Monday, February 01, 2010

DISTURB THE AIR TOMORROW, 2010 TOUR DATES

Get ready! Tomorrow is the BIG DAY when the download for my band, Dimentia 13's 1989 album DISTURB THE AIR becomes available. There's a link to your left for the Amazon download.

For those who want to hear a free sample of a bit of what the record sounds like click on the link below:

SAMPLER OF THE DISTURB THE AIR ALBUM

I put together a 5 minute MP3 containing samples of all of the songs on the album proper (but not the bonus tracks, which you also get with the full download).

Those of you who have only heard the hardcore punk noise of my other band, Zero Defex, may be surprised at the more psychedlic psounds of Dimentia 13. The idea of Dimentia 13 was to be a recreation of sixties rock but with a contemporary attitude. Psychedelia filtered through punk. My biggest influences were Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Byrds, Zappa's Mothers of Invention and a horde of obscure sixties acts nobody ever heard of such as Chocolate Watchband, Electric Prunes, Strawberry Alarm Clock, 13th Floor Elevators, The Monks, Blue, Cheer and zillions of others that I had been collecting since I was old enough to buy records.

The sampler I put up today also shows off a few of the lyrics that had people guessing what sort of mushrooms I was ingesting when, instead, I was actually ingesting a ton of books about Buddhism. By the time Disturb The Air was recorded I'd had a daily zazen practice for about 4 or 5 years. So I was still a little new to it. But Zen was already a huge part of my life.

I suppose you could say I wasn't quite as committed to it because I wasn't even entertaining the thought of ever teaching Zen. It was just something I did that I mostly kept to myself about. But in another sense I was absolutely as committed as now because I was doing it each and every day and because I was devoting a lot of energy and effort to studying the philosophy.

I feel in a lot of ways that some aspects of Zen can be better expressed through art other than prose. Prose sometimes feels to me like it boxes Zen in a bit too much. Others in the past must have felt the same way. Dogen devoted as much, if not more of his energy into creating poetry as to creating prose. Unfortunately Japanese poetry doesn't translate well into English and so it's probably better to study his prose in translation than to study his poetry in translation.

Which is not to say that I set out to try and describe Zen practice and philosophy musically on the Dimentia 13 albums. I did not. But the practice and philosophy certainly informed my writing and playing in a very profound way.

Here's a bit more press about Dimentia 13, though most of it refers to the earlier albums and not specifically to Disturb The Air.

Also of note: I have updated the tour page! Yep! I'll be on the road again in 2010. Click on the link to your left (or on the words "tour page" in the previous sentence) to see where I'll be. There are only four dates confirmed so far. I'll be in Houston and Austin, Texas and at Southern Dharma Retreat Center in North Carolina in March, then I'll be at the Great Sky Sesshin in August. I am working on lots more dates. And, as usual, if you want me to stop by your area WRITE ME!!!!

61 comments:

music thief said...

i'll wait for the illegal download to be put up on lime-wire

Harry said...

First Place Thief, more like!

H.

Ben Newell said...

poetry and art

much like a finger

pointing at the moon.

beware not to mistake the finger for the moon, friends!

Anonymous said...

right, mooning and pointing are two different things

Anonymous said...

hey-oooh!

Mysterion said...

"The theory called M-theory requires 11 (or 13) dimensions, and within the assumptions of that theory the need for 11 dimensions is proved. But we don't have to accept those assumptions, because M-theory, like all of string theory, has never made a testable prediction." source

Back in 1970, when I got my laurel and hardy handshake, I ended up with a minor in Physical Science/Physics.

The 13th dimension is interesting because it predicts two sets of time-space references. In short, there are parallels of parallel universes (which is what the current experiment at CERN is about).

It is nothing to be conCERNed about.

CynicalBoy said...

Beware not to mistake the finger for a finger...

Anonymous said...

"But in another sense I was absolutely as committed as now because I was doing it each and every day and because I was devoting a lot of energy and effort to studying the philosophy."

