Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to Civilization


I'm back from Tassajara. That's a photo of the full moon over the Tassajara valley. Did you miss me?

Man. A lot went on while I was away. Jani Lane died. I didn't see that one coming. I never knew Jani. But I was pals with Steve, who is also mentioned in the article I linked to, all through high school. I didn't realize Jani was also from Akron. I can't say I was ever the world's biggest Warrant fan. But among the LA hair metal bands of the time, they were far better than most. They could actually write songs that were about something, as well as dumber-than-dumb rockers like Cherry Pie. I actually really like that song and always have. "Think about baseball, swing all night!" Genius, I tell ya!

A bit closer to home for me, Tim LaFollette died last Tuesday. Tim was a close friend of my friend Catie Braly. I only met Tim once. But I heard a lot about him from Catie. Tim wrote the theme song to Dan Savage's Savage Love podcast. The last 5 minutes of the latest episode are a tribute by Dan Savage to Tim as well as one of Tim's best songs, "Sad State of Affairs." Catie sings on most of Tim's stuff that he did with their band The Popovers. Tim had ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease. He was dedicated to raising awareness of the disease. I'm sad he's gone.

The other night I spent some time with my buddy Daigan Gaither of the San Francisco Zen Center. Daigan is a Zen monk and also one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters are officially heretics according to the Holy Roman Catholic Church! Way to go, Daigan!

Daigan noted that my work is something people either really love or really hate. That seems to be true. And I'm glad of that. If I only inspired indifference I wouldn't be doing my job.

What can I tell you about Tassajara? I did three weeks there as a member of the kitchen crew. I chopped loads of vegetables, baked tons of cookies, and washed more dishes than I ever thought there were on Earth. I'd been invited down by Greg Fain, the practice leader, to give some talks. But, like last year, I thought it was boring just to go down there for three or four days, lounge around the hot springs baths, do a couple talks and leave. So I enrolled as a rank-and-file student. That's loads more fun and a lot more interesting and informative.

My first talk was called "Was Dogen Really Dogen?" I tried to address the issues raised by Carl Bielefeld and others recently concerning certain parts of the accepted biography of Dogen. Much of what we think we know about the man turns out to be dubious. It's doubtful, for example, that he wrote his masterwork on Zazen, Fukan Zazengi (Recommending Zazen for All People), in 1227 when when he first arrived back from China as a youngster of 27. More likely he wrote it about five years later and then extensively revised it in the 1240s, when he was an old man in his forties. Also, the stories of his wanderings in China looking for a true master are probably highly exaggerated by the contemporary Soto organization. Dogen himself never really claimed to have done a whole lot of traveling on the continent.

I said that I wonder if the matter of who our teachers "really are" is actually very important. Who one "really is" is a kind of fiction we create about ourselves and about others.

My second talk was about Dogen's views regarding monkhood. In a few of his later works, Dogen seems to directly contradict what he said in Fukan Zazengi about everyone being able to practice zazen and reach enlightenment. He says that only one who has "left home" (出家, shukke, pronounced shoe-kay)can ever hope to truly understand Buddhism.

In today's Japanese style Buddhism, what it means to "leave home" is a bit vague. Nishijima Roshi's definition is even more vague. In the old days, a "home leaver" really left secular society. He or she couldn't hold down a job, get married, handle money and so on. These days the Japanese Soto-shu and other such organizations permit "home leavers" to do all of those things and more. In America and Europe the rules have become even looser.

I once asked Nishijima Roshi, "Am I a monk?" He said, "Yes. You are a monk." In his eyes anyone who took the precepts automatically became a monk. My friend Konin spoke up during the talk. She said that she believed a monk was anyone who was committed to helping maintain whatever it is that supports people to do the practice. An interesting definition.

