Wednesday, December 01, 2010

PODCAST, OFTEN AWESOME, URBAN ZEN and PROPER POSTURE (yet again)


First up the Hardcore Zen Podcast has recently been updated. It's all about SEX! So go have a listen.

I'm also now up on another podcast: Dr. Dick's Sex Advice.

Secondly, now that the Christmas season is here, I wanted to once again direct your attention to Often Awesome, the group of friends of mine who have joined together to help their friend Tim LaFollette in his battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's a damn shame to live in a country where the only way a guy like this can get the help he needs is by begging from strangers. But that's the U.S. of A. for you. Don't get me started... Just donate something!

Back to questions from readers. I don't have a specific email for my first question. It's just something that keeps coming up especially now that I have moved to New York City. The question goes something like this: How can I practice in an urban setting with all the noise and hassle and speed and distractions?

I was just reading Shohaku Okumura's Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo last night and came across the answer. Okumura cites the old Japanese folk tale about the rabbit in the moon. The story, which I have cut and pasted from this website, goes like this:

"The Old-Man-of-the-Moon one day looked down into a big forest on Earth and saw three friends sitting together around a fire. These three were a rabbit, a monkey and a fox. Amazed at seeing a group of friends like this, he went down to Earth and changed himself into a beggar. He told the three friends that he was very hungry. On hearing this they all ran of to find him some food. The monkey brought back a lot of fruit to the man and the fox brought back a big fish. However, the rabbit was unable to find any food for the man, and so asked the monkey to gather some firewood and the fox to build a big fire with the wood. Once the fire was burning very brightly, the rabbit explained to the beggar that he didn't have anything to give him, so he would put himself in the fire and when he was cooked the beggar could eat him. Just before the rabbit jumped into the fire the beggar turned back into the Old-Man-of-the-Moon and told the rabbit that he was very kind, and that he shouldn't do anything to harm himself. Because he decided that the rabbit is the kindest of the three, he took him back to the moon to live with him."

Okumura writes that as a young Buddhist monk he often felt like that rabbit. He was ordained at 21 and began living off the donations of others. He says that as a result he never developed any skills that would allow him to have a regular job. He often felt guilty about receiving donations from people who did "real work" when he could offer nothing in return. All he could offer was his practice. He says, "I tried to practice zazen as if I was offering my body and mind to all Buddhas." And, of course, by "all Buddhas" he means everyone.

In New York City people like to blow their horns. It's not quite as bad as Cairo or Jerusalem because you can actually get fined for unnecessary use of your horn here. Although I doubt if anyone ever really is fined for that. In any case, whenever I hear some asshole honking his horn for no good reason* I recall that I am doing my practice for him. I am training myself to be better able not to add to the stress and frustration that causes guys like that to have to lash out at others. Every little bit helps.

TODAY'S FIRST EMAIL QUESTION:
A really awesome friend of mine is typing up this question for me because I am in prison right now. In your book “Sit Down and Shut Up” you said Dogen says not to study Buddism without a teacher. But what about when you’re in a place without a teacher? I’ve read all of your books more than once. I’ve read books by Gudo Nishijima, Dogen, et cetera. I lend time to zazen everyday. What else can (or should) I do? Is there anyway to study Buddhism without a teacher?

MY ANSWER:
I get a lot of "how can I study Buddhism when I'm so far away from a teacher woah is me" type questions. And I'm not incredibly sympathetic because I managed to find a great teacher in Kent, Ohio in 1983, a time and a place where there should not have been anyone to teach me Zen. I'm aware of magnificent teachers in such far flung places as Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Helsinki, Finland. There are amazing teachers all over the damn place of only you take a look. A lot of people who ask this question are either too lazy to look around or too fussy about finding a teacher who fits exactly their preconceived notions. If I had waited for a teacher who fit my ideals about a teacher I would never have studied with Tim McCarthy or Gudo Nishijima.

But some people, like the guy who wrote me, really are in positions where a teacher is absolutely not available. To them I say, just continue your practice. There are points in practice where you genuinely have to have an outside opinion. I often cite the story of Shoko Asahara, the dick-wad who decided he was Enlightened and that this meant it was OK to jump start the Apocalypse by putting poison gas on the Tokyo subways as an example of what can happen when you try to teach yourself to meditate.

That's a very extreme case. You probably won't do something like that. I hope. Most likely your zazen will be sort of boring and maybe a little confusing. You might feel like giving up sometimes. But you'll be OK. Wait it out a little and you will probably find yourself in proximity to a teacher at just the moment you truly need to be. I really believe in the old cliche that "when the student is ready the teacher appears."

Guys who try to solve the problem of students who feel they need a teacher RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE by being available too easily are probably not doing anyone any great favors. The difficulty involved in finding a teacher is often part of the process that makes you ready when you do finally find one.

As fro what you can do besides zazen and reading... I don't know. That's all I've ever really done for my practice apart from talking to my teachers. Joshu Sasaki said to read lots of good books. I've always liked that advice. I made my own webpage of Zen books I think don't suck.

SECOND EMAIL QUESTION:
I have been reading your excellent book Sit Down and Shut Up and I have a question about the chapter 'Proper Posture Required.' It is not clear from the way the chapter is written the extent to which you think Zazen is possible in other positions. Whilst I have been taught that posture is very important, I have also been taught that it is possible to practice Zazen whilst kneeling on a bench, sitting on a chair, walking and even lying down, as long as the zazener is paying proper attention to their posture. I do not current possess the flexibility to practice in the iconic lotus positions, so I use a meditation bench. Do you think my meditation practice is completely shot as a result? Because I don't! However, I do not currently have a ready-made Sangha to visit to ask questions!

MY ANSWER:
As I've often said, the posture in zazen is not arbitrary. It is part of the practice. No decent Yoga teacher would let a normal healthy person sit in a chair and bend forward a little then tell them they were doing the Downward Facing Dog pose just like the rest of the class. But if that Yoga teacher saw that sitting in a chair bending forward a little was the best approximation a certain person could do of Downward Facing Dog, she'd do her best to help that person in the hopes that maybe with a bit of work she could do the posture correctly someday.

I think Zen teachers who tell students that sitting in chairs, on benches or even lying on the floor are the same as sitting cross-legged on a cushion are not doing their students any great favors. Yes I KNOW that the full lotus posture is a bitch. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THE FULL LOTUS POSTURE! I don't know why every time I say anything about "right posture" a million commenters immediately assume I mean full lotus and get all red-faced and angry about it. I have always been very clear on this. Even Dogen doesn't insist on full lotus and he's about as hard-line on matters of posture as anyone you'd ever want to encounter.

But unless you really, truly, no bullshit, absolutely cannot sit cross legged on a cushion in any way shape or form then you really have to sit cross-legged on a cushion to do zazen correctly. Here's Gudo Nishijima explaining how to do it.

Your meditation practice is NOT completely shot because you do it on a bench. Do I need to say that again? Maybe I do because so many people seem to miss it when I make statements like that. So here goes:

Your meditation practice is NOT completely shot because you do it on a bench.

Those kneeling benches come kinda sorta close to getting you into a decent zazen posture. But it's still not the same. I would keep working on my flexibility. Try some Yoga classes. They're good for you! You might meet some cute people there too! Then after a while you can put away the bench until such time as you're old and arthritic and can't do the posture anymore. Then when you actually really do need the bench, pull it out again and use it.




