Monday, January 09, 2012

"Moe and Curly" or "Get Started Today"


Here's a question someone sent twice. So he must really want to know.

If you have a moment can you please clarify something on your blog:

"I mean that when Moe hits Curly on the head with a sledgehammer, Moe is really only hitting Moe on the head with a sledgehammer. It only appears to be Curly getting hit."

What does this mean? Moe smashes Curly's head. Curly dies. Moe lives on.

Now I understand that nothing is truly autonomous; but... How is Moe killing Curly, actually Moe killing Moe?


For one thing, you must not be a Three Stooges fan. Curly doesn't die when he gets smashed on the head with a sledgehammer by Moe. The sledgehammer gets all bent up and Curly just says, "Ow!" Look what happened to the axe on the photo on top of this article. Curly was fine.

But I understand the question and I'll try my best to answer it.

The answer is that although it appears to us that Moe and Curly are eternally separate entities, that's not really how it is. Both Moe and Curly are manifestations of the same underlying reality. And not just in an abstract or metaphorical sense. That's really how it is.

The same something that looks out through Moe's eyes and perceives Curly, also looks out through Curly's eyes and perceives Moe. And it looks out through your eyes to perceive both Curly and Moe. If Moe were to kill Curly, that same something would outlive both of them and also be both of them. There isn't anyone else here at all.

I would expect the follow-up question to be, "How do you know this? It sure doesn't seem that way to me!"

This is a perfectly reasonable question. Because it doesn't seem that way to me either a lot of the time. But once you manage to catch on to the reality of this situation even for a moment, you can never let it go.

This understanding of things is radically different from the way most people look at stuff. It is so extraordinarily different that certain delusional folks, when they come across someone who has had a glimpse of this, get way too excited about that person and start calling her a sage or a saint. Those people will never give the folks they follow a moment's peace. Or, conversely, they get way over excited about that person and call him a heretic or a lunatic. They either venerate the person all out of proportion or they lock him up or even kill him.

More people are aware of this view than are willing to talk about it. These folks don't like either of those options. So they stay quiet or they just tell a few close friends and swear those friends to secrecy.

Then, of course, there are those who mimic people who've understood this stuff because they want the fame and money that sometimes accrues when people venerate those guys. Unfortunately you can also get yourself killed this way if you're not careful.

The reason I bring this up is that I'm always careful about announcing how I know this to be true. Much as I'd like to move out of this fleabag one-bedroom in Akron, I'm aware of the dangers involved as well. So every time I mention how I happen to know this, I always go out of my way to make it clear that I am as big of a dunce as anyone could possibly be.

The thing is, you yourself could see this too if you were willing to put in the work involved. Anyone -- absolutely anyone -- can see it if they want to. But most people are too lazy and they never will.

I have managed on a few occasions to get just clear enough in my mind and body to see that my mind is not my mind nor is my body my body. They are both manifestations of something that's way, way bigger than me. And yet this something is more me than I could ever be.

And still I have to pay my own insurance bills. What's up with that?

Anyway, this is pretty much the same explanation as you can find in any one of a dozen or more decent books on the subject. If you're really interested in understanding it clearly then you have to put in the work yourself.

Ten years of daily zazen practice usually suffices for most people to at least get an initial understanding of why Moe and Curly aren't really different from each other in the sense that we usually think.

You can get started today.


****

And if you want to get started with me, beginning Sunday January 15th 2012 I will be hosting Zazen every Sunday night at 7 pm at the Akron Shambhala Meditation Center. The address is:

133 Portage Trail Ste. 202
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
44221

119 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The thing is, you yourself could see this too if you were willing to put in the work involved."

I’m absolutely convinced that if you really want to believe something and put your mind to it you can see (or believe) six impossible things before breakfast. But how do you know any of them are true in the real world?

I would bet my money on that most of the folks of every other religion too claim that they know what the ultimate reality is like. And their explanations are way different from yours!

So why is your truth more true than theirs? 'cause you say so? You’ve seen/felt/know it? But so does the bhakti next door!

Also, how is this "manifestation of everything" thing different from those deistic religious views that everything is just a manifestation of Brahma/God/Gen Simmons?

Brad Warner said...

Sorry anonymous. I wish I had a comeback to that.

You have to sit down and shut up for about ten years and then you'll probably understand both why Moe is Curly and why there can be no good answer to your question.

The thing you're actually asking me to do is to try to sell you my answer or to try to convince you it's true.

But I'm not interested in trying to convince you that I'm right. It's a waste of my time. I'm not trying to be mean by saying that. I'm saying that it is literally a waste of my time. And I don't like wasting time. So I won't do it.

And just so we're clear here, I do want to sell my books because that's how I make a living. I have no qualms with that. Besides that is not a waste of time. I get paid that way.

But I'm not interested in convincing you my way of seeing things is true. Because you won't be convinced by anything I say. You'll only be convinced when you do the work for yourself.

Again, I'm not trying to be a big meanie. That's just the way things are.

Sherman Chin said...

Hey Brad,

Having experienced what you mentioned, I am still unable to bring that state of no-mind to the real world despite constant practice in the martial arts - a punch in the face is the result of not being able to do it. *LOL*

Also, I realized that the state of no-mind is harder to get back into after stopping meditation for awhile. My experience with no-mind is almost no fear of death and a neutral perspective of everything.

I do wonder though - how much of these effects are just physiological due to chemical changes in the brain? My question to you then is how is the change in worldview as a result of meditation any more true than that of a person who has not undergone meditation? Thanks! :)

Krusty said...

The Moe is Curly explanation probably helped me understand some things better then other explanations i have heard. I must admit that it gives one a kind of unsettling feeling when you think about it. After reading the blog i looked up from the computer to find my dog looking at me and it really freaked me out...

Mumon said...

...It is so extraordinarily different that certain delusional folks, when they come across someone who has had a glimpse of this, get way too excited about that person and start calling her a sage or a saint. Those people will never give the folks they follow a moment's peace. Or, conversely, they get way over excited about that person and call him a heretic or a lunatic. They either venerate the person all out of proportion or they lock him up or even kill him.

More people are aware of this view than are willing to talk about it. These folks don't like either of those options. So they stay quiet or they just tell a few close friends and swear those friends to secrecy.

Then, of course, there are those who mimic people who've understood this stuff...


There are also folks who don't talk about it because its kind of prideful (i.e., greedy) to do so, and because there's better ways to skin the proverbial cat than getting burnt at the stake.

Anonymous said...

Holy Shit Brad, I really don't know what the hell you are talking about, but it has the ring of truth. I appreciate your honesty. Having given the warnings of what happens to people that talk about this subject, are you not putting yourself at risk?

