Zen' (as used by Brad) too.

Brad uses this blog to flog his books. He writes his books to pay his bills. He's never claimed either is a replacement for a zendo.

Anonymous said...

"But Brad is right, if you have a zendo in your area you should head there instead."
I'm not sure that Jundo would disagree with that either. There is no rule that says you cannot attend both a bricks and mortar zendo and a PHP/MySQL zendo at the same time.

Rich said...

The real purpose of online and 'meatspace' sanghas is to support, encourage and motivate your sitting practice.

The real danger of online and 'meatspace' sanghas is to support, encourage and motivate your attachment to your opinions.

I'm glad Treeleaf exists for people who are nowhere near a zendo and for those near a zendo that need something more.

I would encourage everyone to find online and physical places where they feel comfortable.

Anonymous said...

continuing an old but, irksome thread...

Republicrat/Demublicans vs. Libertarian/Greens:

The Sword vs. The Pen:

Torture vs. Education:

"I often joke with John that
he can bring democracy his way
- and I'll bring it mine."

Hard to believe that Nicholas
can even talk to his brother,
much less joke with him.

Anonymous said...

physical vs. virtual

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Your words tell me you take Zen too lightly, and you are attached to negativity. You did this at Treeleaf and you do it here. It leads you to pile shit on top of shit and call it a sculpture, or worse, dessert.

Please, I beg you, brush your teeth, close the mouth and computer, and sit down without seeking anything . . . then let a bunch of stuff go.

Lauren said...

I've been at a couple of the speaking gigs on Brads tour. He has taken questions from people on cyber-sanghas that were not referring to treeleaf. There are **lots** of zen blogs out there with people commenting and striving to learn, all of which could be fairly characterized as cyber-sanghas though they might not self-identify that way. Its quite possible Brad's comments were more generic that posited above.

Matt said...

my strategy for reading the comments: quickly browse the word "Nishijima, Brad, Jundo, and hypocrite." quickly skip those--skip most anonymous posts...

if a post is more than 4 paragraphs long, skip it... glance at Smoggy Rob posts, new people posts, and whatever Mysterion says--skipping his posted links, of course.

That's the only way I can get through the referee's section on this thing. I used to be very frustrated at Mysterion's posting. Then the troll brigade kicked in the door and hasn't left for 2+ years. I look forward to his posts now--he's a master pontificator, but he doesn't take sides or just flatly contradict someone just because. It's nice.

Stephanie said...

You see. When teacher agrees with you, you think he is the greatest. When he disagree with you, you think all the members of the sangha are ass kissers. More heavy delusion. More wall sitting for you!Nope. I appreciate and have a fondness for people who disagree with me or challenge me. I agree with William Blake's maxim "Opposition is True Friendship." Had Jundo made an effort to really connect to and/or understand me, I would have been more open to his feedback. But he told me to shut up repeatedly without ever truly trying to listen. A fellow Treeleafer who had many of the same criticisms of me as Jundo engaged with me and helped me through a difficult time. Why did I listen to him and not Jundo? Because he related to me as another human being, and was willing to meet me where I was without judging or dismissing me. He helped me find ways to deal with my 'thought problem' that were much more effective but that also got through to me more because they were presented from a position of friendship. I found the way Jundo dealt with me appalling not even so much out of personal feelings, but thinking about the implications of dealing with a suffering person in such a manner. I'm glad and grateful it was me who came on there in a state of depression and got dealt with in such a way because I'm a pretty psychologically tough and resilient person. But that sort of treatment could easily to great harm to someone in a fragile state of mind looking for support.

Stephanie, we get it, you think Jundo's an asshole, you and Brad should start a club or something.I've already built the treehouse. It's awesome. Only really cool people get the password.

The Stef&Brad Asshole Hair Wax Club for MenLOL!!! But wouldn't the fact it was 'for men' exclude me from my own club? How about just 'The Stef&Brad Asshole Hair Wax Club'? The first ten members get a free ass wax!! Then an anal douche.

Stephanie,

Your words tell me you take Zen too lightly, and you are attached to negativity. You did this at Treeleaf and you do it here. It leads you to pile shit on top of shit and call it a sculpture, or worse, dessert.

Please, I beg you, brush your teeth, close the mouth and computer, and sit down without seeking anything . . . then let a bunch of stuff go.
You must be Jundo, because no one else I've encountered is so skilled at using nice Ned Flanders sounding language to disguise really nasty sentiments. Why would I listen to someone for whom I have no respect and who has no respect for me tell me to shut my mouth?

