Friday, February 17, 2012

What I Really Do


You must have seen a dozen of these "What I Really Do" things by now. Some of them are kind of funny. Most are kind of dull. I thought I'd do one for myself before somebody else did. Click on it and you should get the full sized version. If you've never seen one of these & want to know what they are, just enter "What I Really Do Meme" into your favorite search engine.

So I just found out this blog gets over 10,000 views a week and over 7,000 visits. I'm not sure what differentiates a visit from a view. But that's a lot of people. Where are my Gempo Roshi-like piles of cash?

Eh. Whatever.

I'm kind of all Zenned out at the moment. I've been answering loads of questions as Tricycle magazine's Meditation Doctor. If you want to read some of that stuff go to this link. It's interesting that it all kind of boils down to just one question and just one answer. Some ancient Zen teachers noticed this and responded the same way to everyone who asked. Like Gutei, who would just raise one finger whenever someone asked him anything. I get that. But somehow I don't think Tricycle's readers would be satisfied if I just kept flipping them the bird.

Uh oh! The latest question is from someone who says they've been "experiencing deep, absorptive states." Not sure what I'm gonna do about that. I guess we'll see once I start writing my answer. I think Bounty is the quicker-picker-upper for deep absorptive states!

I kid! I kid! Hey! Don't forget to tip your bar tenders. I'll be here all week. Be sure to try the vegetarian imitation veal.

182 comments:

Harry said...

!

Moni said...

I got stuck at the "What I wish I did part" for a second :)

Harry said...

Brad, in his previous blog item: "This is why I get so annoyed when some people try to turn Zen into what most religions these days have become, a way to placate people so they're numb enough to function as cogs in the social machine. It's not about that."

This is a pretty good war cry for what might be seen as the downside of Brad's Zen enterprise, that is a type of "Fuck You Zen" based on a sort of arrogant individualism.

The imbalanced, extreme view contained in the above statement doesn't accomodate the fact that, whether we like it or not, most or all of us are social animals: we rely on networks of interdependance in order to survive and be who we are (networks such as family, friends, sangha, community, voting or non voting public, government even...) Although we might like to see ourselves (and be seen) as railing against it, we actually are very much 'cogs in the soical machine'.

Don't get me wrong, I like Brad's books (the one's I've read, the first two), but the tendency to resort to shallow, individualistic sloganism (as above), or just a straight up 'Fuck You, I'm getting enlightened here' seems ever present. And that is just another sort of religion after all... a very small, narrow one based on a particularly insubstantial function of the self.

"Fuck you Zen" is a pretty shitty religion.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

4

:(

mark said...

Hey Harry,

I think your taking this attitude thing a little too far. It even seems strange to me, your downing this attitude for being so op positional, yet your stating at the same time it's not right? Read it for what it is, another one of Brads passing thoughts he was able to share with us, hoping for a smile on back.

Korey said...

lol Brad funny you should post this, cause I made my own funny meme pic of you yesterday while creating a whole bunch for various spiritual/ supernatural/ paranormal celebrities. I did such guys as Aleister Crowley, Sylvia browne, Deepak, Alex Jones, Dalai Lhama, etc.

Tell me what you think of yours:
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/418882_10150540230497245_548702244_9449510_9596085_n.jpg

Korey said...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd. net/hphotos-ak-ash4/418882_10150540230497245_548702244_9449510_9596085_n.jpg

Sorry here it is, just take away the space

Korey said...

Shit, I guess links won't work here. Oh well.

Harry said...

Hi Mark,

Not sure it's that simple; and it's more about how people interpret the 'attitude' than what Brad does/thinks himself (I happen to think Brad is a nice guy). Just sayin', because I've seen a lot of 'Fuck You Zen (or insert preferred brand)' on this blog; hence the inclination to point it out.

Just like punk rock/ hardcore (and this from an old punker); when the non-conformity becomes a uniform, and when the voice of protest becomes an unreasoned mantra, then its just not the same thing.

Think Brad deals with this aspect of the whole punk/hardcore adventure quite well in one of his books actually.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Your Mom gets over 10,000 views a week and over 7,000 visits.

Anonymous said...

Someone probably pointed this out already (unless the comments are unmoderated again?), but the difference between visits and views is likely that views is the time the blog page has been loaded in someone’s favourite internet ogling device and visitors is an attempt to track individuals who read the blog.

Ie. you’ve got 7.000 people checking out the blog 10.000 times.

A-Bob said...

Harry, There are plenty of saccharin sweet clones around Buddhism as it is. You might need to find your inner Fuck-you Harry again. You know, the charming, less serious guy. Take what Brad said in context and resist the urge to try and fix him. He probably gets enough of that.

CAPTCHA : and arnslob : I kid you not

Harry said...

Hi A-Bob,

Well, that's sort of my point: Any number of sour agressive clones is no real response to the number of saccharin sweet, passive-aggressive clones, or whatever: Buddhism might actually offer a more substantial form of authenticity than what it says on either of those tins, or on any of its tins. People are odd. But it seems people are so infatuated with these shiny tins. And, of course, there is no objective 'tin' anywhere in the universe, no objective 'buddhism'. We're really talking about our selves here (but not just our 'selves' as it might be conveinient to imagine a 'self' to be most of the time, although that latter point seems often to be underemphasised when the flags start to get waved).

Sorry I'm not being more charming, but, there you go... maybe it's my inner 'fuck-you' primal screaming to itself after all!

I wouldn't try to fix Brad for the world, but I do worry that he is mistaking his own interpretation of buddhism as 'true buddhism' more-or-less consistent with the rather blinkered viewpoints that have sprung up in Dogen Sangha from time to time... that's not very hardcore' at all... and it's not valid teaching of the fundamental point... according to my wholly authentic and superior 'true buddhism', of course. ;-)

Regards,

Harry.

Manny Furious said...

I think I kind of get what Harry is getting at. Zen isn't dependent on anything. So while it's not dependent on the attitude of "saccharin sweet clones" it's also not dependent on an attitude heretofore referred to as "fuck you zen." People cling to these ideals and it keeps us from seeing what is "true" about who we our and our situations. Just as clinging to the typcial new-agey, peace, love and happiness B.S. is detrimental to insight, so is clinging to the "rebellious," "anti-establishment" ideal.

Or, if you so please, you can tell me to fuck off, Harry.

Harry said...

I wouldn't dream of it, Manny!

...Well I probably would on occassion, but I'd try to resist the urge.

Which brings me to another popular 'true buddhism' fallacy: The idea that you are being 'authentic' when you're 'intuitively shooting-from-the-hip' which actually is often more likely to just be our indulging our habitual pathologies and assumed identites (given the rather pervasive and ingrained nature of our misperception of our selves).

I think, actually, that Zen is dependant on a lot of things; the valid and thorough practice of it I mean. Not least of these is engaging with a teacher, or just another person or people if you like, who can see things about us that we can't see ourselves... this isn't as voodoo-like and esoteric as it sounds: We learn things about ourselves in socially interacting with people all the time (often without even realising it). Dogen was a big advocate of the student/teacher relationship BTW, he saw it as essential to correct practice, although it is not particularly emphasised in Dogen Sangha it seems. And he wasn't just talking about the teacher as someone who taught someone to sit like a pretzel and then nothing else.

Part of the probelm with fanciful notions around the whole power-laden, hierarchical 'zen master' things is that there seems to be a perception that when a person has been 'made' as a teacher then their work in clarifying things is done... seems to me that their work realising themselves as 'buddhas together with buddhas' directly is only just beginning. 'Zen master' is not a very good place in which to hide from the world methinks, just as zazen is not intended to be a place to hide and seek protection in the vast vacuums of the self.

Regards,

Harry.

Zippy Rinpoche said...

1 for the money
2 for the show
3 to get ready, and
4 to break free of the bonds of the perceived universe and its transitory nature and awaken to the awareness that consciousness is a large bowl of fruit salad and fat free cool whip

John Baker said...

In re: Easter - What I have noticed over the years (in particular since 1979 when the Christian fundamentalists essentially took over the religious leadership of America) is more hypocrisy than ever. In some fundamentalist Christian churches, dressing up and going to church is almost a daily event; yet these same people support war, Robber Baron capitalism and the end of all social programs. As the reader can grasp, these modern Christians seem all too proud of their hypocrisy. In fact, it doesn't even dawn on them that they are hypocrites.

Agree or disagree

Todd Townsend said...

Harry,

The 'fuck' pointing at the 'you' is not the "fuck you."

TrT

anon #108 said...

Brad,

As you'll be getting no tippings from me, you'll have to make do with a little encouragement: I think your "What I Really Do" thing is very funny. I think your Meditation Doctor answers are very good.

And erm...Cheer up!

Mark Foote said...