I've never lived in a monastery except for a few short stints at Tassajara. I did a month last year, three weeks this year, plus a few other odd days and weeks over the previous years. Nishijima Roshi never kept a temple or monastery. Neither did my first teacher. So the monastic life is still somewhat mysterious to me. What does it mean? What value does it have to contemporary society?

I'll try and get the recordings of these talks to John to put up on the podcast soon.

OK. I gotta go.

See ya later, skaters!

67 comments:

proulx michel said...

Brad wrote:

"Nishijima never kept a temple or monastery."

Come on, Brad, you know that, in the Ichikawa dojo, he asked residents that they do not indulge in sex in the building. If that's not monastic...

deviak said...

One?

ZenGirl said...

First! (I've never done this before, so it really is a first...)

ZenGirl said...

No but seriously... I have wondered the same time. I am not in a place (geographically or otherwise) where it makes sense to commit to a monastic life, but at the same time, I have spent significant time in monastic settings and can see the value. I used to long for it actually, thinking their lives seemed very ideal, but after considering it further, I have to wonder. I love Green Gulch / Tassajara / SFZC, but I have to wonder how much the Dharma really gets spread that way. People who go there tend to stay there and rarely go out and form their own Zen centers. As far as I can tell, people seem to stay at those places a number of years and sometimes their whole lives. That kind of commitment as "keepers of the Dharma" is important, but it's not the only Dharma game in town - there's plenty of opportunities for committed laypeople who are willing to travel sometimes - but it doesn't help the rest of the U.S. I live in a large metropolitan area with *zero* Zen community. So I'm in the process of starting one myself. I wish more 'lifer' monks would venture out and share the practice of Zazen rather than keep it for themselves in their secluded, albeit beautiful little monastic worlds.

Blake said...

Hey I'm a monk!

Indigo said...

Good! Say more about the the talks you gave, or more about Dogen or at least share some veggies recipes you picked up from kitchen work.

Wonky Owl said...

Cookies you say.

Mako said...

'Twas good to have you in the silent valley, which will be even more silent in a month. Why not stay for a practice period? Keep exploring the mystery!

Harry said...

Michel,

What if you had sex, but didn't indulge???

Regards,

H.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Khru said...

This is probably the worst comment thread I've ever seen on Bradley's blog...

Khru said...

This is probably the best comment thread I've ever seen on Bradley's blog...

Korey said...

Brad, what problems arise from practicing "too much" zazen, and what is "too much" zazen?

Sincerely yours,

The Man with 101 Bee Stings

Bob said...

I never heard any claims that Dogen criss-crossed China but in Bendowa he does himeself say:

Next I headed to the China of the Song Dynasty where I continued
my search on both banks of the Zhejiang, learning the teachings of
the five schools.

Brad Warner said...

Michel said:


Come on, Brad, you know that, in the Ichikawa dojo, he asked residents that they do not indulge in sex in the building. If that's not monastic...


Did he ask people not to have sex in the bldg? I didn't know that. Huh. Well, it wasn't a big couples scene there anyhow.

In any case his monasticism was a very light type.

Brad Warner said...

The Man with 101 Bee Stings said:

Brad, what problems arise from practicing "too much" zazen, and what is "too much" zazen?

Remember the old MTV slogan, "Too much is never enough!"

Too much zazen would be when it makes you feel too spiritual. I know that's probably hard to understand. Maybe I'll try & do a better job explaining one of these days.

Brad Warner said...

Mako said:

'Twas good to have you in the silent valley, which will be even more silent in a month. Why not stay for a practice period? Keep exploring the mystery!

Mako, you are the director of Tassajara (I'm just outing you to those who don't know) and I love you dearly and admire you more than I can possibly express. But 3:50 AM is way too early for me to wake up.

Ask Graham if, just once, during the morning kitchen service he could say, "There's been far too much talking during meal prep. This is a silent practice." And just end there.

I'd love to see what would happen. People would be scared. It would be hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Brad said... I once asked Nishijima Roshi, "Am I a monk?" He said, "Yes. You are a monk."

