Friday, April 23, 2010

GUTS IT BABY

First off I have updated my book tour page again. Some of the specific locations for European gigs that have lacked them are now filled in, particularly in France.

I have also added info about the annual Dogen Sangha Zen retreat in Shizuoka. Since my new book is coming out in September, the organizers have moved the retreat to July. In past years people from overseas have been attending the retreats in Shizuoka. You're always welcome to attend. It's a good retreat. But contact the folks in Dogen Sangha Tokyo about it, not me. The contact info's on their website.

Also, John Graves, who is now the president of Dogen Sangha Los Angeles, made this neat Sit Down and Shut Up/Shobogenzo Index. Check it out. He found all the references to specific parts of Shobogenzo in the book Sit Down And Shut Up and cross-referenced them so you could look 'em up if you wanted to. Why didn't I do this myself? Because I am lazy, that's why! But John did it and it is full of awesome. I've added it to the links section on the left as well.

I was chatting today via Skype to a friend of mine who is 21 years old. I seem to have a lot of friends considerably younger than me these days. But, then again, I never saw Nishijima interact with anyone less than twenty years his junior. Most people he hung out with were closer to forty years younger than him. Maybe it goes with the territory.

Anyway she's got a whole lot of choices to make in life, as you do when you're 21. And as you do when you're 46 too. So I wrote her this:

"You have to decide what you love the most, I think. And go for that. And don't believe people who say you can't do it. I semi-believed those people and it really held me back. It turns out they were wrong. They're still telling me I can't do it even while I am actually actively doing it! This is kind of comical."

It's funny the things you say in response to people. I teach myself a lot that way, which is why I like doing Q&A sessions and interviews. But it's really true. There seem to always be naysayers who delight in cutting you down and trying to make you feel like you're not capable. It's important to know how to tell those people to go fuck themselves. Sometimes you have to say it politely. Sometimes you have to say it only to yourself. But it's important to be able to say it.

Chuck Schodowski was a popular horror movie host in Cleveland, half of the teams Hoolihan and Big Chuck and later Big Chuck and Little John. He inherited his position from the great Ernie"Ghoulardi" Anderson (director Paul Thomas Anderson's dad) who preceded him. Chuck took a lot of shit when he started because his style was very different from Ghoulardi's.

In his book, Chuck talks about a letter he got from Ernie Anderson when this was going on. If the book wasn't in storage I'd quote it directly instead of from my poor memory. But Ernie Anderson said something like, "If the people who are telling you you're doing it wrong could do it themselves, they'd be doing it themselves. Guts it, baby, guts it!"

It's good advice. We all have a role to play and there are always those around you who'll stupidly envy you and think they could do whatever it is you do better, if only. I used to hear this kind of shit from lots of folks when I worked at Tsuburaya Productions, guys who knew that if they just got out of mom's basement they'd do so much better marketing Ultraman than I was doing. Now I hear it from people who'd be so much better Buddhist writers if only someone would give them a book deal. But there's a reason you're in the position you are and those guys are not. So they can all suck it.

As for the wide world of choices... it never ends. When I was 21 I woulda figured that by age 46 I'd either have had everything worked out or I'd be dead. As it turns out neither option panned out. These days my best advice to myself is to do what I love the most, to the best of my ability to do so. Sometimes your own karma places you into a position where it seems like you have no options. But I've stopped believing that. There's always some way to make whatever situation you find yourself in into a place you want to be. I've even managed to do this in endless traffic jams on the Los Angeles freeway system, or in a hospital bed with kidney stones so bad I thought the pain alone might kill me.

I made a lot of mistakes because I half-believed those who said I couldn't ever accomplish the things I truly wanted to do. I majored in history in college not because I liked it that much, but because I believed those who told me I'd never be able to land a career in the film business. Much less in the film business in Japan making giant monster movies. That I'd have far better of a chance getting a job teaching history in high school. All those people can suck it.

And still there they are! Look in the comments section of this very blog and you'll still find people telling me I can't do what I am already doing. They're clever enough not to put it in those words. But that's the message. They can suck it too.

When they tell you the same thing, just remember they can suck yours as well.

Guts it, baby.

142 comments:

Harry said...

Whoop! I'm famous again!

Hokai said...

Harry, don't you have anything else to do than starring at your PC and push the button, when Brad post another story?
It's boring !
Cheers,
Gerald

Harry said...

Hi Hokey,

No, this is what I do... sometimes I scratch, but only on Saturdays and some holy days.

Regards,

Harry.

Number 2 said...

When Harry is number one it cause me to cry with happiness. Go Harry-san, Tell Hokai to suck it!

Harry said...

"Suck it" is so 'last post'. I'm over that now.

Let's cry 2getha, Number 2.

:-)
.
.
.
.
.

Steven said...

"GUTS IT BABY" is the greatest Zen slogan of the year so far.

108 the merciless said...

Brad: I think of you as the Big Chuck of Buddhism.

Chris C said...

I believe that many, many people want to be TOLD what to do...what to think...how to sit..how to talk...how to LIVE...

They wander through life seeking the validation of the teacher, the boss, the wife, the husband, the friend the community.

I bet Brad gets this kind of stuff all the time. Either people telling him he is full of shit, or people looking to him for ALL of the answers. Not much in between, maybe? I don't know, but I think it is good to get the young and middle and old alike to start thinking for themselves about themselves...

There is great strength in being able to tell someone in your life to "suck it!" or to even just say "no". How many of us have thought it...but never dared say it. We retreat in our own cowardice, fear and subservience...settling for the validation of another, rather than have our own realizatons and living our own lives just as they are.

This is what my practice has been for me. Not a search for "enlightenment", but to know myself...apart from the judgement of others and myself.

Just thinking out loud...

Anonymous said...

Is this going to be the subject of Brad's next dharma talk, to reach for the stars and believe in your dreams, and fuck all the haters? Is this zen or this the ramblings of a disgruntled high school career counselor? Love your haters Brad, for without them you would clearly have nothing to write about.

--Hater

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Harry !!!
So happy for your success today :)

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

Hi Brad,

I can't see the picture you posted to illustrate this post.

So I clicked on the blank space. I got "You don't have permission to access /images/horror_ghoulardi3.jpg on this server."

I've tried telling you to fuck yourself.
I've tried gutsin it...
Nuffin :(

Should I suck it?

(farthoze)

Back At'cha said...

Love your haters Brad, for without them you would clearly have nothing to write about.

--Hater

And you would have nothing to bitch about or hate upon...

Jinzang said...

Brad, you should know that linking to images on other sites is bad karma.

Jinzang said...

reach for the stars and believe in your dreams ...

A cliche is a truth whose edges have been worn smooth by use.

