Sunday, October 24, 2010

T-Shirts and More Questions

First up, for those of you who have been asking about t-shirts, I've decided to try out a company called Red Bubble and see how that works. SO, you can NOW ORDER T-SHIRTS AND HOODIES BY CLICKING THIS LINK! Yay!

I've uploaded two designs. You can get them as T-shirts, stickers or hoodies. If you order one, send me a quick email at askbradwarner@hotmail.com and let me know how it is.

TODAY'S FIRST QUESTION:
I'd like to ask you about motivation to continue zazen practice.

I've done zazen for about 5 years or so almost every day and I feel that it had become kind of easy nowadays. Funny thing is that the easier it had become the more difficult it had become to find reasons to continue my practice. I mean, at first it was kind of cool if I managed to sit like 20 minutes staring at the wall, but now I feel that it's hard to find a meaning to go on. I just wondered if you'd have something smart to say on this subject.


MY ANSWER:
This is one of the questions I get more than any other. How do you get started in Zen practice? How do you keep going?

The questioners usually end up asking for motivation. But I wonder if motivation is what we really need.

The stated purpose of a dharma talk is usually "encouragement." The talk is supposed to provide listeners with a motivation to carry on doing this often difficult and seemingly fruitless practice. When those dharma talks often include -- as mine often do -- phrases like Kodo Sawaki's infamous "Zazen is good for nothing" it often feels like they fail if their purpose. Why should we carry on doing something that's good for nothing?

The only way I can answer this question is to try and figure out why I keep on doing it. I suppose in that I am a good test case, because I have kept up this useless practice for well over twenty years now and have no intention of stopping. Yet I often wonder why I do it, even as I'm sitting there on a rolled up towel facing the wall of some hotel room in the middle of a foreign country, with sirens blaring outside or prayer calls from the local mosque tearing up my eardrums, having woken up early and delaying breakfast so I can get this thing done.

Yet even as I wonder why I'm doing it, I still keep going. Even knowing that it is good for nothing, I keep on sitting. Am I an idiot? Maybe. And maybe that's what it takes.

I used to do zazen because I wanted to have an enlightenment experience. Pure and simple. I didn't start off with this motivation. But pretty soon after I'd started doing zazen I read Philip Kapleau's Three Pillars of Zen with its amazing descriptions of real life enlightenment experiences and I wanted one of those. This proved to be lousy motivation because it kept not happening. And so I'd give up.

It was when I gave up on zazen that I discovered the only form of motivation that's ever really worked. Quite simply, I felt like shit when I stopped doing zazen. The first few times I gave up the practice I didn't really understand why I felt so shitty. Then when I'd get back to it, things would get a little better. It wasn't a vast improvement. But it was better than when I didn't do it. So I got back to the practice.

I've said this more times than I can count. I'm sure it's in most of my books in one form or another. And I know it's been on this blog a few times too. Yet people still keep asking for motivation...

I can say a few things that might help. One is that it gets better. There really are moments of insight and transcendence to be had. You can get through a lot of the garbage that's been holding you down. You might even have one of those so-called "enlightenment experiences."

I don't hold that these things don't happen. They do. And they have some value. Sure. Yet, as I've said, enlightenment is for sissies. It's not the point of practice. It's not the goal.

Ultimately we all have to provide our own motivation. What motivates me might not work for you. Hopefully this will help you find yours.

QUESTION #2:
You mention that you don't focus your mind on anything in particular, you just let your awareness go where it goes, but you do keep making sure that your posture is correct.

It's been my experience that every teacher teaches the posture of zazen slightly differently. Back of the hands resting on the thighs, hands so that the little fingers rest on the stomach just below the belly-button would be one example.

But here's the real question: when zazen "gets up and walks around", as Kobun Chino Otogawa averred it sometimes does, how will you make sure your posture is correct?


ANSWER #2:
This is another one I get asked a lot. One popular variation is: How do you keep your zazen mind when you're not sitting on the cushion? And, again, I can only answer from my own experience.

I used to work at this sort of thing. When I first started sitting I had a job as a part-time mail carrier. So when I walked my routes I'd be paying attention to the sensations of my feel, to keeping my back straight and chest open as I walked, to the color of the sky and the sounds around me. That sort of thing. I read about this in a book, I think. Probably not a Zen book.

Nowadays I don't really do that. At least I don't do it consciously. Maybe I've internalized it and made it habit. I don't know.

At some point, maybe a decade or so into my practice I noticed something kind of weird. Colors had become brighter, sounds sharper, my vision somehow clearer, my senses somehow enhanced. It was like a big shroud made of black gauze wrapping my entire body had been taken off and I could now see and experience things directly. The only other time I'd ever felt anything like that was when I was on LSD.

What made that happen? I don't know. Over ten years of zazen every morning and evening plus loads of multi-day zen retreats certainly had something to do with it. But it wasn't something I drove myself to experience.

Nowadays I don't feel right when I'm slumped over in a chair or on a couch. A few years ago I got rid of the couch in my living room (when I had a living room, ah luxury!) because I couldn't stand sitting on it anymore. I couldn't focus on anything. I replaced the couch with some cushions on the floor.

Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop (Shaika, on Sherbrooke in Montreal's NDG district) and I'm not resting my back against the chair because when I do it feels too lax and unfocused. When I drive I put the driver's seat almost straight up or else I feel like I'm only half awake.

