Sunday, November 28, 2010

DEATH AGAIN


Eric asks:
"While you've talked about death in all of your books I can only remember you mentioning the fear of death once and it was to say in effect: Buddhism can't do anything about our fear of death. And wouldn't life kind of suck without it anyway? I disagree. If I could live the rest of my life without the bone-chilling fear of non-existence then I would be MUCH happier. When I read that I supposed that you were referring to the biological fear hard-wired into us by evolution that makes most of us avoid things like playing chicken with trains and drinking Draino on bets with our friends. If that's what you mean I totally agree. But what about the more 'existential' fear-- angst I guess, or Nausea in Sartre's formulation-- that arises upon the contemplation of our death. When I squarely face the fact that my awareness will be annihilated in just a few short decades-- six or seven at the most-- it is enough to 1) keep me from sleeping and 2) make me really depressed. Now, I know that Buddhism says we die all the time. I know that there is no essential self that coheres through the years of a person's life. But it is still scary as hell to contemplate nothingness. So does zazen remedy that? If it does, great. But if it doesn't then why do zazen as opposed to obliterating yourself with video games, wild sex, and booze? Or whatever. Saying the practice is its own reward is all fine and dandy but if it is still going to leave us blanched with terror and sadness at the omnipresence of death then what's the point?"

Brad says:
Zazen will not get rid of your fear of death. Or maybe it will. But booze, wild sex and video games won't. At least not that I've ever heard. Though I've never really played video games and I don't like being drunk* and as for wild sex, I'll leave that to other bloggers to speculate about.

But I'm guessing you mean more generally distractions that help you forget about serious stuff. So maybe in my case it'd be Gamera movies, pad thai and... uh... wild sex (as if...). And you're wondering if Zen practice will blot out your fear of death permanently in a way these temporary fixes do not.

I can't tell you what it will do for you. I won't make any guarantees or even promises. I can only say how it's worked for me.

Like you, I found myself terrified of death. When I was a teenager I realized there was a horrifying hereditary disease in our family that often crippled and/or killed people before they reached the age that I am now. I didn't think I had long to live and I was scared shitless.

But for whatever reasons I didn't do my searching the way most people seem to. I didn't look for an escape from life. When I looked into religions it was all about escape. They offered ways by which they said you could escape from this life into a life in Heaven or Krishna Loka or a variety of other places. They didn't deny death. They were obsessed with death. But they denied life. What they said translated to me as something like, "Trade your life now for a chance at something amazing after you die."

They made the trade sound reasonable. I only get to live in this world a few decades. But the afterlife, they said, is eternal. So I was supposed to live a bland, boring , restricted, white bread and mayonnaise life now in the hopes of a really super terrific future in the afterlife that would last forever.

Problem was, I couldn't believe in the afterlife. The evidence for its existence was not convincing at all.

But I knew I was living this life. So my quest became about how to make this life better. It seems like most people when they search for a way to make this life better turn to the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure. Drugs, sex, money, material goods... these things seem to be the way to Earthly happiness without regard to any belief in life after death.

This didn't work for me either, for much the same reasons. There isn't a whole lot of evidence that money, power, sex and all that really lead to happiness. I was already well aware of the excessive lives of people like Elvis Presley or Howard Hughes who had all they could possibly want and were still miserable. Later on there was Kurt Cobain who did exactly what I'd been hoping I could do, parlay a shitty paying career as an indie rocker into superstardom. What did it get him? Then I started working in the movie industry and routinely associating with famous people who were absolutely loaded with cash and I saw that they were also just as unhappy as anyone else.

Zen practice was all about this life and how to make it better. It didn't offer any magic solutions, which was appealing because I didn't believe in those. It never got into questions of the afterlife, which was great because I didn't believe in that either. It demanded a moderate degree of austerity but not because you were trading austerity today for a future of wonders in Paradise. It recommended a certain degree of austerity because it said that chasing after money, fame, sex, material goods and power just added unnecessary stress to your life that would not be rewarded when you got those things. I knew this was true. I could see it for myself.

But what about the fear of death, then? What of the fear of future oblivion?

I came to understand this fear better through my practice. I began to see that the root of this fear was a projection of myself into an imaginary future. I started seeing it was a fear of things that were not real right here and right now.

This doesn't really erase the fear of death. When I think about the possibility of Brad Warner disappearing forever, I don't really like it. But I also understand that this fear is completely unreasonable. It's as unreasonable as fearing Godzilla or some other imaginary terror.

What I'm about to say might seem like mysticism, but here goes anyhow. Once you start seeing this moment for what this moment really is, you start to understand that you can never really be annihilated in the ways that you previously imagined could happen. What I think of as "Brad Warner" is a construct in my mind. It isn't real. Yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called "Brad Warner" is based. This something can't really die because it was never really born. At least not in the sense we commonly think of things being born and dying. Yes, Brad Warner was born and yes Brad Warner will die. And yet he is not just an individual entity. He is also a temporary manifestation of something vast and unknowable that has no beginning and no end.

Weird shit, huh? Sorry about that.

So OK. I still fear death. But not very much.

I forget if it was Shunryu Suzuki or Dainin Katagiri, but both of these Zen teachers died of cancer. One or the other of them said, toward the end of his life, "I don't want to die."

I've heard that this statement freaked a lot of their followers out. It implied that either a) an Enlightened master still fears death or b) the master was not actually Enlightened because an Enlightened master can't possibly fear death. Neither possibility was very attractive to those who had put their faith in a master they thought was enlightened and therefore would deliver them from the fear of death.

But I don't think the statement implies a fear of death. It implies that the teacher simply would rather have lived longer. That's not really the same thing. And even if it does mean he feared death, what's wrong with that? I fear dentist appointments. But that doesn't mean I'm scared that I will cease to exist after them.

I used to lose sleep over the fear of death. It used to bug the shit out of me. Nowadays death is about as scary as, say, the idea of a a root canal. It's something I don't want to go through, but it doesn't keep me awake nights.

You have to understand, though, that whatever degree I have achieved of overcoming the fear of death I owe to years of often difficult practice. You don't overcome the fear of death by simply deciding you don't want to be afraid of death. It's not that easy. If it was, everyone would do it.



* Am I the only person in the world who finds being drunk a very unpleasant feeling? I don't mind the effect of a glass of wine or a beer, but actually being drunk feels awful to me, like being sick.

139 comments:

Anonymous said...

D'oh!

Harry said...

T'oh!

Anonymous said...

New challenge, Harry:

Instead of being first commenter,
how about commenting in the exact
same minute in which Brad posts?

Mission Impossible?

Glen said...

Brad i agree with you on the 'having a few beers vs being drunk', although it's taken me 10 years to work it out and im still working on it!

With regards to Death, i often dwell on it. But then i kind of think i also like dwelling on it too.

