Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving America and Zen That's Not Called Zen

First, the Suicide Girls Radio interview I did is online now. Listen to it by going to:

http://blip.tv/file/4402557

I feel like it gets better as it goes along, so feel free to skip ahead.

Next, my good friend Marrrrrkus in Finland (home of delicious pippari) told me about a couple articles on li'l ol' me that I had not seen before:

The Brad Warner Paradox

Brad Warner Vs. the Dalai Lama

I don't even know what "Brad Warner Vs. the Dalai Lama" really even has to do with me other than the opening quote. It's mostly a discussion about God.

Then there's Elephant Journal's nice review of my new book. The new book in question is, of course, Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between. It's selling like hot cakes here in New York City. I wish it was selling like books, though...

So tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my sister is on her way to NYC so we can go watch the Macy's parade. Yoiks! This is my second Thanksgiving this year, since I was up in Canadia last month when they had theirs. I think they add a "u" to the word "Thanksgiving" up there, but I'm not sure.

A guy asked me recently about what he called the "Microsoft-ization of Zen." I'm not exactly sure why he used this term. He meant the way there are lots of people out there hawking products that are essentially Zen, but without actually calling it "Zen." They carefully avoid using words like "Buddhism" or "dharma," even though most of their schtick comes straight out of Zen books. Sometimes straight out of my Zen books!

I've noticed this too and it bugs me. I'm well aware that using words like "Zen" or "Buddhism" or "dharma" will essentially cut your potential audience by at least half. Hell, when I make even the smallest mention of Dogen in these pages I get half a dozen comments about how I'm just promoting the "cult of Dogen" rather than "actual Buddhism." I'm gonna try to address that topic another time, though.

But all these dudes out there hawking Zen but not calling it Zen, why would that bug me? It bugs me because they seem to want to imply that you can just decide to be more "in the moment" and it'll happen. Or they offer some new miracle method to get you there "quickly, easily and effectively" (the verbatim claim of one such method I just came across). Those methods don't work, of course. Though they might provide some kind of short term thrills.

It's like if you woke up one morning and realized you were fat. Not only you. You realized your whole society was made up almost exlusively of people who were at least 200 pounds overweight and that every service, entertainment, occupation, etc. in the entire society was geared toward making already fat people more fat. You couldn't just decide not to be fat in such a society. You'd need to spend a lot of time, effort and energy just figuring out how one could lose weight. Your senses might be so dulled by the environment that you wouldn't even be able to recognize someone of healthy weight. Your friends would all describe such a person as dangerously ill.

Methods like Big Mind® and their ilk strike me as the all-cupcake-diets of this imaginary landscape. Some blubbery guy tells you that the best way to get to a healthy weight is to eat as many cupcakes as possible because what you really want is not to be 200 pounds overweight but three or four-hundred pounds heavier than you are now.

Anyway, yeah, the whole idea of cribbing from Zen without really understanding what it is and hiding the source of your inspiration lest it scare away paying customers irks me. And I'll admit it, one of the reasons it bugs me is because I can't do it myself and therefore I make way less money than the people who do. It would feel far too dishonest. Whatever minor insights I have come through Zen Buddhist practice. If I were to deny that I'd be cheating.

Anyway, plenty of people don't think I have any insights at all. I got an email the other day that said "You are an egoist and have no wisdom to offer!" Gee, thanks. That's sweet.

OK. So whatever.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, America! See you down at the parade!

117 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, ME! 1111111

Anonymous said...

Uh, hmm... Ekhart tolle? I dunno.. so many people have bits and pieces of Buddhism. From Christian to Muslim(ok maybe not Muslim but I confess ignorance). Hard to say who is following the axioms of Zen enough to make a valid comparison.

There is no "u" in Canadian thanksgiving though?

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Anonymous said...

Another one...

Zen Habits

Awakened Yeti said...

I cant believe someone sent you an email like that. I am weeping with you. Maybe some chick will read that and give you a pity fuck.

john e mumbles said...

Six Six Six...

anon said...

"I'm planning to celebrate Thanksgiving in the authentic American tradition - I'm going to give my neighbors blankets infected with smallpox, wait for them to die, then move into their houses."

