Sunday, November 29, 2009

NEW VIDEOS WITH SKYLAR!


You asked for it! You got it! New videos of the comedy team of Brad and Skylar!

For those of you who don't tune in regularly, Skylar is my niece, the daughter of my younger sister. A couple years ago Skylar did an interview with me that she posted on YouTube, which still gets more hits than anything but my interview with Sock Monkey. High brow entertainment is my middle name!

The one posted on top was just improvised. The "Pickle Monster" thing below was conceived by Skylar. I'm not sure why the sound on that one doesn't synch up with the video. But given the nature of the piece it kind of works better that way.

Skyy, for that is how she spells it, created these and had them up on YouTube within seconds, as only a 13 year old is able. There are a few more up there if you're into that kind of thing. But these are the ones that turned out the best.

All of you in the Midwest are hereby ordered to attend my upcoming gigs in St. Paul and Minneapolis starting this coming Friday. The dates and locations are at this link (click here). If you live within a ten hour drive of the Twin Cities and you fail to show up you will be re-born as a slug for 10,000 lifetimes. Are you prepared to take that risk?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

OK. My sister and her kids are due here any minute. So this will very likely be my last post for a while.

So far, so good on the first 20 hrs. or so of having the comments section back. I was intrigued by one of the first ones to appear. An anonymous commenter 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?


It's an interesting question. I'm not sure if I "carry a lot of grudges and revenge." I honestly don't think I have any at all. If I seem to it's probably because I'm still poor at communicating what I really think and feel.

But that's not the point I'm interested in. It's the idea that I don't seem like someone to respect or look up to, and of this being what one would want from a Buddhist teacher.

I don't think so.

I mean, I suppose I do respect Tim and Nishijima Roshi. But I can't say I ever looked up to them. At least not in the usual sense. I didn't consider them as role models. Not exactly.

I could see that they had found a way to negotiate this life for themselves that was uniquely their own. They had a rare sort of balance that was often demonstrated in ways that surprised me. I remember seeing Nishijima Roshi get boiling mad at someone who lived in his dojo, and yet he did it in a completely balanced way.

But remember I knew these men personally. I sat with them. I ate lunch with them. I watched bad TV shows with them (well, at least with Tim). They were not known to me as a series of sentences typed on a computer screen or videos on YouTube.

You don't get me in my role as a Buddhist teacher here on this blog or in my books. You get me writing about that role. And that's a whole different thing.

Be that as it may, this question seems to relate to the old saw: "How can I recognize a real teacher?" I've been trying to find a way to answer this one forever. I'm not even trying to claim I am the embodiment of a "real teacher." I can't recognize myself as that. I have no idea if I am or not. I never will. Because it's impossible for anyone to make that judgment about themselves.

But I can say with absolute certainty that my teachers were the real deal. And I seem to have recognized that. But how? It was a feeling more than any line of intellectual reasoning that could be explained. I'll keep working on this and maybe I'll be able to say one of these days.

****

I had a funny dream last night. In it, it seemed that my unconscious mind was trying to explain to my conscious mind how it saw Zen practice. Weird, huh? Anyway, the one thing I recall my unconscious mind saying was, "Sometimes the brain just has to dry out a little." Meaning, I guess, that thoughts were like a contamination in the brain and that doing zazen allowed them to sort of "dry up" and cease to be a problem.

Gotta go now!

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.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Home Town and Bullshit Sexism in Buddhism


I'm thinking about reinstating the comments section. But I'm gonna need to consult with Aaron now that he's involved.

Anyway, I've occasionally seen debates crop up over whether or not Brad Warner is really "street" or, in fact, secretly did not grow up in the alleys of the inner city, but (~gasp!~) in a quiet suburb. I think this comes from people who read Noah Levine's PR, confuse it with me and then accuse me of being a fake because I'm not what they imagine Noah is (which isn't what Noah is either). Anyone who really wants to know where I grew up can click on this slightly weird video I found last night, which gives you a quick tour of the whole town. Yes, folks, I grew up not on the mean streets of the city but in the lamest white bread suburb in the universe. Or at least in Ohio.

Trivia buffs: The Strand Theater, which shows up early in the video on the right side of the street (and on the photo I posted), was the site of a planned gig by Black Flag in 1982. Black Flag's van broke down and Zero Defex headlined that night.

And here is an article written by my friend Darrah du Jour about freedom from religion, which I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I'd like to share.

And here is an article that I found very interesting. My host in Vancouver, Kyira Korrigan, pointed this controversy out to me. I had no idea. For millions more links to other stuff about the subject go here.

