Saturday, May 12, 2012

When You Reach Pure Awareness You Will Have No Problems

My name is Brad and I subscribe to Deepak Chopra's Twitter feed.

Hi Brad!

I don't even really "get" Twitter. I'm not sure just what you're supposed to do with it. The best stuff I've seen there has been funny one-liners like Shit My Dad Says or my friend Precious Veal.  She's a hoot!

A lot of "spiritual" type guys are on Twitter these days throwing out little sound bytes of spirituality. But I doubt there's anything truly worthwhile in the realm of spiritual practice that can be reduced to 140 characters.

Of course, having said that I also have to mention that there is a tradition in Zen of so-called "turning words." These are short phrases that, when heard by just the right person at just the right time, have a profound effect. One such phrase that often gets quoted is, "From birth to death it's just like this." A lot of the koans end with "turning words." For me, hearing the phrase "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" really blew my head right off when I was about 18 years old.

But I seriously doubt that a Twitter feed is the best way to disseminate "turning words." It's not like those ancient Zen guys subscribed to a service that would sling random "turning words" at them from multiple sources of varying quality at a rate of four to six an hour popping up on their cell phones among fart jokes from drive time DJs and news about Paris Hilton's latest Brazilian wax job. It was a different sort of thing altogether.

I've responded to a couple of Deepak's tweets already. But one came up last night that I think really needs to be addressed in detail.

Right at the outset I want to emphasize that this is not about the man Mr. Deepak Chopra himself. It's about what he tweeted. It's not even about everything he tweets. It's about this one specific tweet. I don't know enough about Mr. Chopra to criticize him as a human being or even as a brand. I know he's got a comic book series and a bunch of TV shows and even a video game. As dubious as the spiritual applications of these things seem to me, I'm not even all that fussed about them. If someone wanted to make a graphic novel or a video game out of Hardcore Zen, I'd probably do it. So this isn't about that.

It's about what Mr. Chopra says in his tweet. And what he says is this:

When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions.

Let's analyze that for a minute.

When (in the future, not now) you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) reach (whatever you imagine to be) pure awareness you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) will have (in the future) no problems (for your self), therefore there will be (in the future, not now) no need for (you to have) solutions (and won't that be wonderful, over there, past that hill, just out of sight, let me sell you a way to get there).

If it were only Deepak Chopra who believed this, it wouldn't really matter much. But this is how pretty much everyone approaches meditation practice and it's why meditation practice seems to fail those people. It is certainly how I myself thought of practice for a very long time. I wanted something for myself. I might have even thought of what I wanted to get in terms of "pure awareness." I read enough shitty books that used shitty phrases like that.

There is no pure awareness for you.

That might sound harsh. But really it's not. What you are can never enter that place. Because you are the subject that sees things in terms of objects. Joshu Sasaki put it like this in his book Buddha is the Center of Gravity; "The God that is standing in front of you as an object says, 'I am your God.' But he is not. Even if that God has great power, he is not the real God."

Pure awareness, whatever that is, or God (my preferred term), cannot be the object of you, cannot be the possession of you, it isn't in your future, it isn't something you can ever possibly reach. It will not solve all of your problems. It couldn't even if it wanted to. It's a fantastic dream that can never come true.

This doesn't mean everything is bleak and horrible and hopeless. It just means that approaching it in terms of you and the things you want to get cannot possibly work. It can't work precisely because thinking of things in terms of you and what you want to get is exactly the thing that blocks it.

The attitude expressed in Mr. Chopra's tweet sits right at the very epicenter of where things have gone wrong for mankind. It is the source of all of our troubles. The solution to what's wrong in the world is not some distant dream of pure awareness. It's the understanding that what exists right now is pure awareness, is God, whether you know it or not. We, who seek to know it and possess it, are the very thing that makes it so hard to understand that.

A couple of blogs ago Broken Yogi made a comment that, "Brad is mixing categories. I can't pole vault 18 feet like a top Olympic athlete, but I doubt that athlete would call me physically ill because I can't do that... Likewise, I'm not enlightened, but I'm not spiritually lame either."

In response I said something like, "Enlightenment (I hate that word) isn't like pole vaulting 18 feet. It's more like walking to the bathroom, if we were to continue that analogy. Most people, instead of walking to the bathroom, which (let's say) just happens to be 18 feet away instead try to pole vault to the bathroom. And they can't do it because the ceiling is too low. Yet they try anyway and keep injuring themselves. The pole keeps breaking, they keep hitting their heads, they keep beating themselves up over not being able to do it, and they still have to pee. The only thing an enlightened person (I hate that term) does differently is that she walks straight to the bathroom, does her business and then goes back to bed."

Enlightenment or pure awareness or God or whatever isn't some complicated thing we have to chase after far, far away. It's the chasing itself that gets in our way. We wear ourselves out running in circles to try to arrive at the place we already are.

292 comments:

1 – 200 of 292   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

1

Mysterion will make more than 4 comments on this post.

gniz said...

I like what you've said here, even if I vaguely suspect that by picking on Deepak (and earlier, Thich Nhat Han) you are also trying to get more hits to your blog.

These kinds of statements appear to be the snake oil salesmen trying to make a buck and build their brand, don't they? The implication being that Deepak is already there, at the pure awareness place, and he can--for a fee--bring you there too.

But I think we all need to look at our own sales pitches with this same eye. As others have pointed out, you have your hardcore zen brand sales pitch. Your POV, although more reasonable and practical, is still a brand and a POV that you're selling to the masses. As such, you promise something whether you mean to or not.

You promise that "you too can be cool, can be above it all, not fazed by the squares and the dopes that take everything so damned seriously."

I think Harry has been trying to get at this with some of his recent posts. It's easy for each of us to pick apart everyone else's brand. But what about our own brand?

I think seeing you dissect your very own sacred cows would be much more instructive, but you haven't done much of it--except perhaps in Zen Wrapped in Karma.

Harry said...

"Enlightenment or pure awareness or God or whatever isn't some complicated thing we have to chase after far, far away. It's the chasing itself that gets in our way. We wear ourselves out running in circles to try to arrive at the place we already are."

Hi Brad,

Can you explain how the view expressed here is different from the heretical view of naturalism that Dogen was so fond of criticising?

Also, how does it square (or should it?) with Dogen's various positions on many different types of effort being of the nature of realisation (such as acting in the diginified ways of buddhist ancestors, groping for mindfulness, polishing tiles... etc etc)?

I too like what you say, because it's easy and would have me do very little... doesn't seem that reliable tho, if I can suspend my own tendency towards laziness for a moment.

Regards,

Harry.

Brad Warner said...

... and Zen Wrapped in Karma is my worst selling book even though it's my best.

Maybe we can't pick apart our own brand. And maybe it isn't such a bad thing. Because different approaches will appeal to different people.

I got into Zen through the person of Tim McCarthy and stayed with it through the person of Gudo Nishijima. It wasn't the nebulous something called "Zen" that interested me. It was Tim and Nishijima. The books I read, by and large, meant nothing to me. I wouldn't have even considered stepping into a Zen temple except for the fact that these two people, who I came to regard as friends, did it.