Barry Graham - Wed Nov. 24

Carl said...

Love the analogy to a world of fat people. Very useful!

Josh Langley and Andy Macleod said...

Enjoy:

http://frogandthewell.blogspot.com/

Shonin said...

Dogen®
Up to 100% more effective than inferior brands

Anonymous said...

What do you think of Rinzai's stress on the importance of Kensho? Why aren't you a Rinzai Monk?

108 Adams said...

About Microsoft-ization, let me explain again:

What do i mean? For many past years many different little or bigger companies created some software solutions, which were copied and sold by Microsoft as their innovations. And so people in their mass don't know the source of the idea of windows interface in Windows, mouse device etc. They get it via Microsoft and accept M as the source of the inventions.

Anonymous said...

For many past years many different little or bigger companies created some software solutions, which were copied and sold by Big Corporation as their innovations.

There, I fixed that for you. It's not just Microsoft doing this. Apple, Oracle, SAP, IBM, you name it, they've done it.

Of course Apple sometimes does things a little differently. Some small company creates a useful little application that they build their business model around, and then Apple goes and replicates the exact same thing in their next OSX update. Way to treat the little guys right, Steve!

108 Adams said...

I used Microsoft as a metaphor of removing the basic credits and presenting some ideas as own.

There is more in this topic:

The same goes with "sit down and meditate" boxes in the middle of wellnes/stress reduction articles in pop-psychology magazines. I have just read such a sidenote with meditation instructions - plain vipassana! But I have never spot a word about the troubles of meditation, pain, all this. They just say : "you are modern high-class woman, all you need is sit down and look for your breath, and everything will be cool. (Of course it's not, but... if it's not ok, it's your fault/problem, maybe you are not as high class iron woman as you pretend to be?)"

The question is: is there any way to unscrew such people, who tried "to meditate" and failed, thinking "meditation is cool, but it's not for me"?

Unfortunately I am afraid it might not be possible or easy, because they were misled and now they believe there is a better world, full of relax and higher states of meditation, which they want to get to, but believe they are just not good enough. :(

They bought a dream of calm world, and the dealer is the last person who wants to stop selling the dream. :(

Harry said...

'Indians' at the table:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccj2BH25c0I&feature=player_embedded

"I am a turkey. Kill me!"

:-))

Harry.

john e mumbles said...

Brad & 108 Adams, um, well, this is the way the world works, as Picasso said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal."

Way too many examples to give but just one: take stand up comedians. The more successful they get, the more joke writers they employ.

As cartoonist Ace Backwords once said: "I'd sell out in a minute if anyone was buying."

As far as meditation goes, its like the air, its free. It becomes a commodity (aka snake oil) when someone tries to sell it, whether its a magazine or a book or movie or whatever.

Did Dogen charge for his teachings? Times have changed.

"People have to make a living."

Ask Ralph Lauren about "Buddhism."

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

AWAKENED YETI!

Hi. How's it hangin?

In case you're a "Don't look back" kinda guy (but you're not are ya ;)), I've replied to your reply on the previous page.

OsamaVanHalen said...

Does this post mean that Brad opposes people being fat? What about Hotei?

Mumon said...

Brad:

You might have been referring to comments I made here & on my blog re: Dogen. I don't wish my comments to be taken to mean that I denigrate your training realization in any way. It's just that Zen is much more expansive than Dogen or Lin-Ji or whomever in partcular. It also, as you note, takes a lifetime of dedication and effort. Especially when not on the cushion.

Shandra said...

Your fat society comparison got me directly in the gut. I lost a bunch of extra weight while living in caffeine&donut world. I still live in caffeine&donut world, I just don't eat meals there anymore. It's weird how many people are so totally against spinach they feel they must save me from the dangerous green glop by offering me sugar...

anon #108 said...

Just read Barbara's review of "Sex Sin and so forth" (it's a good review) and her subsequent chat with commenters.

Can't STAND the pompous bitch.

Me, voice of reason, once joined and tried to mediate a ding-dong she was having with Harry about language n stuff...grrr

Who IS She?