Brad Warner said...

I fixed the problem with the image. The one I accessed on the 'net must be "owned" by paranoid people who don't want anyone else accessing it. It's a scan of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's TV Times from 1965 that every Ghoulardi fan has a scan or copy of (it's been reprinted a zillion times). Now it's up again from my own hard drive this time so nobody can pull it down. Geeks... (and me for being lazy)

As for haters, I love 'em. As for cliches, some of them happen to be true. And I don't think you can possibly hear some of them enough.

Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

Great post! Guts it, baby!

anon #108 said...

Mr Ghoulardi -
I see him now!

Crazy name!! Crazy guy!!!

Jinzang said...

The one I accessed on the 'net must be "owned" by paranoid people who don't want anyone else accessing it.

Sysadmins get a bit ticked when you siphon off their bandwidth and they get nothing in return. So they set up their rewrite rules so offsite image accesses get denied. It's just how things are done on the web. You know, the code of the geek.

Jinzang said...

As for haters, I love 'em.

I hope Dana Ullman is cultivating a similar sense of equanimity, as he surely needs it.

David K. Lemming said...

I agree that at times we are afraid to try and do what we can actually do because we have been told that we can't do it. I have spent most of my life being told that I can't do things and it has led to me feeling like I can't do things that I want to do. I have overcome that to some degree, but it still feels like their is someone behind me telling me that I am not able to do anything.

I liked your theory on being able to tell people to stick it, even if it is in your own head, that is a problem I have had most of my life...not being able to say it. Keep posting wisdom for us to learn from.

Anonymous said...

Ah, but what about when you know you have something calling your name but you don't know what it is? Or, on some days you're drawn to one thing but on other days it's something else? Telling folks to fuck off when you know for sure where you're going is one thing but telling them when you have no clue? Whole nother story.

zen sky said...

One of the benefits of practice is a clarity that cuts throught a lot of bullshit. You clearly "get it" in your books and are very clear in real time q&a, so I am inspired to practice again, thanks!

zen sky said...

Oh yeah, "Doing what you love" is really great advice, never too late to do that.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Hello Ladies,
My name is PhilBob-SquareHead
I'm 37, divorced with one child.
I like long walks on the beach, Lifetime movies while snugglin', camping, hunting for rare musical recordings, playing guitar, supporting left of center causes and drinking craft brews in Bohemian establishments.....

If interested, contact me here...we might as well make Mr. Warner's blog a HOOK UP zone.

Uku said...

Bite my wire! Great post, Your Holiness Über King of All Dharmas Zen Master Odo Bene Roshi Sensei.

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

Anybody knows the origin of the name “Led Zeppelin”?

Anonymous said...

Brad,
This post of yours really resonates right now. Talk about timing. Last night I got laid off at work, a totally unexpected shock. This morning I read your post and it raised my hopes a bit. Serendipity? Karma? Random cause and effect? Whatever, keep writing.

Sleuth said...

Ran K -

I didn't know the origin of the name Led Zeppelin, so I googled "led zeppelin name origin".

Now I know the origin of the name Led Zeppelin. I'm sure you do too.

Are you trying to tell us something?

Harry said...

"They decided to drop the "a" so Americans wouldn't mispronounce it."

...Damned illiterate yanks!

Regards,

H.

Sleuth said...

Harry,

I wonder if our colonial cousins are familiar with the expression "to go down like a lead balloon"?

I'll google...


Apparently they are, but prefer the form "go over like a lead balloon".

How unnecessarily awkward of them.

Ran K. said...

Brad says: “But there's a reason you're in the position you are and those guys are not”.

It’s not always so.

I’d say it could be unequivocally be said that at least 50% of the CD’s released are unworthy and we might very well be better without them. (While 50% is a very carful assumption, - it might be 90%.) Having the masses decide the quality of art is ridiculous. So many who are where they are not necessarily there for the right reasons.

With regard to things discussed earlier - (I had very little time to read) a person who seeks fame and fortune does not know what art is.

(That isn’t not to say that they might be pleasant.)

So there may be many who might have been able to do it better but won’t take part in the shitty celebration.

And btw – there may be people who write books simply because they have something to say.

Same as the comments you write here. (I personally never do but I know there are many who actually do so on regular basis. You can’t really miss it if you check the comment section 3 or 4 times. Try and see.)

Not everybody are after fame and fortune

Anonymous said...

Ran K wrote: "I’d say it could be unequivocally be said that at least 50% of the CD’s released are unworthy...Having the masses decide the quality of art is ridiculous. So many who are where they are not necessarily there for the right reasons."

Unworthy? Of poor quality?

You mean you don't like them. There are no unequicoval, objective aesthetic criteria.

And why are they there? Maybe not for the right reasons, Ran - I don't think Brad was talking about "right" reasons. But there's no doubt that there is a reason, a cause, why everything is where it is.

Ran [K.] said...

"You mean you don't like them" - I don't.

"There are no unequivocal, objective aesthetic criteria" - says who?

"But there's no doubt that there is a reason, a cause, why everything is where it is" - if you see it that way - it's OK.

But I'm not sure that's what brad meant.

Since he’s dead now [- after the Ultraman explosion] we'll never know. - I'm not even sure he ever lived. Always was a funny guy.



- 108? [- Or did I misrecognize your voice?]

Ran [K.] said...

Anything about that, Misterio?

Anonymous said...

"There are no unequivocal, objective aesthetic criteria" - says who?

Lots of people.
Immanuel Kant does:

For Kant, beauty is not a property of any object, but an aesthetic judgement based on a subjective feeling...Good taste cannot be found in any standards or generalizations, and the validity of a judgement is not the general view of the majority or some specific social group. Taste is both personal and beyond reasoning, and therefore disputing over matters of taste never reaches any universality. Kant stresses that our preferences, even on generally liked things, do not justify our judgements.

(From wiki on "Taste")


To me that sounds a lot like what Gautama Buddha said, too.

More importantly - I said it, and it's nice to know they agree.

(don't you get sick of seeing that old trolley bus?)

Mr. Reee said...

The approval game takes two players: one seeking approval, and another (usually desperate) to offer it.

Tis true--once you reach a certain place in life, you begin to see that many of those 'helpful' people who are telling you that you can't do something are really telling you why they can't do it. Nothing more.

This is often paired with the insight that the approval one has been seeking is from ones self.

And the truth is--we don't really need advance "permission" from anyone, including ourselves, to do what we care about. Just do it.

Stephanie said...