Here's one for you, Harry, although the part that's really relevant is the last couple of lines- speaking of the ancient "f*#k you" Egyptians, here:

"This is why all their procedures and even the passages of the Pyramid texts themselves are called se-akhs- or akhifiers- they were designed to allow a person to achieve a new form of spiritualized existence called the akh. The word 'akh' as a verb means 'to be effective' and the 'akh' as an entity was seen as a shining being who could come and go as it pleased. This means that the akh was not impelled by the forces of the universe to follow a set path but had achieved a state of freedom and ability to act in any situation. The goal of becoming an akh may not seem very spiritual when compared to more modern traditions but the Egyptians (certainly in the Old Kingdom) did not concern themselves with sentiment or niceness, their goal was freedom and that was that."

that's from my friend John's commentary on the Pyramid Texts of Unas, on Tao Bums.

Anonymous said...

Last night, during a break, one of the "old coaches" called us (group of 5) together and made suggestions about improving our sitting. Almost everyone has something that they can do - or stop doing - to improve their "sit down and shut up" time.

One guy went ballistic. "Praise in public, admonish in private." He said loudly.

"Never again," he said, "correct me inside the temple."

In a failing moment*, I thought: "Hmmm... he needs some improvement."

And then I woke up. So do I.

*which most of us have many

gniz said...

Harry, I like what you're saying here. Brad can clarify for himself, but I read him more as saying that Buddhism CAN and IS used for people to basically justify being numb automatons, going through their lives like gray, pale phantoms. I know a lot of people who live their lives this way.

The "fuck you" thing is a way of saying, "no, I'm going to be myself, so fuck you." If your genuine self is a nice, easygoing guy that doesn't make waves, it's kind of easy to be that person.

But what if the most genuine way you express yourself is by being kind of a curmudgeon, an asshole, maybe you aren't the kind of person that endears himself to the general public?

But those are just two extremes. The reality is we all fall in various places on the spectrum, and its largely dependent on where we are in our lives at any given moment.

Brad, as he does, was generalizing and writing in a way that both interests us and sometimes frustrates us, but he was expressing an interesting and valid point.

Zen--or any valid spiritual path imo--is not about becoming some smiling vacuous dope who grins at flowers. Its about being who we are, in the truest, most honest way and the best expression in this moment.

For some of us, that means not being in any way the kind of person that people want us to be, and Brad has an interest in protecting that process.

Anyway, that's my interpretation of it.

Anonymous said...

what I really do

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Your Mom at 12:15 PM above.
LOL

Anonymous said...

When I don't know what to do,
I just go to my Happy Place.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to eat your oatmeal!

Anonymous said...

Occupy Canada

Anonymous said...

Gate, gate.
Paragate.
Parasamgate.
Bodhi Svaha.

Kobun Chino's translation:

Falling apart, falling apart.
Everything is falling apart.
Everything is always falling apart.
Nothing to do.

Or:

Entropy is

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Irreversibility sucks

Uku said...

Harry,

maybe here's (in this world) enough room for all kind of Buddhists and Buddhism? Some are "fuck off" types, some are nambybamby. Some are between. Why can't people be who they are?

Peace.

Harry said...

Ah,

Uku, I've been expecting you.

The question of people 'being what they are' is a very important one; and I sort of addressed it above with the whole 'just be intuitive and you'll be fine' fallacy. What people are, and what they think (and subsequently act out what) they are, is often not the same. Very noticibly so.

I think people 'being as they are' is more often an excuse for us to be lazy and repeat/restate/enforce the comfortable old identities that we languish in. Sorry, but that's not right effort, and it's not very hardcore.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Gniz,

I think there's a good case for promoting individualism/self reliance in certain situations. Kodo Sawaki, for example, reacted against the very set hierarchy and groupthink of post WWII Japan with some very strident criticism of how people conducted (or didn't conduct!) themselves. I think this was very valid in that context (if a bit one-sided maybe). Also, people actually are just what they are in a sense; we are in no small way the sum total of what society has made us (in either our submission to societal pressures and our resistance of them, or both). Obviously, that's not the whole story where Buddhism is concerned tho.

What I'm thinking about here might be the difference between enagaging buddhim, and people/groups and/or a teacher (or NOT doing this), to radically challenge and revaluate our pervasive little notions of 'who we are' as opposed to joining groups or approaching teachers/teachings that accomodate, facilitate and perpetuate who we think we are.

Regards,

Harry.

proulx michel said...

Harry wrote:

Part of the probelm with fanciful notions around the whole power-laden, hierarchical 'zen master' things is that there seems to be a perception that when a person has been 'made' as a teacher then their work in clarifying things is done... seems to me that their work realising themselves as 'buddhas together with buddhas' directly is only just beginning.

That's a bit where I stand, too. One of the "problems" with it though, is that most people are looking indeed for a power-laden master, and when I let them know I'm not one, and that I've got almost as much road to ride than them, they don't take me seriously. But let it be so. I feel much more comfy...

Anonymous said...

I used to think that internet memes were funny, then I took an arrow in the knee.

Anonymous said...

dont know why all these people want to concentrate in zazen. maybe its in the dna. wanna "do something"- than its getting better

john e mumbles said...

Just looked at the Meditation Doctor link. Looks exhausting. Non-stop virtual dokusan!

But, Brad is reaching a whole new (what looks like) younger audience, which will only broaden his readership.

He's developed a relationship with Tricycle magazine over the last year or so, first an interview, now a regular column.

Has he joined the "Zen Establishment?" Where the "bad boy" brand is absorbed into the mainstream?

In the words of cartoonist Ace Backwords when asked about his punk cred: "I'd sell out in a minute if anyone was buying!"

Hoodyman216 said...

I haven't read through all the comments, but in case no one's answered this yet, views is the total number of times anyone has viewed your page. Visits refers to unique visits, which counts only how many unique IP addresses visited your site.

So, you have roughly 7,000 people visiting the blog about 10,000 times a week.

Mysterion said...

February 17, 2012 (NY Times)
China: A Ranking Monk’s Protest Suicide
By IAN JOHNSON

A Tibetan monk died after setting fire to himself Friday, another sign of the trouble in China’s western border region. According to the Tibetan lobby group Free Tibet, the monk, Tamchoe Sangpo, was a teacher in the Bongthak Ewam Tare Shedrup Dhargey Ling Monastery in Themchen County in Qinghai Province, and a member of the monastery’s management committee.

That would imply that he was in a position of responsibility and would have been vetted by authorities. Government officials have sought to portray the more than 20 people who have killed themselves in the protests so far as marginal figures or misled by outside propaganda. The protests took place after Chinese security personnel occupied the monastery after a previous “patriotic re-education” campaign* had met with protests.

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

* Just what the Xtian Taliban

Mysterion said...

* Just what the Xtian Taliban has in mind for America's schools. A patriotic jesus.

proulx michel said...

Harry, a charadh!

I think I can somewhat relate to what Brad has in mind, with his "fuck you" attitude. As an anarchist, I do believe that societies have always tried to evolve in a way that could allow for the maximum anarchy without degenerating into "anarchy".
Here, I mean anarchy as a situation where people are sufficiently grown up to respect the rules without a policeman with a club behind each one.

But I also believe this is an idealistic view, and that we can, eventually, get nearer to it, but that, somehow, the policeman will always be necessary, although I do believe that the more decorative they are, the better. But that's a matter of education, and ultra-liberalism doesn't help that.
Practically, I think it's up to us to police ourselves, and yet try and avoid mavericks to do whatever comes to their mind in matters of self-centeredness.

Not an easy task, anyway...

Harry said...

Michel,

Thanks for that nuanced take on things!

Yes, liberalism without some sort of social recognition/responsibility seems to be fraught with extremes. I think the western idealistic model of 'freedom' to do whatever the hell we want is a nihilistic quagmire if we don't give a shit about other people (which, although an extreme representation of the percieved problem, may generally be a little closer to the truth as time goes on here in the west: Ireland is now the prime example of such corruption of the human heart-mind)... and it seems that Zen with it's emphasis on self reliance and 'free intuitive action' can be very easily misused to become an ultra-liberal 'fuck you, I'm free' wet dream come true.

Regards,

Harry.

Moni said...

This Tibetan suicide protest wave is a quite sad thing. I feel sorry for them, that the situation is so sh*t over there and people from the Western world just get more and more used to it, that Tibet belongs to China now and there is nothing to do.

Stephanie said...

Harry, what happened to you? How quick you went from forging a unique voice to donning the robe of yet another finger-wagging apologist for the status quo.

Different people have different temperaments. Not everyone is wired to be a "fuck you Buddhist" just as not everyone is wired to be a 9-5 family man or woman.

But we all express ourselves some way in this world. We don't erase our personalities through practice. And what is so annoying to the less docile tempered among us is this repeated, intense pressure to make ourselves into what they are. We will be reformed, by God, by the right drugs and training. Well, fuck that.

I spent my morning reading a blog that showed me just how docile and boring I and my life are. Something I know. But by Internet Buddhist standards, I'm some sort of crazy, wild, what have you. No. Not really. I can kiss ass to keep a job, pay my bills, and mind my social graces so as not to alienate my less open-minded peers. But there is an awareness, of how tentative my acceptance into many social circles is, how quickly a mention of the wrong thought or topic could result in being blacklisted. It is fucking annoying, to have to search and search for people you can be honest with about what you really think and feel.

