Thursday, February 10, 2011


Here is my response to the Genpo Roshi affair.

Or cut and paste:


Anonymous said...

Buddhism was proving to be a huge pain in the ass for Genpo.

Mumon said...

And here's mine, a bit more fully expressed:

Mumon said...

OK, Brad, having read your piece, I still stand by my piece, and I guess that's why Genpo's umm...probably done a tad better in the marketplace than thee:

Big Mind is ovuh. It wasn't, I think just one fling he had.

Genpo Roshi (TM) built himself into a "brand" and now that brand is worth less than 0.001% of whatever Richard Simmons as a brand is worth these days.

Merzel's sangha, I'd bet, probably fired him. I don't know, but who'd be in his sangha after his prized New Quick Way to Enlightenment was shown to be a sham?

And yes, it does point to the whole structure of his life.

He got to keep Big Mind - and it's worth exactly what he got for it, and now it's not worth the electrons forming the characters on my screen.

Anonymous said...

"...Big Mind® is a deeply hurtful and dangerous technique that goes absolutely against the real teachings of Soto style Zen Buddhism..."

Fully agree. Furthermore, for all those reading this and for the record, Big Mind has nothing to do with Rinzai Zen Buddhism either...

Thank you Brad for pointing out (again) what so many delusional people fail to see.

- Frank

Harry said...

Further to the rather more interesting topic from the last comments section...

Now, Dogen did us the favour of leaving a very clear record of exactly what he thinks enlightenment is. It's basically what the whole of Shobogenzo is about, but the chapter called Daigo ('Great Enlightenment') may be a good focus/touchstone.

In his translation Nishijima Roshi chose not to translate the 'Go' of the title of this chapter as the usual 'enlightenment' but preferred 'realisation' because, he felt, the notion of enlightenment has proved unhelpful in people really understanding Buddhism. Even if that is the case I don't see it as a reason not to translate the term as 'enlightenment': Blaming the word for a bad understanding of it is like blaming the man/ woman/ sheep we desire for our desiring them (to borrow a theme employed elsewhere by Dogen)! There is a sound case in what Nishijima says on the matter too though IMO, but I still reckon it is better to qualify 'enlightenment' in real terms than to dismiss or disregard the term entirely...

Harry said...

...Here's the opening statement of Shobogenzo Daigo ('Great Enlightenment') and I've replaced Nishijima Roshi's 'realisation' with 'enlightenment', just as an alternative reading.

What seems clear is that Dogen is indicating that enlightenment, and 'going beyond enlightenment' is vigorous, dynamic and on-going momentary acts/events (everyday acts and events of buddhist practitioners/ 'patriarchs' including acknowledging enlightenment and forgetting about it). Note also that he presents various and diverse types of activity as enlightenment-conduct...

[217] The great truth of buddhas, having been transmitted, is a continuous line of immediacy; and the meritorious conduct of patriarchs, having been
revealed, is a level expanse. Therefore, to actualize great enlightenment, to arrive
at the truth without realizing it, to reflect on enlightenment and to play with enlightenment, and to forget enlightenment and let go and act: these are just the everyday state of Buddhist patriarchs. [Buddhist patriarchs] experience utilization
of the twelve hours, in which they take things up, and they experience being used by the twelve hours, in which they throw things away. Springing out
further from this pivot-point, they also experience playing with mud-balls and playing with the soul. From their great enlightenment onward, Buddhist
patriarchs inevitably master learning in practice that is actualized like this;
at the same time, great enlightenment that is totally enlightenment is not seen as a
“Buddhist patriarch,” and a Buddhist patriarch who is totally a Buddhist patriarch is not “total great enlightenment.” A Buddhist patriarch springs out
beyond the boundaries of “great enlightenment,” and great enlightenment is a face
and eyes springing out in the state that is ascendant over “Buddhist patriarchs.”

What he is saying is really a lot more substantial than a simple philosophical/ intellectual negation of 'enlightenment'.



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

Correction: KC received transmission in December 2009 and was not being groomed. She'd undergone shiho.

Sweeping Zen said...

Also, it was lovers, not lover. That is the information that came from those present when he announced it all, though he did not specify who these plural individuals were.

gniz said...

I thought Brad's new essay on Elephant Journal was absolutely top-notch, one of his best pieces in years.

The fact that so many people can fail to see where the real outrage lies with Genpo just shows that there really is a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em.

Manny Furious said...

I don't know. I think sexual misconduct is a big deal for a spiritual leader, if only because it's pretty good evidence that the leader hasn't actually come to terms with certain truths about himself. You can't go around calling yourself "enlightened" if you can't even keep it in your pants. I'm not enlightened by any means, and yet I see the futility of giving in to my sexual desires when it may cause pain to anyone. If Genpo had truly learned anything superficial about himself (much less anything truly spiritual), he would have been okay admitting to himself that he shouldn't be in a monogomous relationship. But he couldn't even do that much. I just think that "sexual misconduct" is pretty good evidence that the leader hasn't even done "the work" on himself needed to lead others.

On the other hand, if he truly did "fall in love" or find his "soulmate" my opinions do change (and these are only my opinions, after all, not "Truths").

Manny Furious said...