Do you think studying the Buddhist philosophy is an essential part of practice? Can someone who just sits shikantaza every day reach the same kind of understanding as someone who devotes time to studying the teachings as well?

CynicalBoy said...

We can cook with or without recipes and we can sit with or without philosophy. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. And as there is only one pudding no comparison is possible.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think....?

No

Anonymous said...

Beware not to mistake the brown from the pink, whilst fingering her.

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Typo edit -

anon @8.22am asked -

"Do you think studying the Buddhist philosophy is an essential part of practice? Can someone who just sits shikantaza every day reach the same kind of understanding as someone who devotes time to studying the teachings as well?"

The will to the truth usually includes practice and study. "Study" might be listening to a teacher's talks or visiting web sites, or it might be reading the Tipitaka in Pali, but most people who've encountered the practice are lead to some form of study. And study impacts the understanding of the practice. Plenty of folks - all doing shikantaza - 'understand' what they're doing very differently as a result of the school/lineage they study and practise with.

"...the same kind of understanding"? As Cynical says, "no comparison is possible". Perhaps we're attracted to the understanding we understand. Or we may encounter an understanding that we don't understand - and come to understand it. Whichever, wanting to understand - to study - is, I think, a good thing and for most of us leads to a more satisfying and useful kind of understanding.

Importantly, study enables us to consider, contrast and compare the understanding of others who've practised.

But you can, of course, do what you want.

anon #108 said...

I said:

"Plenty of folks - all doing shikantaza - 'understand' what they're doing very differently as a result of the school/lineage they study and practise with."

I know what I meant/I get my drift/I've heard people say that - but I'm really not sure what it means or if it's true. I've no way of knowing what other people who practice shikantaza understand. I can only hear and read what they say and write, which I think may have more to do with the way they express themselves than what they actually experience, or understand.

Words can be treacherous.

Jinzang said...

Do you think studying the Buddhist philosophy is an essential part of practice?

I couldn't say it's essential, but it is helpful. Otherwise the patriarchs wouldn't have spent so much time teaching and writing. It's possible to go wrong as a result of study and mistake an intellectual understanding for the truth. But it's equally possible to hold onto some preliminary experience as the truth, and this is more likely if you haven't studied.

anon #108 said...

"But it's equally possible to hold onto some preliminary experience as the truth..."

That view, Jinz, might make sense from the point of view of a practice that seeks some particular, ultimate experience of "truth" and values it beyond "preliminary" experiences.

But the question referred specifically to shikantaza - a practice, as you know, which doesn't seek to discriminate between experiences; whatever is experienced is true. I think study/teaching, in Soto/Dogen's zen - as it relates to practice - concerns the story we tell ourselves about our experience, without valuing one experience over another.

Mysterion said...

"Do you think studying the Buddhist philosophy is an essential part of practice?"

In Soto, no.

In Rinzai, yes.

The basic difference is that there is no difference.

Philosophy is the frosting on the cake - something some can live without.

Anonymous said...

looking forward to the February lectures on "buddism and sex"

hope I can get answers to questions:

was Bodhi a cheata' ?

Jinzang said...

But the question referred specifically to shikantaza - a practice, as you know, which doesn't seek to discriminate between experiences

Regardless of the practice, people still have experiences and they still cling to them. They are excited when they have "breakthroughs" and despondent when nothing much happens.
Brad gives an example from his own experience in Hardcore Zen.

anon #108 said...

Well that's true, Jinz.
What was I thinking?

proulx michel said...

CynicalBoy said...

We can cook with or without recipes and we can sit with or without philosophy. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. And as there is only one pudding no comparison is possible.

True, but I have found that learning at least a few basic recipes is a great help in not wasting food. And not only learning them, but also practicing them.

fumes said...

If the world is devoid of self, Do causes exist in the past or only in the present?

Any help?

anon #108 said...

Information like that don't come cheap, fumes.

fumes said...

