Thursday, April 15, 2010


Some of you who came to see my talks over the past month have heard me reference this brilliant routine by Patton Oswalt that says a lot of true things about religion. I found it today on YouTube. Here it is.

SKY CAKE by Patton Oswalt


Anonymous said...

Who loves you Baby?

hevindester said...

Why are you so delicious?

Dim said...

That was brilliant routine. I have to admit though, I was totally smoking pot when I watched it. It was very enhightening.

Anonymous said...

it gets REALLY good right when you read the part about Acclaim!

anon #108 said...

Anon wrote (previous post), "Brad and Gudo (and Dogen) do NOT say that awareness is caused by zazen."

And Backbone replied: "Ah, well, maybe you don't know Gudo like some know Gudo..."

Yes, 6.36pm, Gudo is now old and what was once "my [Gudo's] supposition" (and only one of his '4 views' of Zazen) has become a kind of mantra.

G has been deliberately avoiding metaphysical speculation about "enlightenment" for decades, yet people insist on collaring Zen Masters for clues as to what it is, and how you get it. I hear G's 'ANS' response to decades of "Roshi, what is ultimate, unexelled enlightenment?...What is true Samahdi...?" as his version of Gutei's one finger, or Rinzai's shout; he's saying, "Don't worry yourself about enightenment; it's all just a fact of your bodymind." I'm a romantic.

But I am not a doctor. Nevetheless, G's theory is based on medical fact.

There's lots of intersting stuff about the relation between our physical state, the cross-legged/straight spine (lotus) 'posture' and our mental state in this talk by Mike Luetchford, one of G's first western students and my teacher, which, if you're interested, will go along way to clarify Gudo's "theory".

But all that, interesting and valuable as it is - is explanation/consideration of zazen - a very different thing from doing it, which Gudo and Mike would be the first, and second - although hardly the very first or second - to point out.

anon #108 said...

And no, Brad and Gudo (and Dogen) do NOT say that awareness is caused by zazen."

That would be a silly thing to say.

anon #108 said...

...coz (for some) "enlightenment" and "awareness" are a bit like "sky-cake".

There ya go - relevant after all ;)

Josh Badgley said...

Once again Brad your post left me in stitches...When you spoke at the Houston Zen Center last month, I really got the impression that you had that kind of smart ass ironic sense of humor that makes people laugh and really think at the same time. So few people "get" this kind of stuff, like Patton Oswalt, but I really wanted to thank you for giving me a good laugh, I've had a bunch of bad shit go down recently and this made my day.

Harry said...

Hi 108,

There's also the thing that some Buddhists seem to believe that realisation (and I mean real realisation i.e. 'becoming real', not just some shoddy assumption or belief) and balance is only the preserve of people who do zazen in a particular way, as if 'realisation' was of one type or the same 'thing' or metaphysical 'zone' for every unique person... which is a pretty primitive sort of fundamentalism.



anon #108 said...

Hello Harry,

There's also the thing that some Buddhists seem to believe...

I guess so. But who?
Go on, H - name names!

Harry said...


My only concern is that they know who they are. ;-))



Amanda said...

And then Buddhists came along and said, "THE SKY CAKE IS A LIE."

Mysterion said...

Harry's "a pretty primitive sort of fundamentalism."

is not off base. At the foundation, at the point of balance, at grounding, at the center, there really is one place for each person.

It is a monkey riding in a bowl (vessel). I will post on my blog, later.

Mysterion said...

Also, Brad's trip to the Euro Zone may be delayed by a volcano.

Harry said...

Nishijima Sensei's thing about the ANS is signifigant to him cos he's into science and physiology and all that coming from the sports side of things.

It's also signifigant to him I think as he considers it takes Buddhism out of the realm of religion and into the realm of philosophy (but that depends on what you consider a 'religion' and/or a 'philosophy') in that the ANS theory offers a physiological rationale for the effects of zazen: in other words, it's no longer 'magic' or 'mysterious' or something that requires 'blind faith' in unknown forces/things.

I can understand his wanting to make that distinction coming from a country where Buddhism was/is widely used as a superficial muttering-and-wand-waving travesty of what it was intended to be and do.

