Wednesday, June 30, 2010


First and foremost, please check out the brand new HARDCORE ZEN PODCAST. This was put together by John Graves of Dogen Sangha Los Angeles. Be sure and listen all the way to the end, or better yet, skip directly to the very end of the Podcast (after the closing theme & thank yous and all that) to hear the best part.

The featured talk is from my tour of Finland last year. John decided it was best to go with a very basic theme for the first episode. So he chose a talk in which I pretty much give a live version of Hardcore Zen, the book whose Finnish translation I was promoting on that tour. So, yeah, you've probably already read most of these stories. But I'm surprised sometimes at how they change in front of an audience.

OK. So yesterday I arrived back from my European tour in Durham, North Carolina, where I'm now at a subterranean location known locally as "The Lady Cave" in which I hide from the heat whenever I'm here. As you may recall from previous episodes, I am currently homeless. My great friend Catie Braly has been allowing me to use her couch to sleep on and her floor to throw my suitcases all over whenever I stop moving around the world for more than 20 or 30 minutes. That's where I am until such time as I figure out where to go next.

I spent much of my long flight back to the US and many extended layovers yesterday writing a long, long description of my recent trip to Israel. But it was so overwhelming and badly written I'm not even looking at it right now, let alone posting it. Instead, here's what highlights I can recall...

In the photo above I am standing in a tourist trap known as the Garden Tomb overlooking what the owners of said tomb very weakly claim may be the site of Christ's crucifixion. But even they admit the evidence is pretty weak. Still, the rock formations do look kinda sorta like a skull and Jesus was said to have been nailed up at "the Place of the Skull," which no one is quite sure the location of. Plus there's a tomb nearby with a groove in front of it in which a rock could have rolled to seal it up, as was said to be the case of Christ's tomb. So maybe this is the spot.

More people accept the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as being a more likely location. But the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is dark and depressing and clogged with tourists, whereas the Garden Tomb is quiet and bright and has much cleaner toilets. Therefore I vote for the Garden Tomb as being more authentic.

Outside the tomb a small group of Filipino guys (I think they were Filipino) were trying to make some kind of movie, probably for their church back home. The subject of the film appeared to be a bright red robe that they were alternately holding up and shouting about or else kneeling with and making big overwrought gestures while scowling a lot. The very proper British woman who took tickets at the entrance kept telling them to knock it off. They would comply, then wait for her to leave, then start all over again. Quite entertaining.

Hint: Do not go here looking for a fun time. It is not fun.

But it's one of those places you have to see and I did. It's impossible not to be moved by such a place. But it also has a numbing effect. At least it did on me. After a while you've seen more Nazi war atrocities than you can possibly process.

I'm trying hard not to come off as cynical. I know the thing Zen people are supposed to do when they go visit places like this is write a very dry essay that details what they saw in a matter of fact way and concludes with some kind of profound thoughts. But I just don't have that in me right now.

Me, I kept looking at the little displays of famous Nazis. All along the walls you have these black boxes with a photo of a Nazi on the front. If you open them up you get to see what that Nazi did and where he ended up -- whether he was tried at Nuremburg and hanged, caught in South America in the Seventies, never found or whatever became of him.

I kept thinking, I want to hear from these people. I know you probably couldn't do that. It would be too much like allowing them to justify their actions. Still, I do not think the Holocaust was just a case of bad Germans killing innocent Jews. That's what happened, superficially. But there's also something far deeper going on.

For example, at the beginning of the museum you're led through the history of how the Jews in Europe were ghetto-ized and stripped of their basic rights. Yet I visited the museum while I was staying in East Jerusalem, where the survivors of that horror have ghetto-ized and stripped the Palestinians of their basic rights.

Which is not to say the way the Palestinians are treated comes anywhere close to how the Germans, and many others treated the Jews during and prior to WWII. Yet I think it shows that what happened in the 1930s and 1940s is not something that can be attributed to one particular race or culture. It is a human problem.

I think hearing what the Nazis had to say for themselves would be very instructive. I once saw a documentary in which a very old Japanese man who had been a soldier during the Rape of Nanking told his story of what happened. It was chilling. He was so matter-of-fact about the whole thing. It's important to understand these atrocities are committed by human beings like ourselves, not by monsters, and not even by what most of us would recognize as insane people.

I understand you could probably never allow such a thing in the Holocaust Museum. But without it visitors are left with the impression these horrible acts were performed by creatures from another world. They were not.

