Friday, April 09, 2010


Your trusted reporter, reporting today from a bagel shop in Brooklyn where he has just finished a pumpernickel bagel with butter and a too expensive cup of orange juice.

The place I slept last night was not fit for human habitation. That's not a judgment call, or even my personal opinion. I was actually OK with the place. But it was inside a disused factory and definitely not up to code. Someone had carved out a living place in what had probably once been a storage room or something on the top floor. You had to go in through the industrial doors at the back by the loading dock and walk up like seven flights of wrought iron industrial stairs probably constructed around the beginning of the 20th century. Once you got up to the top it opened up into a giant room that had been divided by all kinds of plywood structures and lofts. It was actually pretty cool. The guys who lived there took me to see some interesting bands and then put on Pee Wee's Big Adventure, which I slept through most of.

When I do these tours I take pretty much whatever I can get as far as living situations go. Mostly it works out well. On this trip to New York I spent the first few days in the swank Soho apartment of Jacopo Buora, the guy who set up the retreat I did last weekend at the Brooklyn Zen Center. Then my good friend Suicide Girl Bee Jellyfish offered me a spot on her couch in Brooklyn. Sweet! I got lots of pussy there! Yep. Cuz they had not one but two cute little kitty cats! What did you think I meant, pervert?

Problem was Bee forgot that one of her other roommates had promised the couch to someone else last night. So Bee very kindly put calls out to a bunch of her friends asking if anyone would be willing to lend a sleeping space to a wandering Zen monk and writer of bad books. The rest of the story is as described above.

The retreat in Brooklyn was very cool. But I mentioned that earlier. I also did an interesting gig at an animation studio called Asterisk in Manhattan. That was fun. I'd read about authors doing talks in unusual venues, like people's apartments and stuff. So I asked my friend Marc Catapano if he knew of any place I could do something like that in New York while I was there. He set up the thing at Asterisk and it was a lot of fun. Just a little room full of people interested in Zen. Nice. Anyone else who wants to suggest some kind of similar gigs, please feel free to get in touch.

There has been some talk in the comments section about Dogen Sangha. So I said: "I feel that Dogen Sangha should not be an institution of any kind. It should be a loose affiliation of like-minded people. Like an association of artists.

Maybe it could be like an association of painters who had the same art professor. These painters would not have to share the same style. Nor would they need to compare notes and align their techniques with each other. In fact, it would make them lesser artists if they did. They wouldn't necessarily have to even like each other or each others' work.

But they could acknowledge their common roots by being part of the association and benefit from the existence of that association. They could do gallery openings as a group or something.

It's not a perfect analogy. But it's a far better analogy than thinking of Dogen Sangha as a not very good (lazy) version of the Catholic church or the Soto-shu."

I think there are already far too many religious institutions in the world. If people want a Zen version of the Catholic church they can join Soto-shu. The existing associations in the US sort of scare me the way they seem to want to imitate the Soto-shu and foster standardization among the Buddhists of America.

It worries me to see them trying to set up standards of accreditation for Buddhist teachers. I understand the reason for this. It's too easy to just call yourself a Roshi without any real training, look at Zen Master Rama and a few others.

But trying to standardize what steps one must have completed before one calls oneself a Zen teacher would eliminate a lot of very good Zen teachers whose own teachers did not require them to jump through these hoops. And most of the hoops we're talking about here are pretty arbitrary and ridiculous institutional games that have nothing to do with anything. It may indicate a certain level of commitment if, for example, you've spent a whole truckload of money and time to go to Eiheiji and serve as abbot for a day -- paying the requisite hefty fees to Soto-shu, of course. But in the end, does stuff like that really make much difference in day-to-day practice?

I don't want Dogen Sangha to turn into an institution because institutions always have to justify their existence by being busybodies and getting up in people's faces about nonsense like this.

I've got some more thoughts on this that I'll eventually put together in some coherent form. In case anyone hasn't noticed, this blog is mainly just for off-the-cuff commentary from the road rather than well-reasoned position statements. So that is decidedly not what I'm offering here.

So, OK. Next stop is Baltimore on April 10, 2010 at 7-9 pm at the Baltimore Zen Center 913 Reece Road Severn, MD 21144 for info contact Then I got 2 gigs on the same day in Richmond, Virginia as follows:

• April 12, 2010 1 pm Barnes & Noble VCU store 1111 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23284

• April 12, 2010 7-9pm, Ekoji Buddhist Sangha 3411 Grove Avenue Richmond, Virginia 23221

Full info and links are at this link. So click it and be there!!!

After that I'll see all y'all in Europe!


Harry said...



Anonymous said...

Maybe something like a collective?

Brad Warner said...

Like the Borg collective???


alan sailer said...

Borg eh?

I guess my implant didn't take, I'm thinking all kinds of independent, heretical thoughts.

Or maybe I just think so?

Maybe Smoogy Rob can do a quick tune-up?


Steven said...

Brad, did you see my email?

"busybody zen" - a nice book title

Ellen said...

so cool you were in Brooklyn - and so sorry I missed the retreat this year :(
Hope to catch yr retreat on the next swing thru NYC.
And wow, you have some great stories of housing in NYC - the life of the itinerant Zen dude.

number 2 said...

Harry: I am going to continue to speak out in public about this situation, a so-called Buddhist who will not even share a chance at the oh so sweet number one spot with the rest of us. I will continue to do so in a reasoned and civil way with every resource I have privately and on the internet to make you a laughingstock, to tell folks what I think of you, to embarrass you. I will speak out (you can fool others but you can't fool me ...

I want to make this point: Any Buddhist brother who cannot drop his desire for #1 long enough, and engage in mutual sharing and repentance for being um, Glutinous.. Well.. something is wrong there, off balance.. A supposed "Buddhist" that continually grabs for the #1 spot lacks some degree of Compassion for others.

So now, whenever you hear laughter, you will have to stop and wonder.. Are they laughing at Mysterion or are they laughing at me?

john e mumbles said...

