Saturday, October 30, 2010

IS BLAMING THE VICTIM A "ZEN" THING TO DO?

An anonymous commenter on this blog said:

"You shouldn't see people as victims because the victims are the ones at fault. I guess you could say that they really wanted or needed to be abused. Anyway, this controversy doesn't seem to warrant the of time effort and energy Brad would need to devote to it in order to even form an opinion. Dude has got shirts to move."


This was in response to my response to comments regarding allegations against a certain Zen teacher. He's named in the comments section. But I'm not going to name him here. I basically said that I felt the matter wasn't really worth the time effort and energy I'd need to devote to getting to the bottom of it so that I could form an opinion. It would take a lot of detective work to even get a sense of who did what and why among the morass of he-said she-said that is all I have to go by at this point. I expressed the opinion that it's a "buyer beware" situation when you start working with any spiritual teacher. Even if I were to ferret out what I think really happened in this case and make my opinions known, it wouldn't do a whole lot of good. Not everyone listens to me, and even if they do I'd only be exposing one guy. I don't have the time, energy or even the inclinaton to police the entire world of spiritual masters.

I've written a lot in my books, on this blog and in contributions I've made to various magazines and spoken a lot in interviews and public talks about how one might go about detecting the minority of abusive charlatans out there masquerading as Zen teachers and other types of spiritual masters. My friend Scott Edelstein just came out with a book called Sex and the Spiritual Teacher: Why It Happens, When It's a Problem, and What We All Can Do that also spends a great deal of energy trying to address this sort of problem and help prospective students understand how not to fall into the same traps others have before.

There's a movement afoot to try and come up with some sort of data base of approved Soto Zen teachers. The Soto Zen Buddhist Association (SZBA) is a group that tries to police its membership and weed out the fakes. I don't belong to SZBA for a number of reasons, one of which is that ultimately I think this strategy of creating a data base of reliable teachers will have to fail. One would assume that one of the original purposes of the Holy Roman Catholic Church was to try to create an organization that would police itself so that whenever you placed your kids in the care of members of that organization you could be assured someone was going to be responsible should anything go wrong. We all know how well that worked out. The SZBA seems to be pretty good for now, but this is ultimately a losing strategy.*

All you can really do is talk in general terms. I used the phrase "buyer beware" to express that. It's best to keep your bullshit detector in good working order when approaching any kind of spiritual teacher. Buddha himself even said this in the Kalama Sutra, which I've quoted so often it hurts.

There's another deeper issue this comment raises, though. The commenter says, "the victims are the ones at fault. I guess you could say that they really wanted or needed to be abused." I have to assume he is trying to throw back in my face attitudes he believes he has heard me express. But he doesn't get it. So I'm going to try again.

I have often said that I believe whatever we get in this life is, at some level, something we wanted or needed. When I say this I am only applying it inwardly to myself. I never look at someone else in a shitty situation and say, "That person must have wanted it." But I often look at myself when I'm in a shitty situation and ask, "In what way did I want or need this shitty thing to happen?"

The strategy of pointing to others and saying they wanted whatever awful thing they got doesn't help anyone. I highly recommend avoiding it. Everyone will hate you if you say it out loud. If you say it only to yourself you'll end up coming off smug and heartless, and everybody will also hate you then too. So don't even say it just to yourself no matter how tempting it might be. This is a very important point. Don't pass it over, please.

But when I apply this view to myself, my own suffering becomes much easier to bear. I remember one of the first major incidents when I tried applying this thinking to myself. It was in the early 1990s. I was brutally physically attacked on the streets of Akron by people I did not know at all for reasons I have never been able to comprehend. As far as I could tell then and as far as I can tell now in retrospect the attack was absolutely random. And, by the way, these guys were most definitely trying to kill me.

I won't go into the full story here. Maybe I've told it elsewhere, I don't know. In any case, after the attack I thought to myself, "Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is somehow something we wanted, how does that apply here?"

One might assume that this sort of thinking would lead to self-blame and make me feel even worse. But that's not what happened at all. When I began framing it this way to myself I felt like less of a helpless victim and more like a person who could do something active to improve his own life. And I did. I moved to Japan and incredible, wonderful things started happening. For the first time in my life I stopped feeling like a victim of circumstance and really took control of my fate. Had I not started thinking this way I might still be living in Akron feeling sorry for myself.

I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it. But even if it turns out I'm wrong, this way of thinking has been so incredibly useful I still wouldn't give it up.

While I never, ever apply this sort of thinking to others and say, "Ha! They wanted that awful thing to happen!" I do try and communicate this view to others because it's been so useful to me. Of course the danger is that what I say will be misinterpreted by people like the guy who left the comment. But I've also seen clearly that absolutely anything you say can and will be misinterpreted. Even if you take a vow of silence, that too can and will be misinterpreted. Such is life.

I'd also like to thank the commenter for pointing out the availability of an ever growing variety of attractive T-shirts designed by me over at http://www.redbubble.com/people/bradwarner. Get yours today!

And if you're in Montreal and want to talk to me about this, go to the Chapters bookstore downtown around 7 o'clock where I'll be signing books.


*Which is not to say I'll never join the SZBA. I might someday. But not because I'll change my mind about this particular point.

140 comments:

Dennis Genpo Merzel said...

I kid you not.

Janne said...

But what about people who get killed in violent attacks such as you faced. Did they also actually need to be killed or was it their true will to be dead?

If one believes in rebirth literally this theory could be logical, but I know you don't so please explain further.

tattoozen said...

Janne- Dont miss the point where Brad says "I only apply this to myself"

You cant think for another and you certainly cant think for the universe. you can look at your OWN life and try to make sense of that, but what I think brad is saying and I agree with myself is that this way of looking at the world can only be applied by YOU to YOURSELF, not ohers.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Even if you take a vow of silence, that too can and will be misinterpreted. Such is life.

Well said. I wish I could take a vow of silence, but everyone around me would just say "aww, he's being aloof", or "he must be mad at me".

Finally finished the new book. Love it. (X-cept fo' the goofy footnotes, he-he, ha-ha....but I realize that's just Brad's humor).

R said...

“I have often said that I believe whatever we get in this life is, at some level, something we wanted or needed. When I say this I am only applying it inwardly to myself. I never look at someone else in a shitty situation and say, "That person must have wanted it." But I often look at myself when I'm in a shitty situation and ask, "In what way did I want or need this shitty thing to happen?"

The strategy of pointing to others and saying they wanted whatever awful thing they got doesn't help anyone. I highly recommend avoiding it. Everyone will hate you if you say it out loud. If you say it only to yourself you'll end up coming off smug and heartless, and everybody will also hate you then too. So don't even say it just to yourself no matter how tempting it might be. This is a very important point. Don't pass it over, please.”.

It doesn’t sound very sincere. And it doesn’t make sense, too.

I don’t believe you can’t apply it to others, and I have a good example of someone who did, successfully.


“I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it.” - What does this mean? (!)


I don’t know but this may be just the reason brad got this comment. KWIM.


(- and Janne, - how do you “know” - I’m kind of curious, - did Mysterion tell you?)

Mumbling Mysterion said...

Once again...

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.

R said...

Janne - I'm joking about Mysterion (btw, - talking about a vow of silence, - I mean, - just consider ...) but I am serious about the question. Not that important though.

Janne said...

Well Brad said himself:

"In fact in my case it didn’t really fix much of anything. OK. A few nagging fears that had dogged me for ages were gone. I'm no longer afraid I'm going to die someday. That doesn't mean I don't fear death at all. It's just that I don't fear it as death. I don't worry that one day I'm going to disappear. I can't disappear. Neither can you or anyone else. Yet you're not going to live forever either. You’re gonna be dead as a doornail someday and ain't nothin' gonna bring you back. You won't get reincarnated either."

http://suicidegirls.com/news/culture/23675/

R said...

Janne - “I'm no longer afraid I'm going to die someday. That doesn't mean I don't fear death at all. It's just that I don't fear it as death. I don't worry that one day I'm going to disappear. I can't disappear. Neither can you or anyone else.” - I could say this for myself too. And even if I could disappear this wouldn’t necessarily be frightening. I just wouldn't exist.

Second - I'm gonna be dead - but not as a doornail, doornails don't die in the first place.

- And - “You won't get reincarnated either”, - B is misleading you. - He is not going to. - Most people will. - He’s intentionally getting misunderstood. - Some do that too.

r said...

