Sunday, April 05, 2009

SOUTHERN FRIED DHARMA

This morning I bid a fond farewell to the Southern (fried) Dharma Retreat Center of Hot Springs, North Carolina, leaving behind my little plastic bag of toiletries in their lovely Teacher's Cottage for some future archaeologist to dissect and discourse upon. Meaning I forgot to pack my dog-goned little bag with my toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, floss, nail clippers and all that kind of stuff in it. And my electric razor! Man, am I bummed.

But the retreat was a very cool one. Diversity was the name of the game this weekend. More women than men, which has got to be a first for a retreat I've run if not for Zen retreats in general. Two devout Christians stayed through the whole thing and sat just as hard as anybody else. A group, for once, not made up entirely of white folks. Motley heavy metal dudes mixed with middle aged ladies. Hearing the language of the Bodhisattvas spoken in that melodic lilting down home drawl. An astounding scene. A truly southern dharma retreat!

We did a ton of zazen, raked a bunch of leaves, cut some wood, talked, read bits of Joshu Sasaki's "Buddha is the Center of Gravity," ate spectacularly great food, walked and talked some more. Many corn muffins and beans were consumed. Many farts were stifled in the silence of the zendo. Demons were wrestled with and conquered, though K.O.s were scored on the demons' side, ka-blammo by the zendo doors. Poetry was exchanged and dead dogs duly mourned. Live Buddha cats were petted and purred. The sun shone. The rain rained. The wind howled and roared. Sexy white butted deer trotted down mountainsides followed by Carolina panthers. Doubts were raised about swallowing the Kool Aid from trusted teachers.

A splendid time was had by all.

Then I raced down the mountainside in my nephew's squeaking Dodge Avenger to Asheville to speak in a reconverted chapel designed to mourn those dead from AIDS and now transformed into a tranquil sitting space. Six people showed up. But two of them traveled three hours just to be there and all were serious practitioners who cared deeply.

Tomorrow the Deep South Leg of Kalpa Long Cassidy Tour '09 continues. On April 6, 2009 (Mon) at 7 pm I'll be at The Regulator Bookshop 720 Ninth Street, Durham, NC 27705. On April 7, 2009 (Tues) at 7:30 pm I'll do a Dharma Talk at the Zen Center of Chapel Hill, 5322 North Carolina Highway 86 (2.5 miles north of I-40 Exit 266) Chapel Hill, NC 27514. After that I'll be at the Nashville Zen Center. Then on to T for Tex-Ass. Details linked to your left as always. So take a look!<<<<<<<<

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

you forgot to mention that you said poo

Anonymous said...

"Live Buddha cats were petted and purred."
Meow!

Matt said...

that was a fun blog post!

max said...

see you at the regulator!

Anonymous said...

Deamons are usually kept at distance by loud noise, like firecrackers.

So, is stifling farts a recommended practice agains them ?

Alphonzen said...

The dharma can become just talk. And when the dharma becomes limited by the use of words, it becomes a religion. But I think its greater than that. What makes the dharma special though, is the drive for the truth. Not a relative one, but the ultimate truth. The reason why there are so many idiots in western buddhism is the reluctance to see past the ideas. The fluffy buddhist ideas are just as useless as any when it comes to discerning fact from fiction.

Kozan Bob said...

Texas my ass! Don't forget Nashville! Brad will be here April 9 or 10 thru 13!

Anonymous said...

"Doubts were raised about swallowing the Kool Aid from trusted teachers"

Surely brad was not one that raised those doubts. Doubts should be raised about swallowing kool aid from any teacher, even the venerable zen master brad warner. O'course if you doubt other teachers you're just being smart and punk. But if you doubt brad you're a deranged hater.

Harry said...

From first post to ninth... oh, how the mighty have fallen :-(

H.

comfortablydumb said...

There is the purest form of crap on these comments pages. Wowsers.

Lauren said...

Alphozen,

"When the Dharma becomes limited by the use of words..."

Never thought of it that way before. Brilliant. Thanks.

Victoria Zen Centre said...