* And I do mean "assholes honking for no good reason." I got honked at once here during the 1.7 seconds it took to shift my car from neutral to first gear. I also heard another guy get honked at because he failed to run over me when I was crossing the street in front of the guy who was in front of him (I had a walk signal too, by the way, as if that would even make a difference).

172 comments:

Airy said...

Doh!

john e mumbles said...

Adjunct to your answer to the first question, here is a link to Fleet Maul's Prison Dharma Network:

http://www.prisondharmanetwork.net/

Through my work with the homeless, we are trying to employ the Second Chance Act reentry program locally to help inmates find and use various resources coming back into the community.

Anonymous said...

3 :(

merciless said...

NYC? Why in the hell would you move to that expensive shit-hole?

Mumon said...

Dogen's Shobogenzo needed a key?

It was locked?

I think Zen teachers who tell students that sitting in chairs, on benches or even lying on the floor are the same as sitting cross-legged on a cushion are not doing their students any great favors. Yes I KNOW that the full lotus posture is a bitch. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO THE FULL LOTUS POSTURE!

It's a lot like learning to swim...

Anonymous said...

I think I will never understand the "first post" impulse. It's beyond me why anyone would ever think there's any value in getting your name at the top of a list of comments. Especially if you don't contribute anything interesting to the discussion.

anon #108 said...

Here's a thing:

One of the more frequent Sanskrit words for the Moon is shashin, 'containing a hare'. Shasha means 'hare', 'rabbit' (or antelope - another leaping, bounding thing). Here's more about it:

The Moon Rabbit

proulx michel said...

Well, I'm in no way young (62) and I've always been kind of stiff (both mentally and physically) and I nonetheless managed to be able to sit in half lotus. For some time I could full lotus but overstretched myself. And I did that all by myself with the yoga exercises I indcated on my site (zenmontpellier.site.voila.fr), so why not try them before whining that you can't...

As for Dogen's Shobogenzo, some French nitwit (with a title) declared recently in a Zen temple : "Dogen is important, but, as no one can understand him, it's not worth the trouble reading him"...

captcha: "ativica"

Witraven said...

I am arthritic! but I still like to sit sitting - easier on my knees

Hare said...

Anon said, "I think I will never understand the "first post" impulse. It's beyond me why anyone would ever think there's any value in getting your name at the top of a list of comments. Especially if you don't contribute anything interesting to the discussion."

Do I detect a jealous tone in this post? I think I might. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bradley,

while talking about zazen, I had this idea a few days ago about how to explain zazen maybe in a good to understand way:

During Zazen, we more and more get involved and busy with the actual physical sensations of the body instead of being busy with thoughts. In other words the energy usually focused on keeping thoughts running now gets more and more absorbed by the body, a more primitive state.

What do you think?

Danny

Dirty Sanchez said...

I remember the first time I sought Zazen instruction I had recently injured my knee and could not bend it very much at all. Fortunately, the teacher was very understanding and she directed me to a chair. She told me to sit on the very edge of it with a straight back. After my knee healed I was able to sit in the lotus position without much difficulty. The nice thing was that sitting lotus turned out to be very beneficial for my knees. If Zazen is not good for anything else, at least it is very good for the knees. Just don't force it.

Anonymous said...

... never understand the "first post" impulse

It's like pissing your name in freshly fallen snow.

Harry said...

Hi,

I have developed a fourfold theory to help modern Western people unravel the meaning hidden within first posts. I'll publish it soon. Please do not discount them just because they do not currently make sense to you.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous Betty said...

It's like pissing your name in freshly fallen snow.

I've never gotten the hang of that!!

CAPTCHA : guism : I kid you not

Glen said...

With regards to the 'needing or finding a teacher' i agree with Brad. I think zen/Buddhism can be confusing, and i have been very confused a lot of times about my teachers and sangha. I even sent Brad an email about this and he didn't reply. Im actually glad he didn't reply, I just need to grow up more.

With regards posture, i think where i practice at they may be a little too 'easy' on posture. But many folk who start up the practice there seem over middle age and they are well past sitting on the floor. keeping an upright and 'grounded' posture, even on a chair is stressed though.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

Brad, just remap the significance of the honking sound. It's another way to say "I love ya buddy :)" If you turn around and see an angry face looking at you, well, that's just another secret love sign. Give one right back!

captcha: stifi

Anonymous said...

I have a nice proof of Harry's fourfold theory, but it doesn't fit in the margin.

Mumon said...

proulx michel

Funny, I always thought Dogen was completely linear compared to the Hekiganroku.

Harry said...

Hey, Brad.

You didn't tell us about this:

Check out what appears to be a twist on BigMind(TM) from **a Dharma Brother of yours**... I actually do not want to start a fight or anything (as long as the guy is happy and isn't making too much of a mess of things... or screwing people up or anything), but it makes minding my own business, looking after my own 'house' let's say, seem a little more sensible:

http://www.nissimamon.com/english/e-trilo.html

'Trilotherapy', eh, sounds catchy:

"Zen Master Nissim Amon has developed an exciting and innovative therapeutic system known as Trilotherapy. Its purpose is to create and to maintain good health as well as harmony between “mind” and “emotion. Trilotherapy is based on a combination of western psychology, incorporating elements of Gestalt, along with a great emphasis on the training methods of Zen Buddhism which Nissim studied for more than seven years in South Korea and Japan."

"...What I've learned in the east I bring to the west, the enlightenment that is spoken of in the far east if awakening of the inner parent, so it will lead correctly the two inner children: the Mind and the Emotion. It's easy to learn, and whoever practice it discover the secret of inner happiness..."

"...Nissim Amon was born in 1963 in Jerusalem.

He was ordained in Korea by Zen-Master Soeng-Sahn at the Hwa-Gey-Sa Monastery, with the designation of monk and Meditation Teacher.

Later he traveled to Japan, and studied with G.W. Nishijima, a Soto Zen-Master, from which he received a Dharma Transmission and got his Zen-Master title."


Dogen Sangha's answer to BigMind(TM)?... never a dull moment round here :-))

Regards,

Harry.

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

..."And suddenly appears happiness, which was there all along but didn't manage to come out. Inside the onion a diamond is hidden. If we only pealed the onion, a great light will emerge, a wondrous magic which is hidden within each and every one of us."

How much, how much... I wants it!?

H.

Anonymous said...

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK! HONK! HONK!

Hah, gotcha didn't I?

Sometimes I wonder if people saying to turn the other cheek are just rationalizing their lack of will to a proper response which is to go over and drag motor-head out of their car for a progressive conversation.

I once heard there are two types, those who can truly forgive and those who can't. It is important to know which category you belong to because if you belong to the latter and live as if in the former you'll go nuts and explode.

Anonymous said...

Is Nissan Altima our very own HCZ Ran? Hmmm I wonder..

Ichabod said...

I think I will never understand the "worry about the 'first post' impulse" impulse. It's beyond me why anyone would ever think there's any value in complaining about people doing something silly for fun. Especially if you don't contribute anything interesting to the discussion.

Ichabod said...

Now, in an attempt to contribute something interesting to the discussion, I will note that I also don't understand the problem people have with urban meditation. If I'm just sitting, how is it not possible to just sit in my condo, or a city park? I love those guys who are honking their horns. I'm off in lala land thinking about the hot lady at work who just got divorced, and all of a sudden some guy thoughtfully honks his horn to remind me to pay attention to reality. People ask me if it distracts me. How can reality distract me from reality? I just don't get going out in the woods and meditating in the rain (or even in a monastery, like at the better retreats). I mean, I'm trying to bring my practice into my life. Going out in the woods seems like running away from my life. I don't live in the woods. I live in a building, on a bus, on the train, on the street, in an office. That's where I try to bring my practice.