#108: If there is a chain of causes which exist in the past, and if there was no original cause to start the universe rolling, then it follows that there must be an infinite number of yesterdays. The problem with having an infinite number of yesterdays is that if that were true, we could never arrive at today. So I thought that possibly causes were misunderstood to exist in the past. So, in reality, both causes and effects should only exist in the present.

Petteri Sulonen said...

@fumes: I believe the canonically correct answer to that is something along the lines of "moo."

(Or was it "baa?" I get so confused, sometimes...)

fumes said...

Petteri: I believe in my case it would be "Hee Haw"..

anon #108 said...

fumes -

I bet Gudo Nishijima don't know the answer any more than you or I, but he has an approach to questions like this which makes sense to me: various seemingly conrtradictory perspectives can be simultaneously true. This is an answer he gives to a similar question in "To Meet the Real Dragon":

"There are two ways of thinking about cause and effect. One way is to observe the action of cause and effect following the line of time, from past to present to future.That kind of linear pattern is easy to understand and we can find many examples of cause and effect relationships which follow such a pattern...When we condider cause and effect at the present moment, we must change our point of view and our understanding of cause and effect itself. At the moment of the present all factors exist simultaneously. The universe is a great mass of factors which are related to each other in complex yet orderly fashion. thus, our situation here and now relies on a kind of interlocking system of cause and effect factors. Such a system is rather difficult to visualize, but as Buddhists we believe that such a system [cause and effect existing simultaneously] is the foundation of the universe itself." (My added parenthesis).

I don't know if that helps, fumes...and I'm a bit too thick to follow this bit: "The problem with having an infinite number of yesterdays is that if that were true, we could never arrive at today."

If you haven't already, you could check out the debates between the early Buddhist Sarvastidins and Sautrantikas who invested a lot of energy trying to account for the paradoxes of time/cause and effect. If you do, remind me what they came up with - I can never remember.

alan said...

Petteri;

I used to follow the Pontifications. Still have it bookmarked, in fact.

Following another kind of light nowadays? :-)

Cheers.

Captcha was tabiihsp, ironic since most of my photography is HSP nowdays.

anon #108 said...

FDIT

I typed:

"Sarvastidins". They don't exist. The Sarvastivadins do, though.

anon #108 said...

EDIT

I typed FDIT...

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

It's curious that physics is based on conservation laws rather than cause and effect laws, either in the Newtonian, Lagrangian, or Hamiltonian equations. The behavior of physical systems is found by integrating time dependent equations and the results work equally well either going forwards or backwards in time. So physics has an atemporal, acausal character which is somewhat at odds with our temporal and causal experience.

The Sarvastivadins accepted cause and effect as real. It was Nagarjuna who criticized this view in the MMK. Even though he criticized cause and effect, he accepted dependent origination, even saying it was identical with emptiness. I have never been able to understand this well. Maybe after Brad is through writing about sex, he can explain it to us.

anon #108 said...

I wish I understood the physics, Jinz...just a little bit. Even though I don't, I'm reassured to hear that "physics has an atemporal, acausal character which is somewhat at odds with our temporal and causal experience." There's only one reality. Even as it includes several.

"Even though [Nagarjuna] criticized cause and effect, he accepted dependent origination, even saying it was identical with emptiness."

Exactly what N sought to clarify about the terms 'dependant origination' and 'emptiness' is still open to fresh insights and interpretation - despite much canonical commentary.

Mike Luetchford (who is familiar with the physics), in his translation of, and commentary on, the MMK, "Between Heaven and Earth" has attempted to reconcile the 'process/causal' view with the 'instantaneous universe/present moment' view, and sees this 'synthesis' as a fundamental aspect of N's teaching, shared by Dogen.

anon #909 said...

c'mon jinz....really...where'd ya cut & paste that physics psycho-babble from?....i mean, really.....?

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

where'd ya cut & paste that physics psycho-babble from?

