Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Paying For It" and "Who Is The Most Enlightened One Of All?"

I'm at the Bodhidharma Zen Center in Warszawa. That's how they spell Warsaw around these parts. They pronounce it vor-sha-vah. Crazy, huh?

So this morning at breakfast the woman who seems to be in charge here was asking me about my practice and my teacher. The usual Zen small talk. When I told her how Nishijima Roshi lived his life during the time I was with him in Japan she said, "So his students didn't support him financially?"

I said that they didn't. He had a regular job and he always encouraged the teachers he ordained to do the same. Then something popped out of my mouth that surprised me. No, not a lump of half-digested oatmeal! It was when I said, "I'd never want to be supported by students. Then the students would feel like they could control me!"

Perhaps this is exactly why Nishijima chose to live the lifestyle he did and encouraged others to do the same. When the students pay for the teacher's rent and food they naturally feel they deserve to receive some return on their investment. If the teacher fails to teach them what they want to be taught, the students figure they have a right to complain. Poor service! I'm payin' you for this stuff, buddy!

I had this happen once in a really blatant way when someone complained about the way I ran one of the retreats I held at Tokei-in temple in Japan. He literally said, "I paid Brad Warner $250 for that retreat" and went on to say how he felt ripped off. As it so happened, he was entirely wrong there. I had paid the same $250 to the temple as him and everyone else at that retreat. He didn't pay me anything. But his attitude showed pretty clearly how these problems arise. He felt entitled to demand the retreat be what he wanted because he paid for it.

This assumption is not really so unreasonable. If you pay for a hotel you deserve clean towels. If you pay for a KISS concert you can complain if they don't play Rock And Roll All Night. The situation at a Zen retreat is different and it needs to be made clear from the outset. Which I have endeavored to do at each retreat I've run since that one.

But there's a bigger issue here, which is the issue of how a Buddhist student who supports his or her teacher financially can feel entitled to demand specific services in return. If a Zen teacher gives in to such demands, Zen teaching cannot happen. I suspect a lot of what we see in Zen today comes down to this problem.

In my case, I've taken Nishijima's advice. My day job is "writer of lousy comedic books with a Zen angle" and I'll take as much money as I can get from that gig. And when I play that role I cater to audience demands to the same degree as any writer. A good writer has to find a balance between what the audience wants to read and what the writer wants to say or nobody buys his books.

But in Zen teaching it's vital not to accept any demands at all from one's students regarding what they think you ought to teach them. A Zen teacher has to be, in some sense, entirely selfish and self-indulgent. But it's a different kind of selfish self-indulgency than you get most of the time. It's a selfish self-indulgency that includes the students as well as the teacher within the realm of "self." The "self" that is being indulged is not limited to the teacher's individual being. The teacher has to be as hard on students as she is on herself. And that often hurts. In both directions.

I'm not saying a Zen teacher who is financially supported by students cannot do this. It can and does happen. Often. But it's much more difficult, I think. Or at least it would be for me.

So ANYWAY, the other night on in Poland Tomak Lipinski and his co-host Vienio asked a lot of really great questions. But one theme that kept coming up is one that occurs in this ancient video of a Q&A with Nishijima Roshi:

Do you see how the woman questioning him keeps wanting to draw the discussion into the area of how and why Nishijima Roshi is superior or more enlightened than she is (or so she appears to believe) (by the way, the second questioner is me)? I sort of felt the same area was being entered into last night. And it's been a common theme throughout this trip. The crazy lady in Katowice was trying to test me to see if I was as cosmic as she felt I ought to be. She said some weird thing about "the sounds of the butterfly" and I said "maybe" because I wasn't sure what the hell she was talking about. She replied, "A Zen Master must have no doubts!" When I said I had a lot of doubts I think that's when she started getting mad. (I don't even wanna get into the whole "Zen Master" deal, see a few entries below)

In France and in Poland variations on this theme keep coming up. Some seem to want to test me to see if I live up to their expectations of a "true Master" or whatever. Others assume I must be a "true Master" and want to know what secrets I hold. How does the "enlightenment" they believe I claim to have make me special? And is it worth the bother?

There is something that comes with extended Zen practice over a period of several years. No doubt about it. But it's not something that others don't possess. Or that you don't possess already before you begin practice. It's more a matter of finally coming to terms with, and maybe even getting comfortable with that something. Not fighting against it all the time.

The crazy rain we've had here for the past week has finally ended. But now the people of Warsaw are worried that all the water from the south will flood the big rivers. There were all kinds of folks standing on the bridges last night to watch it come in. Is God trying to tell us something with all this rain?


Lone Wolf said...

Increased perception is a result of global warming. I learned that this fall in my Environment & Life class.

The issue seems to be the same for both of the people spoken about in this post, the issue of gaining something from practice. Both people have curative fantasies and expectations of how Zazen or a certified Zen Master will help them improve their lives or help them reach enlightenment.

I'm beginning to understand that the role of the teacher is to simply help disillusion students about such gaining ideas and show them their is nothing to improve and one should sit with no idea of gaining something from the practice. Without pushing away various thoughts and feelings (ex: anger, desire, agitation) and without holding on to certain thoughts and feelings (ex: compassion, peace, enlightenment, etc.).

But obviously people get all pissed off when you destroy their utopian dreams.

Nice post Brad!

Lone Wolf said...

More Barry Magid:

Eventually, if we stay with a real practice of emotional honesty and awareness through the failure of one secret practice after another, we may discover the joy that underlies life as it is - this fleeting, ungraspable, uncontrollable life-as-it-is.

We may be scared (to death!) of this truth, and hope and wish and pray for some way out, but we are all capable of eventually seeing our life as it is. If we think that insight is a rare as diamonds, its because we aren't ready to face what's already right in front of us. If we do have one of one of those rare experiences, what we see is that everything is a diamond, everything is revealing right here and now the truth about are life. It's only while we're still trying to escape that reality that we insist there must be a hidden secret that will show us the way out. But it's no secret that there's now way out.

anon #108 said...

(LW - you really gotta say "ONE" or somesuch - QUICK! before Harry gets here and whups your ass).

Of course, you can't expect the same level of debate on Youtube that you find here - it's full of angry trolls and know-it-alls....hmm...

Whatever, this comment from over there is a good example, I think, of the kind of thing you're talking about, Brad:

"The Zen master tried very hard to get the questioner to understand the ultimate view of zen - there is no difference between a buddha and a sentient being. But they just couldn't get it, so he had to resort to the conventional view - the difference is balance. Some people just don't get it, so you gotta give them toys instead of knives ;-) I would love to study under this priest, he seems very very good."

Lone Wolf said...

In the video, Nishijima talks about suppressing anger being the proper way to remain balanced?

This is the sort of spiritual lobotomy and dualistic thinking that Joko Beck was speaking about when it comes to traditional Zen. I need to get rid of this so I can have more of this. One may think, I need to sit Zazen to get rid of my anger. Another gaining idea. Couldn't one be emotionally honest and accept their anger but not be caught by anger or act it out?

To give further reference to my question, I'm reposting this excerpt from Ending the Pursuit of Happiness by Barry Magid:

My teacher felt her own traditional Zen training had taught her to treat emotions as an obstacle to practice; in her long career she tried to counterbalance this tendency by making emotion instead the object of practice. Emotion, or its correlates in bodily tension, are not what we WANT to feel while meditating. We all inevitably want meditation to create an oasis of that - transiently, or course- but we may not realize that by achieving it, we have made our practice one-dimensional.

Joko always talked about sitting as building a bigger container, and what was contained was primarily emotion. She wanted the container of sitting to hold all the painful, messy, inconvenient things that we usually come to practice to get away from. We sit still with what we've come to avoid. Although the pain we may be most immediately aware of is the pain in out knees, everything we avoid is a a form of pain, and all are ultimately grounded in the pain of embodied impermanence.

Traditionally, staying with physical pain was the paradigm of non-avoidance. If we practice sitting still with physical pain it is no simply to build up our physical endurance, but to practice non-avoidance. The problem was, it didn't generalize very well to emotional avoidance, and I believe it was Joko Becks's unique contribution to the development of American Zen to bring that part of practice very much into the foreground. She wanted us to be able to sit with the whole range of our emotional life, not just the whole range of physical sensation. She wanted us to be able to sit still with all the feelings that we don't usually want to feel and sit still with. What these are in particular will vary from person to person, and they cover full spectrum of emotional reactions and conflicts around anger, anxiety, sexuality, shame, dependency, and all the rest.

anon #108 said...

In the video, Nishijima talks about suppressing anger being the proper way to remain balanced?

