Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Thich Naht Hanh is Wrong



I follow Thich Nhat Hanh on Twitter. But, whereas I write my own Twitter posts, I doubt that Mr. Hanh sits in front of his Macbook and types his out for the world to see. My guess is that some minion of his scans his books for pithy statements that fit the Twitter mold and then uploads them. The Thichster probably never even sees them. I rarely see them either. But yesterday this one popped up:

"When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful & concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you."

So I Tweeted the following back at him:

"@thichnhathanh Sounds to me like mindfulness would get in the way of the sunrise."

I've said here a few times how much I hate the word "mindfulness." This quote seems to embody everything I don't like about that word.

To be fair to Mr. Hanh, there are many ways to take this statement. There are a lot of things he might have meant by it. For example, he might have meant it as a sort of advertising for meditation. Yardley Aftershave Lotion might tell you, "You'll get lots of chicks if you douse yourself with Yardley" as an incentive to get you to buy more Yardley Aftershave Lotion. Perhaps Mr. Hanh wants you to know that you'll appreciate the sunrise lots more if you do meditation practice. Which is fine, I guess.

But there's another way to take this statement. And I honestly believe it's the way most people would take it. They'd look at it and say, "Gosh. I'm not mindful enough. I'm not concentrated enough. Because when I look at a sunrise, I just shade my eyes so that I can get through this traffic jam on West Market Street without running over any of the kids from Our Lady of the Elms. Sunrises kind of annoy me. They give me a headache. I better get more concentrated and more mindful so that I can be more like Thich Nhat Hanh and let the beauty of the sunrise be revealed to me."

In other words, the concept of "mindfulness" gets in the way of the sunrise. It becomes a big obstacle between what we think of as our self and what we think of as the sunrise. And we make our efforts to try to overcome the obstacle we've placed in our own way. Most of the time I hear or read the word "mindfulness" it sounds to me like an obstacle.

Pretty much all of our religions and our various self-help practices are based on the idea that what we are right now is not good enough. We then envision what "good enough" must be like and we make efforts to transform what we are right now into this image of ourselves as "good enough." We invent in our minds an imaginary "mindful me" and then try to make ourselves into that.

The problem with this kind of effort is right at its very root. We are setting up a habit of always judging ourselves as being not whatever it is we want to be. Whether you're poor and want to be rich or whether you're dull and want to be mindful, it's pretty much the same thing. Of course we'd probably have a better world if more people were ambitious to be mindful than were ambitious to be rich. Probably. But maybe not. Because the effort to be something you're not always seems to go wrong no matter what it is you want to be -- even if you want to be super terrifically nice.

People who are working on fulfilling some image they have of a "nice person" are usually a pain in the ass. Their efforts to be like the "nice person" they've invented in their heads almost always get in the way of actually doing what needs to be done. Most of the time I'd rather be around someone who is honestly selfish than someone who is forever trying to be selfless. The kind of forced helpfulness such people engage in is almost never helpful at all. It's annoying. Sometimes it's even harmful.

But those of us who realize that we actually aren't as good as we could be have a real dilemma. What do you do when you recognize that you really are greedy, envious, jealous, angry, pessimistic and so on and on and on?

To me, it seems like the recognition of such things is itself good enough. It's not necessary to envision a better you and try to remake yourself in that image. Just notice yourself being greedy and very simply stop being greedy. Not for all time in all cases. Just in whatever instance you discover yourself being greedy. If you're greedy on Tuesday for more ice cream, don't envision a better you somewhere down the line who is never greedy for more ice cream. Just forgo that last scoop of ice cream right now. See how much better you feel. This kind of action, when repeated enough, becomes a new habit. Problem solved.

As far as mindfulness and concentration are concerned, it works the same way. At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back. You might start drifting off again a nanosecond later. But that's OK. When you notice it again, come back again. Repeat as necessary.

Trying to be more mindful and concentrated is just gonna put you right back to where you were drifting away from the sunrise in the first place.

***

Here's an interview I did on Digression Sessions. Completely unrelated to the above article, by the way.

150 comments:

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

But seriously...you're totally right, Brad...and it's odd, because I woke up feeling not at my best, and wrote about it...and found echoes of it in what Jake Adelstein (also a Soto-Zen guy, IINM) was writing...and now your writing.

Yeah, there's attachment all over the place - that place being the universe.

Mysterion said...

Brad:

Don't let mindfulness® get in the way of anything. It's just a speed bump in the path. It only becomes an obstacle if you notice it.

Let it pass... like gas.

Anonymous said...

and there goes another comment...

Daiji said...

Perhaps, it was poorly articulated. When you suggest "Just notice yourself being greedy and very simply stop being greedy." Is that so different from "notice yourself not fully experiencing the sunset and very simply pay attention to the sunset". The Thich Naht Hanh quote could be a poorly articulated suggestion to do something like that. Mindfullness (yes, a word with all sorts of ridiculous baggage) seems to arise from awareness. It does not seem to be something we can make ourselves do, but there does seem a choice in there somewhere, at least for me. I don't exist in a continuous state of full attention. I do find myself with a habit of noticing when my attention has drifted and a habit of choosing to pay attention.

uncanny234 said...

IT's sad you feel such a way Brad, perhap's your glass is half empty?

Anonymous said...

Brad, you forgot the part of the story where I called you a hater.

Grant

Joe said...

Very simple...there is awareness and not awareness.

It should have read, "When there is the big full sunrise, when there is full awareness/sanzen/samadhi, the full scope of the beauty of the sunrise is revealed."

Bob said...

Surprisingly insightful post.

Ochlacratic Mentality said...

I started following Thich Naht Hanh's twitter account after I started attending the Tam Bao temple (in his "network", I guess) here in Baton Rouge for meditation a few months ago. From what I have seen I really doubt he even knows he has a twitter account.

Either way, if he does or doesn't, I don't see the benefit of having someone else give "insights" on your behalf anyway.

Post Tribal Shaman said...

Mindfulness is, like any other practice, one step toward awakening. If you cling to the step, it becomes an anchor. But without the step, in its appropriate place, climbing the stair is more difficult.

Also, good to remember: If your are jerking the leash, you are still on the leash.

Ross said...

He's just saying "Just see the sun as the sun, and leave it at that." He just words things in ways that appeal to new-agey people. I'm sure he understands the duality of word just as well as you. I'm sure he's well aware that when he uses the word "mindfulness" it also implies "non-mindfulness". Now, I'm sure his new-age audience might not get that, but thats not his fault. The word "mindful" is just the word he was introduced to use in place of a vietnamese word (that I can't remember at the time).

Harry said...

I agree that TNH's statement could easily be taken up the non-right way.

That's why it seems so important to clarify the nature of 'effort' in Buddhist practice. Even to call it 'effort' can be a swerve ball as we might - or inevitably do - have all sorts of ideas about what generally constitutes 'effort'.

Regards,

Harry.

john e mumbles said...

One night a darvish stood with al-Hallaj near a pool of water. The darvish pointed to the moon's reflection in the water and said, "look how beautiful the moon is!" al-Hallaj replied, "unless there's a boil on your neck, why not just look at it up in the sky?"

coyle said...