(I haven’t read the whole thing. I might want to but I easily get a headache.)

proulx michel said...

Years ago, at the time of the infected blood scandal, in France, a minister declared that she felt responsible yet not guilty. Immediately she was shot down in full flight by the media, who pretended that she was playing upon words. But the distinction was, I feel, important.
We have a share of responsibility in what happens to us. But we have to be careful into not transforming that into guilt. We are NOT guilty that thugs assult us. But we have to examine our responsibility in it.

I have stated this countless times, but I have had a very bad master in my trade, who was more interrested in humiliating me than in teaching me violin making. But I had been warned by my father not to trust him. And I had had quite a few warnings from the man's behaviour as well. So if I stuck with him, wasn't it that, through my desperation to learn violin making, I was providing the thug with the club with which to club me?

The real solution would have been to go somewhere else, but I chickened out because that would have meant going abroad, in a foreign land, having to starve and work hard outside the school to pay for my tuition fees and so on.

So the "buyers beware", in the end remains the only solution. What's more, Anonymous' attempts to drag Brad into the feud with Graham are counterproductive, since they just annoy those who are too far away to be able to do anything about it, and won't change anything to those who are still enthralled by the man. I have here, in my city, a Dharma "uncle" who might deserve a lot of criticism, but that won't deter his disciples, who think that his Dharma talks are "truly inspired" and would probably think mine are a tad too plain and down to earth.

doornail said...

wtf

Zach said...

Brad... I am surprised.
Disappointed and a little sickened too...

You seemed to find all the time in the world to go after Genpo and his scam, arguing over topics like what is enlightenment, and how you know that what Genpo is selling ain't it... Stuff, that is arguably hard to pin down.

But when it comes to things that are EASILY verified such as ordination papers - it just isn't worth your time???

Oh yeah?
Where is YOUR proof that you are ordained?
(and with that question, *BAM*, you can instantly substantiate your ordination right? Pictures of your papers? Pictures of your ordination ceremony? OF COURSE YOU CAN!)

Barry Dogo Graham has NEVER done this, even after being repeatedly asked!

Just by looking at the Raksu's he has done for people you can tell he is a sham!

http://thegrahamscam.blogspot.com/2010/10/my-rakusu.html

http://thegrahamscam.blogspot.com/2010/10/another-rakusu-disaster.html

http://thegrahamscam.blogspot.com/2010/10/commentary-on-chugais-rakusu.html


You know Japan...? he claims (on Sitting Frog Zen website) that he trained "...at Butsudo Zen Center in Kyoto, Japan, where he received Dharma Transmission from Ando Yamashiro Roshi."

http://sites.google.com/site/sittingfrogzen/teacher

Is that hard for somebody that speaks Japanese to verify this??

I will NEVER for the life of me understand why teachers don't think that exposing fakers is important...
It's hard enough for a new student to figure what's what when first starting out on the Zen path, and having the proof, pictures, paper and pedigree is no guarantee that the teacher is a good one.

But THIS...
There has got to be a standard, a base line at least, to be able to tell if people are even what they say they are.
And most importantly, there has to be teachers who take it as their responsibility.

(And PS - Hawking your T shirts in a blog posting where the poster you quote is ripping on you for being more interested in hawking your t shirts than caring weather or not Barry Graham is legit.... a tad low brow IMO.)

Sorry - this whole thing makes me a little hot under th' rakusu...

Seriously said...

What is the difference between enlightenment and schizoid personality disorder?

Brad Warner said...

Zach, someone asked me once a long while ago about whether a certain Zen teacher (you guess who, I'm not telling) was legit or not. I told him that I honestly didn't know but that if he wondered about this he could simply ask that Zen teacher to produce his certificates or have his ordaining teacher write a letter vouching for it. I told him that's what I did once when such questions came up about me. When I saw a lot of stuff about that Zen teacher on the Internet I started wondering if I was the one who touched off the storm.

And, by the way, to me the Genpo Roshi stuff is far easier to pin down. I can see simply by watching one of his Big Mind® videos that he is a charlatan. Anyone with even very limited Zen experience can, and many others have. No need to ask for paperwork.

In fact, Genpo's paperwork is all very much in order. Which also says something about the issue of paperwork. It doesn't mean you're not a charlatan just because you have a certificate of authenticity.

Zach said...

"And, by the way, to me the Genpo Roshi stuff is far easier to pin down. I can see simply by watching one of his Big Mind® videos that he is a charlatan. Anyone with even very limited Zen experience can, and many others have. No need to ask for paperwork."

Sigh...
Sadly, you are all too right about this. I am in the same lineage Genpo is, and to me personally, Genpo is doing EVERYTHING that my teacher warned to look out for... and is a charlatan. Even my teacher never came out publicly against Big Mind, but to his students he said the whole thing looked like a scam to make money...

Sorry if I came out strong.
I guess the authorities can only do so much - it's just frustrating.

As an aside, Barry Graham has booted folks who asked him about papers/proof...
I guess this is proof enough that he is a fraud.

R said...

Check this link from Zach.

Check the bottom two lines.

Tells you what Tricycle is good for.

What Dogen calls “stupid secular people” may not always be apparent.

Apparently.

It may be more important than the what's-his-name story in itself. (- Not that I understand why Brad won’t mention his name)

+ said...

If a person fakes his credentials once it means he's a fake.

No true master would do that.

I can't really see why anyone would see such an essential need to go further.

Ashiq Chris said...

If I buy into the notion of anatman (that there is no "self") - and I do - then "blaming the victim" makes no sense. I am the universe; the victim is the universe too; so I am to blame for others' suffering.

Even if I don't buy into it, it makes no sense. I mean, which is more likely: African kids starve because of negative consequences of karma from a previous life, or subsidies to US and European farmers made by people I elected make indigenous African farming prohibitively expensive causing repeated famines, all so that I can spend $4 on Cheerios and buy my third plasma-screen TV with the money I save?

But even if you don't accept that, the starving Africans cause you suffering as well because if they weren't suffering, they would be economically, socially, culturally, academically, intellectually and politically more active, contributing more to humanity generally. We all miss out because little Mbutu isn't eating today.

Anonymous Bob said...

"I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it. But even if it turns out I'm wrong, this way of thinking has been so incredibly useful I still wouldn't give it up."

Fascinating.. It seems to me that you are saying that belief is more useful than the truth.

CAPTCHA : reagun : I kid you not

Uku said...

Anonymous Bob,

ever heard of a term "prajna"? :)

Mysteriously mumbling said...

R at 9:56 AM:

That last sentence in parentheses, you should've stopped at

"-Not that I understand..."

Captcha: wimmon

What's Worse? said...

When we attach to a problem, we make the problem worse. When we attach to a solution, we make the problem worse. - Dogo Barry Graham

Barry G said...

My chicks are cuter than Brad's Finnish lasses...check 'em out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzSXUdPnjws&feature=player_embedded

Anonymous said...

"He's named in the comments section. But I'm not going to name him here. I basically said that I felt the matter wasn't really worth the time effort and energy I'd need to devote to getting to the bottom of it so that I could form an opinion."

What a complete and utter load of bollocks. You could have "gotten to the bottom of it" in half the time it took it took me to read this post, much less the time you took to write it.

You refuse to use a name that you simply point to elsewhere on your blog - why? For what reason? Why the gamesmanship, obfuscation? Just say what you mean. Is it related to the picture of you embracing each other? You are already involved - own it.

Brad, you seem happy to accept your role as Zen authority when it suits you. You keep saying how you don't like to accept money for teaching Zen, and complain about others who do so, but you make your living essentially teaching Zen, in the guise of writing books - If you weren't a "Zen Master" no one would care, and you apparently wouldn't have any subject matter to write about.

Graham is symptomatic of exactly the shadow you and your work is casting. He's clearly modeled himself on you, as others are. You seem to have plenty of time to form opinions about all kinds of other pointless things. Own your impact in the milieu - I wish you weren't so prevalent, but unfortunately for us all, you are.

Kevin Souza seems to have made your work easy - go to his blog, spend the 15 minutes it takes to read all of its contents, and if you aren't convinced that BARRY GRAHAM is a complete fraud and pathological user then you shouldn't be teaching anyone anything, much less asserting yourself as an authority about Zen - which you unequivocally do, all your disclaimers notwithstanding.

