Tuesday, May 19, 2009


THIS JUST IN: My appearance on Suicide Girls Radio is now available on line at this link. If you want to skip ahead to the second hour, which is where my part is, go to the bottom of the page, click download, save the file and fast forward as you like!

This morning I put a buttload of new videos up on YouTube from the just-completed book tour. I'm only embedding 2 of them here because the embedding thing makes some people's browsers load really slow. For the others, just click on the title of the video and you should be taken right to it.


This one's from Green Apple books in San Francisco. I was actually kind of surprised when I reviewed the video and found this part. I hadn't remembered saying it. And it sounded sort of good. Who'd have imagined I could say anything meaningful? Not me!


I started ending some of my talks with a rendition of the Zero Defex hit "Drop the A-Bomb On Me!" Here's a live version from Saskatoon.

This is another clip from Green Apple Books in which I try to explain Nishijima Roshi's old sawhorse about the balance between mind and body.

This is from a bookstore in Saskatoon. The questioner wanted to know if Buddhism was atheism. It isn't.

Here's Zero Defex on stage at the Comet Bar in Detroit on May 1, 2009. I love singer Jimi Imij's comment at the beginning.

Here's Zero Defex at the Comet Bar again. Our singer needs to take it easy! He's gonna hurt himself!


Harry said...


I believe it is me who rocks.


Mumon said...

Thanks for the atheism one. What we apprehend as "Buddha nature" for me, it is problematic to conflate it with a monotheistic deity, or as Kapleau put it well (yeah, Kapleau) we shouldn't insult god by calling him names.

I label myself as a nontheist, because the issue of a deity per se as Western or even Hindu traditions is irrelevant.

I used to consider that being a monotheist could co-exist with being a Buddhist, but this I do not see how this can be the case now.

B said...

Great vids. Thanks for everything you've written, it's helped.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Hindu concepts of deity are hardly irrelevant to Buddhism. Most of the Big Time Bodhisattvas of Mahayana Buddhism are just very thinly disguised Hindu Goddesses and Gods. Sometimes (well, often, in fact) there is some mixing and matching of names and characteristics - but that goes on within Hinduism as well. Many Buddhists dispense with any pretense and just worship Hindu Gods straight up - Tara and Saraswati are two examples very common today. Back in the old days Lakshmi was a big hit among Buddhists - very big. Ambedkar even claimed that she was originally a Buddhist Goddess and the Hindus stole her!

Alphonzen said...

Kewl stuff Brad.

You rock ma socks

Mumon said...

Apuleius Platonicus :

I don't deny what you say, but how do you mix atman with anatman?

Mysterion said...

So the question remains:

If I carefully shave my head in the morning, and it starts to rain, when I go out for a walk, sans hat, does my hair get wet?

Rich said...

Wow, that Jimi Imij looks like he is having an enema. After listening to that, I think I NEED drugs - time for an aspirin -)

You can call it God or whatever you want, it's not going to change what you need to do.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

>> I don't deny what you say, but how do you mix atman with anatman? <<

I'm just talking about the simple historical facts of Buddhism as it actually has been practiced for 2500 years. Maybe Buddhists have been wrong all along and need you, Mumon, to straighten them out. But somehow I doubt that.

Mumon said...

Apuleius Platonicus :

The Buddha was known to keep a noble silence in regard to issues such as this.

I've no problem with that.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

The Buddha did little but talk and talk and talk. And when he wasn't talking to humans he was going up to heaven and talking to the Gods, that's where the Abhidharma comes from, btw. At least that is the orthodox Theravada version of where the Abhidharma comes from. I think the orthodox Mahayana version is that it comes from a giant hedgehog.

Rev. Tad Dullard said...

"All such notions as causation, succession, atoms, primary elements
that make up personality, Personal Soul, Supreme Spirit, Sovereign God,
Creator - are all figments of imagination, and manifestations of the mind
----The Buddha / Lankavatara Sutra

kalima said...

Zen isn't idolatry.

