Thursday, January 27, 2011

VIDEOS and MORE ANTI-INTERNET RANTING


I keep neglecting to post a link to the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles YouTube page. There are a bunch of nice videos up there in which I give erudite answers to crispy questions.

The snow is deep here in Brooklyn. And it's too damned cold to go outdoors. This has an up side to me. When I lived in California I often felt terrible about staying in for long hours writing. It was so sunny outside! How can you waste a warm sunny day?

This mentality was left over from my childhood in Ohio when warm sunny days were a rare and precious thing. In Los Angeles almost every day is warm and sunny. I never really got used to that.

I'll be heading out of New York soon, though. The place I moved into isn't really working out the way I had hoped. The notion of moving somewhere else in New York isn't so attractive. It would cost a whole lot more and I'm just not in love with New York enough to make that seem worthwhile. I'll let you know where I end up.

I'm heading off on my Midwestern tour in a few days anyhow. Everyone reading this in the vicinity of Akron, Ohio; Lawrence, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis Missouri and Cedar Rapids, Iowa is hereby ordered to come to all of these events. No excuses!

I can't tell you how many times I hear from someone saying "When are you coming to my town?" and it turns out to be a place I was just at something like three weeks before. Doesn't anyone read these posts?

The image on this post is from Erin at the Missouri Zen Center. It is a scary snow dragon about to squash a helpless snow person! Let this be a warning to anyone in the area who chooses not to attend my talks!

All this cold plus the need to finish up the first draft of my next book before I go out on tour has been keeping me glued to the computer far too much lately. It really is a sinkhole of infinite stupiditude. I once heard Nishijima Roshi say, "You cannot find reality inside a computer!" So true.

Reality is not virtual, kids. Reality is the real world. The universe is not an illusion. The world we are living in is real.

Computers are very good at producing simulations of reality. But simulations are not the real thing. A zendo in Second Life is not a real zendo. Your time spent reading blogs about Zen, including this one, is not real time spent with a Zen teacher.

I've been reading a pretty good book lately called Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin. A guy I know is making it into a movie. I don't know yet what I'm allowed to say about my involvement in the film. But I have some personal interest in it. How's that for vague?

Anyway, this is the first novel I've read wherein characters chat with each other via gmail and other such Internet platforms. I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time this has been done in a novel. But it's still kind of uncommon. Yet this is the way a lot of people are talking to each other. For some of the younger people I interact with these days, even writing emails seems slow and cumbersome. And here I am, a guy who still recalls being amazed that you could send a letter without spending money on a stamp or waiting to see when (or if) it arrived.

Internet-based conversations are a fact of life nowadays. I've had to shut off the chat function of my Facebook because every time it's on, people I don't know want to have long discussions with me. Usually late at night. These conversations themselves are not usually so bad. Sometimes they're quite entertaining. But when I'm at a computer I generally want to stay on task with whatever I switched the thing on for. So I end up being rude to fans and that's no good.

And just now, I got this ad on Facebook, "Open your mind & experience true peace in the largest user-created virtual world. Chat weekly with Buddhist clergy. Join now!"

Anyway, my point...? Uh... Did I have one? I suppose my point is that these new forms of communication seem more real than they are. For example, sometimes people will tell me about conversations they've had with others. I've had to start remembering to ask if these are actual conversations or Internet-based "chats." These days people seem to think there's no real difference. But there is.

I've said all this before. But I'm starting to get concerned over what the effects will be of a generation that can't tell the difference, who are accustomed to sitting in their bedrooms on computers for endless stretches and don't actually understand how to speak to each other anymore.

I don't think this is just about me not being hip to what the kids are into. I understand the efficiency of chats and Internet-communications. Here I am using a blog to do what I used to have to do by Xeroxing a 'zine down at Kinko's and then trying to get the local record shops to sell it. This is a much more efficient system and I wouldn't want to go back to the old way.

Still, I can see it in myself. I was already kind of a loner to begin with. This Internet stuff makes it far too easy to hide from the world. I know this for a fact because I myself do it!

This is why I keep fighting the good fight against the forces that want to move Zen practice on-line. It's the one area where my so-called "expert opinion" stands a chance of being listened to. I also want to have record stores to go to, and bookshops to hang around in. But the Internet is killing those things. And, in doing so it's taking away more and more of our opportunities to actually see and mingle with each other.

And that ain't good.

So get off the computer and go talk to somebody. OK?

104 comments:

Hare said...

Bingo!

john e mumbles said...

Only a few get #2...

Anonymous said...

I am #3.

john e mumbles said...

I should've said "I just did #2" oh well. Hmmmnn, a new Bradblog entry before I got to tell that Soulagent kid that I liked his song on the last one. If you missed it, go back and give a listen. V. cool tune!

Now I'm going outside to check out the 60 degree weather...a heat wave!

