Friday, July 03, 2009

INDEPENDENCE DAY

My friend Nina wants to do Zazen tomorrow morning (July 4, 2009). So I will be at Hill Street Center at 10 AM if anyone else wants to join. Actually, I don't run the thing anymore. So I should consult with the folks who do before unilaterally deciding. But I have now spoken. So that's that! If it's just me & Nina, that's fine. But if anyone else feels like a bit of Zazen before their 4th of July picnic or whatever, please feel free to stop in.

I was a bit surprised at the response in the comments section to that article I linked to last time in which the Christian minister trashed Zen. I would never even have considered writing to the guy or even worrying very much what he had to say. I just thought the piece was amusing.

There's no proselytizing in Zen because there's no sense in trying to get anyone to convert to it. There's also no sense in trying to change the minds of the ignorant. You can put the correct information out there and hope for the best. But there's no sense in getting up in anyone's face. It just makes them harden their own position against yours. Ignorant here is the significant word because folks like that minister deliberately ignore what doesn't fit their worldview.

There's a mountain of wrong information out there about Zen, a lot of it from supposedly "respected authorities." You can't really change that. Just enjoy.

38 comments:

Rodney said...

"There's no proselytizing in Zen because there's no sense in trying to get anyone to convert to it."

Convert to Zen or else!
Or else what?


R

Anonymous said...

*Cough* Big Mind *Cough*

Anonymous said...

"There's also no sense in trying to change the minds of the ignorant."

I didn't try to convert that minister, I just brought to his attention that his Zen information was faulty. Was this wrong to do? I don't see any harm in it. It only took me a minute of my time and besides discussing it here, I left it at that.

"
There's a mountain of wrong information out there about Zen, a lot of it from supposedly "respected authorities." You can't really change that."

I accept this point. Trying to get rid of all the misinformation would be like trying to catch the wind. It would be a wasted effort. In this case, I wasn't on a mission, going about the Internet looking for misinformation about Zen so that I could blast people in a vain attempt make things 'right'. This funny article fell on my lap because I happen to read your blog. I thought it would be a good thing to take a tiny moment of my time to say "Hey, this article is wrong, please change it." Like I said, this isn't a mission of mine. Like any other action one shouldn't expect anything as result and I didn't.

Anyway there's too much nothing to do...

Anonymous said...

I have this question

is any zen teacher better than no zen teacher?

I used to sit with a group and came to understand that the teacher (at least from my perspective and experience) was mediocre. Certainly it was an opportunity for me to practice just watching my response to the things he would say...
Several times I would be overcome with revulsion and want to walk out of the zendo with what seemed blatant bullshit
However I came to terms with it: I reasoned that it is important to have a place where someone interested in zazen can come to sit, and this teacher was providing a weekday evening place for people to come and sit.
But now I am questioning this. I think maybe it is better for someone to have no place to sit and have to keep looking until they find a place rather than have a bullshit place even if it is convenient.
I know that we each are doing our best.
But I think it is worse for a 'teacher' to be dispensing crap no matter how 'zen' he appears or seems to behave than it is to have a crappy teacher who has a no bullshit approach.
I used to think it was more important to have the opportunity to sit, and have a place to at least start,
but I am coming to think this is similar to being born to a fucked up mother:
yeah, true, you get to enter life, but you have to spend an awful lot of time getting un-fucked up,
isn't it better to just start right from the get go?

I really don't know: better to have a place to start from, no matter how crappy or fucked up
or better to just not?

Besides, who am I to say? My experience and opinion of the 'crap' teacher is mine...others may not experience him this way.

I just can't stand crap being offered as zen when zen itself isn't crap.

grubbery said...

"is any zen teacher better than no zen teacher?"

This or that.

Fill your mind said...

Sorry.

The Ignorant, but able, can be informed.

The Ignorant, but disabled, can never be informed.

"The purpose of an education is to open a mind, not fill it."

Anonymous said...

"Is any zen teacher better than no zen teacher?"

