Thursday, July 23, 2009

THE FUNNIEST "SPIRITUAL" SCAM ON THE INTERNET

...But first a few administrative things.

This Saturday, July 25th 2009, we'll have our monthly all-day zazen thing at Hill Street Center. Info is over there to your left in the links. I am no longer handling the administrative end of these get-togethers so I do not know if there will be an oryoki lunch or not. I'll post the info on that as soon as anyone tells me.

Also, I got a very nice write up on Belief Net! I thought those guys hated me!

OK. Now on to our topic for the day. Someone sent me this link to the funniest spiritual scam I have yet to see on the Internet. Apparently this was actually advertised in one of the Google ads that pop up on this very page!

My God is this thing hilarious! Endorsed by none other than Ken Wilber Himself, it says, "Millions have heard Eckhart Tolle’s story of spontaneous awakening to a super-conscious state – a timeless, transcendental state. Mystics maintain that this 'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation, and the mystics are right."

Oh my gosh! The mystics! They're right!!

The ad then poses the following questions:

But have you ever wondered:

• What factors cause me to fall “out of the now”?
• How can I access this state more quickly and more consistently?
• What can other world-renowned spiritual leaders offer in addition to Tolle’s recommendations to accelerate my spiritual growth and stabilize my awareness in “the now?”
• Where can I turn to find that wisdom?


Oh dear! What causes me to fall out of the now??? I need to know!!! Please tell me!!! How can I access the state that the mystics have acquired right this second without having to give up my busy schedule of watching reality TV, trolling the Internet and eating junk food? I want wisdom and I want it right now!

A need is created and the fulfillment of that need is offered. Classic advertising technique. Is there really anyone left who doesn't know this?

Anyhow, it turns out that what you really need to be in the now all the time is to spend $199 (That's $50 off the regular price, they say. And just where is it selling for that price?) on a special kit containing 5 DVDs, 2 CDs, 3 booklets, a poster and some of what they call "one-minute modules." Plus, if you act now, you get 7 free gifts (that's right, 7 free gifts -- and this is exactly the way they say it in the ad. They say "7 free gifts" and right afterward in parenthesis it says "that's right, 7 free gifts.") I can just hear the voice of Casey Casem yelling all this at me from a TV left tuned on at 3 in the morning.

And you wonder why I hate the whole spiritual master business so much. If people are falling for bullshit as blatant as this... I don't know. I don't even want to know!

If you think "the now" can be yours for $199 and a few DVDs of a bunch of slime balls talking about spirituality you deserve what you get.

228 comments:

1 – 200 of 228   Newer›   Newest»
Martyn said...

No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

Anonymous said...

Number Two.

NellaLou said...

Do those free gifts include the long stretchy rubber bands? They might be useful in stopping one's brains from leaking out of their ears.

Anonymous said...

7 free gifts? Those bastards really know me.

Anonymous said...

Those Google ads tap into the content of your blog post. This particular one gave me http://www.masteringthepowerofnow.com/

I'm not sure if you can regulate what ads get posted and what do not, and anyway, are you really making enough from the google ads to justify having them on the site (if they spam people - who don't block ads altogether like most do - with Big Mind)?

Perhaps you could find some other way of making a dime, like banners or sponsors or whatever, which would let you choose what gets associated with this site.

Chulla said...

i like ken wilber

Anonymous said...

It is possible to configure Adsense to block some URLs.

But I want to know if I can have the seven free gifts without the $200 investment...

Anonymous said...

Fall out of the now? Into what?
This is a spoof, right?

And in the next line I see that I can learn to do this more quickly!!

Time travel, how cool.

Eric said...

It's a deal anyway, but i also get Genpo Roshi Guided Meditation??? Order placed!

Anonymous said...

"ordained Zen Monk Brad Warner"

monk?

Jinzang said...

Fall out of the now? Into what?

Time keeps on slipping into the future

(Actually, into your fantasies.)

Anonymous said...

Fun

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to face to face transmission? You think you can see my house on Google Earth (you can even move round it and go up and down) but you're just staring at a bunch of pixels. It's YOUR life that matters, not Brad's, Nishijima's, Genpo's, Dogen's, Gotama's, Homer Simpson's or any other shit you read, see or hear on the TV, internet or toilet wall. That's just old news, the past, history - certainly ain't here or now. Just learn to sit, practice sitting, and then get on with your own life. Is it right to kill/be angry/eat meat/watch porn/buy records? That's up to YOU to decide. Brad's coming to the UK I hear - I wish him well but I won't be rushing to see him to 'get' anything (especially with all this pig flu about).
Gassho, :)

Apuleius Platonicus said...

I really see no need to drag Casey Kasem into this!

ator said...

teutonic huckster run amok!

Angkor said...

Dear Brad, please don't go to pagoda Phat Hue in Frankfurt for the sesshin. One of the abbot's former attendants talked of sexual misbehavior of it's abbot in a Buddhist webforum. The abbot is obviously fond of the Lexus in which he drives around, the floor heating in his private room and keeps a young boy in his pagoda whom he once told he was the reincarnation of another monk.
Buddhadammit, Brad, because Muho from Antaiji talked well about you, I take the effort to ask you: Please don't support fake abbots and fake zen like in Phat Hue/Frankfurt.

Luke Palmer said...

I love how these scams are always accompanied by a picture of an insecurely smiling douchebag. It's kind of like putting [SPAM] in the subject line...

Anonymous said...

Jinzang,
All my fantasies happen in the now.

Tornadoes28 said...

If people are falling for this, then they deserve to lose their money.

Jinzang said...

The point is that the fantasies aren't anywhere, because, well, they're fantasies.

Kyle said...

LOL, sounds like it has the makings of a great cult.

Mr. Reee said...

That is funny!

Do they know that the very moment they part with $199.00 is in fact part of this mysterious "now" that they seek?

Gives new meaning to "Now you see it (your $$$)... Now you don't!"

I do like "now" though. Good thing. There's nowhere else to go anyway.

L. Espenmiller said...

Hey Brad, My husband and I discovered your books one afternoon at Diesel Bookstore in Oakland. "Sit Down" and "Zen Wrapped" are providing support and encouragement for our daily zazen practice (8 months and counting...). I am especially delighted by (and thankful for) your humor and frankness in your writing about zazen, Zen, life, etc. Enjoying your blog as well.

peace.

Mr. Reee said...

This man wants to know 'what will you do?' with all those wonderful things $199.00 will buy.

Too bad there's not a spiritual FTC for this sort of thing.

coburn said...

Free gift? Is that an oxy-moronic-ignoramousism? Isn't a "gift" by description already "free?" So what would be a "free gift?" Can it be doubly free? That's like being "doubly wet." I think someone is trying to pull the underwear over our face with this "free gift" jive.
Well put Jinzang! ..."into what?" That's like "getting away with it." Where is there to get "away" too?

Anonymous said...

Angkor:

it doesn't matter what Muho or any ho tells you, from Antaiji or any place else.
you can take what is said under consideration, but you have to see for yourself, come to your own decision

From what you described Phat Hue in Frankfurt I would say they could sure use decent teachers visiting just so foks there get to experience decency

The sangha there could always get together and insist the abbot get help: go to counseling/therapy and 12 step programs and seriously make this also part of his practice. a human is a human, fortunately we humans can take steps and measures to address whatever addictions/compulsions we are plagued with so that we don't have to act them out on
if the young boy you mention kept in the pagoda is not an adult, then I'm sure there are laws which would address any sexual acts between them
if it is just 'eye candy,' then things are of a greyer shade but still could be addressed

as far as enjoying heated floors and driving a lexus--well, I know I would, but I wear socks instead and I'm just happy my car runs

Good luck with sorting out whatever needs sorting out.

timzbrooks said...

I'm curious that you seem to be one who practices Zen yet you find it necessary to "hate" this "stuff". With all the crap out there in the world to spend money on, you target some website trying to sell educational DVDs for your ire. Pathetic (in the Greek sense as well as the rude one).

~C4Chaos said...

MYILP it's not only endorsed by Ken Wilber, he basically is the main creator of ILP.

see also http://www.integral-life-practice.com/

~C

Anonymous said...

Sarcasm is easy.

Care to articulate what's wrong with ILP in detail?

Anonymous said...

I was always curious Brad, what do you think about Eckhart Tolle himself?

I'm always curious to know because I thought you would someday try to make clear distinctions between buddhism and some of the spiritual writers out there.

I mean, to some extent you have but I expected you to really go down the list some day.

Anonymous said...

"big mind tm?" wtf?

jundo cohen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~C4Chaos said...

Brad,

i was also put off by that meticulous style of copywriting. i'm not against people making a living teaching the dharma, but i'm on the conservative side when it comes to "selling" the dharma. i prefer less hype as possible. but that's just me.

however, it's easy to be sarcastic. it's easy to negate things. it's easy to make fun of other people's approach to spreading (er, marketing) the dharma.

you don't like hype, you don't like (TM) signs, you don't want people marketing the dharma. i get that.

but what i'm interested to hear from you is where you draw the line when it comes to "selling" the dharma. do you believe that dharma should always be offered for free? what is acceptable for you when it comes to spreading or selling the dharma?

i read somewhere that you wrote your books because you just love to write. i believe that. but i also think that there's an intention (no matter how subtle) to sell the dharma. otherwise the words "Zen", "Buddha", and "Karma" will not grace the cover of those books.

~C

jody radzik said...

Ken Wilber is the Suzanne Somers of celebrity spirituality scam endorsers.

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

timzbrooks:

you seem to assume because someone practices Zen they can't call out other people when they are full of shit. I assure you, it's not. I don't think that those people "deserve what they get", since not everyone happens to meet a zen teacher that they like at a point in their life when they need it, but meh. agree to disagree.

anyways, if someone is full of shit, then know someone is full of shit. if they are going to try and peddle the shit as gold, then say something. how hard is that??

Justin said...

Everyone thinks other people are full of shit and they have the truth.

Justin said...

Fall out of the now? Into what?

Into the THEN presumably.

Most of the time people are so busy recalling the past and anticipating the future that they feel trapped in linear time, with the illusion that they exist as continuous entities that can extend back and forward in time and are yet unable to escape from stresses about the past and future.

Sitting in Zazen we are present right NOW with what arises and falls away. We can see clearly that the idea of ever being anywhere other than now is an illusion. And yet, of course it is possible to once more 'fall out of the now'.

Why is it necessary to have to explain this on a Zen blog?

Tolle is a bit new agey for me, but most of what he teaches is fundamentally the same as Zen.

Duff said...

I was once the head of selling the ILP Kit for a few months at my employment at I-I (I did not write the copy for this sales letter though, although I've written some embarrassing copy in my past).

In many ways, my time spent working for Wilber's organization was the beginnings of my questioning this kind of marketing of the dharma, the selling of spirituality, and the cultural climate that this emerges from. I'm now an enormous critic of this kind of marketing, although I don't see many alternatives, honestly, in our current culture.

Ironically, the ad for the ILP kit on that website contains a fake testimonial written by someone else, with my name on it. I never felt good about that, but felt pressured to go along with that decision, as it was basically presented to me as already done. There were many things we did at I-I that I didn't agree with, but the culture was not one of disagreement with the decisions made from on high.

In truth, I find AQAL a theory pretending to be a meta-theory full of lots of garbage and lots of interesting attempts to make sense of a complex and chaotic world. A noble attempt, but I find no refuge in any theories at all. And meaninglessness is something more to be dealt with in terms of spiritual practice and doing things that are personally meaningful than any dogma, creed, or totalistic world philosophy.

The ILP kit as a product I'd rank as a 3/5--not as much of a scam as Holosync, but not as good as a great yoga DVD (of which there are numerous crappy ones, of course).

For those who find Big Mind useful, it is a pretty good DVD. I never found the DVD that great, but lent it to a friend who loved it.

The "3-body workout" is ok for getting some movement and embodiment, but no where to go once you've learned the basics, unlike systems of QiGong or Yoga, etc.

The "1-minute modules" I always found to be an exaggeration of a useful concept, that of doing whatever you can during the day to practice, but all take more than 1 minute. I also prefer more focus on long-term commitment over a lifetime, in the likes of the original Integral Transformative Practice of Leonard and Murphy: http://www.itp-life.com/ Wilber stole the acronym ILP at first until they complained.

Murphy and Leonard did multiple years of study with cohorts before publishing their book. Wilber made up some practices one day in a loft meeting (e.g. 3-2-1) and presented them as on golden tablets from God.

3-2-1 is a summary of what psychological work should look like, but isn't substantial as a technique compared to many existing techniques.

The "mental module" is silly. The only way to learn Wilber's integral theory is to sit down with a stack of his older, harder books and read them and think about it. And then I'd recommend going and getting a bunch of books on other subjects and read them too so you don't get stuck in Wilber's giant head.

That all said, I think it's a long road to uncovering what's wrong with this stuff for some of us. It's easy to point and laugh, and sometimes a good thing to do, but why do we get caught up in it, and how can we be free? How can we legitimately make a living and promote the dharma if we feel called to do so? There are few models available in the West, so we apply the f-ed up models of capitalism and say "there is absolutely no problem with selling spirituality" as Bill Harris said to me.

