Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MY BOTTOM LINE


Amazing Euro premier of Cleveland's Screaming last night. Lots of terrific questions from the audience. Who'd've thought the Finns would be so into Ohio punk? Not me.

Tonight I'm at Balderin Sali, Aleksanterinkatu 12, Helsinki at 6PM.

I've been doing interview after interview after interview since I've been here. And there's one thing I've found myself saying over and over. It's that I got into the practice of zazen because it was practical and useful for me. I did not get into it because I had any desire to be "a Buddhist" or because I wanted someday to be a monk or a teacher of Buddhism. I don't self-identify as a Buddhist or a monk except when it's necessary because of the job that I do. In fact I don't even know if I really qualify as a monk by most people's standards. I use the term because after I took jukai with Nishijima Roshi I asked him, "Am I a monk now?" and he said, "Yes. You are a monk now." His attitude is based on Buddha's who ordained monks by just saying, "Welcome monk."

This relates to my bottom line. I can't remember if I've told this story here already or not. But last year I went to a sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center. I signed up for dokusan with Sojun Mel Weitsman. During the dokusan I complained to Mel about some problems I'd been having with my little Saturday morning group in Santa Monica. They seemed to see me as something I clearly was not, a kind of a spiritual leader or some shit like that. By extension a lot of the people I was talking to on tour or via Suicide Girls and this blog also seemed to see me that way.

Mel said, "What's your bottom line with your Saturday morning group?" I said that as far as I was concerned, I sat zazen on Saturdays at 10 AM at Hill Street Center and the door was open for anyone who wanted to join me.

It was a funny moment because up till then I'd never really thought of it that way. But I said it very easily and spontaneously. That's the magic of dokusan with a good teacher, I guess.

This is also my bottom line with everyone to whom I introduce this practice. It's something that I do, which I have found extremely useful and you can do it too. That's pretty much it.

I didn't get into this because I wanted to try and live up to someone else's bizarre ideas of what a Buddhist ought to be. There have been occasions when I've tried to do that and it made me intensely miserable. I didn't get into Zen practice to be miserable.

I only do what I do to the extent that it helps make my life a little better. I allow people access to my personal story because I think they also might find something beneficial there the way I found it beneficial to hear my first teacher Tim's and Nishijima Roshi's stories.

Sometimes when I complain about my current job people say, "Why don't you just quit and go work in an office or something?" But I've lived long enough to know that no job is ever without problems. And I know myself well enough to know that I'll always complain. Big deal.

But I also know that it doesn't make any sense to simply up and quit your job because it's not perfect. The next job you get won't be any more perfect. I only quit a job if it becomes totally unworkable (that's a grammatically odd sentence but I like it, so I'm leaving it). So far this one has not. At least not yet.

I have yet another interview to go to, so I'm gonna leave it at that for now. Just thought you might like to know.

177 comments:

Anonymous said...

1

http://www.hs.fi/kulttuuri/artikkeli/Punkkari+teki+kirjan+zenil%C3%A4isyydest%C3%A4/1135248826659

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

I took almost all the books I had on "zen" and "buddhism" to the used book/cd/dvd store today. 26 in all. I only kept one, "Hardcore Zen". And only 'cause of the funny stories and punk references. I got some good music in return on store credit. The music on those cds say more than all the garbage in those books.

The hippie behind the counter was mighty happy. Said, "we can't keep these type of books on the shelf, people grab them up like crazy".

I think I'll write a "zen" book. Gonna call it "Great Debates On The Essence Of Reality With Mysterion And Jinzang" or "Don't Waste Your Time"

Justin said...

"It's something that I do, which I have found extremely useful and you can do it too. "

It seems to be possible to practice Zen and to lead a Zen group without other people seeing you as "some sort of spiritual leader" to any great extent. Perhaps you could watch people who manage this and learn from them.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be easier to sell the 'I'm just a guy' angle if you weren't also the head of Dogen Sangha, which in itself makes you a spiritual leader. Accepting the job seems to have contradicted your bottom line

Dharma Boner said...

I don't know if I am allowed to say something nice about Jundo around here, but he has a real nice vidtalk on life and death today.

The talk was good, but did you catch the hot French monkette in the talk before that? Man, what's it called when you get a raging hard-on during a Dharma talk? I think it was the accent when she said "realite".

Or maybe that was Kensho?

Hot Monkamoiselle

Anonymous said...

Brad, Hope your World Domination tour, or rather your "current job" is going smoothly. Thanks for the updates and your current address. I entered Aleksanterinkatu 12, Helsinki, Finland into google earth and got to see some cool pictures of that neighborhood. Looks wonderful.

Anonymous said...

PhilBob, Disillusioned is a good place to be.

Stephanie said...

Great post, Brad. This is the sort of thing I was saying I wanted to see more of before--discussion of how your practice affects how you live your life. I especially like how you described the way good dokusan can assist in bringing one's spontaneous self-nature to the fore. Zen practice in general seems to help with that.

PhilBob: That reminds me of a brief interview with Charlotte Joko Beck in Shambhala Sun a few years ago:

* * *

I read your books.

Oh you read. Well, give up reading, O.K.?

Give up reading your books?

Well, they’re all right. Read them once and that’s enough. Books are useful. But some people read for fifty years, you know. And they haven’t begun their practice.

* * *

I still read Buddhist books from time to time but much less often. I'm seriously thinking of delving into the full Shobogenzo at some point as I try to get back into sitting. I still enjoy the writings of the masters (old and modern) and books that give a fresh and new perspective (The Wisdom of Imperfection by Rob Preece has been quite useful lately). But yeah... there gets to be a point where you've read about all there is to read and there's nothing left to do but practice.

Chuck said...

I always giggle a little when someone quits a job because they don't like something and think that a new job will fix that. The reality is all jobs suck different.

Ven. Roshi HH Asswipe said...

Maybe if you quit making sweeping dogmatic statements, passing off your personal opinions and bias as true buddhism, personally denouncing others that simply disagree with your views and pretending you, your teacher or sect have an exclusive claim on truth people would stop seeing you as a spiritual teacher and simply come sit with you.

Dalai Larfer said...

not to mention, if you didn't wrap yourself in big shower-curtain robe

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_-cmMiMA6qL4/SpIhDLq8o2I/AAAAAAAAAl4/mYT7eUormB4/s1600-h/GroupShotSmall.jpg

Stephanie said...

Maybe if you quit making sweeping dogmatic statements, passing off your personal opinions and bias as true buddhism, personally denouncing others that simply disagree with your views and pretending you, your teacher or sect have an exclusive claim on truth people would stop seeing you as a spiritual teacher and simply come sit with you.

Harsh, but probably true.

Really? said...

Ven. Roshi HH Asswipe said...(all that stuff he said ^^^).

Examples please. I would appreciate at least one example for each of the charges you lay/observations you make.

Steph - you can join in if you want to. In fact anyone who thinks they can supply a quote from Bradley Warner that supports all that stuff that Ven Roshi HH Asswipe said ^^^ will have their evidence soberly considered by me. At the moment, my reaction is that what you say is bollocks, but I'll do my best to consider it without prejudice.

Cheers

Really? said...

...it's not the spiritual teacher bit I'm bothered about you understand - it seems clear to me that Brad is a (spititual) teacher whether he likes it or not - but the other stuff.

proulx michel said...

Dalai Larfer said...

not to mention, if you didn't wrap yourself in big shower-curtain robe
As for that, you should direct it to almost all of the Zen Buddhist teachers. That is a Dharma robe, symbolic of that which the Buddha sewed himself with refuse after his Awakening, and Brad actually hates to wear those. He does wear them only under duress. (Inthe occurence, mine.)

And I simply hold it from you as contempt for anything symbolic that annoys you as not being usual.
If it were that piece of 17th century dress that has survived as the necktie, and which is becoming in Europe and for bankers like the wigs for judges in England, I doubt you'd say anything of the kind.

proulx michel said...

Stephanie said...

Harsh, but probably true.

Flatly, no.

earDRUM said...

I like the point Brad made in this article. Putting teachers and leaders “on pedestals” is always going to be a problem. Especially when we are in situations where we know less than the “leader” knows. This “pedestal” thing likely originates when we are children, in school and at home – and where order is sometimes necessary.
Like dogs, our social unit is the “pack”… the family. We are social creatures. I suspect that it is in our nature, as “pack animals” to look for “alpha” characters in every situation… to determine who is most appropriate to lead the group.
Sometimes giving one’s power and trust over to another in social situations is useful and necessary. Sometimes it is laziness.
It is easy for some of us (like me) to just fall into line and accept guidance from someone who knows more than we do. Nothing wrong with that, in itself. We need to “follow” sometimes. There can only be one leader. But it is easy to get into a habit of always being a “follower”. I partly blame my earlier misunderstanding of zen – as a philosophy of passivity and acceptance for this.
I suspect that most people believe that they must be either assertive or passive - and then characterize themselves to be either one or the other. Zazen seems to make us aware that we can choose to be assertive or passive from moment, depending on the situation.
“Habits” seem to be the problem. It is necessary for us to allow our subconscious to take care of routine tasks. Otherwise, we would have to consciously think about putting one foot in front of the other and swinging our arms each time we walked. So I suspect that we try to do this as much as possible. And I suspect that this is how we get into bad habits.
My understanding of zen is that when we sit zazen we become aware of our subconscious habits, and begin to see things more clearly. We begin to notice that when we are aware of how our minds work, then we see that we actually make choices from moment to moment, all day long. Zazen allows us to break out of our life of habits, and live more often in the present moment.
This is profound. It changes who we are. Yet it feels completely natural, because it IS completely natural.
But that doesn’t mean it is easy.
Zen is full of paradoxes.
Brad is both a spiritual leader and just a guy who sits zazen.

