Sunday, October 03, 2010

TOUR UPDATE & MILITARY BUDDHISM

I just updated my Never Ending Tour Page. Check out a few highlights such as:

NEW YORK, NY
•October 15, 2010 (Fri) 7 pm - Talk and Book Signing at the Interdependence Project 302 3rd Floor (Middle Buzzer) New York, NY, 10012

•Oct. 16-17, 2010 (Sat - Sun) - Non-residential Zazen Retreat at the Interdependence Project 302 3rd Floor (Middle Buzzer) New York, NY, 10012

MONTREAL, QC
•October 26, 2010 (Tue) - 12 Noon Luncheon at Allen Memorial Hospital (McGill University)

•October 26, 2010 (Tues) - 7pm Casa Del Popolo 4873 boul. St. Laurent Montreal, QC

SAN FRANCISCO
• November 7-9, 2010 Dogen Translation Project at San Francisco Zen Center

LOS ANGELES, CA
•November 10, 2010 (Wed) 7pm - Against The Stream 4300 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA

VENTURA, CALIFORNIA
•November 12 (Fri) - 7pm An Lac Buddhist Temple 901, S.Saticoy Avenue Ventura, CA 93004.

LOS ANGELES, CA
•November 14, 2010 (Sun) 7pm - Bodhi Tree Bookstore 8585 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA

You have been told! Now you have no excuse to miss any of these!

I am in upstate New York for a couple nights, Spencertown to be precise. I'm not really certain exactly where I am. The GPS guided me here, just like the star guided those three kings long ago. Next stop in Montreal where I'll be basing myself ro the next 4-6 weeks (with side trips indicated above).

I gotta go make myself some food or I'm gonna starve.

Here's an email I just responded to:

I'm an officer in the military and I'm at a sort of crossroads in my career path. I used to be a fighting troop when I was younger - I was all gung ho about that 'fight for your country' stuff. Now, I'm being offered to go back to the fighting units and lead fighting soldiers.

Somewhere in all that, I discovered Zen, and the whole right livelihood thing is a concern for me. I understand that there aren't hard and fast rules, and that everyone has to figure things out for their personal situations. At the same time, I have come to understand the value of the 'do not take life' thing in and of itself, and not as some commandment. I want to ease suffering, and not to cause it. I don't want to hurt people. But at the same time, I know that things aren't ever that simple in the real world, and that is a lot of good that can be done by soldiers for physically protecting people who can't protect themselves. It's a difficult dilemma. In terms of violent human conflict, I don't see a lot of realistic solutions. If you choose to defend people, you will have to kill people. If you choose to stay out of it, those people you were going to defend may die anyways. If everyone lays down their weapons - well, that'd be great, but realistically, it ain't gonna happen. So where's the solution?


MY ANSWER (for what it's worth):

You're right. It's a dilemma.

The military is necessary. No doubt about that. Anyone who argues otherwise is just deluded and overly idealistic.Since if this is so, actual people have to serve in the military and they have to be trained to kill when needed.

If you do something that is necessary to society, that is right livelihood. Serving in the military is right livelihood. Absolutely.

Most of us agree that it would be nice if there was no need for the military, if the whole world were stable and at peace and that peace didn't need to be defended by deadly force. But we are not there now. Peace has to be defended by people who are trained to kill those who would destroy it. I'm sorry. But that's the way things are.

I wish this was not true. And I can wish all I want but that won't make it so.

The way to change things is to take the real situation and make it better. If Buddhist teachers are telling people military service is not right livelihood, they are standing in the way of the day when real peace finally prevails. The more people in the military who have a Zen practice, or some kind of meditation, the better.

I'm glad there are people like you in the military. I wish there were more.

As to what to do at the moment when you're required to take someone's life to defend someone else, it's too abstract to me to be able to say anything useful. I think at that moment you know whether to pull the trigger or not. Your practice will help you clarify this.

164 comments:

Harry said...

One! Arhhhh, Jim lad.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or is he past it, and mastering it?

anon #108 said...

So I return from a Buddhist Retreat (that's what they call it) and am immediately presented with the opportunity to grab the #1 spot on the HCZ blog. We Buddhists call this the manifestation of prajna, or intuitive wisdom. My recent concentrated practice of zazen ensures that I and the Universe manifest and make real that which ordinary sentient beings will perceive as special powers. But for those who, like me, have penetrated the Dharma, these seemingly miraculous events are simply the Buddha's Pure Universal Body.

So ONE. Haha!!!

I mean TWO!!

Er...

Harry said...

You've been fucked up by a Lamaist and a closet Jain.

Please be bitter in noble silence, Brother.

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

Busy man Brad!
I am looking forward to seeing you in Kansas near the end of the year!
Keep up the great work,

Gassho,
David

buddy said...

"If you do something that is necessary to society, that is right livelihood. Serving in the military is right livelihood. Absolutely."
If you're defending people against some kind of facist agression, sure. If you're part of an aggressive empire trying to secure it's ideological supremacy and oil rights in the Middle East, not so much.

Anonymous said...

shock & awe

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Well...I guess I'm just deluded and overly idealistic. With this "soldier-sniffer(G. Carlin word)" shit, I think you must now remove Bob from the bass-drum head in the 0dfx vid. You're much too pink these days.

I bought your new book Friday. Haven't had much time to read it this weekend. With what little I have read, it's pretty good. But for some reason your footnotes are really annoying this time.

punchbowl turd said...

Sea-Gal is part >walt whitman

and part road kill.

[a stripe of another color]

Anonymous said...

This shit is bananas.

Self-immolation was the choice of one monk. To go out and kill the other only leads to further confusion and more pain or makes no difference at all. Who knows.

http://theburningbuddha.com/

Anonymous said...

Buddy took the words right out of my mouth. Better to know what is it you're defending and why that is so. We surely mustn't be deluded about that as well.

Anonymous said...

When nobody has anything -

then everybody is the same.

- Taliban Philosophy

108 the merciless said...

You don't like cops? The next time you need help, call Mysterion.

Anonymous said...

... and the Jews wanted to take everything away you owned also. Society got a little carried away there and almost lost everything all by themselves.

Frank said...

Anon: How idiotic.. no wonder you post anonymously.

Anonymous said...

So where's the solution?

Easy. Refuse to participate in wars based on a
Big Lie.

Anonymous said...

Think carefully about action and image.

Anonymous said...

Life is so unsatisfying sometimes..

Jinzang leaves and Mysterion stays.

Anonymous said...

Frank, just a misunderstanding - i wasn't speaking to you.

Dustin said...

I've given the obligatory Ikkyu quote on war not too long ago, so I'll just say that if the samurai could practice Zen while decapitating people in the name of a repressive feudal system that was undoubtedly often corrupt, an American soldier should be able to find a way.

But then, there was a reason I chose a non-combat rating (MOS), so I can't really say anything.

Anonymous said...

take a walk with me,
through the uncanny valley...

buddy said...

What with past posts uncritically defending the military as an absolute necessity, Brad seems to almost have a willful ignorance about non-violent resistance as a viable option to fighting oppression and injustice:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance

Anonymous said...

What a fucking tragedy, or maybe it's a farce. Who gives a shit what right livelihood is, justify this with that. You're still gonna go out there and kill somebody. Better to kill yourself.

Anonymous said...

I think the question the guy is asking is 'Is it better to let someone die when you could have done something so that you continue your 'right livelihood', or is it better to step up and protect one person's life a the cost of another's?'

Anyone here who thinks they have a simple answer is speaking out of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're right. Anybody speaking out here is probably speaking out of ignorance.

Zafu Frog, Japan said...

If there is no self, then how can there be self defense? Just a thought!

I'm not a pacifist. Attack one of my children and I'll prove it. But I'll be the arbiter of when I need to use violence to protect the weak from the strong, not someone who I can't trust to make that decision for me.

This is a decision that you have to make yourself. Do you trust the politicians in your country to use the armed forces only when absolutely necessary to protect the populace from violent attack, or might you find yourself fighting a war of aggression against a people who bear you or your people no threat?