I started writing about Zen because I thought, "There are a lot of people who would understand this Zen stuff and who would be very much helped by it. But those people, like me, will never look at a book full of soothing words of wisdom with a little lotus flower on it."

I understand your point and Harry's. I just think it's a necessary part of the process.

Also, I have to project this stuff through the personality I have. Years ago the drummer of the Meat Puppets very kindly listened to one of my amateur tapes. He said, "Sing in the voice God gave you." That's what I try to do.

leoboiko said...

A way to avoid this problem would be to make the Hardcore Zen brand/identity strictly nonprofit. Release all books and audiobooks freely in a Creative Commons license. Earn money with a day job.

But I don’t know how feasible (or desirable) such an approach would be for Brad, or whether there’s some kind of dayjob he’d be happy with.

Brad Warner said...

Harry,

This is Dogen's big question. He started off asking, "If we are already perfect as we are (which is what all the sutras say) why do we need to do practice?"

He spends pretty much all of Shobogenzo addressing that question in various ways. And the answer he comes up with always seems to me sort of like, "Because that's just the way it is."

When you practice zazen it starts to become clear why you practice zazen. But I've never met anyone who could explain it. My friend Greg Fain, who is the practice leader at Tassajara, said something like, "The longer I practice zazen, the more difficult it gets to explain why I practice zazen."

I know that's a kind of lousy answer. But that's the best one I can come up with.

I'm not saying here that you don't need practice. You definitely do. It's just really hard to pin down why.

Brad Warner said...

"A way to avoid this problem would be to make the Hardcore Zen brand/identity strictly nonprofit. Release all books and audiobooks freely in a Creative Commons license. Earn money with a day job."

Which problem?

Look. I'm not saying Deepak is bad for making money. And I don't think that earning a living by explaining spiritual practice is a bad thing.

If Deepak works hard on his books and video games and what-not, let him earn some money from them. Same as if he worked hard as a physician, he ought to get paid. I ought to get paid too.

I think you can be excessive in how much you make at this stuff. But, trust me, that has not become a problem for me at this point! I barely scrape by. Maybe when it becomes excessive, then I can give my books away for free.

Joachim Wetzky said...

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Harry said...

Hi Brad,

I think you'll find that Master Dogen talked about many other things besides zazen and was concerned with aligning forms of conduct, language and meaning, and traditional buddhist teachings including koans etc in ways that expressed realisation.

Shobogenzo, a remarkably indepth and lengthy literary undertaking, is testament to his *effort* and the fact that Dogen didn't think it was just a matter of 'because that's just the way it is'.

It is a lot to do with free creativity, and it's origin is ungraspable, but if we don't express it (in whatever way) it is not realised/expressed.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that phrase meant to encourage people to practice ?

Anonymous said...

Goddamn, Brad. You've been poking and prodding at Chopra for weeks now. Congrats on getting an angle to post about him with.

I guess.

Combat Master said...

"I like what you've said here, even if I vaguely suspect that by picking on Deepak (and earlier, Thich Nhat Han) you are also trying to get more hits to your blog."

Exactly my point to you on Twitter a couple of weeks ago.

Brad Warner said...

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Which is precisely what I'm doing in this post. Thanks for the encouragement!

Genpo Roshi said...

I agree with Brad!

Brad Warner said...

I suppose it will do no good to say that I didn't post this to get more blog hits. I don't really care that much about blog hits. If I knew of a way to translate hits on my blog into something concrete like money, maybe I would care. But I haven't figured that one out yet. I'm actually working on that very problem, believe it or not. And not by posting about Deepak Chopra.

I honestly think that Deepak Chopra's tweet concisely expresses something that is a very widespread, perhaps even universal, problem in meditation practice. Especially for Western people like me.

But OK. If you want to think I did it for more blog hits, go ahead.

Brad Warner said...

Harry said:


I think you'll find that Master Dogen talked about many other things besides zazen and was concerned with aligning forms of conduct, language and meaning, and traditional buddhist teachings including koans etc in ways that expressed realisation.

Shobogenzo, a remarkably indepth and lengthy literary undertaking, is testament to his *effort* and the fact that Dogen didn't think it was just a matter of 'because that's just the way it is'.


Yes. True. But I think when it comes to his core question of "why should we practice" his answer usually seems to be something like "we practice because practice is necessary." And practice includes not just zazen but the other aspects of practice that you mention.

Combat Master said...

"I suppose it will do no good to say that I didn't post this to get more blog hits. I don't really care that much about blog hits. If I knew of a way to translate hits on my blog into something concrete like money, maybe I would care. But I haven't figured that one out yet. I'm actually working on that very problem, believe it or not. And not by posting about Deepak Chopra."

You and I actually traded some tweets a couple of weeks ago, and Chopra interacted with us as well. I tweeted to you that I believe that you "exploit," or something like that, these big name guys. You wrote back something like "depends on what you mean by 'exploit.'

Anyway, when we were both tweeting to Chopra and he was replying, you were seemingly satisfied by his clarification on something that he'd tweeted earlier. Have you tweeted with him over this tweet?

My God, I've written "TWEET" quite a bit, haven't I?

Harry said...

The strange thing is, Brad, that what Dearheart Chokem says is remarkably similar to the way you present zazen... like it's some sort of aloof, magically protected mystery place that is in some way removed from 'the personality/voice that God gave you' and the way you speak and act in the world.

Great thing about Dogen was his emphasis on expressing realisation/zazen in words and deed, and integrating zazen/realisation into all of what we are... this requires specific sorts of effort, not just sitting for a while every day and assuming that we have it all covered, as if by magic.

Maybe it would help if you looked for your God-given voice in zazen, and determined its nature right down to the inscrutible root?

What a drummer told you years ago may be very valid in a sense, but, no more than getting transmission, it might be pretty dangerous to consider it an invitation to stop learning. Your voice seems calcified and stilted these days.

Regards,

Harry.

Billybob McDeepak said...

"For me, hearing the phrase "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" really blew my head right off when I was about 18 years old."

So what? You were 18 years old. Kiss blew your socks off too. That phrase sandwiched between sexual fantasies might be all there was to your blown mind.

Anonymous said...

When I was 18, I was blown away by

"There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas."

Anonymous said...

“Although the Bodhisattva saves all sentient beings, there are no sentient beings to save” ~ Diamond Sutra

No "you" to have problems, no "you" to reach pure awareness and not have them, no "you to be saved.

What's the issue here?

gniz said...

I think what people react to with you, Brad, are these apparent contradictions wherein you're clearly trying to find a way to make money through writing (mainly about zen and "spirituality") while holding yourself aloof and above the "spirituality industry" (as represented by guys like Genpo and Deepak).

The thing is, more and more you are a part of that industry. More and more you come to depend financially on the business of spirituality.

Rather than still pretend you are doing something different from these folks, why not really cut away to the core of what it means to be a part of it? By always seeming to critique "others" you come off as a hypocrite.