Corbie said...

What earDrum said. People instinctively want someone to give them the answer. The teacher's job is to teach the student how to find the answer for (within?) themselves.

To take this out of a strictly Buddhist context -- I'm the author of a stupid little booklet on costume (something that anyone who can do basic research could have written, but I guess I beat everyone else to the punch or something). So, since I'm now a published author, I get either a) "Oh great expert, will you approve my costume?" or b) "Heh, you're not so great, you got this wrong." I'm always pleasantly surprised when I have a great conversation with someone who is simply as in love with the treasure hunt as I am. I do try to help people if they're really looking for answers and not pushing their own agenda. Oh, and they're never happy when you tell them, "I don't know, good question!" But boy, I wish I'd never published that damn book sometimes.

Which is exactly what I'm seeing in the comments here. I don't think you can escape it. It's human nature. You just have to deal...

Rick said...

Ven. Roshi HH Asswipe said... "Maybe if you quit making sweeping ... passing off your personal opinions and bias ... personally denouncing others ... and pretending..."

Not unlike what you've done.

robjones said...

Just began sitting at bzc for their morning sittings and did a half day recently. I've recently met Mel Weitzman and am looking forward to Dokuson which they schedule for practitioners even in a non-retreat setting. It's a great place to have walking distance from where I'm living and a great place to raise the satndard of my practice. Prior to I was sitting at home, retreat sitting at Dharma Drum in upstate NY once a year to every 18 months or so with Master Sheng Yen & Co. A great outfit, andI'm happy to have had the experiences I've had with Shi Fu since my 1st retreat in '91. But life and love and an opportunity to really challenge myslf in every manner possible presented itself and here I am in the Bay Area. Thanks for relaying your experience at bzc, its appreciated, well timed (for me), and confidence inspiring. Preconceived notions about what the the practice is, should be, or what is gained or lost, benefit detriment, has been coming up in my world. I love the practice and it has taken me years to get to a point of consistancy and sustained effort. I've been exposed to how attached I was to it, which helped deepen my practice by loosening my grip, and to how I'm still adrift in vexation. I am a guy who's been runnning into the same tree for 20 years and never learning to walk around it. I'm actually dusting myself off right now for another go. Occasionally feeling like the guy who is swimming under water, almost out of air, and has forgotten which way is up. And feeling like I'm on to something, but sort of precarious ground at the same time. I'm becomming more and more aware of the suffering that my inconstencies cause. Good times perhaps not, but real times for sure. This is where I need to be for practice to start I suppose. Cheers, and thanks all for giving me some space to ramble :)

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

Really? asked for examples of some of these things Brad does that perhaps gives folks a wrong impression of him:

making sweeping dogmatic statements-

BRAD said: "I’ve been to meditation centers where people are lying on the ground or slouching back on weird “meditation chairs” or just plain sitting around in a sloppy manner. That’s not zazen."-feb 16, 2009

passing off your personal opinions and bias as true buddhism,--

Brad said: "This is why I have very little interest in so-called "cyber-sanghas." They really are not in any way shape or form the same as real face-to-face communities." -March 31, 2009

personally denouncing others that simply disagree with your views and pretending you, your teacher or sect have an exclusive claim on truth-

Brad said: "I think it's time to bury the word "mindfulness." It's just a cliche anymore. And, as I said (see below), seems to indicate in practice a state of fuzzy headed thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking while congratulating yourself on how mindful you're being." -May 26, 2008


So...That took me about a total of ten minutes to come up with those quotes. Really? You say its bollocks. Maybe you should take some time and do your own ten minutes of research. People who have been reading Brad long enough know he routinely says these kinds of things.

-Aaron

Anonymous said...

DB said... "Hot Monkamoiselle"

Speaking of hot monkamoiselles,
how come Brad doesn't travel
with his own private harem of
Suicide Girl Monkamoiselles?

(I fear that Brad may be an inadequate
role model for impressionable young Finns
:(

Anonymous said...

Seems dear mr. proulx michel is this weeks appointed "defender of the faith."

Anonymous said...

Finnish Engrish?

Really? said...

Thanks Aaron -

I've read Brad's blog since day one, I've just not felt like commenting until fairly recently.

I hear the remarks you quote - all of which I recall - and many similar ones, differently. I don't hear them as "making sweeping dogmatic statements, passing off your personal opinions and bias as true buddhism, personally denouncing others that simply disagree with your views and pretending you, your teacher or sect have an exclusive claim on truth..." Of course I can see how others might see them that way, but I don't.

I hear: Brad has opinions. He expresses them. They are true for him. You don't have to follow his recommendations, or approve his observations. He is not saying it's the only truth for everybody else. Saying something is "true" for you is surely different to telling others that it must be adopted as their truth too. That's what Brad is being accused of here, and I don't think it's true. Not for me ;-)

Anonymous said...

Brad is a great *teacher* in the ways of Asshole-ism, whether he like's it or not. i thought i was an asshole before, but after reading Brad's books, i am becoming more Assholy all the time. Thanks Brad for showing me how to say "fuck it" while not really being mean to anyone - just more of a "what really matters?" while being true to yourself sort of way of life...

OK, OK everything is empty anyways. Nothing is good or bad. blah-blah-dharma-karma-namaste-gassho-blah-blah-catchphrase to you too...

Take care - Sincerely,
A.Fan

gniz said...

Really, the point of the original comment you questioned, was that perhaps Brad himself (ie his behavior and writings) is the cause of much of the perception that he is a "leader" or somehow "arbiter" of true buddhism.

I think the comments he makes in his blog could lead someone to believe that Brad knows what is "right" and "wrong" when it comes to Buddhism.

If Brad didnt like that perception, he could easily tone down his rhetoric and still make all his points quite well.

Anonymous said...

gniz: None of your provided examples are very good. In the first Brad was relating a personal experience. In the second, he was he was stating that (he) wasn't interested in cyber-sanghas. In the third it appears that he was giving a lesson on real mindfulness. Those were three particularly weak examples to back up your position.

Really? said...

I hear ya, Aaron. And I agree that Brad pays a price for the style he chooses to write in. It attracts some, repels others (I don't like it much) and, it seems, encourages folks to adopt contrary positions. But he says that's how he writes...watcha gonna do?

My comment was addressed specifically to the "Brad says it's my way or the highway" stuff, not to the "religious leader" bit, which is why I added this comment, above:

"...it's not the spiritual teacher bit I'm bothered about you understand - it seems clear to me that Brad is a (spititual) teacher whether he likes it or not - but the other stuff.
9:29 AM "

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 12.44pm referred us all to Finnish Engrish....

"He can be called a professional rajojenrikkojaksi. The most important thing is to do those things in their own lives, what it should. Warner has worked in Japan, a monster movie, and writes columns in business Suicide Girls pehmopornosivustolle."

So no more arguments please. It's all sorted.

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

I doubt he pays any price for what he writes. Take it or leave it.

I mean, I get that you've developed an attachment to him in some way, having, as you say, read his blog from the beginning, but if Brad is a "true spiritual teacher" (ugh.. that sounds so New Age), then it's unlikely he needs anyone defending him against something as simple as a words.

braindead said...

Sighhhhh. Robert A. Heinlein wrote a book called "Stranger in a Strange Land" about a Martian named Michael Valentine Smith. Obviously, it was fiction, but all kinds of idiots formed "religious" cults around Mr. Heinlein and hounded their new "master" right into the grave. This is the same crap. Somebody publishes his opinions and somebody else wants to make a little god out of him. Does this make any kind of sense at all, or is it just stupid? The Buddha had to tell some of his followers not to piss into the wind: you'd think they could figure it out for themselves!

Dionys said...

"Mel said, "What's your bottom line with your Saturday morning group?" I said that as far as I was concerned, I sat zazen on Saturdays at 10 AM at Hill Street Center and the door was open for anyone who wanted to join me."

Shunryu-Sensei said pretty much the same thing, especially in his actions. There is clarity in your statement, and you're right to acknowledge how it bubbled up to you.

The talk was good, but did you catch the hot French monkette in the talk before that?

Did you notice the tic of her smile when Jundo said she was very tired? She's charming.

Aaron said...

Anon said:

"gniz: In the first Brad was relating a personal experience. In the second, he was he was stating that (he) wasn't interested in cyber-sanghas. In the third it appears that he was giving a lesson on real mindfulness."
Okay, so let me get this straight. I found three or four pretty clear examples of Brad making generalizations and denigrating mindfulness practice, but since you can explain each of his statements away as being his opinions, that somehow makes my examples invalid?
mmmkay.....

Aaron said...

BTW, I kind of understood that those statements are just Brad's own opinion, what else could they be--it doesnt change the fact that Brad tends to be dismissive, narrow-minded and stirs the pot intentionally....then complains when others react to his pot stirring.