That theortical side of things does seem significant and I find it interesting and all, but it's not really so important to me personally I have to say (and I don't understand physiology enough to really get it anyway!)



Mysterion said...

It's not the cake, it's the frosting.

It's not the frosting.

It's the no frosting.

It's not just the no frosting, it's the no cake.

But, on the middle path,
It's the no craving for sky cake, frosted or not.

alan sailer said...

"Nishijima Sensei's thing about the ANS."

I can't claim to understand it because I have not studied his explanation of his use of the term, but my instinct is to stay away from the subject.

As soon as I hear scientific/medical terms being used by people outside the field, my knee jerk reaction is to mutter to myself "Support your conjecture, show me some experimental results".

Another more extreme use of a technical term is Deepak Chopra's "quantum levels of healing". It makes me cringe at the misuse of a good physics word, which has a very precise meaning that is very different from Chopra's use.

To sum up, I am uncomfortable when I see scientific terms recycled in contexts outside of their origin.

Cheers. said...

No cake, sky or otherwise, at the All Day Sit tomorrow 4/17/10 at Hill Street, Santa Monica

but there will be oryoki

to be included, reservations must be made no later than 8 pm 4/16/10


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"As soon as I hear scientific/medical terms being used by people outside the field, my knee jerk reaction is to mutter to myself 'Support your conjecture, show me some experimental results' "

90% of science/medicine is common sense. 10% is study/practice. You obviously haven't achieved the balance that zazen brings to make such an ignorant statement. Sit more..think less.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"90% of science/medicine is common sense."

That you state this does not make it so. For example, before the 1900s, it was common sense to sit grandpa, with consumption, next to the fire so that when he had to spit, he could spit in the fire and the fire would destroy TB - that was common sense. And it was dead wrong.

Spitting into the fire caused an aerosol which filled the room and exposed everyone in the room to an active TB virus.

Eventually reason overtook common sense (e.g. stupidity and ignorance) and anti-spitting laws were passed in an effort to prevent the unlearned from harming others.

More than a decade ago, I had a well-researched book discrediting 'common sense.' Whoever last borrowed it has yet to return it.

Jinzang said...

One of my physics professors said, "common sense is just the sum of the prejudices you've learned by 18."

alan sailer said...


Your comment about 90% of science being common sense leaves me deliciously amazed. The counterexamples to that statement could (and do) run into entire libraries.

The whole history of science is overturning common sense.

The earth is flat.

Common sense.

The sun revolves around the earth.

Common sense.

Stars are holes in a bowl over the earth.

Common sense.

Perhaps if you sat zazen a little less and examined the world of science and technology...

By the way, the statement "sit more" is used so often as a put down on this comment section that it has lost what little meaning that it NEVER had.

By the way dear Anon, what is your first name?


anon #108 said...


"By the way, the statement "sit more" is used so often as a put down on this comment section..."

You might think so, but I can't recall the last time it was said - perhaps I should subject your statement to research...

I just googled "Hardcore zen/should/must/please/sit more" and nothing at all close came up. Perhaps my methadology is faulty? Nevertheless...phew!

I've a feeling Anon's entire, very silly comment was sarcastic - s/he too thinks that's the kind of thing zennies say. I believe there's one annoying anonymous flamer who's been getting his/her kicks like that lately.

If anon was serious, anon needs to get a life.

...I wonder how often that's been said ;)

alan sailer said...


I am not good enough with computers to do the type of search that you did.

But the generic "You need to sit more" sentiment has been used often in these pages for me to get tired of it.

The implication is that whatever issue the sitting deprived person has, it will be solved by sitting more.

Even used once, its a non-starter.

Polish the mirror....


Bye the way, Anon#108, I'm making a collection of first names. You may have given yours before, so I apologize if this is a repeat, but what is your first name?

Anonymous said...

As I scientist first, and some one who agrees with almost all that I have read of Brad an Nishijima, His outlook on the ANS balance has a lot of scientific merit. Both halves of the ANS are well understood, as to what they do, in the body. There is also a large body of knowledge as to problems caused when one side or the other becomes too strong.
From what I have been able to find, most of the current research is being done to try to accuratley measure this balance. I have not found any scientific research into whether or not any practice can help to balance it. Mostly they are using medicine to try to do this (unfortunately). But Im sure that it will not be far off when Nishi's concepts will be put to the literal scientific test. I would not be supprised if he is not too far off.

