Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I thought this cartoon sort of explained what was the problem with the comments section of this blog pretty succinctly. I'm still on the fence about the comments section. I am working on a all new website right now that I intend to take the place of this blog anyhow. I'll still blog over there. But the whole layout and suchlike will be far more sensible. There will probably be some kind of forum for members like what Noah Levine has. So just hold tight and comment in Gniz's Reblogging Brad Warner site for now.

The folks in Victoria, BC have put up this blog about my upcoming talks and stuff there. If you are in the area I expect to see you there. If you are anywhere near Victoria and do not show up for the talks, there will be serious repercussions. You may be reborn in a really nasty place!

And remember I'll be in Vancouver as well on November 13th for sure and probably some other days. Details are coming soon.

Also if you want to know what the sesshin I led in Frankfurt a couple months ago was like read this.

The other day my friend Christine arranged for me to interview Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO for an upcoming piece that will appear on Suicide Girls. Then my friend Mary Grace arranged for me to attend the final rehearsal for the band's upcoming tour to promote the deluxe remastered versions of their first and third albums. Nice friends!

It just so happened that at the same time I was doing the interview I've been reading Chuck Klosterman's new book Eating The Dinosaur. Klosterman spent much of his career as a journalist doing interviews. Now as a celebrity writer he conducts fewer interviews, but is, himself, interviewed a lot. It's a situation I can relate to now that I'm getting interviewed all the time as well as conducting interviews myself.

Klosterman's book poses some interesting questions about the process of interviewing and being interviewed. These relate very much to Zen practice. Klosterman says that we tend to assume that we all have privileged access to the contents of our own minds. We imagine that we could ask ourselves any question to which we knew the answer and get that answer or even ask ourselves our opinions and feelings about something and get the answer to that. However, the process of interviewing people and being interviewed has led him to question that assumption. There may be questions we cannot answer until someone else asks us.

This is really insightful (and Klosterman is a big fan of KISS). I kind of knew this intuitively but had never seen it spelled out clearly. It explains why I structure my lectures the way I do. I don't really enjoy standing up in front of a group of strangers and telling my life's story. I do that at the beginning of many talks just to warm up the crowd to start asking questions. That's how I find out a lot of things. I've said stuff in Q&A sessions that I truly did not know until they popped out of my mouth.

It also explains the importance of having a sangha and having a teacher. I'm not a real social person. But sangha practice has been part of my Zen life right from the beginning. There are things you can't find out about yourself unless you're seeing them reflected in others.

I recently saw some guy on the internet (see cartoon above) bitching that, "Brad doesn't care about folks who don't have access to a teacher." As if it's my job to minister to everyone out there who is too lazy to go look for a place to practice communally. OK maybe some of the folks who moan like this legitimately don't have access to a teacher. But, y'know, out here in LA LA Land I hear complaints all the time from people who say they just can't deal with driving 20 minutes from Silver Lake out to Santa Monica on a Saturday morning to sit (see details on link to your left, we'll be at the Hill St. Center this Saturday Nov. 7th at 10 AM as usual -- plus it's way nicer in Santa Monica than it is inland so why the fuck can't you get out here just for the beach?) and why can't I run a class out there too, and 10 miles north and 10 miles south... So I take a lot of what I hear along those lines with a big ol' lump of salt.

Anyway, it doesn't matter of it's The Greatest Sangha In The World or The Bestest Zen Teacher Ever. Just get a little sitting group together if you can. Part of communal practice is the fact that you probably won't like everyone in the group, you'll probably have to do a bit of traveling, the teacher may say things you don't like or be not very good, etc. Just do it. As I've said before, I really don't believe Internet-based communities of any kind (not just Zen) are the same as real face-to-face groups. For one thing you do not have the option of just logging out if you get annoyed. That alone makes a huge difference.

Wow. That rambled on far longer than I meant it to. I got work to do!

Finally I want to leave you with my new favorite song in the world:

And remember, you can leave comments at Reblogging Brad Warner