As a Zen Buddhist, I could not join the armed forces of a nation until I was absolutely sure my people were under attack and in need of being defended.

Awakened Yeti said...

the revolution will not be sanitized
it will be commercialized
transmogrified by a ZAP!
from the ray gun administration
in calculated incunabulatory extirpation
crackpot germination from ambulatory
masturbation, circulation of extant
genetic materials and hazmat procedure
crunchy captains chomping down Big Corn
holes available for exploration and
intercourse with mermaids
on the dinner table
breakfast nooks with common crooks
untenable criminals forsook their chains
drenched the walls with mass spermicide
run out from underside of Hades drizzle
chasing the trains from excised wounds
ripped stripped and dewdrops dripped
upside-down with grass ingrown
setting fires and starlit mires ablaze
unfazed in the haze of wrong ways
right down the line and stopped
on a dime, dropped like time
space man spliffs trailing

DB said...

Kudos to you, Brad, for a thoughtful response to a difficult question.

Overman said...

Got ya, Brad Warner'!
That man on the bassdrum is J.R.'Bob' Dobbs smoking his pipe (frop in there). His Church of the Subgenuis is dedicated to total slack, fighting the conspiracy and its dupes & the Normals.

"Finally, a religion even i can believe in"
R.Crumb
"A sick masterpiece for those who can still laugh at the fact that nothing is funny anymore"
'Rolling Stone'

WTF? google Church_of_the_SubGenius

Overman said...

Got ya, Brad Warner'!
That man on the bassdrum is J.R.'Bob' Dobbs smoking his pipe (frop in there). His Church of the Subgenuis is dedicated to total slack, fighting the conspiracy and its dupes & the Normals.

"Finally, a religion even i can believe in"
R.Crumb
"A sick masterpiece for those who can still laugh at the fact that nothing is funny anymore"
'Rolling Stone'

WTF? google Church_of_the_SubGenius

Dan said...

Check out this post on "The Warrior's Duty," in Harper's. It discusses the Bhagavad Gita and includes this quote from Thomas Merton:
'Arjuna has an instinctive repugnance for war, and that is the chief reason why war is chosen as the example of the most repellant kind of duty. The Gita is saying that even in what appears to be the most “unspiritual,” one can act with pure intentions and thus be guided by Krishna consciousness. This consciousness itself will impose the most strict limitations on one’s own use of violence, because it will not be directed by one’s own selfish interests.'
Full post here:http://harpers.org/archive/2010/10/hbc-90007673

Dan

gniz said...

Interesting post, Brad. A little overly simplistic in places, but I basically agree with your overall point.

For people who say they want to decide where and when they become violent--well, the military isn't the place for you, then, is it? If every citizen had that attitude, we wouldn't have much of a military force to speak of. The way it works is that you join up for a period of time and in that time, wherever you get sent and whatever job they assign you to do--you do.

You might not always agree with what they've sent you to do. I would bet there are a significant percentage of soldiers who would rather not have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan.

It's not for everyone.

But even if our military frequently engages in wars for purposes that we find troubling--I know I do--we still need a military. Many times they will do things I personally find repugnant.

But we still need a military. Unless you like the idea of being conquered by a foreign army someday and being occupied by someone worse than ourselves.

Might seem unrealistic, and it is, because we have a huge military force.

I agree, we don't need to be going out and attacking other countries. It's hard to stomach sometimes. The lies they use to justify wars that are fought primarily for financial gain or to get a foothold in a certain region because of oil resources, etc.

But we still need a military.

And if there are more people trying to bring some level of consciousness and humanity and balance to the military, it will probably be a less cruel force than otherwise...it might improve things just that little bit...I believe that is Brad's point.

But I think he makes it sound a little too simple when he does not include the sense that perhaps some of these wars and actions themselves are not unethical. What does a buddhist do if they are sent to a place to cleanse it of muslims, etc? Do they do that job with a zenlinke purpose?

In other words, Brad is right, but as always, does not devote the time or energy on this blog to delve into the matter in a more thoughtful way. He makes it seems like 2+2=4, simple, easy and clean.

Anonymous said...

buddy said...
If you're part of an aggressive empire trying to secure it's ideological supremacy and oil rights in the Middle East, not so much.

Thanks for representing the idealists. I used to be firmly in that camp. Try to remember that the Middle East situation might be more complex than you think.

The Iraq war may end up being the catalyst for peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis -- the United States may finally have a strong, wealthy, and democratic Muslim military ally in the region, reducing Israel's leverage over the US. Israel may actually have to start behaving itself if it wants continued support from the US.

Jerusalem may eventually become a symbol of peaceful coexistence between world religions. Think about that.

I'll believe it when I see it, myself, but I'm not gonna criticize the people who are trying to accomplish that worthy goal.

TimothyLeary said...

Turn on.
Tune in.
Drop out.

Anonymous said...

Brad, I realize it is useless to attempt to change your mind on this issue. But surely you realize that many, many buddhists disagree with you on this point. It may be that we are all hopelessly deluded (including Jinzang) and you are correct. Or.........

Anonymous said...

Oh, if war(what joining the military means you are willing to wage) and it's implications were as simply calculated like 2+2=4. If that were the case then maybe the kid from Ohio might have a shot at being right. We know better though. Such simpleton thinking is dangerous to everybody and dishonest. Doesn't sit right here.

Better to kill yourself than to go around deluded you know(because the officer told you) which other to shoot or chop their head off.

tacotaco said...

"If you do something that is necessary to society, that is right livelihood. Serving in the military is right livelihood. Absolutely." -Brad

Would you be saying that if we lived in Nazi Germany? Would you be saying that if we lived in 2nd century Rome? Would you be saying that if this was the height of the Vietnam war?

I know Brad is just trying to be kind to a conscientious person in a tough spot, but this is a dangerous blanket statement. Our military is, from most of the world's perspective, a meddling corporatist mercenary force.

Our 'society' - which, of course, means something different to everyone - is based on what? The land we happen to live on? Our shared history (which exists only in our imaginations)? Religion? Race? Representative Democracy?

Any concept of 'we' necessitates a concept of 'other'. This is the view which allows people to kill each other.

Peace really is every step. Every word. Every thought. Every blog post.

buddy said...

'For people who say they want to decide where and when they become violent--well, the military isn't the place for you, then, is it? If every citizen had that attitude, we wouldn't have much of a military force to speak of. The way it works is that you join up for a period of time and in that time, wherever you get sent and whatever job they assign you to do--you do.' Like the good German in 1939? The devout buddhist in Nanking in 1937?

'But we still need a military.' Who is this 'we'? Those who just happen to have been born in a certain place who feel they have to defend it against others who happen to have been born in a different place? Nationalism, along with sectarian religion, is a ridiculously redundant and horribly dangerous delusion. Of course, if corporate globalism is the alternative, we're really screwed.

'In other words, Brad is right, but as always, does not devote the time or energy on this blog to delve into the matter in a more thoughtful way. He makes it seems like 2+2=4, simple, easy and clean.' For a bit more thoughtfulness, check this out (first post): http://www.everydayzen.org/index.php?option=com_content&blogmonth=5&blogyear=2009&task=blogcategory&Itemid=38&id=15

Anonymous said...

Better to kill yourself than to go around deluded you know(because the officer told you) which other to shoot or chop their head off.

Better to shut your trap than to go around deluded saying that soldiers don't know what they are doing when they pull the trigger.

buddy said...

tacotaco, you posted whilst i was scribbling my note, seems we had similar thoughts for breakfast.

tacotaco said...

seriously, buddy - that is kind of spooky.

R said...

Quite obvious what Nishijima would say to that soldier:

“I think it is best that you sit Zazen”.

Anonymous said...

"Better to shut your trap than to go around deluded saying that soldiers don't know what they are doing when they pull the trigger."

To take action and kill, bomb and gas and poison other humans, that is deluded. The military is not a police force for justice. Large mistake to confuse the two. The onus is not on me to shut my hole, I can protect the world from myself. Can the pilot and soldier in the battlefield protect the world from themselves? Evidence says no. You must have shit for brains if you think there is a just war. Some sort of mystical smoke between your ears preventing you from seeing what is really going on out there.