Mumon said...

I.e., it's often "unskillful" to talk about it. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm still puzzled.

So sometimes you see the world differently. How do you know it's more right than the usual way you experience the world?

A feeling?
A sacred text?
Gudo Nishijima said so?

None of thes things could verify it. The feeling could be part of the delusion. It could be a common delusion.

Did you find a rock with the words "You win" written on it?

Maybe you are getting all x-files and want to believe?

Is Zen just a cult in disguise?

sanchez said...

Brad said: "The reason I bring this up is that I'm always careful about announcing how I know this to be true. Much as I'd like to move out of this fleabag one-bedroom in Akron, I'm aware of the dangers involved as well. So every time I mention how I happen to know this, I always go out of my way to make it clear that I am as big of a dunce as anyone could possibly be."

Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist will be treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other. R. D. Laing considered that the loss of personal boundaries was an aspect of psychosis. 'The loss of the experience of an area of unqualified privacy, by its transformation into a quasi-public realm, is often one of the decisive changes associated with the process of going mad...the "loss of ego boundary" theory'. - Wiki

I quoted that because what you are saying sounds narcissistic on one hand and Zen-like on the other.

"I have managed on a few occasions to get just clear enough in my mind and body to see that my mind is not my mind nor is my body my body. They are both manifestations of something that's way, way bigger than me. And yet this something is more me than I could ever be."

This is just one of many times you have uttered that last sentence here. To be honest it sounds like something one of those guys with the "look" might go on about. I'm guessing you are talking about God again. But for the life of me I can't figure out why you keep beating around the bush*. People who say stuff like that often wish to seem like they have some special knowledge when in reality they do not and have to remain intentionally vague to pull it off. Not saying that's you but..

*to try to bring up a subject in a roundabout way. Often motivated from a desire not to speak frankly about the subject, either because the subject is taboo, it's impolite to bring it up directly, or the conversation is perceived likely to be painful.

Krusty's dog said...

Feed me.

anon #108 said...

Sounds a lot like kensho to me. And as we all know,

Kensho is bunk. Satori is bullshit.

Zippy Rinpoche said...

NO! We are all independent islands! I pull myself up by my own bootstraps EVERY MORNING!!!

Anyway, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Krusty's dog said...

Can you feed me mysterion?

Zippy Rinpoche said...

Well, OK, but I doubt he'd taste very good.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: But how do you know any of them are true in the real world?

And if the real world were just a projection of our mind? And if we were projecting on others what we (want to) do to ourself? We hate somebody and we hate ourself in that person, we love somebody and we love ourself in that person. "Love your brother as you love yourself"



None of these things could verify it. The feeling could be part of the delusion. It could be a common delusion.

You're in love.
How can you verify it?
Is it a delusion?
Can you prove it?

Is it a delusion that today you're happy and the world IS so right, while yesterday you were pissed off and everything WAS so wrong?

We live into a representation that we build each instant of our life, layers upon layers to cover ... we don't know what. Maybe we're trying to cover a void without beginning and without end.


Sherman Chin said: Also, I realized that the state of no-mind is harder to get back into after stopping meditation for awhile

Why? after 30 years, my mind (?) was eager to get it, and life (my choices of life) made me less idiot.


boubi

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

k so just as a rough outline it would take around 10 years of consistent Zen practice to have a shallow realization of this? And as I understand, you've been sitting for 28 or so years (I think) and have had small glimpes into this truth?

Would you guess that someone who's been practicing around twice as long as you, like say your teacher Nishijima would have longer and more frequent glimpses into this truth of reality? Do you find yourself, with each year of continued practice coming closer to understanding this truth more clearly?

Philip Kapleau claimed there are levels of enlightenment. Do you agree?

john e mumbles said...

It's also called an "Absolute" position as opposed to a "Relative" one, but more fundamentally, there is only YOUR (one) perspective, you can only see out of your eyes, and for all intent and purpose you are alone in this "universe."

The so called objective world is projected from YOUR light, and whatever appears there is only what you make of it.

Fred said...

And even if your ego believed it to
be true, that isn't it.

Fred said...

" How do you know it's more right than the usual way you experience the world?"

How do you know that there is such
a thing as the usual way you
experience the world. If you look
closely at the contents of your
brain, the usual way fluctuates
from minute to minute and hour to
hour.

Brad Warner said...

But for the life of me I can't figure out why you keep beating around the bush.

I'm really not. I swear to God. I'm being as clear as I possibly can. I don't know any way to be more direct and concrete about this stuff.

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

I think the way you expressed it is exactly the way it is, Brad.

And Fred, I am not talking about or from "ego."

Seagal Rinpoche said...

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Anonymous said...

Fred at al.

When in love I don't claim te world s in love, I don't claim that thisworld is more right than the other one. I might claim that this love is because of this wonderful person I've found. I don't claim to have found the right reality.

It all just looks like wishful thiking. So sometimes you see the world differently. So what? It's not like lizard peope have revealed themselves to you.

Whyis one view better or mire right than another if you cannot prove it is independent of you? How is this different from the tin-foil hat fans? They aslo make various claims, but we call them mad...

Catchpa: crove. It contains the truth in code I'm sure of it.

Zippy Rinpoche said...

And remember, if you try to escape, many apartment hopping alcoholics will Simonize your hallways!! This is your LAST WARNING!!!

Daniel Oates said...

I found that this perspective helped me to maintain balance as a medic in a war zone. The lack of sepperation between myself and my fellow soldiers, the people we believed we were helping, and individuals hostile to our "cause" allowed me to feel compassion amidst a sea of fear and anger. This form of warriorship leads one to naturally work for peace. Sit Down & Shut Up. It's not just a title. It's a simple practice that just works.

gniz said...

The Anon who keeps asking how the stuff Brad is saying differs from other religions--who said it does?

I think there are folks in every religion as well as people who don't know what a church, mosque or sangria is--who have all seen what Brad is describing.

Reality is not beholden to zen or judaism or any other creed. Reality is here, we have access to it each moment.

When you access the reality that you see in front of you, then you know it. That's my 2 cents.

gniz said...

sangria was supposed to be sangha fyi.
but sangria works too.

Fred said...

"When in love I don't claim te world s in love, I don't claim that thisworld is more right than the other one."

What other one? All there is is right here.

" I might claim that this love is because of this wonderful person I've found. I don't claim to have found the right reality."

Is there a right reality? I didn't
know that.

"It all just looks like wishful thiking."

What's wishful about accepting
death or what's here right now
like cancer.

"So sometimes you see the world differently. So what? It's not like lizard peope have revealed themselves to you."

