Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Here's a photo of the survivors of the Austin Dharma Punx Zen Retreat 2010. We all made it through alive, but just barely!

The retreat was held March 18-21 at the Recreation Plantation campsite a little ways outside of Austin, Texas. My first teacher routinely runs retreats at campsites in Ohio so I figured this would work out OK. But I was too busy with moving across the country to attend to the specifics of the event and did not realize what I'd gotten myself into until I got there.

The zendo was to be a covered pavilion. I had imagined an enclosed space. I should have looked up the word "pavilion." It turned out to be basically a roof over some picnic tables. This obviously wasn't gonna work. So we decided to use the nearby covered stage for a zendo. This at least had a floor. It was a raised stage, about three feet tall with a roof but with no walls.

The weather was good on day one, and I was starting to become hopeful that the retreat might work out. It certainly wasn't an ideal situation to sit zazen in the open air. But it was do-able. The ten of us made it through, a little chilly but OK.

That night I spent my first ever night in a tent. It was freezing cold, which kept me wide awake until close to midnight. I finally slept. But at about three in the morning I woke up to a rustling noise outside. It sounded like either a person or an animal as large as a human being walking around in the grass just outside my tent. Since the nearest other tent was about fifty feet away and down a hill there was no good reason any of the retreat people might have been hanging out in front of my tent at that hour.

I switched on my flashlight and tried to sound threatening as I squeaked out, "Wh-who-who's there?" I unzipped the tent flap and saw nothing but grass and trees. It was then that I realized the wind had kicked up during the night and that what I was hearing was just the rain fly of the tent rubbing against the tent itself.

After a while I settled down enough to sleep, although the cold was even more intense now, which made sleeping even harder. But I'm a light sleeper so every time the rain fly rubbed against the tent I was up again. I wasn't scared anymore, but I couldn't sleep through it.

The next morning the wind was a lot harder than it had been on the first day. We'd set up a tarp on one side of the "zendo" to provide some kind of a wall so that participants weren't staring out at the pavilion. But the wind started whipping the tarp around like crazy. We'd weighted it down with heavy rocks and a cinder block. But the wind was strong enough that these were sliding all over the place. I cut the morning zazen short so we could fix the problem.

It was clear we weren't going to be able to continue this way. So we reconvened and decided to pay an extra fee to rent a tiny cabin on the site. This was basically a two-room shack, about the size of a large bedroom. We managed to squeeze all thirteen participants (three more had arrived on the second day) set up our Elvis Buddha on a book shelf to make a kind of altar, took off our shoes and got down to some zazen.

This went all right in spite of the cramped quarters. In fact the small space made for a nice sense of camaraderie among those involved.

For the second night I and one of the other participants elected to move into the shack rather than sleep in tents. The others bravely stayed outside. Which was fine until 6 A.M. when a huge thunderstorm hit. The temperature dropped by something like 20 degrees in an hour or so. Lightning was flashing on all sides and the rain was as hard as I've ever seen. Oddly enough 6 A.M. was the time we were to begin the day's zazen.

We decided to follow the schedule at least until lunchtime. We'd be OK in the cabin. At lunch we had a mass meeting and decided we were going to finish out the day. But there was no way we were going to spend the night in the mud and rain.

I'd promised to do dokusan in the afternoon. One of the participants offered her tent. So I bundled up with two jackets, two hats and a big black thermal blanket and started doing one-on-one interviews with the members of the group who'd asked to speak with me.

This actually went better than I'd have imagined. But I was surely glad when the final interview was done and I could go into the cabin where it was a couple degrees warmer.

We tore up stakes then and went to one of the participant's houses for dinner. Several of us were from out of town. Space was donated by kind local folks and we all went back to sleep in warm beds or at least couches.

The Austin Zen Center was nice enough to let us use their space to do the last couple of sittings the following morning. That's where the group photo above was taken.

As you can see we all made it through. It was hardly a disaster -- in fact it was kind of nice all things considered. Even so, that's the last time I agree to do a retreat in a campground without an enclosed space for zazen.


Tomorrow begins the 2010 Southern Dharma Retreat in Hot Springs, N. Carolina. At least they have a fully enclosed sitting space and nice, heated living spaces for everyone involved! Then it's on to Brooklyn and Baltimore. For full info on where I'll be check out this link. See ya there!


Anonymous said...

good job!

Anonymous said...

great to hear about what's been happening

first time ever in a tent!

quite the adventure!

Peter said...


Good to hear you survived ok!


Uku said...

Wow, sounds like a real adventure! Glad you made it through!

proulx michel said...