What a cop out.

Anonymous said...

zach @ 9:22:

precisely!
precisely because the fakery of the faker is already out there for others to see and read, precisely because dude can't/won't produce credentials or letters of authentication...
precisely because of these things and all your links to documentation of these shenanigans from other sources
precisely no need for anyone else to denouce the guy, it's been done done already

Anonymous said...

anon. @6:20

ditto for you

you seem to be saying with regard to Mr. Graham: he is a pile of shit! See, he smells like shit and it's been documented! See, he feels like shit and the labs have tested it! Now Brad, come over here and taste it and tell me that doesn't taste exactly like shit!

How much verification of his sleaziness do you need?
Why do you need Brad to denouce the pathetic dude's ass to be satisfied that the dude has been sufficiently denounced?

snessfir: I kid you not

Anonymous said...

There are always sociopaths and psychopaths who seek to use others, steal from them, abuse. The methods just change with the scenery, as new opportunities present themselves. Warner has largely crafted the parameters for this con job.

Do we leave victims to just figure out in what way they 'secretly desired' to be abused? Or do we speak out when we smell rat?

When the smoke around Graham grows so thick that potential victims have to virtually choke on it to get near him, then the American Zen community will have done its job. He is asserting himself as an authority in that community. He isn't. He's a two-bit con man and abuser.

This is not "he said/she said", or anything close to it.

Captcha = luenta said...

anon @ 6.20 etc,

You sound exasperated that Brad isn't doing what you'd do if you were Brad...Or that Brad isn't responding how Brad would respond if he were you.

Well...

Anonymous said...

The trouble with SBZA is that it gains most of it's authenticity from members who truly are working dharma or whatever... but like all organizations it will be infiltrated and corrupted by some and membership withheld as blackmail or used as a shield for evils. Such things are inevitable.

So one must be very careful whom they lend their trust and identity to because you will be judged by the company you keep - just like Aesop's farmer catching the stork in his field.

Anonymous said...

@ Captcha = luenta

not at all. He chose to address the issue - only in the laziest, most irresponsible way imaginable. If he's going to address it, ADDRESS IT.

C-O-P O-U-T.

phoonsms said...

Anon @ 7.09pm etc

You sound exasperated that Brad didn't address the issue the way you have addressed the issue.

Well...

Anonymous said...

anon @6:46


who now DOESN'T know that the emperor isn't wearing clothes?
seems plain to see

Brad or anyone else saying 'now looka he'ah, all these people have documented seeing the emperor claiming to wear clothes, but...as evidenced he'ah, he ain't got a stich on!

Do you, sir(or madam as the case may be) not have your own eyes?

Perhaps you expect Brad to oversee a zen equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition

well, well, well....

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
(thanks M.P.)

Anonymous said...

anon@7:09

you aren't lazy if you aren't doing something that doesn't need to be done

Master Svaha said...

Brad has no problem slamming Genpo as a fake. But when it comes to someone like Barry Graham, he is not willing to even name him. One wonders why...

feudsch said...

Master Svaha,

Perhaps Brad hasn't named whoever, this time, because he doesn't want to provide quotes that will very likely be used by this person's friends or enemies as fuel for yet another online spat - - for all the reasons stated in his post and in his subsequent comments.

Master Svaha said...

But Brad seems to have no problem providing quotes that can be and has been used by Genpo's friends or enemies as fuel for online spats...

feudsch said...

Yes indeed, Master S, but Brad feels rather differently about Genpo and...whoever.

Have you read the post and comments?

Master Svaha said...

What post/comments?

feudsch said...

Brad and Barry are lovers. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I'm just saying.

phoonsms said...

Not Lovers, butt buddies.

Readings by Robert said...

Funny, Graham claims to not believe in anything and Mysterion claims not to believe in anything. Butt buddies.

NellaLou said...

Karma=one of the 5 Niyamas or processes that move in the world.

There is no karma without intention. Unless Brad intended to get the shit kicked out of him, by taunting those guys or whatever, karma attached to him is irrelevant. It was not his "karma" to take an ass-whooping. Similarly with other "victims". The whole point, it seems, when Brad writes about the application of karma to himself is this. His intention.

Tsunamis, rape, abuse, fraud and so forth are not karma driven by those who are victim to these things.

There is no big scorekeeper in the sky keeping a list of who's naughty and nice.

Here's a big explanation about it. There are many if you google Buddhist Niyamas.

The Theory of Karma Basically Karma is not fatalism.

And if you don't like the Theravada explanation here's one from the Mahayana, specifically from a Zen guy.

Komment on Karma

Here's a list of the Niyamas for those too lazy to look it up.

Utu-niyama are the laws of physics, such as the weather and the changes brought about by heat and cold.
Bija-niyama are laws of heredity, which is best described in the adage, "as the seed, so the fruit."
Citta-niyama laws of psychology and cognition.
Kamma-niyama is law of cause and effect. [and it's not "personal" =anatta, nor is it the "law of attraction" or some other kind of bullshit like that]
Dhamma-niyama is the laws of the interdependence of all things, the way all things arise, exist and then cease.

Basic fucking Buddhism. Sheesh.

NellaLou said...

On the Barry Graham situation.

I've been writing about this for a couple of years as have a few others.

There's no reason Brad has to get on his high horse and go after the guy. He's got his own issues.

So what if Brad takes a stand and denounces him. Anyone actually think Graham cares about that? Brad, Joko Beck, John Tarrant, Kobutsu Malone, guys on death row and hundreds of others are only extras in the melodrama Graham's created and wallows in. He plays all these parts-big time international writer, Zen master, death row reporter and so on. Then invokes Ikkyu and/or some PTSD victim role when he gets called on it. He's got the angles sussed out.

Other than warning people, which Brad is rather tepidly doing, there is not much more that can be done unless someone files some charges. And I know that there are a few people who do have a viable legal case. This would likely include anyone who he performed a marriage ceremony for since he is not a recognized clergy person by any authorizing body. [that's called fraud Here is more on that specifically in reference to the Graham situation.]

Kevin said...

I agree Nella, he doesn't have to go after the guy, but I don't agree with the comment of "having the bullshit detector on" or the "buyer beware".

Yes, we do have to be aware, and do our best to weed through the bullshit.

But. Brad's met Graham, and even believed that he was a Rinzai teacher. He mentions it. I believe they were even in communication for a bit.

So, where was Brad's "bullshit detector"? If he was a new student off the street, like myself, he could've just as easily been duped like the rest of us. Yes, this is speculation, but Graham is VERY convincing off the bat. He talks a great game. He hasn't made it this far by not.

Sometimes that detector just isn't sharp enough. The guys that are good at this, know what they're doing. It's dangerous.

Rich said...

Seriously said...
What is the difference between enlightenment and schizoid personality disorder?

9:29 AM

The enlightened one sees the disorder in himself, the unenlightened one doesn't.

Brad, thanks for your teaching. I think I know why I wanted that shitty thing to happen -) and I'm already acting with a new understanding.

FIVE TONS OF FLAX! said...

Rich, If it was a simple as that, most all of us here would already see ourselves as enlightened.

Oh..

Most all of us here do see ourselves as enlightened.

R said...

First mumbles now ashiq chris this blog is taken over by black magic sufis!

NellaLou said...

Hey Kevin @11:32 I do recall when Graham was making remarks about being Brad's good buddy, dharma cousin or whatever. It was around the same time he was trying to get the dharma book published by Brad's old publisher. We don't hear anything about that book these days though. So who knows, maybe Brad, the publisher and other affiliated people got scammed by him too.

It's helpful to step back from these teachers and check out who actually publically supports them and who doesn't. I don't see many (other than Bernie Glassman) openly supporting Genpo for example. He just isn't mentioned by anyone or quoted, nor does his writing appear very often outside the Wilber/Cohen circle. But then again there is a whole underground set of connections in the Zen hierarchy. For example Big Mind is used at Jan Chosen Bay Roshi's very mainstream Great Vow Zen Monastery but you *never* see that advertised, mentioned on the website or in any ads. [it is mentioned in this video as a workshop topic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR6OG_okPJ4 at timecode 9:22]

So yeah the buyer not only has to beware but do some digging as well to find out what's really going on.

tattoozen said...