Mysterion said...
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Ken Show said...

It is good to meet for zazen and tea.

Hare said...

Brad, I'm loving that Issac Hayes butterscotch leather jacket on the Dr. Dick site.. Very NYC c1973

Nada said...

I don't know any soto zen teachers in Finland... do you? There's a bunch of diligent practioners and monks who are practising under the guidance of Peter Rocca but none of them are teachers.

Actually I'm afraid there are no buddhist teachers at all in this country.

So, Brad, if you know any buddhist teachers in Finland, please let me know! :)

Uku said...

Nada wrote

I don't know any soto zen teachers in Finland... do you? There's a bunch of diligent practioners and monks who are practising under the guidance of Peter Rocca but none of them are teachers.

Actually I'm afraid there are no buddhist teachers at all in this country.

So, Brad, if you know any buddhist teachers in Finland, please let me know! :)


Yes, you're right. In Finland we don't have Zen teachers at all (Tibetan Buddhist teachers we have though). But we have four Soto Zen instructors and many instructors in Philip Kapleau's lineage. They're all instructing and guiding several practitioners under the guidance of their teachers. So you have a possibility to receive "official" teaching if you want, either in Soto or in Sanbo Kyodan. Actually we have a pretty good situation in Finland.

OsamaVanHalen said...

I've been sitting half-lotus for about 4 years. My right knee has been aching recently so I would skip 2 or 3 days to rest it and then resume daily sitting when it felt better. 4 days ago, about 3 hours after sitting, I was getting up from the floor after doing push-ups and I felt and heard my right knee pop. After that it hurt if I twisted my knee or bent it side to side. I had to walk very carefully. I had to sleep on my back for 3 nights because it hurt when I laid on either side. It feels better today so I don't think that I will need surgery. My point is this: Fuck painful, contrived, esoteric, mystical body positions. Fuck them in the ass until they die. And what the hell is that ridiculous "universal mudra" supposed to accomplish? It looks like superstitious Hindu bullshit to me. I'm through with zazen. I plan on doing something more useful with my time. Maybe I'll polish tiles until they are mirrors.

Harry said...

Hi Osama,

You know better than anyone that sitting cross-legged before your hips are flexible enough passes the twist onto your knee and that this damages it over time (cos the knee is just a simple hinge... it don't do twist/rotation so good).

I've had similar problems, although not as bad as yours by the sounds of it.

I was also stretching the hips from from cold (yoga poses), and this only put more pressure on the knee... that and I was pushing my legs further than they wanted to go in sitting lotus poses.

I eased off for a while (sat in 'quarter' or 'half-assed' lotus on my looser/'good' side), and have started doing a good dynamic warm-up exercise for a few mins before I do gentle stretches pre sitting.

This is the exercise:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1orYPvgtuEc

Start off gently and, as you warm up, you can twist into the hips more on either side. When you're nicely warmed up you can then widen the stance a bit to open the hips more and target the inner thigh (ooooooh, Matron!)

The foam roller, done regularly, is also good for loosening up and rooting out tight spots in the legs/thighs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJLxruO3su0

... can hurt like hell for the first while tho.

Works for me anyway.

Regards,

H.

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

The point is to just sit - on a surface that does not make your ass ache - quietly with a straight back.

Not just with a straight back, Mysti. It's very possible to sit with a straight back (plus "natural curves") but with all sorts of harmful tension and stiffness.

I'm no doctor but...However you're sitting, whether cross-legged on the floor or (if you have to) on a chair, I suggest putting a cushion or three under your bum, raising it above the level of your knees. I've just tried it and makes a big difference - in the same way a right-height zafu does in lotus. If sitting on a chair plus cushions, why not cross your legs/feet in front of you as they rest on the floor (none of the chair-zen illustrations I've seen show that)? It felt better to me than the "sit up straight at the dining table" thing chair-sitting often looks/must feel like.


Sorry to hear about your sports injury, osama -

Re the mudra - You gotta do something with your hands... I like how it feels to have them lightly resting on my belly in that oval shape. If you don't, do WETF you like. Nothing bad will happen... (tee hee)

Manny Furious said...

Posture, posture, posture. Zazen, zazen, zazen.

Zen existed for 700 years before Dogen made a religion out of sitting. I still feel as if by emphasizing these things, contemporary Zen(Soto, at least)creates an unnecessary dualism.

But if it works for you, all the better.

Nada said...

Uku, I know. I was just being a smart-ass, 'cause Brad said:

"I'm aware of magnificent _teachers_ in such far flung places as Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Helsinki, Finland."

It's not that easy to find a teacher from a place where's no teachers. Those instructors are all right I'm sure, but they are not teachers. ;)

anon #108 said...

...Dogen made a religion out of sitting.

Me, I blame Bodhidharma. ...Oh and Siddhartha Gotama.

Anonymous Bob said...

When I first started sitting I interlaced my lower fingers while lightly touching thumbs. Later I switched to the mudra because it was what everyone else did. I still like my fingers interlaced more, it's stable, symmetrical, locked in.. but, it was heresy.

Anonymous said...

as long as you were mindful of your tongue...

OsamaVanHalen said...

This was my satori: believing in magical poses is just as ridiculous as believing in magical words and a magical invisible sky-daddy. Magical thinking is magical thinking no matter how you rationalize it and full or half lotus combined with the universal mudra is a magical pose. You can't rationalize a magical pose by comparing it to playing tennis or bowling and saying that you have to do it the way that the "professionals" or the "experts" do it. That is a false analogy. You can't rationalize a magical pose by saying "it works for me" because there are plenty of people who believe that saying magical words to their magical invisible sky-daddy brings miraculous results. Happy Fucking Hanukkah.

robjones said...

NY is as good a place to practice as any other. It's a great place, actually. I did my first 7 day seshins at the Ch'an Center in Elmhurst Queens... an interesting place to try and go to sleep at 10pm on New Year's eve... the neighbors will still 'celebrating' when the morning boards sounded at 4am. Now Dharma Drum does their retreats at Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, NY http://www.dharmadrumretreat.org/, but those first retreats in Queens will always be very special. The Ch'an Meditation Center is still there though, and is a great resource for those in the area http://www.chan1.org/cmc/cmc.html

Moon Face Buddha said...

"But unless you really, truly, no bullshit, absolutely cannot sit cross legged on a cushion in any way shape or form then you really have to sit cross-legged on a cushion to do zazen correctly."

LOL. Brad, still banging this drum...just let it go and move on :)

The cook monk Dairyo, at Bankei's monastery, decided that he would take good care of his old teacher's health and give him only fresh miso, a paste of soy beans mixed with wheat and yeast that often ferments. Bankei, noticing that he was being served better miso than his pupils, asked: "Who is the cook today?"

Dairyo was sent before him. Bankei learned that according to his age and position he should eat only fresh miso. So he said to the cook: "Then you think I shouldn't eat at all." With this he entered his room and locked the door.

Dairyo, sitting outside the door, asked his teacher's pardon. Bankei would not answer. For seven days Dairyo sat outside and Bankei within.

Finally in desperation an adherent called loudly to Bankei: "You may be all right, old teacher, but this young disciple here has to eat. He cannot go without food forever!"