Robbie Grey said...

I miss old school 'zines...

Anonymous said...

"These days people seem to think there's no real difference. But there is."

I once heard someone remark a wise man having said something akin to a the way is not hard, just stop having preferences.

The moment you said "this is a computer, it is not real" is the moment you made a distinction what is real and what is not real when in fact all we ever get is reality itself. And that includes computers and everything done with them, no matter how much Brad and Gudo and other oldtimers don't get it.

Anonymous said...

That's not to say there is no difference between having a conversation online and having a conversation spitting on the other guys face. Of course it's not the same thing. But calling one unreal is just bullshit, plain and simple.

Brad Warner said...

Where did I say "this is a computer it's not real?"

I know computers are real. Trust me.

Isn't it really late at night there in Japan?

Anonymous Bob said...

John e.. I like the song too. It is sticky as in it's still with me.

CAPTCHA : indigesto : I kid you not

OsamaVanHalen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Warner said...

Robbie Grey wrote:
I miss old school 'zines...

My Reply:
Me too! Even after customizing my template here, it's still much more generic than a 'zine ever would be. The format demands standardization. That's what killed MySpace. You could customize it too much and it just made everything work terribly inefficiently.

Soulagent79 said...

I remember a modern day Zen story about computers (I don't really know if you can call it a koan): On the one hand a computer might be a super 'intelligent' high-tech machine we use every day for all kinds of purposes, but on the other hand its 'knowledge' is only theoretical! Pick up a simple wooden stick off the ground, throw it into a river and it will pass all the rocks and other obstacles on its way and reach the ocean someday... and now throw the computer into the river... it'll just drown! Theoretical knowledge vs. pracitcal skills... You get the bigger picture? The stick acts without any intentions, but does the right thing.

Anonymous said...

"The Tao does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone" - Lao-Tsu

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Since the seed does not contain anything other than the seed, even the flowers and the fruits are of the same nature as the seed: the substance of the seed is the substance of subsequent effects, too. Even so, the homogenous mass of cosmic consciousness does not give rise to anything other than what it is in essence. When this truth is realized, duality ceases.

tei said...

"You cannot find reality inside a computer!"

I... sorry, what?

It is true that I cannot find the same reality inside a computer that I can find outside my window. But I can find something in here that I can't out there-- a different reality. Someone else's version of reality, the lives of people I could never speak to in meatspace coming to me straight from their own mouths. Well, fingers.

In fact, if you insist on dividing interactions into Internet and Meatspace, and further insist that one of these types of interactions is more "real" than another, then I would argue that internet interactions have a higher degree of "realness" than meatspace interactions. If I talk to someone who is standing in front of me, the proof that that conversation happened will be in a) the memories of it that we both hold, and b) any actions we take as a result of it. If I have a conversation with someone online, we will both remember and possibly take some form of action because of that conversation but in addition, there is a permanent record of that conversation, stored in a complicated pattern of subatomic particles which I certainly hope are real or we're all in trouble.

Gummo said...

I would like to make a formal motion and proposal for your approval regarding the recent announcement regarding Dogen Sangha International.

The title of the position that my dear brother Brad will take must be changed from "Leader" to "Head Helper".

The reason is that, in a modern democratic organization, we are a union or federation of your Dharma Heirs, brothers and sisters, who must help each other. Surely you can grasp that this is in keeping with the Precepts and the cooperative nature of a Sangha. It is not appropriate for any organization that has a "Leader" after you. So, the title "Leader" is fitting, perhaps, only to a feudal, Japanese organization, but is not appropriate to the modern, Western Sangha.

The duties of the "Head Helper" would not be to "lead" the organization, but to work for out mutual cooperation and to be, not a leader or commander, but the first to offer aid to all others as a brother among brothers.

Furthermore, the "Head Helper" would commit, under my plan, to always act with the dignity of the Sangha in mind.

As a second motion, I would also propose that there be a term limit of 5 years on "Head Helper", at which time other members of the Sangha can be proposed to be "Head Helper" elected by majority vote.

Please consider these idea appropriate for modern democratic societies of the 21st century.

Please indicate your approval by changing your message on the Dogen Sangha blog accordingly.

Gassho.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, if you insist on dividing interactions into Internet and Meatspace, and further insist that one of these types of interactions is more "real" than another, then I would argue that internet interactions have a higher degree of "realness" than meatspace interactions."

I'm among the guys who like to give Jundo and his crew shit, but I concede that this position is totally reasonable.

(Personally, my deal regarding Jundo has more to do with my opinion that he should not be anyone's teacher due to his shaky character than it has to do with his online forum/"sangha.")

Nathan said...

Brad,

I'm with you on concerns about the impact of over-dependence on technology on relationships and communities. Collectively, we aren't skilled with using the internet, cell phones, ipods, etc. in ways that support healthy, engaged lives. Too often, they are tools used to distract, or avoid the rest of our lives.