Anonymous Bob said...

"Can't STAND the pompous bitch."

108, Ha! I can't either. The woman is soo annoying.. She really blows!

Hmmm.. I think we just burned through 7 of the 8 Buddhist prescriptions.

anon #108 said...

:)

Captcha = uptins

Anonymous said...

"You are an egoist and have no wisdom to offer!"

To anyone who needs another person to 'offer' them wisdom...there's a good place to start.

john e mumbles said...

As my friend Ronnie said once when I pointed out that the oil light on the dash of his car was on indicating something wrong, "if it bothers you, don't look at it."

No one is forcing anyone to read this Barbara person's blog.

Likewise, no one has a gun to anybody's head saying "motherfucker, you are going to a Big Mind seminar."

One person's odious is another's pleasantly odiferous.

anon #108 said...

I've only looked twice, John. Honest :(

Anonymous Bob said...

John, I'm properly chastened.. I know I can't force you to but go ahead and read the piece in question.

john e mumbles said...

OMG what a hag! -just kiddin' I didn't look, don't wanna turn to stone...

a# I don't get it, you said you liked her review then turn around and state you can't stand the B. Do you know her personally?

anon #108 said...

(a# - that's me, yeah John?)

I said "it's a good review" of Brad's book - as in she likes it. Not as in 'it's an admirable piece of writing' (it's ok).

Harry, Babs and I had a long chat once. She didn't listen, she made assumptions, she was rude, dismissive and arrogant, and deleted one if H's comments accusing him of having written something unforgivably 'ugly' (tosh!) - all in the name of bringing correct "Buddhism" to the masses.

Can't STAND her, John :)

anon #108 said...

I forgot condescending. Very condescending.

...Maybe Harry'll be along in a minute to put in a good word; he did a good job of keeping calm and civilized in the face of relentless misunderstanding and insult - as did I, of course.

Captcha says: facismis.

john e mumbles said...

Oh. As in a favorable review. I get it.

Yeah, okay, we are not required to like everybody, just because they practice "Zen." Or whatever, eh?

I remember a long long time ago asking my mentor into Sufism, M. Blanco, what was the most difficult thing to deal with when practicing? She said: the other darvishes (practitioners).

Not saying this is the case with you and Babs, but I suspect she meant because they mirror what we most despise in ourselves.

anon #108 said...

Yes, favourable - that's the word. Thanks.

'The Mirror principle' - one of Mike Cross's favourites - does sound like it should be true and often seems so. But I wonder...

Once, while slightly intoxicated, I called a female friend of mine "a stupid bitch". I muttered it very convincingly under my breath. She was familiar with my dry caustic wit - it was one of things about me that she liked and it usually made her laugh. This time she became quite upset and a little angry. "You had to have that in you to say it. You said it like you meant it". I reassured her that no way did I think she was a stupid bitch. Surely she knew that. I was just playing.

I thought about it later. Yes, it was "in me" or I couldn't have said it. But that's what actors do; find 'other people' in themselves via some kind of mimetic empathy. I myself have never considered my friend a stupid bitch.

I think our objections to others might sometimes be examples of that kind of empathic recognition, rather than examples of what we find despicable in own characters reflected back. Dunno.

But in Babs' case, YES. Defensive mirroring.
...Never in mine though.

Anonymous said...

imagine two mirrors perfectly parallel. mike never did get that part of it...

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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john e mumbles said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mountaintop_Oyster said...

She didn't listen, she made assumptions, she was rude, dismissive and arrogant

You mean there's a female version of Brad Warner?

Mysterion said...
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anonymous anonymous said...

Hysterion noted "The first truth is that life is suffering..."

Yes.. All of us who read your words know this truth very well.. Yet some days are better than others. The early part of today was not bad at all.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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anonymous anonymous said...

One has to wonder.. Will we ever hear from him again?

PhilBob-SquareHead said...

Mysterion may be a Blowhard, but sometimes he speaketh the truth.

anonymous anonymous said...

A wise man once said.. "If you throw enough shit at the wall, some of it has to stick." But a person also has to ask himself, How much shit do you want on your walls?

Uku said...