What in the heck does this motivational pep talk have to do with Zen? I'm with Anon "Hater" @ 1:37PM. This reminds me of "The Secret"--use the power of positive thinking to get what you want! The wonderful thing about Zen is that it doesn't give us new techniques to "rise above the haters and realize our dreams" but rather helps us see that our dreams are just dreams, and whatever happens is all Reality. You can be a history teacher, monster movie maker, janitor, or office worker, and feel completely at home in your life. Because what you do and whether you realized your dreams or not has nothing to do with liberation.

I find this kind of motivational cheese off-putting because it's great for those of us who have had the luck and ability to pursue and realize our dreams, but not so great for the people who did not. I don't believe that the only thing that separates "winners" from "losers" is that the former had "clearer positive intention." A lot of it is out of our control and I think the notion that people who don't realize their dreams simply did not believe in themselves enough is feel-good yuppie fluff that isn't true. Life is hard and some people do the right thing and still suffer.

I've learned a lot from my mother, who has suffered many disappointments, lost a lot, and has many dreams that were unfulfilled. She works a job she doesn't like and that holds no meaning for her, but for many reasons has no options but to continue, including financial reasons, job market, and not having the time/money to return to school right now. But she has grown in wisdom throughout her life and not always getting what she wants or realizing her dreams is part of what has made her wise. She has realized the preciousness of "this moment" in her own way, and that love and appreciation of life itself are enough. I think this is a much more mature and true perspective than the narcissistic American "you can get whatever you want if you want it enough!" approach. The beauty of Zen: we are liberated from "what we want" and no longer have to be yoked to its tyranny.

Word verification: 'chedoo.' As in, 'This post has the consistency of melted chedoo.'

Mr. Reee said...

oops--too early in the morning for typing:

"The approval game takes two players: one seeking approval, and another (usually desperate) to offer it."

I meant to say 'to offer it, or withhold it.' Withholding approval seems to be more germane to the point of the post.

Now, more coffee.

Ran said...

108,

I’m not really in for it, can’t spare the time – but:

“Lots of people” - I know that. And you should know I do.

If you really understand Buddhism (or perhaps the spirit in general) western modern philosophy might seem something like a joke. Guys like Brad don’t tell you that cause you won’t believe them. There may be exceptions. Kant does not definitely seem to be one of them. [you might put me on a Mysterion attack here, I hope all will be quiet]

beauty is not a property of any object, but an aesthetic judgement based on a subjective feeling” - first you need to be able to see what beauty is. I think only a Buddha can. But one might be able to come to a reasonable idea. I don’t think Kant can even hope for that. He seem to imagine he can figure things out by the power of the intellect and has no idea of what might be attained through Zazen. [or other alternative means, - like questioning Mysterion, or being a [true] member of the Rolling Stones]

Good taste cannot be found in any standards or generalizations” - it might depend on what you call “standards” or “generalizations”. Not rigid hard ones as our K might have been able to refer to with his seemingly materialistic thinking.

the validity of a judgement is not the general view of the majority or some specific social group” – definitely true. Goes for philosophy as well. Mind you.

Taste is both personal and beyond reasoning” – I suppose Kant couldn’t imagine otherwise.

disputing over matters of taste never reaches any universality” - definitely untrue. It’s a matter of a depth of your mind. Most people would see it as Kant did.

[“preferences … do not justify … judgements” – of course they don’t. How could they? But then If we’d see things Kant’s way – I don’t suppose that would even matter.]

I don’t want to get into Gautama. And if I would I would probably ask you to be more exact but it would be very long.

As for you: (mentioned as well)





I would like now to prove this through the subtle criteria of the ancient patriarchs: ” [*]




i.e. - How equivocal can you get about that?




Could you say it does not have objective value? (and don’t let me know that you don’t even know if the computer in front of exists – that’s not what we’re about)




If you don’t like the bus picture you can call yourself 107 the great. Or 106 the miraculous. Or Mysterion or Harry. Anything will do. Simply “Anonymous” is confusing or inconvenient. Be ingenuitive.



And just in case you intend to continue – I can’t spare the time – as I said. I probably won’t respond this week.



So far,
HCZ chat.




[*] - E. Dogen, Japan, 1200-1253 AD, “Shobogenzo Bendowa” (1231, [57])

Anonymous said...

Right on, Steph. Brad's post originally appealed to me because I feel that, so far in my life, I have achieved mostly what I set out to achieve. But your response has reminded me to also realize why that may be so, not the least of which has been having access to education and other stuff that others may not have. While I am grateful for what I have in my life, I need to be reminded that there are plenty of other circumstances that have assisted and continue to assist me, and not just because I had "guts" and told others to "suck it." Thanks, Steph!

Anonymous said...

So when is Brad going to come out with his "Suck It" enlightenment video where in the span of two hours you too can develop the inner courage to tell people to "suck it". I think he could make millions catering to the American culture of Me, which he's kind of already subtly doing. Come on Brad, get in the game buddy, don't let those Zen precepts hold you back. Get that paper baby.

Anonymous said...

can't say I care much for this post of yours Brad

that's ok there are hoards of other posts that are shear brilliance

you are allowed a pass in my book

in fact you are allowed a handful

one down

four to go


sounded like you had sugar frosted cornflakes for breakfast

I'd watch my intake of carbs if I wuz youse, and other sweet morsels too
but probably not
'cuz if I really WUZ wuz you I'd been asking for second helpings of everything

no matter how far you wander on your world domination tours, sooner or later you will always come to your senses

if word gets out you've ever taken to charging thousands for someone to spend time with you in your hotel we'll know the pressures of fame were too much for you

Cyril Coombs said...

I have to give a "Suck Out" (kind of like a shout out but in the vein of this blogpost) to Brad.

The "good" Star Trek is TNG. The original Star Trek never got good until The Wrath of Khan. Mwahahahahaha

IsabellaLaRouge said...

maybe my "newbie-ness" is showing here, but I dont get you people. so, zen is just accepting where you are and living with it? "Oh well, this is reality." Since none of us are likely to ever reach Buddah status, I say its ok to have dreams and strive for accomplishments. Not all articist endevors are in the name of money and fame. Some people just feel compeled to write, paint, play music, or whatever. But if a person can find a way to make a decent (or more than decent) living doing what they love, more power to them. Sure, you're gonna get people like Thomas Kinkade who paint just for money (my college art professor HATES that guy), but such is life in a world where everybody thinks differently. So get off Brad's ass. If you don't like what he has to say Im sure there are othere blogs that tell you what you want to hear.

Mr. Reee said...

"so, zen is just accepting where you are and living with it?"

That's kinda part of it. Recognizing reality, instead of wishing it away, is sometimes a simple acknowledgment, and sometimes a prescription.

The idea, as I understand it, is that if you are paying attention to things, it will become apparent that some of the problems we encounter our of our own making--inside our heads. When one notices this, it makes it easy to focus effort on the problems 'out there.'