I didn't hear it quite like that, LW (last minute or so of the clip):

G: Sometimes we lose the balanced state

Q: Do you [the Zen Master] sometimes lose the balanced state?

G: Sometimes I am going to lose my balance...for example, once to be angry [G means, I think 'I might get angry]. So I notice...and supress my anger'.

So, a lack of balance might express itself in anger. What to do? Notice it and supress/control it. Whether you agree that's the best way to deal with anger or not, it's a different thing from "suppressing anger being the proper way to remain balanced" - Not what he said.

anon #108 said...

So...not to supress anger as a way to remain balanced, but as the appropriate way to deal with a loss of balance, once it's occurred, in order to minimise the harm done.

Seems to me to be a natural, sensible reaction. The alternative is to indulge the anger and hurt people. Which is gonna happen, too, sometimes.

It's a lovely morning in London Town.


Brad Warner said...

In the video Nishijima says "wants to get angry" not "once to get angry." You gotta get used to the way he talks.

Lone Wolf said...

I think your right Anon 108. My bad. I often overanalyze stuff.

"So I notice" is not rejecting and the "suppressing" comes from not being caught or acting out.

Plus, I just read this in Sit Down and Shut Up, Kill your Anger, where Brad wrote "So I always use to believe anger was something apart from myself, that "I" experience "my" anger. But as my practice depended, it began to dawn on me that this was not the case at all. It wasn't that I could eradicate those things about myself I'd labeled as negative qualities while leaving the good stuff intact, like cutting off the rotten parts of a carrot left in the to long and cooking the rest. The source of anger, hate, fear, and all the rest of it was the same as the source of that collection of ideas and habits I had mistakenly called "me" for most of my life. To end anger once and for all, I had to die completely. Not commit suicide but something much, much more difficult."

But now this poses another question, does anyone ever die completely (in the egoic sense) and does anger really ever end? And should the end of anger be something to STRIVE for in practice?

Lone Wolf said...

Now I think I'm just misinterpreting stuff. Maybe I should be writing Barry and asking him what he means. Just accept anger and allow it to manifest. Ah Headache. I should just drop it and go sit ... or go to bed. It's fucking 5:30 in the morning lol.

Regina said...

Sorry, I have no time to watch the vieo, but your article explains everything: For a Zen Master every word he/she utters is only skillful means to the student.....

Mumon said...

1. The students in Hakuin's time had to be supported by the teacher.

2. You know, I don't feel bad about these Kiss references; we're all getting older.

3. But I agree with your advice; my teacher gets a large measure of his support from outside activities, though I also feel that it would be an imposition not to contribute something, however token, toward the upkeep of his operation.

4. Re: your enlightenment: eh...

Seagal Rinpoche said...

A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.

old blind Po said...

Shit! I've lost my pebble. Seagal?

Anonymous said...

At @1:00 in the vid.. Gudo says something like, "When sympathetic nervous system is stronger, people are usually very sweeter".

Did I hear that right?

john e mumbles said...

Whoop! There it is...

My article on Dzogchen, "Maha Ati: Natural Liberation Through Primordial Awareness" is now @

See what you think. Thanks.

gniz said...

The whole anger thing is an interesting topic to me, a troll in recovery.
I've had anger issues me whole life and definitely gravitated towards meditation in order to deal with it.
But there is a lot of areas where the path of meditation and philosophy of Buddhism can lead to repression rather than acceptance.
I get angry. Everybody gets angry.
On top of that, everyone expresses anger one way or another--even when they think they're stopping it.
It might be the way my jaw tenses up, or my expression becomes flat, or my tone changes.
To a loved one, that sense of a boiling pot with the lid just barely containing the contents is a scary sight.
It's frightening when I or anyone else tries to repress or stop anger in an unhealthy way.
The single best way i've found is to express my hurt feelings that are causing the wimpy as it sounds.
Being a stoic robot just doesn't work for me, and the people I see who try that tactic are usually a lot worse off than they realize.

Letting go of tension and anger is a difficult process. Sometimes sitting and being quiet can help, some people also just naturally are slower to anger and more easily come down from an angry place.

But this is definitely an area where i think a lot of Buddhists end up leaning towards harmful repression of emotions...not on this blog, though. It's more of a treeleaf vibe. Then they come here to explode.

(Sorry couldn't resist taking that shot)

Anonymous said...

"It's more a matter of finally coming to terms with, and maybe even getting comfortable with that something. Not fighting against it all the time."

Great post, Brad. This is the sort of comment that attracted me to your writing years ago.

Joko rocks. Even after practicing a dozen years with a teacher, I don't think I really understood shikantaza before reading her books. I was sitting on a bench in a mall reading Everyday Zen and something just clicked. It was like reading Joko's words made me understand what my own teacher had been saying for years.

Bomber said...

Gniz you dick! I'm going to stage a silent 3 night zazen vigil outside your home until you agree to have tea with me and sign some papers. I've taken various pictures of my red face to prove that my blood pressure has risen dangerously high because of your actions. Gassho.

CAPTCHA : lawsuit : I kid you not

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

Ran K,

Some writers also want people to read their books. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting someone to read what you write, or else why don't you just post your blog comments about Brad to your bedroom wall via a sticky note?

You obviously have an audience in mind here, albeit a smaller one that Brad has in mind when he writes.

That's why there needs to be a balance, because you can't ONLY be concerned about your audience or you stop having anything to say, you're always trying to please everyone. At the same time, you need to keep your audience in mind or nobody reads what you've written.

This is common sense, let's not pretend otherwise.

Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edit [to 8:33 AM] said...

Perhaps I should have written "sound so good" instead of "sound good".

That much is true.

A bit milder.

Anonymous said...

Ran K. said...
- "A good writer has to find a balance between what the audience wants to read and what the writer wants to say". (- "or nobody buys his books".)

The natural way is to just write the best you can.

Sales don't make an any better writer.

Some write for weeds and some write for flowers.

Easy to tell who's gonna sell better.

There may be room for Brad's attitude, but it's practically not the only one, and not the main one.

Lots of assholes wouldn’t even care, - there just after fame and fortune, but they’re not the criteria.

Yakusan had 10 or 20 students, I don't know how many Osho had, - who'd you like to be like?

If you don't care that's fine, but if you claim Osho's way [for example] is better - that would be very difficult. [- to argue]

And if you have to make a living - if you can't make it by art without compromising, - get some other job.

I believe Brad is not compromising, but if he speaks of having to sell his books in this context it doesn’t sound good.

Anonymous said...

... for posterity.

Your analysis is wrong because the people who read Brad's books are not his students.

R said...

Nishijima is laughing from 3:01 to 3:20. (and a bit after that)

Hope you get the joke. (He’d never tell you.)

R still said...

to 9.01, 9.02: - (- I hate getting into arguments around here, I always have to think twice before I post something, - KWIM [? (!)])

You get me wrong.

I’m not relying on anything Brad said.

I'm talking about the value of art.

proulx michel said...

Aaron, I had a talk about anger issues yesterday.
Anger has always been a big part of my dark side. This I inherited, it seems, from my mother's side. My granny was renowned for her fits of anger which always seemed to burst out of nothing.

My experience is not that anger should be repressed. It is that one should come to see where it is perfectly useless.

When I threw a rod on my MotoGuzzi bike, naturally in the middle of nowhere, I knew that, years earlier, I would surely have thrown a fit. But there I was, with the bike having spilled its oil right there, a big hole in the carter and a terrible fright (that the real wheel might have jammed and thrown me down). But I knew for sure that the anger would never cure my problem, and that all I could do is go get some help. Which I did.

Thousands of years before, in a previous life, when i was a tourist guide in Quebec City, in the heat of July, trying to bring a bunch of overweight, uninterested and loud American tourists back to their motel and stuck in a traffic jam, I was giving free reins to my nerves when I kind of heard an inner voice which told me "And does this make you go faster?"

To which I could only answer "No". So I calmed down.

I still get angry, a not uneasy feat for me, but I sure do less frequently. Not that I repress my anger. Just that, a lot of the time, I don't see the point.

Anonymous Bob said...

I agree with Ran.

An artist should not have any conception of being different from his audience. And in reality they are the same. If you are true to yourself, you are being true to your audience. That's not idealism.

When Brad says, "A good writer has to find a balance between what the audience wants to read and what the writer wants to say or nobody buys his books." That is confused dualistic thinking. He isn't talking about making art, he is talking about an attempt at marketing a product.

Because Brad uses the term art when he refers to what he does, he confuses the issue. That type of balance in art is a dishonorable compromise. I like Brad and all but the things he says..