Pipari season, oh yes! You should all taste Finnish pipari!

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! I have no idea what it means because in Finland we don't have Thanksgiving things. But we have pipari!

captcha: puntrier

Anonymous said...

refections of wellknown Swami Durchananda (i.e. swami helter-skelter) on god, truth and enlightenment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4vrcv3aEPI&feature=related
Don´t mind the questions asked in German - great eternal wisdom, presented by Titanic (c)

Anonymous said...

happy thanksgiving

Anonymous said...

no self?

Anonymous said...

enslavement

Anonymous said...

ownership

Wm J Byatt said...

I have to say, I essentially disagree with the thesis that you can't just decide to be "in the moment," and I speak here from my own personal experience.

To use the cupcake metaphor, what ought to be realize is that what it's more similar to is a society wherein ALMOST EVERYONE is 200 pounds overweight, and ALMOST ALL of society is geared towards making you fatter. But there are those who have broken free of the cupcake cycle, and we run into those few everyday (we may simply not be actively aware).

In our encounters with the anti-fat social forces, we accidentally, unconsciously learn about them every day, through no direct effort of our own (accidental "wu wei"?). Then, one day, the accumulated mass of subconscious awareness can come to a head, and we can realize, (again, with no intentional effort of our own) that there IS another way to be, and that the resources ARE on hand.

We can then cycle through the observations that we have made our entire lives and re-analyze them in a fashion more suited towards not being fat. In that moment of realization of the possibility (and desirability) of this, we have decided to not be fat, and at this point it's just a logical execution of our new awareness that brings us towards manifested not-fatness. This logical execution can continue to take no real effort, because it began with no real effort and the essentially effortless baby-step process of exploration continuously opens up new understandings about how to slim down and still live a fulfilling life. This process can continue almost of its own self-perpetuating accord, without any experienced effort on the fat guy's part, and lead, over time, to the fat guy being slim.

In this way, the fat guy decides, in a single moment, to be slim, and he achieves this goal with zero experienced hardship (wei wu wei), as a direct causal chain stemming from his decision. In a sense, he decided to be slim, and thus was no longer slim, and it simply took manifested reality a little while to catch up.

Stef said...

I'm wondering who made "The Story of Your Enslavement."

Rich said...

"Anyway, yeah, the whole idea of cribbing from Zen without really understanding what it is and hiding the source of your inspiration lest it scare away paying customers irks me. And I'll admit it, one of the reasons it bugs me is because I can't do it myself and therefore I make way less money than the people who do. It would feel far too dishonest. Whatever minor insights I have come through Zen Buddhist practice. If I were to deny that I'd be cheating."

For an authentic zen teacher you certainly have a lot of opinions. Let me get this straight - you are saying that there are people who borrow from zen teachings but they don't really understand these teachings and then have the nerve to teach these things to others without telling them they borrowed these teachings from zen. And to add insult to injury they make more money than you. That's pretty far out -) Is this growth industry?

Anonymous said...

do not comply

Anonymous said...

yet another modest proposal

Anonymous said...

bend over

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

tao of sex

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

god

anonymous anonymous said...

Hysterion, Maybe you should just toss Brad a donation for every comment you make. Even the anonymous comments.. You really do owe it to Brad for using his blog as your own personal soapbox. What do you say?

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

If you only gave Brad $5 per comment, his money worries would be over. Of course you would have to go back to work..

anonymous anonymous said...

Yeah.. yeah. I know you donate to Brad. Good on you. You know how I know? Because you write about it here.

You have to give a fiver for the deleted comments too.

Anonymous said...

punk

Anonymous said...

ama-gi

Anonymous said...

zombies

Anonymous said...

brains

anonymous anonymous said...

You owe Brad a lot of money hysterion.. And for what? Vanity.

Anonymous said...

nazi zombies

Anonymous said...

nullify

Anonymous said...

1798

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, Maybe you should take your pearls over to Barry Graham's blog. He thinks a lot like you do. He might even like you. You two could have a lot of fun together.

Anonymous said...