However, you do seem pretty fixed on separating online land from meatspace, and I believe that separation is faulty. Consider the ways in which laws have dramatically shifted, workplace policies have dramatically shifts, and education have dramatically shifted in response to the real life impacts of internet use. A threat made on Facebook is now often treated the same as a threat in person. People are hired and fired based on what they've said and/or done online. Police looking for prostitution rings or child molesters certainly see internet behavior as more than just imaginary or a distraction.

As a student of art history, this reminds me of how the camera and photography was viewed by other artists in the early days. Lots of arguments over whether photos were "real" art or not. There was also a certain democratization that happened in the art world during the mid-late 19th century as a result of photography. People who couldn't paint, for example, suddenly had access to a tool that allowed them to capture the beautiful and the awful. And they could do portraits, formerly the bread and butter "possession" of painters.

More recently, with the advent of digital cameras, the same debate has reoccurred. Suddenly, millions of people could take hundreds of photos in a clip, and then work with Photoshop or some other program to "clean them up." Film photographers mostly hated the development in the beginning. And then some converted, seeing the advantages. And others split their efforts between film and digital.

But what I see in that story is a turf war between old ways and new ways, the resistance from the "old school" partly intelligent effort at preservation, and partly a power game based on a belief that they have the only "true" way.

Honestly, the whole row over online Zen practice, which is much more commonplace than just between Brad and Jundo Cohen, seems little different than the camera battles.

What should be preserved and what can be innovated? How much of the resistance to the internet as a practice venue intelligent questioning, and how much is just attachment to forms, and resisting change?

Anonymous said...

"I don't think this is just about me not being hip to what the kids are into. I understand the efficiency of chats and Internet-communications. Here I am using a blog to do what I used to have to do by Xeroxing a 'zine down at Kinko's and then trying to get the local record shops to sell it. This is a much more efficient system and I wouldn't want to go back to the old way.

Still, I can see it in myself. I was already kind of a loner to begin with. This Internet stuff makes it far too easy to hide from the world. I know this for a fact because I myself do it!

This is why I keep fighting the good fight against the forces that want to move Zen practice on-line. It's the one area where my so-called "expert opinion" stands a chance of being listened to. I also want to have record stores to go to, and bookshops to hang around in. But the Internet is killing those things. And, in doing so it's taking away more and more of our opportunities to actually see and mingle with each other."


Face it, Brad. You're defending a position that is not going to prevail. Whether you like it or I like it, that's a fact.

Rap mogul Jay Z said...

The shit you people talk about. Damn, don't nobody care about this shit.

Warner Bradley said...

"Most people don't need any kind of technology to experience virtual reality. They have a virtual reality in their own minds filled with illusions, delusions, misperceptions and misconceptions."

You think you're any different? Who are the people who DON'T fit this description?

Anonymous said...

*waits until Mysterion tells me what to think about this*

Dogen Sangha LA said...

The link at the top of the blog post seems to be broken. Until Brad fixes it, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/dogensanghala

No flugelhorns were harmed in the making of these videos.

Soulagent79 said...

@john e mumbles Thank you!

RDeWald said...

The problem isn't that online communities aren't real, they are. The problem is when people regard them as not being real.

Shut off your Facebook chat? Do it without telling anyone why? That's simply anti-social behavior, analogous to suddenly walking around and refusing to talk to anyone suddenly after being in a community as Mr. Chat-it-up.

In "real" life someone would simply explain that they can't spend as much time chatting as they'd like because they have someplace to go. When you shut off the Facebook chat client it is the same as just walking by people without looking at them suddenly, the same people you'd just recently been willing to chat with.

Surprised that feels weird? Surprised that feels un-real? I'm not. it is weird, it is un-real. Further, it's borderline sociopathic.

Of course, no one is obligated to be available for chat on-line, just as no one is obligated to engage in conversation with people on the street. But, when you conduct yourself in one manner, and then suddenly anti-socially switch to another manner on-line, it's actually a sign that the on-line community *is* real that this feels uncomfortable.

There is an authentic zen practice on-line. There has to be. On-line exists. With all due respect for Brad, he is a great modern teacher, this dualistic notion that authentic teaching can only happen in one place and not the other is delusion itself. Dharma just is. There is nothing outside the dharma. There is no place else.

The heart sutra in interpreted in English this way: "form is emptiness, emptiness is form, emptiness is not separate from form, form is not separate from emptiness, whatever is form is emptiness, whatever is emptiness is form. The same holds for sensation and perception, memory and consciousness."

The same holds for Facebook, xeroxed zines, record stores and Gmail.

Brad Warner said...

Shutting off Facebook chat is not anti-social behavior.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Facebook triggers depression, or those who are more depressed use it the most.