No. You do not need a teacher if you don't have any questions. To do zazen is easy and you can do it anywhere and you always do it by yourself anyway. If you don't understand how to let zazen be easy then a teacher may help. If you want to fill your head with nonsense, then stay with a poor zen teacher. A good zen teacher will help you unclutter your mind. Also, forget your past. It's over, let go. Do your practice correctly in the present, the rest takes care of itself.

Anonymous said...

Convert to Zen or else Christian bitches!

Anonymous said...

"There's no proselytizing in Zen because there's no sense in trying to get anyone to convert to it."

Says the man with 3 books and 2 blogs on Zen. LOL... if no one converts how will you feed yourself. HA HA I'm just jokin'.

Caputo said...

A must have, for every household.

proulx michel said...

Anonymous said...

I have this question

is any zen teacher better than no zen teacher?


I'm a music instruments maker. My first apprenticeship's master was exteremely poor. He was rather good as a luthier, but very low on the scale of good teachers. A long story. It was extremely difficult to get anything out of him, he was rather lunatic.

I gathered from him a lot on the trappings of humanity. Humanity at its worst... I also managed to learn quite a few things, in spite of him.

I have also researched the biography of a musician who died 20 years ago, and of whom one of his students said "He was no good teacher, but I was a good student".

So may I ask: what is better, a good teacher with lousy students, or good students even with a lousy teacher? I'd tend to say the latter.

Of course you may wish for a good teacher. But most people don't wish for that, they wish for the PERFECT master. Who doesn't exist.

grisom said...

I used to sit with a group and came to understand that the teacher (at least from my perspective and experience) was mediocre.

My 2¢: Really, you learn Zen from staring at the wall and being honest with yourself, not from listening to a teacher. Good teachings can help you work things out for yourself. Bad teachings can only hurt you to the extent that you take them seriously. So I wouldn't worry too much about the quality of the teacher, personally. I have found sitting with a group to be extremely helpful for me, even though I sometimes think the people I sit with have some pretty silly ideas—they also have a great deal of experience, and I have learned a lot from them. Your mileage may vary.

That said, and for the same reasons, you absolutely do not need a teacher to practice zazen, so if you really can't bear to be with this group, don't let it stop you from sitting on your own!

grisom said...

There's no proselytizing in Zen because there's no sense in trying to get anyone to convert to it.

"He tried to convert me to Zen Buddhism,
but did not succeed in proving that I would benefit"
William Auld, La infana raso

floating_abu said...

Brad said: There's also no sense in trying to change the minds of the ignorant.




But in Buddhism, ignorance can also be the ingredient to uncover wisdom. Thus, nothing is wasted.

Practice, practice, practice .

I hope you have a wonderful sitting tomorrow, Brad.

Thanks very much for your efforts.

In Gassho.

Jinzang said...

is any zen teacher better than no zen teacher?

I don't know you and I don't know your teacher, so the question is impossible to answer. You should take a friend you trust to listen to your teacher talk and ask their opinion.

Jinzang said...

I want to add that if you have doubts about your teacher, you should ask someone. But if you're completely certain your teacher is not right for you and you're staying simply because you feel you need to have a teacher, any teacher, then you should not have such concerns, you should leave.

Jinzang said...

I was a bit surprised at the response in the comments section to that article I linked to last time in which the Christian minister trashed Zen.

Don't mess with the missionary man.

Mysterion said...

There's no proselytizing in Zen because:

Knock, knock.

(Inside door) Who's there?

(Outside door) "nobody"

(Inside door) "What do you want?"

(Ouside door) "nothing"

Mumon said...

There's a mountain of wrong information out there about Zen, a lot of it from supposedly "respected authorities."

Brad, it's all wrong. Even this comment is wrong.

Seriously it's everywhere, and if we don't question everything, we risk being quite ignorant.

There's degrees of wrongness, too. I can live with your wrongness, for example, and I'd hope you could live with mine. My wife still can...

Mumon said...

proulx michel :

Damn, you do wisdom well.