Agreed Comfortably,

I was also amazed that a brief reflective posting like this one could be transformed into a soapbox for...poo. Really, it was some of Brad's best writing;)

On another note, Joshu Sasaki Roshi marked his 102 Birthday on April 1st, 2009 (old fool) and is still teaching at Mt. Baldy Zen Centre.

Brad,I hope you are still blogging at 102.

Anonymous said...

Give my regards to Harry!

outcastspice said...

Meaning I forgot to pack my dog-goned little bag ... Man, am I bummed.

well, goes to show, attachment leads to suffering. ;P

Mr. Reee said...

Quote: "A group, for once, not made up entirely of white folks."

This is something I was pondering last night, when I was out sitting under Mr. Tree--and perhaps it's a superficial observation, but it does seem that western zen is the playground of (quite often white) intellectuals.

Setting aside the question of race, --is this because Zen defines the very limits of intellectual inquiry?

Discuss.

Anonymous said...

"SOUTHERN FRIED DHARMA"
Bodhi originally has no tree,
The mirror has no stand.
Buddha-nature is always clean and pure;
Where is there room for dust to alight?

Jinzang said...

The fluffy buddhist ideas are just as useless as any when it comes to discerning fact from fiction.

What makes your Buddhist ideas better or truer than other ideas?

Jinzang said...

western zen is the playground of (quite often white) intellectuals --is this because Zen defines the very limits of intellectual inquiry?

It's because the educated upper middle class is most receptive to new ideas from other cultures.

Mysterion said...

"Six people showed up."

Aha! It wasn't only six people showed up. It was, in facl, all six people showed up.

Good job!

Ga-sho-gun-fun
Chas

Anonymous said...

"Doubts were raised about swallowing the Kool Aid from trusted teachers."

As long as it wasn't Nishijima or a buddy of Nishijima's right?

"Meaning I forgot to pack my dog-goned little bag with my toothbrush, deodorant, soap, shampoo, floss, nail clippers and all that kind of stuff in it. And my electric razor! Man, am I bummed."

So that proves that your system of meditation is utterly worthless. I mean, it does, right? Since mindfulness meditators leaving that room a mess proved that 'mindfulness' is bunk, this must prove that shinkantaza won't do anything for you.

Harry said...

"It's because the educated upper middle class is most receptive to new ideas from other cultures."

Yes, they had a caste system in Buddha's day as well. Theirs was even more entrenched in that people saw it as an expression of the universal order (not that some still don't see it like that today)... and Buddha challenged it to its core.

I think there's interesting comparisons to be made between that caste system and what is effectively ours today.

Regards,

Harry.

alan said...

Anonymoose @ 11:25

"Since mindfulness meditators leaving that room a mess proved that 'mindfulness' is bunk, this must prove that shinkantaza won't do anything for you."

Absolutely correct, as I have been told.

And my experience (so far) is that sitting zazen does do absolutely nothing for me.

That's why I keep doing it.

And that's why I keep wondering why the hell I'm doing zazen

By the way, the koolaid is very tasty today.

Mr. Reee said...

Fascinating idea--western zen is a tied to a class system. But if this is true, then shouldn't we work toward transcending class distinctions when conveying the dharma?

It occurs to me that some of those most likely to benefit from a zen perspective are also the least likely to encounter it.

I was going at it from the perspective of whether or not western zen is treated as 'the property' of those who are partial to intellectual challenges (or, conversely, to those who rebel against the apparent primacy of intellectualism...) But if it's a class thing, then what to do? If anything?

Mysterion said...

But if you doubt brad you're a deranged hater... As long as it wasn't Nishijima or a buddy of Nishijima's right?

Wrong. Neither Brad nor Nishijima claim any corner on the truth. Nishijima, made readable in English by Cross, has a way of looking at Shobogenzo that many find useful. I suspect it was Dogen and not Buddha that composed the Shobogenzo anyway so, at best, it is an afterward.

Some other being (annoying mouse) is going about the useless enterprise of confusing their distorted perception with logic.

Mysterion said...

P.S. Buddhism has never escaped the "class structure" of the caste system (Four Truths for Nobles) down to the class system in America.

Only the profoundly emotional and intellectually impoverished remain bonded to Xtianity, Islam, and the like.

Anonymous said...

Neither Brad nor Nishijima claim any corner on the truth.

You are living in a dreamworld, sir.