I have some strong opinions about this. But I've decided that for now this blog is probably not the best place to air them. Maybe in a little while. But not yet. I will only say that bullshit sexism is not Buddhism. If it were I'd drop Buddhism like a hot potato in a second. Yay Ajahn Brahm! You go! Stick it to The Man, I say!

Tonight at 7pm I will be at the University of Victoria Interfaith Chapel (that's in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), Lot #6 UVic Ring Road. Contact office@zenwest.ca for more info.

More info about my upcoming gigs in Victoria and in Minneapolis/St. Paul is here.

As I mentioned before, the monthly all-day Zazen at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica will proceed as usual this coming Saturday (Nov. 21, 2009) even though I will not be there. Kevin Bortolin, a fellow Dharma heir of Gudo Nishijima, will give the talk.

The info about the day-long retreats at Hill St. Center is at this link.

You can leave comments here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BC Report & c.


I did my first talk in Victoria, BC last night. It was very nice. There's a photo of the event to your left. It was Rinzai style Zen in the tradition of Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

A couple days before that I gave a talk at another temple in the Sasaki tradition, Vancouver Zen Centre (they don't know how to spell the word "center" in Canada). That also went swimmingly. The talk was styled as a dialogue between me and Eshin, the head of the centre there. That was a good way to do things, I thought.

On the same day I gave a talk in Vancouver at a place called Yoga For The People. Can you get more hippy-dippy than that for a name? No. You cannot. But it was a very good talk. Got some nice questions.

I also sat at a place called Dharma Lab. The main thing I recall about that was the music from downstairs. I think it was Paula Abdul. No, not her. One of those people. Janet Jackson? I don't know. Who's the one with the butt? I also remember they showed Tank Girl and had a dance party afterward. That was fun.

The only talk I gave in Vancouver that I managed to video tape was the first one, at the Centre for Peace. I'll try and get some of that up on YouTube before the world freezes over, or burns to a crisp, or whatever it's supposed to do.

Which brings me to the one question I can clearly recall from last night. Someone asked whether it was truly "Zen" to worry about global climate change.

Whenever I get asked questions about that latest of the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scares, I think about my teenage years. When I read books like The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick, or watched films like The Day After (not to be confused with The Day After Tomorrow), or listened to songs like Electric Funeral by Black Sabbath or Missile Destroyed Civilization by MDC, I believed whole-heartedly and without any shred of doubt that these were predictions of an unavoidable future, that before the 80s were over the entire world would be destroyed by nuclear bombs. With Reagan in office I was absolutely certain it was going to happen.

And then it didn't.

So when I see people getting scared shitless of the inevitable global environmental melt-down I have to take it with a grain of sustainably harvested sea salt. BUT just as songs, books and films like the ones I mentioned above played a role in ending the threat of total nuclear annihilation, so too do the works of art warning us of environmental disaster help in educating people about how to divert that. At least I hope so.

In any case, I've noticed that among people who are concerned about the environment there is a culture of worry. It's as if worry itself is seen as a way to do something about the problems we're facing. If you're not dreadfully worried about this stuff, some seem to believe you're totally unconcerned. But I think it's not quite so black and white. There are lots of shades between worried to death and SUV-driving litterbug.

Worry itself doesn't do a whole lot of good. You do what you can, and when you're done doing what you can you do something else. Constantly wringing your hands about the problem is not a constructive way of addressing it.

It's also important to get yourself together so that you can face these problems with the kind of balance needed to really work on them. This is where practice is beneficial.

And speaking of important problems facing humanity, here's a website I've been enjoying: William Shatner's Toupee.

I'm still on tour with 2 more gigs in Victoria and three more in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Click here to see the full schedule.

You can comment here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dharma Wars and Appolgies to Canada

First off, someone pointed out that Vancouver is in Southwest Canada, not Northwest Canada. True. I was mixing two ideas, one of which was that I'd been trying for ages to set up a Northwest Tour. This would've included Seattle, Portland, Victoria and Vancouver. But only the folks in Victoria, BC, Canada ponied up for plane fare. Thus it became a "Northwest Canada Tour" in my shriveled up, nearly useless mind. By the way, I wish I was Thurston Howell III and could just jet off to different places on my own dime. But I can't. Not enough dimes!

Next up, a lot of people sent me links to this article in Tricycle magazine in which I am quoted, and to this article about that article.

Micahel Headerle, author of the Tricycle piece, called me up many months ago to interview me for his article. I don't really recall the conversation. But he quotes me as saying, “That’s the way you wrote in punk zines, and it was understood within that community that you called a friend a scumbag and everybody would laugh about it” in regard to my comments that Genpo Roshi is a scumbag.