Most of my time in Israel was spent on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. This is not part of the Palestinian Territories. But it is an area of Israel in which the population is almost entirely Palestinian. You rarely see any Jews up there unless they're on some kind of a tour, in which case they want to get in and get the Hell out as quickly as possible. There appear to be a few Jewish... I don't know if they're exactly settlements... but they seem to be exclusively Jewish buildings up on the mountain with gigundous Israeli flags on top. I never did figure out what these were.

My host while I was on the Mount of Olives was Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa, a 60-something year old Palestinian who travels the world talking about peace. He opens his home to visitors to whom he preaches his message of unity and understanding. He's a truly amazing guy. The article I've linked to tells his story better than I can. It's too bad the photo of Richard Gere visiting his house doesn't seem to be there anymore. I wonder how Richard Gere felt about the lack of hot water in the showers, though. Or about being woken up every morning at 4 by the prayer call from the nearby mosque. "Prayer is better than sleep," the call said in Arabic. Says you! Even at Zen monasteries they let you have another half hour in the sack!

The last place I visited in Israel was Tel Aviv. The contrast between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is so sharp you can hardly believe they're part of the same country. Where Jerusalem is a hotbed of religious tension, Tel Aviv seems to be as secular a city as Los Angeles. In fact, I'll bet there were more observant Jews in the area I lived in, in West Hollywood than there are in Tel Aviv.

Just about the only evidence of anything religious I saw during my two days in Tel Aviv was this crazy Hassidic guy who drove around in a van blasting loud rave type music. Every time he got to a stoplight, he'd open his door, jump out, and dance around the street. When the light changed, he'd jump back in his van and drive to the next light to dance some more. My host, Yuval Ido Tal, told me this was part of a new movement that's gaining some popularity in the city.

It was Yuval who set up a talk for me at the Psycho Dharma institute. In spite of its name, which conjures up images of Tony Perkins slashing meditators with a kitchen knife, it is, in fact, a really interesting organization set up to teach Buddhism in an academic setting but incorporating real practice into the curriculum. I recorded the talk and hopefully one of these days we'll get the Q&A segment up on the podcast.

OK. That's all I got to say about Israel for now.

But I have to get a couple more plugs in before I go. One is for this article by one of this blog's regular readers W. Blake Wilson of Kansas City. It's pretty funny.

Also, the 2010 Great Sky Zen Sesshin is still short of full capacity. This is one of the best Zen sesshins offered in this country. You really should check it out if you want to do a very simple, but extremely powerful week of practice. I'm there, but it's not a Brad Warner sesshin. I'm one of five Zen teachers, the others of whom are far more traditional and orthodox in their ways. It's an amazing sesshin that I would go to myself even if I were not teaching it. It's not too easy but it's not too hard.

Be there! Sign up today!


Here is a video I found about Ibrahim Abu El-Hawa. I don't know anything about Enlightening Entertainment or Supreme Master TV, who put this video up. Their graphics and their name make me feel a tad bit icky. But the video really gives you a good look at Ibrahim and where and how he lives.


Harry said...


2 said...

just a moment ago it was 0.

Anonymous said...


Harry must be Brad.

The Eggman said...

Maybe Harry's the Walrus ..

Blake said...

If it weren't for the bad timing, I would consider attending Great Sky. You don't do 108 bows, right? Yeah... it would totally be doable. Except we are moving and school starts up around then. Maybe next year...

The Eggman said...

"It's important to understand these atrocities are committed by human beings like ourselves, not by monsters, and not even by what most of us would recognize as insane people"

Brad Warner said...

Oh God, that Russian singer!

Brad Warner said...

Bows at Great Sky only come in sets of 3. They don't even do 9 at a time like in San Francisco Zen Center.

Mysterion said...

Let us assume for the moment (although it is not a very informed assumption) that there was an individual historical Jesus (v. a politically convenient composite of characters). There are multiple tombs - three of which I am acquainted. Flip a three-sided coin to choose.

The head of this fish cult was named IXEUS (Greek for fish). And he was anointed with extra-virgin olive oil before being metaphorically hung out to dry.

The center of this cult was Megiddo, not elsewhere. Now we should understand that it will take 25 years for this new archeology to filter down to lower division college classes because only retirements of old professors (with their vested biases) bring real changes.

Trust what your professor tells you only until you get your course grades.

Can you dig it?

Mysterion said...

Hisako and I attended a "Rape of Nanking" exhibit on TI. There were a few nasty comments and a lot of "cold looks."

What? Japanese are unwelcome to learn about their own 'dark side?'

assholes. the world is full of assholes. and on most days many of them do give a shit.

Mysterion said...

I hope the nest decade sees a full airing of the Cheney Torture matter.

Americans are no saints.