I deal with negativity when negativity is what's there. I deal with positivity when positivity is what's there. I don't make efforts to try to wrench negativity into something that looks or sounds 'positive.' To me, that is making a shit sculpture.

You don't know me, and you don't even know yourself. That's the sad thing. In other words: have you dealt with your own negativity?

http://xom.blogs.com/photos/uncategorized/passiveaggressiveman.jpg

Keepin it Really Real said...

While this bitch fest is in full flow, A word to Alphonzen: If you are Emptyzen, read on. If not, this is for you, Emptyzen.

I am not a treeleafer, but I take a look occasionally. I recall a fairly early post of yours there wherein you referred to a (real live) sangha you'd attended, only to be disappointed, surprised, even that a couple of the "zen" folks present were having a spirited disagreement. You were pleased to have found a more balanced environment, more in tune with true zen practice (words to that effect). Within weeks you were trumpeting your own enlightenment, deeper insight and judgement while arguing very spiritedly with...just about everyone. Not bad for a 20 year old.
My motive in pointing this out has nothing to do with your kicking-out - or Jundo and Treeleaf; I have a relationship with neither. I'm simply remarking that you appeared to me to be a very arrogant youngster. And that, imo, it was very un-self-aware of you not to see, in your arrival at Treeleaf, having dismissed an honest real life sangha's debate - and your subsequent departure having caused a right rucus in a virtual one, an excellent demonstration of the mirror principle.

Anonymous said...

Matt said, re Mysterion:

"...he doesn't take sides or just flatly contradict someone just because."

Oh yes he does.

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

Hi,

Morning. Having a little peak in ...

"But Brad is right, if you have a zendo in your area you should head there instead."
I'm not sure that Jundo would disagree with that either. There is no rule that says you cannot attend both a bricks and mortar zendo and a PHP/MySQL zendo at the same time.
I most certainly -do- agree with that. Lean upon anything helpful to your practice, and different folks need different things often. Not everyone benefits from every situation.

Anyway, if anyone wants to peak at Treeleaf instead of just hearing about it ...

Our homepage is here ...

treeleaf.org

Our Forum filled with some good folks (both longtimers and newer sitters) is here ...

http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/

The daily 'sit-a-long' Zazen netcast and talk is here, available any time ...

http://blog.beliefnet.com/treeleafzen/

We have a 'live' netcast sitting each Saturday, and a 4-hour Zazenkai on the first Saturday of each month.

The only 'rule' on the Forum, besides "Just Sitting" Shikanataza each day, is to be kind to each other. It may not be for everyone.

Gassho, Jundo

timefly said...

Update the calendar! There's a big difference between Albuquerque and El Paso if you're commuting...

Mysterion said...

jundo cohen said...
"Personally, I believe..."

Hmmm... Impersonally, I don't.

PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPSWho cares what you or I may/may not believe? Belief is such a disease.

Better avoid diseases - and beliefs.

Alphonzen said...

The key difference between Jundo and Brad, is that Brad insists on prajna and Jundo insists on the intellect.

Above, Jundo talks about the brain and how it creates a reality, yada yada yada.

Brad would rather talk about direct experience.

Zen is all about direct experience of the HUMAN REALITY and not hiding behind intellectual discriptions.

Mike Hinsley said...

Jundo:

"...be kind..."The only issue seems to be that the definition of "be kind" is the one that you choose. When you break your own rules you call it "tough love".

What seems to me at times to be missing is like Alphonzen says - Prajna. Sometimes "be kind" and prajna can appear to be in conflict when really it's only a narrow definition of "be kind" that's an issue.

I'm not a member of Treeleaf but I have lurked there as you well know.

It's been very clear from your interactions with me and others that at times you seem quite intolerant of people who do not fit into your worldview. That does not in my mind fall within the definiton of "be kind".

Whilst on average I've found our interactions beneficial and your guidance helpful it's also been the case that I class you as being on my "sandpaper list".

You seem to be taking the debate about e-sangha somewhat personally and ignoring the fact that it is a crucial issue to be clear about what levels of communication are possible for different medium.

No-one doubts that Treeleaf and others perform an important function or that you are doing some valuable work over at treeleaf.

Equally we all should be clear what those limits are.

Sometimes you've bitched about ad hominen attacks as if it's always possible to separate the person and the ball.