Anyway, keep on doing your thing.

~Duff

Anonymous said...

A Better Path To the Power of Now

I couldn't believe my eyes

I read the whole damn thing

It would be sad if it weren't so funny

It would be funny if it weren't so sad

Who are these people? Ken Wilbur has always done a complicated mental equivalent of river dance of a log rolling of his presto meto phyzico stuff.
I don't have much of a brain, so I haven't tried to wrap it around his books/ideas.

Genpo Roshi--why hasn't ZCLA called him on this crap? (Maybe they have, and he's a loose canon?)

I just find it very sad, it's everything I thought zen could never be--snake oil for rubes and hicks--
next thing you know
zen will cure acne, give you a bigger bust size (if you're a woman) and enlarge your penis (if you're a man).

How can these guys live with themselves? Can money take the taste of shame away? I thought it took a slice of Beboparebop Rhubarb Pie to do that.

Anonymous said...

It seems some of the upper echelons of the Zen hierarchy don't know what to do w/ Genpo. Some don't want him around but invite him to teach at retreat anyways-for old times sake or something and others want some of that success to rub off so kiss his ass. He is a loose cannon and makes most people nervous and some few actually consider how much damage he is doing to Zen-but they are very few. Everybody else wants a piece of the action.

Anonymous said...

Why care so much about these dickheads-sellers or buyers of such garbage? Teachers get the students they deserve.And vice versa.

MonkMojo said...

I bought 5 packages, hell Christmas is just around the corner!

mtto said...

I'm currently reading "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde, subtitled "Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World". It is a fairly dense read; I haven't really gotten to the part where he talks about creativity. The first half or so of the book is about gift exchange vs. economic (money) exchange. Anthropological studies, folk tales, economic theory, philosophy, history, all related to gifts. If you're interested in the subject of what is lost when something is sold, rather than gifted, this is the book for you. I'm happily overworked these days so I probably won't finish the book for a long time.

Mr. Hyde was on NPR's Bookworm discussing the book on it's 25 year anniversary. That's how I found out about it.

Anonymous said...

that which already is

Adam said...

Yeah, now you have SCIENTOLOGY ad. Sorry, I would remove google adds at all: do they generate any income, that covers the fact of advertising New Age Spirituality and (considered by many countries as a harmful and illegal) scientology?
I don't think so...

Anonymous said...

A genuine Buddhist teacher is not a superhero who will tell you how to live your life or a therapist who will explore why you still need a Mummy/Daddy.

A genuine Buddhist teacher is a rather mundane human being who can offer guidance in living a simple, balanced life.

Little of this guidance will be in the form of book learning. On the contrary, the most profound teaching and learning will be in the form of simple action.

Look at what your teacher is DOING. Then, if it makes sense, DO it yourself and see if it works for you. You'll soon know if you're being sold a crock of shit - that's real wisdom for you.

This is how Buddhism has worked for 2,500 years.

How does Brad eat, sleep, walk, talk, sneeze, cough, fart, cross the road, buy groceries? If you don't know, he ain't your teacher.

If you haven't got a teacher, go find one. Not a great philosopher from the West, not a Guru from the East, just someone who can teach you how to sit Zazen and show you how to live a simple and balanced life.

My teacher? He doesn't discuss the failures of Buddhist priests, he doesn't praise himself or berate others and doesn't begrudge the sharing of Buddhist teachings but gives them freely.

Now where did I read that before?

Gassho :)

Michael said...

But wait! If you order in the next 10 minutes we'll throw in this set of Ginsu knives, absolutely FREE!

Anonymous said...

you have no idea what the integral life practice has to offer. shut the fuck up and go meditate. if you are really a buddhist monk you wouldn't waste your time on a fucking internet forum. don't judge others, judge yourself in meditation. am i to assume that because you don't try to sell your product the same way integral life practice does that your books are not a scam? I don't know what your books are like, and you don't know what integral life practice is like. Shut the fuck up and and work and your own realization.

Anonymous said...

it's all spirit anyways, even American consumerism, time to wake up right now you hardcore zen buddhist, you sound more like a dualistic hippie

Justin said...

Cheesey marketing does NOT = scam

Mr. Reee said...

"Mystics maintain that this 'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation, and the mystics are right."

In re-reading the ad copy, I'm reminded of those old/weird ads you'd see in the back of Popular Mechanics and some comic books (ex: "What Is He Doing?" -- a come-on to learn the art of pouring concrete via a correspondence school; "Learn To Draw!" "Make Millions In Mail Order!" etc.) Those ads always had some guy's head floating in the upper-right corner, saying something like "Learn How Now!" Funny stuff.

Anyway, I was poking around for examples and I found this early ad that promises to help you
Double Your Breathing Capacity.

Very useful for Zazen, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

i went to sedona but there was nothing to see;
red rocks, green mcdonald's.

Jerry said...

Brad,

I don't know if Beliefnet hates you or not but the Interdependence Project loves you. Glad you saw it!

Couldn't agree more about your criticism of "$$$ Enlightenment Kits" - not much point in debating whether they deserve respect or not.

Jerry Kolber
http://blog.beliefnet.com/onecity/2009/07/buddhism-is-the-greatest-religion-in-the-world-if-it-was-a-religion.html

Anonymous said...

I think that Ken Wilber is a basically serious person who is interested in spiritual practice and is really just trying to do what you do: make some money by it. He's just taken it to a different level. The problem, I think, is when you ever connect spiritual matters with cash. But I understand why people do that. They've got to make a living.

I agree that Wilber sounds a little looney sometimes, and seems to have sold out. But he's really just a writer, trying to make money, like you.

Professordave

Anonymous said...

I eat my red meat raw.

btw, jody radzik,

suzanne

somers

is far superior
to ken wilber

telecasterroy said...

Now is highly overrated.

Anonymous said...

How many here have actually tried the Big Mind process? And not on the DVD, but with Genpo?

Funny, but I don't see many raised hands...

Next thing you know people will be dismissing meditation without having sat a single time... ;)

Anonymous said...

"No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the general public."

Did someone have to post those Suzanne Somers links to prove it?

Anonymous said...

At the very bottom of the page, it announces 8 free gifts! They snuck another one in.

I only noticed because I was about to order now and not delay.

alan said...

Anon @ 9:16

One reason not to try Big Mind in person is the cost. 300$ minimum plus transportation and hotel could easily add up to 1000$.

I can't personally attest to which works better, zazen or Big Mind. But I do know that you can do zazen for nothing.

Also a bit of dumbshit psychologizing.

Brad may be so down on money grabbing instant enlightenment schemes because on some level he is afraid of going down that path.

I have no idea (obviously) if this is true. But you see it so often, people warning others about the things that tempt them.

Anonymous said...

point a finger and there's three pointing back at you. Where would Brad Warner be if he didn't sling his "hardcore Zen" on the masses?? Brad Warner is a smaller shuckster on the same spiritual BS boat. If you take some time to read between the lines it reeks of jealousy. Needs to follow his own advice and sit down and shut up.

Alphonzen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
telecasterroy said...

Yes, I think it is true that Brad Warner is kind of in the business of promoting himself as a zen guy and is trying to make a living from his books, lectures, etc., which are about zen.
But, there is a very big difference between him and the Wilbur's and Genpo's of the world: he isn't promising anyone ANYTHING in order to capitalize on their ignorance and need.

Anonymous said...

"My teacher? He doesn't discuss the failures of Buddhist priests, he doesn't praise himself or berate others and doesn't begrudge the sharing of Buddhist teachings but gives them freely"

Same here. That is a real zen teacher.

Ken Wilbur; I like his early writings and used to recommend his books. He seems to have gone astray though. Funny, I'd say exactly the same thing about Brad.

Mumon said...

Wilber, "Genpo Roshi" and the electronic medititation gizmo guy have a similar thing going on; and moreover, (I thought I'd mentioned this earlier) they have advertised on your blog sometimes using Google Ads.

You can ban them if you want. I don't ban them on my blog 'cause it amuses me they pay money for me to write the things I write.

I draw the line at Scientology ads, though. They're banned.

Anonymous said...

sky saxon obit

Anonymous said...

C4 -

Brad isn't selling the dharma in his books (if you've read them) - he states over and over again that its up to you to do the practice and there's nothing that can replace the practice. I think that's point with bringing up the "instant" enlightenment offers (scams), that they claim to replace the effort and practice required...

but then again, whatever...

Anonymous said...

telecasterroy - He is promising something. That his way is truer then Wilbur's, Genpo's , etc.

And I've grown tired of the "I'm not perfect but at least I know it" schtick. That doesn't make you more insightful, just an asshole. Dude can't hold a job, cheats on his wife and tries to make a living off the back of vulnerable people. He's just the same as all the rest and you are just as much a sucker as those that buy big mind.

Weasel Tracks said...

Anonymous said...

it's all spirit anyways, even American consumerism, time to wake up right now you hardcore zen buddhist, you sound more like a dualistic hippie

And that's bad, right? Wait a minute . . . "it's all spirit anyways" so why change anything? What do you object to, anyway?

It's all so confusing! Must be my dualistic hippieness. Wish those flashbacks would kick in, like the government promised!

Mumon said...

He is promising something. That his way is truer then Wilbur's, Genpo's , etc.

And I've grown tired of the "I'm not perfect but at least I know it" schtick. That doesn't make you more insightful, just an asshole. Dude can't hold a job, cheats on his wife and tries to make a living off the back of vulnerable people. He's just the same as all the rest and you are just as much a sucker as those that buy big mind.



I really am not interested Warner's private life (it's private), and I've never bought any of his books.

I agree with Warner because what he says here correlates perfectly with my own experience, which was formed without his input.

I don't agree on some things Warner or his teacher says, but on this, he's spot on, except for the fact that people are getting scammed by this, and that's not a good thing.

Anonymous said...

From a Bill Harris email:

So please come spend two amazing days with Genpo
Roshi, Ken Wilber, Bernie Glassman Roshi, and me in
Boulder Colorado on August 29-30. As I said, an event
like this is unlikely to ever happen again. Please decide to
be a part of it. I want you to meet Genpo, Bernie, and Ken
(and me, of course, if we haven't met already).

The cost for this special event is $1295, but Early Bird
Registration (by July 21) is just $995. To maintain a more
intimate feeling, we're strictly limiting the number of attendees
to 220, and many seats have already been snapped up
before I could get this announcement out to you. Because
of the huge popularity of these teachers, this event is going
to sell out quickly. If you want to be there, please sign
up right away.


Bernie Glassman???
Wow. I wonder how Bill and Genpo swung that one.

Jinzang said...

What I wonder is what the market for Ken Wilber's stuff is. Is it any different than the market for traditional Buddhism (upscale, urban, liberal, and green)? Traditional Buddhism isn't faring so well these days. When you look at Ken Wilber you may be looking at the face of Twenty First Century spirituality. Instead of the meek inheriting the Earth, it looks like the slick will inherit it.

Devon said...

Selling the Dharma is bullshit. Brad, please send me 4 free copies of each of your books.

Anonymous said...

picking your nose

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Of course there's going to be an oryoki lunch tomorrow -- I spent today with the tenzo learning how to make it. And what's the secret to that delicious miso soup? Neck bones and a lobster carapace. Hmmmmm... carapace.

75 comments, hoo-boy. One question for Big Minders and Brad fans... do Brad fans hang around Genpo's or Wilbur's blogs and leave small-minded comments? I don't know, I'm just asking.

Rob

Mysterion said...

But have you ever wondered:

• What factors cause me to fall “out of the now”?

The state of "then."

• How can I access this state more quickly and more consistently?

By crossing the state line - but not with an underage girl.

• What can other world-renowned spiritual leaders offer in addition to Tolle’s recommendations to accelerate my spiritual growth and stabilize my awareness in “the now?”

3 satories for 25¢ (or 10¢ each)

• Where can I turn to find that wisdom?

Turn left. Leave the right behind.

Anonymous said...

"I do not call truth what the

foolish confront each other with;

they make their own view the truth;

that is why they treat their

opponents as fools."


- Gautama Buddha, quoted by Stephen Batchelor in "The Awakening of the West"


...makes us all pretty foolish most of the time.

Mumon said...

Smoggyrob:

I once tried, through Wilber's blog, to contact him regarding his malformed expressions on evolutionary biology.

Suffice it to say, I did not get a reply.

On the other hand, I did contact in 2004 what later became the "Big Mind" sangha regarding their affiliation with Frederick Lenz. I blogged about it here.

It does not appear to me that they're still claiming that "true practice, true 'enlightenment' takes years of practice/enlightenment."

But since you asked, that's how I'd previously approached this, but thanks for the question.

Now if you want to know where the money came from to push "Big Mind" you have your answer: It came from "Zen Master Rama's estate.

You cannot make this up.

Mumon said...

Or at least some of it did.

Anonymous said...

Smoggy.. You have stumbled across the title for Brad's next book.

Stephanie said...

The desire to shame and feel superior to others is part of human nature, but hardly a mark of wisdom.