I once went to a walking retreat in July, in Southern France. Since it's only two hours ride from here, I thought I'd be all right with my tent and little sleeping gear. But those were at the foot of the Pyrenees, and although it was warm during the day (though never as hot as by the sea), it was quite cold at night. I had cover myself with all my clothes during the night!

tent owner said...

Thanks for continuing to post these funny stories.
I have to laugh out loud at your tale. You're in your mid to late 40s and this is your first time in a tent? Only a city kid would be as surprised as you were about the fact that planet earth has weather, and that it changes sometimes. :-) You've led a sheltered life, Brad. Get out more. Go camping. Nature doesn't have a thermostat.

Mumon said...

Lucky you where where you were.

In a place like the Grand Canyon, down the trail, it can get dangerous this time of year; you might walk in with 60 degree Fahrenheit temperature, but it might be 30 degrees Fahrenheit and snow minutes later.

Nature can be capricious.

Brad Warner said...

Yeah. OK. I'm a city kid. But, y'see, this was a Zen retreat, not a camping adventure. It's slightly different.

The Big Bad Wolf said...

Mountain monastaries? Too cold.
Forest monks? Too hot.
Dharma Punx? Who's been sleeping in my bed?

proulx michel said...

Aw, o right venerable!

At least you'll have fun telling the tale!


(captcha: wicei)

Boonton said...

I agree, outside zazen is very difficult. I've done it a few times on a deck and while it sounds like a great idea; in the midst of nature, just like Buddha under the tree's not. Wood is very hard to sit on. In the morning it is too cold. In the afternoon the sun is beating on you and wasps and biting insects seem to get a bit too close...

Even when everything is good there's just too much distraction. You don't need to be in a sensory deprivation tank, but there's wisdom in shutting out at least some of the distractions. You probably wouldn't like the idea of a zendo doing zazen with TV's blaring on the walls or a radio buzzing tunes or inside a bar at happy hour... Well 'nature' is really a big, loud party going on. It's great to enjoy it just like you would a people party but its not ideal for zazen IMO.

anon #108 said...

I wonder what all them shramanas on their forest retreats - like Gotama - thought they were up to, then - with all that bloody racket going on?

Anonymous said...

this was a Zen retreat, not a camping adventure

Think of it as research. Doesn't your next book have something to do with pitching a tent?

alan said...


Congratulation on helping to pull together a challenging event.

Your tent story reminds me of a trip I took with my wife out to Death Vally. We camped outside Lone Pine and it snowed some that night.

Next morning just before dawn, my wife announced in a whisper there was a bear outside, which was alarming indeed. I listened and there was a faint swooshing noise outside the tent that kind of sounded like a large animal prowling around.

All my senses were alert as I thought of what to do. Loud noise is the tactic of choice with brown bear so I got ready to start yelling my lungs out. Before doing that I decided to listen some more to the noise and after a few more moments decided that the swooshing noise was just snow sliding off the tent walls.


And a lifetime of kidding my wife about snow bears.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gibbs said...

I did two one month long retreats in upstate New York and stayed in a tent in the woods the whole time. Every time it thunder stormed (sometimes brutally) I'd always think to myself "Well Mike this might be it. You may very well meet with death tonight." It's interesting how I still managed to fall a sleep. Must have been the calm side effects of practice or something.

David said...

I once did a "Mountains and Rivers" sesshin with Nelson Foster, one of Aitken Roshi's Dharma heirs. This is basically a backpacking sesshin. You sit mornings and evenings in the open air, and spend most of the day hiking with your gear on your back. The location was Black Rock Canyon in Nevada, not too far from where Burning Man takes place. The retreat took place in early spring, so the weather was still pretty cool. Food was carried in, mostly dehydrated stuff, and water was taken from local sources and boiled. In many cases, it was, shall we say, very mineral and protein rich. One day as we were hiking along the hills above the canyon, a blizzard blew in. The snow was blowing sideways, but there was nothing we could do but keep walking. There was no cover, no trees or even big rocks, just sage brush. Eventually, we made it down into the canyon, where we found a nicely sheltered area to set up camp. After that, the weather was great, but it was pretty scary being outside in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere.
Personally, I've always found practicing outside to be a wonderful thing. The fresh air is invigorating and the various sounds and things going on around you help to keep you in the present. Still, when the weather is crazy, it really helps to have a roof over your head!

john e mumbles said...

One huge old cottonwood tree was a favorite refuge in a Catalpa grove near a river on our old place with a hollow big enough to get in and sit during rain or whatever.

Living in the "boonies" you get used to sitting outside. The natural sounds, the heat, the cold, the wind, snow, sleet, rain...the ocassional critter crawling on you...