CAPTCHA : andlyin : I kid you not

Lone Wolf said...

To find that one piece of information that will make everything better...another secret practice.

It seems we keep up our secret practices (our ideas of gaining something from practice) one after another until they all crumble apart. Maybe what Nishjima means by solving the philosophical problems is when every single secret practice has been tried and has failed and you finally reach a point when you faced with the ordinary life as it is without trying to escape into some better more enlightened life. Maybe real enlightenment comes when you realize there is no enlightenment to attain.

Oldish Newbies said...


To Gniz who wrote:

"But this is definitely an area where i think a lot of Buddhists end up leaning towards harmful repression of emotions...not on this blog, though. It's more of a treeleaf vibe. Then they come here to explode."

About 18 months ago, before I started sitting regularly and in a more simple and stable way, my wife and I had being going through some very traumatic times, the least of which included having to relocate because drug dealers who lived near us had thought, mistakenly, that we had dobbed them in to the police. We were virtual prisoners in our own home, while most of the local riff-raff targeted our home - smashing windows, burning our car etc.

The aftermath caused damage upon damage psychologically to us both, which persisted after our relocation, in which the only work I could get as a teacher was supply work - being constantly battered each day by overt and covert aggressive behaviours.

I felt like a Russian Doll pressure cooker, with all sorts of grenades ready to go off in my mind that my sleep-walking body was ready to spring into action out of (if you get my drift). There seemed no relief at work or at home, where deeper issues and problems amplified and fed of the mix.

I attempted meditation to help, but it didn't. Sitting just seemed to open up the gates of hell. But I noticed one repulsive seeming thing before I sat did -- for a time. I tried dedicating my sitting practice to all those I had rolling around in my head, the ones I most wanted not to dedicate my practice to. I noticed a temporary dip in the anger and mental torture I was slopping around in.

Nevertheless there were many situations which triggered my anger at home and at work. And so I quit teaching, concerned for my health and that I might explode or say something that would get me struck off etc.

I realised that my attempts do Buddhism, my understanding was insufficient. I thought the best, most honest 'Zen' I could muster was to drop like a stone and kind've hybernate. I always had some feeling that if I got through it, the giving up -- a most awful danger in itself if allowed to continue-- a time would come when I'd be able to start sitting. I was in mammalian survival mode, a ghost of a man.

January say me grunting the last hairy steps up the ladder to that opportunity. Because of the time off work I'm under great financial pressure and am back teaching in some hellish schools, being used as the throwaway plaster by other teachers and the emotional punch bag by students.

This time though, I'm not trying to 'do Buddhism' or be a Buddhist. The way I'm viewing it at the moment is that if and when I'm sitting in a balanced state, whatever that really means, and even then may for only a fleeting moment during the whole concerted dreamy effort, then maybe I'm a Buddhist then - that now and here spot.

The practice is useful in helping me 'suppress' or control anger or other negative emotions - depression or hopelessness - because on these days, I'm working hard around the practice to notice and get some perspective on what's coming up, so that I can 'use' the practice as a kind of sanctuary, a place for itself, in which I trust, more and more to have beneficial effects, even though I might not recognise them at the time. This in tandem with common sense healthy things do do, like eating well and getting some good sleep and exercise - and that old friend - "don't over do it".


Oldish Newbies said...


(to gniz cont...)

It's as though some period of what seems really crappy sitting pops up in some other way, later, to have been instrumental in helping me deal with something. The aim of a for-its-own-sake 'sanctuary' always fails in some way, but that's okay 'cus it was only an aim anyhow - I'm just going to sit everyday and that's that whatever the aim turns out to be, before or after. (Even the odd, small relapse, has proved to be reinforcing to the habit of practice - soft hands n'all).

What this seems to amount to, for both me and my wife (I tend to let it out, she bottle it up, as a rule by the way) is that sitting practice is a kind of root attempt at being both the eye-of-the-storm and the 'room' in which the storm whirls. And that this sincere attempt also helps for other little calm 'eyes' or shoots in open skies or spaces to pop up.

- Because sitting or not sitting, it seems that the crap is going to surface one way or another throughout the day, and if there's some space or room for that crap it can be vented or held in check more safely - it won't fill me up and 'do me' not doing the more balanced way.

I think there's something in this surfacing safely idea - where their is room for beneficial 'suppression' as opposed to a counter-productive and idealistically driven self-repression.

I'm reminded of the story of Thich Nat Han, who had to suck it all up at some meeting in which he got some painful abuse and then looked to his friend, outside after the meeting, like it had really taken it toll. Seems to me that there was a guy who'd got alot of room inside for a whole lot of shit but had managed to keep his cool where thousands of others wouldn't.

I think also that too much is made of the term 'Buddhists'. Surely its mainly a label people can call themselves, having gotten hold of a bunch of interesting or not so interesting ideas to support that sense of identity.

I like to think of a 'Buddhist' as someone who, to steal one of Brad's phrases, is back on track: using Buddhist advice and instruction to get back on the Buddha way so to speak. If I lose my rag or am gorging myself on a curry too quickly to notice it's nearly gone already (hence extra portions please) I'm not a Buddhist. I'm still me either way -- but I'm going to pay for that Tikka later (I can trust that to pop up (or splurt out) one way or another.)

Maybe when folk aren't engaged in a 'balancing' practice like sitting, we're pendulums swinging past the balance line -- and so can often throughout our life realise glimpses of the 'truth' or relief about Life/my and our life that are as valuable as any, before they then empty out into stale ideas that need re-aligning to the present situation - ideas and stuff that maybe are sort of warped too by the nature of swing.

In short, Gniz, I think what 'Buddhists' do or don't do is a kind of red herring -- they'll work it out for themselves if they really want to, and as for those swayed by 'Buddhists' who maybe are involved in some weak pratice or understanding, then maybe that's not different from the way any of us allow ourselves to get swayed.

And so I'm glad for your thoughtful troll-swaying contributions. I suppose if we all chip in it rounds up to the nothing of keep-trying-to earnestly-find-out-for-ourselves ( ie a listen to yourself and also listen to them others function of sorts) for anyone looking for the right way to go about this Zen thing.

Who knows. I just felt like writing stuff.

stillwaterblue said...

On the train ride to work this morning, I ear-marked all the passages in Hard Core Zen that relate to my experiences and learning over the last 6 years. I did this in preparation to loan my copy of the book to a friend who is struggling. I would rather she buy her own copy so that she might never feel she owes me something if it, or the conversation we might have around it, should actually help her (kind of presumptuous of me, but still) and also so that I never enter into the delusion that I in any way control any aspect of her discovery of what she already knows to be true about reality. On a more utilitarian level, it would also be great if Mr. Warner were to receive the compensation he deserves for having assembled his thoughts so clearly and in such an accessible way....

All of this conspires to make the thoughts expressed in this post and in the comments resonate with me on many levels. I am not schooled in Dharma Transmission. I am not qualified to teach myself let alone my friend. But something within compels me to heed this call, to pass along what I have indeed learned through long study, practice, and meditation, to not walk away from this person's dilemma but be patient and resolve to listen well to another sentient being's words. Passing the book to her seems appropriate and the act I would want others to perform for me if I were in a similar situation.

Still, I question if this is the right thing to do. Am I just being vain in assuming there is something I could do that would make a difference in her life? What if I end up doing more harm than good in offering "something to be gained?" (Flower or weed?) Who really is paying for it? What's the currency being accepted and to whom does the check get made out? Many questions. Few answers.

"Pass the book with ear-marks and keep quiet unless she wants to discuss something" is what I keep telling myself.... As a DIYS Buddhist, doubts creep in about whatever steps I take in the world. It would be much easier to defer to "the most enlightened one of all" for the answers. But in reading over these comments, it occurs to me that insomuch as my friend is concerned, it's her that could make the difference. She is the most "enlightened" one of all in her universe, and the one best qualified to take the next step. So it's really not about me. What is this 'me' you speak of and is it absolutely distinct from 'her' or 'you' or 'Brad' or anyone else? She can make her own choices just like anyone else... So though I still have lingering doubts, I'm going to trust to this idea and pass the book, maybe buy a HCZ T-Shirt or something, and wait to see what the universe(s) offer up next. In my own universe, this is the only way I know, and what an act of compassion looks like -- and maybe that is the real value of art?.

I acknowledge that this is not an enlightened understanding at all but simply what I've always known to be true but was too afraid to acknowledge. Nothing to attain. No inverted thought. Emptiness is form and form is emptiness, the final secret practice left behind having accepting that Self too is emptiness.