Anonymous said...

Tolstoy's Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves

Of course anybody with enough experience realizes alcohol isn't an escape. Zazen ain't an escape either.

About death, you've already been nothing to start off with - why so worried?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm lucky, but I have never had
a fear of nonexistence after death.

My problem is fear of pain.

I still hope that there might be some
wormhole or drug
that would allow me to escape into an
alternate dimension where pain is not
possible, but so far, no such luck.

If death does lead to nonexistence,
then the only thing preventing me
from committing suicide is one
person who would be hurt by my
absence...

OsamaVanHalen said...

"It is a mistake to suppose that birth turns into death. Birth is a phase that is an entire period of itself, with its own past and future. For this reason, in buddha-dharma birth is understood as no-birth. Death is a phase that is an entire period of itself, with its own past and future. For this reason, death is understood as no-death.
In birth there is nothing but birth and in death there is nothing but death. Accordingly, when birth comes, face and actualize birth, and when death comes, face and actualize death. Do not avoid or desire them."
Dogen, translated by Arnold Kotler and Kazuaki Tanahashi

Mumon said...

There isn't a whole lot of evidence that money, power, sex and all that really lead to happiness.

As the great "Zen" master Herb Cohen writes in You Can Negotiate Anything, money may not be able to buy happiness, but it can enable you to obtain a lease on pleasure.

Which of course is pitifully temporary.

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

Once the body appears, time begins ("you're how old?"). "Death" is just a point when "time" loses all meaning.

Captain Awesome said...

hi brad! Saw this article (on reddit), thought you might be interested. http://news.bioscholar.com/2010/11/new-discovery-in-the-fight-against-huntingtons-disease.html

Anonymous said...

Dude, Tolstoy obviously had no
experience with psychedelics;
thus, his opinions on "drugs"
are not very well-informed.

Just sayin'...

Are you experienced?

Anonymous said...

I used to think I liked being drunk, but after taking up zazen practice I found otherwise. What a bummer!

As to the question re: fear of death. I've heard several people - atheists mostly - say with complete honesty that they do not fear death. I don't know if it's true, but then again, even if it was what good is it gonna do me wether they do or don't fear death?

I don't (yet) know if a few decades of zazen can help me with the same question Eric is pondering about, but I'm comforted by the old Zen fable of a doctor and zen master.

The doctor fears death and ask the zen master for help. Instead of revealing some blinding insight, the zen master tells the doctor to work and help his patients. This goes back and forth a few times, until years later the doctor suddenly comes to the realization he hasn't feared death for a long time.

Personally, I can say that I don't fear total oblivion, because there's always something of you remaining in this universe. We are all made of starstuff in the end anyway. What scares the shit out of "me" is the idea of this mental construct - the imaginary continuous stream of consciousness - ceasing to exist for ever and ever. Though the same thing happens every night, the stream stops or has a break in it at least, so why should only death frighten me so I cannot say. Perhaps it's because the human mind isn't equipped to deal with concepts such as infinite or eternity so imagining what it would be like to not exist for eternity causes some sort of mental fuse to blow...

Can't say I've ever lost sleep over it, but it's not a pleasant thought to entertain. For now my solution to it is, not think about it too much and sit zazen. Hopefully things will sort themselves out in the long run, or if not, well, I'll be too dead to care in a hundred years or so anyway.

leoboiko said...

I’ve heard before all these philosophical arguments about why I should not fear death. They don’t do anything for me. I’m still as terrified of death as always. It stills keeps me awake and sad and angry and sick, which a burning desire to do something about it—which is of course impossible. Then you somehow keep on living, in frustration and failure. What else could you do?

What keeps me from suicide? Er, the part where I am terrified of death?

Anonymous said...

Works for both sleep and death!

Anonymous said...

obligatory woody allen quote

Vinod said...

Great post! Towards the end, are you hinting about reincarnation? Do you really believe in rebirth?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Brad, this is simply one of the best, well articulated blog articles you have ever written.

I've never spoke much about my personal situation on this blog. But eerily, months after "Zen, Wrapped" was released and I had read it, my own mother passed away from lung cancer. I thought frequently of your dealings you mentioned throughout your books amongst other positive influences.

My Mother passed in a nursing home without complaint and w/o a visible shred of fear. What was she thinking to herself? I'll never know. But I can say that today, I don't fear death. At least not in the manic-obsessive way many do.
I don't think it's necessarily any thought structure brought on by zazen or buddhist philosophy, though. It's more observation and reservation of what is really important in THIS life.

Not sure anyone can follow my meaning, but..........I just don't know.

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

Leboiko said:
I’ve heard before all these philosophical arguments about why I should not fear death. They don’t do anything for me. I’m still as terrified of death as always. It stills keeps me awake and sad and angry and sick, which a burning desire to do something about it—which is of course impossible. Then you somehow keep on living, in frustration and failure. What else could you do?

What keeps me from suicide? Er, the part where I am terrified of death?


This is where practice comes in. Philosophical arguments don't work. They never did for me, and they still don't. Zen practice crosses the gap. I don't really know exactly how, but it does.

anon #108 said...

Smashing post, Brad.

This bit I liked a lot:

"What I'm about to say might seem like mysticism, but here goes anyhow...What I think of as "Brad Warner" is a construct in my mind. It isn't real. Yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called "Brad Warner" is based. This something can't really die because it was never really born...Yes, Brad Warner was born and yes Brad Warner will die. And yet he is not just an individual entity. He is also a temporary manifestation of something vast and unknowable that has no beginning and no end."

- To me, that's what the Buddhist term punarbhava, "again-becoming" means (a different thing from 're-incarnation'). Thanks for saying it in a way that was anything but "mystical". In fact, put like that, it's bloody obvious that's what happens if you ask me.

Funnily enough and as you must know, Mike Luetchford says the same thing about alcohol: it's always made him feel sick. What IS it with you Zen Masters? Mind you, not that I have the dosh to buy booze very often these days, but when I do I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get nicely pissed. Maybe I'm getting enlightened. Bummer.

Anonymous said...

fake terror

Anonymous said...

what the fuck?

anon #108 said...

Hey anon @12.42,

You wrote: "I used to think I liked being drunk, but after taking up zazen practice I found otherwise. What a bummer!"

I hadn't read any of the comments when I wrote mine. I then re-considered what I'd written and deleted it so that I could add the one word "bummer" to my similar report about my drinking habits. I still hadn't read any of the comments.

Spooky?

(I don't think me not getting pissed these days is anything to do with zazen. I just got to try harder).

Anonymous said...

A short case from the Blue Cliff Records:

Forty-First Case
Joju's "Man of Great Death"

Joju asked T'ou Tzu, "When a man of great death returns to life, how is it?"
T'ou Tzu said, "Going by night is not permitted. You must arrive in daylight."