The truth is, as others have pointed out in the comments here, as long as we're participating in this sort of dialogue about whose dharma-dick is bigger, we're not doing anything but shoring up our own egos.

I spent years hoping to find the "right" teaching, the "right" practice, the "right" spirituality. And then, when the time came for my nose to really be pressed to the grindstone, I saw that none of that mattered.

We will only be free if we want freedom more than we want pride, affection, money, or any of the other awards we're conditioned to crave as human beings. It's that simple.

A person with the right intent might find this ILP package illuminating, however cynically it was conceived, just as a person might find one of Brad's books illuminating. A person looking with the eyes of spiritual materialism will be just as stalled in their tracks by either.

You can't teach this stuff. It's comical, how many books are out there that say the same few things in so many different ways. They're already running out of ways to re-package the Dharma and Buddhism has hardly just taken root in "the West."

I'm not saying instructive books aren't valuable--they are. But it's not a matter of finding someone who says it better, faster, harder, than someone else. It's about how much you WANT to be free, how much you NEED to be free. For some of us who are more hard-headed than others, like me, it is only suffering that will get you there. When you've brought yourself so low with your own desperation that you are willing to look at how things really are, however painful or ego-crushing that might be, is when you will have a chance to taste "REAL spirituality," "REAL" Zen," or whatever your favorite flavor of dogma may be.

To some extent, that was what ZEN WRAPPED IN KARMA was about. But it looks to me like Brad's going back to his 'old ways'--puffing himself and his 'one true way' above the chintzier goods in the spiritual supermarket. How much more is it going to take to break you, Brad? How much more are you going to have to lose before you realize that your spiritual raft is just as shoddily made as anyone else's, and that bickering about whose looks better doesn't mean shit?

Because what I've learned on this path is if you step onto it with a sincere and committed heart, you cannot turn away. When you invite the truth, it will hunt you down until you get it, even if you tire of it and wish to stop. The choice is no longer yours. And as long as you're puffing yourself up with spiritual pride, you haven't gotten it. What the Gods do to the proud is break them. And if all that happened to you in 2007 wasn't enough to break you, Brad, Gods save you from what's going to have to come next for you. Because it's clear you really are on this path, you really want truth, and unfortunately that means you are a marked man. These bullshit dick-swinging games are only going to set you up for another hard fall into the shit, my friend. Until you get real.

I've been nearly broken by all the spiritual forces I've invited into my life many times, but somehow I still seem not to have 'gone all the way.' What it's going to take to finally get it through my thick skull, I don't know, I just know it's not going back to the same old bullshit I was doing before. You should know the same!

All idiots together, we are, on this path of Dharma, rowing our leaky boats out onto the sea and arguing over whose boat has the nicest paint job. I wouldn't blame the gods of the sea for shipwrecking all of us...

Anonymous said...

SOS

Mr. Reee said...

The enlightened know; when you get in the car (but before you put the key in the ignition,) you've already arrived.



That'll be five bucks please. I'm a little short of gas this morning.

Mumon said...

Stephanie:

I empathize. It is the life-koan about my own suffering and my own inadequate responses that directed me towards Buddhism.

But ...
~C4Chaos :
Is it in fact the Dharma Wilber, Genpo Merzel, et al. are selling?

It is easy to tell.

While one could attempt to be a fundamentalist and attempt to correlate what they market with what is written in the Sutras and the Dhammapada (and I can't but recommend literacy in the Buddhist canon if you're a Buddhist), there's a much simpler way to tell.

Do they teach the 4 Noble Truths for transcending suffering and dukkha? Does what they market increase wisdom, generosity and compassion? Are they committed to following The Noble Eightfold Path? Is what they write and say Right Speech?

Merzel, in particular, has said to have included some of Frederick Lenz's oeuvre in his ...uh...intellectual property (for want of a better term).

I know it's not usually said, but there's more to Zen Buddhism than just sitting zazen. Zazen is very important, to be sure, but if you are not practicing Buddhism when you get off the cushion, you're not practicing Buddhism most of the time.

This is true for me, for Brad, for Merzel, and for others.

Shorty said...

Steph, Nice post. My personal hunch is that you are right. But on another level, it doesn't really matter what Brad does or doesn't do.

It doesn't matter if Buddhism becomes another fad, or if the earth becomes engulfed by the sun and everyone dies.

Because in the end, no matter how the apparent person believes in seperation, there is no free will and therefore no responsibility.

Free will or responsibility gives the impression that there is a self where there is no one. There is no one reading these words. There is no one reacting to these words.

Brad is only an idea. Behind that idea is a molecular dance. "Brad" may think that he is the one choosing his thoughts. But thats just another thought. There is no Brad.

No free will means you have never had any responsibility.
Can the mind hack this thought? No.

Shorty said...

I used to meditate, but I realized that all it does is reinforce the sense of a seperate self. Most of the western meditators I've seen are neurotic. Brad is one of them.

Mr. Reee said...

"Free will or responsibility gives the impression that there is a self where there is no one. There is no one reading these words. There is no one reacting to these words.

Brad is only an idea. Behind that idea is a molecular dance. "Brad" may think that he is the one choosing his thoughts. But thats just another thought. There is no Brad.

No free will means you have never had any responsibility."


Either that, or we're responsible for everything we encounter.

Jinzang said...

I don't want to criticize Genpo Roshi or Ken Wiber's teaching. I've never met either of them and I haven't practiced with them. Not likely to either, because I'm happy with my current practice. But I don't like the way they market their teachings. I find it cheap and offensive and I hope they reconsider. Just my opinion, and you're welcome to yours.

Jinzang said...

I used to meditate, but I realized that all it does is reinforce the sense of a seperate self.

Not if your teacher is doing their job.

long dong silver said...

whose dharma-dick is bigger?

Not yours?

I was misinformed.

plaudertasche said...

LOL - Falling out of Now!
How can you ever fall out of now since there is nothing other then now? Were please do they think they fall into instead?
If you think of tomorrow, you still do the thinking in the now.

Why does Brad get mad at this guys?
People who think they can pay themselves into some spiritual state are not really seeking anything other then a quick high, which has nothing to do with the real thing. May be they find that out and get real. Or not; some are perfectly happy in their state of "Spiritual BS" and gladly spend money on "Instant Enlightenment" retreats & DVD's, over and over and over again.

There are many true teachers out there; they are as easily to be found as the BS gurus.
What makes one go for one over the other?

"You always get exactly what you value, and if you don't like what you have, you better look at what you value" Adyashanti (one of the truest teachers around)

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

This has nothing to do with shame, or superiority, or crapping on some other teacher just for the hell of it. Brad's way isn't the only way, but every way is not the same. Some ways will help you. Some will help you more, and some will help you less. And some ways will not only not help you, they'll hurt you and take your money. If Brad wants to stand up once in a while and call a fucking scam a fucking scam, good. Sure, form is emptiness, but emptiness is form. It's not, "My dharma is bigger than your dharma", it's "Look out! You're about to step in front of a bus!" I would think less of him if he didn't try to warn people.

Genpo isn't just not helpful, he's a god-damned menace to society. People are wasting their precious lives (and their money) listening to his crap. Now, I'm not going to camp on everyone's lawn to make sure they don't get scammed. But I'm not going to keep silent and just watch it happen, either. And yes, I've looked into the asshole. I've read his stuff online, I listened to his and Ken's "Mastering the Power of Now" thing with that Harris bozo, and I took up his invitation to go through the BM process during a radio interview. I think I've experienced as much as that crowd of 220 will experience. Except I'll admit I haven't experienced him taking my money and I'll admit that is an important (even integral) part of the experience. It's a rip-off and nothing more. As the teacher Jules said in the Pulp Fiction Sutra, "you ain't talkin' your ass outta this shit."

I cannot (and do not want Brad to) say nothing, be a "good Buddhist", or 'follow the precept of not disparaging others'". In this instance it is the precept that throws the bomb.

Namaste motherfuckers,

Rob

Shorty said...

"Not if your teacher is doing their job."

Tibetan buddhists are the worst. There is no religious person with a bigger ego than a lama or guru.

"Oh look at me, I have achieved emptiness and you can become like me. Give me donations or gtfo"

Idiots.

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

Rob,

That was the best thing I've ever read in the comments section of this site.


Brad isn't running around trying sell Shikantaza. He is selling books. Completely different. When people buy a book from Brad they understand(or at least they should) that they are purchasing......well a book. They are getting the author's experience, his opinion's on certain topics, and entertainment. At the end if the reader picked up anything of use, I'm sure Brad is happy. No one gets ripped off bye a book(unless it is astronomically priced). Being a book sold to the general public, Brad understands that one of the functions of a book is to have its words criticized and analyzed by its readers. That's what a GOOD reader does. Brad's books(as evidenced by the amount sold) have been of great interest to a large number of people. I'm pretty damned sure no one reading his books have been hurt by it. I for one owe a deep amount of gratitude to Brad for introducing this way of life to me. I'm also sure this wasn't his intention.

Genpo, on the other hand is selling Big Mind, a PRODUCT. As such, it claims to to produce and do things of a specific nature for people. It puts itself up against other products and makes claims as do the why their product is better and why it is worth the investment. In this sense it is asking people to gamble with their money and in this PARTICULAR instance it asking people to gamble their money on the "Big E". It wants you to spend your money on an experience of something that no one and everyone has a trademark on.

Anyone who has sat as long as Brad, doesn't want you blow your hard earned dough on something no one can teach you. That is why Zen teachers don't specifically charge for their teaching. They may ask for a donation to make it easier for them to continue to teach or ask for help in paying for the cost of Sangha activities, but charging an hourly fee for zazen? Even buying various teaching via audio talks and such is OK, because I understand that I'm paying for that particular teachers way of expressing the teachings. I'm not being sold an experience.

Regards,

Al

6:26 AM

Jinzang said...

"Oh look at me, I have achieved emptiness and you can become like me."

No Tibetan teacher or student I have met has claimed that they are enlightened or have achieved emptiness. Instead if you ask them they will invariably say, "I am just an ordinary person." Unlike some Zen groups, it's more or less a taboo to speak about your spiritual achievements or experiences. So I don't know where this statement is coming from.

Tibetan groups are funded by a combination of donations and fees for classes. Most will not put a squeeze on you if you can't or don't want to pay . But the rent and heat must be paid and you can't pay will good karma.

Rich said...

Hi Stephanie, you are getting close.

"I've been nearly broken by all the spiritual forces I've invited into my life many times, but somehow I still seem not to have 'gone all the way.' What it's going to take to finally get it through my thick skull, I don't know, I just know it's not going back to the same old bullshit I was doing before. You should know the same!"

To quote one of my teachers 'Just this moment is miscellaneous bits of utter delusion, in hundred thousand myriads of shining mirror reflections'. For me shining mirror reflections is intuition / wisdom. Coming and going from delusion to wisdom is true freedom. Just sitting helps with this. Believe me, I am an expert in delusion.

Mumon said...

Smoggyrob:

I also agree: although in practicing right speech we are to refrain from words that hurt others, in this case, indeed "the precept throws the bomb," I think.

I'm also concerned as a "Western Buddhist" that Merzel, like Frederick Lenz (from whose estate he and others have been feeding) calls what they do a "Westernization" of Buddhism.

I wrote a book review a ways back to the effect that the West (or the US - forgive me Europeans!) has not yet had its Dogen, its Lin Ji, its Yun Men, its Hakuin, or any other great "old teacher" yet. And we may not know if they had until they died.

There have been some notable Buddhists in the West, to be sure, and I've known a few. But there hasn't been any - and won't be any I'd suspect for at least 100 years - that completely rewrite Zen Buddhism in their country the aforementioned have.

These great teachers don't merely throw out cultural forms from the countries from which they were inherited, but rather build on and extend the previous cultural forms.

So when a someone comes around and peddles something as "Western Buddhism" which is less about transcendence of dukkha than it is about "achieving the now" I shudder, because they're making it more difficult for whoever that great teacher is to propagate the real deal.


On a side note, to discard Asian cultural forms merely because you don't like the cultural forms reeks of provincialism, cultural ignorance, or something worse. There are no great reasons to throw out cultural forms merely to "Westernize" them, especially given the dissemination of global community and culture, and the fact that these forms, though alien to folks at first, do indeed have purposes at transcendence of dukkha.

This relates also to my impression of Ken Wilber: it appears that he wants to "make something better than Buddhism," by claiming he's invented a philosophy which is a superset of it.

But that's a whole other thread.

Mr. Reee said...

I think the sentient being called Al described the difference well.

1. Brad is selling a book.

2. These other folks are selling a secret.

3. But the secret is--there is no secret.

Hence the problem.

Stephanie said...

Believe me, I am an expert in delusion.

Me too :)

I don't think I'm anywhere close to riding the magical satori bus over the horizon, but I'm a lot wiser than I used to be. A little more humble and at peace with myself. Simple things, but they really help with the day-to-day.

And my point isn't that Brad's criticisms of these guys aren't valid, valuable, or necessary. It's more that what humility and groundedness I sensed in ZEN WRAPPED IN KARMA seems to have left Brad's writings in the aftermath. It concerns me as a bystander that this resembles my own experiences of having briefly gotten it right only to go back to getting it wrong again not much later. But I suppose it's not my business, really. I just like Brad and think he's capable of doing better than re-visiting all this Dharma-dick swinging.

