Friday, February 11, 2011


I got a little annoyed at the way you couldn't access the Elephant Journal site more than three times. So here is the full text of my article that's currently up there. Enjoy.

Famous Zen Master Genpo Roshi has announced that he is disrobing. For those not acquainted with obscure Buddhist twists on familiar phraseology, to “disrobe” as a Buddhist monk means that you formally quit the Buddhist order and give up your status as a priest and/or monk. Ironically, it was disrobing that got him into trouble in the first place. It seems that Genpo, who is married, had an affair with the woman he was grooming to be his successor.

Genpo Roshi put a short essay explaining his side of the story entitled “Owning My Responsibility” on his website. It said in part, “I have chosen to disrobe as a Buddhist Priest, and will stop giving Buddhist Precepts or Ordinations, but I will continue teaching Big Mind®. I will spend the rest of my life truly integrating the Soto Zen Buddhist Ethics into my life and practice so I can once again regain dignity and respect. I will not give up on, and will still continue to be available for people who wish to continue studying with me as just an ordinary human being who is working on his own shadows and deeply rooted patterns… that have led me to miss the mark of being a moral and ethical person and a decent human being. Experiencing the pain and suffering that I have caused has truly touched my heart and been the greatest teacher. It has helped open my eyes and given me greater clarity around my own dishonest, hurtful behavior as well as my sexual misconduct. I am in deep pain over the suffering I have caused my wife, children, students, successors and Sangha.”

It’s signed “With Sadness and Love.” Isn’t that just the most precious and special thing you’ve ever read in your entire life? Feh.*

Some of you reading this probably already know that I have been highly critical of Genpo Roshi for a number of years. In March of 2007 I published an essay on the Suicide Girls website titled Big Mind® is a Big Load® of Horseshit. In that essay I took Genpo to task for teaching a ridiculous technique that he claimed in his literature at the time could give a person a true Buddhist enlightenment experience in just a few hours. Not long after that Genpo introduced a new, extra special version of the Big Mind® seminars for which he charged $50,000 per person. I spoke out about that as well. In 2008, the folks in Genpo’s organization came after me for daring to criticize their teacher in the comments section of this Elephant Journal piece.

Now Genpo’s sexual misconduct has been found out and he’s all contrite and lovingly sad about it. Yet he promises he will still continue teaching Big Mind® and he will truly integrate Soto Zen Buddhist Ethics into his life. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Deeply, deeply wrong.

Maybe I’m just weird. But Genpo’s affair seems like a pretty minor thing. Which is not to say I think it’s fine and dandy. But it’s a matter between him and his wife and his lover. 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. When I hear that someone has failed at it I am never shocked or surprised.

I understand that Genpo presented himself as a happily monogamously married family man and that these new revelations have shown this to have been a lie. I can see why people are upset at finding out that a man they trusted to lead them to the Ultimate Truth could not even tell the conventional/relative truth about his marital situation. Even so, the man’s sexual infidelities and his dishonesty about them, as bad as they are, are not even close to what I perceive as his most damaging misconduct.

People are falling all over themselves to congratulate Genpo for disrobing and “doing the right thing.” I don’t see it that way at all. Doing the right thing would have been remaining as a monk and ending the whole Big Mind® program. By leaving the Buddhist community, Genpo has now put himself beyond the reach of the only people who could legitimately criticize Big Mind®. I expect to see Big Mind® get even bigger and cause more destruction. Even absent the Big Mind® nonsense, remaining in the Buddhist order would have been the best way to address the other matters. Now that he’s on his own, Genpo has no one to answer to and can become as big of a cult leader as he pleases. That’s what typcially happens in cases like this.

As usual when a sex scandal hits the news, this one has been accompanied by a whole series of other revelations. A former insider in Genpo’s organization stated on Facebook that Genpo’s community “has given him (Genpo) enough money to have three houses, two new cars and a Harley Davidson, not to mention a couple hundred thou a year salary and all expenses.” Yikes!

This all just has me scratching my head and furrowing my brow. Maybe I simply do not comprehend how normal people think. Because very little of this makes any sense to me at all. I get that the whole love affair thing was hidden. I get that people didn’t know about it till now. But this financial stuff had to have been all right out in the open. Genpo’s community didn’t know he had three houses, two new cars and a Harley? Really? Even I have seen photos of him on the Harley. And yet nobody noticed any problem with this? Seriously? That’s your story?

Look. I am not insisting all Zen monks take a vow of absolute poverty and live on just what they can carry in a knapsack slung over their backs like the monks in ancient China did. I know we’re living in a completely different society than they were. I own three bass guitars, a used PT Cruiser, and a ten-speed bike. I wouldn’t want to have to stuff those in a knapsack. But three houses? For the love of God, who needs three houses? I don’t even have one!**

Genpo made no secret that he was charging $50,000 a person for his instant enlightenment seminars. Didn’t anyone think that was just a tad excessive? It doesn’t sound like Genpo has any intention of not doing that anymore. He’s just going to be a little more careful about where he puts his penis.

I don’t care where he puts his penis! I’m sorry for the pain and suffering his wife and kids and his girlfriend had to endure. And it does show a lack of judgment and honesty that could reflect on other areas of his life and teaching. But it is so completely removed from the more truly damaging stuff he’s been doing, and apparently intends to go right on doing, that it hardly even registers as far as I’m concerned.

Sexual misconduct is a serious matter in Buddhist practice. It is one of the top ten things we vow not to do when we declare to the world our intention of following the Buddha Way. Long ago the Buddhist order tried to specifically define what is and is not sexual misconduct. But many centuries before any of us were born they realized that what constitutes sexual misconduct is very much tied to the society you live in and the attitudes of the people you interact with. There can never be any universal definition of sexual misconduct. Nevertheless there is still a universal thing that we can call “sexual misconduct” in spite of the fact that the specifics of what it is are so variable. Therefore we vow not to conduct ourselves wrongly in the area of sexuality. Then we have to figure out for ourselves what precisely that means in our own lives and in the lives of those we interact with.

It sounds to me like Genpo probably did engage in sexual misconduct. He clearly defines his behavior as such. In another instance having sex with someone other than the person you married would not be sexual misconduct. There are many married couples who do not feel that extra-marital sex is sexual misconduct. There are even entire societies who do not feel sex outside of marriage is anything to get too worked up about.

This is why these sex-related allegations against Genpo mean nothing at all to me. For all I know maybe Genpo and his wife were swingers and the affair was not nearly so hurtful as he’s making it out to be. He could just be too ashamed to admit it and is taking this public stance as a way of avoiding doing so. I don’t know and I don’t care very much. I don’t even understand why everyone else seems so overwrought about it.

There is another issue, though, that I am personally concerned about regarding this scandal. Some people have misread my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate as containing the revelation that I had an affair with one of my Zen students. Some have even so deeply misconstrued the book as to believe it says I had two affairs with two students. In fact, I fell in love with a woman who had come to a handful of the Zen classes I taught and then stopped attending them a few months before we got together. The other woman mentioned in the book was not only not a Zen student, she had not even the slightest interest in Buddhism. Neither of them ever entered into anything like a formal teacher/student relationship with me. In Zen, the teacher/student relationship is a clearly defined thing that involves a specific public declaration and ceremony.

Even so, this experience led me to understand how and why teacher/student love affairs develop so frequently in the Zen community as well as in other spiritual communities. Most of them are nothing at all like what happened with Genpo. There is no deception, no cheating on spouses, and no abuse of power going on in the majority of these relationships.

They are simply cases of people finding mutual attraction based on a deeply held interest that precious few people can even understand let alone share. Where else would an un-partnered Zen teacher be most likely to encounter a person like that other than among her students? Sure there are six billion other people on the planet, as one guy pointed out on Facebook regarding Genpo. But how many of them are committed practitioners of the thing that un-partnered teacher has dedicated her life to?

Unfortunately for these lucky people who have been able to find their so-called “soul mates,” the Genpo case may very well be absorbed into the psyches of the rest of their community and lead them to believe that something terrible is going on when really nothing could be further from the truth. Besides the whole Big Mind® mess, this is what saddens me most about the Genpo Roshi affair.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Big Mind® is a deeply hurtful and dangerous technique that goes absolutely against the real teachings of Soto style Zen Buddhism. It is far more unethical and immoral to run a Big Mind® seminar than it is to cheat on your spouse. The potential damage far surpasses anything a love affair could produce. I’ve written more extensively about this on my blog.

Buddhist style “enlightenment experiences” (I despise this term, but it’s in common use, so I’m stuck with it) are not something one should take lightly. There’s a very good reason why Zen teachers for thousands of years have cautioned their students to go very slowly and cautiously along the path. These sudden breakthroughs can seem very thrilling when they happen. People might even pay good money for them. But they can also mess your mind up in a very big way if you go into them unprepared. Yet here’s old loving Genpo making it so you can walk in off the street and have one in a couple hours. That’s about like giving random people massive doses of LSD and saying, “Here! It’s fun! Now you’re going to see God and love everyone in the world!”

And Genpo has vowed to keep right on doing it. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

* And poor Ken Wilber! He’s up there on YouTube from a couple years ago telling the world, “Isn’t Genpo Roshi about the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen? It’s not just Genpo as a human being and as an Enlightened human being. He’s a deeply, deeply decent human being. Which is much harder than being enlightened, incidentally.”

**Hey former Genpo followers! I’m struggling to find a way to pay the rent on a cheap apartment in one of the most rundown communities in America. If you really want to stick it to Genpo, why not take away one of his houses, sell it, and give the money to his worst arch-enemy and nemesis — me? Then I’ll buy myself one house and it’ll all be even steven. Hit me up. We’ll talk.


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

Why would you put anything on elephant journal anyways? No one's going to get paid there until all the subscribers finish paying off Waylon's mortgage for him. And he has a finicky censorship policy regarding comments that seems to depend upon how hysterical he feels that day. (Yeah I'm currently banned-again)

Eileen said...