I’m tired of cowards, I want to live with lions..

...not whining teary people.

I want the ranting of drunkards.

-Jelalludin Rumi (12th cent)

Baudelaire had a similar sentiment, Rimbaud, too. Bored with people who want to follow, that have no wills of their own, they sought out the company of the fearless...the original, the artists in the broadest sense, those with a command of their materials who shape their own destinies and create new and interesting realities.

And on that note: R.I.P. Malcolm MacLaren (1946-2010)

Anonymous said...

Brad commented: The existing associations in the US sort of scare me the way they seem to want to imitate the Soto-shu and foster standardization among the Buddhists of America.

Could you Brad or someone tell me what associations in the U.S.? Curious. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

BTW. Weird that Malcom Maclaren passed away just when the one commenter posted a link about the Sex Pistols and organizing disorder.

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

You don't write bad books, you write brad books!

have you ever taken any formal classes in writing or have you studied any particular authors?

do you get much help/direction from your editor(s)?

are there any authors in particular you enjoy/learn from?

your writing reminds me a lot of contemporary american indian literature in particular Sherman Aexis and if you haven't I recommend short stories Ten Little Indians to give you a taste and sense of what I am talking about.

thanks for your 'postcards'

keep us posted

widgetoc said...

I can't remember if I've taken the time to comment on this in the past so I'm doing it now: I freakin' love the Zen as Art analogy and all the little side-analogies that come with it. It's pretty damn accurate on all fronts. Plus, being an artist myself, I can relate to it extremely well. Two thumbs up.

Also I'm totally for "The Dogen Collective" as mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

while you are at the bookstore, Brad.....

there is a great little book you should pick up for your travels in Europe (non English speaking places) called "Point It" in which there are all manner of photographs about all kinds of things, very helpful and more useful than a dictionary in many ways....

no time for me to send you a copy, so get one while you're where the getting is good


Anonymous said...

Dogen collective? I like it!


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


I was wondering if there is anyway to send you a message other than posting here for everyone to read?

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

Sorry I thought my emial was attached there.

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

Thanks Mysterion

Anonymous said...

I need to find out how I can make a living on a travelogue of Bullshit.

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

buddha dharma sangha

buddha- the destination
dharma- the map
sangha- the travellers

what's so new?

Brad Warner said...

I need to find out how I can make a living on a travelogue of Bullshit."

Me too!!

You think this blog brings in money? From where exactly would that be coming...? Not that I wouldn't take it if I could find a way to earn some.

Anonymous said...

I don't want Dogen Sangha to turn into an institution because institutions always have to justify their existence by being busybodies and getting up in people's faces about nonsense like this.

I've got some more thoughts on this that I'll eventually put together in some coherent form. In case anyone hasn't noticed, this blog is mainly just for off-the-cuff commentary from the road rather than well-reasoned position statements. So that is decidedly not what I'm offering here.


Not always so..........

What??? said...


Is that the best you can do?

Anonymous said...

I don't want Dogen Sangha to turn into an institution because institutions always have to justify their existence by being busybodies and getting up in people's faces about nonsense like this.

I've got some more thoughts on this that I'll eventually put together in some coherent form. In case anyone hasn't noticed, this blog is mainly just for off-the-cuff commentary from the road rather than well-reasoned position statements. So that is decidedly not what I'm offering here.


Not always so..........

Osama Van Halen said...

Here's an excellent documentary on the Little Rock (punk and beyond) music scene from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy.

anon #108 said...

We may, in time, find out what Dogen Sangha International is. Meanwhile I've some questions...

I get the impression that Gudo, facing death and wanting to ensure the continuation, dissemination and consolidation of his teaching had the notion that a world-wide organisation serving those ends would be a good idea. And maybe it does sound like a good idea.

But I wonder what DSI can possibly hope to be, and achieve...really.

If all DSI aims to be is a non-organised alternative to the over-organised and arguably petrified Soto-shu, with the aim of re-affirming Dogen's original teaching and practice, then isn't that function already accomplished by the various small, autonomous Dogen Sangha groups around the world? What could DSI offer that could benefit, support, promote or add to those groups?

Money? Money might be the most useful contribution DSI could make. But it seems, from the little that Brad's said, that fundraising (for hiring spaces for groups to sit, for example) is very unlikely to be what DSI does. If it were to, we're immediately engaging the problem area of most organisations/institutions, aren't we?

Book publishing? Again requires money: problem as above...and doesn't require a new body/organisation, does it? There was Windbell Publications...

Agreed philosophy/ideology? Beyond practising Shikantaza/teaching Dogen's approach to Buddhism/an absence of hierarchy, Brad doesn't want to impose any house style, or other such centralised, approved, monitored/enforced thing. Anyway, I assume Gudo's lineage will ensure a general identity/similarity of pratice and teaching, without the need for any umbrella non-organisation.

Regular meetings/discussions? Brad's pointed out before (to Jundo) that the various DS groups are so far apart geographically that that's simply impractical. Of course, anyone who wants to visit a dharma-bro can do that without the assistance of DSI (don't start!).

So what are we left with? What useful function could DSI possibly serve - that isn't served already by the DS groups led by Gudo's Dharma-heirs, each of which will carry on doing what they're doing, regardless. If more groups start, good. If they don't, fine.

Apart from indulging an old man's concern for his legacy, what is DSI for? Why is it needed? What is it, beyond a name for a unnecessary non-institutional institution?

I'm sure Brad's given serious thought to all this. Is there something I've missed?

Cyril Coombs said...

I hate typing on my ipod but it has it's trade-offs so so be it.  Anyway I really like the analogy of zen and art and the idea of a "loose" group of indivuduals like artists.  In my experience groups always start off with good intent but something happens, like the individuals stop thinking for themselves ( kind of like when Brad writes about authority and the need to question it ).

It's like at some point the members say f it and just become sheeple.  In any case the prevention of this is both the responsibility of teacher and Sangha I would say.