Perhaps I am a poor student and all this is folly, but I am still a student, and maybe there is a chance I'll get it "right" someday. Maybe. I guess in the end you pays your money and you takes your chances and that's just the way things go. Gratitude is.

Steven said...

From my experience, the Teacher asks for money - often a great deal of it. There there is a demand of "so many sesshins a year". On one hand the rules of engagement are clear. On the other, it is unclear what the boundaries of the relationship are - and how to discuss that is workable. For me teachers message the same about "student demands" when I am just trying to understand how to be a student. In the end, for me it turns into just confusing circular messages.

For example, you mix the book writing and the teaching. You read from your books at sesshins. You write about sesshins in your books. You "broadcast" on this blog and in books about details of practice - but are you teaching at all? Or are you just in the book business? You say it's not the same thing, but how dose that make any sense? Are potential students self centered and demanding for even wanting to understand?

Zazen itself is very clear to me. The whole Teacher thing seems to be full of rules and games. Then Teacher's spend energy criticizing students and one another when they don't "get it".

Buffy Puffball said...

Reposted from another site:

"It is absurd that an ancient religion (or philosophy, depending on your point of view,) that teaches self restraint, balance, moderation, compassion, and acceptance became associated with free love, mind altering drugs, and commercial products such as 'Zen' makeup. Zen is a name of a sect of Buddhism, and it literally means meditation. Would you name a line of makeup or a beverage 'Catholic', or 'Lutheran?'

Buddhist sects almost never quarrel because Buddhists think in terms of practicing as taught by a lineage - you respect your teachers and strive to learn what they teach you. You even name them, generation after generation, century by century, in chants of gratitude. The focus is on practice rather than dogma. The typical Buddhist wouldn't think of quarreling with another's practice - it would be like insulting the other person's grandparents.

Practice and teachings are thought of as a means to an end, quarreling about it would be like claiming that you can get to your destination only one way - as though you claimed that a Volkswagen would work to get you to a destination but that a Subaru wouldn't."

I think I see why at least some soto zen does not seem to fit this view. Maybe it tends to be more sectarian and dogmatic because zazen is not seen as a means to an end but the point of buddhism itself. As in if you aren't doing it my way, you aren't doing authentic buddhism. In this, it has more in common with the Nichiren sects.

ginger said...

I recently began practicing a new approach to anger..the old way was just eating me alive.
If I try to suppress it I end up expressing hostility or I become self indulgent and wallow in it; neither one is pretty.
My new approach is to recognize the anger, accept it as a valid emotion and then ask myself why I'm angry, what can I do about it. If I can do something, I do. If not, then I just accept that I'm angry and it generally dissipates pretty quickly after that.

I think some students who test your master-ness probably need to be reminded that once they think they absolutely know everything and have no doubts, they should probably start over completely.

Anonymous said...

"I think I see why at least some soto zen does not seem to fit this view. Maybe it tends to be more sectarian and dogmatic because zazen is not seen as a means to an end but the point of buddhism itself. As in if you aren't doing it my way, you aren't doing authentic buddhism."

Have you not heard the Tibetans refer to Zen as "Buddhism-lite" and stuff like that?

No particular flavor of Buddhism is more sectarian and dogmatic than any other.

Anonymous said...

Re: student expectations and payment - I teach college, and so run into this a lot; students often tell me that they paid to be in my class, and so it's my responsibility to give them an "A", or to let them decide if they want to come to class or skip (I have a strict attendance policy). I usually say that while the interaction they're thinking of is true in most commercial exchanges, there is another type, exemplified by personal trainers and dentists, that teachers belong to. If you paid a personal trainer and then told him you wanted to spend your sessions sitting on your ass and eating doughnuts, and he said ok, he wouldn't be giving you what you paid for. If you went to the dentist and told him you didn't want your teeth drilled and he sent you on your way with a lollipop and five cavities, he'd be taking your money for nothing. Same deal with any teacher, zen or otherwise.

Buffy Puffball said...

"No particular flavor of Buddhism is more sectarian and dogmatic than any other."

If you mean that all sects have their dogmatists and sectarians, I agree. This was just a general observation, as in Muslims or Southern Baptists tend to be more misogynistic than other sects. It may not be p.c. or nice to say it, but it is true nevertheless.

As to your assertion about buddhist sects, have you made a detailed study of other Buddhist sects in order to form this opinion? Chinese buddhism, including Lin chi chan, tends to be very inclusive. If you've read much Nicherin literature or met many Nicherin or SGI buddhists you would notice they 'tend' to be much more sectarian and dogmatic than most other sects.

Jinzang said...

Have you not heard the Tibetans refer to Zen as "Buddhism-lite" and stuff like that?

Buddhism-lite is the idea that the only important part of Buddhism is sitting practice and everything else is superstition that we're better off without. It's not specifically aimed at Zen. Some Zen Buddhists believe this and others don't. It's more of a traditionalist versus modern thing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
john e mumbles said...

Enlightenment is merely a name indicating what is called the ‘natural condition’, one’s own mind: just this very mind, unaltered, is Dharmakaya. What has never been altered is also what has never been born, and the true ‘unborn’ cannot be sought or realized through effort. -Namkhai Norbu

The above quote is from my article Maha Ati up now over at

Anonymous said...

"Most Westerners come to Dharma without prior belief in rebirth. Many approach the study and practice of Dharma as a method for improving the quality of this lifetime, especially in terms of overcoming psychological and emotional problems. This attitude reduces Dharma to an Asian form of psychotherapy.

I have coined the term Dharma-Litefor this approach to Buddhist Dharma, analogous to "CocaCola-Lite." It is a weakened version, not as strong as "The Real Thing." The traditional approach to Dharma - which includes not only discussion of rebirth, but also the presentation of the hells and the rest of the six realms of existence - I have termed The Real Thing Dharma."

- Alexander Berzin

Anonymous said...

Well said, Brad!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brad, please do not neglect these questions

Did not Nishijima, your teacher, accept decades of financial assistance from a corporation in japan, and was provided with real estate and an office, in turn for which he was not expected to do any actual work for the company. He did provide private lessons to the corporate executives. How is that different? Same about Dogen.

What's more, company employees were under subtle pressure to attend his sesshin. I lead Sesshin at Tokei-in 6 times a year, for my Japanese audience once, for a foreign audience in English once, and for Employees of Ida Companies four times a year.

It is unusual to find employees in any other company in Japan doing Sesshin four times a year, so I think we can assume that there was some expectation in the company.

CAPTCHA - nenurful

Anonymous said...

We're all paying for it particularly when sympathetic and parasympathetic not in balance.

Anonymous said...

Did not Nishijima, your teacher, accept decades of financial assistance from a corporation in japan, and was provided with real estate and an office

Just to clarify my own comment, the real estate I know was not for his personal use, but was for his Zazen dojo in Tokyo which welcomed many foreigners. However, that takes money, and Nishijima needed it from somewhere. The building does not look much, but the rent for such a building was astronomical in tokyo real estate of the time.

Anonymous said...

More clarifying, I know he was on paper director or advisor of the company. However, he joined when he was already almost 70 to 90 years of age, retired from daily corporate work, and was given an office where he did not transact any company business except attend board meeting now and then. He just worked on his translations. I imagine he was expected to vote at the corporate meetings, and I imagine he voted in the way that made his sponsor, Mr. Ida, happy.

Anonymous said...

Nishijima's resume says

1919: Born in Yokohama
1979: Became Advisor of Ida Ryogokudo Co. after retiring from Japan Securities Finance Co.
He was then 60 years old, the retirement time, and continued there until after 90 years old?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and of course, he received salary and many other financial supports from Ida Company for his personal life from aged 60 until after age 90. That is an unusual arrangement for someone of such advanced age to be paid by a corporation for a titular position, and we can assume it was really just a donation by the rich man who owned the company in support of Nishijima's work? So, what is your point about him not accepting money from students? Was not Mr. Ida and employees of Ida company his students?

Anonymous said...

Here is the building, named after Mr. Ida - Ida Ryogokudo Zazen Dojo. It does not look so nice, but was a large company dormitory in a busy part of Tokyo worth much money

Anonymous said...

hen the students pay for the teacher's rent and food they naturally feel they deserve to receive some return on their investment. If the teacher fails to teach them what they want to be taught, the students figure they have a right to complain. Poor service! I'm payin' you for this stuff, buddy!

I mean, I am sure that Nishijima for 30 years did not vote in board meeting or teach anything in way to upset Mr. Ida and risk to be kicked out of the dojo and his downtown Tokyo office in their building. Likewise, Dogen did not teach anything or do anything to piss off the rich man who paid for in his creation of Eiheiji, Hatano Yoshishige, and when Hatano said to do something like spend year in Kamakura, Dogen did what he was told. Somebody has to pay the bills, and they need to be kept happy

Anonymous said...