"At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back. You might start drifting off again a nanosecond later. But that's OK. When you notice it again, come back again. Repeat as necessary."

Brad, Am I missing something or is that not being mindful?
You are just substituting "come back" for "be mindful".
Six of one, half dozen of the other.

ACE said...

because criticizing an 85 year old man who has dedicated the entire course of his life to serving humanity in the name of peace, for "tweeting inauthentically", is a perfectly good premise for a blogpost. you are so hardcore!

ACE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Thomson said...

The sunrise is what it is. Your mindfulness (or lack thereof) is what it is. That is all.

Brad Warner said...

ACE said:
because criticizing an 85 year old man who has dedicated the entire course of his life to serving humanity in the name of peace, for "tweeting inauthentically", is a perfectly good premise for a blogpost. you are so hardcore!

I'm sorry to have upset you, ACE. But I wouldn't worry too much about me hurting Thich Naht Hanh's feelings. I doubt he'll ever see my Twitter post, much less this blog.

As I said in my blog posting, my guess is that Mr. Hanh's Twitter post is taken out of context from something much longer and more detailed. It might even be that in the wider context from which this excerpt was taken, he says pretty much the same thing as I'm saying in my article. I really have no way of knowing.

I'm not criticizing Mr. Hanh for "tweeting inauthentically." I don't think he tweeted at all! I am criticizing the way the term "mindfulness" appears to be understood by most people I hear using it. Mr. Hanh's quote is just the kind of thing that is easily taken that way.

I'm trying to point out why I avoid the word "mindfulness" even though, as someone pointed out, it is part of the traditional Buddhist teaching.

But Buddhism has to constantly revise itself. It has to. Or else it's not Buddhism anymore. Once it becomes a fixed dogma it's useless.

Manny Furious said...

"Just notice yourself being greedy and very simply stop being greedy. Not for all time in all cases. Just in whatever instance you discover yourself being greedy."

As someone who likes the word "mindfulness" this quote is more in line with what I take that word to mean than most of the stuff spouted by other people.

Again, "mindfulness" is just an idea, a word, a concept, and if we get too attached to any idea, it probably does more harm than good. At least, that's how I see it.

Ok, I'm done being pedantic now....

Anonymous said...

But we must remember that looking at the sunset and wanting to be more mindful is the momentary situation and it is perfect as it is.

ACE said...

I'm not worried about you hurting Thich Nhat Hahn's feelings either - I doubt he has time to keep up with your social media efforts (being 85 and otherwise occupied with doing whatever he is doing at the moment). That is not my concern whatsoever. My concern is that you undermine a very valuable message, using your platform, by using a provocative (and totally pointless) header and introductory paragraph to pit, as it were, your experience of practicing mindfulness with that of an established and acknowledged teacher whom many (rightfully, in my opinion) hold dear. Personally, I find this post infuriating and detrimental, ultimately, to anyone looking for insight on the nature of being. Eliminate the initial setup and you have a whole different creature. And, I think co-opting "hardcore" to give oneself permission to be "disrespectful" is "lame".

john e mumbles said...

Even conceptualizing this experience as "sunrise" robs it of something essential.

Being inside the experience as it happens, at the same time it co-occurs with your perception of it, without moving into superimposed thoughts about it...

If you stop to think "am I being mindful of this sunrise?" It's lost. You might as well be reading about a sunrise, or hearing an anecdote or description of one.

Blake said...

This!

Moni said...

"People who are working on fulfilling some image they have of a "nice person" are usually a pain in the ass. Their efforts to be like the "nice person" they've invented in their heads almost always get in the way of actually doing what needs to be done. "

This is very true also in my opinion. Although I think Thich Nhath Hahn seems to be really a "good person". Not all the people who are good are also fake at the same time. People have different personalities, also those people can be good who are at the first sight too impulsive, harsh, conflict-seeking (just like me haha).

I do not like the word "mindfulness" either. Using expressions like "being present where you are" sounds much more ok to me.

Harry said...

Heard TNH is opening a retirement complex for older folks: Prune Village.

Sorry, ACE, just havin a laugh, but Brad's 'shock and awe' attention seeking efforts get on a lot of people's nerves from time to time. He's really not as tough as his language tho.

Regards,

Harry.

nanuq said...

not mindfulness, not mindlessness

Misha said...

My sense of what is at issue here is branding. Thay publishes books, and his brand, or image, is fairly well known. Brad writes books, and his "hardcore Zen" brand is something he is promoting. I think most folks that have a rudimentary grounding in Buddhism understand what Thay means by mindfulness, and what Brad means when he is dissing Thay's approach.

"But Buddhism has to constantly revise itself. It has to. Or else it's not Buddhism anymore. Once it becomes a fixed dogma it's useless."

The danger with the above is that there are many attempting to revise Buddhism. Because there is no central authority of committee in Buddhism, the field is open for anyone, including Genpo, to spin Dharma into dogpoo.

My view is that attention has to be paid to the original teachings, and then responsible individuals can weigh in on the application of dhamma/dharma to modern life. It's not Buddha's teachings that need revision, it's the way the teachers of dharma teach that is of concern.

Broken Yogi said...

Brad, this post seems rather confused and seems to project upon Thich notions that he probably neither intended nor would agree with.

The primary confusion seems to come from your presumption that this statement is somehow going to make people feel bad about themselves that they dont appreciate sunsets enough. Well, tough shit, even if thatś true. Why are you so concerned about people possibly feeling bad about themselves. Itś not as if in the absence of these kinds of statements they are just going to feel good about themselves. Buddhism is not about protecting people from feeling bad about themselves. Thatś impossible in any case.

Buddhism teaches that people feel bad about themselves because they crave feeling good about themselves. It is the craving which produces their suffering, not the poor self'image. Oddly enough, if you stop craving good feelings, and simply be mindful of what you do feel and experience, you really will feel better for the most part, and be able to appreciate the nuances of life, regardless of the pleasure or pain of the momentś experience. Ẅhy does this happen. Because mindfulness really just means the surrender of our cravings in simple awareness of our real nature and condition. When our craving is relaxed even a bit, even momentarily, we experience relief and a basic sense of simple sobriety that allows us to notice the most basic beauties of every moment.

When Thich is referring to mindfulness, I think he is just using the term as shorthand for simple awareness without craving imposing itself upon our experience. If that makes someone feel bad that they are not experiencing life in this way, that is probably a good thing, if it motivates them to understand what they are doing wrong. If it motivates them to take up mindfulness as a way of fulfilling their cravings for satisfaction, this will of course produce more pain as a result. But within that pain is the possibility for insight, which is also a good thing. Doing mindfulness half'assed and backwards as a form of craving is actually one of the best ways to see how destructive craving is, that it can even ruin so simple a practice as mindfulness. Learning that kind of lesson is invaluable. Either way, one comes out with real intelligence about the process.

Andreas said...

Hello Mr. Warner (or Brad),

"Trying to be more mindful and concentrated is just gonna put you right back to where you were drifting away from the sunrise in the first place."

But isn't at least a bit pre-planned mindfullness necessary to meditate and to bring the meditative state into everday life? And doesn't that involve at least a tiny bit of the decision/wish/intention to change (i.e. become more mindfull)?