I liked your blog post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about living an "authentic" life. And I think that's why I believe that so-called sexual misconduct in spiritual communities is a big deal. It's straight-up evidence that the leader wasn't living an authentic life.And if he wasn't living an authentic life, how could his teachings be authentic? There were ulterior motives behind his leadership. If there weren't, there would be no need to lie and cover up such things.

I don't think outright condemnation is appropriate, because, as you said, we've all done things that were inauthentic. At the same time, most of us aren't going around claiming to be enlightened and taking advantage of people and their money.

Ultimately this is why I disagree with Brad and do believe this thing with Merzel to be a big deal. It's the smoking gun (for anyone who wasn't already convinced that Big Mind was a scam and a creepy joke) that he and his teachings were not authentic.

Anonymous said...

ha! love that you opened with the obvious pun. you're a real I-IV-V'er !

MindlessTroll said...

From one that rarely hesitates to criticize you when I think you are mistaken, I think this article was great. Your take on sexuality is refreshing. Big Mind should be criticized strongly, but much more could be accomplished by sticking to criticizing the content than simply berating the person.

Anonymous said...

There were some of us at Genpo's center who were very concerned about his 3 houses, etc. But, the plain fact is that Merzel had structured his organization so that there was no way to register any complaint or concern about any ethical concern. Any questions to him were met with incredibly abusive responses.
And, more to the point, when Merzel met publicly with sangha members last week, he was asked about forming an ethics policy (this was before he disrobed). His response was that even had there been an ethics policy in place at the center it would have done nothing to prevent him from his abuses of power. Had he not been caught, he'd still be doing all this stuff.

Anonymous said...


Mumon said...

Manny Furious:

Thanks; obviously I share your sentiments. I also consider, in contrast, Genjo Marinello, who openly admits that Zen practice doesn't really do very much for the deep-seated psychological issues which blight most of us.

There simply are no laurels to rest on.

Of course I also share Brad's sentiments to a large extent although I'd say Big Mind simply cannot be the real enchilada when it comes to understanding, which probably triples its uselessness as laurels to rest upon.

proulx michel said...

Manny Furious wrote:

Ultimately this is why I disagree with Brad and do believe this thing with Merzel to be a big deal.

I'm under the impression that you are missing his point. It is indeed as you say, sexual misconduct is one of the surest ways to generate suffering around you, and one who is supposed to teach is also in a situation of having to be somewhat exemplary. And sex is always a big issue for people of protestant background (even if you're a Jew or a Catholic, the USA are, in my opinion, a protestant background, just like Vienna was for Sigmund Freud a catholic background).

The thing is however that, just as Yasutani sought to divert Zen from Buddhism so as to allow senseless killing be "zen", Merzel steps out of Buddhism so a no longer to be liable to his statue as "roshi" or Buddhist priest. It therefore means that he has no intention to truly "repent" and atone for his mistakes. He will keep doing the same, only, no longer being a "roshi" he'll be less condemnable. He'll probably divorce and keep +=*#ing all those handsome females that will crop at his Big Mind(TM) seminaries.

Not very ethical. But such people have nothing to care for ethics.

Anonymous said...

So we can't read this post without becoming a member? Odd, I was able to read it earlier but am now being asked to become a member each time I do.

dirty sanchez said...

I wonder if the claims about the dangers of Big Mind are not overblown. I have heard of people getting into trouble with zazen but have there been any documented cases of Genpo's technique actually hurting people? All kinds of claims are made about everything from violence on TV to Rock music to too much sex etc, affecting folks and making them act bad. As far as I can tell, none of that is true for the vast majority of people. I think if BM helps 9 out of 10 people and they are able and willing to part with big bucks for it, good for Genpo and good for the freedom to try it.

I have to disagree with Mumon too. Big Mind is not over. It will be bigger than before because like Brad said, It appeals because unlike zazen, something does happen and it happens rather fast.

Anonymous said...

"So we can't read this post without becoming a member? Odd, I was able to read it earlier but am now being asked to become a member each time I do."

Dump your cookies

Seagal Rinpoche said...

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Bizarro Seagal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bizarro Seagal said...

Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.

Anonymous said...

I once asked my girlfriend what exactly made her jealous. I had all kinds of ideas why women could feel jealousy, like veing scared that the other woman is better in sex or that I will leave with the other woman etc. But to my big surprise, she said, after getting a few questions from me trying to get to the rock bottom line of the problem - she said: What makes me jealous is that idea that you are sweet to a woman. Like you touch her nicely, kiss her sweetly, etc.

Go figure.

I found out that cynical kind of sex without any caring or love involved doesn't seem to bother her much.

I prefer being anonymous to protect my gf's private stuff.

Anonymous said...

"I prefer being anonymous to protect my gf's private stuff."

Whatever, Mysterion.


Manny Furious said...


Maybe I do misinterpret Brad's post. It's highly possible. I do think, though, that you're misunderstanding me. I think I better articulated my views in my response to Mumon. I do think Brad is a little blase re: Merzel's "indiscretions". It isn't that his acts in and of themselves were bad. Really, we're all consenting adults and Merzel can do whatever to whomever as long as it's consensual. But I do think that when these scandals come out into the open, these are telltale signs that the spiritual leader was not being authentic or genuine, and, therefore, his teachings weren't authentic or genuine.