TSA?
Totalitarian Submission Authority

Anonymous said...

trial by jury

Anonymous said...

all sentient beings

Anonymous said...

eat your veggies

Anonymous said...

fur

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

front and back

anonymous anonymous said...

Hysterion, I'm sure you and Brad are best buddies. Never mind the fact that you exploit his generosity daily. To me you seem rather parasitic and oblivious but go ahead and enjoy yourself.

Anonymous said...

"Sex At Dawn" in practice...
"Openining Up"
(on polyamorism by Thomas Pynchon's niece)

Anonymous said...

it gets better

Anonymous said...

security kabuki

Anonymous said...

DHS

anonymous anonymous said...

Hysterion, So you don't like Michael Chertoff just because he has some clergy in his family? That doesn't seem fair.

Reblogging Mike Cross said...

"The Buddha-Dharma is not any kind of theism, nor any kind of atheism. The Buddha-Dharma is not any kind of -ism. The Buddha-Dharma is not anybody's view. The Buddha-Dharma is not Buddhism. The Buddha-Dharma is the Dharma of Gautama the Buddha."

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Blue Scout said...

anonymous hysterion said:

"comments are good for a few cheap laffs...

especially anonymous comments."

hysterion, You mean like the "Clergy neither gains an emotion nor donation from me."? that was a good one.

anonymous anonymous said...

I so envy Brad for having met you. He speaks highly of you elsewhere I suppose.. You don't happen to carry a copy of 'Catcher in the Rye" around with you do you?

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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anonymous anonymous said...

"Although I doubt that there is even a 0.001% chance of curiosity"

hysterion, when have you ever let people's disinterest stop you from sharing whatever website you happened to be visiting?

Orange John said...

wait and see

Anonymous said...

ME again! 100 !!!

Reason said...

101

anonymous anonymous said...

hysterion, Your faith is great! Your belief is very strong. You are a bull goose atheist. But, alas, you are a poor Buddhist. You need to sit instead of surf.

Anonymous said...

Why sit when you can watch TV?

Mysterion said...

comments - the sounds of one hand clapping

(or an anonymous hand with the clap)

Anonymous said...

speculation

Jared said...

This comment section reads like a Stalinist history book...

anonymous anonymous said...

Ha! And like Stalinist history, hysterion's comments vanished overnight.

Blake said...

#108 which is WAY better than #1!

BTW, thanks for the advice on the cupcake diet! I'm starting it tomorrow!

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Appropriate words repeated do not lose their splendor.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Amerika.

Barry Graham said...

Deleted comments are full of wonder.

anonymous anonymous said...

Yeah, The guy who deleted them is full of something too.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

Oh, this explains why I'm suddenly getting lots of hits on that post about Brad, HHDL and "God" (Brad Warner vs. the Dalai Lama). That post actually has quite a bit to do with Brad and His Holiness, as well as ex-Buddhist turned arch-conservative Roman Catholic Paul Williams, fifth century Chinese Buddhist scholar Tao-Sheng, King Asoka, the Bhagavad Gita, Anagarika Dharmapala, etc.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

"Anyway, yeah, the whole idea of cribbing from Zen without really understanding what it is and hiding the source of your inspiration lest it scare away paying customers irks me. And I'll admit it, one of the reasons it bugs me is because I can't do it myself and therefore I make way less money than the people who do. It would feel far too dishonest. Whatever minor insights I have come through Zen Buddhist practice. If I were to deny that I'd be cheating."

I think this one point is the key to understanding what is good and what is bad in Western "alternative" spirituality. On the one hand, there are those who acknowledge the sources that they draw upon, and who thereby run the risk of "scaring away customers". On the other hand you have those who repackage Buddhist, Hindu and other ancient teachings, but who refuse to list the ingredients on the package.

Long before he hooked up with Genpo, Ken Wilber made a very nice career for himself ripping off the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, dumbing them down, and calling them his own. meh.

Anonymous said...

Eisho said

This is "Big Mind" folks same as Genpo...NO difference at all... both beautiful descriptions.

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.

No difference? said...

THAT'S "Big Mind"? Cheers Brad. You saved me a lot of time and money on courses and dvds.

disfrutar del sexo said...

I think everybody should glance at this.