Lets leave the Lizard People out of
this. They have enought to handle.

"Whyis one view better or mire right than another if you cannot prove it is independent of you?"

John just answered that

" How is this different from the tin-foil hat fans? They aslo make various claims, but we call them mad..."

Read Zen and the Brain

capcha: sheat

No sheat, mon.

ryanbaka said...

Brad: can you explain the difference between knowing this truth and just having a subjective experience?

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

I have had similar experiences of "oneness" during my practice, but I still am not certain whether it is truth or just neurons doing their thing in my brain. I know I am the only one that knows what truth is, but I am curious as to how you came to knowing what truth is for you? surely there was some moment in your life that you questioned whether or not your experience revealed the truth?

ryanbaka said...

oops, I didn't mean for "this truth" to sound like it was referring to the link. replace with "your experience as truth."

anon #108 said...

(From the subjective point of view there is delusion and realisation…) We're are stardust. Or perhaps (as Mysti mentions) one location-less electron. I understand. But as I read him, Brad is talking about experience of himself and others as universal consciousness, or God, or conscious stardust… This particular expression of/perspective on reality, insists Brad, is how it really is.

(From the objective point of view there is no delusion, no realisation…) The trouble with believing and valuing the insights provided by your experience (as john e says) is that such insights are only ever your insights and aren’t necessarily true or meaningful for others. How it really is cannot be known.

(The Buddha-way is beyond abundance and scarcity…) Some hunger for understandings but many hunger for experiences. The trouble with publicly naming and discussing cosmic experiences is that many people feel their lives are one big spiritual dissapointment if they haven’t had one and are just a little bit special if they have. Whatever’s happening here and now is how it really is.

(Whatever - flowers fall and weeds flourish…) Moe really shouldn’t be hitting Curly like that all the time. It hurts Curly.

ryanbaka said...

that clears up some of it anon... but if delusion and realization come from the subjective, then how does one decide what's what? when anything that pops up into the subjective could very well be both? I feel kind of like Neo from the first Matrix. I also can understand logically, that we are all made up of stardust, it just takes a little dabbling in astrophysics. I have had experiences of "oneness" which verify that. It doesn't REALLY matter from an objective view that I see or understand it. I guess it's just that my mind gets tossed around when contemplating the importance of subjective experience.

ryanbaka said...

please excuse the typos and brevity. I think that means it's time to take a walk.

Fred said...

Walk to a beat of your own.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQTVYFRj_UA

Anonymous said...

"I don't claim to have found the right reality.
It all just looks like wishful thinking. So sometimes you see the world differently. So what? It's not like lizard peope have revealed themselves to you. "

Consider this: As you are here, thinking about reality and how you relate to it you are thinking from a certain frame of mind which is influenced very much by your memories of reality and - because you carry your body and mind with you all the time - a certain memory of your self. This shapes the way you see everything. Because you are here all the time while the environment changes, this "you" is becoming a reality of it own and that reality is stored in you brain. However thinking about it like that just adds another layer of abstraction.

Now how is this different from the view that everything is just a manifestation of Brahma/God/etc. ? I would argue that the word "God" can never really be fully cleared of the meaning is always had. Namely that god is something external from you etc. Imagining "God" to be everything is just expanding God into reality. Which is different from realizing that there just is reality and you are a part of it that can only be "cut out" and made into a separate entity by thoughts. Furthermore people claiming god is everything will not leave it there but draw conclusions implicitly. For example, if I said instead that "amharb" or "odg" (no typo intended) this is just the same but doesn't feel as good - does it? - because now your mind hopefully won't project all of Gods attributes on everything.

Now I don't want to convince you to accept this view, but this is just to show that it is possible to formulate a rational response.

Anonymous said...

Well, Brad...here is where we part.

The so-called "you" had these experiences DESPITE zazen. Meditation is great for relaxation. Nothing else. You may delude yourself, but that's the way it really is.

There are umpteen stories throughout time of people whom have never even heard the phrase "full-lotus posture" dropping the "self" to experience reality as it is.

Telling folks that 10 years of zazen may result in these awakenings is dangling the proverbial carrot.

Apparently "you" have yet to drop the "you" once and for all...because once you do, you'll look at all the years meditating, studying with Nishijima, books you've written and laugh your ass off saying "what a waste of time".

Sorry

(Name withheld on purpose)

Nathan Dawson said...

Now I feel better about getting my 3-year-old daughter hooked on the Three Stooges. It's not just mindless entertainment; it communicates Buddhist ideas too. Plus they're pretty damn funny.

Anonymous said...

MOE = CURLY

like

BRAD = GENPO

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

do you like that one, me?

Korey said...

Mysterion, how many I contact you to correspond with you?

Anonymous said...

Easy. Go to Mysterion Postulates, leave a comment with your e-mail address and ask again. It might happen.





Of course, then you will likely disappear forever from the face of the earth.



Or a mysterious man in black will be caught window peeping your house.



Sorry, I'm working on sharpening my shallow wit by reading Allan Watts.

mark said...

The only thing that I feel anyone can really 'Honestly and Truthfully' say about the subject of life upon this earth and spirituality is "I don't KNOW, but I choose to believe..."

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

Thanks man...

Anonymous said...

GNITZ!

How the heck are ya chief?

Korey said...

Busy? With what? Spamming Brad's blog site? lol Forget it bro

anonymous anonymous said...

mysterion said, "Levity aside, I am a very busy person."

mysterion is a Busy Guy. He not only wastes his own time, he wastes everyone's time who bothers to read his prolific cut and pastes.

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

And that which is looking from genpos eyes or ken wilbers eyes is also just you. And yes anon 108 brad sounds like hes had kensho but keeps insisting upon his own stupid definition of kensho as some trippy altered state. Kkensho is really the beginning of zen and does not qualify you to teach. Others ask if its not just firing neurons and brain States...well duh...physical and mental....body and mind... are two sides of one coin.

Korey said...

Msyterion, are you autistic like that Andrew dude too? You can't seem to leave your ego at the door

Khru said...

What is the sound of one pick-axe striking the skull?

(You've just read everything you ever needed (or didn't need) to hear about Zen practice.)

Now this thread really stinks.

Mark Foote said...

"I have managed on a few occasions to get just clear enough in my mind and body to see that my mind is not my mind nor is my body my body. They are both manifestations of something that's way, way bigger than me. And yet this something is more me than I could ever be." (Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen blog entry Jan 7 2012)

"Therefore it is the most important matter for us actually to sit in the Actual Posture, not the mental consciousness or sense perception. Zazen is just Action, and so it is just the traditional posture."
(Gudo Nishijima, Dogen Sangha blog, May 5 2010- wishing good health to Gudo Nishijima!)