So in a sense, I guess I agree with Brad more than I or you originally thought. In short, I think the so-called misuse of sexuality is a very obvious sign that Big Mind is not a genuine "path" and that a lot of people have been duped.

Anonymous said...

I swear it wasn't mysterion, i don't even think he has a gf. Haha.

Mumon said...

Dirty Sanchez:

Look where est or whatever the heck it's called is today. That's Merzel's future, only he's older than Erhard.

But my larger point is that even if you have an authentic path it's not making your life authentic if you're not continuously practicing it.

And that's Hard Work.

Snap The Magic said...

What is it that happens 'very fast' in Genpo's Big Mind experience?

A few thoughts.

If, on a psychological level, a realisation entails something akin to seeing oneself as one already is, wouldn't this be a tad disturbing at the damaging end of the scale for some? And if, for others, not - why not?

I'm thinking of situations akin to where people can react to sudden traumas with a sudden denial. In these cases could it not be that a 'guru' could play a kind of good cop/bad cop game, where folk leave feeling happy-clappy, unaware that they have been slung shot into a momentary blissful state from some sudden, deep trauma?

Could it not be that a strategy like Gempo's 'Big Mind' might be one that initiates a trauma that has nice warm 'Big Mind' hands that catch the the pour soul's leap out of some abyss?

Maybe the damage might take a good while to work itself into a persons life and by then, perhaps not seem related to the 'Big Mind' experience at all.

At least discovering your spouse has done something traumatic to realise is a) out in the open and b)part of conventional social behaviours which have many conventional social and psychological support structures - within and without.

Even if you feel screwed up after a few days or during a 'Big Mind' session, isn't the damage caused likely to be much more difficult to find help for.

It seems to me that much of our habits are wired into our brains, and get wired into our brains. And that this is why regular practice is so important: it provides the sort of wiring over time that can help to stabilise a practitoner against sudden shocks to the system. Especially if it can be the case that some feel-good 'enlightenment' experience might also be someone in oh-my-fucking-god nightmare denial.

And if doing zazen gives you a bad experience, isn't that more likely to be something you can redress - unless of course the bad experience involves a person who already might need help, or someone who has given themselves over to some 'gurus' influence (hence the same ball park as something like 'Big Mind')?

In my ignorance I address all this because I have experience of someone close to me react very strangely to a trauma. And it took years for this person to come to terms with the strategies of reinforced 'denial' before eventually starting to integrate the actual matter of what impacted on them.

(sorry about the psychobabble; please take it as loose short-hand)

And to Mumon. So what if 'Big Mind' becomes less appealing or more appealing? Take a thousand wives and have them betrayed by their husbands. Pretty horrible. But take just one of them, say the last ever to do 'Big Mind', and it screws with their ability to cope with their life, with their husband's affair...

To what would a person, from a balanced state, talking from the perspective of Zen Buddhism more urgently focus on, and be more deeply concerned about, given the subject of Gempo having come to light?

I don't know about you, but I don't fancy meeting the whole or even half the real dragon tonight. But that doesn't mean I not looking or don't breath fire.

anon #108 said...

Hi Harry,

"In his translation Nishijima Roshi chose not to translate the 'Go' of the title of this chapter as the usual 'enlightenment' but preferred 'realisation' because, he felt, the notion of enlightenment has proved unhelpful in people really understanding Buddhism. Even if that is the case I don't see it as a reason not to translate the term as 'enlightenment'"

I dunno Harry. I mean I dunno what go meant to Dogen or his audience (is it different from satori, or from anuttara-samyak-sambodhi?). While I can read what he wrote about it and come to my own conclusions, if it is the case that "the notion of enlightenment has proved unhelpful in people really understanding Buddhism" - and FWIW, I believe it has* - then that is a VERY good reason not to use the word ("realisation" could prove to be just as misleading if it's taken to mean the same thing as "enlightenment" has come to mean).

Of course, it really doesn't matter if you and I find different uses for different words and find value and meaning in different words. But isn't it the case that enlightenment has come to mean a state of some kind of state of perfection, some kind of level of super-human attainment associated with spiritual practices which, if you're lucky, will one day result in you too becoming one of the few 'enlightened', living in a sate of enlightenment? I think that's what it has come to mean, and I don't think such a state, or such people exist, or have ever existed. Nope, not even G Buddha. I don't doubt there have been some very decent people; some very insightful people; some very balanced people; very possibly some very all-three people, but calling them and their behaviour "enlightened" - using that word in the sense that it is used by just about everyone who uses it - is very misleading. Worse than useless, IMHO.

...And if what I'm saying sounds just like the standard Soto denial/dismissal/negation of enlightenment some despairingly refer to, I promise you I couldn't give two hoots about "Soto" or his daft ideas. I came to a Dogen Sangha teacher by happenstance and fought all the way to start with. But after a while it just started to make sense; what I was hearing was confirmed by my experience.

Where'd anon @1.35 go?
Oh...he didn't ask us did he!

*Mind you, were it not for great unquestioning belief in a notion of enlightenment/satori that I entertained for decades, I'm not sure that the moment I realised my mistake would have been as enlightening as it was. And it was.