Anonymous said...

"Better to shut your trap than to go around deluded saying that soldiers don't know what they are doing when they pull the trigger."

History is full of really smart people who did horrible things as "soldiers". Get a fucking education.

Ran K. said...

The military is necessary” is not necessarily fully true.


I'm not saying it's not, and if you do believe in Heaven they’re fighting over there too, - they’re no pacifists, and that's a real heavy fact, if you believe it.


However, - it does not mean everybody should.


There certainly may be groups of men who would not take part.


One might have it that he will not engage in whatever he considers unfit. - For a period of time at least.


It is only stupid if one believes all should be obliged to it.


Armies are necessary. It doesn't mean I have to take part in them.


[- You can't get everyone out of the shit [- now] but you might no longer be willing to take part in whatever doesn’t feel right yourself.

[Though under extreme conditions it might indeed feel different, - but rarely]]


So it is perfectly OK for a kernel of individuals who will not take part in war to exist.


And it would be perfectly wrong to claim this is necessarily promoting war.




Also there would be the question of how well and how detached and harmonious you can be, - while at war.




It may be that at a certain point it is better for one not to, [engage in - say - war] and after some actual development and practice it may no longer be the case.




And I don't think the world necessarily has to be a world of peace.

Not at present at least.

Wars keep us awake.

R said...

The sufi spell is off.

R said...

The Comet Bar Detroit, MI

May 1, 2009.



Is this a joke?









The joy of punk is fundamentally insincere, or just stupid.

Anonymous said...

i wanna kill kill kill

Anonymous said...

Still a bunch of fucking Nazi's.

Us, them. Eradicate, exterminate. We'll be never safe from them. No end to war here.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

They are us, revolting.

Arnold Zeman said...

Re your Oct. 26th luncheon in Montreal, the Allen is a psychiatric hospital, if you didn't already know. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Memorial_Institute for interesting thumbnail sketch & reference to work on LSD funded by CIA.

Anonymous said...

sucker

Harry said...

In the last comments section Zach asked:

In either of your guy's sanghas... are there any lay practitioners? People who have taken the precepts but who are not monks?

Hi Zach,

Yeah, I'm a lay practitioner who wears the robe (just the kesa or rakusu, not all the extra antique Japanese underwear!)

I don't go in for the 'monk' label because it doesn't really seem to be a word that applies to me and my life (as most people understand the term 'monk', that is)... and actually it doesn't really apply to any Japanese term as far as I'm concerned, certainly not the very beautiful term unsui which means something like 'clouds and water' (and not some image of a some fat beer swilling brown robed and sandals guy with a bald spot atop his head and a big stick for knocking Robin Hood into the water!)

I agree with Uku that it's really a matter of what a person thinks about it him or herself, it may be useful to some to consider themselves 'monks' for whatever reason, but overall I feel it might be better to 'drift like clouds and flow like water' than be caught in the dirty nest of how we imagine ourselves to be... especially if the translated language doesn't describe what we are, or aspire to, very well.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s.

Wiki wants us to know this much...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsui

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samanera

Anonymous said...

I think it is possible to fight in the military as a good buddhist and protest the military as a good buddhist. Just don't get too attached to killing and don't get too attached to pacifism and a non-violent utopias.

The Magic 8 Ball said...

Kensho is bunk
War is necessary
Fuck off is a good way to address your brother monk
Believing in God is true zen buddhism
If your spiritual disciple is a hottie, screw em but good.
Brad is a deeply enlightened zen master

Some Hair Over The Rainbow said...

Hi Harry! "lay practitioner" doesn't mean "layabout" and the dirty (bath)robe doesn't count.

You don't go in for the "monk" label because:
"Hey Hey you're a monk-ey!"

"unsui" in your case means something like "bourbon and water."

I agree with your overall description of yourself as "some fat beer swilling brown robed and sandals guy with a bald spot atop his head." Nicely said. And that this post and comment section is so boring that you have to go back to the last one to find something interesting as far as you are concerned to say. Pathetic.

Some Hair Under the Panty Line said...

P.S. Your new photo is really fucking creepy.

Anonymous said...

I think Jundo is posting anonymously again. Fun.

Frank said...

God save us from these vicious Buddhist-like pacifists.

Awakened Yeti said...

"You know whats REALLY necessary??

Justification.

Bitch."

- Iga clan rep #110100111

lieschen müller said...

gniz said:

What does a buddhist do if they are sent to a place to cleanse it of muslims, etc? Do they do that job with a zenlinke purpose?

cf. this book: Brian Victoria: Zen at War.

Brian Victoria:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War

Book Review:
http://www.thezensite.com/ZenBookReviews/ZenAtWar_Loy.htm

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

Hi,

The 'Zen at War' book is worth a read, but please consider not being totally taken in by the author's need to make his tidy if attractive point.

The poor scholarship and pretty blatant hatchet job that he carries out on Kodo Sawaki (by using a grossly distorted translation of what Sawaki said about his war efforts) is enough to have me seriously question the author's intention and the work generally.

You can get an idea of where the author's head was at by reading through this exchange between the author and the abbot of Antaiji:

http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/200801.shtml

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Important post, Brad. Thank you!

This is quite a nice quote I think:

"The first casualty when war comes is truth."
- Hiram Johnson

Have fun with your tour!

Harry said...

...And more of reasoned criticism re 'Zen at War':

http://www.tricycle.com/feature/fog-world-war-ii?page=0,0

Regards,

H.

Harry said...

And re the dangerous religious war zealot Dainin Katagiri a person who actually knew him clarifies...

Brian Victoria has a fluid sense about reporting about the history of modern Zen teachers. He has stated that my late teacher, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, taught Kamikazi pilots zen meditation. Actually, Katagiri Roshi was a school boy and 16 at the end of the war. He worked at a small engine plant and was kicked out of his schools glider club, when he crashed it on his first attempted flight.

The evil Nazi Bastard!

Regards,

Harry.

lieschen müller said...

Harry said:
You can get an idea of where the author's head was at by reading through this exchange between the author and the abbot of Antaiji

Thanks for the additional resources.

lieschen müller said...

This discussion on "lotus in the fire" is really interesting. I like the way Muho responds, and finally ends the discussion. I will read on later (I am at work now, over here in Europe).

Anonymous said...

It's all about "I'm right, no I'm right." That's what war is, and that's what all the comments on this board have been.

Can't really point a finger at someone to blame them, while in the same sentence saying that there is no such thing as right or wrong.

jamal said...

It's a dog eat dog world and there are some crazies out there who would slit your throat for a dollar if given the opportunity. But most people are cool. I'm a big pussy and don't really want to fight, so I'm grateful for the police and military. I would like the professionals to handle things but if I do have to fight I want a gun.

tattoozen said...

Extreme idealism, extreme materialism, either way were fuckered.

This soldiers question (and dilemma) are so difficult that i dont think any of us outside could have come up with a "right answer". brad was throwing the responsibility back at him without adding his own Bias, from the look of this comments section i dont see anyone else who could have done that without spinning it their own direction.

Brad didnt give the answer I wanted to hear either, he gave the answer that puts the responsibility back where it belongs, with the soldier.

Anonymous said...

Brad's pro-war sentiment was really disappointing to me.

Samuel said...

Brad, I wanted to send you an e-mail but can't find your e-mail address anywhere in your blog or in your two books I purchased.

Forgive me for my technological illiteracy.

Anonymous said...

Harry doesn't know what a Nazi is or where one comes from if he thinks innocent children can't become one. P.s. Harry I think a stork with a swastika delivers them so watch out!!

I read daizen Victoria's book, I thought it was pretty reserved. Some of those men like kodo sawaki really did take part in the war more than your average Japanese subject. Maybe the translation isn't great, but then maybe you read the translation they way you want to (Harry included). Anyway Zen at War is good, READ IT. You'll want to come back here later and comment on "military buddhism"

I always recommend skepticism about such things. Even Brad makes "translation" errors also. So watch out!