The social fabric is a necessity of our human condition. But the person whose thoughts, feelings, or actions don't fall more or less into the social paradigm must live in an uneasy truce with it.

The thing that sets me at odds with the social paradigm is not my behaviors. I like working a steady job and doing a number of healthy, positive things. My vices are relatively mild. I do believe in a number of things, such as the value of love and work, that allow me to settle a little more easily into the social mold.

But I don't buy a lot of what is being sold out there. I live at a distance from life, and it is with this perspective I come into Zen practice. To find a respite and sane alternative to the lies of samsara that many others herald a sanity and 'normalcy.' So it is even more irritating to find a community of people who get where I'm coming from on some level, nonetheless fighting the battle for the repressive society watchdogs.

It's worse when your emotional dial is differently tuned, as mine seems to be. People try to fix a ''problem" I don't have, because I don't want to be reassured or securely walled off from the darkness. I can let the questions, the uncertainty, and the despair consume me. It is the intensity of those states of mind that fuel me. I get that not everyone wants to meet the Beast, but why must you insist I shackle mine, if no small children are being harmed? Why can't those of us with a bit of "fuck you" (or "fuck me," whatever the preference) in us be allowed to rage at the stars as needed?Why must we be assimilated into the drabness of your preferred routine?

Monasticism is an expression of rejection of society's values of family love and consumerism. And it has been the backbone of Buddhist practice and transmission for centuries. Western Buddhism seems to overwhelmingly encourage assimilation, rather than offer an alternative to mainstream culture. I think we need alternatives. Maybe people like "Fuck You Bob" could find more profound ways of being in the world if they could learn a different way to extend the finger to the society that they cannot fit into.

I am hardly a rebel. I fit all too well into society's machine in most respects. But I am all too aware it does not come so easily for everyone, and there are reasons for this, many of which have nothing to do with the virtue of the "successful ones." I respect, and on an inward level, relate to, the people who can't conform, and salute people who make a space in the world for the barbaric yawps of those without pressed shirts and a picket fence.

Harry said...

Stephanie,

'finger-wagging apologist for the status quo'... hee hee.

In your haste to assume that I'm in some way intending to defend the 'status quo' you seem to have missed my point which is not about how we dress it up at all (goody two shoes, 'hardcore zen', middle-class-white-college-educated-engaged-buddhist , disfunctional freak-unstable-intellectual-type, or whatever...) I don't even think there is a status quo any more: the ultra-liberals have pretty much won and greed is the new law; and the choas of the free markets is the new religion.

And 'In the Army Now' was possibly one of the worst Brit rock anthems ever besides.

Regards,

Harry.

Stephanie said...

But what is the point in coming out against dressing it up in punk clothing then? Yes, you are right, there is falsity in any uniform we wear, on an absolute level. But relatively, we have to wear something, and we tend to gravitate to what expresses our temperament and tastes.

I wish there was more room for talking about some of the emotions and aesthetic experiences I value among peers on the Zen path, but I have found it damned difficult to find an outlet, even on the freaking Internet, where there are forums for people who like to fuck stuffed animals. People who want to get all warm and fuzzy talking about their kids and dog find an outlet anywhere. Fuck You Bobs are pointed to the padded rooms, even if they are bathing and not disturbing the wildlife. So why dog Brad for trying to make one tiny space - even as tiny as a blog post - for a resounding, cathartic Fuck You in a sea of repressive niceties?

Harry said...

"But what is the point in coming out against dressing it up in punk clothing then? Yes, you are right, there is falsity in any uniform we wear, on an absolute level. But relatively, we have to wear something, and we tend to gravitate to what expresses our temperament and tastes."

Yes, we inevitably 'dress it up', and there is often merit in that... but often there's not if we mistake it for the totality of what we think we are (particularly in response to our faulty perceptions of what we consider others to be).

"So why dog Brad for trying to make one tiny space - even as tiny as a blog post - for a resounding, cathartic Fuck You in a sea of repressive niceties?"

My 'dogging' (ahem) is not really directed at Brad (even though I do find aspects of his style and his output questionable)... if this 'tiny space' is not for such questioning then maybe it's not very 'hardcore' at all. It would be really easy to label me just another 'hater' for example, to cast me out of Freak Sangha, no?.

I know a 'resounding, cathartic 'fuck you'' when I hear one. Don't hear 'em much tho; what I do hear much more often is people wallowing in the swaddling shit of their own comfy old self views and opinions. Pretty lame, especially if we've convinced ourselves to the contrary by shouting it loud enough, or expressing it convincingly enough.

Brad takes shots from his blog, but he won't follow it up and reason it out on his blog. He hides away. Maybe he's afraid of conflict; or maybe he's just sounding off for publicity in a way that he can't, in his heart of hearts, bring himself to back up. Smacks a bit of a lack of commitment to what he says to the observer. That's okay, but if we can't call him out on it then maybe we're unwittingly bolstering an even more lame 'status quo'.

I'm not happy to sit back and let our aloof glorious leader get away with assuming he's right all the time. How unkind and boring would that be?

'No Gods, No Masters' was how we used to put it in the old punk rock days (not that I understood what it meant really... I was just sounding off with the rest of the spiky headed, pierced sheeple).

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Give up everyone! Harry will always have the last word. I'm sure he will respond to this, just watch.

When he read there were 10,000 hits a week he decided he'd hold forth. But guess what? Most, myself included, skip all but the first couple of comments, because Harry repeats himself in his responses and retorts.

Its worse than Mysterion. They both have their own blogs that no one reads. So they troll over here on Brad's. Once they start, it's full bore.

Mark Foote said...

I think there's a couple of aspects to this conversation:

1) the discrimination of the good and bad in human behaviour and activity

2) the science of the relationships observable in the natural world

On the first, I think we would all dismiss crazy people as just sick individuals if they didn't also sometimes seem prescient, which I would guess is why they were revered as manifestations of the sacred in some cultures. We judge all the time, but occasionally we meet people who confound our judgement by acting in a way that conforms with the future even when we don't realize it at the time they are acting and judge them as out of touch. The Zen teachers from Japan I've been impressed by had this quality, as well as my friend who was schizophrenic.

2) There is a reality of relationships of the natural world that has given rise to Western science, and yet many scientists get confused about what is real. I've been enjoying this article, which is about the confusion some mathematicians still experience with regard to Godel's proof:

"Is Arithmetic Consistent?"

here's the quote that the article ends with:

"I talked for quite awhile to Albert Einstein at a banker's jubilee banquet where we both felt rather out of place. In reply to my question what problems he was working on now, he said that he was engaged in thinking. Giving thought to almost any scientific proposition almost invariably brings progress with it. For without exception, every scientific proposition was wrong. That was due to human inadequacy of thought and inability to comprehend nature, so that every abstract formulation about it was always inconsistent somewhere. Therefore, every time he checked a scientific proposition, his previous acceptance of it broke down and led to a new, more precise formulation. This was again inconsistent in some respects and consequently resulted in fresh formulations, and so on indefinitely."

I think what I admire about Brad and Western Zen (as it began in this country) is the journey into exploration of the inner reality, the attempts to find descriptions of inner experiences that can be communicated and occasionally replicated among members of the community. To me, that's what's great about the teachings of the Gautamid in 500 B.C.E. India; he described the meditative states, and phenomena concerned with the induction of meditative states explicitly, and considered them as a natural part of human nature. In my opinion, he didn't have a full enough set of tools to make that description at the time, but we do now. What's real, that's what we're talking about- but it's going to be incomplete, we have to acknowledge that from the outset too.

Mónika Csapó said...

Actually if we speak about conformism etc. then you can see it here as well in how people attack different opinions then their own sometimes in a group :).

Moni said...

*than
sry

Anonymous said...

Anon said, "They both have their own blogs that no one reads. So they troll over here on Brad's. Once they start, it's full bore."

In projecting your faults onto others,
You forgot the big-ass horse you are riding.

Anonymous said...

Anon said, "Give up everyone! Harry will always have the last word. I'm sure he will respond to this, just watch."

Anon, In criticizing the small blemish on Harry's cheek, You forgot about the nasty boil on the end of your nose.

Anonymous said...

whatever, Harry.

Harry said...

Well, we've likely all got warts, blemishes and (if you're anything like me) big, puss-weeping boils.

I really don't expect anyone to be perfect (I'm sure the hell not), but that's all part of the point I'm not making well about 'Zen and the Art of Hardcore Sangha Management'... thrashing these things out in dialogue together with our heads out of our punk-zen asses is better than the 'status quo' of the happy little worlds we make up in our own, isolated zen clouds.

Regards,

H.

Khru said...

Good one, Brad. I applaud your ability to poke fun at yourself which is not easy with the silly/dumb-ass comments we post.

Stephanie said...

Harry, I am hardly an uncritical supporter or apologist for Brad Warner. I am bothered by the same thing you describe - seeing him (or anyone) retreat from honest inquiry into self-reassuring 'Rightism.' I check back on this blog from time and often leave frustrated by that very dynamic. The odd thing is, though, that the 'Fuck You Bob' post struck me as one of the most honest, raw, and clear things I've read from Brad in a while.