"These sudden breakthroughs can seem very thrilling when they happen. People might even pay good money for them. But they can also mess your mind up in a very big way if you go into them unprepared. "

I have heard you say something like this many times over the years, and you are the only teacher I've ever come across that has. I'm sooo glad that you do. I don't claim to be "englightened" in any way, at all, but I can say I've had lots of unnerving experiences on silent meditation retreats. My teachers have never adequately addressed that even so-called "positive" meditation experience can be deeply unsettling. This has not deterred me from my practice, but it has left me feeling really...odd at times. Thank you for being so honest about how potentially mind-blowing (in all good and bad ways) this stuff can be. It's really helped me.

Anonymous said...

... whatever.

Time to cash out and rip around on your motorcycle for a few years. I'm sure another hustler will be along shortly.


Anonymous said...

release the bardan!

Mark Foote said...

'Buddhist style “enlightenment experiences” (I despise this term, but it’s in common use, so I’m stuck with it) are not something one should take lightly. There’s a very good reason why Zen teachers for thousands of years have cautioned their students to go very slowly and cautiously along the path.'

I had not heard that about teachers cautioning their students to proceed slowly and cautiously. I'll admit that my own take about "practice like your hair is on fire" is that it has more to do with chi reaching the skin and hair than with urgency in practice, but nevertheless (per Chen Man Ch'ing, the four stages in the development of chi are: chi enters the sinews, penetrates the bones, fills the diaphragm, and reaches the skin and hair- something like that). Lots of Chinese teachers in the 12th century said that after the big insight, it takes 20-30 years before you're of any use to anyone.
Sign up for this guy's instant enlightenment soon, because it's only the beginning!

Brad Warner said...

Eileen, I agree. Too few people talk about this. I have my suspicions that a few too many "enlightenment experiences" can lead to the kind of behavior exhibited by Messrs. Genpo and Shimano as well as others.

The experience of the fundamental one-ness of the universe can be twisted by the ego into the notion that one is free to do anything at all because there is no one other than oneself. This can lead to big trouble.

Anonymous said...

Re: the whole Genpodrama..."fall down seven times get up eight" n' all that...but you don't shit where you eat.

merciless said...

Brad: Leave Genpo's fetishes out of the equation. That doesn't have anything to do with anything. You have your own weaknesses.

Anonymous said...


and he swings! The beats woulda loved him.

but now, while the beats dug zen, it eluded them

sure popularized it, though

Harry said...

Dosho Port makes the interesting suggestion of having zen teachers adopt the check of regular supervision much like psychotherapists and other 'helping professionals' do.

Good idea, but it won't go down so well with the 'spiritual' wing of neo-liberalism methinks. He'll be a voice in the wilderness for some time with that one.

People, if left to their own devices, to their own practices and notions of themselves, will just keep doing dodgy and/or crazy shit until checks are in place to address it. The problem is that, when it's left up to their own judgement, people often don't really feel that they are doing anything so wrong even as they are doing it because they have rationalised it so as to justify their behavior and protect themselves from guilt. Needless to say another, objective, perspective might lend a broader vision here.

DP also notes the widespread gloating about it all (Brad's article is exemplary) and a thing that used to be an aspect of Buddhism called 'the procepts', or something like that... but we needn't worry about them, we would NEVER do anything like Genpo did, right?



Harry said...

... oh yeah, here's the article:


Layman said...

What's this fuzz about a person anyway? Is Zen about worshiping people?

Anonymous said...

Checked in expecting a hatchet job, but I'm encouraged by your sensitivity. I would make a couple of points.

Regarding Big Mind being potentially dangerous, I agree, it is extremely powerful. What's different about it in terms of Zen is it's being done not in monasteries, in a monastic tradition, but in the 21st century in seminar rooms. There isn't the context, or perhaps the 'aftercare' for want of a better term. I think this is where the danger lies, the lack of structure. However having known Genpo a little from afar and done a little work with him, I am convinced his motives in terms of Big Mind are genuine. He wants to help people awaken to themselves. He wants to do this from a place of compassion. He wants to this for the good of everyone.

Again, and this isn't an attempt to defend Big Mind, rather place it in context, Genpo has dreamed up something that the world has never seen before, and he deliberately wanted to bring Zen out of the monastery and to the ordinary people. But as you say there's a danger to it, rather like learning to split the atom, or discovering fire. You create it or do it deliberately, you can create a whole load of mad shit for someone. In fairness I would guess that occasions where people really are damaged are few and far between. Google 'Kundalini yoga' or Tibetan Buddhism, you'll find plenty of horror stories about awakening experiences. Like Big Mind, they have their dangers.

With regards to the 50k retreats, again I know where you are coming from. Something doesn't smell right. But again when you look at the advances Salt Lake has made over the past few years, Genpo has got Zen and the Big Mind stuff rattling around the Internet the tv and to more and more people globally. Again the intentions are good. It's to spread the Dharma. And this shit costs money. Travelling all over the world in comfort when you're in your 60's costs big money. Ive seen him on tour in Europe after weeks of lecturing. He looked fucking dead on his feet, but was still giving it his all. He's given 40 years of his life to Zen, if his centre and his followers want to buy him a Harley, I really couldn't give a fuck. Do we draw the line at 2 houses? Maybe. I really don't know. If I travelled globally I might want more than 2.

I've no insight into the finances at Salt Lake, but I'll bet you the lion's share has gone back into the sangha and spreading the dharma.

Anyway, have seen some of the other stuff you've written about him, so I was surprised to see what you'd done here. Your points about relationships and sex are spot on.

Perhaps given your past history, now might be a poignant time to reach out a Zen hand of compassion. I think your views on Big Mind have value and I think given in the right context could be very valuable. You can make it better. Go and spend some time with Genpo and talk it out. If you haven't spent time with him I guarantee you'll enjoy his company and find him genuine. He's a punk like me and you. You don't have to blog about it.

Peace, and keep on blogging!

Brad Warner said...

Harry said:
DP also notes the widespread gloating about it all (Brad's article is exemplary) and a thing that used to be an aspect of Buddhism called 'the procepts', or something like that... but we needn't worry about them, we would NEVER do anything like Genpo did, right?

Are you saying my article contains gloating about what's happened to Genpo? I've re-read it a number of times both before & after publishing it and I can't find any.

In fact I don't feel... uh... "gloat-y" at all about the situation. Quite the opposite. I've been criticizing him for Big Mind®. Now he gets to make Big Mind® even bigger. I find nothing to be particularly happy about in the situation.

Brad Warner said...

Eidou, thank you. I actually don't think Genpo's intentions were particularly evil. Then again, nobody ever sees themselves as evil. But, yeah, maybe he thinks this stuff is good. I don't see how anyone with even a basic understanding of Buddhism could. But maybe he does.

Brad Warner said...

Merciless said:
Brad: Leave Genpo's fetishes out of the equation. That doesn't have anything to do with anything. You have your own weaknesses.

Which fetishes? The ones for the houses, cars and motorcycles?

I have plenty of weaknesses. And I discover new ones nearly every day!

I'm not even criticizing Genpo's desire for these things. I desire plenty of things. We all do. I'm amazed that those who surrounded him seem not to have noticed how they contributed to the monster they created. How they, in fact, were a part of it. They still don't seem to notice.

Soulagent79 said...

How is this Big Mind method supposed to work? Enlightenmend in a few hours sounds ridiculous to me. Reminds me of those TV preachers from the 80s who pretended to heal people on live television ("Sister, throw away your crutches an walk!")
They didn't charge their customers 50,000 bucks though...

Harry said...

Hi Brad,

Yeah, your article says 'gloat' to me... I'd hardly expect you to see that given your on-going fantasies regarding someone you've never met called Genpo. You seem to have quite a lot invested in them.

Such is the nature of our limited outlooks, and it indicates to me that sometimes it's good to have another perspective (another person) at hand to bounce things of and reflect our selves back. Of course, when you think that you're some big Zen Master or whatever you are even less likely to engage in such a process.

No offence, we all do it, but far from appearing to be someone 'standing up' for/to whatever here, you appear to be just another internet coward to me. The internet is a very safe place to play the big hero.

You should certainly meet Genpo the man as our friend suggests above. Excellent idea. Because the Genpo of your waking dreams is, I guarantee you, more of a lie than everything shit about the sort of 'meeting' on the internet that you criticise.

I don't blame you for not wanting to meet Genpo, because it would challenge some very set and comfortable ideas that you seem to have constructed. Meeting others, I mean really meeting others in all their human inconsistencies and complexities (and dropping off our judgements and defences), is often challenging as we are often then really meeting aspects of our selves. Dogen acknowledged this: we can't really meet our teacher until we've met our selves. In fact we'll often avoid it to the point of conflict with others... We can see this clearly in Dogen Sangha where students who have not really met themselves (but who may have gotten the impression that they have in being given transmission) continue to feel the need blame and project aspects of themselves at Nishijima Roshi... he is a stubborn old bastard who fucked me up, he has something against Jews and so he doesn't like me anymore, he is going senile and should not be allowed to do/say these things that I don't want him to do/say... all under the pretence of protecting the precious fucking 'Dharma' or whatever ...the point is not that he is or isn't any of those things; the point is in the need to indicate this to a wider audience in order to affirm aspects of our selves and have them reflected back from an adoring audience.

Uncovering this stuff is, ideally, what happens in the sort of supervision that Dosho points to. It's not for kiddies who are happy to wallow in their own sweet shit; it can be quite a tough process and it requires a specific sort of effort and intention.

I'm not singling you out for criticism here BTW, we could all make effort in this regards (god knows, I could). The rather sloppy alternatives just get tiresome is all.



Harry said...

Reflection for Brad no. 1:

I'm amazed that those who surrounded him seem not to have noticed how they contributed to the monster they created.



Anonymous said...

Why do people feel the need to improve Zen Buddhism? I can only guess it's because they havn't fully understood it in the first place. Guy

Anonymous said...