So...whatever innit :)

Anonymous said...

Genpo (dude) never struck me as a real Zen teacher. I saw Big Mind once, I couldn't swallow that as Zen practice or teaching. I think he may be successful commercially though but he ain't the real deal as far as I'm concerned. Ergo his 'scandal' is just like hearing about someone on the street who has that propensity. I guess it will be easier for him now he loses the robes. He has enough to launch himself with regardless. Smart guy after all I guess.

Harry said...


Quibbling about the word and what dead people thought is quite besides the point. The realised word (whatever it is this week), on the other hand, is the very point itself. This is what Master Dogen was all about.

Let's ban the word 'Genpo' and 'enlightenment' then, shall we? What'll be next on the shitlist?



anon #108 said...

I don't think I'm "quibbling", Harry. Nor suggesting we ban words. I did suggest a few very specific things I believe the word "enlightenment" has come to mean in the Buddhist/spiritual world and said why I believe it's not a useful word. If you feel I've misunderstood the word or the notion it represents and am, as a result, missing out on something valuable I'm receptive to anything you might have to say - anything that would recommend it over and above, or in addition to other words that have value in the context of our lives and experience.

I don't mind you using it all day long ;)

Moon Face Buddha said...

Just remind us again Brad, what IS your personal experience of the Big Mind (tm) practice?

I think the words you are looking for are FUCK ALL!

A said...

To Harry

It struck me when I read your interesting post, that you shift from 'unhelpful' to 'blaming' and 'dismiss' when presenting the situation.

Reading your post, I took your 'unhelpful' as presenting Gudo's helpful choice in translating 'enlightenment' as 'realisation'. As such it can be seen as a choice that puts 'realisation' as an alternative that stands WITH 'enlightenment'.

I take this as helpful, in the same way that reading different translations of the same koan can be, and not as an instance of some kind of thought police at work, or a derogation of the term 'enlightenment'.

Doesn't 'the realised word' in the case of reading Gudo's 'realisation' also include the established notion 'enlightenment'.

I think it would be difficult for a reader to exist in the kind of vacuum for it not to do so, and for him/her to actualise much if anything that such a translation has to offer.

However, I do assume that actualising 'the realised word' is so, also, from contexts that include our recasting of the translation ie how we react and colour it for others.

john e mumbles said...

In Crooked Cucumber somewhere Shunryu suzuki said, in response to his students opposing some of Chogyam Trungpa's teaching (drinking) methods, that (as students) they were simply not in a position to judge.

In that same vein, enlightenment is never a problem for the enlightened, only for the unenlightened. For them it's a "gaining idea."

Bowser said...

A lot of us love words. Maybe Harry has convinced himself that because they can be so beautiful and powerful that there must be a way of using them that doesn't ultimately confuse. If so I don't agree but plan to continue on with them regardless.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anon #108 said...

"...enlightenment is never a problem for the enlightened, only for the unenlightened."

Are you suggesting Harry is enlightened and I'm not, john e !?

Bloody cheek :(

Bowser said...

John E mumbled: "enlightenment is never a problem for the enlightened, only for the unenlightened. For them it's a "gaining idea."

Oh boy.. The dreaded gaining idea. Who in the world wouldn't have these gaining ideas? Can you provide an example of the creature that doesn't have "gaining ideas"? This seems like just another imaginative thought about what it must be like to be really really enlightened. I'm not picking on you John but where do people get this stuff?

john e mumbles said...

From the enlightened, obviously!

Don't worry if you don't understand...

Bowser said...

Sorry John. I should have taken a pill. I guess I do know where people get this idea. I just don't know how they can consider it seriously. That is to say I've never been able to other than in the abstract.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad, looks like your post on the Elephant site has disappeared.

john e mumbles said...

Everything that comes out of anybody's mouth is abstract. Don't take anything seriously!

ie; Keep a light touch...:)

Bowser said...

Yes, good advice that. Sometimes I go off half-cocked.

At least that's what me gf complains. :(

Anonymous said...

All human beings have the tendency to fall down from time to time. A Zen Teacher, guided by the Precepts, Wisdom and Compassion, should be expected to have more skill and experience in avoiding life's temptations and pitfalls ... they should be expected not to fall down easily, not to yield to life's temptations too easily. But Buddhist "Masters" are yet flesh and blood, and only perfect in their human imperfection. (Beware of any "guru" who claims to be so far beyond humanity that they are now beyond all possible falling).

In my view, any human being can fall down, and it is just a matter of what the person does then ... picking themselves up, recovering balance, getting back on the trail, apologizing and learning from any damage caused. The real "Master" should much more --rarely-- fall down but, even more impressively, should show true "mastery" in getting back up if she does. Like any great athlete or dancer, the point is not that we never get knocked around, never trip or stumble ... but how we handle the fall (as in the martial arts ... there is no training offered on how to never fall, but endless training on how to fall well). Show me the man or woman who falls down sometimes ... but who demonstrates how to fall well and recover one's footing ... and I will show you a great Zen "Master".