I think there is truth in the precept to not elevate oneself while judging others, and am uncomfortable with how easy it is for us to sit at home on the couch and pick apart Brad or anyone who puts him or herself in the public eye. That does not mean I think we should never be critical, but that we should cast the same critical eye on ourselves as we do those we critique. Brad is certainly imperfect, messy, flawed, but so am I... and so are you.

The more I read by Brad, the more it strikes me that there is something truly dark and heavy under that polite, straight edge Midwestern boy veneer. I never found the punk rock PR convincing; Brad in the past struck me as a nice guy with a loud hobby. But I don't think so any more. I think Brad is sorting through some pretty thorny brambles. There's a darkness there, a wound, something that has a hold on him. It's messy to watch someone peel away the layers,, and the self-contradiction and back pedaling can be frustrating, but I believe it's honest and real. I think it took guts for Brad to write that he sees how he could have been a Fuck You Bob. Just like writing and publishing Zen Dipped In Karma took guts. It's the retreats back into preaching rigid views that strike me as inauthentic.

It is so rare in Buddhist circles to have talk of the less reassuring aspects of our natures. The darkness. But I think that darkness is there for a lot more people than acknowledge it. Are we afraid, or can we face it? As someone with a dark side, I want to hear or read from people who have walked through that same territory and aren't afraid to talk about it. Brad is uneasy about it, plays it down and pulls punches sometimes, but he is the only one I know of out here doing it at all, as a Buddhist. I know all too well from personal experience the enormous pressure to shut up when you start talking about despair, or the perverse forms of desire that grab us by our throats.

So I am very skeptical of your protest of inauthenticity just when Brad is coming out from behind the mask to say, yes, I see some of this in myself, that has been labelled as crazy or maladjusted. Even people like me who have made peace with their weirdness, can feel shame for the ways they don't measure up to the standards others measure them against. To be able to come out and say, instead of trying to show off how well adjusted and popular one is, "I don't quite fit into this world," requires a vulnerability. And it is a generous act - it opens up the space for others who feel the same way to relate. But then here comes the goon squad, either expressing moral outrage, or deriding and belittling the genuine struggle some have as some adolescent pose.

I think you're smarter and more insightful than that Harry, I think you've been there too, struggled through a darkness that is not just a fashion statement. Maybe you've made it to some better adjusted place in your life. I hope you are successful. I like knowing people with brains are out there doing well. But a difficult journey, thorny emotions, rage, a beast that pulls hard on its tether - these are not always signs that someone just needs Jesus, or to get over himself. Some of us find our strength in the demons we are forced to wrestle.

I hope that Brad continues to explore and write about the sort of things that came out in the Fuck You Bob post.. I can learn from him, then, as I cannot from people that have never met or dealt with the "creep in the cellar."

Harry said...

Stephanie,

Yeah, the Fuck You Bob article was cool. I just picked up on a tangental 'Fuck You Zen' thing from it; and I still think it's a fairly good handle for a dodgy take on zen that does the rounds.

I think Brad's good at that confessional/insightful stuff; it's his strength, and it's part of what he brings to the scene that's really important. It seems though that the nitty-gitty, the real work/effort of it, is often not what's picked up on.

And yeah, we're all defective. If what I say seems wrong then feel free to reason otherwise... if it seems like bullshit just call it bullshit, or ignore it, or whatever. Thrashing these things out is good, particularly if we do it well.

...and do bear in mind that I tend to load statements so as to rock the status quo a little ;-)

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Status Quo rocks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-8K8Hj8bxE

proulx michel said...

There's something I'd like to add here, and that is to warn against too quick reading that makes confuse different things under one name.

When one knows Brad personally, one can see that the "Fuck You Zen" attitude is very much counterbalanced by a very honest dedication and humility. And that doesn't exclude the dark side: this might be even more menacing in that way...
But I feel it is an important one, considering the whole of the Brad character. If he were a soothsayer type of person, like the one he often denounces, with his mild manners, he could quite easily pass for a saintly person (and therefore attract throngs of followers). This harsh and direct tone of his is also a very real part of him, and may very well contribute to his balance.

But it is always somewhat easy to exaggerate...

As for myself, I know I'm a power hungry bastard, and that is why I try so hard not to get any students...

Mysterion said...

Do what I do.

Pick a number - a big number.

Just as you cannot study QBL if you are under 40, so too, you cannot study Buddhism if you are under (a big number). That number, for me is 50.

Unfortunately, I just accepted another student so now I have three - or four (depending on how busy they are). However, a party of 5 will not attempt to conquer the world - unless they are Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, and Bush.

Thank whatever gods may be that even right wingnut voters tend to wake up a bit when their ox is gored. (see Ex 21:28-36 and Ex 22:4-5)

Stephanie said...

Harry and michel,

I liked what you both wrote, and find in the hashing out of it, we seem to be on the same, or at least a similar, page. I am no more interested in some gimmicky 'Zen with attitude' stance than I am 'Zen treacle,' but the very balance you point to, michel, in Brad's personality/style, has prevented either in taking dominance in his presentation.

I don't know about 'sinister,' but darkness is much more interesting when it is balanced with light. It is just that I find the reverse also to be true. In my own life/practice, a refrain from a Tom Waits song always comes back up: 'If I exorcised my devils, well my angels might leave too / And when they leave, they're so hard to find.' I think for most of us, our worst is intimately tied up with our best. I like the more Tantric (or at least based on my perhaps poor comprehension of some tantric writings I have read) notion of becoming acquainted with demonic forces and having them become allies, rather than trying to slay them or lock them up somewhere. What patience, courage, and capacity for empathy I have seem to come directly from my dealings with the darker side of my nature. Nothing that is purely of 'goodness and light' seems to have weight to it.

It is easy to exaggerate or load statements, when one is trying to make a point, I believe I may occasionally be guilty of the same myself ;)

Stephanie

Cidercat said...

I know what you mean by 'all zenned out'. Think I've been that way for 10 years! But I still like the banana hat.

How's Crum? I worry about him.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Whitney Houston...

What's the difference between a crack dealer and a prostitute?
?
?
?
?
?
?
?
A prostitute can wash her crack and sell it again.

WBC said...

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

boubi said...

Michel

The problem is that while knowledge/science is cumulative through generations, personal growth/maturity isn't, it just starts anew with each generation.

So societal evolution is fragile and slow and prone to go back to easier but more retrograd models.

If you add up the fact that people don't like introspection because painfull and because it's hard to do, it ends up generating hate, aggression towards the others (oneself).

I'm very worried of what will come up in the next future with the end of the party on global scale, geopolitical and religious confrontations and tension around primal resources gas, food, space.

We are more or less consciously watching the end of the world as we know it.

Here and now seem to be the sole refuge left.

Longing for what enounced in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but too stupid to work for its realization.



Someone said to his pupil at the inka ceremony "now you have a knife, it's up to you to sharpen it".

Wish you all the best.

gniz said...

Another great comment section! It's been better lately, for some reason (imo of course).

I'm another "dark" guy who has his demons and sometimes they still come back and bite me or scare me, or fill me so that I behave like one of them.

In other words, I feel the presence of that part of me that could just lose it so easily, this grasp on the thread of happiness and security and comfort that I hold so dear.

So, yes, it's nice to have people like Brad who seem to "get it" and not fight those tendencies, but actually accept that it's all part of the mix.

The willingness to be ourselves without pretense--well what is that? I think there's maybe no such thing, and yet--we get closer every time we react from that instinctive, simple part of ourselves. Children and dogs have such simple interactions with the world, so true and yet not always beautiful. Kids will smear shit on the walls sometimes too.

Not sure where I'm going with this but just adding my voice to the mix.

Anonymous said...

Hairy, sometimes I doubt your commitment to Fuck You Zen.

Anonymous said...

I think all Zenned out means living consistently in the moment. It's sometimes confused with not caring.

Example: Someone who is crossing the street suddenly jumps back as a blue Mustang races by.

"What was THAT?" (pedestrian)

"A blue Mustang." (Zenned out)

"That car almost hit me!" (pedestrian)

"And?" (Zenned out)

Mark Foote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Foote said...

The demons I see are not the demons I am looking for; the angels I feel are not the angels I can cope with.

I gotta getta gota kola, cherry soda, salt and ice cream; lord, ya give 'em soap and water, honey for to keep it clean. (fractured Charley Jordan)

As regards zen, what are we talking about? Ok, I said a bad word. As regards zazen, what are we talking about? f#*!k you Buddha? There's a great tradition of killing buddha- on the road, sitting making a buddha- maybe f@*!#k you buddha is encouraged in this tradition, the dark side of me has always thought so. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say!

boubi said...

To Gniz

Go visit your demons, accept them, look them in the eyes, you will better understand yourself, and your demons will be belittled or you will recognize them as beeing a pale construction of your mind due to avidya creating attachement and avversion.

Most probably they will still be there but will stop barking in the back of your mind and haunting your nights and distorting "reality".

Moni said...

It is interesting to follow this conversation about Brad`s person, attitude, possible intentions to write this blog etc.