Abraham said...

No belief in a supreme deity.

Anonymous said...

Buddhism may not be atheism, but it is atheistic. You can call the universe 'god' all you want, and it won't amount to anything but abuse of common words.

Anonymous said...


I am curious about your statement, “I believe in God”. I can follow there “is” or there “is not” but a “belief” implies a sureness which one might even try to quantize (60% sure, 70% sure, 90% sure). A non-believer (atheist) has the mirror image of the same problem (40% sure, 30% sure, 20% sure). Possibly the agnostic (does not know) has the fewest problems content to be centered at 50% +/- whatever, depending on how strong an agnostic they are. You pointed out the problem with the word God, that it has different meanings to different people. Belief has a similar ambiguity, no? So the statement, “I believe in God” or the reverse seems to be a non-solid declaration that can’t be built upon. And when it is adopted as a philosophical anchor point for a religion (or non-religion), both arguments are suppositions based on an ideal. The atheist hypothesizes ( at the 0% sure level) that there is no God where the theist hypothesizes (at the 100% level) that there is a God. Both points of view are dead to the truth that they are one in the same argument, which is that they both don’t know. Apologies for thinking too much.



Alphonzen said...


It doesn't matter what buddhism may mean in websters dictionary. What matters is the truth.

Anonymous said...

thank you for this post!

Rich said...

The point is there is something ineffable that cannot be understood with the intellect, so just accept it and get on with your life as in practice. and God bless America

Some Brit said...

and... God save the Queen! Gawd bless her majesty. (The congregation stands)

Jinzang said...

God and buddha nature: two great flavors, now together.

Mumon said...

In addition to the implications for a deity by the Fourteen Unanswerable Questions (at least implications for the Judeo-Christian deity), I would also point out a kind of truth about Buddhism, which seems to be lost on many people.

Buddhists don't take our writings as "proof texts" nor do we read them the same way as Baptists read their texts.

That's why Mr. Warner and atheists can share a zendo.

Or even Mr. Warner, myself, and some of those guys from Sambo Kyodan who are Catholic clerics.

The point is adherence to the literal texts themselves. In fact the Lotus Sutra, if applied to itself, would militate against such a position, if one takes the notion of skillful means and the text to its logical conclusion.

The existence, non-existence, character, etc. of a deity is not something that is core to Buddhism.

The transcendence of dukkha is core to Buddhism, and adherence of belief in a deity one way or the other is not core to this belief.

On the other hand, for Mahayana Buddhists, (and this is where Brad is going, IIUC) is that we do have the notion of the Dharmakaya, and this notion, of Buddha nature pervading the universe, one might call god, but it's not a monotheistic deity nor does it require the existence of polytheistic deities.

Anonymous said...

The idea of 'god' as used in the ultimate (as Warner seems to use it here) is incompatable with fundamental Buddhist teachings such as dependent arising, and with just plain common sense. No, Buddhism is not supposed to use its texts as a basis for orthodoxy, but as Warner himself is fond of saying, it's also not "anything goes". There have been quite a few westerners who want to argue that the Buddha was just teaching Hindu monism, starting with the perrenialists and theosophists and continuing to the present. Buddhism is Buddhism and teaching that it is theistic shows a lack of basic understanding about Buddhism.

Anonymous said...

"Buddhism is Buddhism and teaching that it is theistic shows a lack of basic understanding about Buddhism"OMG! You mean Zen Master Warner has a lack of basic understanding about Buddhism? Say it ain't so Joe! Isn't this the same teacher who recently assured us that nonattachment was not a central teaching of Buddhism?

Mumon said...


The notion of the Dharmakaya does have a significant role in Mahayana Buddhism, and I agree that it is not a good idea to try to smuggle theism (or strongly materialist atheism for that matter) into Buddhism.

The folks who developed Buddhism did not (generally) work with established categories delineated by Western religious or philosophical traditions; they had Hinduism and Jainism as part of the ecosystem.