Anonymous said...

Brad, do you really think that this is truly the long and short of religion? That all the great thinkers & seers of the past were deluded? True, there has always been a conflict between the mystics and the dogmatists, but it did not descend to the level of denying revelation.
I think there is a danger here of short path extremism, and people setting themselves up as arbiters of matters which are beyond all their experience and knowledge. Let's be careful, and more sympathetic - and not insist on such tawdry origins to the great revelations.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"As I scientist first..."

WHAT KIND of 'scientist are you?

For example, most here know I did Electronics/Physics an an undergrad (e.g. 4-year college), Cognitive Psychology in Grad School (e.g. M.S.)... blah, blah, blah.


Chas, Chicken Alphabet Soup

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"That all the great thinkers & seers of the past were deluded?"

Either deluded or eating mushrooms.


Anonymous said...

This is not brilliant. It was a stupid, shrewd maybe?, vapid, dull witted bit presented by an angry comedian that has had too many nights on the road. Perhaps that's what you identify with.

Come on Brad. When are you going to put the toy dinosaurs or should I say godzilla's away and engage in adult practice.

anon #108 said...

Hi Alan,

I agree with you that generic "sit more" advice is vacuous advice. I thought that's what I wrote. Did you misread me? I had your back, buddy!

Maybe this blog is permeated with advice to "sit more" and I've missed it, or tuned it out. But it's OK, coz we can give ourselves permission to sit as much or as little as we like. Right?

(If you've read my profile and my comments over the last 4 months you know roughly how old I am, where I grew up, where I live, the College I went to, where and what I studied, some of the musical projects I've been involved with, a little about my career as a paralegal, how and when I got into reading about zen, how and when I started to do it, and who I do it with. You'll also have formed an opinion about the kind of chap I am. But when you need to identify or address me you'll have to make do with "anon #108", I'm afraid).

Nothing personal, you understand.

Nothing personal at all ;)

mtto said...

Come on Brad. When are you going to put the toy dinosaurs or should I say godzilla's away and engage in adult practice.

Adult practice... isn't that what his last book was partially about? If Brad uses Godzilla in his adult practice, I'm grateful he left it out of the book! Some people got upset about Brad's adult practice (forgetting it was his and not theirs), and now Anon @ 4:01 is encouraging Brad to engage in more adult practice. I'm pretty sure, like most of us, he doesn't need the encouragement.

Patton is great. I love the Sky Cake bit!

Anonymous said...

Mtto, You are like the kettle calling itself black.

A musician living in Los angeles. The most Vapid city in the country. Hollywood/Los angeles is a cult.

Come out and join us. Unless you don't wipe your own ass.

Anonymous said...


mtto said...

Thanks for the Antaiji link. I haven't read the whole article yet, but I read the first page. It is my position that what we do at Hill Street on Saturday mornings is adult practice (as defined by the article), just as much as the practice at Antaiji.

"Zazen belongs to you." - Brad Warner

Your practice is your responsibility. What does this have to do with what is sitting on the altar? Unless you really are just looking for a taste of Japanese culture?

Brad took his Godzilla with him, so now we have to settle for much smaller dinosaurs on the altar.

alan sailer said...


Nothing about your comments were negative in any way I could see.

And as far as not giving your name, that's fine. It's just a little game I'm playing to see if anyone else wants to play along.

It's absolutely for me. I have a terrible time remembering real names, so as you might imagine, trying to sort out Anon from Anon is a task that I am just not up to.

So I get frustrated and try to play a little game of asking first names.

Listen to the traffic noise, it's much more important.


Jinzang said...

His outlook on the ANS balance has a lot of scientific merit.

I'm curious. How would a scientist measure if the autonomic nervous system is in or out of balance? Is it something that can be quantified, or are there only qualitative judgements?

Backbone said...

anon #108 said...There's lots of intersting stuff about the relation between our physical state, the cross-legged/straight spine (lotus) 'posture' and our mental state in this talk by Mike Luetchford, one of G's first western students and my teacher, which, if you're interested, will go along way to clarify Gudo's "theory".