I don't know if that's precisely what I said. But maybe it is. I kinda doubt it though. In any case, in the context of the article it makes it sound like I'm trying to say, "Hey, me and Genpo are buds, so it's cool." Which is not at all what I want anyone to believe. I am not friends with Genpo Roshi. That's for darn sure.

But I do write here and in my books in a style that comes from the way one wrote in punk zines. Within that context it was understood what it meant to call someone a scumbag or suchlike. It was not that one necessarily wished ill or harm upon the sumbag in question or even hated that person. It was that one viewed that person's actions and concluded that they were the actions of a scumbag. One did not hide one's opinions behind well-reasoned arguments. One just said them. Perhaps this is not well understood in Internet Buddhism Land. But I don't really care. Internet Buddhism Land is not a place I wish to be well understood in.

I find a portion later in the piece more interesting. It goes like this:


If someone rejects Buddhism after stumbling across an online debate, “They’re walking away from a fantasy of Buddhism,” he (me, Brad) says. “That’s O.K. They’re not going to find that anyway, so it sort of speeds up the process.” But it is really necessary to drive them away with a stick?


Is it really necessary to drive folks away from Zen with a stick -- in my case through the use of what Headerle calls "outrageous rhetoric?" I have to wonder if Headerle is familiar at all with the history of Zen. Because the entire history of Zen is full of teachers very literally driving students away with sticks. Traditionally, when one wished to enter a Zen monastery that person was told very loudly to, GO AWAY. If they did not go away they were physically chased away from the place, very often by a monk wielding a big stick. Only those who were serious enough about the practice to withstand this treatment got in. Doesn't anyone read those old stories anymore? Maybe you can't find them on the Internet. Go to the library. I guarantee you will find plenty.

The whole "come on in we have puppies and ice cream inside" attitude that seems to have become the norm in some Western Zen organizations is highly un-traditional. I think I am far more approachable than most Zen teachers of the past. Compared to them I am a big ol' softie.

Whatever. As to the notion that the disputes among Buddhists should not be exposed on-line... All's I can say is that's just not gonna happen. It's out there. This kind of stuff did not start on the Internet. But the Internet has amplified it. And until the Internet goes away, the exposure of disputes among Buddhists on the Internet isn't going away either.

It's probably best not to air any more dirty laundry in public than is strictly necessary. But, for my own part, I have no regrets about what I've said regarding Genpo Roshi. It needed saying and nobody else was saying it. At least not that I was aware of at the time. Yeah, I might have bolstered my arguments against the scam that is Big Mind® more if I hadn't used the word scumbag. But what's done is done. What I said served to call attention to a very serious misuse of the Dharma and I'm glad for that. It probably wouldn't have gotten nearly as much coverage had my argument been more well-reasoned.

So there ya go.

Those of you who wish to debate this matter in person should come to Victoria, BC and/or Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota where I'll be giving plenty of talks over the next few weeks. See this link for full details.

You can go here to comment.

OH! And by the way, the monthly all-day Zazen at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica will proceed as usual this coming Saturday (Nov. 21, 2009) even though I will not be there. Kevin Bortolin, a fellow Dharma heir of Gudo Nishijima, will give the talk. He's good. He got lots of "hot chili pepper" recommendations on some website in which university students rate their professors (he teaches at Ventura College). He is, by the accounts of at least three female friends of mine, a "hot guy." Go see him and judge for yourself!

The info about the retreats is in the links section over to your left. Or if you're too lazy to move your eyeballs leftward just click this link.

(Has anyone ever commented how the Internet has made people ridiculously lazy? Like lazy beyond any reasonable definition of laziness?)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NORTHWEST CANADA REPORT

So I'm sitting on a sofa looking out at a lovely view of the city of Vancouver and its surrounding mountains. Low clouds, gray skies, leaves of red and gold. The bay, the buildings, the docks. I gave my first talk last night. It was really cool. Thanks to everyone who attended.

I have another sitting + talk this afternoon and yet another one of those tomorrow. Then it's on to Victoria. The full schedule is available at this link.

Last night was the second attempt at what I foresee as an ongoing series of talks about sex and Buddhism. I did my first at the Against The Stream group in Hollywood (Noah Levine's organization, which is waaaaay more organized than my own disorganization).

It's an interesting topic, and it's the theme of the book I just turned in to New World Library for publication by them in 2010, "Sin, Sex and Zen." I got a lot of really good questions, too. I like answering questions from the audience because I feel like that's where I can get some connection to what people actually want to talk about.