I majored in physics and astronomy in college, Took up computer programming when I found it was a breadless art. The babble is strictly my own.

Anonymous said...

Robert Aiken voiced an interesting opinion on his blog of February 3, 2010..

"If your teacher is not a fake, he or she will tell you to count your breaths. If he or she advises you to do something else at the outset of your practice, you have a fake teacher. Use this criterion and find somebody genuine."

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

Fumes, my assuredly-flawed understanding of Nishijima is that there is no past or future. I don't just mean that we're not experiencing them now, I mean they're just an idea with no actual existence. I've never done anything yesterday or tomorrow, I always do things right now. Since there is no past, there is no infinite past. Cause and effect (along with the rest of reality) only exist right now.

Rob

Mr. Reee said...

"Do you think studying the Buddhist philosophy is an essential part of practice? Can someone who just sits shikantaza every day reach the same kind of understanding as someone who devotes time to studying the teachings as well?"

Two questions. Two answers.

Study is useful because sooner or later you'll want or need to talk about it--good idea to be familiar with the conventional ways of discussing that which can't be captured by words. Also, as a practical matter, sometimes it's useful to give your brain something to chew on (though thoughts about zen are like any other thoughts...) Finally, if you're working with a group, you need to be organized--words are part of that.

As to the second question--I think no.

Sitting is sitting. Thinking is thinking. Neither are good or bad, and both have their place--the main thing is not to confuse one for the other.

anon #108 said...

Hi Rob -

This is from Mike Luetchford's intro to "Between Heaven and Earth". Mike, as I'm sure you know, studied and worked with Gudo for many years, so his take on these things is pretty much Gudo's, and I think he explains it well:


"It is only when we look at life as a process moving through time that we can find the law that we call causation. It does not exist itself as an entity at this moment, and yet it is a true description of the process of events. The law of causation exists from one viewpoint and yet does not apply to this moment itself. This has sometimes resulted in a belief that we can somehow escape from the law of cause and effect, from the results of our actions - but this conclusion is utterly wrong. At the same time, since what is real is what is here at this place, now at this time, it is not correct to conceive of reality as a truly existing chain of events in time. In other words we can look at reality in terms of process, but the preocess that we see in our minds does not really exist at this moment. However, it is the only way that we can mentally conceive of reality, and is thus fundamental to our way of understanding the world."

CynicalBoy said...

As people have said, following good recipes can result in good food, but can also result in bad food. And following bad recipes can result in bad food, but can also result in good food.

Recipes can be useful but they are not essential and ultimately recipes aren't the same as food.

Gotama appears to have studied the recipes and then made a meal under the Bodhi tree...

anon #108 said...

Hi anon 8.19pm - You quote Robert Aitken:

"If your teacher is not a fake, he or she will tell you to count your breaths."

Let me go out on a limb here...

BOLLOCKS.

How dare I?
Coz I have a teacher.
He didn't tell me to count my breaths.
He's not a fake.

Simple.

proulx michel said...

Robert Aiken voiced an interesting opinion on his blog of February 3, 2010..

"If your teacher is not a fake, he or she will tell you to count your breaths. If he or she advises you to do something else at the outset of your practice, you have a fake teacher. Use this criterion and find somebody genuine."

Then I must say that Aitken is wrong. Counting breaths was never advocated by the Buddha. What the Buddha says is sit with your spine erect, and be aware of your breathing. That's not the same. If you concentrate on your sitting with your spine erect, you are aware of your breathing. If you count your breaths, you can never be aware of your posture.

Anonymous said...

More importantly, don't confuse Mr Ree for a teacher.

I'm not and have linited experience. Yet it seems to me:

One question leads to an endless number of answers.

That one feels the want or need to discuss Buddhist philosophy/practice points to more than reducing it to a lingua franca for club members, or something to chew on as though it were some sort of Buddhist bubblegum.

After all, without 'the teachings' how would anyone know there was such a style of practice such as Shikantaza or any other, let alone guide the practitioner at least to some general pitfalls.

