Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SCREEN TIME, MY MAD CHAMBER OF HORRORS and OTHER DELIGHTS

OK. I've turned commenting back on. For now...

I've been enjoying Gniz's recent lambasting of Genpo Roshi and Big Mind® over on the Reblogging Brad Warner blog. It's good to see this stuff getting a public airing. But I've never felt the need to dig as deeply as Gniz has. The fact that Big Mind® is bullshit is overwhelmingly evident just by watching videos of it.

In any case, the fact that Gniz has chosen to write these pieces means that his blog is no longer really functioning as a place to comment on this one. So I suppose I'd better reinstate the comments section.

Those of you who assume I have done this because I saw a decrease in traffic to this site when I removed the comments are assuming I am a whole lot more together on stuff like that than I really am. The truth is I have no clue how many people look at this thing even though I have a subscription to a service that's supposed to tell me.

I'm going to try to look at the comments and even chime in on occasion. But I make no promises. The fact is, the Internet bores me to tears. I can't stand being on-line any longer than I absolutely have to. And because of my work I absolutely have to be on-line way longer every day than I can stand without adding any more "screen time" to my life.

I should explain "screen time." I stayed in Victoria, BC last week with a guy named Sei-in. Sei-in has three kids. The kids are given a specific allotment of what Sei-in calls "screen time" each week. They can spend this time watching TV or being on the Internet or playing video games or doing other things that involve looking at screens. I think he gives them about 5-6 hours per week (that's per week, kids, not per day). He says their behavior (or behaviour since they're Canadian) has improved markedly since he introduced this system. Time spent in front of screens seems to make the kids jumpier, more nervous, more angry, more prone to get in fights, etc. than time spent with friends or books or in doing real activities rather than virtual ones.

This is a lesson we should all pay attention to.

And it's another reason I don't believe in on-line sanghas.

So... while I will be monitoring the comments more than before, don't expect a whole lot. Even Gniz's site contained anonymous commenters making oblique references to my "mad chamber of horrors" where I perform "experiments labeled as Zen." What this chamber is and what those experiments are is anybody's guess. But what's not a matter of guessing is that weenies like whoever left that comment will have their say in the new comments section.

But so will intelligent people. And I hope those people will feel free to ignore the weirdos or knock them down when they pop up. I myself probably won't bother with that stuff except perhaps to make fun of it as I'm doing now.

ANYWAY, I'm celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in the suburbs of Dallas this week. Next week I'm off to St. Paul and Minneapolis for more speaking gigs. Details are at this link.

The regular zazen at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica is on this coming Saturday even though I will not be there. So go sit if you wanna sit.

Now leave your comments! But be sure not to exceed your allotted "screen time!" I know I will not exceed mine.

33 comments:

neilvw said...

one

Anonymous said...

"the fact that Gniz has chosen to write these pieces means that his blog is no longer really functioning as a place to comment on this one. So I suppose I'd better reinstate the comments section."

Brad, I don't get your logic.. Aaron's blog was functioning fine. He occasionally fills in dead time with something besides comments on your writing. There's nothing wrong with that. You don't write something interesting in every post after all.. Sometimes it's just a list of appearances. I have got to tell you that your reason for allowing comments again is really weak. It doesn't sound truthful at all. Things were working out fine at Reblogging, and with a lot less nastiness.

I think your blog writing style is what causes a lot of the nastiness on HCZ. You have never addressed this possibility so I assume you don't believe it. Anyway, please don't get all bent out of shape if people start getting unkind again.

poliss

gniz said...

#3!!

Damn, couldn't y'all at least have let me get #1 in the first post allowing comments back?

Anyway, I'll be keeping the "reblogging" site open for a little while longer, who knows, it may still serve a purpose.

Glad to see this place back, it will be interesting to see how it functions after the layoff.

hungry G said...

The kid who left the 'Mad Chamber of Horrors" comment probably thought he was being funny.. Now he is probably pissed that he got called a weenie. And now he will probably come on here and call you something worse. So here we go again..

Anonymous said...

back

4

now


bendun

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad
Say hi to Skylar!---maybe she can do another interview for the blog with you again!