"My head is my only house, unless it rains." -Captain Beefheart

Anonymous said...

I read all those stories about tibetan monks being able to keep warm via meditation, even melting snow with their bodies. I was very skeptical of such claims. However, after I'd been sitting a few years our zazen group decided to take a trip to the mountains. We rented a cabin and that night a few of us decided to do zazen outside on the deck. It was about 40 degrees with light wind and I was sitting in a light cotton kimono (we wore those for zazen)with only my boxers underneath. To my utter surprise, the longer I sat the less I felt the cold. I don't think I could've melted any snow but I became completely warm and comfortable for the hour or two we sat.

Õà§íš said...

Well least you had hot showers and flush toilets.. Gautama would have killed for those.

Mr. Reee said...

First time in a tent? No sleep? Ah well, don't let it put you off. Air mattresses are a wonderful invention!

Speaking of sounds--the last day we were on the road camping we were woken up by the coyotes near the beach. This was not unusual except at the very end of their singing one of them became distressed.

Sounded like a werewolf being carted off by a vampire. That got us up. :D

Mysterion said...

"In semi-darkness we perceive a rope to be a snake."

Here's one TALK

A PDF on the same subject.

Snake is the rope (my version):
Suppose we are walking at night. We look down at the ground and see a snake and become frightened. When we actually overcome our fear and examine it, we see that there is only a rope, no snake. The rope was there all along. But the rope was perceived as a snake because our sight was obscured by the darkness and fear. We did not examine it closely, at first. As a result of our errant perception we reacted with fear. When we examined it critically, the appearance of the snake dissolved.

We can compare the snake to the idea of self or ego, the critical examination to gaining wisdom, and the rope to the realization that fear is folly.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
to M's @ 9:50 (by R, the increasingly annoyed) said...

It is true that some religious people fear truth.

I happen to come across Jews rather than Christians, and they seem to make a better example, (I do wonder if it’s such a good idea to let you guys know about that) but when I come across certain points it’s obvious sometimes that they are not interested in knowing he truth but in holding their own views, which they might – quite frequently – consider a moral act.

If you corner an ultra religious (which is not easy for a dry fish of the sort of Mysterion, (unless encountering the like, which would always exist) which the more serious of them could chunk effortlessly; - they could easily discern his stupidity and the worthlessness of his ideas and view) he would eventually tell you he just doesn’t give a damn.

It is generally not possible to move these guys out of their views in a rational discussion.

Some of the first and the suchlikes may be more stupid than M, which is no mean feat; - however - neither the first nor the second know the meaning of faith.

Nor - of course - does M.

Dogen says, - in Sansuigyo: “There are heavenly stones and there are earthly stones - as the secular say, but few people know.”. This may be just about my point, though you could replace “secular” for “religious” here for it is about the [perhaps inevitable] outcomes of religious establishment or tradition who do not know what it’s actually about. (I don’t even think Sawaki Roshi’s words about religion straying from the right path when being institutionalized are relevant here.) Nishijima’s footnote [to the above quote] would about do. M would notice “lots of people talking” and wouldn’t be able to discern the existence of few who do know. Whose view is also somewhat different, but that would also escape Mysterion.

Recognizing the difference by means of an immediate grasp of one’s personality, - in general – (i.e. in carful phrasing) would be beyond his mental abilities.

I’m sure M recognizes the LZ quote, or is able to. I intentionally didn’t link.

(I don’t think it’s such a great song anyway.)

So there are those who fear the truth, and there those who are astonished at his foolishness.

And the Intersection would prove to include none. I believe.

As for Christianity, - for 2000 years it seem to have relied upon feelings or emotions. Such an attitude could easily be taken as anachronistic today. Though undoubtedly it would still do for some.

If we take Gudo’s word for Buddhism being altered into a philosophy - it may be that the raw form of what our trouble maker here already calls “science” is what the new form of Christianity is to emerge or spring from.

Mysterion cannot imagine such things.
Though it (: - science) will have to come out of its present rather early childhood - reflected by our Mysterion’s intellectuality. One way or the other it eventually will.

Some people know things Mysterion doesn’t. That is a fact. Many prefer not to speak.

The reasons may be very evident, here at the comment section among other places. On a secular blog I wouldn’t have mentioned it myself.

It is not of utmost importance to “Zen” practitioners. Dogen somewhere says Zazen relies on direct experience so your views are somewhat doubly important.

Zazen serves the stupid as well. Like the light of the sun – it makes no discrimination. The Christian would say the same of “God”’s love – but I admit I am not so clear as to what that is about.


It is not that anybody wants to think one way or the other. [in the limitations I have expressed] Things [just] are that way.

