Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ZEN CELEBRITY AND ECONOMICS

I've been reading the comments section here more often lately than before and it's been interesting to note that some readers are complaining that I talk too much here about my self and the issues of spiritual celebrity and don't deliver enough of what they call "the Dharma."

I already know enough not to take what I see in the comments section as the majority opinion of what I write here. I get something like a thousand hits a day. So even when there are 500 comments that still represents far fewer people than are actually reading. Yet it is interesting that people say this. Because I tend to feel completely the opposite.

I tend to write about things that I want to read about but which I don't see anyone else writing about. So I write about spiritual celebrity not because I think I'm so god damned interesting and everybody wants to read about my exploits, but because I think the subject itself is very interesting and no one else seems willing to say anything about it.

Spiritual celebrity is a huge business these days. Look at guys like the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hahn, Gempo "slimebag" Roshi, etc., etc., etc. These guys make weenies like me look like... I dunno... maybe like Zero Defex as compared to Green Day. Guys like this have "people." Like in the sense of "have your people call my people and we'll do lunch." They've got entourages to keep the fans at bay. They've got limos to drive them to the airport. They're flying first class. Yet I've never seen any of them talking about the issues involved in all of that. Maybe they do and I'm just not paying attention. But I doubt it.

Spiritual celebrity-hood isn't something new either. Yogananda was a big star in the mid 20th century. Krishnamurti too. Dogen was well known in his day and Buddha was said to have attracted thousands to his talks. What was up with that?

Maybe it's just me. But I'm always interested in the nuts and bolts stuff much more than in the airy fairy philosophical side of things. Even my fascination with Japanese monster movies is much more a fascination with how they were created than with the movies themselves. When I get a DVD I always watch the "making of" bonus materials before I watch the film. Sometimes I don't even watch the film at all.

As for "the Dharma," to me all of this stuff is the Dharma. It's every bit as much the Dharma as the more philosophical matters. And, don't worry your pretty little heads, I plan to get more into the philosophical stuff in the new Safe For Work Suicide Girls column I'll be starting soon.

But this stuff is what drives the Dharma. This is how it gets out there to the people who need it. It is all bound up in the same thing. It is the Dharma.

I had a funny conversation with Nishijima Roshi on the eve of the publication of Hardcore Zen. I said, "Once this book comes out, if it sells well I'll become famous. Doesn't that go against what Dogen says about not seeking fame and profit?"

He said something like, "Dogen was talking about seeking fame and profit. You didn't write the book with the objective of becoming rich and famous. Sometimes you do something sincere and people like it, then fame and money come. In that case you deal with the real situation as it comes up."

Well I haven't become rich, nor even that famous. But a certain degree of fame (and no degree of profit, at least not yet) has followed. Well, what does one do about that? How do you keep your head as a Buddhist practitioner? Do you run away? Many people in my position have. Do you fall head first into fame and money and forget your practice? Again, many have done this too.

I have been trying to see if there's a middle way. Spending a month in Tassajara recently was a way of trying to radically reconnect with Zen. I'm still trying to see if the effort was successful or not. Based on my experience of Tassajara and of coming back into the world after, I'm starting to understand the vast difference between enforced discipline and discipline that comes from oneself. But that may be a whole 'nother topic.

The economics of being a Zen teacher are both frustrating and fascinating. Take, for example, the matter of getting a "real job." When I started writing about Zen I had a 5-day a week, 10-6 job. But because of that I could not do things like lead multi-day sesshins or run off to Europe for two months to talk Buddhism to the people of Poland and Finland and Ireland and all those other lands over there. I also couldn't devote several hours a day to pure writing practice.

Now people want me to do those things. But about half of those who extend such invitations have no clue about the nuts and bolts economics involved. They imagine, for example, that I'm making loads of money from book sales. Not true. My advances are about 1/3 of what my salary was when I had a "real job" and the market will only realistically bear about one book every two years from me. So I'm now making about 1/6 what I used to. It really is not enough to sustain one person. Thank gosh I don't have a family to support!

So there are people out there who want me to come and lead three-day retreats and yet do not understand when I start talking about how the event is going to be financed, particularly when it comes to how I will get paid. Maybe they think the Dharma should be free. And it should! But rent and utilities are not free. So the choice seems to be find a way to make money from the Dharma or just stop.

The most common solution to this dilemma is to create a communal base of support for the teacher. You start something like San Francisco Zen Center or Plum Village or whatever and a lot of people with "real jobs" contribute some of their money to allow the teacher to do her or his thing without having to get a "real job."

This may not be a viable option in my case because I'm just too damned anti-social. I mean, I like people and all. But I really chafe at all of the things it takes to hold together a community.

So I'm testing out other options. Sometimes I entertain vague dreams that Sex Sin And Zen will sell in the same tonnage as The Power of Now or the latest book of ghost-written musings by Great Master What's His Face (I just talked to a guy who ghost writes books for some spiritual master dude who gets $15,000 as his standard speaking fee, I write all my books myself, thank you, and my speaking fee is a whole lot less than that). Then I could be independent and do what I need to do that way. Hence all the annoying self-promotion (and if you think you're annoyed by it, imagine what it's like to have to actually do it!).

One of the people I met at Tassajara and talked to about this stuff had been involved in promoting spiritual masters before. He told me the secret was to include what he called a "promise." You have to tell folks they're gonna get something of value from coming to your talk or seminar. That's a tough one for me because I'm so steeped in the "Zen is good for nothing" tradition established by Sawaki Roshi. So maybe I'm screwed.

Anyway, I leave you with the photo above which proves positive that zazen has given me the power of levitation (click on the photo to get a larger version and see for yourself). If you want the secret of levitation use the "donate" button on the upper left of this blog.

163 comments:

Harry said...

ONE

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, "When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets."

gniz said...

The singer of your band gets my vote for Worst Hair Ever, old fart division.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_-cmMiMA6qL4/TKONY3g-UJI/AAAAAAAAA6Y/k8X6pQlCBlY/s1600/Levitate

Dan_Brodribb said...

Celebrity IS interesting, just because it's so odd.

Having gained and lost some notoriety locally, I find it really interesting.

What I noticed was my 'celebrity' had nothing to do with me, what I was doing, or even whether or not they liked it. It seemed to be based simply on the fact they had seen me or heard of me.

I didn't dislike it because I was never famous to the level where it intruded on my life, but even at a low level, it was a strange feeling.

Can't say I disliked it. I don't have the self-promotional drive to seek it out so it's unlikely it will happen again, but if it does, I won't be sad.

brack said...

anon said: "i think a donate-button is just an equivalent to the takuhatsu-bowl, on the net. so why not. making one´s living on fuse or dana does not seem fun to me."

What Brad is doing is not Takuhatsu. He is asking for money to continue blogging? That seems incredible but that's what the man wrote. I don't think he is connecting his begging to his Buddhism.

Once, someone wrote something like this.. "The experience is not at all the same as begging from a real human being face to face. You can get very lost in the twisty twirly world of Internet begging and easily lose sight of what's real and what's not. You don't get the tone of voice I would say these words in. You don't get my facial expression. You don't get the smell of my breath. You don't get the subtle electrical energy that human beings exchange when they're near each other. There are far more missing elements than I can possibly list. All of these things matter a lot. To dismiss them as if they were nothing very important is a terrible thing."

Why is sex like begging? Because in the computer age, it's not necessary to do them face to face..

Harry said...

"I'm starting to understand the vast difference between enforced discipline and discipline that comes from oneself. But that may be a whole 'nother topic."

Sounds good.

...And levitation my ass, or rather, your ass: Close examination of the photo clearly shows that you have been painfully impaled on the drummer's crash cymbal stand in the most unfortunate manner... which, in many ways, is a better testament to your psycho-spiritual powers than a cheap David Blaine trick, because you seem to be taking it quite well there.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s. I don't know who numero uno is, but I like the cut of his/her jib.

Mumon said...

I guess you didn't get the invite from TED either.

Oh well. You could have outdone Sarah Silverman.

Frank said...

It's hell getting old Gniz.. You probably have more hair under your dress than Jimi has on his head.

Anonymous said...

Walking the line between being a hypocrite and ending up eating from a garbage can. It is probably very hard to ask for and obtain money the right way when one has already hung out to dry those who take it in return for so-called painted cakes.

Anybody know what is the deal with the MMK book? I was wondering what the supposed difference between the most popular translation and the one done by Warner and Nishijima? More pictures, scratch 'n and sniff, full colour pop-ups?