Anon #108 said...

Aaron/gniz wrote:

"but since you can explain each of his statements away as being his opinions..."

That's not what anon said. He didn't say the Brad quotes were "opinions". He was more specific. If you disagree with the points he actually made...

Jinzang said...

I read your books.
Oh you read. Well, give up reading, O.K.?


I don't understand this attitude AT ALL. It assumes that time spent reading is taken away from practice, when more likely it's taken away from watching television or talking with friends. If the choice is between practicing or reading, certainly you should choose practice. But I don't understand this idea that staying stupid will get you enlightened faster.

Jinzang said...

This is also my bottom line with everyone to whom I introduce this practice. It's something that I do, which I have found extremely useful and you can do it too. That's pretty much it.

This attitude is good as far as it goes, but has a small problem. The problem is that useful, helpful, valuable, and so on all have the stink of ego about them. It's only when you see how supremely useless meditation is that you really understand meditation.

Jinzang said...

Maybe if you quit making sweeping dogmatic statements ... people would stop seeing you as a spiritual teacher

The conclusion doesn't follow from the premise.

Brad may be the Zed Shaw of Zen, but it's quite clear from what he's written in the past that what he's talking about is the tendency of some students to see their chosen teacher as a perfect master and how that gives him the heebie jeebies. Has nothing to do with his chosen style of oration.

Really? said...

Jinzang mentioned "...the stink of ego..."

Don't get me started

Aaron said...

I think Brad has a lot of interesting stuff to say and he's creative and different from a lot of other zen teachers and zen writers. But those quotes that i found were places where I think he acts kind of like a jerk.

I didnt bother finding every example of him denigrating the term and practice of mindfulness...but there are plenty of them and i think its insulting. I dont agree that Brad was giving a lesson on "real" mindfulness. Thats the whole point. Brad thinks only he knows "real" mindfulness and that others are teaching bullshit.

That means the entire tradition of insight meditation is bullshit, right? Founded on mindfulness practice...give me a break.

Anon #108 said...

Aaron wrote: "That means the entire tradition of insight meditation is bullshit, right?"

I don't think so, no. It means that Brad has views about what some people consider "mindfulness" to be. I don't think Brad, in the comment you quoted (or others you didn't) was trashing "the entire tradition" of vipassana meditation.

Chance said...

Very simply, live life, not the life of your ego, just live it. It's a shared and singular experience at all times. No more and no less.

Anonymous said...

Aaron @ 7:14

As far as zen teachers being jerks.....
of the 6 teachers I've sat with--mind you I've met others at sesshins, but I'm talking about folks I've sat with for minimum of 3 years, maximum of 7.
There were 2 who weren't jerks, and Brad is one.
That doesn't mean Brad and the other didn't have their own oddities, but the 4 others had huge jerk areas which would periodically become activated.

We are, after all, human and a zen teacher is a human.
Being around a jerk has it's own benefit of offering good training (in how NOT to be, for one).
Being around a person having a jerk episode also is beneficial.
I would offer as a definition of a 'jerk': somone who has frequent or nearly continuous jerk episodes.
Even jerks have momentary lapses.

here's to the human-ness in all of us

Anonymous said...

I wonder what it would be like if Brad had followers that rationalized and defended his every ignorant, narrow-minded, rude remark all while denouncing any and every criticism of their spiritual guru as being unwarranted, hateful and mean?

Anon @ 1:12 said...

Aaron: I think it is obvious you feel insulted. I don't think that is what Brad was going for. My feeling is that you criticize Brad for not being better than you are. That is not only unfair but it is missing the point completely.

Anonymous said...

Bicker, bicker, bicker. Fight, fight, fight. I'm right. You're wrong. No, I'm wrong. No, you're wrong. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

anon #108 said...

@anon @ 1.07am -

...whereas in fact you're right. Right?

Justin said...

Anon @ 1:12 -

My feeling is that he criticises Brad for being a jerk or because he disagrees with him, not because of some pseudo-pop-psychological cause.

In which case it's you that's missing the point.

Stephanie said...

In my opinion, one of Brad's weaknesses has long been his tendency to need to assert his approach as the "one true way" even in cases and contexts where what distinguishes the "one true way" from "any other way" is some incredibly petty detail such as how one arranges oneself on the cushion.

People are free to agree or disagree, obviously, with how important full lotus is for "real zazen" but it seems to me anyone with half a brain would see that while some aspects of posture are vital to sitting, this is simply a dogmatic, narrow-minded view. The Buddha never taught that a certain posture was absolutely necessary for awakening, simply that one needed to be able to take a posture in which one could sit, still and alert, for relatively long periods of time.

Brad upholds Nishijima's "three views, one reality" teaching as the true way to understand Dogen. I think it's a brilliant teaching but far from the only way to understand Dogen. It's an innovation from Nishijima that may well in some cases oversimplify Dogen's subtle, profound, and complex teachings.

Brad's personal preference for non-mystical sounding teachings has given him an ill disposition toward Buddhist teachings with a more mystical or poetic flavor. I recall numerous occasions where he has bashed John Daido Loori for having a more mystical take on Dogen as compared to Nishijima's almost mathematical approach. I find this a bit ridiculous as Loori is one of the foremost interpreters of Dogen teaching in the U. S. today, and has been for a long time before Brad even had the idea of teaching about Dogen.

Every one of us has strengths and weaknesses. I don't expect Brad to be any different and I appreciate his "warts" as I appreciate his strengths. But he does show a strong tendency toward sweeping dogmatic statements about what is and isn't "true Zen," and his view is that a huge portion of modern teachers do not teach "true Zen." This manner of speaking does tend to attract others who like to believe they've found the "one true way," which tends to go hand in hand with elevating a teacher to some sort of mystical status. A more humble Brad might be a more boring and perhaps less effective Brad, but a more humble Brad would also probably attract fewer "one true way" acolytes who like to walk around the zendo with their dicks in their hands.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I agree with Stephanie.

Hold onto your hats boys, hell has frozen over!

Really? said...

Steph wrote:

"...his [Brad's] tendency to need to assert his approach as the "one true way.."

I'm still waiting for somone to refer me to something that Brad has said, somewhere, sometime, that sounds like "Mine is the only true way". I understand that's what some of you hear him saying...but that's not what he's ever actually said...or, if he has, I've missed it.

There is surely a difference between enthusiastically advocating an approach - which many (good) teachers do - and insisting that approach is the only true one.

I said it once; I'll say it again:

"I hear: Brad has opinions. He expresses them. They are true for him. You don't have to follow his recommendations, or approve his observations. He is not saying it's the only truth for everybody else. Saying something is "true" for you is surely different to telling others that it must be adopted as their truth too. That's what Brad is being accused of here, and I don't think it's true. Not for me."

Anonymous said...

Justin: Sorry, I can't see how you are any different from Brad in your behavior. Calling him a jerk? That was the point I was trying to make to Aaron. There is nothing pseudo-pop-psychological about it. You guys see Brad as a jerk and don't hesitate to call him that, but become indignant if he is as crass.

gniz said...

Anony says: "Justin: Sorry, I can't see how you are any different from Brad in your behavior."

This comes up over and over again. Justin and I (and some others) frequently criticize Brad. Sometimes we get snarky for sure. I never said I was "better" than Brad, and I never heard Justin say that either. Maybe y'all think that's what I'm saying? It's not.

I read Brad's blog, I buy his books (one of which is in my guinea pig cage as liner). That doesnt mean I find him infallible. I tend to criticize him mostly because a lot of whats on his blog feels like syncophantic behavior to me. And he pushes my buttons.

Sometimes I do feel a little insulted by what he writes--my intelligence feels insulted when he states stuff that just seems like piss-poor justification or muddled thinking.

We all can agree to disagree. I'd buy one of Brad's new books in a heartbeat, even though I might disagree with parts of what he says. Also, in general I find his books much better written, thought out and less obnoxious then his blog posts.

But Brad is entertaining, whatever else you want to say about him. His controversial pot-stirring style is simply part of his charm. The fact that he doesnt seem to "get" why people sometimes take umbrage with his style is quite ridiculous and hard to swallow at times....

Aaron

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

Also, I've never made any claims about what meditation has done for my "balance" in life, whereas Brad clearly has; thus, he IS in fact held to a higher standard than me.

Rev. Jimmy Swaggart said...

There is this classic essay by Brad that sums up and defends Gudo

TRUE BUDDHISM

When I first started studying Buddhism with Gudo Nishijima as my teacher, the thing that bugged me most about him -- the thing that had me so pissed I decided on numerous occasions that I was finished with his crap for good, only to find myself back in a couple weeks -- was his insistence that what he taught was True Buddhism. The implication was that anything which deviated from his view of what Buddhism ought to be was unworthy of the name. He often went so far as to single out whole Buddhist traditions, schools of thought that had existed for centuries and claimed millions of loyal followers, and say they were pretty much a waste of time. He sounded just like one of those bouffant haired, white suit wearing obnoxious preachers I used to see on American TV all the time (before they started resigning after being involved in sex and money scandals).