I don't use it because it's totally creepy. I can get off my ass and telephone you if we need to talk. Online conversations always go sideways.

john e mumbles said...

About 2 years ago, I read an article about the Facebook guy and was intrigued, got on there, and after 48 hours took my page down.

I lasted longer on Myspace because of my band, but ended up taking it down as well.

Now I still have a website, but the e-mail address is defunct. I want to eventually get rid of it (the website).

Soon I will disappear altogether...

Mark Foote said...

Here's the deal: aces are high, deuces are low, jokers are wild. If you want to play, you play by the dealer's rules. If you don't want to play, you had better be like Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan and leap sideways out of context and into the place of heart-mind: those who are playing may not be able to follow suit, but they will know when you have gone. Where we goin', Pops? Are we there yet.

Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy
I am so enjoying the past several blogs and comments
(well most of the comments--there are always some that just puzzle me)

1) john e.: I concur totally and SoulAgent79 I am intensely in LOVE with you, what a great song!
what other music do you do? where can it be found?

2) have never heard the term 'meatspace' before. is this a common name for the reality that isn't found in cyberspace, on line, while using a compter or hand-held device?

3) a)my take on the current topic under discussion:
my hallucinations are part of my reality, they are my experience, but my hallucinations are not 'real' Let us say I am hearing voices and/or seeing things which others cannot hear or see. They are part of my reality, but they are not 'real.'

b) I go to see a movie. The movie is 'reality' a part of reality, but what is happening in the movie is not 'real.' There is a fire in the movie, there is an explosion in the movie. I do not need to stand up in the theater and yell 'Fire!' or yell 'Incoming!' because the reality of my experiencing the movie is that what is happening on screen is a representation, even if it is a documentary film of actual footage of a fire or explosions.

c) I am not a big fan of facebook or other forms of computer socializing as quick and handy as they may be because they are representational of relating.
If I have a relationship with someone, then this representational relating doesn't replace realtimeandsameplace relating, it is just a way for me to get a little representational relating in the interim of getting my realtimeandsameplace relating. Like a coupla crackers to tide me over till the meal.
But if my only experience of the person is of the representational relating variety, then I really don't have much of a relationship with them, in much the same way that eating only crackers--even if they are organic and whole grain--isn't a wholesome diet (even if for a period of time they might be satisfying and may keep me from starving--eventually the malnutrition will do me in).

I know I am an old geezer. I know I still have difficulties with computers. But it is not my antiquatedness which prompts me to say that relationships formed on representational reality formats are representational relationships.
Maybe they have their own validity, and they are part of reality and part of my experience of reality, but they are not realtimeandsameplace relationships.
Only if I get to meet them in realtimeandsameplace do they get a chance to be a 'real' realtionship and not a representational one.

Is there any expert out there in this stuff who can help me tease out these concepts and these thoughts in more cogent language?

word verification: disessin

Anonymous said...

Just as painted cakes won't quench hunger, painted friends won't stop loneliness. Or is that true, i'm pretty sure friends will quench hunger if there are no cakes around... pass the Chianti.

tei said...

have never heard the term 'meatspace' before. is this a common name for the reality that isn't found in cyberspace, on line, while using a compter or hand-held device?

More or less. It is, I to the best of my knowledge, a somewhat outdated cyberpunk term which I prefer over the term which seems to have replaced it-- "IRL", for "In Real Life"-- on the grounds that it reflects the reality that online interactions, while they do not involve "meat", do happen In Real Life.

john e mumbles said...

"Meatspace?" Oh hell, I thought you were talking about porn.

Lone Wolf said...

I've been also thinking about the affects the internet will have on society lately. I'm pretty much over the whole Facebook phenomenon. It sort of gives me an eerie feeling when I browse it these days. I was just telling my girlfriend the other day that I was going turn the wall off and use it as an email messenger. We are going to turn into those fat people in at the end of Wall E. And I'm already too fat to be spending the time I do on the computer.

Brad - Doing another Zero Defex gig when you roll through Akron? Good times!

Lone Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lone Wolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lone Wolf said...

I suppose I should have looked at the schedule before I asked that question. Man! Zero Defex is playing on my birthday. Chances of me making it up are slim to none (Its my last semester of college, and my workload is fucking ridiculous), but I will maintain a hint of hope.

Tell Tim the fat guy in "The Dude" shirt said hi

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

- 108 - 1:19 + 1:22 (pm) is another example of stupidity. And the confidence in which the things are said speaks quite loud to prove my point.

What is said in the 3rd paragraph of the 1st comment is mainly literally true, though this is mainly where my point would be made too.


Also the guy makes it quite clear he can’t see what the quote he is quoting is about.


Dry shit is real, in the sense the guy means, but it is also quite useless.


He doesn’t get what Brad is about. - I’d say it’s to a great deal life vs. death. Brad doesn’t put it that way.