You zen masters (LOL, I hope that does not offend you) always talk about letting go intention and not trying to achieve anything. But isn't intention and the desire to become more mindful some kind of necessary greenhorn mistake even you had to make before coming to your conclusion?

"It's not necessary to envision a better you and try to remake yourself in that image. Just notice yourself being greedy and very simply stop being greedy. Not for all time in all cases. Just in whatever instance you discover yourself being greedy."

How does that relate to mindfullness? How can you stop being mindless in whatever instance you discover yourself being mindless without setting the intention to do so and without wanting to change your situation in that very moment?

I am really confused, Mr. Warner. I would really appreciate your help.

Kind regards from Germany
Andreas

A-Bob said...

Lighten up Ace..

Brad wanted to get your attention and to provoke some thought. I don't think he was trying to piss you off or make you sad, he wants you to buy his books right? You also might have to consider that you over-reacted a tad to the post.

CAPTCHA : teducate reek : I kid you not

Anonymous said...

!!! MINDFULNESS !!!

Geoff said...

As far as mindfulness and concentration are concerned, it works the same way. At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back. You might start drifting off again a nanosecond later. But that's OK. When you notice it again, come back again. Repeat as necessary.

THIS! SO THIS.

ACE said...

I continue to be surprised that in the context of "mindfulness" or "awareness of the present moment" or whatever you call it, some people keep feeling the need to comfort me or moderate my reaction in some way - when indeed, I am very comfortable in a sense of being aware of my irritation with the title and onset of this post - and comfortable with expressing it in this area of commentary -

I am not worried about changing anything or anyone's feelings being hurt by my annoyance with Bradster's wry approach to "killing the Buddha" - which is what I assume is being illustrated here. I won't lighten up or react less for anyone else's comfort on this matter, thank you very much, I will feel exactly as I do in this moment and you (A-Bob et al.) can choose to feel however you would like to about it. I am fine with feeling pissed off, and unnecessary rudeness (for whatever purpose) really gets me going. If there was a point to it that I could understand, perhaps I would feel differently (not that anyone should care). Seriously! Tweeting! You have got to be kidding me - such a first-world issue, Thich Nhat Hahn does not Tweet his own tweets GAH

Jamal said...

The Earth is being drawn slowly towards the Sun and some day will be sucked in and engulfed in flame..

So what is so beautiful about a sunrise if every time you look at it you think about that?

I'm with Brad. Thich Naht Hanh is Wrong

ACE said...

wonderful - see how you are reaching people

Uncle Willie said...

I am currently experiencing stomachfulness.

Anonymous said...

!!! YOUR REACTION TO READING THESE WORDS !!!

NellaLou said...

"the idea that what we are right now is not good enough. We then envision what "good enough" must be like and we make efforts to transform what we are right now into this image of ourselves as "good enough." We invent in our minds an imaginary "mindful me" and then try to make ourselves into that."

It's the main reason The Secret makes millions. Magic thinking, wanting easy answers and feelings of inadequacy. Maybe even the main reason why religions even exist on a psychological level. Soteriological fantasies.

[On the sociological level---note the tone trolls above---social control is the name of the game]

Grasshopper said...

Hey Brad,

I heard a story that you were a writer or and a advisor for the television series "Life" . Just wanted to confirm. I couldn't find your name credited or on IMDB. TRue?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_(NBC_TV_series)

Seagal Rinpoche said...

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

grasshopper said...

Yea Seagull that's his line. Cool . Brad write that?

Juno said...

''When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful & concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you.''

The first question which comes to mind is, when will there be a nice sunrise and what is a full sunrise. If you realize the sunrise, you#ll probably not think about the sun, nor will you think about being mindful. But logically thinking it makes sens to watch, but how can you watch mindfully? I'm aware of the sunrise, oh shit I should not think about it, I should watch the sunrise.
I'm kind of happy if the sun shines anyway. Most of the times I would probably miss the rise of the sun, because I can not get out of bed. The thing is this morning the sun was shining as well but, it was not at all helping me to stop my morning thought circle and get just the first feed out to go further to the cushion. Oh, work, oh another day - I have to be mindful, I have to be happy with a glimlach (dutch word for smile). But sometimes it works and I don't know. It is nice to see a sunrise, it doesn't have to be big and also not full.

Living in the Netherlands where 'happiness' let's say stonedness! get's sold in coffeeshops, I think it will not really solve anything. The cycle of problems will only get bigger. I'm not a fan of drugs I can tell you, I have seen enough people suffering of them. They don't solve your problems, so being honest is sometimes the only thing which stays.

Have I told you I got a pretty extreme electro-shock when I was listening to Nirvana. Maybe I'll write a blog post about that another time.

Happy delayed birthday, Brad!

Anonymous said...

Happy Bday brad!!!

Older and wiser,well at least older.

Just kidding!

Yo Bro "LiFE" ? Too cool loved that show

Anonymous said...

Congrats, guys. You've successfully hacked and parsed a throwaway tweet by some well-meaning underling. That's hard as fuck!

Anonymous said...

When Brad tires of attacking Genpo and the troops tire of the tirades , Brad takes on a new Target. The one and only "Thich" Anyone see a pattern here? Brad appears to be a addicted to war fare. Read between the lines not what he actually writes.

Fred said...

There is no one to be mindful, but
in the beginning an ego observes
itself, the thoughts arising and
falling away, the sensations
occuring in the body, the cultural
fiction engaging in games with others.

Mindfulness is a name given to the
technique of vipassana meditation.

But in reality, there is no one to
experience the sunrise other than
the ineffable experiencing itself.
If you are the sunrise, no
technique is necessary to do
something to someone.

Not Thich Hanh said...

Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.

tattoozen said...

"Thầy" just got his fucking world rocked, hardcore American style!

Fuck yeah!

Danny said...

"At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back. You might start drifting off again a nanosecond later. But that's OK. When you notice it again, come back again. Repeat as necessary."

Well that's what most guys understand as the practice of mindfulness. You could also have said "be mindful". Now the interesting question is come back to what/be mindful of what?

Whenever I read your stuff about mindfulness/meditation etc it looks to me like you soto guys try VERY hard to distinguish from the other meditators out there. But look just a little bit deeper and you notice it's all the same just with different clothes. And that's kinda weird...and just causes tons of confusion I think. Because most guys completely missunderstand "just sit" from what I see/hear/read...

Anyway, nice try! :)

Danny

Not Thich Hanh said...

Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.

Mysterion said...

Every age is a "new age" compared to the "old age."

Post-Scopes, the Xtian Taliban gave "new age" a negative connotation because of their unreasonable fear of change, new, and improved.

It was only following careful market research that I chose "New, Improved, Pure Land" for my brand of Buddhism®.

IMO, New age is just a 'label' for anyone that has read anything published after 1611.

Rick said...

I ASPIRE to be a minion. As it it, I'm just a cog.

Anonymous said...

Reading blog at work. I guess that's like texting and driving when it comes to being "mindful".

Brad Warner said...

When Brad tires of attacking Genpo and the troops tire of the tirades , Brad takes on a new Target. The one and only "Thich" Anyone see a pattern here? Brad appears to be a addicted to war fare. Read between the lines not what he actually writes.

Yes. Good idea. Pay no attention to what I actually say. Just make assumptions.