Eternal Return (why Christians don't really want to "live forever")
FF: The Philosophy of Nietzsche - Joseph Brisendine
http://www.blubrry.com/atheism/94364/ff-the-philosophy-of-nietzsche-joseph-brisendine/

Artist: McGraw Tim
Song: Live Like You Were Dying
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiOcW_YR1G8

He said: "I was in my early forties,
"With a lot of life before me,
"An' a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
"I spent most of the next days,
"Looking at the x-rays,
"An' talking 'bout the options an' talkin’ ‘bout sweet time."
I asked him when it sank in,
That this might really be the real end?
How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news?
Man whatcha do?

An' he said: "I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn’t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
"Wasn’t such an imposition,
"And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
"Well, I finally read the Good Book,
"And I took a good long hard look,
"At what I'd do if I could do it all again,
"And then:

"I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I gave forgiveness I'd been denying."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

Like tomorrow was a gift,
And you got eternity,
To think about what you’d do with it.
An' what did you do with it?
An' what can I do with it?
An' what would I do with it?

"Sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
"I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
"And then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
"And I watched an Eagle as it was flyin'."
An' he said: "Some day, I hope you get the chance,
"To live like you were dyin'."

"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."
"To live like you were dyin'."


Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori

Mysterion said...

If the truth were known, then we would relegate folklore to the folklore shelf and put the unknown onto the "yet to be solved" shelf.

"Da’at is translated literally as “knowledge,” but in Chassidut stands for “consciousness,” especially in the sense of “contacting” something [the heart] on the inside."
source

Egyptian Da'at became Hebrew Ma'at. A heart is a heart, even when one culture borrows the concept from another.

We have all read the Book of the Dead long ago and know the universal theme: "It is a burden to die with a heavy heart." BTW, a jury of 12 sits in judgment. (In all three versions)

on line

more

This guy has the better translation.

The very word 'truth' was born of Thoth.

The rest is some retard, picking his nose.

Anonymous said...

"Brad, this is simply one of the best, well articulated blog articles you have ever written"

Ditto here. Great article. Sorry Brad, but it sounds like you've had kensho whether you like it or not. What was it Dogen said; "do not think you will necessarily be aware of your own enlightenment"?

Mysterion said...

I read a book recently called "Writing Down the Bones," by Natalie Goldberg...

In a late chapter she relates an incident of Katagiri Roshi, as he was standing by Suzuki Roshi's bedside shortly before he died, and says that Suzuki said to him, "I don't want to die." Then Katagiri answers, "Thank you for your a great effort."

source: 3/5/2000 - from Nick Phillips

Anonymous said...

Fellow anonymous, Tolstoy does not need to have tried every "stupefying" drug out there to formulate a valid opinion on the issue.

If you're being honest you don't just dismiss people's opinions because they come from a certain type of person. You of course are free to ignore his points, it seems you want to and then bury your head in the sand or a pile of coke.

Anonymous said...

Eternal Return (why Christians don't really want to "live forever")
FF: The Philosophy of Nietzsche - Joseph Brisendine

http://www.blubrry.com/atheism/94364/ff-the-philosophy-of-nietzsche-joseph-brisendine/

Mysterion said...

"To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;"
SOURCE

one of the bard's best

we know Shakspur did not write... let alone the plays.

Doubt about Will

Anonymous said...

Every day I'm more convinced that Ts'ao-Tung zen is a piece of crap. Enjoy your fail, silent illumination fanboys.

Pig in shit said...

"Enjoy your fail, silent illumination fanboys."

Aww. Hey - thanks for caring...and for sharing :)

Mysterion said...

Oh anonymous of epic fail, do not assume that THIS is either Zen or Buddhism. It is neither.

As a constipated Xtian, you have other issues to deal with before you point to the mote (Luke 6:41-42) in your brother's eye. Start by crapping out that beam that binds you.

Amen

Patrick Ray said...

Nice post, man. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

I am okay with the concept of death. I have to admit that I haven't really dwelt upon the idea. In my philosophy, I choose to focus on the life experience. When death occurs, whatever death is, I reckon it'll happen. I don't make plans on dying, I figure on living until that ceases to be an option.

I kind of admire the bushido concept of dwelling upon multitudinous ways of dying as a way to overcome fear of death. In this reality, I have the luxury of not having to think about it much. I'm too busy figuring out important things like whether I should enjoy a single beer.

As for that part of the conversation; I dig a single beer (okay, maybe two but that hasn't happened in over a year). Drunk kind of sucks. Aside from acting like a freakin' idiot, it screws up the whole next day. Not for me at this point in my life.

Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I like Tolstoy! Anybody who's
a vegetarian anarchist is cool by me.

The point you missed is that psychedelics
are a totally different class of drugs
with a wide range of weird and amazing
effects that vary with time and dosage.

The fact that you seem to put cocaine in
the same class as psychedelics tells me
that you too are in need of some tripping
experience before you can be qualified
to talk about or pass judgment on them.

Perhaps you may enjoy the documentary
"Dirty Pictures".

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

To fear death is to fear life.

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Dear Anon 9:01 pm,

Drugs are drugs. Meant to RUN AWAY from the present. Don't lie to yourself.

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

"As the failed experiment we call America approaches its grim conclusion, one of my views has changed radically. I have come to think that voting should not be a right. It should be a privilege, and one should have to pass a test, proving that one knows what each candidate stands for, and the facts about the candidate's record, and the facts about the economy and the environment, before being allowed to vote." - Barry Graham

Anonymous said...

Democrat, Republican, George Bush, Barrack Obama.. different words for the same old shit.

flagadabla said...

Hi Brad,

I hate being drunk too. I find it extremely unpleasant to feel my body functioning as if it was broken.

You're not the only one feeling like that. And thanks to you I feel a little less alone too.

proulx michel said...

Anon #108 scripsit:

What IS it with you Zen Masters? Mind you, not that I have the dosh to buy booze very often these days, but when I do I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get nicely pissed.

I used to be part of almost all the parties around this city, and was well known ("comme le loup blanc" --that is "as the white wolf" as one says in French). I happen to have intoxicated myself quite a bit, even though never in anything like binge drinking, as would the English, the Swedes or the Russians.

When I started Zen practice, I thought that it was better to stop that kind of thing. At 50, I thought it was a bit pathetic to indulge in such adolescent behaviour, and then decided never again to get trashed like I used to. Golly, I remember a couple of times when I was so trashed from the day before, I could not attend a party I was invited to!

Now, being (even slightly) drunk is for me essentially an unpleasant and annlying experience which I'd rather avoid.

stevet said...

Hey brad how do i email you? i cant find an email address anywhere.

Uku said...