I mean I'm not a member of any Sangha, but that's my feeling of the de-volution of groups.  It's happened to most groups I can think of, even non-relihious ones like our govt.  

In any case both loose and art are appealing to me because they intimate personal responsibility.  Brad said this, Gudo said that, Dogen said this, Buddha said that.  So what?  Do I understand and live it in my life creatively or I just a goddamned parrot who stopped thinking for myself?  In any case I like the analogy.

Uku said...

Brad wrote: "I feel that Dogen Sangha should not be an institution of any kind. It should be a loose affiliation of like-minded people. Like an association of artists.

Sounds great! I think that's something that keeps DSI and all unique DS centers alive and healthy because everybody are kind of practicing with their own but still following Dogen's and Nishijima's tradition. There's no need to establish institutions or "Sotoshu" styles organizations because there's no need for that. Every DS center is rolling with their own and every DS center is following Dogen's tradition and teachings. Anon #108 wrote (8:44AM) nice comment about that. So that's what connects every DS center to each others. There's no need for something else, I think. Strict, hierarchy organizations and institutions are just killing all the creativity and individuality which are really important in Zen practice. I think DSI is very unique and it's working. We had to establish a support association for DS Finland because then it's much more easier to work according to Finnish laws and stuff. But that association is just supporting our sangha, it has nothing to do with our Buddhist action. Or what ever.

So what? Exactly. That's what matters.

Baboon's Butthole

Anonymous said...

uniqueness is for sissy's!!!!!

john e mumbles said...

What exactly constitutes a Dogen Sangha? Do you have to pledge allegiance to Gudo? Secret handshakes? Secret milkshakes for that matter? Nefarious midnight "tea" ceremonies at Mysterion's pad? Virgin sacrifices to Brad? Butt seriously...?

Does it have to be headed up by one of Gudo's transmissionaries? Or just sanctioned to be a designated DS in a particular area like the Boy/Girl Scouts do?

btw: 108 had some good points, however, the term "dharma-bro" is obviously either not PC or dead-on.

Anonymous said...

uniqueness is for sissy's!!!!!

Mysterion said...

Q: What exactly constitutes a Dogen Sangha?

A: A loosely knit community that shares an interest in Dogen's writing.

Eihei Dogen (13th century Zen master) founded the Japanese Soto School of Zen. Dogen transformed the language of Zen.

He as two major works. The Shobogenzo (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye) represents his early teaching. The Eihei Koroku is a collection of his later teachings, including short discourse, longer informal talks, and koans.

Master Dogen's Shobogenzo
~ Gudo Nishijima (Translator),
Chodo Cross (Translator)

Anonymous said...

Lookout!!! It's Bernie Goetz!

Mysterion said...

In 1984 there were 14,718 Soto Zen temples in Japan and 15,528 Soto priests.

>Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism in America
by Stuart Lachs
From a presentation at the 1999 (Boston) Meeting of the American Academy of Religion

see also: "History of Japanese Buddhism"

All this from a Jodo-Shu Buddhist with Jodo Shinshu friends.

BTW, I also removed all references to Shinran and Zenran...

john e mumbles said...

Um, M, I know about Dogen and have read several translations. I was referring to any DS and DSI specifically.

As I've said here before, I've not read Brad's books, although I gather that his interpretations/ commentaries of/on Dogen's are based on his teacher's (Gudo, yeah I know), and I suppose, his own reflections as transmigrator, successor, or whatever he is called (I could care less).

I'm just saying back up, explain what a Dogen Sangha is in this line, and then the why/why not it should/should not be an "institution" or not or a confluence of artists or whatever might make more sense.

I have a feeling there might be several conflicting opinions...

Electric Buddha said...

Q: What exactly constitutes a Dogen Sangha [DSI]?

A: A very loosely knit community of persons who shares some kind of curiosity or interest in a part or all of Dogen's writing. Most sit Zazen.

The current head of DSI is Brad Warner. This made more waves than a frog in a pond. Except that, in making waves, the wave-makers momentarily reduced themselves to sub-frog status. This episode in DSI was good for a few more laughs than a rerun of "I Love Lucy."

Fortunately all have taken a break and learned to control their tempers.

standpipe said...

Brad, this is Courtenay....we met at Asterisk...(bass player friend of Marc's) next time you're in NYC and need a place, you're more than welcome to crash at my place. No suicide girls here, but a few cats (teehee!), and the most comfortable couch in the world, in a nice big house. You're welcome here any time you'd like, seriously.... hit me up if you need anything at all. standpipe at

Uku said...

Just wrote a blog post about Dogen Sangha International. So what, who cares. Exactly!


anon #108 said...

Hi jem,

AFAIK, it went, and now goes like this - In the late 1970's Gudo began giving (weekly, I think) talks about Buddhism in English, in Japan. A few Westerners became regulars. Mike Luetchford recalls, "Dogen Sangha was discussed between you [Gudo], Jeff [Bailey], Larry Zacchi, and myself, and I remember that in deciding on a name, Jeff came up with "Dogen Sangha"...We then went on to formalise Dogen Sangha when you published the booklet to raise funds on the opening of our dojo in Ichikawa..."

At that time, I don't believe there was any agenda or constitition for DS - it was simply a name for the small group that had formed under the guiding influence of Gudo, with a view to disseminating his approach to Buddhism.

When Mike Luetchford, having received transmission, returned to England in 1999 with his wife, Yoko (also a dharma-heir of Gudo), he advertised (locally, in Bristol, I believe) in order to start a sitting group. That group was called 'Dogen Sangha Bristol'. I assume that Gudo had given his approval for the name to be used by groups established by those he trusted were - broadly - teaching his ideas. So Dharma-heirs, I guess, would have license to use the name (not all have chosen to do so), but out of respect for Gudo, might seek his approval. There is no constitution, rule book, system of 'checks and balances' - other than Gudo.