I have found, even through my limited reading from a variety of sources that the teachings, ancient or contemporary hav,e inspired me to practice and to practice wholeheartedly -- there is much beauty in the writings, and like the western art or poetry I was hitherto more familiar with, engaging with such things became the same intimate engagement with life. In this instance I didn't just chew, but swallowed, digested, passed the plate around, or, to extent the metaphor, did a nice solid poo later.

As I have been inspired to express myself in various ways through the activity of reading poetry (and I don't just mean talking or writing it myself), Buddhist writing has inspired me to express myself in a similar way -- one of those is through the practice of sitting.

They have also helped me to identify pitfalls and more effective practice. Moreover, there is a fine deconstructive aspect to much of the teachings, which have helped me to examine, explore and often drop assumptions, notions, thought habits and behaviour patterns etc, which feed back not only into practice but my daily life. Jeez, even the titles "Sit Down and Shut Up", "Buddhism Is Not What You Think" did more that make my thought-molars grind, I parted with money (effort) and sat down and read them, parting with a good deal of time and brain-fuel. And I'm glad I did.

The inspiration for this post was the "Sitting is sitting" sort of expression. These seem to get flung around too often as advice for beginners with the usual minimalist mystery attached, and appears to me as manifestations of the western liberal mindset's appropriation of Zen, wherein some kind of smug Yoda lurks, getting fat on all that chewing. For the benefit of others, wouldn't it be better when giving advice to acknowledge the limits of their experience and understanding?

My thoughts, ideas, urges, reactions -- whatever -- have been my sitting, have brought me back to my sitting, over and over. I'm not a vegetable, nor does the world interact with me as if I were actually a lotus flower. If I didn't keep seeing what I was, I might as well be one -- and I don't imagine they have the same responsibilities to myself/the world I have.

It seems impossible for me to divorce Buddhist philosophy from any practice I do. It seems impossible for me not to confuse sitting with thoughts. I think that is why Dogen wrote 'think not thinking'. When I stopped trying not to confuse sitting with thinking, I was more able to notice how much thinking I was doing and just accept that this was the case. Thereafter I found I sat more regularly and at the same time each day and, I think, with greater quality. This has lead to a sense of the limits of doing this thing on my own without a teacher and a group, although at the moment there are none near where I live, which in turn has lead me back to reading writers I trust again and more pointedly.

Its all very well to write eat when you eat, but context when writing, but environment when eating also surely weigh in, otherwise in our attempt to acknowledge or portray that this stuff is beyond words, might lead to the opposite understanding.

This all reminds me of a poem by Marianne more:

Poetry

I, too, dislike it.
Reading it however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.

Mr. Reee said...

"More importantly, don't confuse Mr Ree for a teacher. "

Good God no. Unless you want to learn about computer repair--I know a little about that.

I don't know *anything* about Buddhism. Sorry if I came off like I did.

ning said...

108: Just because your teacher didn't tell you to count breathes doesn't make him non-fake.

proux: I use a method of sitting where I count my exhalations while concentrating on my spine on inhalations.

Ran K. said...

To Mysterion’s at 2:46 PM:


The philosophy might lead one to seek the ideal while the teaching will lead one to accept the shortcomings of reality and accept the practice. Good philosophy might ultimately lead one to see that ideal pudding is claimed in the recipe but never demonstrated in the bowl.”.


Whatever.


The situation changes due to Zazen.


We do it for a purpose.


I would rephrase your first sentence as: “Rough philosophy would lead one to see an ideal as separated from reality and see the reality as flawed, while correct teaching will lead one to correct his view of “shortcomings” of reality and [possibly] conduct according practice”.


It is not at all possible only to come to accept things as they are (“accept the shortcomings of reality and accept the practice”) without some aiming at a change of an actual situation. Since coming to accept things as they are require means, which would imply capabilities, - the acquiring of which is a change of the situation.