It reminded me of one quite interesting conversation we had at the high school in a Literature lesson. The topic was how big emphasis we should put on the artist as a human being, his/her life in order to justify the art he or she does.

At the high school I was more on that opinion that the artist`s life has to mirror the values what he represents in his works and that it plays a big role who actually the artist is as a human being in "real life". For now my opinion changed about this and I think artists/masters/philosophers/bloggers are just channel through which some reality is transmitted when all the circumstances are ready for it and it is not so important at all who this channel is besides the moments of this transmission. It is more important, that luckily in that moment the circumstances allowed that something valuable comes to life through that channel.

What I try to say with this is that I personally read this blog because some of the articles are making me think about things which I think are beneficial for me to think about/I like to think about, but for me it is not so important at all who Brad is as a private person or if he has had some dark times in his life (what almost all of us have had).

Anonymous said...

The pomp criticism here is truly a step beyond fuck you zen!

Bravo.

I'm sure Bob is giving you the finger right now, but he'll never play on your level with that amateur stuff.

Anonymous said...

Brad your answers are bad ones. They won't work for beginners and you're oversimp,ifying sitting in a way. From your perspective and mine they're right and good. But for a starter it just won't help at all to say 'just sit'. Think about your brain state when you started and what kind of exercises you did before you did 'just sit'....

Anonymous said...

I agree to anonymous. Sitting is about being aware or better said letting awareness happen/get out of its way. Its not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit. For some reason though brad cAn't say that in public. Though if you meet him on a sesshin he will say so...weird. Maybe he has to make sure to not be mixed up with the other meditation teachers and stay unique...

Gore Vidal Sassoon said...

Wake up, you somnambulists.
Brad is obviously some kind of crypto-fascist.
Free your minds before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

GVS: Your Mom is a somnambulist.

anon #108 said...

anonymous @ 6.57am said: "...It's not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit."

Most humans will just daydream? Is that a guess, or the result of careful and extensive research? Or is it a generalisation based on what you do?

My guess, generalising from what I do, is that most people who bother to sit regularly work out for themselves what they are doing and whether they want to do anything to change it. And that, for me, is 'what it's about'.

Jeff Alexander said...

Regarding "deep absorptive states"
you could go Shakespearean and say, "Yes, a nap by any name feels as sweet"

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, the lunatic is in my head but its not me. I think its marvelous.
So enjoy your writing.

Anonymous said...

My higher power wants me to have lunch.

captcha = Friendly ellegyQ

Anonymous said...

@anon #108: it's from experience. I've talked to many people about sitting. It's also known from scientific research. And it's logical since that is what the human brain does on auto-mode. If it wouldn't, why the heck would you need to practice at all? ;)

Anonymous said...

What a County Sheriff really does

Just in case you missed
the CSPOA convention in
Las Vegas NV last month:

Support your local
Constitutional County Sheriff!
*

(Join "Fuck You Bob" in
saying FUCK YOU to all
tyrannical assholes :)

*Special treat...
Former IRS agent
Joe Banister
at 28:33.

Harry said...

If ever there was a role that Anthony Quinn was born to play, it was the lusty, life-affirming title character in Zorba the Greek. The scene is the isle of Crete, where English writer Alan Bates arrives in the hopes of realigning his own values and outlook on life. He is "adopted" by the flamboyant Zorba, who determines to educate Bates in the ways of the world-or, to be more precise, Zorba's world. Along the way, Bates is introduced to widow Irene Papas, the unrequited love object of everyone on the island, who comes to a tragic end when she is accused of adultery. The writer is also a spectator to the equally benighted romance between Zorba and venerable courtesan Lila Kedrova. Other disasters follow, but Zorba is able to convince Bates that failure is an inescapable part of life, and that only by constantly tasting defeat can one truly enjoy life's victories. Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek earned Oscars for actress Lila Kedrova, cinematographer Walter Lassally and art director Vassilis Fotopoulos. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Great movie. The full show is on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbYKngLqSqQ

A-Bob said...

Harry, now I want to see the movie again. I saw it once before a lifetime ago..

Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everthing except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else...Basil: Or else? Zorba: ...he never dares cut the rope and be free.

Zorba said...

On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!

Jinzang said...

Sitting is about being aware or better said letting awareness happen/get out of its way. Its not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit. For some reason though brad can't say that in public. Though if you meet him on a sesshin he will say so...weird.

Not giving specific instructions on shikantaza is standard operating procedure in Soto Zen. It's not something Brad or his teacher invented.

Roger Doe said...

Jinzang, Nice to hear from you. I felt bad you let a few trolls chase you away. Why did you decide to go. Why did you decide to return?

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” - Nikos Kazantzakis

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I'm sitting there staring at the wall, daydreaming for probably all but 2 minutes of my 25 minute sit.

What the fuck good is that?

Still I sit.

Khru said...

Dear Stephanie,

Please stop trolling on our Zen message board-thingy.

Thanks!

Mysterion said...

Blogger Zorba said...
"On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!"

Forever?

When even time is finite?

I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie's good people. Huge ego, but A-okay by me.

I remember a few years ago when Jundo went public with his recommendation that she undergo a psych evaluation. That was ridiculous and embarrassing for Jundo.

Is "Jundo" even the guy's name? What is he, another Cassius Clay?

Khru said...

Oh, I'm joking with Stephanie. If it were not for her insights, this comment thread would suckooski worse than usual.

Anonymous said...

This is the worst comment section I have ever seen on Herr Bradley's blog.

buddy said...

Regarding the issue of whether just sitting is a good practice for beginners, I think that depends on the person. Some people are, by nature, habit or occupation, able to concentrate well without a minute of meditative training. I think it's no accident that people are attracted to whichever teacher they are: someone who needs a lot of basic training in concentration will probably be drawn to a vippasana or rinzai style scene, while others will be drawn to soto or dzogchen etc. It's Brad's 'job' to teach what he knows; if it doesn't work for someone, they can go elsewhere.

sute said...

Keep writing. Do best, no regret. I want to buy burberry kids skirts and burberry bags. I also concern on gucci outlet.

Harry said...

Jinz (our prodigal brother) wrote: "Not giving specific instructions on shikantaza is standard operating procedure in Soto Zen. It's not something Brad or his teacher invented."

Well, I think that's true in some instances, and there's a lot to be said for dropping the jargon and just 'riding the bike' at times. At the same time, Dogen's Fukanzazengi is a highly revered text within Soto Zen and it presents the postural and (for want of a better term) philosophical teaching of zazen.

Regards,

Harry.

anon #108 said...

buddy,

It's undeniable that people are attracted to whatever they are attracted to, and good luck to all of them. Those attracted to shikantaza as taught by Dogen should not be surprised to learn that it is not a method for learning how to be a good concentrator.

john e mumbles said...

Meanwhile, everybody, Wake Up!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8CskkYABk0





Captcha: Peace enderss

A-Bob said...

There's nothing wrong with developing concentration. There are ways to do that. But Shikantaza seems about becoming a good sitter by sitting.. Developing good sitting skills takes some discipline. A little more personal discipline might be all you get. I need that myself. It's nothing to turn you nose up at.

Saft Trill said...

Harry,

I didn't read Brad's,

"a way to placate people so they're numb enough to function as cogs in the social machine"

as not accomodating, as you put it, "the fact that, whether we like it or not, most or all of us are social animals".

To me Brad's statement also allows for implications to be drawn, one such that there are

ways to not placate people so they're not encouraged to numb themselves as merely cog-like functions of the social machine, but rather able to function healthily in society (which will often mean 'playing its games') as an aspect of flourishing as a human being in valuable roles.

The implication you draw appears to focus too strongly on the use of the cliched term 'cogs in the social machine' and how that locates Brad's view ideologically.

I would agree that this type of language is often used by idealistic lefties and the like, and that this usage can be seen as reflecting an 'individualism' which pervades many attitudes and stand-points - not just those that I have glossed as 'left-wing'.

But for me, this cliche is modified significantly by the words 'placate' and 'numb'.

The use of 'function as cogs in the social machine' can be read as an appropriation of a cliche or slogan as a way to communicate to a wide audience what Brad views as the dangers of placating and numbing with regard to Zen and religion.

Moreover, if one views it as a reasonable point to make that placating and numbing can often be part of how we can become habituated 'lifeless' functions of our social conditioning and circumstances, then the use of the deadened metaphors ('cogs', 'machine') of a well-worn 'slogan' expresses that point well.

Using such cliches doesn't necessarily mean conventional affiliation with the ideological positions they are most commonly associated with. Using them can also mean one is using a level of common understanding and the 'truths' they have the potential to express, and by re-shaping that common understanding in context, communicate or, perhaps, in this instance, also remind people of things that have been well-trodden pitfalls historically. Being so well-trodden these things have found homes as cliches or slogans in all sorts of discourse and filtered into common usage, refracted into common understanding and misunderstanding.

Any mode of expression has it's pitfalls, and one pitfall of writing in a popular idiom is that it can also lead to folk drawing implications from the appearance of the cliches and slogans it will often will often use, so that we interpret the text through the cues and filters of how we already understand those cliches. In doing so we can end up suppressing or demoting other important aspects of what the writer is expressing and how s/he is expressing it.

