Monday, June 20, 2011

Someone Else's Impressions of My Talk at Ordinary Mind Zendo in New York Last Weekend

After my talk last weekend at Ordinary Mind Zendo in New York, I posted my status on Facebook as :"Weirdest. Zen talk. Ever." Lots of people asked what that meant. I was considering writing up my impressions of the event. But before I even got started I received an email from a guy who had been there. He attached an email he sent to some of his friends about the event. I asked if I could reproduce it on this blog. He said OK as long as I kept him anonymous.

So here it is, one anonymous person's impressions of my talk at Ordinary Mind Zendo on Saturday June 18, 2011. Take it away anonymous:

...totally by coincidence i went to 'ordinary mind zendo' (nyc branch of joko's teachings) on saturday to hear brad warner talk about his new book 'sex, sin and zen.' the zendo is actually an upper west side apartment, very beautifully polished and japanified with a lovely enclosed garden patio.

there had been a funeral service in the morning before i got there and there was a table out in the garden with a lovely photo of joko beck and flowers, incense, etc. with the surrounding garden it reminded me of one of those grottos with shrines to the virgin mary. i read joko's books long ago when they first came out but i couldn't remember anything about them. i know she's much loved--er--she was much loved. brad warner didn't have much to say about her except that he had imagined her to be much younger--as had i, but i see by the wiki that she was in her 40's before she started doing zen.

i don't think i've gone to see a 'spiritual teacher' in years and years (and i exempt the dalai lama as more of an international monument like the eiffel tower where i think 'i live in an era where instead of climbing the mountains into secret tibet i can just buy a ticket to the beacon theater'); but i do go to hear authors read and there's a lot i've liked about brad warner's cheezy books. i also like that he's very outspoken about the big mind fraud and when there was a huge furor about genpo's sex life, brad said the sex was no big deal, that genpo was charging rich people $50,000 for 'big mind' training was the real scandal.

brad is in his mid 40's but looks like he's in his 30's. he was wearing a black tee shirt with "shoplifting from american apparel" printed in white on the front. it turns out that's the name of a novel and he's acting in a movie being made from it.

i would say this was a case of the guy being exactly like the author--he's not real charismatic, he makes terrible puns and giggles at them, he's confessional to a fault; his views are clear and consistent. he lived in japan for 11 years and is Nishijima Roshi's chosen dharma heir--he's studied dogen and is steeped in the zen culture--but his affect is as if someone selected a guy out of a crowd at random and dubbed him a zen master. i suppose this could be seen as a cultivated act, but my impression is it's quite genuine. he read a little bit from the book and tried to engage the group in conversation.

i would like to live in that beautiful polished apartment, but my impressions of the group weren't so great. i arrived at 11:40, as told, for a noon talk. when i stepped in nobody said anything to me, i said hello to a few people and they ignored me. everyone was sitting on zafus chatting, and all the spaces were taken, so i finally just stood in one place. after about 10 minutes a nice guy introduced himself and showed me a place to sit, but soon after i sat down a woman came and said that was her place. brad apologized for missing the morning zazen. barry magrid (psychoanalyst and zen teacher who heads up the zendo) said, 'with that shirt we would have thrown you out. it's inappropriate for a funeral.' if he was joking, it didn't come across that way and nobody laughed.

brad did his reading and talked a little--his theme had to do with sex and authority and how the zen teacher's practice is to deny and undercut his own authority and the student's desire to have an authority (pretty standard zenspeak i'd say)--and then opened the floor for questions. a woman announced that she was a psychotherapist and reminded brad that barry magrid was also a psychotherapist (brad winced and said something about being very afraid). she started talking about--actually said, "we call it 'the tranference'"-- and how painful to her brad's 'glib tone' was because he wasn't taking seriously the transference relationship.

i think i mentioned to you recently the wittgenstein workbook question, 'does the fact that someone feels strongly about something make it more likely to be true?' i was sitting a couple of feet away from brad and i felt the attack vibrations: 'i'm in pain so you must be wrong' kind of force. she contrasted his attitude with her own, which was to take her work very seriously. brad said that he was basically trying to give an entertaining talk; that his zen teaching would take place one-on-one or in a small group where he knew people well. then the other psychotherapist--barry magrid--said, 'do you think that unresolved problems in your childhood might have something to do with your acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult?' so, i thought, the head of the zendo had said two things to his guest speaker and they were both public insults.

in zen circles brad warner is pretty famous and it seems to me that barry magrid would have known what he was getting. was the invitation to speak an opportunity for him to put brad down? that's what it seemed like to me. it would have been more honest to invite him to a debate. i felt that he was put on the defensive and was a little shaky because of it--but perhaps it's typical experience for him. there's endless talk in some zen places about how wild and iconoclastic zen is, but the tiniest departure from conservative behavior is greeted with gasps and condemnation.

someone asked brad 'why do you teach?' and after saying he didn't know a few times he basically boiled it down to that his teacher had asked him to (and sort of tricked him into it) and that he needed a job and thought he could maybe get by giving talks and writing books (he also has a punk band but i get the impression it's not a money-maker). this seemed pretty honest to me. i also feel like most (not all) of the problems about zen and authority and sex would be cleared up by eliminating the job of teacher. then meditation would be communicated like sewing or carpentry--but, of course, this is idealism on my part and, anyway, i'm sure there are institutes of sewing and carpentry where authority rages.

i can't resist the urge to pick up on one other thing he talked about briefly which is the organization of the "zen community." i wanted to draw the parallel to yoga. 30 years ago (or so) the American yogis started campaigning for certification. the Indian yogis weren't really into it. they had the long tradition of a teacher deciding when a student was ready to teach, and a sort of freewheeling mode without any central organization. iyengar, one of the biggest of the Indian teachers--said if person practiced ten postures they could teach ten postures. but there is no money in that, and the Americans kept pressuring their teachers, saying there had to be "standards." nowadays of course yoga is a completely bogus practice that has nothing to do with it's aims or origins, but everybody is certified. i hope brad will keep up his protest.


Lauren said...

One, finally. I can retire.

Anonymous said...

Somebody in the audience should've stood up to that psychoanalyst bullying Brad and reminded him that, while some forms of psychotherapy are proven to work (as regarded by modern evidence based medicine), psychoanalysis is pure bull's droppings and endlessly dwelling on the past and imagined childhood leads you nowhere.

Lauren said...

Zen that's full of such seeming, and posturing, and propriety (I guess known as Zen Inc.) is so depressing to hear about. No one I've ever really gotten to know, can live like that, honestly. It is all so much fairy tale.

I think of Dogen's (or maybe someone from earlier) admonition that the kesa should be made from rags. He meant literal rags. Yet in Zen centers across the country kesa's are made from the finest of fabrics. Too much posturing and dreaming of what Zen should be instead of striving to dive into what it is; a path of no hindrance that alleviates suffering (?best I got today).

Discussions of why Brad does this or that may be interesting, but not in the context of "you are wrong and we are better."

Sounds like a bummer.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That's really scary – but unfortunately not so atypical. I've seen similar things happen in the American Tibetan Buddhist scene.

It's hard to know how to react. Calling people on what surely sounds like bad behavior could just be self-righteousness; and would it be helpful? Perhaps the best that is possible is to say "you've got your thing, I'm doing something different, we both call it Zen but we don't seem to have anything to say to each other." Which it sounds like is what Brad did, more-or-less.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. I've been looking for a sangha in NYC, looks like I can count this one out.

Seriously, it's this kind of weird behavior (the "younger version" of it is in full effect in the music scene here) that makes me hate living in this stupid town.

Phumbling said...

I like it. Would have liked it more if the person would have chosen to stand up and be counted and not remain anonymous.
Wish I could have been there in support. Keep doing what you do, Brad Warner. In my selfish endeavour to practice and learn and practice some more I value your contribution.

proulx michel said...

Reading this has made me think of another thing: whereas Nishijima advocates politeness in every Dharma dealings, I've noticed that that kind of impolite behaviour is rather frequent in Zen centers, and is nearly always (or always, period?) connected with a rule of power.
If the person running the dojo or center is a courteous and pretenseless person, behaviour is the same. If ruler is an arsehole, people tend to behave the same.

leoboiko said...