Are there apparent - or real contradictions between the notion of the Dharmakaya and other issues (e.g., Fourteen Unanswerable Questions, the notion of impermanence, the emptiness of all phenomena, etc.)?


Is a position on this essential to transcend dukkha?

I don't think so.

Is a position this reached as a consequence of reaching supreme enlightenment?


Rich said...

Mumon, I hope this discussion is helping you develop your practice which is the only true Buddhism. Thank you for pointing to the Dharmakaya, now I know the name of the place I was before I was born -)

Anonymous said...

If by 'God' you mean the guy on whose image
is on the 0DFx drum kit, then yes, I believe in
God; otherwise, I'm still an atheist and you,
Brad, along with all the other assholes who
blather on about God can go fuck yourselves.

Your asshole God's existence or nonexistence
is irrelevant; all that matters is that you
behave ethically.

Anonymous said...

0DFX sucks.. But God is Great!

Anonymous said...

You've been served.

pkb said...

Which god do you believe in Brad?
Ahura Mazda?

If you are using the word to mean "the universe" then your saying "I believe in the universe" just sounds silly.

The belief that the universe is a manifestation of god was very common in the Buddha's time. Gautama specifically rejected the idea of an unchanging brahman underlying phenomena just as he rejected the idea of a personal soul inhabiting the body.

If you are using "God" to mean the buddha nature, saying "I believe in Buddha nature" is nearly as silly as saying I believe in the universe.

When Hindus read that you believe in god, they're likely to assume you mean Brahman. Maybe that is close to what you are trying to convey. But when most westerners read that you believe in god they are likely to think you are talking about yahweh of the bible or allah of the quran. So which god is it?

Do you believe in a personal god who hears prayers and intervenes in the natural order of the universe via miracles?

If it's just a fancy word for 'the universe' then even Richard Dawkins would still define you as an atheist. Dawkins specifically states (in TGD) that this Einsteinian / Spinozan god is not what most atheists are talking about when they reject belief in 'god'.

Nor do atheists generally claim certainty that there is no god. Dawkins is fond of saying "there most probably is no god". I'm not even completely certain there are no unicorns or fairies, but I think their likelihood is extremely low.

I feel the same about the various gods embraced by humanity over the ages. I don't know for certain that Zeus isn't watching me, but I don't think it's likely. That's about as dogmatic as most atheists get.

If you mean the universe isn't dead material, I agree with you.
But why call it god? It's just misleading. It's like saying "I believe in unicorns...but by "unicorn" I just mean the universe."

BTW, I really like Nishijima rohi's proclamation; "There is no god...and he is your creator". This is a much clearer teaching, imo. I think you actually understand what you're talking about when you say God. I fear that most others listening to you (or reading) will not and might instead insert their own concept of brahman, yahweh or allah.

Mumon said...


Your mileage may vary.

So might mine.

Who said I was practicing "true" Buddhism?

I don't do the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Brad said, "This underlying ground is not just dead matter, it's something alive..."

Okay. If we're intelligent, and manifestations of this underlying ground, I can see what he means. But I'm still an atheist. Calling this God is too ripe for confusion.


Some Brit said...

I enjoyed reading your post. and I agree with what you wrote: Yes, Brad, I think) knows what 'God' means to Brad, but the term confuses. I can only guess/assume that's partly Brad's intention - to remind us of the notion that there is more to all this than meets the eye; something all-inclusive and (why not) "bigger".

Not saying that I'd express that stuff using the term/notion "God", but Brad clearly relates to it, and I think I know what he means. It's not a bad thing.

...and Yes, smoggyrob.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I transcribed the relevant part of Warner's talk on my blog (direct link: http://tinyurl.com/omdonq ). And I also look at different views of "God" and Buddhism from Buddhist scholars like Miranda Shaw, Paul Williams, and Alan Wallace, and also Alan Watts, King Asoka, Anagarika Dharmapala and more.

muebles madrid said...

The chap is completely right, and there's no skepticism.