Actually I'm not targeting Thich at all. He seems nice enough. Though he's no more a simple wandering monk than Bruce Springsteen is a blue-collar working man. It's an image that plays well to his audience. And, like Bruce's image, it has its basis in his actual past. But things have changed a whole lot these days for both of these superstars.

Which is fine. I just find it weird that so many people buy into that kind of stuff without question. Sometimes it's fun to mess with people like that.

Fred said...

If he was/is truly a superstar,
there's no one there to mess with.

The bots spewing platitudes use
the old man to keep their rice bowl
s full.

tattoozen said...

"I just find it weird that so many people buy into that kind of stuff without question."

You assume that "people" "buy into" "that kind of stuff," son.

Why haven't you ever revealed your penis size?

Khru said...

Anonymous said...

"When Brad tires of attacking Genpo and the troops tire of the tirades , Brad takes on a new Target. The one and only "Thich" Anyone see a pattern here? Brad appears to be a addicted to war fare. Read between the lines not what he actually writes."

Holy shat, some you people are...rather "unkind" (as defined by most religions and standards of common decency). You come to a person's blog and make unreal personal attacks against the blogger (in this case) Brad...things you'd never have the stones to say to him in person.

Vanessa Redgrave said...

I'd say it to his face and as soon as his lips parted to craft a response, I'd fire a 1-2 combination straight into his face.

Brad Warner said...

I'm gonna get punched by Vanessa Redgrave?

Anonymous said...

Brad did really write for Life? That's a cool show.

Anonymous said...

"Read between the lines not what he actually writes".

"Yes. Good idea. Pay no attention to what I actually say. Just make assumptions."

Good Spin doctor brad. You could write for Gingrich.

TerryW said...

I like this blog, I hope it never changes! Its like Dharma combat with every post!

Doc_Jude said...

I hate it when my mindfulness trips over my Big Mind! LOL

Korey said...

I agree completely with Brad guys. I'm on Brad's side and anyone who has a problem with it is gonna have to get through me! Do I make myself clear?

I say to hell with Shit Naht Hahn. If Brad has a problem with him, then I have a problem with him. And if Brad says jump, then I say "how high?" Brad is my teacher and I am his very loyal apprentice.

And let me know if anyone is giving you any problems on here Bradley. I don't mind taking out the trash...

Anonymous said...

I'm bored with Korey. If I knew for sure he was a teenager he would be easier to tolerate.

Mark Foote said...

Hey, Moni, I'll go with "being present wHere I am". Andreas, I like this:

"But isn't at least a bit pre-planned mindfullness necessary to meditate and to bring the meditative state into everday life? And doesn't that involve at least a tiny bit of the decision/wish/intention to change (i.e. become more mindfull)?"

I've been talking about waking up and falling asleep lately, a practice of the location of consciousness as it takes place from moment to moment which I find does actually help me wake up and fall asleep. As was pointed out to me, everybody is right where they are anyway, so how is that any different? It's not any different, really. I rely on that.

Concentration is the bugaboo for me in the quote from Thich Naht Hanh, as I certainly want that but all I seem to do is wake up or fall asleep. What kind of well-being is that!

some new guy said...

If Brad has a problem with someone, I doubt that I have a problem with either of them.

It's all the folks that Brad doesn't have a problem with...

Korey said...

You';re bored of me? I hardly EVER post, and the last post I made was a joke. What';s the matter, you can't take a joke?

And I'm 24.

Anonymous said...

You are 24? No way!

Korey said...

Anonymous said...
"You are 24? No way!"

I must say I'm very flattered that I was able to develop at least a bit of a name for myself on this blog - even if it's only one person. I always sort of considered myself one of the uncool kids that sat alone in the corner who nobody ever noticed. It feels good that somebody actually remembers my name.

But then I remember it's coming from some dude who sits in front of a computer and constantly bad mouths people behind an anonymous screen name and I no longer feel as flattered. I mean, that type of cowardice may be more tolerable if I knew for sure you were a teenager.

*rolls eyes and makes buzzing sound with lips*

Anonymous said...

Korey, The the last post I made was a joke. What's the matter, you can't take a joke?

Korey said...

Fine, do your jokes, but I have warned you about the funny business.

From now on we're going to be playing by my rules, and anyone who doesn't want to follow that knows what's in store for them...

.. a tolchok... right to the gulliver. Real horrorshow.

Anonymous said...

Zammerchat Korey.

Korey said...

Anonymous said...
"Zammerchat Korey."

*punches fist in intimidating stance*

Keep it up...

Anonymous said...

Great posting Brad. I found Thich is like cotton candy.

You can always attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but really who wants to be covered in flies?

BillZ said...

Being mindful of the sunrise or concentrating on the sunrise can heighten the appreaciation of same.

This blog says two things to me and brings forth a question. Firstly it says that Brad wants to have a go at mindfulness when the tweet is discussing being mindful of the sunrise. Second that Brad wants to confront - "Thich Naht Hanh is worng". Normally I like Brad's confrontation of the Buddhist institutional establishment but there is a need to be discerning concerning the targets. I do not know of Genpo Roshi but would keep away from him. I do know a little of Thay and don't feel the same way. So my question to Brad or people in the know is "Do you know of Thay's actions that bring him into disrepute?"

Leah McClellan said...

Having read many of the Thichsters (lol) books in the last 20 years and watched his videos (I follow him/them too), I pretty much know where he's coming from when it comes to mindfulness.

If we're not mindful (as I understand it, not only from him but others and as I use it) we won't even see the sunrise much less appreciate it because we'll be so busy with our thoughts about the past and the future that we won't even be there--we'll be our thoughts (which take us somewhere not-the-sunrise) instead of being present and mindful of the thoughts that might prevent us from being present and aware.

Ever drive somewhere and not remember half the drive? That's not-mindful driving.

If I were to take issue with anything (which I don't but I see a little something here), I would say that we can't be more mindful--we either are or aren't (at different times or even back and forth quickly)--and I'm not sure what is meant by "concentrated."

But I would take into account the fact that it was probably posted by someone whose native language is either French or Vietnamese or just about anything else, and things get lost in translation or are just slightly off.

With that in mind, I take it in the spirit in which it is intended, from what I see.

Of course, I love Thay and I know what he's about so I don't worry, if I were so inclined. He was my introduction to Buddhism over 20 years ago and he's taught me a lot.

Andreas said...

Hello Brad,

with all this offendedness around here I just wanted to add that my questions were in no way meant that way. They were serious and it's something I'm struggling with for some time now. I would really appreciate you commenting on that.

Thanks a lot
Andreas

muddy elephant said...

@Crumthecat

Please tell your new caretaker Brad that he should make up his damn mind.

Tell him to either take care of you or not.

Hey Crum, don't let this guy use you to make others feel bad for his money situation. He made the decision and he should live by his decision either way.

In other words:

Hey Brad!!

Take some damn responsibility for your decisions would ya!

Harry said...

A problem I've noticed with righteous anger is that, even more so than than usual, it amplifies how 'right' I think I am.

Being led round by a brute holding your nose is, among other things, not very Hardcore.

Regards,

Harry.

Thich Nhat Hanh said...

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong...Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?