I feel like I'm getting all Stephanie on your ass this morning but frankly it's your IMO unhealthy desire to stamp people into your mold - as opposed to facilitating people to manifest their true natures - that has allowed me to move on in recent weeks and do what needs to be done.

I've great respect for all that you've done over at treeleaf and what you've built there and the help that you've been to me over the years but I also will not ignore other things.

Does this text fall into the remit of "be kind?"

Gassho,

Mike.

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

I attend sesshins naturally with real life Zen centres, and the thought does occur that real life interaction is very different to the discussion/blather that can be online communities. Not that I can't appreciate both but bringing it from the real of 'virtual' to real is also important IMO, if this is possible in one's life.

Best wishes.

floating_abu said...

But, yeah, just because something comes to you via the Interwebs does not mean it's bad. I'm certainly not saying that. You can find good people who will help and support your practice that way. Still, it's not the same as face-to-face communication -- even when you can see their face on that little plastic screen. Just to supplement as well, I have had very good friendship and support online, but I do vote with Jinzang and Brad in this instance to not discount and to look into real life teachers and Sanghas, as our practice is much more encompassing than something as trivial as "understanding" or even "agreement"

_/\_

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Jundo doing the TZ thing is something I can stand. I don't like it, but the world's a big place. It's his coming here and to Nishijima Roshi's blog and spouting his bullshit that drives me to post this, against good advice.

This man has viciously attacked his teacher. He has said Roshi's teaching was insufficient on it's own. The only person who ever gave Jundo the "right" to teach asked him to leave his sangha. Roshi has disagreed with Jundo's take on things Buddhist, again and again and again. I'll say it -- Nishijima Roshi made a mistake. Jundo is not a real teacher, and he knows it, and that's why he acts the way he does.

What happened to "two ships crossing the same vast ocean"? Jundo's ship seems to keep bumping into this one, and I think it's because he doesn't know how to sail.

Rob

jundo cohen said...

Hi Mike H,

I'm not a member of Treeleaf but I have lurked there as you well know.
I am sorry to say that I don't recall our exchange. I am sure you have moved on, but if there is ever something you object to or some other matter, please feel free to email me. But, sorry, I do not recall our interaction.

I will say this on the issues you raise in your post: I do consider our Treeleaf Sangha to be a Dojo, a Practice Place, and a teaching environment, so it cannot be completely democratic. Discussion is generally pretty freewheeling, and folks challenge each other and me all the time(before, of course, we drop all debate and discussion ... and get back to the Zafu). I do not expect or insist that people agree with every silly thing out of my mouth ... and I encourage people to learn from many teachers and to take us all with a grain of salt. People disagree with things I say daily.

But, you know, when you are dealing with religion, many folks get a little crazy sometimes if their particular beliefs are challenged. We also get folks who show up at our baseball field who insist that we play football (and I am only teaching Shikantaza ala Dogen ... heck, we get folks who do not like their particular version of "Dogen" challenged). So, I have discovered that you cannot keep all the campers happy all the time. As long as I am trying to gently guide folks in a particular style of practice, it is not my job to keep everybody happy ... and I have to tell some people "please play football with a football teacher, not here".

Only --3-- people have been unregistered by me from our forum since we opened the doors at Treeleaf 3 years ago, averaging 1 per year (and, oh my, all 3 of those folks have written comments above!! Small online Zen world.). Although I wish it were --zero-- people, I think that is pretty good for the internet (hell, when I was assistant teacher at a "bricks and mortar" Sangha, the senior teacher had many more such cases than we have had at Treeleaf). I think the low number demonstrates that we are a fairly tolerant and open place ... although the people involved, I know, disagree and find fault in what was done.

Anyway ...

Gassho, Jundo

jundo cohen said...

Hi Rob,

This man has viciously attacked his teacher. He has said Roshi's teaching was insufficient on it's own.Well, thank you for your concern. I saw Nishijima Roshi last month in his apartment. We worked out a lot of things. He admitted to me at the time that he was forgetful about some things, and we had a nice chat about the particular ethnic group I belong to and his views on that. I told him directly that I thought he was a bit confused about that and other issues, and he admitted it was so. I left the apartment with a good feeling.

When I spoke to him later, he seemed to forget parts of our conversation, but we are doing okay now. I never thought that it was more than his health. He seems to be doing pretty good these day, by the way.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

How many times does it have to be said?
Dude! Get you nutsack off my zafu!

Mike Hinsley said...

