Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Being Grown Up & Europe Tour


First & most importantly: If you have communicated with me by email regarding my upcoming tour of Europe or any other upcoming talks (see this link for details) please write me again. I lost ALL of the emails regarding this tour (as well as hundreds of other emails) when my computer was being worked on at the Apple Store in Summit Mall, Akron, Ohio. Thanks!

Next up, I've been monitoring the comments left about my previous post. It's fascinating. Lots of people seem to believe the post was an effort to enact some kind of revenge upon Barry Magid and the Ordinary Mind Zendo.

In fact, I do not feel vengeful at all. I kind of enjoyed the talk in a perverse way. No. Scratch "kind of." I very much did enjoy it. It was fun. I'm not angry at all. I'm mostly just confused.

There were a few people who took the opportunity to trash talk Mr Magid and his group. Since I don't censor those who trash talk me (and there are always plenty) I don't censor those who trash talk anyone else. But please don't read my not censoring them as some kind of expression of support on my part. I do not censor anyone. I really don't know what to think of the whole thing. People are mysterious. Most people's actions make no sense to me. This talk was just another in a long list of things I've participated in that I couldn't understand.

I thought the email I published was interesting. The writer's opinions seem to match those of the two people from the film crew who are doing a documentary about me who were also there. These film crew people had never seen me speak anywhere before and had never read any of my books. They also suspected the event had been set up as a way for the Mr Magid to attack me in public.

At the time I didn't feel I was being attacked or set up. Not exactly. I felt like I was being challenged by the woman who raised the question about "transference." I felt that Mr Magid's question about my "acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult" was extraordinarily rude. It would have been rude coming from anyone. But it was especially so coming from the leader of the community who invited me to speak.

This did not make me angry, just confused. Why would someone behave that way? It was weird. I still don't know. I've written to Mr Magid. Maybe he'll tell me. Maybe he won't. Maybe even if he tells me I still won't understand. Who knows? And, really, who cares?

In any case, I would like to speak to the matter of "acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult." Some of this will be what I said last Saturday. Some will not.

This is actually something I've heard before. In fact, I hear it quite often. I have put some thought into the matter and have decided that I do not, in fact, act like a perpetual adolescent and refuse to become an adult.

Yet there are times I wonder if it's true. I wonder if I really have somehow failed to become an adult. But then I have to write a check to my insurance company, file my taxes, take out my trash, plan a speaking tour of Europe, deal with divorce-related matters, fix my car, etc., etc., etc. I left my parents' house when I was 18 years old and have been living on my own ever since. I have actually managed to become an adult quite nicely, thank you very much for your concern.

I think this relates to something that happened to me a few years ago when I first started teaching Zen. One of the older guys in Nishijima Roshi's group took me aside and said he thought I did not take Zen very seriously. He found my attitude too light-hearted for his liking. He said that, for him, Zen was "a matter of life and death."

At the time all I could do was sort of wimper in response. This was someone I respected, someone I thought of as a friend. His tone was extremely angry. It made me sad. It made me confused.

But then I thought, fuck you. Fuck you. This is not an angry "fuck you," by the way, for those of you unfamiliar with uses of this phrase other than to express anger. It is a way of expressing that what someone has said about you is entirely wrong.

I do take Zen very seriously. It is the most serious thing in my life. And my attitude is a manifestation of just how seriously I take it.

I realized during my teenage years that my life might get cut short very quickly by a really nasty disease that ran in my family. At that point it became urgent for me to find out what life was really about. I jumped into my Zen training with an almost desperate sense of urgency and seriousness.

I have one life and one life only. I refuse to waste it. I don't care if the way I choose to live does not measure up to the way you imagine I ought to live. I don't have the time to waste on caring about that kind of trivia.

To me, what Buddha was really looking for was a way to live a life that doesn't suck. Hedonism didn't work because hedonism sucked. It looked like fun, but it really wasn't. Austerity sucked too. It provided a kind of high, but that high didn't make him happy. Instead he found the Middle Way between the two.

Buddha was not looking for a way to make all of us clones of whoever comes along claiming to be the manifestation of "adulthood." He was not looking for a way to make us all "serious" in the conventional sense. He wasn't an authoritarian leader looking for obedient followers. He was looking for a way to help people live a life that did not suck.

Buddhism is about enjoying your life. The goal of zazen practice, if there is one, is to learn how to enjoy living as thoroughly as you can. This is what I am working on. Nothing else. I am working on having as much fun while I'm here as I possibly can without hurting anyone or impeding their ability to have fun.

This is why I sit and stare at walls every day. No other reason.

And that's my bottom line.

85 comments:

sekishin said...

Roll on . . .

prince william said...

#2.

Late again

mtto said...

I realized during my teenage years that my life might get cut short very quickly by a really nasty disease that ran in my family. At that point it became urgent for me to find out what life was really about. I jumped into my Zen training with an almost desperate sense of urgency and seriousness.

I have one life and one life only. I refuse to waste it. I don't care if the way I choose to live does not measure up to the way you imagine I ought to live. I don't have the time to waste on caring about that kind of trivia.


Well said, especially this bit. I think having a fucked up hereditary disease in your family is so freaky that people block it out of their image of "Brad Warner, punk zen guy who writes funny books." Really, we all die and most people most of the time try to escape that fact.