Mysterion said...

Annoying mouse said...
"You are living in a dreamworld, sir."

We are all living in a dreamworld within a dreamworld within a dreamworld within a dreamworld within a dreamworld...

The only question is:

1) Are there 10?
2) Are there 23?
3) Is it turtles, all the way down?

Chance said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1639245.stm

But once dalits have converted to Buddhism, does it make any difference to how the higher castes treat them when they go back to live, work and socialise in their normal environment once the ceremony is over?

The answer is usually no. Everything goes on as before. They continue to be regarded as outside human society.

But Mr Raj says that is not the issue.

The purpose of conversion, he says, is not to change the attitudes of the higher castes but to change the 'false consciousness' of dalits.

"Many of us have consented to being degraded because we think that in some way it is pre-ordained. We lack confidence, we suffer from an inferiority complex and or experiences have given us a sense of worthlessness.

"It is our mental liberation that conversion is aimed at. If we gain confidence, then the higher castes will, eventually, be compelled to change too," Mr Raj says.

Perhaps the middle class of the West is much like the middle child of the family, more likely to question traditional identity.
Or I could just be full of it.

Girth Rotundus said...

Donut Bread Pudding
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

Ingredients

* 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
* 2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans fruit cocktail, with their juice
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1 (9-ounce) box raisins
* Pinch salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 24 donuts, cut into cubes (recommended: Krispy Kreme)
* Butter Rum Sauce, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the donut cubes and Butter Rum Sauce. Add the donut cubes and toss until they have absorbed as much of the liquid as possible. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 1 hour. Serve with Butter Rum Sauce.

Butter Rum Sauce:
1 Mount Gay (no pun intended...)
1 stick butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

Dark rum: In a saucepan, melt the butter and gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Add rum and heat until bubbly. Pour over each serving of Donut Bread Pudding.

Alphonzen said...

What makes your Buddhist ideas better or truer than other ideas?

What ideas do you need, apart from the idea to sit. The idea to go beyond all ideas.

Really? said...

Hi, anon @ 11.25am,

I've the feeling that you're a fellow who won't listen, so, for my sake more than yours -

"So that proves that your system of meditation is utterly worthless."

No, it doesn't.

"I mean, it does, right?"

Er, no, it doesn't.

"Since mindfulness meditators leaving that room a mess proved that 'mindfulness' is bunk..."

As your grammar is careless and your mode of expression confusing, I have to guess at your meaning. I assume by "mindfulness meditators" you're referring to Brad (just one meditator there). Brad does not describe himself as a "mindfulness meditator". Only recently, on this very blog, he questioned the concept and application of the term. If you check out the piece, you might see how it's perfectly (!) possible for a human being to practice (any form of) "meditation", yet still forget to pack his/her dog-goned little bag.

"...this must prove that shinkantaza won't do anything for you."

That's just silly, isn't it?

pkb said...

If I remember correctly, Shunryu Suzuki roshi admitted to being particularly absent-minded...often leaving doors open or lights on. (So was Albert Einstein, btw)
While that sort of forgetfullness is not a good quality, I don't think it's what most Buddhist teachers refer to when speaking of mindulness ( pali: sati).

"Mindfulness (Sati) sees things as they really are. It adds nothing to perception and it subtracts nothing. It distorts nothing. It is bare attention and just looks at whatever comes up. Conscious thought loves to paste things over our experience, to load us down with concepts and ideas, to immerse us in a churning vortex of plans and worries, fears and fantasies. When mindful, you don't play that game. You just notice exactly what arises in the mind, then you notice the next thing. "Ah, this... and this... and now this." It is really very simple."

from Mindfulness in Plain English by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I think Anon@1125 was talking about some mindfulness meditators that Brad commented on once, who rented the HSC zendo and left a mess. (S)He's right though -- Shikantaza is useless in this Great Matter (of not forgetting your shaving kit). Just think of all those paintings of stubble-chinned Japanese zen masters. Tenzin Gyatso always looks clean-shaven.

Rob

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was talking about when Brad basically said mindfulness meditation was useless because the SFZC people weren't mindful enough and left cushions everywhere for him to clean up. What's good for the goose.....

Really? said...