I don't think you entirely are, but I get the feeling that the further entrenched you become (with your new nonprofit Doghen Sangha LA and the like), the more you will truly become that hypocrite.

I've found out the very very hard way in my own life that the thing I strive most to avoid has often been the very thing I've become.

Mike said...

Is Deepak Chopra a Zen Buddhist? Does he follow the line of teaching from Dogen?

When you're done with this guy I've got a whole world of philosophers you're welcome to criticize :)

Here's one...

"A lot of people in spiritual life use the awareness of difference, and the spiritual glorification of difference, as a justification to indulge in that which is ultimately unreal." ~ ANDREW COHEN

gniz said...

And BTW, I think your personality and writing are refreshing and interesting and a lot more honest than a lot of these pretenders.

That being said, when you become a critic of some of the biggest names in the biz, you get held to a very high standard.

And rightfully so, I think.

Pjotr said...

No problems at all, Wow I would like that!

Lately I came around a problem that is not mine!
Or is it?
About saving all sentient beings. Somehow I can not understand, even accept, the idea that the structure of this world we live in is: We have to go through shit to get to a point we find out there actually is no shit at all.
But why the fuss? If all is right from the start? Why do we need to go through this shit in the first place, and some people like Jesus or Boeddha have to tell us there is no need for shit. Who comes up with some kind of insane structure? What is it? What is the meaning of it? is God bored? There is no need for suffering, do some meditation etc.. What about some innocent people who do not know about the trouble the self causes and go through a big deal of shit, but don't know better. Who thinks up a system like this, that requires gurus, prophets, teachers.. what is this? I think it's mean and stupid. Maybe I have no problems, hm or do I ? By having no problems I have even more problems! More then one can imagine. So don't meditate and do not free yourself! If you don't want problems. Deepak is just mean!

Harry said...

BTW, Probably the nicest 'reason that we practice' that Dogen presents is at the end of Genjo-koan after his discussion of the 'fanning' koan. This koan is directly about the nature of Buddhist effort:

Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. When, then, do you fan yourself?"

"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.

The actualization of the buddha-dharma, the vital path of its correct transmission, is like this. If you say that you do not need to fan yourself because the nature of wind is permanent and you can have wind without fanning, you will understand neither permanence nor the nature of wind. The nature of wind is permanent; because of that, the wind of the buddha's house brings forth the gold of the earth and makes fragrant the cream of the long river.


So, our practice (fanning) brings forth the wind (the effect) of rendering the earth golden and it makes fragrant the long river (which is the Chinese name for our galaxy)... can we make anything of that in these cynical times?

Regards,

Harry.

Jamal said...

Gniz said, "I've found out the very very hard way in my own life that the thing I strive most to avoid has often been the very thing I've become."

You've become a inner city person of color??

Pjotr said...

forgot something,
Yeah the only answer I came up with, as long as the structure is like this we have to deal with it. That we are here to help each other.
But still what the hell is this? and why?

Anonymous said...

uh... did you say "fragrant cream"?

Anonymous said...

"There is no pure awareness for you."

Thank you, Brad. A wonderful description of pure awareness - no subject, no object, no "you".

Lyn

Anonymous said...

Hi Brad - I'm wondering if you've heard of this organization "Landmark Forum" -- http://www.landmarkforum.com/ -- "designed to bring about positive and permanent shifts in the quality of your life in just 3 days...". A friend of mine has joined it and from what she's shared with me it sounds like a fast-food rip-off a Zen - blending various ideologies of self-help-proselytizing in typically American fashion - "we can help you quickly & easily, forget all that hard, lengthy work of sitting on a cushion." It also sounds dangerous to me. Wondering if you've heard of it and if so, your thoughts. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Somehow I can not understand, even accept, the idea that the structure of this world we live in is: We have to go through shit to get to a point we find out there actually is no shit at all."

We will NEVER get out of the shit, but all of us, including zen teachers, use, at some extension, meditation as a way to get rid of suffering, instead of BEING the emotional/body pain.

Pjotr said...

@Harry thank you for the fanning koan

Anonymous said...

@Jamal

Mumon said...

"There is no pure awareness for you."

Sounds like the Soup Nazi.

Seriously, not only are you right - though I disagree re:"God.". It is even deeper & more intimate than can be said here.

Re: Chopra - he's a bad example, his ilk is why I abjure the word "spiritual."

Anonymous said...

Newsflash::: mysterion isn't the only California jackbooter.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/09/EDUE1OF99A.DTL

john e mumbles said...

"If I knew of a way to translate hits on my blog into something concrete like money, maybe I would care."

So all you care about is the money. You are exactly like the other "spiritual masters" you criticize.

Cancel my subscription to Tricycle.

I am so done with this bullshit.

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

I love reading comment sections on blogs, or any website really. I love being able to see how people process what is written, and then express their acceptance or rejection of the main points of the post.

Brad; I find your writing to be clear and concise. Even though I may not always agree with everything say, you express your ideas in what I think is a clearly understandable way. Quite often when reading the comments on your blog, though, I'm not sure about how other people are interpreting it. There's a lot of people commenting on things that you aren't actually saying.

As for talking about what is said by the big names in spirituality; why not? These are the voices that most of us hear every day; Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, the Dalai Lama,etc. If someone disagrees or has a different take on what they say, then why can't that be discussed without the inference that one person hates the other, is trying to make them look bad, or is hoping to gain some sort of gravitas by ‘denouncing’ them?

As far as making money; it is a very difficult dance to manage. It is not easy to balance being true to your beliefs and the lure of celebrity. Most people want watered down sound bytes that make them feel good about themselves without having to think about it. I know several musicians who used to have major-label deals, but through their unwillingness to compromise their vision have since been dropped. I hope there is some way to monetize the site without losing the message.

Harry said...

Why is it that rockstars always seem to lie so much...?

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

We should cut Brad some slack; it can't be easy being landed with the Pope job, and then there's all our unreasonable expectations... I'm only concerned that he's resting on his enlightened laurels as a practitioner.

He should have some fellow Enlightened Master (a big, strong Rinzai psycho) chase him round a zen garden with a large stick or something for a few weeks, to scare him out of the brand-skin lest he becomes his own most unremarkable student.

Regards,

Harry.

Mark Foote said...

John, john: Brad cares about more than the money, he cares very deeply about the womenfolk as well.

I like Brad. He is willing to endure eons of karmic torment for the sake of educating himself about how the teaching and writing thing really works.

As to why I practice, here is my best guess:

"Only the spontaneous occurrence of consciousness, impact, and feeling in response to the necessity of the current circumstance develops the stretch in existence as a function of well-being.

Because the occurrence of consciousness, impact, and feeling is in the nature of beings, everyone realizes selfless activity in the course of their daily lives; because well-being depends in part on the stretch that is in existence as consciousness takes place, the activities and postures that lend themselves to the experience of stretch find their way into our lives.

The witness of a location of consciousness conditioned by feeling frees the occurrence of consciousness, and everyone experiences such a witness in the course in their daily lives, yet such a witness has no significance without the need to bring an end to suffering."