Brad's talk from Ordinary Mind will be on the Hardcore Zen Podcast in a few days. I'm going to do some volume automation and compression to make the questions more audible, but I won't cut anything if I can avoid it.

Anonymous said...

I"m posting this without his permission as I feel it was an honest and open answer and would hurt no one but in fact may help to try to understand what has taken place. And I respectfully thank Barry for his response.

I wrote: Say it aint so Barry:

A zen ambush for Brad Warner. The only reason one ambushes another is fear
> of Barry. Sounds like you are in the same circle as Genpo...........



Actually I completely agree with Brad about Big Mind.
The problem was brad didn't know his audience that day - neither the depth of feeling produced by Joko's death nor that I and many in the
audience were psychotherapists who had treated people suffering from the trauma of abuse & abusive relationships with teachers. For instance I recently
led a workshop for students of Eido Roshi's who had suffered from his sexual predations over many decades. What Brad said about teacher's responsibility was
provocative - as he knows and enjoys being -- and we took him seriously enough to seriously challenge him. This wasn't an audience of fans at a bookstore.
He was talking to long time practitioners and professionals. He should be able to take our challenge seriously. That's not an ambush.
respectfully
Barry Magid

On Jun 22, 2011, at 9:00 AMwrote:

>
Barry Magid
ordinarymind@mindspring.com

merciless said...

"acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult"

I thought when you threw out all your toy dinosaurs a few years ago that question was quashed forever.

ator said...

Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?

Oh no, lets go!

Lone Wolf said...

Life is too important to be taken seriously -- Oscar Wilde

Melanie; Austin, TX said...

I see other people in the zen community in my world who seem like they haven't grown up. It looks to me like often what they're doing is sincerely questioning assumptions about what it means to be a "grown-up", which never sounds like it's about enjoying life. They are brave, and a good example for me about how to be braver. I can't say they make a lot of money, however. Money sounds good, but the things people do to make a lot of money never appear to be too enjoyable. Maybe I'm dumb.

Harry said...

He was talking to long time practitioners and professionals. He should be able to take our challenge seriously. That's not an ambush.

It's good at least that he can sort of admit that he let his feelings about the day cloud his professional judgement and subsequent conduct.

But that wasn't ethical professional conduct, and so it wasn't professional. Nor is trying to humiliate someone in public via a slapdash psychoanalysis a serious challenge.

Wakey wakey, Barry.

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this lady who asked about "acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult" just envied you ??

Because you look so young, like a student.

<<Buddhism is about enjoying your life. The goal of zazen practice, if there is one, is to learn how to enjoy living as thoroughly as you can. This is what I am working on. Nothing else. I am working on having as much fun while I'm here as I possibly can without hurting anyone or impeding their ability to have fun.

I agree with you Brad. Fin is good.

Fuck`em all who take zen too seriously.

Fuck all these psycho-the-RAPISTs !

I wish you many many happy nights with young hot ladies.

gniz said...

It's going to be interesting to hear the talk. But Barry's response as posted in that comment above makes me wonder...

Did Brad perhaps not behave in a very compassionate way given that Joko had died and people were experiencing a loss? Maybe even just starting his talk off by acknowledging it in some way might have helped...

Was Brad being a bit glib about the suffering of those who have been preyed upon by teachers like Shimano and Genpo?

Again, not for me to say and perhaps we can glean more from the audio...

But as others have pointed out, this aint the first time at this rodeo for Brad. He writes and says some very controversial and provocative things--he generalizes and at times seems to be egging people on, attacking them or making light of their efforts in his columns...

That Brad doesn't EVER see why he is interpreted this way is a mystery to me, as much as it seems to be one to him. Obviously a lot of folks are being offended and having issues with Brad, maybe it's not simply because everyone else is a tight ass.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Write stuff that challenges and sometimes maybe insults, and people will give it back to you--sometimes in a bigger dose than you expected.

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

Gniz,

For what it's worth (2 cents, if even?) I sorta agree: Brad often goes out of his way to wind people up, so he should expect flak or just STFU...

But my issue, and the important issue here IMO (as the 'zen masters as professionals' debate has raised its head recently), is that Dr.Barry & Co seem to be flashing their 'Professional' badges while acting very unprofessionally indeed in their zen clubhouse (in this instance). It may seem like a minor quibble, but I think it's quite important from a 'professional standards' point of view as this is a classic example of creating a hazy grey area between 'zen teacher' and 'Professionalism': Zen is not a profession (it doesn't have formal professional standards and checks etc etc), but therapy very much is (or should be). You can't try to pass yourself off as both a 'Professional Therapist' and an in-your-face challenging zen master when the conduct of the latter contravenes the professional ethical standards of the former.

BUYERS BEWARE! Both 'Zen' and therapy are fraught with enough power issues without blurring these distinctly different roles.

Regards,

Harry.

Melanie; Austin, TX said...