Three or four years ago(?) Gudo expressed doubts whether certain of his students were teaching what he'd like them to teach. He made some of those doubts public (on his blog). Following negotiations, Mike Luetchford is now back in Gudo's good books (having changed nothing about what, or how, he teaches). Mike Cross isn't (MC doesn't have a group a such, but does, of course, write and teach). Jundo Cohen is...elsewhere and, I hope, happy. And so it goes.

When a few of Mike L's students in London wanted to start a weekly sitting group (without a transmitted teacher), Mike was asked for permission to use the name "Dogen Sangha London". Mike said yes: it doesn't seem to be a condition for use of the name "Dogen Sangha" that the group is led by a Dharma-heir of Gudo.

So Dogen Sangha has, thus far, been a name for groups led by Gudo's heirs and their students. Just a name for his lineage, if you like.

When Gudo dies, I assume the Dogen Sangha groups - and those wishing to use the name - will continue under the tutelage/supervision of Brad, as Gudo's 'successor'. And that, btw, seems to me to be the only real function of DS International - as the embodiment, in the form of Brad Warner, of Gudo's tutelage after Gudo's death; to give the 'school' an identity, an authority, and to exercise control - in a good way, of course - over trolls, trouble-makers and heretics (someone's got to do it) maintain the integrity of the teaching.

I hope that addresses your queries - lots to get in tizzy about ;) You may have known most of it already.

I might be wrong about some of the history - I wasn't there; it's what I've read and heard. Perhaps Brad, or someone else closer to events, could correct the errors...there might, indeed, be several conflicting opinions.

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

I wrote:

And that, btw, seems to me to be the only real function of DS International - as the embodiment, in the form of Brad Warner, of Gudo's tutelage after Gudo's death...

I should add, "and to give Dogen's Buddhism, as taught and practised by Gudo, a public profile, so attracting more practitoners (and proceeding to world domination)".

There's little doubt in my mind that Gudo choice of 'successor' was influenced as much by Brad's youth and desire/ability to get the message out there as by the level of his unexcelled perfect enlightenment.

And hi Electric Warrior..Buddha...not Mysterion, whatever -

The kerfuffle around Gudo's surprise announcement of the "establishment of DSI" and Brad as "president"/successor had more to do with the total absence of consultation about the nature of, or wisdom of establishing, DSI at all, and a successor (whoever that might've been) at all, than it did with Brad as the chosen one - IMO, and that of others closer to events. I believe you have have a conlficting opinion...

But all that is very old news, isn't it.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

I find the idea of Dogen Sangha as a loose association of artists nice, but idealistic and unrealistic. We live in a reality where people form groups. We interact as individuals, sure, but we're also citizens of this country, this state, this town. We "belong" to this gym, or this PTA, or this political party. That's how humans actually exist, it's how we act communally and pass on knowledge to later generations. The "like artists" idea seems an attempt to avoid this. "Who, me and these hundreds of people around the world? No, we're not an organization!"

Anon #108, I think you bring up the best questions I've seen, and I agree that DSI came about as an effort by Nishijima Roshi to offer his teaching to future generations. I believe that it's a good idea to pass them on. To your excellent questions I answer, who knows? Let's find out. And besides, it's going to happen anyway. Can you think of a centuries-old loose association? Dogen Sangha will eventually organize, or fade away.

All of the good ideas I've seen against organizing seem equally possible in an organized DSI. Uku seems to be against the idea, and then goes and incorporates. A corporate existence for DS in a world of corporate existences is reasonable, and an organized DSI doesn't have to be the Sotoshu. It can be, and will be, exactly what we make it. Will an organized DSI face problem after problem? Yes. To answer every argument against organizing -- yes, that's likely to happen too, and worse! We face problems no matter what we do, we are problems.

We should jump in and try to do our best.


Uku said...

Hi Smoggyrob,

I meant that what's the point change what's working right now, is really good right now? Frameworks of DSI is working really good so I don't understand these talks about organizing etc. I wrote more about this in my blog post, address above.

I think DSI is very unique sangha because it's a loose one but still very tight. So why the change what's working now? Let's see what future brings and let's just try to do our best. I think Brad's idea is very realistic because that's what DSI is right now. I find your idea to be idealistic if you want this moment, this situation to be something else.

With best wishes,

P.S. Word verification "trethroc".

john e mumbles said...

First of all many thanks to 108 for once again taking the time to explain things to this not-so-sparkling JEM in the dark.

I agree with Rob that it is natural to form groups, we do it all the time, for various reasons, protection, isolation, misunderstandings etc. But what he said that really rings true is that "we are problems." It's so very true. It is hilarious in fact. If thoughts were not constantly projected upon consciousness as "ours" there would be no problems. And if we were not so fast to appropriate teachings as "ours" there would be no "problems" either. But this is what humans seem to do, eh? So why not laugh out loud at ourselves. It feels tragic, but good, too...

Blatant self-promotion time: Buddhist Geeks just published the first article I've written in years, "The Shotgun Approach" see it here, -Peace, John

Uku said...

Hi John,

I agree, it's natural to form groups. And if someone hasn't notice it, DSI IS already a group, it's formed years ago by Nishijima Roshi and his students and it's growing, expanding every year in different countries. Dogen Sangha is a group and I don't understand these talks why to change something that's working already? If DSI's situation would be bad, then I would understand but like Brad has also pointed out, DSI is doing well. Why to change and manipulate this present situation by establishing new hierarchy, organization, changing present DSI etc.?


Uku said...

One more point just popped into my mind: last August in Finland I talked with Brad about this situation of DSI and then I told Brad that it might be good if there would be somekind of "official register" where's every Dogen Sangha's groups contact informations and so on. Then it would be more easier to know what's going on. But now that several months have passed, I don't think it would be necessary anymore because actually there are already somekind of "register" in here:

I think DSI is working really well right now and I don't see any need for changing present situation. Brad's artist metaphor is nice, I think and it gives a realistic picture what's going on. And like it's said in DS homepage: "We follow the teachings of Master Dogen, a 13th century Japanese monk, and offer the opportunity to practice Zazen and study Buddhism based on the guidance of our founder Gudo Wafu Nishijima."