Anonymous said...

How to deal with Not Enough?
--from some dude with a degree
in electrical engineering from
Carnegie Mellon University

john e mumbles said...

Gniz,
Singer dude's "hair" is not the problem, its the PANTS! Maybe he's compensatin'.
&
Harry, that's obviously the new improved Harry at no. 1
&
Brad, don't worry about fame and fortune, your 15 min is almost up.

Harry said...

Are all sufis haters?

Harry said...

Alpha maelstrom?

gniz said...

Dudes, Not sure what is up with whoever it is that pretends to be me, Brad, or others...

But that Gniz comment--as benign and harmless as it seemed--was an imposter.

Make of it what you will...

gniz said...

This motherfucker's hair is incredible. Warner and company are trying to act young. Dang.

gniz said...

What is going on with this place?

gniz said...

Also, if you click on "imposter" Gniz's profile, its exactly the same as mine including number of hits...??

How is that possible?

He does have a different icon beside his name though, not the little orange blogger icon..

gniz said...

I figured out what you did, fake Gniz. I know how you did your trick with the account....verrrrry sneaky my friend. Verrry sneaky indeed!

Want to tell us the point of your little ruse? I can't fathom the point of it...

Oh well. Another mystery.

Harry said...

Hey,

I dunno if this has been posted here yet, but it's Genpo's own 'audition' to be the Next Big Thing on Oprah's TV Show:

http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=20850&promo_id=1

Introduces himself as "Zen Master" who can deliver an enlightenment experience, pitches himself as the "next step beyond the work of Eckhart Tolle", quotes Ken Wilber ("one of the great philosophers of today" BTW) as saying that his work is "the greatest work in the last two hundred years in spirituality" ...oh, the dignified conduct of a Buddhist ancestor never looked finer.

Regards,

Harry the Hater.

Harry said...

p.s. I got the link from Gniz's blog BTW. Nella lou posted it there. And, no, I'm not the imposter. He/she just probably wants to wind you up, Gniz. Don't let 'em (although I have to admit it is a clever ruse).

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

"I'm starting to understand the vast difference between enforced discipline and discipline that comes from oneself."

Definitely worth expanding on this one sometime, please! There's something really important here, especially the "vastness" of the difference. When you have the time...

Wm J Byatt said...

Dude, don't be silly. Zen can't make you levitate. That's the power of ROCK AND ROLL at work.

Also, straight props on real world spirituality and stuff.

Although I still think you give LSD and its entheogenic brethren a bad rap.

DjakFrost said...

The Zen market may only tolerate a book every other year, but why not parlay this piece of celebrity (and SG experience) into some freelance work? Less talented, less famous people than yourself make money at it. I'm sure lots of publications would like to have a Zen/punk/monster movie/Brad-ish take on the topics of the day.

john e mumbles said...

Harry, dude, I'm not a hater. I'm not a "sufi" either, whatever. Are you a "buddhist?" Have fun with your labels.. uh, couch surfer...

Guess if I had to call myself Something it would be a really rilly bad wanna be comedian.

Which reminds me of a joke:

Guy walks into a bar with a chunk of asphalt under his arm. Bartender asks him what he wants. He sez "I'll take a beer and gimme one for the road."

Anonymous Bob said...

Nice try troll. For being such a successful twisted dick-head. But the truth always wins out. You are probably upset with the guy who is your Mom's new best friend. It's not Gniz unfortunately. You need to get a life.

ivory said...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday that most Americans have grown too detached from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and see military service as "something for other people to do."

It's because we can't find anyone who has good dope! Get us good dope and we are down with killing foreigners.

Lone Wolf said...

You should find a rich girlfriend and then marry her...No.

You ever thought about teaching Brad? Many of the teachers at my school (most of them have MFA's) teach but seem to have enough time for personal writing. You could do what you did in Santa Monica (siting with people on the weekends and giving a talk) where ever you so happen to live and work, and then tour in the summer to "spread the dharma" or promote your books.

In my opinion (which isn't worth much), I liked how Nishijma worked a 9-5 job while teaching Buddhism. However, things may have been different in Japan and in Nishijima's situation. If I recall corretly, you once said something like a teacher that makes his living by teaching Buddhism and is supported soley by the sangha can easily be swayed into giving those students what they want rather than what they need (not sure if I hit the target on that one or not).

Maybe it's time to make some DVD's and Sound True CD audio teachings like Eckart Tolle, Thich Naht Hanh and all those guys who make a living off their spiritual teachings. It might be more difficult with the practice of Zazen, which is useless. I wonder how many books Barry Magid sold with a book titled Ending the Pursuit of Happiness.

Just some thoughts that came up after reading the post.

Btw, how did the second ODFx show go?

Awakened Yeti said...

You might cover your ears with your hands. You might put a blindfold over your eyes. Try anything you can think of to avoid these poisonous fumes. But you can't escape the clouds sailing in the sky, the streams tumbling down the hillsides. You can't evade the falling autumn leaves scattering spring flowers.

You might wish to enlist the aid of the fleetest winged demon you can find. If you plied him with the best of food and drink and crossed his paw with gold, you might get him to take you on his back for a couple of circumnavigations of the earth. But you would still not find so much as a thimbleful of ground where you could hide.

- Hakuin

Anonymous said...

Obviously, the issue of balancing the give and take sides in one´s life is an interesting one.

I remember a story about a zen monastery which could have done with a bit of money, a new dojo etc.. However, the neighbourhood was poor, and so it was. At the end of the monks´ daily takuhatsu routine, there was a very ramshackly house. The old woman who lived there, donated one copper penny every day, although it seemed to be difficult for her to save it. So the monks used to thank her every day by a very deep bow indeed. When the old woman died, her neighbours found millions under her mattress. Which were confiscated by government.

Face-to-face interaction is no guarantee for not being cheated, I guess.

Harry said...

John e: Are you a "buddhist?"

Yes, I am. If words have any meaning at all then I, a person who practices what we call "Buddhism", am a Buddhist.

Do I win anything?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad,

i ´d love to do an interview with you for a german magazine but can´t get my hands on you email-adress.

please contact me at www. desantiago. de or at desantiago at gmx dot de

anon #108 said...

Hello everyone in HCZ blogland,

Someone's been imposting? It's not me. I have been elsewhere. I'll be elsewhere for a few more days. You'll just have to muddle through somehow.

All the best,
Gassho,
Peace,
Laters.

anonymous said...

Gniz is not really Gniz?
Arggh! Now you mean a bright blue name does not prove you are not anon? Anyone can be anonymous? Will even this serve to puncture the smug superiority of the blue-named elites?

Blake said...

Yours is the only "buddhist" blog I read on a regular basis for the reasons you stated above.

I know that you've toyed around with a novel in the past. Ever reconsider? I love Chuck Palahniuk, but if he can make a living writing what he does I have no doubt you could.

Or you could come live on our commune but you'd have to change your name to something earthy. I'm thinking "Buttercup."

Brad Warner said...

Harry, you're right. I got that cymbal stand removed today. Don't know how I missed it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

so jealous of the rickenbacker. where did you get it?

Anonymous 2 said...

He got it from your donations..

Brad Warner said...

Its not a Rick, it's an Ibanez copy!

Ran K. said...

About the time I started reading this blog I had the impression Brad was having about 100 or 200 people at St. Monica.

When at one time he mentioned the number of 10 (or 20) cushions I rather appreciated him.

I mean that meant the place was serious.

Purple said...

It has absolutely never occurred to me that it's incorrect for Brad to promote himself. Especially considering the laid-back, humorous way in which he does it. Brad is a professional writer. Generally, professional writers get paid when people read their stuff, which requires a certain amount of promotion. It so happens that Brad writes about Zen. He still has to get paid for it. Where does Buddhist doctrine state that people should work for free?

Harry said...

Purple,

Your pic is giving me strong magic mushroom flashbacks, man.

Oh, and...erm... don't do drugs kids!

Regards,

Harry.

Kelissima said...

My parents introduced me to the teachings of Krishnamurti when I was 13 (we have close family friends who are Hindu). I was fascinated and baffled by him--it was the first time I remember hearing the terms 'right thought' and right action'.

Curious, I read a biography of him and was fascinated that he was adopted by the Theosophists as a teenager and groomed to be the new Messiah (aka 'The World Teacher').