Barry Magid: A few thoughts...
1) Perhaps someone- not Brad- could have preceded the talk with a public acknowledgment of the grief in the audience about Joko Beck. I’m not sure why he needed to be the one to understand the feelings of a group that he doesn’t know intimately. 2) You also knew who you invited. If there is something Brad needed to know about his audience, perhaps it would have served everyone to have clued him in if you thought it necessary. 3) A serious topic might be better approached as a group inquiry rather than a challenge. Maybe assumptions about who Brad “is” also contributed to the outcome. 4) One never knows who might be among ones fans at a bookstore. The phrase "serious practioners and professionals" diminishes the contribution of people who you don’t include in those categories who may have an outside perspective worth hearing. Exclusion is a kind of control.

Fish said...

"This wasn't an audience of fans at a bookstore.
He was talking to long time practitioners and professionals. He should be able to take our challenge seriously. That's not an ambush."

So, either

1) He wanted to put Brad in his place, in a public way. If so, as Harry said, using psychotherapy as a weapon is highly unethical. And saying that he's dealing with "long time practitioners and professionals" sounds like chest beating.

2) He wanted to put Brad on the couch and give him insight into his apparently deeply rooted psychological issues. So he chose to do it within an hour of meeting him, in front of about 30 strangers (according to the anonymous attendee), in a place he'd never been. This does not sound like the kind of environment Barry Magid creates for his patients.

-Fish

WoodsyLadyM said...

Barry's comments still don't explain why he publicly insulted Brad. How was Brad provocative? Give us an example. What did he do or fail to do? Not knowing your audience doesn't sound like a good enough reason to insult anyone. If you're such professionals act like it. Maybe you were.

Anonymous said...

GNITZ!

how the hell are ya, buddy?

Anonymous said...

the trolls love gniz

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post very much. I would like to hear the audio or see the video of the incident in question but even then I won't have all the facts. Nobody ever has all the facts.

Anonymous said...

Brad,
Did your film crew film the ambush?

odo said...

I act angry
but I'm not angry
I don't understand people
so fuck you!

I act angry
but I'm not angry
people misunderstand me
it's a mystery

Mysterion said...

"I felt that Mr Magid's question about my "acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult" was extraordinarily rude. It would have been rude coming from anyone. But it was especially so coming from the leader of the community who invited me to speak."

Brad, you must fulfill the expectations of others. It's all about accommodation. YOU must live your life as others would have you live it - regardless of the "facts."

LOL

Facts are rigid perceptions.

Example 1: "The Bible is the true and inspired word of our lord."

Example 2: "The Bible is a constrained collection of regional folklore."

Example 2 is not as rigid as Example 1. Yet neither are likely to change based on the reading of new tea leaves. As time goes on, I think 2 is justified while a 12-step graduate might say the same of 1.

Perspective. It's just perspective.

And perception fails us more often than not. Otherwise, how could Sarah Palin see Russia from Alaska? I don't doubt her sincerity - seriously. I just doubt her perception.

Anonymous said...

mysterion is such a goof

Anonymous said...

I wonder.. whose perception do I doubt more.. sarah palin's or mysterion's?

too close to call.

Anonymous said...

No way, fuck that guy. He should have challenged any viewpoint you had on Zen, anything at all about any amount of hyptheticals or advice. To ask you about your own behavior and to relate to anything that personally in any context is a total fuck you move.

It wasn't a challenge. Okay, it was, but it was a selfish and (dare I say) childish challenge.

I'm vicariously pissed, even if Brad is not. It could have been put to Genpo. Fuck that guy.

gniz said...

Melanie, you made some good points. But I think a few of them could be examined from an altogether different angle...

You said: "1) I’m not sure why he (Brad) needed to be the one to understand the feelings of a group that he doesn’t know intimately."

Is it really that difficult to understand that if someone like Joko Beck has just passed away that there are probably members of the group who are saddened by it? Imagine if Gudo had just died and Brad invited Noah Levine to speak and Noah literally never said a word about it...and proceeded to make jokes and act lighthearted and clueless about the pain people were obviously feeling....
Granted, I'm making some assumptions, but this is what's being hinted at from the description. Now maybe Brad was kind and compassionate about her passing, so this is pure speculation. But if he acted in a dismissive way than there may have been some pent up aggression that came out during the Q&A.

"3) Maybe assumptions about who Brad “is” also contributed to the outcome." Yes, likely so. But who created those assumptions through his writing and speaking? Brad created them and he knows it. Brad asked for the verbal spanking he got, just as much as I'm asking for one in return for what I'm writing this very second.

Do you think Thic Nhat Han (however you spell it) often gets accosted by angry people at his talks? No, probably not. Because his demeanor doesn't create the kind of energy that would encourage such a response.

Don't get me wrong--I think Brad is far more entertaining and interesting than the majority of Zen folks out there right now. But he's very coy--even clueless about how his style creates the impression that people are reacting to. His refusal to even remotely acknowledge that he takes part in the creation of his persona is simply ridiculous after so many years.

Just own it Brad. Be as punk rock as you are, don't suddenly pull back and pretend you're doing something else because it's more convenient for you to do so.

Anonymous said...

is this real?

I"m posting this without his permission as I feel it was an honest and open answer and would hurt no one but in fact may help to try to understand what has taken place. And I respectfully thank Barry for his response.

I wrote: Say it aint so Barry:

A zen ambush for Brad Warner. The only reason one ambushes another is fear
> of Barry. Sounds like you are in the same circle as Genpo...........