On the other hand, beware of any purported "master" who falls down again and again ... or harms his students again and again ... or who tries to recover from falling down mostly concerned about covering his own ass . This, in my mind, is what makes the difference between, for example, a "master" who may have fallen at some time in life into an affair, or a drinking and gambling problem that he or she recovers from ... and those that repeat the behavior again and again over many years. (That, in my mind, appears to be the difference between such cases and Genpo "Roshi" and Eido "Roshi" who seem to have repeated their harmful behavior over decades).

If I may add my own "test" for finding a teacher, I would say find a man or woman who sometimes (though rarely) falls down, makes mistakes, makes a donkey's ass of him or herself... and observe closely what happens, watch how he or she does it. Oh, don't get me wrong... probably you do not want as a teacher someone who falls down each and every day, nor someone who falls down too BIG (robbing banks, lying profusely and intentionally starting fires, for example). No, I mean someone who... every so often, now and then, like everyone... makes a fool of him/herself, loses his Zen Master cool, over-indulges, does a real face-flop, says something she regrets, breaks some (hopefully not too big) Precepts in some very human way.

Anonymous said...

How does this person recover their balance? With what grace do they fall or, at least, get back up on their feet? Do they profoundly reflect on their mistakes, learn from them, apologize sincerely to anyone hurt (hopefully not too badly) ... and move on? As a matter of fact, since this crazy practice is greatly about living with some grace in this imperfect, often disappointing, trap and temptation filled world, a teacher with a couple of serious imperfections may be a good guide on how to avoid, lessen or escape the worst of it!

Oh, I am not trying to excuse any truly heinous abuses or scandals which have been seen among clergy of all traditions, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist no less (not these "Zen teachers" who keep on with their harmful behavior year in and year out). NOT AT ALL! I have little tolerance for members of the clergy who abuse their positions of trust and hurt others, sometimes children. But also we must be cautious of anyone who wants to be our teacher by telling us that they are beyond all failings, never ever break a Precept (not even the small ones), are "Perfectly Enlightened Beings" who never trip and fall down. I'll believe it when I see it!

Certainly, it is true that within Enlightenment, there is no place to fall, nothing which can be a mistake. Yet, in this world of Samsara where we live, I do not think there is anyone who gets away always without cuts and bruises and difficult days. (Anyone who thinks that Zen practice is going to ensure that they never have another "bad day" is in for a bad surprise. Whether we fully "drop good and bad" or not, we must live in a world sometimes real good and real bad.) Sure, this "self" is but an illusion... and so are all the other "selfs" in this world, but we are going to bump and bang into each other sometimes nonetheless. The hole you stumble in may be like a dream, and ultimately there is no place to fall. But fall into that hole and break your imaginary leg, you may!

Zen Practice shows us how to move through life leaving no traces.

Yet is is darn hard to get through this daily life without stirring up some waves, catching some mud, making some sparks. Falling off our bicycle into a ditch.

Nameless One said...

The truth is despite all the money and the hype and the new age edge of his teaching, I really like Genpo. Teachers can make big mistakes and the perfectly polished profiles of our distant ancestors have been dusted a long time ago. The chances are these guys( women and men) were human and very prone to mistakes too. I very humbly redirect you to my clumsy ramblings about Kannon. I just wish the guy is not going to be barked at by an angry mob.

As you relentlessy chase falling teachers in the name of your idea of justice, what point do you want to make? Could you for one second live in this space that you are, Kannon itself? That might bring this peace to you, a peace you belong to from the very beginning. Just a pointer even it might really irritates you. A sign that it is spot on ( at least that always works for me, when really p....., I have to really look at it). Take great care of yourself.

S. said...

I don't know what exactly the story is here, or who slept with whom, and how, and in what position, but a huge warning flag for me a long time ago was the amount of money exchanging hands in and around the Big Mind organization. If you're charging people (or "allowing them to donate for a special opportunity," or whatever) $10,000 to get "special instruction" from you, well, let's just say that money smells of corruption, and the stink associated with people regularly paying you that amount of money for a nebulous "service" carries for miles.

We're talking about an enormous amount of power here. You've got this guy who finds that people are willing to give him $10,000 just to sit in a room with him, who treat him like a demigod, and women who are attracted to the power he projects... it goes both ways. Genpo may not have as solid an ethical backbone as other Zen teachers who have been in similar positions and not gone in the same directions he has, but there's a lot of us who, finding ourselves in the same position, might not fare so well either.

john e mumbles said...

Meanwhile, back in the barnyard...

Why would Genpo dump his cash cow in favor of legitimate practice that might be of some actual benefit?

That doesn't jibe with the man's track record.

There are infinite sheep to fleece, and once they're fleeced, well, go ask Harry @ 7:20 AM...

Sweeping Zen said...


Harry said...

"Doesn't 'the realised word' in the case of reading Gudo's 'realisation' also include the established notion 'enlightenment'."

Hi Anon,

Well, we could say that, and it's well established in Dogen's zen that 'polishing the tile' is indeed making a mirror. But I think it would be naive to think that there wasn't sectarian reasons/assumptions at play there in the choice of word. Nishijima Roshi, like Brad, is quite adverse to Rinzai zen (which emphasises enlightened experiences) and the language of it even though Nishijima Roshi has clearly talked in terms of enlightenment experience himself (he explains the 'first and second enlightenment' the first being zazen and the second being a sudden, deep understanding of what Buddhism is about after some years of practice... satori by any other name?)