But the other day someone at one of my lectures asked me why I kept talking about "true Buddhism" and asked how all the other Buddhist schools fit into the picture. She said I was sounding a little like a fundamentalist. Uh-oh...


http://web.archive.org/web/20040114114110/www2.gol.com/users/doubtboy/truebuddhism.html

Anonymous said...

Gniz: Sure, there are some fans here. I guess I am one of them. It would be a little weird if there weren't a few reading his blog. So maybe, I do not hold Brad to some artificial double standard of correct behavior as you said you do. I expect him to be as human as the rest of us. As far as Brad's claims for what meditation has done for his 'balance'.. He is intentionally vague in his descriptions of what that might be. He doesn't even like to use the word meditation. He says things like, I find it useful or something about it helps me.. could be he doesn't want to add to our erroneous beliefs.

Justin said...

Anonymous @ 6:12 AM

I didn't call him a jerk - but there have been times when he has acted in such a way that might tick that box for many people. Gniz's criticism is along these lines or simply that he disagrees with the content of what he says. I think that Brad has even admitted himself that he is sometimes a jerk (as most of us are sometimes), so - is this really a controversial point?

gniz said...

Really? said...

"I'm still waiting for somone to refer me to something that Brad has said, somewhere, sometime, that sounds like "Mine is the only true way"."

Brad Warner said: "the other day someone at one of my lectures asked me why I kept talking about "true Buddhism"


Okay, Really and others who defend everything Brad says even when direct quotes are given, whats your next line of defense...it seems direct quotes arent enough. Now you'll probably say that I'm only quoting Brad's writings because I wasn't breast fed as a child...

gniz said...

BTW I am quoting from the Rev Jimmy Swaggart's post above, but I recall this essay of Brad's as well. So I think we can close the book on the notion that Brad and Gudo never say their sect of Buddhism is the "one, true Buddhism." Right?

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

Anonymous @ 7:30 AM

"I do not hold Brad to some artificial double standard of correct behavior as you said you do. I expect him to be as human as the rest of us."

It's nothing as complicated as that. We're all fallible humans. Humans sometimes disagree with and criticise each other. Being human and/or admitting to being human doesn't mean that all disagreement and criticism is unjustified or that we get to never be criticised.

Kim Jong-il is as human as the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Justin: Thanks for not comparing Brad to Hitler.

Justin said...

No problem.

proulx michel said...

Stephanie said

The Buddha never taught that a certain posture was absolutely necessary for awakening, simply that one needed to be able to take a posture in which one could sit, still and alert, for relatively long periods of time.

Wrong. he insisted all the time on sitting with one's spine straight, not trying to control the breath.
Of course, he didn't have to contend with loafers who thought that reclining in a sofa was alright, since most people were used to sit on the ground in his time. Even those who had chairs, from what appears in the iconography, sat rather straight in them. Yet he insists on "sitting with one's spine straightened out".

Go check you Pali canon.

Anonymous said...

"My feeling is that he criticises Brad for being a jerk"

"I didn't call him a jerk - but there have been times when he has acted in such a way that might tick that box for many people.

You called him a jerk without having to take responsibility for it. The name calling is not controversial unless Brad is doing it right? At least be honest enough to admit it.

Justin said...

That isn't what I meant, although I can see why perhaps you misunderstood me in the first place.
But I've already explained this, I don't need to do it again. If I wanted to call him a jerk I would, but I didn't. I can't force you to understand, especially if you don't want to.

Rick said...

proulx michel said...

"Wrong. he insisted all the time on sitting with one's spine straight, ... "

That's not really correct. It's but one example the Buddha provided, only one paragraph in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22), otherwise known as The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. He also says:

"Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns that he is walking. When standing, he discerns that he is standing. When sitting, he discerns that he is sitting. When lying down, he discerns that he is lying down. Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it."

And not just when he is not moving, but also when he is moving...

"Furthermore, when going forward & returning,..."

gniz said...

"Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it."

Wow, that could almost pass for--wait for it--mindfulness meditation! Yikes! Wait though...its not dogen so we dont give a shit

Alan_A said...

Proulx Michel said --

Stephanie said

The Buddha never taught that a certain posture was absolutely necessary for awakening, simply that one needed to be able to take a posture in which one could sit, still and alert, for relatively long periods of time.


Wrong. he insisted all the time on sitting with one's spine straight, not trying to control the breath.
Of course, he didn't have to contend with loafers who thought that reclining in a sofa was alright, since most people were used to sit on the ground in his time. Even those who had chairs, from what appears in the iconography, sat rather straight in them. Yet he insists on "sitting with one's spine straightened out".

Go check you Pali canon.


From Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pali Canon, by Dr. Sarah Shaw:

"The posture of lying-down is also described in the Canon. It is undertaken by lying on the right side and is described by Buddha to Moggallana as a means of overcoming sloth and torpor. In the Mahasaccaka-Sutta, the Buddha is criticized for having a rest during the day. He defends this on the grounds that in hot weather, 'mindful and clearly comprehending, I fall asleep on my right side' (M I 249). Obviously most of us associate this posture with having a nap, but it can suggest alertness and readiness too. There is a particular quality of restful attentiveness and, surprisngly, energy that can be seen in statues of reclining Buddhas: the reclining figures at Wat Po in Bangkok and Pollonoruwa in Sri Lanka are particularly fine examples of this. In these examples, the posture is used to show the Buddha at the approach of death, his parinnibana."

So the Buddha lies down.

And he talks about mindfulness.

And I've been reading books.

The shame of it, the shame, the shame...

Rich said...

Hi Stephanie,
I have to agree with M. Proulx. Maintaining the correct sitting posture is the balanced state itself. Using a chair is OK if you can't do a half or full lotus but it's more difficult. As far as what Brad says, take what you like and leave the rest. You have to make your own way. so the 'one true way' is actually your way. AS far as interpretations of this and that some resonate with me more than others. I like Brad and Nishijima's dogma.
/Rich

Rick said...

I tended to think this "true buddhism" crap was a Soto thing. Dogen does like to disparage other traditions as inadequate. But on further investigation, I see it in Haukin (Rinzi lineage) as well.

Maybe it's a Japanese Zen thing.

In the Chan and Son traditions I am/have been part of, we don't talk smack about another's buddhism as "inferior," or "untrue."

Of course, none of my teachers are from Asia either.

gniz said...

Rich, you can feel free to agree with the gist of what M. Proulx said, but he was not merely offering his own opinion. He was stating some things about the cannon which, at least based on what some others are posting, appears incorrect or not fully encompassing of what the buddha taught.

So agree away for what works for you--but you're still missing the point of the discussion, as far as i'm concerned. The point of the discussion was Brad and Nishijima's "one true way" dogma and the defenses of their statements about correct posture and so forth just dont hold up unless you take their word for it over everything and everyone else's.

Rick said...

Rich said...

"Hi Stephanie,
I have to agree with M. Proulx..."

Rick asks...

Which part? The wrong part about the "seated position?" Or the nasty bit about the "loafers?"

Anonymous said...

Justin: If I misunderstood your earlier words I apologize. But I'm naturally limited in my understanding of what you meant by what you wrote.

Anonymous said...

No matter what Brad or anyone else in the whole wide world says, ultimately it is up to ME to decide if I want to agree with them or not, if I want to take it as dogma or opinion. No one is forced to believe anything anyone else in the whole wide world as TRUTH. I have a personal responsibility to accept, reject, think about, agree with, disagree with some or all of what Brad or anyone else says. If Brad has opinions on things, eg. what is zazen vs. what is not, I can agree with him or not, even if he thinks it's the absolute truth. I can still recognize it as his opinion. I don't care if Brad thinks this or that is true, it is up to me to decide for me. And is it for me to decide what opinions he or anyone else holds? I can only decide what I think. So what if he presents dogma or opinion, I don't have to agree. Afterall, Brad has always been against external mind altering or controlling forces and I don't think he has superhuman powers whereby he can control what I think (Palease!!! see that as a joke people).
I just sit; practice Zazen but I've also done Mindfulness Bases Stress Reduction. Do I think they are the same thing? No. Do I care that Brad or anyone else might poo-poo (don't you love that word?) MindfullnessShmindfullness (as he called it)? No.
Decide if you care that Brad cares.

Kyla

Rick said...

Kyla,

Stop being rational.

Your's Truely,

Rick

gniz said...

I've made the decision to periodically care enough about what Brad says or writes to offer my opinions (just like he does) in his comments section.

Anonymous said...

What!! After a lifetime of being irrationally bumped around by my own irrational thoughts!! Never!! :)
teasing.

Kyla
(actually I am capable of complete irrationality, you wouldn't believe some of the stupid things i've done)

Rich said...

gwiz said
"The point of the discussion was Brad and Nishijima's "one true way" dogma and the defenses of their statements about correct posture and so forth just dont hold up unless you take their word for it over everything and everyone else's."

I already said I like their dogma so what more do you want. As far as 'their word for it over everything and everyone elses' Who is everyone else? Maybe you can post in everyone else's blog. Maybe I'll post there too so I can spread my dogma.-)

Anonymous said...

I personally love the posture that Brad postulates as the only way. i don't know if it is the "only way."
i just find my spine is in the best alignment and i know anatomy very well so i see the physical benefits. i find it holistic too. if anyone knows about the Alexander Technique that might make more sense. but that's a whole other issue. it just works well for me, that's all i know.