So how do you keep that zazen mind while you're doing something else? Just like you do when you're doing zazen itself; when you find yourself drifting, get back to the right posture. When you find yourself drifting again, do it again. After a while this becomes a new habit and you don't even really have to think about it much.

In his commentary on the Heart Sutra, Dogen says, "There are four instances of prajna that are going on daily; walking, standing, sitting and lying down." Prajna is intuitive wisdom. So for Dogen all of life was wisdom, it was all zazen. Whether we notice this or not, doesn't matter all that much.

Good? Good.

Now I'm gonna go do something else!

Send your questions to: askbradwarner@hotmail.com


ADDENDUM (re: Motivation):
The following is from Vince Anilla at Still Point Zen Center in Detroit:

Still Point Dharma Teacher Anatta Brad Wilson is also a black belt in aikido. Years ago, a couple young guys came in to the dojo. They were gung-ho and clearly willing to do just about anything to get black belts of their own as soon as possible.

Anatta said, "If you guys can stay a minute after class, I'll tell you the secret once everyone else has cleared out." They were pretty giddy, and had no problem waiting around afterward.

This is the secret wisdom that he shared after class: "What you do is come in here five days a week whether you feel like it or not. You arrive with a smile on your face and you leave with a smile on your face. Train hard and be cool to the people you train with. If you do that, and if in ten years you still don't have your black belt, I'll give you mine."

(He never saw them again.)

Zen practice is also like this. And so is anything else in life worth doing in the first place.

119 comments:

john e mumbles said...

UNO!

Seagal Rinpoche said...

The individual "I" exists for as long as there is desire for pleasure.

Jared said...

Maybe I am just blind, but the link for the t-shirts and hoodies just leads to an article and I don't see any option on that page to go to an online shop or anything...

Or was this an elaborate ploy to have us read the article, eh?

john e mumbles said...

LOFL@clicking on the link to get a "HARDCORE ZEN" item of clothing.

Brad Warner said...

Jared said:
Maybe I am just blind, but the link for the t-shirts and hoodies just leads to an article and I don't see any option on that page to go to an online shop or anything...

Or was this an elaborate ploy to have us read the article, eh?

Brad said:
Thanks Jared! I fixed this now!

Miro said...

"At some point, maybe a decade or so into my practice I noticed something kind of weird. Colors had become brighter, sounds sharper, my vision somehow clearer, my senses somehow enhanced. It was like a big shroud made of black gauze wrapping my entire body had been taken off and I could now see and experience things directly."

Hmmm. Might this be somehow related to this phenomenon: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/depression-really-does-make-everything-look-grey-2031296.html

john e mumbles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john e mumbles said...

Needless to say? That ain't me at 11:53 kids.

Buy anything you want.

And donate to Brad -keep this blog alive!

Where else you gonna have fun skunkin' me trolly?

john e mumbles said...

The old Sufi Shaykh used call the Majlis, or bi-weekly gathering of darvishes for prolonged group meditation (in the dark) a "spiritual shower" or bath.

There is something in the frequency of a regular schedule of sitting, whether alone or with a group, that amplifies the practice, and makes you feel "shitty" as Brad says here about shikantaza, if you skip it of get away from it for awhile.

I also reached a point of hyper-lucidity, LSD-like indeed, after several years of sitting, that persists to this day. Surroundings also take on a certain brilliant transparency, hard to otherwise describe...

Harry said...

I wonder would they do us one of those HCZ logos on an nice flouncy cut-just-below-the-crotch black silk dressing gown?

I'm thinking Mysterion and Christmas here.

Regards,

H.

Harry said...

p.s.

I'm not sold on the lettering in the design there, Brad.

I think it would look better if it were smaller and slashed across in the enso in the top left corner... maybe?

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

...in a different font of course.

H.

Cyril Coombs said...

I've only been practicing for about a year, and when I stop sitting, I really feel crappy too. I feel more anxious, nervous, etc. I thought I was imagining things! lol

anon #108 said...

A daily habit...that makes you feel like crap when you stop?

JUST SAY NO!

Anonymous said...

Seagal Rimshot quoteth the Maharamayana.

Hindu Philosophy
Brahmanism (religion)

What next? Dan Quayle

Anonymous said...

mysteranon

Anonymous said...

At some point, maybe a decade or so into my practice I noticed something kind of weird. Colors had become brighter, sounds sharper, my vision somehow clearer, my senses somehow enhanced. It was like a big shroud made of black gauze wrapping my entire body had been taken off and I could now see and experience things directly. The only other time I'd ever felt anything like that was when I was on LSD.

Thanks for finally admitting that there are
some similarities between zen and drug
experiences. It's about time!

Anonymous said...

mysteranun is a poseur

Anonymous said...

For Miro, more on depression...

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Harry said: "I'm not sold on the lettering in the design there, Brad.

I think it would look better if it were smaller and slashed across in the enso in the top left corner... maybe?"

Harry you pitiful drunk! Do a mock-up and send it in to Brad's people you frigging lazy sod. Warner Roshi has enough on his plate. Yours in true atheism, M.

Jared said...

@ Anony, 5:39PM:

Even if you grant that an LSD trip is qualitatively similar/the same as having reached a certain "level"* of practice there is still something to be said for the fact that LSD trips present vivid HALLUCINATIONS (i.e. visions/experiences that are fundamentally not real) whereas what Brad seems to be talking about is a hightened awareness of reality as it is. I believe he was simply drawing a parallel between the intensities of the experiences rather than the content. As a side note, Huston Smith has a book entitled "Cleansing the Doors of Perception" about the relationship between so called "entheogens" and religious experiences.