If this isn't strong evidence that zen turns people into brain dead automatons who blindly accept anything their 'teacher' says, I don't know what is.

Karenzen said...

Why do retreats cost so much to attend? I would think that they would want to attract as many people as possible. I understand if there is a well known speaker and they need to pay their fee. But the emails that I've received inviting me are pretty expensive.

Doug said...

Hello and welcome back.

If you're curious about monastic experience, have you thought about ordaining for a time in a Theravadin community? Some groups, like in Thailand, allow people to ordain for a little as a week (a common practice among youth there). They still follow the Pratimoksha code (more or less), so the traditional restrictions apply. It's not that their monks are better than other people's monks, just a matter of how the community is structured, history, etc.

ANyway, I've thought about it myself. I have never attended a retreat or anything, but I would like just once to experience the monastic life (the whole shebang). Partly as an expression of gratitude toward the Buddha, but also I think something like that, completely apart from my usual routine and habits, would be good for me. :)

All the best,
Doug

Doug said...

P.S. I am often inspired by a quote from an old sci-fi book, Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (great read if you ever get a chance):

“It is because I am a man who occasionally aspires to things beyond the belly and the phallus.”

I hope to aspire similarly.

Korey said...

Quick question Brad: I recall you writing about walking through the forest to work one morning shortly after attending a sesshin and you achieved the sacred truth. When you finally attained the Supreme Enlightenment, did you use a red lipstick or marker to place a "paki dot" on your forehead to symbolize your awakening?

Anonymous said...

A man of no distinction leaves no trace. One's actions signify one's
state.

Soft Troll said...

Korey, in case you weren't aware, "p*** **t" is viewed as an offensive and racist usage - at least by Asian Brits.

anon #108 said...

Hello again, Brad, Brad's blog and Brad's blog's bloggers!

My computer's been out of action for a few weeks...something to do with the motherload, I think. Anyway, it's fixed now.

I didn't miss the virtual world nearly as much as I thought I might. This leads me to believe I am most likely enlightened, or as close to enlightened as makes no diff.

Whatever...Here I go again!

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous said:

If this isn't strong evidence that zen turns people into brain dead automatons who blindly accept anything their 'teacher' says, I don't know what is.

Why do you think so? I don't follow your reasoning.

I call myself a monk because Nishijima called me one. He has been invested by his lineage to make that determination. So, as far as the lineage is concerned, I'm a monk. Other lineages may define monkhood differently. But I wasn't ordained in those lineages.

Brad Warner said...

Korey said:

Quick question Brad: I recall you writing about walking through the forest to work one morning shortly after attending a sesshin and you achieved the sacred truth. When you finally attained the Supreme Enlightenment, did you use a red lipstick or marker to place a "paki dot" on your forehead to symbolize your awakening?

Uh... no.

Did I ever say I "achieved the sacred truth?"

Brad Warner said...

Doug, that sounds intriguing.

So after that week you're un-ordained? Is that how it works?

Brad Warner said...

Karenzen said:

Why do retreats cost so much to attend? I would think that they would want to attract as many people as possible. I understand if there is a well known speaker and they need to pay their fee. But the emails that I've received inviting me are pretty expensive.

It depends how you define "expensive." I recall being in college, looking at info from John Loori's retreats in NY (the nearest ones I knew of back then) and thinking they were too expensive. Then again, I'm kind of glad I didn't go to those anyhow in retrospect.

Zen retreats come in a vast range of prices. For example, one way to do a 3 month practice period at SF Zen Center is to work for 3 months at Tassajara over the summer to earn it. Lots of low income people choose this option.

Many retreats will work with you if you contact them saying you can't afford the advertised price. I know we've done that with our retreats in Japan even though those retreats are priced at barely over our own costs.

Also you'd be surprised how much it does cost to feed and house one person (the retreat attendee).

Most Zen teachers are not trying to get rich. So chances are they're already setting the price as low as they can.