Oh I seeee!!
An ocean of misunderstanding...

That's all right, then. You may say what you like from now on.

Really? said...

...mind you, the two things are a little different, I think: leaving a big, untidy mess for someone else to clean up is not merely absent-minded - it's inconsiderate. It's rude.

Jinzang said...

What ideas do you need, apart from the idea to sit. The idea to go beyond all ideas.

There is more than one way to get beyond all ideas. Not all are correct. Vimalakirti was praised for his silence and Shariputra criticized for his. To distinguish between correct and incorrect ways of practice we need to establish the correct view. And that requires ideas and no little bit of thinking.

Jinzang said...

shouldn't we work toward transcending class distinctions when conveying the dharma?

You're probably right.

But if it's a class thing, then what to do? If anything?

Brad should stop writing books and start training for the UFC.

ellen9 said...

That SDC retreat rocked.

However the causes and conditions came together that produced that bunch of people, food, discussion, serendipitous discovery of Buddha Is the Center of Gravity, cats, wood stoves, and more, I am grateful that they did.

And I discovered that Beano is worthless.

Anonymous said...

So are all retreats like the
SDC retreat?

Mysterion said...

all retreats are like 4:33.
(1) (2) (3)

each a unique experience like no other.

all breathes are like 4:33.

each a unique breathe like no other.

mtto said...

4'33"

You can even buy it!

I prefer the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.

Another-annoying-but-unashamed-mouse said...

Is that ye olde breathe, Mysteryman?
Or perhaps you meant the contemporary english word, "breath"?

Or perhaps you have mis-spelt "breve", the musical term?

Or perhaps you have employed a Joycean pun, referencing both meanings? (I doubt it).

Whatever, I thank you (and mtto) for re-introducing Jonn Cage to the wacky world of contemporary zen discourse. A great man, who had nothing to say, and said it.

Another-annoying...and so forth said...

That should, of course read:

JOHN CAGE

I mis-wrote.

Mysterion said...

You know sometimes words have two meanings:

Breathe
To take breath; to rest from action.
(to rest; e.g. to breathe a horse)
To emit or utter by the breath; to utter softly; to whisper; as, to breathe a vow.
To express; to manifest; to give forth.
To utter without vocalization, as in the nonvocal consonants.

Mysterion said...

re John Cage and Jan 18th post.

Another-very-annoying-anon... said...

Yes, Mysterious. All are meanings of the verb, to "breathe". I was under the impression, however, that by prefacing your use of the word "breathe" with a pronominal adjective, and then by the indefinate article followed by an adjective, you intended to employ the etymologically related, but distinct noun "breath".

Not to worry. Let's not fall out over it.

...and again said...

That should, of course, read:

"...indefinite..."

Mistake after mistake!
Mr Cage would have been delighted.

Mysterion said...

Lest we all forget, English is not a language at all. English is a rather Dutch cant.

see also here

So I oft error.

breathe in Dutch is ademhalen, ademen
breathe in German is atme, atmen, atmen

rgn said...

Had a copy of Buddha is the Center of Gravity a long time back and lost it. Have been trying to find another copy but impossible to find. I was told he did not want this book reprinted. Wonder why. On another note could you give your opinion of the best translation of Shobogenzo?

Victoria Zen Centre said...

Centre of Gravity was never republished because Lama Foundation never really got authorization to publish it in the first place, and Sasaki Roshi didn't appreciate it. If you like his teaching, you should really go see him while you can. He just turned 102 and is still actively teaching at Mt. Baldy, Rinzai ji in LA, and at Bodhi Manda in New Mexico.

The attitude I have heard expressed is that teisho (Dharma talks) are dynamic teachings given at specific points in time, to specific people, in specific situations (namely during dai-sesshin). To write them down is to remove several of the most vital aspects of the teaching.

Personally, I figure even stale old medicine can help. It's not as good as the fresh stuff to be sure, but it's better than nothing. Of course, that is why I am generally thought of as a heretic at Rinzai ji:)

In Victoria, we transcribe all the talks and have started posting them online!

rgn said...

Thank VZC for the reply. I no longer have any inclination to do any traveling but thanks for the invite. I am lookiing forward to reading the transcripts.

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