Regarding Zazen:
"...the ancestor [Nagarjuna] praises it, saying "Zazen itself is the dharma gate of ease and delight (nirvana)." (from Uchiyama's translation of Dogen's Bendowa, pg 29)

whoops, off-topic as usual!

"just clear enough in my mind and body"- reminds me of Cheng Man-Ch'ing, the Tai Ch'i master, writing in "Thirteen Chapters" about the nine stages in the development of ch'i. Stages 7, 8, and 9 I believe were "listening to energy", "interpreting energy", and "perfect clarity". This is one of my favorite descriptions, even though I can't say I really know what he meant by "listening to energy" and "interpreting energy".

Personally I go with Rev. Nishijima's forthright "zazen is action", though the expectation is that there is a continuity of action and the practice of it is one thing, then one thing.

capcha "vocksc", for the bassist.

Mark Foote said...

Khru, man, you've taken leave of your senses! how will you ever compose yourself and renew the joyful cycle of life with a true earthbound triumph on such a note! 'gads, man!

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

Oh, a wise guy, eh? nyuk, nyuk, nyuk

James A said...

http://youtu.be/grWzAwwZ0rc

James A said...

Wait for it ...

http://youtu.be/grWzAwwZ0rc

jasa pengujian said...

mantapss coy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, it has been very ispirational reading it.
I hope everyone can reach this awareness

Dario

Anonymous said...

if Larry kills Curly, then Curly appears to die. If Larry eats and Curly doesn't then Curly becomes hungry.

This all suggests that they are different things rather than part of some bigger thing. My foot never becomes hungry but if I don't eat my foot weakens alomg with the rest of me.

That is what we can all observe. This other stuff looks like belief or explanation or delusion. This other bigger thingas not been seen has it? Larry, Curly and Mo are not seen as mere tentacles of the Kensho Squid with the Squid's big eyes now being seen for the first time.

Could seeing Larry, Curly, Mo and me as all part of one bigger thing merely be projection arising from an internal feeling if disunity? It hasn't actually revealed anything new, just recognised this disunity?

I know young kids think something like this, but without the squid, the world is them, but they also fear it is not which is why maybe they test it by throwing things from a pram in the hope of seeing them reurned.

Dogen talks of dropping body and mind which might mean that this internal sense of dis-unity is lost but I don't know if he writes of a Kensho Squid tat reveals itself.

Maybe it's possible to experience the world in both these ways. Maybe it's just something the brain does. Why does one need explaining and another not? Why is one more right than another?

If I see Mo starving and say "It'll be ok, I'll eat later for both of us and the Kensho Squid will provide" then we might be wrong. If we see Mo as starving and say "Would you like a Sandwich" or "Poor Mo, looks hungry, dems da breaks" we might also be wrong. Which is less wrong! Is that a sensible question!

Pjotr said...

Hello Brad and the Blog gang,

There is a well known analogy about Moe and Curly.

Two waves on the sea, are both made from the same sea. But the waves still are different waves, different expressions of the same sea. Both waves are so ultimately different and unique, and that is a miracle, haha it sometimes makes me cry. But yet they are also the same at the exact moment as they are different.
Zazen teaches me to merge these two points of view in to one.

Fred said...

While the Buddha said something
about great doubt, all your why's
create duality. Responding to the
whys generate duality. And this
could go on forever, so responding
isn't opening to what is, sitting
in what is,

Pjotr said...

To be more accurate, zazen merges those two points
of view into one on it's own accord, I have nothing to do with it. Because these points of view were never separate in the first place. It even is not merging at all,
it simply is already, all the merging to it, is 'I' shutting up while sitting.
Hm I better shut up.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys. I'm pretty new and don't know much, and I know I don't, so please try not to rage at me if I miss something that should be obvious.
But I've thought about this before, and how it seems to me is that reality is "stuff that's real." So everything that actually exists for sure is reality, right?
So if everyone and everything real is reality, everyone is reality, so the two guys smacking each other are reality, so they're not separate, and it's reality looking at itself. I know some people believe in different "realities" sometimes, but I don't see how that would work. If something exists, it's real, so it's reality. And reality is BIG, kind of, but also "big" doesn't apply because to have something be "big" you have to compare it to something "small." And since anything that exists is realty, you can't step outside it and have something to compare it to in terms of size.
I'm not trying to argue with anyone and I know I must be missing something. Or a lot of things.

Shodo said...

A interesting discourse by Dosho Mike Port...

"What “What is it?” Isn’t and Who Gets to Say Anyway?"

http://sweepingzen.com/2012/01/08/what-what-is-it-isnt-and-who-gets-to-say-anyway/

"Who gets to say? is a tough issue. Soto priests without koan training comment on koans regularly (including myself in my nefarious past). Koan Zen teachers without direct training in Dogen’s teachings speak definitively about Dogen. I’ve heard a well-known Vipassana teacher go on and on (and way off) about Mu.

And this isn’t limited to the dharma whirl. Nobel laureates famously develop a halo effect and have been known to talk about areas (like racial genetics) that are far from their specialty. And we are suspicious for good reason.

I’m of the school of thought that thinks that it’s best to be really careful when importing something from another tradition and imputing meaning based on our training and background to it – because we might well miss the point. Rumi, for example, coming from his Islamic/Sufi background, may well have had a depth of meaning, an angle on truth, that we modern Zennies cannot fathom.

So at least qualifying our comments are in order, “From my shikantaza training, here’s what I think this koan is about,” for example. For listeners, it’s best to assume that such qualification is always implicit.

Now that I’ve done some koan training, I confess to this hubris in my own past and from my current perspective would like to encourage my Soto non-koan trained friends to consider the possibility that there might well be something in a koan that they have not seen from their shikantaza perspective.

I suppose that goes for all of us all the time."

Anonymous said...

What Brad says make perfect sense to me. At least on an intellectual level, if not on an experiential level. It's just a matter of perspective.

Think of Moe and Curly as cells in your body. Some cells attack other cells. From the perspective of the cells themselves, they are 'individuals'. However, they are also part of a greater whole ... our body.

If I understand Brad correctly, Zen helps us to appreciate that as people we are just the cells within a body ... but the 'body' for us is the universe itself.

The logic is sound, but I can see that it would take years of practice to perspective to become second nature.

Anonymous said...

Just to elaborate on my point above ... and although we are 'cells' within the 'body' of the universe, that makes each of us part OF the universe as well. I think that's the key point.

So, when a Curly is attacked he perceives it as an attack on himself. But from a wider perspective, with both Curly and Moe each being part of the same universe, Curly can interpret the action as an aspect of himself (i.e. his part the universe) being attacked by another aspect of himself (i.e. Moe's part of the universe).