Never comfortable with the media attention he received as the 'New Messiah' (as he was publically declared in 1910) or with the idolization from his 'acolytes', in 1929 he renounced Theosophy and dissolved the Order created in his name (it had about 60,000 members at the time).

He flat-out told his followers 'I refuse to be your crutch' and returned various endowments and properties associated with that position. From that time on, he refused to embrace or promote any organized religion although he became a renowned international speaker and founded schools in the US, England, and India.

Frankly, THAT is the kind of 'spiritual celebrity' I can respect--one who tells the people who try to idolize him that they are basically full of shit and to think for themselves, lol.

Mysterion said...

There is a Sufi saying: 'When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.'

Seagal is not a Sufi...

Steven Seagal is recognized as the
reincarnation (tulku) of the treasure revealing (terton) Chungdrag Dorje. As such, he has the obligation and duty to restore a small monastery called Gegon Gompa.

"In the case of Steven Seagal, he has been formally recognized as a tulku, but has not been officially enthroned. He has also not undergone the lengthy process of study and practice necessary to fully realize what I view as his potential for helping others." source

And Swami has first pick!

So cut the crap phoney Seagal Rinpoche impersonator person. Either come out of the Sufi Closet or get back into the CoS one.

p.s. but welcome to the world of fakes. there's always room for one more good fake.

BTW (others) don't confuse your with you're or you are...

we all speak American English (as opposed to the mother tongue) here, unless we speak Teabonics

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Kelissima said...
"My parents introduced me to the teachings of Krishnamurti..."

Yes. He was the star of the east.

I just love fakes, there are so many to choose from!

Gurdjieff & The New Age, anyone?

Where are Televangelists Rex Humbard, Jerry Falwell, the Tulsa Folks, Sister Aimee, Tony Alamo, &c. &c, and so forth.

Anonymous said...

keep it up! (heh heh!)

Mr. Reee said...

Mysti, how could you forgot the late great most revered Dr. Gene Scott?

Back in the early 80s, he was da bomb on night-time LA cable, especially after closing time.

Mysterion said...

Or the porn Queen he married, Melissa.

University went on the block.. for $15 million

The place

" Marriages

Gene Scott's first marriage was to Betty Ann Frazer, his high school sweetheart at Oroville Union High School (23 years). Subsequent marriages include Christine E. Shaw, and then to ex-adult entertainment star, Melissa Pastore in August 2000. Since Dr. Scott's death on February 21, 2005, Melissa Scott has been the leader of Wescott Christian Center and Faith Center."

Xtians have to accept her - it's the redemption thing.

Since Buddhists don't do judgement (e.g. reject good - bad dualism) it's just fine.

I'ld say Dr. Scott is as fine of a Christian as I ever met - with a straight face.

SHAME on people who envy their... their... fame - yeah, that's it, fame.

john e mumbles said...

Just for the record, I ain't no "Sufi," and am certainly not "Seagal Rinpoche."

How many Sufis does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. There is no such a thing as a Sufi. If someone says he or she is a "Sufi" they are definitely NOT a Sufi.

This is a "Buddhist" blog. Harry has limited himself...er, I mean, defined himself as a "Buddhist"... Any other "Buddhists" wanna come out of the closet?

What IS a Buddhist, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Mumbles asked "What IS a Buddhist, anyway?"

Wrong question. A Buddhist isn't.

Anonymous 2 said...

You can't stake your life on a savior machine.

Anonymous said...

a buddhist doesn't

john e mumbles said...

Gee Anonymous, you're makin' my point...

john e mumbles said...

But it is still a label that some adhere to, like "Boy Scout" -why?

Lord Donald said...

Brad! Get the hell off my wife!

Lord Donald said...

Sorry Brad, I thought you were on my wife.

Mysterion said...

Blogger john e mumbles said...
"What IS a Buddhist, anyway?"

1) A Buddhist not only questions the edicts of authority, a Buddhists questions the preposterous claim of underlying authority.

2) A Buddhist ""works out their own salvation."

3) A Buddhist knows that an "immortal soul" is as much of a liability as it is an asset.

4) A Buddhist knows that a physical body - be it human, fox, or other - is a vehicle which may carry you to 'enlightenment' or more specifically detachment from birth-death cycles.

5) A Buddhist may realize that words like self and other, near and far, high and low are merely deceptions of the mind.

6) A Buddhist neither loves nor hates desire. A Buddhist learns to put a collar on desire and control desire within reason and based on emotional knee-jerk reactions.

And I am mincing words.

Word Verification = mince

Mysterion said...

addition of an omitted word

6) A Buddhist neither loves nor hates desire. A Buddhist learns to put a collar on desire and control desire within reason and NOT based on emotional knee-jerk reactions.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mysterion: Leave the teaching to a teacher. Your You-tube links are enough.

Anonymous said...

id say we're finished with finishing school then, right?

Harry said...

John e (or would your rather I called you nothing and just vibed you?),

Some of us got those sort of arguments out of our system in high school (not me, I was a late unlearner). I hope you don't loose any sleep over how I am 'limiting' myself cos your 'freedom from labels' seems a bit reactive and, well, unfree.

Regards,

Harry (Buddhist).

Harry said...

Here's a small bit of reading on the matter of symbols and meaning, symbols of meaning, or symbols-meaning, if we like. But you might not like it if you don't like ascribing 'meaning' to its 'label' (a word). If we carried some people's ideas of 'realisation' to their illogical conclusions then we would all best be sitting in the corner of some ward in a mental institution silently drooling to ourselves and shitting our nappies free of the curse of evil thought and intention.

Of course, in common usage as we can realise in the whole situation of our everyday experience, there is no 'gap' between what we say and what we mean, and the actual meaning that happens in the real situation, even as we often inevitably fall short of trying to say what we mean (maybe we should read more good literature in that case...? 'Whatever!').

[Disclaimer: This is not for people who want to feel good about themselves in being stupid... lazy fuckers like me, in other words!]

For the sake of argument, let me formulate this dictum: Enlightenment is construed as seeing things as they really are rather than as they appear; it is a direct insight into, and discernment of, the nature of reality that is apprehended only by wisdom, which transcends and is prior to the activity of discriminative thought. In this view, delusion is defined as all that is opposed to enlightenment.

The problem with this reading is manifold: (1) There is an inherent tendency to bifurcate between "things as they really are" and "things as they appear to be"; (2) its corollary is that there is an unbridgeable chasm between insight/discernment and discrimination; (3) "seeing" is conceived predominantly in epistemological, intuitive, and mystical terms; (4) the pre- or extradiscriminative state of mind is privileged in such a way that creative tensions between delusion and enlightenment are all but lost; (5) nonduality in the unity is virtually the neutralization of all discriminations and thus has little or nothing to encourage and nurture duality as suchthat is, discriminative thinking, intellect, language, and reasonin the scheme of Zen's soteriological realization; and (6) the implications for Zen discourse and practice, especially ethics, are seriously damaging. What we see here is a formulaic understanding, and misunderstanding at that, of the nonduality of delusion and enlightenment...

...He [Dogen], more often than not, challenges us on many fronts to think through a great number of assumptions, for example, with respect to language and reality, matter and spirit, and self and world. To cite just one example, he issued a strong warning against the anthropocentric conception of human language. For Dogen, human language was neither more nor less than one of the infinite varieties of language (monji) and expression (dotoku) in the universe. Despite his insistence on the imperativeness of human language in his soteric project, Dogen never lost sight of the larger picture in which human and nonhuman beings engaged in an ongoing communion through their respective languages/expressions.


(From: Dogen on Meditation and Thinking by Hee-Jin Kim)

Regards,

Harry.

Shonin said...

I dunno. Our world already has an unhealthy obsession with celebrity, gossip, celebrity gossip, glamour, celebrity glamour and did I mention celebrity... and celebrity gossip?

Do we really need the celebrity gossip angle on 'Buddhist teachers' as well?

Nuts and bolts is nuts and bolts. Gossip is gossip.

Harry said...

Look at all the gossiping that goes on about 'Buddhism' online - convincing ourselves and trying to convince others of our own narrow viewpoints - we may as well be talking about Britney's saggy tits, or Brad's unremarkable sex life.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how/what we experience.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how/what we know.

Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.

Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.

Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.



a very good explanation of phenomenology and the philosophy of science:



Phenomenology of Science

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfaRLEE7Du4&feature=fvsr

Ran K. said...

Mysterion @ 9:02:

- “A Buddhist knows that a physical body - be it human, fox, or other - is a vehicle which may carry you to 'enlightenment' or more specifically detachment from birth-death cycles.”.