I'm not good at recalling my own talks, which is why I've been video taping most of them lately. The last question was interesting, though. A guy asked how had sex helped my Buddhist practice. It was interesting because until he'd asked that I'd always thought of the flow going in only the opposite direction, how Buddhism had been useful in my own dealings regarding sexuality.

My sex life and my Buddhist life began at more or less the same time. So nearly all of my sexual relationships have been affected by my practice. It's clear that this philosophy and practice have had an impact on how sex has worked out for me. But as for how sex has benefited my practice... that's another question.

I am not celibate. I can see the potential benefits of celibacy. But I can also see a lot of potential problems. And as far as my own life is concerned, the problems of celibacy appear to outweigh its potential benefits. I feel like I, personally, would be less peaceful and more unbalanced as a celibate. Though I could be wrong. I've never tried celibacy. At least not by choice.

As a vegetarian, I do not campaign for people to give up meat because, unless you're really committed to giving up meat, becoming a vegetarian can lead to a lot of cognitive dissonance and general weirdness. Mad craving for meat coupled with a hard attitude of suppressing your desires tends to make a person neurotic and outweighs the general feeling of well-being that many vegetarians -- me included -- get from their dietary choice. I feel like it's the same with celibacy. It can only work for a person who is truly committed to being celibate. And I am not.

So my approach has been to have a sex life, but to approach sex in as careful a manner as I can. It's a powerful thing, the sex drive. This video tells it like it is in a very witty but very true way. I do not in any way try to hold myself out as the most exemplary model of how this ought to be done. But I do think that most of us are not prepared for celibacy, so we had better try and find a way to deal with our own sex drives in the least harmful way possible for us. That's important.

So I suppose sex has been beneficial to my practice in that having a sex life keeps me sane enough to do the practice. I also feel that there is a depth of relationship with other people that only occurs when one crosses that last boundary and has sex with the person. That connection can be very meaningful and you can discover a lot that way.

Finally, I feel there ought to be people who have a Buddhist practice and a sex life who are willing to share what that means to them because Buddhism in the West is mainly non-celibate and these questions arise. I'm probably a lousy example. But I feel like sharing what I have discovered might have some value.

Or not.

Go here to comment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview With DEVO


The Interview with Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO I recently did for Suicide Girls is now on-line. Go check it out!

And remember to come see the talks I'm doing in Canada and Minnesota. All the info you need is at this link.

You can comment about it here (but it's better to comment on the actual interview page if you can -- I think maybe only SG members are allowed to leave comments).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Ranting About "Cyber Sanghas"

My God! Someone else noticed how intensely weird that recent Marmaduke strip was. Thank you Colin for sending this to me!

I'm about to leave for my mini-tour of British Columbia and Minnesota. Click here for details about where I'll be and when. And remember severe punishment awaits anyone who is anywhere near these gigs and fails to show up. I wouldn't risk it if I were you!

I just finished reading Chuck Klosterman's new book Eating The Dinosaur. Towards the end of the book he puts forth an interesting argument. He points out that human beings have been on Earth for around 130,000 years and that the first ever commercial film, The Great Train Robbery, was made in 1903. He says, "For roughly 129,900 years any moving object a human saw was actually real. It was there in front of you. If a man in 1850 saw a train chugging toward his face, it was an actual train." He argues that visceral, real understanding of these manipulated images lags way behind our intellectual understanding of them. "Intellectually we know the difference between a real person and a Facebook profile... but is there any possible way 129,900 years of psychological evolution can be altered within the span of a single century?"

I think this is an extremely important point. I will be the first to admit that even I sometimes -- no, make that often -- respond to manipulated fake images, particularly on the Internet, as if they were real things. It is very confusing and disorienting. Which is why I spend as little time on the Internet as I can. And given my current job, I have to be on here a lot more than I really want to be. I'd probably be far more successful if I were on the Internet more. But it gets to me after a while and I need to run away.

I know I've been harping on my antipathy towards so-called "cyber-sanghas" way too much. But that's because what I do here is so often confused with that concept, in both overt and subtle ways. It's also why I refuse to get involved with any cyber-sanghas. The experience is not at all the same as dealing with real human beings face to face. No more so than cyber-sex is the same as real sex.

You can get very lost in the twisty twirly world of Internet communication and easily lose sight of what's real and what's not. These days I often hear people say,"I was talking with my friend..." And I'll ask, "Were you actually talking with that person or were you chatting online?" Often it's the latter. There is an enormous difference between these two activities. Yet many people these days seem to regard them as being essentially the same thing.