Sorry if this quote is already posted:

Kodo Sawaki Roshi has said:


"You’re worried about death? Don’t worry – you’ll die for sure."

Practicing zazen is facing the facts. We are all gonna die and that fact should inspire us! Geez, we're still alive, we're not dead yet. So we should enjoy of these precious moments because we don't know when we're gonna die. Zazen can help us to face the facts - by facing the facts we can accept them and by accepting them we can let go. Practice, practice, practice...

I'm not worried about death because I'm gonna die for sure. And besides, my life, your lifes are full of death and birth all the time. We're dying and borning again all the time. That's called life!

PA said...

Brad said: "Weird shit, huh? Sorry about that."

I understand your hesitation in saying all that stuff about being a temporary manifestation of something vast and unknowable, but at the same time, isn't that the truth? A finger pointing to something a little mystic is inspiring, I think. I've started to play down those aspects of Zen through not wanting to appear too much like a hippy, but I feel my practice has lost its sharpness because of it. Motivating oneself to sit is hard enough without playing down the beauty of sitting.

Just saying, like :-)

Anonymous said...

What is death?

A flower, a skull and an hourglass stand in for Life, Death, and Time

(Śākyamuni Buddha in his Flower Sermon he held up a white flower and just admired it in his hand, Mahākāśyapa smiled)
in this 17th-century painting by Philippe de Champaigne

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StillLifeWithASkull.jpg



George Carlin on Death - RIP
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PiZSFIVFiU

anon #108 said...

Hi PhilBob.

You wrote -

"Drugs are drugs. Meant to RUN AWAY from the present. Don't lie to yourself."

What purpose is served, I ask myself, by disagreeing with you and so being seen to advocate drug use? I re-assure myself that what I have to say won't make a blind bit of difference to anyone; those who have done and are going to continue to do drugs will do; those that have and are going to stop will stop; those that haven't and won't, won't; and those that haven't and will, will. I think offering a different view - discussing it honestly - is worth any risk I'm taking of contributing to the next Heroin OD (It's your call - JUST SAY NO!).

So I agree with anon when s/he says not all drugs are the same. Different drugs have very different effects, short- and long-term. IME, some drug-induced experiences are fun, inspirational and even educational. Others - the 'addictive' ones - generally lead to misery, although not for everybody.

'Drugs are an escape from the present'? Well drugs certainly can be a pleasant diversion - is that what you mean (it's not, is it)? And yes, drugs can make us feel temporarily better (is that a bad thing?), but screw us up in all sorts of ways in the long run (yes, that is a bad thing). But you're not 'running away' or 'lying to yourself' by amusing yourself with a harmless chemically induced diversion any more than you are if you read a book, watch a film or listen to music. 'Recreation', they call it; a pleasant way to pass the time.

Perhaps you believe all chemically induced voluntary modifications of our 'normal' psycho-physical state are wrong. Why?

For the record - this is the kind of thing I told myself for a long time, and I became a long-term heroin and (shorter term) crack addict. But that's just me and a very small group of other people. So my advice is always "JUST SAY NO" ...to heroin and cocaine, that is...and to many addictive uppers and downers. But as for alcohol, cannabis and the psychedelics - "Be careful and knock yourself out" is my advice. If anyone's asking.

So as of now, now that I'm no longer addicted to the stuff that made my life more often difficult and unpleasant than easy, I'm very much looking forward to getting nicely trashed on alcohol and cannabis and listening to some golden oldies in the company of a couple of other civilised but wasted people at my healthy, hedonistic old mate's 58th in a couple weeks. I might let you know if I manage it. I do hope so!

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Dear Anon #108,

Drugs are drugs. Meant to RUN AWAY from the present. Don't lie to yourself.

Don't lie to yourself

anon #108 said...

Heard you the first time Phil ;)

anon #108 said...

BTW - the last time I smoked cannabis was over 35 years ago (paranoia put paid), if you don't count the time I mistook the dog-end of a friend's joint for a roll-up fag I'd left in the ashtray (8 years ago?). I got stoned on two drags; initial fear gave way to a very nice hour watching the Beatles on telly. God they were good! Alcohol: sometimes a vodka and orange or two at gigs. Never gets me drunk and costs far too much. My last time proper drunk (and stoned) was about 20 years ago. It was great. So my friend's birthday bash might be a special treat.

A lie every couple of decades I can live with.

Victor Hugo said...

"As the failed experiment we call America approaches its grim conclusion..."

I somewhat agree with Barry except or error was letting catholoholics gain passage through out borders (regardless of race).

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

"roll-up fag"

American vs. UK english is a difficult thing.

Reading your comments about music since you joined the BradCult Anon #108, I think we'd get along just fine.

People are gonna do what they wanna do. But after seeing so many family members, friends, and even myself succumb to naughty chemicals, maybe it just is better to abstain. ? . I'm no prude, jus' rude.

Anonymous Bob said...

"Zazen will not get rid of your fear of death. Or maybe it will. But booze, wild sex and video games won't. At least not that I've ever heard."

Actually, I think all of those things do get rid of the fear of death at least for a little while. It's a big reason they're so popular. But the feeling only lasts a short while. So you need more and more for them to work as before. This can lead to.. complications. Zazen on the other hand seems to work through less and less diversion. You sit through your fears and come to see them as different than what you had earlier thought. After a while you recognize that your panicked state was not so much about what you were trying to avoid but was mainly in the act of trying to avoid it.. Those nasty fears are sometimes nothing much at all.

108: The art of middle way escapism? Good luck with it. :)

Phil: Drugs are drugs but.. Some people are ok with LSD. Other people let buffered aspirin destroy them. It isn't really about the drugs you know.. You nailed it with the not lying to oneself comment.

Jared said...

I am probably being a huge dipshit for pointing this out, but Sartre's concept of Nausea has little, if nothing, to do with a fear or contemplation of death (as claimed by Eric, Brad's e-mailer). Sartre's Nausea stems from the realization that there is no "thing in itself" as Kant said, and that life itself holds no objective meaning or content. Subsequently this gives us an immense freedom by which we can overcome our nausea at life's lack of meaning, and we can begin to create meaning for ourselves through out experiences and decisions.

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

roll-up fag.

Ha! Yes.

We tell ourselves different stories to try to make some sense of it all I guess, Phil. "Abstain" is good advice, and I know it 'comes from a good place'.

It's the "escapism"/"running away"/"lying to yourself" thing I don't get. What's wrong with an occasional dose of sensual recreational indulgence? We all do it. Not everybody needs 'more and more'. The stimulation and enjoyment of the senses is one of the gifts and miracles of being human. It's the source and motivation for all forms of art, isn't it? You've just got to be careful not become a slave to experience, especially if chemically induced. But are those experiences in themselves bad? Some wise ancients thought they were; they banned literature music and dance along with sex and intoxicants.