Could anyone present a clearer example which denotes one does not know what he is talking about?

Ran K. said...

And since I’m already in, - I’d say A Buddhist is simply one who’s received the precepts. What you do or don’t do might mean you’re a good Buddhist or a bad Buddhist, or that you act like a Buddhist [should] (and different Buddhists definitely might act differently) that you don’t.
This is the rule.
There may be exceptions.

Or there may not be.

- Things are the way they are. Not necessarily the way you want them to be. - Regardless of your likes or dislikes of definitions.

Ran K. said...

(- “mince” might give: - (no. 5 on http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mince) “Rubbish

Did you enjoy the movie? No, it was mince.
”.



Can you hear me, M?)

translator said...

Harry said: "Some of us got those sort of arguments out of our system in high school."

translation: John E, You are thick as a brick.

translator said...

Ran said: "Could anyone present a clearer example which denotes one does not know what he is talking about?"

translation: Mysterion, you are as dumb as only an academic or a box of rocks can be.

Brack said...

I rather admire the fact that Brad does not refer to his donation button as a cyber-begging bowl or Alms for Brad or whatever.. He just says "Donate so Brad can continue this blog." It's short and sweet and mildly threatening. No money for me, no blog for you kids.

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

Fuller quote: "Some of us got those sort of arguments out of our system in high school (not me, I was a late unlearner)."

Translation: I'm no Einstein either, but I may have learned that words/labels need not be a problem until we make 'em one by our very own selves.

Meta-translation-for-those-who-don't-want-to-be-stupid-in-the-most-stupid-way: Mind your own fucking business, if even from time to time.

Regards,


Harry.

things out of context said...

Purple says about Brad:

"Hardcore Zen was to Buddhism what Citizen Kane was to film. ... Brad Warner, as an author, holds in his talented hands, the entire future of the written word.".

to go further said...

"In October of 2003, Hardcore Zen, by Brad Warner was published. I cannot possibly overestimate the importance of this book. ... Hardcore Zen was to Buddhism what Citizen Kane was to film. Without Hardcore Zen, there would be absolutely no chance of survival for the human race. Brad Warner, as an author, holds in his talented hands, the entire future of the written word.".

Non believers should Google for themselves.

... said...

Or - in case Google fails to deliver - open Purple's profile and check his blog.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act."

you forgot morality.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Mysterion: Leave the teaching to a teacher."

Have you ever met one?

wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.

Meeting a teacher... what's it like?

ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

and never be rude to an arab!

Anonymous said...

Brad, just paid (not gave) you $5 Everyone who reads this blog should do this or shut the fuck up.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mysterion or Mroblivious, what you've just written is some of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent post were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may Buddha have mercy on your non-soul.

ROFLMAOAM

Anon said...

"Brad, just paid (not gave) you $5 Everyone who reads this blog should do this or shut the fuck up."

Wow! $5.. I guess this donation thing is really working out for Brad.

Mysterion said...

yawn...

Hokai said...

Mysterion,
I like your style, dude.
I didn't agree with everything you posted, but Imo you are someone between Wikipedia,Google and a reflection for all the unenlightened on their search after originality.
Sometimes condensed the whole shit on your virtual bodymind, sometimes I laughed about your links.
Don't go away in anger like Jinzang please.
Hardcore fan
Gerald

Hokai said...

Brad,
I wished you could live your life without financial limitation as I wished that for everyone, who's in the same business. But I think, that this "limitation" let you live the very same life you're living right now.You can phone me up at anytime and get a warm bed and three hearty meals plus a good punk-rock-location plus one of the biggest available music-stores.
Just gimme a call.
Cheers buddy,
Gerald

Mysterion said...

Blogger Hokai said...
"Mysterion,
I didn't agree with everything you posted..."

Neither do I. I throw mustard against the vegiedog to see how it tastes. Some of it is bitter - real 'dark Zen' shit.

"sometimes I laughed about your links."

Without humor, the world is less... less... less funny.

"Don't go away in anger like Jinzang please."

1) I don't go away (Well, I die...)

2) I don't do anger.

3) I don't do hatred. (I love the stupid and ignorant - the stupid can not learn & the ignorant merely await an opportunity t learn - as much as I love little Shiro. They all - with equal regularity - make me smile.)

Claude Chabrol said it best.

john e mumbles said...

(not directed at your last post, but regading all of the previous prior to yours at 12:34 pm)

...double yawn... -I see your yawn and raise you a yawn.

Mr. Reee said...

Just got a message from SFZC:

http://www.sfzc.org/zc/display.asp?catid=265&pageid=2432

November 6th and 7th. Not bad. I'm going to hit Green Gulch on Sunday.

I see Brad will be at Ft. Mason on Saturday afternoon, lecturing about some punk dude named Dogen (wasn't he in the DKs?)

Robert said...

You're right Brad, there are plenty of people who read & enjoy the blog and don't bother looking at the comments section.

Bezoluc said...

"I was dabbling into every other kind of religion before I became a Christian," "I was dabbling in witchcraft. I've dabbled in Buddhism. I would have become a Hare Krishna but I didn't want to become a vegetarian. And that is honestly the reason why -- because I'm Italian, I love meatballs." - Christine O'Donnell

Italian?

James said...

Just in case you're reading this, Brad--a suggestion: if you're going to have a Mohawk, get some wax and spike (and dye) your hair. If you can pull it off, it really looks amazing!

Zach said...

I am finding my big issue is that there are people who call themselves "Zen Monks" who are (aside from the black robes and o'kesa)completely indistinguishable from lay practitioners.

Brad is included in this alas.

I am always reading some article by such and such who is a "psychotherapist and a zen monk" or a "neurologist and a zen monk" or "is a mathematician, married, has 3 kids, and is a zen monk"...

No - In my opinion the above examples are lay practitioners in black robes, not monks.

In my opinion, if you have black robes on, there better be something that is different about your life that is different than a lay practitioner's life - otherwise all those black robes really mean is that they are just a bullet point on a resume' - something superficial.

Anonymous Bob said...

"In my opinion, if you have black robes on, there better be something that is different about your life that is different than a lay practitioner's life - otherwise all those black robes really mean is that they are just a bullet point on a resume' - something superficial."

Zach, It is believed that all people share the same fundamental state. Maybe you think that all monks should make a concerted effort to be indistinguishable from each other and I might even agree with that. But no two people are ever completely the same because of conditions. You just might have to learn to live with a little superficiality.

Zach said...

"Zach, It is believed that all people share the same fundamental state. Maybe you think that all monks should make a concerted effort to be indistinguishable from each other and I might even agree with that. But no two people are ever completely the same because of conditions. You just might have to learn to live with a little superficiality."

You are turning my words to avoid my point... I am not talking about some "fundamental state".
I want to know what is the difference between a monk and a layperson when MOST monks (Brad included)seem completely indistinguishable from laypeople except for the fact they wear black robes.

Anonymous Bob said...

"You are turning my words to avoid my point..."

Re Zach.. No, not turning your words.. maybe not understanding you. Sorry about that. I was just noting that everyone is different in the way they do things even though we are all basically the same.

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

I think basically there would be a difference between one who chooses to dedicate his life to the way, (Buddhist or not necessarily) and between one who lives his life while dedicating a portion he might consider reasonable within it to religion, or the way, or whatever you might call it.

In earlier generations the first were living in monasteries and being celibate, but this is not necessarily the essential point.

I heard (in 97' I think) someone say that in the past humanity's eyes were raised to the temples of spirit, and so it was possible for it to receive its living guidance and essence [if Brad does not like the word spirit he could speak of an-essential-core-of-things, - or something of the sort] from them, and today when this is not the situation and when this not generally possible, - practitioners are to live within society which does not seek its spiritual nourishment of its own tendency or of its own accord.

Hokai said...

Zach, you aren't Zen monk, hum?
Its always difficult,if you match one with another; we are one, but not the same. But I think, that's not the point for you.
Sure in the traditional way, I'm not a Zen monk, but my master do the ceremony and I followed him now for about 14 years in respectable distance and practice the most monkable way I can live with all the responsibility that I decided on in the gone moments.
AND in my daily experience there are thousands of decisions, where I can practice something that is not different from the practice of a tempel zen monk. The eightfold path, is not limited to zen monks. I took the precepts to study with my master and going deeper into relationship with my Sangha and at least to infiltrate my usual life with zen monk mindset.
Maybe other monks in this blog could explain this a little bit better.
On the other hand, whatever others have experienced,wether they are zen monks or not, its not your experience. Imo the best way to find that out for yourself is to take the precepts and manage that for your own life.
I think bodhisattvas are needed.
The ball's in your court.
Cheers,
Gerald

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

you better not be a goddamn sand nigger

*spit*

CynicalBoy said...