Often our buttons are pushed and we can miss the other aspects of what is being expressed.

Perhaps using such modes and idioms can lead to as much placation and numbing as any other. Some folk might find a more analytical style and the jargon it throws up just puts them off, pushes their buttons, or whatever.

And why the need to always follow up and reason out what is thrown in a blog, with a comments section allowed to be full of so many people with such different voices and approaches willing to do that anyway?

ST

anon #108 said...

Indeed, A-Bob. Concentration and discipline are good things and may emerge as fringe benefits of shikantaza, but I don’t see such benefits as measures by which the ‘success’ of the practice is to be judged. Shikantaza is not primarily a method for learning how to concentrate...is the point I wanted to make.

john e mumbles said...

Well, it's not goal oriented. It's not even process-as-end-in-itself. In a sense IMO, sitting (shikantaza, whatever) is its own "koan" -impenetrable as far as reasoning it out goes; its one of those things utterly without "value" in the traditional religious heirarchial (sp?) sense. "You" get nothing out of it, it eventually destroys your ambition. No labels apply. THEN you can see the same thing in the rest of your experience/ no experience. And rest in That. ("Thou art That, I Am That, I Am That I Am, blah blah blah se blah").

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

I do believe there are benefits to be gained from regularly practising shikantaza - like discipline, patience and concentration. As A-Bob says, such benefits may be all we ‘get’ from sitting and I don’t mean to dismiss them. They're important and valuable. But if the practice is described or understood primarily as a practice that develops (say) concentration – or as a practice that leads to enlightenment, for which one needs to develop concentration - then people are likely to sit trying to concentrate, and judging their efforts accordingly. I don’t believe that’s a useful or effective way to reap the benefits of just sitting…is perhaps the point of the point I’m trying to make.

anon #108 said...

Tha's funny, that commercial, john e. Folger's eh? We don't got Folger's. Electric bill...he...funny.

A-Bob said...

Hi Anon 108, I think we're roughly on the same page. I wasn't suggesting that concentration or even disipline was the goal. My poorly made point was that one never knows what one is going to take out of shikantaza practice. We might not get what we want or expect. It's an unknown. But with it's regular practice you do develop a um.. a settling routine, which can be very valuable in itself.

These new captchas are a bitch to read innit?

CAPTCHA : unmentional beaumont : I kid you not

anon #108 said...

Captchas? Too right, mate. Proper hard they are. You have my sympathies.

anon #108 said...

And roughly same page? Yes, I'm sure we are.

Anonymous said...

Guys I never mentioned "concentration". I said its about being aware about paying attention whats going on while you sit. No goal here, nothing to gain just be awake and be aware or as I said after a while let awareness do its thing.

Joko Beck talks about that a lot. Even Brad does, listen to his podcasts. On one of them he agrees on noticing your thoughts and even says that when he gets lost that he comes back to his breath. Now doesn't sound like its completely irrelevant what you do with your mind while sitting anymore huh?

But for some reason that I'll never get he always wants it to sound like nothing matters while sitting...

Standard in Soto? Read Shunryu Suzuki, read Kodo Sawaki, read Uchiyama Roshi, Dogen (first version of Fukanzazengi for example), Deshimaru....they don't talk about breath or to see thoughts and let them go? Read it again maybe...or checkout the sotoshu booklet on zazen ;)

anon #108 said...

Hi 9.57am,

Guys I never mentioned "concentration". No, buddy did.

You wrote "...let awareness do its thing". I like that.

Uncle Willie said...

"Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China's 600 million people is that they are "poor and blank". This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for changes the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be written; the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted." Mao Zedong

Treeleaf Reader said...

RE: different types of sitting, even from two teachers who have the same root teacher

Jundo has now posted that he and Brad are different with regard to what they emphasize in teaching "how to" sit. Jundo said that even though he and Brad come from the same teacher, they are as different as jazz and punk rock. Presumably, Jundo is calling himself the jazz artist.

Quoteth:

"Piano students of the same piano teacher, as they mature and come to find their own sound, need not play Brahms exactly the same way as each other or their Teacher. Heck, some may eventually prefer a bit jazzier sound, some Jerry Lee, some punk rock! (Hey Brad, do they play pianos much in punk? ) Somewhat different intonations, fingering, somewhat different flavor or emphasis, harmony and disharmony, varying degrees of following or breaking musical tradition and "the rules"."

However, all the same piano, same 88 keys, same notes and chords, one with deeper understanding while another might have a punk rock emphasis!"

A-Bob said...

"But for some reason that I'll never get he (Brad) always wants it to sound like nothing matters while sitting..."

Hi Anon, I don't think I ever heard Brad say that nothing matters while sitting. What I heard or gathered and feel is that everything matters and nothing is unimportant. Even daydreams tell you something. If it's important it will return. Whatever happens during shikantaza is whatever happens.

CAPTCHA : only loreopun : I kid you not

anon #108 said...

Hi Treeleaf Reader,

"However, all the same piano, same 88 keys, same notes and chords, one with deeper understanding while another might have a punk rock emphasis!"

Did you make that bit up? Coz I can't find it. I found:

"Somewhat different intonations, fingering, somewhat different flavor or emphasis, harmony and disharmony, varying degrees of following or breaking musical tradition and "the rules". However, all the same piano, same 88 keys, same notes and chords. Hopefully all good music."

from here: http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4673&p=69837&hilit=brad#p69837

- which is a response to this:

"Also interesting that dharma heirs of the same ancestor can have such different views! i.e. Brad Warner with his correct-posture-is-everything, lotus-is-essential view."

No, Kaishin aka Matt aka 開心 (was Matto) - Brad Warner has never insisted that lotus is essential or that correct posture is everything.

Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

That was naughty Treeleaf Reader Troll. We all love Jundo talk but there is no need to make stuff up. You hit us were we are weak. Jundo is our chocolate. We cannot get enough of him. We think, "Maybe he will have one of his funny public meltdowns again, Oh Goody!" Look how fast 108 beat it over there for proof. Those moments are pure gold. They are good for weeks of analysis and speculation. Oh what a guilty pleasure! He is the BEST afterall. Jundo Cohen is a bad muther..

Treeleaf Reader (Exposed Troll) said...

108 is magnificent!

;)

anon #108 said...

Look how fast 108 beat it over there for proof.

I'd prefer:

'...beat it over there to demonstrate his profoundly intuitive insight into shit-stirring bullshit, thus to nip it in the bud.'

anon #108 said...

...Or what exposed troll just said. Either is fine.

Peachy the Cat (R.I.P.) said...

Yeah, great troll-busting there, sport. Well done. You have stopped a HUGE battle.

Would that you were in Poland in 1939.

Anonymous said...

No Treeleaf Troll.. YOU are magnificent! 108 is only like the rest of us, looking for amusement where it happens. Only you thought to lie about someone in order to make them look silly. It was grand in it's cruelty. It was inspired evil.

Anonymous said...

Dude as I read it the troll didn't change much. I guess just the slightest of tweeks is enough to bring Jundo out of hiding, as we all know he reads the comments on this site every day, probably multiple times/day.

Treeleaf Reader (Confirmed Troll) said...

"It was grand in it's cruelty. It was inspired evil."

Grammar problems aside, don't you think you're going a bit overboard in your characterization of what I've done.

*falls to knees in prayer position and chants verse of purification while crying*

anon #108 said...

Thanks, peachy! :)

Anonymous said...

"Grammar problems aside, don't you think you're going a bit overboard in your characterization of what I've done."

Probably. I get carried away. It almost looked like you were trying to hurt someone for fun.

Mysterion said...

Mommy, mommy!

Just what we need - yet another meditation cult.

Brad:
I sent you some "literature" to peruse. The good news is it may be worth exactly what you paid for it (e.g. nothing).

Maum is a momminization of AUM or, more properly O'om - the so-called 'sacred' Hindu phoneme. (It once preceded the Buddhist Mantras)

Cheers,

Chas

Anonymous said...

... as in Somerset? I'd cast you as Elliott Templeton :)

Treeleaf Reader (Troll-Monk) said...

"It almost looked like you were trying to hurt someone for fun."

I deem your remarks passive-aggressive.

Alain de Botton said...

Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism have made significant contributions to political life, but their relevance to the problems of community are arguably never greater than when they depart from the modern political script and remind us that there is also value to be had in standing in a big hall singing a hymn or in ceremoniously washing a stranger's feet or in sitting at a table with neighbors and partaking of lamb stew and conversation. These rituals, as much as the deliberations inside parliaments and law courts, are what help to hold our fractious and fragile societies together.

Mysterion said...

Alain de Botton said...
"These rituals, as much as the deliberations inside parliaments and law courts, are what help to hold our fractious and fragile societies together."

au contraire - these rituals (e.g. Westboro) are what tear societies apart! And such evils have persisted for century upon century!

There is no greater evil than power concentrated in the greedy hands of the very few. Sad, but true.