(An Unauthorized and Incomplete Guide to Zazen, by yours truly)

Yes, waking up and falling asleep is entwined with enlightenment; my authority on this is Mr. B. Warner:

"The only thing an enlightened person (I hate that term) does differently is that she walks straight to the bathroom, does her business and then goes back to bed."

gniz said...

Maybe I'm nitpicking Brad's work. I actually think the last few things he's written have been pretty darn good, a bit of a resurgence of actual stuff to dig into.

That's well and good.

Maybe it's that nothing is ever good enough.

I appreciate Brad's writing a lot, I'd miss it if it were gone or no new work was being produced.

If I critique, it's because I care. And because here and there some little red flags to pop up.

Red flag 1: Dogen Sangha LA, a nonprofit organization from which Brad will draw a salary

This is very much like what Genpo Roshi was doing with his zen center. Just because Brad won't make as much money (at first) doesn't mean there's not a bit of a slippery slope being climbed down.

Red Flag 2: Commenting on the "big guns"
Brad has been doing a lot of critiquing of guys like Genpo, Thich Nhat Hahn and Deepak Chopra. Maybe Brad's not trying to gain attention by piggy-backing off of their notoriety, but it's a fairly common tactic that people in "showbiz" use to elevate their own profile.

Red Flag 3: Failing to critique his own position or that of his own sect. As Harry and others have mentioned, it's easy to take on other folks' sacred cows (the dali lama, mindfulness etc). But taking on your own is a whole other kettle of fish. Brad's insistence on lampooning other teachers while showing nothing but worship of his own is somewhat of a disappointment in that regard.

Are those 3 red flags the end of the world? No. But they are cause for concern, as much as anything can be cause for concern when you're talking about a person you don't really know and whose live has little effect on your own.

In the end, Brad is going to do what he does, part of which is to write to entertain us and give us something to chew on. As a a bit of a curmudgeon and muck-stirrer himself, he's a magnet for other shit stirrers. And that's part of why he gets such a hard time from the peanut gallery.

I think the minute he truly ignores his nay-sayers and stops reading any of his criticism will be the day he is truly on the road to being just another Genpo Roshi.

Mr. Sealy said...

All of you clowns missed the most obvious joke.

When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions...in bed.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Mysterion.... let loose!

Mysterion said...

Brad: There is a word play here.

Pure Awareness could be equated with nirbana/nirvana of sense without the physical (e.g. being without 'being in the flesh' as it were).

Nirbana/nirvana is not an easy concept to Occidentalize.

Do we cease to "be" when we die?
Perhaps.

But Buddhism was not formed in a vacuum nor did it evolve in the absence of external influences.

Buddha rejected the atman or 'soul,' yet did advocate birth-death cycles.

When one supposedly escapes the birth-death cycles (e.g. nirbana) then there are, by definition, no more problems (suffering) to confront.

Not having been there, that I am aware of, and not having done that, that I am aware of, I can not, in the absence of charisma, state with a high degree of certainty nor can I buy the tee shirt.

Cheers,

Chas

Anonymous said...

What then is impure awareness?

Ignorance?

Anonymous said...

People will look back at us in the early 21st century and marvel
at the fact that almost the entire world was what they will call
"mentally ill."

Mysterion said...

anonymous @ 4:16

that is correct.

between right wingnut 'hate talk' radio and sleeze for jeeze, something like 55% of the residents in the USA could be considered either abused or battered - by republicans.

the entire exercise in television, although I made a career of it, was a great waste of bandwidth - or a vast wasteland.

I would extend that to the entire human experience on Earth. We arrived, we destroyed, we died off. We were not missed (nor should we be!).

Unfortunately, the devices of our destruction will be here long long after we have gone.

Mysterion said...

anony @ 4:01

impure awareness alludes to greed, lust, or any desire beyond basic needs.

Basic needs are water (pure enough to drink), food (clean enough to eat), shelter (from wind in winter and sun in summer), and sex - in that order.

Anonymous said...

"Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell probably belongs there." - someone way smarter than me.

Jinzang said...

When you become a critic of some of the biggest names in the biz, you get held to a very high standard.

The biggest names are not the deepest thinkers. Sort of like criticizing Romney/Obama. Go to it, if it makes you happy and gives you a jumping off point for something you're trying to say. I've done the same thing to Brad on my cheezy blog. Haven't heard anyone hold me up to Brad's high standard.

Jinzang said...

This Brad is a good boy / bad boy is getting kind of tedious. I never thought of him as anything but a regular guy trying to scratch out a living by writing on Zen. Sort of like van der Wettering and maybe Brad will make some bucks by writing detective novels too. Good for him if he makes a buck and great if he attracts some new blood into the prematurely senile world of American Zen.

Jinzang said...

To spell it all out, the problem with Chopra's pure awareness tweet is that it's dualistic. I give him a pass on this because every saying that tells you to get your ass in gear and go from point A to point B is dualistic. And the whole of practice depends on telling students this. But the teacher should be smart enough to know this is only one side of the truth and you're already there is the other side. Don't know if Chopra understands this or not.

Bruno Iksil said...

"People will look back at us in the early 21st century and marvel
at the fact that almost the entire world was what they will call
"mentally ill."

I wonder.. Humans are built to bully and kill the weak. It's ugly on one level but beautiful on another. Mentally ill or mentally healthy are just labels. It's survival of the fittest when push comes to shove people. I don't like it much but then again I am often accused of being an idealist.

Bruno Iksi said...

Being watched by zazen, cursed by zazen, blocked by zazen, dragged around by zazen, every day crying tears of blood - isn't that the happiest form of life you can imagine?

Bruno Iksi said...

Zazen is unsatisfying. It's fucked up!

Mark Foote said...

I would like Brad to succeed. I don't really know what Brad's success would look like, but I would guess it would include more people learning to relate to where they are through zazen.

In Brad's case, success will also depend on his ability to continue the tradition he has embraced. If he sees himself as a teacher in the lineage of Gudo Nishijima, then he has to continue that lineage to succeed (to whatever extent he is able).

Although I would like to see Brad succeed, I would also like to see a day when the heart of the teaching can be passed from person to person very readily without regard for lineage, as though it were some kind of algebra or geometry that has emerged from the secret society of the past into a very public present (throw fruits and vegetables, here).

In my mind's eye I see the pendants around the necks of the dancers from West Africa that performed here last night- wonder why.

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

Blogger Mark Foote said...

"I would like Brad to succeed."

I think he already has. But I also have best wishes for his future success.

As Les Kaye introduced Buddhism to my generation with "Zen at Work," so too has brad introduced Buddhism to a newer, younger generation through his trilogy of "Hardcore," "Sit Down," and "Wrapped in Chocolate."

I know quite a few in the old guard who have high regards for Brad - even if some in the profane world think he is the 'bad boy of Buddhism.'

Fred said...

Deepak doesn't get to pure
awareness. Pure awareness gets to
pure awareness. The personality
and body are parts in a play.