> there's endless talk in some zen places about how wild and iconoclastic zen is, but the tiniest departure from conservative behavior is greeted with gasps and condemnation.

Precisely. Old peeve.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the link on your last post, and took a look a "the ordinary mind" zendo, and it looked ok, And as I looked deeper on the page about the leader, its started talking about his combining of his Psychoanalysis, and psychology, and Zen, and I was growing more and more suspicious.
I guess this just confirms my fears.
I think that this stuff is just best left alone, and it will wane away, as there is so little truth in it that in cannot sustain itself.
Ginning up antagonism to it just give it the energy that it needs to survive.


Lone Wolf said...

That's a bummer.

There are few Zen books I like, Suzuki Roshi, Brad, Nishijima, Joko Beck, Steven Hagen, and even Barry Magid come to mind. I always thought that they were very similar in their message, especially about "no gain."

Based on this article, Barry was quite inappropriate (he does say in his book he is not a nice person) for it did seem he had a preconceived plan to public insult Brad.

The interesting thing is Joko Beck (RIP) began teaching Zen in a nontraditional way. Both Brad and Barry aim to cut through the flowery habitual idiot compassion that has plagued Buddhism. It seems Barry is being rather arrogant about what he thinks a Zen teacher should be like, while at the same time saying there is a problem with traditional Zen.

I personally can't stand the rigidity in Buddhism (and particualr Zen) and Buddhist gets way too attached to their ideas (even the idea of nonattachement lol). I have definitely experienced that impoliteness and being ignored at Buddhist centers quite often. I guess they think their being nonattached or something (more like detached).

I recently read a pretty damn good article about humor in Buddhism, titled "Make Me One With Everything" in the latest Buddhadharma issue (Summer 2011)? (Go read it). Although having a funeral may have contributed to the seriousness of that particular talk/group, there often seems to be way too much rigidness and seriousness when it comes to Buddhism. I wonder how a talk by Zen teacher and clown Bernie Glassman would go down at the NY Ordinary Mind Zendo? In the article mention, he says "I haven't given a dharma talk in the past ten years without wearing my red nose during some part of it." How's that for "transference."

There is a time to be serious and a time to be humorous, but it often seems that Buddhism can often be much too serious and lack humor (though not as much as some other religions). When people become too serious about their ideas, they become rigid and often turn into fundamentalist. And fundamentalism usually leads to something horrible.

Anonymous said...

maybe just bad timing for brad to be there? the death of joko probably hit the zendo hard. would be interesting to get the perspective of magid or someone else from the zendo.

attack vibrations said...

Brad, We get the picture. Magrid's a real prick. Didn't those provincial New Yorkers know they were talking to the head of DOGEN SANGHA INTERNATIONAL?

Moon Face Buddha said...

This is one person setting out what they experienced. That should not be confused with absolute truth. Barry, if we asked him, may have a very different recollection. Brad's will also probably differ, as will all those that attended this event.

A beautiful zendo does not mean better zazen :) And reserving spaces? WTF is that about :p

Still, we know that Brad likes to be confrontational, so maybe someone decided it was his turn to get whacked by the keisaku :D

Anonymous said...

"Still, we know that Brad likes to be confrontational"

Actually, I think Brad hates confrontation. What Brad likes is to retaliate in a passive-aggressive manner. Anonymous witnessed "the weirdness" and wrote up a piece describing what Brad had to go through. Perfect!

Anonymous said...

could also have been an awkward, inappropriately passive-aggressive way for them to deal with the awkward, inappropriately passive-aggressive way that brad dealt with the garrison institute fiasco, since the zendo has a close connection with the institute.

Anonymous said...

Excellent email but the writer seems to have missed the shift key a few times.

Sometimes I get the impression that some psychotherapists who practice zen view psychology or psychiatry as their "true religion" and consider zen as just one of the many tools that they use within that context. Maybe Brad's previous criticism of Genpo's hodge podge of psuedo-zen and psychological techniques in Big Mind hit a little too close to home for some people in that audience. Maybe they specifically invited Brad for the purpose of pillorying him. Or maybe they were just disappointed that they didn't get one of those typical lectures on impermanence after the morning's funeral service. Who knows? Acknowledge and move on.

Olivia said...

...and "we" call that "the Counter-transference".

Ism said...

These psychotherapists who dabble in zen are all pretentious assholes in my opinion. And they are definitely dangerous. They are usurping zen entirely and are now appropriating a centuries-old buddhist tradition for their reductionist psychoanalysis. "Oh yeah, it's just transference." As if putting a label on something could get you any closer to the truth--idiots.

You can see for yourself that zen is fading. The word itself (zen) is steadily being replaced by the catch-all word 'mindfulness', thus weakening the religious flavor of the practice so that psychotherapists can corrupt the minds of earnest students even more than they already have, which means we can expect more bullshit books about psychotherapy and zen and more bullshit psychotherapy retreats masquerading as zen practice. But that's "Western Buddhism" for you.

Anonymous said...

Before I read this article and the comments I wasn't even aware that Joko Beck had died.

Duff said...

Talking about other people's transference is exactly what Genpo Roshi does when he blames people's "shadow" or says someone is "projecting." It's the same in all cases--the person speaking is doing the thing and blaming the other for it.

In this case it is obvious that the individuals interrogating Brad were in fact projecting or engaged in transference then blaming Brad for being the one projecting. It is functionally the same as the classic example of projection where the individual screams, "I'M NOT ANGRY, YOU'RE THE ANGRY ONE!"

It is especially annoying when professional psychotherapists engage in such behavior because they distort the language of healing into a weapon, and they should know better.

Harry said...

Joko's crew seem to have a serious psychological bent to them alright.

Psychoanalysts/ therapists sometimes seem to see themselves, and be awarded the status of, latter day shamans, soothsayers, mind readers etc, particularly the old-school hardnuts.

That their method has been clinically proven to be more lengthy, more expensive, and traumatic than other talking therapies doesn't seem to assuage how seriously they take themselves.

Psychoanalysing a non-willing, non-assenting person in public, probably with a motive to humiliate, is SERIOUSLY unprofessional and unethical and drags his profession into the sort of hierarchical, domineering crap that genuine, conscientious practitioners are trying to redeem it from. It stinks, and that guy, if he is a professional therapist, should be approached with caution as the professional supervision he is meant to undergo to avoid abuses in such misconduct doesn't seem to be working... and that's before we even get to the point about him being a guru and a zen practitioner or whatever...



Anonymous said...

Ouch. That was painful. Was thinking about going to my first Buddhist center tommorrow. Methinks I'll pass. I left christianity dogmatism at the door a long time ago. Don't need to step into this revolving door either.

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

Barry Magid has a message for you, although you may not want to hear it: You’re perfectly fine just as you are...In 1996, at Beck’s suggestion, he started up a small Zen center in New York City, and three years later, Beck officially made him a teacher...And what exactly are they doing in there? Nothing much, according to Magid. Certainly not self-improvement...If there’s a point to Magid’s goalless, useless Zen, it’s to help his students realize “the inherent all-rightness of everything just as it is.” Nobody’s a finished product, he says. “But Zen helps you get comfortable with that idea.” *


*From HERE

john e mumbles said...

One would think that O.M. would've had some inkling what kind of person Brad is, and what type of talk he might bring before they'd invite him to speak?

Sounds like bad-timing to me w/Joko's passing. Grief can bring out the worst in people.

& What about that perpetual adolescence thing, Brad? Why can't we all just act like adults? Because most people who think they are "adults" are just assholes.

anon #108 said...

(Today, I finally got round to watching the Robert Anton Wilson Film, John. I confess I knew next-to-nothing about him before seeing it. Really enjoyed it. Thanks.)

proulx michel said...