In no way does zen, or anything else, make problems go away. It just makes it easier to see, and perhaps not get carried way by problems.

anon #108 said...

Hi Ran,

We disagree.
It's not important :)

anon #108 said...

Hi Isabella,

Some of what you say might refer to what I wrote on the previous post about (an aspect of) what motivates us when we write, paint, play music etc.

Some people play or paint and never display their efforts. Others do. There may be different motivations.

There's nothing wrong - at all - with needing approval, acceptance, confirmation, understanding, love. Such needs/desires are part of being human, I think - we may never "transcend" them. We may be able to recognise them and become more 'balanced', so that they don't lead to harmful behaviour.

Approval, acceptance etc aren't bad things. In no way was I having a go at Brad.

Re the bigger picture - I pretty much see it how Mr. Reee sees it.

anon #108 said...

In no way was I having a go at Brad.

...except in as much as he may not acknowledge the part those needs/desires play in what he does - in what we all do.

Of course, Brad may disagree that the need for approval plays a large part in publicly shared artistic endeavours.

If my supposition is true, then recognising that fact must be the first step to relinquishing the hold such needs/desires can have on us.

Anonymous said...

"These days my best advice to myself is to do what I love the most..."

Is head of DSI part of that?

It seems from what you've written that Gudo Nishijima Roshi dumped DSI and other things onto you and you took it and have been wriggling ever since.

You've said you've promised Gudo Nishijima Roshi not to do anything before he dies but is there any reason why you cannot change that?

You seem to enjoy writing and touring and stuff so why carry whatever Gudo Nishijima Roshi has put on your shoulders?

Hokai said...

Hi Steph,
I always liked your posts, they are like an open window bringing fresh air into a smelly room full of agitated little boys.
Keep on posting !
Cheers,
Gerald

Anonymous said...

You seem to enjoy writing and touring and stuff so why carry whatever Gudo Nishijima Roshi has put on your shoulders?

Is there any conflict?
Isn't Brad writing and touring, which includes leading retreats and teaching, as head of DSI?

Anonymous said...

Your "suck it" mantra makes you sound like a 90s WWE wannabe wrestler.

Anonymous said...

Also, it's interesting that your post makes it seem that you draw inspiration (of a sort) off of the negative attitude of others.

At least I find it interesting and somewhat telling.

I, Me, Mine said...

The internet is an awful place. It brings out the worst in people kind of like airports and sporting events. It's weird but the written Brad and the Brad I see in talks and videos seem to be two different people. One is calm, cool, funny, articulate, and humble, while the other, the symbolic Brad of the internet, sometimes comes across as arrogant and whiny as evidence by this latest blog.

I think this goes to show that the living zen embodied by a person's physical presence and vibe is always more effective than whatever that person might convey through the written word.

I know Brad isn't nearly as douchey as he comes across in this blog. The internet rather and the kinds of unhealthy interactions it demands, some how give rise to a certain douchiness of mind that not even zen adepts can avoid. That is unless they avoid the internet altogether, which most aren't willing to do. I guess the only option is to somehow be mindful of our behavior in this virtual landfill and not let the stench of it go to our heads.

Brad Warner said...

I guess I shoulda put the part about making wherever you find yourself into the place you most want to be in big bold letters.

Also, I wasn't talking so much about going for your dreams as about not listening to dickheads who try and tell you how to be you.

If I was in a better mood I'd say sorry for writing so unclearly. But I'm crabby today.

Alexis said...

yes this a good article. nice one.

Anonymous said...

There's always some way to make whatever situation you find yourself in into a place you want to be. I've even managed to do this in endless traffic jams on the Los Angeles freeway system, or in a hospital bed with kidney stones so bad I thought the pain alone might kill me.

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

Hmm...

I wonder how many people properly read what Brad - or anyone else on this blog - writes.

Hands up if you slowly consider every word of those longer posts you don't wanna agree with.

...put your hand down, 108.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't talking so much about going for your dreams as about not listening to dickheads who try and tell you how to be you.

Ain't that the truth!
Especially dickheads who imagine they are zen masters.

Jinzang said...

dickheads who imagine they are zen masters

Did you imagine that there were zen masters?

Huang-po instructing the community said: All of you students are gobblers of dregs. If you go about traveling in this way, if you go about like this, when will you meet today? Don’t you know that there is no zen teacher in all of the land of China.

At that moment a student came forward and said: What about all those people who teach meditation and lead communities?

Huang-po said: I did not say that there was no zen; it’s just that there are no teachers of zen.

Hipparchia said...

"Don’t you know that there is no zen teacher in all of the land of China."

I firmly believe this to be true. Anyone who takes up teaching zen is a screwball and is to be avoided.

Mason Moore said...

So Ran, you are trying to say that the concepts of things like music styles being good and bad is an objective fact, instead of them being (obviously) opinions?

I ask this question fully aware (from reading your posts) that you will most likely twist my words to support your argument with the kind of logic seen here.

Lostmort said...

Any chance of a visit to australia sometime Brad?

Anonymous said...

Oldish Newbies

I smoking as I write this. I want to smoke. I also don't want to smoke and am slowly cutting it out.

Right now, after two hours without one, this roll-up is like tube of light, to paraphrase a famous British playwright dying of cancer and with weeks to live, now unburdened of having to decide whether to quit or not. And as I write this, I'm getting that nagging feeling.

I sat for thirty minutes this morning, because, of course, I wanted to. But a large part of me didn't.

My wife and I got a little annoyed with each other yesterday. We didn't want to be off with each other, but admitting to each other why we did helped us to have a lovely day thereafter.

In dealing with our considerable difficulties, we had developed this notion that it was much better to think of two wants, which we had take care of. Relating in this way to ourselves and each other has been invaluable in realising what we truly wanted.

It was only later that I bought Stephen Bachelors' poetical interpretation of Nagarjuna.

On opening the the first page I red these words which rang like a bell:

'The dharma taught by buddhas
Hinges on two truths:
Partial truths of the world
And truths which are sublime.
Without knowing how they differ,
You cannot know the deep;
Without relying on conventions,
You cannot disclose the sublime,
You cannot experience freedom.'

So at the moment, my working rule of thumb is: there is those tugging wants and what I truly want.

I didn't read Brad's post as a call to follow your dreams re Stephanie and Hater et al. Although I didn't read it as a denial of doing so either. I think there are reasons why folk want to read Brad's post one way or another and why the world wants them to -- one of them being what C20th linguist outlined and also what the Diamond Sutra seems to be pointing to.