Kyla

Anonymous said...

p.s. I know that Brad didn't create the posture (it just sounds like I thought that). Let's not give Brad credit for everything.

Kyla

Jinzang said...

Ven. Sariputta saw Ven. Rahula sitting at the foot of a tree, his legs folded crosswise, his body held erect, & with mindfulness set to the fore. On seeing him, he said to him, "Rahula, develop the meditation of mindfulness of in-&-out breathing. The meditation of mindfulness of in-&-out breathing, when developed & pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit."

The Greater Exhortation to Rahula

Sounds to me like Buddha's disciples were used to sitting in lotus posture. In my experience, lotus is the best posture for meditation. I've tried them all. If you're not sitting in lotus and you can, you're cheating yourself.

Anonymous said...

"I've made the decision to periodically care enough about what Brad says or writes to offer my opinions (just like he does) in his comments section."

Said with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

Just got home from work. How goes the "Proper Posture Required" smackdown?
Actually, I can make a joke like that because this board is VERY tame and mature compared to many comment boards that concern other "spiritual" matters. As a person who extensively studies the history of the bible and Jesus (I can hear Brad poo-pooing), I can ASSURE you that the "Christian" themed message boards are CRAZY!! I never comment there. Has anyone ever looked at Sarah Palin's facebook page? (I seem to have some vague recollection of Brad being compared to Ms. Palin at some point, however that came about I'll never know but at least he's not been compared to Hitler yet).
Seriously, here I know I won't somehow find the Muslims being blamed for certain postures being esteemed over others.
Everyone offers good food for thought.

Kyla

gniz said...

Anony sayz: "Said with a straight face."

Why wouldn't it be?

Anonymous said...

"Why wouldn't it be?"

It was a funny statement is all. I suspected you might be going for comedy. It gave me a smile.

gniz said...

Glad it gave you a smile. I agree its slightly absurd but the other posters here sometimes make me think i need to be ultra clear. One gets the impression that I spend all of my time obsessing about Brad, when in truth its only 40% of my time that i obsess about him.

Anonymous said...

92 PRO-FM

Really? said...

Gniz wrote:

"Okay, Really and others who defend everything Brad says..."

Where have you been, Aaron?
I was being hauled over the coals only a few days ago for (allegedly) giving Brad unrelenting grief over the MMK translation project.

I call it as I see it.
I hold no brief for Brad Warner.

Really? said...

AND - -

Later in the (now pretty old) Bradblog Rev Jimmy Swaggart quoted above comes this:

"Truth is not a static thing, nor is it the possession of any one human being let alone any group of human beings. It is a living fact. Align yourself with it and there is nowhere else you can go. That's Buddhism."

Does that help to clarify what I think Brad is on about when and if he uses the term "true" Buddhism?

Anonymous said...

Wow, 94 comments! Busy, this zen world. Does anyone read them all?

96 said...

It's easier to count them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,
I have to agree with M. Proulx. Maintaining the correct sitting posture is the balanced state itself. Using a chair is OK if you can't do a half or full lotus but it's more difficult. As far as what Brad says, take what you like and leave the rest. You have to make your own way. so the 'one true way' is actually your way. AS far as interpretations of this and that some resonate with me more than others. I like Brad and Nishijima's dogma.
/Rich


Another True Believer!

You have to "make your own way" to the Truth, say Brad and Nishijima, which just happens to involve Brad and Nishijima's special view of Truth that few other Buddhists in 2500 have even gotten close to. [Except Dogen, of course, or Dogen in Nishijima's twisted view of Dogen]. Nishijima is someone, says Brad, doesn't concur with what generations of respected scholars have concluded the Buddha's words mean". Not only scholars, but Zen Patriarchs, living Soto Zen teachers. In fact, about anybody. How many folks in the Zen world have picked up on Nishijima's crazy "balanced ANS" idea, or his excentric version of the Four Noble Truths? Not one outside of a handful of his students, and most of those, including Brad, downplay it. Now, he is telling Nargarjuna what Nargarjuna said.

Buddhist Bullshit. A crackpot in robes claiming Truth.

But even a crackpot can have some True Believer sycophants around him.

You have to love this blog. 100 comments, almost all about what an asshole the blog writer is and the half baked ideas of his teacher. You have to at least respect Brad for letting it go on.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ONE HUNDERD!!!

Mr. Reee said...

All this talk about positions reminds me about the convos we had in junior high about porno movies.

Chance said...

What really is going on here? WWJD? At which Kwicky-Mart do I purchase my bracelet?

Justin said...

Anonymous @ 10:09 AM

Fair enough. In retrospect I should have phrased it more carefully.

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

Hi Kyla,

I'm glad that your practice is helping with your panic attacks.

There are obviously significant differences between Zen and MBSR, but as I see it the important factors are common to both. The basic mechanism is the same: in a nutshell, 'being' instead of 'doing'. But this is a provisional, ongoing assessment. I'm training to be a teacher of MBSR and MBCT and my understanding will probably shift as that and my zen practice continue.

I'd appreciate if you would keep me/us in the loop with how you're getting on.

Justin

Anonymous said...

Hey anon @6.42am!

"Buddhist Bullshit. A crackpot in robes claiming Truth."

The REAL TRUTH, at last!

Isn't it just unbelievable how some of these fools convince themselves they're actually getting something out of this Nishijima/Warner bullcrap!

Don't it make you wanna bang thier empty heads together till they see some fuckin sense?

Or even better, shoot the poor deluded bastards.

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi all. I have attended Brad's tour in Finland and have a short question for you who have visited his talks elsewhere.

Is it customary to sell tickets or charge for the entry to see Brad talking? I'm not talking about dana, which is customary in Buddhism, but like a set price you have to pay to attend.

I'm just curious, as that was the case in Helsinki. They had a desk at the door where you had to pay (10 euros, not too much, but not exactly dana either) to enter and then you could also purchase as much of Brad or buddhist memorabilia as you wanted.

Also, Brad, if you happen to read this I would be interested in your take on the selling-tickets-to-buddhist-lectures, as you have been quite vehemently against teaching-buddhism-for-money in the past.

Note: I have nothing against the guys who made this happen and I wholeheartedly agree that everyone who participated should help them cover the costs. I'm just a bit puzzled that this was done in the form of selling tickets instead of accepting donations.

Rich said...

anon @1:47
"Isn't it just unbelievable how some of these fools convince themselves they're actually getting something out of this Nishijima/Warner bullcrap!

Don't it make you wanna bang thier empty heads together till they see some fuckin sense?

Or even better, shoot the poor deluded bastards."

Yea, I know what you mean, sometimes banging your head alittle changes the circuittry. But no shooting, cause the next moment may be that pure undeluded action.

Rick said...

110

"You can learn a lot from a dummy."

Anonymous said...

Anon@2:20 - I think it all depends on what clothes Brad is wearing at the time of the event. When he is wearing his punk rock documentary film maker beret, he is going for the money. When he is wearing his funky quilted dress, it isn't so kosher to sell tickets then. It gets into kind of a grey area when he is wearing his writer's smoking jacket because he writes mainly about Buddhism but is hawking books. I'm not sure how the Finland event was promoted.

Anonymous said...

"I agree its slightly absurd but the other posters here sometimes make me think i need to be ultra clear."

Ho Ho Aaron.. You are killing us. I love your humor! We Sometimes make you think you need to be clear.. Ha!

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

re; bottom line: have you seen Monty Python's "The Life of Brian"? Highly rec.

LRH said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I agree its slightly absurd but the other posters here sometimes make me think i need to be ultra clear."

Anonymous said...

"is it customary to sell tickets to a buddhist event?"

dana vs set fee

many times you will go to a buddhist type place/sitting group and there will be a 'suggested donation'

staying alive, since rent/upkeep/incense/flowers/candles/zafus/zabutonsand electricity/tea/coffee/paper cups/napkins/toilet paper/hand soap and whatever all it is offered and provided as 'givens'
are not free
These things cost money Not a whole lotta lotta, but it adds up

Extra expenses--like say flying a writer/teacher to your country to give a talk/lecture--and housing/feeding such person--even if it's putting them up at someone's home and such--still costs money.

So that no one person gets 'stuck' with the costs, (I don't think anyone considers such endeavors to be money making ventures)--it may have proved prudent to be as equitable as possible.

The same folks who don't seem to have it for the donation/dana basket, find enough of it to do other things (and I'm not saying that the activities of eating out, going to movies, supporting musicians either by purchase of CD or attending live performances aren't valid or should be avoided)--I'm pointing out that it is important to support that which is supportive of you.
You have to weigh these things yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving now to open the doors at Hill St. Santa Monica for the regular Saturday Sit

Come on down, the weather is fine

After sitting, we may stroll to the water's edge

Brad's being here or not doesn't change the schedule

proulx michel said...

Brad has no other income than that provided by his writing.
IN Tokyo, when he did the weekly lecture on Buddhism, he had to pay his own share of the rent of the place.
I don't think that he has asked anything for the sesshin in Frankfurt, outside maybe his expenses.
What you try to get for free, especially if it's Dharma, turns out to be worth exactly what you valued it. If you thought that you overpaid the 10 euro for his lecture (I no longer feel that 10 euro is a tremendous sum...) then the value you give to Dharma is quite cheap.

gniz said...