Mysterion said...

I still think it's a simple word play in which 'pure awareness' points to nirvana.

Josh Wells said...

Therefore, one should know the Perfection of Wisdom is the great mantra, is the unequaled mantra, the destroyer of suffering.



"Gate Gate Paragate Para Sam gate Bodhi svaha"

43 characters < 140. pwned :P

in all seriousness i really appreciated this post though, thanks Brad.

Soft Troll said...

Time to give up the bad habit of reading and posting on this comments section.

The quote below (from Koun Franz's excellent new blog), kept coming back to me while reading the last two comments sections.

http://nyoho.com/2012/05/12/bowing-at-the-scene-of-the-crime

However, the gap between our projections about Buddha and his actual humanity mirrors perfectly the gap we ourselves feel between who I am and the immeasurable scope of who I might be. It is no exaggeration to say that reconciling this perceived gap is the singular aim of Buddhist practice. It is a koan — a question we confront and which confronts us — and rather than avoid it, we are charged with facing it head on.

I've bookmarked Koun Franz's blog for the same reason I keep coming back to Brad's blog. I really appreciate good writing.

The touch, phrasing and resonances of the language - that which shines through - can become obscured by how we reflect and fashion our own limited, and often loaded, concerns into the piece. This includes our assumptions about what good writing should look, sound and feel like.

(Acknowledging that I'm as liable to be as limited as the next fucked up, twisted skin-bag can be another form of limiting self-deception, and probably the saddest and stupidest kind of sloganizing I can think of at the moment. I'll stop here with this, 'lest' I irritate myself too much with what I'm 'only concerned' about, my own red herrings.)

I appreciate how much effort, practice and courage goes in to such writing.

It's like the clothes we end up wearing in various situations - but having to make them too.

What shines through has been as much the message for me - and for one other person I know in the real world as well.

Thank you Brad.

Harry said...

Hi Soft Troll,

I think you'll find some excellent writing is the result of the writer's very limited concerns.

I think Brad's limited concerns of promoting himself are becoming (for me, and others) too apparent and hackneyed in his otherwise refreshing writing. And besides, Brad is at his best, his most creative, and his most instructive, when he turns the light on himself as opposed titlting at the windmills of new age tomfoolery IMO.

Maybe the reader is not always exclusively to 'blame' for concerns arising in writing.

Regards,

Harry.

Moni said...

Christians had the inquisition, Buddhists have the Twitter-war :D.

Soft Troll said...

Harry,

I think you'll find some excellent writing is the result of the writer's very limited concerns .

An obvious and largely redundant point. A reductive, self-limiting attitude to reading a text is always that, regardless of what seems to be the 'limited concerns' or stylistic limitations of a writer.

Maybe the reader is not always exclusively to 'blame' for concerns arising in writing.*

Tell that to whatever straw man did indeed suggest that readers are 'exclusively to 'blame''.

* A good example there of how one can be creatively reductive in pursuing one's narrow 'concerns', while in the same stroke appearing to widen the scope of the debate, straighten up the discourse.

And as for the gooey bit in the middle...

I think Brad's limited concerns of promoting himself[...] hackneyed [...] turns the light on himself as opposed tilting at the windmills of new age tomfoolery IMO.

...I've never been convinced by the main thrust of much of your analysis and less so by your presentation of it (see creatively reductive). So much for IMOs.

But as this is the the last time I'll take a nibble and spew a gobble:

Have your posts not been banging the same drum in the same fashion for a good while now? It seems many of us have. Quite simply, your posts read to me like advice to the self via a bit of Brad baiting, controversy stirring, or Dogen lessons for the the Zen impaired. Which doesn't mean there isn't some value in them.

I'm sure you've read Koun's piece in Wild Fox Zen about standing in one's position.

I think it's all too easy to write oneself into the mirage of it, and in doing so encourage others to follow suit.

These are my impressions. I don't particularly like them, and I'm sure you have experienced the sort of dissonance faffing around in such things creates. Within, without.

It's easy to parse myself into righteousness, even while I'm cunningly aware of many of my own limitations. But who can claim not to keep missing that nagging stupidity taken up by one's own, ever augmenting, intellectual habits. I'm in the mood for some real spring cleaning.

Saying goodbye to this comments section is one of those small things I'm going to do (I can hear the fool knocking already, or is it mocking?)

Now cracks a noble heart.Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.



And thanks again Brad.

Anonymous said...

Mocking, the fool is most definitely mocking :)

Welcome back!

Harry said...

Spoken like a true Good little Buddhist chicken shit, Soft Troll.

The 'Soft' bit is very apt, at least. Cough up that little 'harry' shaped fur ball like a big boy/girl now.

You couldn't troll yourself in a kalpa of sincere effort of reading good literature.

Happy running, Oh, mighty troll.

Regards,

Harry.

Lauren said...

I suppose as you get a larger and larger audience that you are hoping to influence in some (positive) way, your message must become more and more generic and cliche' to be appreciated by most. Deepak's tweet in specific analysis largely falls apart. As a generality it is pleasant and may cause some stopping and beneficial reflecting in the general populace.

I think Brad aspires to be a successful (living-earning) writer using Buddhism as the topic. My impression is that he is shunning forming individual relationships with 'students' (because it takes a lot of energy and focus) in favor of being more popular. He seems to be rather ironically a studentless teacher. It is cautionary that as he works to reach more people, his message might mean less to a specific person.

Like Zuigan (jp?) Brad is really calling to himself “Don’t be deceived by others, any day or any time!”

I'll wager someone has already said "all criticism is self-criticism"

Harry said...

"all criticism is self-criticism"

Lauren,

I think there is an awful, a terrible, amount of truth in that... the sort of shadowy truth we are not keen to see. The sort of truth we might bring our whole incredibly tangled and inverted intellegences and protective mechanisms and self beliefs to bear on so as to avoid.

I wonder what sort of effort is required so as to be able to realise such truths?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OggjRZaOU74

Regards,

Harry.

Lauren said...

Harry,

Sweet song. The iron ball caught in my throat glowed warm and was cooled again by tears.

A-Bob said...

Thanks for that Harry. It was lovely.

CAPTCHA : itilla terchil : I kid you not

gniz said...

Well Harry brings up the point again and again and it's a good point for us all to look at ourselves.

Only we can truly know if we do the real turning of the light on ourselves and our own cherished beliefs.

Since the subject of this blog often seems to be about being sincere or authentic in this practice, it makes sense that much of the comments section becomes argumentation about what that really entails.

For myself it's meant trying to bring moment-to-moment awareness to bear in my life. I've often fallen stunningly short in that department, and my comments here are sometimes testament to that failure.

But self-flagellation is just another red herring I throw at myself, just another way to avoid this next moment which is truly fresh and truly here this very second.

Can I do something new, something fresh, can I take a breath right now and react differently to that same old stimulus?

Or am I just a dancing monkey who does the same jig when a coin is thrown in my little tin bucket?