I'm not a huge admirer of Genpo Roshi but I weary of these diatribes against BigMind. As I've heard Genpo Roshi explain it in interview the process is meant to open the student up to an experience. The student is not then 'enlightened' but has had a taste of some sort of some sort of big mind experience which may then be worked towards with hard work and discipline. Read that last sentence again, Brad, because its always what you seem to omit in your critiques. The value of the experience is to inspire and give a taste of what is possible. There is no pretension that the subject is now an enlightened being.

And where are all these people who've been terribly harmed by the BigMind process?

Ella said...

I agree with what NellaLou said about Elephant. Something seems dishonest about that site but then I stopped going there after it became a beg-fest for his mortgage whining.

R said...

I read very little but I came across something: - Brad, - perhaps you missed it, - but Eidou said: - “Go and spend some time with Genpo and talk it out. If you haven't spent time with him I guarantee you'll enjoy his company and find him genuine. He's a punk like me and you. You don't have to blog about it.”.

- How about it?

- Take your ugly (- in my view) monkey with you. - I bet he’d be delighted. And he’d have a lot in common with Ken Wilber too. He could spend some time with him while you’re enjoying yourself at the company of your nemesis.

After all said...

Come on.

Harry said...

Why do people feel the need to improve Zen Buddhism?

Yes, you're right, Zen Buddhism is just fine and perfect: it's just the assholes who claim to practice it that need improving!


merciless said...

Brad: Maybe the root of the problem is Dennis's greed for experiences/money like you implied. But maybe you would have been better off not bringing up his houses and cars and sticking to the problems with his method. By the way, I don't think your post was any more cowardly than Harry's. I just saw it as an opportunity to take a shot at the guy and you couldn't resist. Kind of like what Harry did when calling you a coward. I thought that was uncalled for.

Deleted by Google said...

merciless said...

Heh. Listen to me talk shit.

Harry said...

Well, I'm certainly a coward, so maybe you're not talking shit entirely (although I wonder about your motivations in saying it), but I'd point out that I only said that Brad appeared (to me, obviously) to be a coward.

I'll happily meet up with him to discuss our cowardice.

Better still, he should discuss it intimately with his teacher, or with some teacher, as to avoid the personal excesses and assumptions that have dogged Doggen Sangha (see what I did there?!) in the past.





Harry said...

and again...



A song for R @ 6:39 [am] said...

It got deleted twice but it really seems to be a must.

Come on. [to salt lake city] come on.

the deeper you go, the higher you fly, the higher you fly, the deeper you go [- “Wonderful. Just wonderful.”]

Everybody's got something to hide … (you can put it in your socks)

I tried posting the above internet address twice and it got deleted, I hope it will stay this time.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything.

Nate said...

If Genpo is wrong Brad can be, too. I really wonder if he should be acting like he knows that humans aren't meant to be monogamous. Brad never had any kids, which is fine and all, but that makes him quite an outlier, because the vast majority of people do. I ain't sure or anything, but it seems like monogamy is best when raising a family. If you aren't sure either and want to find out, take a trip down to the projects and see how having a non-nuclear family goes for those people. I hear they pretty much thrive.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why I keep occasionally coming to this well when I have the same nauseating feeling each time.
Brad, your diatribes are exceedingly tedious. Its all just adolescent bullshit - just like most of the whiny obnoxious punk music/attitude you champion.
Beyond the message, I just think your tone is childish. and not in a "the truth is funky fresh like that" way, but in a "I need to grow up a bit" way.
I agree though that Merzel should have staid in the fire, and not hit the escape-hatch button. You get the feeling that he probably feels less shame than a great deal of excitement to be free of the drag of a wife and organization that he's not the pinnacle of.

Mr. Reee said...

I wonder how the old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" fits into all this?

On the one hand, sometimes you need say something to prevent further harm.

On the other hand, by remaining silent, you can avoid needlessly drawing yourself and your friends into a controversy that may actually have nothing at all to do with you and yours (And like everything else, 'this too shall pass.')

There's a fine perceptual line between pointing out someone's shit and being seen by others as a shit-stirrer, or worse.

Is it worth it? Dunno.

silence said...


Mumon said...

I'm speaking up about Elephant Journal too.

While I wouldn't know about Mr. Lewis's mortgage, and haven't written for the publication, I do question the very idea of a "guide to what [they] like to call ‘the mindful life’: yoga, organics, sustainability, genuine spirituality, conscious consumerism, fair fashion, the contemplative arts…anything that helps us to live a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet."

Especially when they don't pay for content and by default claim to retain the rights to publication, photos, etc. "unless previously arranged in writing."

Frankly, if they're getting money from other people's content and the other people aren't being compensated somehow, that's hardly "good for others and good for the planet."

It's unethical.

pooyan said...

Let's face it, the people who want 50,000 dollars for instant enlightenment experiences aren't gonna listen when you tell them it doesn't work like that. They probably aren't going to listen to any criticism about there teacher either, they are gonna have the same "they just don't understand him" reaction everyone who falls for a charismatic religious figure has when there are questioned about their figures motives, or methods. So, i don't think big ongoing discussions about him help allot of the people who could benefit from hearing the criticism. It does however help people to remember that you should question authority. I think alot of the people on this blog comment page already understand that, so its like preaching to the converted but, its still a good reminder that this stuff is out there and its not right.

I have to give credit to Brad, say what you want, if you feel like he's gloating, or adolecent , or angry or whatever you think he is, I have never heard him say, "You shoud really take what I say to heart, because I know what I'm talking about" He repeatedly says that these are his thoughts and his beliefs, and you should always make up your own mind. The difference between Brad as a Zen figure and some of these charlatan-ish people is that he doesn't want anyone to put him on a pedestal, he just wants people to buy his books, which is what i would want if i was a writer. He doesn't pretend to be a middle man between "normal people" and the truth.

I read his books, not because they hold the secret to enlightenment, but because there are pretty damn good, pretty funny, and in my opinion it's great to support someone who isn't trying to pull one over on anyone.

pooyan said...

Ps, harry, "Creating a monster" is a very common term for when things get out of control money wise or power wise. When someone says, "the monster they helped create", i think we can all figure out what it means, but when you put the word "monster" in bold in a quote, it makes it look more like Brad was calling a person a monster. I don't really think thats where he was going with that. I think that the "Monster" he is refering to is more of the 50,000 dollar a person celebrity Zen Mogol product, than the actual human being. Kinda the public perona not the human being behind it, make sense?

Harry said...

Hi Pooyan,

You completely miss the point:

Who do we know who worked at making phoney monsters appear real?

hee hee hee... an interesting choice of word is all.

I like Brad, and I like his books, but as a righteous Dharma Protector of the Supremeo Truth, well, he can bite me, because he's lazy when it comes to people. I don't see that he understands people so well.

I don't think he's particularly angry or anything, but his thing with Genpo and Big Mind is a selfish narrative which may be a distraction from some real work.

I hope he finds a fellow teacher who he can bounce things off and who won't give much weight to his Brad(TM)-ish games.

If he sharpens the edge in this regard then I think he'll offer a real alternative to the Zen quagmire stateside and (unwittingly even) 'lead' a way for Dogen Sangha.

All very much IMO of course.



Anonymous said...

Elephant journal seems to just be a compilation zine. What's wrong with that? You don't have to pay for it.

The summary of comments on Brad's posts recently:

Brad: "Genpo does heinous shit-it's gonna get worse."

Everyone else: "Yeah? Well Brad's a so-and-so. I will now turn everyone's accusations onto myself so that I appear humble and learned"

(the EXACT SHIT Brad says makes Genpo more dangerous...)

Moving on, Brad has stated repeatedly why he thinks Big Mind is dangerous. Now it's on you to say why it's not. And "don't knock it till you try it" is not an answer.


Timmy Mac said...

Man, I don't know nothing about nothing, but if "I'll give you enlightenment in two hours for fifty grand" doesn't set off your BS detector, it's time to get the thing checked.

anonymous anonymous said...

Christ Harry.. How did you go from being the guy who always wanted to be the 1st poster on the blog to deciding Brad was a cowardly and Lazy non-people person? Is it because he won't meet Jundo for tea?

Harry said...

Hee hee, if I thought Jundo had made any good effort to meet himself for tea or anything else then I'd be glad to meet him (if he was payin), but there'd have to be more than tea and cookies on the table; I wouldn't be there to be talking shit about other people.

Our teacher is old and sick. I'm worried. Brad has been pricking around in the doorway with this crap, and trivial crap like it, for long enough.

Nishijima took risks in giving transmission to certain people, people who maybe assume that they can rest on their Zen Master laurels and spout their rehashed Zen Master crap and it'll all be fine... I may be very wrong in trying to up the ante from time to time, I hope I am... maybe if we all sit cross legged for an hour every day it WILL be fine.



buddy said...

this genpo stuff is getting boring, so let me dig up something from the past to kick around a little bit. I was reading through the comments of a past blog (Dec 14, 2009) for some reason, and came across this quote from Brad, "Even Nishijima Roshi has said he thinks the US was totally justified in dropping 2 A-bombs on Japan." This makes me very confused and sad,and leads me to totally question Nishijima's (and by extension, Brad's) realisation, ethics and general perception of reality. For a Buddhist teacher to say that something that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (immediately and through lingering effects like cancer), contaminated the ecosystem for generations and, by some accounts, was unnecessary even from a strategic viewpoint was "totally justified" is honestly one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

anon #108 said...

Hi Buddy,

"This makes me very confused and sad, and leads me to totally question Nishijima's (and by extension, Brad's) realisation, ethics and general perception of of the stupidest things I've ever heard."

Fair enough. Perhaps you should pack your bowl, razor and robes, go tell Gudo you have lost faith in his teaching, and make haste for the next mountain :)

buddy said...

Thanks for totally trivialising and missing the point of my post.

Uku said...

Harry wrote

I don't think he's [Brad particularly angry or anything, but his thing with Genpo and Big Mind is a selfish narrative which may be a distraction from some real work.