And the significance at least may perhaps be obvious.

Sarah Baby said...


a rope,

and a snake,

and a Xtian

walk into a republican bar.

And the bartender says:

We having a lynching or a prayer meeting?

Mike Rock said...

It was nice to meet you so serendipitously on your way to your talk at the Zen Center, I keep telling my friends I have a habit of meeting cool people from Ohio. Great timing for the retreat to coincide with SXSW too. Central Texas weather in the spring is a bit schizophrenic.. but still better than summer when it's 105 for weeks on end.. you just missed the bluebonnets though, they are just starting to pop up this week.

Anonymous said...

A monkey,
a Mysterion,
and a water-head baby
walk into a bar

The room breaks into a grievous silence as Jumbo Shrimp annotates Gudo's latest tome.

Anonymous said...

you're gonna miss me
during the dharma punx retreat :(

Jinzang said...

The Brad Blog. People come. People go. Nothing ever changes.

Anonymous said...

can you spare some change?

Anonymous said...

collaboration in context

Me said...

"The Brad Blog. People come. People go. Nothing ever changes."


Harry said...

Dangers of sitting zazen in the wilderness no. 34:

"Hey, raccoons just made off with my ego!"



alan said...


I wish it was that easy.....

Roshi Raccoon walked into the room only to steal off my ego..

(Sung to the tune of some Beatles song)


Anonymous said...

Brad's telling of his dharma retreat really tells of the silliness of the ZEN religion.

Mr. Reee said...

Oh yeah. Zen is stupid (it's also over, too)

alan said...

I was reading Jaron Lanier's "You Are Not a Gadget" last week.

It was an interesting series of observations about the unintended problems computer technology causes in its interface with humans.

He noted that some of the creators of the Internet were influenced by fears of government censorship and decided to make anonymity easier to achieve on the Internet.

One of his ideas was interesting to me.

He suggestion was :

Be anonymous on the internet only if you have real reason to fear for your personal safety.

Which explains the Annon on this comment section.

They are probably afraid Brad's gonna pull out a big can'o ZenPunkWhoopAss and use it on them.



Jinzang said...

Not only is Zen silly and stupid, it's bad for your knees.

Mysterion said...

What is zen?

Zazen doen NOT require full-lotus or even half lotus position. There is the gentle Burmese variety (and zazen on a bench, seiza, or in a chair to accommodate the physically handicapped).

illustrations of Zazen positions

anonymous said...

alan said:
"Be anonymous on the internet only if you have real reason to fear for your personal safety.

Which explains the Annon on this comment section."

But then I click on 'alan' and it tells me his profile can not be displayed. ROFLMAO! Alan, dear boy...if you are really a boy, you are also anonymous. Perhaps you would care to share your full name and maybe your present address...unless you're afraid Brad will open up his zen whup-ass on you.

What a joke.

john e mumbles said...

Mysterionica... But, do I really have to grow a beard to sit on a chair?

john e mumbles said...

Oh, and the PC term has been "disabled" for quite awhile now, "physically handicapped" is so February...

Mysterion said...

Blogger john e mumbles said...
"Mysterionica... But, do I really have to grow a beard to sit on a chair?"

I don't know. I did.

Mysterion said...

I have 'sported' a beard for the last 40 years.

Japan, 1982...

BigG said...

any word on dates over here in Holland Brad ???

Sarah13 said...

I've been camping at the Rec Plant a number of times (most recently for a wedding on Halloween, it was effing freezing!!!)... can't say it ever occurred to me to do zazen there. And yeah, that thunderstorm that rolled in that weekend was CRAZY! Kudos to you guys for sticking it out. If I had been there I would have been uber-cranky. Camping in the cold sux.

Brad Warner said...

I'll be in Holland June 12 and 13. Maybe longer. I'll have details soon.

john e mumbles said...

re; Mysterion at 10:01 PM:

If only the KFC franchises in the U.S. had statues of Colonel Sanders...

...I would be able to drive by laughing my ass off thinking about your beard story.

alan said...

Anon 8:08;

Full name is Alan Sailer

Address is 2299 Newquist Ct Camarillo Ca 93010

Not very good with computers so I never filled out my profile.

So send me a letter....


john e mumbles said...

Alan, now that we agree we both come here for entertainment purposes, do yourself a favor and click on Mysterion's link: the last forty years -at 10:01 PM up there. LMFAO!

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Brad, I hate that once again I couldn't make the Hot SprAngs retreat. That really is beautiful country up thAr. But I swear, or warn you, if you start a weekly sitting down in Durham, I'll bless you with my presence. Just tune up your Ge-Tars.