Jundo:

I'm not even sure if the past exists in any meaningful sense. But we did have an email exchange where you called yourself "CohenLaw" and where we wrote about a couple of current issues and you suggested I make you a certain style of cloak.

I don't have any objections. I have a different viewpoint. I don't see the need to enter into a discussion with you because I don't think it would serve any purpose. I don't feel that agreeing or disagreeing matters.

Instead I'll just quote your own words.

"But, you know, when you are dealing with religion, many folks get a little crazy sometimes if their particular beliefs are challenged."
I always though that Buddhism was about challenging and relinquishing beliefs regardless of who holds them and what they are.

Anonymous said...

Have a cup of tea.

Anonymous said...

Observing Godwin's Law, let it be pointed
out that some say Hitler had only one nutin his nutsack (AKA the "lone-nut theory").

Anonymous said...

I guess it's only a matter of time before the Brad, Stephanie, SmoggyRob sex tape gets leaked. Its sock monkey I feel sorry for.

Why does a disagreement between Nishijima and Jundo equate with Jundo not being a real teacher, but a disagreement between Jundo and one of his students makes Jundo an overbearing egomaniac.

Also, the irony that people here are giving Jundo shit for not running treeleaf like the united nations when Brad is supreme overlord of the non organisation DSI makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Jundo could bring about world peace and people would still be bitching because he didn't spend the time curing cancer instead.

Anonymous said...

AYNABTU

Anonymous said...

"I always though that Buddhism was about challenging and relinquishing beliefs regardless of who holds them and what they are."

So if a student publicly expresses a belief that narcotics are a great practice aid, the teacher should nod sagely? Or should the teacher make it unequivocably clear that they are wrong.


I spend a fair amount of time reading treeleaf and most of what you see is people supporting one another through their practice with a teacher who is always on hand to give the official soto party line where necessary.
Sometimes there are arguments, sometimes Jundo is a part of them, most of the time they resolve themselves naturally - Jundo rarely plays the teacher card and quite often he will make it clear that his opinion is only that and people need to work things out for themselves.

As for Jundo making his opinions known on this blog - why the hell not? when Brad constantly snipes at him in that passive aggressive tone you fans love so much.

Stephanie said...

Also, the irony that people here are giving Jundo shit for not running treeleaf like the united nations when Brad is supreme overlord of the non organisation DSI makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Jundo could bring about world peace and people would still be bitching because he didn't spend the time curing cancer instead.Could your tongue be stuck any farther up Jundo's ass? LOL!

People like to portray me as being a Brad "groupie" and "fangirl" or whatever, which I find amusing as I've never expressed the opinion that Brad is like, the greatest ever!!! or that I don't disagree with anything he says or does. Why I do respect Brad more than Jundo is that I think that, at least these days, Brad is more honest (I was very critical of Brad before the publication of his most recent book because I saw his idealized and affected persona as dishonest) and, even more importantly, Brad embraces the same guiding principle that I do, that acceptance of others is key. As he put it in his last post, "They all could accept anyone, whether they agreed with or even understood them or not. And that's such a rare thing. You can't overstate the preciousness of meeting someone who accepts you as you are."

Jundo does not do this. The range of expression at Treeleaf is rather homogenous. People rarely 'say' anything that striking there; it's largely a lot of nicey-nicey back-patting. And there's a reason for that: while Jundo may have 'only' kicked out three people, his doing so sends a message to the rest of the sangha. I personally don't think too much of a space that can't contain vigorous debate even when it gets to the level of fierce criticism and name-calling; despair; terror; meltdowns; etc. The approach at Treeleaf effectively screens out the vast majority of what I find inspiring or engaging in spiritual practice, which is how to carry it to extreme situations. I wrongly thought when I first started posting that as long as I was sincerely engaging with this practice and path and the questions it raises, I would be welcome even if I wasn't as mellow as other people there. The things I wrote about were of interest to others there who had dealt with the same things along their path and whose responses to me showed that what I had to say drew on issues relevant to everyone.