Thich Nhat Hanh said...

The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.

Thich Nhat Hanh said...

Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path.

Anonymous said...

"When you contemplate the big, full sunrise, the more mindful & concentrated you are, the more the beauty of the sunrise is revealed to you."

So I Tweeted the following back at him:

"@thichnhathanh Sounds to me like mindfulness would get in the way of the sunrise."

"I've said here a few times how much I hate the word "mindfulness." This quote seems to embody everything I don't like about that word."

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

I agree, he seems to use "mindfulness" too much, but i think you both mean the same thing.

He seems to use "mindfulness" to mean that people are so habitually lost in the monolog in their heads and to wake up from that virtual reality/matrix in their own heads and see the real (more real than real) is to be "mindful"/awake.

"eating a tangerine is enlightenment"

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

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

anon #108 said...

Seems to me that 'mindfulness' is one of those "As long as they don't mean that I'm ok with it" kinda words. Like 'Zen' and 'Buddhism' and 'God' and 'meditation'...

anon #108 said...

I've linked it before, I'll link it again:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/PDF/onemoon.pdf

- skip to pages 3 (from "In Western thought...") and 4 for the 'anti-"mindfulness"' part. You can then read the whole thing. If you fancy.

Wikipedia said...

Mindfulness (Pali: sati, Sanskrit: smṛti / स्मृति) in Buddhist meditation.; also translated as awareness) is a spiritual faculty (indriya) that is considered to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment according to the teaching of the Buddha. It is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. "Correct" or "right" mindfulness (Pali: sammā-sati, Sanskrit samyak-smṛti) is the seventh element of the noble eightfold path. Mindfulness meditation can be traced back to the Upanishads, part of Hindu scriptures and a treatise on the Vedas. [1]
Enlightenment (bodhi) is a state of being in which greed, hatred and delusion (Pali: moha) have been overcome, abandoned and are absent from the mind. Mindfulness, which, among other things, is an attentive awareness of the reality of things (especially of the present moment) is an antidote to delusion and is considered as such a 'power' (Pali: bala). This faculty becomes a power in particular when it is coupled with clear comprehension of whatever is taking place.
The Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness (satipatthana) in one's day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself. The practice of mindfulness supports analysis resulting in the arising of wisdom (Pali: paññā, Sanskrit: prajñā).[2] A key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative stabilisation must be combined with liberating discernment.[3]
The Satipatthana Sutta (Sanskrit: Smṛtyupasthāna Sūtra) is an early text dealing with mindfulness.
Mindfulness practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is increasingly being employed in Western psychology to alleviate a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.[4] See also Mindfulness (psychology).

Moni said...

anon:

"is more ok for me" was meant to mean "expresses more how i try to live in my every day life"= being present where i am.

Thanks for the link.

merciless said...

People who are working on fulfilling some image they have of a "hardcore Zen person" are usually a pain in the ass. Their efforts to be like the "hardcore Zen person" they've invented in their heads almost always get in the way of actually doing what needs to be done.

john e mumbles said...

yes, merciless, but...

"It's an image that plays well to his audience."-Brad at 5:35 PM

Kyle said...

"When writing a book or an article, we know that our words will affect many other people. We do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others. Many books, poems, and songs take away our faith in life. Young people today curl up in bed with their walkmen and listen to unwholesome music, songs that water seeds of great sadness and agitation in them. When we practice Right View and Right Thinking, we will put all of our tapes and CDs that water only seeds of anguish into a box and not listen to them anymore. Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right Speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future."

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching," pg. 91


I just can't jive with this part of what Thich Nhat Hanh says. At all. While it is probably a personality difference more than anything, it is just something I can't agree with. In many ways, my suffering and my exploration through suffering has enriched my life. I've been able to relate and cope with others who have seen and felt what I have seen and felt. In some ways it has given me more than endless zazen has ever given me.

If we do not explore our own psychology and our own subconscious out of fear of disharmony, isn't that the opposite of what Buddha and Dogen and all those pioneers were doing? Isn't it just a new word for being complacent and, in Kurt Cobain's words, "I think I'm dumb, or maybe I'm just happy." My Buddhisty side can see Thich's point, and I have had moments where I've seen the world through his eyes on this, but in the end I just can't agree. My Joy Division-y, existential side doth protest.

What do you think of this Brad?

anon #108 said...

I always understood the "Hardcore" part of "Hardcore Zen" to refer to the business end of Zen; Zen without the hocus pocus; "Zen is a philosophy of action...It's a philosophy you do" (from the Hardcore Zen chapter of Hardcore Zen).

I never understood "Hardcore Zen" to mean aggressive, rude, brattish Zen. IF Brad ever appears to be those things, I suggest they're aspects of his nature and writing style, not examples of commitment to an idealogy. (Brad's form of punk was pretty puritanical, moral and disciplined.)

It's a book and blog title, not a variety of Buddhism.

Mark Foote said...

The Gautamid did advise sitting cross-legged and setting mindfulness in front. Usually this consisted of setting up mindfulness with regard to the body, the feelings, the mind, and the states of mind. In Sanyutta Nikaya volume five there's a chapter on "the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths", where the Gautamid states that his practice before and after enlightenment consisted of 16 awarenesses associated with the in-breath or out-breath; this, he said, constituted one instance of the generalized four-fold setting up of mindfulness he usually described. In Majjhima Nikaya three, he spoke along entirely different lines. I hope I can be forgiven for offering something I wrote previously about that lecture, which has offered me a back-door entrance to understanding what kind of practice mindfulness was really intended to be:


"In a sermon, Gautama the Buddha explained that the path that leads to the end of suffering and all the components necessary to enlightenment are developed and fulfilled through knowing and seeing things as they really are with respect to the senses:

'(Anyone)…knowing and seeing eye as it really is, knowing and seeing material shapes… visual consciousness… impact on the eye as it really is, and knowing, seeing as it really is the experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye, is not attached to the eye nor to material shapes nor to visual consciousness nor to impact on the eye; and that experience, whether pleasant, painful, or neither painful nor pleasant, that arises conditioned by impact on the eye—neither to that is (such a one) attached. …(Such a one’s) physical anxieties decrease, and mental anxieties decrease, and bodily torments… and mental torments… and bodily fevers decrease, and mental fevers decrease. (Such a one) experiences happiness of body and happiness of mind. (repeated for ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind).

Whatever is the view of what really is, that for (such a one) is right view; whatever is aspiration for what really is, that for (such a one) is right aspiration; whatever is endeavour for what really is, that is for (such a one) right endeavour; whatever is mindfulness of what really is, that is for (such a one) right mindfulness; whatever is concentration on what really is, that is for (such a one) right concentration. And (such a one’s) past acts of body, acts of speech, and mode of livelihood have been well purified.'

(Majjhima-Nikaya, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 337-338, ©Pali Text Society)

The Gautamid went on to state that for “such a person”, the eight-fold path (summarized in the second paragraph above) goes on to development and fulfillment (along with the four arousings of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four bases of psychic power, the five controlling faculties, the five powers, and the seven links in awakening).

In short, knowing and seeing things as they really are as consciousness, impact, and feeling takes place is all that is necessary to develop and fulfill a path to the end of suffering."