I forget her brother's name. Say hi to him to.

Be well.

apicol

Anonymous said...

Brad, good to see you Back.

Still seems like you carry a lot of grudges and revenge about a lot of stuff for someone who is supposed to have been practicing Zen.

I guess you don't seem like someone to respect or look up to. Isn't that kind of the least you would want in any kind of Buddhist teacher?

zenmite said...

"Ken Wilber is an arrogant, imnmature megalomaniac too imprisoned in his own ego to be any sort of spiritual teacher. He claims he’s a Buddhist, yet he clearly breaks the fundamental Buddhist precept of ‘right speech’ with his harsh, slanderous, vindictive, and puerile rant. And I do not buy the “it’s a Zen thing” flimsy apology. A Zen teacher fist cultivates a relationship of trust and understanding with his student before he starts using the technique of seemingly abusive/harsh language. Wilber ha not cultivated such a relationship with is critics, so he has no business using such behavior. He may have rational/logical intelligence and some interesting insights, but he completely lacks emotional intelligence.

What’s more, his writing is bombastic, embarrassingly self-aggrandizing, annoyingly repetitive, and overly simplistic or distortive of other fields of knowledge.

It’s time to expose the Emperor’s lack of clothes."


I found the above comment by one of KW's critics on another site.

Brad Warner said...

Hungry G,

Yeah. Maybe you're right. The guy might've been joking. It's true.

Then again maybe I was too.

And Apicol, I will tell Skylar you said "hi." But the last time I tried to get her to do another one of her shows she wasn't into it anymore. We'll see how she is this time.

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

'arrogant','immature', 'ego', claims he’s a Buddhist','clearly breaks the fundamental Buddhist precept of ‘right speech’ with his harsh, slanderous, vindictive, and puerile rant' ,'completely lacks emotional intelligence.'

Sounds like a scoundrel. But we're all probably just projecting our expectations of perfection onto the teacher right?

gniz said...

Shit, Justin, I'll argue with you on two blogs about this subject. Don't conflate the Wilber issues with Brad.

Brad may someday prove to be as scummy, dishonorable, money-grubbing and willing to associate with bottom-feeders...but he hasn't arrived there just yet.

Wilber has a long and illustrious track-record of being a dirtbag, lying manipulator, and star fucker (which you couldn't care less about, apparently).

Brad has his detractors and certainly does and says some questionable things, but he doesn't fall anywhere near Wilber and Genpo and Andrew Cohen on the shitbag scale.

I hope he never does.

You know enough to see the difference, I would hope, despite your playing devil's advocate here or whatever you're trying to do.

Is Brad blind to his own foibles? Perhaps so. It still doesn't put him anywhere near the level of a Ken fucking Wilber.

gniz said...

And lest anybody, Brad included, think I am joking when I say that he "could" someday turn out to be just as deluded, manipulative, and problematic as Ken Wilber....well I'm not joking in the least.

It's a long slippery slope to get from point A to point Z but any one of us can get there, one slippery step at a time.

leoboiko said...

> I guess you don't seem like someone to respect or look up to. Isn't that kind of the least you would want in any kind of Buddhist teacher?

On the contrary, you should not “look up to” anyone. Including “zen masters”. Especially “zen masters”. The “zen masters” themselves are pretty clear on this.

Do not expect religious people to “attain enlightenment” and become morally or personally superior to regular people. Go read more on the life of famous Buddhist guys.

Anonymous said...

> I guess you don't seem like someone to respect or look up to. Isn't that kind of the least you would want in any kind of Buddhist teacher?

On the contrary, you should not “look up to” anyone. Including “zen masters”. Especially “zen masters”. The “zen masters” themselves are pretty clear on this.

Do not expect religious people to “attain enlightenment” and become morally or personally superior to regular people. Go read more on the life of famous Buddhist guys.


Maybe so, but we don't want to have to look down on them either, or think they are just another bunch of neurotic fucked up guys who are angry and carry grudges and take cheap shots. I understand a Zen teacher who is human and sometimes acts like an ass, but not someone who makes it a selling point.

Shonin Justin said...