So yes, the middle way, AB: your middle way.

anon #108 said...

Jared, you dipshit - thanks for explaining that so well :)

Brad Warner said...

I prefer X's concept of Nausea!

Anonymous Bob said...

108: Yes, of course you are right. I can only speak for myself. I've just never understood this 'trying to stimulate the senses' thing. I like it when it happens but what is the need to try? Anymore I get all excited over a good rain. About all those the things your ancients tried to ban. It's really awesome to try them all at the same time. kidding.

Keith Suranna said...

Brad, That was an awesome post. I got a lot out of it. Thank you.

Mettai Cherry said...

The statement by the masters of "I don't want to die" reminds me of what my father said when he found out he had only 2 weeks to live "I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to miss anything".

These both connote the love of life in the present, which is what enlightenment is really about, eh?

Jared said...

Thanks 108!

R, [... ... - ... -] well, have eventually said...

I haven’t read much but I'd love it if anybody dared saying the truth.

Ran also then said...

One thing I can tell you, - I'm not afraid of the death of Mysterion.

Anonymous said...

Uku blurped: I'm not worried about death because I'm gonna die for sure

See, this is exactly the kind of philosophical argument that does nothing for no-one. Sure, it's all cool and swell that you are not afraid of death, but saying that will not help someone who is.

It's like Brad-kun said, philosophy doesn't help, only practice does. Diligent and uninterrupted practice.

QJV said...

in england, you suck your fag after finishing your spotted dick

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Ran also then said...
"One thing I can tell you, - I'm not afraid of the death of Mysterion."

Nor am I.

and finally he said...

Nor of the death of any of you. You fear mine?


Love me till Tuesday.

(And then he said good night to all and hoped he might be able to get some sleep, as long as he's still here)

still he said...

Well, not really to all, KWIM, - to most of them.

Uku said...

Anon wrote:

Uku blurped: I'm not worried about death because I'm gonna die for sure

See, this is exactly the kind of philosophical argument that does nothing for no-one. Sure, it's all cool and swell that you are not afraid of death, but saying that will not help someone who is.


You're wrong. It might help someone. And I have gained a lot of help from those kind of quotes, even when I was totally messed up years ago. Don't say nothing for no-one because it ain't true. There are no absolute statements in here.

You also wrote

It's like Brad-kun said, philosophy doesn't help, only practice does. Diligent and uninterrupted practice.

I agree. That's why I wrote in the same comment:

Zazen can help us to face the facts - by facing the facts we can accept them and by accepting them we can let go. Practice, practice, practice...

And philosophy can help. It sure helped master Dogen and it's helping a lot of people nowadays. But those are just words. They are not necessary. But philosophy can help.

And oh, drugs sucks. I find it very funny when someone is justifying his/her drug use with some whimsical statements. Come on, if it's necessary to use drugs, if it's not enough to live sober, then use drugs. But justifying and explaining the use... it's just pathetic. :)

YKW still said...

Though Mysterion not being afraid of death, - this is really an ungraspable phenomenon. Death is really nothing to fear, but Mysterion seeing this - is nothing I can imagine. I can imagine pride hiding the fact. My internet diagnosis. fwiw

And this is really the last one for the day.

anonymous anonymous said...

A person who does not fear death does not have the need to announce it. mysterion does have the need to announce it. 1+1=2

Mysterion said...

Death makes no difference to anyone.

Name one person - in your family - from 5 generations back (e.g. 150 years) that made a noticeable difference.

Well?

The existentialists are correct - it is all for nothing.

"The theme that's repeated throughout is the idea of the emptiness of human effort. All is vanity, which means futile, it's all for naught. Qohelet 1:1: "Utter futility!--said Kohelet--/ Utter futility! all is futile! / What real value is there for a man / In all the gains he makes beneath the sun? / One generation goes, another comes, / But the earth remains the same forever." and in verse 9, "Only that shall happen / Which has happened, / Only that occur / Which has occurred; / There is nothing new / Beneath the sun!" [See Note 1]" source

see also HERE

ROFLMAO

anonymous anonymous said...

hysterion, You might know something about vanity. But be careful rolling around on the floor. Remember what happened last time..

Mysterion said...

Schmaltz

This, I have heard:

An old Yiddish man walked into the diner leaning on his cane as he did every Wednesday shortly after noon.

He sat in the same chair at the same table in the habitual manner he had developed over long years.

The same cook made the same chicken soup in the same way for two decades. The same waiter brought the Yiddish man his chicken soup and placed it on the table.

After a few moments, the Yiddish man called the waiter.

"Taste my soup."

"But I don't understand" said the waiter. "The same cook made this chicken soup in exactly the same way he has made it for two decades."

"Taste my soup," said the Yiddish man.

The waiter then said: "Where is your spoon?"

Holding up his trembling index finger, the Yiddish man said: "Exactly!"

Just live in the moment, the rest is commentary.

Uku said...

Mysterion, I HAVE to post this marvellous quote from The Matrix. Yeah, I know, everyone knows this quote:

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

Mr. Reee said...

Ecclesiastes is cool. So is Brad's post--nicely put.

I too, sometimes lie awake going 'yeah, it's all just a parade, but damn--I don't want the music to end!'

See, it's not a fear of my 'self' dying (the ending of a fictional story is no cause for alarm)--it's the fear that *experience itself* could cease forever.

I like experiencing things. Seems like a bonus.

Anonymous said...

Uri Geller could bend spoons. Sometimes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9w7jHYriFo

Mysterion said...

It's no coincidence that Spoon Boy has a shaved head and robe.

More on Matrix Buddhism.

Also see:
GNOSTICISM REBORN
The Matrix as Shamanic Journey

or:

"Reeves plays the Buddha and re-enacts the Buddha's journey to enlightenment."

or:

Demand "a clear-cut separation between Gnosticism and Christianity..." here

Thinking is the enemy of Religion(s).

Kelissima said...

Anonymous said: "Maybe I'm lucky, but I have never had
a fear of nonexistence after death.

My problem is fear of pain.

I still hope that there might be some
wormhole or drug
that would allow me to escape into an
alternate dimension where pain is not
possible, but so far, no such luck.

If death does lead to nonexistence,
then the only thing preventing me
from committing suicide is one
person who would be hurt by my
absence..."

^^^I agree. Death doesn't bother me but I would not like a lingering painful death. I've always been oddly fascinated by guillotines, seems like it'd be pretty quick. And I ALWAYS wonder if you'd see your head hit the ground...

About getting drunk, here's a good reason not to: Saturday night I went to a party with an obnoxious Nichiren (SGI) Buddhist* I've told off a couple times for his "I practice 'True Buddhism'" bullshit. I got so drunk I don't remember how I got home, although I know I woke up fully clothed (yes!) WITH my contacts in (eww).