Harry said...

"Maybe the translation isn't great, but then maybe you read the translation they way you want to (Harry included)."

You need to read the stuff that I linked to to have a better grounding in the broader facts around this, Anon.

It's not just a question of a 'bad translation'.

The person who made the translation admitted it wasn't faithful, and that it wasn't really just a translation. Victoria used it anyway because it suited his agenda. It's just sloppy methodology and the worst sort of self-affirming revisionism on Victoria's part.

Regards,

Harry.

gniz said...

Hey Harry,

I read most of what was on the link you posted about the correspondence with Victoria. He definitely did not give a good account of his shoddy scholarship about Sawaki.

But where he says "His (Sawaki's) promotion of the martial arts for youth destined to become soldiers, his state-oriented lectures to Komazawa student priests, his close relationship with the Tokyo police chief, his visits to colonists in Manchuria, his acceptance of a silver cup from the government for his services to the state, etc. tell us of a man who was fully behind Japan's wartime actions."

That stuff, if true, does seem to indicate that this was a man fairly committed to backing his country's wartime actions. And even the revised quotes still seem like a guy who for the most part backed the war.

Maybe he was not quite as bloodthirsty as Victoria made him out to be. But he wasn't exactly a peacenik now was he?

Anonymous said...

I wish safety for all those who are presently engaged in acts of war. I wish safety to all those who fight today, on both sides. I hope all the bullets and bombs miss today so all soldiers can go to sleep tonight. War, violence, aggression - it's a deep and complex situation playing out across the ages. It doesn't seem like philosophy will resolve it today, though we must turn our minds to the causes of this pain and begin to act harmlessly in whatever capacity we can to turn the tide. Tonight, may all those who fight go to sleep safely.

Mysterion said...

fighting for peace
is like
screwing for virginity

if that's what rings you bell,
then ring on...

Me said...

wow, doing someone else's (evil) bidding in the form of taking a life is something you would consider 'right livelihood'? hmmm, killing someone who has broken into your home and is about to take your life or the lives of your family is one thing but going to a foreign country that has NEVER ever attacked the US and killing will never be considered right livelihood imho....

Cori

Harry said...

Hi Gniz,

He was certainly no beatnik, and he 'supported the war effort' by putting his life on the line as a soldier (and he was a very effective one by all accounts), but there is nothing to suggest that he was the longtime, one dimensional sing-song imperial jingoist (boo, hiss!) that Victoria is too keen to paint him as.

What Sawaki actually said about the tragedy of war was more nuanced and more humanistic than what Victoria wants him to say.

Regards,

Harry.

Brad Warner said...

Kensho is bunk
- Yes.

War is necessary
- Usually no. But sometimes yes. And it's very unfortunate. We need to work to make this not so. We can make war unnecessary by first understanding clearly why it is often necessary to have a war before things improve.

Fuck off is a good way to address your brother monk
- No it isn't. It's sometimes necessary, though.

Believing in God is true Zen Buddhism
- I think so.

If your spiritual disciple is a hottie, screw em but good.
- Who said that? Anyway this is something I have never tried myself, so I cannot verify it.

Brad is a deeply enlightened zen master
- Nope.

Brad Warner said...

Note, by the way, that this is a response to a specific questioner about a specific military. In fact the guy is Canadian!

So OF COURSE I'm not saying that serving in the German military in 1939 is absolutely right livelihood. That's too abstract.

But consider this, even there and then, innocent German people were being killed and those people wanted protection.

It's a complex and tragic situation. I want the military to be unnecessary and obsolete. But I don't think I will live to see that happen.

We can make the military unnecessary by clearly seeing why it is necessary now.

gniz said...

Brad, I like what you said just now. Might it not be worth taking a little more time and writing a longer and more complex portrait of the things you're alluding to (why war might be necessary for things to get better, etc)?

I think there is a lot more depth to your ideas then you sometimes let on and it can be a disservice to your overall points, which are unique and insightful.

But then it's as if you can't really be bothered or perhaps dont have the time to flesh them out, which in turn causes people to accuse you of being simplistic, not caring, or in this case being a warmonger...which I don;t think you are at all.

Mumon said...

Believing in God is true Zen Buddhism
- I think so.


Kapleau mentioned that some folks don't want to use that word 'cause it would be calling "him" names.

Mileage varies here; "God," due to its monotheistic personalist implications is a discordant term to use. That's why I can suspect there might be some variants of "universal consciousness," - whatever that might be, and subject to the proviso that it might not be my consciousness even - but "nontheist" is a much better term.

Then again I disagree with Shaku Soyen as well on this.

What we know of consciousness that we can empirically verify does not appear but to be distributed. Could even extend to the inanimate. But to call that distribution "God" is a bit of a misnomer.

Mumon said...

Believing in God is true Zen Buddhism
- I think so.


Kapleau mentioned that some folks don't want to use that word 'cause it would be calling "him" names.

Mileage varies here; "God," due to its monotheistic personalist implications is a discordant term to use. That's why I can suspect there might be some variants of "universal consciousness," - whatever that might be, and subject to the proviso that it might not be my consciousness even - but "nontheist" is a much better term.

Then again I disagree with Shaku Soyen as well on this.

What we know of consciousness that we can empirically verify does not appear but to be distributed. Could even extend to the inanimate. But to call that distribution "God" is a bit of a misnomer.

God's fart said...

Jesus Christ Gniz, how far up Brad's ass IS your nose? Have you spotted Harry up there yet?

Mysterion said...

Right livelihood: (samyag-ājīva • sammā-ājīva) an ideal means that practitioners should not seek trades or occupations which directly harm other living beings.

But it is an ideal.

Once you have taken the warrior's (soldier's) path, here is what you must now do...

Read Lord Krishna's advice to Arjuna...

"'Therefore unify yourself with yoga;
yoga is skilled in actions.
Letting go of the fruit of action,
the intelligent of unified intuition,
liberated from the bondage of birth,
go the way free from misery.
When your intuition passes beyond the confusion of delusion,
you will become indifferent to what you hear
and to what has been heard in scripture.
Disregarding scripture, when in meditation
your immovable intuition will stand unmoving,
then you will attain union.'

Mysterion said...

regarding god in buddhism

words like god and dog have only the distinctions we impose upon them.

the great oneness of gods, dogs, people, cats, mice, the bushes they hide in, the trees under which bushes grow, and all the ticks and mites that thereon live, this non-dualistic oneness is where you find your 'god.'

read: "The psychology of awakening: Buddhism, science, and our day-to-day lives"

gniz said...

"God's fart" aka "Some Hair Over the Rainbow" aka...
Your problem with me and Harry and anyone who doesn't outright vomit insults in Brad's face is odd and a little sad.

But it's your problem, so i guess...uh...have fun with that.

Magic 8 Ball said...

Brad is a deeply enlightened zen master

- Nope.


It's good to know that Brad and I agree on some things.

gniz said...

"Magic 8 Ball": Someone once told a story about how at the height of the beatles fame, Paul McCartney had the idea to dress up in costumes and tour as another band, in small clubs, etc. To be anonymous again.

And then some smart guy pointed out that no matter how much they disguised themselves, the audience would instantly recognize the Beatles the instant they strummed their guitars and sang.

The point being, their voice was very unique and quite distinguishable, hence no anonymity.

I would say writing is very much the same.

Just a hint, buddy.

Lone Wolf said...

"We can make the military unnecessary by clearly seeing why it is necessary now."

I'd like to see Brad (you) go deeper into those hotties...I mean the comment above. Maybe it can be the topic of a future blog post or SG article.

perruche-verte said...

I don't see the point in arguments about whether the military is necessary or not.

It just appears that there *is* a military right now, and that troubled soldier who wrote to Brad happens to be in it. Brad's response was right on the money.

It reminds me of the Quaker story (apocryphal) about George Fox and William Penn. Penn asked Fox if it was necessary to stop wearing his sword to become a Quaker, and Fox told him, "Wear it as long as you can".

This soldier should stay in service as long as he can.