Actually I completely agree with Brad about Big Mind.
The problem was brad didn't know his audience that day - neither the depth of feeling produced by Joko's death nor that I and many in the
audience were psychotherapists who had treated people suffering from the trauma of abuse & abusive relationships with teachers. For instance I recently
led a workshop for students of Eido Roshi's who had suffered from his sexual predations over many decades. What Brad said about teacher's responsibility was
provocative - as he knows and enjoys being -- and we took him seriously enough to seriously challenge him. This wasn't an audience of fans at a bookstore.
He was talking to long time practitioners and professionals. He should be able to take our challenge seriously. That's not an ambush.
respectfully
Barry Magid

john e mumbles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gnotz said...

Good God Gnitz, that comment is






so









long (and boring)









just sayin.

Anonymous said...

The whole innocent zen-punk schtick leaves me cold. I think Brad finally got called out on it.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"The whole innocent zen-punk schtick..."

What about the zen-tea schtick or

zen-archery schtick or

zen-flower schtick or

zen-judo schtick or

zen-fishing schtick?

&ct.

Anonymous said...

What an adult thing to do, Barry. Pseudo-psychoanalyze someone while they're giving a talk in public by referring to them as a "perpetual adolescent" who refuses to become an adult. What is this called in Psychoanalysis again? Projection?

Anonymous said...

your own behavior as left me confused at times, Brad

but I have come to see that it isn't your behavior I need to understand.

Anonymous said...

...continued. Perhaps you should stick to the subject matter rather than deflecting with ad hominem attacks. Then, maybe you'll gain some credibility as an "adult."

Mysterion said...

by far the greatest compliment that I ever received in public was:

"You, sir, are an insufferable lout."

To which I responded:

"Please, don't call me sir."

Criticism is a guest, an old friend coming in from the cold.

Anonymous said...

Gniz
I am so glad to see you here.

Thoughtful, your posts. You are an excellent and good friend to Brad, you state eloquently what I have been unable to put into words.

I hope Brad takes what you sincerely offer here.

I happen to think when being punk isn't so god damned the be all and end all to Brad anymore--when any and all of it is seen and experienced as exactly the same (country an' western, big band, rocknroll, musicals and operas and all genres of all things not just types of musics) then, and only then will Brad have 'grown up' and be able to befriend and be a friend to every and all. It won't matter what comes out of his mouth: the most seemingly offensive, cutting, ascerbic statement won't cause offense because the truth in it will be devoid of judgement.
As long as Brad identifies as PUNK, the inevitable judgements about all else in contrast to it will continue to cause problems, such as they are.
No harm in punk being handle, but it's not the ground to stand on, assuredly not the ground of being.
IMHO and MO is very H

Anonymous said...

are you a 'Mod' or a 'Rocker'?


I'm a Mocker


(from A Hard Day's Night)

Mysterion said...

I forgot the details of the ad hominem attack

It's like who's his what's it going after his Bradness?

Cliff Gnoatz said...

here, let me paraphrase Gnitz for all those who don't have 45 minutes to read his posts....

"Look at me, I am Gnitz, etc, etc."

Anonymous said...

Brad does have a certain loyalty to being punk
and he has said somewhere someplace that buddhism was more punk than punk or was just as punk as punk and it was one of the things that attracted him (to buddhism).

If brad earned his living playing music I'd wager he'd find punk would be found in all music and all groups he'd be encountering. I don't think he could find adequate employment playing exclusively punk music, but who knows?
We're talking about punk, the perspective right? as opposed to punk as the genre.

maybe there is confusion here being made between perspective, tenants of, and the genre which is a superficial kind of thing (sound and fury signifying nothing).

Anonymous said...

oh, mysti, I'd just say you were insufferable and leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Cliff Gnoats:

guilty of Gniz-envy are ye?

Anonymous said...

while Brad might have said that he was attracted to buddhsim cause it was more punk than punk
I have never heard anyone say that punk was attractive to them because it was more buddhist than buddhism!

mtto said...

Transference, Transmission, Adolescence, Adulthood, Life and Death Brad's talk at Ordinary Mind Zendo in New York City on June 18, 2011. I cut the first 5 seconds of mumbling and the last 2-3 seconds of room noise. Otherwise, I left the content untouched.

It should propagate to iTunes by morning. Certainly some tense moments, but a great talk IMAO.

mtto said...

Do you think Thich Nhat Hanh often gets accosted by angry people at his talks?

I don't know how often, but I have personally seen protesters picketing Thich Nhat Hanh. He also got thrown out of his own country for decades.

mtto said...

I've also seen Brad Warner buy a disco greatest hits compilation.

Anonymous said...

At times I stop by your blog to see if there is something interesting to read, and each time there seems to be nothing but a plethora of He-Said-She-Said drama.
It's disappointing and incredibly boring. I'm leaving this feedback before I move on.
Stop writing about what other people have to say about you and start writing something of substance. Your narcissism will soon land you in a lonely hole if you haven't found yourself there yet.

Troll said...

It has dawned on me that Brad is the Sara Palin of the zen world. Once again Brad bashes and trashes and when his conduct is questioned, he portrays himself as aloof from it all smiling down with such perfect wisdom. For those groupies who want a "compassionate" experience, enjoy your zendos but it isn't zen and will just be another diversion. If Brad truly wants to wake up to his life, perhaps he should start by looking at why he responds so strongly to criticism.