And by the way, now that your East Coast, how about setting the time on your BLOG accordingly!

Thank you... and may JinZang and Mysterion reach full enlightenment soon.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

spelling correction, 2nd paragraph: you're

axel g said...

Well done!

Retreats are most rewarding.

But when you have to put in more than 10 hours a day, I personally find it counterproductive...

alan sailer said...

Anon @8:08,

I have corrected my (accidental) hypocrisy of my profile. I'm not sure how it came about, but as I said I'm not good with computers.

I took a look at your profile. You go by the name Anonymous, which is a name I've seen before :-)

On your profile you seem to be implying that you are the fictional comic book character The Joker.

I doubt you are fictional however, so I guess I still don't know anything about you at all (maybe you like the Batman movies? or the comic strip?).

You of course are under no obligation to answer, but just out of curiosity, what is your first name?

You could kind of think of it as an identity strip tease, although I may have taken off too much anonymity to start.


alan sailer said...

John e Mumbles,

Thanks for the heads up on the Mysti link.

For some dumb reason (I know very little about sports) I had read that funny story before.

I even faintly remember some American version, something about a rival team burying some talisman in their opponents field and then taunting them.


john e mumbles said...

Glad you liked it Alan. I am too inept to change MY stuff here to reflect a "true" identity, but for whoever cares, anybody can find out way more than they probably want to about me here: and if thats not enough, check the john eberly band on myspace.

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.
anonymous said...

Dear Alan, I will be happy to perform this identity strip-tease that you propose if you can first rid cyberspace of all murderers, perverts, kidnappers and blackmailers. I would never knowingly or purposefully expose myself or my wife and children to the many criminals that lurk about. Nor will I publish my social security number. If my wife did such a thing I would be furious as well. My first name is Keith. I chose the anonymous blogger name because (unlike yourself) many post here suggesting that simiply having a blue name means you are not anonymous. As you can tell by my own, this is an erroneous assumption. Live long and prosper. Nanoo nanoo. May the force be with you.

Mr. Spaceman said...

a murderer

a pervert

a kidnapper and

a blackmailer

walk into a bar. And the bartender says: "Where's the rope? We'll smoke it."

Swami Hoo U. Tinka, U.R. said...

Although I won't post the spoiler over at my blog, here is the final judgment scene in Tampopo.


Of course she makes the perfect bowl of Ramen! It's only a movie.

Anonymous said...

anon825: You blinked, Alan didn't..

Anonymous said...

Palin won't sit down and shut up

Anonymous said...

Anonymous to M's @ 9:50 (by R, the increasingly annoyed) said...
"Blah, blah, blah."

"He who lives on Hope, dies farting ."
- Benjamin Franklin
Poor Richard's Almanack (1736).

R said...

The definition as “Anonymous” seems a bit funny to me.

Surely M knows who wrote this. (I’m not getting into the alan-anonymous thing. I take them both as inaccurate. Though alan is closer.)

I once made a reference with regard to this, - since it seemed a bit difficult for him to understand. (which I didn’t expect)

As for the quote: The point of the comment you’re relating to was that’s it’s irrelevant.

It’s not as easy to see as you’ve deleted the comment I was relating to, - but it’s still quite clear.

And I never said you were not intelligent enough to understand that, though I don’t go back on a single word about you I said there.

I don’t think you’re even going to fart.

R said...

And I've also mentioned that I am not a blogger.

I don't blog.

And I don't have a Blogger account either. - Merely a Google one.

Three bloggers walked into a bar. I’ve never been one of them. And the bartender didn’t say anything – he just mumbled.

gaven shipman said...

"Anonymous said...
anon825: You blinked, Alan didn't.."

another comment brought to you by....anonymous!

Yours Truly,

Gaven Shipman
E 13th St. Apt. 7-B
New York, New York 10009

Divorced, 2 children, likes pets, Capt. Crunch cereal and S&M lesbian pornography. Enjoys jazz, hot tubs. Not a blogger or twitterer. Favorite author D.T. Suzuki.

;) said...

This blog is a great way of making friends.

CynicalBoy said...

I'm anonymous
Face to face just bones and skin
Here only letters

alan sailer said...

Anonymous said...

anon825: You blinked, Alan didn't..

Another comment to another annon....oh well, here I go.

I was not after having anyone blink or winning anything. I just find the whole Annon thing confusing. I'm sure some Annon have something to say, but I find that I tend to discount it because I am not willing or able to follow the protean Annon.

Always shifting and moving and interchangeable.

(Oh there goes a deep Zen message about about impermanence...damn missed it).

And Kevin AKA Anonymous, thanks for giving me your first name. It felt good to type it rather than just Anonymous.