Jello Biafra once said that if you don't like a certain television show, turn the channel and if you don't like the Dead Kennedys then put on a different record. You dont need to eradicate the things you are uncomfortable with in the world.

If this Barry whoever is bothering you then dont go to him as a teacher. Simple as that. When you begin to round up a posse and demand that everyone be just as outraged as you are then you are the problem. Sooner or later those sort of witch hunts turn on themselves and everyone get a taste of burning at the stake.

Do the best YOU can in your life, spread the word if you must, but demanding that others to join in your crusade is where it gets scary. Please note that Brad never asked anyone to hate Genpopo, he put forth his view and facts and figured you would either be outraged or not, at the end of the day he didn't denounce anyone who decided not to agree with him.

I don't know who Barry is or anything about him, but if what he did is criminal then you should call the cops, if its merely morally reprehensible then don't patronize his services and spread the word in a reasonable way, more than that and you are causing harm, in my opinion.

R said...

Fake R @ 5:42 up here - I must've missed ashiq chris. Didn't read much.

R said...

R @ 7:49 am says: “I don’t believe you can’t apply it to others, and I have a good example of someone who did, successfully”.

There you are.

R said...

First real R then fake R then real R then fake R, these R's R taking over this blog!

R said...

Anon Bob @ 1:12 pm & Uku @ 1:27 pm: - What Brad is saying is not about Prajna. Brad kind of contradicts Sangai-yuishin and I’ve referred to this before but this is not the point.

Brad’s idea is that even though his thesis may be wrong he found out the subsequent line of thought proves practical. - So even if his initial assumptions are wrong this somehow works. Perhaps (theoretically*) due to other reasons he does not know. So he’d follow the line of action that proved useful even if he doesn’t really know why or how it works. Even in case he’s wrong, - he might find the real reasons later.

This is the rationale behind what he’s saying.


[* Cause Brad does not seem to always tell us the truth. See mine @ 8:36 am.]

R said...

And 6:36 is a fake.

RRRR said...

What is a pirate's favorite letter?

R

Rinpoche said...

Funny name, - Siegel.

... said...

Says who?

Anonymous said...

Brad says: "to me the Genpo Roshi stuff is far easier to pin down. I can see simply by watching one of his Big Mind® videos that he is a charlatan."

This is exactly how I feel about Graham. I've read his blog and watch the vid clips strewn about online, and all I can figure is that his accent is too seductive for Americans to handle. Scots are charming, no doubt. But the crap he says is almost invariably total bullshit.

And your opinion about Merzel is simply that - your opinion. It doesn't "pin down" anything. Graham on the other hand has a half-dozen women testifying that he suckered and abused them, a dozen former students saying he deceived and stole from then, the only Zen teachers he's had any proven contact with disavowing him and worse, and a long trail of proven deceptions, thievery, and lies IN PRINT. How you extrapolate that this is somehow less convincing than your exalted assessment of Merzel is beyond me.

So yeah, Brad, get your bullshit detector recalibrated, dude.

anon said...

Kevin said: "So, where was Brad's "bullshit detector"? and, Sometimes that detector just isn't sharp enough. The guys that are good at this, know what they're doing. It's dangerous."

Despite his early nom de plume of Doubtboy, Brad has great faith and to his credit stands in polar opposition to dirtbags like Barry Graham even if he doesn't want to say so.

Brad said earlier, "I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it. But even if it turns out I'm wrong, this way of thinking has been so incredibly useful I still wouldn't give it up."

I think this is basic in Brad's philosophy and it doesn't seem much different from what the Baptists down the road believe. Put yourself in God's hands and get out of the way. What he wrote above seems to be a nice mental trick. But is it Buddhism?

Zach said...

One of the best reasons for going after people like Barry Graham was stated eloquently by Carl Sagan.

"One of the saddest lessons in history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new ones rise.

People seek out a teacher at first... well... because they can acknowledge that there is something they don't know... and are willing to disconnect the bullshit detector to give the benefit of the doubt to the person representing the "tradition"...

That is how people get hooked.

That is how "zen Master Rama's" start.

And most importantly, that is why teachers need to lead the charge against frauds and hucksters like Barry Graham.

R (as in “Ran Kenningsburg”) said...

I havn't read so much of the C so I am not sure how the following would come off, however...

and btw said...

What is a "zen" thing to do?

I mean is "zen" about "zen" or is it about the universe everybody lives in? Is it aimed at itself or is it aimed at everything? Are you seeking to master some weird unclear thing called "zen" or are seeking to master living in reality?


R.


R

OMG said...

I didn't even post the last one. I posted another one and it was there, and I don't even think I clicked PYC and it posted the new one, and the old one is gone. It's worse than trolls.

Also Ran said...

Must be black magic, like you, or me or who? said earlier. Fucking sufis.

and said...

108 - you must not miss the 3rd link up on Brad’s post;

I think mumbles will like the book I linked @ 6:30 am; (not joking)

I linked the wrong song @ 7:00 am.

Old Bamboozles said...

Why are you being so mean, Brad? We want you to agree with us and save us from ourselves. Is that so wrong? Isn't that what a zen saviour is supposed to do? We need your validation because we are not sure enough of ourselves to believe our own opinions. Please help! Quit "copping out"!

YKW said...

And there's another me up there too. [9:10 am]

Real diligent T.

Next is Zen.

Zach said...

Wow Old Bamboozles...
What a load of trolling crap.

Do you actually think folks are waiting with baited breath for Brad's holy words to "save us from ourselves"...??
The issue is that Barry Graham is a obvious fake.
Folks are just trying to understand why authentic teachers remain silent in regards to it...

Jesus, it is even obvious from the blog's responses that even IF Brad came out endorsing Barry Graham, that people would still not buy "Dogo's" bullshit.

If teachers can get together (as in the Aitken - Shimano letters) to call out another teacher on their bullshit, then why cant they come together to publicly decry outrageous frauds.

... said...

And my post is gone again.

It was there before “and”.

I’ll try again.

Old Dirty Bamboozle said...

Zach, yours and others righteous indignation is pretty funny. Getting all worked into a lather like a bunch of tea partiers.

Who gives a shit about "authentic teachers" whatever that may or may not be? Like Brad says there are legit ones who will bamboozle you, and fake ones who will enlighten. WTF?

Grow up.

R [1] said...

- “I can see simply by watching one of his Big Mind® videos that he is a charlatan. Anyone with even very limited Zen experience can, and many others have. No need to ask for paperwork.” - I can’t really. Not from the little I’ve seen. Though it may be easy to see that Andrew Cohen possesses more or less zero understanding.

- Of anything.

- And - Brad - when you say he is a charlatan do you mean he has not got the Dharma as the expression Dogen uses in Shobogenzo Raihai-tokuzui? - I never recall you saying this explicitly, and I don’t even think you think so, - so ...


You know why I mention this chapter.

Zach said...

"Who gives a shit about "authentic teachers" whatever that may or may not be? Like Brad says there are legit ones who will bamboozle you, and fake ones who will enlighten. WTF?

Name a fake teacher who has enlightened anyone?

All you are saying is that there is no difference between real or fake, so who cares anyway... and THAT sir/ma'am, is a load of nonsense.

john e mumbles said...

According to Red Pine (the amazing Bill Porter, if you haven't already, go now and read everything he's writ) Bodhidharma was indeed a real person, born in 440 in Kanchi, the capital of Pallava, a kingdom in southern India. In his book The Zen Teaching Of Bodhidharma, Red Pine has found by accident in Huang-Po's Essentials on the Transmission of the Mind a collection of sermons attributed to Bodhidharma. Here is an excerpt from the Bloodstream Sermon:

...And this real body is your mind. And this mind, through endless kalpas without beginning, has never varied. It has never lived or died, appeared or disappeared, increased or decreased. It is not pure or impure, good or evil, past or future. It is not true or false. It's not male or female. It doesn't appear as a monk or a layman, an elder or a novice, a sage or a fool, a buddha or a mortal. It strives for no realization and suffers no karma. It has no strength or form. Its like space. You can't possess it and you can't lose it. Its movements can't be blocked by mountains, rivers, or rock walls. Its unstoppable powers penetrate the Mountain of Five Skandas and cross the River of Samsara. No karma can restrain this real body. But this mind is subtle and hard to see. Its not the same as the sensual mind. Everyone wants to see this mind, and those who move their hands and feet by its light are as many as the grains of sand along the Ganges but when you ask them, they can't explain it. They're like puppets. Its theirs to use. Why don't they see it?