*(please note that is HEAVILY scare-quoted)

Seagal the Ripper said...

Jared, for most people 150-200 micrograms of LSD is a decent dose. If you do 400 mg you just totally lose it. If you want to hallucinate like Mysterion, you take 1,500 micrograms. There is no returning to normal after 1500.

ginger said...

and now that we all know how to do LSD.... :)

your answer to the 2nd question confirmed what i already knew about why i need to make this a habit again. thanks.

oh, nice shirts.

ginger said...

make zazen a habit...not drugs.

John E Blotter said...

Brad, If the sun refuse to shine,
I don't mind, I don't mind,
If the mountains fell in the sea,
let it be, it ain't me.
Alright, 'cos I got my own world to look through,
And I ain't gonna copy you.

Kelissima said...

About 'enlightenment' experiences. As an adolescent, I would sit on my bed and become intensely aware of myself, both looking out of my own eyes and imagining seeing myself and thinking, "I'm me. I'm not me." It was really freaky and kinda fun. I also used to look at the sky and try to imagine infinity.

Ever since then I've periodically had what I call "pockets of euphoria"--a spontaneous overwhelming sense of joy and oneness with everything around me. But they never lasted and I would get annoyed that I couldn't maintain that natural high.

I only started doing zazen about 4-5 months ago (though I've been doing various types of meditation for twenty years and more). Sometimes I have semi-hallucinatory experiences during zazen and during my everyday life. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes the hallucinatory effects got so distracting in my everyday life that I've skipped a couple days doing zazen here and there. But like Brad said, if I stop, I feel worse.

But yes, since zazen, colors are brighter and I constantly see things in a new and intense way. Some days are better than others, some aren't. But zazen brings me both to and away from myself in a way that ultimately makes me feel more stable and happy.

More than anything, it helps me let go of painful memories of the past and unrealistic expectations of the future and just helps me BE.

OH! There's go a moment! AH! THERE GOES ANOTHER ONE!

<3

Mysterion said...

As a CW, it sucks

As MOR, it's o.k.

As an R&B, it rocks!

(R&B is what we called it before it was Rock & Roll)

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world,
'Cause you don't love me any more?

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when I lost your love.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder,
Why everything's the same as it was.
I can't understand. No, I can't understand,
How life goes on the way it does.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when you said goodbye.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world.
It ended when you said goodbye.

Mysterion said...

Seagull Rimshot is a real work of art!

Pure gold!

Mysterion said...

Seagal the Ripper said...
"for most people 150-200 micrograms of LSD..."

ahhh... 25 uG

I take it you are not an M.D. or Ph.D.

LSD is a humane alternative to the barbaric shock treatments - and usually as ineffective. Ask Barbara Streisand, she did one or the other, if not both.

Anonymous said...

Just think of doing zazen like shaving or brushing your teeth, stop these and things will start getting messy! Better to stay on the wagon, so to speak... haha!

BTW, everybody falls off the wagon - Look at this comment section for proof about why it is better to be proactive with your practice.

Anonymous said...

I think it's like drugs push around the brain chemistry such that very low level processes come into consciousness for a brief period. But it's like taking a jet plane to the other coast for an hour, versus walking across the country to get there (meditation). Since the 'trip' is so quick and the person hasn't been that deep in ordinary consciousness, what is experienced is weird and doesn't really help towards integration and solid growth towards freedom from suffering. sure, the brief experience can create motivation to practice (or take more drugs), but not very helpful.

For a sense of what it's like to walk across the country to that place, read the third heading on this page 'unshakeable peace' by Thai master Ajahn Chah for a firsthand account of what it can be like deep down. What he's relating sounds like a trip doesn't it? My guess is that since he'd been practicing as a monk for several years/lives it was just time for that to happen.

Harry said...

The chunkier text on the redbubble pics of the shirt design look much better. How could I have doubted you, oh Master?

BTW, I've heard people say that zazen makes them feel crappy sometimes. It's happened to me where I get up from the zafu feeling spacey or cranky for a time (maybe just a hangover, right Anon? ;-). I was talking to one woman before who said that she was the 'ultimate bitch' after zazen sometimes... whattha hell's that about?

Regards,

Harry.

Jundo said...

Those shirts are marginal at best. Taigu and I have designed a Treeleaf sweatshirt that is going to knock your socks off, folks. Swing on by Treeleaf.org and pick yours up.

Be the first on your block to have a Treeleaf sweatshirt!

Harry said...

Dear Jundo,

I very much look forward to gracing the catwalks of Milan in one of your quite excellent 'Soft-Porn Zen' teeleaf tee-shirts.

Ree-gards,

H.

PA said...

Thanks Brad for the answer to the second question - I think I'm an idiot too: although I'm often slouching + zoning out, etc and it doesn't feel right, I don't change anything because of an idiotic belief that slouching is 'slouching zen'... The middle way is sometimes tricky to find so that reminder was a good'un!
I'm tempted by the T-shirt!

Seagal the merciless said...

"I was talking to one woman before who said that she was the 'ultimate bitch' after zazen sometimes... whattha hell's that about?"

Harry, There is probably no connection. What she didn't tell you is that she can the 'ultimate bitch' before zazen.. She has a vagina right? Why didn't she tell you something you didn't know?

Kettlebells said...

I don't think you can underestimate the value of good posture. It's pretty rare these days.