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

Without doubt (perhaps) I *act like a perpetual adolescent and refuse to become an adult*. I won't go into the details, you'll have to take my word for it. If someone pointed this out to me, or suggested that it might be true - particularly at public event - I might very well hear it as a rude personal attack. Like Brad, perhaps not at the time, but later, after I'd got hold of it and messed with it over and over.

But apart from the fact that it may be true and I should therefore be aware of it and acknowledge it, I should also know and acknowledge that being a perpetual adolescent is not necessarily a bad thing to be. Not as I understand "perpetual adolescence" and "be". Not at all.

I enjoyed the talk. Not nearly as abrasive an affair as I'd been led to expect (I wasn't there. I'm not Brad). Thanks mtto. Thanks Brad. Thanks Ordinary Mind Zen Center in New York, USA.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, mtto for posting that hotly debated lecture.

It sounded a lot less confrontational than I expected. I interpreted the "sock puppet", "that shirt" and "perpetual adolescent" comments as attempts at humor that did not completely succeed. The comment about the responsibility of a teacher or authority figure regarding transference seemed like a genuine concern from someone who views things from a different perspective than Brad. She seemed to imply that Brad was avoiding dealing with the problem which I don't think is true. The impression that I get from Brad's writing is that when someone tries to give him authority or power over themselves, he tosses it right back at them. That's not the response that most people would want or expect and I think that's the whole point of it. It's the slap in the face that some people need and it conforms to the long history of compassionate face slapping in Zen. It also reminds me of stories about The Diggers in San Francisco in the late 1960s. Whenever someone wanted to join or participate and asked "Who's in charge?" they were told "You are!"

http://www.diggers.org/overview.htm

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the other comments here. I think what Magid is talking about is primarily a matter of word choice and how you present yourself. You say things like "lead a life that doesn't suck" or whatever the exact quotation was. That sounds like a fifteen year old kid, not a 45 year old man. And you show up to give a talk in a t-shirt. Again, that's like something an adolescent would do. Do you know of another 45 year old Zen teacher who uses this kind of adolescent slang?

At the same time, I think you have a deep understanding of Zen, and your teaching seems right on the money to me. And if Magid was rude to you--and it sounds to me as if he was--there's no excuse for that. He should be ashamed of himself.

Nevertheless, it would be easy to sound and look more like an adult. Are you still going to sound and look like a punk rocker when you're 60? 80? Have you ever seen old people who try to look as if they're young? They look ridiculous.

You are a man (as you point out, you've been living on your own for years) so act like a man. It's not that hard.

Professordave

Troll2 said...

"And, really, who cares?"
Erm, clearly you do.

A little less bitching and a bit more zen, please.

john e mumbles said...

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

gniz said...

Folks should really go and listen to the talk (which is linked in one of the comments above).

I'm not sure what was going on but in my opinion those questions brought out the best in Brad. He handled them really, really, really well. And my read on the woman psychoanalyst who asked that first question about transference was that she seemed to have a genuine question and wasn't simply ambushing Brad.

But he answered her quite well, and she even responded somewhat positively to him at a certain point during his answer.

Barry Magid made a comment that did seem to be challenging. Maybe he was "testing" Brad a little or maybe Barry is a dick. Not sure, don't know, maybe both are the case.

But Brad handled that deftly as well. He never got angry or defensive. Listening to this changed my perception of Brad. You should have plants in the audience bust your balls because somehow it elevated the talk and brought out some great stuff.

I do wonder--maybe there is a part of Brad that needs these challenges, needs the adversaries to bring out the part of him that is living for what feels important. Maybe there's a bit of the adrenaline junky in him...because he does seem to invite and even relish the challenges that come his way.

But I cannot find a place where Brad stepped wrong in listening to the audio--and believe me, I wanted to see it.

Great talk. You should go back there again soon.

Anonymous said...

Where is the link to the talk!

The Diggers said...

"Who's in charge here?"

"You are!"

Discordian Pope said...

"Who is the Master who makes the grass green?"

Ronnie said...

The dude at McDonalds spray painting the "lawn?"

Blake said...

Brad, you really just need to come to terms with the fact that you are a Geek. Wait. I take that back. PEOPLE OF EARTH! Ya'll need to become comfortable with the fact that Brad is a Geek and as Geeks, we do tend to hold on to a few youthful interests. Not good. Not bad. Just is. I mean, it's okay for grown men to have fantasy football teams, watch ESPN and wear their favorite sports jerseys, right? But the moment you sport a Star Wars t-shirt and have a discussion on whether or not Han shot first, you're a child? C'mon, peep!

Soft Troll said...

"it depends on what somebody wants to relate to" - The (at that moment) Ven. Mr Warner.


Gniz wrote: But as others have pointed out, this aint the first time at this rodeo for Brad. He writes and says some very controversial and provocative things--he generalizes and at times seems to be egging people on, attacking them or making light of their efforts in his columns...

That Brad doesn't EVER see why he is interpreted this way is a mystery to me, as much as it seems to be one to him. Obviously a lot of folks are being offended and having issues with Brad, maybe it's not simply because everyone else is a tight ass.