R [1] said...

- “I can see simply by watching one of his Big Mind® videos that he is a charlatan. Anyone with even very limited Zen experience can, and many others have. No need to ask for paperwork.” - I can’t really. Not from the little I’ve seen. Though it may be easy to see that Andrew Cohen possesses more or less zero understanding.

- Of anything.

- And - Brad - when you say he is a charlatan do you mean he has not got the Dharma as the expression Dogen uses in Shobogenzo Raihai-tokuzui? - I never recall you saying this explicitly, and I don’t even think you think so, - so ...

R [2] said...

- And if he’s a charlatan what about all the people he’s supposed to have transmitted. - Are they all charlatans as well? - Or has he fooled them into thinking they’ve been enlightened? - Or are they liars?

It doesn’t seem to make sense.

I don’t think you’ve ever referred to any of those questions.

R [3] said...

And - … on the other hand - … I can’t really understand how could this person whom I understand even his name isn’t true have fooled you into thinking he’s a master, assuming you met him personally, and as I got it you spent a couple of days together.

79 said...

Got it. FWIW.

Bumboozled said...

Zach: Running after one teacher because he has "transmission" and rejecting another because he doesn't is hardly discrimination.

Zach said...

"Running after one teacher because he has "transmission" and rejecting another because he doesn't is hardly discrimination.

It IS discrimination.
HEALTHY discrimination.
I want to KNOW if my teacher at least is who he says he is!

If he is NOT, then it is healthy to discriminate.

One moRe thing I want to say said...

A person who just sees this guy's picture together with Brad might see this as an affirmation that the guy is at least honest.

I'm not saying Brad should haunt him, (see pm’s @ 9:09 pm, perhaps others too) but I am saying he should make things clear for the record, especially since he's been engaged with him, it seems.


I can not really see why otherwise, though Brad might have his reasons.

El Bam Booze said...

Zach: Do you think Brad Warner is his "real name?" Thats his punk rock name like Jello Biafra.

FWIW I think Tattoozen at 5:58 AM said it best.

Change the channel if you don't like it. Exercise your free will that you claim this guy has control over.

Taigu said...

Brad has already chickened out of fighting Genpo Roshi (Remember when Genpo used to post his challenges here on the blog?), and now this?

I'm losing respect for Warner.

*burns Hardcore Zen t-shirts*

Kevin said...

I don't agree with changing the channel or turning our backs on what we see is wrong. It's not the same as not liking a band or a tv show. It's pretty much saying "hmm, that guy is pretending to be a zen teacher, and taking advantage of people? I'd rather not pay attention to that."

That's plain ignorance to me. But, yeah, you have the right to look away of you want. I'm just putting the facts out there. Something I, and alot of others wish there was a long time ago.

But you don't have to look.

Booze Bambled said...

Sour grapes.

You got too close and got your fingers burnt, now you can't move on.

Quit giving this guy your energy, he's still using you.

Zen Cowboy said...

"After one of Genpo's students, Dan Hoen, started hanging out with Graham --- Graham denounced Brad in public several times -- I was present when he changed his whole position from "me and Brad are like that" to "Brad is a huckster". Barry went on to tell me Genpo was the finest Zen teacher he knew of and that he wanted to incorporate Big Mind at the Sitting Frog"

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

no, actually... I have moved on.... I've been practicing under another teacher for 2 years now, and haven't thought much about the guy until I started receiving emails from girls with their stories of abuse. To me, it's worth the energy spend what I have been. When it was just me and a few others, I didn't give a fuck. But when I heard the stories of what was actually going on, that's when I decided to speak up. I got my fingers burnt a long time ago. I've moved passed that. I was actually already gone and moved on before any of this started to surface in 2008. When I left Phoenix, I was still under the impression he was an ordained monk. I left for other personal reasons.

I'm just doing what I feel needs to be done. Take it for what it it's worth or change the website.

Awakened Yeti said...

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something
Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Anonymous said...

"Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is somehow something we wanted"

Buddhism teaches this? In what sutra? I always thought that Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is the result of karma / action. We may ignorantly create the cause of our suffering via actions that rebound back upon us, but the idea that we 'want' everything that happens to us is not taught in Buddhism as far as I'm aware. It sounds more like some new age idea...as does Brad's idea that his ideas about reality (beliefs) are more important than reality itself.

anon said...

"Buddhism teaches this? In what sutra? I always thought that Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is the result of karma / action. We may ignorantly create the cause of our suffering via actions that rebound back upon us, but the idea that we 'want' everything that happens to us is not taught in Buddhism as far as I'm aware. It sounds more like some new age idea...as does Brad's idea that his ideas about reality (beliefs) are more important than reality itself."

This is want I think. Thanks for saving me the time to post it.

anon said...

make that what not want

Confused? said...

Brad: "Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is somehow something we wanted" (my bold)

NellaLou's post at 10:58pm above might help - -

"There is no karma without intention...The whole point, it seems, when Brad writes about the application of karma to himself is this. His intention."

I think that's what Brad's getting at too.

666 said...

Happy Halloween!

Lone Wolf said...

That was a nice little documentry in the last post.

This current post reminds me of a book I read my freshmen year of college called On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life by Skip Downing. I actually kept the book, because I found it inspiring and useful. There is a chapter that talks about how people that meet with difficult circumstances can either play the "victim role" or the "creator" role. Here's a quote "When people keep doing what they've been doing even when it doesn't work, they are acting as Victims. When people change their beliefs and behavoiros to create the best results they can, they are acting as Creators...When you accept personal responsibility, you believe that you create everthing in your life...Would it improve your life to believe that you create all of the joys and sorrows in your life? Answer 'Yes!' and see that belief imporve your life." Then the chapter goes on about the different attitudes of the Victim and Creator, but I'm not about to go through them all here. It's late and I need to go to bed.

Anonymous said...

So, Brad, your wanting to die or be dead caused some guys to beat you up with the intention to kill you?
Are they then not at fault?

Master Svaha said...

"Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is somehow something we wanted"

Brad, may I inform you that your statement is misinformed. The Buddha taught that life in this world is characterized by eight kind of suffering:

1)Suffering of Birth
2)Suffering of Old Age
3)Suffering of Sickness
4)Suffering of Death
5)Suffering of being apart from the loved ones
6)Suffering of being together with people that one dislikes
7) Suffering of not getting what one wants
8)Suffering of the flouishing of the Five Skandhas.

Life is full of shit. We don't always get what we want.

anon #108 said...

So, Brad, your wanting to die or be dead caused some guys to beat you up with the intention to kill you?

Part 1 -

I'll take the liberty of editing some of what Brad wrote:

"I have often said that I believe whatever we get in this life is, at some level, something we wanted or needed. When I say this I am only applying it inwardly to myself...I often look at myself when I'm in a shitty situation and ask, "In what way did I want or need this shitty thing to happen?"

...when I apply this view to myself, my own suffering becomes much easier to bear. I remember...in the early 1990s. I was brutally physically attacked on the streets of Akron by people I did not know at all for reasons I have never been able to comprehend. As far as I could tell then and as far as I can tell now in retrospect the attack was absolutely random.

...after the attack I thought to myself, "Buddhism teaches that what we get in life is somehow something we wanted, how does that apply here?"

When I began framing it this way to myself I felt like less of a helpless victim and more like a person who could do something active to improve his own life. And I did...For the first time in my life I stopped feeling like a victim of circumstance and really took control of my fate.

I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it. But even if it turns out I'm wrong, this way of thinking has been so incredibly useful I still wouldn't give it up."

anon #108 said...

Part 2 -


Seems to me Brad's saying that seeing yourself as a victim of random events can leave you confused, helpless and miserable. But understanding the Buddhist idea of the inter-connection of all things, including our own intentions, desires and actions, provides a model of how and why things happen "to us" that, by including our own 'wilful' behaviour, can give us a perspective in which the events of our lives are as much the result of what we intentionally did - as the result of what we've previously 'wanted' or 'needed' - as of what what others intentionally did - as the result of what they wanted or needed.

Why are we where we are in the first place? Solely as a result of 'circumstances beyond our control', or have our volitional/intentional actions (what we have 'wanted') play a part too?