I did not find much there. Is it possible that all this talk of Zazen and ANS is just Gudo & Co's version of "Sky Cake"? Sure, there is a little "science" behind it, much like there is some "science" behind many of the arguments of the Creationists about how the world is 5000 years old.

Did God Create Life? Ask a Protein!

Gudo and Sons is just another religious group with some dogma that kind of (doesn't really) make sense. They dig up some "science" to support it, although the "science" really doesn't have much to say on the subject. They even have some idea of the Four Noble Truths that they insist on which no other Buddhist in the world accepts, but it is their dogma.

Gudo asserts

This is the hypothesis that I developed forty years ago from studying the Shobogenzo, and although it did not have the backing even of Buddhist society in Japan I can find no no inadequacies in my idea, no matter how hard I try.
Catvary arya satyani, the four noble truths comprise duhkha-satya, samudaya-satya, nirodha-satya and marga-satya. The traditional interpretation goes as follows:
Duhkha-satya, or the truth of suffering says that all things and phenomena in this world are suffering.
Samudaya-satya or the truth of aggregates says that the cause of suffering is desire.
Nirodha-satya, or the truth of denial says that we should rid ourselves of desire.
Marga-satya, or the truth of the right way says that when we rid ourselves of all desire we will realize the truth.
When I read this traditional interpretation of the four noble truths, I found it so dogmatic and illogical I could not accept it. To say that all the world is suffering seems to me the height of dogmatism. Of course the world often seems to be full of sadness, but the assertion that all is suffering in the world is pessimistic beyond words. And to say that the cause of all this suffering is desire is too dogmatic. I think that fundamentally desire is at the root of our life force. It is impossible for us to get rid of desire and continue living. If Buddhism were to insist that we should destroy all desire in ourselves, then it is urging us to do the impossible. And the last of the truths is not clear. What is the nature of the truth that will be realized? It is said that we should follow the eightfold right path, but no clear explanation of these eight paths existed in Gautama Buddha"s time. What is meant by right? The four noble truths is supposedly at the center of the Buddhist teachings, but it seemed to me impossible to believe in such a dogmatic and biassed set of ideas.

My only point is that Gudo and children are no different than any other religious group with their half baked ideas and theories, and their own "Sky Cake".

Zazen is great, no doubt. Dogen is great, no doubt. Gudo's ideas about Zazen and Dogen, maybe not so great.

Possible, no?

Anonymous said...

here's this anon's take on it...

impermanence -> ignorance -> desire -> suffering

but at the quantum level, so the suffering is like rope burn

anon #108 said...

Hi Backbone,

So you read Mike Luetchford's talk and didn't find much there.

If you were looking for scientific proof or evidence to support a theory that the "balanced ANS" exists and can be demonstrated to be the aim, purpose, or result of zazen practice, then yes, you would have been disappointed.

Of course it's possible that Gudo's ideas are not so great. I guess it depends whether you're looking for certainties to believe in or reject. I've certainly found much of what he's written refreshingly free of metaphysics and 'religion', but us 'Dogen Sangha types' don't spend much time wondering whether our Lord and Master has got it 'right' about the ANS - or anything else.

As Harry wrote earlier, "the ANS theory offers a physiological rationale for the effects of zazen: in other words, it's no longer 'magic' or 'mysterious' or something that requires 'blind faith' in unknown forces/things...but it's not really so important to me personally I have to say (and I don't understand physiology enough to really get it anyway!)"

That's pretty much how I feel about it, too. Many of the people who sit with Mike L - and, I imagine, othe DS groups - couldn't give two hoots about the ANS.

If you found nothing else of interest or value in the talk, never mind. Each to his own :)

Mysterion said...

Backbone sed:
"Did God Create Life? Ask a Protein!"

I asked a protein.

He told me: "Proteins are made up of small units called amino acids."

Amino acids are made up of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen. Some examples of amino acids are lysine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.

There were googles of tons of this stuff just microseconds after the big bang.

The Big Bang is the "let there be light" moment (albeit out of sequence in the biblical accounts - of which there are two).