Smoggyrob said...

Hi Uku:

I understand where you're coming from, DS is fine just the way it is. And I'm not talking about creating some huge, monolithic hierarchy. I'm talking about what we are, with articles of incorporation, bylaws, a mailing address, a bank account, and a website.

One reason to organize DSI is that Nishijima Roshi asked for it and I'm inclined to indulge him.

Another is so that he can, if he wants, make DSI the legal owner of his intellectual property.

A third is to protect the lineage -- if some teacher teaches something else and calls it DS, it could confuse people. Genpo could be reborn as a DS teacher. And if we're a loose association they may have just as much right to the name as anyone else.

And who knows what else we might do as DSI? We have a lot of good people with a lot of good ideas.

"Keeping DS like it is" is doing something as much as organizing DSI is.


Uku said...

Hi Rob,

Ah, sorry, man! I misunderstood you perfectly. Now I understand, thanks for the clarification.

I would like to send you some private email about this but I don't have your email and I didn't find it from your profile. I have some secret DS issues about your previous comment. Just kidding. Of course I could send some email to DSLA. Do you think you could send me your email address to my email: markus.laitinen[at]


Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

If anyone ever wants to bitch me out in private or send me legal paperwork, my email is my Blogger ID at I've updated my profile.


anon #108 said...

Just back from pop group practice...

Hi Rob and Uku,

Yep. We'll see.

(To me, "Dogen Sangha International" means very little. I sometimes sit with a group, and there's a teacher there. If someone were to ask me "what's the group called?", I'd answer "Dogen Sangha". If I need to refer to the group by name, I call it "Dogen Sangha". That's all. A name. "Dogen Sangha International" is likewise a name, but one that I never have occasion to use. I think I've only ever seen it on this and Gudo's blog. Maybe the notion means more to those concerned with/actively involved with establishing new Dogen Sangha groups, and writing about them...those with a vision of the future?).

john e,

That was an intriguing article you wrote, and a good point wot you made. You ain't arf done a lot of weird stuff, mate! Crazee. Thanks for sharing.

captcha = bionse.

Smoggyrob said...


anon #108 said...

Sadly Rob, "This video contains content from Vevo, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds".

Bastards! Was she looking hot?

Anonymous said...

What if you had a discussion about the future of a group so meaningless that almost nobody gave a shit or noticed including the majority of people who were supposedly in the group?

john e mumbles said...

Thanks 108. You know how it is, the article was only an outline, and I had to tone THAT down!

Rehearsed my new two piece punk rock outfit The Terrible Twos today. We start a short tour in two weeks...Wot pop group are you practicing w/? The Double Deckers?!

I appreciate your candid remarks re; DS/DSI. Regardless of how I arrived here (w/a big negative bang), I am gaining much respect for Brad and his approach to his thankless pose-ish-shee-own. said...

All Day Sit coming up this Sat. 4/17/10 at Hill Street Center.

9:50 am to 3pm:
3 30 minute periods with 10 minute kinhin break between them. lunch break, samu (work period, clean up) 2 sitting periods with kinhin break between them, brief talk/tea.

If enough people are interested in oryoki (sharing meal together: rice dish, soup, japanese pickles, tea the meal is vegetarian); I will cook for those who have registered for it ($15.00 charge per person for the meal). You are also welcome to bring your own lunch if you wish.
contact me to register:

ghost said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"What if..."

What if you did?
What if you didn't?
What if you did and didn't?

Things will go as they go - from fresh and new to tried and true to old and decaying to dried up and dying.

anon #108 said...

john e -

The Double-Deckers? Hmm...

Here's a review.

The four-piece pop/rock/little-bit-country band I'm playing with is just finishing some demos and photos - to put on a revamped myspace page. The old one is pretty old, with different personnel, so I'll not divulge the name, yet.

I'm thinking the latest product may be worth disseminating widely, though. If the finished article lives up to expectations, I'll give the link. I believe our 26 year-old writer's got something, and we all get on just fine. No fame or profit - just amateur good vibes aspiring to quality.

As an 'unknown' band we're still playing the freebie showcase circuit in London: 5 bands per night, half-hour each on stage and NO £££ at all. How are things for up-and-coming original unknowns in the USA these days?

anon #108 said...

And here's an old promo video.

john e mumbles said...

Thanks for the links, 108, I haven't had a chance to look yet...

At the venues we play (nice bars/clubs) typically you get the door. We charge a whopping $5 to get in. The sound man gets $60 (from the door) for the night. We have merch to sell, too.

Personally I prefer the steady solo gig I've had the last couple years at the local Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings: 2 hours for $200. People also give me lots of fresh produce..

At the clubs you don't hit the stage till midnight (Yawn).

Anon 107 said...

By your description of DSI both Mike Cross and Jundo Cohen could be welcomed within it.

Or is that not the case?

Is DSI really just an Email list I wonder?

Confused of Tunbridge Wells

Anonymous said...

the inmates are running things here

Anonymous said...


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

Mysterion recommends everyone to control themselves. He even tells himself, "I should control myself".
But you couldn't restrain yourself from having a little dig at J.Cohen, could you M?

Anonymous says, "the inmates are running things here".
No. You and others are posting comments.

Good question, simply put, Anon 107.

alan sailer said...

This low level commentary about whether DSI is an organization or not and who is a member and who is not seem to me to be a prime example of why Brad might be hesitant to have DSI be a highly organized group.

Of course, even a loosely organized DSI seems to be attracting a fair number of supporters and detractors.

Can't win or lose....


Anonymous said...


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


There you go with the old defensive, dismissive assumptions again. A shame. You're an intelligent, grown man. You should know better.

Following this reasonable, reasonably expressed question from 107:

"Brad: By your description of DSI both Mike Cross and Jundo Cohen could be welcomed within it. Or is that not the case?"

...Your comment: "Jundo Cohen should control himself", cannot be described as "generic" - whatever more general remarks follow it.

Three generations? I my life-span follows current Western trends I'll most likely have passed from this realm within one.

anon #108 said...