For some reason this all reminds me of a bit in Robert Aitkin's Zen Master Raven:

'Black Bear appeared one evening and said, "Tell me about Mara. I understand that he is the Great Destroyer."
Raven said, "The Great founder."
Black Bear said, That's what the Buddha Shakyamuni is called."
Raven said, "Yes, but he never learned to blow smoke from his ears."

I think that if Brad tried to spell everything out so clearly, it might be a long boring read with even more bits for folk to snag on to. I think post-structuralists where onto something when they characterised reading as a continual process of mis-reading: an of often interesting chain of distractions, a chinese-whisper version of no ignorance and also no ending of ignorance, perhaps. And so and so and so on.

(Oh, by the way, there is the lesser known term Misandry, Mysogeny gets all the press these days it seems. There are both little girls and little boys.)

anon #108 said...

Re Mason Moore's challenge to Ran K, and oldish newbie's reference to Nagarjuna...

There are, says Nagarjuna, two truths -

1) samvrti-satya (empirical/relative truth);
2) paramartha-satya (highest/ultimate truth).


An example might be:

1) 'some art is beautiful and worthy. Other art is ugly and not worthy.'
2) 'As all phenomena are ultimately empty, no art possesses innate characteristics.'


So perhaps Ran was simply arguing the truth of 1), and I was arguing the truth of 2).

I wonder of he'll disagree...

to Anonymous @ 6:32 pm said...

Notice Buddhist relics @ 4:46 pm here.

Rich said...

Coming back to THIS moment again and again. From this point you are the great bodhisattva, the great zen writer and teacher, the great artist, the great doctor, the great store clerk, the great janitor.....

If someone says you cannot do this, it is because they are lost in a dream.

Thank you everyone.

anon #108 said...

[Another translation of samvrti-satya is 'conventional truth'. The sanskrit samvrti, is derived from the root /vR, meaning to cover, conceal, hide, obstruct - the sense being that our conventional interpreatation/understanding of the 'evidence' of our senses and experience conceals, or hinders, the (ultmately) real situation. However, our conventional experience and understanding is not 'wrong'; it too is true - how else do we arrive at the notion of paramartha-satya, "ultimate truth"? But having understood the notion - the view, we should drop it: "...Gautama...taught the true dharma for the relinquishing of all views" (last verse of MMK). Truth is not a view.]


Meanwhile...

Gudo's puter is now fixed, so he's blogging again. Here is his latest post, "How to practice Zazen". No detail, just a recommendation to find a teacher and do it everyday. But, I noticed, not one reference to the ANS!...and this award-winning typo:

"...read my book " Wow to practice Zazen" through Amazon."

cyclingdave said...

that we learn from teaching is insightful. it would appear that all the poster's [hater's or otherwise] have also had insight from this post which the felt strong enough about to share/teach.

anon #108 said...

EDIT

I wrote "...our conventional interpreatation/understanding of the 'evidence' of our senses and experience conceals, or hinders, the (ultmately) real situation."

Idiot! Nothing can "hinder the real situation". What I meant was...

rat said...

I firmly believe this to be true. Anyone who takes up teaching zen is a screwball and is to be avoided.

I think most zen teachers are asked or given permission to teach by their own teachers. If it's a career choice and a zen student sets out to become a zen teacher I think your point is valid.

Jinzang:

The Huang Po story has several levels of meaning, as do many koans.

No teachers of zen;
Can zen ever really be taught?
You can be shown how to sit in the right posture or given a koan. A teacher can give talks, write or blog and offer help in one on one meetings. No one can eat for us.

No teachers of zen;
No, no, no...eye, ear, tongue, nose, body, mind...And as the Diamond cutter sutra says, in truth there are no sentient beings to be saved. And no-one to save them.

Anonymous said...

Oldish Newbies

I found anon #108's post an interesting example of the difficulty of expressing the two truths. Eg:

"1) 'some art is beautiful and worthy. Other art is ugly and not worthy.'
2) 'As all phenomena are ultimately empty, no art possesses innate characteristics.'"

There seems to be an endless regression in terms of expressing the two truths, for one could re-configure the above contrast thus, for example:

1) There is the coming together of the art object and my subjectivity, the coming together of the object as held in my subjectivity and my pre-existing expectations/experiences, the coming together of the reconfiguration of my subjectivity and any other activity or experience which constitutes what keeps coming together, along with any realisation that this isn't really anywhere near the totality of what's going on or how to express it, and so I might as well call this relative arrangement the first truth, even though the second truth is really no different, apart from such parallel assertions that there is always another side to the coin, even with the relative, hence what one might call the absolute, the utlimate contingency or emptiness of things, and which ends up being relative to relativity, rendering the absolute a big bag of absolutes, each like some big bag of absolutes in a big bag of absolutes that appear to be related: a rather confusing and paradoxical flip of the coin, even though flipping a coin is the simplest thing in the world -- it happens even when you drop a coin, or when a breeze topples a conveniently piled pile of pennies, although to realise coin flipping fully one would need not to just observe and talk about it, but actually practice it.

2)Sentences such as the previous one will only go on for so long.

anon #108 said...

I found anon #108's post an interesting example of the difficulty of expressing the two truths.

Ain't that the truth!

**************************************
Oo. Nearly forgot...

Gudo's latest blog post concludes:

It is not necessary for us to get the so-called enlightenment. Because the so-called enlightenment is just a Romantic story, which many children love. But Buddhism is never a Romantic story, but it is just Action. It is just sitting. It is just Practice. It is just Reality.


Oh dear.
What now?

Harry said...

Get it.

Regards,

Harry.

Anon 107b said...

Anon 108:

Don't worry, Gudo's a Romantic. Gudo and his heirs love assertion and negation. Reality is always something beyond assertion and negation.

I, Me, Mine said...

If Huang Po had said everyone and everything is to be your teacher, that would have been equally correct.

You people sure love to philosophize up in this bitch.

Harry said...

Hi,

If reality is beyond assertion and negation then it's not right here and it's not totally inclusive, which would not be total reality. It may be just a form of self, and/or other, loathing.

It's true that reality is already 'beyond' in the sense that it's not a positive or negative philosophical perspective or a perception. But it's also true that we are holding it in our hand, that it is our hand holding, otherwise it's not inclusive reality but may just be some disembodied idea/ideal.

I doubt you're interested in a sincere discussion, but I live in hope (in my own stupid reality).

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

...let me at 'im, 'arry!

Hi 107b,

The quote from Gudo was from a very brief blog post entitled "How to do zazen". Here's the beginning of the quote (not the whole post) again, complete with the preceding sentence:

Zazen is a kind of habit, and it is necessary for us to establish the daily habit without fail. It is not necessary for us to get the so-called enlightenment...

In that context he was saying, I think, 'don't pursue or hope for "the so-called enlightenment" in zazen. Just sit.'