I also experience fear, which I think is true of any human.

Fear is what started me sitting zazen, it was kind of my only remaining option at that point.

And after three years sitting, I'm still scared. Oh well, so it goes...


Mysterion said...

Blogger alan sailer said...
"I also experience fear..."

Is it (your frar) angst (anxiety) regarding the future or is it worry about repeating an error from the past? Or worse, it is giving a shit about how other people might feel about you?

Reading (besides sitting) might help.

After you read the two Suzukis,

Eric Fromm's stuff is o.k.

or, worst case, Hartmann

Kevin? said...

are walls really that necessary?

Roof said...

They're indispensable.

Ran said...

For a second opinion see SS, B.1, no. 41.

Anon and proud said...

Thanks for that rare, short, informative link, Ran.

What is "SS, B.1, no. 41."?

R said...

"SS, B.1, no. 41" is SS, B.1, no. 41.

There may be other translations.

I understand there is at least one.

Khalil Gibran said...

Houses Chapter IX by Khalil Gibran

A mason came forth and said, “Speak to us of Houses.”

And he answered and said:

Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.

For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.

Your house is your larger body.

It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless.

Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?

Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.

Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.

But these things are not yet to be.

In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your ci ty walls separate your hearths from your fields.

And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?

Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?

Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?

Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?

Tell me, have you these in your houses?

Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.

Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.

It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.

It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.

Verily the lust for comfort murders the p assion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.

It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.

You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.

You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.

And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.

For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.

alan sailer said...


"Is it (your fear) angst (anxiety) regarding the future or is it worry about repeating an error from the past? Or worse, it is giving a shit about how other people might feel about you?"

All of the above. But the anxiety is a fear of the future. The major issue is that my long term intellectual fear of global collapse has for various reasons, become much more concrete.

Thanks for your concern. But I'm basically OK.

I read the books, but they are more of a place keeper than any real help.

I've pretty much decided that since my thoughts have gotten me into this fine mess, they ain't gonna get me out.


Mysterion said...

Blogger alan sailer said...
"But the anxiety is a fear of the future. The major issue is that my long term intellectual fear of global collapse has for various reasons, become much more concrete."

Well, there is good news, and bad news. The good news is this:

In Buddhism, we learn to exert control over that which we can control - our own individual responsibility.

In Buddhism, we learn to detach from that which we can not control - really EVERYTHING that is more than one meter (39") away.

I highly advocate that you read:

The Book of Five Rings
(五輪書 Go Rin No Sho)

This is a text on kenjutsu (Japanese Kendo - sword fighting) and the martial arts in general, written by the samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. It is considered a classic treatise on military strategy.

HERE is a PDF download which comments on the book and should be skimmed first. One need NOT be well versed in Buddhism to appreciate 5 Rings.

You need not buy the book, it is posted HERE

Twenty some years ago, the Business College at Stanford went all ga-ga over this book - calling it the secret of 'the miracle of Japan Business.' It isn't.

It is far more basic. It talks about the world within the reach of one's sword - no more than that.

Best regards,

Paperback is ~$3.50

p.s. I happen to agree with your hypothesis: "Anyone who has young children today need not worry about them dying of old age."

Mysterion said...

Collapse of Species
(e.g. a world without seafood)

The Bible Myth about "Plenty of fish in the sea" springs from the LSD trip some dude described in Ezekiel 47

Ergot of rye is produced by a lower fungus (Claviceps purpurea). LSD is a derivative of ergot. Ergotism — ergot poisoning — has been implicated in historical outbreaks of bizarre behavior including the images in scriptures of every bolt of cloth. (Hindu, Buddhist, Abrahamic, Mohammedan, &ct.)

Ergotism — ergot poisoning — is almost* the only reasonable explanation to a lot of historical and mythological bullshit.

(*Option 2 is insanity)

alan sailer said...


I will check out the book. But only as entertainment.

I really do accept Brads oft stated belief that searching for nirvanas outside this moment is wasted time.

It does not stop me from the searching. I've just become a little more aware of this behavior.

Par for the course, I think.

My fondest (realistic) hope for meditation is the desire that one day I will be able to greet some of my own fears and anxieties as old friends rather than fearful monsters.

Bye the way, I don't believe that the future is going to be as rough as you imply.

I just believe that by the time we figure out how bad it's going to get, it will be way too late to put on the brakes.

I can also console myself by realizing that no matter what I imagine is going to happen, it WILL be something else.

The future ain't what is used to be.


Anonymous said...

(*Option 2 is insanity)

Ha! Mysterion, define SANE!

Anonymous said...

... without referring to an outside source, please.

