Saturday, May 15, 2010

Zen Master? ...Moi?

Apparently some Polish Zen chatroom has been all abuzz with questions of my legitimacy as a Zen teacher. The matter also came up on the comments section of this blog, so I thought I’d try to explain. I’ve gone through this a few times before and it’s never satisfied everyone. But then again you got the “birthers” in the US for whom no amount of evidence of any kind will suffice to prove that President Obama was born in the USA and is not a Muslim. In any case, here’s the deal on my qualifications.

When I established my first Zen website in August of 2001 the hook-line I used on the initial page was “I am a Zen Master.” This was supposed to be funny because it appeared beside a photograph of me dressed in the costume of Alien Benzen from the film Ultraman Zearth aka Urutoramann Zeasu (Tsuburaya Productions, 1996)(see photo at the top of this article). My intention was to try and deflate some of the pomposity surrounding so-called “Zen masters.” I had achieved the same exalted status as all these guys with their pretty robes and their fancy titles and yet I was a total moron.

A lot of people took it far too seriously. I think some of this was because in them days there were people who still switched off image loading on their computers to make web pages work faster, so they didn’t see the photo. Others just didn’t seem to get the obvious ridiculousness. They got mad that I would dare call myself a “Zen master.” Ah well. I agree with what Kobun Chino would say any time someone called him a Zen master; “Nobody masters Zen!” Whenever I have used the term “Zen master” for myself it has been with the intention of being ironic.

The guys in Poland who were worried about the legitimacy of my so-called Zen master credentials apparently didn’t read the things I’ve written very closely and/or are not familiar with the difference between Soto and Soto-shu, since their beef seems to have been about whether I had completed the proper training course required for the title. To put it more diplomatically, perhaps I failed to spell this kind of stuff out clearly. So I’m going to attempt to do that now.

Soto and Soto-shu:
Soto-shu is a monstrous bureaucratic institution formed along the lines of the Catholic church. One of the things they do is certify Zen teachers in the Soto tradition.

Soto (without the shu), on the other hand, is the common name for the lineage that Master Dogen brought to Japan from China in 1228 (some say 1227) after he received dharma transmission from Master Tendo Nyojo in China. But Soto-shu, the organization, does not own a monopoly on Soto the way the Catholic Church is the only form of Catholicism. You can be a teacher within the Soto tradition without being certified by the Soto-shu. I am not certified as a teacher by the Soto-shu, although I am registered with them as a monk. We’ll get to that. Don’t worry.

Becoming a Zen Master:
The process for becoming a certified “Zen master” (for want of a better term) in Soto-shu usually involves completing a specific training curriculum involving time spent in a monastery doing zazen and learning how to run funeral ceremonies. It’s something like the Catholic seminary.

But it doesn’t always work this way. In fact most Western teachers certified by Soto-shu have not followed this curriculum, and neither have a great number of Japanese teachers. When I asked Taijun Saito, a friend of mine who is certified as a “Zen master” in Soto-shu, how I could get certified, she explained the process.

Since I had a Soto-shu certified Zen master (Gudo Nishijima) who would vouch for my training, I could forego the monastery time and would just need to complete three ceremonies. The first was a precepts ceremony through an official Soto-shu temple, which would confirm me as a Soto-shu monk. This I did. The second was a question and answer test of my understanding. This, Taijun said, is highly formalized. The questions and answers are set and I would only need to memorize my responses as well as the various dance steps involved in the ceremony. Finally I would need to do a ritual in which I was symbolically installed as abbot for the day of Eiheiji or Sojiji, the Soto-shu’s two main temples. All of this, she said, would take a few months to complete and would cost me a “donation” to Soto-shu amounting to around $2000-$3000. Oh, and there were special clothes to buy as well, another $1000 or so.

At that point I decided to drop the whole plan. I just wasn’t interested enough to put in the required time, effort and cash. It wasn’t at all related to the things I got involved in Buddhism for. In fact it seemed to me to be the very antithesis of what I was interested in.

The Traditional Ceremony:
By the time I’d asked Taijun about this, I had already gone through a dharma transmission ceremony with Gudo Nishijima. That ceremony occurred April 28, 2001 and is described in Hardcore Zen. One detail I always felt bad about leaving out of the book was that my friend Peter Rocca took the ceremony with me (see photo below -- that's Taijun adjusting my robe). I wrote a different draft of that chapter in which Peter was mentioned. But my editor and I thought that introducing a new person into the narrative at the point in which the ceremony occurs was a little like adding a new character to a novel. The reader would want to know more of his story and that seemed to be beside the point of the story we were telling.

Anyhow, Nishijima is very much a traditionalist about how these things are done, much more so than the Soto-shu. He goes strictly by what Dogen wrote about dharma transmission and performs the ceremony according to those instructions. And Dogen says nothing about registering with the Soto-shu. The Soto-shu itself was not established by Dogen but came into existence long after his death. It’s pretty evident from his writing that Dogen would not have been a supporter of the contemporary Soto-shu. Nishijima calls them a “guild of funeral directors” and this seems a reasonable assessment to me.

Nishijima is not the only Soto-shu teacher to buck the system as far as dharma transmission is concerned. Kobun Chino, whose brother was a high mucky-muck in the Soto-shu, was also famous for giving transmission in what Soto-shu would surely consider unorthodox ways and for failing to register his transmitees with the organization. And there are several others who disagree with Soto-shu and do not do things their way.

Why Register in Japan?
This whole registration with Soto-shu stuff has been an issue within Soto Zen Buddhism outside Japan for a long time. It’s considered perfectly legitimate, even in Japan, for a Soto-shu teacher to grant dharma transmissions in any way he or she sees fit without registering them with the organization. Given this, is there any good reason any non-Japanese dharma heir of a Japanese teacher ought to register with Soto-shu of Japan?