With all my heart, I oppose war, militarism and occupying foreign countries. But there's no point in vilifying human beings who are caught up in these events. I oppose the fools who sent our troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm not necessarily against the individual soldier who is stuck with trying to find a humane way to carry out the mission there.

If you're in the military, meditate! If you're not in the military, meditate! If you want peace for all beings, meditate! Develop compassion and clarity of mind, and then right action will present itself.

Anonymous said...

If a buddhist priest had the financial means to afford a Rolls Royce(snicker), would that be desiring too much?

J(n)izz said...

Urban Dictionary:

"gniz"

Definition: The squeaky sound of joy a gnat makes when it finds a juicy zen priest turd.

Ran K. said...

“We need to work to make this not so. We can make war unnecessary by first understanding clearly why it is often necessary to have a war before things improve.” – This is a very good one from Brad. (IMV)

(And he repeats it: “We can make the military unnecessary by clearly seeing why it is necessary now”.)

“Believing in God is true Zen Buddhism
- I think so.”

My first teacher – Nakagawa Kyudo Roshi, who lived in Jerusalem, on Mount Olive, said that on meeting a (Christian – it has to be, - not many Buddhist monks in Jerusalem) monk he attentively asked him: – “In what you believe?

– If you don’t know what the word “God” expresses, - it is [of course] meaningless to assume its existence or non existence.

Were I to quote Dogen on the matter I would quote “When we look up at Buddhist patriarchs, they are one Buddhist patriarch”.

(and perhaps the second part of this sentence as well)

Also the idea behind “I am that which I am” (Exodus 3:14) in very similar to that of “Inmo”.

(I have not listened to Brad’s second talk yet)

“If your spiritual disciple is a hottie, screw em but good.
- Who said that? Anyway this is something I have never tried myself, so I cannot verify it.”

Let us know when you do.

We’ll donate.

gniz said...

"when it finds a juicy zen priest turd"

Oh I found one all right. Some zen priests are obvious enough even when trying their best to hide in plain sight around these parts.

You're not fooling anyone, buddy.

Magic 8 Ball said...

"Magic 8 Ball": Someone once told a story about how at the height of the beatles fame

Cool gniz! Does this mean I'm more popular than Jesus Christ now or just play guitar as well as Paul?

Anonymous said...

"Today it is raining. This is Buddha's
teaching. People think their own way
or their own religious understanding
is Buddha's way, without knowing
what they are hearing, or what they
are doing, or where they are. Relig-
ion is not any particular teaching.
Religion is everywhere. We have to
understand our teaching in this way.
We should forget all about some par-
ticular teaching; we should not ask
which is good or bad. There should
not be any particular teaching.
Teaching is in each moment, in
every existence. That is the true
teaching."---

Shunryu SuzukI

Grunt 1 Out said...

Magic 8 Ball: There's nothing "cool" about gniz, he's an ass-sucking lap dog barking up the wrong tree.

Grunt 2 out ahh said...

gniz is the Joe Lieberman of hardcore zennists

Sebastien said...

Hey! I can't find Brad's E-mail. Can someone help me?

Thanx!!!!!

Harry said...

When I asked if you were a hater I didn't expect such a clear response!

Regards,

Harry.

Not Jundo said...

I AM ANONY MOUSE!!!!!!!

alfayate said...

A very interesting question:

If true spirituallity has ahimsa (non-violence) and the Golden Rule (don't do to others what you wouldn't like they'd do to you) at its core, then Can a soldier follow a spiritual path?

In fact, as someone mentioned before, there's a whole sacred book and a spiritual tradition that arises from this question: The Bhaghavad Gita. In it, Arjuna, a kshatriya (member of a hindu cast, a noble whose duty -dhammma- is war) has to fight in a very evil war (and what war is not?) against his own relatives and masters, people who he apreciates and respects and is painfully aware that whatever side wins, the result is going to be not peace but destruction and suffering. So he turns to Krishna for advice and Krishna teaches him the way to be loyal to his dhamma as kshatriya and at the same time keep a pure spiritual practice... but anyway this is hinduism, not buddhism, not to mention that Buddha himself and Mahavira (the founder of jainism) were kshatriyas too... and they choose a very different path.

Killing or hurting other human being is ALWAYS wrong (bad karma) not matter the circunstances, so the question here is: Can this karma be kept to a minimun or at least to reduce it?

Personally, I think that follow the Buddhadharma and at the same time having a profession which requires the use of violence towards other human beings (even killing) it may be possible but it's a very, very hard way, kinda climbing a mountain with your eyes closed, walking backwards and in the middle of a heavy storm... and if you are a member of an organization that requires weapons and violence as means and also has a strong hierarchy, you are taking refuge on this organization and this is contradictory with being your own refuge. In buddhism you are fully responsible for your acts and obeying orders is not an excuse: you make the cake, you eat the karma.

I feel compasion for the people trapped in this kind of dilemma, and maybe knowing what others did (yes, even soldiers in German Army in WWII, even members of the Nazi Party...) in their circunstances may help them. So here's a few names which you can seek more information about:

Hugh Thompson
John Rabe
Cipriano Mera
Mokiti Okada
William Manning
Mozi
Arndt Pekurinen
Angel Sanz-Briz
Wilm Hosenfeld
Corrie ten Boom
Charlie Eatherly
Ashoka
Karl Plagge

Regards

Anonymous said...

A very interesting question:

If true spirituallity has ahimsa (non-violence) and the Golden Rule (don't do to others what you wouldn't like they'd do to you) at its core, then Can a soldier follow a spiritual path?

In fact, as someone mentioned before, there's a whole sacred book and a spiritual tradition that arises from this question: The Bhaghavad Gita. In it, Arjuna, a kshatriya (member of a hindu cast, a noble whose duty -dhammma- is war) has to fight in a very evil war (and what war is not?) against his own relatives and masters, people who he apreciates and respects and is painfully aware that whatever side wins, the result is going to be not peace but destruction and suffering. So he turns to Krishna for advice and Krishna teaches him the way to be loyal to his dhamma as kshatriya and at the same time keep a pure spiritual practice... but anyway this is hinduism, not buddhism, not to mention that Buddha himself and Mahavira (the founder of jainism) were kshatriyas too... and they choose a very different path.

Killing or hurting other human being is ALWAYS wrong (bad karma) not matter the circunstances, so the question here is: Can this karma be kept to a minimun or at least to reduce it?

Personally, I think that follow the Buddhadharma and at the same time having a profession which requires the use of violence towards other human beings (even killing) it may be possible but it's a very, very hard way, kinda climbing a mountain with your eyes closed, walking backwards and in the middle of a heavy storm... and if you are a member of an organization that requires weapons and violence as means and also has a strong hierarchy, you are taking refuge on this organization and this is contradictory with being your own refuge. In buddhism you are fully responsible for your acts and obeying orders is not an excuse: you make the cake, you eat the karma.

I feel compasion for the people trapped in this kind of dilemma, and maybe knowing what others did (yes, even soldiers in German Army in WWII, even members of the Nazi Party...) in their circunstances may help them. So here's a few names which you can seek more information about:

Hugh Thompson
John Rabe
Cipriano Mera
Mokiti Okada
William Manning
Mozi
Arndt Pekurinen
Angel Sanz-Briz
Wilm Hosenfeld
Corrie ten Boom
Charlie Eatherly
Ashoka
Karl Plagge

Regards

Anonymous said...

f

alfayate said...

A very interesting question:

If true spirituallity has ahimsa (non-violence) and the Golden Rule (don't do to others what you wouldn't like they'd do to you) at its core, then Can a soldier follow a spiritual path?

In fact, as someone mentioned before, there's a whole sacred book and a spiritual tradition that arises from this question: The Bhaghavad Gita. In it, Arjuna, a kshatriya (member of a hindu cast, a noble whose duty -dhammma- is war) has to fight in a very evil war (and what war is not?) against his own relatives and masters, people who he apreciates and respects and is painfully aware that whatever side wins, the result is going to be not peace but destruction and suffering. So he turns to Krishna for advice and Krishna teaches him the way to be loyal to his dhamma as kshatriya and at the same time keep a pure spiritual practice... but anyway this is hinduism, not buddhism, not to mention that Buddha himself and Mahavira (the founder of jainism) were kshatriyas too... and they choose a very different path.