For what it's worth (2 cents, if even?) I sorta agree: Brad often goes out of his way to wind people up, so he should expect flak or just STFU...

Gniz: I've been reading this blog and comment section for years and your characterisation of Brad is very different from mine.

What you and others find "very controversial and provocative," I regularly don't. This is sometimes accompanied by an assertion or suggestion that Brad is deliberately attempting to, as Harry put it, "go out of his way to wind people up".

Do you really think that Brad's intention for writing is often or sometimes that it will upset, annoy or stress people out?

Or is this just a rhetorical way of identifying that his views are taken as "controversial" and that some people get "upset" about things that he posts.

Maybe it's very easy to make such rhetorical statements and then begin to believe them as if they we accurate statements of fact. Perhaps what you find emotive inflates the straw man.

You generalise with emphatic capitals that "Brad doesn't EVER see why he is interpreted this way."

Again, I don't recognise this characterisation in my own reading of his blog or in his follow-ups in the comment section.

Do you really think that Brad is so divorced from reality that he isn't aware that some people will react in certain ways to what he writes, the positions he takes, or the style in which he delivers these?

Perhaps you are confusing the way Brad addresses peoples' responses and reactions with how you think he should.

Might it not just be possible that an a form of expression of 'don't know' could also be part of an acknowledgement that, in cases such as these, the reasons folk are reacting a certain way is very personal to them, maybe a 'mystery' to be uncovered by them.

cont...

Soft Troll said...

Perhaps an individual's own personal motivations aren't necessarily best responded to by getting sucked into the 'issues' that are today's focus for them, and which seem apparently more 'understandable' areas in which to express them.

Indeed, a presumption of, or rhetorical posturing of 'understanding' might just be another way to encourage mutual self-flagellation - a sometimes unavoidable situation which could distract each from exploring the intimate, entangled, ambiguous, and often unresolved difficulties some subjects present.

Brad's own rhetorical stances or responses, might be part of his own strategies of dealing with the multitude of personal and group affiliated responses to 'issues'. And this is often what comes across to me.

Getting used to somebody's writing, for me, is like getting used to a person. After a while, or even during the course of one piece, one can gauge the individual style and take that into consideration when negotiating what the writer is trying to get across.

In my experience, people can have their own hot-spots that prevent them from doing this; they get 'stuck' in a kind of literalism when a person they are accustomed to touches upon one of their sacred cows.

And then we magnify or inflate our own straw men with regard to this person and their seeming views.

For example, in the previous thread, Harry had to point out that he's studying the area of professional abuses, and that that's why he takes the area so seriously.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don't know Harry from Adam. Because his comments often remind me of what I would call 'mature student syndrome', a form of idealistic missionary zeal with iconoclastic posturings that mark an 'older' persons attempting to find their place in the world that I have found can its own damaging effects, even while their own focus is on the damage the world/others can cause.

But I really, really don't know. Where do my personal hot-spots make my Harry what I read him as, and make what I see in his words?

How much am I inclined to give Brad an 'easier ride' on such issues?

How can I be so sure? How sure can I be to 'fit' your own many disclosures of painful individual/family difficulties and your own relation of them to Zen/Brad/abuse 'issues' as distorting your views on Brad and how he presents his views.

And as for your argument that many other folk have 'issues' ergo they can't all be wrong. For me this is dangerously close to Talk Radio rationale.

Aren't folk with issues - myself included right here, right now - more likely to post and post more emotively, in this dustbin of cyberspace? And once we've sounded off and left our refuse here, aren't we free to change our minds having off-loaded? This is Brad's blog - he can't just take a dump and move on to someone else's blog or take on another persona etc.

Surely we must be cautious of the blind leading the blind too. Maybe most of us on this comments section ARE tight-asses when we post on here?

cont...

Soft Troll said...

Here's what Mr Magrid said as best as I can transcribe:

Do think there is anything er about your relationship to your dad
or your teacher that has you adopt a persona of perpetual adolescent [group laughter], never become a dad yourself [Brad:yeah] never look like an adult yourself


Harry wants to focus on Mr Magrid as a bad, potentially abusive, professional. You want to focus on how Brad's apparent cultural/psychological myopia invites abuse and then seemingly cries ignorance - only to perpetuate this cycle.

And I want to focus on how Mr Magrid embedded a caricature of Brad ("persona of perpetual adolescent") which he made clear, was not only a criticism of his public writing style (persona), but of him as an individual who hasn't grown up and had children, and hasn't grown up and started to dress like an adult.

There was certainly no funeral-like tone in the laughter - laughter I might add which dissipated once he got onto Brad not having kids and his appearance.

Maybe he is usually a great and sensitive therapist and Zen leader. I don't know. I found it an instance of someone being rude and disrespectful on a human level with bullying undertones.

It is this sort of behaviour I think should have people saying its reasonable to expect folk to think that Mr Magrid is someone who goes out of their way to wind people up; or should have people saying that he should expect folk to react to him badly as a Zen leader or professional: whether or not their saying so is fair or right or not.

It is one thing to write or say things you feel are right that folk find controversial or upsetting and deal with them how you feel is best; it is another to invite someone into your familiar space with people you know and feel comfortable with, and confront them directly in such a manner.