If you ask me, the answer is no. But many choose to register anyhow. Some see registering with Soto-shu as a way of making their status more legitimate. Others do it for the experience. They feel that they establish more of a connection to the lineage by doing the ceremonies. Some do it for the prestige involved. But many, like me, are just not interested in that stuff.

And when it comes to the non-Japanese heirs of non-Japanese teachers, is there any reason at all to register with a Japanese organization? None that I can see.

Towards a Western Version of Soto-shu:
These days there are a few organizations in the West who would like to provide the kind of certification to Zen teachers that the Soto-shu does in Japan. Like the Catholic Church, such an organization would in effect take responsibility for the teachers it registers. That way you could know if the Zen master you met in, let’s say, Dandelion Springs, Nebraska was OK’d by them by checking the organization’s website or whatever.

Such an organization would check each registeree’s pedigree and make sure all their ducks were in order. If a registered teacher later got out of line, the organization would be able to cross him off their list. Or they could try to reform him, I suppose. The organization could also make it difficult for teachers with forged credentials or guys like “Zen Master Rama,” who received his transmission in a dream, to operate.

The problem with this is that such an organization would need to decide what it considers the minimum qualifications for a teacher. And there would be teachers who are perfectly legit whose dharma transmissions do not measure up to the standards of the organization -- like me, for example, and like many of Kobun Chino’s heirs, and a number of others in different lineages. These teachers would then be seen as less legit unless they went to the organization and did whatever the organization required of them. Do you see where this is going? Good. Enough said.

What To Do:
I don’t have the solution to this dilemma. But I do believe very strongly in lineage. Please understand, though, that this does not mean I think someone must have a Zen lineage in order to have something relevant to say. In fact, a lot of people outside the Zen world have plenty to say that puts most Zen teachers to shame.

But if you call yourself a Zen teacher, you’d better have some kind of lineage. Because by calling yourself a Zen teacher you are drawing upon the collective history of Zen as a sort of authority. Or at least as advance advertising. It’s like how you can choose to start your own perfectly delicious burger stand or you can purchase a McDonald’s franchise. If you go with Mickey D’s you get the benefit of their name, their logo, the ads they take out on TV and so on. If you start your own burger stand, you have to do all that stuff yourself. Your independent burger stand will probably be way better than any MacDonald’s, but you’ll have a much harder time making it in the business.

Calling yourself a Zen teacher without having a proper lineage and transmission is cheating. It’s like calling your indie burger stand a McDonald’s. Maybe you serve great burgers. But you’re not a McDonald’s. For better or for worse.

I’ve often considered dropping the whole Zen thing, like I think Bernie Glassman did. Glassman’s not my favorite example in the world. But I can see why he dropped the Zen thing. It’s got a lot of drawbacks and ties you to a lot of people and institutions you might not agree with. Like the way I’m now tied to Genpo Roshi in some manner.

But, in my own case, I would consider it also a form of cheating to drop the word "Zen" from my lexicon and thereby pretend I came up with whatever it is I’ve come up with strictly on my own. I did not. I did it through Zen training and practice. And whatever you may think about the garbage I now spew, I was authorized by a legit Zen teacher to spew it. My transmission comes from Gudo Nishijima, his transmission comes from Renpo Niwa, and I’ve got a piece of cloth at home that lists the whole lineage right back to Buddha his-very-self. Whether you believe the entire lineage or not -- and I don’t -- it does go back through verifiable generations at least a few hundred years.

It’s perfectly OK to ask anyone who says they’re a Zen teacher about their lineage. And if you don’t get a decent answer, it seems reasonable to me to leave. Because if they can’t or won’t tell you their lineage this indicates that something is being hidden, and quite possibly that they are lying. That seems to me to be reason enough to be very suspicious of the rest of their schpiel.

In the end, though, it’s a buyer beware situation. It’s really up to you to do the investigative work. I don’t believe in institutions enough to trust them to do this sort of thing for me. So even if there were a certifying organization, it wouldn’t really matter a whole big bunch to me personally. As far as I’m aware, the Rinzai line does not have anything analogous to the Soto-shu and they seem to function just fine without it.

So take care, beware, my children. And happy hunting for your dream Zen teacher!

*****

Sidebar: Senseis and Roshis
Once I met a person in California who shook my hand and said, “Hello. I’m XXX Roshi!” Actually the person used a real name, but I don’t want to end up making this seem like a personal criticism.

It sounded bizarre to me for anyone to introduce themselves as “Roshi.” The word 老師 (roshi) literally means “old master.” It’s the kind of thing someone else calls you. You don’t apply it to yourself. That sounds rude. It’d be like me introducing myself as “Brad the Lady Slayer.” It’s just one of those things you don’t call yourself no matter how much you’d like other people to call you that.

The use of the words sensei and roshi as terms of rank is a particularly American development and sounds kind of silly in Japanese. Sensei (先生) is a mild honorific for “teacher” that is applied to a wide range of people. It used to be my nickname at the international office of Tsuburaya Productions because I’d been an English teacher before I entered the company. This use of these terms as ranks only occurs within one specific lineage, which is very minor in Japan but very prominent in the US. I don’t think the folks in that lineage make this clear to their members, who often end up in Japan saying things about senseis and roshis that leave their Japanese friends confused.

98 comments:

Fugen said...

Hi.

_/\_

Very good post.
Thank you.

Mtfbwy
Fugen

info said...