Today he told me how he thought he could've ended up in bed with me that night but I was so drunk he wouldn't have felt right about it.. EWW! [But THANK GOD for Buddhist Compassion and Right Action, lol!]

*There are a lot of SGI members in my area and some of them are REALLY cool btw. I just find that 'school' overly simplistic and dogmatic. Personally, I just can't imagine giving money to an excommunicated Japanese billionaire who refuses to give financial disclosure about what he does with donations and served jail time for election fraud. But maybe that's just me...

Anonymous said...

Jared,

"but Sartre's concept of Nausea has little, if nothing, to do with a fear or contemplation of death"

I disagree. The novel is shot through with the knowledge of death-- as is all of Sartre's fictional work. I doubt it has anything to do with fear of dying (though for sure he faced that like anyone else does) but rather with how to situate the brute fact of death into a consistent, life-affirming worldview. This is indebted, of course, to Heidegger whose "Being and Time" specifically defines Dasein in terms of its absolute temporality and finitude(I know you know this already so please forgive me). Like Heidegger, Sartre tries to move away from the standard Kantian (perhaps but of course Kant is always more sophisticated than you think he is) definition of "Phenomenon" as the aspect of the world intelligible to experience and the "Noumenon" as the aspect inaccessible. Rather, I would argue that both thinkers describe "phenomena" as that which is touched by time-- in particular by death-- and the "noumena" as that which grounds and gives "meaning" to our changing experience (i.e. Platonic forms or somesuch). Thus, the narrator of the novel realizes that nothing is timeless, unchanging, or unmarked by death. Ergo, his experience has no intrinsic meaning and he feels a jolting sense of disorientation best described as "nausea." Now "death" means a bit more than the simple cessation of our biological functions in this context but it still holds I think. Anyway, thanks for the correction! Are you a philosophy major then?

P.S. Great response Brad. Thanks for taking the time to answer! Like some others on here I used to enjoy getting wasted but almost never do anymore. It has lost its appeal for the most part. Sorry everyone for clogging up the comments.

eric

Mysterion said...

Nam Myoho renge kyo is literally the Hare Krishna of Buddhism. It is based upon auto-hypnotic bullshit.

Korean Chanting

Of course, the Pope is the ultimate Shaman

The sweat lodge is great for culling the human herd.

Sweat Lodge Chant

Kitaro is influenced his rooted upbringing in Shinto Shamanism.

On the other hand, I suppose it's all potentially good stuff, ultimately... depending on where your head is or isn't.

I'm more into Kitaro than "fill in the blank" Chants, Shamanistic or otherwise.

Mysterion said...

correction of omission:

Kitaro is influenced byhis rooted upbringing in Shinto Shamanism.

Anonymous said...

Eisho said

This is "Big Mind" folks same as Genpo...NO difference at all... both beautiful descriptions.
Big Mind is rooted in koan study and meditation, to ground the realization, not just a guided meditation.
what Brad wrote was a excellent description of self realization.

What I'm about to say might seem like mysticism, but here goes anyhow. Once you start seeing this moment for what this moment really is, you start to understand that you can never really be annihilated in the ways that you previously imagined could happen. What I think of as "Brad Warner" is a construct in my mind. It isn't real. Yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called "Brad Warner" is based. This something can't really die because it was never really born. At least not in the sense we commonly think of things being born and dying. Yes, Brad Warner was born and yes Brad Warner will die. And yet he is not just an individual entity. He is also a temporary manifestation of something vast and unknowable that has no beginning and no end.

Mysterion said...

Death catches up with everyone.

Another loss...

offset by a delightfully cheerful poem...

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, your quote from Hamlet is a fav of mine. the next line is
"And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought'"


that is one of the most zen like lines he ever wrote.

anon #108 said...

Hi Eisho,

"Self-realization"? Is that what Brad describes? Sounds like common sense to me.

Mysterion said...

If only like were like this...

Lone Ranger said...

http://kck.st/bfWbo3

Lost Rockers . Brad check out the clip

Lauren said...

Brad,

I really enjoyed this post. It was helpful to issues I've been struggling with lately on several fronts.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:01pm, I was particularly concerned with drugs used in the manner to stupefy oneself and escape reality or consciousness. That is the topic of Tolstoy's piece I posted. Perhaps whatever chemically altered state you're inducing qualifies as escape, perhaps not. Many try drugs to escape boredom. In the context of Zen, ask Brad or others what those intense altered states or hallucinations are valued for. The answer I've gotten typically goes something like "just a distraction". In which case, these drugs and the effects they produce fall quite closely to the stupefying end of things and probably aren't going to be helpful, though perhaps entertaining or horribly frightening.

Anonymous said...

"I've long argued that America's self-image - "the land of the free," a culture of autonomy and independence - is in sharp contrast to its reality, which is that of an extremely bovine, conformist culture. The fact that it is also an illiterate culture, in which people are told what to think rather than taught how to think, is not coincidental."

Barry Graham - Nov 30 2010

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I've long argued that America's self-image... is in sharp contrast to its reality..."

Of THAT, there is no doubt.

The foolish poor empower the wealthy elite (as an illiterate group) by voting for the very people who will do them the greatest harm.

MYTH: "Today's federal income tax system is highly pro­gressive, with taxpayers at the top of the income spectrum paying higher rates than those in the middle and bottom."

FACT: "Today's federal income tax system is far less pro­gressive than the pre-Reagan eras, with taxpayers at the top of the income spectrum paying higher tax rates (when they pay income taxes) than those in the middle and bottom."

The wealthy shelter income from taxation through a variety of loopholes.

Since Tea-Baggers don't read (or can't read), they tend to go with what they hear from college drop outs like Rush and Sean. Or Ph.D. Michael(Nutritional Herbologist Michael Weiner aka Michael Savage).

Anonymous said...

Is it right or is it wrong to practice Zazen in order to experience the "this moment for what this moment really is", "to understand that you can never really be annihilated in the ways that you previously imagined could happen", to understand that the I I think of as me "is a construct in my mind", "isn't real" and that "yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called me is based", that "this something can't really die because it was never really born. At least not in the sense we commonly think of things being born and dying."?

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

Uku from a few days ago (responding to john e):

...ah, memories! Peter Tosh's Legalize It was very important stuff for me over 10 years ago when I was a young skateboarder and rebel motherfucker. Those times, those times, hahhaa!

Captcha: holyw (seriously!)

P.S. I DON'T support legalizing. At least in here Finland weed is a serious problem and people have enough problems with booze. Learn to live sober, folks.

- Aunt Morality


So you had some great times, but now you know better. I totally understand where you're coming from, Markus. But weed and alcohol aren't a "serious problem" for everybody who smokes or drinks. Not everybody has to "learn to live sober". People's psychology and physiology are different and so is their point of balance.