Mr Magrid has hurt himself and should have our sympathy alongside any approbation. The levity with which Brad tackled it just made me feel a little more able to cope with such very human, very common situations, for a little while.

As for professionalism, psychology, Zen, or any other attitudes, this whole affair seems drenched in a need for the kettle to be looking at what shade of black.

Now I can release my arse-cheeks.

Soft Troll said...

p.s the third quote at the top was from Harry ("For what it's worth (2 cents, if even?) I sorta agree: Brad often goes out of his way to wind people up, so he should expect flak or just STFU...")

Brad Warner said...

Do you know of another 45 year old Zen teacher who uses this kind of adolescent slang?

No. But I'd recommend you read some of the ancient Zen teachers. You'll find they're often playful, childlike and even obscene. It is weird to me that this is seen as somehow not proper expression in contemporary American Zen.

Which is fine. It's just weird. It just shows that Zen fans in America these days aren't familiar with Zen.

Rich said...

"Buddhism is about enjoying your life. The goal of zazen practice, if there is one, is to learn how to enjoy living as thoroughly as you can. This is what I am working on. Nothing else. I am working on having as much fun while I'm here as I possibly can without hurting anyone or impeding their ability to have fun.

This is why I sit and stare at walls every day. No other reason."

Me too.

Harry said...

Harry wants to focus on Mr Magrid as a bad, potentially abusive, professional.

Well, that's overstating it. I certainly want to focus on this instance of Dr. Barry's conduct as I think it points in a very real way to the interesting areas of zen teaching and professionalism, and the debate that has come about around these roles being in some way interchangeable or otherwise alike or the same.

Professional standards in therapy are idealistic for sure, but they are increasingly based in humanistic values they are meant to protect vulnerable people, so that's hardly a bad thing.

Also, I didn't say it was a bad thing that Brad often goes out of his way to wind people up. I think that may often be a very important function to perform in groups, and in society in general. My point simply was that, if you do it, you should expect flak because people don't like their assumptions and cherished values being poked at be they shrinks, or mature students, or whatever.

Regards,

Harry.

Soft Troll said...

To Harry.

My apologies for overstating. I meant to write "potentially bad, potentially abusive". My carelessness was equal to my rant-pace.

In the case of your comments, Harry, my intention was to address the assumption that Brad sets out to deliberately wind people up - whether or not this is good or bad.

The assumption of intention doesn't hold as fast for me as it seems to do for others, and neither does the assumption that Brad is someone who cries ignorance.

For example, for a person to say something is 'strange' or 'weird' about reactions and responses does not necessarily mean they didn't have some anticipation, some level or understanding they could offer, are in some denial mud-flinging dynamics, or have not dealt with the matter wisely - even if it might not seems so on the surface.

As for professional standards, it's one thing to be idealistic about them, when the practical situations call for action on those terms. It's another thing for an individual to have an idealistic attitude that habitually seeks out and appropriates these situations as a way of finding meaning and purpose to their lives.

My view on your comments is that I get a hint of the former. But, of course, I don't know.

Both the professional and the individual are in vulnerable situations. Great care must be taken with how we address or redress whatever current views state as the general 'problem'.

Higher level educational systems have their own institutional angles, where often idealistically left-wing iconoclastic positions are taken up and re-codified.

As I have mentioned before, I am a teacher. I deal with abused and abusive teenagers. In my substantial experience, the swing from institutional idealism has left me in very unprotected situations and in my view has contributed to abused and battered teachers, neglecting or abusing or or in some-way harming students and colleagues.

If you do not have practical, professional experience, great care must be taken when addressing or redressing these very messy and ambiguous situations.

The road to hell...

Soft Troll said...

correction for above (para 7) : "state as the general nature of the 'problem'

Moon Face Buddha said...

A Zen Master is just another Cosmic Schmuck. That is no bad thing, as long as they, and you, know this.

gniz said...

Soft Troll,
Great series of posts, I read and mostly agreed with them all.

You'll see I changed my tune a bit after hearing the actual audio of the talk..

doug phillips said...

Hello Brad, As I have someone quite special to me involved with OMZ i have viewed the posts with great interest. I'm again struck by how strongly folks can arrive and opinions and conclusions based on fairly minimal info. Not to mention that we tend to highly overestimate the quantity and quality data we actually take in through the sense doors and often misconstrue the info we do take in based on our own conditioning both conscious and unconscious. This is irrespective of our "training." Unless I'm assaulting you physically, words like "attack" and "ambush" carry an enormous amount of unpacked assumptions that may lead to all sorts of misperceptions. Lastly, beyond behavior that is simply unskillful, but not intentionally meant to be hurtful and yet does evoke hurt there is the aspect of zen practice that i personally find most challenging especially in interpersonal encounters: there are zen teachers and students, and no zen teachers and students; therapists and patients and no therapists and patients, transference/countertransference and no such thing, a you and a me and no such things. How do I express my realization of this (or lack thereof) in the mirror of relationship in encounters which trigger me and thee? How do i meet this challenge to use those relationships in the service of self-knowing and freedom? I guess this may be part of what Dogen refers to by "this traceless practice continues forever." Always new, always a challenge and often not so simple. Best regards, Doug Phillips

ps years ago i gave a talk at a yoga and buddhism conference for which i was roundly pilloried and never invited back. My teacher's comment: A+ for a zen group; C+ for this group. Ouch!