However, both Curly and Moe as part of the same whole (the universe). So if Curly see himself as 'the universe' then he is both Moe and Curly. He is one.

Similarly, Moe is also Curly.

Brad, please jump in if I'm getting this wrong.

Anonymous said...

LoL - Talk about strangling a metaphor to death Anon.:)

http://images.4chan.org/gif/src/1326201760444.gif

Anonymous said...

Is it the same if Moe hits Larry?

Anonymous said...

@everyone:
blah blah blah.
shut up for ten years is right.

Everybody said...

Assuming "everyone" includes yourself, take your own advice.

boubi said...

(Name withheld on purpose) said: There are umpteen stories throughout time of people whom have never even heard the phrase "full-lotus posture" dropping the "self" to experience reality as it is.

Telling folks that 10 years of zazen may result in these awakenings is dangling the proverbial carrot.

Apparently "you" have yet to drop the "you" once and for all...because once you do, you'll look at all the years meditating, studying with Nishijima, books you've written and laugh your ass off saying "what a waste of time".

Sorry

(Name withheld on purpose)


Sorry but you agree mainly with Brad and with Linchi too, "reality" is in front of us, the famous gate is gateless.

Sitting, and just relaxing, is just one of the many ways to "get here" (there's no getting anywhere else).

Sitting is the way mister Wiener practiced, and he's talking about his own experience.

Off course there are many ways, i think there is even the knitting samadhi to illumination.

Maybe he laughed his brain off a few times realizing that everything was in front of his eyes since the beginning.

So what?

boubi

Sherman Chin said...

I love anon's body and cell analogy. This brings me back to my unanswered question above though - what difference does it make whether we know we are a cell in a body or not? A cell will go on functioning as a cell whether it knows it is a cell or not simply because it does not have the capability to act differently from a cell.

In other words, even if all our discussion here is creating duality, or at least, perceived duality, what difference does it make? What difference does it make whether we do zazen or whether we attain kensho? In the end, there is no duality to create. There was never duality in the first place simply because we as humans can only do what humans can do - even arguing here is exactly what humans do.

My answer to my own question is that we need to do meditation to figure out this concept/philosophy and accept it. However, it does not mean that our perspective of life is more true than another person's even someone who believes in something completely opposite of what we believe in. So whether we sit down and shut up or stand up and talk, we are all still being human and that's all we can do because we all die in the end anyway. I wonder if Brad agrees with me (just out of curiosity). :)

Josh said...

“Sounds a lot like kensho to me. And as we all know,

Kensho is bunk. Satori is bullshit.”

Gudo Nishijima wrote:

'Q: Are we to understand, then, that enlightenment as taught by the Rinzai Sect is a kind of myth or illusion?

A: No, not necessarily. You see, we might say that there are two kinds of enlightenment. One is a momentary state of body and mind. When we take our seats on zazen cushions, fold our legs, straighten our backs and devote ourselves whole-heartedly to sitting in quietness, we are, at that moment, in the state of enlightenment itself. Enlightenment is thus a state of body and mind. It is a thoroughly normal state, a state to be realized in the here and now. It is not a peculiar sensation. It is not the experience of some great intellectual breakthrough. It is just the natural state of balanced body and mind, the state of natural balance. Because it is our natural state of existence, it is not particularly dramatic or subjectively observable. We cannot recognize the state of natural balance. We cannot be conscious of enlightenment. To be conscious of enlightenment is, in fact, to be far removed from the state of enlightenment itself. It is the essence of delusion.

So, generally speaking, we cannot “experience” enlightenment. We can only be in the state of enlightenment itself. There is another kind of realization, however, which we can think of as a second kind of enlightenment. To illustrate this second kind of enlightenment, perhaps I should tell you about my own experience. I started practising zazen when I was still in my teens. At first I practised sporadically, sometimes intensely, sometimes not at all. As a result, my life was rather unsettled, and I could not find harmony or balance from one day to the next. Then, at the urging of Master Kodo Sawaki, I began to practice zazen every day. Gradually, zazen became a very natural part of my life, like eating, sleeping or going to the office. Then one day – I can't recall what I was doing at the time – I thought to myself, “Why, this is enlightenment, isn't it?”

That was my experience or realization of enlightenment. It was not dramatic or exciting. It was just a simple recognition or acknowledgement of the perfection of things as they are. Life is good. The universe in its simplicity and complexity alike is marvellous and beautiful. We are all living in the state of enlightenment. We have been in the state for a long time – from our births … from the eternal past.'

To Meet the Real Dragon, pp.177-178

Zippy Rinpoche said...

Deep in my underground facility, I've stockpiled all th' essentials! Paranoia, knee-jerk patriotism, televangelism, selfishness, & canned garbanzos! All I need now are 12 wives and a full set of the "Left Behind" books

Lou Costello said...

What I want to know is, who's on first?

anon #108 said...

Hi Josh,

Thanks for the quote from To Meet the Real Dragon. Perhaps you know, but for those that don't or have forgotten, "Kensho is bunk. Satori is bullshit” is the penultimate line of this blog post by Brad Warner:

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

+ 831 comments. (Brad was away at Tasajara for a while, I believe.)

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

Blatant self-serving plug #16 (at least):

CADUCEUS journal, one of the best offbeat esoteric journals I contributed to in the 1990's is uploading its archives online. Here is a link to the issue with my first article, THE ARABIC PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL ROSICRUCIAN DOCUMENTS for them... I wrote more through 1997, those issues are still forthcoming.

http://hermetic.com/caduceus/articles/2/2/

Brad Warner said...

It all depends what you mean by "kensho" or "enlightenment."

Anonymous said...

Brad said:
"It all depends what you mean by "kensho" or "enlightenment."

Actually, I was wondering what you mean by it.

Anonymous said...

"The same something that looks out through Moe's eyes and perceives Curly, also looks out through Curly's eyes and perceives Moe. And it looks out through your eyes to perceive both Curly and Moe."

Sounds like some interestingly weird
drug. Anyhow, only eight more years
to go before I know what the fuck
Brad is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, sounds like a very good reason
to be a vegan. Plants don't have eyes,
--or feel pain, as far as know.

Mr. Potato Head said...

Potatoes have eyes.

Anonymous said...

Did you see mumble's article mysterion? That was no cut and paste wiki job.

Brad Warner said...

Actually, I was wondering what you mean by it (kensho or enlightenment).

The kind of "satori" and "kensho" experiences I often read about here and there sound like nonsense to me. So much so that I think it's time we put the words out to pasture.