Ran (K.) said...

If you'd ask Mysterion what's your point of not referring to an outside source he'd quote somebody on that.

Ran K. said...

To M: (for “Miserable”, - @ 11:02 am)

Your structure is typical to those who see themselves as coming to conclusions which suite opinions as yours.

You assume the impossibility of spiritual visions, or spiritual sight, or whatever. (- I don’t know what Ezekiel 47 is about, - I don’t like the Bible that much, and these things are definitely not easy to understand) - As a result you assume another possibility, which may in itself be ridiculous, and then you present your initial assumption as a result, or an outcome, - of [- what might at best be] your conclusion of it.

This is the main point here, I hope it is not missed.

- Rudolf Steiner died in 1925.

I personally know a person who over 70 years later is able to put questions to him; - with regard to the spiritual path - i.e. (Steiner indicated a path, - (in a book I once quoted from a quote I intend to repeat, and I will post a link then) enabling vision into worlds which are outside the physical plane, and action within. The man I mentioned has followed this path, and attained certain abilities which enable him to do as I mentioned. In spite of the fact that I might imagine only few of those who try would come to such results – he is surely not the only one.)

Different men give corresponding accounts on “higher” spheres.

It is not a matter of anybody hoping for things to be one way or the other, - It is a matter of some - of about the utmost mediocre narrow vision and conformity of thought - arrogantly and unawaringly considering themselves to be as worthy as they are most commonly thought to be, while being stupid and shallow enough to develop their views in the way they do, - and being completely unable to value the true course that might lead to actual knowledge and understanding.

Though either way – perhaps naturally – they would not be the ones to be foremost of it.

To alan:

In case there actually is a matter – Nissim Amon is a Dogen Sangha Teacher, and he has developed a technique which might bring quite quick real actual results.

I do not wish to express any opinion, but you can inquire through his center’s website, here, if it can be of any assistance to you. The technique is called Trilotherapy.

Otherwise you can try reading Alice in wonderland. It’s a real classic. Hope you get my point. (;))


Or else.


Not Mysterion said...

define SANE! asks anon.

You don't know?

You've read there's no such thing...we're all at a point on a spectrum; a sliding scale?

You think "insanity" is an out-of-date, unscientific, non-PC term?

You don't know what it means to spontaneously hallucinate without drugs?
Or to hear real - but unreal - voices in your head?
Or to believe your thoughts are being controlled by invisible transmitters in your pillow?

Like ALL terms, 'insanity' is limited in what it seeks to describe, but it does usefully describe something real in human experience. What's the problem?

Mysterion said...

The operational definition of Sanity is the ability to function within one's chosen or assigned context without doing damage to oneself or others. The sane person adapts to conditions he cannot alter (winter). Failing that, s/he removes himself from that condition (moves south for the winter). Failing that, s/he retreats into quietism - e.g. monasticism.

Mysterion said...

Artificial Intelligence programmers would like to assume that there are just two types of knowledge--declarative and procedural.

But, in reality, thinking is not that simple.

2 + 2 = 4 only in an absolute one dimensional world.

addend1 Two
addend2 Two
sum Four

but what if one "2" is 90º in relation to the other "2" (e.g. a two one dimensional world) ?

then 2 + 2 is 1.707 (2 + j2)

And what are the cases in 13 dimensions?

Calling me out to "declare" the definition of sanity is asking me to avoid thinking.

Don't think that you can reach out and take control over something or someone over which you have no control. That is insanity.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, you have assumed my intentions to be malevolent. I like your mind and was shaking your tree to see what it would produce. The apple you dropped was delicious!

I am working on a large scale project and am attempting to gather a team. If I described my full vision to any particular team member, I am certain they would consider my vision highly improbable - which is understandable considering that they have each experienced success with their skill sets within a particular context and have difficulty seeing other applications. Your definition of sanity actually gives me courage to continue!

Thank you.

john e mumbles said...

Anonymous said...Played Ya!

Damn, it was getting so logical (and non-entertaining, sorry Alan) there, the old saw end-o-the-world yarn, etc. Math problems...Read this, don't read that...
...And then Ran K (the real one) stepped up and exploded logic all over the place.

I assume, because I can' get past the first few lines anymore.

But in a non-linear, flatland kinda way, at least the beginning of his rants are always somehow entertaining, like a train wreck. Like a night in a Texas tent.

"Beware encouraging the mentally ill, they're a bottomless pit, my dear." -William S. Burroughs

Ran K. said...

In my next post there is one character the blog won't take, it seems.

So please note - whenever you see “” it stands for the square root of 2.

Ran K. said...

to M:

@ 2:08 pm: (definition of sanity)

The definition you bring is what one might assume psychiatrists would say.