Killing or hurting other human being is ALWAYS wrong (bad karma) not matter the circunstances, so the question here is: Can this karma be kept to a minimun or at least to reduce it?

Personally, I think that follow the Buddhadharma and at the same time having a profession which requires the use of violence towards other human beings (even killing) it may be possible but it's a very, very hard way, kinda climbing a mountain with your eyes closed, walking backwards and in the middle of a heavy storm... and if you are a member of an organization that requires weapons and violence as means and also has a strong hierarchy, you are taking refuge on this organization and this is contradictory with being your own refuge. In buddhism you are fully responsible for your acts and obeying orders is not an excuse: you make the cake, you eat the karma.

I feel compasion for the people trapped in this kind of dilemma, and maybe knowing what others did (yes, even soldiers in German Army in WWII, even members of the Nazi Party...) in their circunstances may help them. So here's a few names which you can seek more information about:

Hugh Thompson
John Rabe
Cipriano Mera
Mokiti Okada
William Manning
Mozi
Arndt Pekurinen
Angel Sanz-Briz
Wilm Hosenfeld
Corrie ten Boom
Charlie Eatherly
Ashoka
Karl Plagge

Regards

alfayate said...

Uff....

The Blogger Comment System is making me crazy... first it raises an error and says the URL is too long ?? and now I see my comment 3 times...

Apologies to all. Please, remove the repetitions...

lieschen müller said...

sebastien said:
Hey! I can't find Brad's E-mail. Can someone help me?
press the donate-button. it shows at the top of the site.

CynicalBoy said...

Peace, conflict, love, hate
Right, wrong, my way, the highway
Life is love and war

Anonymous said...

awake

Anonymous said...

good

Anonymous said...

conscientious objector

john e mumbles said...

From Wikipedia:
Regarding the Pain of Others (ISBN 0374248583) was Susan Sontag's last published book before her death in 2004. It is, in a way, a follow-up to On Photography despite the fact that the two books have radically different opinions about photography. This long essay is especially interested in war photography. Using photography to back up her points, Sontag sets out to answer one of the three questions posed in Virginia Woolf's book Three Guineas, "How in your opinion are we to prevent war?"

Anonymous said...

"the opposition to warfare may be based on either
the general idea of ahimsa, non-violence, or on
an explicit prohibition of violence by their religion,
e.g., for a Buddhist, one of the five precepts is
"Pānātipātā veramaṇi sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi," or
"I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying
living creatures," which is in obvious
opposition to the practice of warfare."

Anonymous said...

"There will never be any peace in the world
as long as we eat animals."
--Isaac Bashevis Singer

Anonymous said...

"As long as there are slaughterhouses,
there will be battlefields."
--Leo Tolstoy

R said...

mumbles @ 2:11 pm: (quoting Wikipedia)

“Regarding the Pain of Others ... was Susan Sontag's last published book before her death in 2004. ... Using photography to back up her points, Sontag sets out to answer ... "How in your opinion are we to prevent war?"”.

Sometimes answers from very stupid people are better without.

From the very little (almost nothing) I know of Sontag I'd just rather not hear what she has to say.

Anonymous said...

fire

Anonymous said...

BRAD WARNER'S EMAIL ADDRESS IS

brad.warner@mac.com

There may be another, but that one should work.

john e mumbles said...

Well, R at 2:52, you are certainly welcome to voice your opinion. I was just throwing something into the discussion I randomly ran across while looking for something else... you are not obliged to follow up on it.

Anonymous said...

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying
living creatures," which is in obvious
opposition to the practice of warfare."


The rest of that wiki entry gives the reason Brad believes war is ok;

"On the other hand, many Buddhist sects, especially in Japan, have been thoroughly militarized, warrior monks (yamabushi or sóhei) participating in the civil wars. "

Brad's teacher is japanese.
Amazing coincidence?

john e mumbles said...

Otherwise R @ 2:52,

if you're gonna quote the comment, do it accurately.

And calling someone's writing, especially the likes of Sontag and Woolf "stupid" while professing your own ignorance of their work is ignorant indeed.

But again, you are obviously welcome to your opinion.

Mysterion said...

Buddha wasn't Buddhist, he was a Hindu*. And he was an EDUCATED Hindu, being from a higher Caste (Nobility).

As such, he would have read the MahaBharata (Great Poem).

The "Song of God" or Bhaghavad Gita is Book 9 of the series. There are 12 surviving books known to us today.

By far, the most widely read is "The Song of God."

*And Jesus wasn't a Christian. He may have been an Ethiopian Jew (Jesus Byn Pantera) or one of a dozen other characters - even a Syrian or Turk. I doubt if the myth is based on an Indian.

The Christianity we know dates from 325 CE and thereafter.

Anonymous said...

"if you are a member of an organization that requires weapons and violence as means and also has a strong hierarchy, you are taking refuge on this organization and this is contradictory with being your own refuge. In buddhism you are fully responsible for your acts and obeying orders is not an excuse: you make the cake, you eat the karma."

Exactly, "I was just following orders" doesn't work for a Buddhist. If this guy is having real doubts and lacks right intention, he needs to get out now before more problems.

Brad Warner said...

And if he gets out what do we have? One less person with a conscience in the military and more opportunity to make things worse.

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous 4:12 PM, I believe your teacher is also Japanese. This game is becoming quite ridiculous.

Ran K. said...

mumbles - where did I misquote?

I copied and pasted yours and deleted a few things and put “...” instead.

Scott Xian-Liao said...

Brad, I've trying to explore this topic on my blog
http://fiercebodhi.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

Sorry for the shameless plug, I would have rather e-mailed this to you if I could find your address. If you think it would be helpful, please ask that officer come over and comment.

With Metta

anon #108 said...

Hi Mysti,

To keep the record straight -

"Whether Siddhatta could read is uncertain. A later legend indeed tells how he astonished his teacher by the ease with which he mastered the Indian alaphabets, but in facet the Pali canon gives no indication that the Buddha was literate. The abiblity to read was in his day considered a useful accomplishment, but not one that formed part of elementary education...The attitude of the grown up Siddhartta appears from his declaration (Ud 3.9) that the acquisition of skills such as writing was not suitable for a monk, who should be solely concerned with liberation."

-from HERE

Mahabharata doesn't mean "great poem" (that would be mahakavya), but "[concerning] the great Bharatas" [the family/descendants of the ancient Indian king Bharata].

The Buddha was born a member of the ksatriya (Pali: kattiya), the (noble) warrior class, not, for example, the Brahmin or priestly class.


Re the military: everyone herewith has my permission to take up whatever profession, trade or interest they wish, and to defend or kill whomsoever they wish, lawfully or otherwise.

Peace.

anon #108 said...

Aplogies fro the typos in the ecxpert from "The Historical Buddha" by Hans Wolfgang Schumann that I copied out abive.

anon #108 said...

There again Chas, the Buddha is very likely, I guess, to have recited or been otherwise familiar with parts of the massive (roughly 10 times as long as the Iliad Odyssey put together) Mahabharata.

However:

"The date and authorship of the Gītā are not known with certainty and scholars of an earlier generation opined that it was composed between the 5th and the 2nd century BCE.[11][15][16] Radhakrishnan, for example, asserted that the origin of the Gītā is definitely in the pre-Christian era.[11] More recent assessments of Sanskrit literature, however, have tended to bring the chronological horizon of the texts down in time. In the case of the Gītā, John Brockington has now made cogent arguments that it can be placed in the first century CE.[17] Based on claims of differences in the poetic styles some scholars like Jinarajadasa have argued that the Bhagavad Gītā was added to the Mahābhārata at a later date.[18][19]

- from wiki

And so it sems quite likely that the Buddha may have died long before the Gita was written/added to the Mahabharata.