I think I shall paint
The leaves in my garden red
Just like Kyoto

Harry said...

ain't the leaves coloured
where you currently reside
Mr. Roundeye-san?

Anonymous Bob said...

Ah Harry.. Don't you ever feel like sharing some sentiment of questionable quality? Or do you just not question such things?

Harry said...

Hi Anon Bob,

Yes, a pig rolling around in its own shit is still a pig rolling around in its own shit regardless of the quality of the shit.

Regards,

Harry.

Shaved Bear said...

Are all Buddhists haters?

Cain said...

Silly bear. All humans hate. Some more than others. Buddhism has nothing to do with it.

Able said...

Are Buddhists not human anymore? "What is human, anyway" -Philip K. Dick

Anonymous said...

"All belief is based on the feeling of pleasure or pain in relation to the feeling subject. A new, third feeling as the result of two preceeding feelings is judgement in its lowest form."

~Friedrich Nietzsche in 'Human, All Too Human'

Anonymous said...

hey that statement kinda fits with the khandas: form (feeling subject), feeling (pleasure/pain), perception (judgment)

ginger said...

@Harry - If you donate $$ by pressing on that button then you get his email address. :)

@Brad - if they don't really like what you're writing then they would just stop reading it and they certainly wouldn't comment. They give you suggestions on what you should be writing because they have egos the size of houses and want to believe they're part of your entourage.

ginger said...

oh, that was anonymous that wanted the email...not Harry. Sorry Harry.

john e mumbles said...

"Ambulance Blues" -Neil Young (On the Beach lp)

Back in the old folky days
The air was magic when we played.
The riverboat was rockin'
in the rain
Midnight was the time
for the raid.

Oh, Isabela, proud Isabela,
They tore you down and
plowed you under.
You're only real
with your make-up on
How could I see you
and stay too long?

All along the Navajo Trail,
Burn-outs stub their toes
on garbage pails.
Waitresses are cryin'
in the rain
Will their boyfriends
pass this way again?

Oh, Mother Goose,
she's on the skids
Shoe ain't happy,
neither are the kids.
She needs someone
that she can scream at
And I'm such a heel
for makin' her feel so bad.

I guess I'll call it
sickness gone
It's hard to say
the meaning of this song.
An ambulance can only
go so fast
It's easy to get buried
in the past
When you try to make
a good thing last.

I saw today
in the entertainment section
There's room at the top
for private detection.
To Mom and Dad
this just doesn't matter,
But it's either that
or pay off the kidnapper.

So all you critics sit alone
You're no better than me
for what you've shown.
With your stomach pump and
your hook and ladder dreams
We could get together
for some scenes.

I never knew a man
could tell so many lies
He had a different story
for every set of eyes.
How can he remember
who he's talkin' to?
'Cause I know it ain't me,
and I hope it isn't you.

Well, I'm up in T.O.
keepin' jive alive,
And out on the corner
it's half past five.
But the subways are empty
And so are the cafes.

Except for the Farmer's Market
And I still can hear him say:
You're all just pissin'
in the wind
You don't know it but you are.

And there ain't nothin'
like a friend
Who can tell you
you're just pissin'
in the wind.

I never knew a man
could tell so many lies
He had a different story
for every set of eyes
How can he remember
who he's talking to?
Cause I know it ain't me,
and hope it isn't you.

john e mumbles said...

"Ambulance Blues" -Neil Young (On the Beach lp)

Back in the old folky days
The air was magic when we played.
The riverboat was rockin'
in the rain
Midnight was the time
for the raid.

Oh, Isabela, proud Isabela,
They tore you down and
plowed you under.
You're only real
with your make-up on
How could I see you
and stay too long?

All along the Navajo Trail,
Burn-outs stub their toes
on garbage pails.
Waitresses are cryin'
in the rain
Will their boyfriends
pass this way again?

Oh, Mother Goose,
she's on the skids
Shoe ain't happy,
neither are the kids.
She needs someone
that she can scream at
And I'm such a heel
for makin' her feel so bad.

I guess I'll call it
sickness gone
It's hard to say
the meaning of this song.
An ambulance can only
go so fast
It's easy to get buried
in the past
When you try to make
a good thing last.

I saw today
in the entertainment section
There's room at the top
for private detection.
To Mom and Dad
this just doesn't matter,
But it's either that
or pay off the kidnapper.

So all you critics sit alone
You're no better than me
for what you've shown.
With your stomach pump and
your hook and ladder dreams
We could get together
for some scenes.

I never knew a man
could tell so many lies
He had a different story
for every set of eyes.
How can he remember
who he's talkin' to?
'Cause I know it ain't me,
and I hope it isn't you.

Well, I'm up in T.O.
keepin' jive alive,
And out on the corner
it's half past five.
But the subways are empty
And so are the cafes.

Except for the Farmer's Market
And I still can hear him say:
You're all just pissin'
in the wind
You don't know it but you are.

And there ain't nothin'
like a friend
Who can tell you
you're just pissin'
in the wind.

I never knew a man
could tell so many lies
He had a different story
for every set of eyes
How can he remember
who he's talking to?
Cause I know it ain't me,
and hope it isn't you.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Shaved Bear said...
"Are all Buddhists haters?"

If you have a brain, think.

The world [of shadow and light] is filled with suffering. Any fool can father a child - many of them often do.

And what future awaits these 'seeded weeds?' The oceans are polluted, the forests all but gone. The planet has three times as many people as it can 'carry.'

And the fools kneel, cross, and have another child - this one for the gipper.

john e mumbles said...

Except for the Farmer's Market
And I still can hear him say:
You're all just pissin'
in the wind
You don't know it but you are.

And there ain't nothin'
like a friend
Who can tell you
you're just pissin'
in the wind.

Rai Fargis / Burstup said...

Hi there. I enjoyed your latest blog entry. However, I want to add that Eckhart Tolle sometimes does speak about celibrity teachers, how it affects them (and him) and how to deal with it.

Sickofanticide said...

Brad - if they don't really like what you're writing then they would just stop reading it and they certainly wouldn't comment.

Gee whiz, Brad must love the stuff Genpo and Wilber write cause he comments about it enough. Nah. I sometimes even watch Fox News. They're a bunch of dildos, but still I watch. I like to read stuff I disagree with too.

Zach said...

Hokai - You are the PERFECT person to talk to!

Lemme just respond to the last thing first...

"On the other hand, whatever others have experienced, whether they are zen monks or not, its not your experience. Imo the best way to find that out for yourself is to take the precepts and manage that for your own life."

I have taken the precepts. I have taken the same 16 vows you have, BUT I still contend that we are BOTH lay practitioners.
This is the problem with Zen today... I remember when I first started practicing, I was in awe of the monks at the zen centers... but it didn't take long to start seeing however, that they were driving home in their Honda's and Volvo's just like everyone else, talking about their jobs and kids and spouses just like everyone else... So what the heck is the point of being a monk? They lived their lives just like a lay practitioner!
Personally, I am mistrustful of that sort of "monk"... Why did they feel the need to set themselves apart yet in reality sacrifice nothing about their life? How could they go through a ceremony where their teacher shaves off the last lock of hair as a symbol of the Buddha's own "home-leaving"... only to go straight home right after?
It's like the Buddha after escaping the palace, fleeing his comfortable life, cutting off his hair only to turn around and go right back home!!
Here in America, I think folks like Brad (sorry Brad) do these things are because they are good career moves... In the "Buddhism Scene" here in the States you can't really sell a book on Zen unless you have some sort of angle... at least be a "monk", that way the folks at Tricycle will want to interview you... maybe throw in a dash of punk rocker sensibilities and some irreverent anti establishment gestures to make yourself seem like you buck the system, stick it to the man... BUUUUUUT no so much that you are willing to call yourself exactly what you are - A LAYPERSON! If you are a Layperson the fear is nobody will give a shit about what you have to say... So the distinction between monk and layperson becomes deluded and blurred...