At that Bankei opened the door. He was smiling. He told Dairyo: "I insist on eating the same food as the least of my followers. Whe you become the teacher I do not want you to forget this."

Uku said...

Anon #108 wrote

...Dogen made a religion out of sitting.

Me, I blame Bodhidharma. ...Oh and Siddhartha Gotama.


I blame Gautama Buddha's father. He kept his son isolated from the real world so it shouldn't be a surprise if a 29 years old dude wants to see life outside of the walls. I also blame Gautama's mother because she gave a birth from her side. Come on, why couldn't she be normal and burst little Buddha from his ass like other women. It's shouldn't be a surprise that their son became a wacko and decided to seek somekind of liberation. Crazy people!

And oh, scholars and academics (for example Ilkka Pyysiäinen has wrote about this) have evidences to prove that a name Siddhartha was just pure imagination. Gautama (Gotama) might be real but Siddhartha is just fairytale. And they are not sure when he even lived or died. But who cares, he's dead anyway.

Captcha: blark

Anon #108 (it's me, signed out for a while) said...

Hi Osama,

If, whether from experience or by faith, you believe that simply being still and quiet is a useful thing to, then you have to find a suitable, comfortable way to do it.

Walking?
Standing?
Sitting?
Lying?

Sitting sounds good. Unlike lying down, there's less chance of falling asleep. Unlike standing up...and so forth.(Walking's good, but you need space - and it's different, busier. Oh yeah - kinhin).

So if your going to sit, how are you gonna sit to maximise your chances of staying still and quiet for a while? Cross-legged on the floor, on a cushion is, for most people, a comfortable, effective way to arrange your body to minimise stress and 'distractions'; you can be relaxed and alert; once you've 'got it' it feels real good...

Bla Bla bla...you know all this. It's nothing to do with "magic". Sure, the posture has got fetishised; become iconic. That doesn't need to be your problem.

You hate it right now?
It works for me ;)

But I am interested in any alternatives you come up with. Truly. I'll try em.

Happy Hanukkah to you too, mush :)

gniz said...

Honest question--what would all you practitioners of zen do if you found that the posture of lotus is not necessary at all?

Uku said...

Gniz wrote

Honest question--what would all you practitioners of zen do if you found that the posture of lotus is not necessary at all?

That is a pretty absurd question. I sit in lotus postures (half-ass, 1/4, Burmese) because they are really good postures to sit. So I don't see a situation where they would become unnecessary. I have sat in those postures for years (I sat zazen first time at 1996) so I don't see why I would change. I shit in a certain way because it feels natural, I sit in a certain way because it feels natural.

Anon #108 said...

Tis a strange enquiry, G...Begs the question "necessary for what?"

I guess you mean *...necessary in order to do 'just sitting'* ? ('Zen' doesn't mean much without the sitting).

I'd still sit the same way. It's the best way. I'm hooked.

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

re; OsamaVanHalen at 11:36 AM
Human beings seem hardwired to believe in anything, the evidence is obvious: various religions, cults, sectarian groups, independent views; in fact it seems that now, more than ever, everyone has a voice, an opinion, a will and a wish to be heard and respected for their unique perspective. So you can believe anything you want. This is extraordinary freedom, to choose exactly what you want to believe, without someone coercing you to do so. A guilt-free proposition. Of course most want some direction, some tried and true methodology. They want and allow others to tell them what to believe. But at the heart of it, everyone has the human potential to believe what they want for whatever reason they choose.

But, what to believe in? Now you understand that it is your choice, and yours alone, so what will it be? Will you believe that the world is flat or round, egg shaped, or square, that God exists, that God doesn’t exist, and so on? Its entirely up to you. And once you have invested yourself totally in this or that belief system, and perhaps find that you have to defend it, over time will you change your mind and reject it outright? Well, that is your decision, too.

The sorcerer/artist Austin Osman Spare in one of his arcane works suggested that one should “believe not to believe.” What does that mean? It is certainly a choice, but why the double-talk? Is it a linguistic trick ala Derrida, a way to leap beyond language into some hitherto unknown “belief-non-belief?” Well, sorta. The way I see it, believing not to believe sets up a dynamic where you distance yourself from the process of believing by believing it will work to do that.

An example:
On the level of comprehending that, well, gee, I am human, I could honestly believe anything to be true and it will be for me, then anything I believe has a common value. Everything is true. It’s the logical, positive extension of Hassan ‘i-Sabbah, the Old Man of the Mountain’s alleged “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” Rather, to believe in belief completely, then everything is true, and permitted to be that way. But like an arrow flying into endless space, this is only a one-sided argument. It is black without white or the other way around.

Like Hasan’s statement, Spare’s “believe not to believe” contains the necessary negative. Because not everything is true, not everything is believable. Both are relative concepts. They apply to a phantasmagoria of conditions that surround events. They give both solid ground to stand upon and room to expand into infinity. They start somewhere and end nowhere. So looking at it this way, it mirrors the fundamental human experience of knowing but not knowing: here you are, occupying space in time, and anything can happen. You believe this is possible, starting from this ground, but you can not believe that it will go anywhere ultimately solid, with definite meaning or ultimate consequence. While the present is assured in believing, at least for the time being, the future in not believing remains wide open.

Mysterion said...

"One important reason why we in Shaolin can have very good results within a short time is because we enter Zen — also known as Tao in Taijiquan or chi kung state of mind... This is followed by generating energy flow. These two essential skills make every practice in our Shaolin a training of mind and energy." source

P.S. A fractured hip in youthful training results in painful Zazen (PDF) when age advances quickly.
-35 pounds - and 2 years of Tai Chi - later, I sit 1/2 lotus in relative ease.

I advocate accommodation - a chair is fine, a bench is fine, a big zafu is fine.

"Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound."

Anonymous said...

I like gniz's honest question.

When argumentation flows from beliefs to evidence and not from evidence to beliefs as in rational scientific thinking, you have a religion. In this sense, the Buddhism many people propose is certainly a religion.

For Westerners, sitting in a chair is definitely more natural than sitting in the lotus posture. Period. Until I see concrete, thorough, peer-reviewed scientific data that the latter is essientially better for years of practice I will not accept a naïve pro-lotus hypothesis.

Let's face it: human back is a colossal evolutionary mistake. There is no natural, healthy or "Buddha" way to hold upright spine that was never intended for walking with two feet. My back sucks both in lotus posture when I am doing zazen and on a chair when I am doing my work. Why? I am homo sapiens.

I personally use the half lotus posture for zazen. But why be so arrogant as to claim - without proper scientific evidence - that sitting in a chair couldn't be a very decent posture as well.

Anonymous said...

Gniz, That is beginner's question.

Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that to you. :)

Santa said...

Blessed is the engine that overheats

anon #108 said...

For Westerners, sitting in a chair is definitely more natural than sitting in the lotus posture. Period.

So it's cultural?

Check the bottom of page 219 of THIS BOOK, Ancient India By R.C. Majumdar. The link should take you straight to the page.

(recent anonymous Anon #108s are me)

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

I haven't sat zazen in a chair much, but when I have it has felt like my pelvis isn't allowed to fall forward as much as sitting cross legged on the edge of a zafu. I'm sure that some accommodation could be found though if I had to do it.

I think this would be an interesting chair to try sitting in:

http://www.abledata.com/product_images/images/05A0442.JPG

... allows for the natural curve in the back more.