- But anyway he’s still being very assertive. - Kind of a street Mysterion, I’d say.

Anonymous said...

RDewald: The problem isn't that online communities aren't real, they are. The problem is when people regard them as not being real.

No, online communities are not real. They are virtual communities. Real life is meeting people face-to-face, not through blogs or discussion forums or Skype or cyber sangha. It's ridiculous to claim that online world is real.

Are you also one of those lonely people who are mainly living in the internet? I have noticed that usually those people are defending virtual world because they can't meet people in the real world. Yes, virtual worlds has a lot of pros for disabled and mentally disordered people but shit, that's not a real world. Encouraging "normal" people to spend their time at the internet is just fuckin' stupid. Encouraging people to practice Buddhism in the internet... is just pure bullshit. That kind of bullshit is ruining Dharma.

Jake,
Rochester, New York

Edit said...

The last post is by me, not by A-Bob.


Regards,


Ran.


captcha : Oh, shit. I kid you most.

Edit said...

The post before last


captcha : Oh, shit. 2nd time. I kid you not. (I did before, honest)

R said...

- I noticed mumbles said: “Soon I will disappear altogether”.

That’s known as Nirvana.

I don’t think you’re even close.

CAPTCHA : justforamomentithoughtiwasabob, - honto ga.

Shonin said...

Telephone cnversations are not real. Written communication is not real. Processing concepts into bodily movements that produce patterns of air vibrations that cause the eardrum to vibrate, sending neural signals to the barain that correspond to learned patterns, interpreted in terms of the intended communicated thoughts of the speak is not real. Or not real in the sense Brad gave. There is no basis for prioritising biological information pathways over electronic ones, and certainly no basis for an absolute distinction.

There is a sense in which everything is real. Yet there is a sense in which none of it is. To assume reality is how we directly see and feel and smell and model the world to be, is childish. In philosophy this is called 'Naive Realism'.

Anonymous said...

Shonin,

maybe or maybe not. But I think this is not about looking tiny little details and debating about semantic shit. I think this is about giving signals: is it really cool to give signals to people that it's REAL to live in the internet and to practice Buddhism in the internet? I just think it's pure philosophical bullshit to argue about whether it's real to live in the internet or not. It is NOT real. Talking face-to-face to people and to walk on the streets is TOTALLY different than hang around in the internet.

It's all about giving signals, to encourage people to leave their houses and to meet real, living persons. To practice Buddhism with real, living persons, not just through webcams. Practice based on internet Buddhism and virtual sanghas is just... fuckin pathetic. Darwin would laugh his ass off while watching those lame asses who are spending their life behind the computer screen: "ooooooh, I just received an internet Buddhist ordination. Ooooh, it's completely the same ordination that people are receiving in the real work. Oooooh, my sangha is in the internet. Oooooh, I meet people through webcams."

BULLSHIT!

Uku said...

Good post, Brad. I agree: internet is nothing compared to the real world. And especially in the context of Buddhism it's really dangerous to encourage people to practice in the internet. I'm amazed how so many chooses to live in the internet instead of meeting people in the real world, face-to-face.

And for someone who ranted about Brad's decision to shut off Facebook chat: it's not antisocial behaviour to choose not to spend time in the internet. I deleted about 500 people during last year from my FB friend's list because I decided to keep my profile just for the people I really know. I don't use FB chat. Too many times I have caught myself just to waste some time in the internet instead of doing something really important. Here I am again. Gotcha!

But seriously folks, go outside and meet real people. And if you're practicing Buddhism, don't hang in the internet. Try to do your best in your daily life. That's real. If you find yourself defending the internet Buddhism and comparing how virtual Buddhism is similar than real-life Buddhism... well, I think you're missing something very important.

Whatever.

----- ----- ----- said...

- “There is no basis for prioritising biological information pathways over electronic ones”.

- First - there is, and Brad, like many other [true teacher] s, is not going to tell you why. (Not in the intellectual way you are looking for, anyway.)

- Second - this is not necessarily even the main point. And the second point might seem much easier to explain to me. - Though do try and do some thinking yourself.

----- ----- ----- said...

r.

Anon2Anon said...

Anonymous said... Darwin would laugh his ass off while watching those lame asses who are spending their life behind the computer screen: "ooooooh, I just received an internet Buddhist ordination. Ooooh, it's completely the same ordination that people are receiving in the real work. Oooooh, my sangha is in the internet. Oooooh, I meet people through webcams."

Yeah, probably. But that won't bother Jundo, since he thinks he's got a better grip on reality than Darwin. From what Jundo often says on the subject, it's quite obvious that he's a creationist. I kid you not.

Shonin said...

"maybe or maybe not. But I think this is not about looking tiny little details and debating about semantic shit."