'Cause the point is... Wilber, Genpo, and all the other snake oil vendors in the spiritual super-market are gonna keep doing what they're doing. In truth, people that are attracted to what they're selling are probably not going to be swayed by Brad's continued ranting on this matter. I think at this point all this is doing little more than inflating our collective egos about how much smarter we are than these burned out high-chasing Integral hippies.

And what I'm saying, is that even if the criticisms are valid, it don't mean shit. Truth is a hell-hound on your trail, and when it closes in, you realize you've got to take care of your own business first and foremost. Wilber and Genpo will get theirs, trust me. Either they're sincere and on to something that we're missing or the sense of falseness that comes from living in bad faith will creep up on them eventually. And schadenfreude will commence for all the people who've been accusing them of bullshitting for years. But again, all that is just building materials for the same ego structures that will eventually dump you on your ass. These petty vindictive triumphs of superiority are so hollow.

We can't save everyone in this world from the bullshit that fills it. We can only try to reduce our own bullshit and live with integrity--people notice that and respond to that more deeply than our ability to verbally deflate another person. And people that want to go on an Oprah-approved spiritual retreat for 3 days in the hope that it will fix everything in their lives and bring them wealth, eternal contentment, and nicer titties, are going to eventually realize their folly, or never really cared that much in the first place.

We can't kid ourselves that Brad's posts about this stuff are saving people from the evil clutches of Ken Wilber. They're just Brad jerking himself off and sharing it with other folks who enjoy jerking off to the same stuff. Which is fine. I'm just saying, that Brad has tapped into the real deal, it seems, and the more time he wastes shoring up his spiritual ego by comparing his approach to others', the more deeply he's going to find himself in the shit. Because once the gods hone in on you, you're pretty much fucked. You can't decide you're content to just nestle in your cocoon of bullshit for the rest of your life. They will hunt you down and tear you out of it, and when your life starts collapsing around you, how much better you are than Genpo isn't going to mean shit.

Stephanie said...

And as for free will...

To whatever extent it's an illusion, I have learned, a la the existentialists, that we only find freedom and authenticity when we embrace our real responsibility to choose. When we run away from our ability to choose one thing over another, we find ourselves living in bad faith. Perhaps it's not true and I'm living out some preordained divine plan for myself, but whenever I've embraced that I am the creative agent in shaping my own life, things have always gone better. If God isn't going to hold our hand and walk us through everything, we might as well live as if God isn't there. The result is that we spend less time crafting pretty lies and more time getting real with ourselves and other people.

Rich said...

Brad, I'm with Stephanie on this. Either start teaching or get a job. Don't waste your time on gempo, when you go over the top you look worse than him.

Anonymous said...

well, here's an other point of view. looking.

Mumon said...

Stephanie:

Truth is a hell-hound on your trail.

Well said.

Having said that your post is. self-referential, you know that?

But what we're all doing here is a variation of Seung Sahn's "Dropping Ashes on the Buddha" koan.

Brad's style in shining a light on Merzel and Wilber may not be to your taste, and I'd have used different words myself to be sure.

But, as has been noted here "the precept throws the bomb," perhaps not to the extent of the Japanese militarists in WWII, but it is harmful nonetheless.

The people who follow Oprah in lockstep, or the folks who parrot the bilge from creationists, or the folks who are suckered by the propaganda from the Institute on Religion and Democracy are being harmed; and if they are harmed we are harmed. Much of the reason the US is where it is rests in the fact that many people have ascribed ethical and religious purposes to what were merely selfish and greedy purposes.

You are right there are no end to spiritual hucksters. But that does not absolve us of our responsibility to respond to speech that isn't Right Speech, Action or Livelihood.

Saying nothing causes harm. Saying something risks missteps on one's own ethical conduct.

Whatever a practicing Buddhist would do would be done through practice.

Shorty said...

Steph, you never had a choice. The apparent freewill to choose, is just the result of biochemical reactions in the brain.

You can't choose what thoughts come into your head. You can't even choose how to deal with them. Both are subject to molecular interactions and therefore limited to the laws of physics. Free will is an idiotic concept invented by religious egotists.

Thing 1 said...

Brad can be jerk. Brad makes no claims to grace. Run towards Brad and he pushes you away insisting you do it for yourself. Ask for some help / advice he gives it. Ask for too much, he pushes you away insisting you do if for yourself. Slap his face, he says "don't slap my face." Go to sesshin, he asks you to pay attention to things. He is an entertainer. He writes books to sell books. He make films to sell films. He may even enjoy people paying attention to him. Sure, why not? If you like him, fine. If you don't, fine. He would never say (I think)... leave me, and you're lost. He would never say (I think), you can't do it unless you do it with me. He seems to be saying "people with great faults can get 'it'", and "'it' doesn't make life a nirvana of conception"

It's close to what O'toole said in Lawrence of Arabia, "The trick is not that it doesn't hurt. The trick is not minding that it does."

From any vehicle/person that is the message.

"I can help you" is a lie. "I can tell you about me" is true. "I can try and describe what I see" is true. You've got to do it yourself.

Brad is a finger pointing to a moon.

Ignore the finger, or not. Find a different finger, who cares? Just keep your goal with the moon.

Mumon said...

BTW, here's another take on this from The Zennist.


Now, IMO, The Zennist is being really obscure, and only if you'd been reading his blog and Warner's blog would you be able to guess what he's talking about.

So, that's another way to prepare this dish...

Anonymous said...

Thursday, July 23, 2009
THE FUNNIEST "SPIRITUAL" SCAM ON THE INTERNET

…If you think "the now" can be yours for $199 and a few DVDs of a bunch of slime balls talking about spirituality you deserve what you get…

Monday, July 20, 2009
FINLAND, FINLAND, FINLAND and England and Canada and A BETTER WORLD
Signings at bookstores are fun and nice. But they never pay! So it's never going to be enough just to have one.…bookstores also don't allow me to sell my own copies of my books. I can make a lot more money selling my own copies…

Perhaps we need a new precept so we know what’s “right”? Something like “Share the Buddhist teachings for less than $1 per day...”

Gotama Rockeller x

Anonymous said...

Rockefeller surely?

Tania said...

I scrolled through and I saw a photo of Tony Robbins... lawed lawed lawed.. NEXT! lol

Mumon said...

Stephanie:

One other thing, re: Warner's influence w.r.t. spiritual hucksters. From Google Analytics I have found that my puny little blog gets about 30-40 visitors per day, and that though they're largely from the US and Canada, I have had people read my blog (actually read posts) from pretty much everywhere on earth connected to the internet.

I'm sure Warner's blog gets 500X more traffic, so I'd not discount his influence.

On the other hand, of course, I'd encourage him to be a tad more circumspect in his choice of words for precisely the same reason.

It's important to get it right.

That ought to be some kind of mantra; it seems to be true in a variety of endeavors.

Stephanie said...

Shorty: Living as if you don't have free will is idiotic. I am well aware of the research on free will and find it fascinating. But it matters little when we live our lives in the role of active agents. I've certainly experienced firsthand that the more I accept responsibility for my choices, the more peace I have and the more my life works. Going around denying your ability to make choices that shape your life, and refusing to engage with the choices your life asks you to make, leaves you like many of the hoi polloi--a dull animal that simply trundles from one instinctually driven target to another. The Buddha's insight was that human beings have the capacity to use their minds to get beyond lives ruled by simple instinct.

And guys, again, I'm not offended and don't have problems with Brad critiquing Wilber et al. I think he's dead on. I just think at this point it's become a dead horse. And the reality is, who is the audience? He's preaching to the choir here--I doubt any Wilberites peruse this blog looking for the Holy Word of Brad before dropping their $$ on Wilber products. It's just tilting at windmills, and it's all about ego.

People who come here get off on this stuff, and that's cool. I only bother because I think that lurking under Brad's persona, who likes shooting at easy targets, is someone with much deeper insight to offer, grounded in personal experience of loss, impermanence, and increasing credentials in the school of hard knocks.

But, like I said, maybe he hasn't suffered enough yet to feel like it's time to get real and stop wasting his time writing up easy yuk-yuks for the peanut gallery.

Mumon said...

OK; full disclosure: this is one of the most read posts on my blog.

Go figure.

I can't.

Anonymous said...

Guess what! The mind can do "free will" or "deterministic". Two modes, one mind!

Osama Van Halen said...

Totally off-topic: I found this video on YouTube. Does anyone else see the resemblance to Brad? Is Brad Warner a actually "secret Quaker"?
Quaker
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZzLcMbevyY
Brad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm668k4WhnY

ArnaudPeuch said...

Ok guys I have not much to add but you should have a look at this http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=61074633

All the best

powerinthelines said...

I feel like a lot of the things you say in your books lead to gross misconceptions and an improper road for Buddhism and progress. If anything, you should listen to this, and come to understand it, for your misunderstandings will cost me gracious space when waiting for you to catch up so that all sentient beings may come to Nibanna.

Well, you said, in your book, that nobody has discovered the ultimate equation, but somehow the truth is right in front of you. If it is right in front of you, you should be able to write an equation for it. I have done that from Pythagoras to De Broglie to Einstein, check it out at scribd:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/17055711/The-Big-Bounce-is-Soon

You also said that it was a bit like looking for the north star and facing south? Well, that's possible, you just have to look in the right place. Look between your legs. Geometric Patterns of Perception:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/15283045/The-Geometric-Pattern-of-Perception-of-the-Moon

HEY! NOBLE ONE! I GAVE YOU THIS KNOWLEDGE FOR FREE, SO I'D APPRECIATE SOME FEEDBACK

powerinthelines@gmail.com

Mysterion said...

Brad should do an impersonation...

there is comedy value in doing so.

State the obvious with an air of mystic authority supported by nothing at all.

Not that this dude was a total scam, it's just that in his wake there were 1,000 scams.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie @ 7:08 am

"Genpo and Wilber will get theirs, trust me.'

Brad's 'pointing at the pile of shit' (and any others's so doing--preferably from his own lineage which he is discrediting (my opinion) by his claiming to own the 'intellectual property' of Big Mind) IS 'getting theirs'--or at least some of it
trust me

Jinzang said...

The apparent freewill to choose, is just the result of biochemical reactions in the brain.

I suppose you don't care that Buddha declare determinism a mistaken view in the Brahmajala Sutta and elsewhere.

I would argue that since we have first person evidence of free will, either physicalism must be false, or the two must be compatible. Here's a good summary of the usual arguments against physicalism. I find them convincing, especially the argument from qualia, but YMMV.

Jinzang said...

Has anyone considered that it doesn't matter much what Brad thinks about Ken Wilber or anyone else? That he's just another guy expressing an opinion on the Internet an he has a perfect right to mouth off, just like a million other guys? And it doesn't make much difference whether he's right or wrong, and the fate of Zen in the West doesn't ride on it?

Rich said...

Anon said:
"Guess what! The mind can do "free will" or "deterministic". Two modes, one mind!"

My understanding of Buddhism is that it is kind of in the middle on these two extremes. The free choice of action is in the present moment but there's no permanent self from that moment to another one. But at the same time we are not free to make any choice because we are limited by our physical conditions and circumstances. Because of free choice we are able to practice. Because of determinism we were born.

Re: Genpo , I would not pay for his teaching but apparently there are people who claim he has helped so I wouldn't condemn his methods. You can waste your money on a lot worse things.

Anonymous said...

124
anyone got an issue with that number?

Mysterion said...

If I took $50 off my regular price, then I would owe each customer $49.75
as I charge 25¢ for a three satori set.

Well, at 10¢ a satori, I would owe $49.90 in change.

What I would lose on one sale, I would have to make up for in volume.

Can't fool me, I've had seven years of high school math.

125

Anonymous said...

126 is the new black.

Shorty said...

Stephanie you missed my point and therefore look like a babbling idiot.

Im not saying that we can't choose, Im saying that there is no person, no individual that can choose.

You can apparently make choices, and good for you if you believe that you do make em. But the truth is that you have never made a choice in you life.

Your belief in freewill is just another biochemical reaction, such as the idea that there is no free will.

shorty said...

"I suppose you don't care that Buddha declare determinism a mistaken view in the Brahmajala Sutta and elsewhere."

If there is no self, who makes the choices? Who reincarnates?

The majority of buddhism is bullshit if there is no consistency.

There is a whole system of buddhism that places emphasis on the fiction of reincarnation. But who reincarnates?

Its all just an elaborate fiction to exploit people and get egos busy.

When the brain dies, so do you. Fact.

Fuck this man, I don't have the time to explain basics of science to idiot buddhists. We have to face it sooner or later that buddhism is just another dogma.

Justin said...

When the brain dies, so do you. Fact.

So does who? I thought you said there was no self in existence.

Justin said...

Stephanie you missed my point and therefore look like a babbling idiot.

LOL. That is some fine debating style you have there.