I think you might miss the point, Alan.

Perhaps you think "this low level commentary" is the moaning of a bunch of mean-sprited trolls having a go at DSI and/or Brad? I don't hear it that way.

My impression is that, largely, the comments and queries here are seeking to ask reasonable sincere questions like, 'What is DSI?', 'Does it exist?', 'Is it necessary?'

You seem to assume DSI exists. If you do, please tell me what it is and what it does. And keep the level suitably lofty, please ;)

You know, if Brad wants DSI to be a loose - and free - association of like-minded people, then this is just the kind of (low-level) debate that's to be expected, and I'd hope - welcomed.

Of course, none of it matters too much - we'll all do what we do...and we'll see.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous sperc said...
"Three generations? I my life-span follows current Western trends I'll most likely have passed from this realm within one."

You will be back, don't worry.

So will I. The difference is that I choose to be back.

The Tripitaka of the Buddhists teaches the transmigration of souls--that is, reincarnation.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation, gilgul, or migration of souls, comes from a verb meaning "turning in a circle."

While Siddhartha Gautama spent several decades teaching, none of his teachings were written down until several hundred years later. Disturbed by the prolific growth of Buddhist heresies, a council of Buddhist monks was convened at the Mauryan capital of Patna during the third century BC to preserve the doctrine. What arose from that council was the definitive teachings of Theravada Buddhism. The teachings of Buddha were written into a canon in a language derived from Sanskrit, called Pali.

The second basket, the "Discourses," are are discourses by the Buddha and contain the whole of Buddhist philosophy and morality.

Theravada Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths and the idea that all of physical reality is a chain of causation; this includes the cycle of birth and rebirth.

Theravada Buddhism is an esoteric religion which emphasizes a monastic life removed from society. This leaves little room for commoners. That's why the schism erupted which reformulated the teachings of Buddha to accommodate commoners (e.g. Pure Land, New Pure Land). Of this, the "Greater Vehicle" schools or Sects of Mahayana Buddhism were hatched.

anon #108 said...

Hi Mysti,

You wrote "...a language derived from Sanskrit, called Pali."

To nit-pick (I know you how much you value research...yes you do!), that's not strictly true. No one has been able to establish 'which came first'.

From the wiki article on Pali:

"Pali as a Middle Indo-Aryan language is different from Sanskrit not so much with regard to the time of its origin as to its dialectal base, since a number of its morphological and lexical features betray the fact that it is not a direct continuation of Ṛgvedic Vedic Sanskrit; rather it descends from a dialect (or a number of dialects) which was (/were), despite many similarities, different from Ṛgvedic...Pali was considered by early Buddhists to be linguistically similar to Old Magadhi or even a direct continuation of that language. Many Theravada sources refer to the Pali language as "Magadhan" or the "language of Magadha". This identification first appears in the commentaries, and may have been an attempt by Buddhists to associate themselves more closely with the Mauryans. The Buddha taught in Magadha, but the four most important places in his life are all outside of it. It is likely that he taught in several closely related dialects of Middle Indo-Aryan, which had a very high degree of mutual intelligibility."


"Historically, influence between Pali and Sanskrit has been felt in both directions. The Pali language's resemblance to Sanskrit is often exaggerated by comparing it to later Sanskrit compositions – which were written centuries after Sanskrit ceased to be a living language, and are influenced by developments in Middle Indic, including the direct borrowing of a portion of the Middle Indic lexicon; whereas, a good deal of later Pali technical terminology has been borrowed from the vocabulary of equivalent disciplines in Sanskrit, either directly or with certain phonological adaptations."

And so on and so forth.
It's a good article.

john e mumbles said...

Also: some have contended that the whole rein-tar-nation idear is pure Hinduism spilling over into Buddhism (I'm too lazy to reference my sources, look it up, probably just google it eh?) which as ou aptly described it M, was a postscript by a long shot.

However, from an alchemical perspective, technically, whether burnt to a crispy brown crust or embalmed and buried, or crucified, eventually even the bones are reintegrated into the basic elements and reintroduced into the food chain, so if you want to call that returning in another form, well, okay, yeah.

But to say "I choose" to return, I would challenge that there is no choice to be made. Did you choose to be born in the first place? Do tell how you did that, eh? Why would anyone bother, if indeed they knew what came later, and later, and later...

If you are referring to the Bodhisattva's vow, again, alright, but that is an illusion as well, to "vow" to do anything, as there is indeed no "doer." Unless you believe in a "self"? Then, my friend, a believer be.

Anonymous said...

Pali came from The Mushroom Planet.

Cyril Coombs said...

John E Mumbkes said If you are referring to the Bodhisattva's vow, again, alright, but that is an illusion as well, to "vow" to do anything, as there is indeed no "doer." Unless you believe in a "self"? Then, my friend, a believer be.

This is where I get hung up. I may not be a self-existent thing but whatever I am who made vows to my wife made those vows. So while I'm a manifestation of the universe and we are both this we are also distnct in this ... I am me and ypu are you. Is this the same idea as no doer? I'm a noob so I have nothing but badly articulated questions.

alan sailer said...


I miss points on a minute by minute basis, I was responding to a tone rather than anyone's specific points.

Troll's are usually more obvious, so I don't think that it is an organized troll event.

What is DSI? is an unanswerable question.

"Does it (DSI)exist?" seems to me to be self evident from the evidence given. Brad heads the organization, I have met Brad, he seems totally sincere, so...

'Is it necessary?' seems to me to be such a strange question I'll leave you to answer it :-)

When most of the people doing the questioning want to question under assumed names or Annon, I am hesitant to enter the debate.

I'm a net/computer dumbo and find it difficult to follow the protean shifts of net persona (suitably lofty?).

My only point was that the kind of questioning of what DSI is or is not seem to follow closely attempts to make DSI more of a formal organization.

More formal, more questions.

My own situation is much more simple..I got started in Zen partially because of Brad.