Great way to improve it is to get hold of a kettlebell & learn to do swings & getups. You will develop excellent strength & flexibility and will no longer be just a wimpy Zen nerd!

Get Pavel's book if you need one.

Anonymous said...

Seagal Rinpoche said...

The individual "I" exists for as long as there is desire for pleasure.

... between the sheets!

I heard Seagal Rinpoche will be taking vacation for the next week or two, so these will help fill the gap while he's gone:

Crowded elevator always smell different to midget.

Man who cut self while shaving, lose face.

Baseball all wrong -- man with four balls cannot walk.

Man who take sleeping pill and laxative on the same night will wake up in deep sh*t.

Man who pushes piano down mineshaft hears A flat miner.

Man who gets kicked in testicles, left holding bag.

john e mumbles said...

(& one for Mysterion)
Man who farts in church must sit in own pew.

R said...

"When those dharma talks often include -- as mine often do -- phrases like Kodo Sawaki's infamous "Zazen is good for nothing" it often feels like they fail if their purpose."

Seems like the sentence is in need of some correction. Couldn’t be my English.

R said...

Else:

I find the talk about Zazen [being] good for nothing disgusting.

Sawaki Roshi made clear at the time he doesn't really mean it and I think we got more than enough of that. Since.

Don’t misunderstand, I did like it when I came upon it at first, but I think enough is enough.

And it’s fucking up people’s logic, it doesn’t nurture it. If people don’t dare say the truth they might at least not bend it. And it does get bend. Even if not obviously at first sight.

R 3 said...

Also:

I'm not at all sure everyone should do Zazen.

If you're not attracted to it maybe it isn’t for you.
Various kinds of practice have been discussed here lately.
It seems to me the main point with regard to the choice of the right practice for one - assuming you are familiar with a practice and kind of have been able to grasp what it’s like - is whether you find it attractive. (I don't mean [of course] the way A-Bob might like Tantra, or the ways fools would like what Andrew Cohen is offering them, since it’s been designed to attract them)
This is not everything and is not definite – it may be wrong, - but this is the main guideline - in my view. Also of course one might ask advice as for whether his own notions are correct or false. From those who made it I mean. (Like Genpo Roshi of Kanzeon Sangha for example, Brad mentions him a lot)

At the bottom line I'd say this is the general idea.

And what I’d say to this person [1st Q] is just sit when you feel like it. Sit just now and then for a period. And then go back to it if you like. Or perhaps some other practice would be more attractive for you. I don’t know.

R 4 said...

Though I used to be like a Zazen junkie for a while. I’d go crazy if I don’t sit. I think western people are quite dogmatic focusing only on the sitting so much. I used to be like that myself in the past. Kind of a Mysterion view. Somewhat.

But we live in the world. [Or the universe. No meaning here.] Practice does have a purpose. Otherwise you might just not do it. Same as going to the grocery store.

[Or having sex, - if you want children I mean, or as a mean of entertaining yourself, or somebody else too, possibly; - even if you just leaf through a magazine (God forbid!!! No joke. Or sometimes perhaps it’s OK.) you do it in order to transcend boredom, or something of the sort. Right? No?]

R 5 said...

I also don’t like the advice at the end, - [I haven’t read the middle Q & A yet, I will tomorrow, hopefully] it makes me think of that guy who said to Master Tozan “I’ve been happily traveling among the mountains”. [SS B. 1 no. 49, I think] It’s just the other way. [What this guy expresses, I mean]

Harmony rules. OK. That’s mine for now.

Anonymous said...

It is also important to say that doing too much zazen will ruin things also. I don't really think many of us are in danger of that, but it can happen with any activity that gets out of control and takes over your life.

Of course i don't know much, it just seems that "sitting until your legs fall" off is motivation for the right effort, if somebody actually sat until their legs metaphorically fell off they would have a crippling handicap when dealing with modern society.

Jared said...

Oi, you guys talk too much. Fucking prats.

R said...

I had to cut it in five or it wouldn’t go through, and “leaf through a magazine” should link @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZx1Aejg1g.

We'll get that mumbling sufi one day.

And until then - good night.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I think it's like drugs push around the brain chemistry such that very low level processes come into consciousness for a brief period."

If, by "very low level processes" you are referring to items which we fail to attend to (e.g. suppress), then there may be some validity to your contention.

Immune Capability Changes During Zazen

Yuzo HIGUCHI, Yasunori KOTANI, Hironobu HIGUCHI and Yukiko MINEGISHI

Abstract:
It is becoming apparent that concentration improves the human body. One concentration method is zen, and a study was conducted on its technique of zazen...

"It has been suggested that the helper T-cells increased stimulation to the immune capability."

Read: Zen and the Brain

In short, there ARE benefits from sitting Zazen correctly.

Anonymous said...

Oops, too much acid? Having a bad trip?
That's OK -- just call Jimmy Carter!

john e mumbles said...

Anonymous @ 1:32 PM:

Err, so yer sayin' I don't HAVE to cut off an arm to impress Bodhidharma?

Whew!

I think it was Paracelsus who said that anything is poison depending on the amount. Take chocolate fudge for example, one or two pieces is mighty tasty & fine, but if you ate 20 pounds, you might have trouble.

Supposed to be the middle way...a balance.

Now back to the lab to conjure another batch of bumblefuck for R.

Jared said...

@ Jared 1:35PM:

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Life in the USA said...