John Daido Loori nailed it when he said:
"Most of the lay practice that goes on in America is a slightly watered down version of monk practice, and most of the monk practice is a slightly glorified version of lay practice. In fact, there are controversies at most centers because frequently nobody can tell the difference between a monk and a layperson except for the way they dress. Monks usually wear black robes and lay practitioners wear robes of another color. Most American monks live in the world, away from monasteries. They are householders who keep full time jobs and have families. They don't shave their heads and don't take vows that are different from the vows that lay practitioners take. This results in ambiguity and confusion. This hybrid path halfway between monk practice and lay practice reflects our cultural spirit of greediness and consumerism. With all the possibilities, why give up anything? I want it all. Why not do it all?"

Hokai said:
"I took the precepts to study with my master and going deeper into relationship with my Sangha and at least to infiltrate my usual life with zen monk mindset.

I TOOK THE SAME PRECEPTS!:)
But I wouldn't dare call myself a zen monk.
Being a monk is not a mindset. It is a LIFEset.

Hokai said:
"Sure in the traditional way, I'm not a Zen monk..."
Agreed... and it goes for Brad too and probably 95% of American "monks" as well. It is, to put it bluntly, a bullet point on a resume'.

(I feel that I should say that I am not trying to insult anyone, so my apologies if anyone gets offended... this is an issue that I feel strongly about...)

Zach said...

ugh.... it sounds too strong...
sorry if this offended anyone, was trying not to...

Mr. Reee said...

B Monks v laypersons--I thought the only diff was they have been trained to teach one form or another of Buddhism.

I recall reading somewhere that anyone can practice zazen 'by alone'--but if you want to teach others about Buddhism, you need formal training.

In any case, if the philosophy is taken as it is, then exactly who is there to become a monk? It's like presenting Zen as a self-improvement program... lol.

Uku said...

Zach,

Brad's teacher has said that Brad is a monk. Are you arguing with Brad's teacher, are you saying that he is wrong ?

It seems this Zen monk- thing is really idealistic to you. You're fighting against tradition and against teachers. And that's fine. It doesn't change anything though.

Peace,
Another Zen monk

Zach said...

"B Monks v laypersons--I thought the only diff was they have been trained to teach one form or another of Buddhism.

This is what I am talking about!
Nobody can tell the difference!

As far as the above goes - this applies to lay teachers too... Aitken Roshi was a lay teacher - authorization to teach the Dharma is given from a teacher to a student, lay or monastic makes no difference.

We inherited a monastic tradition for better or for worse, and the Japanese have been blurring the lines between monk and laity for generations before we were even in the picture... So much so that many Japanese teachers think that Zen by and large is dead in Japan... Brad's own teacher thinks the Soto-shu is basically a guild of funeral directors... where "transmission" is basically a graduation ceremony for living in Eihei-ji or Soji-ji for a few years.

(But I digress...)

So now in the West monasticism is slowly becoming just another vehicle for advertising... Perpetuated by laypeople in black robes, who took the same vows as any layperson who took jukai but they got a lot of extra "stuff" and a little extra clout to put on the back of their dust jackets of their new book that's soon to be coming out...
Hardcore Zen... Dharma Punx... Great Heart Way... Mondo Zen... Big Mind... Buy their books, watch the trademark symbols start popping up - all perpetuated by "monks" who need money to live a life completely identical to any layperson!

This applies to 99% of the people calling themselves "Zen Monks" in America - they are laypeople in fancy robes.
And sadly, they are usually trying to sell you something...

Zach said...

"Brad's teacher has said that Brad is a monk. Are you arguing with Brad's teacher, are you saying that he is wrong?"


I am not arguing with Brad's teacher... he says Brad is a monk, so Brad is entitled to call himself such. But aside from fancy black robes and o'kesa... what is the difference between a monk and a layperson?
Maybe you could answer this question for me, since you are a monk... what is the difference?

Zach said...

"It seems this Zen monk- thing is really idealistic to you. You're fighting against tradition and against teachers. And that's fine. It doesn't change anything though."

Why did you want to be a monk? Is there something deficient about laypractice that you felt the need to wear black robes but live as a lay practitioner?
How are you a monk? Being married and with 3 kids?
What did "homeleaving" mean to you... when you never left home?

It's just a title... a badge of authority... why not just do away with laypractice altogether, and everyone who takes jukai can wear black robes and kesa and call themselves a monk...?

Mr. Reee said...

Well, I'm a layperson--but I'll take a stab at it.

Fundamentally (in the absolute sense), there is no difference, because there is no 'person' to be distinguished as monk or layperson. Nor are their archetypal monks or laypersons. All perceived distinctions belong to the realm of mind, and thus are 'empty' of inherit existence, separate from anything else.

On the other hand, in the relative or conventional sense (AKA in this world we live in), there are monks and laypeople. This is because we need useful fictions to organize our behaviors (this would include things like calendars, clocks, street corners, etc.)

Finally, if you take these two positions together as an expression of action--not abstraction, you find there is only action in the present moment, and nothing more, nothing less.

To bring it back to the question--are their differences between laypeople and monks? I'd say it depends entirely on what needs to be done, right here, right now.

If I need to learn about Buddhism (or learn how to teach it), I'd be inclined to speak to a monk.

If I just needed to jaw with someone about Buddhism, I suppose anyone would do. :)

Ran K. said...

g @ 9:00: [am]

- “They give you suggestions on what you should be writing because they have egos the size of houses” - can you hear how bad that sounds?

- “and want to believe they're part of your entourage” - [?!] this just might sound highly compatible to Mysterion to me.

Zach said...

"Fundamentally (in the absolute sense), there is no difference, because there is no 'person' to be distinguished as monk or layperson. Nor are their archetypal monks or laypersons. All perceived distinctions belong to the realm of mind, and thus are 'empty' of inherit existence, separate from anything else."

This is *Not* what I am talking about.
But to turn it around... If there is no difference then why don't all the folks who call themselves "monks" but who live lives indistinguishable from laypeople give back thier monk robes and just be lay practitioners...? If there is fundimentaly no difference then that shouldn't be such a big deal right?
(My guess is that the line to give back the black robe is going to be rather short...)

"On the other hand, in the relative or conventional sense (AKA in this world we live in), there are monks and laypeople. This is because we need useful fictions to organize our behaviors (this would include things like calendars, clocks, street corners, etc.)

Finally, if you take these two positions together as an expression of action--not abstraction, you find there is only action in the present moment, and nothing more, nothing less.


So monasticism is a "useful fiction"...?
I find it hard to understand what you are trying to say here... Are you arguing that there is a difference? Because from what I can see you are saying that: "you find there is only action in the present moment, and nothing more, nothing less" it sounds like what you are saying that there is NO difference at all... just action.
What is a monk action and what is a lay person action?
If that is so, then why the black robe?
Why the setting apart and above?
If there is no difference then why become a monk in the first place? Why make yourself seem like something that you are not?

"To bring it back to the question--are their differences between laypeople and monks? I'd say it depends entirely on what needs to be done, right here, right now."

It is pretty clear that you have no idea what the difference between a monk and a layperson is... (that is not an insult by the way - just a truism of the watered down dharma of today.)
And I am pretty sure that most of the Laypeople in black robes don't know the difference is either... going by their silence.

Just look at the monks at Shasta Abbey or at Zen Mountain Monastery... you will see a mighty big contrast between monk and lay practitioner at those two places...

Zach said...

Here is an interesting start... From Shasta Abbey

http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/BecomingBrochure.pdf

At Zen Mountain Monastery the process of becoming a monastic is up to ten times longer than Shasta Abbey...

http://www.mro.org/zmm/training/monasticpractice.php

Love or hate either of these two places, they are drawing a VERY CLEAR distinction between monk and lay practitioner... One that I think should be adopted than be abandoned.

Uku said...

Hi Zach,

if you have received the Precepts, then you're a monk. If you don't feel yourself as a monk, then you're not a monk.

It's about what you do and how you do it. Buddhism is all about action. If you don't accept Brad's teacher's opinion, that's fine. But it's important to respect each others opinions. I believe we can live with different ideas about being a monk. And actually I don't care if you or someone else don't accept Zen monks like Brad or me or Hokai. You have your own practice and I have my own practice. Ain't that something we should concentrate on, to help ourselves, to help others, to help all living beings?

Be well.

Peace,
Uku

Hokai said...

Zach, I want to know how you manage your Zen monk-life and please,be as honest as you can be.
I am really interested.
Gassho, Gerald

P.S.
What should it be in your eyes?

Mr. Reee said...