Here's the Galactic Evolution of Carbon and Nitrogen.

But, to cut to the chase, here is the trial.

Intelligent Design on Trial: Science is "Exhibit A" in a landmark trial on the teaching of evolution. Aired November 13, 2007 on PBS. Watch it HERE

And support PBS - television, but with a brain.

Mysterion said...

BTW, Brad's posting was so 'right on' that I also used the YouTube clip in a posting called "Just Deserts."

anon #108 said...

So, Backbone, when you say "Gudo and Sons is just another religious group with some dogma...", I think you're suffering from the misapprehension that folks who sit with Dogen Sangha groups all "believe" the same something or other.

It isn't so.

Mysterion said...

The Sky Cake was delicious today when some morbidly obese fellow in front of Safeway begged me for a donation to his Xtian cause.

I was wearing my 480 BCE cross.

He didn't know that the cross, and the crucified dying-rising god, predated Xtainity by several centuries. I told him to be there tomorrow and I'ld wear my 100% authentic widow's mite on which is imprinted the Wheel of Dharma.

In ignorance, people suffer.

anon #108 said...

BTW, Backbone, I think your reaction to Gudo's seemingly dogmatic revisionist ideas is very similar to the reaction Brad had when he first started attending the old boy's lectures. FWIW, it sounded like a load of hokum to me too when I first encountered it.

Having listened to Mike L for a few years and sat with his group, I realise that Gudo's ideas are not quite what I thought they were. But still, I can take him or leave him. I use what's useful and ignore what isn't: a lot of it has proved to be very useful.

Regardless, what matters is just sitting - without expectation, beliefs, dogmas, certainties or ideas.

Anonymous said...

Patton Oswalt in Ratatouille

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Where is this sky cake?

Backbone said...

BTW, Backbone, I think your reaction to Gudo's seemingly dogmatic revisionist ideas is very similar to the reaction Brad had when he first started attending the old boy's lectures. FWIW, it sounded like a load of hokum to me too when I first encountered it.

108, no need to be so defensive. You sound like someone trying to rationalize their strange belief as "not important to me, but I really want to believe it is true." You may say it is not important, but it is almost all Gudo talks about for many years.

I have been sitting Zazen for about 15 years. I found Mike L's talk valuable in talking how to find a good posture. But all these DL folks are too concerned about posture posture posture as the be and end all. Even Gudo and Mike Cross just fight about posture, and about which posture is the true one. They talk about how to sit right and the effects that sitting in the right posture will bring into the rest of your day. They confuse Zazen with primarily being about posture and not much more. Precepts, enlightenment, all of Buddhism is all in the posture.

That's there dogma, where they find their "sky cake"

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

I suffer. You suffer. Siddhartha suffered. Jesus suffered. And hard to believe it, Mysterion suffers. No suffering, no Buddhism. Simple.

Glen said...

Could it be at all possible, just maybe...just maybe... that NOBODY knows what the fuck they are talking about? including me? Just imagine...

anon #108 said...

Hello again Backbone,

You say I'm being "defensive", I'd say I'm explaining, clarifying, and correcting mistaken impressions. Whatever.

So you don't believe me when I tell you there is no agreed dogma amongst DS group members; that "they" are not "concerned about posture posture posture as the be and end all...all of Buddhism is all in the posture...That's there dogma, where they find their "sky cake"" Well OK. You can believe what you like, but on this you're simply wrong.

Perhaps you missed this bit of Mike's talk:

"But everybody is different. We can only do what we can do, so if we never try to sit half lotus we’ll never do it, that’s for sure. But if we force ourselves, and I’ve seen some people forcing themselves into the lotus position, and they’re so tensed that their posture is pulled over to one side and hunched up. It’s much better to sit in the half lotus or five eighths lotus and to be free and balanced."

And there are always people at our retreats that sit seiza or Burmese. They've never been approached to be 'corrected' or shown the 'true way' - by anybody. In fact Mike very rarely corrects anybody's posture, even if (to my eye) they're slumped or leaning - he believes an important part of sitting is discovering your balance, for your body, by yourself.