I'm keenly aware of this because so much of what I do is in the form of written communication either here on this blog, in my books or thru a million emails I have to write each day. Often when I meet people who only know me through these forms of communication are really surprised when they encounter me in person. I am not at all what they expected.

You don't get the tone of voice I would say these words in. You don't get my facial expression. You don't get the smell of my breath. You don't get the subtle electrical energy that human beings exchange when they're near each other. There are far more missing elements than I can possibly list. All of these things matter a lot. To dismiss them as if they were nothing very important is a terrible thing. The difference is the same as the difference between seeing a real train speeding towards you and seeing film of a train speeding towards a camera.

Whatever.

Anyway, Klosterman also says about an article on the NY Times website, "When the article was posted online, dozens of people hurled childish, ad hominem insults against the writer in the comments section -- a phenomenon that now happens when almost anything interesting is published in public." Yeah! So maybe this blog isn't so unique. Still, I'm gonna keep commenting switched off for now.

OK. Well, I'm off for the Great White North. I'll try and post updates as the tour progresses.

See you in Canada!

You can comment here

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ST. PAUL DATES ADDED and (nothing about) JUKAI


Got some new info about the upcoming tour. As always, the full schedule is over there to your left at the top of the LINKS section at the link titled Brad's Book Tour Dates.

I'll be in St. Paul the following dates:
• December 4, 2009 (Fri) 4:45pm Macalester College, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 at JBD Lecture Hall
Buddhism and Sex (lecture)

• December 5, 2009 (Sat) 9am - 1 pm Macalester College, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 USA
Half-day Zazen sitting at the Macalester College Chapel with Dharma Talk

• December 6, 2009 (Sun) 10 a.m., Dharma Field, 3118 W 49th St, Minneapolis, MN 55410, (corner of 49th and York)
Dharma talk by Brad Warner, Suggested donation $15.
Zazen: 8:00 a.m., 8:40 a.m., 9:30 a.m.
www.dharmafield.org
contact Bev Forsman, bev.forsman@dharmafield.org

Also, one more date has been added to Vancouver:
• November 15, 2009 (Sun) 1:00pm - 3:00pm Yoga for the People, #201-150 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC
Introduction to Zen Buddhism with Brad Warner

And remember there are further gigs in Vancouver on November 13th and 14th, and in Victoria, BC November 17th, 19th and 22nd. Further info on these and other dates on the tour is on THIS LINK. Look at it. It was a pain in the ass to put together. AND BE THERE!

I have just spent the entire morning and quite a bit of the afternoon attempting to write what I really think of Jukai. I FAILED MISERABLY and just trashed everything that I wrote. This is my second attempt. The first one a few weeks ago ended in a similar tragedy of wasted time and effort. So the Jukai article will have to wait.

And can someone explain the Marmaduke cartoon I have posted? Even the Marmaduke Explained website hasn't touched this one, it's so surreal. Is it supposed to be surreal? I just don't know. It's like a koan...

Go here to comment.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Vanouver? Didn't Even KNOW Her!

OK. I got the skinny on the Vancouver gigs and here it is:

• November 13, 2009 7 PM, Vancouver, BC, Centre for Peace, 1825 West 16
Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. contact kyira@diydharma.org for more info

• November 14, 2009 1 PM Meditation with Brad Warner, Vancouver, BC, Dharmalab, 202-1814 Pandora St., Vancouver, B.C.
$15-$25 sliding scale but no one will be turned away solely for lack of funds
contact kyira@diydharma.org or 604-505-7547 for more info

And in nearby Victoria, BC:

•November 17, 2009 7pm, Victoria, BC Canada, University of Victoria Interfaith Chapel, Lot #6 UVic Ring Road, Tuesday Zen Open House, Zen meditation and Q&A;, contact office@zenwest.ca for more info
They run a beginner’s group each week. 3x15 minute sits with a talk in the second one (just 15 minutes). Afterward there is tea, introductions, and a period of question and response.

• November 19, 2009 7pm, Victoria, BC Canada, University of Victoria Interfaith Chapel, Lot #6 UVic Ring Road, Public talk, contact office@zenwest.ca for more info
This will be my main talk, your standard issue ask the zen guy questions. Books will be for sale. Fun will be had by all.

More info about Victoria gigs is on this blog.

And here's a clip from the Montreal-based web series Watch Mojo. This was taped when I was up there earlier this year:



Go here to comment

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

SASSIFIED!

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:


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