Sunday, April 12, 2009


Tomorrow, April 13, 2009 (Mon) at 7 pm I'll be talking & signing books at Davis-Kidd bookstore 2121 Green Hills Village Dr., Nashville, TN 37215. Be there! I wanna see you too, Jack White! I know you live here!

The image attached was sent to me by Hanny van de Weert, straight out of Holland. It's from the Dutch Buddhist magazine Vorm & Leegte, "Form and Emptiness." Hanny's translation follows:

I am going to play your society reporter for a while. Because there is a Zen riot going on on the Internet. In the left corner: Dennis Genpo Merzel, American Zen teacher, writer and founder of the worldwide spread Kanzeon Sangha. In the right corner: Brad Warner, American Zen teacher, writer and punk musician. Merzel works together with spiritual superstars Ken Wilber and Eckhart Tolle. Warner publishes, nicely perversely, on the alternative soft porn site Suicide Girls.

Merzel is very busy with his Big Mind Process, a method to get a sort of spiritual breakthrough really fast. I have written about that positively in this magazine before. Since then Big Mind became really BIG, even outside the Zen environment. There is now a fine looking website where you can buy books and DVDs and where you can read enthusiastic recommendations.

Whoever gives a huge donation to the charitable corporation Big Mind Inc, can practice Big Mind intensively with Merzel in a small group .

Warner sees Big Mind as a commercial circus. And he says so in very clear language you could expect from an old punk. "Bullshit" here, "crap" there. That is scary for the western Buddhists, used as we are to softening our language. But what scared me more were the reactions to Warner. Somebody from the Big Mind Big Heart Institute responds the criticism as follows: Merzel is a Roshi, Warner ‘not yet even a Sensei’. In other words: Merzel is as a teacher of the highest rank, Warner should shut up.

Disappointing. Because it is not a question of Warner having enough Zen stripes on his sleeve to be allowed to criticize. The question is if his criticism is valid. To be honest: spiritual teachers make mistakes on a regular basis. That was the case with gurus and swamis the generation of my parents had to deal with. And that will undoubtedly be the case with some spiritual bestseller authors of today. Nobody is above criticism on beforehand.

Eckart Tolle is joining Oprah. Is that a good idea? Ken Wilber sells an Integral Life Practice Starter Kit for $199.20. Is that over the edge? Big Mind Inc asks a minimum donation for five days with Merzel of $25.000. Is it strange when people start to put question marks? I too ask myself on a regular basis where this will end. What we need now more then ever is discussion, debate, bold criticism. Our virtuous, naïve little world really needs some punk right now.

Tim Ikkyu den Heijer is text writer and zen student.

He said it, not me. (And, again, if Gempo is a "Roshi" then so am I since I have also received Dharma Transmission. But really, as Tonen O'Connor pointed out last time I said this, no one ought to call her or himself a Roshi. Other people call you that. It's not a title or a rank, it's an honorific.)

Also check out this other link on the same subject. Again, they said it, not me.

But let's get back to Nashville. The retreat was neat. I was here once before about three years ago. I think we got about seven people that time. The body count was much better this weekend. And the retreat as a whole proceeded much more smoothly.

I did lots of dokusan, private talks with participants. Several songwriters came to the retreat. It took me till about the third one before I said, "Oh yeah! This is Nashville!" A couple were hoping the practice might help them out with inspiration for their work. I think it can. It loosens a lot of the barriers to the unconscious.

I was a songwriter for many years, and still write them from time to time. When I had my band/project Dimentia 13 I was writing a song a day for a while. Most were shit. But a few were good. And a very few of those were really good. I know the process well. In order to write a good song I had to kind of space out and let them come to me. I couldn't produce them on command. I mean, I could. But those were always garbage.

Prose writing works somewhat similarly. These road reports you've been reading are sometimes a teeny bit forced. Other stuff just comes rushing out even when I don't want it to. See my new book for an example of that. That wasn't the book I wanted to write. It just barged its way in upon me and insisted to be made manifest. I'd rather have written something much more tame and far less personal.

I am in the weird position of having published a book that I'm a little embarrassed to have people read. I can't read much of it out loud, as they often expect you to at book signings, without blushing. The article that ran in Chapel Hill's paper The Independent was really great and very well timed. I'm deeply indebted to Adam Sobsey for having written it. Thank you! But at the same time, it was kind of hard to face my best friend since 7th grade, Joe, who now lives in Chapel Hill, when he read the line about two hot babes out loud to me at dinner. But ultimately it was fine. No biggie, really.