I think her point was that it doesn't matter ultimately/metaphysically whether there is a 'she' that chooses, things go better if the psychological event called choosing to take responsibility for one's own life' takes place as opposed to 'choosing not to take responsibility'.

Anyway, if there is no self then determinism is also an illusion since there is no 'me' to be determined by events which are 'not me'. Ultimately the whole question is meaningless without a strong sense of separate self.

Anonymous said...

"'Stephanie you missed my point and therefore look like a babbling idiot.'


You gotta admit the girl sure can babble. And, intelligent as it all is, i'm often left thinking, "bravo!...so what now?" I'm sure she could tell me.

Anonymous said...

and shorty -

Don't be silly.

Really said...

Stephanie wrote, re Brad's condemnation of Genpo et al:

"And the reality is, who is the audience? He's preaching to the choir here..."

You may be wrong about that, Steph. My guess is that all sorts of folk visit or come across this blog - not all of whom, of course, leave comments. My guess is that some of them are "Buddhists" of various persuasions, others not. Some are curious and naive, others have fixed, highly 'informed' views.

So I think it's appropriate - and not merely "all about ego" - that Brad express his opinions about other Buddhists and forms of Buddhism in this, his forum. Twas ever thus, since the first turning of the wheel.

Justin said...

I don't believe in ridicule and closed-minded rejection, for the simple reason that these are not good ways to reveal truth. When an idea doesn't fit into out worldview we experience a form of stress called 'cognitive dissonance'. When this happens it is human nature to simply reject the idea with which we have least amount of emotional attachment.

I've not seen any evidence presented so far that this offering - however cheesily marketed - consistently fails to provide what it offers.

I believe in rigorous, constructive debate. I believe in open-minded investigation.

Anonymous said...

So, Justin, your message to Brad, and to the rest of us is, "'When an idea doesn't fit into [my] worldview' I deal with it differently. This is how I believe it should be dealt with - it's the better way."

I see.

Brad has explained his objections to Big Mind more rationally previously on this blog. It seems this time he was pissed and wrote so.

Whatcha gonna do?

pkb said...

I realize some of you may believe that old koans are useless but this one directly pertains to all this talk of freewill vs determinism ala no self....if you have the eye to see what it points toward:

"Once when Hyakujo delivered some Zen lectures an old man attended them, unseen by the monks. At the end of each talk when the monks left so did he. But one day he remained after the had gone, and Hyakujo asked him: `Who are you?'
The old man replied: `I am not a human being, but I was a human being when the Kashapa Buddha preached in this world. I was a Zen master and lived on this mountain. At that time one of my students asked me whether the enlightened man is subject to the law of causation. I answered him: "The enlightened man is not subject to the law of causation." For this answer evidencing a clinging to absoluteness I became a fox for five hundred rebirths, and I am still a fox. Will you save me from this condition with your Zen words and let me get out of a fox's body? Now may I ask you: Is the enlightened man subject to the law of causation?'
Hyakujo said: `The enlightened man is one with the law of causation.'
At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened. `I am emancipated,' he said, paying homage with a deep bow. `I am no more a fox, but I have to leave my body in my dwelling place behind this mountain. Please perform my funeral as a monk.' The he disappeared.
The next day Hyakujo gave an order through the chief monk to prepare to attend the funeral of a monk. `No one was sick in the infirmary,' wondered the monks. `What does our teacher mean?'
After dinner Hyakujo led the monks out and around the mountain. In a cave, with his staff he poked out the corpse of an old fox and then performed the ceremony of cremation.
That evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told this story about the law of causation.
Obaku, upon hearing this story, asked Hyakujo: `I understand that a long time ago because a certain person gave a wrong Zen answer he became a fox for five hundred rebirths. Now I was to ask: If some modern master is asked many questions, and he always gives the right answer, what will become of him?'
Hyakujo said: `You come here near me and I will tell you.'
Obaku went near Hyakujo and slapped the teacher's face with this hand, for he knew this was the answer his teacher intended to give him.
Hyakujo clapped his hands and laughed at the discernment. `I thought a Persian had a red beard,' he said, `and now I know a Persian who has a red beard.'
Mumon's comment: `The enlightened man is not subject.' How can this answer make the monk a fox?
`The enlightened man is at one with the law of causation.' How can this answer make the fox emancipated?
To understand clearly one has to have just one eye.
Controlled or not controlled?
The same dice shows two faces.
Not controlled or controlled,
Both are a grievous error."


Not controlled or controlled...BOTH are a grievous error. No one free, no one determined.

Zenleo said...

Stephanie said:

We can't save everyone in this world from the bullshit that fills it. We can only try to reduce our own bullshit and live with integrity--people notice that and respond to that more deeply than our ability to verbally deflate another person.

Spot On Steph... can I call you Steph?

Justin said...

PKB

Thanks a lot! It never occured to me before that this koan was about freewill and determinism.

Gassho
_/\_

Justin said...

Brad has explained his objections to Big Mind more rationally previously on this blog. It seems this time he was pissed and wrote so.

I've never seen Brad write particularly rationally about Genpo Roshi. Brad didn't write about his experiences with Big Mind. He doesn't have any. It always seems to be based on sectarian presuppositions about what enlightenment is or isn't. He also misrepresents what Genpo Roshi is claiming. Plus Brad has an aversion to how it's marketed.

Anonymous said...

139 comments. This is the kind of crap that stopped me going to a group and attending retreats. The same is true of a good friend I was with today - only difference is that he is into Vipassana. Same shit, different school I suppose. So everyone sits cross legged for a bit each day - no big deal. So Brad thinks something - no big deal. So people don't agree - no big deal. Folks dress up their arguments (whether it be with koans, ethics or philosophy) - no big deal. That's the point - no big deal. Talk is cheap - even if you sell it in an expensive book or DVD. Sit by all means but don't waste all that hard work by shoving your head up your arse and screaming that your shit don't stink. It does - that's the way things are - no big deal. The Buddha had riches and it didn't work. He spent time with people who were full of shit and it didn't work. He sat on his own and saw the light. Mmmm...

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
139 comments. - no big deal.

Anonymous are really no big deal.

So you went to group but were 'not there.' If you do not attend to the discussion, you might as well not bother to go.

So you went to a sitting but were 'not there.' If you do not attend to the task of sitting, you might as well not bother to go.

So you went to comments but were 'not there.'

Considerably recognizable pattern for some to notice. Don't become so predictable. It lacks individuality. On the other hand, especially for your individual perception, that too is no big deal.

Ga-sho-nuff

Jules said...

Justin wrote: I've not seen any evidence presented so far that this offering - however cheesily marketed - consistently fails to provide what it offers.

Hi Justin,
Hope you're doing well, it's been a while since we chatted.

If you have a little extra coin on hand, I have something you might be interested in. I have some magic rocks for sale. Just put one in your garden, and it will keep wild tigers away from your home, guaranteed! They consistently provide exactly what they offer -- protection from wild tigers. I use one myself, and so far I haven't seen a single tiger. I'm selling them on ebay for only $50 each. US only, please, I don't like dealing with customs and international shipping.

Anonymous said...

Ministrone:
Small
mind
looks
for
pattern
PS
Don't
worry
so
much
about
self...

Justin said...

Hi Jules

Yes your right - there is such a thing as a scam. Is that evidence that this is a scam - no.

Genpo Roshi said...

Jundo defends Genpo on Treeleaf

---------------

Let me play the Devil's Advocate (Mara's Advocate) a bit about Genpo Roshi ... I agree, however, that we should not turn practice into a commodity, or "spiritual materialism".

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

My brother Brad is often very down on Genpo, but let me say this ...

First, I do not wish to particularly comment on the "Big Mind" technique itself ... I had a brief experience, and perhaps it has some limited uses (as was said, it is the "Kenny G" of Zen ... but may serve to bring folks into more substantial, long term practice). I wrote about that here ... Let's keep an open mind (a BIg open Mind) that Genpo is just trying to develop his technique in good faith, combining some modern psychological techniques with Zazen.

viewtopic.php?p=13271#p13271

Second, as to Genpo accepting money, sometimes Big Money ... even the Buddha accepted donations of all sizes, with rich people giving more than poor people. Even a Buddha needs to eat (or, at least, goes through the motions). Monasteries of old and presently charge for various ceremonies and other "services" (or had lands filled with peasants raising rice to sell on their behalf ... not so pretty sometimes) ... because money is needed to keep a roof on the place. "Begging in the streets" was probably rarely, if ever, the main source of financial resources for the Buddhist clergy. (That is one of several reasons that the “protestant minister” model is attractive to me as the future course of Buddhist clergy in the West ... ministers, often with other "Right Livelihood" careers, teaching Zen harmoniously therewith. This may be a means appropriate to create an economic base for Buddhist activities in our capitalistic societies, far removed from the agricultural and traditional societies from which our traditions came.). My own teacher, Nishijima, accepted donation of a building in expensive Tokyo by a wealthy man for many years in which building he housed many foreigners wishing to sit Zazen.

Now, in the West, we all have to figure out how to support Buddhist clergy in a culture not geared to making donations. This is especially true for Genpo Roshi who, frankly, has some kids to get through college, feed and keep in shoes. Can't the fellow (married Buddhist clergy with children) have enough income to reasonably support his family, just like other people? (In my case, I work as a translator of Japanese ... but Genpo Roshi is a full time teacher without an additional career).

So long as he is also offering his teachings to the poor for little if any suggested donation, then I do not see such a problem. As long as he is using the raised money responsibly (for work on his ministry), I do not see a terrible problem. (However, I do have some VERY LARGE concerns where he seems to be charging high fees for "private time" for rich people with him ... promising in turn "fast results" for the private teaching time ... or holding his seminars in luxury hotels as part of a "spa" experience

http://miami.going.com/event-315266;Big ... enpo_Roshi

The following is pretty hard to justify for me ...

In addition to the five amazing hours of Big Mind per day with Genpo Roshi, their is much to do and experience in tandem with your Retreat, including waterfront dining, and exploring the curative effects of our indoor and outdoor baths (Including: Turkish Hamam, cedar sauna, aroma steam room, Wall of Sound showers, soaking tubs and cold showers, Bayside salt water pool, Roman waterfall hot tub, Artic plunge mud lounge) as well as yoga and movement, indoor gym, massage, acupuncture, facial services, energy workers, salon services, personal life coaching, meditation and more.


Gassho, Jundo

http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=25983#p25983

pkb said...

"139 comments. This is the kind of crap that stopped me going to a group and attending retreats."

You know what buddhist sect has the most extensive writings? Zen. The old masters talked and talked. Many of their talks were written down. Modern teachers (including Brad) talk and talk (and write books and blog posts). As far as we know, the Buddha himself talked and talked until he dropped dead an old man.

No big deal either way. It's true you can't "get" zen via words. It's just as true you can't get it thru silence. I think it was Seung Sahn soen sa nim that said 'if you understand, all words are the dharma. If you don't understand, all words are devil's words.'

As far as magic rocks and scams, in some sense zen itself is a scam. Whether your teacher tells you to sit with koans or just stare at a wall, it's all magic rocks. Upaya. Selling water by the bank of the river.

But that in no way justifies actually taking money for special teachings or seminars. On this, I'm in complete agreement with Brad. I just don't think comparison and personal attacks are the best way to point this out.
The dharma should be offered freely. Those receiving the dharma should give freely, whether monetarily or by time or simply passing it along. And as Jundo said above, the Buddha received all size "donations", he didn't charge large sums to hear his dharma talks or for special 'face time' with Gautama.

Jinzang said...

If there is no self, who makes the choices? Who reincarnates?

If there's no self, who eats, sleeps, swears, and so on?This is the knotty point that needs to be clarified through practice. Don't settle for a conceptual understanding, such as everything is only matter. That kind of answer is worse than useless, just piling concept on top of concept. And calling that answer "zen" is defaming zen.

Mumon said...

Justin:

I've not seen any evidence presented so far that this offering - however cheesily marketed - consistently fails to provide what it offers.

Is that perhaps because whatever it is that's offered can't be tested to having actually been offered?

IOW, is the existence for something is actually delivered (i.e., a "'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation") non-falsifiable?

It may also be the case with satori and kensho that the existence of these states are non-falsifiable, but on the other hand, it's not satori and kensho that's offered, and they should not be confused with a "'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation."

Jinzang said...

It seems that in the Zen solar system every so often planet Brad and planet Genpo come into conjunction (or is it opposition?) Anyway, the same old arguments keep getting recycled. So I'll simply recycle what I've said before as well. Genpo is promising beginners who take his Big Mind seminar a taste of enlightenment. That's fraudulent in two ways. First, genuine understanding only comes after much practice, there are no shortcuts. Second, enlightenment is not an experience. To quote Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, "If someone has an experience and asks me is this enlightenment, I can say definitely it is not." So whatever value the Big Mind seminar may have, how it's being marketed is fraudulent.

Also, a big part of Buddhist practice is structured to calm down our greedy minds. It's why practice is so b-o-r-i-n-g. When you hold out achievements and attainments as some kind of shiny trinket, what happens is that you strengthen the greed instead. You create a false and hysterical atmosphere which is unhealthy and has nothing to do with any kind of genuine spiritual practice. So promising your students stuff doesn't work, it's counterproductive. The logic of marketing and the logic of the dharma are definitely opposed.