At any rate, I don't really care about it if I'm honest. Both Soto and Rinzai tend to disappear up their own ultimate wholes from time to time with equal human gracelessness.

I'm REALLY not enlightened ('second enlightenment') by the way (anyone who was wondering needs to get a serious grip on their knickers!)



Brad Warner said...

Yeah. I noticed that the article is hard to access now. I'm going to either find a way to work around it or post it elsewhere. Stand by.

anon #108 said...

"I'm REALLY not enlightened..."

You can't fool me, Harry. That's what they ALL say ;)

Anonymous said...

where's that article go??

Kelissima said...

LOLOL! Maybe Genpo and "President" Ikeda of Soka Gakkai will start working together and make each other even richer!

Why should 1000+ years of Buddhist tradition interfere with modern commerce and self-promotion?

Mumon said...

Snap The Magic:

Sorry; I wasn't discounting those who critique or those who have suffered re: "Big Mind;" it's in the same potty as other LGAT stuff, as far as I'm concerned.

That's why I keep repeating "caveat emptor."

If your "teacher" tries to tell you you can't authenticate him run.

Harry said...

Well, 108, I can substantially authenticate that I am REALLY not enlightened on the second grade level:

No 'donate' button on my blog.



Rick said...

There's more than a few people who confuse Daoism with Zen, so this may be appropriate:

Brad Warner said...

Someone re-posted the article in the comments. I assume this was meant to be helpful. But please don't do that.

I thought I'd achieved a nice work-around for the way the article became inaccessible. But I didn't.

I will get it up somewhere that it can be more easily seen soon.

Please hold on. OK?

Brad Warner said...

Moon Faced Buddha said:
Just remind us again Brad, what IS your personal experience of the Big Mind (tm) practice?

I think the words you are looking for are FUCK ALL!

Exactly correct! As I have clearly said numerous times.

I also have no personal experience of eating dog poop. And yet I feel fully qualified to state that it does not taste good.

john e mumbles said...

Hey Brad, nevermind the subject at hand, how'd the gig go last night?

MrWhistles said...

I don't know much about much, but I personally would be wary of anything that cost $50,000 that didn't go hundreds of miles per hour, allow me to at least live in it, or feed me for years and years to come. Hell, you can get a prostitute for a whole lot less then that and experience "enlightenment."

the subject at hand said...

= Bollocks

Anonymous said...


Read your Elephant article and got sucked into the links, ended up rereading

Just wondering if you had further contact with the person who wrote you and if they were able to move on to something that helped?

Rene said...

Just so everyone knows, in regards to the article "disappearing," Elephant Journal has a paygate that pops up after you use your three free clicks for the day. If you are not a member, you will get three more free clicks tomorrow. Just so you know that it has not, in fact, grown legs and walked off.

-René from Elephant Journal

pooyan said...

I want to say that anyone who thinks they can achieve "enlightenment" in a few hours, especially for $50,000, deserve what they get, but nobody really deserves to get scammed out of so much money. I'm just shocked that there are people in this world who see a $50,000 price tag and don't have any red flags go up. what the hell is up with that? Fools and there money are soon parted. But that just goes way past foolish. I can sorta imagine the kinds of behaviors and actions an "enlightened person" might display, or at least i know some things they wouldn't do, and charging $50,000 bucks a person for just about anything is one of those things that would make me think, i don't want anything to do with this guy. I feel very sad for those people, they obviously want something positive very badly. I wish they could realize it's basically free. That they can get "it" for themselves for free. Buddha did. it's not easy, but it is free.

pooyan said...

I mean to say it's free except for the cost of all of brads books ;)

Anonymous said...

dug that article, Brad. Thank you.
-Patrick - NewZealand

Sweeping Zen Fan said...

An excellent article about dharma transmission, American Zen, etc. -

Paul said...

To Brad

This part of your Elephant Journal article resonated with me quite deeply.

"I’ve come to believe quite strongly that monogamy is not at all the natural condition of human beings, despite what we’ve been told for so many years. For some people it comes effortlessly. For others it is absolutely impossible. I think for most of us it is possible, but extremely difficult."

One of the reasons it did is that, if I characterise my own on-going experiences, I would say that monogamy for me has come 'effortlessy' and been 'extremely difficult' and, at times seemed 'absolutely impossible'.

My relationship to my close friend of 15 years and wife of 7 gives and receives values that extend beyond the dynamics and values of our sexual interactions (of which physical sex is but an aspect).

We are both continually striving to negotiate our lives together with regard to what you call 'the natural condition of human beings': how to find a balanced state as individuals as a couple.

We have practised zazen together and separately, we have let it slip together and separately: a reflection of much of our time as a married couple.

We appear once again on the threshold of making a deeper commitment to expressing our lives together and as individuals, through immensely testing times, to values that run counter to the world we interact with. But this time with great caution and maybe even trepidation (easy to say...).

I would not be exaggerating if I said that at times taking care of our marriage has felt like taking care of the world - past, present and future. But without balance, like a loss of faith, we find ourselves tossed about by it, forgetting - not quite believing - that that balance can be found and maintained long-term.