The lesson of which is, I suppose, write what needs written rather than what you want to write. It's better that way and you can handle blushing a little bit.

Back to the retreat! At the end of it, Taiun Michael Elliston of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center came by to do a jukai (precept giving) ceremony for three members of the Nashville group. That was nice. I'm not big on such ceremonies. But this one was done in a sweet, low key way without too much pretension and bally-hoo. I even enjoyed it a little.

My next Suicide Girls piece goes live at 6 AM Pacific Time tomorrow. That's a leisurely 8 AM here in the Music City. I'll post a link tomorrow morning.


neilvw said...


Niels Harrit, Copenhagen said...


the danish on little dust:

Kristeligt Dagblad


Harry said...

That's America, Baby!

The country where people only get rebellious if you try to take their guns offa them (the gun representing the hardware of 'personal freedom') or imply that wholesale exploitation for large profits is not the American Way and therefore is not a god-given freedom.

Spiritual exploitation is an inevitable in the American cultural market place because there is a very strong want/need (demand) and plenty of people who can justify, and are quite justified in that market place, selling a pig in a bag(supply).

Interestingly it is a malaise caused by rampant materialism which seems to have created the 'need'(demand) in Western culture. I liken it to Siddharta as a prince getting sick-tired of having nice sex with any number of 'hot babes' and having all his needs met (and more... "yes! Buy today and you'll also receive...") by patrons with a vested interest in his future (they were pleasuring him into a business arrangement of their own design based on his dependency via his human wants and needs... desire, sense pleasures etc). He saw through it eventually... something was not right when all that luxury was the cause of anguish.

$ 25,000 gurus? Renounce them, criticise them and see what happens.

$ 5 gurus? Renounce them, criticise them and see what happens.

But most important of all: Their business is based on *your* suffering: the suffering that might try to avoid itself by donating a couple of Gs to someone who says they can take it away.

Renouncing a bad business plan is completely free of charge.

For discussion.



Anonymous said...

I think you should drop this whole dueling zen-dudes thing. I mean, you ain't going to save anyone from going there anyway. I mean why post about it? you said your piece already. seekers seek. it seems to me that most of buddhism is bs in any case, both eastern and western. criticizing big thought in the name of purity is pointless. hey, and its seems to me its just as much on the path to awakening as punk rock and overflowing toilets.

Apuleius Platonicus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Apuleius Platonicus said...

Big Mind is the epitome of American Buddhism, but not in a good way. Just like Velveeta is epitome of American Cheese.

And Big Mind is also very cheesy.

Genpo, Wilber, Tolle, Oprah, The Secret ... Gods save the Dharma!!

Anonymous said...

Dementia 13 is the best most wonderful, incredible music I have ever heard and I wish more of it was available for more people

Enough already said...

HEY NIELS HARRIT and your merry band of 9/11 truthers -

PLEASE fuck off.

I was curious once. But all the 'conspiracy' theories have been accessible and widely disseminated for some time (some conspiracy - when you can't move for folks telling you ALL about it!). I've read em, watched up, read and watched em being debunked and back again. I've also tried to politely question your thermite theories - sorry "proof" - on the net, but had my ip blocked. Don't say much for truth seeking, does it?

You have your own forum. We can always find you if we're in the mood for some fundamentalist ranting. Until then,

Thank you. Goodbye.

Anonymous said...

my question:

why is ZCLA (Zen Center of Los Angeles)--isn't this where Gempo hails from--Maezumi lineage?--why aren't these folks talking about this stuff?

Or is there an income thing going on: does he give a percentage to the head temple and is thus his methods of support are not to be questioned?

This kind of thing does happen: when money is involved we do tend to avert our eyes and not ask too many questions; just say Thank you!

I mean, what is he doing with that kind of serious ass money? Building hospitals?

If that kind of hype is what it takes to engender 'generosity' out of people, well...I guess that's what it takes.

Love that story 'no merit,' but you don't get too many financial backers or contributors that way.

Mysterion said...

Restated for clarity:

Big Mind is to American Buddhism as Velveeta is to Cheddar.

I like that saying.

Anonymous said...

Enough already said...
"all the 'conspiracy' theories have been
accessible and widely disseminated for
some time"

Um, with all due respect, it appears that
the paper in question was published only
a week ago and was "disseminated" only
in Denmark. There is virtually no mention
of it in any US news outlet.

"Look at any of the WTC dust and see
ignitable explosives."

It doesn't get more evident than that.