Hi,

Read your (first) book a couple of weeks ago - liked it, partly because we have a simular background (hanging out in the hardcore scene in the early eighties), partly because I practice Zen myself since a few years. I recognized a lot about the issues you describe in the book - the authority-issue for instance. It's one of the reasons I left Shambala and the whole Tibetan stuff a couple of years ago - I'd love to collect some good karma (and I definitely need it :p), but I won't stoop to kissing the feet of a dead alcoholic promiscuous teacher like Chögyam Trungpa and pay a substantial part of my non-substantial wages for the privilege of being part of that cult - no offense to anyone who feels comfortable with that.

Anyway, I am studying now with Nico Tydeman, A Dutch Zen-master here in Amsterdam (I am Dutch) who comes from the same lineage as Genpo Roshi. I saw you mentioned the later in your article as someone you don't particularly like to be affiliated with. I am just curious as to why this is. I read a part of one of his books, but I can't really say I agree or disagree with anything he says there, since I am too much of a novice in the whole Zen-thing. The poses on the photo's on his books are stupid, I agree - but hey, I am not into this to judge a book by it's cover, LOL.

Anyway, keep on the good work and I will be back to read more.

Take it easy,

Rob

NellaLou said...

Thanks for this article Brad. It clarifies a lot.

I have come across a couple of useful lineage charts that can be of benefit to some who are checking out a teacher's lineage claims. They are not complete but are the most comprehensive that I've found publicly available so far.

Harada-Yasutani lineage (includes Kapleau's line, Diamond Sangha, Genpo's line and Glassman's line)

Hakuin line

Since you have that nice piece of cloth at home with all those names on it perhaps you (or another of Nishijima-Roshi's students) would consider submitting those names to the professor that keeps those links for the benefit of those who might be curious or wanting to check such information.

So what I'm talking about here is not "validating" anyone but only making the information about the lineage available somewhere.

With the interest and participation in the various Dogen Sanghas and more teachers getting higher public profiles, and questions like this coming your way, perhaps it would be a convenience to yourself as well.

It's fine to do it on a blog but blogs and blog companies come and go. And the professor double checks all the data and amends it with the most accurate information he can get. So the data is somewhat trustworthy.

Kobun Chino's people could also consider this as well as Katagiri's and quite a few others. The Korean Zen folks might also consider this.

I will make this suggestion to the American Zen Teacher's Association too since they've started a database as well. (though I think it is only for their members)

Having tried to trace some claims of lineage fakers, I've discovered it is incredibly time consuming and occasionally costly with phone calls and such just to get a name or basic information.

As you say it is fine to ask someone about their lineage but where can the information be verified then? Or at least available?

Some people might try to fake it but at least if it's listed somewhere like the above links one could contact dharma siblings etc. for verification if necessary.

That's all I'm really hoping happens for people who need to know.

Thanks for your time writing the post and considering this suggestion here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

thank you for this interesting post.

Gassho,

Hans

Harry said...

Yes, good post.

I'm no. 5, and I don't know how I feel about it.

Regards,

harry.

anon #108 said...

That post was pre-tty convincing. A little too convincing. So I checked you and your "lineage" out - - -


ALIEN BENZEN, eh?

Powers/Abilities:

Human Disguise: Benzene Seijin can disguise himself as a human.
Benzene can fire energy bolts from his head.
Benzene can somehow generate a massive storm to cover his operations.



The game's up, "Zen Master Brad Warner". Leave our planet. NOW. You vile alien fiend.

anon #108 said...

H! Re-instate that proud upper-case 8th letter of the alphabet at once!

captcha = cryber.
Pull yourself together, man.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

What? Really? I thought Prez. Obama was born in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago(?).

john e mumbles said...

"He goes strictly by what Dogen wrote about dharma transmission..."

Someone be so kind as to point directly to chapter and verse?

Thanks.

And thanks Brad, it seems like on this blog you spend an inordinate amount of time explaining yourself legitimacy-wise. The proof, as has been said, is in the pudding. I for one would be waay more interested in reading transcripts of dharma talks. If such an archive exists, please post a link sometime.

Shohei said...

Great post, great read!
Thanks you.

Gassho

Harry said...

Check out these chapters of Shobogenzo which relate to lineage and transmission (all refer to the Nishijima/Cross trans... DEN-E and SHISHO are probably the ones you're after):

* DEN-E (‘The Transmission of the Robe’), chapter 13, vol. 1
* BUSSO (‘The Buddhist Patriarchs’), chapter 15, vol. 1
* SHISHO (‘The Certificate of Succession’), chapter 16, vol. 1
* JUKI (‘Affirmation’), chapter 32, vol. 2
* BUTSUDO (‘The Buddhist Truth’), chapter 49, vol. 3
* MITSUGO (‘Secret Talk’), chapter 51, vol. 3
* MENJU (‘The Face-to-Face Transmission’), chapter 57, vol. 3
* UDONGE (‘The Udumbara Flower’), chapter 68, vol. 3

Harry said...

Nishijima's intro to Shisho:

[16] SHISHO
The Certificate of Succession

Shi means "succession" or "transmission." Sho means "certificate." So shisho means "the certificate of succession." Buddhism is not only theory, but also practice or experience. Therefore it is impossible for a Buddhist disciple to attain the Buddhist truth only by reading Buddhist sutras or listening to a master's lectures. The disciple must live with a master and study the master's behavior in everyday life. After a disciple has learned the master's life and has realized the Buddhist truth in his or her own life, the master gives a certificate to the disciple, certifying the transmission of the truth from master to disciple. This certificate is called shisho. From a materialistic viewpoint, the certificate is only cloth and ink, and so it cannot hold religious meaning or be revered as something with religious value. But Buddhism is a realistic religion, and Buddhists find religious value in many concrete traditions. The certificate is one such traditional object which is revered by Buddhists. Therefore Master Dogen found much value in this certificate. In this chapter he explains why the certificate is revered by Buddhists, and records his own experiences of seeing such certificates in China.