I want to be more than a dancing monkey. Trying to force Brad to be more than that "dancing monkey" is futile because a) I can never know what he is doing or feeling in this moment and b) even if he does what i want him to do, it doesn't help me even one bit.

It's like trying to get my friend to diet so that I can vicariously prove to myself that this diet works.

If the diet is going to work, it's going to be because I take the disciplined steps to live the lifestyle and make the changes.

My diet is one of relaxing in this moment. If I failed a second ago, there's a new moment right here to present itself and do better. If I succeeded a second ago, it makes no difference now because the instant I become self-congratulatory about what I did last second, I've lost this moment here.

And so it goes for me.

Brad's successes and failures have not a whit to do with my own, however much I'd like that to be the case sometimes. And however temporarily nice it might be to make him my virtual whipping boy for a couple of hours.

That's my best shot at turning the light on myself Harry. What say you? Strike that. It won't matter one bit to me either way.
:)

Anonymous said...

Brad:

I know you're an author who writes books related to Zen Buddhism.
Are you a teacher?
Are you a Zen Buddhist teacher?
I've seen some websites describe you as a Zen Master.
Are you a Zen Master?
What is that?

It would help me to understand how you are connected to Buddhism so I can put your writing in the right context.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

happy mothers day

Harry said...

"That's my best shot at turning the light on myself Harry. What say you?"

If you practice sincerely then you're very likely in a better position to judge, Gniz.

Regards,

H.

Kyle said...

Great post, Brad!

Anonymous said...

Brad has gone quiet on this comment section. It's almost like he appears here to get the shit stirred and then bugs out. Like he's not really interested in discussion, but instead interested of getting people to comment here.

Mark Foote said...

@gniz,

My good friend called from Hawaii, he's visiting his mom there. He sounded rested, and when I mentioned it he said he had been sleeping, better than he had in awhile. My friend tends to wake up after about four hours of sleep and stay that way.

I mentioned again my success, that a gentleman in New York was able to follow the location of his mind as it flitted about in his body before sleep, and by staying with the location of his awareness the gentleman fell asleep.

My friend said his mind is like the pinball in the pinball machine as he lies in bed. I said that's it, just stay with that; keep your hands off the flippers, I said. Don't juke the machine too much, avoid the tilt.

You might ask why I think staying with the location of mind has anything to do with the seque from things constructed and thought out to an emptiness of craving, desire, and ignorance wherein only these six senses (conditioned by life and grounded on this body itself) are present. (weird description of enlightenment from MN III 108, Pali Text Society volume 3 pg 151).

In this breath, that's what I was thinking to myself this morning about the ox I rode in on, just like you; recollection already set up when the pleasant object of thought ceases, I recalled that too.

Brad relies on his experience when he teaches, but he trades on the approval of his understanding that he received from his teacher. How could it be otherwise.

roman said...

Gee, when will people figure out that Brad is through all his writing just explaining what Buddhism is? Gniz, Harry, why is it so interesting for you to jugde whether his intensions are right or wrong? Whatever happens in the worlds, be it a pigeon shit falls on your nose or Mrs Smith says that Buddha is an idiot, it serves as a platform for EXPLAINING what Buddhism is. Brad is just doing that. He has been critical of himself enough, as far as I am concerned, but HE understands Buddhism and teaches Buddhism in a way that is beyond psychoanalysis and personal issues. If you haven't grasped this essential thing about teachign Buddhism, I hope you soon will.

Anonymous said...

Roman, every time you comment here you reveal your stupidity. Seriously. Go back to your shit blog and lick Brad's ass there, as you have in the past.

NO ONE wants to read it here. (I have received NUMEROUS emails from virtually ALL of the regular commenters here, and they have all, to a person, talked about how little they enjoy your comments here.)

roman said...

If you guys haven't learned the Buddhist truth yet, why do you keep telling someone like Brad, who has learned what the Buddhist truth is, what he should or should not write, do, how he should make money, whether he should have sex or not, etc. When you guys learn the BUddhist truth, you will tell people what to do, ok? But before that, go to hell. Kisses!

Anonymous said...

Virtually ALL of the regular commenters here want you to leave, Roman. I have received NUMEROUS emails from them, wherein they state that they'll post otherwise here, but privately harbor a deep dislike for you and your comments.

roman said...

anonymous, you made me laugh, I so absolutely don't care what your silly opinion is, but thanks for the entertainment

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

What is the Buddhist truth?

...and how could it possibly be 'beyond personal issues'?

The idea that the Buddhist truth is beyond personal issues is pretty much what Brad was criticising Deepnap Chakra about.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Deepnap Rootchakra and Roman are not wanted here. I have received NUMEROUS emails from the MOST prominent commenters here. It's UNANIMOUS.

Anonymous said...

I like Roman! He has a nice haircut and looks fun :p

roman said...

Harry, you have just opened a big can of Buddhist teaching. First, throw everything out all of your mind,then listen to the dharma, then throw out the dharma. Finished. I am not saying Brad is a saint and never makes a mistake, but what ppl keep criticizing is how he explains Buddhism, while wanting to learn from him? Impossible. If you want to learn from him, you have to drop your opinikons how Buddhism should be taught. I hope it makes sense a bit. My teacher is also ONLY a human being, but I would never mix up with what he says about other Buddhist teachers or schools, that's part of his job, not my job.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'll grant you the haircut. However, virtually ALL of the prominent commenters here have emailed me that they want him to LEAVE and never come back, as he is a KNOWN Warner arse-licker.

Anonymous said...

"If you want to learn from him, you have to drop your opinikons how Buddhism should be taught"

What the FUCK is an "OPINIKONS"? LOL, no wonder virtually EVERY single regular poster here wants you GONE.

Manny Furious said...

Thanks for this post Brad. Really good stuff this time.

roman said...

I hardly ever come here to read comments or comment myself, but this time I will make an exception. As briefly as possible, I want to state that Brad is not a superman, nor is my teacher, I don't kiss up to them. On the other hand, they MAYBE???? being bit sarcastic) realized something that is worth learning from them. In that respect, they are teachers and we are students. In all other respects, of course, we are perfectly on par with them. You cannot learn Buddhism from someone you don't trust has found the Buddhist truth. I personally dont' surf the net picking at fake teachers. I have no time for that, it is better to go to a site where you can learn something valuable.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

Brad is not my teacher. I don't see him as a teacher, and he doesn't really present himself as a teacher as the term is understood in zen tradition and practice.

His books are arguably instructive, but writing well about Buddhism never made anyone a Buddhist teacher in the sense of being a 'good counselor' as Dogen put it. I rather think Brad avoids being that sort of teacher.

Brad, if you can drop the notion that he is a teacher (which he pretty much ain't), looks just like some loudmouth on the internet to a lot of people a lot of the time. I think if you reflect on it this position it will not seem unreasonable.

As to your presentation of what Buddhism is... I'm glad it wasn't explained to me that way as formaing aversion to our own thoughts might be a bit precarious for thinking beings.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

Harry just DESTROYED the reviled Roman. I doubt Roman will come back on the internet AT ALL, much less here, for at least six weeks.

roman said...