The death of Michael Jackson really put a focus on -- crassly, quite frankly -- what someone's worth when they're deceased," says David Reeder, vice president of Corbis' GreenLight, which manages the personality rights for Albert Einstein and Steve McQueen, among other dead celebrities. "In a more positive way, it exposed consumers to this idea that there actually is a market for, and an enduring legacy for the deceased.

verification ASHOLOC

Mark Foote said...

"you know, sometimes zazen gets up and walks around"- well, "only zazen can do zazen", and if you check your posture, your checking better be undefiled.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Jared @ 6:10 pm:

Try using your own words.

Mark Foote said...

Most of you on here are assholes.

Robert Pepper said...

#$%^&* I just missed you in New York. I got to tune in more often. Don't suppose you are coming back down here anytime soon?

Anyway, thanks for all of the inspiration. After reading your first three books I was amazed of how many things I related to. It was like I already knew most of the things you wrote about. ( Not in a silly past life kind of way) You just make a lot os sense Mr. Warner. You also added to my balance and sanity. Now maybe I'll try you albums. :)

Much love
Robert

Check us out if you get a moment. I'll even trade cd's if you like our stuff.

http://www.myspace.com/pas-music

BTW: My word verification is "fatch." I just got a pretty big snicker out of that one.

Robert Pepper said...

Nearly forgot to add: When/if you come back to New York, I'll hook you up with anything your heart desires. I do mean anything. :) I'm sort of known for making things happen.

Do hit me up on MySpace and let's talk.

Robert

Robert Pepper said...

Hey wait that second post wasn't mine! Weird internet shenanigans!

Robert

Pepper "Bob" Pepper said...

What the fuck is going on here?

Robert Pepper said...

Oh, I see. Little boys with little dicks playing around on here. Does it make you feel big to do that? I'm trying to actually contribute on here and you tiny dicks obviously get off with this stuff. Fine, I'm out of here. Hope you feel like a big man.

Robert Pepper said...

None of those posts that lacked my link were me. The first two, me. The rest, not so much. Am somewhat puzzled by all this talk of penis size. Interesting.

Robert

Anonymous Bob said...

Hi Robert. Don't worry about that guy. Everyone gets imitated by him at one time or another. We all really love him. He's kind of like a mascot. We all have a lot of fun laughing at him.

CAPTCHA : inpoot : I kid you not

Jared said...

^

"Look inside, OPEN YOUR EYES...I'M YOUUUUUUUUUUU! SAD BUT TRRUUEEEEEEE!"

Anonymous said...

see for yourself

Anonymous said...

This blog is now dedicated solely to exposing a man who goes by the name Dogo Barry Graham. Right now, he is leading a Zen Center in Phoenix, AZ. He has not been able to provide legit proof of ordination and has been accused of sexually abusing women. If you want to help people who think they are entering Buddhist practice but instead are being exploited, help us to expose this man.

Anonymous said...

y'know, someone on another leafier blog brought up this illigit teacher.
I am not so sure he was an illigit teacher
He was a liar, sure
He had some pretty creative ways of deception (making faxes of his 'credentials' all blurry and illegible if I remember a story told about him.)

This is pretty despicable stuff and he has to live with it

But: he kept a zendo
he kept zendo hours

so he lied

his lies allowed an opportunity for practice to occur

The truth could also have allowed an opportunity for practice to occur. I mean, while not a teacher, he could have had had a sitting group and not a zendo

but....perhaps that wouldn't have done it--
falsies are false, but enticing

I do think a teacher, as with any and every human, inevitably disappoints, must disappoint, has a duty to disappoint

he sure found a way to disappoint!

does the practice of zazen suffer if a scumbag is the one who shows you the posture?
is zazen smirched because a liar liar got his pants on fire?

Clearly he has an illness. No one admires or envies the man his illness

Has he sought help?

He wouldn't be the first zen teacher (legit or not) to need counseling. He wouldn't be the first priest (zen or otherwise) to have lied. Those harmed need to tell him.

These days with the internet, anyone wanting to know about anyone prior to sitting with them has an opportunity to do some research.
Things weren't always that way...

I haven't heard of his doing anything such that a lawsuit was filed against him. He told folks he had credentials and he didn't. I'm not saying that's ok,
but seems he is the one hurt most by his actions.

Or am I missing something?

Mark Foote said...

folks, any entry with my name but without my avatar is by some ingenious soul who has figured out a way to hack a Google blog, not me.

Pretty good trick.

Uku said...

Hi all,

A documentary film "Hardcore Zen Tour" (2009, dir. Sike Sillanpää) is now @ Youtube. Length 30 minutes, in English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZccA1ufdKFQ

Anonymous said...

Ugh...
Man, I feel for anyone looking for guidance from this Blog.

Aside from Brad's initial posting, what follows from the majority of the fanboyz on this page is a bunch of crap.
Some asshole always says "1st!"
Others say sloppy, smelly, zenisms as if it were their jobs (my bet is that they don't even sit 5 minutes out of their day...)
While others couldn't care less what they post... poem verses, song quotes, sport scores... who cares right?
"Everything you DO is ZEN!"
RIGHT??

Bunch of Buji wanna bees...

Anonymous said...

And don't forget about the big talking anon's who are afraid of their own shadows.

Anonymous said...

I see no difference between being Anonymous and anyone else except Brad on this blog - Fake names, fake personalities and fake-ass postings.

I could go through the trouble of making a clever name, a ironic picture and I wouldn't be any less anonymous... but that would be wasting valuable time and be ultimatly wasted on this blog with you jokers...
Time to sit a-holes.:)

Anonymous said...