I disagree with you, Harry, but who cares. I think it's important to stand up against the businessmen like Genpo and co. And I must say I agree with Brad's opinion that it's now even more dangerous when Genpo's not a Buddhist anymore. At first I was happy that our Pure Buddhism [tm] is now even more Purer because Genpo dropped the label Buddhism, but on the other hand... who keeps now fighting against Genpo's scams if he's not a Buddhist anymore? Does Buddhists care anymore? Important questions. I wrote in my Facebook profile that I can't save the whole world (or something like that) when someone asked won't I argue against Big Mind anymore (or something like that)? But Brad is right. It doesn't matter at least if Genpo is a Buddhist or not. Big Mind seems to be too dangerous and because I feel it without trying it, I think it's dangerous enough. Bad analogy, incorrect thinking? Who cares. Shit is shit: you can always smell it.

anon #108 said...

Hi buddy,

I feel that you have totally missed the very real point of my post. Never mind.


Hi H,

"...maybe if we all sit cross legged for an hour every day it WILL be fine."

An HOUR?...EVERY day!?

Fucksache Harry, how are we all gonna manage that?!

Harry said...

Hi Uku,

Yeah, and smell it I can.

Try helping those gypsies whom everyone in Finland hates or something.

Wasting your time preaching to yourself and the converted about some bald American twat and his upper mid-life crisis thousands of miles away certainly smells a bit.



Anonymous said...

did not seem gloaty to me. apart from the ken wilber bit, come to think of it. it seemed thought through. harry seems angry innit?

Harry said...

Well, duh.

dharmapiglet said...

Has a magical fairy sprinkled cranky dust over the entire northern hemisphere while I slept?
Good morning y'all, from Australia. Sweet dreams now! Nighty night!

Anonymous said...


yeah, just saying. no need to be rude.

can you prove brad is wasting his time saying the things he is saying about genpo? so far you've just claimed he is.

please provide logic and/or evidence asap.

Anonymous said...

What I don't like about the BigMind $50,000.00 taste of enlightenment as an appetizer before lunch seminar is
that it allows monied lookie-loos to cross zen buddhism off their curiosity list as a 'been there done that' experience.

The experience of zen buddhism is not an experience to gain, to add on as much as it is what is there when things (concept/habits) are subtracted from mind.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't he just call it the Genpo Technique or the Merzel Method?

Anonymous said...

Those who have sat with Genpo and who have experienced his teaching first hand. I am glad you can speak to the benefits you have received even at the same time questioning other aspects.

I don't think there is a single teacher without flaw.

Money and power are very heady aphrodisiacs, and not just for the one who holds them, but for those in close contact with them.

Hell, I've stood around a moneyless and not-on-the-radar of power zen teacher and you'd think they were a rock star, everyone fawning around! uh, what was I doing there? fawning at the back of the crowd of 6!

Mr. Reee said...

"can you prove brad is wasting his time saying the things he is saying about genpo? so far you've just claimed he is. "

Can't speak on behalf of Brad or Harry (and frankly I wouldn't dare to try) but I don't know how anyone could possibly prove anything.

Show me your face before your parents were born.

Just the same--we could call Brad's response, or Harry's response 'unskillful' **puke** but there is no such thing as 'wasting one's time.'

Who has time to waste?

In any case, I think the whole thing is beyond stupid. Who cares?

The people who sign up for "a taste of enlightenment" sessions (or whatever the hell it is) are getting exactly what they paid for. And the dude who's selling it is making out OK, too. No rip-off. Everyone who plays at this particular blackjack table gets what they want.

Just don't be confused about it. Genpo is not actually selling Zen--and neither is Brad.

john e mumbles said...


Mr. Reee said...

And just to clarify: "Everyone who plays at this particular blackjack table gets what they want." means that no one is really fooled (see Dogen.)

People who really want 'enlightenment' are also more than willing to give up all their *ideas* about enlightenment.

And those who don't are more than happy to pay someone to tell them what it is, and run with it until it runs out. "So it was ever thus."

It's called karma.

Anonymous said...

Harry's in a bad place. He has the zen sickness. He's chewing on his own leg.

Anonymous said...

Aaah! Brad I have more time for you than Genpo, but dude you should be correcting the widespread view - evident in this thread - that GR claims BigMind will make you enlightened. He says no such thing. Quite the contrary..

Here excerpts from the 'What's Big Mind About' site:

1. Big Mind offers students real insights and genuine realizations to both koan practice and pure zazen sitting. What I do is encourage many of my serious Zen students to practice shikantaza, formal koan study and Big Mind, in order to realize wisdom and to function with compassion. I call this the three legs of Western Zen Practice.

2. …...The Big Mind process is a help to give the student major insights, inspire and encourage — but for a serious Zen student the hard work of real embodiment of the Buddha Dharma can’t be skipped...

Read it again folks- ' the hard work of real embodiment of the Budhha dharma can't be skipped'

Visit the site and the wikipedia entry, listen elsewhere to Genpo Roshi - Youtube? nowhere does he say BigMind makes you enlightened. The hard work of practice is always required.

Brad you need to sharpen up on your Genpo critques. I'm going to end up liking him at this rate.

Anonymous said...

anon @10:24 pm said: 'Brad I have more time for you than Genpo, but dude you should be correcting the widespread view - evident in this thread - that GR claims BigMind will make you enlightened. He says no such thing'.

How about this, from a mass email:
'What if I could promise you the experience of being One with the entire universe--not after decades of meditation, but immediately, right now?
You WILL have this experience (plus, a lot more) if you’ll spend two days with me--and the great Zen master, Genpo Roshi.'

Or this, from the Big Mind literature:


Imagine five full days at a luxury hotel with Zen Master Genpo Merzel Roshi and just four other people. What will happen as you delve deeply into your Self with the help of one of the great Zen masters of our time, allowing you to experience realizations usually requiring years of sitting meditation? How much will your life change with this type of deep and intimate help from a true master? How deep will you go? How much awakening will you experience?

Direct and extended face-to-face time with an awakened master is an exciting and rare opportunity. Those lucky enough to receive this type of personal attention can experience years, even decades, of progress in just a few days, shedding illusions that have held them back, experiencing deep realizations about their true nature, increasing their wisdom and compassion, and increasing their ability to serve others.

Over the centuries such extended and direct experience with a Zen master has been extremely rare. Breaking with tradition in order to help those who truly want to accelerate their awakening, Genpo Roshi is now offering intimate Big Heart Circle Retreat intensives — five people, for five days, each of whom have offered a donation of $50,000.'

Anonymous said...

Cheers Brad

Again you need to put Big Mind, and indeed Genpo's own enlightenment experience, certainly his first breakthrough into context. The facts are hazy (theres an interview with him on a yoga blog somewhere where he talks about it) but his opening occurred on a rock in the dessert with no prior exposure to Zen or Buddhism as far as I'm aware.' Awakening' is not a Buddhist concept, there's examples of it in many traditions. Genpo chose to make sense of what he experienced by submitting to a Zen teacher and has stuck with that practice for 40 years, teaching for a lot if it. So that he would come up with a method that 'has nothing to do with Buddhism' isn't that much of a stretch.

Big mind isn't about Buddhism at all (to a point). It's about having that glimpse of the eternal. It so happens that that Zen has the traditions and stories built up for years that attempt to explain the unexplainable, knowing full well it is impossible. That's why we chant for the ancestors. The 10,000 dharmas or Tozan's 5 ranks are explanations of what it is to be human and a Buddha. I've seen Genpo do Big Mind maybe 4 or 5 times, I've seen him do it over a weekend where it literally drips with buddhist teachings in order to help explain it. I've seen him do it and barely mention Buddhism at all. Selling water by the river?

I'll say it again, reach out the hand and go and hang with him. And shout me next time you are in London and I'll take you for a pint.


Harry said...

Hee hee, evidence? Well, that's up to you to find, my good man/woman. I can't find it for you.

The latest post on my faltering blog:

Okay, Bozo, what's your real stake in the Genpo Roshi debacle? What warrants your little rush or opinion or tickle or righteous feeling? I don't care what the rich Pointy Headed One did/does with his Dharma Mommas, I'm talking about YOU!

All versions of the Guru Game, including the insidious inverted versions of it, are really most often just an exercise in our own turd sniffing if we care to excavate a little (but do we?)

Yeah, I'm cranky today, but given all the disingenuous 'Buddhist' bullshit I'm reading on the net I'm not going to try to pretend otherwise this eve.

... well, if not sweet, at least it's short.


Harry [Zen Sicko]

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harry said...


I think it's strangely appropriate that you cite that very primal and effective Star Wars mythology. There may just be something in that, you know.

Enter Darth Genpo!

... Brad Skywalker, Obi Wan Gudomi... Harry the Hutt? :-))



correction said...

you spelled Butt wrong there H

john e mumbles said...

Let me try this again. In case you missed this like I did:

Here is Brad rawkin out 1988-style, his inner Marc Bolan hangin' out all over w/ Dimentia 13 live on Chicago Tv.

The hair!
The flair!
& be sure to check out the drummer's rad tom tom placement.

BW seriously shreds the guitar solos. V. Cool!

Uku said...

Harry, if you're Hutt, can I be Princess Leia? Can I, please? :)

Uku said...

And oh, Toddler Butch! Sorry I haven't answered yet. I will soon. :)

Harry said...

...I'll be Jabba the Slutt to your Princess L anyday.

Toddler Butch said...

's aright, mate. Soon come. Everything in its own time.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg said...

I've never heard of Big Mind, or Genpo, but am fairly new to Buddhism/meditation (yes, I know they're not the same thing). As an interesting synchronicity, though, the latest issue of Tricycle has an ad for a 99 cent download of an e-book called Enlightenment. The ad states "Read the book Enlightenment by Jim Riley and you will reach enlightenment. It is that simple."
Haven't read the book, so won't comment on it, but it seems a lot cheaper than $50K. ;)
I should note this is an ad in Tricycle, not sponsored/endorsed by them, afaik.

anon #108 said...

V Nice, OVH.

But their poor aching arses, backs and hips! No cushions? Knees in the air ? Backs straining to compensate (except for the one lucky guy in full lotus who might fare better)?...No surprise that by 6/7 minutes some of them are in trouble. And the rest will be sorry.