(And to call a sincere attempt to distinguish the occasional enjoyment of a harmless altered state of consciousness from seriously harmful addiction "whimsical" and "pathetic" is...silly).


Hi anon @3.36am,

Trick question?

Anonymous said...

@anon #108:

No trick question. To rephrase it: Is it right to practice with the aim of experiencing the insight that Brad describes or should there be no aim at all with any kind of insight being incidental?

Uku said...

Anon 108, yeah, cocaine, heroin or racism ain't a problem for everyone either. And like I wrote, if someone wants to use drugs, go for it. But why to explain it, making excuses like "occasional use", "having fun with friends"... that's silly.

Balancing mind and body and using drugs? Geez... I believe there are reasons why Buddhism doesn't support drugs. Or actually, it's not a Buddhist matter. I believe there are natural reasons why using drugs and practicing zazen is.. weird and not recommended for a Buddhist path.

But I don't care. Weed smokers and booze drinkers finds always reasons to justify their use. I've been like that. If it's not possible to live sober, why to make excuses? Why not just get wasted? Explaining reasons and motives to use in here and everywhere else is silly.

anon #108 said...

FWIW and as I'm here, anon...

I started to practice zazen with the aim, or hope of experiencing all those things. That was my motivation for sitting in the first place. So, hoping for a clue, an insight into how I should do it from a Zen Master, one of the first things I asked my teacher on meeting him was:

"I've just started practising zazen, can you tell me one thing I should know about it."

He replied, "The posture is important."

Disappointed, I fished some more: "And if I get the posture right everything else will come?"

He said, "...Everything else will go."


(By which, it turned out, he wasn't advocating compliance with some authentic, rigid posture, but...something else).

anon #108 said...

Hi Uku,

Anon 108, yeah, cocaine, heroin or racism ain't a problem for everyone either. etc

Where does that come from? What has that to do with anything I've written?

"Why to explain it?" Good question. Perhaps we should all pack up and go home.

We're different. Is there room for difference in your world, or does one size fit all?

Anonymous said...

@anon #108:

If one knows about the possible insights how can one drop not aiming at them? Did you give up aiming at them when being told "...Everything else will go."?
What was he advocating by "..Everything else will go."

Uku said...

Hi Anon 108,

I don't think things are black-and-white. Someone's problems are not everyone's problems. Racists might think they're doing great job. Pot smokers might think they're gaining some special insights. We all can make excuses and telling to ourselves and others why certain things are not problems. And I'm not saying you have a problem, not at all.

Yes, we're all different and that's great! For me there are no rules in Buddhism. A Buddhist can smoke pot, shoot smack, rape dogs. But is it skillful or healthy or wise or necessary? Ain't here a room for a Buddhist who is against drugs? :) I'm not judging you, Anon 108. It's your life, your decisions. I'm not judging people personally. Yes, it is silly if someone is justifying reasons to get wasted. It's also silly why I haven't saw Nelly Furtado's gig although I love her music.

anon #108 said...

Hi anon,

At this point "Have you got a teacher" is the usual, and correct, response.

Meanwhile, I'd suggest just carry on doing it how you're doing it - with all your doubts and confusion. But don't take them too seriously.

"Cast aside all involvements. Give the myriad things a rest. Do not think of good and bad. Do not consider right and wrong. Stop the driving movement of mind, will and consciousness. Ceas intellectual consideration through through images thoughts and reflections. Do not aim to become a Buddha" - Dogen Fukanzazengi.

Not so easy? For me, the practice itself - just sitting - answered a lot of my questions. Not that I don't still sometimes wonder what the hell I'm supposed to be doing, and why. A teacher is a GREAT help.

Hey - email Brad.

anon #108 said...

Thanks for 'explaining' a little more, Markus.

Of course there's room for a Buddhist who's against drugs. I'd like to know the reasons such a Buddhist might give for that view, so I posed some questions. They remain unanswered.

I've a suspicion that if we spent all day at it...

1) We wouldn't agree. OR

2) We'd discover we agreed about a lot more than might first appear.

Still we've made some progress beyond "pathetic :)"

Uku said...

:)

Gerry Gomez said...

"Dogen Zenji's father died when he was two years old, and when he was seven his mother died. He recalled how watching the smoke from the funeral pyre at his mother's funeral impressed him deeply and sorrowfully with the transience of life. Throughout his career of teaching he linked this awareness of transiency with bodhichitta--the desire for realization, the desire for enlightenment, the imperative for realizing the Buddha.

Bodhichitta is what distinguishes Buddhism and Zen from world religions generally. The pilgrim looks directly into the fact of death, into the fact of impermanence, and finds there the solace that others find in the notion of heaven and eternal life. What is that solace? Ha ha! How truly beautiful everything is!"
--Robert Aitken, Original Dwelling Place

Jared said...

"Thus, the narrator of the novel realizes that nothing is timeless, unchanging, or unmarked by death. Ergo, his experience has no intrinsic meaning and he feels a jolting sense of disorientation best described as "nausea." Now "death" means a bit more than the simple cessation of our biological functions in this context but it still holds I think."


Eric,

My initial dismissal might have been too strong. Sorry for any confusion, but if Brad's quotation of your e-mail is correct, I took you to be saying that the feeling of nausea Roquentin feels is due to contemplation of his own death, given you saying: "But what about the more 'existential' fear-- angst I guess, or Nausea in Sartre's formulation-- that arises upon the contemplation of our death." While there are, of course, themes of death in Nausea (the theme of death is much stronger in The Flies and No Exit, to be sure), if I recall correctly most of the instances when Roquentin experiences a sense of nausea center round what I mentioned earlier, namely a realization that his perception of the physical world does not map onto a thing in itself. As you said, this goes beyond Kant's assertion that there IS a thing in itself but we can never reach it - rather, Roquentin seems to settle on the idea that there simply is no thing in itself.

"Like Heidegger, Sartre tries to move away from the standard Kantian (perhaps but of course Kant is always more sophisticated than you think he is) definition of "Phenomenon" as the aspect of the world intelligible to experience and the "Noumenon" as the aspect inaccessible.Rather, I would argue that both thinkers describe "phenomena" as that which is touched by time-- in particular by death-- and the "noumena" as that which grounds and gives "meaning" to our changing experience (i.e. Platonic forms or somesuch."

While you are absolutely correct that Sartre wants to move away from Kant's conception of the noumenon that is inaccessible, he does not simply replace the noumenon with something else; he dispenses with it entirely. It is made very clear in Being and Nothingness that, for Sartre, there just simply no such thing as noumenon. Given this, I am a little confused at your claim that Sartre would adhere to any type of "noumena" since in Being and Nothingness he makes it quite clear that existence precedes essence, and so appearances are all that exist and any meaning or content must come AFTER. In what ways would Sartre accept any notion of Platonic forms?