[Middle English, from Old French,
from Latin ēvidēns, ēvident- :
ē-, ex-, ex- + vidēns, present participle
of vidēre, to see.]

BTW, isn't that what the Buddha says?
"See for yourself."

Jay said...

...thanks for that on Genpo.

I also wondered, for some time, on a couple of individuals raising incomes on the "spiritual market", but not levels of consciousness, or their "pupils"- on higher levels.

There s a lot one could say about this, but just one thing comes up to my mind (according to the "faster, quicker and less than a minute" promises):

Isn t it part of developing, especially on Zen/ Zazen (as far as i practice it...), that one of the first (and maybe bigger things) about it is: "No goals, no wins, no place to go, nothing to achieve..."?!!

I don t know on which other way i could come across that except doing Zazen continously, keeping my "big mind" on that "nothing special" (Joko Beck).

Anyway, i guess you know what i am talking about...


Enough already said...

Yep. Aluminium plus iron oxide - I'm an amatuer, but I've known about that WAY before "a week ago". Where you been? Nothing new. Nothing conspiratorial "proved". I've seen the absract of the 'new' research, and articles on the net, and the youtube interview with NH. I, like you I guess, don't have PhDs in chemistry, physics and engineering, so couldn't evaluate the whole paper even if I read it - and I, like you, haven't had access to the site. So you, like me, have not seen for yourself, still less understood for yourself.

Such experts as there are - and there are many - disgree on the implications of the evidence. (And, btw, no one but truthers describes thermite as "an explosive". But lets not get started).

So what you are choosing to believe is just that - a belief. Cos neither of us has a clue what we're talking about. We just choose to adopt the position that we prefer to be true.

"See for yourself" indeed.

Anonymous said...

Tolle = Roshi Oprah

Anonymous said...

Enough already said...
"Such experts as there are - and there are many - disgree on the implications of the evidence."Please provide URLs for alternative
interpretations of the iron oxide and
aluminum nano-mixture found in the
WTC dust.*

'(And, btw, no one but truthers describes thermite as "an explosive". But lets not get started)'Fine, "incendiary" at the macro-level,
"explosive" when mixed at the nano-level.

*BTW, when told of publication of
the [Nazi-funded] book
One Hundred Authors Against Einstein...
Einstein replied,
"Why 100? If I were wrong,
one would have been enough."
-—cf. Stephen Hawking

Enough already said...

"Please provide URLs..."

I shan't, my friend, not because they don't exist -I've read them - but because pursuing explanations of the events of 9/11/01 isn't a full-time activity for me. You're clearly devoted to the cause, and so can find them yourself. My frustration stems from encountering the never-ending stream of "evidence" of conspiracy that has emerged from the first, for it only to be debunked by other evidence, of a less fantastic nature. As I - and I suspect you - are not in a postion to reliably evaluate any of it, I admit that I don't know for sure, but tend towards the less fantasic explanation; one that is also supported by my almost 6 decades of experience of this earth and the people in it. You, however, seem absolutely sure you're right. A dangerous position, imo.

IF you are right, I wish you all the best in your efforts to finally and irrefutibly demonstrate this massive, henious conspiracy and bring those responsible to book. So far, SO much of what yall present as irrefutable simply isn't so - which, I repeat, leads me to conclude that "...what you are choosing to believe is just that - a belief. Cos neither of us has a clue what we're talking about. We just choose to adopt the position that we prefer to be true."

Peace out.

Enough already said...

Oh OK -- here's the first one I found; it took me 10 seconds to locate it. I chose it cos it's from 2007:

And, Re proof of the prescence of the "nano-mixture":

"Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC towers, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard that was prevalent in the interior partitions."

There's PLENTY more. Just google "iron oxide and aluminum nano-mixture", like I did. I don't understand a word of it. Do you? Can you disprove it? --Don't bother, I'm sure you can ;)

Enough already said...

And that really is enough already.

Anonymous said...

Much obliged, "Enough already".
I too do not enjoy having to spend
time on this matter (sort of like zazen ;)

Checked out your links. They provide
an explanation for the presence of
certain elements and compounds, but
they ignore the question of the massive
amount of those elements and compounds
--something that advanced nanotech
can accomplish, but not jet fuel.

And, of course, there is still no
explanation for the vast amount of
iron microspheres found in the dust --
evidence of a tremendous amount of
melting going on. Even NIST admits
that jet fuel cannot melt iron.

I guess we'll have to wait until
someone publishes a rebuttal in a
peer-reviewed scientific journal,
but until then the findings of
Harrit et alia stand.