This does not go for retreats that cost $50,000, of course.

Lone Wolf said...

I sometimes feel that Zazen makes me very self absorbed...like I'll be seeing my own inner thoughts when talking with others off the cushion. Is this common? I also stopped doing Zazen for a little while after going through a break up. It was just a little too emotionally intense and I needed a break from looking at my mind. Was this a good idea?

Anonymous said...

"This does not go for retreats that cost $50,000, of course."

My best laught today.

JSB said...

First: RIP Jani Lane. I was never into Warrant or hair metal. But, their song Heaven will be on the soundtrack of my life thanks to one great fucking night and one cool girl who loved hair metal but liked her guys a bit on the punk side.

OK, with that out of the way. The notion of monks is alright, if we don't concentrate too much on the ideas surrounding "MONK". If I'm in Thailand and see some guys in robes with beggars bowls, I'm going to assume their monks. Are they? Maybe. Maybe they're scam artists. Maybe they're actors immersing themselves in their roles. Maybe they're monks.

Is Brad a monk? Sure, why the hell not. Is the guy down at the local Zendo who is called Bob Smith at his kid's little league game but Dharma Eagle while at the Zendo a monk? Sure as shit, yep. Am I a monk? Not a chance in hell. My point? The robes, and incense, and hierarchies, and lineages, and chants are alright. They are interesting. They may even be necessary to the promulgation of the practice. But, they are not the practice. They are window dressing, Christmas wrapping paper, Susie Q's bra. What's really important lies beneath. And if the "monk" helps you look past the dressing and out the window, unwrap the present, or (yep this is getting weird) unlatch the bra then that's OK and I don't give a fuck what his/her lineage, robes, name or lack therof intimate about his/her "monk-ness." The proof is the bra lying on the floor and the breasts in front of you.

Finally, keep your images and opinions of people in power malleable, or you may fall victim to inflated beliefs about their authority. Greg Graffin warned us in '94:

"There's the image of a man
Who commands a high opinion
And he hides his hatred with a sheepish grin
And beside him flanking closely
Are the boisterous hollow masses
Who lap up whatever trickles in
This intercourse of nature,
This vulgar social pastime
Reflects the lowest mark of our progress
And the few who ride peripheral
Maintain subtle advantage
Fighting hard to abstain and redress
Tell me do you know your place
In the big parade?
Are you more than they?
Leaders and followers"

-Leaders and Followers, Bad Religion (Graffin).

Anonymous said...

" The notion of monks is alright, if we don't concentrate too much on the ideas surrounding "MONK". If I'm in Thailand and see some guys in robes with beggars bowls, I'm going to assume their monks. Are they? Maybe. Maybe they're scam artists. Maybe they're actors immersing themselves in their roles. Maybe they're monks."

We are all actors immersing
ourselves in our roles, some with
attachment, some without.

Anonymous said...

September 1, 2011

How many days will pass before Mysterion posts a comment under his "official" user ID?

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments like the ones from the previous three months do not qualify as "official" comments.

buddy said...

Lone Wolf said, 'I sometimes feel that Zazen makes me very self absorbed...like I'll be seeing my own inner thoughts when talking with others off the cushion.' If I may be so bold: Those thoughts were always there, you're just more sensitive to them now, probably because of zazen. As you would on the cushion, drop them and return to being present to whatever you're doing.

Korey said...

Brad I just wanted to know if you started sporting a "paki dot" on your forehead to symbolize your Holy Awakening.

Korey said...

Soft Troll,

Well since I clearly wasn't intending to be racist or offensive when I mentioned paki dots, and I'm sure you knew this, there's nothing to get worked up about, right?

Soft Troll said...

Korey

It was a simple 'in case you weren't aware' not a PC war cry. I don't know where you hail from, so you might have been using the phrase in all innocence.