Harry said...

Both the professional and the individual are in vulnerable situations. Great care must be taken with how we address or redress whatever current views state as the general 'problem'.

Hi Soft Troll,

One of the differences between the individual, a teacher, and the professional therapist is that a therapist has (or should have) an on-going review and supervision process that helps him/her deal with those vulnerabilities (and/or any other presenting issues) in accordance with know models and practices. They will also very likely deal with issues relating to power, and all aspects of the client/therapist relationship, that arise in their practice as part of this ongoing process. This is part-in-parcel of being a professional. It's basically 'therapy/analysis for therapists' to make sure that they are performing and developing as professionals properly, that they are not getting burnt out, and that their motivations remain good etc.

I don't really feel like I have to convince you, and you'll probably just come to another set of spurious inferences anyway; but I've engaged in supervision from a trained counsellor/supervisor in the workplace in a Social Care setting and, while I'm not a therapist and tend to be involved more with groups than one-on-one, I think it's fair to say that I have a reasonable sense of its practical advantages as an ongoing process.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

...and, of course, therapists are required to go through many hours of therapy on their own issues before they begin to practice.

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

OK, now that we have seen
your "serious face",
show us your O-face.

(Not really interested in
"your face before your parents
were born"
.)

Moon Face Buddha said...

Brad says "No. But I'd recommend you read some of the ancient Zen teachers. You'll find they're often playful, childlike and even obscene. It is weird to me that this is seen as somehow not proper expression in contemporary American Zen.

Which is fine. It's just weird. It just shows that Zen fans in America these days aren't familiar with Zen."

Are we to take it that Brad is putting himself in the same league as the great 'crazy cloud' teachers of the olden days?

I just don't get that vibe from Brad. It seems more that he opens his mouth without fully engaging his brain, and then falls back on the zen master defense to cover it up.

tattoozen said...

Fuckin A. I seldom agree with anyone 100% but this time im totally there myself, Brad.

A lot times "You should act like an adult" is just code for "you should be as miserable as I am".

Anonymous said...

good post, nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I should think that one might take being characterized as a "perpetual adolescent" as a complement (regardless of the original intent, which I don't and can't know). Adolescents are as a group inquisitive, idealistic, energetic, and bold. They also seem generally hopeful, in the sense of endless possibilities. They don't suffer fools lightly. I have only seen Brad speak once, read a blog or two, and listened to a few of his talks, however, he struck me as sharing those characteristics. It is what I like about him, what sets him apart. If being in his company is anything like that of my own teenagers and their friends, I can't imagine anything better.

Anonymous said...

no wonder zen is dead in america with this sh*t

laurent said...

Dear Brad.
I must tell you that I thought about that, thinking : "oh, this guy seem to be quite a deep mind, but the may he lives doesn't seem to be the way I think a real zen master should live.
And thinking about that, and reading this article, I realize in fact how I would like to have such fun in my life, and do'nt authorize myself to do that.
But when I read your words, and see you being as you are, my heart is plenty of fear an hope and joy!
Then I have no response for my life reading all that, looking at all that about the Brad Warner guy.
But in fact, I think it's the best thing for me an you!!
I followed some guy I thought he was the master, and saw guys that think to be master and are officially like that. But they're dying by feeling obligated to look serious every time. But I have been victim of their violence, because I just wanted to be just as I am, what means being serious, and having fun, being loving my wife and children, and loving the buddha, crying for the suffering I live and see around me, and laughing for the little pleasures of the life, enjoying looking at the flower opening, and listening to the bird singing in the morning.

Just as you are, you are, Brad, and what you seem to be is it the only thing you talk about???
I'm not sure!
And I'll try to do it, being as I am is the greatest challenge of my life!!

Awakened Yeti said...

People are mysterious. Most people's actions make no sense to me. This talk was just another in a long list of things I've participated in that I couldn't understand.

This flag is so red its practically glowing.

Anonymous said...

Think of that glowing red flag this way -- Brad expresses his "don't know mind". That's "mind" as in "ordinary mind". It's ALL a mystery, is it not?

scott ruplin said...

Magid was rude indeed, and his group sounds like one of those "zen grimness" camps, where a sort of morbid attitude is considered indispensable to zen practice. I trained at such a place for a few years and now find it pathetic, and very sad.

As for psychoanalysis, I am a therapist and find it to have no evidence supporting its efficacy, and plenty of evidence to indicate it's primarily about lightening the wallet of the patient.

Zach said...

Brad said:
No. But I'd recommend you read some of the ancient Zen teachers. You'll find they're often playful, childlike and even obscene. It is weird to me that this is seen as somehow not proper expression in contemporary American Zen.

Well...
To be honest, I can only assume you are talking certain koans in the collections like the Gateless Gate or the Blue Cliff Record.

I don't think that these recorded encounters can be used to say that these "childlike playful and obscene" moments are accurate representations of their entire life and teaching... I think the norm was probably very much the daily life of a monastic in a training monastery - I very much doubt that acting crazy was the norm but the exception.