John E. Mumbles wrote:

Why can't we all just act like adults? Because most people who think they are "adults" are just assholes.
Reminds me of St-Exupery's Little Prince, where he says of one: "He's always saying 'I'm a serious man, I'm a serious man', but he's not a man, he's a mushroom!"

buddy said...

kind of sad that all these people are leaving judgemental, self-righteous posts about a situation that they only know about from a second hand source who isn't even a regular part of this 'community'. a good reminder of why i generally don't come around here anymore, the level of insight and maturity is about the same as your average youtube comments.

also begs the question: did brad actually try to discuss his treatment with any members of the zendo, either in person or by email? seems more likely that he just skulked away to address it from the safety of his cyber world.

john e mumbles said...

Glad you liked the RAW film, Malcolm.

And PM, that book is still a favorite of mine, although I haven't read it in 30 years!

I go along with whoever said that we're all just older children. I want to keep that sense of wonder and excitement about life. ...And also my corny sense of humor.

Bedtime Reading for Barry said...

IV. Confidentiality. Confidentiality of the patient’s communications is a basic patient’s right and an essential condition for effective psychoanalytic treatment and research. A psychoanalyst must take all measures necessary to not reveal present or former patient confidences without permission, nor discuss the particularities observed or inferred about patients outside consultative, educational or scientific contexts. If a psychoanalyst uses case material in exchanges with colleagues for consultative, educational or scientific purposes, the identity of the patient must be sufficiently disguised to prevent identification of the individual, or the patient's authorization must be obtained after frank discussion of the purpose(s) of the presentation, other options, the probable risks and benefits to the patient, and the patient's right to refuse or withdraw consent.

Rabble Rabble said...

(Insert ad hominem)

Even More Bedtime Reading for Barry said...

II. Respect for Persons. The psychoanalyst is expected to treat patients and their families, students and colleagues with respect and care. Discrimination on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status is ethically unacceptable.

...III. Mutuality and Informed Consent. The treatment relationship between the patient and the psychoanalyst is founded upon trust and informed mutual agreement or consent. At the outset of treatment, the patient should be made aware of the nature of psychoanalysis and relevant alternative therapies. The psychoanalyst should make agreements pertaining to scheduling, fees, and other rules and obligations of treatment tactfully and humanely, with adequate regard for the realistic and therapeutic aspects of the relationship. Promises made should be honored.

...V. Truthfulness. The psychoanalytic treatment relationship is founded on thoroughgoing truthfulness. The psychoanalyst should deal honestly and forthrightly with patients, patient's families in the case of those who are minors, students, and colleagues. Being aware of the ambiguities and complexities of human relationships and communications, the psychoanalyst should engage in an active process of self-monitoring in pursuit of truthful therapeutic and professional exchanges.

...VI. Avoidance of Exploitation. In light of the vulnerability of patients and the inequality of the psychoanalyst-analysand dyad, the psychoanalyst should scrupulously avoid any and all forms of exploitation of patients and their families, current or former, and limit, as much as possible the role of self-interest and personal desires. Sexual relations between psychoanalyst and patient or family member, current or former, are potentially harmful to both parties, and unethical. Financial dealings other than reimbursement for therapy are unethical.

...VIII. Protection of the Public and the Profession. The psychoanalyst should strive to protect the patients of colleagues and persons seeking treatment from psychoanalysts observed to be deficient in competence or known to be engaged in behavior with the potential of affecting such patients adversely. S/he should urge such colleagues to seek help. Information about unethical or impaired conduct by any member of the profession should be reported to the appropriate committee at local or national levels.

...X. Personal Integrity. The psychoanalyst should be thoughtful, considerate, and fair in all professional relationships, uphold the dignity and honor of the profession, and accept its self-imposed disciplines. He or she should accord members of allied professions the respect due their competence.

Nite nite, Barry.

Leah McClellan said...

Wow. Like someone else said, I was thinking of checking that place out but it doesn't sound very appealing.

Then again, I remind myself that everyone is on their own path and yada yada and what's that story... about the teacher or samurai master enduring an outrageous number of insults and never once responding and his attacker finally gave up trying to engage him in a fight. The students asked him how he handled it, and the teacher said "if someone gives you a gift and you don't accept it, who does the gift belong to? Same with insults" (massive paraphrase there).

And what does psychotherapy have to do with being a Zen Master? Two different things. I don't see the connection or how they can be compared. And there are so many different kinds of therapists, and not all are into the transference thing, besides.

One more thing: as I get older, am I supposed to change the way I dress? Can't I be, like, grunge or whatever anymore just because I'm in my 40s? OK skip the black mini skirts maybe but who cares? What does how we dress have to do with adulthood, whatever that is. What did the Buddha say about that, I wonder? :D

PA said...

"Let none find fault in others. Let none see omissions and commissions in others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone." Joko Beck quoting the Dhammapada in "Nothing Special".

Wow guys, I see some of Brad's followers jumping to lynch Barry Magid and psychoanalysis by association. (I'm using hyperbole because I too can be funny and kid-like, must be unresolved issues). I personally have read at least one book from each of the players in this little zen drama and I think one should find out for themselves before jumping to conclusions and discarding what could be very helpful practical advice from each one of them. I can't comment on what happen TO Brad last Saturday at the Ordinary Mind place because I wasn't there. I know a bit about Barry Magid, and it seems to me he was making a joke when he said that thing about the unresolved issues from childhood, Magid stupid he is not. But clearly only Magid knows what Magid meant. All in all, you guys are accusing the people at Ordinary Mind of taking themselves too seriously, perhaps Brad is taking himself too seriously as well. And for all that keep saying, didn't they know what they were getting into by inviting Brad? Didn't Brad know what he was getting himself into by going to a 94 year old founder of their school funeral?

Anonymous said...

A collection of videos (most are just audio) of Robert Anton Wilson interviews and lectures.

Harry said...

The onus is on the professional to behave professionally and to represent the profession well in all dealings with clients AND the general public.

Not least of the ethical values is Truthfulness...

The psychoanalytic treatment relationship is founded on thoroughgoing truthfulness. The psychoanalyst should deal honestly and forthrightly with patients, patient's families in the case of those who are minors, students, and colleagues. Being aware of the ambiguities and complexities of human relationships and communications, the psychoanalyst should engage in an active process of self-monitoring in pursuit of truthful therapeutic and professional exchanges.

...and what is termed Mutuality and Informed Consent...

3. It is unethical for a psychoanalyst to use his/her position of power in analytic organization, professional status or special relationship with a potential patient or parent or guardian of a minor patient to coerce or manipulate the person into treatment.

...and Confidentiality...

If a psychoanalyst uses case material in exchanges with colleagues for consultative, educational or scientific purposes, the identity of the patient must be sufficiently disguised to prevent identification of the individual, or the patient's authorization must be obtained after frank discussion of the purpose(s) of the presentation, other options, the probable risks and benefits to the patient, and the patient's right to refuse or withdraw consent.

The whole point is to protect the public, inc. patients and potential patients, and the standards of the profession:

Protection of the Public and the Profession. The psychoanalyst should strive to protect the patients of colleagues and persons seeking treatment from psychoanalysts observed to be deficient in competence or known to be engaged in behavior with the potential of affecting such patients adversely. S/he should urge such colleagues to seek help. Information about unethical or impaired conduct by any member of the profession should be reported to the appropriate committee at local or national levels.

Quotes from: "Principles and Standards of Ethics for Psychoanalysts", American Psychoanalytic Assoc.



Harry said...

... p.s. I tend to take professional misconduct a little bit seriously cos I'm currently studying in the field, and the weight of the power relationship is traditionally tipped in favour of the 'Professionals' and institutions when it comes to reporting and otherwise uncovering professional misconduct. It should, of course, be tipped in favour of those who don't enjoy institutional protection and whom may otherwise very likely be less powerful and vulnerable.

Besides, I have good reason to believe that Brad is not an unreasonable person, nor is he an unrealistic interpreter of events... besides being prone to being as full of shit as the rest of us ;-)


Ad Harrinem.

Harry said...

...If at all interested look up 'Confidentiality', 'Truthfulness', 'Avoidance of Exploitation', 'Protection of the Public and the Profession' and 'Personal Integrity' here:

'Principles and Standards of Ethics for Psychoanalysts'

...these people, if they are wearing the badge of their professional status, are not meant to behave like just any other mouthpiece at a Zen party.