Anon@9:13, Yes, you are missing something. Barry Graham leads a Zen Center in Phoenix, AZ. He has repeatedly lied about his Soto credentials. He has not been able to provide proof of ordination and has been accused of sexually abusing women. Brad Warner has been very outspoken in regards to Genpo Roshi but has made no mention of having any problems with Barry Graham. Granted, he flys below the radar, but his sangha is the largest in a city of 1,600,000 people. I understand he scams less money than Genpo but his students still need to hear the truth about him. But instead of speaking up, Brad has given legitimacy to Graham and never mentions him with Genpo when on one of his rants. It is very unlikely that Brad is ignorant of the situation.

Anonymous said...

Hi there mr 'so over the fools on this blog-got better things to do' at 7.42am.

There you go again. Adding to the fake-ass comments on this blog.

If you're seriously disappointed by the comments so far this time round, check the chat on the previous post. Maybe you think that's all bs too. You're entitled. Just don't kid yourself you're any better.

And there I go again.

Anonymous said...

Sotoshu has said they have no record of Barry Graham and nothing of his supposed teacher,'the Venerable Yamashiro Roshi'. Graham wiped out 9 years of his blog and changed all the info on his websites to hide that information and to delete other lies. Read about the faker here. New info is coming to the surface everyday. Graham depends on good people not believing this is possible.

Anonymous said...

"There you go again. Adding to the fake-ass comments on this blog.

No no... What I said wasn't fake - It's my genuine opinion.

And WTF is Brad doing with Barry Graham????
"Dogo" was exposed as a fraud months ago.
Somebody better tell Brad...

Anonymous said...

A lot of Zen people think it's always better not to say anything negative about fellow teachers. I'm not sure why that is but it seems a lot like self-protection. But when there is some evil shit going down, people need to speak up. Brad has never hesitated before. Genpo ain't the only Zen bad guy needing outed. Brad?

Anonymous said...

Why can't Graham be legally made to stop imitating a Zen teacher? The guy performs marriage ceremonies fcs. How can that be allowed? Why doesn't the Zen teacher's association address this legally? Are they just a social club? Sotoshu? Where is Lawyer Cohen when you need him? Jundo?

Anonymous said...

Jesus! This "Dogo" dude really scared the shit out of me! How in hell it's possible that a guy who is clearly suffering from serious mental disorders, can act as a Soto teacher? Why won't real teachers stand up and say something? Fuck!

- Spiff, NYC

NOT Robert Pepper said...

I'm sick of Robert Pepper's bullshit.

Anon said...

Spiff, I've been wondering the same thing for about a year. It would be so easy to pull the plug on this guy but nothing ever gets done. No one speaks up.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I think you're raising pretty damn important issues here, man! It's fuckin' pathetic real teachers stays silent. Read your fuckin' Dogen, he had balls to act and to say what was needed when clowns were pretending to be teachers.

- Spiff

anon said...

Spiff, I guess everyone is thinking about their own 'enlightenment' and 'correctness' and so whatever happens to other students is of no concern. That's really kind of sad..

Kevin said...

I'm far from a zen teacher, but all you need to know is here....

http://thegrahamscam.blogspot.com/

Harry said...

I suppose the most the Soto Zen Teachers Assoc. and/or Sotoshu (TM) could do is to issue some sort of statement on the matter... I doubt they could go any legal route as it's hardly a crime to impersonate someone who has received Dharma transmission in a Zen lineage...?

Anyway, word of advice: Let the facts speak for themselves. Overkill won't help you and just makes you seem like the crazy one. That blog about Graham looks like a slur campaign or a hatchet job on the guy. It clutches at straws and insinuates things in a pretty hokey way. It won't impress or persuade reasonable people IMO.

Regards,

Harry.

Kevin said...

thanks for your input.... really though.. I'm just doing whatever I can to warn people about the guy. It's been going on for years and I've been getting letters from women who are scared shit of him that have been abused. Don't know what else to do... Not a pro at this kind of stuff... just want to get it out there... and there's a lot.

Harry said...

Hi Kevin,

Where has he been accused of sexually abusing women (as stated in your blog header)?

I can't see it on your blog. If it is on your blog then I'd be very careful if I was you (as you will effectively be making the accusation in posting an anon email for e.g.)

I'm not defending what it seems the guy has done BTW (lying about his credentials), there have been several trusted 'voices of reason' that have put their heads above the pulpit to expose him (James Ford for e.g.), and more reasonable action may be required, but we should avoid a witch hunt.

Regards,

Harry.

anon said...

Harry, Kevin's blog could be more dispassionate but he is one of Graham's former students. There are emotions involved. Overall I think the evidence is pretty persuasive. Graham is faking his credentials.

Impersonating a clergyman might not be a crime in AZ, I'm not sure of that, but it is in some states. In AZ only Licensed or ordained ministers, clergymen, or pastors of recognized religious societies can officiate weddings. Graham has illegally officiated at at least one wedding. He has admitted to carrying a concealed weapon without a license, also a crime. He apparently has been accused of some kind of sexual molestation, but because of the fears of the women involved, there are no real details forthcoming, and really who can blame these cwomen if no one in Zen Buddhism gives a flip enough to even look into the matter. It doesn't take long to read Kevin's blog from the beginning. I don't think Kevin is overstating the facts but he needs to stick to what can be proven and lighten up on the rhetoric.