"It is pretty clear that you have no idea what the difference between a monk and a layperson is... (that is not an insult by the way - just a truism of the watered down dharma of today.)"

Actually, I agree with you. I don't know, other than what I've been told. :)

Zach said...

Uku said:
"if you have received the Precepts, then you're a monk. If you don't feel yourself as a monk, then you're not a monk."

As I have already said, I have already taken the precepts.
All 16 of 'em...
But I am not a monk.:)
I am a lay practitioner.

My issue is that there really is no difference between "monk" (as you and Hokai and Brad and 99% of the "monks" in the West understand it) and "lay practitioner"... the only difference is you get a bunch of extra robes. Other than the robes the activity of your life is lay activity. You have homes, wives, children, jobs, cars, mortgages... how can you call yourself a monk?

To be a monk is almost meaningless now. Just explain to me what makes your daily life so different that you feel as if you can call yourself a "monastic".

Hokai said:
"Zach, I want to know how you manage your Zen monk-life and please,be as honest as you can be.
I am really interested.

P.S.
What should it be in your eyes?"


Once again...
I am *not* a Zen monk.

My life is IDENTICAL to yours - it's a normal lay practitioner's life in the world!

I know what is should NOT be.
It should not be this weird hybrid... where the only difference between "Monk" and "Laity" is the stuff you wear.

In either of your guy's sanghas... are there any lay practitioners? People who have taken the precepts but who are not monks?
What was deficient in your minds about lay practice that wearing black robes and shaving your heads solved?

Harry said...
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Uku said...

Hi Zach,

perhaps you know but Vinaya monks and Zen monks are two different things. And probably you have heard the reasons why in Japanese tradition monks can be married and so on? I respect your opinions but the fact is that those are your opinions. They are not changing the facts.

I wrote

if you have received the Precepts, then you're a monk. If you don't feel yourself as a monk, then you're not a monk.

It's about what you do and how you do it. Buddhism is all about action. If you don't accept Brad's teacher's opinion, that's fine. But it's important to respect each others opinions. I believe we can live with different ideas about being a monk. And actually I don't care if you or someone else don't accept Zen monks like Brad or me or Hokai. You have your own practice and I have my own practice. Ain't that something we should concentrate on, to help ourselves, to help others, to help all living beings?


I wish you all the best!

Peace,
Uku

Zach said...

Uku said:
"perhaps you know but Vinaya monks and Zen monks are two different things. And probably you have heard the reasons why in Japanese tradition monks can be married and so on?"

Yes, the Japanese have been watering down their own tradition since the Meiji Revolution - when the government passed the Nikujiku Saitai Law of 1872, lifting the prohibition on monks to marry or eat meat.

But that is not my question.
My question, the one I keep asking and getting ZERO response even though I have asked it in at least 10 different ways is...

What is the difference between Monk and layperson, aside from extra stuff?
Other than the robes the activity of your life is lay activity. You have homes, wives, children, jobs, cars, mortgages... how can you call yourself a monk - you are a layperson in black robes.

Uku said:
"It's about what you do and how you do it. Buddhism is all about action."

What is the difference between monastic action and lay action??
What about wearing black robes and o'kesa makes your life any different from ANY lay practitioner??

Will SOMEBODY please answer these questions for me...??
Because up to now, they've just been dodged.

Uku said...

Hi Zach,

you have already received answers. Perhaps you should read those answers again? Perhaps you want to see only one kind of answer that fits in your definition and you ignore all the rest?

All the best in your Buddhist practice.

Best wishes,
Uku

Zach said...

Uku said:
"you have already received answers. Perhaps you should read those answers again?"

I have recieved responses to my posts, yes... But answers to my questions...? NO WAY.
You keep avoiding them.

You seem completely unable to answer my question... So I am going to assume that you have NO IDEA how to answer it.

You are a lay practitioner in black robes - not a monk.

Zach said...

This is to Uku...
Just humor me - cut and paste this:

"What is the difference between monastic action and lay action??
What about wearing black robes and o'kesa makes your life any different from ANY lay practitioner??


...And answer the question.
Be direct.
Let everyone be clear on the distinction between Monk and Laity.

Humor me.

Uku said...

Thank you Zach for this conversation. You have a right for your opinion. But in this matter I believe myself, my teacher and other teachers. We all have to create our own practice.

I wish you all the best in your practice.

Peace,
Uku

Zach said...

Annnnnnnd... *POOF*

Everyone clear?
Can anyone see the obvious distinctions now?
Thank you Uku for the enlightening clarification...

Any other "monk" wanna take a stab at this...?

Mysterion said...

distinction?

Mysterion said...

no matter where you go

when you get there

there you are.

Zach said...

Mysterion said:
"distinction?"

Yes distinction.
Otherwise all there is is some laypeople who wear black robes and have shaved heads, while others wear robes of another color.
If there is nothing of substance that distinguishes monk and layperson... then the very notion of monastic is a superficial one... one that shows the "spiritual materialism" of the "monk" in question.

(Not Zach) said...

Let me get this straight, Uku. Nishijima makes the statement that someone is a monk, so it becomes a fact that that person is a monk, whereas anything to the contrary is just opinion?!? C'mon, you don't really believe that, do you?

Also, which "other teachers" would approve of your...interpretation... of the word 'monk'? I'd really like to know that!

This whole idea about people referring to themselves as monks who in no way function as monks is so ridiculous that it hardly warrants further comment.

R said...

I haven’t read most of the argument, and I could hardly assume I was wrong in that, - but it is a significant fact that the Sixth Patriarch was never a monk.

It is not doubtful whether there was any greater master since? (anyone who does know better please let me know)


Things may be clearer with regard to the Vimalakirti Sutra. - Though all fiction, Vimalakirti being a lay person is no doubt significant here. Surpassing - in the story - all the Buddha's top disciples, - each in his own field of excellence.

As it should have been: - [aka - "Sorry, I forgot the link"] said...

I haven’t read most of the argument, and I could hardly assume I was wrong in that, - but it is a significant fact that the Sixth Patriarch was never a monk.

It is not doubtful whether there was any greater master since? (anyone who does know better please let me know)


Things may be clearer with regard to the Vimalakirti Sutra. - Though all fiction, Vimalakirti being a lay person is no doubt significant here. Surpassing - in the story - all the Buddha's top disciples, - each in his own field of excellence.

Mysterion said...

there is that nasty intellectual element of Buddhism again...

ya mean ya just can't be an ignorant lout out in the sticks and be Real Buddhist®?

There IS a significan amount of fetchin' up (education) in the Buddhist Philosophy/Faith/Way/Path/No Path.

One must first learn to identify the path before taking the no path.

"There is no suffering, no cause of suffering, no cessation of suffering, and no path."

Zach said...

Mysterion, who are you talking to?
And,
more importantly,
what is your point?

Mysterion said...

I am nobody addressing no one.

Why did YOU ask?

Of all the myriad of Buddhist stories, fables, and legends, my favorite remains:

The Buddha was asked how he arrived at this place (of awakening).

His answer: "If I held the ashes of my many passages (through the cycles of birth-death), they would be a mountain high."

Zach said...

Mysterion said...
"I am nobody addressing no one.

Why did YOU ask?"


Just trying to figure out if you were contributing to the argument in some unintelligible way or if you were just sitting at your computer typing in cheesy selected quotes from "Zen Flesh Zen Bones" into the void for no reason at all and at know one in particular...

Mysterion said...

My trek into Buddhism, being incidental, had no destination. I knew, by age 14, that the Christian Mythos was copied from a previous culture. So I headed upstream. Through Persia and the Seleukos Empires. You know my feelings - the IXEUS sayings, the NT parables - all borrowed from Buddhists.

But Buddhism did not spring, fully formed, from the head of Zeus. Buddhism is a reaction to Brahmanism - in particular the AUTHORITY vested in Brahmans (Priest Caste).

So I feel one needs to approach "these matters" with skeptical inquiry. The exact number of Sutras has never been established. I seriously doubt if the original number is greater than 48.

Almost all traditions tend to add and embellish the folklore over time and Buddhism is no exception.

So what are we to think?

Decide that for yourself.

Any authority that attempts to answer that question is either a self deluding fool or an ignorant nincompoop.

A monk might say: "Consider giving up beef."

Only a fool would say: "Give up beef."

Am I a nincompoop, dreaming that I am a fool or am I a fool, dreaming that I am a nincompoop, dreaming that I am a fool?

Mr. Reee said...

Still wondering about monk vs. layperson?

Maybe I can narrow it down.