Dogen Sangha is serious business.

108 the merciless said...

Anon: This is very interesting. I don't think this type of information can be found by surfing the internet. You must be an insider. But I'm wondering.. Why are you afraid to reveal yourself? Surely you have nothing to fear from an elderly man.

Ran K. said...

Merciless, Lots of this stuff isn't true, I don't have the time to comment in full but the Dojo was not in Tokyo, And it is the common thing to take up a partial job after retirement in Japan, a job the company you've worked for before usually finds for you, as I happened to hear in a lecture about exactly-this-stuff-in-Japan about ten years ago, here in Israel.

- Also, when I was in the Dojo Nishijima was only with us on weekends; in between he would travel to Osaka where he was - as I understood - living with his family and working for this cosmetics company. At the time I think he was not a manager. I think he said he was supplying them with market analysis.

I don't think this company supporting the Dojo even knew what he was teaching us.

I'll probably delete this later.

There are other things to say and maybe someone will supply fuller information, or maybe I will if I’m not busy with other things or tired.

btw said...

In Japan - quite wisely, - as I heard in that lecture - management board decisions are not accepted or taken democratically. They are taken unanimously only.

This means the highest man can’t pass a decision as long as one of the lowest disagrees.

But on the other hand it would mean – [!] and anybody who knows Japan would understand that – the lower managers would not easily object.

I do suppose – without regard to the existence of the Dojo, - that Nishijima was not provoking this rule. He wasn’t in the habit of opposing the Japanese culture. This point is quite clear.

Anonymous said...

I don't have the time to comment in full but the Dojo was not in Tokyo (yes, I lived there awhile), And it is the common thing to take up a partial job after retirement in Japan, a job the company you've worked for before usually finds for you, as I happened to hear in a lecture about exactly-this-stuff-in-Japan about ten years ago, here in Israel.

- Also, when I was in the Dojo Nishijima was only with us on weekends; in between he would travel to Osaka where he was - as I understood - living with his family and working for this cosmetics company. At the time I think he was not a manager. I think he said he was supplying them with market analysis.

Well, Ran, technically the Dojo was in Chiba, which is part of greater Tokyo. It was not a cheap location. Nishijima joined the company only after retiring from Japan Securities, a securities company, in 1975. After joining the cosmetics company, I doubt he could tell a lipstick from a compact. He may have been providing some guidance in his early years on financial matters, but by the time he was in his 80's and 90's, it is doubtful that he was providing such guidance on finances. I doubt he was qualified for market analysis. In his office, the times I visited, there was nothing but Buddhist materials, no financial or business documents to be seen.

The cosmetics company was not in Osaka, and neither was his family. He delivered Buddhist lectures there.

This is not to fault Nishijima in any way. The Buddha also was concerned with fundraising in the earliest days of Buddhism. I do not know if Nishijima ever modified his teaching to keep his corporate sponsor, Mr. Ida, happy. But it is simply about Br. Brad's statements like these were not a complete picture if it describes someone who accepted no money in return for providing Buddhist teachings to a company and probably had to keep his wealthy sponsor content in some way for 30 years

Nishijima Roshi lived his life during the time --- his students didn't support him financially?"

Perhaps this is exactly why Nishijima chose to live the lifestyle he did and encouraged others to do the same. When the students pay for the teacher's rent and food they naturally feel they deserve to receive some return on their investment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I mean I lived there awhile. I mistakenly put the statement in Ran's comment. I do not know if or how long Ran lived there.

skimmoni said...

"...but by the time he [Gudo Nishijima] was in his 80's and 90's, it is doubtful that he was providing such guidance on finances.

These recent interesting posts about whether and in what way Gudo was supported financially while he taught Buddhism and translated the Shobogenzo are aiming to establish the facts...So -

Born in 1919, and, I believe, not yet 91, Gudo could not have been doing very much at all "in his 90s". I also believe he retired a few years ago, and the support from the Ida company was withdrawn some years back too. Or have I got that wrong?

skimmoni said...

...whatever, there seems little doubt that, in his later years, and until quite recently, Gudo was supported financially/materially by a wealthy patron, in order to devote his time to translating and teaching.

Is that the same thing as being a professional, "paid" Buddhist teacher? Paid by students or supported by a patron - is there a difference? Did Brad misrepresent the situation? Intentionally or accidentally? Does it matter that much? Maybe not, but it would be helpful if Brad could clarify, I think.

john e mumbles said...

Every experience is Dhamma, is just the way it is. Good and bad is your personal judgement. If you have the right view, you will accept anything that happens just as it is. -Sawdaw U Tejaniya

Uku said...

Here's the answer:

Anonymous said...

How did anyone get the idea that Brad is a Zen "master"? He's a priest, plain and simple. Jeez, just because a guy/girl writes a few amusing books people want to make him/her into a saint or master.

Anonymous said...

Well, Ran, technically the Dojo was in Chiba, which is part of greater Tokyo.

Just wanted to mention that I am the anon who wrote the above, but not the anon who was posting before. I just posted to say that Ran was wrong and the other guy closer to right. Again, nothing wrong in any way with Nishijima Sensei having a wealthy sponsor and performing several retreats for his company every year. Even the Buddha had wealthy sponsors to who he gave teachings. I do not think that the other anon is implying that. I just agree that it is disingenuous to say "Nishijima Sensei did not take money from students". He also accepted money from me when I offered a small donation once, and of course, we all paid for living in the Dojo (what was that? Not a lot, but if I remember, the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars US for rent and board each month). I don't think it so mysterious either, as hundreds of people passed through that dojo and his office over the years.

By the way, I want to stay anon not because I am afraid of Nishijima Sensei, but to avoid the shit thrown around here. I have a life, and I want to keep it out of this.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how teacher would teach when he was supported by students out of an actual experience, or are you just making this up?

My teacher didn't work, I suppose students in some form supported her and yet her attitude was: "I sit here, I will sit here with or without you. You want to come join me? Fine. You don't? Fine."

Anonymous Bob said...

Uku, I'm loving the new picture. Very cool.

CAPTCHA : vanillaice: I kid you not

Warrior Two said...

By the way, I want to stay anon not because I am afraid of Nishijima Sensei, but to avoid the shit thrown around here. I have a life, and I want to keep it out of this.

Funny, it seems you've devoted quite a lot of time to something you want to keep your life out of.

dodingli (not "anon") said...

I think you misunderstand, Warrior Two.

Anon who spent time living in Nishijima's dojo doesn't want to share his or her real ID with some of the axe-grinding trolls who hang around this blog, whose only purpose is to stir things up with Brad, Gudo, and the whole Dogen Sangha enterprise.

That's my guess. That's the kind of "shit thrown around here" that anon wants to keep out of. His/her choice, I'd say.

Brad Warner said...

Nobody saw that I wrote "I'm not saying a Zen teacher who is financially supported by students cannot do this. It can and does happen. Often. But it's much more difficult, I think. Or at least it would be for me," did they? Or was that really so unclear?

FYI, my understanding of Nishijima's job at Ida was that he was a consultant. Lots of companies hire consultants. And lots of times the consultant's job seems to be mainly just to hang out and comment on things. Nishijima went to Ida 5 days a week and kept regular hours. It was a job. He also had a background at the ministry of finance, by the way.

Furthermore, he did not own that dojo. Ida took it back about 5 years ago. Now he lives in a lousy apartment with a train station behind it.

My point, though, as stated above, was that I was talking about me. I couldn't do it. And by that I do not mean I'd be tempted to run $50,000 instant enlightenment seminars. I mean that the demands made by students who paid my life expenses would get so annoying I'd probably last about a week. Then I'd be back in Tokyo at a nice 9-5 desk job selling monster movies.

And just FYI, I do take donations at retreats. It ain't enough to live on by a long shot. But it helps supplement the lousy income I get from writing books. This, I have also said before.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying, Brad.

IMHO, your clarification would have been better without the added layer of tetchy, exasperated snarkiness. Not everyone who sought clarification is an idiot who can't read. But that's your 'style', I guess...on the internet.

john e mumbles said...

IDRC, but it IS interesting how after awhile here you can tell the "Anonymous's" who are really regulars that are "Anonymous's" under other Anonymous guises.