Anonymous said...

It might have been worthy of note if the cook came out and had a complaint about Brad's shirt.

This other guy probably needs to whine less and resolve their own issues before trying to mold their sanctity of the zendo as they think it out to be.

Probably they need to be in an institution. At least, from their comments somewhere like that would suit them well.

Anonymous said...

Being a rude, crude, dick isn't Zen. It's just bad behavior, plain and simple. The guy is an asshole and admitting that you're an asshole doesn't make it ok. I pity the people in his group and heaven help any of his patients. Instead of teaching Zen he should be taking a course in basic, common courtesy.

Anonymous said...

SuicideGirls Prove They Are Anti-Fur
and vegetarian

john e mumbles said...

My exposure to Barry Magid has been through transcripts of his talks archived at Ordinary Mind, articles here and there, and his books.

I can recommend them all.

I think I linked some of his stuff here a year ago or so.

buddy said...

still not convinced magid wasn't joking, he's generally a pretty funny guy (he was quoting woody allen in dharma talks when brad was still a twinkle in nishijima's eye). at any rate all of these spiteful ill-informed comments from the peanut gallery are getting quite tiresome.

Library Geek Adam said...

I am very fairly new to the Buddhist world and very new to the zen world. I really don't have much of a clue about scripture, practice or anything like that. I have read one of Brad's books, his first book, and really enjoyed it and thought I would investigate online. I have been reading magazines and a few other Buddhist books, but find many of the teachings and suggestions impractical. Brad was a breath of fresh air and was hitting my thoughts exactly with his first book. I still have a billion questions but I had a picture in my mind of Buddhist people. This posting by Brad just reminds me that although Buddhist, we are all still people and can be blinded by the same things any other person can be. Keep writing Brad, I am enjoying your books immensely.

Anonymous said...

wow, lots of ordinary mind insiders are certain that Barry isn't a jackass. He admits as much in his books. This young punk obviously is a burr in his side.

Anonymous said...

hey buddy, so your evidence that this Barry guy has a sense of humor is that he quoted Woody Allen once 30 years ago?

like, wow! Stop the presses! He must be a regular Richard Pryor with that type of a resume

Jules said...

Sometimes people lash out when they're grieving. I would hesitate to judge anyone based on their behavior so near to the loss of a dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Damn, that New York crowd is desperate for a pretender like the ones they are apparently used to ... right dress, right message, right image, i.e., one more arrogant asshole to go along with THEIR game. You're the real deal, Brad, not them.

Rick said...

A) That struck me a a very honest, sincere review.

2) I think that in future appearances, Brad should bring a taser with him.

Harry said...

...that or some smoke bombs:

If things aren't going so well he could shout "Satori Sucks!", crack off a smoke bomb, and slip out in the confusion.

Mysterion said...

"...pure bull's droppings... lead you nowhere."

How green is your garden?

As a follower of Ikkyu, I concur with much the letter writer had to say.

"At last. A voice that speaks with candor."

If I held the ashes of my many transmigrations, they would be a mountain high.


Jules said...

Would someone please explain (or post a link to a *good* explanation) of what the hell a transmigration is supposed to be?

Thanks bunches

Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe the Ordinary Mind place is a bit rigid and weird, or whatever, but the fact that their founding teacher was commemorated that very morning in a funeral service, and their whole sangha is in mourning...well, give them a break. The comments and the public insults toward Brad were unfortunate and bizarre for sure. But let's not be so quick to make harsh blanket judgments about Barry Magid or his Zendo. Let it isn't that big a deal. Go outside and enjoy the Summer.

Mysterion said...


Japanese: 輪回 [りんね]
Buddhism transmigration of souls

transmigration of souls - turning the wheel of dharma is being reborn - an asset in Xtianity, a liability in Buddhism.

see also this

Remember, Buddha was not a Buddhist, he was Hindu.

And Jesus was not a Xtian, he was a Jew.

Anonymous said...

and you're not a dipshit, you're a dopeshit.

chakra37 said...

Ah those awkward moments are so precious

Anonymous said...

"This young punk obviously is a burr in his side."

dude, Brad is approaching 50 very quickly. He's no young anything.

Anonymous said...

Look, my Dad was 82 when he died. I don't remember anyone in my large family or his circle becomming pissy about anything. Sad, a little, but mostly happily reminiscent (mindful?) of what great laughter and joy he brought to us. Which "sangha" seems more zen? BTW, not everyone wore a suit or tie to the funeral and I don't recall any bad feelings about that either. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad,

Yes that was a weird experience you must have had.

It's funny, I live in NYC and had been considering visiting that Zendo for a while after downloading and really liking a talk Magid gave at the SFZC (just did a quick search, it might have been "Ending The Pursuit Of Happiness" in 2008). If I'd known you were going to be there it would have been my 1st visit to the place.

But I doubt I'll ever go now. I agree that his actions seem bullying and I deal with enough Type-A knowitalls to choose to spend time with one who also thinks he has the right to publicly psychoanalyze (and insult) someone.

By the way, the author's take on you dovetails with my own opinion. I don't know how you feel about that, whether you thought he was on target or off-base, but I'll just throw that out there.

Anonymous said...

As soon as the head teacher at the place made mention of the faux pas regarding the shirt, Brad should have taken his shirt off and turned it backwards and inside out.
A small gesture, but it would have shown immediate response to the 'concern'
Those who would think it important would have been satisfied and those who would think it unnecessary would also have been vindicated.

Brad did not pass the koan of the 'wrong shirt'
in my opinion
but koans arise naturally in life and I am sure he will have other opportunities

I actually don't think it was cool to wear such a self-promoting shirt, and I am a fan of Brad's shirts--I dig the dinosaurs and the godzillas--it's just that, well 'shoplifting from American Apparel' just wouldn't cut it for me, but quite likely it was the cleanest shirt available for a traveling monk, and for the musician/artist/author crowd, one does tend to support one's current project, it would be a natural thing to do, signifying a simple fielty to ones work and not urging a breaking of a precept at a clothing store...
Certainly the head guy could have asked "what does your shirt mean" before judging it.
Certainly the head guy could have offered Brad something to put on (a rakusu? a robe? another shirt?) while he was in the zendo.
I mean, in some zendos there is a dress code, and not just for funerary services, but for just regular sitting...

It is typical of Brad not to use his own voice to speak directly to the principals of the uncomfortable experience. I would gather Brad had his own thoughts about it and most likely spoke to his close coterie of friends about it.
Brad is not direct that way. I would like to think that it involves courtesy, manners, but that ain't so.

However, I am sure Brad did his best and did well given the situation, Did the best he could.

It sounds like a very uncomfortable and hostile prologue to a talk.

From my experience, having sat for a number of years at a related sitting group, also headed by a zen priest/phd therapist I have to say I think it is a baaaaad blend.
Talk about self-promoting! "I'm a zen psychotherapist" give me a break!
I mean who goes around saying I'm a zen plumber,
I'm a zen hairdresser, I'm a zen day care provider, I'm a zen attorney...

The priest I'm talking about had flyers of his wife's and his psychotherapy business on the butsudan...

So strange to talk about transference, intrapersonal psychological business and personal psychological business....because, well, isn't zen buddhism 'beyond' personal?
I mean beyond the quirks of personality, in spite of the fact the quirks are still there...

I can't imagine ANY zen teacher saying to another zen teacher "do you think your unresolved childhood issues....blah blah blah"
If you want to test someone's understanding, their degree of realization, there are ways to do it and asking questions is one, but geeze louise...

I just don't see why such folks would have invited Brad to speak there to begin with unless it was to do exactly what they did: put Brad in a tight spot.