It's a matter of function.

A monk does 'monk' things.

A layperson does 'layperson' things.

The emphasis is on 'does'... not on the names we use to describe who is doing something.

In other words, watch the verb, not the noun.

In Zen, a monk is a verb.

As to the difference between actions between monks and laypersons, I suppose a monk expresses more monk kinds of things that a layperson. But what exactly that is, I cannot say, because I'm not a monk.

Maybe it's like the whole 'what is a chariot' thing. Pull a chariot (or car) apart into its pieces and examine it carefully.

Where is the chariot?

Mr. Reee said...

Thinking it through--I suppose if I shaved my head, studied hard, took precepts, etc. then I could tell you about the difference between a monk and a layperson.

But I suspect that it would still involve things like eating, shitting, sleeping, standing, lying down, dreaming, having errant thoughts and worries, etc. The only thing that would probably be different is that I'd be able to teach. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make me into something other than I already am--which is honestly a damn mystery as it is.

Being a monk wouldn't clear that up--I'd probably just know how to speak of this mystery in a more intelligent way.

Zach said...

Mr Reese said:

"A monk does 'monk' things.

A layperson does 'layperson' things.


Mr Reese I think you are on the right track!
The situation that we are in at the moment in the West, is that there is no longer a distinction between monastic activity and lay activity.
The VAST majority of "monks" in the West are monks in ROBES ONLY... and in my opinion that is a HUGE problem.

People (most of them being laypeople... who wear monk robes) will defend themselves by saying that this is all "Japanese tradition" so therefore this situation is desirable - they are kidding themselves... it's NOT tradition, and there are fights going on today in Japan about these issues. Some even blame these issues for the slow DEATH of Zen in Japan.

If you have monk robes, and yet live a life identical to any lay practitioner, I think that says a lot about a person...

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

Crap, sorry, I screwed up with those posts. I tried to remove my first and write a new one because I thought my first post might have been understood kind of rude way. But that wasn't my intention. So here's the same post again:

Hi Zach,

you have pretty hard accusations against people and I'm wondering why are you so pissed off about this.

Antaiji's abbot has wrote:

The only question is: What meaning does it have to be a Zen monk and not live in a Zen monastery? Whenever people ask me this question, I answer: It depends on you, you have to give meaning to your monkhood. Either you do, or you do not. You can live in your apartment and have your kesa sitting somewhere on a shelf, collecting dust, or you give meaning to your being a monk through the way you live in daily life. But there is no fixed answer, you have to find your own.

I guess he's not a monk in your definitions because he's married and he has two kids? I still would like to add that there's nothing people can do against the tradition. I'm aware that so many are pissed off because of Japanese monkhood but there's nothing people can actually do. This has been a problem also in Finland and my teacher said that hopefully eventually people will start to see what I'm doing and who I am, instead of just looking some labels and definitions. Vinaya monks and Zen monks are two totally different things. Yes, they we're closer to each others centuries ago but not anymore. This fact shouldn't separate us but unite us, to offer two different paths to practice Buddhism in a very devoted way.

Like Muho wrote and like I have wrote and like my teacher and a lot of people have said including Mr. Reese wisely above: it's all about what do you, how you feel like. The essence of practice is not in the robes or in the labels. It's in action. Buddhism is action.

I don't seek a way where we can be happy together and agree. I truly believe that we can respect each others and to live together.

And besides, if there would be some other word in English and in Finnish than "Zen monk", I would use it, no doubt. But there isn't other word. I think "Zen monk" tells the difference between "Vinaya monks" and "monks". But this is not so important. Practice itself is much more important.

Take care,
Uku

Anonymous said...

Uku,

Your latest comment casts an entirely different light on this issue. I really don't think this discussion is about whether married Japanese (or others) who are ordained(!) and who actually function(!) as monks (i.e. spend their lives in a temple or monastery and carry out the day to day activities of monkhood) are in fact monks, even if they don't follow the vinaya.

That is certainly a valid matter of discussion, but it's not the issue here. Frankly I'm quite astonished that you equate yourself with such people as Abbot Muho. Do you really and truly see no difference?

The issue here is whether non-ordained laypersons (such as yourself), who are married and have children (such as yourself) and who in no way function in a way that would warrant referring to them as a monk as opposed to a lay practitioner (such as yourself), whether there is any justification for referring to such persons as 'monks'. I think not.

Uku said...

Hi anon,

thank you for your comment. You're twisting my words but that's ok. I haven't equate myself to nobody. I suggest you read my opinions again. Yes, they're opinions. As I see it, the essence of this whole issue lies in the action, not in labels or definitions. I have said everything I have to say about this. Thank you.

Peace,
Uku

Zach said...

The Anonymous has a point Uku.

The point isn't *just* about monks marrying...
Abbot Muho is somebody who ANYONE can look at and instantly recognise as worthy of the title monk. (I mean come on, after he graduated from a college in Japan, he lived for two years in various practice monasteries then as a homeless monk in a park in Osaka! Sitting all day in zazen on a wall next to a moat! And now is the abbot of a vigorous practice monastery that practices on average 1800 hours of zazen a year!)
He didn't just take his monastic vows and head back to Germany and get a day job and a house!

"As I see it, the essence of this whole issue lies in the action, not in labels or definitions.

...That is just a general statement that says nothing specific.

PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION!

What is the difference between monastic practice and lay practice??

The issue is that 99% of the "monks" in the western world live lives COMPLETELY INDISTINGUISHABLE from from the lives of lay practitioners! They go through a ceremony called shukke-tokudo, literaly meaning "To leave home and to attain the Way." AND THEN NOTHING CHANGES!
They go home to thier families!
They go back to their jobs!

It has become just another "thing"!
Something to impress the newbies at the Zen Center!
To other folks it is a vehicle to legitimize the book they are selling... a bullet point on a flippin' resume'!

This Dharma is a precious thing, not a costume where grown men and women can play make-believe at being things that they are obviously not!
Thanks goodness that there are monasteries in the West (like ZMM and Shasta Abbey for instance) who make a clear distinction between monastic and lay practice... but dammit they are too few and far between!

Our teachers teachers came to the West from Japan because they could see that it was dying... becoming a funeral buisness... They knew that it had been watered down to the point of irrelevance in their own country - They did not bring it here for us so that we could add MORE WATER!!

Zach said...

Here is a quote from Abbot Muho... I think this fellow is of a rare breed not found easily in this day and age - I would be honored and humbled to practice at his temple someday...
(I can't say enough good stuff about him...^^)

"Back to the topic: Why is it a problem that Buddhist priests are married, and what does it have to do with the decline of Japanese Buddhism? I would like to concentrate on my own case. First, I think we should make clear that it means a violation of the precepts when an ordained Buddhist monk, priest or whatsoever has sex. Surprisingly, a lot of monks or priests seem to disagree, stating that the precepts only forbid "sexual misconduct". One Buddhist scholar for example, who also is an ordained Buddhist priest, in an e-mail exchange (that can be found in the January issue) quotes Dogen Zenji himself as saying in the Shushogi "...third, do not engage in improper sexual conduct". What the scholar doesn't say though is that the Shushogi, from which he takes the quote, was actually authored by a layman more than 600 years after Dogen's death. Most, or all, of the Shushogi though consist of quotes from Dogen's Shobogenzo. But I couldn't find the expression "improper sexual conduct" ("ja-in" in Japanese) anywhere in Dogen's writing. And even if he was using the expression somewhere, he would be referring to lay believers, not ordained monks. The third precept for monks is not "no improper sexual conduct" or "no sexual misconduct" but: "NO SEX AT ALL". Being imprecise with one's own interpretation of the precepts in order to make it fit one's preferences or circumstances, but then point one's finger at others that have "solemnly taken the precepts" and then go on to break them is just hypocritical in my view.

So to be clear: I am an ordained monk and I am married. I have two children. I am breaking the precepts. When I am talking about the decline of Japanese Buddhism, I am also talking about my own practice. If I start to point my finger at others (and I always feel the temptation) without reflecting on my own practice, I will end up like said Buddhist scholar myself. I would calculate another man's treasure - or in this case: Other men's faults! - while never bothering to look into my own pockets."


Here is a link to the full essay, I would advise anyone interested to read his newsletters - ESPECIALLY the "10 years after Aum" series...

Anonymous said...

"A Broken Precept"

Heh - i forgot to link it...:)

http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/200805.shtml

The Redundicant said...

fucking sweet ricky