Harry, I appreciate your intelligent reaction. At least you are a real human being, unlike some trolls here.
I agree that Brad wriging a blog or books is not a Buddhist teacher exactly. But he explains Buddhism through his blog and books authentically. And as I have met him in person, I could see not only can he explain Buddhism through words, he can do it in person and be a true, real, personal teacher. As for "formaing aversion to our own thoughts might be a bit precarious for thinking beings". Welcome to Buddhism, first the bowl has to be emptied, then the teaching can be accepted. You can freely THINK about this. No problem with thinking. But always drop it when necessary. Which is whenever it is time to DO something.

Anonymous said...

You're calling me a troll and saying that I'm not a real human being, Roman?

Well fuuuuck youuuuu! How you like them apples, butter tits?

You have 24 hours to apologize to me for those hurtful words or else I'll convene an e-meeting with ALL of the regular commenters here and we will issue a vote of NO confidence in any of your comments, here or elsewhere.

The ball is in your court, communist.

roman said...

Harry, seriously, I don't get any critical comments at my own blog, I would appreciate your feedback. Brad has enough critical stuff here, I get none on my blog, that's not fair. Criticism or objections are nice for inspiration. I am really serious, you are more than welcome to read my stuff, comment and criticize sincerely.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

You may find that everyone who contributes here is a human being, regardless of what you think about them.

Regarding the Buddhist truth, you appear simply to be explaining your version of the method for zazen.

What is the teaching as in the 'teaching that can be accepted' when the mind is emptied?

And what is the purpose of this?

In other words, what is the Buddhist truth?

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

At least you're supplicating to Harry now.

I better be next on your ass-kissing list!

Harry and I are a team and we don't suffer fools (talking about you here, Roman) lightly.

Harry said...

... I don't know who my faithful sidekick is all of a sudden, but something tells me that on another day I might just as easily be the subject of his affections.

roman said...

Harry, you are asking basic Buddhist questions, I suggest that you read some of my articles first and comment or ask then. I think what you ask about is what I address in almost all my articles. My last article I think answers all your questions

http://myogen.blogspot.com/2012/05/way-i-write.html

I also recommend A Chat About a Few Things where I explain my relationship with my teacher and what I have learned from him.

Harry said...

Roman,

I am not looking for a teacher, thanks. And, futhermore, your assertion that you know what the Buddhist truth is when you see it rings hollow when you can't explain it to me.

The internet is infested with Buddhist teachers pointing at themselves.

Regards,

Harry,

Anonymous said...

Roman, your sweater is really nice too ;-)

But I bet Harry has a nicer one! White?

roman said...

Harry, if you don't trust me, don't ask me questions, you are wasting both your and my time.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

It's not a matter of trust, it's a matter of simple facts (even so, there are a lot of teachers who could tell us what the Buddhist truth is that we shouldn't trust in my opinion!)

If I seem sceptical it's because you came here talking about the Buddhist truth, yet you can't really say what that is.

What way is that to have a conversation about anything?

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

I can tell you a lot of things about what the Buddhist truth is and still never express it, so I write lots of articles about it where I give lots of examples how one realizes what the Buddist truth is, it is not something you can describe in words, but something you realize. Good night.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

The Buddhist truth is being expressed everywhere in a supremely real way right now. It has been expressed in simple terms, and it can be expressed in a couple of words with little trouble. That it takes lifetimes to clarify is quite another matter.

Good night,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

It looks like you guys are having an unsatisfying exchange.

There's some Buddhist Truth!

Mysterion said...

"Buddhist truth," is as individual as a set of fingerprints.

Most people have eight fingers and two thumbs and only manage to use a few fingers to pick their nose.

Most Buddhists were born enlightened beings yet manage to slumber again by the time they reach the age of majority.

Now they may have the help of evangelicals (of any faith), peer-pressure, and/or culture in their quest for ignorance yet they still carry the flickering light of their own salvation.

Anonymous said...

Word.

Anonymous said...

Roman is the new Blog Idiot™ and Mysterion demotes to Blog Dipshit™. Sorry, Mysterion, but you have to admit that this Roman fucknut has outperformed you on this thread.

Harry, I have ALWAYS supported you. (Basically because you've always either dismissed what I've written without comment or sort of laughed.) We are a TEAM, bro!

Anonymous said...

"If I seem sceptical it's because you came here talking about the Buddhist truth, yet you can't really say what that is."

Hey, Harry. Your teammate here again. Uh, I don't want to come across as pushy or anything, but you're going to need to speak American here. It's "skeptical," my friend and teammate.

Brad doesn't take kindly to bastardized language. You Brits have taken our language, handed to us straight from God almighty himself, and done your best to destroy it. Neither Brad nor I can stand by idly and accept this gutter-speak of yours.

Anonymous said...

Neither Brad nor I can stand by idly and accept this gutter-speak of yours...in bed.

Anonymous said...

"Neither Brad nor I can stand by idly and accept this gutter-speak of yours...in bed."

Said the Anonymous who has repeatedly asked Brad about his penis.

You're not fooling Harry and me, Anonymous. ;)

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm on Roman & Mysterion's side then.

You have to give Mysterion respect straight out because he's an old guy. (Sorry) And old guys have been in this shithole longer than us, so props there. Who knows if we will last that long? Plus, when we get to be old guys, will we want to be pissed on by young fools? No. So Mysterion gets the elder pass no matter what you think of what he writes. Be Respectful to Your Elders.

Roman gets my support, again, because of the haircut and the sweater. Plus he has a nice blog with a lot of interesting writing and has been practicing for 20 years! Right on! Even if what he writes can come off as offensive and condescending, he still gets my respect because he'll hang in there and have a discussion with others who have an opposing POV.

And you, other anon, you get my respect too because the way you write cracks me up! Witty fellow you are.

Happy Mothers Day to your Mums.

Anonymous said...

How old is Mysterion? I never really considered that criterion.

I love old people and I'm biased in favor of them.

Anonymous said...

Harry, you want the Buddhist Truth? Buckle up, motherfucker, here you go...

qwerty

Anonymous said...

I'm actually much more comfortable with this comment section being about Harry than what it's usually about, which is a bunch of crap.

Kudos, other Anonymous. Keep Harry front and center. I've supported Harry since he BLASTED Mike Chodo Cross.

Anonymous said...

qwerty? meh...

UIOP !!!

Jinzang said...

"The student in this monastery should be like milk and water—should be harmonious, should be friendly like milk and water." - Shunryu Suzuki

Anonymous said...

Jinzang, that quote was stolen from Seagal Rinpoche.

Harry said...

I've never felt more popular :p

It's like (sort of) finding the long lost brother/sister that they took away from me in The Institute.

I quite agree about the US/Brit English language thing... although they had to send it to Ireland to find out how it could be used to write interesting things with.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

I've never sold the Irish short when it comes to writing. My record is crystal-clear on that point. Jonathan Swift wrote about Gulliver and made all these great points about stuff and shit like that. Harry is Swift reincarnated, imo. We need a tulku or something to confirm it, but I'm pretty goddamned confident.