My friend's five year old son asked on the bus a few years back, 'if that man was a Paki'. He wasn't intending to be racist or offensive, of course. But his mother apologised to the man and helped her son become a little more aware of the hurt it could cause. As far as I could tell, no-one got worked up.

Mark Foote said...

Brad, can you cite the work you're referring to by Carl Bielefeldt? Carl's been an eye-opener for me since "Dogen's Meditation Manuals", I think was the name of it. He makes it clear in that how Fukanzazengi (sp?) was largely lifted from a Chinese work, and that it was re-written many times. Dogen is still amazing, and I think I am personally still trying to rewrite Fukanzazengi, still writing that manual of zazen that anybody can use without delay. oh well! :)

Doug said...

Hi Brad,

So after that week you're un-ordained? Is that how it works?

Indeed. In the Pali Canon (and the Mahayana equivalent: the Agamas), a monk can ordain and voluntarily leave (dis-robe) up to 3 times in his life. I guess the idea was "better a good layperson than a bad monk" or perhaps monks had things come up that forced them to return to lay-life. It's in the Vinaya Pitaka for reference.

Anyhow, different cultures have adapted this rule at varying levels. Thai culture in particular is pretty easy-going about it (by comparison, I've heard that Sri Lankan culture isn't), so almost every boy there ordains as a monk there for at least a week. It's a gesture of respect to one's parents, and also provides some good structure in one's life ideally.

Anyhow, assuming one isn't banished for doing something terrible (i.e. intentionally taking life, breaking one's vow of celebacy, etc), they can voluntarily disrobe at any time and return to lay-life.

This is still somewhat true with East Asian Buddhism, though Japan's monastic system is particularly complicated due to history, geographic isolation, political meddling, etc.

If you'd like to learn more about Japanese monastic history in general, I wrote a small piece on it a while ago:

http://japanlifeandreligion.com/2010/02/05/a-brief-history-of-the-buddhist-precepts-in-medieval-japan/

It's a bit long, but I tried to go through the history up through the modern era. It helps to clarify (at least for me) why Japanese Buddhism tends to be the way it is. Hope it helps. :)

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

Edit: Hello,

Not to belabor the point, but I found this essay a nice explanation of ordination in general from the Theravadin perspective:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/jootla/bl133.html

I'd be curious to see how this compares with your own. I have no such experience myself (I haven't even taken the precepts formally), so I only know what I read. ;)

Brad Warner said...

Mark Foote said:
Brad, can you cite the work you're referring to by Carl Bielefeldt?

I checked out "Dogen's Manuals of Meditation" (or whatever) from the Tssajara library. Also he has an essay called "Recarving The Dragon" in a book called something like "Dogen Studies." That essay says most of what you'd want to know about his research into the matter.

Brad Warner said...

Now that I've figured out what "Paki Dot" means, I too am offended by the term. So let's stop using it. I know it's called a "bindi" when women wear it. Also I don't think Pakistanis usually wear them as it's a Hindu thing and most Pakistanis are Muslim.

Also I've never heard of it being used to express that the wearer has achieved Enlightenment. It usually means, I think, that the wearer is married. I can't think of any Indian holy people I've seen wearing them.

And in any case I'm not Hindu. So the answer, as I said previously, is still no.

Mysterion said...

O.K.

You are a monk.

Read the Les Kaye description of his dialogue with the Rev. Suzuki at S.F. Soto Zen... (in Zen at Work).

Les: "I want to be a monk."

Suzuki: "O.K., you're a monk."

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

It's almost like a Marx Brothers skit:
Hotel guest: "Why don't you call me an elevator?"
Groucho: "All right. You're an elevator."

Anonymous said...

soft troll: paki as in pakistan right? Jap as in japan? yank as in yankee? How are these words offensive? is it the differentiation? the perceived lack of respect in abbreivation? a case of wanting things to be different from what they really are? people categorize things mentally. it's human not racist. characteristics are not always imaginary. people who are hurt when hearing this will still be hurt when it's unspoken.

biosphere_oli said...