Jinzang said...

It never occured to me before that this koan was about freewill and determinism.

I think Hyakujo and the Fox is really about the unity of the relative and the ultimate. But what do I know?

Anonymous said...

"If someone has an experience and asks me is this enlightenment, I can say definitely it is not."


Just to piss more people off, this, incidentally is also why drugs (including your favorite, whatever that may be) do not give you Buddhist enlightenment. Drug experiences are experiences.

Anonymous said...

Duff wrote: I'm now an enormous critic of this kind of marketing, although I don't see many alternatives, honestly, in our current culture.


The alternative is patience. Buddhadharma is old, it works, it isn't broken and it is durable. It has traveled to new cultures before. It takes time. By doing your practice you are simultaneously supporting the growth of Buddhism in the West. Oddly, if you try to spread Buddhism some other way, it will probably be counterproductive.

K2 said...

I've never had a kensho experience.
I've never experienced satori.
I'm not even sure they exist!
I have the same problem with the "jhanas" I've read about and also "kundalini".

Is it an epiphany? A "eureka!" moment?! Is it a feeling of "unreality" or "disambiguation"? Do you feel dizzy? Hear ringing in your ears? Do you get painful swellings under your arms!?!

Is it a gradual understanding of Buddhist view of reality? Is it a long term building of confidence in Zen practice? Is it the experience of zazen when you are calm? Is it the experience of zazen when you are full of discursive thoughts?
WTF?!

In zazen I've seen pretty colored spots in my vision, felt a "heaviness" in my body sometimes, a "lightness" at others. I've seen the carpet fibers "wriggle" and imagined faces and patterns on the wall. I've even heard music in my head and had spoken words burst into my awareness from no detectable place...

I don't think this is anything particularly special and I suspect that if I was tied to a chair for long periods I would probably experience the same visual and auditory hallucinations.

If I were to practice zazen solely for the attainment of some sort of "now" experience (which apparently no one can sufficiently articulate to me so that I would even know if I HAD one) then I'm pretty sure I'd be doing it for all the wrong reasons.

Either I'd spend all my time worrying I was doing zazen "wrong" and that's why I never had a kensho experience or that I simply don't have the DNA or brain chemistry sufficient to bring about "non-dual awareness".

I'm willing to accept that long term zazen practice has some benefits but I suspect they would be somewhat intangible and very hard to empirically quantify. I think there have been some experiments to this effect and the data is promising. But there are promising data sets from long term Christian prayers too. Then again, what's the point of doing that research if not to give you a payoff to shoot for? ("All that hard work for nothing? What a waste of time! Living a good life and being nice to people and being mindful of my emotions and all that nonsense. Where's my kensho, damn it?!")

So if you've had a kensho experience or satori then bravo, amigos. I'm honestly happy for you. Just like I would be happy for you if you had sex with a supermodel or won the state lottery. But there's no way I'm going to throw the baby out with the bath water and stop Zen practice because I haven't gotten my kensho merit badge.

And even if I DID have a kensho experience, I already know what my Zen teacher would tell me: "FORGET IT. It's nothing special."

Why would I pay anyone good money to have a meaningless "peak experience"?

Stephanie said...

Zenleo: Sure, and thanks!

Shorty: I often link people to the New York Times article that reviews the neuroscientific research showing that our subconscious brain makes decisions before our conscious brain thinks it does. I certainly concur that we think we have a lot more control than we actually do. I liked the NYT article's metaphor that our conscious mind is like a monkey riding a tiger (the tiger being the subconscious).

And in realizing experientially how much I am not in control, I've at times veered toward minimizing my role in shaping my life, seeing it all as a mysterious happening that I just discover as I go along. But I've also discovered that this approach to life leads to some real dead ends. When I take responsibility as an active agent who shapes my own life, life goes better. Your mileage may vary, but my experience has affirmed the power of recognizing where I have a choice, and making it.

Irvin Yalom has some interesting writings on this--that where a client makes progress in therapy is where that client starts to recognize his or her role as an active agent in his or her life. When clients stay stuck is when they deny their ability to choose, to act, when they fail to take responsibility for what happens in their lives. As long as we blame someone or something else or say we have no power to change things, they simply won't change.

And I agree with both Jinzang and Jundo when it comes to Genpo. I believe that he probably, at least originally, was making a sincere attempt at developing a practice and approach he felt would be useful. And I suspect some elements of the Big Mind approach actually are useful, as I have personally found that tools from Western psychology have helped me blast through a lot of bullshit that straight Buddhism couldn't.

But I also agree that marketing spirituality to the ego that looks for trinkets and accomplishments is antithetical to the Dharma. We only are as free as we can relinquish our greedy attempts to assert our agendas on everything we encounter. Spirituality that taps into people's desire to win and succeed and gain control often leaves people with nothing more than an inflated ego. Some Zen blogs you'll read are at their core all about shaming and ridiculing others. Some people spend their whole lives immersed in 'spirituality' only to use it to make them feel superior, and to cover over their underlying sense of shame.

I don't think that's all Brad is doing in his critiques of Genpo et al. but I think it's a large part of it. As a friend in the Dharma pointed out to me once, Brad spends a lot of time critiquing things he doesn't like but doesn't spend as much time on what he sees as an alternative to 'spiritual scams.' This is what I'm saying I want to see from Brad--a bit more humility like he showed in Zen Wrapped in Karma, in saying, "this is what my life is, what I face and struggle with, and how my practice has helped me." Brad writes a lot of things that sound lovely, like this moment being completely perfect, but so do a lot of people. What I find he doesn't do as often is show how this is true.

Brad's response to his recent string of losses seems to revolve around running around with women half his age and trying to find ways to get paid for what he already does for free. I don't blame him, but as a Zen student looking for guidance it's hardly inspirational; these are the same samsaric 'solutions' most of us come up with when we hit up against a wall of suffering.

The point is, I don't expect anything any better from Genpo than what we get. So I'm not as bothered that what he puts out into the world is mediocre at best. But I think Brad's capable of a spiritual maturity he's not yet evidencing, so I push him a little bit. I see so much of myself in Brad and so I'm immensely curious to see what he makes of having his idealism dashed on the rocks of cruel reality.

Maybe he'll never make good on his spiritual promise, but I can at least cheer him on in hopes he will.

coreywdevos said...

Spiritual Scam, or Spiritual Span? A Personal Reaction to Brad Warner

Brad Warner posted a fairly scathing critique of Integral Life on his blog, Hardcore Zen, in which he lampoons some of the marketing copy we currently have on www.myilp.com, which is an advertisement for the still-thriving Integral Life Practice Kit. The title of his blog was The Funniest “Spiritual” Scam on the Internet, and what follows here is my own personal reaction to his comments. It should be noted that i am in no way looking for a debate, i am simply using my blog as a platform to express my own personal reaction, speaking as someone on “the inside” of Integral Life....

http://coreywdevos.com/2009/07/24/spiritual-scam-or-spiritual-span-a-personal-reaction-to-brad-warner/

Mysterion said...

"If someone has an experience and asks me is this enlightenment, I can say definitely it is not."

There is a reason for that. To become enlightened is to enter that state which is forever free of rebirths - e.g. really really dead (nirbana).

An important word in both Pali and Sanskrit, is sarnsara. This is our daily experience in contrast to Nirvana. Sarnsara translated literally is 'onward faring.' Rebirth, the cycle of human nature is called 'the weary-go-round'! The possibility of deliverance from it is the existence of Nirvana, the unborn, unbecome, uncreated, uncompounded. The purpose of Buddhist practice is to accomplish that unborn state. This is the essence of Buddhism, at least in the Pali Canon of the Theravada school, a.k.a. basic Buddhism. In fact, it is extremely simple. That doesn't necessarily mean easy. source

157 said...

157

158 said...

oh?

159 said...

Attacked by LA's viscious apes...

Anonymous said...

my my my
Mr coreydevos
read your niche y soize
I am sorry

you are bright and cute and clever
a marketeer!
business is happy to have you, I'm sure

please market many useful, practical and hopefully green engineered and packaged things

but no no no no no no no no no no no nonononono

no sir do not sir

nebba ebba ebba try to market "D"

or as you put it 'bring the dharma to more people.'

it cannot be done

but you can use language and images and package things to make it look like a semblance of an idea of something someone might thing dharma might be is what is being 'shared' spread out there on various media for paying people to meet and greet it.

you already are a successful young man--
go market marketable stuff

as for the ineffable

let it be

Justin said...

Mumon,

Is that perhaps because whatever it is that's offered can't be tested to having actually been offered?

IOW, is the existence for something is actually delivered (i.e., a "'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation") non-falsifiable?


I don't think it's unfalsifiable. If people do this practice they will either attain some liberation or they won't.

Eckart Tolle's 'Power of Now' stuff is fundamentally not different from Zen. Zazen is about coming back to 'the now' again and again. And realising that this 'now' includes the past and the future and that we're always completely living only in this endlessly unfolding now or 'eternal moment'. This eternal moment is our true nature - Buddha nature. Dogen is talking about essentially the same stuff in his Being-Time (Uji) and One Bright Pearl fascicles.

It may also be the case with satori and kensho that the existence of these states are non-falsifiable,

It usually takes time and dedication to confirm Buddhist teachings. Generations of masters and students have described kensho. I can confirm that kensho is real 'experience'.

but on the other hand, it's not satori and kensho that's offered, and they should not be confused with a "'pure now' moment is the doorway to liberation."

Our true nature can be approached from more than one direction, using more than one method. Tolle's 'Now Gate' is a valid way to approach Buddha nature. And the insights are essentially the same as in kensho. So it seems to me at least.

Justin said...

K2,

So if you've had a kensho experience or satori then bravo, amigos. I'm honestly happy for you. Just like I would be happy for you if you had sex with a supermodel or won the state lottery. But there's no way I'm going to throw the baby out with the bath water and stop Zen practice because I haven't gotten my kensho merit badge.

And even if I DID have a kensho experience, I already know what my Zen teacher would tell me: "FORGET IT. It's nothing special."

Why would I pay anyone good money to have a meaningless "peak experience"?


I think it's a mistake to see kensho as the be-all-and-end-all. This is nirvana from the perspective of samsara.

But that doesn't mean that kensho is meaningless. As I see it kensho is a deep but temporary view of our true nature that just comes up in practice from time to time. It might be seen as a shift from one way of seeing to another as our consciousness gradually opens up. After kensho, we go back to the humdrum, everyday life of suffering that we had before, yet it leaves it's mark. We can't quite see things in quite the way we once did. That's how I see it.

Shorty said...

Stephanie, who is this "we" that you are talking about.

Molecules splash around in the brain, and the so called individual, which really is a ideological hologram, takes ownership of those thoughts.

There is no "you" who chooses the thoughts that arise. Do you know what your next thought will be? The mind and body simply reacts to stimuli. The so called individual that has free will is a religious fiction.

Does anything act free from stimuli, from the laws of physics?

Mumon said...

Justin:
Thanks for the reply.

Ah, yes there are 84,000 doors and skillful means and all that. But can we tell which from which? What I meant as unfalsifiable is that there is (likely) no externally observable way to distinguish the paradigm shift/conversion experience as unique to satori or kensho compared
to other similar experiences, as far as I know.

But not all doors are part of the 84000 doors.

I would disagree that what at least is represented by the Wilber/Merzel set as "Tolle's Power of Now" is essentially the same as Zen. They are talking about trying to get an experience - to get something. To get something.

Although being present in this moment is absolutely critical for doing the Dharma, I wouldn't entirely read Dogen the way you do. The Dharma - Zen practice as in Zen Buddhism - is a heckuva lot more than just "being in the moment," it includes actually, doing, whether that doing is just sitting, listening, speaking, cooking, peeing, breathing. I read Dogen that way.

It includes the realization and skill-honing of Right Conduct and Right Livelihood, and amidst delusion.

I can't confirm or deny your insight (there are ways you can tell that would make sense to you I think).

But when it comes to a satori, truly deep realization, if somebody else says they're going to impart it to you in 1% or 10% or 200% or 2000% of time it takes Zen masters of old, they are not going to give you the satori of the Zen masters of old.

Not that there are people who we recognize had deep realizations in short time, such as Huineng.

But there's reasons they made those Oxherding Pictures. Let's just leave it at that. This is not as Warner says, about collecting experiences.

Mysterion:

Re: Samsara v. Nirvana:

Again, Mahāmati, what is meant by non-duality? It means that light and shade, long and short, black and white, are relative terms, Mahāmati, and not independent of each other; as Nirvana and Samsara are, all things are not-two. There is no Nirvana except where is Samsara; there is no Samsara except where is Nirvana; for the condition of existence is not of mutually-exclusive character. Therefore, it is said that all things are non-dual as are Nirvana and Samsara. For this reason, Mahāmati, you should discipline yourself in [the realisation of] emptiness, no-birth, non-duality, and no-self-nature.

Smartarse said...