I go to a sanga that is led by another of Brad's dharma brothers.

If Brad and my present teacher were to evaporate today, I would keep sitting and studying.

So I don't spend any time wondering if DSI exists, what it is or is it necessary.

I'm sorry if this sounds pretentious, its just my own opinion.


anon #108 said...

Hi Alan,

Groups called "Dogen Sangha", led by people teaching broadly the same theory and practice, clearly do exist. I sit with one. I'm not querying the notion, fact, or desirability of Dogen Sangha, but only of the extra tier of non-organisation called "Dogen Sangha International". Could that have been one of the points you missed?

I asked, "You seem to assume DSI exists. If you do, please tell me what it is and what it does."

You replied, "Does it (DSI)exist?" seems to me to be self evident from the evidence given.

What is the evidence? My questions, What is it and what does it do? remain unanswered.

Rob did suggest things that DSI might do: "articles of incorporation, bylaws, a mailing address, a bank account, and a website...he [Gudo] can, if he wants, make DSI the legal owner of his intellectual property"...[and DSI could] protect the lineage -- if some teacher teaches something else and calls it DS, it could confuse people."

I assume that when Gudo dies, Brad, as his succesor and the President of DSI, will then control/administer those rights and become the protector of the lineage. Those are the kind of practical functions that would justify the establishment of a new tier of organisation. I really don't know if any of those things are necessary, or desirable, but if they are - if that's what DSI is, fine. Let's say so...Let Brad say so.

You wrote, "My only point was that the kind of questioning of what DSI is or is not seem to follow closely attempts to make DSI more of a formal organization."

That's certainly not what I want. My reason, I think, for asking questions about what and why DSI might be, is to try to put the breaks on those who might reify and over-identify with names and groups, and so have a tendency to turn them into formal organisations, usually to fulfill their ambitions (not a reference to Brad). To avoid that happening, the first question must be, "do we need it in the first place?"

As I read it, all those who are contributing to the debate here are doing so sincerely. But like you, Alan, I don't spend any time at all fretting about the ifs and buts of DSI, outside of this blog.

And I wouldn't worry about sounding pretentious - I don't.

Mysterion said...

Simply put:

1) DSI is an entity (an intellectual concept) created by Gudo.

2) Gudo 'handed off' lead to Brad.

Trying to materialize an intellectual concept will only lead to naught. All DS study groups point a road sign (lineage) toward DSI. Soto points a road sign (lineage) toward Dogen. Dogen points a road sign (lineage) toward China. And China points a road sign toward India.

Buddhism begat Theravada.
Theravada begat Mahayana.
Mahayana begat Jodo Shu.
Jodo Shu begat Zen and Rinzai (and Jodo Shinshu).

As I previously stated, "In 1984 there were 14,718 Soto Zen temples in Japan and 15,528 Soto priests."

DSI is 1/14718th of that.

Kisshozan Eihei-ji of the Soto Zen Sect in Fukui.

Eihei-ji is one the Soto Zen's two head temples. It is located deep in the mountains near the rugged west coast of Japan, not far from Fukui City.

Dogen Zenji, the founder of Eihei-ji, was born in 1200 A.D. When he was 24, he when to China and devoted himself to true Zen practice under the strict guidance of Nyojo Zenji at Mt. Tendo. After having "dropped off both body and mind," realizing the way of the Buddha, he returned home in 1228. He lived at Ken'nin-ji temple for 3 years, then founded his first temple, Kosho-Horin-ji, in Uji, Kyoto. In 1244 Dogen Zenji and his followers visited Shii-no-Sho in Echizen (now Fukui Prefecture) to build a mountain temple. He was offered land and other help for this by Yoshishige Hatano, a samurai who was one of his most devoted lay followers. Dogen thus founded Eihei-ji, where he devoted himself to training his followers in the perfection of Zen pratice in every action of daily life. He died on September 29, 1253, leaving a number of noted books including the Shobogenzo, Gakudo Yojishin and Eihei Dai Shingi. Dogen Zenji's authentic Zen has been scrupulously observed by his successors. Even today, both priests and lay people devote themselves to his practice of Shikan-taza ("just sitting"). source

alan sailer said...


I guess at the heart of the DSI "issue" for me is that I (in general) have an almost complete disinterest in organizations.

So by temperament (and lack of knowledge) I can't answer any of your questions.

However, the rumors that you may have heard, that Brad, after setting up his base group in Santa Monica (now under Smoggyrob), is currently setting up a splinter group on the East coast are completely false.

I can neither confirm nor deny that the ultimate goal of DSI is to dig a tunnel under the Vatican, kidnap the Pope and ply him with secret mind bending koans so that he will, upon his release, warp the Catholic Church in directions that will further the goals DSI, chief of which is to establish totalitarian Buddhist rule of the planet.

It could happen....

Just having fun, not trying to twit anyone.


anon #108 said...

So it seems, Alan, that In Re DSI, neither of us have much of clue what it's all about, or are that bothered.

Let's form an ineffable organisation of the like-mindedly clueless!

(I hear you, Mysti).

alan sailer said...


Sounds good to me.

One catch though, I'm a right wing ineffable like-mindedly clueless guy and you sound suspiciously like a left wing ineffable like-mindedly clueless guy, so I'm afraid that I'm going to have to kill you.

Nothing personal, its just how I roll.


john e mumbles said...

Followers of the Way [of Chán], if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go. -Linji

Anonymous said...

Is it that which you see before you?

Are you reasoning about it?

What is error?

Anonymous said...


Anon 107 said...

Let's say for argument's sake that DSI exists more than it doesn't.

From what Brad has said it could be that DSI is a Gudo Fan Club or a Buddha Fan Club a Brad Fan Club or even a Rice fan club. It could be a club of heirs or it could be a club of bipeds. Such clubs are defined by a shared interest.

Brad has said that not everyone in DSI is going to like each other or always get along. At the same time Brad has said that DSI might help people to meet up together. So that suggests that DSI could be an organization that exists so that people can spend time together for the sake of spending time together; or not.