Latin motto: Sic Semper Tyrannis - "Thus Always to Tyrants" Adopted in 1776. The two figures are personifying the motto. The woman, Pallas Athena, represents Virginia. The man holding a scourge and chain shows that he is a tyrant - a dead King, his fallen crown is nearby. Athena, helmet lifted so that she can be seen, has her left breast, knee, and foot bare...

Hidden - in plain view.

john e mumbles said...

Directly opposing the Modernists and the "Enlightenment" (ahem), Nietzsche exposed their ideals for what they actually were: a model based on the very religious authority they proposed to overthrow with "reason and logic."

The natural order of things is random and chaotic: things come together and blow apart, come together, and blow apart...(Heraclitus). There is no carrot on a stick of a "better life" or world.

Reality is what is happening right now, to you.

Fred said...

No Harry, I am not a cog in the
social machine. And neither was the
Buddha.

I'm surprised by your comments
about Brad. I respect that his
words are coming from the right
place.

Harry said...

Fred,

Hi, didn't know the guy (Buddha, that is), but, if he was like every other human being that exists, he was very much of his place and time... and, yes, he's already of the unconditioned eternal-never-now too of course (if we want to get all smoke and mirrors about it).

Sorry, I don't believe in a right place, but I'm glad I surprised somebody (I tend to bore).

Regards,

Harry.

Jinzang said...

At the same time, Dogen's Fukanzazengi is a highly revered text within Soto Zen and it presents the postural and (for want of a better term) philosophical teaching of zazen.

The traditional Soto approach is to give a detailed explanation of the posture, but little or no explanation of the mental process. Dogen's terse and cryptic remarks in the Fukanzazengi certainly fits the pattern:

"Think of not thinking. Not thinking—what kind of thinking is that? Nonthinking."

An observation, not a criticism.

Process Poem #2 said...

INSTRUCTIONS: Fill in the blank in the following phrase using any word in the list below.

Reality is what is happening right now, ______ you.

aboard
about
above
across
after
against
along
amid
among
anti
around
as
at
before
behind
below
beneath
beside
besides
between
beyond
but
by
concerning
considering
despite
down
during
except
excepting
excluding
following
for
from
in
inside
into
like
minus
near
of
off
on
onto
opposite
outside
over
past
per
plus
regarding
round
save
since
than
through
to
toward
towards
under
underneath
unlike
until
up
upon
versus
via
with
within
without

Anonymous said...

"I deem your remarks passive-aggressive."

Hurts don't it?

Anonymous said...

Yeah dude. You torture Jundo but whine like a little baby when the tables are turned. Your Mom is passive-agressive.

Harry said...

Jinzang: "The traditional Soto approach is to give a detailed explanation of the posture, but little or no explanation of the mental process."

Well, I'm not so worried about the criticism of things, I'm just not sure it's accurate to say that there's little/no explanation of the mental process. For example, from Fukanzazengi:

...If the least like or dislike arises, the Mind is lost in confusion...

...You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self...

...Do not think good or bad. Do not administer pros and cons. Cease all the movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha...

That's pretty clear; and it's traditionally chanted and is a very prominant text traditionally otherwise.

It may be fair to say that the latter day Soto orthodoxy (that Brad strongly echos at times via his teacher) tends towards the sit only 'magic posture' position; but, while it may arguably be called 'Soto Zen' it is by no means the entirity of the teaching, nor the approach, outlined by Dogen Zenji. I rather think he wrote things down in such detail as he did to avoid such misunderstandings and extremes.

Regards,

Harry.

Soft Troll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Harry, Dogen also said there is no need for extraordinary efforts. If you sit in the manner he outlined you need not do anything else.

Soft Troll said...

Harry,

"Cogs in the social machine" in the context Fred and Brad are using it doesn't have to be interpreted as synonymous with human beings "being very much of their place and time."

"Cogs in the social machine" presents human beings "being very much of their place and time" using metaphors that foreground the deterministic and the materialistic.

When this phrase is used negatively, or in a negative context, it is explicitly or implicitly set in contrast to a more humanistic attitude.

Sometimes this contrast frames things in terms of opposition, ie "I'm not a machine, I'm a spiritual being"; or insufficiency ie, "I'm not just a cog or node in a social network, and I don't have to behave like some numbed animal enslaved to its conditioned patterns."

Your view appears to derive from a revisionist definition of the common understanding and usage of the cliche "cogs in the social machine" in order to express the view that we should be more realistic about that side of human life. But this useful way of realigning the cliche in order to frame your view has also been used as a way to frame and interpret Brad's view.

In this light, I think your argument is more about the dangers of using cliches and slogans than it is about the dangers of the view Brad is presenting.

I am sympathetic to your concerns regarding "Fuck you Zen" as you have outlined them, but couldn't it be possible that Brad is realigning "Fuck you Zen" in a similar way to how you have with "cogs in the social machine."

I wonder if this also goes for "coming from the right place" and even "intuition"?

In the end it might all come down to how we fix our terms up and how we react to different modes of expression. Or perhaps the sticky dopplegangers we form over time that in part inform our views on folks views - and that have a tendency to 'hide', even as we admit to their warm, fallible fingers typing away before the pixels.

ST

Harry said...

"Harry, Dogen also said there is no need for extraordinary efforts. If you sit in the manner he outlined you need not do anything else."

Hi, Anon.

Dogen said lots of things. All I can say is that life, for me, involves a lot more than sitting in the way Dogen (or anybody else) outlines.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

"In the end it might all come down to how we fix our terms up and how we react to different modes of expression."

Hi, ST.

I think it's more a question of what we mean. I think we always mean something even if we can't always express it perfectly, or even remotely accurately, in words. We mightn't even recognise what we mean: what we mean might only be understood by others looking/listening to our words, with thier inherent frames of reference etc. This is why communication is so important (as mentioned earlier). If we keep communicating, our meaning can become clearer even as the words change from situation to situation (if we remain open to possibilities, and not closed minded in what we think we are, and/or what others are, say): To ramble into Dogen-speak, I think words really only mean what they mean in their present real context: Existence-meaning. Consensus meaning outside that seems speculative. It seems we generally tend to look at it the other way round tho... which is not entirely invalid of course.

"Or perhaps the sticky dopplegangers we form over time that in part inform our views on folks views - and that have a tendency to 'hide', even as we admit to their warm, fallible fingers typing away before the pixels."

One thing I appreciate about Brad is that he 'throws it out there'. The possible alternative of sitting around in a sort of confused analytical haze may be more restricting... that's another extreme dichotomous straw man, I know; but our simple monkey-brains can take them in quickly.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

"All I can say is that life, for me, involves a lot more than sitting in the way Dogen (or anybody else) outlines."

Harry, Of course life involves more than just sitting.. I was speaking of a small part of life, shikantaza. You are certainly free to adorn your Buddhism however you wish.

Harry said...

Hi, Anon.

Dogen said all sort of things about the nature of effort including, yes, the view clearly expressed in Fukanzazengi. He seemingly put certain sects on his 'shit list' and then seems to go on to state that all schools are the same if they engage in sincere practices. He also criticised shikantaza when it is 'dead sitting' right alongside criticisng practicing koan as some sort of mental negation/ unrational exercise... and he also said that we should employ the words/accounts of past masters, which he himself employed in very creative ways.

In short, it seems to me that he didn't mean to install the sort of dour, constricted orthodoxy that has sprung up in certain sections of the Soto Sect with all its attendant sectarian assumptions and reactions to what it mispercieves to be other sects/practices.

Regards,

Harry.

Fred said...

You don't have to sit to stop the
mind. It might be easier to see
what's right here, when there are
no distractions to hook the
attention. But what is it that
needs to be free of distractions
other than some illusion of self.
The right place is the other side
of the gateless gate which is right
here now.

Soft Troll said...

Harry,

(thanks for the reply)

"To ramble into Dogen-speak, I think words really only mean what they mean in their present real context: Existence-meaning."

I would agree with that.

In my hazy view though, what I understand as 'consensus meaning' is much like 'inherent frames of references'.

I think (to ramblingly explore/clarify) each 'bit' of language as experienced as a moment of (mis)understanding/meaning - whether it be a phrase, word, even a single letter, or the summative moment at the end of a passage has its 'present real context' its existence-meaning position, of which consensus meaning, frames of references etc come together with so much else.

The process of reading or writing a passage includes many such moments after moments with their befores and afters (Be it Dogen or Leibniz here as hazy frames of reference!).

And each position, in my view, is as much an intra-communicative 'event' as it is an inter- communicative one - each implying the formative 'course' the extended piece or expression negotiates towards its summative moment.

So I'm not sure that the 'consensus meaning' (as I understand your use of the term) is really 'outside' at all, but if anything part of the 'speculative' weave of the existence-language-meaning fabric through which existence-meaning is actualised at any given moment (of expressing through reading/expressing through writing).

I think in this light perhaps what you are pointing to is how we can fall into attempting to weigh in too heavily on the consensus/common/given aspect of language: where the shared or common meanings of words are used to make a kind of imaginary, fixed, group-think meaning where we can all agree on what an idea is - an idealistic assumption we can end up speculating into and from (speculum upon speculum).