Dogen, when questioned as to why sitting is so shit-hot in Bendowa, really just says that, besides being the choice method of the buddhas & ancestors, the sitting posture is the most peaceful and joyful method (compared to standing where we might get tired and fall over, or lying where we might be inclined to fall asleep for e.g.)... clearly, if it isn't generally more joyful and peaceful for us and our condition then that practicality isn't that... practical. The macho 'you must sit in Lotus to really be doing zazen' shit is really contrary to the practical point that Dogen is making I think. And, of course, we can change our condition to help make sitting (in whatever way) more 'joyful and peaceful'... or, as OsamaVanMan pointed out, we can injure ourselves in working against our condition... it doesn't seem to be one-size-fits-every-buddha by any means.


[40] [Someone] asks, “Why, in discussing entry into the state of experience, do Buddhists recommend us to practice the balanced state of dhyāna solely by sitting, which is [only] one of the four forms of conduct?”

I say: It is difficult to calculate all the ways that buddhas have successively
practiced since ancient times to enter the state of real experience. If we want to find a reason, we should remember that what Buddhists practice is reason in itself. We should not look for [a reason] besides this. But an ancestral master has praised [sitting] by saying, “Sitting in zazen is the peaceful
and joyful gate of Dharma.” So in conclusion the reason may be that, of the four forms of conduct, [sitting is the most] peaceful and joyful. Furthermore,[sitting] is not the way practiced by one or two buddhas; all the buddhas and all the patriarchs possess this way.[Nish./Cross trans.]

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

p.s.

This is the sort of chair I mean that I'd like to try:

http://salestores.com/office275.html

Hare said...

Harry, It looks a bit like a tractor seat.

Stands on his head said...

Didn't Gautama lean/sit back on the bodhi tree for support? Otherwise, why sit under/by/near a tree at all?

Harry said...

Indeed. There's ones that seem better designed than that particular model, Hare. I'll see if I can sneak a bit of z-time in my neighbour's tractor and get back to you.

H.

anon #108 said...

Do your legs and arms get fidgety/seek for things to get hold of and do if they're left to their own own devices - the way mine do? It's the job of the limbs to move and do stuff, isn't it?

One very important aspect of sitting cross-legged on the floor is that your legs are "suppressed" (as I think Gudo's called it). Holding your hands together in front of you has a similar effect. I guess sitting that way sends messages to the brain that you're doing nothing/going nowhere; it feels like that to me. And you're firmly planted as close to the ground, to the source of gravity (doesn't have a source, does it?) as you can get, short of lying down. Those things make a difference - surely - to your psycho-physical state. If you don't like that difference, or can't do it, or don't think it matters, or prefer another way of doing whatever it is you wanna do, then do the other thing.

What is the problem here?

Anonymous said...

Otherwise, why sit under/by/near a tree at all?

shade

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Stands on his head said...
"Didn't Gautama lean/sit back on the bodhi tree for support? Otherwise, why sit under/by/near a tree at all?"

No, Gautama did not lean against the tree. The canopy of leaves protected him from sun and rain - the vicissitudes of the weather.

Shits in his hand said...

Oh, were you there, Mysterion? You're older than I thought.

anonymous anonymous said...

anonymous shits in his hand: Respect your elders. hysterion says less with more. It is his modus operandi.

Mysterion said...

I was not one of the eye witnesses but there were folks around, a village nearby and the archaeology lines up reasonably well with the myths (PDF) and folklore.

As far as you are concerned, the tree might have not yet been a tree. It could have been a seedling.

"Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound."

balances on his d... said...

Think about the last time you sat under a tree. Did you do it for the shade (possibly), or to get out of the rain (unlikely, pretty poor cover)? Did you lean against it? I bet you did.

anonymous synonymous said...

Jesus Mysterion, you are usually such a skeptical myth-buster. Somebody hit your Buddha-nerve?

OsamaVanHalen said...

What is the best pose for seeing?
What is the best pose for hearing?
What is the best pose for smelling?
What is the best pose for tasting?
What is the best pose for touching?
What is the best pose for being?
Which ancient scripture supports your answers?

Manny Furious said...

"Me, I blame Bodhidharma. ...Oh and Siddhartha Gotama."

Bodhidharma probably (Hui Neng for sure) freed the concept of meditation from the meditation cushion. Try reading some original Zen texts. The whole point of calling the sect "Zen" wasn't because it advocated sitting down for hours at a time (though it wasn't necessarily against it). It was called Zen because anything could be a form of meditation. As Lin-chi said, "all there is to do is eat your food, empty your bowels and sleep" (not an exact quote).

There is certainly a place for seated meditation, just as dogs and cats like to lie around doing nothing. I just can believe that doing it by itself, in very particular poses, is the only way to practice whatever this "Zen" is.

As for "Siddharta Gotama", zazen was certainly taught as a skillful means. But let's not imagine that his awakening came while in the midst of a zazen sesshin. His awakening came when he gazed upon a star.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous OsamaVanHalen said...
"What is the best pose...?"

On the back of a turtle.

"Now, there’s a famous parable, the ‘Tower of Turtles’... Stephen Hawking recounts... the lecturer is talking about the nature of the universe, and a woman stands up at the back and interrupts... and she says, you might be very clever, but I know how the world is put together, and the lecturer says, well, do tell us, and she says, well, the earth is standing on the back of an elephant, standing on the back of a turtle, and the lecturer replies, well, what’s the turtle standing on, and the woman says, oh, you can’t trick me, it’s turtles all the way down." source

capcha = raichen

Harry said...

Here's a timeless little gem from a crusty old text about not bullshitting ourselves, for latter day Sotoist Zen Sitterists and Anti-zen Cultural Revolutionists alike:

"Even if some physically understand sitting to be the Buddha-Dharma, none has realized sitting as sitting. How then can any be maintaining and relying upon the Buddha-Dharma as the Buddha-Dharma?" (Shobogenzo Zanmai-o-Zanmai)

Too many marvelous half-assed viewpoints and ideas and not enough of us with the peas to break those ass bones and suck this sometimes bitter marrow out! mmmmmmmm... ;-))

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

Zen (fist) is an analogy. It alludes to the force or focus of the force. In Zen Buddhism, one gains control over the the very Nature of Consciousness.

a long long long time ago - in the middle of the last century...

This poem started me thinking in rather different ways than the Xtian overloads envisioned.

Anonymous said...

fucked

up the ass

anonymous anonymous said...

"In Zen Buddhism, one gains control over the the very Nature of Consciousness."

It can happen to you too someday hysterion. Don't give up.

anon #108 said...

Hi Manny,

Try reading some original zen texts

How do you know what I have and haven't read? You sure know how to hurt a guy.

Are your comments @ 5.38pm addressed to me? Or perhaps my very brief, inconsequential, slightly flippant reply was merely a springboard for some ideas of your own.

john e mumbles said...

The website for Sophia Perennis, the publisher of my book Al-Kimia (look under Islam), has been updated with discussion forums. Check it out here:

www.sophiaperennis.com

Zen Fistula said...

The Xtian overlords are coming!! Here come the Xtian UFO's!! Run everybody!!! Somebody help Mysterion out of his medication chair!!! RUN!!

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

Blimey, John!

I might snap up a copy if I thought there was the remotest chance of me reading it. Impressed though :)

ἡ καθολικὴ ἒκκλησία said...

The Xtian overloads are already here.

anon #108 said...

..Fascinating site, John. Bookmarked.