While I am sure it was uncomfortable, Brad, as unresolved with childhood and some teenage and adult issues as well I would guess, would remain unperturbed: that is, the exchange would not become contentious.
And maybe that's dharma for you and maybe it is sub-dharma, but it is not surrendering, tail between the legs and leaving and it is not bare-teeth snarling back.
But, in my experience sitting with Brad, his 'teaching the dharma' is precisely and exactly in answering questions as they come.
Sounds like it got done.
Good job!

buddy said...

boy, i've been meaning to visit the ordinary mind zendo/i've read really great stuff by barry magid/i've never heard of the guy.. but, thanks to this one out of context account by an anonymous person, i think barry magid is an overbearing egomaniac who doesn't know anything about zen or psychotherapy and who runs a zendo full of like-minded losers.

grow up, people. and you're not doing brad any favours by mindlessly succoring him because of this great ordeal he was put through (at least, according to this anonymous person).

Mysterion said...

Brad is no fan of Transmigration...

It's a very basic teaching of the Buddha:

Looking for the tabernacle [body] maker,
through the many cycles of birth.
And in not finding him,
painful are the cycles of birth.

No more, maker of tabernacles [embodiments],
for you [Mara] have been seen.
You shall make my tabernacle [body] no more.

The rafters [ribs] are broken
the ridge-pole [spine] is sundered
the mind [understanding] approaches the Eternal.

[For] I [now] understand peace is the extinction of desire.
Dhammapada - verses 153 & 154

One of the 'secrets' of tea:

Rev. Suzuki taught: "Pay close attention to the details of form, for true freedom is found there (Hinayana practice with Mahayana mind)"

Mysterion said...

My dad was 80 when he died.

Nobody said anything.

He wanted to be cremated and scattered in the desert - without informing anyone.

That's the way it went down.

On white ashes

Barackas said...

Brad, you know you need at least a masters degree to walk into any Buddhist center in New York City or you won't be respected or taken seriously. You see the problem with so-called zen practicioners in New York is that they never get any peace and quiet; they actually have no desire for peace and quiet. Their zen is completely intellectual because of this. So if you walk into one of these urban zendos with their advanced- degree-wielding sangha members you better be ready for some dialectical combat. There's simply no other way to communicate with those people. On a side note, I will never trust any zen teacher named 'Barry' or 'Bernie'.

Anonymous said...

Barry said, "do you think that unresolved problems in your childhood might have something to do with your acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult?"

Buddy said, "grow up, people..."

One defending, one offending, you choose, or not.

PS: Barackas has no desire for weekend sessins with Bernie.

P-Nutz said...

OK, so, I've read his books, and ... the most honest thing I've ever seen about his teaching ... I even wrote an "un-responded-to" email to him once ...

Thanks, Brad ...

Anonymous said...

to my way of thinking Brad failed the 'wrong shirt' koan

When the head guy raised the issue, Brad could have taken his shirt off and turned it inside out and backwards:
those to whom this mattered would have been satisfied and those to whom it was unimportant would have been vindicated.

Koans arise naturally in daily life and Brad has plenty more opportunities for such, as do we all...

Certainly the head guy could have offered Brad something to wear over or instead of his 'shoplifting from American Apparel'
I mean some zendos have a dress code, and not just for funerary purposes--even regular daily sitting.
It would not be seemly for someone to sport a shirt urging breaking of a precept at a clothing store.
But I understand as a traveling monk, it may have been the cleanest shirt available. I also understand the artist/musician/author/filmaker sporting a shirt supporting his most recent endeavor--very much in the spirit of 'support your local band/artist' kind of thing.
However, others may have taken it as a self-promoting blowing one's own horn--and too loudly at that.
But talk about 'blowing one's own horn--it doesn't get more self-promoting than "I'm a zen buddhist psychotherapist"
I mean no own goes around saying I'm a zen plumber, I'm a zen attorney, I'm a zen hairdresser...

I did sit for years with a related zendo at which the zen priest was a phd therapist and would put business pamphlets promoting his wife's and his psychotherapy practice on the butsudan--talk about self promoting!

It sounds like it was very uncomfortable and it sounds like the purpose of asking Brad there was to create the situation of confrontation/discomfort

I cannot image ANY zen teacher asking another zen teacher " do you think your unresolved childhood .... blah blah blah"
To my understanding zen buddhism is about the 'beyond personal' as found in each of us with our quirky personalities.

Brad, in my experience, has always demonstrated dharma in the course of fielding questions asked of him.
Sounds like while it may have been uncomfortable, (and assuredly Brad has unresolved issues from high school and adulthood, such as he's reached, in addition to whatever childhood ones Barry was referring to)--despite all this--it seems Brad did what he does best: answered the questions posed to him.
He's not called Odo for nuttin'

Mysterion said...

Anonymous Barackas said...
"Brad, you know you need at least a masters degree..."

in WHAT?

M.L.S. (Library Science) a.k.a. Brahma Nazis

M.F.A. (Fine Arts) a.k.a. Art Talkers

M.A. English a.k.a. readers

M.B.A. a.k.a never mind

Real Zen Masters frequently entered the Monastery after elementary school (e.g. 9th grade).

How utterly wrong are these New Amsterdam folks about other things?

Mysterion said...


Anonymous said...

mysterion: stfu

Mysterion said...

Musō Sōseki entered the religious life at 14, rose to become head of some of Japan's most influential Zen monasteries.

Takuan Sōhō at 14 (in 1587) started studying the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.

Eisai entered the priesthood at age 14. He studied at Enryakuji temple.

Keido Fukushima Roshi became a monk at the age of 14 and trained with Okada Roshi.

In Japanese Zen, the Soto Zen master Tosui Unkei (d. 1683) is a colorful character.

Somewhere there is a list of 1,000 historical Zen Masters (both Linji [Rinzai] and Soto) but I have misplaced it. About 1/4 entered 'religious life' on or before their 14th birthday. It was a curiosity because I am more within the Jodo Shu sect, formally.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Brad Warner, but from what he writes here on his blog I would hardly classify him as being "passive-aggressive". That he - as well as an outsider - would both completely misrepresent the situation hardly seems plausible either.

The notion that that the Ordinary Mind Zendo is "in mourning" doesn't fly with me either. We're talking about a woman who was 94 hears old here. And a group of adults who practice something which *should* arguably enable them to cope with death much better than your average group of folks. No, it seems there is a simpler explanation of what went on there: Barry Magid is quite obviously just an asshole.

~C4Chaos said...

I feel for Brad. I guess it comes with the territory of his style of teaching and personality.

but when it comes to irreverence Daniel Ingram makes Brad look like an altar boy. see


Moon Face Buddha said...

“the inherent all-rightness of everything just as it is.”

I love this zen shit. Hell, I bet all those women being gang raped by soldiers in the congo, or kids growing up with crack addicted parents, or the poor schmuck who just got diagnosed with cancer thinks to themselves “the inherent all-rightness of everything just as it is.”

Voltaire was right :)

Cup o' Joe said...

I was at this talk, and Brad handled himself like a gentleman. He was responsive to the criticism, yet firmly held his ground. He is a class act, and no mistake!!

Cup o' Joe said...

I was at this talk, and Brad handled himself like a true gentleman. He was receptive to the criticism, yet firmly held his ground. Brad is a class act, and no mistake!!

triceraptops said...

Has anyone bothered to get Barry Magid's perspective on what happened last Saturday at his zendo?

The anonymous writer of this email says himself how Brad joked, I assume, about being scared to be with these psychotherapists. Barry makes a joke about Brad's unresolved childhood issues, it just seems like the most stereotypical psychotherapist question.

It seems Brad concurs with the interpretation of the events described in this email as he is using this text instead of writing his own response. Did Brad bothered to speak to Barry directly? Is Brad really scared of the psychotherapist? I don't know, maybe Brad took this too personally instead of just laughing it off as silly.

It is true Joko Beck was very dear to many, she lived a prosperous 94 years and dedicated half of those to teaching compassion and selflessness. According to his own daughter she was happy as a clam before she died, which doesn't take away the human feeling of grief for those who loved her and will miss her.

triceraptops said...

Moon Face Buddah, you are taking a quote out of context and jumping to judgement. I'm not so familiar with Magid's lessons, but I recognize that quote form Joko Becks, she implicitly said zen was about action. So in the case of cancer or whatever, something needs to be done, obviously.

Anonymous said...

The map is not the territory.

Here be dragons.