Regards,

Harry.

Jinzang said...

kissing the feet of a dead alcoholic promiscuous teacher like Chögyam Trungpa

Yeah, he drank a lot. And he slept with his students. But he was a great teacher, anyone who met him has no doubt about that.

pay a substantial part of my non-substantial wages for the privilege of being part of that cult

Either seminar fees have gone up a lot, or you aren't paid very well. My sympathies in either case. Shambhala doesn't fit my personal definition of a cult. And, no, I'm not a member and I'm not defending my teacher.

anon #108 said...

Hi jem,

If you've not seen them...

These are not transcripts, but youtube vids of some of Brad's talks at the Tokei-in (annual, I think) Retreat.

.

Anonymous said...

"It’s perfectly OK to ask anyone who says they’re a Zen teacher about their lineage. And if you don’t get a decent answer, it seems reasonable to me to leave. Because if they can’t or won’t tell you their lineage this indicates that something is being hidden, and quite possibly that they are lying. That seems to me to be reason enough to be very suspicious of the rest of their schpiel."

While this is generally good advice, I think there's one problem with it that you (Brad) might want to clarify. You know, like you said that maybe you didn't spell things out clearly enough...

I'm sure some people out there will read this meaning it's ok for them to go up to every and any Zen teacher they meet and demand to see their lineage charts (or hear about it anyway). And it is of course true that a genuine dharma transmittee should have no qualms about telling his/her history. But I don't think it means that they would be comfortable to do that with just any random bystander that comes a-demanding.

john e mumbles said...

Hey thank you Harry. Is there anything excerpted from Dogen's Shisho online somewhere? Or any of the related parts you mentioned?

That you are familiar with online that is...that will free me from the tedium of looking and looking...

-Just Lazy John

anon #108 said...

Hi Harry,

jem queried "He goes strictly by what Dogen wrote about dharma transmission and performs the ceremony according to those instructions.

That made me ponder too. While Dogen does talk about the Shiho ceremony, the certificate and the robe, and describes aspects of them, I've not found any specific written instructions for conducting the ceremony itself - which is how I hear what Brad wrote. I'm not at all bothered that I don't know exactly what's said and done, but are you aware of any?


Hi jem -

You'll find the whole SBGZ online here (scroll down)

Steven said...

So, what you are saying is that you weren't born in the United States? :)

anon #108 said...

Hmm...that link should have taken you to "digital texts", which is where the SBGZ is. Still, you can click 'digital texts' from the link I gave and scroll down to SBGZ (with my apologies if you're already know the site).

But, like I said, I don't think you'll find any description of, or instructions for the ceremony itself in Shiho, or the other chapters Harry refers to.

- I'd be surprised if they'e published anywhere, coz it's supposed to be a private/secret even thing (although Gudo doesn't agree; hence Brad's pix of his own Dharma Transmission).

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad,

Great post. A minor discrepancy, though. You wrote,

"But Soto-shu, the organization, does not own a monopoly on Soto the way the Catholic Church is the only form of Catholicism."

Assuming you mean the Roman Catholic Church, it actually is not the only form of Catholicism. The Church of England (Anglicanism throughout most of the world and Episcopalian in the US) and the various Eastern Orthodox Churches are all Catholic - just not Roman Catholic.

I know that wasn't your main point, but ... sorry to get all Mysterian on you.

(blush)

amelse (I kid you not) said...

John e mumbles said: "And thanks Brad, it seems like on this blog you spend an inordinate amount of time explaining yourself legitimacy-wise."

Like, statistically speaking, I'm not sure that's true, john. Brad was just answering a question he says he's been asked a lot in Poland. And it's come up here, too. That's ok, no?

Uku said...

Yes, very important post, thank you! I've spoke a lot to our practitioners about this issue. I think it's very important to emphasize that Sotoshu shumucho is fundamentally different than Master Dogen's teachings. It's kind of sad that so often people are thinking that Soto is just cool robes and fancy ceremonies. Kodo Sawaki Roshi started kind of reform movement to promote Master Dogen's teachings and I'm happy that Sawaki's and Uchiyama's Antaiji, Gudo Nishijima Roshi, Brad Warner and actually whole Dogen Sangha is kind of continuing that important job. Viva la revolution! Into the barricades, fly boy!

Anonymous said...

Brad never even got his zen blackbelt?! what a phony!

Mumon said...

Comments:

1. . I am not certified as a teacher by the Soto-shu, although I am registered with them as a monk. I am not certain my Rinzai teacher is certified or not, but that doesn't stop the teaching, if you get my drift.

2. RE: ceremonies & required test & donation & special clothes. I think you're laboring under the conception that you would have been doing this for yourself, or that by going through this you would have been able to hold out yourself to followers as a "certified Zen master," which would have alienated you from how you sincerely wish to present yourself to others. But I would have viewed this differently; it's an expedient means by which to present yourself as such to those to whom presenting yourself this way can help them.

But nobody says you have to present yourself this way.

I don't think in the long run it really matters that much frankly.

3.
And when it comes to the non-Japanese heirs of non-Japanese teachers, is there any reason at all to register with a Japanese organization?


See above.

4. These days there are a few organizations in the West who would like to provide the kind of certification to Zen teachers that the Soto-shu does in Japan...The problem with this is that such an organization would need to decide what it considers the minimum qualifications for a teacher. And there would be teachers who are perfectly legit whose dharma transmissions do not measure up to the standards of the organization -- like me, for example, and like many of Kobun Chino’s heirs, and a number of others in different lineages.