Gniz, I wasn't saying that Brad was either better or worse than Wilber, just trying to challenge some inconsistency in how (and if) we judge people's morality.

It is after all, very easy to fall into a biased, sectarian 'yay our team, screw the other guys' mentality, which I think has little to do with Buddhism.

And I confess I know very little about Ken Wilbur - perhaps I'm insulated by the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps it's just because I have almost no interest in that kind of thing. So please present the case against Ken Wilber. Aside from being friends with Andrew Cohen and Adi Da Samraj what makes him a 'scumbag'? Perhaps you can explain what's wrong with being a 'star-fucker' at the same time and define when earning a living through being a dharma teacher becomes 'money grubbing'. I'm not being pedantic or sarcastic I'm just trying to clarify why you have these views.

DJ #1 said...

"Driven to Tears" ~ The Police
"Problem" ~ Sex Pistols

Harry said...

The woman, in the Wilbur/Cohen tag team youtube vid; isn't that Hillary Clinton?

Yeah, that's pretty creepy. Important stuff to highlight, but don't forget to give yourself, and everything, a break.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

agree about the screen time stuff

about the money--it is a strange substance if I am applying for grants for a project then I need to go where the money is.

that doesn't mean I'm willing to get into bed for it--otherwise I wouldn't have to fill out all those dang
grant applications

money is the ridiculously rich man/(rich man's foundation) short cut to 'good deeds'

while I can't be 'bought' or bribed, I can be 'gifted'
and I don't think I'd object to crediting the source

but to say my foundation funded work is tinged because the money came from some shady characters does not equate any more than saying
I am tinged because half of my genetic material came from a (fill in the blank perjorative term).

I say encourage dispersal of wealth
I would agree dependency on such could potentially compromise the recipient

careful

we must walk through this way and there are landmines Plug your ears and carry a looooooong stick
(I admit this is all theoretical, as no one is giving me any money for any projects, and thank god for my job)

decite

tattoozen said...

I think it's time we talked this over
I think you've taken this too far
I never wanted to be different
Didn't ask to be nobody's star
Try and take control of it
Cause what you see is what you get
Try and take control of it
And not me

You say there's talk of revolution - so what's new?
You say there's fighting in the air
You think that I've got the solutions
But do you really think that's fair?
Try and take control of it
Cause what you see is what you get
Try and take control of it
And not me

[Chorus:]
Don't wanna be nobody's hero
Don't wanna be nobody's star
Don't wanna be nobody's hero
Get up get out be what you are

You think it's time you took me over
To do what you can't do yourself
But don't let heroes get your kicks for you
It's up to you and no-one else
Try and take control of it
Cos what you see is what you get
Try and take control of it
And you'll see

[Chorus]
You think you're nobody
And I get all the fun
But no-one is a nobody
Everyone is someone

[Chorus]

Be what you are

Shonin said...

I think there may be some evidence that high levels of 'screen time' in children may lead to a decrease in concentration and an increase in ADHD-like behaviour. Don't ask me for the proof though.

However, and this is a big HOWEVER... there is a huge difference between sitting in the lounge channel hopping, web-surfing, or chasing gaming thrills and engaging in a zazen sit or dharma talk which is enabled by communications technology. It's not the screen that causes the problem, it's the restlessness and relentless search for quick thrills that undermines patience, and psychological groundedness. Plus, and this is a rather important point which has been raised again and again (but seemingly ignored by Brad), no one is presenting online sanghas as a replacement for flesh and blood sanghas or saying they are better or even equally as good. These are for people who can't make it to a RL sangha. So the real alternatives for these people would presumably be internet surfing, gaming, channel hopping etc. Far better that they are logging on and doing zazen I think.

Brad Warner said...

Gniz said:

"Brad may someday prove to be as scummy, dishonorable, money-grubbing and willing to associate with bottom-feeders...but he hasn't arrived there just yet."

I'm working on it! Jeez, give me a little time!

Ben Newell said...

this place tastes like a fart

acephale said...