Harry said...

Hi Anon,

Yes, I've read it all I think, and I see a few lines that *could* be seen to allude to sexual misconduct if read in a certain way (in the way that they are presented, that is), but, no, I just see the header of the blog making the explicit accusation... unless I've missed something as explicit in the anon accounts?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry-san, you're missing the point again. You always seem to pick some minor details and then you'll lose the big picture.

Harry said...

I think when someone is being accused of sexually abusing others then we should be *very* clear on both the big picture and the small details, Anon-san.

These accusations are unsubstantiated. I'm not saying that they should not be considered worrying, but while they remain as they are then I, and anyone who does not believe every anonymous word which they read on a web blog, will have to keep an open mind on it.

Regards,

Harry.

Kevin said...

Point taken. The letters posted from the women are only fragments that they felt safe posting. I have more detailed letters that would give them away if posted in public. They don't want that. I understand. At the same time, it pisses me off that he's getting away with it.

You know, I've been through this shit before. Being raised Catholic around crooked, theiving, molesting priests right in Boston, is what turned my back on them to begin with.

Shit like this, and people ignoring it brings back a lot of memories, and makes me sick to my stomach.

Call it what you will, slander, wrong speech, hatchet job. If this info is on my lap, I'm putting it out there.

Anonymous said...

hey, why gniz hasn't wrote tabloid posts about this "Bozo"? He has revealed all other fakes but not this one? Hmm... if a paparazzi refuses to see what is obvious, then something is wrong.

anon said...

Very true Harry, Kevin might have been better off not running with any sexual accusations until he could name them.

Kevin, Have you ever thought of suing Graham? That would be a way of separating a lot fact from rumor.

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

Kevin,

I suggest that if you have explicit proof of sexual abuse then you should liaise with someone (on a guaranteed completely confidential basis) in the Soto Zen teachers Assoc., and/or Sotoshu, and present the evidence to them directly demanding that something be done. That puts a responsibility on them and it might get the ball rolling in a non-legal way (assuming the alleged victims want to avoid the legal route). Obviously you would need the approval of the alleged victims in order to do this.

This might actually get something done about it.

Regards,

Harry.

Kevin said...

that's a good idea Harry, thanks. I will.

Anonymous said...

Silence is not neutral; it always supports the liar, the phoney, the abuser, the oppressor. It is the duty of a Zen monk to speak out, to challenge, to cut through delusion, to turn sickness into healing.

To speak out in qualitative judgment does not violate the Precept against using unskillful speech - but to remain silent and uncritical in the face of lies and abuse is a violation of that and every other Precept, a violation of the Bodhisattva Vows, and a rejection of the Buddha Dharma.

- Barry Graham

Harry said...

The obligation that the Soto Zen Teachers org. would have (as I hope they'd see it) is that he claimed to be a Soto lineage holder at one point did he not? Is he still making this claim (does he claim that the seemingly fictitious groups he trained with in the UK and Japan were Soto?)

The abuse allegations really bring this into another realm if they can be backed up, and if you take this to an org, and it came out in later legal proceedings that that org didn't do anything about it, then it wouldn't look good for that org at all. Use this pressure to get something done, threaten to go public if nothing is done. Just stick to the facts and be calm. And good luck.

Regards,

Harry.

Captcha: baldliar (... I'm serious!)

Kevin said...

Good news, I already have one woman on board ready to write something up to send in. Thanks
for the advice.

Kevin

Harry said...

I think I'm getting two orgs mixed up. There's the Soto Zen Buddhist Association:

http://szba.org/

...and the American Zen Teachers Association:

http://www.americanzenteachers.org/

Regards,

Harry.

Shusan said...

@ Harry, re: Barry Graham. When I found out about questions around Graham, having practiced Zen in various traditions for 20 years and only just now getting ordained as a Soto priest myself, I was somewhat disturbed that he seemed to be playing pretty fast and loose with his identity, and by what he was saying to folks coming to him interested in Dharma.

I just wrote him and asked about his cred's to teach Zen. What's the prob? If Soto, just prove it. If not, then what? His response (get this): "Find one place where I ever said I was associated with the Soto school." Not "Here is my story. Here is where the confusion lies." Or "Here is where I got my cred's."

I sent him a few links to sites where this was clearly stated (a number of sites for his group that said "Soto Zen", former students/Kobutsu saying such, etc).

He responded by stalking me online and revealing what he (totally erroneously) translated as damaging in an email to me. An implied threat.

I later spoke with John Tarrant, who Graham claims as a friend, and Tarrant said Graham says he has Sanbo Kyodan inka, that his teacher had "switched schools". Tarrant accepted this apparently, though Tarrant (a Sanbo Kyodo trained guy) said Graham did not "understand koans like I understand them" (answers to koans are generally pretty codified in that school.) And since Sanbo Kyodan is a LAY LINEAGE, it does not explain how Graham is ordained. They don't have priests in that school! (Tarrant expressed a sanguine ambivalence about Graham, simply saying that he knows "other Zen teachers who are crazier." I'm not so sure. Or so blase.)

He's managed to get some Soto robes and rakusus and what not, mixed together with the Rinzai stuff he stole from Kobutsu. This is not to get into his orange camo rakusu that he clearly thinks is a really punk expression of his enlightment (a one-fell-swoop "enlightenment" experience that he's written caused him to longer suffer. Red flag? Uh, yeah.) And now he ordains people, lay and priest, with no paperwork. He can't even get the calligraphy right or the chop the right direction. He's been caught in dozens of outright lies - about his teachers, history - even Barry Graham is not his real name!