Proper posture required.

Showbeaugenzo said...

Yeah I think the cheating is the least of all the problems here, he knew what he was doing. Big Mind is the main issue! I don't know him but all the fame and attention has probably twisted his whole world, add the fact that he is probably almost worshiped by so many people wanting this experience that he has been caught up in it deeply. No Zen teacher should be in that position. Big Mind really is scary and I have been around groups that admire their Lama ect. so much that it clouds everything. I've seen some strange stuff. I used to practice with some Tibetans, and some are great, no problems. But the head Lama invited the Karmapa's brother to come and be his successor, to stay there until his death. The Karmapa's brother eventually shacked up with a young blond in the sangha and quit, lots of people were really upset. I ran into him at a presentation by the Dalai Lama and he had a gold plated cell phone...I'm not judging (trying not too). He basically gave back his vows, I understand his choice because going without thanks. My point is I've seen how people get sucked into these groups and if there was some kind of high that is found in the Big Mind, well it sounds like a group of addicts which is worse than what I've seen...

Anonymous said...

Mildly interesting sidenote - Big Mind was sponsored/funded, at least in part, by the Frederick P. Lenz Foundation.


For those who don't know, Frederick P. Lenz is also known as Zen Master Rama.
( )

Brad Warner said...


I'm not a coward! I met you in Belfast, didn't I?

But meeting Genpo? You have to consider the logistics involved in that. To really meet Genpo would be a pretty major undertaking. He lives out in Utah for one thing. And it could easily end up as some kind of public spectacle.

Once someone in his staff claimed they invited me to debate him (tho I cannot recall receiving such an invitation). In Utah, of course. In front of a bunch of Genpo's students. That would have been neither enjoyable nor in any way beneficial.

I have a tendency to make statements that people take as personal (ie "fuck you Genpo Roshi" etc.). But I really don't care much about Genpo the man. It's what I see Big Mind® doing to Buddhism in America that bothers me. And, yes, I had a chance to denounce Big Mind® at a time when I knew that 1) lots of people would be looking and 2) lots of people are pissed at Genpo. So I took it. I'd do it again too. No regrets.

But I assure you that there is no degree of gloat involved. To gloat would be to say "look, I told you so." But I never told anyone Genpo was cheating on his wife. I don't see any reason to be happy about what's happened to him.

As for the "monster" comment, pooyan is right. That was not a reference to the person Genpo at all, but to the entire situation. If nobody had paid $50,000 for an enlightenment experience Genpo wouldn't have had 3 houses etc. and might not have felt so invincible. It takes a lot of effort to create a monstrous situation.

And it's Dogen Sangha, not Doggen Sangha! When I see what goes on with some sanghas (I don't think I need to make a list) our troubles are really very minor. I think the fact that we publicly air them so often actually helps. Not that it's enjoyable when it happens.

Brad Warner said...

Thanks anon for the quotes about Big Mind® and enlightenment. Genpo did indeed promise enlightenment experiences.

In case anyone wants to know what Genpo thinks of Zen Master Rama, well-known Zen fake, here it is:

pooyan said...


You clearly have a "Zen Brand" of your own, Hardcore Zen and the whole punk-rock/ buddhist cool-guy down to earth persona. I don't mean to suggest that it's just a persona, but your a public figure so anyway, It's clear that anyone in your situation has a fine line to tread in terms of using your celebrity to make an income and exploiting your celebrity to get rich, I'm sure you could start some kind of Big Mindish type of seminars or retreats.

Anyway, my question is Do you struggle with this much, Do you have a hard time determining what is a right livelyhood for you, and supposing that your popularity grows and you start getting big money offers for retreats and seminars with mandatory "donations" of 10k 20k whatever. How do you determine whats ok whats not ok. people will pay anything it seems so when is it right or wrong to charge X number of dollars?

As it is right now i feel like you've been honest and clear about, your books not having the answers just your ideas and such. But, i wonder if its hard for you or a struggle to avoid the wrong path. Do you find you have opportunitys presented to you that you have to turn down because they cross the line?

Keep it real, it's refreshing. Also is there any chance Ultraman will get some US airtime on like comcast scifi channel or some such, it seems like it would go over great on that channel.

Mysterion said...
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Harry said...

Hi Brad,

Logistics, debates, Genpo, monsters, American Buddhism, yeah, yeah, yeah... I know the story, man.

Listen, all those people that you want to hide away from, that take up too much of your lovely Bradtime... rather than establishing a nice little exclusion zone (paid for in part by them) try telling them to 'fuck off', Big Guy... to their faces, I mean.

It might be the difference between a lion's roar and a pipsqueak who just talks the talk.



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

I haven't looked at your blog in many months. I came back to it to enjoy your take on Genpo Merzel's transgressions. I quit reading your blog because when you were cheating on your wife but had not split and capitalized on it, I wrote a comment that you had blown up your marriage and your job. Your post in response said that wasn't true and that your wife was dutifully cooking lunch for your sangha. You lied and I figured that told me all I needed to know. So you and Genpo share a skill. He is better -- for now - at raking in the dollars from it. But you are trying and with luck can catch up. But both of you are a waste of time for anyone who desires a true zen practice.

crooked cucumber said...

Alan Watts was a major supporter of SFZC and Tassajara. Shunryu Suzuki called him a "great Bodhisattva."

So whaddya know.

Anonymous said...

Lets summarize Brads recent comments about Genpo:

1 Genpos Retreats cost 50.000 Dollars. This is not a funraiser thing-they all cost 50000 Buckets.

2 Nevertheless hundreds of people pay this amount and get harmed by the Big Mind Method. Brad Warner warns them because he has deep insight how right his negative idea about this is. But people continue to go to these retreats-get harmed& pay again 50.00 dollars. Something has to bee done against this.

3Genpo & his Ex Wife Stephanie are "swingers". This is so because Brad is saying so. A strong evidence.

4 Genpo is a "monster"-created by a sangha of blind fools

So this is really a place to learn something here. Wow!!

Anonymous said...

If there is really some serious statement to make about hardcore zen blog- besides that its a kind of "star magazine of zen" -i would say that the most appearent characteristic quality is a complete lack of any integrity . Seriously. Maybe interesting-but really no integrity. Lifestyle Garbage-nothing more.

anonymous anonymous said...

M said, "my crap detector was ringing so loud that I got headaches."

M, That wasn't your crap detector. That was my stupidity detector. You set it off almost daily..

Mindless Troll said...

"The experience of the fundamental one-ness of the universe can be twisted by the ego into the notion that one is free to do anything at all because there is no one other than oneself. This can lead to big trouble"

Yep, Brad. This is so true. But this only happens when you believe the experience is the summit of zen realization. It's like a baby kttten who just opened it's eyes. Unlike kittens, zen students don't always naturally mature but more often seem to get 'stuck' in various stages or pov. The experience you describe is only the beginning of zen, not it's end. This is why a good teacher is extremely important for most of us. I suffered this ego inflation for years and have witnessed it in countless others. It can cause much damage to oneself and those around you.

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

Hi Mindless Troll,

I heartily agree.

Without wanting to be nosy about your personal details I'd be very interested to know what you think the student/teacher relationship is in that case, how exactly it checks the inflated ego thing etc (assuming that's what helped you out)...

This may be exactly why Dogen saw the 'entwined vines' of the student/teacher relationship as so indispensable.

'Buddhas alone, together with buddhas realise...', a favorite line of Dogen's that's often taken in sort of mystical terms, like they 'commune' or 'transmit' something timeless in practice to each other... but what if it really means that they help ensure that they keep their golden knobs in their robes, their celebrity status in check, and their hands out of the til...?



Brad Warner said...

Anon said:
I quit reading your blog because when you were cheating on your wife but had not split and capitalized on it, I wrote a comment that you had blown up your marriage and your job. Your post in response said that wasn't true and that your wife was dutifully cooking lunch for your sangha. You lied and I figured that told me all I needed to know.

Uh... None of this ever actually happened. Well, perhaps the part about you quitting reading the blog did. I wouldn't know. I put the full story in a book. The only part Yuka corrected me on was that we had eaten Thanksgiving dinner together when I said we hadn't.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Andrew said...

Harry tests hisself against Brad. Malcom tests hisself against both. Mysterion wallows in his Watts.

I've noticed over time, reading these comments, those developing more sophisticated ways to express the same old tune from the stuck record. A few seem to have stopped altogether, happy to ride it into the sunset.

On occasion something authentic floats to the surface.

It seems difficult to negotiate the similiarity/difference way through, say, one instance of 'fuck off' and another.

Or a 'I like Brad but...' and another.

All I can say is that reading Brad's output, amongst other's, reminds me how far I fall short and want to have the courage to take up real practice again - I mean really face myself.

And the others', amongst others', I have named, remind me how I'm falling short and want to have the courage take up real practice again - I mean, like I keep tuning into Talk Radio.

It's like a stuck record: I keep coming back to what Brad has read and I find myself doing myself and those in contact with me some good.

It's as difficult to have that experience with what you guys write on here as it is listening to my own responses/ productions/ output, in any context.

I keep noticing how my shit is sticking to some, and mostly slips of others' - leaving me with the same old shit on my hands.

I also keep noticing how easy it is for me to face up to myself, confront my 'cowardice' or some other 'weakness'. How well the hero myth in me inverts itself to disguise itself - how it adapts itself under such guises as 'confession' or 'honesty'.

And out pops my Harry, Malcom, Mysterion, Anonymous et al.

What if the thing I'm really scared of, is always going to be on the blind side, around the corner I never want to take?

Good for you lot if you've all established regular sitting practice.

Right now (and I bet tomorrow) I'm still too scared too, or too lazy, or whatever those things are I've got to realise, if I ever find the momentum in me to go and keep going that way. And even my inching towards it, I'm sure, is more cry-baby in me.

No 'cry-baby' feels too much like the discourse a la harry I've nibbled on.

I think I've worked some annoyance out of me.

I suppose there is what is to be done, in contrast to what I and my others pass as what thinks or feels should be done - from what is to be done.