I think Brad's saying that, looking at random, particularly unpleasant, events as being "somehow"/"at some level something we wanted or needed" has proved, for Brad, to be a useful and constructive approach - even if it's not an accurate/'true' model of how and why things happen (and what model is?).

Brad's not giving a lecture on the doctrine of Karma, but providing one example of how his understanding of the Buddhist idea of the role of (co-dependently-arising) volition/intention/desire/need/wants in what we usually see as 'things that happen to us' has enabled him to be happier.

That's how it reads to me, anyway.

Malcolm said...

Hey 108 - I thought you didn't believe in free will?

anon #108 said...

Don't start.

Anonymous said...

Interesting.

Zach said...

Here is a "LoL"...

Seems like Barry "Dogo" Graham bout his Kesa from Ebay.

http://thegrahamscam.blogspot.com/2010/10/illegal-wedding-and-kesa-from-ebay.html

He even gave the seller a review - and signed his name to it... *facepalm*

Zach said...

*bought* rather...

I have fat fingers this morning.:)

Thursday, March 01, 2007 said...

Of course, I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then.

Ashiq Chris said...

I can't speak for Brad, but:

My intentions aren't always readily apparent.

I have a penchant for crappy emotionally abusive relationships. If I'm not mindful (there's that dirty word again) of my actions, I'll choose to be around people who also like crappy emotionally-abusive relationships.

Why? Because I dig the rush of adrenaline from fighting and the rush of dopamine/endorphins/oxytocin that comes with make-up sex. Righteous anger followed by dirty/guilty/pissed-off poontang is... well, it's just tops. It's the bee's knees.

I also get something out of overbooking myself. Living my life in a never-ending crisis mode makes me feel... busy. And busy is important, so I must be important. It also means I'm a victim of being busy, so I always have a ready-made excuse if I fuck something up: not my fault, I have to rush.

Posting know-it-all comments on a stranger's blog, such as I'm doing right now, also provides cheap thrills. I can argue self-righteously because the bit of my brain that tones shit down for social cohesion gets turned off when the exchange is through an impersonal medium, such as the Internet.

My frontal lobe was designed by evolution to run permutations of future outcomes based on my previous experiences to figure out what I should do in the present moment. It's the miracle that has made humanity what it is, and it's about as good at predicting the future as a Magic Eight-Ball. It wildly overestimates benefits and underestimates costs, or vice versa: good for ensuring procreation and survival, not so good the rest of the time.

Especially because it runs on my previous experience. So if I've only ever been in emotionally-abusive relationships, I simply don't know there's another way to be in relationship with people.

That happens with everything. I always assume the way I do things is the best way to do things because I don't know it can be done another way.

I'm not a zen-genius, but isn't this that whole "Zen mind, beginner's mind" thing? A beginner actively recognizes he doesn't know and actively seeks to learn. The guy who's been doing it for years is stuck where he is because he doesn't realize there's more he could learn if he dropped his old ideas, assumptions, theories, hypotheses, paradigms and assorted mental crap?

So yeah: I dunno about you, but I certainly end up with crap I want, whether it's a conscious wanting or whether it's an unconscious one. Maybe y'all know better, but... because I'm a skeptic and a cynic and a bitter asshole ranting on the internet, I sincerely doubt you do.

Ashiq Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous Bob said...

Hi 108: Of course our actions play the big part in where and who we are. But what I find so interesting about Brad's scenario is his being able to adopt a fantasy and accept it as real in order to move through life a little more expediently. He doesn't care if it's true or not.

I sort of admire this because it is very practical and is based on Buddhist ideas and that makes it a little more palatable for me. But after everything is said and done, it is only a mental trick, just as crazy as believing that jesus has died on the cross to save us.

Well.. maybe not that crazy but still..

CAPTCHA : ohrici : I kid you not

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

Hi AB,

"(Interesting that Brad is)...able to adopt a fantasy and accept it as real in order to move through life a little more expediently. He doesn't care if it's true or not."

Brad did say, "I don't even care if this idea is objectively true or not. I believe it is or I wouldn't use it."

But you're right that he also said, "But even if it turns out I'm wrong, this way of thinking has been so incredibly useful I still wouldn't give it up."

- which does seem to contradict the first part. But he's just trying to be honest, I think, and when you do that, you often contradict yourself. I find.

I hear this part of Brad's post as confessional rather than didactic. None of us have to think how Brad does, or adopt the inconsistencies Brad confesses.

Ashiq Chris said...

Didn't the Buddha say that his teachings are just a vehicle to get to the other side, and that once you get there it's about as useful to carry them around as it is to carry around a boat on dry land?

Karma, rebirth, the Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Precepts... they're just ideas to get us somewhere. If they work, great, use 'em. If they don't, find other, better ones.

Anonymous Bob said...

Yes.. and like I said it is a rather graceful idea which I admire mostly. But it does take some mental adjustment to get there. At least for me it does.

R said...

If Genpo Roshi is really claiming ability to endow “Satori” within one hour, or even one day, or generally to whomever wishes, (which I do find hard to believe) see Mathew 20:20-23. “Ye know not what ye ask”.

The joke is heavy, but few will get.

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

And AC, - part of it becomes part of you, inherent, - no question of carrying it around or not carrying it around is left; - and as for - “If they don't, find other, better ones”, - the question is whether you can, and whether you can tell which ones are better.


- About the worst thing about humanity is that it can't see its own blindness. In my view. And the second is it won't admit wrongness even when it does see it. - Because tought otherwise.

Ran K. said...

And: - R @ 8:44, – [am] “Matthew”, - not “Mathew”.

Else is right.

M said...

ROFLMAO

[M-F]

Awakened Yeti said...

If you were able to experience the totality of an entire lifetime as if it were one breath, then most of the details would seem quite minor. They all contribute to the big picture, but only in a supporting role.

"Brutally shall I teach the gospel of soul-suicide, of contraception, not preservation and procreation. Fools! Ye have made vital the belief the Ego is eternal, fulfilling a purpose not lost to you. All things become of desire; the legs to the fish; the wings to the reptile. Thus was your soul begotten. Hear, O vermin! Man has willed Man! Your desires shall become flesh, your dreams reality and no fear shall alter it one whit. Hence do I travel ye into the incarnating abortions-the aberratons, the horrors without sex, for ye are worthless to offer Heaven new sexualities. Once in this world I enjoyed laughter-when I remembered the value I gave the contemptible; the significance of my selfish fears; the absurd vanity of my hopes; the sorry righteousness called I."

- A. Spare

ginger said...

i know what you mean about the philosophy of the victim and all of the stuff you just can not say because too many people won't understand all of the stuff that can't be said about it correctly. it's like there are no words.
i was abused as a child and while i know i never asked for it or did anything to deserve it, something inside me feels some comfort knowing that there's a purpose or meaning or ripening of some karma there somewhere that helped me do something i wouldn't have been able to otherwise...or helped me help someone else.

Anonymous said...

Great Post by James Ford over at Monkey Mind

It's All in Your Head: A Meditation on Blaming the Victim as a Spiritual Practice

http://monkeymindonline.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-all-in-your-head-meditation-on.html

Awakened Yeti said...

Here is another way to look at it.. if you are walking along the street and trip over a rock, fall down and bust your ass - do you blame the rock? Do you need to forgive the rock?

In reality, "forgiveness" is nothing more than the pacification of spurned entitlement.

Forgiving someone for killing your mother doesn't bring your mother back to life. All it does is pacify your sense of being entitled to respect and consideration from other people. If you had no expectations of people acting in a civilized manner, then you would not need to forgive them when they act like murderous animals. Yet people feel entitled to civilization. They feel they deserve it, that it is their right, as if it is a cosmic law of some sort. But if a shark bites a chunk out of your leg while you are swimming in the ocean, do you need to forgive the shark? The shark is just being a shark.

In this sense, everyone is like that rock in the road. You cant blame them for anything that happens to you, in the same way you cannot blame yourself for anything that happens to you. It is the process of life itself happening, and all the various ideas of "people" and "me" and "you" and "world" and so on just get in the way and make things infinitely more confused.

And when your entire life flows from the level of self image, there will be no end to the suffering it causes. It is ignorance begetting more ignorance, and pain magnetizing with itself. The entire idea of blame and forgiveness is a mirage caused by the self image.