SUMMARY: Media outlets have quoted Dick Cheney's criticism of President Obama for releasing previously classified Justice Department memos that had authorized the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques without noting Cheney's self-acknowleged role in authorizing the use of those interrogation techniques [e.g. torture].

Mysterion said...

"s" is close enough to "x"



Anonymous said...

eggman, while i think it is very important to post such links, i found myself numb after 30 seconds.

Jinzang said...

Altai Kai Throat Singing. Sounds like a Central Asian Brian Eno to me.

Captcha: woreeksi

Jesus Fucking Christ said...

And stop fusing my religion with Buddhism! I DIED for you people! I got nailed to a fucking CROSS! That fat fucking Chinaman? What the fuck did he do? He sits down by the river and *BOOM* they make a religion out of it! Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

JFC sed:
"That fat fucking Chinaman? What the fuck did he do?"

He sat next to the river and said to little children: "Here, pull my finger."

JFC said...

I knew you when I was only a colonel.

john e mumbles said...

Jinzang, get ye to the wonderful film GENGHIS BLUES if you haven't already...

You're hearing Brian Eno, though? Really?? How so?

Martial Arteest said...


Anonymous said...

Oh JFC, you ain't foolin us none :)

anon #108 said...

I do not think the Holocaust was just a case of bad Germans killing innocent Jews. That's what happened, superficially. But there's also something far deeper going on...the Jews in Europe were ghetto-ized and stripped of their basic rights. Yet I visited the [Holocaust] museum while I was staying in East Jerusalem, where the survivors of that horror have ghetto-ized and stripped the Palestinians of their basic rights...It is a human problem.

Yes, the trouble and strife in the world is sad, complex and co-dependently arising.

I hope those interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will read your link to Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa, Brad - which includes this:

"Eliyahu McLean is 33, lives in West Jerusalem and is an Orthodox Jew, with a beard, long side curls and often a tefillin, a small black box filled with parchment from the Torah.

Ibrahim Ahmad Abu El-Hawa, 60, is a devout Palestinian Muslim who lives on the Mount of Olives, the Arab sector of the holy city, and wears traditional white robes, an embroidered skullcap and pale yellow prayer shawl.

Together they travel the world to share the story of their friendship…spreading the message that it is possible for Jews and Palestinians to live harmoniously in the Holy Land."

They are by no means the only peacemakers or peace campaigners working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

I don't think it serves any useful purpose to demonise one side or the other. "I do not think the Holocaust was just a case of bad Germans killing innocent Jews." - Some are quick to label Palestinians "Muslim terrorists", or Israelis "State terrorists". The truth is not that.

Mysterion said...

THIS is a good read.

George Orr said...

What is real?


Anonymous said...


Zenmar said...

Israel is Real?
Once again Brad Warner has shown himself to be hopelessly deluded and undoubtedly unqualified to be a Zen Master. Mr. Warner obviously lacks any true insight into the nature of emptiness and dependent arising. And he rarely wears a robe. Didn't he read Charlotte Becks' book where she plainly states that 'New Jersey does not exist'? Does Israel exist but New Jersey not exist? How about Rhode Island? Pakistan? No, Mr. Warner I am afraid Israel is not real at all. Israel is but a deluded concept in people's heads. Get real.

Anonymous said...

I'll give them away instead.
These empty hands are that almost full
While typing.
Or that these are thoughts
I‘ll stop to note
with some success, that did to accomplish

craving? Not lately the source,
but flush of life, I'll soon let pass.
As if nothing.
For nothing stopped, stayed.
Holding together
All of a path,

a fine, diaphanous, smothered June,
the world as flat as this
tossed, scrunched-up map
which even the sun, still busy,
engrossed in pointed, listless leanings
toward the moon, takes back,

gives up. Fat old fool.
It almost said,
there are four old truths,
I mean, four ennobling truths,
four truths of the noble one,
Or ones, perhaps – or something.

Anonymous said...


a said...


Buddhasbrewing said... is a weird Buddhist cult that runs the Loving Hut chain of Vegan restaurants. You should check ou their website. The Supreme Master is a Taiwanese lady who looks like an ASian Tammy Faye Baker. Her gorup blends christianity with Buddhism into a strange amalgram with seemingly none of the benefits and all of the flaws of both. But, meh. They beleive what they want. The food is pretty good, but they don't really know what a burger should taste like.

PhillySteveInLA said...

Only three bows at a time?
108 or nothin'!

PhillySteveInLA said...

I put a glass of water in front of you and I ask you, "This glass of water, is it real or not real?"
If you say it's real, I hit you thirty times. If you say it's not real, I hit you thirty times.
How do you answer?

Hint: Real, not real. What are you doing RIGHT NOW?