That's hardly a new idea, is it? - or one unique to Gudo, his heirs, or romantics.

You are free, of course, to pursue "the so-called enlightenment" with all the zeal you can muster. Unless you already have it. If you do, please tell me whether it was worth the effort.

"Gudo and his heirs love assertion and negation". You just made that up, didn't you ;) Sounds good; means nothing. As for this bit: "Reality is always something beyond assertion and negation" - just stealing Gudo's material.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds good; means nothing."

Yeah baby, that's the way I roll

" As for this bit: "Reality is always something beyond assertion and negation" - just stealing Gudo's material."

and theft.

"You are free, of course, to pursue "the so-called enlightenment" with all the zeal you can muster. Unless you already have it. If you do, please tell me whether it was worth the effort."

I'm good at pursuing but not at catching. I don't know if anythings worth the effort of chasing.

Harry said...

"I don't know if anythings worth the effort of chasing."

Had sex recently?

A big empty world is a very dreary place to live.

Regards,

H.

Anon107b said...

"Had sex recently?"

No. Maybe that's the problem!

Harry said...

Hee hee, nice one. Motivation is not my strong point either. I need to get a job.

Know of anything that's good for a person who's expert at talking shite on internet blogs anyone?

Regards,

Expectant.

anon #108 said...

alrite, 'arry i'll leave the kid alone. but next time I'll 'ave 'is bleedin nuts for breakfast.

tha's a promise, chum.

Jinzang said...

I think the key phrase of the koan is:

if you go about like this, when will you meet today?

When you meet today, you will also meet Zen, teacher or no.

Mysterion said...

Jinzang:

yeah...

that works...

Anonymous said...

Master Gudo said:

"It is not necessary for us to get the so-called enlightenment. Because the so-called enlightenment is just a Romantic story, which many children love.

Master Dogen said:

Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become clear and you will realize the unity of all things.

In the assemblies of the enlightened ones there have been many cases of mastering the Way bringing forth the heart of plants and trees; this is what awakening the mind for enlightenment is like. The fifth patriarch of Zen was once a pine-planting wayfarer; Rinzai worked on planting cedars and pines on Mount Obaku. . . . Working with plants, trees, fences and walls, if they practice sincerely they will attain enlightenment.

The bringing about of enlightenment by the opportunity provided by a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the effecting of realization with the aid of hossu, a fist, a staff, or a shout, cannot be fully understood by discriminative thinking.

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass

I come to realize that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great wide earth, the sun and the moon and stars

When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves.

Chitta is an Indian word which we call the discriminative mind. Without this discriminative mind we could not give rise to the enlightened Mind. I am not saying that this discriminative mind is the enlightened Mind; rather, we give rise to the enlightened Mind by means of the discriminative mind.

Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life."

Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.

That you carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That the myriad things come forward and experience themselves is awakening

When human beings attain enlightenment, it is like the moon reflected in the water. The moon appears in the water but does not get wet nor is the water disturbed by the moon.

If you think you can become enlightened just by worshipping images and relics, this is a mistaken view'

It is true that our predecessors recommended both the koan and sitting, but it was the sitting that they particularly insisted upon. There have been some who attained enlightenment through the test of the koan, but the true cause of their enlightenment was the merit and effectiveness of sitting. Truly the merit lies in the sitting.

Adhere to the Precepts as set down by the Buddhas and Ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Source?

I am not taking part in the argument or discussion, - but whose translation is this, and where did you find it?

Harry said...

"...Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life."

Indeed, but, not being awakened, how do we know what 'being awakened' is?... We make it up, of course!

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

Yes indeed, anon @8.07pm.

Gudo, I'm sure, agrees with every word (but maybe not with the translations). He's a big fan of Dogen, you know.

The '"so-called" enlightenment' that Gudo refers to is the romantic, idealistic notion of a moment of sudden breakthrough that shatters, once and for all, the world of our illusion and delusion, and replaces it with a new world of perception and understanding that has transcends samsara. Having attained enlightenment, we become a Buddha, and unlike ordinary sentient beings, dwell in Nirvana....That kind of idea is, I'm pretty sure, what Gudo means by 'the "so-called" enlightenment'.

Gudo has spoken of and written about 'enlightenment' many times. He doesn't deny 'enlightenment', or 'realisation', or 'awakening'. But, in common with Dogen - and the whole Soto lineage - he has a view that differs from that ^^ one.


Driving ourselvs to practice and experience the myriad dharmas is delusion. When the myriad dharmas actively practice and experience ourselves, that is the state of realization. Those who greatly realize delusion are Buddhas. Those who are greatly deluded about realization are ordinary beings.

(From Shobogenzo Genjo-koan, trans Nishijima and Cross)

Rich said...

Practice itself is awakening or enlightenment so don't go making it into another idea or concept. Dogen is trying to bring you to the present moment and encourage and motivate you to practice.

So enlightenment is something but not something to get, especially not something to get conceptually or intellectually.

Just do it.

Personally I don't believe in enlightenment nor would I claim to be enlightened but I do practice a lot so maybe I could say I practice awakening.

Hope this helps, if not just tell me to shut up and sit down -)

anon #108 said...

A very big problem for most of us trying to understand what Dogen wrote is that most of us read him in translation - translations that vary significantly, and cannot, I'm reliably informed, accurately reproduce his highly idiosyncratic medieval sino-japanese.

Dogen never said, or wrote:

"realize...enlightened ones...awakening the mind for enlightenment...attain enlightenment...The bringing about of enlightenment...effecting of realization...enlightened Mind...strive to awaken...When human beings attain enlightenment...become enlightened"

And, of course, centuries of cultural divergence and development seperate us.

I don't think that's an insignificant problem.

Harry said...

Dreaming of awakening.

Zzz zzz zzz zzz zzz...

H.

anon #108 said...

nice one, 'arry :)

Harry said...

Rinzai practitioner's favorite movie?

A: Satori Night Fever.

Ducking,

H.

Big Chuck said...

It makes a person wonder what all those Rinzai children think they are up to..

anon #108 said...

Hi Chuck-

They can speak for themselves, but...

They might well say that although a kensho or satori experience is valuable - even essential - it's certainly not the be-all and end-all of practice.

I'm also pretty sure they'd say that many Soto folks grossly misrepresent what they teach and do.

I reckon they'd almost certainly be right about that.

Harry said...

The 'standard issue' Soto cartoon of Rinzai is pretty poor; but then, the 'standard issue' Soto cartoon of Soto is often pretty poor, as is the Rinzai cartoon of Rinzai etc etc...

Regards,

Harry.

Big Chuck said...