Anonymous said...

ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Zen Fistfocker said...

ἡ καθολικὴ ἒκκλησία at 6:45: my bad, I meant "overloads." Good eye for detail.

john e mumbles said...

Thanks Malcolm, www.sophiaperennis.com is a nice site. I think you would enjoy my book. It includes an extensive glossary of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish transliterated Sufi terms. Like yourself, when I studied and practiced Sufism, much as you have with Zen -as far as I can tell by this blog- I learned different languages in order to read al-Qu'ran and other related books (mainly Sufi poetry, but also major works by Ibn 'Arabi and al-Jami, and many others) in the original. I noticed that most of the translations used transliterations of technical terms and grew frustrated with the variations and loose interpretations of the original meanings of the words. So I compiled the glossary in Al-Kimia so that potential students would have a guide to a better overall understanding of the translations.

Mysterion said...

Xtian philosophy - like most belief systems and other mental illnesses - holds the perspective of ultimate (e.g. maximum) truth as a premise. It is without any firm foundation, but that concept has no meaning to them. The whole "dying-rising god" was borrowed from earlier Greek and Egyptian religions - Dionysus, Attis, Hades, Adonis, Osiris, and others.

Thus, when approached by a Xtian, I fart as loud and as long as I have the means within me to do so - regardless of the venue. It is a tradition started by Benjamin Franklin which we all should emulate in our older years. We are, after all, indebted to our founding fathers over here in America.

Besides, the Judeo-Xtian God is the ULTIMATE baby killer and abortionist!

I have no time for Xtians - other than the brief time it takes to fart.

anonymous anonymous said...

"Thus, when approached by a Xtian, I fart as loud and as long as I have the means within me to do so - regardless of the venue. It is a tradition started by Benjamin Franklin which we all should emulate in our older years."

hysterion, Just be careful with farting at your age. You don't want to poop your pants again.

Cyril Coombs said...

I like when you do q&a best. So are you saying that arthritic people cant do zazen? ( kidding). I'm going to have to try and read "Each Moment Is The Universe" again; I thought it was hard as hell to read. Then again I'm dense with Dogen.

raschaa said...

Brad said:
How can I practice in an urban setting with all the noise and hassle and speed and distractions?

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi - Sandokai - Sound and Noise

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

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

Sleeping is not 'Zen' - sleeping is sleeping. Eating is not 'Zen' - eating is eating. Shitting is not 'Zen' - shitting is shitting. And sitting is not 'Zen' - sitting is sitting.

If you want to do 'Zen'; to be a 'Zen' person, sit a while everyday and then forget about it. Just get on with your sleeping, eating and shitting. Just live your life.

One day you might feel like saying "Everything is 'Zen'!". But what good would that do?

OsamaVanHalen said...

"Everything Zen"?
I don't think so.

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

(Too obvious?)

Manny Furious said...

"One day you might feel like saying "Everything is 'Zen'!". But what good would that do?"

I honestly don't remember who my post was directed to. Either way, I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings or came off as contentious. I enjoy discussions.

With that said, I believe in Red Pine's translation of several of Bodhidharma's sermons, there is a point where Bodhidharma is traslated as saying "Zen is everything."

I honestly don't know exactly what Bodhidharma meant by that (obiviously)... but it seems worth exploring....

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad.

Thought you might find this article interesting about kids unstructured play, especially the part about self-regulation about half way through.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514&ft=1&f=100

-logan

Anonymous Bob said...

"If you want to do 'Zen'; to be a 'Zen' person, sit a while everyday and then forget about it. Just get on with your sleeping, eating and shitting. Just live your life. "

Is it possible to be a Zen Buddhist without any reference back to Japanese culture in the practice? It must be but I've never actually seen anyone actually pull it off.

Of course it would be difficult to spot them as they wouldn't stick out like a Japanese sore thumb..

CAPTCHA : triasit : I kid you not

Kettlebells said...

Kettlebells will fix your screwy posture. Arm rolls and turkish getups will open up your thoracic vertebrae. Swings (the ultimate hara exercise) will build a back of steel. Get to work, Zennists!

Hare said...

100!

Anonymous said...

Any dude who isn't in gear ready to go and takes a full 1.7 seconds (yeah, right..) to shift from neutral to first gear in the city should get it together.. Besides, I'm sure it was more like an interminable 5.7 seconds.

ken said...

Hahaha...love that you talk about the Orgazmo theme song in the cast.

Anonymous said...

Imagine you're at a movie, and the person sitting in front of you is so huge and fat you can't see the screen because he's completely blocking your view. He's also talking loudly, so you can't hear the movie.

That person is you. You can't see the perfection of your life, as it is right now, because you're in your own way. - Barry Graham 01-12-2010

Mysterion said...

Blogger anon #108 said...
"If you want to do 'Zen'; to be a 'Zen' person, sit a while everyday and then forget about it. Just get on with your sleeping, eating and shitting. Just live your life."

I agree...

Sleep when you sleep
eat when you eat
shit when you shit
and fart when you fart

all with sincerity.

It takes no sincere effort to sleep.

P.S. Where is my Medicine Chair?

capcha = ingshi

Anonymous said...

fart when you don't fart
don't fart when you fart
fart insincerely

the alternatives simply make no sense.

Mysterion said...

the alternatives are:

eat, deny your body of eating
sleep, deny your body of sleeping
fart, deny your body of farting
shit, deny your body of shitting

in all four cases, denial is not beneficial.

p.s. the average human who eats a complete well-balanced diet produces about a liter of methane every day.

If you passed your methane in an elevator, deny it... or don't.

Anonymous said...

Manny Sed:
"As for "Siddharta Gotama", zazen was certainly taught as a skillful means. But let's not imagine that his awakening came while in the midst of a zazen sesshin. His awakening came when he gazed upon a star."

And while we are avoiding imagining, let's dispense with any guess as to what Buddha was doing when anything happened to him, if anything happened to anyone at all.

Mysterion said...

When Siddhartha Gautama sat down under a tree at sunset 2500 years ago, he did so at a particular moment in history, at a certain time in his life, having passed through unique experiences, and within in a cultural context. His awakening was the product of a mental aggregate and material aggregate at the moment.

"For forty-nine days, Mara, an evil deity embodying death and desire, tempted Siddhartha to abandon his quest. Resisting all temptations, Siddhartha conquered Mara and awoke to the true nature and meaning of life.*" source

Desire is the cause of all suffering.

You will suffer if, as you approach death, you desire more life.

You will suffer if, as you approach dinner, you desire more food than has been served.

You will suffer if, as you drink water, you desire more water than is available.

&c.

*Folklore.

Manny Furious said...

"And while we are avoiding imagining, let's dispense with any guess as to what Buddha was doing when anything happened to him, if anything happened to anyone at all."

Fair enough. I agree completely. My original response should've been more along these lines.

Uku said...

Life is good!

Stephanie said...

Really? You're whining about people honking their horns at you in New York? And 1.7 seconds is a long time to get going in New York traffic. Focused on that light, ready to go, is the New York way. And in New York City limits there is no right turn on red, period. There doesn't need to be a sign posted.

New York is all about speed and aggression. And moving like you've got somewhere to be. If you don't like it, don't live there. Whining about it just makes you sound like a bottom-of-the-food-chain creature just waiting to get eaten. No one is going to cry for you in New York, especially when you're upset by such inane, everyday things. They'll just sense your weakness and crush you.