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

Charlotte Becks doesn't say anything in her book of your fucking glass.

Lay off.

R said...

Wise like orangutan but I guess that's OK.

Zenmar said...

Philly Steve,

Really Not Real!

Can you hit me even once?

Hokai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hokai said...


Smack! I hit you both!


Gerald aka Manjushri

PhillySteveInLA said...

Can't you see when I offer you a simple glass of water?

Cheney is a S.T.D. said...

What is real?

Reel is real.

Catch the biggest fish!

Fly high.

Anonymous said...

I see words.

Jinzang said...

You're hearing Brian Eno, though? Really??

Yeah, he reminds me of Brian Eno, even though I can't explain why. Some of his warblings on the synth from Another Green World. But I know NOTHING about music.

Captcha: enosc = Eno-esque?

Jinzang said...

Only three bows at a time? Pansies.

Real men count their prostrations by the hundred thousands.

Jinzang said...

I put a glass of water in front of you and I ask you, "This glass of water, is it real or not real?"

I'd knock the glass of water over.

Jinzang said...

Reel is real.

Rael is real

john e mumbles said...

Well, if it is just one synth warble, an isolated sound within the context of a larger piece, yeah, I can see (hear, taste, etc.) that resembling some Tuvan throat singing.

& Brian Eno would be the first to admit he is not a musician, so it is not prerequisite to know anything about anything to appreciate his soundscapes.

Captcha: holtizin ...a relative, perhaps?

john e mumbles said...

Holy Schizzle, I saw Genesis (still w/Peter Gabriel) on that Lamb Lies Down...tour many moons ago. RAELly amazing.

Elder of Zion said...

Nishijima was in Israel in February 2005.

Nishijima thinks the Jews own all the banks and oil companies, run the world economy and pick the American president in their secret meetings.

Mike Cross said

When I was working closely with Gudo Nishijima in the 1980s, he was of the view that world history was moving inexorably in the direction of Jewish hegemony, and that the realistic Buddhist attitude in these circumstances might be to seek peaceful accommodation.

I don’t know if his view has changed since then, but I suspect that what he wrote in his Dogen Sangha blog last year about the United States being the world’s policeman, may be understood in the above light.

If that is Buddhist realism, Gudo can keep it. If that is Buddhist realism, I’ll strive to follow a different way: the way of non-Buddhist, non-realism.

Anonymous Bob said...

Mumbles said: "Brian Eno would be the first to admit he is not a musician."

Eno is not an accomplished player of traditional instruments. He is more like an accomplished player of traditional musicians.

Ray Guillette said...

Eno's certainly a fluid musician and composer. That's what makes him effective with others. My guess is that bands invite him to jump in because he gets them inspired. Sure, maybe his own tunes don't top the charts, but that doesn't necessarily qualify a good song. Here's a quick pick from his recent lyrical release, Another Day On Earth. All those special effects? They used to call that Orchestration or perhaps Arrangement back in the days when musical instruments were primarily non-electric. Henry Mancini was fluid with arrangement as well (listen to Lujon & compare to Eno's style).

And Then So Clear
By Brian Eno

And then so clear to wonder
To wake with open eyes
As the snow across the tundra
And the rain across the skies
And the rain across the skies

So much again and weightless
In the motherworld of space
We fail to form to come to
And the razor mountains fade
And the day is cursed in shame

In these the world we open
So much to lose to save
To light the highest beacons
And the rose of love will bleed
And the rose of love will bleed

In these the world we open
So much to lose and save
To light the brightest beacon
And the rose of love will bleed
And the razor mountains fade
And the day is cursed in shame

Tennessee Ernie Fjord said...

The Psycho Dharma institute seems like a very appropriate venue for ya, Brad. I am intrigued by the 'growing movement' of the dancing Hassidim. Really? There's a growing movement of people who randomly get out of their cars and dance at stoplights? Friggin' sweet.

john e mumbles said...

Brian Eno, in an interview with Musician magazine:

"Look, I'm a nonmusician. If you like what I do, it stands in defiance to that.'

"When I say 'musician,' I wouldn't apply it to myself as a synthesizer player, or 'player' of tape recorders, because I usually mean someone with a digital skill that they then apply to an instrument. I don't really have that, so strictly speaking I'm a non-musician. "

Ray Guillette said...

True, everyone has their words and how they mean them. I see Eno making that definition of musician from the standpoint of how the music is made. My use of the word relates to its social value, so for me if a person is making patterns of sound for others or together with others for communal experience, then they are a musician. BTW, growing up between Providence & Boston in the 80's I was a big Big Dipper fan. Think I saw them once or twice. Been on a Feelies kick this week.... Good Earth.