I was responding to the 'semantic shit' absolute distinction that Brad made between 'real' meatspace and 'unreal' Internet.

" I think this is about giving signals: is it really cool to give signals to people that it's REAL to live in the internet and to practice Buddhism in the internet?"

I think that what is 'cool' is being truthful, open-minded and accurate.

"I just think it's pure philosophical bullshit to argue about whether it's real to live in the internet or not. It is NOT real."

OK, so it's philosophical bullshit to assert that is real, but 'cool' to assert that it is unreal? They are both philosphical claims.

"Talking face-to-face to people and to walk on the streets is TOTALLY different than hang around in the internet."

Whether it is a similar or different experience has no bearing on which of them is real.

"It's all about giving signals, to encourage people to leave their houses and to meet real, living persons. To practice Buddhism with real, living persons, not just through webcams."

A face-to-face meeting is in some ways a richer experience. But a web-cam meeting can be valuable too, especially when face-to-face meetings are difficult or impossible. I meet my teacher sometimes in the flesh and sometimes via Skype, both are valuable. As for Internet forums, I think they can be useful for 'academic' discussions of texts, fact-finding, sharing experiences and so forth. It can have a place.

The 'real'/'unreal' distinction is a red herring. Yes, there are differences in the quality of the experiences, and yes, face-to-face meetings are generally preferable when possible, but it's not as black and white as presented and emtional arguments / value judgments don't help - it polarises people and clouds truth.

Anonymous said...

I'm in the "virtual generation", and it sucks.

quittheinternet.com

Mysterious said...

*Nominates Mysterion to be blog's Head Helper*

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

Sorry Brad but I think it's really kinda funny and ironical that you're ranting about people spending too much time on the internet etc. and at the same time do tons of funny but not also kinda pointless postings on Facebook each day...that kinda doesn't fit the case! :)

gniz said...

This is an interesting discussion. People are also discussing different things all at once. Brad was mostly talking about Buddhism being practiced via the net, but he also was saying that the internet in general may be encouraging social isolation while "tricking us" into feeling less isolated.

I kind of agree with this, if that's what he was saying. However, he comes off as a kind of old fuddy duddy who just can't get with the times, despite saying that's not in fact what he is.

I think most will agree that the internet (which we're all corresponding through ironically) has a lot of value. Sometimes Brad and people who share his views, seem to unnecessarily demean the entire thing--throwing out the baby with the bathwater so to speak.

There's a lot of cool stuff that happens online. I think some people do genuinely get a great deal of support and find likeminded souls on line. So what's wrong with that?

However, with something like Buddhism or maybe a sport, or a physical activity--even in terms of a real romance--I think the net becomes a real hindrance and an aid possibly in self-deception.

For a cool movie about just this idea, watch the documentary "Catfish."
I won't spoil it for you, but you'll walk away having some different thoughts about online relationships and their validity.

At the same time, even in real life we lie and fool one another about who we are. The internet just provides more opportunity to fabricate and hide aspects of our personality and to isolate from the "outside" physical world.

I for one wouldn't trade this technology for all the tea in China. But that's just me...

tei said...

Yes, virtual worlds has a lot of pros for disabled and mentally disordered people but shit, that's not a real world. Encouraging "normal" people to spend their time at the internet is just fuckin' stupid.

Are you fucking serious?

Okay, so apparently the Internet is good enough for them defective people , but as for us normal folk (because, of course, it's completely impossible that anyone involved in this conversation could possibly be disabled or have a mental illness), well, we're too good for this place!

Kindly fuck off, then, Jake-from-Rochester, I don't think I want you on the Internet anyway.

tei said...

And ps, I was the guy imping tattoozen a couple of weeks ago and asking all the Brad Warner penis questions. Deal with it.

merciless said...

There is something really odd about Brad's anti-internet rants and his actual life. It's not as hypocritical as Jimmy Swaggart ranting against the evils of motel sex with ugly hookers or Jundo advising kind speech while at the same time calling his tormentors crab infested butt doodlers.. but it's close.

Merciful said...

It's not that close. In the same ballpark? Sure.

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

Hey there Brad,

I'm not asking when you're coming to my town. You are coming to my town, Saint Louis, the US's most under-rated city. My girlfriend and I plan on coming to the talk at the Zen Center.

It looks like you're going to be in the area for a few days, if you need anything, rides around, a tour of the city, dinner, a place to sleep, let me know.

Anyhow, I'm glad you're coming out.

~Sal Laughter

tei said...

And ps, I was the guy imping tattoozen a couple of weeks ago and asking all the Brad Warner penis questions. Deal with it.

Oh, for crying out loud.

I did not write this and I have now signed in, happy?

Manny Furious said...

Of course the internet is "real" in some sense. However, "real" is just a word, an abstract idea. Ironically, it is not a "real" description of anything "real". Etc. Etc. I may be an idiot, but I do feel like we're wasting our time debating what is "real" or "not real" seeing as how everything is in a sense real and not real.