Mysterion wrote;

"To become enlightened is to enter that state which is forever free of rebirths - e.g. really really dead (nirbana)."

Although they are related, you've confused two distinct ideas, two words, Mysti. Whether we're talking theravada or mahayana, the concept of 'enlightenment' is not the same as the concept of 'nirvana'. The sanskrit (with which I'm more familiar)usually translated as "enlightenment" is "bodhi" which the Monier-Williams dictionary gives as "perfect knowledge or wisdom...the illuminated or enlightened intellect..." - as in "anuttara-samyak-sambodhi", "unexcelled complete enlightenment". Bodhi is the noun formed from the root "bhud", "wake", as in Buddha, (the) awakened (one). Hence, it is clearly intended, originally, to indicate some state of 'waking up', understanding or realisation.

What you write about "nirvana" (skt), or nibbana (pali) [from nir-vA, blow out, extinguish] is more accurate, although, as I'm sure you know, to define it as the "state which is forever free of rebirths" limits it - that's not the only interpretation, not even in the Theravada tradition.

While I'm in corrective mood, it's "samsara", not 'sarnsara'; similarly it's not 'nirbana', but "nirvana", [more properly "nirvaana", or "nirvAna ", in sanskrit,] and "nibbana" in pali - in any accepted romanisation.

If your intention is to contribute to the debate by offering academically sound information, please resist the temptation to comment on things you're not entirely familiar with. You do it too often; people will be misled. As a teacher, you should know that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

With respect to your experience and what you do know,

Anonymous smartarse .

PS As about to publish, I see mumon has commented from the (different) mahayana perspective in his sutra quote. I haven't read his post yet, so forgive me if I'm repeating points he's now made. I'm gonna press send anyway.

Rich said...

PKB said:
"Not controlled or controlled...BOTH are a grievous error. No one free, no one determined."

One action for one time in one place. This could be called control, free will or choice.. Everything else is no control.

Shorty said:
"There is no "you" who chooses the thoughts that arise. Do you know what your next thought will be? "

Do you always pay attention to these arising thoughts or do you just let them come and go?

Really said...

Hi Shorty -

You say "The so called individual that has free will is a religious fiction." If only it were that simple.

As mentioned above (re hyakujo koan), both perspectives may be simultaneously true: we are free, and bound. Free to act in the instantaneous present moment, yet bound by cause and effect. Our acts are free when we view this moment as the only real time/being, yet bound when we view our acts as the result of the past (non-existent) acts; of cause and effect. It would seem that these two views are incompatible - one or other must be wrong. But Gautama's "middle way" may solve the dilemma. Not a "compromise", but an ineffable truth encompassing, or transcending these seemingly opposed views. They are only our views after all. Reality is always something different.

This, at least, is Nishijima's approach, and I find it useful. Sometimes I almost understand it.

Justin said...

Mumon,

Ah, yes there are 84,000 doors and skillful means and all that. But can we tell which from which? What I meant as unfalsifiable is that there is (likely) no externally observable way to distinguish the paradigm shift/conversion experience as unique to satori or kensho compared
to other similar experiences, as far as I know.


This is why people verify their experiences with an experienced teacher.

But not all doors are part of the 84000 doors.

True

I would disagree that what at least is represented by the Wilber/Merzel set as "Tolle's Power of Now" is essentially the same as Zen. They are talking about trying to get an experience - to get something. To get something.

Virtually every school of Buddhism (apart from some interpretations of Soto Zen) teaches that there is something (awakening, enlightenment, Buddhahood, Nirvana) to attain. Mahayana Buddhism introduced the Prajnaparamita and Madhyamaka teachings of emptiness in which there is 'nothing to attain'. This is stated in the Heart Surta for example. But there is only 'nothing to attain' from the ultimate perspective of emptiness in which there is no me, no you, no Buddhism, no eye, no ear etc. So, just as it is provisionally correct to say they you exist and have eyes and ears it is correct to say that there is something to be attained in so far as there is a difference between a samsara and nirvana or an ordinary being and a Buddha.

Rinzai Zen too teaches that there is 'something to get' as an expedient means of provoking students to realisation.

Although being present in this moment is absolutely critical for doing the Dharma, I wouldn't entirely read Dogen the way you do. The Dharma - Zen practice as in Zen Buddhism - is a heckuva lot more than just "being in the moment," it includes actually, doing, whether that doing is just sitting, listening, speaking, cooking, peeing, breathing. I read Dogen that way.

When you are sitting then doing sitting is reality. When you are peeing then doing peeing is the moment. etc

It includes the realization and skill-honing of Right Conduct and Right Livelihood, and amidst delusion.

I agree. I'm not saying Tolle is teaching exactly the same as Zen Buddhism, I'm saying that most of the fundamentals are the same.

I can't confirm or deny your insight (there are ways you can tell that would make sense to you I think).

That's what teachers are for (although some Soto teachers will refuse). But I think if you read descriptions of it and you recognise exactly what they're talking about then it was (I think) probably an authentic kensho. If it's a sensory experience or imagination or thinking then it's not kensho.

But when it comes to a satori, truly deep realization, if somebody else says they're going to impart it to you in 1% or 10% or 200% or 2000% of time it takes Zen masters of old, they are not going to give you the satori of the Zen masters of old.

Attaining kensho in a sesshin is not unusual. A modern Zen master claims that he has combined Zen with a psychological technique to achieve the same in less time. It might be true, it might not. It certainly isn't impossible.

But there's reasons they made those Oxherding Pictures. Let's just leave it at that.

The Oxherding pictures don't have a timescale on them.

This is not as Warner says, about collecting experiences.

No it's not. But it's not about sitting in the lotus posture daydreaming without any insight or realisation either.

Anonymous said...

Shorty, I think your point is clear. But the question is: then what? How would you apply this idea in your life?

Really said...

...of course what I wrote @5.23am doesn't deal with shorty's point about the "self"...

Free will presupposes a will, which must be a function of an autonomous self. If no such self exists - and Buddhism says it doesn't - then what is doing the willing, and how does it impact it's circumstances to accomplish its aim?

Even if my (sense of) self is an illusion created by my physical body, brain and so forth - and I believe it is - it's an essential, inescapable illusion, although I may sometimes "see through it". For all practical purposes I'm stuck with it. Any consideration of "free-will" therefore takes place in the provisional, relative domain. I don't believe I will ever 'understand'/conceptually grasp the ultimate truth of it. But that may be because the ultimate truth is not a concept. It's ungraspable. It's this.

Justin said...

Shorty,

There is no "you" who chooses the thoughts that arise. Do you know what your next thought will be? The mind and body simply reacts to stimuli. The so called individual that has free will is a religious fiction.

There is no "you" who is unable to choose the thoughts that arise. No "you" that fails to know the next thought. The so called individual that is determined by stimuli and the molecular dance is a religious fiction.

Freewill is not a metaphysical reality - and need not be misunderstood as one - it is a provisional conceptual model of the mind/brain's own activity within its provisional conceptual model of the world.

It's not ultimately true or false. But it is certainly useful.

Really said...

Jutin said -

"...it's not about sitting in the lotus posture daydreaming without any insight or realisation either."

Who says it is? I guess that's what you think (Brad's) shikantaza is; you've said similar before. It isn't that. It's sitting in the lotus posture without daydreaming, without insight, without realisation. That's what all those "MUs" are doing in the heart sutra. It's about dropping, being without. Not about having insights and/or realisations. You may have some, but, I suggest, insights and realisations are provisional. I think you value them too highly. For many of us, dropping them, or dropping the attachment to them in zazen leaves something more valuable, more useful.

I thought you knew all this. By all means do your thing, but don't misrepresent others. Some of need "insights". Some of us think they're over-rated.

Mumon said...

Justin,
Thanks again for the comment.

Virtually every school of Buddhism (apart from some interpretations of Soto Zen) teaches that there is something (awakening, enlightenment, Buddhahood, Nirvana) to attain...

Rinzai Zen too teaches that there is 'something to get' as an expedient means of provoking students to realisation.


True; you can attain something, and if practice is executed correctly you will eventually attain it, but not if you're fixed on trying to attain it.

"Sudden enlightenment" in the Rinzai sect is rather rare, and for good reason: you're working amidst a lifetime of habits and crap you and others have stuffed into your head.

And, anyway, attaining isn't the point.

And therein lies my beef with Tolle.

Re: kensho, there's a wonderful passage in Hakuin's Orategama which is a good test. Hakuin wrote the Orategama to a lay person practicing in Hakuin's absence.

I'd also agree with - I think it's the Zennist - who points out that the experience should correlate with what's in the Mahayana sutras, among others, the Lankavatara sutra.

So when Dogen says something to the effect that some people may not realize they're enlightened I don't think he's not saying that you won't understand you had the experience, but rather he's speaking of the ubiquity of practice-enlightenment, and from the perspective of the absolute.

It's virtually essential to have a teacher authenticate the experience, but like the judge said about pornography, you'll know it when you see it.

Rich said...

Stephanie said:
"Brad's response to his recent string of losses seems to revolve around running around with women half his age and trying to find ways to get paid for what he already does for free. I don't blame him, but as a Zen student looking for guidance it's hardly inspirational; these are the same samsaric 'solutions' most of us come up with when we hit up against a wall of suffering."

We love Brad because for some of us he helped rekindle in us our committment to practice. For others he introduced practice. We just want more of him. AS far as 'running around with women half his age' Is that a bad? -)

Mr. Reee said...

Re 'getting' kensho, enlightment, crabs, etc. through effort;

Technically, there is nothing to obtain. It seems to be more about discarding things in order to unveil what's already there.

Justin said...

Really,

It's sitting in the lotus posture without daydreaming, without insight, without realisation. That's what all those "MUs" are doing in the heart sutra. It's about dropping, being without. Not about having insights and/or realisations.

Dropping, being without, is itself realisation. This is Dogen's Zen we're talking about here. Dogen talked about realisation a lot.

You may have some, but, I suggest, insights and realisations are provisional.

Good insight!

I think you value them too highly. For many of us, dropping them, or dropping the attachment to them in zazen leaves something more valuable, more useful.

I didn't say I was attached to realisation, but you accused me of it. Non-attachment can become an attachment too and a more subtle and insidious one. At one time I had some attachment to 'special states' in zazen, not much now.

Nevertheless, one way or another it's necessary to really practice rather than just sitting in delusion and attachment, sliding around on the surface of things.

Through realisation - our core existential delusions that produce attachment and aversion in the first place (the nature of self), can drop off.

I thought you knew all this. By all means do your thing, but don't misrepresent others.

I didn't misrepresent anyone. You assumed who I was talking about.

Some of need "insights". Some of us think they're over-rated.

Insights come up by themselves. They are what they are.

Really said...

Here' a simple question to those of you discussing "enlightenment." Are you enlightened? No - don't go. Have you experienced satori? If not, you're just guessing, wishful thinking. If you are, then fess up and tell us what life is now like for you. Tell us what kind of experience it was, and what impact it's had on your life.

I'm gonna guess that some, being modest, may say they've had "kensho"-type experiences or realisations. I'm gonna guess that those were of the nature of thoughts, along the lines of "Oh, I see...there is no self", or "All is empty", or "all is one", or "the universe and I are the same", or "all that is real is now" - perhaps accompanied by a rush of blood, or hair-bristling, or toe-tingling. And then life continued. So, essentially, no different from a realisation you might have reading a thought-provoking book, or in the middle of a walk in the park, or train journey to work. We all have had "insights", especially when we're growing up. What's different, special, about Buddhist insight/enlightenment, do you think? If you haven't experienced it, you'll just be guessing, but your guesses, if motivating your ptracice, will be interesting to hear; if you are enlightened - tell us what it's like. We're all friends here.

Me? I had an unexpected realisation that'll do me fine: One evening after zazen I realised, in the form of an initially disturbing thought, that there might be no enlightenment, satori, or kensho. This might be it it, I thought. Just this. Moment after moment. Nothing special. No enlightenment. No special state of hoped-for non-attachment in which my life would be lived. Just this. And only ever this. So I've now given up waiting for, working towards, my enlightenment. It's here now. Same as it ever was. It's the most liberating realisation of my life.

Am I enlightened? My teacher tells me to forget it. So I guess I must be.

Really said...

Hi Justin -

Thanks for your reply. I'll consider what you say. Forgive me if I don't respond point by point. I fear it would be an exercise in self-justification, and I'm trying, though failing misreably, to avoid that stuff ;-)

Sorry if I misunderstood any of your points - as I said I was guessing. Always guessing.

This is fun, isn't it?

Justin said...

Mumon,

True; you can attain something, and if practice is executed correctly you will eventually attain it, but not if you're fixed on trying to attain it.

Yes.

"Sudden enlightenment" in the Rinzai sect is rather rare, and for good reason: you're working amidst a lifetime of habits and crap you and others have stuffed into your head.

Yes, but kensho is just a glimpse, not the end of all that conditioning. In longer Rinzai retreats it'c common for a number of students to 'get kensho' as I understand.

And, anyway, attaining isn't the point.

I see it more about removing stuff than gain anything. But not attaining anything and remaining in samsara isn't the point either.