I can't tell the difference right now, but I've noticed some after effects that help to show how much the fool has been operative.

Andrew said...

in the above post I meant to write 'what brad has wrote' - not 'read'. sorry.

Anderw said...

'has written'

anon #108 said...

Hi Andrew,

You make an interesting point about how is easy it is to "invert the hero myth" with 'honesty' and such.

But this is, for the most part, a trivial blog, with trivial comments. If I were the kind of person prone to regular deep self-examination, I wouldn't do it publicly, and I wouldn't do it here. Nevertheless, I do try to be honest. I also try to be correct, stylish and funny. Like playing a musical instrument, writing on this blog is a hobby; a means of self-expression; an expression and confirmation of my 'ego'. I'm ok with that. Sometimes I'm proud of what I write, sometimes not so much. I am more often (than I used to) resisting the temptation to respond to everything that touches a nerve...for whatever that's worth. But I do it because I enjoy it. That'll do me. No biggie.

BTW, I've always avoided discussing the details of my sitting schedule. Please don't assume anything about it. It's no one else's business but my own.

PS I didn't at all read your comment as an attack, but feel free to read mine as a defence ;)

Corrected cucumber [!] said...

Alan Watts may have been a great Bodhisattva, but not one worth listening to.

+ said...

Probably not even medium size. He gave money to the SFZC and had good intentions so SR was nice to him. Nothing beyond that. Not that I know the facts but it seems easy to figure out.

anon #108 said...

Now see - that PS I wrote ^

Something about it I don't like...I don't like what it might reveal. ...Not the fact that I've 'defended' myself, but the fact that I've felt it necessary to anticipate that others might think so and have got in there first. Feh.

My first instinct: to re-publish the comment with the PS removed. My second instinct: to write this defence/apology. What a mess!

Self-examination is best shared with therapists.


I've said it before, I'll say it again:

Alan Watts is cool. Lay off Alan Watts.

SWIM said...

He may have been a lot like KW. Only AW is a good guy and K is a shitty guy. Intelectuals are easy to decieve. - Got anyone in mind?

Anonymous R to Blogger 108 said...

- I thought “whaddya know” sounded like you.

You can join Mysterion if you like. - Drill a hole in your skull and pour in sand.

(+ I wrote the last comment before I saw yours, - but I posted it still. - Good as it was.)

anon #108 said...

Good afternoon Ran,

"Waddya know" may have sounded like me to you, but was not, in fact, me. I haven't posted anonymously for some months. Have a nice day :-)

Andrew said...

Writing 'I try to be honest' and doing honesty when one writes is, for me, the heart of the matter.

Your responses to Buddy, for example (at 1.14 & 139) struck me as deeply dishonest and made me feel quite sad.

Anyone can say something is trivial or fun or stylistic or that they don't really care or use metaphors like playing an instrument and so on.

We all have ways of letting ourselves off the hook. And sometimes a simple apology for potentially upsetting someone can do the trick for me. Whether I do it or experience someone else doing it in one form or another.

I was at a zebra crossing this morning and a young lad in a souped-up car, driving like a maniac, screeched to halt. I felt pissed but put my hand up to thank him for stopping, nonetheless.

As I walked away I noticed I felt a tiny but distinct sense of freedom and general good will. And it occurred to me that if I hadn't encourage the habit of thanking people at Zebra crossings, I might not have done so in this instance.

And then it also occurred to me that maybe a little of that grace might have effected the driver similarly.

It only occurred later to think of it in moral or even Buddhist terms.

But there was a sense in which I was apologising to myself that I can't fully express nor shake off.

To get the to crux of the matter, I would not trust what #108 might write on this incident if there was even a hint of the 'dharma' in it.

I'll assume what I want about your sitting schedule. The point is it's only relevant when it is. The second-hand wisdom is tiresome and, I think, is an example of confusing the matter of 'assumptions' and the intimate nature of one's own practice in relation to others. It struck me as a pompous non-point you contrived from what I have written.

Brad often writes about his own practice.

I think claiming 'style' etc as a 'defence' is like being caught frowning at what someone is saying to you and then making out you were smiling inside. Maybe you were, but its the frown that needs taking care of.

I rarely know how my responses to take form. I might feel I'm attacking or defending when I didn't think that was my overriding intention. I don't think it matters. I think it's the 'what' and not the 'who' that is more important. It drifts into 'who' is part of what repetition of that 'what' when attached to an identity.

There are pitfalls.

R to 108 said...

Kindly erase you last comment.

Andrew said...

My above was to #108/Malcom.

4:12 AM said...

- One O, - not Andrew. [- that is]

(- Though “whaddya knowdoes sound like you. - We could take a vote.

(though “crooked cucumber” doesn’t really))

anon #108 said...


You clearly hear what I write in a very different way to what I hear and mean when I write it. So I doubt whether anything I say from here on is likely to make a blind bit of difference...

I did not say "I don't care". I care quite a lot. I care about my comments here as much as when I try to play music well. It matters. I try my best. If I am a dishonest, self-deceptive fool - and I may be - it's the best I can do.

But for the record, and for buddy's sake rather than yours, for he appeared to misread it too -

Your responses to Buddy, for example (at 1.14 & 139) struck me as deeply dishonest and made me feel quite sad.

I promise you my response was the best, most honest, appropriate response I could manage at the time. Perhaps you read what I wrote as "If you don't like what Gudo thinks, fuck off buddy" - if so, you couldn't be more mistaken...

I meant to point out that buddy's concerns about Gudo's (reported) opinions on the nuclear bombing of Japan are neither here nor there. What is here or there is what is buddy to do about it? Seek consensus; seek group condemnation or confirmation of Gudo's personal views? What good would that do buddy or anyone? Is buddy a student of Gudo? I doubt it. Is buddy under any obligation to agree with Gudo? No - not even if s/he is his student. So buddy is perfectly free to disagree with Gudo and to reject his, and by association if s/he wishes, Brad's teaching/writing, and to seek the truth from another teacher/writer. NOT to 'fuck off' from this blog, or 'fuck off' anywhere. I hoped buddy would consider what I could possibly mean by my response and come to the conclusion that s/he needn't worry one jot about finding Gudo's (reported) opinion "one of the stupidiest things" s/he'd ever heard; buddy is perfectly free and entitled to reject anything that s/he doesn't find to be true.

110 said...

- I’m not really sure if it’s clear, - so: - You can erase the first line @ 3:54, but it’s not really relevant for the rest.



anon #108 said...


I also thank people at zebra crossings! I have done for as long as I remember. In fact, I very often thank people, in all sorts of situations. I often hear myself saying "Thanks a lot" and "Thanks a lot for that". I do it sincerely, too. I agree with you that such actions have good consequences, so it's a good thing that it comes naturally to folks like you and me.

In fact, I'm a very decent chap. A fool, maybe - but a very decent chap. I believe my close friends when they tell me so.

Anonymous said...

Big Mind Zen Center
1268 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

Phone 801-328-8414
FAX 801-532-5867

President and Abbot - Genpo Merzel
Office Manager – Chet Cannon:
Merchandise Manager – Mike Case:
Webmaster – Vegar Svanemyr:
Membership – Chet Cannon:
Zen-Eye - Mike Case:
Finance – Ivis Montenegro:
Residential Training – Marci von Wolkahof:
Taking Heart – Mary Ellen Sloan:
Publishing Manager – Mark Esterman:
Audio Video Manager – Vegar Svanemyr:
Work Leader - Mark Daishin Nelson:

anon #108 said...

Just a bit more, Andrew...

I wrote and intended:

"Please don't assume anything about it. It's no one else's business but my own"

not as a rude rebuff, but as a polite response to your:

"Good for you lot if you've all established regular sitting practice."

(I assumed I was included.)

For all you know I might sit 10 minutes every other week. It's my purely personal opinion that comparing sitting schedules isn't helpful. THAT was the point I was trying to make.

(I'm beyond 'getting myself off the hook' now. But I do think peace and understanding are good things...I'm clarifying the things seem to have upset you in that spirit. Make of it what you want.)

anon #108 said...

Yes, Ran...we have different opinions about Alan Watts. I like him. You don't. No biggie.

115 said...

I don’t dislike him.

He may be a good and a nice gay. (See 3:35 am)

I just don't think he could be more of an authority than Ken Wilber, whom I am certain could never have passed the “Dharma Combat”.

Not even under Genpo.

+ if you're looking for a quarrel - pick on somebody else.

Andrew said...

To #108

I think you have conflated what I was writing in my earlier post when I made some point about the difficulty of negotiating the similarity/difference between instances of 'fuck off'.

A general point applied to the discussion on this comment section and elsewhere.

My example of your responses to Buddy in my second post, was an example regarding your later remarks about being honest. I wrote to you:

"Writing 'I try to be honest' and doing honesty when one writes is, for me, the heart of the matter.

Your responses to Buddy, for example (at 1.14 & 139) struck me as deeply dishonest and made me feel quite sad.

It might have been better to have asked me to go into more detail before jumping the gun. Maybe I should have gone into more detail in the first place.

I took Buddy's response to be a genuine one to words taken out of context or something like. If I had not had more information I might have felt and reacted similarly. I know Brad has addressed this difficult area with care and in detail and so do you (given your postings on those subjects on the date Buddy referred to)

But Buddy's response and reaction was understandable given what he expressed as his understanding in his post. If I had read some quote by some teacher to the effect of x was justified in the mass killing of y, my first reaction would be similar to Buddy's.

Someone could have filled me in and pointed me in the right direction. Or just left it.

Instead you took the opportunity to jump on his reaction to his main point and play 'wise man say' with it. To put it bluntly.

When Buddy 'thanked' you for 'trivialising' and 'missing the point of my post', you responded with more of the same.

That you contrive to make out that I am accusing you of telling Buddy, in other words, to 'fuck off' from this Blog or anywhere else says a lot about your sense of perspective when criticised, never mind the extent to which you don't seem to apply similar rigour to your reading of other's posts that you expected from him/her.