108 the merciless said...

"Re the military: everyone herewith has my permission to take up whatever profession, trade or interest they wish, and to defend or kill whomsoever they wish, lawfully or otherwise."

One's own will in pure form is nothing other than the will of God..

buddy said...

on further thought, i don't think Brad has gone far enough. Every buddhist (and queer/anarchist/punk rocker/Lady Gaga fan)in America should join the military. We'll show them how to defend a country!

Anonymous said...

Jundo, you are a strange man.

anon #108 said...

"One's own will..." wrote 108 the merciless.

NOT AGAIN!!!

One of the chatty interludes at the retreat I just returned from comprised a fierce, whole-hearted free will versus determinism debate (which resulted in a happy consensus of sorts). All my fault, I'm proud to say.

My proposition is: "Free will must be a function of an autonomous self. If, as the Buddhists maintain, there is no separately existing self, what does the 'willing' and how does it control its environment to accomplish its aim?"

Fancy having a go?

I'm of the view - shared by Dr Susan Blackmore and others - that there is no "free will"; that would require me to believe that I am, or possess, 'something' - an autonomous, self-existent self that can can somehow escape the rigid truth of cause and effect and make things happen non-dependently. In other words, I'd have to believe in magic. Nevertheless, I will always feel as if I act with (a degree of) free will, just as I will always, usually, feel that I am "myself/a self" - whilst recognising that that self is not something that resides in my body, seperately from it - and I proceed accordingly.

HI DON! ;-)

anon #108 said...

Merciless, that's not a comment on your point - which I confess I didn't understand. You just gave me an excuse to get on my hobby-horse.

alfayate said...

"Mysterion said...Buddha wasn't Buddhist, he was a Hindu. And he was an EDUCATED
Hindu, being from a higher Caste (Nobility). As such, he would have read the
MahaBharata (Great Poem)."


Thank you for your clarification, Mysterion. You are perfectly right, but the point
is that being a kshatriya, what Siddharta did (leave his home, family, goods,
position and becoming an ascetic) was against what the Bhagavad Gita teaches (it
doesn't matter if he lived before or after the spread of the Gita). So, basically,
he had the strength and courage to leave his predetermined path; first he followed
the path of others (Hindu spiritual teachers, of course, who else?) and then he
confess himself that none of these teachings were up to his expectations and he
started searching for his own path. That he was successful and became Buddha was a
real miracle, but the breaking point with Hinduism is when he decided that this path
of his own that proved right for himself could be suitable for everyone, not only
for a few ones or members of a certain caste.

"Brad Warner said...And if he gets out what do we have? One less person with a
conscience in the military and more opportunity to make things worse."


We need persons with a conscience everywhere, but being a person with a conscience
in the military is a heavy burden and anyone who follows this path should know. As
the Milgram
experiment
stated "The essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person
comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes,
and he therefore no longer sees himself as responsible for his actions.". In this
experiment even persons with a conscience discovered that they were able to torture
a stranger to death just because an "authority figure" (not even a military or armed
one) told them to do so. Blind obedience and violence are at the core of every armed
organization, they not expect their members to have conscience, but to be loyal and
efficient instruments, so you're gonna develop your practice in a hostile
environment. Maybe you can ask to serve in a position where no direct violence is
needed but this is not always possible or brings enough peace of mind (depending on
the person) and there's always the possibility that you have to make difficult
decisions in very difficult situations, concerning your own life and the life of
others, with no time to think, so you rely completely on how good your practice is,
and this is not a good moment to realize there's a conflict between your Dharma
practice and your military practice.

PS: Brad, could you remove the comments 8:34 AM by Anonymous and 8:36 AM by
alfayate? They're obvious repetitions of my first comment that I posted after seeing
an error message from Blogger in believe that they haven't been published. I think
that due to its length, they're annoying. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

No need to stay in the military to serve your society. A practitioner will be useful wherever they go.

I find it hypocritical to vow to save all beings and then go out and end up ordering some friends to their deaths or killing a stranger with a bullet from your gun. At the same time we should try to balance out the military, but realistically the military is one-sided organization designed on strict obedience. Maybe he can affect change from within, but that seems too much like a pipe-dream.

anon #108 said...

Hi Alfayate,

You wrote of Mysti's comment ("Buddha wasn't Buddhist, he was a Hindu. And he was an EDUCATED Hindu...As such, he would have read the MahaBharata (Great Poem)".): "Thank you for your clarification, Mysterion. You are perfectly right."

I don't mind at all if Mysti is right, but in this case, what is he "perfectly right" about? That the Buddha read all 18 parvas (books) of the Mahabharata, including the almost certainly later addition, the Bhagavadgita? Personally, I have my doubts.

Not that Chas's rightness, my doubts, or what the Buddha read/was familiar with matter very much. Appropriate and necessary though, I feel, to clarify what little we know of the historical context of legends, lest we mistake assumptions for certainties and allow ourselves to be misled by them.

CynicalBoy said...

Let us war about
What people said long ago
And avoid our lives

anon #108 said...

Let us consider
What people said long ago
As part of our lives

We won't allow any dancing said...

you're not going to show us anything - buddy. [- see 7:54 am]

We've been there before you.

Harry said...

My proposition is: "Free will must be a function of an autonomous self. If, as the Buddhists maintain, there is no separately existing self, what does the 'willing' and how does it control its environment to accomplish its aim?"

Hi 108,

Reifying 'the self' by denying it or advancing it may not be the way to go. Not 'it is', not 'it isn't, and not anything in reference to either or both.

The myth of the Ego creates the myth of no-Ego.

Let's forget what Buddhism says for a minute.

If there is 'free will' what is it free from that defines it as 'free'?

Will is never free from the total situation, yet we can act with autonomy relative to a wall in the case where we intentionally walk into it. The actual act is already free of the will to do it, it 'jumps free'(into actuality) of the intention (and it might hurt regardless of what we think about the self/no self), to put the 'philosophy of action' slant on it. And so we can walk into a wall without will (as we might do accidentally... d'oh!) Free will might be overrated!

I think Buddhist practice offers the possibility of realising acting in a way that is free of what we generally consider intention and will, 'dropping off body and mind' in the act of sitting upright, but even that is a type of action which must rely on some will or intention to do it. We can't do anything that is free of everything else, but we can realise, even within the 'limitations' of willful effort, that things exist unlimited by a sense or self on one hand or a lack of existence on the other. Somebody effectively does this, somebody 'holds up the head of buddha' as Dogen put it. Further to this we might (and should) appreciate that things exist in a totality in no small part due to their autonomous self, and because of it.

"I'm of the view - shared by Dr Susan Blackmore and others - that there is no "free will"; that would require me to believe that I am, or possess, 'something' - an autonomous, self-existent self that can can somehow escape the rigid truth of cause and effect and make things happen non-dependently. In other words, I'd have to believe in magic. Nevertheless, I will always feel as if I act with (a degree of) free will, just as I will always, usually, feel that I am "myself/a self" - whilst recognising that that self is not something that resides in my body, seperately from it - and I proceed accordingly."

The self exists, existence exists, including our level of autonomy within it (to walk into walls for e.g., either intentionally or by accident) whether we believe in it or not, and we can't walk through walls whether we believe or don't believe in the self. The question of self and IT's freeness may be a big red herring. Real acts/experiences like walking into walls can clarify the nature of the self, which very much includes the wall (if we are not overly concerning ourselves with some notion of 'self' or negating it).

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

What beats my heart? My Self? the ANS does! This whole thinky logic awareness we're taking as us is just a flash in the pan. We're not running the show, fellow cerebral cortexes, like it and don't.

anon #108 said...

Hi Harry,

Yes, my proposition/question does presuppose a self, or no self - one or the other. It's an attempt to address that one very limited area of discussion; it's an area that, IME, many "Buddhists" haven't thought through, or thought about. Fair enough, it's only of interest to a few and makes no difference to how we live (except that an understanding/appreciation of the implications, as I see them, of the lack of a separately existent self can be liberating). Your comments, if I read you right, also side-step that particular question by suggesting that it doesn't matter; that the "self/no self" duality is a red-herring. And in terms of our real lived experience, I agree that it is. Certainly acts occur. We "act". Things happen. And so, while you've shed little light on the "free will" v determinism debate (no surprises there), your re-framing of the issue is, IMO, on target. Not that I'm about to agree with you ;)

anon #108 said...