Mumon said...

proulx michel :

IOW, that was quite profound.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"being born to a fucked up mother:
yeah, true, you get to enter life,
but you have to spend an awful lot
of time getting un-fucked up,
isn't it better to just start right
from the get go?

I really don't know: better to have
a place to start from, no matter how
crappy or fucked up
or better to just not?"
...

What is your original face
before your parents were born?

(Man, how I wish I could have had
cool parents,
instead of fucked-up ones :(

"Not to be born is, past all prizing, best."
-- Sophocles

But if you are born,
at least be lucky.

Mumon said...

And let me just add, for the record:

Yes, you can learn from folks in the Sambo Kyodan and White Plum Asanga traditions, even if some of what some teachers say is off the wall or even if they've hosted Genpo Roshi events.

It's not the tradition I've chosen, but indeed there are good teachers (Robert Aitken, e.g.) in there. Caveat emptor though.

And also for the record:

Some of what I've read from some Soto folks doesn't comport with what others have said and done regarding koan practice. And some ranting and raving of some folks against Soto folks as "quietist" doesn't, I think, comport with how Soto folks practice as well.

So yeah, I wasn't quite kidding when I remarked on the ubiquity of wrongness out there.

Anonymous said...

proulx michel said...
"So may I ask: what is better, a good teacher
with lousy students, or good students
even with a lousy teacher?
I'd tend to say the latter."

...

In my extremely checkered Zen career,
I've often found that I learned more
from the longtime students than from
"the teacher".

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Fucked-up parents?
It's never too late to start over.

Anonymous said...

I think some blogger, sometime around noon, had a few beers.. Nothing wrong with that of course.. I'm just saying.

floating_abu said...

Re: Robert Aitken Roshi of the Diamond Sangha, he has a blog:

http://robertaitken.blogspot.com/

_/|\_

Anonymous said...

This post should read; I think this blogger (me), sometime around noon, had a few beers.. Nothing wrong with that of course.. I'm just saying. it is the 4th of July after all.

HaraZen13 said...

Nothing... Just reading.

Anonymous said...

LOL, floating_abu...

Aitken Roshi said it most eloquently:
"MY DAMN MOTHER".

spoonbender said...

Hi Brad,
Regarding your book tour, would you be interested or able to come to seattle ?
Thanks much,
S.

Mumon said...

Actually, I want to take back a bit of what I said above:

Genpo Roshi and Wilber g and that Holosync guy aren't exactly selling anything I know to be Zen.

Mumon said...

And therefore folks that actually endorse or promote or lend legitimacy to that kind of thing are the spiritual equivalent of the guys who sell you fake Rolexes in certain Asian cities.

And they should be avoided.

Unless you know you don't mind owning a fake Rolex. Some people do.

proulx michel said...

I think that a lot, in the World, that people think is Zen is that in no way. There even might be some "Zen" masters who have never once in their life practiced Zen, although they may have thousands of hours of sitting at their counter.
Those who say that Zen has nothing to do with Buddhism may be wary of religion, but a lot are mostly wary of ethics.

Suffice to say that, as remarks Thanissaro Bhikkhu, in the Sutta, when the Buddha comes upon some monks who are idle, he tells them to "go practice Dhyâna".

PhillySteveInLA said...

I yield! I yield!

Zen, as a school, is Buddhism, but one can practice zazen divorced from the trappings of Buddhism. Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

Have the Ken Wilbur bashers ever like, read his stuff? Jus wondrin'.

Mumon said...

Have the Ken Wilbur bashers ever like, read his stuff? Jus wondrin'.

Yep.

Anonymous said...

I study the teachings of Jesus but wouldn't call myself a Christian because i don't believe that he was a messiah/christ sent from "God" to "save" us and usher us in to some heaven somewheres up there. i don't get christians who don't see that trying to understand Jesus is not imcompatible with zazen or Buddhism. But they view Jesus and God differently than me. I practice zazen and i like study the life of Jesus and see what is there, that's all. But i now that many Christians are indoctrinated to be fearful of anything they perceive as challenging their religion. If one's beliefs are so strong, why be afraid?

Kyla