You were quick to point out to Buddy

"I feel that you have totally missed the very real point of my post. Never mind." with italics on the I, you and my.

Considering Buddy's main point that lead to him to say he was , as you well knew, revolved around the issue and language of 'justification', your explanation of your intentions is depressing.

It struck me that you trivialised not just Buddy's post, but also what you have heard and learnt, and repeated them to effect of making at least one person feel a bit crappy. And that is why I wouldn't trust what you wrote on here if it had the whiff of 'dharma' about it.

Buddy v #108 maybe a trivial thing. I've spent many occasions playing Trivial Pursuit with people who spoil a fun game, or a chance to huddle around together and maybe learn something, in much the same way.

I've just noticed your other posts. You're clearly upset. And no, being nice as at the Zebra crossing doesn't come naturally. That's why I wrote that I was glad I had encouraged the habit. Maybe Buddy was upset.

But I don't want to get dragged into a tailspin with you. So I'll leave it at that - unless you have anything of importance to ask me that I've been unclear on.

Anonymous said...

Harry, have you ever met Nishijima? Do you know what the fuck you're talking about? What's really going on here?

Andrew said...

to #108

I missed out 'confused and sad' words in this paragraph:

Considering Buddy's main point that lead to him to say he was 'confused and sad', as you well knew, revolved around the issue and language of 'justification', your explanation of your intentions is depressing.

I apologise in advance for any other mistakes.

R said...

It’s OK Andrew, only 108 reads that stuff.

Andrew said...

To R

I was apologising in advance to #108. But prod taken.

anon #108 said...

No, Ran I'm not looking for a quarrel.

Yes, Andrew, I did make assumptions and conflate your "fuck off" remarks, but I did not "contrive to make out" anything, I just assumed. Apparently I can "assume what I want" ;)

You would have dealt with Buddy's comment differently. Fair enough. (I don't share buddy's outrage at Gudo's opinion on the bomb, so that no doubt made a big difference to our responses).

If buddy if he tells me he was upset by my reply, I'll apologise. You and I have spoken our piece.

Maybe surprisingly Andrew, I am not, and was not upset. Really. I can see how my comments might read that way. I only found the bit about not trusting anything I might say on the incident a little hurtful. It passed quickly. Not everyone can love or trust me, can they.

I'm off out the shops now. It's a nice day. Enjoy yours :)

john e mumbles said...

FWIW I like Alan Watts as well. Had it not been for one or two of his books, I likely would not have been directed to others that were arguably more beneficial as far as Zen and other related subjects go. I suspect Charles had experiences we are not privy to that led him to the conclusions he shares here about Watts. Otherwise, taking a few lectures out of context proves very little.

Likewise, again, I find that anon 108’s intent whenever he comments here is genuine, and these are only our opinions, right? So whether or not Harry’s having a bad day -I’ve had a few I’ve unloaded here as well, or Ran or someone else takes issue with whatever’s said, it matters not so much. What Andrew said about practice, however, does, IMO matter, though, and I appreciate his struggle to get back to it. Not sure wading through the slings and arrows here will get you there, however, but what do I know? Not much.

Also, FWIW, I care F-all about Genpo et al, as if these guys just showed up, the snake oil has been flowing way before the water turned to wine, or the staff into a snake, etc. I tried above to lighten things up w/an old (and v. entertaining!) video of Brad’s D 13band, but to no avail. The GR quagmire just sucked it on down…and it’s just run of the mill bs.

Years ago, when “scandal” broke around Sai Baba they said in private interviews he would suddenly levitate his robe, and lifting it say “now is your GOOD LUCK OPPORTUNITY!”

While that dredges up a disgusting visual, it is at least –darkly- humorous.

Harry said...

Harry, have you ever met Nishijima?

No, not in the sense you probably mean, but I don't have a particularly rosey tinted view of the man as much as I respect him, if that's what you're getting at.

Do you know what the fuck you're talking about?

Yes, being a consummate idiot I think I'm entitled to an opinion on idiocy.

What's really going on here?

Good question, not too many people seem concerned with what's really going on here preferring instead to wallow in their own crapulence.

Maybe you can say a few 'turning words' about what's really going on here?



john e mumbles said...

“For all you know I might sit 10 minutes every other week. It's my purely personal opinion that comparing sitting schedules isn't helpful.”

It’s not helpful at all, but just for comparison’s sake, my sitting is as big as the weather pattern on my avatar.

Nonsen said...

Maybe you can say a few 'turning words' about what's really going on here?


126 said...

The last two lines @ 6:45 am were a joke.

I can't really see why it wasn't taken.

But then 108 is such a bad tempered - what might you expect? - Harry can't stand him either.

Anonymous Bob said...

Hi Buddy: You might reading too much into 108's comments. What I hear when I read someone's words has as much to do with the state of my own body/mind as it does with theirs. As far as I can tell, 108 tries his best to be honest as I'm sure you do. When emotions are active they can twist understanding so it can be helpful to try and be aware of your own state when commenting. You said one of 108's comments made you sad and then you responded to it. It's really not fair for you to transfer the responsibility for your feelings to 108. It's very hard to judge a person's intent on a blog.

;) said...

I post quite blindly today. I read almost nothing.

(other than the captchas that is)

+ said...

But it was just when I thought of the captchas that 127 appeared. About.

Captchas have one thing in common with 'Zen' answers - you can't recycle them.

The Zen teaching of Google

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Why would someone need 3 houses?

And lest anyone accuse Brad of jealousy, there is nothing to be jealous of.

Owning property is a ball and chain.

Property tax is heavy

Liablity insurance is expensive

Utility bills

You have to pay for servants and security systems

If any of the houses has a jacuzzi or swimming pool, liablity insurance rates go up, up, up

When you are away, houses specially if mansion sized, have to be monitored by responsible people, otherwise they can become trouble magnets.

Merzel was into greed long before he changed clothes.

Remember too he had a brown cloak--Dharma Transmission.

He wasnt just an ordinary Zennie.

And Brad is right. He is no longer answerable to Buddhist ethics or the forms and ceremonies of Soto Zen.

He is now his own freelance operator and isnt even a licensed therapist.

He can make the rules as he goes along.

By contrast, ball players face more accountability; many fans know if a baseball player throws a foul.

But in the New Wage scene, there is no such respect for rules.

Anonymous said...

And Uku raised a question--

why the need to improve or add on to Buddhism?

IMO, the signal is to examine the craving that is the root of all these impulses to 'improve' or 'add on' or get faster results.

For a reality check, read the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.

Buddha promised that he was not a teacher who kept anything back. He promised he had passed on all that would be needed.

He left compassionate instructions to FREE his students from any worry that he had left them incomplete instructions, so they wouldnt have to give unnecessary attention entrepreneurs peddling bags of tricks.

If you think you need faster results or something to add to your Buddhist practice *sit down* and watch that itch of craving.

Dont go out and buy anything.

Just examine the urge to wanna buy something.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew said...

To Anonymous Bob

Surely it is possible to feel an emotion but not be in thrall to it to the extent that it impairs one's judgement when expressing a criticism.

As Harry wrote:

"Yes, being a consummate idiot I think I'm entitled to an opinion on idiocy."

That was a response to a particular situation, but I think it has general value too. And hopefully not as something used to merely deflect criticism.

But those sort of statements can be recycled into the armoury of those who can dish it out but not take it with some levity also.

One man's 'fuck off' is another boy's attempt to sound like a man.

Any assumption or reading of intent needs to find its mark with some clarity in what has been written or said, the expression, in the context etc.

If I didn't feel, I wouldn't be able to read or listen. If I didn't feel strongly enough, I wouldn't bother expressing myself. If I feel too much I might very well be twisting, transferring, projecting etc.

There are more factors than just feelings that can blind-side us or contort our reponses.

But what about the tendencies to club together, to think well of our 'family' member such that he/she become above reproach? And as much because we were taken in and feel foolish for not having paid attention before?

I take Harry's responses to Brad on this comment section to be pointing to the same sort of thing. I respect the strength of his points, and I was glad Brad responded to them.

I don't assume though that he is beyond the description of wallowing in crapulence that he extends to others. And I don't really know to what extent it colours his own views.

Surely no-one is above the need for a little check. And if your friends or affiliates or co-comment section regulars won't, why not someone else say hey that smells.

Anonymous said...

People love to dump on Brad for talking too much.

But when Wilber wrote his 2006 Wyatt Earpy tirade, plenty of people defended it.

And that was infinitely worse than anything Brad has ever written.

People rush to defend entrenched power and privilige.

Anonymous said...

Another downer about owning expensive property:

If your servants do not treat delivery people with courtesy, those truck drivers will spread word that the owner of the property is a cheap shmuck or beotch.

A guy who drove a DHL delivery truck told me that he had to drive a package to the house of a famous millionairess/author/celebrity's mansion.

He delivered the package to the head manager or butler and asked to use the bathroom--he was a human being who needed to pee.

He was not allowed to use any of the nice toilets in that mansion. He was sent to use one in the servants quarters.

Treat people badly if you are known to be rich and famous--and word will get around.

If you have a reputation as a spiritual teacher, the contrast between cheapskatism, bad manners, and your public reputation and expensive houses will inspire yet more giggling.

There is nothing to envy if someone has mansions.

No matter what he thinks, the hired help and delivery truck drivers will be talking plenty about Merzel and the goings on at his houses.

There is nothing to envy about owning lots of house property. It encourages gossip among those in the know. The poor guys who are hired to prune the bushes and hose down the driveway will know more about the private life of the mansion denizens than anyone imagines.

So, Merzel, you better pay your hired help very well and treat them very well.

Including the cab drivers and delivery truck drivers.

Or...they gonna talk the truth about you.

Not your manicured public persona.


Renegade said...

From the forward of one of Merzel's books on big con:

"It often takes five years or more of extremely difficult practice (I know, I’ve done it) in order for a profound satori to occur. With the Big Mind Process, a genuine kensho can occur in about an hour—seriously. Once you get it, you can do it virtually any time you wish, and almost instantaneously. It is nothing less than the discovery of your True and Unique Self, Ultimately Reality, the Ground of All Being—again, call it what you like, for “they call it Many which is really One.”