For me, 'Fixing our terms up' is something we do when we communicate: we adjust what we meant or what we think we mean dialogically in intra and inter expressive acts, each its own situation or moment.

Of course, that 'fixing' can go astray through all manner of fixed sticking points, which are also involved in the formation of our expressive acts.

One might say that our monkey-brains are like cogs in the language machine, involved in its language games, and that realising and clarifying how is one way we and language continue to go beyond.

An analytical mode can be a way to clarify and explore and sharpen the tools as much as it can make one a speculating tool. All other modes - demotic and vernacular, poetical and metaphorical to name but two can be used in such ways and with their own particular pitfalls and digressions, methinks.

Sorry for the possible headaches reading this may induce.

ST

Harry said...

"An analytical mode can be a way to clarify and explore and sharpen the tools as much as it can make one a speculating tool. All other modes - demotic and vernacular, poetical and metaphorical to name but two can be used in such ways and with their own particular pitfalls and digressions, methinks."

ST,

I think the intention in doing it/ saying it, is of great import. I'm not convinced the 'tools' even need to be sharp if we're not involved in the business of using language in a 'heightened' way.

Personally I like fuzziness where language is concerned. And I'm into language.

As can be seen in poetry, and in a lot of Zen literature, language can be used in a way that, if you like, 'subverts' what is generally thought of as 'meaning'... And I think it does that with a very specific intentional basis. That has it's own sort of meaning and reason, as Dogen was keen to indicate... he didn't leave us hanging in voidness.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

II aslo lkie fzzuy langugae.

proulx michel said...

Scríobh sé Harry:

As can be seen in poetry, and in a lot of Zen literature, language can be used in a way that, if you like, 'subverts' what is generally thought of as 'meaning'...

As brilliantly demonstrated by D. Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach, when he tackles, among other things, the Lewis Carroll Jaberwocky poem...

john e mumbles said...

Language is just another belief system.

Soft Troll said...

Harry,

I agree. As I said, "can be a way..."

As for language, fuzziness and subverting meaning - even the notion that fuzziness and its cognates might not also be experienced as 'heightened', I can't think of a more authentic poet in English than John Ashbery.

(I immersed myself in everything he wrote last year, so he might be biased in us).

This one in particular seems to resonate with how the discussion has evolved.

I also love this quote by him:


Most reckless things are beautiful in some way and recklessness is what makes experimental art so beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing…I feel this in the work of great modern painters such as Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. Everyone acknowledges them now as being major artists, and yet, does their work amount to anything? There's a possibility that it doesn't, although I believe in it and want it to exist. But I think that part of the strength of their art, in fact, is this doubt as to whether it may be there at all.



ST

A-Bob said...

John said, "Language is just another belief system."

"There comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot." - Joseph Conrad

CAPTCHA : man newsgoy : I kid you not

Mysterion said...

Language is a survival mechanism. In the good old days of hunting and gathering, women (gatherers) had to indicate which fruit, root, or leaf to avoid because it might poison the little ones.

This also explains process thinking (gathering - women) v. product thinking (hunting - men).

Women generally shop for a shirt while men tend to just go buy a shirt.

Belief systems are not a survival mechanism, they are a death mechanism. In that transition from to death, the brain has evolved in humans* - that death mechanism where "one is not alone." It is, apparently, an angst avoidance mechanism.

*primates and perhaps mammals in general

Anonymous said...

"There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all"

- We Are The World

john e mumbles said...

The consensus of the group that a particular plant is poisonous constitutes a commonly held belief that if one of them eats the plant, they will surely become ill & possibly die.

A random quick search for a definition of the term yielded the following,

Belief: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.

The belief was strong enough to require expression in the form of language to convey it.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, don't forget to
change your underwear!

Mysterion said...

On the subject of "sitting:"

Sitting is one thing sitting.

It is, at once, a point of balance and grounding.

Neither future nor past.

Neither to the front nor to the back.

Neither to the left nor to the right.

Neither above nor below.

Neither inside nor outside.

Neither a three dimensional space, two dimensional plane, nor single dimensional line.

Sitting is a point.

Sitting has no future nor past, no length nor width, no heights nor depths (grounded).

I apologize for being "preachie."

cheers,
chas

Mysterion said...

John E:

Belief and language...

Let's not split hairs - you win.

Someone may believe that a leaf will make them sick or die. That does not make the belief "true." As a mode of survival, the leaf might be avoided - even if the leaf is spinach.

In the same way, I find avoiding the hysterically religious to be beneficial.

Do you know the difference between:

1) A woman in a church.

2) A woman in a bath tub. (?)

A woman in church has her soul full of hope.

john e mumbles said...

That's cool, Chas, I very much enjoyed this part of your earlier statement:

"This also explains process thinking (gathering - women) v. product thinking (hunting - men).

Women generally shop for a shirt while men tend to just go buy a shirt."

Now I get it! All this time I'd chalked the shopping thing up to boredom!

Anonymous said...

"Now I get it! All this time I'd chalked the shopping thing up to boredom!"

I hope this is sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

"Most London babies
have foreign parent.
84% in places."

Blimey! Is this s good or bad thing.. I suppose with multiculturalism and all it's just wonderful!

Mark Foote said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, reading the comments here. It's a wonderful feeling, followed by a depression, ha ha!

Dogen left Japan for China, asking why if everyone has buddha-nature was it necessary to practice.

On his return, he said, "practice is enlightenment".

If the Gautamid had just taught posture, what do you think.

Anonymous said...

I met a Zen teacher in Palo Alto, and she was certain I should find a teacher, and work on my posture. I told her I had considered zazen my teacher, since the day it got up and walked around; I wonder if we cannot communicate now in the vocabulary of all three early teachings, and kinethesiology, and cranial-sacral therapy, talk to people about the funny intersection of will and hypnotic phenomena around the breath.

Anonymous said...

The words of language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images.

Anonymous said...

Harry what is your favorite Koan?

Anonymous said...

I'm not hairy but I'm betting he's a waffle koan man.

Uncle Willie said...

"Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is."

Albert Camus

Mysterion said...

A monk asked Zhao Zhou: “Has a Dog Buddha-nature or not?”

Zhao Zhou replied: “Wu!”

A monk asked Zhao Zhou, "What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the west?"

Zhao Zhou said "The cypress tree in the courtyard."

It's not a snow koan.

Andrew Cohen said...

"Everybody wants to get enlightened but nobody wants to change."

-Andrew Koan

Anonymous said...

oh how the mind loves to tell it's favorites !

Mysterion said...

I think a suitable Zen teacher accepts you just the way you are and leaves you just the way you are...

Any changes in you come from within you and not from external forces.

Oh, there are certainly external influences, the teachings, the sangha, and the dharma talks (and, perhaps an occasional chant or mantra).

What you get is the sitting posture and, hopefully, a quiet space in which to initialize your practice. What you leave with is exactly what you entered with plus the posture.

Over time, you might gain balance, tranquility, and peace. Wait, and see.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or are the captchas getting harder to read??

Captcha: sures (?)

Harry said...

"Harry what is your favorite Koan?"

Hi, Anon. I'd say the one that springs to mind is the 'Gensa stubs his toe' koan:

On painfully stubbing his toe while leaving the monastery to seek a classier truth Gensa remarks 'Truly I cannot be decieved by others'.

Another one (although not a traditional one) might simply be 'what is this?'. When the posture, and everything else, is a big, wide, open 'what' I think that's the koan.

Regards,

Harry.

john e mumbles said...

So, then, "What" is your favorite koan, Harry?

Harry said...

Whatsville can be a pain in the arse sometimes, whether I'm deceiving myself or not.

Regards,

Harry.

Mysterion said...

More on the Buddha nature of a dog.

Just because a dog does not, in theory, know that s/he is born from the belly of a dog does not mean it has or lacks a Buddha nature. Nor does the dog control her/his impulsive nature.

So the answer to whether a dog has a Buddha nature or not is hidden within the dog and is not available for a human to readily know.

The answer, therefore, depends on two things:

1) which dog
2) who is asking

The same case applies to all salient beings. It's not about dogs or humans at all.

and yes, the CAPCHA is more difficult to read...

Buddha Dog said...

waffle koans for your consideration

square
obscene
has balls
tubby

Anonymous said...

dont forget this one!

Harry Cohen said...

What's on second.

Mark Foote said...

thanks, anonymous, for the unattributed quotation from yours truly.

Thanks, Mysterion, for the write-up by Tarrant. I am close to a zendo led by someone in his lineage, and that was helpful to me in understanding something of the philosophy of the practice at the zendo, there.

The article left me wondering about one thing, and that was Tarrant's statement that he finished the course of training in koans. If he finished, why are not all sentient beings enlightened?- something is missing, to me.

john e mumbles said...

Hi mark, The answer to that is simple: we are enlightened. Probably, unlike John Tarrant, you just don't know it. & Of course, neither do I!

Ignorance is bliss, baby!

Anonymous said...

Ha nice Meme :) There's a website out there that has a bunch of them if you'll are interested at http://www.whatireallydo.net