I'd shell out 10 bucks to hear brad talk, no problemo.

Anonymous said...

Without commenting on the ethics of charging for tickets, I imagine Brad would be the first to call someone out for selling tickets to a dharma talk.

alan said...

My take on the $charge/no $charge thing.

I'll start with a quote from the blog :

"I said that as far as I was concerned, I sat zazen on Saturdays at 10 AM at Hill Street Center and the door was open for anyone who wanted to join me."

This statement has been made before by Brad, I believe in an earlier blog entry. So it is fair to say that it represents Brads view towards his Saturday sessions at Hill Street.

He also (discretely) asks for donations at these sittings. In fact, on of his blog entries (Fourteen Dollars makes me Holler)he complained about how little money was in the donation basket. This money goes towards paying the expenses that Brad incurs caring for the people who join him sitting zazen. Tea, treats, toilet paper and who knows what else.

Brad has also been very vocal about the idea that there is no such thing as free money. I think that he strongly believes that money should be received for services rendered.

So, in my analysis, if Brad is asking for donations at his weekly sittings, he must be offering some sort of service and not just opening his doors to sit with his zen bowling buddies.

I maintain that this service is teaching. Brad sometimes denies that he is teaching and sometimes acknowledges this.

Brad, of course is free to be as inconsistent as he wants in describing his role as a zen spokesman.

I just feel that it would be good for him to make it very clear to his "students" whether he is or isn't a teacher and then act consistently with that revelation.

Of course I could be missing some subtle zen level where Brad is making perfect sense on this subject.

Always a possibility.

proulx michel said...

There is also something else.

Those who organised the Finland visit are not rich. They had to borrow money to be able to stage the event. Pay the aeroplane tickets, and things.
It is fair that they would try to be able to refund that money.

As for donations. I never even hint at them, because I receive people at my own place and don't serve them tea nor scones. If it were otherwise, I'd organise myself otherwise. I can understand Brad's reticences towards that teaching job. He hates it and feels committed to it. No easy thing. Let him sort it out in time.

O. U. Kid said...

Ron Jr. says:

The e-meter (or electro-psychometer) is a device invented in the 1940s by a chiropractor named Volney Mathison. It was originally called the Mathison Model B Electropsychometer and was promoted as an aid to psychotherapy and chiropractic. However, the name on the patent application for the first e-meter was that of L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), author of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, which credits Hubbard with invention of the device.

Hubbard's patent is for a modified version of Mathison's device that was developed by Scientologists Don Breeding and Joe Wallis in 1958.

Are there no secrets?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harry said...

Hi,

It may be worth pointing out that Finland is an expensive country to get by in and that overheads (foreseen and unforeseen) always heap up on things like a tour (eating out in particular seems heavily priced... I'm fucking skint after the trip... and the 10 euro entrance fee was the very least of my problems I can assure you).

I was there at the 10 Euro event. I'm quite happy that it was necessary for that charge to be made in order for the thing to go ahead. It was a reasonable and practical amount IMO. I'm not sure inflexable 'dana' rules were meant to preclude such things as those events from happening... if they are meant to then, you know, the old religion of common nonsense wins again.

It was a funny beast of an event anyway: somewhat more like a unplugged punk gig/memoir recitation/ philosophical stand-up routine/ confession than what most bead wearing mung bean eaters would consider a 'Dharma Talk'.

Regards,

Harry.

alan said...

Proulx Michel,

You comment jives with what I've read and observed. From what Brad writes, he "hates, hates, hates doing the Saturday sittings.

And, having personally attended about ten, it shows.

Brad wrote at one point that his teacher suggested he sponsor these sittings to help Brad with his practice.

My obviously non-binding observation is that Brad may be of better service to the world by his writing, rather than his sittings.

The only reason that I'm even bringing this up is twofold.

There is a long tradition of zen teachers claiming that they learn from their students. Maybe this could be an example.

Second, I get irritated when I drive fifty miles to Santa Monica to sit with Brad and leave with the feeling that he'd really rather not have me there at all.

And I know that's my problem.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"dana vs set fee"

it's not an abstract question. At that actual event, the thing to do would have been to give as much $$ as you felt compelled to (dana) and see what happens. Remember the paramitas are all about you and your relationship to the world. If a person gives the teachings and requires a fixed fee (versus dana) then the ramifications of that choice are on their shoulders.

Anonymous said...

gniz, you've been criticizing brad since at least June 30, 2006:

http://tinyurl.com/nwl22r

three years, two months!

It's like a prison sentence.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mtto said...

I haven't read all your posts in depth, but it seems like some of you might be interested in this information.

Brad no longer "runs" the financial end of the Saturday mornings sits at Hill Street. So he's more comfortable now asking for money for them. I'd probably feel the same way.

It costs our group $240 a month to rent the space for the time we use it on Saturday mornings. For the past six months or so I've been keeping track of the donations and we've made rent plus a very small amount over each month, sometimes as a result of me letting regulars know that we were short and people chipping in extra. We give Brad a little and we're trying to build a reserve. Prior to this, if we were short, we'll then it sucked to be Brad, but he didn't mind it when he had the Tsuburaya gig to offset the loss.

When you put money in the basket at Hill Street, mostly you are not paying Brad to teach, you are paying to rent a piece of wall to stare at. If we were pulling in a lot more money that might change things... but we're not and I don't foresee that changing soon. The money our group gives Brad each month is really a symbolic thing at this point: burrito money for Holy Guacamole (a local Mexican place), but not enough lunch money even for the month.

I know that Brad writes that he hates the Saturday morning sits and I believe it. But he doesn't hate them all the time. Trust me, or don't.

If you travel a long way to Hill Street to hear Brad teach, first of all Welcome! and second a bit of advice which you can accept or ignore: come with a question or two about Buddhism and/or your practice. There are no guarantees that you will hear a formal dharma talk otherwise, although you might. If it is the point of your trip, ask the question, don't be shy. Unlike most Buddhist groups (I think), we talk about whatever we feel like talking about after sitting. Obviously this includes Buddhism, but it isn't limited to Buddhism, so if you want to keep the topic of conversation on point, it is up to you.

gniz said...

Anony, thanks for putting up that link to my old 2006 comments...i think i've grown enormously as a person since then...hahahahhahahahahhhhhahahahahahahahahahahhahhhahahahhhshshshhahahahahahahahahah

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alan said...

Charles AKA Mysterion,

** Brad hates nothing, that is just a figure of speech he is using.**

I'm not presuming to say what Brad feels.

I'm just repeating what he has written, several times. He does not look forward to hosting Saturday events at Hill Street.

And, I'm not a expert is judging others emotions, but Brad does not seem to be a happy camper at these events.

** Sitting, as an obligation giri is, by definition, a burden. Is any burden pleasant? I wonder.**

I can (as I have explained) see why Brad would not be happy to host these events.

** You should not get irritated. Driving fifty miles to Santa Monica "to sit with Brad" is, in my opinion, an errant view. You are "Driving fifty miles to Santa Monica to sit.**

I should not be a lot of things, but am also tired of telling myself what I should not be.
And as I said, my irritation is my problem. I try to watch it and learn something.

** Brad is nothing. You are nothing. Sitting is sitting. If you learn that "sitting with Brad" is like "sitting with __________," then Brad will sense your detachment, lose the sense of giri, and everyone will benefit.**

I've been sitting for a little more than two years. So I'm still a big festering ball of something :)

** I seriously hope you reflect upon what I have jotted down. **

I'll try, but thinking about zen seems to get me absolutely nowhere.

**Sit to sit.**


Thanks for your comments.

Mtto,

I also want to repeat that I have no problem with Hill Street Center asking for donations. I can easily see that no-one there is getting rich at the zen business. And I like what is being accomplished there.

It is good to hear that Brad doesn't hate the sittings all the time. All I've had to go on for my opinions has been his writing and his attitude.

And I have brought up questions after the sitting that I asked and had answered. Great fun.

But my basic question still remains. You say that he teaches at Hill Street. I have heard and seen him doing something I'd call teaching.

So why can't the guy just come out and unequivocally say that he is a teacher?

Or if I am really just his zen bowling buddy, I'd like to be able to say Hi, Brad and have him say Hi back.

Oh my expectations are going to be the death of me yet : )

138 said...

It's just great being 138.

Mysterion said...

In the 'Japanese" [read traditional Zen] way of thinking, people in a superior position in the social hierarchy (teachers) are obliged to protect and nurture their juniors. They create on which may variously be translated as kindness, goodness, favor, mercy, or benefit. Individuals in a junior position (students) owe their seniors faithful service, loyalty, respect, and gratitude. They feel giri, moral debt, obligation, or duty.

The essence of these relationships are that they are reciprocal and morally required. By behaving in certain mutually beneficial ways, people in diverse hierarchal positions create ties which bind the entire social structure (sangha) together.

In my analysis, Brad still takes his leadership and teaching as giri instead of transitioning to on.

Brad should be hosting the sitting for the benefit of the sitters - correcting posture if necessary.

Alan said: "And, I'm not a expert is judging others emotions, but Brad does not seem to be a happy camper at these events."

He finds some discomfort in that to age (and advance) is - to Brad - a serious matter of flipping a coin and living "two decades or so with Huntington's disease."