These words have been co-opted by folks who would have us believe they mean a kind of explosive, exciting experience after which a person becomes some kind of perfected being. That never happens.

This is not to say that nothing changes after a person does zazen for a few years.

I've been trying out the word "enlightenment" here and there. But it's a crappy word as well.

Handsome "Dick" Shariputra said...

lots of folks want to "know', and many more claim to "know" as if "Knowing" would change anything.

You cant have ever have a definitive answer to anything. No one can ever ever 'prove" something to you that you are not experiencing already. asking Brad "how do you know" is really just saying "please make me believe!" No matter how smug and witty the riposte, all i hear is a the same tiny scared little person we all are saying "Im lonely, im scared, I need you to say the one thing that will make me feel safe again" and it just isnt out there Anons, Im sorry.

Arguing this stuff is just talking in circles around the fact that we suffer and are afraid that there really isnt anything "real" out "there".

Zazen wont ever get you back to that comfortable fetal world where everything is safe and warm and your food and shelter are just a built in part of the package, but it can help you to see that where you are is ok too.

and "reality" is something that you wont ever see as long as you think you can argue it into existence on the comment section of a blog.

gniz said...

"Zazen wont ever get you back to that comfortable fetal world where everything is safe and warm and your food and shelter are just a built in part of the package, but it can help you to see that where you are is ok too."

Here, here.

Most of my efforts have been to get back to the safe, warm place (that as Brad has stated never really existed in the first place). It doesn't happen. Life can be scary and difficult, if also amazing and wonderful and beautiful. But it's never the kind of place I seem to want it to be. it's just what it is.

Accepting myself and the world around me, while continuing to work through my own "blind spots" has been my life's work. Seems to me that many folks use zen as a way to put the blinders on permanently.

gniz said...

I guess that should have been "hear, hear", but "here, here" works even better.

King Corn said...

"Mr. Potato Head said...
Potatoes have eyes."

And corn has ears.

Baby Ram Das Boot said...

Hear here now.

anon #108 said...

The kind of "satori" and "kensho" experiences I often read about here and there sound like nonsense to me.

Brad, I think your reading is out of date. What I read and hear on the Zen interweb these days - most of it American, BTW - makes a point of insisting that kensho is not at all an "explosive, exciting experience after which a person becomes some kind of perfected being" - not since D T Suzuki, then Philip Kapleau has such a notion been popular among folks who do zazen, even the evil Rinzai crew.

The descriptions of kensho that I come across these days (any mention of satori is rare) sound just like what you're talking about: an experience or profound understanding of/insight into one's 'true nature' - that we are not separate beings, that nothing of this universe is 'separate'; that our sense of 'self' is an illusion. And they say, these contemporary Zen Buddhists, that such an experience/understanding has to be integrated into our everyday lives to have any real value. That's why what you're talking about sounds a lot like kensho.


And yet you write:

"But once you manage to catch on to the reality of this situation even for a moment, you can never let it go. This understanding of things is radically different from the way most people look at stuff. It is so extraordinarily different..."

No one could be blamed for hearing that as the testimony of an old skool kensho/satori-ist. Such talk, and talk like 'Get started today and in 10 years you could see this too' is likely to make some folks want their piece of kensho/satori real bad.

Makes me wonder just what you're up to...

Soft Troll said...

A few thoughts:

There appears to be a lot of "Universal consciousness" and other similar terms floating about.

It seems to me that 'consciousness' in particular might be a bit of a knot here. And I think how we understand this term determines much of what we mean when talking about 'states', 'experience', subjectivity and objectivity, and so on.

For me there is a problem with using 'consciousness' attached to 'universal'.

As I understand it, roughly, consciousness is dependent on things. One can only be conscious of something, without which there is no 'consciousness.' Both subject and object are a necessary requirement for it.

My 'subjective' experiences therefore, are founded on a divisive function we call consciousness. Not a unified, background awareness on which the things of the world (including my mental objects) leave their impression, and without which I would experience pure consciousness - as in being purely self-aware/conscious. How could I be purely self-aware without the mental construction (or object) of a self?

Thus, from this perspective 'Universal consciousness' would describe a very familiar state of affairs, given the assumption that every aspect of the universe is part of the whole universe:

I'm a part of the universe, made up of universe stuff and also in the universe. My bit (subject/object) of the universe reflects a bit of itself (object/subject) - hence consciousness.

In other words 'universal consciousness' better describes the very ordinary states and experiences it is easy to reify into language (language being bits of stuff too).

Importantly (for me anyway), this suggests that if I were to enter a state which 'harmonised' (for want of a better word) at the level of 'universal', where all separate things were of a piece, then this state would not be one I could consciously experience.

Indeed, the level or state of ordinary 'conscious' experience, in this line of reasoning, could be seen as the opposite pole to the 'universal' state; or rather, the very difference of consciousness as it comes and goes from (and toward) that 'universal' state. (A state which nevertheless underpins this ordinary consciousness level and is 'seen' as separate manifestations of ordinary conscious awareness).

This would not preclude me from being conscious of entering and exiting that state - in a similar way, perhaps, that I can be aware, or experience falling asleep and waking up.

I would call deep sleep a state of being, not a state of experience or consciousness.

So, rather than 'universal consciousness', perhaps it would be better to say 'universal being'.

Ordinary consciousness, therefore, can be viewed as 'universal being' in terms of experience - the differences of things - on one side, of our experiences.

On the other, ordinary consciousness is dependent on the sameness or oneness of 'universal being' for that difference - for the things that constitute experience - to constitute our conscious awareness.

'Universal being' then, could only be conscious when someone is. That someone is universal being's activity, but hasn't necessarily recognised their activities as such.

Consciousness, or experience, of 'universal being' could be then boiled down to one of two things: either our experience of right here, right now, or my adjusted experience of right here, right now.

The latter thus by means of some effort, (or maybe a less stable crisis or profound event) whereby my conscious awareness has experienced its own exits and entrances to such an extent that the 'echoes' of the state of 'universal being' have not only transformed how I view and engage with the world, but also continue to deepen my recognition of it as I interact with the world, and as I continue my efforts.

...

Soft Troll said...

...

This might also explain why terms like kensho are very tricky: they can't describe an experience of a state, but rather the profound effects of being aware of having entered and exited that state.

I can only experience the entering and exiting through my unique conscious configuration at that time. How I explain to others and myself could therefore set up expectations that not even I could meet again.

The state itself can't be meaningfully reified without an understanding that that reification points to a state from which meaning issues (and returns) yet doesn't mean anything in particular in itself.