So essentially, it DOES begin and end within you - regardless of how righteously indignant that perspective causes people to react. If you are too fragmented to remember the possible results of your chosen vector, you will never understand why the process exists in the first place.

Stephanie said...

The attitude and content of this post is exactly why I don't bother reading this blog much any more.

Even when I was more appreciative and a fan of Brad's, his take on what happened to him in Akron was something that bothered me. I find it rather along the lines of The Secret style magical thinking.

I do believe karma and intention play a role in much of what we experience. But not all, at least not in the sense implied by this. Even Buddha attested to this, as NellaLou points out. Some "karma" -- such as natural forces -- has nothing to do with our thoughts or intentions.

I don't think that expedient magical thinking has anything to do with Buddhism. I embrace Buddhism, Zen in particular, precisely because of its focus on truth. I prefer an uncomfortable truth to a comfortable lie.

It's scary to think that bad things can happen to us for no moral reason. It's disempowering, definitely. It ruins our overwhelming desire to believe in a "just world." But that doesn't mean it's not the way things are.

More and more, I find the study of evolution, science, and natural history to go hand in hand with my Buddhist practice and inquiry. And the more I learn about science, the more I appreciate that a mystical or spiritual perspective can grow out of it. And if you "believe" in evolution, as opposed to some form of creationism, you accept that chance and probability play major roles in the development of life. That is not to say life itself is random--the way I think of it spiritually is that what we are was "programmed" or "coded" into the universe from the beginning--but that what particular events lead to it are.

The way I get around the dilemma that Brad poses--of not letting an experience of victimization become demoralizing--is not to resort to magical thinking. It's to look at what I can do to improve my situation and reduce the odds of experiencing whatever it was. Much of the time, I find I played a major role in the series of events leading up to the problematic event. But not always. Sometimes you have an auto accident because you were driving while sleep deprived; sometimes you have an auto accident because a deer happens to randomly jump out in front of your car. I think the problem is looking at an event like the latter and trying to tie it to something one was responsible for. The Secret and the "Law of Attraction" encourage this kind of confused thinking, and Brad seems to do so too. But all the positive thoughts in the world aren't going to affect whether it's your car the deer jumps in front of.

Brad calling upon this attitude to justify his lack of interest in the Barry Graham situation is something I find hypocritical, but this is in keeping with what I've come to expect from Brad. I find it a symptom of cowardice. In many ways, Genpo is an easier target. There's no real backlash for attacking him. Brad opening up a line of criticism against Barry Graham would open him up to a lot more things than Brad's criticizing of Genpo.

To me, that is the only reason. If Brad is so blase about people needing to be responsible for their own choices and research when assessing Zen teachers, he wouldn't continually return to his quixotic crusade against Genpo, which he repeatedly attributes to his felt duty to protect people from spiritual abuse like he experienced in the past.

There's something very nearly silly about the whole Genpo issue. When I saw Genpo's audition video for Oprah, I laughed. Yes, Genpo offers up some blatant spiritual materialism, but at worst he's going to waste some folks' time and money. The Graham issue opens up a lot of darker and more unsettling things to examine, and the consequences are potentially uglier. Genpo is just a Daruma doll Brad can knock down again and again to "energize his base." I find it all self-serving, part of the industry of "self promotion above all" that Brad has developed around himself.

Ashiq Chris said...

Stephanie:

You're playing a zero-sum game which I don't think Brad or anyone else is advocating. It's not like "Either you're 100% to blame or you're not." But I do think that everybody plays some part in the stuff that happens to 'em. A deer can't jump out in front of my car if I don't drive down that road, I don't drive in the countryside, I don't drive...

... the point is to take ownership for your part of what happens to you. A deer jumps out in front of my car - I can't control the deer, but I can drive slower and I can recognize that driving a car entails some degree of risk. If I don't want to run the risk of hitting a deer, I shouldn't drive a car down that road.

The problem is that people want all the benefit and none of the drawback. I believe this is known in Buddhism as the "Second Noble Truth." And people being people are absolutely brilliant at deluding themselves into thinking they can have it.

And: it takes 2 to tango. You can't have a psychotic ex-girlfriend or -boyfriend unless you (at some point) attracted to you, were attracted to, and chose to date, a crazy person. I could be way off the mark, but I think Brad's saying that the same is true of spiritual teachers. If he isn't, I'm saying it. You don't drink the Kool-Aid unless you abdicated responsibility a long time ago.

There's plenty of literature on this subject: "The Guru Papers" by Kramer and Alstad, "Do I Need a Guru?" by Mariana Caplan... what's funny is that us "spiritual" types think we're somehow evolved while ordinary folks seem to avoid these poisonous relationships without even trying.

Stephanie said...

Ashiq,

Yes, you could avoid ever hitting a deer by never driving a car through a rural area. I don't think that makes a person "responsible" for the random event of a deer jumping in front of his or her car. By your logic, the way to avoid ever tripping and falling is to never walk, the way to avoid ever getting sick is to live in a plastic bubble. There is no practical application of your point of view, because the only way to completely avoid the chance of negative outcomes of random or probabilistic events is to never do anything.

And I find it a morally repulsive view when it comes to victims of random, or even non-random, violence. To me, the much more sane way of addressing these issues is to treat them as social issues and proceed accordingly, not shrug off with a "thugs will be thugs, it is our responsibility to find a way to avoid them" philosophy. I think it is our general human duty to make our communities safer, and much moreso for those of us who have made the bodhisattva vow. I do not believe a bodhisattva with a clear view would take a neutral stance against a victimizer, while imploring the victim to consider his or her role in the attack. Yes, part of the response is to help the victim make choices so as to not find him or herself in harm's way again, but the brunt of the responsibility lies in the attacker's actions. In my view, a sane, moral person focuses on the attacker as the focal point of necessary action, not the victim. Otherwise, we encourage and promote a culture in which thugs have the control and the power, while potential victims must stay in their foxholes. An intolerable situation, and one that seems insane to most normal people, thankfully.

As far as the Barry and Genpo issue goes, I'm far from advocating for Brad to start a PR campaign against Barry. I don't think Brad has anything useful to contribute to that collective action. I'm pointing out the total hypocrisy and inconsistency, however, in his defense of his crusade against Genpo in order to protect all the potential victims of Genpo's "scam," while shrugging off a teacher accused of far worse as a "buyer beware" situation and inviting victims of violence to look at their victimization as, at least in part, their responsibility.

Brad's stance is completely logically and morally inconsistent. If Brad were to be consistent, he would carry his apathetic attitude toward social and political issues, and most spiritual Zen issues, through into his approach to Genpo. But if Brad didn't have Genpo to rail against, a convenient, easy, and non-threatening target, he would lose a big part of what makes up the "Brad Warner" brand, which I increasingly see as a shiny, empty package filled only with air.

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

Hi Stephanie,

I don't hear Brad advocating a method for apportioning moral responsibility. I hear Brad posing a question in response to a comment on this blog: Once an unpleasant event has occurred, how then do we deal with it? As victims, or as contributing participants? Which approach is more likely to result in a view which can be employed to constructively modify our behaviour? Brad answered the question by describing an approach that works for him.

From his post:

"The strategy of pointing to others and saying they wanted whatever awful thing they got doesn't help anyone. I highly recommend avoiding it. Everyone will hate you if you say it out loud. If you say it only to yourself you'll end up coming off smug and heartless, and everybody will also hate you then too. So don't even say it just to yourself no matter how tempting it might be. This is a very important point. Don't pass it over, please.

But when I apply this view to myself, my own suffering becomes much easier to bear.
" (my bold).

Could Brad have made it any clearer that he's writing about a way of thinking that he's found useful, NOT providing an analysis of the way the world works that should be applied to others, or that others should adopt?

Re Genpo - Brad don't like what Genpo gets up to one bit. Re the other fella - Brad, it seems, isn't that bothered whether the guy has a transmission certificate or not (he may still be a good teacher), or whether he's lied about it (the cat's out of the bag). Brad knows no details about any abuse of students that may have taken place, so reserves judgement. He also says there's not much he could do about it that isn't already being done. So Brad doesn't care that much. And you're saying he should; lately you're thinking Brad is an inconsistent, self-promoting hypocrite...