Brad has a real reason to fear (although fear is the wrong word) aging. The angst of this is rather large. There is a 50-50 chance he received 'the genetically inherited gift' from his mom.

reference: SG Article

As an adjunct instructor of developmental psychology this semester (I finally cashed in on my M.S. for coffee money) I would comment that 'Trouble with neural networks' is just not my definition of fun.

Mysterion said...

Brad said: "In fact I don't even know if I really qualify as a monk by most people's standards."

most people's standards

F*ck those people - and the horse they rode in on! see

"Les Kaye has been integrally involved in developing an American Zen practice both at Haiku Zendo and at Kannon Do. He was ordained as a Zen monk by Shunryu Suzuki in 1971."
***********************************
One day, Les Kaye said to Shunryu Suzuki: "I want to be a monk."

"O.K." said Shunryu Suzuki. "You are a monk."
***********************************
Read a recent interview with Les HERE.

Les is Suzuki-roshi's gift to my generation. Brad is Nishijima-roshi's gift to YOURS.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

proulx michel said
"If you thought that you overpaid the 10 euro for his lecture (I no longer feel that 10 euro is a tremendous sum...) then the value you give to Dharma is quite cheap."

No, I didn't think so nor did I say so. What I was asking and curious about was the donation vs ticket aspect, especially as the whole tour was advertised as being donations based beforehand.

Harry, I was actually at the queue right after you at the 10 euro event. I know Finland is not the cheapest place around (heck, I live here) and like I said in my first post I wholeheartedly agree that the organizers should get their expenses covered. What I am not sure though if that should be done by asking people to donate money to support the cause or to sell tickets with a set fee to an event which was advertised as Brad talking about Zen, even if it turned out as unplugged punk gig/memoir recitation/ philosophical stand-up routine/ confession (which I enjoyed immensely).

Did Brad know that event wasn't free for anyone to come and see him?

Everyone is of course free to set up their gig as they like, I was merely curious if this was something that happened elsewhere also. Did other Finland places where Brad visited also sell tickets (I know the zazen events were - supposedly - donation based)? Do they when Brad is touring in other side of the Atlantic?

Anonymous said...

Proulx, I can be puzzled and perhaps even mildly annoyed that someone is charging money for a Zen event even if at the same time I personally would pay (almost) any amount of money in support of such events and consider it a bargain.

Jinzang said...

Don't it make you wanna bang thier empty heads together till they see some fuckin sense? Or even better, shoot the poor deluded bastards.

It looks like you will need to set up metal detectors for your Saturday morning sits.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mtto said...

alan wrote: This money goes towards paying the expenses that Brad incurs caring for the people who join him sitting zazen. Tea, treats, toilet paper and who knows what else.

Just to be clear, now you know that this assumption was incorrect: it goes to rent the space.

So, in my analysis, if Brad is asking for donations at his weekly sittings, he must be offering some sort of service and not just opening his doors to sit with his zen bowling buddies.

I maintain that this service is teaching. Brad sometimes denies that he is teaching and sometimes acknowledges this.


Now you know that this analysis was incorrect: the money goes to rent the space. I was vague before because I didn't want to be a dick and say "you're wrong"... but you were wrong. :) If we were paying Brad to teach on Saturday mornings we would get busted for paying an employee way below minimum wage.

I just feel that it would be good for him to make it very clear to his "students" whether he is or isn't a teacher and then act consistently with that revelation.

I've been to way more than 10 sittings at Hill Street and I disagree with this. But I could be wrong. I have other thoughts to share if you're interested; we can talk in person if you come down again.

alan said...

Mtto writes :

"This money goes towards paying the expenses that Brad incurs caring for the people who join him sitting zazen. Tea, treats, toilet paper and who knows what else."

Just to be clear, now you know that this assumption was incorrect: it goes to rent the space.

Thanks for the clarification. I will be my own "bit of a dick" and say that paying rent goes under the heading of "who knows what else."

But you are correct that Brad is not collecting donations as a payment for "teaching".

I may indeed drive down to Santa Monica to sit at Hill Street. I would go down more often, but it is a long drive and I am very sensitive to the waste of resources (ie gas) to get there. If I do go, I will be glad to talk with you. I am a tall, thin guy with a white beard who does not talk much.

And I feel justified in saying again(becuase it is an opinion and not a fact), I do wish Brad would make it clear if he is teaching down on Hill Street or just sitting with his zen buddies.

Because, if it's just sitting, I can do that just as well in my own bedroom.

If he is also teaching, I could use some of that.

Because he has given me some very valuable information about zen.

NellaLou said...

@Anony 1:11 You said: "Do they when Brad is touring in other side of the Atlantic?"

When Brad was in Saskatoon there were numerous events such as in Finland. Some were of a "religious" nature and others were of the lecture/performance type. In both cases donations were gathered although not a huge amount. It is common to have a set fee charged in the latter case though sometimes with an option to "pay according to your ability".

When the Dalai Lama tours there is often a distinction between these types of things also. Religious services are based on dana and lecture/performance type events have advance ticket sales at a set price. It depends on the role they are fulfilling-priest or famous person. And the audiences for both are different as well. Some people just want a view point like in a lecture (broad audience) while others want instruction/participation in a religious forum (small participatory group). (I am using the word religious rather loosely here for those allergic to the word just to make a distinction)

Mysterion said...

Money is such a big corruption of reality ('value'). Money neither has nor replaces value. Money was almost the end of SFZC back in the day. SFZC had plenty of money then - just not for a college scholarship, etc. Some individuals treated ZC money as if it was their own. If one individual wanted to provide a scholarship for his daughter, that could be looked upon by some as corruption. But to take on the same cloak of corruption - to become the same as the enemy you abhor - is to become your own enemy.

Yeah, I have - and use - money every day of the week. It shows only that I too am party to the immersion of being into the sewer of existence.

This morning, a well-known local (druggie) ask me for 95¢ for a coffee and donut. Now 95¢ has not purchased a coffee and donut since the last time this guy was clean and dry - a decade ago. So I offered to go across the parking lot and buy him a coffee and donut and deliver them to him. He refused.

The miserable sustenance offered by a coffee and donut would not mitigate his craving for crack.

The craving some held for MONEY back in the day was not so different from the druggies craving for crack cocaine today.

Both are corruptions of of perception in identifying something of value. In Buddhism, the value IS the sangha, not the individual. Working together, we form a sangha. Working apart, we are white ashes in waiting.

mtto said...

Hi Alan,

I know who you are; your photography is amazing, if you don't mind me saying so.

Because he has given me some very valuable information about zen. - For me, this is enough of an answer to your question.

The gas thing: totally. I live close to Hill Street and 10 AM on Saturday is a perfect time for me.

Jinzang said...

... in the church of Caribou Barbie

I want to attend the church of Twist Barbie.

Mysterion said...

During the "stay physically fit" dance craze, Southern All Stars were popular. They were the local 'college band' in Ebina City.

Award

Some videos were suggestive but it's just hustle, whistle, muscle stuff... a natural part of life.

To Japanese, sex is like sneezing - don't hold back when the urge strikes.

Mysterion said...

THIS is the best band @ the best concert 1986. I was teaching 'electronics' in the commercial entertainment biz. at the time - like how to set up a DASH multi-track recorder or PCM recording system. I got as lot of free tickets and so we went, once in a great while.

As we were leaving Japan, THIS concert. It is a great performance.

Hint: It's a Buddhist band named Anzenchitai or "Refuge."

Today

These 'talent' people live in a parallel universe to the techies. Occupying the same space at the same time, there is almost no connection whatsoever. If a techie 'gets involved' in the content, s/he risks losing the recording. Techies are there setting up before the concert begins; techies are there concentrating on the mix and the audio levels and equalization; techies are there tearing down gear and packing up long after 'they' have gone off to their parties - or often rest and seclusion. Symbiosis.

I never even noticed these bands until years after we returned to America.

And, in a formal classroom/laboratory setting, I trained techies. Great work for a young man. (I'll post a geek-of-the-week photo over on my blog). Although I typically wore old Levis and a clean white shirt and odd tie, for the photo I wore an old suit.

Mysterion said...

After actor Takeshi Kitano was horribly deformed in a a terrible motorcyclee accident, he was depressed to the edge of death. Tamaki Koji took him on stage and said "just sit." I will play a song, and the public will accept you again. Live in the moment. Just live.

TODAY

"Beat Takeshi" is best known for irreverent comedy - especially the movie Zatoichi. Like an opera, everyone who is killed in the film is alive again at the end to dance in the finale.

INTERVIEW

Anonymous said...

I think everyone can be an asshole at times, be a jerk or jerkette ( you know dude/dudette--Big Lebowski?) and I don't think Brad has cornered the market on assholiness. ;)
Bottom line for me is that we are all capable of it and Brad has stated in a few places, I think even in his books that he can and has been an asshole. I personally can be a master asshole when I want to be, sarcastic as hell and just because Brad is a Zen Priest doesn't mean he can't be a jerk. Priests of all religions (yes I know Buddhism isn't supposed to be a Religion) can be master-ultra-super-duper Jerks or Jerkettes (when women are allowed to be priests that is). Just because someone is religious/spiritual or whatever you want to call it, doesn't mean they aren't capable of the same behaviour as the rest of us because I'm not sure that being a Priest in ANYTHING makes a person different from "the rest of us." That could mean we deify them just a bit too much.