However, to Jundo, any experience unlike his was not valid, and I was simply 'ill,' an undesirable element that should be put out of the sight of normal folks. I repeated countless times that I actively and regularly (well, not in the last couple of weeks, but usually) practice zazen, and shikantaza in particular. In order to dismiss my experience, Jundo seemed to ignore this and tell me over and over again that I needed to "start" sitting and that I shouldn't post there if I wasn't practicing. Mind you, I suspect I sit more than many people who post at Treeleaf. His assertion that he kicked me out because he felt I needed a 'doctor's check-up' shows how anti-spiritual his stance is; though I carefully explained repeatedly that I was concerned with the extent to which what I was suffering was a spiritual malady, this was ignored over and over again, even as I agreed with others that I also needed to examine my experience from a psychological point of view (which I did, and continue to do). My life experience has borne out my suspicions--the peace and insight I've found due to being willing to walk through a dark time without rushing to stamp out the painful feelings is not something I could have ever experienced simply by chemically (or otherwise) changing my mood.

Though not a Christian, I admire many things about Jesus as a religious figure, perhaps none more than his refusal to judge or cast out those who were shunned by society for being mad, dangerous, morally inferior, etc. I've seen similar qualities in many good Dharma teachers; the extent to which Jundo departs from this and shows a lack of tolerance for anything beyond a narrow range of expression completely eliminated whatever respect I had for him as someone that I believed wanted to expand the scope of the Dharma.

Jundo uses Treeleaf to share his version of Dharma, sure, and many folks seem to find the place to be a comfort and an inspiration to practice more zazen, so I don't have any antipathetic feelings that it shouldn't exist. But I also believe he uses it as a place to reinforce his lack of awareness about the problematic nature of his need to control other people, and unfortunately through his approach probably sets many other people out in the wrong direction of denying and suppressing their dark and shadowy sides, instead of actively looking at or dealing with them. A shame, really, and a waste, and not something in any way that's going to lead people to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Sooo, Jundo thought you might need to see a doctor and told you as much. Now this is one area of an e-sangha that does fall short of real sanghas. Jundo only had your writing (presumably) to make this judgement, whereas in a real sangha he would have had access to a lot more information about your state of mind.

It is possible (perhaps even probable) that Jundo got you completely wrong but it would have been irresponsible of him not to address what he saw. It is a shame that you see what most people would view as a teacher's concern for his student as an attempt at controlling you.

Jundo isn't perfect and to my knowledge he has never claimed to be, but I would refute your claims that he is intolerant. Jundo is opinionated, certainly, but he is always willing to justify his opinions in a polite and reasonable manner - you cannot say the same for Brad. If you find his rules about 'being kind to one another' to be too restrictive then you are probably better off not participating, but I think the overwhelming majority of treeleaf members would disagree with many of your criticisms of him.

Alphonzen said...

Stephanie, why can't you accept Jundo, for being non-accepting?

Although I may criticise the idea of an online zendo, if my true feelings be known; Jundo is actually a reasonable guy. I've seen him act unbalanced but he has good intentions. I may not agree with his philos, but I don't have to.

You seem to be projecting some of your frustrations on him, and although that is your choice- its not going to make you a happier person.

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

Stephanie,
You are the most honest and interesting zen blog writer I have seen. Even when I don't agree with you, I enjoy reading your posts. There is a determination and feistiness that will serve you well in your practice.
Regards,
Rich

Stephanie said...

Aw shucks, Rich. Your support and praise mean a lot to me, sincerely. I'm hoping to start another blog (as well as get to sitting zazen daily again) once I graduate. Perhaps I can channel some of my indignant quixotic impulses more constructively at that point ;)

Stephanie said...

(Re-posted to correct an error)

Anon,

It's not my intention to try to convince people to stop liking Jundo or going to Treeleaf. If you find it useful, of course keep going.

My concern is one of principle: if a Dharma community, online or otherwise, cannot tolerate or serve those who are in the greatest distress and extremity, what good is it? I'm a populist at heart and believe in honoring the dignity and worth of all human beings. It is so easy to dismiss people as 'crazy' or 'mentally ill' because their experiences are different from ours. But sometimes the 'crazy' people are the ones who point out where the rest of us are limited or stuck. We all benefit from being able to embrace as wide a range of expression and experience as possible in our daily lives, IMO. And to be there for those who suffer the most, we need to cultivate a capacity to face and tolerate the darkness and difficulty in the human experience.

Even if Jundo had really believed I was suicidal--which, mind you, I took pains to assure him and everyone else I was not; I stated many times that I was interested in working through my despair honestly, not escaping from it--his actions showed a total lack of support or empathy. The fact he was trying to prove a point and win an argument rather than connect to me in a human way was underscored by how he interacted with me. As soon as he realized he wasn't going to win the argument and force me to do what he wanted me to do, he lost interest.