Yes 108 and Harry.. True enough. I'm thinking of all the fun-house versions of ourselves we put up here on this blog. I've heard people say that even Brad does this. That he is actually quite mild mannered and rarely tells people to "suck it" off stage.

Anonymous said...

why no comment about your zen talk in baltimore?

Rinzai or die said...

There's nothing hardcore about Soto zen. Most women practice Soto Zen so I guess if you want to pick up chicks that would be the way to go. But Soto Zen for the most part is gay. "Oh look at us sitting and staring at the wall just like Bodhidharma. Aren't we enlightened?" Just sitting is not enlightenment, enlightenment is awakening to your Buddha nature. Yes, we're all Buddha's, no we are not all enlightened. Get your head out of your lazy Soto asses.

"Rinzai for the samurai and Soto for the peasants"

Mr. Reee said...

"Oh look at us sitting and staring at the wall just like Bodhidharma. Aren't we enlightened?"

Us? We? Who? Huh?

On a related note, I propose a branching-off from the Soto school. Call it 'DeSoto.' Lotsa chrome. Waycool.

Harry said...

... I rest my case! :-0

Regards,

H.

108 the merciless said...

Practice like your 1957 De Soto Firedome is lit.

Steven said...

"Rinzai for the samurai and Soto for the peasants"

Ah yes, that old romantic notion. Yes, the samurai loved Zen because it did not require them to be able to read. Rinzai Monasteries funded themselves with the support of the ruling governors and the samurai worked for those governors and thus "Rinzai for the samurai".

Soto priests took their work to the people and occupied the abandoned Shinto temples and thus: "Soto for the peasants".

Lineage is a fact. Lineage is important as it provides a valuable link to authentic teaching. However, last time I checked I was not a samurai or a peasant. Just another white guy behind a desk. No romantic ideals apply.

Just sit on the fucking cushion and drop all of the labels. Then drop the label dropping.

and yea, I am ordained in Soto and Rinzai

Rinzai or die said...

If we're going to play the "I'm more tolerant and open-minded than you game" then I'm going to go and get ordained in every sect, that includes the Kwan Um school and the Obaku school and all the other schools. Consider me the Zen Voltron of the future.

Then, when some wannabe Soto-Rinzai hybrid guy comes at me with the old "go beyond the labels" routine I can just flash my resume of 5 ordinations and be like "yeah, buddy, why don't you have a look at that and then tell me to drop the labels."

This is my dream.

Jinzang said...

Just sitting is not enlightenment, enlightenment is awakening to your Buddha nature.

The trick is, you're not going to awaken to it until you stop seeking for it. Because seeking is always looking "over there" when it's actually "right here." So the best way to awaken is to sit AS IF you are already enlightened.

Auspicious comment number 108.

Mysterion said...

Samurai - saburai
"The Term samurai originally meant "those who serve in close attendance to nobility", and was written in the Chinese character (or kanji) that had the same meaning. In Japanese, it was originally pronounced in the pre-Heian period as saburau and later as saburai, then samurai in the Edo period. In Japanese literature, there is an early reference to samurai in the Kokinsh? (古今集, early 10th century): Attendant to nobility

Ask for your master's umbrella
The dews 'neath the trees of Miyagino
Are thicker than rain
source

Oh attendant, fetch me a vomit bucket!

Can we get over the myth of understanding the caste system in feudal Japan? Ignorance leads to suffering and if you wish to overcome ignorance on this point, research the 22 castes of feudal Japan. Samurai were vomit bucket boys. Seriously!

The entire subject is unspeakable> in Japan - post 1868. Suffice to say: "In 1868, Japan's feudal era came to an end, and the samurai class was abolished."

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rinzai or die said...

I'd carry buckets of vomit everyday so long as I could wear a cool sword and practice archery all day long. Come on guy, who you kidding? Rinzai brought us martial arts, tea ceremonies, and rock gardens, while Soto just brought us a lonely lifeless cushion and blank wall to stare at. Rinzai is just bad-ass in general.

Anonymous said...

Good post jinz, except for this;

"So the best way to awaken is to sit AS IF you are already enlightened."

The best way? Great faith (sitting as if already enlightened) is the soto way and can be very effective.

Great doubt (sitting questioning / koan) is the rinzai way and can also be very effective.

Which is best depends upon the individual...despite much sectarian rhetoric from all sides.

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

"Lineage is a fact. Lineage is important as it provides a valuable link to authentic teaching."

Yeah, that's the zen myth anyway. Unfortunately, it just provides a link to some teacher that got their xmission from their teacher...

"What’s more, though Zen, in general, makes superhuman claims for the master based on his spiritual attainment, in Sōtō Zen, the largest Zen sect in Japan, enlightenment is not at all a prerequisite for receiving Dharma transmission. Rather, only personal initiation between a master and disciple is required. Zen’s mythology notwithstanding, Dharma transmission is only an institutional sanctioning of a teacher bestowing membership in a teaching lineage and may be no more than, as Buddhist scholar Holmes Welch said “like [getting] a Flash Gordon pin.”15 It tells us actually nothing of spiritual attainment or character, and it was designed that way from the beginning."

Stuart Lachs / The Zen Master in America

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

"They're still telling me I can't do it even while I am actually actively doing it! This is kind of comical."

Indeed!

Discriminating, I know, but here it goes anyways: Here's to endeavoring to understand the motions of the Dharma wheel, rather than just blindly spinning it around?

Jinzang said...

Which is best depends upon the individual...despite much sectarian rhetoric from all sides.

You're right. Thanks for speaking up.

Mysterion said...

Motivation?

What's that?

In the middle of the night we get up and pee because we need to get up and pee. I guess we are motivated to get up and pee by a force of nature.

In the early morning I get up and sit because I need to get up and sit. I guess I are motivated to get up and sit by a force of my nature.

Peeing and Zazen. Zazen and peeing.

No difference.

Motivation?

What is motivation?

Is it a bean>?

What's that old saying?

The force that through the stem drives the flower also drives my green age. (or words to that effect)

Mysterion said...

yep, I are...

108 the efficient said...

Some people speak a lot to say very little when they could just as easily speak nothing and say the same thing. That would be so beautiful.. But I guess that would go against the force of their perfect nature.

Anonymous said...

you could pee in bed though, right?

Tim said...

"in the middle of the night we get up and pee because we need to get up and pee. I guess we are motivated to get up and pee by a force of nature.

In the early morning I get up and sit because I need to get up and sit. I guess I are motivated to get up and sit by a force of my nature."

Myterion, What are you trying to say.. Did you mean sit or shit?

Mr. Reee said...

What's that old saying?

The force that through the stem drives the flower also drives my green age. (or words to that effect)


Uncle Di:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.


The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.



The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.