Anonymous said...

The Rabbit-in-the-moon was/is common Japanese and Chinese folk tales.

It was also in Celtic folk lore

"Jack and Jill" came from Norse/Germanic mythology, Hjúki and Bil, a brother and sister (respectively) who, according to the Prose Edda, were taken up from the earth by the moon

A Native American (Cree) legend tells a different variation, about a young rabbit who wished to ride the moon.

The Man in the Moon is an example of pareidolia. Other cultures perceive the silhouette of a woman, a hare/rabbit, a frog, a moose, a buffalo, or a dragon (with its head and mouth to the right and body and wings to the left) in the full moon.

There is an old African legend, found in many different versions in different parts of Africa, which has a rabbit

The mythology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica also featured a lunar rabbit, for example, Tecciztecatl, the Aztec moon god, was sometimes pictured as an anthropomorphic rabbit.

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

Anonymous said...

Unit 731

Hare said...

Unit 732!

oops

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie..

I sense what you said was tongue in cheek but it is typical of what New Yorkers imagine. The residents like to think of themselves as so cosmopolitan when in fact they are some of the most provincial people in the world. Brad must have met a new girl to move there.

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

Unit 733 ?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like someone needs to go to New York & teach them manners.

Anonymous said...

For those of you interested in worldly things, The Wikileaks site has been moved to Switzerland. The complete listing of leaked American cables can be found on the new Wikileaks site at:

http://213.251.145.96/cablegate.html.

good shepherd said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"It sounds like someone needs to go to New York & teach them manners."

Why do you think the ubiquitous they call it a "rat race?"

NYers don't got no fetchin' up like'n we gots out here in Nevada (pronounced Neva-DUH) "Where men are MEN and sheep are nervous."

Nevada Smith said...

Nevada, Where men are men and Californians say baahh..

Brad Warner said...

Someone posted:
Imagine you're at a movie, and the person sitting in front of you is so huge and fat you can't see the screen because he's completely blocking your view. He's also talking loudly, so you can't hear the movie.

That person is you. You can't see the perfection of your life, as it is right now, because you're in your own way. - Barry Graham 01-12-2010


I'm not sure what you're trying to prove by posting this. It's a very good metaphor, I think. Barry is capable of real insight.

Harry said...

Charles Manson is capable of 'real insight'.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2oZWpqtNi4

Anonymous said...

Brad, And I'm not sure why you're defending Graham when he obviously took that idea from you.

Anonymous said...

it's

a

small

world

after

all

Anonymous said...

What good are real insights if you think they just apply to other people?

Anonymous said...

What good are real insights if you think they just apply to other people?

Anonymous said...

Dude, your Wikileaks link above has
already been blocked, but that's ok
because there's a wilderness of
mirrors...

Anonymous said...

when truth is treason

Ryan said...

Whoa. I like this podcast. I found this blog while I was doing additional research on Comfort Healing and Joy by David Fox. Totally random. Anyway, I have a new blog and podcast to check out. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

For some reason teachers will defend other 'teachers' all day long. Barry Graham is a thief, a conman, an abuser.. but he's not without talent. In fact, he is very talented. I think that maybe why he feels entitled. But the fucker is lowly. He doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself. I think Brad must be defending him as an artist, because he is indefensible as a Buddhist.

Anonymous said...

have been away a while
looked over comments

seemed to be a re-run of a previous comment section

maybe Brad has started to cut and paste from old comments posts!

Harry: ever the first,
Mumbles with his huge member in hand
Miss tree iron, ever present and all over the place
Someone who does not know to just skip over all the miss tree iron posts and is annoyed (no doubt because they read every word and followed every link and have thereby set the shape of their own hell realm--No, Misty's posts are not assigned homework and it won't be on the exam--
The obligatory discussion of posture with regard to zazen
some remarks regarding the blog post
regular posters missing in action: 9/11 and homeopathy although the guy that can't stop bringing up barry graham cracker and his disappointment that Brad has not done what he, the commenter, thinks Brad should have done (put Barry in some journalistic form of 'stockade' and throw pejoratives at him--you know 'em folks, things like asswipe and such--


it is an interesting collection of regular club house members

and lord, I know I'm one

john e mumbles said...

...There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

My mother was a tailor
She sewed my new bluejeans
My father was a gamblin' man
Down in New Orleans

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's on a drunk

------ organ solo ------

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

Well, there is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

108 said...

Anon, No mention of 108's huge member?

------ organ solo ------

short arm said...

Well, some things remain to be seen.

Mumbles says "I Hold these Truths to be self-evident."

Anonymous said...

perception management

Anonymous said...

i put a spell on you

Anonymous said...

non-aggression

principle

Anonymous said...

Defending the Undefendable

Anonymous said...

Epicurus

Anonymous said...

Barry is capable of real insight.

So is Brad.

Doesn't make either a wonderful dharma teacher or example.

Anonymous said...

happiness is a warm (invisible) gun?

Anonymous said...

"Barry is capable of real insight."

Barry is capable of lots of things.

145 said...

One Hundred
Forty
Five

Anonymous said...

Barry?

Barry who?

Mysterion said...

“Nihilism stands at the door,” wrote Nietzsche. “Whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?” The year was 1885 or 1886, and Nietzsche was writing in a notebook whose contents were not intended for publication...

Franzen’s depiction of America as a society of lost and fumbling souls tells us “more about America’s literary culture than about America itself.” source

It's not a god or gods that never existed, it's us!

Anonymous said...

BW in NYC

isn't punk music about speed and agression?
isn't punk about making ugly the new glam,
marginalization the new exclusive membership?

did we ever get anyone to give us the def of punk?

Brad regularly describes himself as a bass player in a punk band. But that don't make him punk, just means he can play fast and hard.
Steve Martin plays banjo but that don't make him no hillbilly

Jared said...

"It's not a god or gods that never existed, it's us!"

From Sartre's play "The Flies":

“Zeus: Orestes knows that he is free...Once freedom lights its beacon in a man’s heart, the gods are powerless against him. It’s a matter between man and man, and it is for other men, and for them only, to let him go his gait, or to throttle him.”

Zen Motto said...

150

Anonymous said...

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito

gniz said...

I liked the Barry metaphor about the fat dude in the movies as well. But when I read it, my first thought was "I wonder where he stole it from."

The dude plagiarized a song and passed it off as his own "poem." As a writer, you can't get any lower then plagiarism.

As a buddhist teacher, you can't get much lower than abusing your students.

That being said, I'll admit to enjoying reading Barry's blog for the grittiness and sense that horrible things are happening beneath the surface--this is the tension of good fiction.

Anonymous said...

come on Gniz, it's not entertainment....people are being hurt

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

"people are being hurt"

Is it deep compassion for others that fuels your pain, anonymous @ 11.18pm, or are you one of Mr Graham's victims? A two-timed ex-girlfriend, perhaps (did he hit you?)? You accepted Dogo's teaching as the Buddha's Dharma only to discover Barry is just one more smart arse? You believed Dogo was a licensed Zen Master only to discover Barry's just another lying scumbag? Your heart broke when it was revealed Mr Graham plagiarised Mr Clarke's poem?

...A little snark. For entertainment purposes only.

gniz said...

I was just being honest that I got some kind of perverse thrill out of reading Barry's blog. I also get that from reading Andrew Cohen's website or watching Genpo Roshi's video plea to become Oprah's next sex slave.