So let's cut the crap about Merzel not making claims for this stuff that he did.

As someone who not only has met Merzel but trained with him for over a decade, including when he started the big con nonsense, I speak from experience in saying that the man is a fraud and an abuser. As for big con - it's mental masturbation at best and has nothing to do with Zen in any way. It is not even a valid form of therapy. After all since it didn't work the teacher of this stuff, why would anyone be gullible enough to believe it will work for anyone else?

Anonymous said...

"I'm not a huge admirer of Genpo Roshi but I weary of these diatribes against BigMind"

Why is it that people get tired of Brad so much faster than they get tired of whatever Ken Wilber spews out, as witness the Wyatt Earpy tirade cited above?

Again, if you have power and privilge, folks never tire of you.

Anyone who is tired of Brad can ignore what he writes.

By contrast, its hard to have a dicussion online about Buddhist practice without someone trying to ram Wilber or Merzel in there.

So many are doing aggressive, door to door, foot in the door proslytizing for low quality Integral stuff that its hard to have a productive discussion on Dharma.

Brad writes on a few limited venues and speaks only when invited by someone.

If you are tired of his stuff, you can ignore it.

Plus Wilber has consistently associated with some very questionable people--Adi Da, Andrew Cohen, Marc Gafni

Mindless Troll said...

in my case, after a few years of zen practice I started to see that many of society's rules were arbitrary and based upon tradtion. This really applies to sexual behaviour. What is acceptable varies greatly from culture to culture and time to time. Seeing this, I gave free-reign to my strong sexual urges. Without the rules and tradtional conditioning, the only thing left was my own desires. I just knew that I was God almighty, the one, real being of all time and this meant I could really do no wrong.

I see so much of this thinking and behaviour in zen students (and teachers) in the west. I was married and began lying and cheating just like Genpo, et al. For several years, I continued my zen practice along with my increasingingly self-centered behaviour. It was like part of my mind was 'advancing' (bad word, I know) spiritually while the rest remained stuck at a really base level. After a few years, this action (karma) reached fruition and began to cause suffering for many people. I began to re-think my notions of hippie free-love and how I was beyond all rules.

Several years later I began to realize what had happened. I was only seeing one side. Yes, it's true that many rules and ethical taboos are simply arbitrary and culture-bound. But....I had neglected to really face the fact that after discarding these artificial rules of society I fell back upon my own selfish desires and attachments and allowed them to rule me instead. It was hard for me to see that sexual attachment is also a form of delusion. Not sexual feeling itself, but what our mind does with this feeling. The endless fantasies and ego involvement.

I went back to basic Buddhism. The eight fold path and noble truths. Selfish craving is the cause of suffering. No amount of zazen will magically force us to be self-aware. Zazen is not a technique for self-improvement any more than it is for enlightenment. Simply sitting in the correct posture and trying to be aware of the coming and going of thoughts (or working with a koan) does not automatically release us from suffering. You can sit for 40 years and be no closer to the truth.

So-called satori is but the beginning of zen practice.

Tolling Mindlessly said...

Wow. Been there and done that. I am a regular contributor to this blog commentary and really appreciate what you've said here. Thank you for articulating what must be a pretty common scenario.

I deeply regret hurting the people I hurt while rationalizing my selfish actions. All the while thinking I was just "one" with it all. What a dumb ass.

Anonymous said...

Nishijima has said enlightenment is a childs fantasy. He seems to think balancing the mind is the point of zen. Mr Warner contiues this idea with statements such as " Kensho is bunk satori is bullshit.

I find this to be more dangerous to Zen Buddhism than what Genpo does.

Gotama buddha made it clear his teaching was about gaining nibbana and ending rebirth.
It seems neither Nishijima Or Brad Warner have experienced anything beyond mild kensho, and do not understand the meaning of zen Buddhist practice.
Zen Buddhist 'masters' who have not known satori are the blind leading the blind.

anon #108 said...

Andrew -

I conducted our conversation presuming that we had never met. But having slept on it, what you had to say to and about me, and the way you said it (including your mis-spelling of my name), are leading me to the conclusion that we have met, a few times. Today, it seems obvious. If I'm wrong - or if I'm right - would you please do me the favour of letting me know. Thanks.

Andrew said...

No, we haven't met.

anon #108 said...

Thanks, Andrew.

You'd be surprised at how much you have in common with another Andrew! I'm glad that's been cleared up. Other Andrew will be too, I imagine.

anon #108 said...

(I wrote this for whichever Andrew you might be):

I could very easily take apart everything you've written here and point out the contradictions, inconsistencies, avoidances, hypocrisy, blind spots, arrogance, assumption, presumption, lack of insight, lack of empathy, lack of generosity, projection and error throughout. I wouldn't have to try very hard to make a good job of it. But I chose instead to explain myself.

I believe that, fundamentally, I resist taking apart what others write and pointing out their shortcomings because I want to be liked, and saying things that people will probably find hurtful doesn't get one liked.

But also I believe that pointing out other people's shortcomings doesn't have much value, much usefulness.

I very rarely presume that my opinions about someone else's flawed character and motivations are so important or reliable that they merit publication. But I have done it - on the rare occasions when I've felt relentlessly battered or misunderstood. It's not pleasant feeling to be gripped by. Bottom line: anything I can say about someone else, someone else can say about me.

So I avoid doing it. Such 'plain-speaking' is nearly always motivated by some unresolved personal issue/problem; better, I think to examine one's unresolved issues privately than work through them in the guise of "Here is what your problem is," even if the effort does include attempts to understand one's own part in the thing.

But I will make this one observation about your contributions, Andrew: at no time did you answer buddy's comment; at no time did you address and seek to pacify the confusion and sadness buddy said s/he felt and which you strongly felt deserved an empathetic reply. You responded with...something else entirely.

So we're different. We express ourselves differently and we understand each other differently. Some of us don't 'get' others of us. We're doing our best. That's the only reliable conclusion I can reach.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate, and fall most in line with, the comments made by Eidou (4:44). I myself have studied at the Zen Center off and on for over a decade--both pre and post Big Mind so I am very aware of what it is and isn't. In my experience it has been an effective tool for me (not generally "mind-blowing" though)but it is something different to everyone and I can appreciate that.

Really the main point I thought I might offer as clarification is that of the "3 houses".

Granted I am not privy to all things Genpo and I suppose someone might correct me but as far as I am aware of only one house he resides in, the one he shares with his family in Salt Lake City.

The other two, while yes technically houses, are the Zen Center on South Temple in SLC, and the "Sangha House" located next door. These second two houses are indeed owned by Genpo but aside from his office in the back are used exclusively by the Sangha.

So, yes, as a supporting member I know of these "3 houses" but I have no problem in helping to sustain them financially because I benefit from them as well.

As for Genpo, while it sounds like I am in the minority amongst your commenters, I will weigh in to say I liked him very much. I only knew him casually when he would teach classes but in that context I found him a deligtful, warm, funny, accessible, genuine person. And Big Mind issues aside I found him to be a remarkable teacher of the Dharma and appreciated his knowledge and the insights he brought/brings to my own practice.

I am very sad to see him leave the center. He was a central force there and indeed we would not be there were it not for him. Moving on without him will be an interesting adventure. I have a great deal of compassion for him and his situation. While I don't condone his behavior I have great empathy for him, his family and the wide circle of my own friends his actions affected.

PS - I know you will disagree but I for one am glad for the separation between the Big Mind practice movement and the Kanzeon Center. While unlike you I do find great value in the Big Mind process (and do think it has more in common with zen than you give it credit) I don't think it should replace traditional zen practice for those of us who show up every week to in fact focus on zen.

Leaven said...

Its relative bullshit anyway, Brad sells everything except his dirty underpants here on his blog and if you hadn't noticed, he has a "donate" button...

Anonymous said...

When I first heard Genpo was charging 50,00.00 for a weekend seminar I thought there is no way to ever jusyify that.

Then I thought, hell if a person can afford 50,000.00 for a weekend I would be more than willing to take that money as long as it goes to a charity or maybe even support of the sanghas.
I now know two of the three houses he owns are used for sanghas. So I wonder what he does do with all that money, other than buy a harley. That is the key to whether he is wrong to take large sums in exchange for training. (maybe the harley didn't come from those funds. I have no clue what other income he or his wife had.)

Anonymous said...

bold italics

Anonymous said...


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Stuart said...

Re: the whole Genpodrama..."fall down seven times get up eight" n' all that...but you don't shit where you eat.

If you fall down 7 times, you only have to get up 7 times.

(I don't care how spiritual you are, it's always a good thing to do the math right.)


Anonymous said...

I am not surprised that so many men are saying that where he puts his penis is irrelevant or some such nonsense. But take it from a woman who has experienced her spiritual teacher coming on to her, this is completely devastating. I put my entire spiritual being in my teacher's care for 4 years, and while he was the most positive force in my life up until he tried to cross the line, I had no choice but to leave the ashram because of his many advances which I did NOT return. And believe me, I was DEVASTATED that getting laid would somehow take precedence over a student's spiritual progress. It ruined everything. I don't understand how some men can put years of trust on the line for a momentary sexual encounter. There are many many many stories of male spiritual teachers doing exactly this. And a great deal of them are married. If you don't believe in marriage, monogamy, your own Buddhist precepts or whatever.... DON'T ENTER INTO THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, or get out before you screw up your vows, or if you let it go so far that you notice you are unable to uphold your vows, make it right and divorce/break up/disrobe. You will really hurt people who are trusting and expecting you to uphold them if not. Why is this such a big deal??? Because I can go out and find a lover anywhere, but a spiritual teacher that is able to transmit the particular teachings I am drawn to ..... very very hard to find. When you screw that up over getting a piece of ass, it is a pretty big price to pay. It completely obliterates the student/teacher relationship.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear, my last comment was NOT about Genpo, but about my spiritual teacher in a different lineage.

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