Jared said...

And yes, I am a philosophy major :-D

Anonymous said...

Jared,

I'm pretty sure we've arrived at the same train station at the same time and don't realize it yet. First, my whole point was that Sartre (obviously) rejected noumenal reality precisely because it involved positing some eternal or unchanging sub-structure to our experience. Sorry if I was unclear. Doing so, however, leads to two (at least) problems. 1) As Heidegger pointed out Dasein then becomes defined by temporality and finitude-- i.e, "being-toward-death." That's my main point. All aspects of our experience are shaped by death. 2) At least within the context of foundationalist Western thinking removing the Noumena from our ontology leaves us unmoored and anxious-- "nauseous." That, I suspect, was your point. Now, I don't think we can really separate those two consequences. The only reason our phenomenal experience is so toxic to the metaphysically absolutist West is just that it is marked by time, loss, and death. For Sartre, child of Kant whether he wants to be or not, since finding comfort or stability in impermanence (unlike, say, Buddha or Dogen)is unthinkable the only option is to choose amid total dislocation. Thus you have consciousness defined as nothingness and the like (since the only thing to be conscious of is ungrounded experience thinking is, strictly speaking, the awareness of nothingness).

My reading of Sartre, I'll admit, is rather desultory. I find his novels uninteresting, his plays very nice, and his philosophical works fun and challenging but not very useful for me personally. I haven't read any of his Marxist stuff though I bet I'd like it. Anyway, this is an interesting exchange. Merci!

eric

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous said:
Is it right or is it wrong to practice Zazen in order to experience the "this moment for what this moment really is", "to understand that you can never really be annihilated in the ways that you previously imagined could happen", to understand that the I I think of as me "is a construct in my mind", "isn't real" and that "yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called me is based", that "this something can't really die because it was never really born. At least not in the sense we commonly think of things being born and dying."?

Whatever motivations you have to practice are fine. It doesn't matter.

Charles Manson said...

"Whatever motivations you have to practice are fine. It doesn't matter."

Cool..

Mysterion said...

I remember when my sister called in 1999 and said: "Mom died. Are you upset?"

"Why?" was my reply, "She is not now in a place that she hasn't already been."

That's the "bottom line" of Buddhism (for Business Majors).

anonymous anonymous said...

Above all that silliness, aye hysterion? Good boy..

Rich said...

Brad. thanks for a great Q&A. You are so honest, it's scary -)

'Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna die' When your job is trying to live, its just natural not to wanna die.

Some of the lucky ones have absolutely no fear when they totally accept that death is near.

Sitting and dealing with the present is the best you can do.

Anonymous said...

"This article from The Nation is astute. Not too long ago, I would have said that Palin was a harmless crank who stood no chance of being elected President. I was one of those who, as the author puts it, "rely on a basic assertion that Palin is stupid and therefore not credible." But, consider the last President, and consider the present Governor of Arizona, and it's clear that no one is too stupid, too ignorant, too malevolent or too venal to be elected.

In our current chaos, it is quite possible that the next person to be made captain of the sinking ship will be insane."

Barry Graham - Nov 30 2010

Mysterion said...

SATORI!

I have solved the problem of overpopulation.

We should, through the United Nations, pass a law that it is forbidden to procreate in any other manner that that described as follows: "Standing up in a canoe."

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

Brad: "Whatever motivations you have to practice are fine. It doesn't matter."

I think that's a very good thing to say and acknowledge, Brad. Once we're really drinking it it doesn't much matter how we've been led to the water... very 'Lotus Sutra' of you ('burning house' parable and all that... the little bit of the sutra that makes sense and is not like an LSD induced hallucination... but seriously kids, I just know you won't do drugs coz BUDDHA SAID NOT TO!!!)

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Just say "know" to drugs.

Mysterion said...

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. If you can not afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

source

Another one of the greats...

anon #108 said...

The Lotus Sutra's Parable of the Herbs makes a lot of sense too, H:

"The Buddha's equal preaching
Is like the one rain;
[But] beings, according to their nature
Receive it differently,
Just as the plants and tress
Each take a varying supply.

...

Like this, Kashyapa,
Is the law preached by the Buddha.
It is just like a great cloud
Which with the same kind of rain
Enriches men and blossoms
So that each bears fruit."

Beliner's best work said...

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Anonymous said...

Make that Berliner

Ken Show said...

"Saturday night I went to a party with an obnoxious Nichiren (SGI) Buddhist* I've told off a couple times for his "I practice 'True Buddhism'" bullshit."

Yeah, I hate that 'I practice 'True Buddhism' bullshit too. It's especially nauseating coming from a supposed zen teacher.


"In the context of Zen, ask Brad or others what those intense altered states or hallucinations are valued for."

All zen teachers do not share Brad's completely negative view of all drugs, especially lsd and related drugs. A common view is that they are ok for beginning zen students and may offer some limited insights but too much or continued use can lead to attachment and getting stuck. After a certain point, they hold no allure for zennies.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I especially liked the first sentence.

Anonymous said...

Ken: You wrote: "A common view is that they (psychoactive drugs) are ok for beginning zen students and may offer some limited insights." Why don't you give us the names of a couple of Zen teachers who actually hold this view? Btw Ken Show was one of troll Jundo Cohen's favorite blogging pseudonyms before Gniz outed him.

anon #108 said...

...Brad's completely negative view of all drugs...

I think Brad's written that drug experiences are nothing to do with Buddhist practice and that his own brief experience of chemically induced psychedelia did nothing much for him. Which all seems fair enough.

A common view [of zen teachers] is that they ["all drugs, especially lsd and related drugs"] are ok for beginning zen students...

Really? That's news to me. A pretty irresponsible attitude, IMHO.

anon #108 said...

...Of course, just what comprises "Buddhist practice" is an open question. As is the real possibility that I've misrepresented Brad's attitude to drugs.

john e mumbles said...

גם זה יעבור

Anonymous Bob said...

108: I think Brad has said that he hated his LSD experience. I don't remember him being blasé about it.

anon #108 said...

Thanks for the correction, AB.

(True dat, john).

Anonymous said...

ང་ཁྱེད་རང་ལ་དགའ་པོ་ཡོད་

john e mumbles said...

I Love You, Too, Anonymous...

Jared said...

Eric,

I would agree! We are at the same train station :-)

Dunno if you have read it or not, but Michael Slote has a good article called "Existentialism and the Fear of Dying" in the American Philosophical Quarterly from way back in '75. It's a good read!

Mysterion said...

catching up with death, hebrew style

Sarah said...

Where did you find that painting used on the post?

Tabitha said...

This can't truly have success, I feel this way.