I am starting to believe that to truly encounter the truth, one must come to a point of total despair. I am not alone in making this argument; many spiritual teachers have argued the same. What I mean by "despair" is not the same as a clinical notion of depression, but rather a state in which all the beliefs and comforts that used to form a sustaining illusion fall away. I have a hard time believing that people can experience a spiritual awakening of any magnitude without going through this. And I believe this is harder for some than others. I think by taking someone who was able to very articulately delineate the extent to which her situation was one of spiritual despair and telling her to simply go get on meds shows such a lack of understanding it's nearly comical. Of course, the joke is lost on people who want to buy what Jundo is selling--this kind of easygoing spirituality where you never have to face or go through anything ugly or difficult along the way. Or if you do, it's considered "falling off the bike," rather than "staying on the bike." The very idea that one can 'fall off the bike' is a bit farcical, isn't it? I also think it's destructive; I used to believe very much the same thing, and it only led me further and further from dealing with the truth or myself in any honest way. I was an outwardly cheerful person who was in despair inside, and it caught up to me--in part because I was so dedicated in my quest for truth. Anyway, that notion that if you're doing it right you won't ever have to deal with any of the nasties in your mental closet might be enough to get some people through the night, but it wasn't for me, and I'm grateful for it. Honestly, I'm grateful Jundo kicked me out, as I truly was wasting my time there, in many ways.

'Alphonzen'--my intent in writing these things is not to try to change Jundo, but to work through my own understanding and share my experiences with others who might find themselves treading a similar path. I've been helped so much when just one person was willing to look at me and let me know it was okay that my experience didn't fit in the status quo and that I wasn't alone. To me, it's important that someone challenge the way Jundo is doing things, because real people are involved; perhaps this makes me quixotic, but I do think that my personal experience reflects on a lot of things that are done there that obscure the truth, rather than bring people to it.

Rich said...

I still have the same feelings I had when I was your age and some similar to you, but I don't hold them as much and have accepted that I don't really know my 'self'. This not knowing mind is clear like space. Sitting and action practice works for me but I wouldn't discourage other forms of therapy. It's not like I spend my time in fear and anxiety but this too is part of life and you will deal with it sometimes. because we are totally dependent on everyone and everything it is important to build relationships with sangha, cmmunity, family, nature.. regards and hope you let go, find peace and help others.

Jinzang said...

I am starting to believe that to truly encounter the truth, one must come to a point of total despair.I think that is too strong. Definitely there are going to be difficult times, but how difficult they are depends on how strong your attachments are. I'm sorry about your difficulties and I'm glad you are through them. But I do not think your experiences are typical. When first starting meditation practice, things are usually nice and easy for a while. Generally the difficulty starts when people notice the dishonesty in their lives.

About you and Jundo. Sometimes for personality reasons people just don't get along. In that case it's best just to move on rather than look backwards and criticize the teacher you didn't get along with.

floating_abu said...

Stephanie: My concern is one of principle:
With no intention of any disrespect I would suggest that feistiness is in itself a matter of some care. It is in the strong emotion attached to any position, in particular principles, that leads it to feel so right. Look around the world and the evidence is clear.

Meditation practice, therapy all are good practice. The Eightfold Path which I once may have mocked as being too simple whether I knew it or not, is very valuable. Spirituality is nothing more than humanity, and so we don't try to overplay that line too much, speaking for myself.

Best wishes in all.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the well wishes, all three of ya. And you're right, Jinzang: I should just drop it. I don't particularly enjoy getting my emotions all riled up when I post about this, so I don't know why I keep doing it. People who like Jundo, are gonna like Jundo, people who don't, will continue not to, and whatever 'crimes against reality' I may think he's guilty of are somewhat in the realm of the airy-fairy relative to a lot of things I could get worked up about.

And I've been sitting for going on six years now. I think the 'seeing the dishonesty' part really started to hit after the first semester of grad school (right as we arrived in the year 2008). It's been difficult, but rewarding, and I feel I'm on the brink of a new chapter. Guess I'll find out soon enough...

Anoushka said...

Jundo, do you think that Nishijima was being nice because he simply didn't want to get beaten up?

I personally wouldn't mess with a Jubu from the bronx.

Anonymous said...

Jundo, exactly what did Nishijima say about the Jewish thing when you visited him?

Anonymous said...

Is any sniping really necessary? Does it make things more "real" to water those seeds?

Just asking.

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Eulalia said...

For my part one and all ought to look at it.