Sometimes it appears as though we came to each other to help each other out of some kind of hell, where the devil-you-know, has often provided the cosy flames of sanctuary the other felt burnt by.

We have given in so often to the sanctuary of each other within those flames and attempted to form some cool water. That we have, though it has evaporated so often, has shown us the importance of what Buddhism appears to offer - we have found those values time and again apart from it.

We know that heaven and hell is each other and are struggling find sure footing between these extremes.

Nevertheless, our sense of what our 'natural condition', in terms of our expression of 'monogamy', is - and I'm sure always will be - up for grabs.

Have your written elsewhere in more detail about what you feel the 'natural condition of human beings' is in relation to monogamy - what is it that you define as monogamy in the sense you refer to it in the above extract from your article?

Do you or anyone else have any thoughts on the pitfalls or benefits of a married couple attempting to incorporate Zen Buddhist practice from within their relationship, compared with those who come together having already established that practice before they met?

Also, I remember reading an article you did for Suicide Girls, where you interviewed a porn star. There she mentioned something to the effect that when you have sex with someone, you take on their karma. When I think back (I can't find the post) you appeared to agree with that notion. Do you actually feel that is the case, and if so, how do think this works? It seems relevant.

I'm not looking for marriage counselling by the way. I thought sharing an outline of our lives might be of some help in any response(s), and the exercise helps to make things clear in my own mind also?

I don't expect a reply (I understand these things can take time) but perhaps what I have wrote may inform some later post, if you feel you have not already succinctly or satisfactorily covered the matter.



anon #108 said...

Hi Harry,

Something else that caught my attention in one of your earlier comments and on which I'd appreciate your further thoughts, if you have any:

But I think it would be naive to think that there wasn't sectarian reasons/assumptions at play there in the choice of [in this case the E, or not] word.

Are you saying that particular folks reject certain terms because of their allegiance to a particular school of Zen/Buddhism - out of loyalty to the old firm? Maybe some do, but isn't it more likely that some choose not to use certain terms in certain contexts because those terms and the discourse that invariably accompanies them don't meaningfully express what they want to say. Rather than reclaim or redefine them, those folks avoid such words or choose alternatives. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Your use of the word "sectarian" implies to me some kind of political allegiance which is obliged to indiscriminately reject certain terminology as ideologically unsound, and I'm not sure that something so trivial is occurring over the use of the E word.

People end up associating, or being associated with Soto and/or Rinzai in the first place because that approach to Zen/Buddhism resonates with them, not because they feel some obligation...I suggest. The english term "enlightenment" is useful and has meaning for some of those people but not so much for others. It's OK. It's a word. It doesn't have inalienable rights.

* (The use of "un/enlightened" in these here comments on Gempo, his teachings and activities is a very good example, perpetuating the notion of a perfect and lasting state of correct, blameless behaviour. It's a sign of a fundamental misunderstanding of what "enlightened" might usefully mean. It's too late to divest the word of all that baggage, IMHO...Not my main point though.)

Anonymous said...

"I assume this was meant to be helpful."

It was. Sorry bout that.

anon #108 said...

...dunno where the original * (that my *bracketed footnote @3.24am is a comment on) went to. Don't matter.

Extensive further evidence of the kind of discourse surrounding the E word and similar buddhistic terminology that I'm talking about can be found every day over at Zen Forum International.

I've absolutely no idea what most of those guys are talking about most of the time, what they believe they're clarifying or why they feel the need to clarify it. They do it because it's there, I guess; all that technical Buddhist verbiage, which has to be endlessly analysed and satisfactorily explained if we're ever to stand a chance of getting enlightened.

There are worse hobbies.

(Not my main point to you, H. Main point this time: what do you mean by "sectarian reasons/assumptions"? ...not saying you're wrong btw)

john e mumbles said...

A preachment, dear friend
You are about to receive on John Barleycorn
Nicotine and the temptations of Eve

No parkin' by the sewer sign
Hot dog, my razors broke
Water drippin' up the spout
But I dont care, let it all hang out

Hangin' from a pine tree by my knees
Sun is shinin' through the shade
Nobody knows what its all about
It's too much, man, let it all hang out

Saw a man walkin' upside down
My T.V.s on the blink
Made Galileo look like a Boy Scout
Sorry 'bout that, let it all hang out

Sleep all day, drive all night
Brain my numb, can't stop now
For sure ain't no doubt
Keep an open mind, let it all hang out

It's rainin' inside a big brown moon
How does that mess you baby up, leg
Eatin' a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut
Don't stop now, baby, let it all hang out

Let it all hang out
Let it all hang out
Let it all hang out

-The Hombres 1967

anon #108 said...

G'mornin john e :)

john e mumbles said...

Good Morning to you, too, Malcolm, have a wunnerful day, mate!

Anonymous said...

Anon: @ 1:57 pm

This seems to be a cut-and-paste of a Jundo post on Treeleaf

Why didn't you identify it as such?

capcha: miship

Mr. Reee said...

Sing-a-long time!

(heard this on the juke this morning)

Well the dawn was coming,
heard him ringing on my bell.
He said, "My name's the teacher,
that is what I call myself.
And I have a lesson
that I must impart to you.
It's an old expression
but I must insist it's true.