And it still would admit the Genpo Roshis, and exclude others. I doubt my teacher qualifies under the American Zen teachers' criteria, but his understanding is superior to most of those I've met in that organization...

Mumon said...

P.S.

Like my own "teacher" I recommend that Zen teachers do not refer to themselves as Zen teachers.

Mumon said...

NellaLou:

Just a note of warning: those lineage charts are incomplete; I know that for a fact.

My teacher is a Dharma heir of Sokatsu Roshi - his temple houses the remains of Sokatsu Roshi; it is the temple of Sokatsu Roshi - my teacher's teacher (his father) is a direct lineal descendant of Sokatsu Roshi and yet he is not listed on those sites. Ciolek himself acknowledges this.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there.

Mumon said...

Also Nellalou:

Some lineage teachers don't want the publicity, believe it or not.

Mumon said...

P.S.S.

老師 also means "lao she" which means teacher in Chinese in exactly the same sense that 先生 is meant in Japanese.

But your point is spot-on, except that people in the West have adopted 老師 to denote that they have the Zen equivalent of a Ph. D. (which is also ridiculous, from my vantage point as a certfied Ph.D. who is not a 老師). But since there is no universal certification process even remotely near what Ph.D. candidates have to do (thesis proposal, original work in thesis, thesis defense, published papers, etc.) this is exercise is as ridiculous as certified florists' certifications.

DKL said...

Brad,

Very nice post. I am sure that you get questioned a lot about your lineage and "references". I think that many people place way too much emphasis on "certification" anyway. I understand what you are saying about the difference between Soto and Soto-shu and believe that you are right in saying that one does not need to be certified with Soto-shu to be a "Master" or "teacher".

There are many certified teachers out there in many religions and even education that have no idea what they are talking about. I am glad though that you explained the whole thing for us (especially the newbies) for better understanding.

To Anon#108: Thank you for the link to the digital Shobogenzo, I have been looking for a copy to start reading since it is the primary source of information in Zen and its traditions and practices.

Brad, I look forward to all the upcoming posts, books, podcasts and more; I enjoy them all and find that you are very informative and like the matter-of-fact, no-holds-barred, non-stuffy way that you approach everything.

Anonymous said...

'Dharma' Dan Ingram has been calling himself an Arahat for years :) These terms (arahat, zen master, zen monk) are not protected in law as far as I know, so anyone is free to call themselves any darn thing these choose.

I suppose that those with a moderate interest and understanding of buddhism will judge based on adherence to the precepts, statements (verbal and written) and actions of the person making such claims.

Lets face it, once you get someone to give you inka you can go off and give inka and those folks can give inka....and what does any of that actually mean?

Simple rules to follow;

1) You don't have to give your teacher money to buy a new car.

2) Sleeping with your teacher will not speed up your enlightenment.

3) Caveat Emptor.

:)

Harry said...

John,

The whole of the Nishijima/Cross Shobogenzo trans. is available for free download here:

http://www.numatacenter.com/default.aspx?MPID=81

Regards,

H.

info said...

Hi Jinzang,

I agree with you that I am not paid very well. As for your other statements, well, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Brad wrote

The problem with this is that such an organization would need to decide what it considers the minimum qualifications for a teacher. And there would be teachers who are perfectly legit whose dharma transmissions do not measure up to the standards of the organization -- like me, for example

but

Jundo Cohen (b. July 14, 1960) is a Soto Zen Priest, founder and teacher of the Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha located in Tsukuba, Japan. He was ordained in 2002 and subsequently received Dharma Transmission from Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima, and is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and American Zen Teachers Association.

Why would they let him in but not you?

john e mumbles said...

Thanks 108, you hit the nail on the head. I'd not seen the actual instructions or mention of any secret teaching made public hence my enquiry.

I am not bothered by it either, the whole thing just piqued my curiosity a bit.

And thanks for the Youtube Brad stuff you linked, I'll have a look. Frankly all I've seen on YouTube was discouraging: for ex: a dialogue with Brad and a sock monkey called Genpo...bah.

amelse... You're probably right, statistically speaking, I was only using that to contrast how one doesn't see an archive of dharma talks here -unless you count the blog-a-thon itself and hang on every word, I suppose (and that's alright for those that do).

I would be more interested in what Brad actually teaches rather than just hearing his opinion on whatever, although that's often amusing & has value -there are damn few Zen teachers out there being as openly humanistic.

So while I appreciate the proximity to Brad the aw shucks I'm just like everybody else it would be great to read a bit of whatever Brad's gleaned and is able to expound upon from his perspective on the tradition he is considered expert within.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting I think that Gudo Nishijima seems to like to say that he was a student of Kodo Sawaki rather than a dharma heir of Renpo Niwa.

Anonymous said...

from Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima, and is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and American Zen Teachers Association.

Why would they let him in but not you?

Jundo must just have slept with the right people

Harry said...

Hi 108,

I'm sure written instructions exist. I ain't seen them, and I don't know any secret handshakes.

There is a encrypted 'secret' passed to the person being transmitted to, with a key to reading it on the same piece of cloth presented as far as I know. I reckon it gives the exact time and date of when... the WORLD WILL END!!! :-0

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Harry, I think you should be quiet now. You're about to reveal something that is more powerful than you or me or anybody!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z12FsYvohHI

Word verification: galumpli

Steven said...

I rip up my certified florists' certification and sob.

RDeWald said...

Brad, the very fact that some doubt you is evidence of the authenticity of your teaching. Who doubts Osho?

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

Hi anon @ 9.10am,

It's interesting I think that Gudo Nishijima seems to like to say that he was a student of Kodo Sawaki rather than a dharma heir of Renpo Niwa.