Perhaps that sense of myself that doesn't seem to go away is really my conscious awareness of 'being' which, unlike my conscious awareness, doesn't change, is therefore timeless, can be thought to exist, not exist, both and neither, and doesn't have any particular conscious intention.

Mark Foote said...

John, I am overwhelmed at how wonderful your article is for me, on so many levels! Thanks!

There is a thriving Sufi community, here in sunny Sebastopol, and my sweetheart is a part of that. But I don't know much about the tradition, and I have heard the word "Rosicrucian" without knowing what it was about for all my life, it seems. Anyway, there a lot of academic articles out there that don't move me, but I couldn't stop reading yours.

On the subject of kensho and the life-transforming instant of enlightenment, described in so many of the cases in the Chinese Zen collections, we have the accounts in "Three Pillars of Zen", but much more fascinating we have the accounts of Philip Kapleau's disciples of how that played out in America in "Zen Teaching, Zen Practice". Mostly a let-down, I think it would be fair to say, although they are all grateful for what they received from Kapleau. I think. It's been awhile.

Even if a person has such an instantly life-altering experience, according to Yuanwu the 12th century teacher it's 20 or 30 years after that before a person is of any use behind it. How does that reconcile with Americans, 20 to 30 years of zazen? Harsh, for just trading a cow for beans, isn't it?

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

Gniz said: "Seems to me that many folks use zen as a way to put the blinders on permanently."

People will say that about any practice they don't agree with or understand including yours. But IMO it is a rather lazy conclusion to draw.

I'd venture that Putting blinders on permanently is not what interests most folks who stay involved in Zen practice, at least among the ones who sit regularly. You might know that and just be trolling for fun or you might be sincere. My guess is you already know it.

Anonymous said...

100

Josh said...

There is another section from To Meet the Real Dragon that I think is relevant to this discussion, and I think there is a lot of depth in this book that is less apparent in his blog. Apologies for filling up the comments section and trampling on copyright.

Gudo Nishijima (and of course Jeffrey Bailey) wrote:

'Q: [Following on from a discussion of Master Dogen's life] And so, as the story goes, Master Dogen was very inspired, and he studied Buddhism for many years in Japan and China until he finally attained enlightenment, or realized the Truth – or something – I’m not sure what. I have read many other stories about great Buddhist masters who practised very hard, or lived alone in caves, or sat facing a wall for nine years. It is all very interesting. They are beautiful stories and I enjoy reading them, but, unfortunately, I can't relate their experiences to my own life. I can't imagine doing the same thing. I'm too weak.

I think there are two problems here. The first is the nature of the stories themselves. The fact is that such stories are just stories – not real life. Stories always tend to become more interesting and attractive when they are told again and again. So we read such stories and feel very inspired – uplifted. We want to believe in something fantastic or extraordinary, so we tend to be too gullible. We should be more critical, I think. We should remember that stories are stories.

When we look at the stories more objectively, we begin to see that the stories are about real people after all – ordinary people like ourselves. But even from this standpoint, we must admit that people have made very strenuous efforts and endured extreme hardships in their practice. This brings us to the second problem. Why have people made such extreme efforts? I think the reason is that they were looking for something which is not in this world. They wanted something which is not in this universe. They searched and practiced ever more diligently until, at last, they realized that they need not look for anything. This was, for them, the experience of so-called satori: the experience of life as it is.

The sudden awakening to the fact that we need not search for anything is a very profound experience for many people. They have made fantastic efforts, and at last they have seen something of the Truth. Unfortunately, such people are likely to see the strenuous quality of their efforts as the cause of their awakening. They may then become even more zealous. They want to tell the world of their experience. Quite naturally, they urge us to follow the same path. They tell us that we must be willing to break our bones and crush the marrow if we are finally to reach the great enlightenment. They encourage us to seek the very dream that obscured their vision for so long.

It is ironic. And it is an irony with a tragic consequence. For the majority of people do not have the single-minded will to follow such a path. They are at first attracted by fantastic stories. Then they try to emulate their heroes, but they are soon confronted by their own weakness: “My master sat facing the wall for nine years, but I can't sit for nine minutes. There must be something wrong with me. I must be a hopeless case.” Thus they become discouraged as quickly as they were inspired. They are defeated before they begin, and they lose the will to attain the Truth. It is a tragedy.

So when we read stories of priests and masters of ancient times, we need not be awed, nor need we hesitate to begin our own practice. They had their lives and we have ours. They were not so strong and we are not so weak. The point is that we must work with our own situation.'

To Meet the Real Dragon, pp.30-31

anon #108 said...

Thanks, Josh. Great book. Excellent writer, Jeffrey Bailey.

Although I didn't start sitting until six (and a half!) years ago, I had nurtured a pretty sophisticated notion of satori - more sophisticated than any notions I can muster up these days - since my mid-teens, when, via John Cage's book of lectures, "Silence", I started reading D T Suzuki and Alan Watts.

I think that if it wasn't for that cherished idea, that dream, re-kindled by re-reading "The Three Pillars of Zen" aged 52, I wouldn't have started sitting and my own subsequent "sudden awakening to the fact that we need not search for anything" would not have happened in the way it did, and would most likely have felt more like a great disappointment than an awakening.


(Perhaps that's what Brad is up to...? Nah.)

john e mumbles said...

Mark, and Mysterion see my comment on your comments concerning Rosy + and Sufism, et al, in reference to the old article of mine (plugged above) in the new Brad blog entry on Genjo Koan...that way I can drop the link again!


I'm shameless, sorry.

Many thanks for reading it, Mark, glad you enjoyed it!

Former Kapleau Student said...

Roshi Kapleau himself never taught that kensho was an instant ticket to perfect buddhahood. He said that kensho was like lighting one small candle in a dark cave. There's much more to be seen.

Some people find their first sexual encounter explosive and overwhelming, others do not. Some people find kensho explosive and overwhelming, most do not.

Though I do think the 3 pillars and the skz sect itself tended to overemphasize the 'wonderful feeling' of kensho. Reading the 3 pillars has caused many people to begin zen practice. Unlike some of the sectarian views expressed in some parts today, it was the old San Franscisco Zen center staff (from the mid 70's) that recommended I begin sitting with a group affiliated with the Rochester Zen Center (Kapleau's center).

I probably disagree more these days with Roshi Kapleau's views on zen than I do even with Brad's, but the man was a good, compassionate person who practiced what he preached. Please stop the misinformation that he viewed kensho as an end in itself or that it transformed one into a permanently enlightened buddha.

anon #108 said...

I think I remember reading that PK regretted the romantic picture of satori given in The Three Pillars of Zen - but that is the picture the book paints. I also got the impression that PK, the man, was a fine chap.