If DSI exists more than it doesn't then people can be in it or outside of it or honorary members or have day passes or invite guests or all sorts of things.

If DSI exists then people may become de facto members by behavior or they may apply for membership or whatever. If DSI has a membership then people can leave DSI or be evicted. If people can be evicted from DSI then that implies that eviction is arbitrary or is contingent upon some (un)written rule being broken.

If DSI exists then it pre-supposes that there is benefit to membership and that such a benefit is worth more than the trouble of not being a member. It's often the case that group membership can mean that eviciton results in more than a loss of membership; it can result in the loss of face, loss of friendships and so on.

If DSI exists then group dynamics can come into play and conformance to group expectations can start to happen. Group dynamics can lead to all sorts of nasty places - as shown in the Stanford Prison Experiment.

If however DSI is just a bunch of people who like to hang together from time to time then does DSI need to exist?

No-one seems certain what DSI is about even Brad; but it seems to be about something and Brad seems to think it is about something.

It's not the least bit clear how one becomes a member - application form, invite, behaviour - or why anyone would want to do so.....

Anonymous said...

Following - this blog is dung on a stick.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

DSI started years ago, BTW. You're all in it now, and you can't get out.

Harry said...

DSI started years ago, BTW. You're all in it now, and you can't get out.

Yeah, it's a crazy mind experiment started by the CIA that leaked and has gone global.



Anonymous said...

Brad certainly has his work cut out for him.

I don't envy him.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"DSI started years ago, BTW. You're all in it now, and you can't get out."

Some dance to remember.
Some dance to forget.

Brad has left Hotel California.

Mysterion said...

The Eagles, after a 14 year vacation.

I thought it had a kind of Zen undercurrent - it could be heaven or it could be hell. What do you want it to be?

(First, reject dualism.
Then, think peace.)

Anonymous said...

Man, come on, I had a rough night and...

Mysterion said...

reject single-minded extremists...

if only in your aquatic state...

Lech said...

Alizée Jacotey, a lovely French singer who was born (August 21, 1984) in Ajaccio, Corsica.

Little Alizée started dancing early in her life and joined a well-known dance school in Corsica. In the year 1999, she appeared on a TV Talent Show and wished to perform in the programme's Dance contest. But, the dance category was only for groups so she ended up participating in the singing category.

Alizée is known by her nickname "Lilly". She now is married, has a child, and (as of 2005) dropped out of public life - having made 1/2 of a small fortune on her songs (none of which became #1 in France or elsewhere).

Anonymous said...

That's what makes this blog nice.

No matter how far afield we go, there is always another field in which to go afar.

Jinzang said...

Gudo Nishijima founded DSI and then his heirs joined. After that, all their students joined. And then Mike Cross, Jundo Cohen, and all of their students joined. Then everyone who was sceptical about the existence of DSI joined. And then everyone who thought DSI was a CIA plot joined. And then everyone who had neither heard nor cared about DSI joined. Finally, all sentient beings joined DSI.

How do you get out of DSI?

Anonymous said...

It like the blind leading the retarded in here.

You have Harry the IRA man turned zen.

Uca the Nordic elite asshole.

Steven the BW ass kisser.

Mysterion who's replaced his on line porn addiction to the BW comments section.

anon #108 with no personality.

some guy who calls himself Sperm.

And Brad Warner. The Unique man .

Anonymous said...

DSI follows CSI

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

I don't wanna be a member...I just wanna wear the t-shirt.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Here ya go Squarehead

Anonymous said...


Dan said...

Blogger Jinzang said...
"How do you get out of DSI?"

I thought YOU knew.

Oh, oh. I think we may be in bit of a sticky wicket here and now.

Or, we may be in bit of a wickey sticket.

Mr. Reee said...

Since DSI is loose as a goose, can we form a surfing chapter? Maybe call it Ocean Seal? That'd be cool.

(and I do genuinely admire what they're doing in Ventura)

SepticTank Hank said...

'How do you get out of DSI?'

JINZ, the goose has already flown out of the DSI bottle!

Harry said...

You have Harry the IRA man turned zen.

I was always a mole for Gudo. When they were putting their balaclavas on I'd secretly chant the Heart Sutra and... HEY PRESTO!... Peace Process.


Butter Knife.

Uku said...

Anonymous 5:44 pm wrote:

Uca the Nordic elite asshole.

Is that referring to me? Oh, please let it be! I would love to be the Nordic elite asshole! That sounds like a superhero title or something. "Beware, here comes the Nordic Elite Asshole with his Nordic Elite Asshole!"

If that's not referring me, I would love to meet other Nordic elite asshole's in here. I don't want to be the only (Nordic) one.

The Nordic Elite Asshole *kaboom*

Anonymous said...

It would have to be an ideal form to the senses: a perfect circle, rose-scented, velvety, etc.

R said...

8500 words so far, just one note: - (mainly to “anon 107” @ 12:22 pm & 11:21 am)

“anon #107” (though rarely) is me.

106 is free.

I might also sometimes use “anon #108 #2”.

Freedom for all. (Mysterion wo nozoite)

Harry said...

BTW, if anyone is interested in a ripping yarn about an on-the-run IRA man, and a classic peice of iconic British Film Noir, might I suggest 'Odd Man Out' starring James Mason and set in late 1940s Belfast (saw it again recently).

Terrible jumbled of bad Irish accents (as usual), but a truly strange and wonderful treatment of the subject plus great atmosphere.



Arkadiy said...

"The existing associations in the US sort of scare me the way they seem to want to imitate the Soto-shu and foster standardization among the Buddhists of America."

Like Gavin Rossdale once said; "Everything Zen. Everything Zen. I Don't Think So"

He was talking about Zen, even if he didn't know it yet...

Mark said...


Anonymous said...

annoying, no big deal of dsi exist or not, nice if it is a place where people who "do sit" talk about "sitting"... period. beyond, isn't it too much thinking and writing?

muebles said...

In my opinion everyone must look at it.