I don't know what it's like for all of y'all in america, but 'paki' is offensive back here in england, whatever other words you use it with. maybe it's nothing much more than a cultural agreement which makes it so, with the origins pretty much forgotten. everyone knows that everyone else understands it to convey offense, so choosing to use it is signalling your wish to offend.

Vote For Pedro said...

Paki is to Pakistani as Spick is to Hispanic. Comprende?

korey said...

Well look at the context I used it in. Do you think there was any intent to be racist or offensive? If you know it was said in innocence then there is no reason to feel offended. I just said "paki dot" as a sort of general way of indicating where the dot is. Maybe it's called the crown chakra, or the third eye or whatever, but in various Buddha statues, the dot is on the forehead and I've heard it's some type of symbol of awakening.

Kind of surprised how easily offended you got at something so harmless though Brad.

tattoozen said...

In my opinion a lot of the "monkness" is based on being a sort of medieval reenactor. You put on ancient clothes and act the role of Monk the way a civil war reenactor puts on a rebel uniform and pretends to be Jeb Stuart. Im not saying that our image of "monk" is invalid or that a traditional monk is not genuine, but it feels a bit like something for and from another time.

It seems to me that you dont need robes, oaths, and a haircut to explore the buddhas ideas.

I blab about it more here if you care http://tattoozen.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/hey-hey-were-the-monk-ys/

jamal said...

I love my niggas. love em. Jus dont wanna hear any yall say it. offensive aint whats said its who sayin it. if white folks ever start sayin being called white is offensive, then the world have changed for the better.

Anonymous said...

Brad went to Tassajara? I thought he was going to Tijuana. In that case, I won't ask if he saw the donkey show. They don't have a donkey show at Tassajara anymore, do they?

Anonymous said...

Brad said: "Did I ever say I "achieved the sacred truth?"

Brad, you never wrote those words, no. But the section of your first book which Korey references did retell the account of your enlightenment. You have denied it since but it was clear what you were describing. So why be so disingenuous with Korey? You're the one that brought it up in the first place.

Damien Echols said...

Hardcore ? You don't know hardcore. But I'm loving the internet. Hi Brad

Newbie said...

Dear Brad,

I looked at your schedule and it looks like you have nothing booked between now and Europe. I was hoping that you might have something "going on" in the SF or SV area maybe before your departure? :-)

Best regards,
Newbie

Scarlette said...

Brad said:
It depends how you define "expensive." I recall being in college, looking at info from John Loori's retreats in NY (the nearest ones I knew of back then) and thinking they were too expensive. Then again, I'm kind of glad I didn't go to those anyhow in retrospect.

Brad, why are you "glad" in retrospect you didn't go to those anyhow.

And why are you always slamming Loori? He must really tickle your ass. From I've heard Loori wasn't good at giving fanjobs.

Brad Warner said...

Anonymous said:

Brad, you never wrote those words, no. But the section of your first book which Korey references did retell the account of your enlightenment. You have denied it since but it was clear what you were describing. So why be so disingenuous with Korey? You're the one that brought it up in the first place.

That's certainly one way of reading what I wrote.

But are you sure that what I was describing was what you think it was?

Brad Warner said...

Scarlette said:

And why are you always slamming Loori? He must really tickle your ass. From I've heard Loori wasn't good at giving fanjobs.

When have I slammed Loori? I know I said I disliked his intro to the book Dogen's Extensive Record. It contained a lot of misinformation. His translation of Dogen's Shinji Shobogenzo was also very misleading. He added commentaries of his own written in the style of Dogen. The effect was that people who skipped the introduction (and everyone skips the introduction!) are likely to believe Dogen wrote the whole thing.

I've never slammed Loori as a person. At least not that I can recall. But based on what he wrote I would imagine attending a retreat of his would have turned me against Zen forever.

Korey said...