On the other hand, I agree that the matter is a serious one and it does appear people have been hurt.

Unfortunately the two things are not mutually exclusive.

I wouldn't, however, bother coming out and stating on my blog that Barry is "capable of insight." Like Harry and others might point out, plenty of scumbags appear to be capable of insight, even if it's because they stole their ideas from someone else.

Brad Warner said...

I wasn't defending Barry. I just assume this quote was put up by whoever keeps trying to find quotes to make him look bad. This one makes him look very good. I don't get it. So what's the point? Or maybe it's Barry himself posting to try and rescue his rep?

But then again lots of the comments section of this blog makes no sense to me.

Oh yeah, and Charles Manson was capable of some insight. That's what made him so dangerous. If he had nothing at all to offer nobody would have followed him.

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

To settle any doubt about where my last comment is coming from -

I am sympathetic to the "Even a smart-arse, plagiarising liar can be a good teacher" school.

I'd want to know all the details of the "pain" that BG has caused before I'd consider committing myself to protest. Even then, I doubt I could be bothered. Barry Graham's done nothing to me. Like Gniz says, you should be honest about what you feel - often hard to do - not adopt the position you think you ought. Perhaps anon really cares. Some seem endowed with a whole load of empathy and are hurt by all sorts of things that don't directly impact them and about which they can do nothing. Others, I suspect, jump on the bandwagon and dishonestly spout the party line.

We did all this already, no?

anon said...

"I am sympathetic to the "Even a smart-arse, plagiarising liar can be a good teacher" school."

108: I think that really depends on what the teacher is teaching. An artist stealing is not the same thing as a zen teacher stealing. Everyone knows a musician will bend to whichever way the wind blows.

I like Barry Graham's blog. I like his writing. I like the grittiness of it. I like the fact that he writes about things that are uncomfortable. I think he is an interesting artist. I can even enjoy the fact that he is a hustler.

If he was posing as a fire and brimstone preacher taking advantage of Christian rubes I would probably find the situation a little amusing. Sorry, but it's true. However, I feel just as stupid the people who come to his sitting frog center hoping to find a Buddhist who might be able to teach them about Buddhism. I feel bad for them and angry at Graham for his deceptions. It feels personal even though it's not really. It is a little like the outsized anger that Brad can engender here. Anyone familiar with this blog has seen it before. Brad calls somebody a name and all hell breaks loose. People are shocked to find that he is capable of being childish and even mean. Some thought that what they were reading in his books were his own insights. They didn't think that he might have been lifting an older Buddhist idea and adapting it for his own use. He might not even have understood what he was repeating. Was it wrong for Brad to appropriate wisdom? Was it wrong for Barry to read a few books and decide to set himself up as a Buddhist teacher?

gniz said...

I'm not sure why that person posts Barry Graham quotes off and on...maybe just to keep the topic on the radar.

Some of them have seemed innocuous enough.

My point is that given what has been alleged, reported (and some degree of evidence shown), I could never assume that anything Barry writes is his own.

proulx michel said...

anon said...

(...)

If he was posing as a fire and brimstone preacher taking advantage of Christian rubes I would probably find the situation a little amusing. Sorry, but it's true. However, I feel just as stupid the people who come to his sitting frog center hoping to find a Buddhist who might be able to teach them about Buddhism. (...)


I have had the experience of a truly bad master (violin maker). He was good as a violin maker and his credentials were far from fake, and yet he was a truly bad master: he wanted slaves and not students, and withheld as much information as he could. My experience is that the teaching also lies in the student. Hence brad's caveat.

Anonymous said...

"I could never assume that anything Barry writes is his own."

You are correct not to assume that Gniz. Only bad writers never borrow. Barry takes what he needs and moves on.

Anonymous said...

"I could never assume that anything Barry writes is his own."

Barry writes a lot. It would be more trouble to find something worthy to steal it than to just write it himself.

gniz said...

Hey Anon,

Agreed that Barry writes a lot.
But he plagiarized that song Chickentown and called it Bastardtown, pretty much reciting it word for word as his own (unless he gave attribution that I'm unaware of).

Point being, he clearly does steal stuff even if he doesn't need to. How much he steals is anyone's guess.

But what he did with Chickentown is a pretty far cry from "borrowing."

Then again, some people can find an apology or excuse for just about anything, can't they?

Anonymous said...

Hey Gniz,

As far as I know Barry was singing karaoke that night. Changing the title from Chickentown to Bastardtown doesn't seem like a serious crime. Maybe he told the audience that he was doing a takeoff on a John Clarke song. Maybe he was just sitting in with a band that played the song. I've never heard him say anywhere he wrote it. Have you? The musicians around here haven't said anything about it's impropriety. It's easier for me just to ignore something that is basically an unknowable than to get all outraged over conjecture.

gniz said...

Why'd they pull the video of Barry's rendition of Bastard Town if it was all just innocent?

Why did Barry purge his blog and mentions of Kabutsu Malone being his teacher, then claims of Joko being his teacher, etc etc.

The pieces don't really all add up, anon, but I'll agree there isn't quite enough hard evidence yet to completely convict him on all counts. Not yet anyway...

But it's not looking good.

Anonymous said...

Gniz,

Brad once wrote that it was hard for him to believe that a person who sat as much as a Dharma brother of his did could be such a prick. I kind of feel the same way about Barry but in reverse. He's a gifted writer. He seems to have a genuine interest in Buddhism as he understands it. But I don't think there is much doubt that he's a prick. I just wonder if he preys on beginner Buddhists because they're such easy marks. They really want to buy what he sells.

Incredulous said...

Brad commented:

Someone posted:
Imagine you're at a movie, and the person sitting in front of you is so huge and fat you can't see the screen because he's completely blocking your view. He's also talking loudly, so you can't hear the movie.

That person is you. You can't see the perfection of your life, as it is right now, because you're in your own way. - Barry Graham 01-12-2010

I'm not sure what you're trying to prove by posting this. It's a very good metaphor, I think. Barry is capable of real insight.

>>>>>>>>>

Seriously? The metaphor is a bit obvious, isn't it? Besides, it doesn't make sense, "you're in your own way?" WTF? Its stupidity dressed up to look "wise."

But then, Brad, I am no Zen Master like you and Barry, so I guess when you are enlightened, all this metaphorical bullshit makes perfect sense.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

meanwhile, back in NYC, Brad is driving around the block in ever wider circles...
parking....must find parking...

he is gonna have to learn some New York approaches for dealing with the City's very own special reality, and they aren't particularly buddhist!

f'rinstance: no parking this side of street day: you join the lines of drivers double 'perched': all those lucky stiffs that got to park the day before, now havta move their car to the opposite side of the street--but you there, in line with the others double parked, engines running...ready to make your move first while inevitably, ironically, blocking them.

It's called limited resources.

If you don't want to become that way, then you pay for the privilege of being privileged and not having to think/act 'that' way

It takes a while for a west coastee to understand the car they have come to have a relationship with as a vital extra limb must be amputated In NY, everyone uses publically shared prosthetics

convenience and inconveniece
what appears to be one thing one moment is just so much NOT the next

Anonymous said...

How important is the hand position during zazen?

I sit zazen everyday in the full lotus position, but recently hurt my left shoulder during martial arts training, and now have problems holding the mudra position during zazen.

To compensate, I have instead held my hands out (in a prayer position) or placed them on my knees, palms up, while my legs are in the full lotus position.

Are these acceptable alternatives?