And therein lies my beef with Tolle.

Each to their own. I think any teacher that emphasises one extreme (you must attain awakening) or the other (there is nothing to attain) may be giving his students an unbalanced practice. I have a tendency to criticise the extreme viewpoints.

So when Dogen says something to the effect that some people may not realize they're enlightened I don't think he's not saying that you won't understand you had the experience, but rather he's speaking of the ubiquity of practice-enlightenment, and from the perspective of the absolute.

Yes. I agree that he doesn't mean that anyone who says they are enlightened necessarily isn't (for a start, Buddha openly proclaimed his awakening). But realisation is non-conceptual. It goes beyond all thought of Buddhas and ordinary beings.

It's virtually essential to have a teacher authenticate the experience, but like the judge said about pornography, you'll know it when you see it.

Yes. Although it's also possible for people to have an amazing vision or see a light or have a feeling of bliss and think it's kensho.

Mumon said...

Justin,
A modern Zen master claims that he has combined Zen with a psychological technique to achieve the same in less time. It might be true, it might not. It certainly isn't impossible.


I wonder if any other teachers (especially those from outside the White Plum Asanga) would certify that.

Yeah, the Oxherding pictures don't have a timescale. Though the guy in the marketplace is invariably not a boy.


Really,

Here' a simple question to those of you discussing "enlightenment." Are you enlightened? No - don't go. Have you experienced satori?


Karma.

pkb said...

Jinzang:

"I think Hyakujo and the Fox is really about the unity of the relative and the ultimate. But what do I know?"

Koans can have different levels of meaning and in Rinzai zen, can have different "answers" depending upon the individual's level of understanding. All of these little animals...freewill, determinism, relative, ultimate... are from the same forest. A physical reality (physicalism) is no more real than spiritual reality.

Agree that enlightenment is not an experience at all. Disagree that it is somehow the result of anything called practice. (So other's don't jump to mistaken conclusions, this observation is from one who's 'practiced' zazen since the mid 70's. So I'm not suggesting giving up sitting zen.)

Great discussion, all.

Really said...

Hi Mumon -

"Karma", you say.

Sorry. Don't get it. But I'd like to. I've gotta pop out to the shops now, but - assuming you did stay and read the rest of my last post - I look forward to reading a less cryptic reply on my return. If you don't mind.

Zenleo said...

This has to be the best message string ever. If you agree with Brad or not this certainly has generated many interesting tidbits as well as a response from a Big Mind on his blog. Hell, free-will was even covered but most likely not of it's own volition.

Really said...

zenleo said:

"This has to be the best message string ever...Hell, free-will was even covered but most likely not of it's own volition."

Been some good jokes too :-)

Rich said...

Really said:
"Me? I had an unexpected realisation that'll do me fine: One evening after zazen I realised, in the form of an initially disturbing thought, that there might be no enlightenment, satori, or kensho. This might be it it, I thought. Just this. Moment after moment. Nothing special. No enlightenment. No special state of hoped-for non-attachment in which my life would be lived. Just this. And only ever this. So I've now given up waiting for, working towards, my enlightenment. It's here now. Same as it ever was. It's the most liberating realisation of my life."

That's really nice but I think you'd better get back to work, or you are going to carry that weight for a long time -)

Really said...

Rich -

Get back to work? Of course. If you think I was implying that there was nothing for me now to do, then you misunderstood. There's the next thing, only and always.

If you're warning against smugness, well I admit it. It's a fault; I'm content. Watcha gonna do?

If your talking about "work" on the cushion - no thanks. I'll just sit.

But at least I fessed up. How about you? Does your advice come one who is enlightened, or can I assume that you, like me, don't know what you're talking about ;-)

C.W.Brown said...

I like how the DVDs and CDs come out to a total of 120 minutes of content. Wow! How did they fit ALL of that on 2 DVDs and 5 CDs?!? Also, the bottom of the pages states that there are 8 free gifts. Silly...

Jules said...

Justin said...
Hi Jules

Yes your right - there is such a thing as a scam. Is that evidence that this is a scam - no.


Hi Justin,
I was responding to your statement, "I've not seen any evidence presented so far that this offering - however cheesily marketed - consistently fails to provide what it offers."

My point was this: a lack of evidence of failure means nothing -- if you want to suggest something is not a scam, what you need is positive evidence of value. Do you really think people who buy this DVD set and spend a lot of effort trying to "be in the now" will gain something worth their $200? I don't think I learned anything until I had a real teacher to ask questions of and to shoot down all the crazy ideas I got from reading books on Buddhism.

On a more practical note, do you think producing one of these DVD sets costs significantly more than $20? I mean, if you think the DVD content has value, don't you think it would make sense to spread the ideas in it as far and wide as possible, rather than limiting their distribution to people who can casually blow $200 on a DVD set?

Mr. Reee said...

" ...Do you really think people who buy this DVD set and spend a lot of effort trying to "be in the now" will gain something worth their $200?"

Good point Jules.

Personally, I'd rather spend $200.00 on a killer bottle of Zin, instead of mediocre-quality canned Zen. One can share the Zin with friends, admire the grape, have a few laughs, lighten up.

On a related note--the first time I ate good sushi with wasabi, I saw God. But it didn't last. :)

Ah well--such is enlightenment...

Rich said...

Really,
I think its great that you have an enlightenment realization but
when you said 'I've now given up waiting for, working towards, my enlightenment.' it seemed you reached an end point. But as you say there is the next thing.

The next thing for me could be reality or delusion and I am learning to move between them but I don't see an end to the process.

Really said...

Hi Rich -

By "the next thing" I meant...well, now the next thing is the letter...A

And now the next thing is to press "preview". I'll try and do it well.

Mumon said...

Really:

Regardless of whatever one might experience or not, things are conditioned and interdependent.

Really said...

Mumon:

...OK

Justin said...

Jules

My point was this: a lack of evidence of failure means nothing -- if you want to suggest something is not a scam, what you need is positive evidence of value.

I'm all for 'evidence-based practice' however I didn't make any claims about this particular deal. Brad made the claim that it was a scam. He has produced no evidence to support that. If all he wanted to do was assert that the producers haven't produced evidence to support their claims then he should have stuck to that (truer but less sensational) point. But then, this is a problem that affects the whole of Buddhism. Who can provide evidence that their way is 'best'? All we have is our own experiences, anecdotes and some scientific research into meditation.

Do you really think people who buy this DVD set and spend a lot of effort trying to "be in the now" will gain something worth their $200? I don't think I learned anything until I had a real teacher to ask questions of and to shoot down all the crazy ideas I got from reading books on Buddhism.

Well I'll put it this way - I won't be buying it. It does seem expensive for what it is. But the pricing is a different matter from whether or not at least some people may get genuine benefit from it, which I think is probably the case.

On a more practical note, do you think producing one of these DVD sets costs significantly more than $20? I mean, if you think the DVD content has value, don't you think it would make sense to spread the ideas in it as far and wide as possible, rather than limiting their distribution to people who can casually blow $200 on a DVD set?

I think we're in a very interesting time for Buddhism in the West. We don't live in cultures that believe in supporting Buddhist clergy through donation. So they either have to compromise their vocation with 'day jobs' or they have to find a way to make a living with their practice. In my opinion, the latter may be better, but it has to be balanced. There is a danger of the practice becoming just a way to get rich.

Justin said...

Really,

Zen isn't just 'giving up all goals'. It has more depth to it than that.

All the MUs in the Heart Sutra are more than just reminders to 'let go' of attachment to certain concepts. The Heart Sutra is describing Avalokiteshvara's realisation that phenomena do not exist as distinct entities. It is about the Buddhist concept of Sunyata - no-self-nature. From the ultimate perspective nothing exists as a distinct thing. And it it is in this sense that we are already Buddha nature. Buddha nature is this lack of separation.

I think there are valid Buddhist insights which are conceptual, intellectual even. However, kensho (seeing your true nature) is not. It isn't an idea.

Kensho is a realisation of emptiness of self/other.

I have had two kensho experiences. One officially verified.

I had noticed that in zazen, the sense of separation between self/other became more subtle. The person leading the sit told us to 'be one with the moment'. I turned this over in my mind for a little while trying to understand what it meant. Suddenly it there was not the slightest gap between 'me' and 'phenomena'. This lasted profoundly for several minutes then I could clearly see that what I had previously thought of as 'me' and 'this moment' were exactly the same thing. It was as if I had reached out to touch something and had felt my my hand touch the back of my own head. Or it was like realising that your mother and father were the same person. Or it was like the moment when you stop seeing an optical illusion and see that it's a sheet of paper. It wasn't an idea, it was an experience without an 'experiencer' (even if there appears to be one as I recall it.)

In the other event I was listening to a dharma talk by Genjo Marinello about the koan 'It will be gone with the other'. When he read a poem by Soen Nakagawa Roshi, I suddenly had an experience of non-duality, in which the world and my heart reflected one another. It was this event that eventually lead to me becoming Master Genjo's student. (I have Soto and Rinzai teachers).

It's hard to pin down exactly what causes your life to change, and it's a process that began independently of formal Zen practice, and it's hard to know what is a symptom and what is a cause sometimes. However, my whole experience of life is fundamentally different from how it was when I was younger. I used to feel a sort of separation or existential alienation from the world as if I was some sort of ghost trapped inside a human head wandering around a physical world, yet unable to experience that world directly. Now I feel utterly inseparable from the world. I'm much happier. I'm less attached to ideas and things. My moods are more stable. I don't get depressed. I'm less selfish and more caring (not about causes so much as about people and animals around me).

Mysterion said...

re: The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra

Blogger Mumon said...

This is a response to a "But _I_ don't want to die." It is the _I_ that prevents a good death.

"Therefore, it is said that all things are non-dual as are Nirvana and Samsara. For this reason, Mahāmati, you should discipline yourself in [the realization of] emptiness, no-birth, non-duality, and no-self-nature."

birth and no-birth
non-duality
self-nature and no-self-nature

This, I have heard: It is correct that first, one should reject dualism. Nirvana and Samsara are not opposites. They are two slightly different states of consciousness. Samsara is the consciousness of delusion and Nirbana is the consciousness of realization and actualization.

K2 said...

Justin:
Thank you for describing your experiences so articulately!

I have two questions for you:
1) Do you feel that your kensho experiences were mandatory to your interest and progression in Zen practice? Or would you still be continuing regardless at this point in your life?

2) Do you believe that these experiences were the "goal" of your Zen practice or were they just pleasant confirmations along the path?

The reason I ask is because I think there are many experienced practitioners who do NOT experience kensho, however they eventually come to satori/understanding. This does not (in my opinion) lessen their ability to teach or otherwise impart their understanding.

A good example would be Brad Warner himself who openly declares "I have never had a kensho experience" in this piece from his website:
homepage.mac.com/doubtboy/KENSHOSCHMENSHO.htm

I like Brad's message. I think he's a great voice for Zen practice. And I think he embodies the true spirit of understanding which is to stand ready with a bucket of cold water whenever Zen begins to take itself too seriously!

If Brad can actualize the practice so articulately without kensho, then that encourages those of us (myself included) who have not been so fortunate as to have enjoyed this intimate interconnectedness of which you have described so well.

Warmest Regards,
-K2

Really said...

Justin, you wrote:

"Really,

Zen isn't just 'giving up all goals'."

That is NOT what I said. Not once.

"It has more depth to it than that."

So I'm not enlightened after all?

Your arrogance is astonishing.

Justin said...

K2,

1) Do you feel that your kensho experiences were mandatory to your interest and progression in Zen practice? Or would you still be continuing regardless at this point in your life?

Not mandatory, no. Yes I would.

2) Do you believe that these experiences were the "goal" of your Zen practice or were they just pleasant confirmations along the path?

Earlier in my practice, like most people, I tended to try (often subtly or subconsciously and no matter how many times I was told not to) to use my zazen to try to attain some sought after state, such as tranquility, concentration, non-attachment etc. Although I didn't have a conscious goal, this was a factor when I had the first experience. I don't think I was 'trying to have kensho' - I wouldn't know how - but there was a 'will to the truth'. The second one pretty much just happened by itself.

The reason I ask is because I think there are many experienced practitioners who do NOT experience kensho, however they eventually come to satori/understanding. This does not (in my opinion) lessen their ability to teach or otherwise impart their understanding.

There are certainly many really good teachers who've never had dramatic insight experiences. Pema Chodron is a good example. I can't think of any that I suspect 'have come to satori'. It's not that they've never experienced insight - what is it they're sharing as teachers if it's not insight? - it's just that insight has been cultivated gradually over many years of practice.

that encourages those of us (myself included) who have not been so fortunate as to have enjoyed this intimate interconnectedness of which you have described so well.

Personally I feel that the most important thing is zazen. Kensho might come and might not come. It's a temporary experience. It might be breakthrough that changes your life. It might become an obstacle. Whatever the case, you're still going to have to wash up and still going to have to sit in zazen.

What I would say though is that realisation is important - whether that realisation is kensho or deep zazen, practiced intently.

K2 said...

Justin:

I couldn't agree more completely.

Peace,
-K2

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