Kyla

Anonymous said...

what does 'being an asshole' entail? it might be worth it to look at this more closely.

Anonymous said...

FWIW: my limited experience of Brad LIVE!

At Hill Street, he's pretty grumpy.

On tour --especially in the middle of a
sesshin-- his dharma talks are pretty damn funny.

His sense of humor allows me to tolerate
his grumpiness. (And hell, if I had a
bunch of strangers projecting all sorts
of strange notions on me, I'd be pretty
grumpy too --grrr :(

It'd probably be nice to be friends
with Brad, but I'm just not cool enough.
(I don't have a Godzilla t-shirt and
I've always thought Gene Simmons was a
dork ;)

Mysterion said...

One can best be an asshole by not living up to (or down to) the expectations of someone else.

The entire asshole thing is reflective. If you 'judge' someone else as being an asshole, then you have only identified your own perception.

In truth, even in a crowd of one there is an authentic asshole. Sans asshole, there is a brown bagger.

"Bad faith involves a claim to be what I am not - not just not being a coward, for example, but constituting myself as courageous."
- Jean-Paul Sartre
(Speaking of American Republicans?)

Anonymous said...

That's funny. I'm cool enough to be friends with Brad.

Anonymous said...

I just REALLY wanted to get that word "assholiness" in because I thought it was a funny word.
Maybe a person is being an asshole when they are deliberately mean. I'm not saying Brad has been or is, or that anyone else has been or is deliberately mean but I think most everyone in the world has been deliberately mean on at least one occasion in their lives. I can only speak for myself and say yes, I have been deliberately mean, very mean in my life and it never felt good or led to anything productive.

Her Assholiness Kyla ;)

Anonymous said...

And why aren't you coming to Toronto during your world tour Brad!!!

jerk! ;)


Her Supreme Assholiness Kyla

proulx michel said...

Once the parts of the body decided to choose themselves a leader.
The head said "I must be the leader, I'm the one who takes all the decisions!"
But the heart replied "I must be the leader, because I'm the one who keeps the machine running!"
The hand said that without him, nothing would be done, and so he deserved to be the chief, but the foot contended that without him no one would go far.
And so on for the other parts of the body, each one having a perfect reason for being the chief.
Then came the arsehole, and said "I'm the one who ought to be the leader."
But then all the other parts just burst out loud in laughter, so much that the arsehole got vexed and angry, and shut himself up to sulk in his corner.

Soon the head felt dizzy, the heart got wild in his beats, the hand got shaky, the foot unsure, and the same for all the other body parts.

So, in the end, they yielded, and it is since that all chiefs are arse holes.

Rick said...

I think Sean Connery was the best James Bond. I rather didn't like that Roger Moore fellow. There's no use mentioning those other blokes.

Well, except this new guy has the swagger, though a little short on suave.

But that's just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

PM - that was v amusing. I, for one had not heard it before.

And Rick: Yeah - we get it...you're a true zen master. It's nice of you to pop in.

Your turn....

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

You put yourself out there, and you're bound to get criticized...

And I am actually unconcerned with what you may think ... of anything.

Your turn.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you are a spiritual leader. I have known lots of them because I have a curious mind and often have no idea what to do, so I'll look for a spiritual leader. I wish a lot of the time someone would tell me what to do, because then i wouldn't have to think about it or choose or act and I'm sure you're aware that shit is tiring.

So far I haven't really found anybody who I'd be interested in being led by but I understand the need for it; the need in people to be told what to do. With Zen practice, you can't wait around for anyone to tell you what to do because you're supposed to do the whole thing yourself. No father, no daddy, no police fire or rescue. In my opinion this is why very few people stay with it.

But you are a spiritual leader in this way: there is a train wreck, and you are the only one who happens to be standing on the corner of fifth and fifteenth when it happens, so you go running back to the town waving your arms and you say: There's a train wreck! And the people say where! And you say there! Over there! Come on I'll show you!

And the people stampede after you to see the smoldering smushed up ex-train on the twisted up steam sweating rails and their eyes go wide -- and every person who followed will shoot half a glance at you as if to say -- what else ya got?

And you say, that's it, just the train wreck. See it?

You might feel bad for a minute you didn't have anything else for them but who are you, God?

It's the best kind of spiritual leadership there is and by far the most honest.

old fart said...

Blogger Rick said...
"I think Sean Connery was the best James Bond."

I agree.

Roger Moore was just an over aged fop.

Anonymous said...

Foppishness according to:
Aguecheek, Sir Andrew - silly old fop, believes himself young. [Br. Lit.: Twelfth Night]
Flutter, Sir Fopling - witless dandy. [Br. Lit.: The Man of Mode]
Foppington, Lord - a selfish coxcomb, most intent upon dress and fashion. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Handbook, 381]

Mysterion said...

Kurosawa goes Western.

BTW, the entire Zatoichi is posted but REMEMBER, this is a comedy.

My turn said...

Rick wrote:

"...I am actually unconcerned with what you may think ... of anything."

If that is so, I have one very obvious question for you:

Why respond? (supplementary Q: Why post?)

I mean you no ill-will, but as you say, if you put yourself out there...particularly as a "zen priest", complete with robed pic, then you do deserve all you get - at the very least a little teasing and probing.

Rick said...

My turn said... Why respond? (Why post?)

Hell if I know. I don't usually spend time in the blogoshere, but the "spirit" moved me (so to speak) to look in on some folks, and to jot a few things down for myself.

I used to write this Zen shit for a website, until the editorial staff insisted on changing what I wrote to fit the sites "style." They would change entire paragraphs to the point I didn't know what I was trying to say. At least in the blogs, I can post what and how I want, and if someone doesn't like it - they can comment, and I can ignore it.

Some of these commentors seem well meaning enough, but do they actually believe the shit they're posting here means anything to anyone else? Does anyone think Brad (or anyone else) cares if some unimaginative (given his blog-name) dude sold off all his Zen books? Oh... all except Brad's book, of course. I say, get out of Brad's ass, and on the cushion and maybe you wouldn't have needed those 26 books to being with.

It's just really funny...

Personally, I like the irreverant little comments all the "Anonymous" personae post.

...at the very least a little teasing and probing

Yes... at the very least.

And in return, I get watch "myself" when that teasing a probing occur and chew on the "insult and injury" done and see it for what it really isn't.

Your turn... Why do you insist on posting anonymously? Why are you hiding behind that, and the 10 or so other fake names?

My turn said...

Hi Rick -

Well that's more like it!
You said: "...I am actually unconcerned with what you may think ... of anything". It wasn't true. You say none of it matters, but it clearly does - to you,and to all who post. Not a lot, but it matters. Honesty is all I was trying to tease out. Job done.

Thank you for your honesty.

Re this "anon" thing: I really don't see why some people get in such a lather about it. We're talking on the net; you'll NEVER know who I "really am", but you know enough for us to be able to have a conversation, of sorts. I try, at least, to identify myself enough for consistency throughout a topic - like this one: I'm "my turn".
When we meet in person, I'll formally introduce myself. Until then, what I'm hiding from is my business, not yours :-)

My turn said...

Rick -

I thanked you for your honesty.
On reflection, I lied. Just to keep the peace and spread good vibes.

I think your last post contained a lot of self-deceptive defensive ranting. No doubt, so does mine. Not nearly so much though.

It's reassuring to know that I needn't worry about any "insult and injury" I may cause in this post - you wrote "...but do they actually believe the shit they're posting here means anything to anyone else?", and "It's just really funny..."
So once again you assert that you have a complete disregard for the amusing, insignificant opinions of your fellow bloggers and posters...We can say what we like, and you don't care!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...

When you put it that way it sounds, well, rude.

But I'm OK with rude.

Seriously, I have very few allusions that what I jot down has any meaning to anyone else either. I don't see anything wrong with that.

As to "self-deceptive defensive ranting," I'm not really good with psycho-babble. It's ironic, in a way, that an anonymous poster suggests anything self-deceptive and defensive in my rantings.

But I'm cool with that. And I will investigate my arrogance towards others and try not to let my rantings tend toward self-deception or defensiveness.

I'm completely serious (as he posts anonymously)

smallawei said...

情趣,情趣用品,巴黎,
G點,按摩棒,
轉珠按摩棒,變頻跳蛋,
跳蛋,無線跳蛋,
飛機杯,男用強精長軟質套,
男用強精短軟質套,充氣娃娃,
男性性感內褲,性感內褲,
自慰套,自慰套,
情趣娃娃,自慰器,
電動自慰器,充氣娃娃器,
角色扮演,角色扮演服,
性感睡衣,情趣睡衣,
性感內衣褲,性感內衣,
內衣,性感內褲,
C字褲,內褲,
性感貓裝,性感睡衣,
貓裝,吊帶襪,
情趣內褲,丁字褲,
SM道具,SM,
震動環,潤滑液,
情趣禮物,情趣玩具,
威而柔,精油,
逼真按摩棒,數位按摩棒,
加盟,免費加盟,
網路賺錢,情趣加盟,

escort valencia said...

It won't really have success, I consider so.

Lucia said...

So, I don't actually believe this will work.