Layers and layers of deception, possibly to "avoid the shit thrown round here" once even an "Anonymous" identity is established-but why? Are egos so fragile that hiding behind two Anonymous tags feels like its alright to speak your piece?
Don't want Brad & crew to know because you're in Dogen Sangha and don't wanna be the stick stirring the fire that gets burned by it, too?

Guess who said...

There's a third possibilty, john e - that "regulars" form opinions about other "regulars", and so any opinion expressed by a regular is read in light of the baggage the other regular associates with that regular (trolls v drones, remember ;)

Sometimes it seems more appropriate to let the comment stand without "Well so-and-so would say that, wouldn't they" getting in the way.

Anonymous said...

Can you be "in" Dogen Sangha? Is there a way to join? I didn't think it was that kind of thing.

john e mumbles said...

I never post as anyone other than who I am, and although I use my old "punk rock" name here (and elsewhere) it is easy enough to find out my "true" identity -and I want you to, for various samsaric/ nirvanic reasons.

This is Brad's blog. Brad can't escape Brad, although he is free to be "Anonymous" as well, but he posts as "Brad Warner Zen dude, author, musician."

I have baggage, he has baggage, we all have baggage. I live pretty much in the moment, so I don't consider what history I bring to a "new" comment, but here you make a good point, because that is a personal assumption and there are obviously things I've said here that form an opinion of me in people's minds.

I guess I also assume that anyone has the option of changing their opinion, since opinions are formed by thoughts and are transient and not "you" anyway.

Who are you? Who am I? Not a name, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"There's nothing wrong with snarkiness. A teacher must adapt himself to the student and use language that he or she will understand."

Well sure....Maybe. But that's assuming the teacher knows the individual student - and is not writing to a whole bunch of unknowns on the internet.

gniz said...

It's amazing how much controversy there is about identity on the internet. Anonymous blog comments here are continually met with scorn or an assumption that being anonymous is tantamount to cowardice.

Sometimes it is, but it definitely depends on the anon.

I don't think of myself as anonymous. Although nobody here knows my real life ID, I've been around for years and there's been a great deal of details about my life and beliefs out here on the net, so people do kind of know who they're dealing with when they see my ID.

I don't ever hide under a completely anon ID just to fool people or say meaner things than I normally do. But I understand some folks do it as a way to mess with others' preconceived notions, to say things without bringing their baggage into it, or maybe to let loose some steam even.

I find it all pretty fascinating and I'm glad anons are allowed.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"So by your logic one can never assume anything about a person when they post anonymous sarcastic comments on the internet..."

What sarcastic comments? There were a few comments about Nishijima's dojo and the Ida company - two sets from people who actually lived there, and a couple from someone merely clarifying and asking for clarification.

"The truth is if you feel belittled or insulted by what a teacher says or what anyone says, then you probably deserve it. And there's really no one to blame but yourself. Oh boo hoo, Brad's being snarky on the internet. Keep crying. See where it gets you."

Are you getting upset, Rinz? Why? Are you one of the "belittleed" anons. No, I don't think so. Chill, buddy :)

As it happens, I, a seeker after clarification, wasn't at all "belittled" by the way Brad responded. My thoughts at the time were: "That's a shame. Brad has made assumptions about the folks seeking clarification - that they're foolish, trolling, or - as you did - that they're being sarcastic. That's certainly not my motivation, and I didn't read that as the motivation of at least two other enquirers. Brad's missed the target. People, other than me, may think poorly of him. That's a shame." That's all I thought at the time.

gniz - Just so, bro.

john e mumbles said...

Identity formed by personality and opinions based on a lifetime of reactivity between the poles of "pleasure" and "pain" transcends a "name" then, Gniz?

You are always you no matter what you call yourself, because while objectifying experience one often forgets that the primary object is also the subject: yourself.

So while playing shell games (and I think that is the nature of the beast) the always changing concept of who you are dissolves or solidifies long enough for the illusion of "Self" to appear momentarily and then fade again.

A snapshot of someone suddenly appears in your mind's eye. It is an ideal "you" that has never existed.

anon #108 said...

What are we like, eh??!

I dunno.

BBC1 are now showing "Stones in Exile", the documentary by Dominique Tarle of the making of "Exile on Main Street." And what lovely record it was.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anon #108 said...

"Stones in Exile" -

Stephen Kijak put the documentary together, Dominique Tarle took the stills at Villa Nellcote, Keef's mansion in the south of France, in 1971, which feature in the film.

Do you like the Stones, Rinz? I'm very fond of their earlier work. What's your favourite group?

john e mumbles said...

Thanks alot Malcolm (108).

I've been looking for my cd copy of Exile on Main Street for awhile now.

Trouble is, I'm not really sure if I even own a copy...I Think I bought one quite awhile ago, but I used to have a policy that if I owned the vinyl, I had no business buying the same thing on cd, so.. ...Shit, I even had the 8 track tape of Exile back in the day.

But anyway, rock on you hater. Smirking over the broadcast of the documentary as if "oh sorry Yanks, do you like the Stones?? Guess what's on telly. gloat snicker, snark snark" FTS ;)

anon #108 said...


Full Tank Shot (aquarium hobbyist photos) ?
Fixing To Start ?
Forget This/That Stuff (polite form)?
Friendship Through Sports ?
Fight the System ?
Free Trade Syndicate (gaming alliance) ?
Full Time Student ?
Forget the System (polite form) ??
Federal Telephone System ?
Financial Tracking System ?
Federal Customs Service (Russian) ?
Freedom Team Salute (US Army recognition program) ?
Fast Tool Servo (system) ?
Foreign Trade Statistics ?
Facteur Thymique Sérique (Serum Thymic Factor) ?
File Tracking System ?.....

Right on, John e!
Friendhip Through Sports!

john e mumbles said...

Fuck That Shit, you wanker.

OK, Friendship Through Sports is a keeper LMFAO!

What are you doing on here anyway, thought your PROGRAM was on?!

Harry said...

Any chance of a fast tool servo?

anon #108 said...

Nah...only on for an hour, John. Long gone.

I think you're all very mean :(

Oh, Hi Harry. Aren't they mean?

john e mumbles said...

Me and Rinzai keepin' it REAL, yo.

We MEAN it, Man....

But I love everybody, seriously, ILFWY.

Jinzang said...


(I Love Every Fucking One Of You)

anon #108 said...

We all keeping it REAL, jem - the only way we know how.
We all MEAN it, man, ya dig?


john e mumbles said...

It doesn't get any realer in my book than some CB, Malcolm. Thanks for THAT!

"Earth people, there's a limited supply
we're down to the dozens and here's the reason why:
Big eyed beans from Venus
Don't ever let anything come between us"

So do tell, how was the RS doc? I can't believe they went back in and recorded present-day vocals on some of those unreleased old tracks. Why? That's gotta suck(?)...last time I saw Keef "sing" well, yeah.

anon #108 said...

The doc was a bit of a mish-mash, John. A lot of intro/scene-setting, then stills interspersed with just a little (8mm?) footage of the recording and hanging out, plus lots of voiced-over interviews with the elderly Stones, incl Jimmy Miller and Bobby Keys...and Anita Pallenberg, o'course. So not much movie film of the actual goings on at the Villa Nellcote: Let it be, it ain't. But with what they had to work with, it has its moments...

I heard a snatch of one of the 'extra tracks' with new Mick vocals on the radio the other day. Why, oh why, indeed? But he never liked the album, did he? Man's got no taste. Pfft.

anon #108 said...

BTW, a good friend of mine, John Perry (The Only Ones - did you get them over there; I know they toured US?), wrote a book in the Schirmer "Classic Rock Albums" series called...."Exile on Main Street". I don't know if it's still in print. Not a great book, but some useful stuff in it, incl interviews with...Anita Pallenbeg.

I recorded in/with/via the Stones mobile studio once (with the Yes support band). Supposed to be a Xmas single. It wasn't and didn't.

john e mumbles said...

Holy Fucking Shit. The Only Ones are one of my FAVORITE bands of all time. I think PP is a genius, and the whole band was magic. "Another Girl, Another Planet" is a tattoo on my heart...

Wha? Anita Pallenberg is... still...alive...? YIKES! But she Was hot in Performance, eh?

anon #108 said...

A little anecdotal trivia? JP used to pull my ex-wife's pigtails on the bus on their way to school in Bristol (I was later to learn)...He showed up again in 1976 and played with me in a dive in Copenhagen for a while. Our paths crossed frequently throughout the 80's and 90's, while we were both misbehaving, substance-wise. A very funny, intelligent guy. Until recently, was still umpiring cricket matches in the park behind my house. Last saw him a couple of years ago - just before the "Perret's out of bed!!" relaunch.