--And yet... I'm letting language get the best of me....

Anyhow, semantics aside, whether or not internet life is "real", I do think it leads more often to further isolation and antisocial behavior. Several studies done seem to support this thesis (and if I were writing a paper, I'd include a reference page...). Nevertheless, if it does make someone's life suck a little less, then what difference does it make?

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

I think the main fallacy of the "internet makes you antisocial and unhappy" theory is the idea that the Internet is some kind of alternate universe. The internet is not a different world. The interent is a part of the world. So no, spending all of your time online is not a good thing, but neither is spending all your time eating or running or playing bingo or staring blankly at a wall.

This seems completely obvious, of course, but some people just don't seem to get it.

Kannonji Admin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kannonji Admin said...

What you said about Second Life and how it is being used to deliver teachings in a unique way to people throughout the country without a local sangha, or for those who have disabilities, is extremely superficial. We pretty much understand it's virtual. But we are sitting in our homes together - we are coming online to listen to talks and ask questions together. I don't much care what we call it - virtual, or whatever else. I'm sure when books came along to replace oral traditions the more conservative types may have thought it wasn't 'real.' Everything, just as it is, is real.

Robbie Grey said...

^ Says the guy who must pretty much live online in order to follow all of the blogs he claims to follow in his blogger profile

Architect of the Matrix said...

Blogger tei said...
I think the main fallacy of the "internet makes you antisocial and unhappy" theory is the idea that the Internet is some kind of alternate universe.
*********************************

No, the internet is the Real Universe® and the other universe is the alternate universe. Then there's the alternate alternate universe, the alternate alternate alternate universe, and so on.

Only the internet is Real®.

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

Don't read:
"Internet use is causing social isolation in the U.S., study finds".

Obviously whoever did that study was simply not a True Believer® in the Internet that god, the father, Al Gore created when he said: "Let there be wavelength division multiplexed (WDM [a PDF]) light!

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

I, for one, am opposed to allowing children (up to age 7) and 'early adolescence' (up to 14 years 11 months) to use computers, computer games, or television at home, in the school, or elsewhere.

And I am not kidding about this last tidbit!

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

Nothing short of 'social retardation' describes many youth who are overexposed to computers, the internet, the alternate internet, and so forth.

I know, I designed the Matrix!

Anonymous said...

?

Obama bin Laden said...

FNORD

Anonymous said...

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous."
-- Carl Sagan

Anonymous said...

If you don't believe Carl Sagan,
ask his ex-wife.

Anonymous said...

The Law of Conservation of Energy
has been around for about 14 billion years.

Anonymous said...

An object in a state of free fall
transforms ALL its gravitational
potential energy into kinetic energy.

Anonymous said...

Thus, there is no energy left over
to do the work of crushing anything
in its path. If there were something
in its path, it would decelerate and
not continue accelerating.

Anonymous said...

"
I, for one, am opposed to allowing children (up to age 7) and 'early adolescence' (up to 14 years 11 months) to use computers, computer games, or television at home, in the school, or elsewhere.

And I am not kidding about this last tidbit!"

THIS PERSON OBVIOUSLY HAS NO CHILDREN....LOL

Anonymous said...

FNORD collapsed in free fall
for over 2 seconds.

Anonymous said...

This would be impossible unless
enormous amounts of energy
(such as from explosives)
were added to system.

Anonymous said...

The system in this case was
a 47-storey building,
each storey being about the size
of a football field.

Anonymous said...

Therefore, the collapse of FNORD
was a controlled demolition.

Q.E.D.

Anonymous said...

Zoinks! The hoops you gotta jump thru
to get past blogger's spam filter!

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you rant about
on the Internets.

Anonymous said...

Zen and the Art of Dogging?

tei said...

No, the internet is the Real Universe® and the other universe is the alternate universe. Then there's the alternate alternate universe, the alternate alternate alternate universe, and so on.
Only the internet is Real®.


I am not entirely sure whether this is supposed to be an attack on what I wrote earlier or just incoherent keyboard smashing. If it is the former-- which is the generous interpretation-- then allow me to make myself more clear: I was not suggesting that the internet is more real than meatspace. I was pointing out that, if we accept the premise that degrees of realness can be assigned to different spaces and methods of communication, that is the conclusion which must be drawn. Since the conclusion is clearly ridiculous, it is reasonable to assert that the premise is also false.

Anonymous said...

"When was there a golden age of American morality? The U.S. was built on genocide, theft and enslavement."

Barry Graham 28-1-11

Ran said...

- I haven’t read much but I noticed @ 3:38 pm: - (- why doesn’t Brad have the dates on?) “I'm sure when books came along to replace oral traditions the more conservative types may have thought it wasn't 'real.'