(from my Unauthorized and Incomplete Guide to Zazen)

Harry said...

Malc 108: "It's a book and blog title, not a variety of Buddhism."

Hi, Malcolm.

It may though be naive not to aknowledge that Hardcore Zen (TM) is also "an image that plays well to his audience."

Often wonder if the need to defer to textual 'authority' in Zen (to Brad, Mike L, Dogen, whoever) is due to the fact that practitioners 'throw part of themselves away' as Mike L puts it in that 'How Many Moons' paper rather than bringing their critical faculties to bear on their zazen practice thus clarifying the matter for themselves. I don't think that this 'throwing part of ourselves away' is what Dogen and the Chinese Master were proposing at all. I think they were more thorough, more intelligent, and more observant of human nature than that. The 'dropping off of body and mind' is not an act of violence against humanity. It's context is more nuanced than that and, in itself and devoid of the fuller context, it might be a nice recipe for a sort of denial of our existence rather than an affirmation of what it really is.

The latter day Soto orthodoxy is a potential quagmire of unthinking adherence to a faulty and inhuman principle.

Regards,

Harry.

john e mumbles said...

HCZ is a brand & also a tattoo. Just sayin'...

Good point, Harry, is HCZ trademarked? Maybe a devotee like Korey (not picking on you buddy, just using as an example)could be licensed to open his own franchise? Sell the T-shirts & etc.

Brad has stated previously that transmission is off the table, but maybe he can capitalize on selling the brand.

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

Yes, Harry. "...throw away all thoughts about what we're doing and simply do" is asking for it just like "be mindful of every moment" deserves everything it gets. So a bit of dialectical argy-bargy might go some way to helping us clarify things for ourselves. The reality of these apparently opposed attitudes is always something quite different from what the words might seem to suggest, I think.

Caveat for all future links I might put up:

"The views expressed in the following link do not necessarily represent the views of the linker. The link is provided for discussion purposes only."

Anonymous said...

Brad whatever your intention was, to use "Thich Naht Hanh is Wrong" as the title is really kinda...cheap way to get some hits on your page, to sound like a "scandal". I know you'll probably say/think that this is none of your intention and that you can't even think how people can think this way etc...but cmooooooon!

Anonymous said...

100

Anonymous said...

Mysterion, would you straighten out this mess please?

Khru said...

Korey said...

"I agree completely with Brad guys. I'm on Brad's side and anyone who has a problem with it is gonna have to get through me! Do I make myself clear?"

I'm glad you've seen the error of your ways.

Keep up the good work. :)

Anonymous said...

http://twitter.com/#!/thichnhathanh/statuses/159424855333277698

Anonymous said...

Thich Naht Hanh is wrong.

Tommi said...

The quote appears in an article in a book called called "The Mindfulness Revolution - Leading Psychologists, Scientists, Artists, and Meditation Teachers on the Power of Mindfulness in Daily Life". It's one sentence taken from a two page article.

link to publisher

You can find the whole article if you google the words of the quote. Here is a link, although I'm not sure if it will work:
http://books.google.com/books?id=S12Ak0szpPYC&pg=PA67&lpg=PA67&dq="the+more+the+beauty+of+the+sunrise"

Now, about Brad's post, I think it is pure gold. I've probably read something similar from Brad before, but somehow in this post the idea was really well condensed, about having an image in your mind and trying to become like that image and the contrast with not trying to change everything for good but just this one thing this one time right now.

ABC News Correspondent said...

Brad has now defamed Thich Nath Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa, Robert Aitken, Jundo Cohen and several other major Buddhist figures.

The guy's insane.

Anonymous said...

ABC News Correspondent said...
Brad has now defamed Thich Nath Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa, Robert Aitken, Jundo Cohen and several other major Buddhist figures.

The guy's insane.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't he think Hitler and Charles manson were enlightened?

ABC News Correspondent said...

Yes!

He tweeted that Hitler, Charles Manson and Gengis Khan were enlightened beings who embodied the "boddhisattva way" and ordered everyone to worship them.

Anonymous said...

ABC News Correspondent said...
Yes!

He tweeted that Hitler, Charles Manson and Gengis Khan were enlightened beings who embodied the "boddhisattva way" and ordered everyone to worship them.

3:16 PM

Do you have a link to that tweet?

Cidercat said...

Brad, I know what you mean. I am fed up with these damn platitudes, and I just glaze over when I hear them. In fact, these days, when someone tries to tell me some 'inspirational' quote, I'm almost inclined to punch them in the face.

Leave the sunrise be, patronising feckers!

Anonymous said...

That's inspiring!

Brad Warner said...

ABC News Correspondent said:
Brad has now defamed Thich Nath Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa, Robert Aitken, Jundo Cohen and several other major Buddhist figures.

The guy's insane.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't he think Hitler and Charles Manson were enlightened?


I don't believe I have defamed any of those people. In fact I can't even recall mentioning Robert Aitken, let alone defaming him.

As for Hitler and Manson, I may have said that I suspect these men might have had the kinds of "transformative experiences" that certain people mislabel as "enlightenment experiences." But I certainly did not define them as enlightened.

Posts like this are very curious things to me. Is this a joke that I'm not getting? Is it an attempt to make me angry? Is it an attempt to spread some kind of rumor? And if so, why?

Anonymous said...

"Brad has now defamed Thich Nath Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Chögyam Trungpa, Robert Aitken, Jundo Cohen and several other major Buddhist figures."

Jundo Cohen a major Buddhist figure?

Put away the crack pipe.

Mysterion said...

Cidercat said...
"when someone tries to tell me some 'inspirational' quote..."

I usually respond: "That's what the girl said at the picnic"

or

"yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and the next day it snowed"

or

"that's just what the red neck said after puking out his last beer."

Brad Warner said...

Kyle asked what I though of the following quotation:

When writing a book or an article, we know that our words will affect many other people. We do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others. Many books, poems, and songs take away our faith in life. Young people today curl up in bed with their walkmen and listen to unwholesome music, songs that water seeds of great sadness and agitation in them. When we practice Right View and Right Thinking, we will put all of our tapes and CDs that water only seeds of anguish into a box and not listen to them anymore. Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right Speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future."

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching," pg. 91


Thich Naht Hanh is confused.

This might be part of his cultural background. I've met other Asian people who don't understand much of the kinds of artistic expression they encounter in the West.

In my case, the supposedly "positive" and "uplifting" films, books and music I encountered in my youth made me feel lost, sad, and depressed. They made me feel like I lived in a world in which no one else understood that there were things that were terribly wrong.

Up until I started encountering the supposedly "negative" messages of punk rock and some of the related movements in film and literature I felt like I might be completely alone in the world.

When I heard other people expressing the same kind of "negativity" that I felt I suddenly recognized that I wasn't alone. It gave me hope and strength.

It's possible that Thich Naht Hanh is too unfamiliar with these kinds of artistic expressions to be able to understand them. He's certainly known some pain and anguish in his life (the Vietnam war, for example). But perhaps the way Vietnamese artists respond to pain is very different from the way Western people respond.

On the other hand, there really are young people (and not so young people) who use certain kinds of music and art as a way to wallow in despair. But not that many. I think most young people who listen to this kind of music do so because it makes them feel happy to know other people also share their pain.