That's the impression I'd formed, too. I said so a little why back on this blog. Following a brief reply from Brad about it, I googled...you might find THIS interesting - Gudo writes at some length about the influence of both men.

anon #108 said...

Harry,

An encrypted secret, you say?

I mean, I know the Britain and the USA would never torture people n stuff, but...


jem,

So while I appreciate the proximity to Brad the aw shucks I'm just like everybody else it would be great to read a bit of whatever...

He writes books, you know ;)

(The youtube talks are quietly spoken, slightly shy Brad doing the face-to-face Dharma talk + Q and A thing throughout a (three day, I think) retreat to a small group (max 15??)).

David said...

For those who want to take a closer look at this subject, the present abbot of Antaiji in Japan (a German, by the way) has a couple of very detailed articles called "What does it take to become a full-fledged Soto-shu priest and is it worth the whole deal?" They can be found here: http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/lotus10.shtml I think this is the first time I've ever seen the nitty gritty of ordination and the various steps of Dharma transmission spelled out.

john e mumbles said...

Yeah 108 I know he writes books. Which I've attempted to read (well, one, standing in an aisle in a bookstore) and I've said before that it was not my thing.

Unfortunately, neither were the Youtube talks you referred me to...not much depth to what I managed to watch.

I mean, it is what it is, and Brad in this case does not misrepresent himself. In fact he's saying right in this blog post that he does not consider himself a "Master" or whatever.

I saw somewhere that Genpo now has a multi-dvd set of Big Mind teachings "Recorded Live, Spontaneous & Uninhibited."

Probably heavily edited to promote his $grubbing agenda, but not doubt of interest to his admirers as well as (possibly -why not have an better idea of what you claim to be against?) his detractors...

Shhh said...

A song for 108.

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

Er...Thanks, Ran.
(I think I get it).

anon #108 said...

...it was not my thing [the books]...I mean, it is what it is, and Brad in this case does not misrepresent himself [the vids].

FWIW, them's my feelings, too, jem.

But for those who are looking for something modern, entertaining and genuine to read about Zen/Buddhism, and enjoy his style, I think Brad's doing a pretty good job. And he is bloody funny...sometimes.

PhillySteveInLA said...

Maybe Polish Kwan Um doubts your cred? We may not have the beureucracy of Soto-shu, but we do have our share. I've met a few Kwan Um teachers who I felt were closer to a Ji Do Poep Sa Nim or Master than some who held the title. They simply lacked the "requirements".

john e mumbles said...

David at 1:07 PM: That is a great link, thanks. Very interesting. For example...

"Dharma transmission defines who you are as a Zen monk. It is like your DNA. The documents of the transmission ...are unique, there are not two Zen monks with identical documents. ...You can only transmit the dharma YOU received from your honshi, nothing else. In fact, this is a little complicated: It is the dharma you received from your teacher, but it is not HIS dharma anymore, it is YOUR dharma now."

This may be self-evident, but its a good point nonetheless.

108 Adams said...

No no no :)

Polish Kwan Um school is ok about Brad. In fact this is Kwan Um's abbot, who has let Brad stay in Kraków, in the apartment where the Buddhist centre is located.

We have some problems with propagating the info about Brad's trip (see the fliers coming too late...). I believe Kwan Um people would be much more interested, if they just knew: we did not focus our promotion on Buddhists here, rather we focused on people from the outer world, students and music/punk rock.

PhillySteveInLA said...

To 108 Adams:
Howdy from Dharma Zen Center!
Just wondering if you guys ever got my e-mails about Brad way back when he was planning this thing?...
I never got any responses, so assumed you were uninterested.
Now I'm thinking maybe it's just a case of the interweb demon striking again.
Didn't realize you guys were putting him up. Hope you had a good time. We definitely enjoyed him here.

perruche-verte said...

Could we all just take a moment to remember Ronnie James Dio?

Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha.

108 Adams said...

to PhillySteveInLA: don't get me wrong: we, as a publishing house, have nothing common with Kwan Um: much more with Charlotte Joko Beck and Diane Eshin Rizzetto. I have just known some Kwan Um people from Kraków personally, I've practiced with them once or twice for the lack of soto zen group in the city (fortunately for me there is growing group of followers of Kwong roshi < Suzuki roshi now here).

Sidenote:
You are very fortunate in US for the number of teachers in different traditions: we are here in the place that California was in '70: single teachers, most of them imported, few Dharma transmissions. This is the reason why Kwan Um is so strong here, I think: they have their cursus honorum, the global structure prepared to train new teachers. I wish them all the best: in fact they get a lot of new people here.

And still you sit facing the wall, you just sing a lot before taking the seat :)

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Ronnie James Dio was a ZEN FUCKING MASTER!!!!!! The zen master of Metal!!!! This hurts me. I cry.

May the Gods bless DIO!!!

My favorite Dio song:

"All the Fools Sailed Away"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4pfNDJzQ1U

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

All The Fools Sailed Away

"There's perfect harmony
In the rising and the falling of the sea
And as we sail along
I never fail to be astounded by
The things we'll do for promises
And a song

We are the innocent
We are the damned
We were caught in the middle of the madness
Hunted by the lion and the lamb
Ooh - Ooh

We bring you fantasy
We bring you pain
It's your one great chance for a miracle
Or we will disappear
Never to be seen again

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Sailed away

We bring you beautiful
We teach you sin
We can give you a piece of the universe
Or we will disappear
Never to return again

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
They sailed away
Sailed away

And as we drift along
I never fail to be astounded
By the things we'll do for promises
And a song

We are the innocent
We cut we bleed
We're your one great chance for a miracle
And a miracle is something you need

They'll take your diamonds
And then give you steel
You'll be caught in the middle of the madness
Just lost like them
And part of all the pain that they feel, yeah

And all the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
All the fools sailed away
Leaving nothing, nothing more to say
All the fools sailed away

They say you're beautiful
And they'll always let you in
But doors are never open
To the child without a trace of sin

Sail away"

MuSsang Jaeger said...