Presenting yourself to the world as being apart from it, or a special part of it, rather than just being with, or of everything, leads to judgement and an assessment of differences, rather than intuitive awareness of similarities. "Self-consciousness" -the illusion of a "self" that is separate, seems to have a life of its own, bifurcating endlessly into personality, points of view, books, websites, blogs...It thinks it needs to be explained, protected, understood.

Anonymous said...

"Time spent in front of screens seems to make the kids jumpier, more nervous, more angry, more prone to get in fights, etc. than time spent with friends or books or in doing real activities rather than virtual ones."

This is often a problem with the generation / people who grew up before / without computers. That is, seeing things done via machines as somehow unreal as compared to what they themselves consider real.

I'm sure at least part of it springs from difficulty to keep up with or understand all this new technology and the ways it works and part of it is just the general fear of new things.

But the whole idea that there is something more or less real is inherently wrong. Didn't Brad say it well in his first book in regards to seeing something as holy and something else not? Also is it not said "The ultimate Path is without difficulty. Just avoid picking and choosing."?

What the people need to realize is that computers and interaction via some medium - be it computers, phones, letters or just yelling at each other over a distance - are not some virtual unreal thing separate from reality, and that the entities you interact with through the blinking lights of your screen are not imaginary or virtual. They are other people just as real as yourself.

It is of course obvious that there's a difference between online and face-to-face interaction, but calling the other virtual and seeing it somehow inferior is just blinding yourself to the reality.

And isn't reality what Zen is all about, seeing things for what they truly are?

Don't blame the technology if it is your attitude which is causing problems with the technology.

Anonymous said...

i still don't see why reading something on a computer screen is less real than reading a book or a newspaper. sure the text is 'virtual' or made of pixels or whatever, but the words that form in my mind seem just about as real to me.

Anonymous said...

idk about wilber being overly simplistic. wikipedia's summary of his "integral thought" stuff is waay over my head

Kyla said...

Anon at 11:42
Don't mistake pseudo-intellectual mumby-jumby designed to make one sound like a genius with actually being a genius. That stuff is marketed so people will believe it is "over their head" and therefore meaningful and useful. It's all part of the scam.

Gniz's Stalker said...

Anon 11:42:

The Integral stuff is a bit of mash-up of various things that don't fit too well together and about which Ken doesn't seem to have too much detailed knowledge.

There are some grains of 'truth' in the Integral stuff but it's so buried beneath Wilberism that it's not of much use.

You have to ask yourself if after 2,500 - 4,000 years it's possible to say anything new about this stuff.

All that's left to work on really is the detailed Neuroscience behind it all and that is over my head and over Kenny's head.

There are books by people like Antonio Damasio, (Dr) J H Austin and (Dr) Jill Bolte Taylor that provide a current summary of the hard science behind this stuff but even that stops short.

I always have a suspicion that people who are trying to produce integated theories of everything are trying to make up for a lack of feeling of internal integration or oneness. Intellectual theories can be used to paper over the cracks.

The whole point about Zen is about letting go of searching for various things such as explanations and reasons and understanding and just learning to exist in a way that doesn't need them.

Integral Consciousness is really about trying to explain and understand something that perhaps has always defied explanation and understanding and perhaps always will until the neuroscience has it nailed.

Anonymous said...

Yay! The comment section returns!

*sound of one hand clapping while the other types*

Mr. Reee said...

Re: looking up to/looking down upon.

It may be interesting to consider, in a non-judgmental way, that 50% of that equation depends on the viewer as well.

Up is relative to down, and down is relative to up. To say that someone should be looked up to implies that the one doing the looking is already down.

And while that may be an accurate *description* of things as they actually are at the moment, it probably shouldn't be turned into a *prescription* for living.

This may be why the zenji are against making teachers into something other than they actually are. It'll keep you "down."

So say the pedgei.

mark said...

Glad to hear from you again Brad, was missing your usual wit. Your candor and "non-officialness" is what drew my interest. If people are having problems with there emotions/judgements/and or feelings towards you, doesn't that mean your doing things right? Working on our feelings, for ourselves by ourselves, with your 'at will' convenient guiding hints, the treasures to be had. Thanks again ...

Georgina said...

Very effective piece of writing, thanks for your post.