Your summary is simplistic and inaccurate. It's not true. It's not what happens. Your notion of what "they" all believe - or worse, are required to believe is mistaken. That's all.

Don't like the sound of Dogen Sangha? Fine. Do your thing. I'll do mine ;)

Ran said...

I read very little.

I came across Jinzang’s at 2:16 pm: - a great deal of our practice, is in my view about being able to discern “the sum of the prejudices”, or our habitual ways of thinking, from what true common sense is.
- This is about awareness, cleanliness of your mind, and clarity of your vision.

This also brings me to another statement I came across here recently: - “Habit is the opposite of awareness”. (- I have very little time to glance through the comment section lately, - so I can’t even tell if it’s worth it) This also has to do with a question Harry has put to Nishijima on His blog recently, - about a discussion of spontaneous action with the use of a saying about Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva as an example. (Shinji Shobogenzo, Book 2, no. 5) There may be the question of what you call a habit, - habits might have to do with bodily blindness, - (as opposite to what you may call bodily awareness) but acquired skilful manners of behavior acquired through practice, - spontaneous action as in the story – which may seem externally much like a habit – certainly could in no way be identified with blindness or ignorance, (see “Mysterion” and others, PO included, - though he has a nice point) or “opposite of awareness”.

[At the same time – a habit, even strictly so – can be useful. Otherwise such wouldn’t exist.]

Back to Jing: - (a derogatory abbreviated form of “Jinzang”) first I would like to relate to Intuition which Nishijima Roshi mentions so much: – I’d say quite certainly that what people call “intuition” sometimes is [intuition] and sometimes is not.
People use the word intuition for both intuitive thinking and instinctive thinking which they are unable to discern.
(I know today’s “science” claim to have it that humans do not have instincts. [I’m saving myself one of M’s stupid links] But I don’t think contemporary science has ever been able to investigate the existence or non existence of instincts within thought.)

Second – this professor’s view could correspond to things Uchiyama Roshi says about the ego, it might tell us of the blindness of his own mind – it may perhaps be said that [true] common sense is just intuition, - but this person’s words are certainly untrue.

Men of wisdom do not become Professors of Physics. [- with rare and few exceptions in between, perhaps] I studied Math for a while so I met quite e few. [math, mainly – of course. but they’re quite the same. Worse than Mysterion. (I mean that, - [!] believe it or not.)]

I think Uchiyama Roshi’s words are really interesting. I think it’s from his commentary about Bendowa.

I’ve been very long with regard to just e few words. But that’s the way it is. I like to present things in full.

Otherwise better just not touch – generally – it seems to me.

btw (a.k.a. the previous (hopefully, can't really tell on this blog) said...

to Harry's question: -

The quote does not have to do with compassion at all.

It is about AB’s ability of Functioning. It doesn't have to do with the fact that he is the Bodhisattva of Compassion.



Harry said...


Do you a live in half a world?

Does your name have no meaning or function?



Anonymous said...

I thought the video clip was pretty sophomoric and dumb. And I'm only 23 yrs of age. I guess that's what happens when you get old. I like brads books. But I think he's read too many zen books.

Anonymous said...

"Back to Jing: - (a derogatory abbreviated form of “Jinzang”)"

How about "JIZZ"?

Backbone said...

108 said

So you don't believe me when I tell you there is no agreed dogma amongst DS group members

Well, you are right. I do not know Mike Leutchford at all. It is really only Gudo Nishijima who professes his version of pseudo-science and creationism, and personal ideas about Buddhism with no historical backing. But as you say, and Brad has pointed out recently, the members of Dogen Sangha ignore each other, and ignore him, and just teach what they want. The fact that Brad barely mentions Gudo's theories on his blog any more, or in his books, shows what he must really think about the theories. Maybe Mike Leutchford papers over them too? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

It's like looking at the shapes clouds are making, taking them to be significant, and comparing them.


anon #108 said...

BB -

I think that if you've spent a considerable amount of time listening to and interacting with a teacher you've grown to respect, year after year, then that teaching is likely to have a profound effect on you - on your understanding and your practice.

That doesn't mean you've surrendered your will, or lost your capacity for independent thought. A good teacher should enable you to find your own way; to realize yourself; to make the teaching your own.