BTW, NIST refuses to release the
details of their computer simulations
so that others can reproduce their
results -- the complete opposite
of the transparency that goes along
with publishing in a peer-reviewed
scientific journal.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"Big Mind is to American Buddhism as Velveeta is to Cheddar" doesn't just miss the point - it mangles is.

The point being that "Americanization" is synonymous with the process of commodification. See also "commodity fetishism".

Mysterion said...


Anybody who takes EVERYTHING you say too seriously needs an adjustment of their filter floss.

They also need to read THIS.


Mr. Reee said...

From the link Brad provided: "So it is very disturbing to hear Genpo Roshi packaging Zen Buddhism as if it were instant oatmeal." LOL--Apple Cinnamon, or Maple and Brown Sugar?

Jay said...

...back again.

I posted something up above about Genpo, and in between i did some research on Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey (as you, Brad, wrote about).

I am from germany, and also within Eckhart Tolle being originally from germany, i never heard of him before...
(I did hear and read of MEISTER ECKEHART, that mideaval christian mysticism guy writing great stuff...).

Man, that is great bu**sh*t going on there!
"A new earth", Oprah selling books and holding lessons with Eckhart.

Also i truly would love more human beings to "awake", i also truly know that there is no "switch on" to that part of consciousness.

Even not, when Oprah and Eckhart Tolle trying to sell it...

Damn it!

J-pop vs. Metal said...

Holy jizo Brad, you reopened the 9/11 investigation! I couldn't even tell that's what you were talking about, but you can't put one over on these folks. You sly bastard.

David Chandler, AAPT said...

Don't forget about NIST's
incoherent and physically impossibleexplanation for the collapse of
Building 7.

Anonymous said...

Look here Gempo! Who you jiving with that cosmic depris?

Anonymous said...

Big Mind 25k event with Genpo, is a fund raiser, not a rip off. Kanzeon is a large Zen center three large buildings in SLC, UT , with many students, it has a big budget, and gives many scholarships.
Genpo isn't lining his pockets with cash.

Tim said...

Hey Brad, I wrote that article. For the record: I have actually experienced the Big Mind process with Genpo some years ago. It was an interesting, positive experience and I found no reason to doubt Genpo's integrity. So my experience was quite different from the idea you’d get from the way BM has been advertised lately. What’s changed? The man, the people around him, just the advertising? I don’t know, but I do stand behind what I wrote there: we all need to remain critical of our teachers (remember the Kalama Sutra).
Also @ anonymous: I am aware that the donations do not go to Genpo personally and have made an effort not to imply that in my article.


cecil250 said...

At first sorry for my bad english

@Tim: You are wrong. Genpos seminars do not cost 25000. They cost between 40-900 Dollars. Only the few Big "Heart circle retreats" wich are just 10% of his sesshin/Big Mind course schedule cost this much.These are fundraiser seminars.

Genpo has been in London this winter and the price for the sesshin my friends paied was 125 Euros.

I really cant understand why people like you and Brad seemingly on purpose make statements like Genpos workshop cost so much money. You havent checked the facts. It shows that your article and brads writing are really full of bad intentention. I cant say this in a lighter way. You say his workshops cost 25000 Dollars in public and refuse to inform yourself & others about the truth.

Poor. how poor you are.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Tim said...

The translation published above (which I did not write) might have given you the wrong impression. Some impirtant words are missing. I would personally have translated it like this:

"Whoever gives a LARGE donation to the charitable corporation Big Mind Inc, can practice Big Mind intensively with Merzel in a small group FOR FIVE DAYS. (...) Big Mind Inc asks a minimum donation for THOSE five days with Merzel of $25.000."

Those are the facts and they are very relevant in explaining the controversy. I did not imply that this is the only way to study with Merzel. As I said in the article: I have written positively about the regular Big Mind workshops in the same magazine.

As for your angry words: you could not be more wrong. I see where the faulty translation may have misled you, but really you might have given me a little more credit to start with.

cecil250 said...

@Tim. Yeah I have to apologize, my words were maybe a bit to harsh.I just want to make clear that Genpos retreat do not cost 25000 Dollars on a regular basis. This seems to be the opposite what most people think here. Its easy to see just what you want to see and in this case there were literally thousands of comments on this subject before that all took as guaranteed fact that you have to be a millonaire to take place in a big mind workshop. this is simply not the case.

And I personally also dont agree with the concept and idea of the big heart circle.But if the facts are not on the table a real discussion is impossible.