Jump up, look around,
find yourself some fun,
no sense in sitting there hating everyone.
No man's an island and his castle isn't home,
the nest is full of nothing when the bird has flown."

So I took a journey,
threw my world into the sea.
With me went the teacher
who found fun instead of me.

Hey man, what's the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can't seem to find
what I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Then the teacher told me
it had been a lot of fun.
Thanked me for his ticket
and all that I had done...

Re Genpo--not much to say, other than that despite what anyone feels or thinks about the situation, things are proceeding exactly the way they should for all involved.

You can read that many different ways--and perhaps you should. :)

Harry said...

Your use of the word "sectarian" implies to me some kind of political allegiance which is obliged to indiscriminately reject certain terminology as ideologically unsound, and I'm not sure that something so trivial is occurring over the use of the E word.

Hi Malc,

I'm more sure that it is happening to some significant extent, but maybe I'm wrong. Nish. Sensei just does not like Rinzai and has said so. Not such a terrible offence though; we all do things like that.

An allegiance to a sect of one or a sect of thousands is much the same thing of course: In reality (as we may appreciate directly via zen practice-realisation) we ourselves are entirely responsible for our beliefs and assumptions and cannot blame a sect or anyone else (and, my, how we like to try and blame others... eh?)

People end up associating, or being associated with Soto and/or Rinzai in the first place because that approach to Zen/Buddhism resonates with them, not because they feel some obligation...I suggest. The english term "enlightenment" is useful and has meaning for some of those people but not so much for others. It's OK. It's a word. It doesn't have inalienable rights.

'Soto' and 'Rinzai' have been defining themselves in contrast to each other for years... 'we're Soto, not Rinzai, and so we do this and don't do that' and vice versa etc etc etc... It's like a silly dance.

What you say is also true to various extents in the various cases I think. It's complicated.

People may just be initially attracted to what seems most comfortable and easy for them in terms of 'Rinzai' and 'Soto'. But that mightn't be what's best for them at all... in fact, I'd bet that it's often more defined by avoidance and an effort to continue and affirm our own little assumptions and beliefs than to challenge them as the whole weight of our existence is geared that way until we begin to notice some fundamental points about existence that are often obscured by those very same assumptions a beliefs.

People think Buddhism has some sort of monopoly on the truth, but it's just as prone to being assimilated into our habitual pathologies and gross assumptions as anything else is... as can be clearly seen.



Anonymous said...

The Egyptians won the World Cup.

anon #108 said...

Thanks Harry. I can't disagree with any of that...and I did try!

Rick said...

This is embarrassing; they all wore the same dress. And for what they must have paid!

Anonymous said...

Glenn Beck's Caine Mutiny moment.

ykw to 108 (and others) said...

Another perhaps shocking example of stupidity, though you might be a fool to read it.

Does teach me I am a rather naive person, as for what I might imagine our world to be.

+ said...

James says it better than Brad:

I don’t know what to say about Big Mind (registered trademark) beyond saying if it is, as Merzel has claimed, another turning of the Wheel, a new revelation of the Buddhadharma, I will have to admit I’ve missed what the Dharma is all about. As have all other Zen teachers along the way before this great revelation.”.

See said...

element said...

Lotus in the fire
March and April 2011

Anonymous said...

human potential movement
various forms of self-help therapies

whole lotta snake oil for sale out there

Adding zen to the mixture of psychology/therapy/self help is pretty repugnent.
Use of the term 'zen' to market anything is lame at best.

So what is the underpinning here?

When greed markets itself to the ignorant the result can lead to anger. Who would participate in such a thing?
folks who are suffering looking for a remedy.

A remedy that doesn't take too much time to deliver

A remedy that costs money means its members are an exclusive club. If I pony up that kind of money I get to meet people who have the means to pony up that kind of money--rich people who are 'spiritually minded' or want themselves/others to see them as such.

And even if $50,00.00 really could take you there even if briefly for a glimpse of "E" that is cheap in comparison with tales of those who have waited days outside in the snow, cutting off their own arm to show their seriousness of wanting to study and no guarantee of "E" whatsoever.

The white plum asangha lineage--bet you 10 to 1 they were the ones telling him to step down and turn in his priest robes now that 'scandal' could besmirch their 'good' name.
But I'd also bet you that he was helping support them. As one of the 'pillars' of their community, he probably was one if their financial pillars as well.

It sure is hard to speak out against someone's money making behaviors when you are relying on their donations to you. (Pure speculation on my part.)

element said...

Lotus in the fire
March and April 2011

The "Muho vs Brad Bitchfest"

element said...

The "Muho vs Brad Bitchfest"

Anonymous said...

Genpo has always taught that we are on our own path..So be it he has chosen his path. Now can he be responsible for his path...????

Mr. Reee said...

"Use of the term 'zen' to market anything is lame at best."

Damn. I was going to market a line of personal organizers called 'zen minder' ("There's no time like now!") The calendars were all going to be marked 'Today' and the hours '00:00'...

How about GPS units? Would that be lame?

It could feature a soothing voice that simply says 'You are here' over and over. You'd never get lost.

Smarmy said...

The picture at the top of the article says all that needs to be said about the fellow. Confucius: "How can a man be concealed! How can a man be concealed!"

Anonymous said...

here's what i think!

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