Anonymous said...

I like the feelies. Eno was fun to discover. He's special that way.

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

Jinzang, so far you're the closest, but that's awfully rude.
I simply offered you a glass of water.
And as for the bows.....Touche!

Anonymous said...

JUndo wrote

Blogger jundo cohen said...

Oh my. Against my better judgment, I am going to jump in here just for a moment to say that Nishijima Roshi is not an "anti-semite" (meaning someone who hates Jews) and he does not have a racially discriminatory bone in his body.

He does have some strange and uncomfortable ideas about Jews that he has sometimes expressed privately and in lectures, and an irrational confusion and suspicion about many, many of his Dharma Heirs that extends to at least a dozen people right now (no one will contradict any of this, of course, except for two tushy kissers ... one with a vested interest in having things appear otherwise, and one who I still think is well meaning in his doing so). Roshi is wrong in both regards, but this is something I attribute primarily to his health, which seems to come and go, and his being raised at a certain time in Japanese history. I wish he would reflect on this, but it is probably now too late.

However, he is not an "anti-semite", and does not have a hating bone in his body.

Gassho, Jundo Cohen

john e mumbles said...

Big Dipper sometimes used Eno's "Oblique Strategies" cards in the studio to guide/aid them in songwriting.

Maybe you already know, Ray, but Bll Goffrier of BD and I had a band together in the '80's called 626, and we still get together and play places when he's in from Boston, with and without bands.

Oh, and I agree The Feelies are amazing, I still bust out the Crazy Rhythms vinyl from time to time.

Mysterion said...

Blogger Ran K. said...
"I kind of think anybody who is not a Zen Master who is playing at being one is a pain in the ass."

But the secret is that there ARE NO Zen Master's in the occidental realm. There are ordinary monks who may - or may not - have useful advice. Zen Masters exist only in the oriental sense and in folklore.

Add that the word 'master' is used in the sense of 'teacher' or, at the extreme, 'headmaster,' and you begin to place the matter in perspective.

The ignorant tend to romanticize things (such as zen master) - which is just another example is ignorance as the causation of suffering.

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

- which is just another example of ignorance as the causation of suffering.

john e mumbles said...

Dude, not to nit pick but since you are getting all fanatical grammatical semantical w/Ran; what is meant by "realm" here?
I believe the PC term is "Asian" these days, not "Oriental."

Just sayin' massah.

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

Mysterion, you just don't know what I'm talking about and I'm not going to explain.

That's a shame Ran - I really thought you and Mysti were approaching some profound melding of minds. Oh well.

Johnson said...

In case anyone is curious about what Mysterion sounds like ITRW, one of his students posted a video of him lecturing to youtube.

R to MRF said...

Sorry, sentient beings are numberless, but Mysterion is something else.

Damion said...

Hey Brad. I visited the Holocaust museum in St. Petersburg, Florida just the other day and had some similar feelings to what you described. I would like to hear from the Nazis also. It is beyond me how so many people could be driven to do the things they did in Nazi Germany and elsewhere. There was actually a real train box car, in which they herded the Jews in like cattle in those days, inside the museum. I guess I can say that I came out of the place "affected". Seems you had something to this degree as well. Still wish you'd visit wild and wonderful Charleston or Huntington, West Virginia sometime.

Anonymous said...

I have never been to Israel, but I found the Atomic bombing memorial site & museum in Hiroshima to be truly moving place. When I become the president of the universe I'll make it mandatory for everyone to visit that place at least once in their life. Maybe then we'll get rid of the MAD-doctrine...

Mysterion said...

I tried to visit Hiroshima in 1982.

The multi-national that I worked for discouraged it. But by 1984, I was able to visit both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"Among the dead were 40% of Nagasaki's Christian population..."

Bad karma...

Today, 0.7% of the Japanese are Christians.

There are things outside of memorials ans museums that are even less contrived and more moving.

No person is ever improved by a war.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Johnson said...
"Mysterion... a video of him lecturing..."

LOL excellent (except that dude has far more to say).

This is one of my more serious students... selling the bull since 1955.

A post over at my Postulates blog regarding "bull shooting" will be up in a day or two.

Chris said...

4:30? you Japanese Buddhists have it lucky! in Korea, our wake up call was at 3:00AM!

Anonymous said...

I want to read Mein Kampf for that reason... have never got around to it though.

mosh@israel said...

actually, you have got pretty touristic visit, which means you did not get what is everyday liife here. next time i reccomend you to visit such places as lod or stay in haifa, there you will get opinion what are contradictions inside our country

site said...

Very worthwhile piece of writing, thank you for this article.