Ran said...

I'm not really sure what you want to say. [- “H.”, a.k.a. Blogger Harry] It doesn't seem like there's anything to it. What I said is very simple. There's no hidden meaning.



Harry said...


It may have everything to do with compassion- just not like we think it does.

At any rate, no koan that is the result of Buddhist realisation was intended to create some false sense of personal certainty or correctness.



Anonymous said...

Wonderful routine. It's nice when Brad lets someone else issue the satire so we can be sure that its not all about him.

Ran said...

Harry, (@ 12:20 PM, mainly)

I can't see a possibility I was wrong.

No koan [or whatever you call it] is obviously intended to create a false sense of anything.

These stories have a point. (Possibly more than one) - Either you get it or you don't, - or you might be somewhere in between.

But it's not open to interpretation. - It's like a language you might understand or you might not. There sometimes may be different ways of understanding a thing, but it's not normally the case.

[If you don't trust or don't believe what I am saying you might check with Nishijima or your teacher. Let me know if any of them said I was wrong.]


R. (a.k.a. various others.)

Harry said...

Hi Ran,

There is no ultimate authority of 'right' and 'wrong' in Buddhism other than the current situation from moment to moment. That is where meaning is defined and contained, in real actions. 'Meaning' outside of this is just our own thinking of past and future, which is not real-time.

So, putting aside the redunadant notion of whether you were right or wrong, let's go further than the affirmation or denial of some teacher who isn't here:

You said: "It doesn't have to do with the fact that he is the Bodhisattva of Compassion."

I ask you then: In that case, what makes him the Bodhisattva of Compassion?



Ran K. said...

The teachers are there for you by e-mail if you want.

The notion of right or wrong isn't necessarily redundant. Understanding is different from not understanding. Otherwise what is the use of any discussion?

You are of so and so years of age and you are Irish.

If I tell you that [your] being of so and so years of age has nothing to do with [your] being Irish - do I have to tell you what is it that makes you Irish in order to verify that?

It [Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva] is a great being who have been chosen to serve as the Bodhisattva of compassion in the era in which we live in.

I have not been shared in any discussion preceding, [not that I can remember] equally has my advice not been requested; nor have I been informed in full of the virtues necessary for the appointment in question. (Try 108, maybe they let him in on something.)

I do not find this discussion really worth while.

[This may be one example why Brad does not consider the internet as a right media for teaching Buddhism.]



Harry said...

Hi Ran,

I'm not talking about the notion of right or wrong, and the koan isn't pointing to the notion of right or wrong or to anything in reference to right or wrong.

"It [Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva] is a great being who have been chosen to serve as the Bodhisattva of compassion in the era in which we live in."

Doink! The clash of brass on wood.

Q: What makes him the Bodhisattva of Compassion?

Good luck in clarifying the koan with your life. If you want to really go at it utylising unrestricted sincere effort then drop me a line and we can play all out like big boys who don't need a teacher to pat them on the head.



LXVIII (and not counting) said...

The teachers are there not to pat you on the head (which I certainly wouldn't, but I might say Gudo does, in a way) but to let you know whether you are right or wrong.

I wasn't saying the koan is pointing to a reference of right and wrong, but that it is possible to be right or wrong with regard to it, and that this rightness or wrongness isn't meaningless.

The quote you quoted could do without, - the point [with regard to your question, which seems silly to me] is in the two preceding paragraphs.

I don't really appreciate you, or your understanding, from what I've read so far. [- Here, at Gudo's, and at Gustav's.]

This is coming to be an ego discussion of who understands better than who. - I neither like nor value that.

If Nishijima [Roshi] or Peter [whom I don't know] would say I was wrong I might look into it.



Ran Kennedy.

(a.k. [in the appropriate circles only] with the humble title of "Mysterion II". (FWIW, or, - FWIN.))

Harry said...




Harry said...

"It is about AB’s ability of Functioning. It doesn't have to do with the fact that he is the Bodhisattva of Compassion."

Hi Ran,

I'm not satisfied with your answer, or with your own verification of it. Sorry, but it would be unkind and lazy of me not to attempt to engage it...