I have nothing to say that Seagal-sensei-rinpoche-roshi hasn't already said.

Mysterio-bob said...

My brother Phil-bob is feeling no pain..

Anonymous Bob said...

"It's interesting I think that Gudo Nishijima seems to like to say that he was a student of Kodo Sawaki rather than a dharma heir of Renpo Niwa."

"Master Niwa told me that he was a rather tender boy, and enjoyed to play with girls."

CAPTCHA : prick : Who doesn't?

Anonymous said...

I guess it's understandable..

anon #108 said...

I just want to second john e mumble's thanks to David (@1.07pm) for the link to the Antaiji article on Dharma Transmission. It's so good, I'll give it again.


...and to correct a mistake: At 7.04am ysesterday I typed "I don't think you'll find any...instructions for the ceremony itself in Shiho or the other chapters [of the Shobogenzo]..."

There is no chapter called Shiho (the term for the Dharma Transmission ceremony). There is a chapter called Shisho (The Certificate of Succession).

anon #108 said...

Ah...THIS LINK takes you straight to the article.

Róża said...

To co tworzysz nowa "swiecka tradycje" szkoda, ze nie jestes polakiem dopiero wtedy zrozumialbys aluzje..moze blizej jestes mistsz ja z koziej dupy trabka :)
dzieki

Don Recuero said...

Hey Brad,

Is it unethical for someone to write about their own zen practice without a transmission?

I would hope not. This would seem too restrictive, so long as they prefaced with it by pointing out that they are not a qualified zen teacher.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.

68 [- Ran K.] said...

Gudo says don't see and don't think.

Neither a flower nor the moon.

Seems like a good summoning up of his teaching.

I once asked him what action is on his blog but he never answered.

I suppose if I would have been asked what action is I would have answered: "It is not action any more".

I don’t suppose SR [here above] can come up with anything better than that.

proulx michel said...

Someone wrote:

"It's interesting I think that Gudo Nishijima seems to like to say that he was a student of Kodo Sawaki rather than a dharma heir of Renpo Niwa.

In Paris, as I was translating for Nishijima roshi, someone asked him if he was a disciple of Sawaki. He bluntly answered "No". And he added : "To say otherwise would be no doubt more prestigious, but it would not be the truth".

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"a guild of funeral directors"!

Now that is priceless.

Also the "birther" analogy is hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad,

Is it unethical for someone to write about their own zen practice without a transmission?

I would hope not. This would seem too restrictive, so long as they prefaced with it by pointing out that they are not a qualified zen teacher.


Only if your writing disagrees with Brad's views.

Freedombanker said...

Master or not Master...

Who cares !?

We love you just the way you are...

Gassho Brother !

Ernst said...

Brad, I'm curious about sesshin. What is the idea of sitting for extended periods of time? Do some Zen Buddhists sit for many hours a day when not at sesshin? It almost seems at odds with the idea of a middle way.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence
and are nothing in themselves.

Damion said...

You know. It is good to check out one's credentials if you are earnestly studying a certain path or field, but I feel that this sort of obsession with credentials can be somewhat damaging. For instance, just because someone has the credentials to be a doctor doesn't really make them a doctor in the most true sense of the word. They may falsely prescribe medications, and give poor assessments of illnesses. I suppose it is the same in anything else. Just because you have the papers, doesn't make you a good source. From what I have read, Brad, you seem "true" to your word. More than I can say for much of the other material out there. Thanks Brad.

Anonymous said...

Brad you talk about this subject of Zen Master-bation A LOT. Makes it seem like you are actually very concerned inside with what people think or don't think about you. The length of the article seems defensive.

Anonymous said...

Brad you talk about this subject of Zen Master-bation A LOT.

Er...no. Actually, he doesn't. I smell trolling.

Makes it seem like you are actually very concerned inside with what people think or don't think about you.

Why are YOU so concerned with what Brad's concerned about?

Perhaps Brad's article is simply a full and frank answer to a question. Yes...I think that's a much more likely, less fucked-up reading of what he wrote.

Ran said...

I once mentioned to a teacher in Israel that Sawaki Roshi once said: “A person who leaves home should be one who creates his own life”. It maybe that he misunderstood in part not knowing that “a person who has left home” refers to a person who has accepted (Buddhist) monkhood, but he replied [in part] “from the words of Sawaki arises a slight smell of conceit”. Since about then or a bit later I liked the words of Uchiyama Roshi better than those of his master.

R said...

It's me this time, not a troll.

;)

[Really, 108 can tell. Or else]

Anonymous said...

Just wondering;;;

Brad you talk about this subject of Zen Master-bation A LOT.

He always insists it's ironic. But if you read zwikdik it's not so clear how he uses the term. Also, CNN introduced him as a zen master. Not Brad's fault, but he could have clarified.

Just wondering;;;

Was Gudo's decision to make Brad head of DSI because he regarded Brad as having superior understanding of zen?

Or maybe because Brad was having a book published (HCZ) and Brad was the best way to promote his lineage in the west?

Was Jundo's hissy fit about Brad's lack of morals (lap dances et al) really about his genuine concern for Brad's well-being and the reputation of DSI?

Or did it have something to do with Gudo's picking Brad as head of DSI rather than Jundo?