Your point's taken. My apologies for my part in any misrepresentations. I'll be more careful in future.

john e mumbles said...

Malc, It cracks me up that you give props to Jeff Bailey up there regarding the Real Dragon yarn, but not Gudo. You've really got a burr in your saddle about that old Zen cowboy and his "translations" etc., eh?

anon #108 said...

I gather Gudo is a highly articulate writer in Japanese, John - written very many volumes of commentaries on the Shobogenzo, but can't write in English for toffee-nuts.

I'm a big believer in giving credit where due. I got lots of respect for Gudo's ideas and work and often bang on about him here, but from what I hear from them that was there, JB wrote The Real Dragon entirely hisself, based on conversations with Gudo and talks that Gudo had given to the first group of Western students that studied with him, of which JB was part. It's not a translation, and Gudo acknowledges this in his preface to the book. (JB left Gudo in '89 - found the old man 'too cold' I've heard.)

So the book is as much JB's book as Gudo's an he deserves big props for it; the Windbell Shobogenzo is as much Mike Cross's as Gudo's; the Shinji Shobogenzo commentaries are mainly written by Mike Luetchford...all inspired by and closely following Gudos's teaching of course.

I wasn't there, but what I and others have been told rings true to me.

anon #108 said...

...So yes, you're right: I have got a burr in my saddle.

Perhaps I feel hard-done-by, un-appreciated, neglected by a cruel world - and I'm projecting ;)

john e mumbles said...

Did you notice you got the 108th comment here? That counts for sumpthin'!

Yeah, I know, believe.

Hey btw, I very much enjoyed the flick from last wkend I linked ya to, ATTACK THE BLOCK. Inner city London kids battle aliens!! V. cool.

cheap moncler jackets said...

Good article, thanks for sharing, cheap moncler is highly recommended.

anon #108 said...

Yeah...I been watchin, blud. File sharin, innit...ya get me? ;) Dat one bare sick film, boy! But I fell asleep innit...catch up laters :)

Anonymous said...

I just read - or rather skimmed - a book by Bernard Glassman - Tetsugen Bernard Glassman to us! - called Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters. It was so much bullsh*t that I was tempted to send him an email suggesting he read some of your work. Your latest posting imparts so much more information about what Zen "is" - and isn't - than anything he says in his very self serving book. He makes Zen meditation something I would choose to avoid. You make it seem very accessible AND worth the effort. Keep up the good work. And thanks.

Bernie said...

http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/instructions_to_the_cook_a_zen_masters_recipe_for_living_a_life_that_matter/

Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Poep Sa Frank Jude said...

Brad, before anything else, I want to be clear that I find much of your work quite good and even refreshingly excellent. AND, there are things I find confused, inaccurate and sometimes just wrong. The following is offered in the spirit of dialogue and not some kind of aggressive criticism....

Perhaps someday, it would be my pleasure and honor to practice with you. Maybe we can get you here to Tucson for some teaching someday....

You say: "although it appears to us that Moe and Curly are eternally separate entities, that's not really how it is. Both Moe and Curly are manifestations of the same underlying reality. And not just in an abstract or metaphorical sense. That's really how it is."

Though many zen teachers have said this and repeated it time and time again, it's not the realization of the buddha. While Taoism has some good influences on the Indian import into China, here's one influence that I think misleads and botches it up.

What you've written above is a great Vedantic example, but the buddha rejected all such essentialist views. You're basically re-importing brahman/atman into buddhism. I find many Zen and Tibetan teachers tend to do this: they posit some "Original Mind," "Pure Consciousness," "Clear Light" etc. and then often quickly add, "But it's not a thing" or "But it's not Self." But if it smells like it, looks like it, and acts like it, that's just what it is!

There is not a 'thing' that looks out through Moe's eyes nor through Curly's eyes. That whole passage of yours could just as well have come from the Bhagavad Gita. And, for all I know you may accept and believe in the teachings of the Gita. Fine, but it's not buddhism. (As a side note, I wonder why so many contemporary teachers -- from zen, vipassana, and Tibetan Buddhism are so drawn to Vedanta?)

Now, I am NOT arguing that you haven't had this 'insight' or experience through your practice of zazen. I've had it before I ever heard the word zazen, and often enough since.

But, you say:

"But once you manage to catch on to the reality of this situation even for a moment, you can never let it go."

And perhaps that's the problem. You must let it go. "Oneness," "Unitary Consciousness," "Original Mind," "Atman" or whatever you want to call that experience is simply a byway. Don't stop there! "If all things return to the One, what does the One return to?"

Again, what you say here: "I have managed on a few occasions to get just clear enough in my mind and body to see that my mind is not my mind nor is my body my body" is accurate, but when you continue to then add onto this that "They are both manifestations of something that's way, way bigger than me. And yet this something is more me than I could ever be" you fall back into atman/essentialism.

So, Moe and Curly are not "Moe" and "Curly" as separate entities, and they are not "the same thing." Not one; not two. Moe is Moe and Curly is Curly but they are not separate. There is no "Moe Essence" nor "Curly Essence" and there is no substratum they arise from. It's all causes and conditions "all the way down." Being empty of any essence, they are identically empty and thus not separate. So, Moe cannot hit Curly without hitting himself, but it's not because they are the same 'thing.'

I don't market or promote myself much, but if you are interested in where I base my comments from, I invite you to check out:
http://zennaturalism.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-i-hate-about-zen.html
and maybe even this 'review' of your latest book:
http://zennaturalism.blogspot.com/2011_08_14_archive.html

Thanks,
frank jude

Stinks of Zen said...

TLDR

But seriously, we should be content to Discover our Duty, with a nod to Kant and not leave it up to the 3 year old child or the 80 year old man, with a nod to Dogen.

The point, I think, is to be good.How much less is it about anything superhuman...?

Stinks of Zen said...

The more I think about it, the scarier the thought that these things have on people...Their wanting to deify or conversely harm someone.. .Fucking scary..

Anonymous said...

Frank jude, I agree with most of your points. Many zen teachers seem stuck on ONE. One is good teaching when you are caught in the Many. But One is also just another concept and can only be grasped as opposed to the idea of Many. Where does the One return to? Those are great teaching words for someone stuck on the One. Thankyou.

Julie said...

"Because it doesn't seem that way to me either a lot of the time. But once you manage to catch on to the reality of this situation even for a moment, you can never let it go."

I've wondered about that. And I've wondered about trying to let it go (or if it, like some kind of zombie, still manages to crawl back).

And I've wondered about teachers who project an image of themselves that is very... teacherly. I suppose it helps with getting people to accept your authority... at least for the people who only recognize authority on those terms.