Q: If not his function, which is never seperate from/different to the potential or ability to function at this moment, what establishes the fact that he is the Bodhisattva of Compassion?

We can say that his name is irrelevant to his acting at this moment, but this seems impoverished given the nature of our existence, as we can also say that his function at this moment makes his name and gives it substance, truth and meaning.

I don't expect an answer, but thank you for an interesting question.

I generally don't read your posts in great detail, but I find it prudent to keep an open mind on people as they sometimes say things which engage regardless of what I like to think about them, such as your answer engaged me.



anon #108 said...

I dunno, Harry, but I too have mused that maybe Dogen, from the get-go, is asking 'forget about the compassion thing...just what does Avalokiteshvara do with all those hands and eyes?'

Not that D is deconstructing, examining, or seeking to elucidate "compassion" from an unusual point of view, but that he's deliberately ignoring the usual, assumed attribute of Kannon; subverting our expectations - to talk about something else. That 'something else' might, of course give us insight into what "compassion" might actually be. But to me, it's significamt that he doesn't mention "compassion" (in the N/C translation) once - not his usual style, or method when seeking to examine an abstract notion.

No doubt, I'm very wrong.

And Ran, stop being so rude to Harry...and Mysterion. Tut!

captcha = sumbals

Harry said...

"But to me, it's significamt that he doesn't mention "compassion"

Hi 108,

Yes, I think it's significant too. At the same time, as you say, Dogen never engaged in the superficial, and pointless, negation of words. And he certainly did not mean to negate the fugure of Kannon. If anything he affirmed words and encouraged us to engage them and explore their real meaning and function.

So I should ask Master Dogen: "Is Kannon Bodhisattva lacking compassion?"



soulsearcher said...

sky cake can be related to that promise for eternal happiness in's euphoric!

Mysterion said...

Brad doesn't quite connect the dots like I did on THIS posting.

Mysterion said...

Jesus giving the Nirbana answer:

And when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Look here! or, look there! For, behold (become aware), the kingdom of Heaven (nirbana) is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)

Gospel of Thomas 113

Jesus’ disciples said to him, “When will God’s Kindom come?”

“It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, God’s Kindom is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.”

So, like other borrowed matter, the local culture (in this case Armenia) had no way to ingest the foreign and imported teaching and, therefore, had to corrupt it to local lore.

Quote 1 allows us to escape our custodial duties as gardeners of the environment. Quote 2 - the more authentic of the two - makes it clear that our custodial duties as gardeners of the environment is part and parcel of being in this place.

Ran K. said...

I read Harry's @ 4:13 am.

- As far as - "it would be unkind and lazy of me not to attempt to engage it...".

I'm not reading any further.

Talking Heads said...


anon #108 said...

Hi Harry,

Me: "But to me, it's significamt that he doesn't mention "compassion"...

You: So I should ask Master Dogen: "Is Kannon Bodhisattva lacking compassion?"

I had a think and a ponder...

I believe I get what you're saying (I don't always ;)) - so thanks for that.

Mysterion said...

Kannon Bodhisattva is

Kuan Yin

and Kuan Yin (a.k.a. Guan Yin) is the Isis, Innana, Ishtar, Virgin Mary all over again.

Except in China, where ancestor worship is/was BIG, Guan Yin had real appeal as a household goddess.

Is she even Buddhist?

I doubt it.


I tend to think so.

Re: Tripitaka:
"They are not, however, regarded as 'sacred', perfect and complete descriptions of the truth. To view any scripture in this way is a form of idolatry. All books, texts, and bibles, however inspired, are human creations and subject to error and imperfection. Buddhist scriptures are to be used as reflections and pointers. They are being used correctly when they stimulate mindfulness, virtue and insight - when they lead to open and receptive states of mind rather than to unskillful mind states, such as greed, hatred and delusion." source

If you are unaware of Buddhist teaching on idolatry, then go find out.


even more

Mysterion said...

Kannon was worthy of a POSTING over at my blog.

Anonymous said...

Its cake mother fucker you're dead....ahhhh thats great... Sky Cake, its funny how people still get suckered into this, it worries me..

muebles madrid said...

Here, I do not actually consider it is likely to have effect.