Brad Warner said: "That's certainly one way of reading what I wrote.

But are you sure that what I was describing was what you think it was?"

I believe I know what you experienced Bradley. I know you feel how I feel. You had unravelled all the sacred riddles of the Dharma and transcended reality to a new spiritual plane. When you attained The Sacred Truth you felt incredibly relaxed, blissful and serene as hundreds of racing beautiful thoughts pierced through your mind. You had unlocked the hidden Zen key that can be found only through very very deep, contemplative thinking and crossed over to that of a Buddha Demigod. All the pieces of the puzzle were finally in place and an overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment swept over you when you finally reached The Divine Enlightenment.

I know exactly how you felt Bradley. Why do you deny it?

JSB said...

Korey Said:

"All the pieces of the puzzle were finally in place and an overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment swept over you when you finally reached The Divine Enlightenment . . . I know exactly how you felt Bradley. Why do you deny it?"

I turned on the kitchen light this morning to cook eggs.

Daigan Gaither said...

YAY! You mentioned me!

Anonymous said...

"I said that I wonder if the matter of who our teachers "really are" is actually very important. Who one "really is" is a kind of fiction we create about ourselves and about others."

I’m sure you don’t meant that it is okay for a teacher to lie about his or her credentials or lineage. Or students of a particular teacher to create fictitious accounts of their teacher.

Or do you? Have you taken the "it doesn’t matter" attitude to a new extreme?

Would it really not be important if someone, who has no connection to any existing zen lineage, started teaching zazen as long as what they are saying is sound enough?

Anonymous said...

who do I have to hate to be your friend?

JSB said...

"Would it really not be important if someone, who has no connection to any existing zen lineage, started teaching zazen as long as what they are saying is sound enough?"

What was Siddhārtha Gautama's lineage?

JimmyJoeDingle said...

Brad said:
I've never lived in a monastery except for a few short stints at Tassajara. I did a month last year, three weeks this year, plus a few other odd days and weeks over the previous years. Nishijima Roshi never kept a temple or monastery. Neither did my first teacher. So the monastic life is still somewhat mysterious to me. What does it mean? What value does it have to contemporary society?

This is confusing to me...
How old were you when Nishijima transmitted the dharma to you, making you a teacher...? And how much experience with zazen did you have at the time?
The way you describe yourself, it seems like you don't really have much experience... aside from whatever home practice you did in-between a regular job.

CharlesInCharge said...

Brad also said...
When have I slammed Loori? I know I said I disliked his intro to the book Dogen's Extensive Record. It contained a lot of misinformation.

Soooo really you are criticizing Dan Taigen Leighton for allowing Loori to write the intro to his work of scholarship...?
Let's see...

*Taigen is a PhD from Berkeley Graduate Theological Union.
*lived in Japan from 1990-1992, translating Dogen texts with Shohaku Okumura and training under various masters.

And you...
Blog for Suicide Girls...?
Played in some Punk Bands...?
Made monster movies...?

I know this sounds like a "dis" on you, but all I am suggesting is maybe... just maybe... you don't know as much as you think you do about all things Dogen.

CharlesInCharge said...

Brad also said:
It depends how you define "expensive." I recall being in college, looking at info from John Loori's retreats in NY (the nearest ones I knew of back then) and thinking they were too expensive. Then again, I'm kind of glad I didn't go to those anyhow in retrospect.

Woah woah woah... I just saw this!

I just check their website and a month long residency is 650-750 (depending on accommodations.) That is exactly the cost of one month in one room efficiency apartment - except at ZMM food/utilities are included, and you can participate in the weekend retreats and a week long sesshin is also included in the cost!

Tassajara however if you want to practice during one of their practice periods (3 months) it is a whopping $3430 US, which covers room, board, and tuition. HOWEVER the basic operating expenses for the practice period are in excess of $4500 per student, please feel free to donate more if you are able.

Uh... your perspective is CLEARLY uninformed.