Ray Munn said...

Fine little brother, get out before it chews you up into little pieces. Please believe me: institutional religion is no place to earn a living.

Brad Warner said...

Buddy said:
also begs the question: did brad actually try to discuss his treatment with any members of the zendo, either in person or by email? seems more likely that he just skulked away to address it from the safety of his cyber world.

I wrote to the person who invited me. The response was kind of... not much.

I also told her to tell Barry I was sorry I offended him.

As for Mr Magid himself, I waited around for about half an hour after the talk hoping he would speak to me. Usually the head of any place I speak at does so. He never came by. No one said a word about where he'd gone. I very much wanted to speak to him right then and there.

David Rivers said...

I hope Brad kept his sense of humour, I imagine from what little I know of "the way he rolls" that he would have. I also feel that humour aside, its just another day and more grist for the mill. Who cares really wether the insults came from therapist zendo gurus or from the guy at the burger stand? Its interesting how we ascribe importance or relevance to the words of people with perceived authority. RIP Joko Beck.

hana shin said...

I had been looking forward to seeing Brad on Saturday for about a month, and decided on Friday it just wouldn't work out... now I am really sorry I missed this. I personally was not comfortable with the idea of going to ordinary mind anyway, as their website even has instructions as to whether and how you should wipe your nose if the need arises within their zendo... now I really wish I had been there. The email and the comments give me a lot to think about...

- 0 - said...

I also told her to tell Barry I was sorry I offended him.

That's a better response than I would have made.

As for Buddy's comment, I think there is certainly the opportunity on this blog for an echo-chamber effect of fans to stick up for whatever you do or say. (And this can be annoying.) But in this case I think the people expressing support for you and less-than-support for Magid are quite right (with the exception that staying silent on the experience while posting someone else's words that would appear to match your own feelings is a bit passive-aggressive [not trying to insult you, ok?]).

Prince James said...

-0- is right.

What Brad is doing is stealthly retaliating for what he felt were slights and criticism.

What makes it passive-aggressive is that he is doing so without using his own voice and claiming to be unaware of the dynamic he is creating.

This is so very similar to his reaction to the Garrison Institute people and what probably set off the Ordinary Mind folks.

I've wondered before about Brad and his blog and whether he is responsible for the abuses on it. Of course he is. Brad repeatedly sets himself up as the good guy being set upon by various bad guys for reasons beyond his understanding. The resulting chorus of outraged zen-punks take up the cause and do the rest. He can then be the voice of reason and apologize if things get too nasty which they usually do. There has been a very strong and deliberate consistency to that over the years.

Bizarro Seagal said...

You can't win a marathon without putting band-aids on your nipples.

Anonymous said...

*ding ding*

Mysterion wins the Godwin award.

Mysterion said...



but no thanks.

Mysterion said...

Blogger David Rivers said...
"...its just another day and more grist for the mill..."

well said.

Barackas said...

Well of course Barry didn't want to talk to you Brad. You don't have a Ph.D in neurology or psychology. What could you possibly offer a man who is on the cutting edge of psychology and buddhism? Not much I'm thinking. Like I said before, there are RULES to these New York zendos. If you don't meet the educational requirements or fall into the correct income bracket, you may as well not even show up.

Soft Troll said...

I came across the Ordinary Mind Zendo on Saturday, and the twee type-face put me off reading further.

Then I remembered that Brad had a talk there. I had a funny feeling something odd might come of it.

I've never trusted twee type-face.

Brad Warner said...

Thanks -O-

As far as the passive-aggressiveness of "staying silent on the experience while posting someone else's words," I thought it was better to start off by having someone else tell the story of what they saw.

Had I given my own take on it, that would have been obviously self-serving. The guy who wrote the email I posted is not really a fan of mine. He has no particular beef with Ordinary Mind Zendo. He seemed like a really good mostly impartial voice.

Besides this, I like serendipity. The fact that he sent this to me out of the blue seemed like it was somehow meant to be.

I don't think it's passive aggressive at all. Before I posted this I sent a long email to the person who invited me expressing my feelings about what happened and asked her to relay my feelings to Mr Magid.

I also talked to that person face-to-face just after it happened. And I also responded to Mr Magid right there in person in front of about 30 on-lookers. Let me assure you there was nothing passive about being grilled like that in public.

I'd say if anything I was aggressive-aggressive and not passive at all. But I don't think my response in person was aggressive. I'll post the recording once I can figure out how that is done.

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

Wow. The treatment you received Brad was pretty atrocious from a bunch of practitioners of the Dharma. I think this is my problem with any "organized" group of anything philosophical or religious.

Recently I took my refuge vows after practicing as a Buddhist for about fifteen years or so. What's held me off for so long was the sangha. It seems to me that it can be just as cliquish as anything else. People want to own the Dharma and be superior to others. Plainly spiritual materialism and nothing else. The people at the center I now attend won't smile or even say hello to me. I'm not sure what I need to do to be a card carrying club member, but I have a suspicion whatever it is I want no part of.

In any case, I admire your writings. Keep rockin' it Brad!! A big F-off to all the posers.

spice said...

Thanks to the anonymous writer for taking the time to share your impressions of the talk and surrounding situation!

anonymous anonymous said...

Looking forward to hearing the recording.. That is the only way to decide if someone was being a dick.

Anonymous said...

Man, I just wish there was a place I could practice zazen w/o all that political crap. That guy's experience was pretty similar to mine in the number of soto zen retreats I've been to. You are placed in a space where you aren't quite sure of "the rules" but want things to go smoothly, you want to sit in silence then you have people randomly say "That's my seat."...instead of just finding another friggin' seat. Such self-important posturing isn't what the practice is about.

Brad, thank you for publishing this account. I think it's a very important thing to bring up.

Anonymous said...

I sat at Ordinary Mind Zendo for about 2 years, off and on.

I finally realized that this is a group for people dealing with Asperger's snydrome, with a bit of Zen thrown in for good measure.

This should explain the bizarre behavior of the people that attempted to interact with you.

Unfortunately, there is no way for these people to function in a polite and respectful manner. I feel bad for their suffering and hope there will be medical breakthroughs in the future that will help them to overcome their disease. Until then, I think Zen practice is the best therapy available for them at this time, and wish them the best.

Bret said...

Barackas, I'm glad to hear someone else confirm something I've seen since moving to NYC. Zen here seems to be for upper or middle class people. I was actually looking into joining a monastery here but the places I looked into said I would need to pay over $800 a month. How am I supposed to do that while being a monastic unless I'm already fairly wealthy and have a nest egg saved up, or I have a trust fund? I understand these places need money to keep running and I'd be happy to work while I study, but in general the vibe I've gotten from these places is that Zen is for people with money.

Moon Face Buddha said...

Ordinary Mind does not seem like the kind of place I would wish to practice. But they put it all on the website, plain as day, so I suppose folks can't complain that they didn't know what kind of place it is.

I suppose the problem with any established zendo/centre is that it takes money to keep the place running, and that then creates layers of hierarchy.

Probably the nicest bunch of people I ever sat with were an informal sangha of TNH zennies who met in someones house. No teacher, no bs, just sitting once a week.

ator said...

even just having an "assigned seat" that you defend in a group meditation area seems completely contradictory to my understanding of zen buddhism

arent we trying to get rid of habits that have us thinking/acting in rigid ways?

even when i meditate at home, I try to reposition myself around the house

so a guest comes and sits in "your seat", just find a new one! wtf?

Anonymous said...

I sit at a Vipassana sangha with a teacher who is published but not particularly famous. We have many guest speakers (including Dharma rockstars from our and other traditions) and we treat them just like guests. Honored. Respected.

Not that anyone asked but my take is Brad was treated poorly. Let's review:

(1) If there was an issue with his shirt (really?!?) talk to him offline before the teaching begins.

(2) A discussion about transference belongs in the classroom. I'm a materials scientist; I don't want a lesson in psychotherapy during a dharma q&a. You leave your work at work and I promise not to write equations on the walls.

Harry's comments about unprofessionalism are on the mark. Harry you're going to be a great therapist. Ethics are the foundation.