I’d say a person might be called insane if his perception of reality or rational consideration is over 50% wrong.

That would be the limit.

I think it’s a matter of clarity of eyes. (discerning the right definition)

@ 2:52 pm: [!]

I don’t know about artificial Intelligence programmers, - but: -

I. - “2 + 2 = 4 only in an absolute one dimensional world”.

- “4” is a different name of “2+2”. It is nothing else. In each and every possible world what so ever. Any finite or infinite number of dimensions. (or you might say that 2 + 2 is one dimensional by nature. it is possible to see things that way, even right, but you’d still be wrong in the end. I’ll come to that.)

“4” is just an abbreviation of “1 + 1 + 1 + 1”. - By its natural definition. - One need not study mathematics to know that.

In the same way “2” is merely a more convenient name that we use for “1 + 1”. Again - it is nothing else.

Practicing “Zen” meditation is quite of more use for noticing such facts and seeing them clearly than studying Mathematics.

So it is not possible for “2 + 2” to be anything else than “4”.

(Dogen might point to the meaninglessness or the absence of the initial “1”, - I am not getting into that.)

- I believe it’s on the first grade that one studies that one can only apply mathematical addition to objects of the same nature.

- Two apples and two apples give four apples.

- Two pears and three pears give five pears.

Two apples and three pears just give two apples and three pears.

If you see them as fruits you can speak of a combined number.

- Otherwise you cannot speak of mathematical addition.

II. - “but what if one "2" is 90º in relation to the other "2" (e.g. a two one dimensional world) ?

then 2 + 2 is 1.707 (2 + j2)

If one of your “2”s is in a 90° angle to the other one than it is not a “2”. (assuming the first one is)

(It seems you have mistakenly used “j” instead of “i”. “j” is usually used in the four dimensional ℍ. I assume you meant to refer to the two dimensional ℂ. You would be equally wrong in any plane or field whatsoever.)

Else: - 2 + 2i is explicitly not 1.707. (or  which is probably what you mean)

2 + 2i is just 2 + 2i.

It is true that |2 + 2i| =  but that does in no way mean that 2 + 2i = .

2i is different from 2.

For example - 2 x 2 = 4, - but 2i x 2i = -4. [!]

That which you are referring to is not the addition of 2 and 2, - but the addition of two vectors whose “absolute value” is two each.

Another simple example would be 2 and -2.

|2| = 2.

|-2| = 2.

However the addition would not give four.

You would not claim that 2 + (-2) is another form of 2 + 2. I hope.

III. - “Calling me out to "declare" the definition of sanity is asking me to avoid thinking”.

- No truth in that too.

- I don’t really see what’s the point in anon @ 12:52 pm wanting you making the definition, [apparently he was just interested in what you might say] but asking you to clarify a concept you use - is, or may be, - (unless it’s for the questioner’s sake) asking you to prove your own clarity of thought.

And - IV. - “Don't think that you can reach out and take control over something or someone over which you have no control. That is insanity”.

– That is not insanity.

– That is a mistake.

However – it seems it was beneficial or productive somehow for the previous anon returning at 3:33. This may be the main point.

Ran K. said...

I made a mistake. It should (of course) be the square root of 8 (which is twice square root of 2) and not the square root of 2.

However – M gives 1.707. It is unclear how he got to that. The square root of 8 is approximately 2.8284. Of two is 1.4142. 1.707 is (in an approximation) [1 + (1/1.4142)], or [1 + (1.4142/2)], - but I can not see what is supposed to lead to such calculations.

Anyway: -

Assuming what M had in mind was vector addition -

Has he come across the word “addition” with regard to vectors and assumes this actually is addition - this is not necessarily the case.

Even though it may sometimes be – M is doubtly conscious of the distinction:

- Suppose we have a carriage.

- One horse - A - is puling straight north at a force that would be sufficient to pull the carriage at a speed of some X in this direction.

- Another horse – B - is pulling with the same force straight west.

It is true that the carriage would move north-west (in a 45° angle) at a speed of (approx.) 1.414X.

However – some of the energy would go to waste.

Some of the energy would combine for the pulling of the carriage, but some, - in which they are pulling one against the otherwould not.

In case the horses would pull straight one against the other the carriage wouldn’t move at all. - All of the energy would go to waste. [!]

This situation might be somewhat similar to the situation within the action of our M’s thoughts.


mumbles would be more like a car in neutral. ;) It’s unmoving but the engine’s at leisure and the energy doesn’t much go to waste.

Reading mines might be like driving uphill for him. It’s not really recommended. :(

Oh well.

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