AP HOT? That she was, John.
That's an appropriate thought to take to bed. It's gone half-past-three in the bleedin am!

Catch u l8r, m8!

Troy Troi said...

Thailand kind of sucks right now. Someone should've warned me. No rough Thai sex for this dude this week. I had to settle for a lap dance from some old drunk chick at IHOP. Don't tell Jundo...please!

So, did we decide if Ven. Nishijima roshi has gotten rich and famous selling out to big corporate interests? Will it conflict with my zen practice if I get a job at Goldman Sachs? Or is it ok to only fuck people literally but not financially?

And always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...


Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ran K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
btw (- 101) said...

A. There's only one band I can think of as “psychedelia filtered through punk”. (though I don't know many any more)

B. 108 mentioned the stones. Know why John Lennon was always referring to the Beatles as the “Rolling Stones”?

I wanted to refer to this earlier.

[Perhaps some time I will.]

Anonymous said...

that doesn't do the Furs justice, they were a much better band than that

Anonymous said...

Who is the most enlightened one of all?

That's an easy one;

JUNDO, of course!

"Buddha is a crack whore ... and the "Pure Land" is an oil spill covered beach."

Jinzang said...

Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye - Beatles

Yoko said...

"Yellow matter custard, green slop pie, all mixed together with a dead dog's eye.
Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick, then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick."

Lennon explained the origins of this song in his 1980 Playboy interview: "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko.

Eric Burdon (of Animals and War fame) stated in his biography that he is the Egg Man.

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together"

Anonymous said...

Who is the most enlightened one of all?

That's an easy one;

JUNDO, of course!

"Buddha is a crack whore ... and the "Pure Land" is an oil spill covered beach."

And now they are doing online ordinations over there. Didn't Brad post something about ordination by paypal years ago?

We hope that you will join us in wishing Shohei, Hans and Fugen well in their start on this long undertaking. What is more, we hope that they will be merely the first among other folks to follow in the years to come. We anticipate that the formal ceremony of “Shukke Tokudo” will occur late in the summer. As in all we undertake in our Sangha, the ceremony will not be limited to a specific location, much as our annual Jukai here at Treeleaf … and we hope that you will all join us for the ceremony when the time comes.


Seagal Rinpoche said...

Just as if you put your finger into water, it will get wet, and if you put it into fire, it will burn, so if you invest your mind in the wisdom mind of the Buddhas, it will transform into their wisdom nature.

Anonymous said...

it is good to explore these statements
I was under the impression that Nishijima Roshi was being supported by the company he was a consultant for.
Consultant positions are ways in which people are paid for services which don't characteristically involve showing up to grind the standard 9 2 5
Consultant positions are sweet
some are juicy
they are usually plum positions
there is nothing 'wrong' with Nishijima going to the office daily to work on his translations.
Call it what you want
but it is not a 'job' in the sense that most of us work one

it is a job in the sense that Nishijima dedicated time and effort in his research/translations and certainly those who assisted him in his translations worked--I hope they got reimbursed for their time and efforts.

Was thinking about a couple of my teachers--
and who/what supported them

one was supported by his non-wife and when they no longer lived together and went their separate ways his lover/girlfriend supported him.
Without each of these women, there would have been no zendo,

zendos do not exist in a vacuum

to keep one going is quite an enterprise, even a simple little space where folks meet weekly
certainly a place where people can show up daily or show up multiple times a day to sit is quite the full time employment; a zen center? now there's a quandry of a koan how to keep afloat?
how to take people to the other shore without running aground?
yet how can someone drop by and find out what this zen meditation stuff is all about if there weren't someones out there contributing in whatever way they have to contribute to make it possible for the person who is seeking, for the person who doesn't know they are seeking, for the finder who's a keeper, 'cause he's a rare bird who's not a seeker..

If it weren't for Mr. Ida, Brad wouldn't be where he is now doing what he is doing so
Thanks to all sponsors, corporate and otherwise!

Anonymous said...

thanks too:

non, wives
lovers and others

where would we students of zen be without you

Anonymous said...

as for 'paying for it'

you don't get what you pay for
because there is nothing to get and no amount of money can buy it

you also don't get it if you aren't adult enough to know the care and feeding of those things important to you


Hans said...

You guys are incredible. Yes, there are those of us being ordained in the exact same lineage as, gulp, Brad Warner. Yes, we are all going to be part of the same "family." Yes, Brad will certainly welcome us with open arms as true dharma heirs.

What is the big deal and why would anyone here care?

anon #108 said...
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anon #108 said...

You guys are incredible.

To be fair, Hans, that was one guy....maybe two.

People can have opinions about internet sanghas without being paid-up Brad-ists or Jundo-ites.

It's clear from the comments on this blog that those who choose to post here are not all Brad fans, Soto Zennies, or even "Buddhists"; debates about all things - including internet sanghas - regularly reveal all shades of opinion.

The last heated debate here (re the affidavit - in which Brad took almost no part) ended with B and J in conciliatory mood. Wouldn't it be a good idea to avoid perpetuating the 'Brad(ists) versus Jundo(ites)' story?

Blake said...
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john e mumbles said...

Hans: welcome to zen wrapped in bullshit dipped in boiling angry bullshit dissected infinitely over the hot coals of multi-leveled Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed hells.

Ran said...

- SR @ 8:28 PM:

1st: - I think it should be "natural wisdom". - There is no such thing as "wisdom nature".

2nd: - If anybody said anything like that, I would ask - "How?".

Jinzang said...

If anybody said anything like that, I would ask - "How?"

It's as plain as the nose on your face.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Handle even a single leaf of green in such a way that it manifests the body of the Buddha. This in turn allows the Buddha to manifest through the leaf.

First said...


Is this a joke?

How tall are these guys you're doing this for, Jundo? What feelings do you get in their presence?

What's that, you've never seen them in real life?

Harry said...

I feel the Shitstir-o-meter(TM) gearing up to go off the scale on this little pickle.




Troy said...

What would Dogen do?
How did he feel about CyberDharmaTransmission?

Uku said...


Dôgen is dead, you're alive. What would you do?

Anonymous said...
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john e mumbles said...

As Philip K. Dick put it so succinctly "What is 'Human' anyway?"

Is "human" other than a receptive device accumulating data via whatever channels are available?

Then whether the delivery system is cyber space or suppository, what dif?

Oh my TVC15, oh oh TVC15

anon #108 said...


But Shukke Tokudo, ordination as a monk, the second of four stages of training in the japanese Soto-shu, of which Shiho, Dharma Transmission, is the fourth.

Just sayin.
Carry on.

A few more words from R. [-] said...
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A few more words from R. [still] said...
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anon #108 said...
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Anonymous said...
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anon #108 said...

...FWIW, Jundo has met Hans, who visited Treeleaf in RL.

Captcha = budianta. That's 'The End of Reason', in pig Sanskrit.

Anonymous said...


Then why is our friend Hans up there proclaiming that "Brad will certainly welcome us with open arms as true dharma heirs"? I think Hans might be mistaken as to what he's getting into. That, or we got us an imp here.

Master Seagal, if you could chime in on this vexing conundrum and clarify matters a bit.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye.

We call that "Gnat Butter" down south.

As for the Rolling Stones doc, get a hold of "Cocksucker Blues". A great unreleased doc from the same time period. You'll probably find it on the net for download or at an indie record store selling boots.

anon #108 said...

Then why is our friend Hans up there proclaiming that "Brad will certainly welcome us with open arms as true dharma heirs"?

A good question, 3.21pm. When I first read it, and hearing it as a sarcastic comment, I didn't think too much about it. I guess Hans hopes to be a dharma-heir one day - and nothing wrong with that, after he's completed the necessary steps of training.

Anonymous said...

Anons et al.

Go over to and read the published notes. There is a lot of real face-time required in the physical world and the trainees will be expected to go and do monastic time.

Taigu's been around the block a few times and so's Jundo. Real and Virtual both have limits.

Here we have a bunch of anonymice in a virtual realm arguing that only the real realm counts. Do you get irony.

Treeleaf is an open space so you can go read how the treeleafers are kicking off about it as well.

If the trainnes cannot survive in the real world they will be useless to everyone.

Jundo's comments are "Let's give it 10 years and see how it works out". That might be a little hasty but it's a start.

But it's all slightly off-topic.

Maybe it will work. Maybe not.

Read the 33 page guidance notes for wannabe priests including the "5 year buddhist practice minimum" for entry for instance.

Jundo and Taigu are going to take a lot of shit from their peers for doing this. Anonymice squeaking doesn't count.

I don't think it's been done before and it might fail or it might not. Either way we learn something.