Why did the individuals in question behave as they did? It doesn't matter. Grief isn't an excuse. I can't leave right speech at the door because I'm hurting. Yeah, people lose their shit but come one - how better to respect your now deceased teacher than practice the way she would? All I have heard about Joko Beck was that she was kind.

As a teacher and dharma heir, Magrid has a responsibility to Right Action. If he does not care to do so, he doesn't have to take a leadership role.

Troll said...

Brad was invited to speak at Dharmafield and they'll never make that mistake again. Now he has done it as well with the Ordinary Mind Zendo. Have you noticed that it is always someone else's fault with Brad? When he was breaking up his marriage, failing at his job and now failing at bringing in the bucks as a zen master, it is always someone else that caused it. I know you groupies love to think the 50 year old aging punker is the real deal, but he isn't.

Anonymous said...

dear troll, in what way exactly has he "done it"

Anonymous said...

My take, YMMV:

(1) Brad was an invited guest; there is expectation of welcome and hospitality in that situation. I sit at a Vipassana Sangha; our teacher is well connected and we frequently have Dharma Rockstar guest speakers from our and other Buddhist traditions. We treat them with courtesy.

(2) If there really was an issue with Brad's t-shirt, wouldn't it be more appropriate for it to be addressed in private prior to the talk?

(3)Dharma talks and Q&A should focus on Dharma, not psychology. You don't tell me about transference and I won't write physics equations on your walls. Levity aside, Harry hits the mark on the ethics of doing cushion-based psychotherapy uninvited.

(4) Magid, as a teacher and Dharma heir, has an obligation to Right Action. Regardless of grief, one is not off the hook from Right Speech. In fact, you would think students of Joko Beck would find that time most appropriate to emulate her behavior - I've only heard it second hand but it was described as kind. Magid and others are free to act as they like, but don't then assume the title as teacher.

Instituions, money, hierachy all reinforce the myth of self. It takes observation and change of behavior to push back on that.

Enough of all that - bottom line is: Brad, I am sorry you were treated disrespectfully.

Anonymous said...

Troll: Brad isn't your father. The anger you feel is for your father.

Troll said...


james said...


You hit the nail on the head with every point you made.

Well said.

From my own experience, this is one of the rudest Zendos I have ever visited.

Melanie; Austin, TX said...

I like your oblique approach of posting this well-written, entertaining account of the event to convey what it was like for you: crap! Is that any way to treat a guest?! Whatever happened to loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity? I like "nice" myself, but especially in a teacher I also like anti self-aggrandizement, honesty and a sincere effort to help one's students awaken-- even though said students may be nothing like you, the teacher. And I want a teacher who can be a regular human being with faults. I don't care for meanness, one-upmanship, and intellectual competition and dressing down.

Alan_A said...

When I lived in NYC I sat off and on at The Village Zendo and saw no such nonsense. The affect was sometimes a little cool but never pretentious or hostile.

The Still Mind Zendo was shockingly friendly. I mean that in a good way.

Add me to the list of people who thought about sitting at Ordinary Mind. But like others, I'm relieved I didn't.

Didn't Joko split with Ezra Bayda when he started teaching compassion overtly?

Maybe Magid now sees himself as the sole defender of the one true faith.

Anonymous said...



"if you can make it there..."

the land of presumptuous assumptions...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

was he out of his element?

Anonymous said...

so much better - in Hindi

Anonymous said...

In Brad's comment at 8:26 a.m. he referred to "Mr. Magid" twice. DOCTOR Magid might find that insulting.

Try to understand,
Try to understand,
Try, try, try to understand...
He's a Magid man.

Anonymous said...

not U2.

anonymous anonymous said...

5 out of the last 6 anonymous comments before this one were mysterion's, who claims never to make anonymous comments.

And so it goes..

mtto said...

And So It Goes

Anonymous said...

there have been times (recorded extensively in the literary annals of Zen - ie koans) when one Zen teacher being challenged by another Zen teacher was par for the course, and how deftly and freely one handled it over the other was the sign of who in that single instance was a little more agile in whatever sense.
In this case, everyone at that center loses for being uptight, and Warner loses for being insensitive and then posting someone else's account of it on his blog for all of his homies to defend him and see how much cooler he is. As usual.

buddy said...

sorry for assuming the worst of you, brad.

'brad apologized for missing the morning zazen.' just a question: did you know this morning sitting was going to be a funeral service for joko, and if so were you specifically invited to join them? if so, not attending could have been seen as being insulting, which they responded to in snarky, indirect ways.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anonymous at 1:42 PM

"...anals of Zen..."

Isn't that what got Genpo in trouble?


Anonymous said...

Maybe Brad or some of you are just shocked to find out his suspicions were right on... lol.

Mysterion said...


I get back and then I am accused of being the cat that pooped in the sandbox! Each and every anonymous post ever to appear on blogspot dot com was penned by my hand...

Children, children!!!

Once, like about 7-8 years ago, I introduced a friend from UC Berkeley as "Doctor" Lawrence (last name) to a transplanted Brit.

And the Doc (Ph.D.) said:

"Cut the doctor crap. That's east coast. Hi, I'm Larry."

Back when I only had a masters (in psychology), everyone was telling me to finish my dissertation & fetch the Ph.D (in scriptural studies - folklore). (Ph.D. = Post Hole Digger). Well, two years after I retired, I did just that.

Did fetching that suitable-for-framing 'terminal degree' make any difference to anybody past or now living? Nope. None. Not one.

So much of this comment stuff is cat droppings.

If you sift through all the crap, you might find some sand in the sandbox.

Now Shiro and I have other places to go...

Samsara said...

It's a little funny to hear, in addition to Brad's post, that many commentators have a rough time with sanghas. I started practicing in St. Louis recently and everyone at the Missouri Zen Center is soooo nice and inviting. I had recently moved to St. Louis and wasn't digging it much until I found the Zen Center there. Maybe one of the few good things about St. Louis? Anyways, not that this has much to do directly with Brad's experience at Ordinary Mind, but just wanted to say that some sanghas are awesome!

Anonymous said...

Mysterion-- no, you don't. you live here. on someone else's blog.

Kyle said...

I remember reading this story (or koan? always hard to tell with the Zen tricksters...) where a Zen dude gets some kind of enlightenment, and he says, "There is nothing left to me at this moment but to have a good laugh." Pretty much it sounds like a lot of these guys who were after you, Brad, were clinging onto their beliefs with such a fervor as to suck all humor dry.

Somehow I feel sympathy for them in this regard, but don't let them get you down -- this guy you quoted is right, you are rocking a sincere & humorous kind of Zen at least, something that these dudes who get after you probably can't quite say from their emerald towers.

john e mumbles said...

Samsara, go to Washington University Art Museum and sit for awhile in the Max Beckmann room.

They have one of the best Beckmann col.'s anywhere. He was the last of the great German Expressionists and my drawing/painting instructor Richard Slimon's teacher when he was there.

Then go upstairs and ask to see the administrator's offices. They have a few masterpieces by Balthus.

And, er, uh, the great breweries.. St. Louis can be pretty cool...

Anonymous said...

A guy walks into the psychiatrist's and says
"Doctor, doctor, you've got to
help me! I keep thinking that I'm a deck of cards!" The shrink says
"Sit over there and I'll deal with you later."

Anonymous said...

A guy walks into a psychiatrists office and shouts "Im a teepee, Im a wigwam!" the doctor looks at him and says, "Calm down, you're two tents."

Anonymous Bob said...

john e.

Beckman is cool. But he wasn't the last of the great German Expressionist painters. Bathus is cool but he never painted a masterpiece. St. Louis is a great city but the best brewery is in Pisgah North Carolina. I too am full of it, opinions.

CAPTCHA : modota : I kid you not

Mysterion said...

tattoozen said...
"A guy walks into a psychiatrists office... two tents."

THAT is a keeper.

Anonymous said...

You're transparent M. A faker of the first order. We all know it. Come clean.

Anonymous said...

Brad, I love you for what you said to Magid ! Fuck psychoanalysis !