Brad Warner said...

BillZ said:

So my question to Brad or people in the know is "Do you know of Thay's actions that bring him into disrepute?"

I haven't heard anything bad about Thich Naht Hanh. He seems OK as far as I can tell. No real scandals. Most of what I've read of his philosophy (which isn't much) seems pretty sound.

In saying "Thich Naht Hanh is Wrong" I was trying to ask, "Who is Thich Naht Hanh?"

I could have said "Brad Warner is Wrong." Because often the things people imagine they've heard or read me saying are nothing like what I actually said (see the comment above about Manson and Hitler being enlightened, for example).

Anonymous said...

I think Sometimes it's fun to mess with people like that.


Let it go brad

Anonymous said...

Brad Warner's on Bass!

How could he be wrong?

Anonymous said...

Brad said, "In saying "Thich Naht Hanh is Wrong" I was trying to ask, "Who is Thich Naht Hanh?"

That smells like fresh bullshit.

Just saying..

gniz said...

Brad said: "As far as mindfulness and concentration are concerned, it works the same way. At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back."

That's pretty much the standard definition of mindfulness as I understand it.

So I don't see what you're objecting to when you object to mindfulness. I feel it's a bit of a straw man argument.

Most people actively engaged in mindfulness practice understand that it's simply about gently coming back after you've drifted off.

I'm not saying that it was expressed well by Hanh or that people don't misunderstand mindfulness and get it twisted--but you've often indicated that mindfulness practice itself is not very useful. And yet I think you're just kind of confused in believing that mindfulness practice is anything other than what I quoted from you above.

Anonymous said...

Brad said, "As far as mindfulness and concentration are concerned, it works the same way. At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back."

Come back? Come back to what? Gniz says back to breath. What do you come back to Brad..

Mark Foote said...

Khru you crack me up! :)

Mark Foote said...

Charles Manson, I watched a film on Neil Young made by the BBC the other night, and in it he mentioned that "Revolution Blues" from "On the Beach" is about Manson. Here's Neil on the subject. "The ugly side of Maharishee", did I hear that right?

[IDOL Jundo 1000%] said...

Did Brad defame THIS major Buddhist figure?

Or is this one that he missed?

biosphere_oli said...

In the quote by TNH, though, he doesn't cast or damn any music or media as harmful simply for expressing, superficially or textually, "negativity." Brad uses that word, when endeavouring to exculpate "these kinds of artistic expression" which TNH is possibly "not able to understand." - ie those which contain "supposedly "negative" messages". Similarly, Brad refers to songs with "people expressing the same kind of "negativity" that I felt" and emphasises a beneficial aspect of his engagement with that stuff, which he then contrasts with TNH being "too unfamiliar with these kinds of artistic expression to understand them" and therefore misunderstanding them as harmful

It's not clear to me that TNH's quote supports a reading wherein he's actually condemning the same media that Brad then sets about exonerating. There's a conditionality in his phrase "to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others" where he makes it explicit that he's focusing on the effects and not the content of media as the domain in which he's taking issue with it. Then he wails on media which "take away our faith in life", and "unwholesome music, songs which water seeds of great sadness and agitation". Again there's the focus on harmful effects, and not simply on the content itself as bad if it is "negative".

I don't see at all where he's really condemning equivalent overtly-negative-but-actually-beneficial media as did the mainstream culture of Brad's experience in the 70's ? His final reference is to CDs "that water only seeds of anguish" - where the 'only' would seem to categorically exclude the kind of 'involves sadness but also a (transcendent) positive relation with it' stuff which Brad's speaking up for.

To me TNH's paragraph reads as being about stuff having effects like, for instance, Clueless did on me as a 14 yr old - wanting to live in highly sexualised and exciting California as opposed to my marginalised, platonic situation, and actually trying to escape from where I was into something more like the hollywood fiction. Stuff which inculcates the belief that all the fun is happening elsewhere - watering seeds of "agitation" in TNH's words.

Or take Dylan's many songs about "what's right and what's wrong, and about God and my goal and all that", to quote Syd Barrett, where he sets up proactive authority to judge his audience, which made me and a bunch of my teenage friends somewhat convinced we were inadequate and had to jump through moral hoops to get to Dylan Land / Desolation Row. Maybe that would be watering seeds of "Sadness", In TNH's account.

Perhaps the Clueless film makers externalised their desparation to be successful by pimping a fictionalised paradise to teenagers, and Dylan salved his anxiety by projecting manichean moral parables out into the world. It seems something like a blithness to consequences, which TNH's taking issue with, rather than just including superficially negative content in your art.

Steven said...

Different words, same message. Awareness, mindfulness... both pretty words that mean shut up and pay attention. Thay would probably agree with most of what you wrote.

Shezer Khandro said...

Thank you for the post Brad - I agree with the general point you have made. My teacher advises that when we have a neurotic habit that we wish to change then all we need to do is notice it. By continuing to notice it it will bug the hell out of us and over time it will lose it's hold on us and we will stop doing it. We can't make ourselves into something we are not and trying to do so will only make us miserable.

Anonymous said...

Brad wonders why he gets the response he does?

Please. Zen master flash.

Horse shit.

Anonymous said...

You spelled the man's name wrong in your headline.

boubi said...

yeah! let it flow!

boubi said...

I don't know if this is positive or not but, it raise the hell of kundalini, from crotch to head top.

It reminds me of a bunch of naked "lunatics" (in the very good meaning) shouting their head off while reciting the Ramayana, completely whatever the f*** it's called!

Nearly scaring :)

Old Boy said...

Brad is a wannabe Zen master who is envious of the big boys in the Buddhist world. It's so obvious: His passive-aggressive sleight-of-hand barbs at Dalai and Thich betrays a desire to be the "bad boy of Buddhism". Grow up, Brad.

Mark Foote said...

Gotta love it, Brad's World!

Regarding mindfulness and concentration, the Gautamid did mention somewhere (could dig a reference up if anyone is interested) that after he spoke, he always returned to that sign of concentration in which he ever abided.

An interesting statement, since it indicates that when he spoke, he was not abiding in his usual concentration. Combined with his rule that no vow of silence should be taken at retreats, which is somewhere in the first book of Vinaya, we have a man who was not attached to states of concentration, nor to the mindfulness presumably required to induce them. What a surprise!

So that sign of concentration in which he ever abided is not named, yet I feel certain it was single-pointedness of mind. Now the interesting thing about single-pointedness of mind is that it's not attention focused somewhere, or on something. That's the practice of mindfulness, perhaps (which can be distinguished from mindfulness set up and the mind withdrawn from thought applied and sustained). No, single-pointedness of mind consists of a sense of the location of mind from one instant to the next, as in "sesshin" (touching mind). This is actually the practice I describe as waking up and falling asleep.

With regard to the sunrise, which is beating in on my right temple as I compose these words, if we are fortunate enough to have concentration and mindfulness, then we are certainly experiencing that happiness which is associated with the meditative states, but if we open our mouths we are no longer in these states (yet we should take no vow of silence). Maybe we can teach people how to wake up and fall asleep, and leave it at that? Oh, wait, they already know how to do that! Hmmm, I'm out of a living, darn!

boubi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not so sweet said...