Oops. Said I wasn't gonna agree, but already had...just a bit.

I'm trying H, honest.

rojola said...

The Japanese Samurai warriors killed people to defend their lord or when they went to war with another clan. And the samurai were really Zen! :-)

CynicalBoy said...

You can read the books
But the mystery is now
In Stan's tiny arse

In Stan's tiny arse?
Another way of saying
Instantaneous

Instantaneous?
Something you can never see
Just experience

Justin peed his pants?
A warm wet oozing feeling
As close as I get

As close as I get?
And that's just the way it is
Just the way it is

108 the merciless said...

"Merciless, that's not a comment on your point - which I confess I didn't understand. "

Really 108? You must have understood my meaning.. It was simple point made in simple English. Maybe you were trying to understand it in the context of your Buddhist reeducation. Or maybe it was the troublesome G word.

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

Hi 108,

Let's think about the term 'free will'.

Free from what?

Free to do what in relation to what (that which is 'not free')?

If it's freedom to act, then of course we humans in Western countries are largely free to act as we please (this seems to be what a lot of people think of as 'free will')... but does this just mean that we're free to act within our habitual patterns and responses and environmental conditions and relative societies and cultures? Doesn't seem so free to me. If that's the case then maybe a lot of what we do is not so 'free'.

Is it 'freedom' as defined opposed to some notion of predetirmination? Don't all actions rely on prior causes and conditions? Aren't they all predetermined by any number of conditions to some extent?

I think we're stuck here in reality, in that we're freely realising (actualising) it from moment to moment in whatever we do (whether we know it or not). It seems to me that it's more a matter of clarifying just what reality we want to make manifest in our rather limited existence: One based on our habitual patterns of thinking and acting, or one that is free of that and that is more attuned to, and which expresses, the nature of existence even within our relative, limited lives of values, cultures and habits.

The latter option requires a specific type of willful action, and all other sorts of willful effort, in order for us to clarify and to enact it. Being free (being free even of 'freedom' that is opposite to, or otherwise opposed to, our habitual conditioning) may require us to yoke ourselves to freedom kicking and screaming at times. It may require us to be both very willful, and to drop will off and stop the movement of will depending on the conditions and needs of the current situation. It may not always be gratifying and feel like a nice sort of idealised 'freedom' or release. If we do it right it might feel like hell, and we might have to sit down with our worst demons to taste freedom (and we mightn't like that freedom at all).

Regards,

Harry

Mysterion said...

Blogger anon #108 said...
"I don't mind at all if Mysti is right..."

forget right and wrong - research it for yourself.

Gautama Shakyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama) was the sage of the Shakya Clan. He was highly educated and read whatever scriptures were around in his day. WHICH scriptures is hard to say - certainly there were later additions and later revisions to older scripture and the ability of linguists to date such is stifled by what little survives. The Shakya Clan was known by the high value which they placed on education - way the hell back then as today. They were also the progressive liberals of the day - just as the legendary IXEUS of the latter day.

In short, the Buddha was no dummy.

He is perhaps the first to "think about thinking" (metacognition).

anon #108 said...

Sorry merciless, but nope - I don't get it. I'm not trying to be awkward; I'm a pretty literal kinda guy (whether Buddhist or pre/post-Buddhist) when it comes to words. I mean...

"One's own will in pure form is nothing other than the will of God..."

I don't know what a "will" is (hence my queries about free will), and so I can't imagine what the "pure form" of the will might be. If by "will" you simply mean 'intention' then I'm still confused as to what distinguishes the pure form of intention from the non-pure. And yes, the G word begs a lot of questions - the "will of God" even more. So just what you meant is a mystery to me.

I'm happy to hear a less poetic expression of what you're getting at, if that's possible and if you fancy.

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

Blimey, H. I gotta read all that now? Hold on...I may get back to you.

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

And Hi Chas,

It's true that I've done very little research on the life of the Buddha. I just quoted one respected source who queried whether he could read at all, and another that suggested he may not have known the Bhagavadgita. That's all. I don't doubt for a moment that he was a very bright lad.

anon #108 said...

Back, H.

I hear ya.

As before, you've committed some very thought-provoking thoughts about 'freedom' and action to virtual paper. Good stuff. Thanks.

[Yes, my proposition (only) addresses free will "as defined opposed to some notion of predetirmination" You wrote: "Don't all actions rely on prior causes and conditions? Aren't they all predetermined by any number of conditions to some extent?" I'm no physicist, but it makes sense to me that all actions, all events, rely on prior causes and conditions completely, not just "to some extent" - including our actions. In the words of anon @ 10.54am, "This whole thinky logic awareness we're taking as us is just a flash in the pan. We're not running the show, fellow cerebral cortexes." For that not to be the case, for me to "have free will" there has to be something other than the causally determined, co-dependently arisen physical processes of my brain and body that instigates and effects action. In other words, a self; a will; a soul. I see no evidence for such a thing. It doesn't make sense to me. Which, of course, is no surprise. All this from Gudo's second, 'time/process' viewpoint. From the third 'action' viewpoint there is only - ever - a momentary, whole (universal) situation, and so no time in which cause and effect can operate. Wow].

Anonymous said...

free

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Tying in Brad's sexual ideas with his opinions on war, we have the honourable Lemmy Ripoche weighing in.

Anonymous said...

following up on the email/response you posted regarding buddhism and the military...

i re-listened to an older npr "speaking of faith" podcast recently featuring tich naht hahn. in the program, the host talks with a police officer who was interested in bringing thay's teachings on mindfulness into her work. she talked about how it was difficult for her to reconcile the idea of not killing (or not causing harm) with the very real fact that she may have to pull a gun on someone and pull the trigger.

it's a long program, and very much worth checking out, so i won't go into tons of detail -- to keep it short ... one of the senior monastics at plum village says to the cop: "who else in this world would we want carrying a gun other than someone who's going to do it mindfully?"

anyhow, huge dilemma. just thought i'd chime in.

peace to all,
lucas

Mysterion said...

"Free will"

free from WHAT?

That is exactly the point. By framing the conversation with the ideologically bankrupted idea of 'free will,' one can (by stealth) insert the 'will of god' or the 'will of heaven.' Neither have ever been demonstrated in the written history of mankind. The stories are after-the-fact folklore (or failed prophesy).

"The presumption is that benevolence and righteousness are not constituents of humanity; for to how much anxiety does the exercise of them give rise! Moreover when another toe is united to the great toe, to divide the membrane makes you weep; and when there is an extra finger, to gnaw it off makes you cry out. In the one case there is a member too many, and in the other a member too few; but the anxiety and pain which they cause is the same. The benevolent men of the present age look at the evils of the world, as with eyes full of dust, and are filled with sorrow by them, while those who are not benevolent, having violently altered the character of their proper nature, greedily pursue after riches and honours. The presumption therefore is that benevolence and righteousness are contrary to the nature of man: how full of trouble and contention has the world been ever since the three dynasties began!" source

Basic Psychology.

The emergence of the awareness of consciousness marks the evolution of modern man.

Call it Krishna consciousness or call it bullshit... it matters not.

Brad Warner said...

Lucas, that was my point! Thank you!

jundo cohen said...

Anonymous said...
Jundo, you are a strange man.


Well, that is true.

But I am not posting here in any form or formless.

Gassho, Jundo

perruche-verte said...

A wonderful piece that appeared recently in McSweeney's online:

http://mcsweeneys.net/links/inthesedeserts/warstories1.html

When I read a story like this, I think, if one more principled man like this officer refuses to redeploy, what good will come of it?

The American war machine is not going to stop in its tracks. What will happen is that a hellish situation will become just a little more hellish.

palmcop said...

I saw so much useful data in this post!