Just wondering;;;;

Is Brad's regular tirades against Gempo due to heartfelt compassion & concern that Gempo and his BM technique might actually harm someone?

Or might it be due to Brad comparing himself and criticizing other teachers in order to build himself up? We all do this. Doctors, lawyers, parents, politicians. Should we expect something different from zen teachers?

Just wondering;;;;

Is Brad's insistence that his teacher is best, his sect is best, his views are authentic zen really the result of his deep understanding of zen?

Or, again just dogma and comparison? My dick is bigger than yours. My dad can whip your dad. My country is best, my god is the only real god. My mom is the prettiest.

Just wondering;;;;

My sisterinlaw is a self-described bitch, just like Brad calls himself an asshole. She prides herself on being forceful and direct, never flinching from hurting anyone's feelings. She is very aggressive with store clerks and waiters and doesn't mind harshly criticising them for the slightest thing.

But if anyone offers even the mildest criticism toward her....she easily bursts into tears and complains that her critic is being mean and hurting her feelings.

Is this similar to Brad's attacking fellow teachers & other's with differing views of zen? Then claiming the least bit of criticism directed back toward Brad in these comments is hurtful and the perpetrators are mean haters?

It may be that Brad is a zen master and beyond all of these human failings. When he engages in ad hominem attacks, using harsh language and name-calling he's being compassionate. When others engage in similar (or much milder) behavior here, maybe it is because they are mean and deluded.

Or....

Harry said...

Master Sawaki was clearly insane and bewildered about Buddhism:

"What are you gawping at? Don't you see that it's about you?"

Regards,

Harry.

btw said...

The song I sent to you, 108, is by that teacher I mentioned, - [@ 7:45, - both words and music] and the woman singing is his wife.


I suppose it could be sung better than she's doing it. [though she's quite good at certain points] - I only watched it in full now. [I've known this song for quite a few years - this prformance seems quite recent.]


Here's another one from her, - I think you'd like it. It's an old Israeli song.


[And btw – [again] what is said on YouTube is not true. - This song is not about her. - It is about a person I know by the name of Gideon Lenna – [or something of the sort, - I am not sure about the English spelling] if about anyone. - I won't mention the stoty here.Perhaps some other time.]

Edit said...

After "It's an old Israeli song" should be "See if you do".

Seems like Helen was right.

ginger said...

I like this post. Very well put.
Good information and guidance doesn't require pomp and circumstance and pomp and circumstance doesn't guarantee good information or guidance.

Anonymous Bob said...

Just Wondering Troll@834:

The Brad/Jundo stuff is really boring as gossip goes. I know you are doing your best to keep things titillating but I'm detecting a definite lack of interest. Buddhist nerds just make bad material for juicy gossip..

CAPTCHA : hydro : I kid you not

Jinzang said...

Just wondering;;;;

You are wondering about the wrong stuff. If you have doubts about Brad and/or Jundo, find another teacher. There are plenty of them. But spending your time chasing after gossip is wasting your life. In my opinion.

john e mumbles said...

No one can accuse Brad of not putting himself out there.

As Socrates pointed out, an unexamined life is not worth living.

But if you're gonna do it, you gotta take the good with the bad, the trolls with the warriors....

anon #108 said...

My turn.

Hi wonderer @ 8.34,

FWIW, I think all the things you're wondering about are perfectly fine things to wonder about. You can't help wondering about...what you wonder about. IMO, you shared your wonderings honestly and weren't particularly troll-y at all.

But I wonder what can be gained by expressing such doubts on this blog. The best you can hope for is to have people agree with you, which will make you feel right. Or, if you are trolling, you might start a fight. But not today.

So, as H quotes: "what are you gawping at?"
As AB said: gossip is boring.
As Jinzang recommended: if you have doubts find another teacher.

I say: we - the bloggers and readers - are all grown-ups. We have our own wondering to do, and we'll come to our own conclusions. You're not wondering anything that others can't wonder for themselves.

But thanks for sharing. Really.

*****************************************************************

And thanks again, Ran for the music.

I'm not sure you should be sending me Middle-of-the-road Israeli popular songs this way...If they contain encrypted instructions for the next step in our plan for world domination, I'm afraid my Hebrew isn't up to it. Sorry.

[108 (anonymously)...this time]( !?] said...

(that was a joke, Ran).

anon #108 said...

I think I misrepresented you, AB.

Gossip is not boring, and you didn't say it was.

captcha: brundo: Just kiddin.

Anonymous Bob said...

Brad has pretty much decided to live with the trolls. I don't think he particularly likes it but he was losing traffic and potential book sales, and anyway the trolls here are not so bad.

108, You are right. I could never say gossip is boring and not be a liar. I always listen..

CAPTCHA : anglith : You thilly Anglith

Anonymous said...

You are wondering about the wrong stuff. If you have doubts about Brad and/or Jundo, find another teacher. There are plenty of them. But spending your time chasing after gossip is wasting your life. In my opinion.

Not looking for a teacher, just wondering. Not chasing anything either. Just wondering. Others may say that spending your time reading this blog and comments is wasting your life too. But you are here with us.

Anonymous Bob said...

Anon, You are right, we are all along for the ride. Reading blogs isn't necessarily a waste of time. But just because we read what you write doesn't mean we are better off for it either. You cannot escape your responsibility easily.

Captcha : efeepoo : I kid you not

Rinzai till i die said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
20 Jazz Funk Greats said...

I suppose that's what you’re about 108.

Made to measure.

That's all in English and you can find lyrics on brainwashed.com.

Anonymous said...

"I respectfully urge you who study the mystery,
do not pass your days and nights in vain."

Shhh [also unknown] said...

And your's @ 4:35 pm was really fine.

Keep up the good work.

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