You may see Brad's objections to what Genpo gets up to as evidence of a general 'commitment to social and political issues' which should extend to the issues surrounding the other fella, but, clearly, Brad doesn't. Why should Brad's objections to selling/advocating enlightenment glimpses/experiences commit him to adopting positions on sundry issues? Merely because in both cases a teacher of Zen is involved?

We care about what we care about, we do what we do, and we deal with things the way we deal with them. We don’t have to like what other people say, do or write, or the way they deal with things, but while you're perfectly entitled to object to what you see as contradictions, much of what you’ve criticised about this post wasn’t written or meant. Not as I read it.

Malcolm

anon #108 said...

Just in case my comments here sound like that of a wounded fan-boy, I want to make it clear that Brad Warner plays very little part in my life. I've only read Hardcore Zen and those bits of the other books I can access for free on Google books. I find Brad's writing style alternately engaging and annoying. I don't read this blog in the hope of gaining deep insights into life and things Buddhist - and Brad has written that that's not why he keeps it going. I have my own practice and teacher in the UK and prefer to read Sanskrit grammar primers these days.

I read this blog and post stuff here because it's the only completely uncensored Zen Buddhist forum I know of and because I like writing; I like the sound of my own voice. At least, I'm trying to find my own voice. This blog is crazy and infuriating. It's also an education and an entertainment. Mainly an entertainment...on a good day. Some of the other people who post here make comments I can engage with and relate to. Some of them are pretty funny too. I'm sympathetic and supportive of where Brad's coming from and what he's trying to do, and so I sometimes rush to defend him when I think he's been misunderstood or misrepresented.

Still, I sometimes muse that Brad's celebrity may not be an entirely positive factor in his life - but Brad's life is not my business. Brad owes me nothing and I don't owe him. I do think he tries to be honest though, and for me, that's more important than always being consistent or right.

Awakened Yeti said...

Moral outrage comes in many forms, and like any other human expression it has countless subtle shades.

At the core of moral outrage is the sense of entitlement accorded by the idea of a superior self, as in: a self that is better than others, more important, more valuable, etc. This reality might be hard to accept, when one realizes their entire life is based on a lie. Or it might be liberating.

But as long as one is unable or unwilling to examine the root causes of their own mind and its workings, they will do nothing but wander amongst the details, poking and prodding and isolating and magnifying.

The insidious nature of the divisive illusion is all-encompassing. It is the idea that "me" is separate from "you" or the "world" and so on. The objectification of such abstraction is usually the most "real" aspect of a persons life. Without it, they are reduced to little more than a vegetative state. The vastness of universal connectivity actually stupefies them. This blank space can come alive, or it can remain ignored - but in the great majority of the population it remains ignored, willfully.

So its quite understandable why confusion happens and why it continues to happen. People are lost among the endless objects, as just another one of them.

You do not own your body. Its just a temporary loan. Wake up to the reality behind "me", "my", "mine" if you can. If not, then go ahead and enjoy the war.

Ashiq Chris said...

Stephanie:

I am a victim: I have a brain disease. I didn't want it, didn't do anything to get it, wish I didn't have, have suffered (greatly) because of it.

I am also a victimizer: because my brain controls my behavior, and my disease affects my brain, my disease affects my behavior. And in this case, I hurt other people with my actions - my parents have been hurt by my actions, my ex-fiancee was hurt by my actions, my dog is now dead because of my actions.

Or: criminals. In this country, they're overwhelmingly poor, black or Hispanic, under- or uneducated, jobless, ghettoized: victims of our failures as a society. And yet - they commit crimes. Often against each other. Often violent crimes. Often violent sexual crimes for that matter. Which are they: victim or victimizer?

I'm not Brad, so I'll speak for myself: I think that a bodhisattva counsels both victim and victimizer on their respective responsibility for the suffering they cause and the suffering they suffer so that each can do something about it.

The reason a bodhisattva talks to a victim is that a victim can often lessen their suffering by (at least) seeing if they play a part in it. In my case, I'm responsible for treating my brain disease - to lessen my own suffering, as well as that of others.

As for Brad talking smack about Genpo but not about Barry, well... since I've never been inconsistent or hypocritical in my life, I think I'm morally pure enough to cast the first stone, so hand it here...

anon #108 said...

PS and for the record -

I wrote "...Which approach is more likely to result in a view which can be employed to constructively modify our behaviour?" ?

What a crock. I doubt whether anyone can employ a view to constructively modify behaviour.

Whadya think, Steph?

NellaLou said...

"The reason a bodhisattva talks to a victim is that a victim can often lessen their suffering by (at least) seeing if they play a part in it."

There is some truth to this. Where it often goes off the rails is when there is some kind of presupposition of omniscience or fortune telling, meaning "They should have seen it coming" kind of thinking. That just doesn't happen. Not everyone has the same life experiences from which to draw conclusions nor to be able to predict another's or random behavior from the environment. Human beings just aren't that powerful though we like to think we are often.

So taking responsibility from a victims point of view is rather constrained by whatever available information is at hand. To hold someone responsible for something they could not have possibly known is quite ridiculous.

Titus said...

I may be beating a dead horse here, but that mindset "in what way did I want or need this" is very existentialist in nature. In my own mind, existentialism and Buddhism are practically synonymous. I guess this is my chance to ask if I am that far off. Am I?

Togen said...

To understand that Karma exists and that we each reap the fruits of our past actions has nothing to do with Blame. Blame as an act of attributing fault; censure; reproof: Saying there should be no compassion because you have judged that a victim “deserved” what has happened to them is simply another set of delusions that need to be overcome. Leave such value judgments to the theists who see ones fate as punishment or reward by some all powerful judging God. You may be experiencing the fruits of prior actions, it may be your Karma, But Buddhism dose not attach value judgments to this, it is not the Buddhist concept that those who are experiencing karma “deserve” this or that, Karma is not punishment or reward. It is simply cause and effect.
To have the clarity of mind to diagnose your own thoughts and behavior to avoid mistakes of the past is another subject completely. If in doing this you begin to lose sight of your goal and start “blaming and judging” you will have missed the mark completely.

Togen said...
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Anonymous said...

The first Zen Buddhism lectures in the US, as far as I know were given by Soyen Shaku in 1905 and published in 1906, the translation being done by D.T. Suzuki. Shaku was and still is often attacked for his support of Japanese military expansion during the Russo–Japanese War of 1905. It seems that making subjective evaluations of teachers who don’t fit into our mental expectations traveled with Shaku when he came here and it seems to never stop.
I had never heard of Dogo Barry Graham until I inadvertently ran across a blog dedicated to his utter destruction the other day. The blog started out by accusing him of wearing a terrible colored Rakusu, then accused him of putting his chop on several Rakusu’s crooked, and leaving a line off of a Kanji. But my Favorite was the 3 paragraph forensic analysis of some letters from a couple of his teachers that the author concluded must be fake because they were done on a laser printer, and laser printers were not commonly available in 1994. I had to laugh my ass off here because I purchased my first HP 4L laser printer in 1991, and by 1994 they were the professional standard and you could pick up at least 5 different models at office depot. This Guy Dogo might be a total ass, but these attacks I read are just malicious BS.
Like Brad I have to say the Genpo Roshi stuff is so glaring it almost blinded me when I first saw it. PT Barnum said there was a sucker born every minute and I suppose he was right. The world is full of victims and it is certain many are both willing and enthusiastic in their search to be victims. People like Sogyal Rinpoche and Genpo should be exposed but what anyone person can do, even the mighty Brad Warner is very limited.
I agree with Brad that The Soto Zen Buddhist Association’s (SZBA) effort to weed out the fakes is doomed to failure. Already this effort has turned into an exercise in wall building. They who never had to do half of the things they want to require of others sit smugly sealing up the door so they are the new dictators of Zen. Many crooks and charlatans love complex credentialing, the more paper they can hang on their walls the better.
The simple fact is I could make a wonderful case against almost any teacher now teaching and question their linage, their teacher’s qualities of character and their spiritual fitness to teach. This Brad Warner guy lets rip him apart, hell how many Ango had he lead when he was ordained, etc. etc. Organized Zen is about 50 years old in the US; all this stupidity may kill it before it has had a chance to really grow.

Togen said...
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Neuroplasty said...

When up is up and down is down and down is up and up is down - I cannot be found.

WAKE THE HELL UP!!!!

ji bo's blog said...

"Truly beginning the practice anew, we learn that somehow we have been the victims of our own thinking." Aitken Roshi