Unless the rookies can hold their own ITRW they will fail anyway. Practice is real or it is absent even if it's expressed in the virtual sometimes.

anon #108 said...

(My use of the word 'training' is a little sarcastic - I'm not sure what real value it has...I'm not saying it has none; I'm saying I'm not sure. But that's the way most religious organisations produce preists/clergy. At least it satisfies those who insist on formal 'qualifications' from their teachers and spiritual guides.

In the olden days, a nod or a wink sufficed).

Anonymous said...

Anonymouse writes:

Jundo and Taigu are going to take a lot of shit from their peers for doing this. Anonymice squeaking doesn't count.


"Anonymice" you and they may be, but there is a real someone, somewhere, really writing that stuff, in the real world. Why doesn't your opinion - or theirs - count? I don't get it.

Malcolm (#108)

john e mumbles said...

Rinzai: Let's say you are eating at....oh, McDonalds, the menu may very well have more food value that the meal.

Or you are a sap-sucking treebird who suddenly discovers the leaves are tastier?

Nature itself is a book of symbols, how is that other than a virtual "symbol"? Its all the same thing.

Captcha: resem (ble anything?)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonymice is about as clever as feminazis. Way to go.

anon #108 said...

Earlier, I wrote:

Captcha = budianta. That's 'The End of Reason', in pig Sanskrit.

I'm sorry; that's not right.

'Budianta' is dog Sanskrit, not pig. Dog Sanskrit is very different to the Sanskrit and Latin spoken by pigs, who prefer to transpose the initial consonant of a word to the end, and affix an "ay". Pigs are smart, but dogs are funnier.

Jinzang said...

buddhi = intellect

antar = between (as in antarabhava)

Your dog needs to be schooled in Sanskrit.

anon #108 said...

Buddhi - the power of forming and retaining conceptions and general notions, intelligence, reason, intellect, mind, discernment, judgement... (Monier-Williams Dictionary)

..and lots of other related notions, Jinz. As you must know, there's very rarely one English word that adequately translates any Sanskrit word.

And I think you're confusing anta with antara


anon #108 said...

...and there's very rarely a word that adequately describes anything. Not so?

Captcha = lessens.
Fancy that!

Wink and Nod said...

108 said

In the olden days, a nod or a wink sufficed).

Old wives tale. Started by people trying to present a special mystique to Chan, but who were actually pretty conservative and traditional in their lives as Buddhist priests and in the ritual and training they used to pass the line down from generation to generation.

In the previous issue, we witnessed how the prevailing image of Ch'an as "a special transmission outside the scriptures" was not the dominant understanding of Ch'an during the T'ang period, contrary to the way the Ch'an and Zen tradition is typically represented in contemporary writings. Instead, we saw how the phrase "a special transmission outside the scriptures" was a post-T'ang innovation, and that the most representative view of Ch'an, the officially recognized interpretation of the Fa-yen lineage in the Wu-yüeh region, was of Ch'an teaching as "a special transmission within the scriptures," the exact opposite of the typical image most people have today. This issue traces the way in which monks associated with the Lin-chi lineage, along with the highly placed officials who supported them, successfully argued for official recognition of Ch'an as "a special transmission outside the scriptures" at the Sung court with the compilation of innovative "transmission records" that served to substantiate Ch'an claims to uniqueness against the wider background of the Chinese Buddhist tradition.

A few more words from R. [-] said...

I’ve written the dojo was not in Tokyo.

4.55 [AM] says “Well, Ran, technically the Dojo was in Chiba, which is part of greater Tokyo”.

The Dojo was in Ichikawa city, which is in Chiba prefecture. That is - it is not even in Tokyo prefecture.

technically” - Doesn’t have any meaning - as far as I can see.

6.37 [PM] says “but was … in a busy part of Tokyo”.

I find it hard to find any truth in that, but perhaps I miss something.

At the time I was in the Dojo [‘96] I don’t think the building which can be seen in the background existed at all, but I certainly could be wrong about that.

Anyway – it definitely was not a business area or anything like that.

(I have no idea how much neighboring apartments might have been.)

Next: - “accept decades of financial assistance from a corporation in japan, and was provided with real estate”: - As I understand it, - neither the structure nor any possible support was for Nishijima.

As I understood - it is a common thing, - or at least normal, - for a company to support spiritual activity as an act of charity. I heard that from a Dharma friend who was trying to find such support - I am not even sure what for exactly - in Japan. Nishijima having worked for the company - it may have been natural for them to support his project. It may be that otherwise Mr. Ida would have supported another one.

As for “company employees were under subtle pressure to attend his sesshin”.

I do believe the picture is wrong here too. Though I do doubt the subtlety of the “pressure”.

When I was in Sogen-ji, I recall there were a group of Bank employees, or something of the sort, who would appear once a month, or I don’t remember how frequent, men with a suit and a tie and woman wearing high heel shoes, and pick up bamboo hokis [brooms, J.] and help us with the cleaning, or as one put it - “pretend to be doing something”.
When someone asked why do they come here and do that – the answer was: - “Because their boss tells them to”.
It was not a pressure, it was an order.
I can hardly see Shodo Roshi had any interest in that, the bank manager must have thought it was a good idea. Probably a devoted Buddhist. Maybe a stupid one. Maybe not.

At the time I was in Ryutaku-ji [Rinzai sodo] for one of the seshins there appeared a group who seem to have been sent by their boss. My Japanese was hardly sufficient to tell what was going on, but this was obviously the case. One of them seemed to be quite suffering. Seiza or sitting in a chair would not be thinkable, same of the Burmese posture, [else than perhaps if the Roshi would consent for some special case, but I don’t think there ever was one] and the guy seemed to be in pain. Quite obviously – their boss just thought he would be doing a good deed by forcing them to participate in that seshin, and he never went to the trouble of asking their opinion.
The Roshi would sure need to give his consent for their participation, - but I could never imagine he asked for it.

As for Nishijima’s company - I might guess it was a similar situation. Mr. Ida must have thought he would be doing a good thing by making his employees participate in the seshins, - I doubt whether they weren’t forced - [though I never participated in any of these seshins] and I doubt whether they had any interest in the Buddha Dharma.
Of course Ida was in no way doing Nishijima a favor by that, and I doubt whether Nishijima was interested in it in the first place.

(As for being provided with an office - one might need one if he’s working for the company. Nothing unusual about that.)

I think Brad clarified his work was real.

A few more words from R. [still] said...

I made a few notes, [btw, 12:59 am] and I would like to make a few more:

In Japan one does not get a pension.

On retirement one gets a onetime amount which was sufficient for the years he was supposed to have remaining.

However - people began to live longer, and so that sum was no longer sufficient.

So - the solution found - was - that – one gets a partial job after retirement.

As I understood – the company you’ve worked for before usually finds it for you, with one of its satellite [I don’t know what that is] companies.

So Nishijima’s case is just the normal. [Else than for the fact he’s been a monk for four years or so, after retirement, and before getting his new job.]

Seems to me quite clear from the situation I described that the company had no influence on the teaching.

Also - “and of course, we all paid for living in the Dojo (what was that? Not a lot, but if I remember, the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars US for rent and board each month)”. [4:36 PM] As far as I remember it was basically just for the food. The money was put in some box and we were using it for the expanses. There was no need to pay a rent since it was a building the company supplied. That point had already been clear.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 3:51

"Jundo and Taigu have been around the block a few times"

I have too, parking is a bitch in this neighborhood


P.S. said...

Retirement age in Japan was 55 until about 10 years ago.

I don't know if it might have changed since.

Hans Christian Stucken said...

Hi guys, I usually don't post here very often, but since my name was mentioned in one of the posts, I would like to point out that the HANS at Treeleaf (whoi happens to be me) and the person calling himself HANS here in the forum (strange timing for him to appear) are NOT the same person.

Thanks and Gassho,


anon #108 said...

Thanks 'wink and nod' for the info.

But I was thinking more of G.Buddha and Mahakashyapa - the flower/smile/"you have the true dharma eye" thing. Quite possibly an old wives tale too, but it makes the point well, I think.

anon #108 said...

Hi Hans C Stucken,

So 'Hans' wasn't you?
An admirer protesting on your behalf? ...It happens.

All the best, Hans.

Anonymous said...

I do respect those cranky buddhist masters who usually say that the best offering for them is to go and do the practice they just have taught, or save the lives of animals (from butchers and such). And if you do give them money, they just give it all away to charities.

Having said that, it's quite rare to meet one those guys and there's also some expences you have to take care of. Like rent, food, etc..

- Raitanator