Also – perception, its processing, and subsequent action can not essentially be separated. (Put aside whatever Nishijima says about these things. This is irrelevant here.)

They are one integral whole. “Seeing” Reality can not be separated from the following organization in the “seer”’s “mind” and the action which follows.

So it is not possible to see just noticing reality for what it is as worthwhile and every regard for the subsequent action as mistakenly idealistic.

This would be a wrong separation.


Else –


– If you are at the third phase of Buddhism then everything is the purpose of everything. (Zazen does not exclude either way.)

– If you are at the fourth I doubt whether “benefit” [and “purpose” as well] still maintains its meaning.


If you still wish to hold nihilism – (which I doubt whether there is room for in Buddhism, i.e. – in reality) you need not say anything.

If you don’t – you had better expressed what your views actually are – not nihilism.

And I would add that if you want to hold nihilism – it would follow that Zazen does not have any benefit at all, - not that it is its own benefit.

anon #108 said...

Hi ning -

"Just because your teacher didn't tell you to count breathes doesn't make him non-fake."

Very true. But I didn't say that. There was no "because" in what I wrote. It was Aitken who wrote just because he doesn't teach it, he is fake.

And that is bollocks :-)

Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ran K. said...

to Smoggyrob’s at 8:23 PM:

It seems to me in Nishijima’s teaching you mentioned the presence is an essential part of the idea of existence in itself.

i.e. – the idea of existence in itself would carry the idea of the present inherently in it.

It would not be possible to talk of existence other than existence in the present.

– The past and future would be like mirror images we are unable to touch, and by their very nature could not come into existence in the present, - somewhat like smoke or haze images in that, - so we could not call them real.


I would say this is only true in the Nishijima’s 3rd phase, (- i.e. – not in the 4th) but I never heard Nishijima say that.

Though you could try and check it out with him. He usually answers questions on his blog. Unlike our lazy guy here.


Captcha: “I’ve got a book to write”.


Sorry.

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

Aitken Roshi is a shrewd old Ancestor well versed in the words and tactics used between the old dogs and their puppies, and with much experience in training not-so-shrewd puppies himself. He's also more 'punk rock' than punk rock ever was. 'Punk Rock' generally wasn't punk rock enough to challenge and see through its very own bullshit and value (or 'anti-value' value) system.

If an old Master puts you in a bind (that was their job back in the day before they sucked up to us and OUR terribly important needs and OUR terribly important values), sure, we can do the obvious knee-jerk thing and bite our little bone to hold onto it all the more, or we can look that little bit deeper at what he's poking around at... maybe we can even come to thank him for it.

Regards,

Harry.

ning said...

Just because your teacher didn't tell you to count breathes doesn't make him non-fake..

108 wrote: "Very true. But I didn't say that.

No, I said that.. to your most def declaration that your teacher was not a fake and that what Aitken wrote was "Bollocks".

anon #108 said...

Ahh so...a koan?, H?...Expedient means...hmm..

If you're suggesting that we shouldn't all rush to defend our beloved teachers - who couldn't possibly be fakes!!! - then I'm happy to echo your sentiments.

But to "FAKE!" I say "BOLLOCKS!". Both pretty shallow attitudes, wouldn't you say?

anon #108 said...

ning -

How would I, or you, know a 'fake'?

Anonymous said...

Hey brad Is dirty talk during sex right speech.

ning said...

Hi 108. When you said earlier "I have a teacher. He didn't tell me to count my breaths. He's not a fake.."

Then later you said: "How would I, or you, know a 'fake'?"
My original point was the same.

Funny when you accept a teacher, it becomes a matter of faith or belief. One of those un-zen ways of dealing with the unknown.

anon #108 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Hi ning -

If we agree that the faith or belief in a teacher that results in our acceptance of him/her is based on our experience of that teacher - then we are in total agreement.

anon #108 said...

PS

I started my practice by counting my breaths.
I read it in a book.
I'm grateful.