I am amazed, once again, by the completeness of your insights. For me it's a little bit hard to read you when you're so in one's face. I read that young folks today want to be approached with indirection and poise. So much for us direct speaking old ones. But do keep it up, Brad. Maybe you can slip in a gentler beginning? I don't know.
Sincere admiration,
Judith

ashok said...

This is a tricky topic, as what you are pointing out is definitely a problem. The nice character, the spiritual character etc. And when one has the 'idea' of mindfulness, they often do set up the dynamic you're referring to.

I don't have a problem with the tweet per se, if it is a little quote taken from something Thich wrote somewhere, he's likely to be speaking from an experiential perspective. I'm not really a follower of his writing, but I do 'feel' that he's not just a dharma-parrot.

However, one of the things about genuine experiential spiritual insight is that it doesn't suddenly provide you with a fully-formed and perfect vocabulary to express it.

Also, I feel that, despite whatever depth of experience he has (and I don't doubt that he has genuine experiential knowing), it seems a bit as if the conceptual frameworks he has to express it through with regard to our life in the world comes from the older, traditional, renunciation-style way. It's fine for village life in Vietnam, but for the vagaries and complexities of modern living, it's much more difficult to apply.

Giving up the walkman (iPod), for example is just not going to happen in any absolute way, even if the insight behind such advice is sound; that sometimes the messages we surround ourselves with in pop-culture sow more seeds of confusion. Better for us to develop the perception, and notice the 'quality' and 'feeling' of the confusion when it's happening, than to try to rid our immediate environment of its influence, which can be a futile struggle, and throws the baby out with the bath water in many cases.

Traditional renunciation, as valid as it can be in the right context, is way too prone to making a modern person very conflicted, rather than ripe for realisation.

But, I too have a problem with the word 'mindfulness' or 'mindful' in that it has become such a broad catch-all phrase, getting co-opted if you like, into the minds penchant for its 'ideas'. The experiential juice getting sucked out.

I have used it somewhat reluctantly, only because it's become part of the global meditation lexicon, as has much of buddha dharma words and concepts. To express things without these words and concepts means that sometimes you're speaking a foreign language, fortunately or unfortunately.

The down-side is the language sometimes suits rational presentation at the expense of genuine experiential insight. People mistake the appeal of its rationality for the actual experience, and live in its ideas rather than its reality.

ACE said...

"Posts like this are very curious things to me. Is this a joke that I'm not getting? Is it an attempt to make me angry? Is it an attempt to spread some kind of rumor? And if so, why?"

ah HA! Now *you* are expressing precisely how the introduction to your post made *me* feel.

I now forgive you (for what that's worth).

Maria de Fatima Machado said...

“Now herein, Bhikshus, certain misguided ones learn the Dhamma by heart, to with: the discourses, the songs, the exposition, the verses, the solemn sayings, the words of the Master, the birth-tales, the marvels, the miscellanies. Thus learning them by heart they do not by wisdom investigate their meaning; they do not take interest therein; just for the sake of being free from reproach they learn the Dhamma by heart; just for the profit of pouring out a flood of gossip. But as to the essence of the Doctrine which thus they learn by heart, they have no part nor lot in that. Why so? Because of wrongly grasping the teachings, Bhikshus.

Just as, Bhikshus, a man in need of water-snakes, searching for water-snakes, going about in quest of them, sees a big water-snake and grasps it by the body or by the tail: and that water-snake turns back on him and bites him in the hand or arm or some other limb, and owing to that he comes by his death or suffering that ends in death. And why? Because he wrongly grasped the snake, Bhikshus.

Even so, Bhikshus, in this case some misguided ones learn the Buddha Dharma by heart, and come to suffering because they grasp it wrongly.”

May this Buddha Dhamma go on for the benefit, for the welfare, for the salvation of those who, searching for the Buddha Dhamma with sincerity in their hearts, may have been ensnared in floods of gossip.

May this Buddha Dhamma instantaneously act on whom try to destroy it.

Arhat Aryashakya
[Maria de Fatima Machado]

Anonymous said...

Brad; the Sarah Palin of Zen

lubob said...
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lubob said...
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Anonymous said...

You're not the bossa me.

Alan Gregory Wonderwheel said...

As I see it, criticism of others is inappropriate, criticism of false views is appropriate. Unfortunately Brad Warner's post titled "Thich Naht Hahn is Wrong" seems to miss this distinction completely, at least the title certainly becomes an attack on TNH, an it is no justificatin to just say this is Brad's way of being a provocateur. Warner's pose is in fact a good example of how criticism of the person as being "wrong" gets totally confused with criticism of wrong views. Warner goes off on his preconceived notions of mindfulness and his post misses the Zen of THN's tweet. In other words, THN's tweet did not mention "mindfulness" and instead mentioned being "mindful and concentrated," in other words, dhyana and samadhi, which as any Zen teacher from Bodhidharma, to Huineng, to Hakuin will attest that zen-samadhi (dhyana and samadhi, being mindful and concentrated) is the essence of Zen practice.

Abdul said...

well... i see your point brad and i respect them, but it was Thich Nhat Hanh that helped me with my own "understanding" I have now branched off and am currently reading the Shobogenzo and have read much my shunryo suzuki and a few others. Dont be cocky Brad, TNH has helped many many many people begin to and continue to live a "better" life, he has helped people settle their minds and simply smile more and see things in a fresher light. Now ok i get it believe me i do that we should stop trying to constantly be looking over the horizon and trying to "better ourselves" but shit man will all else thats going on in the world good or bad, riots, murder, rape is this all you got to bust some balls over... how bout unplugging and going for a walk and helping someone today isnt doing so well instead of trying to disect a perfectly humble quote. Dont' be that way man!

Jan Wooten said...
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Jan Wooten said...

I am astounded at how pedantic is this discussion. Pointing at the moon is not the moon. How does one arrive at the judgement that " ... there's another way to take this statement. And I honestly believe it's the way most people would take it." (re: Brad's response toTNH's quotation about observing the sunrise and being mindful"). Please do not count me among "most people," as I was simply watching the sunrise; I was not contemplating the quality of my mindfulness. However, if I had not been mindful (intentional .. whatever), I would not have watch the sun rise in the first place. I suppose that Brad is saying that an inexperience practitioner can become overly concerned about whether he/she is sufficiently "mindful" or not. Thich Nacht Hahn does use the term frequently, but he is just one teacher. Everyone ultimately is their own teacher. The question should be "Did you see the sunrise". That is all that matters; for some it is dimmer, for others it is brighter. There is no right or wrong in his statement. -Jan

Anonymous said...

oh dear, can't believe I just read this crap...

Breathing & Playing said...

Hey! :) I'm vietnamese, have listened to his teaching and read his books in both Vietnamese - I can let you know that the teachings are the same so I would not doubt if it's not him who write the books :) Hope this helps. Have a nice day!
sam :)

P.S. Do you practise Zen Buddhism in any way? :)

Breathing & Playing said...

Oh and his name is 'Thich Nhat Hanh' by the way :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the differences between you and Thich Naht Hanh are all stylistic.

"At the moment you notice yourself drifting off, come back."

That's what mindfulness means...