More an more information keeps coming forth about him. Even from the excerpted letters that Kevin has posted from women involved with Graham (of which there are a peculiar number), its clear the guy has some seriously pathological tendencies.

But he clearly has lied about his history, his credentials, his training. And I see this mistakes throughout his supposed "Zen teaching" which is most every case a real distortion of true Zen Dharma - how could it not be when his foundation is fictional? A teacher once said "the tongue has no bone." And as a teacher, he has not root. Only an obviously pathological will to power and Zen notoriety (clearly modeled on Brad!) How f-ed up is that?

I think teachers need to speak out. Only Kobutsu has been burned bad enough himself to speak out. I think its a failure of others - Brad? - to speak out more clearly. Graham can do what he wants, but he shouldn't do it in a robe.

Shusan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shusan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

not remaining silent

anon said...

"Graham can do what he wants, but he shouldn't do it in a robe."

Shusan: That is it. I think what will now happen is that Barry will claim this was all research for a writing project. He will save face and divorce himself completely. Good riddance.

john e mumbles said...

Uku at 4:42 AM thanks for the link to the Hardcore Zen Tour film on Youtube.

I really enjoyed it. Especially Part 3 where we get to see Brad try over and over and over again to hit on chicks with his "I know Buddhist secrets...KamaSutra...sex with Zen Masters... etc." lines while the women squirm and beg to leave.

Five Stars!!!*****

Highly Recommended!!

Fuckin A said...

teacher meets student

gniz said...

Anon said: "hey, why gniz hasn't wrote tabloid posts about this "Bozo"? He has revealed all other fakes but not this one? Hmm... if a paparazzi refuses to see what is obvious, then something is wrong."

Hi Anonymous. I've been following the Barry Graham saga for awhile and read everything and even had some conversations about it. On Reblogging Brad Warner I actually mentioned Barry as being possibly problematic some time ago, before the newest stuff came out...

I haven't yet written a post about him because recently I've changed the direction of my blog and thought that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to stir up another hornet's nest.

I think my days as a reporter of zen scandals may have come to a close...but based on all the evidence I've seen online, it does appear that Graham has lied about his background.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

My balls are a ZEN conspiracy.

Captcha: ouskwarf (a Nazi detention center?) no offense intended

Anonymous said...

The thing that is mind boggling about Graham is that he is a talented writer. What the fuck does he think he is doing? When you see people acting out in super weird ways (Hi Phil) it makes you wonder whether people have any real control over their own actions.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Maybe we don't have any control. Maybe our DNA and other genetic dispositions have everything mapped out for us. I try to enjoy staring at the wall everyday. But guess what? Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!

anon said...

I think Barry is a talent with artistic courage. Why he is doing what he is doing, I cannot imagine. But it might be as simple as him believing that Buddhists are stupid and easy marks.

Uku said...

John,

glad you liked it! Sike, Brad and girls did a great job!

TV Anchorman said...

Captcha: Cunt
I kid you not

john e mumbles said...

Hi Uku, I sincerely did enjoy the film, & thought it was edited well. Of all the short films of talks, etc. I've seen concerning Brad, this is by far the best.

You are mighty photogenic yourself.

Ashiq Chris said...

Having just returned to sitting zazen regularly after a long hiatus (several years with only sporadic sitting), I can say that I've gotten back in the habit 1 simple way:

1) Make it a point to sit TODAY.

Worry about sitting tomorrow tomorrow. Worry about establishing a long-term practice in the long-term. Only day you need to worry about sitting is today.

If you didn't sit yesterday, who cares? You can't go back and change it. Worried you won't sit tomorrow? Who cares? Let the guy who's job it is to sit tomorrow worry about that.

Like many good habits, first you do it because you have to do it, then you do it because you want to do it, then you do it because that's what happens before you brush your teeth in the morning.

gniz said...

"If you didn't sit yesterday, who cares? You can't go back and change it. Worried you won't sit tomorrow? Who cares? Let the guy who's job it is to sit tomorrow worry about that."

Excellent point and a conclusion I've arrived at as well with my own practice.

I look at it moment to moment. If I was an unconscious idiot a moment ago, no matter. If I thought I was Buddha himself, enlightened under the Bodhi tree a moment ago, no matter.

Right now I can take a breath and be conscious. That is all.

R said...

Brad says: “In his commentary on the Heart Sutra, Dogen says, "There are four instances of prajna that are going on daily; walking, standing, sitting and lying down." Prajna is intuitive wisdom. So for Dogen all of life was wisdom, it was all zazen. Whether we notice this or not, doesn't matter all that much.”.

There's a poem by Shido Bunan Zenji, which happens to be quoted on a magnet on my fridge:

“Not Doing zazen,
Is no other than zazen itself;
When you truly know this,
You are not separate
From the way of Buddha.”.

They normally oppose the idea that Zazen and not doing Zazen is the same in the Soto sect today, as far as I know, - Nishijima in particular, I think; but it seems to me to be the same as what Brad is saying.

(Shido Bunan Zenji was the teacher of Shoju Ronin Zenji who was the teacher of famous Master Hakuin)

btw said...

Brad says “So for Dogen all of life was wisdom” but Dogen says “Practitioners should remember that to preach about wisdom is never the ultimate preaching of the Buddha’s truth”.

(Nishijima translates “truth”, but others might translate as “way”)