It does not work anyway. It is only robbing customers money.

And here Woody Allen speaks about psychoanalysis:

Elron Hubble said...

Scientology seems critical of psychiatry. They don't appear to tolerate competition or criticism.

Rev. Kirby Hensley said...

Degrees are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain!

Doctor of Divinity,
Doctor of Metaphysics,
Master of Wicca,
Jedi Knight,
and everything from Abbe to Vicar
are available for only $10.99 to $32.99!

Order yours today!

The LOne Ranger said...

Brad it's never boring in here! I love the heat. You are the best! Really!

Anonymous said...

Someone who says, "I'm a therapist"...should be taken as a warning to quickly run the opposite direction. 99% of therapists are ineffective or dangerous.

Not Mysterion said...

Tobias Fünke is the husband of Lindsay Bluth and the father of Maeby Fünke. He was the chief resident of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital until he lost his license for giving CPR to a man who was not actually having a heart attack. At one point, he was licensed as both an analyst and a therapist, supposedly making him the first licensed "analrapist".

Anonymous said...

"Degrees are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain!"

Magid was a dentist. Are you selling dental degrees too?

Anonymous said...

Brad, instead of calling this hardcore zen, you should call it hateful.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the two mentioned questions were only assertions of dominance from the 'boss'. Take your cushion and run.

Mysterion said...


the monastery dot org is, I suppose, as valid as any of the "paper mills" that republicans favor over state-run colleges and universities.



I remember ULC ordaining men during the useless Vietnam war (70's). It is as valid as any other (grunt) church.

I much prefer 'John Fromm.'

Xtians are critical of 'cargo cults.' Yet almost every aspect of the cargo cult parallels Xtianity itself. Jon Frum will return Oct 21st!

or not

Mysterion said...

Origin of Faith - John Frum vs Jesus 1/2

Origin of Faith - John Frum vs Jesus 2/2

"The total cost for the whole bridge to OT9 readiness is estimated at $365,000 - $380,000." source

Anonymous said...

Where is John from?

(That was a koan in case you didn't notice.)

juan bobo said...

Por favor baila conmigo.

Anonymous said...


Barry Magid would be happy to hear your comments on his talks and to answer practice related questions. You can email him at:

Anonymous said...

John Who?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Barry Magid would be happy to hear your comments on his talks and to answer practice related questions. You can email him at:

Anonymous said...


Barry Magid would be happy to hear your comments on his talks and to answer practice related questions. You can email him at:

Anonymous said...

Reading the post and all the comments, it appears to have fallen into the endlessly recycled pattern of:

"Brad's been dissed once again by the corrupt zen establishment"

Two comments:
1. None of us actually knows what occurred as all we have is what I will refer to as "the perception of being dissed by proxy". While I don't disagree that the description is accurate in the sense that this is what the reporter experienced, it is still only one perspective. It would be good to get others...

I'm reminded of the film Rashomon:

"The film depicts the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the bandit/rapist, the wife, the dead man (speaking through a medium), and lastly the narrator... "

and where:

"The stories are mutually contradictory and not even the final version can be seen as unmotivated by factors of ego and face. Even the actors kept approaching Kurosawa wanting to know the truth, which he claimed was not the point of the film as he intended it to be an exploration of multiple realities rather than an exposition of a particular truth."

2. My sense in chatting with some 'certified Zen teachers' is that Brad is frequently invited to speak at these gatherings merely to 'attract younger students to the graying sangha' and that not many consider him to be an authentic teacher.

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous said:
My sense in chatting with some 'certified Zen teachers' is that Brad is frequently invited to speak at these gatherings merely to 'attract younger students to the graying sangha' and that not many consider him to be an authentic teacher.

May I ask which "certified Zen teachers" told you this?

Anonymous said...

I emailed Barry and he did respond rather succinctly what had happened. I'm clear.

Curious Jorge said...

what did Dr Barry Esquire have to say?

please paraphrase, as Im sure his response was quite verbose

Anonymous said...

Yes, we would all like to hear Barry's response. Please share.

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.
Barry Magid

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

Barry Magid

Anonymous said...

So I guess he didn't actually elaborate on how Brad was being "provocative".

Was he being provocative in general, or was it only provocative to Barry's "authority" as a certified zen teacher and/or to the specific worldview of his little group there?

And either way, how does that give him the right, along with the other "long term practioners and professionals" (not just jackoffs at a bookstore!) to psychoanalyze his guest in front of a group of people?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

He was being psycho anal re-sized

D. said...

Oh no, now I've added my voice to the gossip...

Pantene said...

Brad can't help it if he is provocative. Don't hate him because he's beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Brad and Joko have always seemed similar to me, knowing only their writings. They both have music backgrounds both had conventional sort of lives (relatively - corporate job as an ex-pat and a house wife) and for both of them their words seem to have the living knowledge of non-dualistic awareness, a certain freshness and personal language about the dharma, so that it is very comparable to the writings of Hui Neng or Dogen. Fresh and personal.

My first teacher's teacher was Joko.

I sat once with the Ordinary Mind Zendo and they seemed fine but I was just there for the zazen, where it is harder to get tangled up in personal conflict.

Paul said...

They're used to the usual "my affluent upper middle class life is so awful and stressful, whatever can I do to make it bearable?" avalanche of bullshit that Joko specialized in. Also,I wouldn't put much stock in the opinions of a guy who won't spend $12.99 for a new keyboard when his shift key breaks.

Anonymous said...


Ken said...

There's different flavors of Zen teachers, those retards are lucky that you just happen to have a pretty straightforward low-key style. I know one that would have laughed at the head jobs asking the questions and then nailed them to the floor with one or two of his own. Course, styles change with time :) Always nice to see someone intellectualizing Zen suddenly receive a taste of reality. Either way the honesty is always beautiful, sometimes it's as unnoticeable as the air around you sometimes it's a good wack on the head. I love what your not-doing Brad ;)

doug phillips said...

Hi Brad, I sent an earlier message but it apparently didn't post, which is fine as i just finished listening to your OMZ talk. I have someone in that sangha who i care a great deal for and have followed with interest the reactions/responses to your talk there. After listening I offer the following: I though the talk part was ok. The Q & A was really wonderful; genuine, touching, direct and quite intimate given the setting. My impression was that everyone, and I mean everyone, was directly presenting their understanding and their practice with real sincerity and love in the best sense of that word. It had aspects of a public dokusan and all clams really showed their guts! It does continue to amaze me how we human beings can draw such firm conclusions (and I do include these comments as well) based on so little information. And given the research on perception, data analysis, understanding, etc., that information is always distorted and fragmentary. I was also quite touched by your comments on transmission. My teacher told me that transmission for him was an acknowledgement of complete trust. Some years after I received that transmission I betrayed that trust in a rather terrible way. Despite his anger and hurt he stayed with me and I find his continuing love a source of deep inspiration and healing. Finally, there is no escape from being a human being. I do love Nyogen Senzaki's comment that "we are all in the same leaky boat together." Kudos to you and OMZ. Best, Doug Phillips
ps many years ago, as a family therapist, I worked with a couple of families that had a member with Huntington's. I do remember vividly the struggles of those families and especially the younger members of those families. I learned something about true love with those folks that I have never forgotten.

nozenji said...

I think it's a big mistake to assess an event based on one person's opinion of it, particularly if you were not there.

katy yelland said...

Oh dear...all sounds pretty unfortunate. I feel bad for the writer who was made to feel unwelcome. I get the impression that some people feel as though they have the right to be rude and not even say hello, just cos they're Zen practitioners ("I don't need to fill in the silence with small talk, I don't need to adhere to social rules, I don't want to say hi to you and this is just how I am so I won't"). Pants.

Anonymous said...

the whole thing sounds like everyday life to me. Do we really expect anything different just because we've walked into a zendo? Lots of perspectives, ego's, confusion, love, fear, etc etc. Perfectly imperfect. I do feel a bit uncomfortable about Brad quoting someone else's perspective on this. Why not just speak for yourself about how you felt it went? I feel we need to take responsibility for our own views, actions and feelings not express them by proxy. B x