The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Rinzai or die said...

Peeing on oneself is enlightenment. In that awakened state there is no urine to expel nor any entity that would receive it. One simply achieves unity with the infant consciousness, where no further practice is needed.

Anonymous said...

1

1 said...

Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Dogen never said, or wrote:

"realize...enlightened ones...awakening the mind for enlightenment...attain enlightenment...The bringing about of enlightenment...effecting of realization...enlightened Mind...strive to awaken...When human beings attain enlightenment...become enlightened"


Dogen did not speak or write english, so you are right. The translations quoted were from multiple sources and all used the english words for enlightenment. Either realization, awakening or enlightenment.

This is from Ted Biringer (The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing);

"Dogen frequently dwells on the need for enlightenment, asserting with all the classic Zen masters that “awakening the bodhi mind is the foremost task.” But he rarely uses terms that differentiate a “first” or “initial” enlightenment experience from succeeding experience. Rarely using the usual Zen term, “kensho,” Dogen refers to the “state of enlightenment” with a number of terms including, “the condition of Buddhahood,” “the still still state,” “arrival in the field of the ineffable,” and others. However, his favorite term for this experience is, “casting off body and mind.”


From reading Dogen before encountering Soto teachings about Dogen, I never got the impression he was that far from other zen masters of any sect. Whatever actual terms Dogen
used to describe it, it is clear from any outside (nonsoto) observer that he was talking about a discreet moment in time when there is an insight into the nature of reality. He makes this clear when he talks of those attaining enlighenment from a shout or seeing peach blossoms, etc.

They might well say that although a kensho or satori experience is valuable - even essential - it's certainly not the be-all and end-all of practice."

You are absolutely correct. Not only is it not the end-all, but it is considered only a first baby-step (4th oxherding pic). Master Seung Sahn (a korean lin chi master) also used to say that 'wanting enlighenment is a very bad sickness'. Many other zen masters echo this. It seems the two main zen sects frequently try to distort the teachings of the other. "Shikantaza is just dead-sitting with a vacant mind" "Working on a koan is just thinking and not authentic zazen".

anon #108 said...

...thought it might be you, Ted - or your agent ;)

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

Dogen did not speak or write english...The translations quoted were from multiple sources and all used the english words for enlightenment.

Huh?

Herein lies the/a problem, I think.

Supposing your sentence wasn't an oversight - that'd be unlike you, Ted - it assumes that there's a generally understood, universally acknowledged fact, known in English as "enlightenment".

I wonder what it might be?

Chris C said...

Dharma transmission is only an institutional sanctioning of a teacher bestowing membership in a teaching lineage and may be no more than, as Buddhist scholar Holmes Welch said “like [getting] a Flash Gordon pin.”15 It tells us actually nothing of spiritual attainment or character, and it was designed that way from the beginning."

I would be interested to hear Brad's thoughts on this topic. I remember reading in "Sit Down..." that he was surprised when his teacher wanted him to receive dharma transmission. I've also noticed that in the Zen lineage, Teachers have only a handful of heirs...so I would hope that there is more consideration in Dharma Transmission than just getting into the "club".

I agree that having received Dharma Transmission says nothing about a Teacher's "spiritual" attainment or character, that we can perceive. But isn't that something WE read into that title? Maybe we expect too much of them? Maybe we take ourselves, and them, too seriously?

Anonymous said...

Sorry anon, I'm not Ted. Hopefully I can clear up that confusing sentence. I meant all of the translations (not japanese sources themselves) I had read used words that we equate with enlightenment. None said; "Dogen attained flatulence upon hearing Ju ching's words" or anything of that nature.

Of course all of these translators may be wrong to use any of those terms (realization, enlightenment, etc). Maybe he really meant flatulence.

anon #108 said...

Sorry for the mis-attribution, not-Ted. And please - call me 108 :)

I hear you, but I think my point at 8.31am still stands.

Perhaps I have just as much of a problem with the phrases that 'enlightenment' etc usually find themselves in - like "attained enlightenment"..."achieved awakening" and so forth.

I prefer '[had]an insight into the nature of reality" (your phrase), or 'realized/noticed something...' - so avoiding the reification of "enightenment" as a state; a consciouness other than the one all experience, normally.

Words, eh!
What can you do?

Sean said...

My two cents, folks: "Had an insight into the nature of reality", as lucid as it may sound, but it might be no less subject to misunderstanding - as if there was any "special" mode of "reality" to have seen.

In my opinion, it could push the misunderstanding under the table, moreover.

I like to refer to kensho. I think it's not become a cliche, as yet.

To each their own, as ever ><

anon #108 said...

"Had an insight into the nature of reality", as lucid as it may sound, but it might be no less subject to misunderstanding - as if there was any "special" mode of "reality" to have seen.

Fair point, Sean.

What about, "had an insight into the nature of this very ordinary reality" ?

- I'm sure if we keep going, we can nail this once and for all ;)

Sean said...

How ordinarily insightful! ><

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's a kensho verification check-list somewhere.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps I have just as much of a problem with the phrases that 'enlightenment' etc usually find themselves in - like "attained enlightenment"..."achieved awakening" and so forth."

108, just to close out this line of thought; I agree. I hate those words associated with enlightenment too. Saying I attained satori is like saying I attained my lungs.

But if we back out of the semantics and peculiarities of soto zen for a moment we find the buddhist sutras clearly acknowledge that something changed under the bo tree for sidhartha. Of course, he 'attained' nothing at all. The Lankavatara sutra speaks of the necessity of a turning about at the seat of consciousness. This can all get romanticized and mythologized as some special, trippy experience to be grasped. But there can be problems associated with suggesting that satori isn't real or important too.

When you say 'just this right here', deluded people see it as in a dream. Satori is just waking up to what is right here and now. Stop dreaming and it's there. Just my 2 cents.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Rinzai or die said...
Peeing on oneself is enlightenment. In that awakened state there is no urine to expel nor any entity that would receive it. One simply achieves unity with the infant consciousness, where no further practice is needed.

Hmmm... I can identify with part of that... It'd not an entirely awakened state in which I peed on myself. There WAS a certain unity in the exercise albeit not Zazen.

Sean said...

Anonymous commenter said: "Saying I attained satori is like saying I attained my lungs"

No doubt.

If I'd been missing my lungs, or dreaming I was breathing via paper bags in my chest, I would be glad to have attained my lungs.

No doubt. There is no correction with what is not incorrect.


"This can all get romanticized and mythologized as some special, trippy experience to be grasped."

Would that be like at a point where Venerable Shakyamuni initiates a laser light show under the Bodhi tree? (How is the modern scientific mind supposed to look at that, by the way, oh ye trees and mud cows and people?)

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