- Based on what?

- Based on fucking fucking fucking fucking fucking fucking what? [- !!!]


Though of course a book cannot always substitute a face to face encounter.


- There is a story about Master Obaku in which a disciple of his, named Haikyu, or something of the sort, - who is said to have been also a minister in the Thang government, - presented his master (- i.e. Obaku) with a manuscript in which was [supposed to be - i.e.] a way of understanding “Zen”. - Obaku took the manuscript, threw it down on the floor, and remained silent. - After a while he asked: Have you understood?

- “Not exactly” - was the reply.

- “Had you understood you would have understood anything of ‘Zen’” - said Obaku - “The moment anything is put on ink and paper, not a trace of ‘Zen’ is left in it”.


So far for the first point.


- Second, - “Everything, just as it is, is real”, - still @ 3:38 - just the next sentence.

Though of course undeniable - this is an extremely intellectual attitude.

Real” here means, - having actual reasonable value in the relevant sense.

I’ve related to this before and I suppose others did too.

Kannonji Admin said...

“I'm sure when books came along to replace oral traditions the more conservative types may have thought it wasn't 'real.'”

- Based on what?

Based on my opinion, like Brad based this whole thing on his. Thanks!

Robbie Grey said...

^ Says the guy who must pretty much live online in order to follow all of the blogs he claims to follow in his blogger profile

Kannonji Admin said...

Ad hominem attacks sometimes work but, of course, they don't lead to any discourse. They cut them off, maybe.

Anonymous said...

alone

R said...

10:09 am: - “Based on my opinion”.

How surprising.

How ever so surprising.

I would never have guessed that in a million years.

btw said...

How about your opinion. Is it based on anything?

Victoria Zen Centre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ran is a bitter, sarcastic, savage little man. As evidenced all over these blog comments.

andrew said...

phew.. lot of angst in the comments!

I think with anything there's a chance for suffering especially when over indulgence is present. I feel as if this may be what you're kinda getting at.

On the flip side, without internet, I would have never been exposed to Gil Fronsdal out of San Fran if I hadn't randomly stumbled on his podcasts over a year ago. His hour long talks make me feel as if I were there and have truly had an impact.

R said...

Well the posts are there, and each person can have his own view.

Of me, and of whoever posted @ 8:24 am.

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

Isaac Asimov's novel "The Naked Sun" was about a society where no one met face to face and only interacted by holgraphic presence while "safely" remaining at home. Someone is killed and the human and robot detective team have to solve the case of how a person is murdered when no one ever visits each other in person.

Kannonji Admin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kannonji Admin said...

Dystopian plots make for good science fiction and sensational Hollywood loves an apocalypse. The doomsday scenarios may grab our attentions but, at least to my mind, we'll always be practicing Buddhism amid suffering. Were Buddhism practiced in ideal situations it would have no value, really. It is Buddhism's ability to transcend this or that which is at the root as to why any situation is no problem.

The world is a mess, but all is well.

Anonymous said...

Teachers who get to know you, who watch you interact with them and with others and come to see how your mind works, can help you to make faster progress on the path. It's no more complicated than that.

4pple said...

some possible food for thought in a 'here are some alternative and/or additonal layers' way for whoever happens upon it:

http://www.ted.com/talks/amber_case_we_are_all_cyborgs_now.html

Amber Case: We are all cyborgs now, approx 8 minutes

Robin said...

Well Brad, as usual you raise a good and timely point. The fact is, given the choice between thinking about Zen (reading, writing, posting. teaching, commenting, painting pictures about Zen) and, like, doing Zen, most of us are easily seduced. Zen can't be done online. A side point I would ask you to consider is this: you can't do it in a meat sangha, either. As for teachers, I'm for 'em... but not without serious reservations. They're both useful and useless, something they have in common with, well, this blog, among ten thousand other things.

In other words, the Tao that can be named is not the Tao. Whether it's named in this comment or named in words by some guru, there's no shortcut to realising (word means: making real) the thing yourself. And that's killa hard for something so easy.

My mantra is: if it works, it's good. I don't walk the ordained path, but I respect and honour it. Nor do I walk the Second Life path, but if it works for somebody else, I'm for it.

As a final point, take it from a hermit: we don't all have access to a zendo. Or even a grocery store. You townies tend to forget that.

Love you, love your work, love your blog.

Gassho,

Robin
Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit
(link above)

Gui Do said...

This is a strange viewpoint from someone who got the authority to teach from a Japanese roshi. As long as you breath in and out and are not deeply comatose, your mind reflects things - if it is the computer screen or the girl next to it smelling nice or bad. Reality ends - for you - when your brain isn't capable of doing that. The differentiation you make is rather artificial. The (Buddhist) truth is: "There is also no reality in Nishijima Roshi." The underlying shunyata is what we have to point to.