Mark Foote said...

Even Mysterion acknowledges that waking up and falling asleep are everyday aspects of the teaching:

"Most Buddhists were born enlightened beings yet manage to slumber again by the time they reach the age of majority."

Roman, if you want feedback, see if you recall your own words in practice. If so, three bows to the sangha here, and all the commentators, including psychononymous. If not, round up the usual suspects!

Mark Foote said...

ok, 'nonymous, that last comment was funny- what time is it in Ireland, Harry, I've lost my watch!

Harry said...

I think old Swifty had a much more jaded view of humanity than me... and I'm pretty good on that.

As to Tulkus and all those other whacky hat wearing wizards; it amazes me how western liberal types have bought so quickly into that antiquated and oppressive system of political/spiritual rule that was imposed on the poor, uneducated and superstitious (if very smillie) people of Tibet. The lack of criticism of that system among western Buddhist intellectually types is astounding.

I've seen the excesses of that system of privaleged spiritual barons up close myself in the person of the very same Sogyal Rinpoche. What a strange and dubious little man.

Regards,

Harry.

gniz said...

This blog truly helped me today. I'm not being sarcastic or ironic.

Thanks fellow bloggers.

Anonymous said...

"But principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth. This is the system upon which I have governed myself many years, but do not tell, and so I shall go on till I have done with them. I have got materials toward a treatise, proving the falsity of that definition animal rationale, and to show it would be only rationis capax. Upon this great foundation of misanthropy, though not in Timon's manner, the whole building of my Travels is erected; and I never will have peace of mind till all honest men are of my opinion. By consequence you are to embrace it immediately, and procure that all who deserve my esteem may do so too. The matter is so clear that it will admit of no dispute; nay, I will hold a hundred pounds that you and I agree in the point."

- Harry, in a letter to Alexander Pope
1725

Anonymous said...

Gniz,

Would it be more accurate to say that Harry and I have helped you?

Just asking.

Anyway, I'm just about off here for the day. See you guys later.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"You have to give Mysterion respect straight out because he's an old guy."

No, you don't.

AND: "(Sorry) And old guys have been in this shithole longer than us..."

And we still smell like shit.

"Plus, when we get to be old guys, will we want to be pissed on by young fools? No."

Now there IS a universal truth.

"So Mysterion gets the elder pass no matter what you think of what he writes."

I sometimes try to write inflammatory comments to get your THINKING, not your respect.

Whether you "respect" me or not is of (sorry) little consequence to me but of some consequence to you. Anger, fear, hatred, and even anxiety are directed not outward, but inward. Self control is self-preservation. And zazen improves (but hardly perfects) self control in most practitioners. Therefore concentrate on your practice rather than some old fart fanning the flames of your passions (weaknesses) to make them obvious.

If an old man fans a flame on a small candle, will anyone in the next village notice?

It is not better to be pissed off than pissed on. It is better to be neither. Sometimes it helps others to be either.

Harry said...

Funnily enough, Swift was influenced by that other barrel of laughs Thomas Hobbes who I just happen to be reading about due to a leviathan of a three hour written exam tomorrow... that would make anyone loathe the human race.

Regards,

H.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mysterion, but you get the edler pass no matter what you think of my writing. But you knew that of course!

Let me guess... 1951?

Mysterion said...

1948

Anonymous said...

Wow! What did you think of '57 Elvis? And what year did you become aware of John Cage's work?

Bruno Iksi said...

Anonymous said...

"Gniz,

"Would it be more accurate to say that Harry and I have helped you?

Just asking."

Ha! This is so laughable it is truly sad. You are anonymous guy.. You don't get credit for shit.

Jinzang said...

As to Tulkus and all those other whacky hat wearing wizards; it amazes me how western liberal types have bought so quickly into that antiquated and oppressive system of political/spiritual rule that was imposed on the poor, uneducated and superstitious (if very smillie) people of Tibet.

If you ever meet a high lama you will see what remarkable people they are. I am a Tibetan Buddhist, not out of any great love of ritual, but because it seems to produce more enlightened people than any other system of practice.

Anonymous said...

Jinz, So you say.. But I think you don't know yourself very well. I think you are superstitious. You believe in things you don't understand.

gniz said...

Everyone on this blog helped me today. The comment about all criticism being self-criticism (or whatever the exact phrase was) seemed particularly apt.

It got a certain ball rolling.

Not that I haven't heard the sentiment before, but today--for some reason--it really helped.

So thanks!

Harry said...

Hi Jinz...Maybe you missed the bit where I said I had met one. And practiced in a centre under the auspices of same one for some months. And saw for myself what went on at same centre. And couldn't get further 'with the programme' due to my not being able to square the notion of the same guru being a living buddha (in guru yoga) with my knowing that he'd recently settled out of court in a large cash settlement with a woman he had tried to drunkedly force himself upon...

There's another Centre locally with headed by a lama who is held in very high regard by sensible and sincere people I know however.

That's all besides the point (well, in Sogyal's case it's not) of the whole mushed in heritage of religious and temporal rule that the system is coming from though.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is ?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you says, "What's mine ?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is ?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone ?"

Jinzang said...

I think you are superstitious. You believe in things you don't understand.

Like quantum mechanics and general relativity?

Actually, the more you practice, the more you have to leave understanding behind. You take leave of conceptual thought at the second dhyana. If you have hopped on the bus of conceptual understanding, the last stop is well short of the citadel of nirvana.

Anonymous said...

Jinz said, "Like quantum mechanics and general relativity?"

No actually.. More like Homeopathy, Flying saucers and Tibetan magic.

Anonymous said...

I've met a tulku before.

He's was a nice enough fellow... a bit formal going to see him and all... gave pretty good advice even though I can't seem to remember my question.
No nicer than other "nice" people though.

Mysterion said...

Let's see...

I was 9 in 1957 an Elvis was on a 45 RPM single...

My friend (and foe) Doug brought Jailhouse Rock (a 45rpm single) over and we played it on my sister's portable record player...

That's a 4" speaker under the tone arm. A truly STUPID design because of the acoustical feedback to the mechanical pick-up. The Arvin was a real improvement.

I thought the record was vulgar. We were exposed to classical music and rarely to pop.

distorted aspect ratio (horiz. stretch) version of Elvis - as seen on NBC (the only network that allowed black or mixed-race folks to be broadcast). Southern red-necks called NBC the negro broadcasting company.

Elvis probably had a Melungeon among his ancestors. He certainly was gifted with a bass-baritone voice and a 3-octave range. Some incorrectly thought Elvis was a tenor, a baritone and a bass singer.

short verson with correct video aspect ratio

This song put Elvis at the top of the pop charts for years.

We recognized the tune as "Aura Lee."

This version by Jim Reeves

Then, as now, too much knowledge can rain on the pop parade.

Mark Foote said...

"You take leave of conceptual thought at the second dhyana." Nice to hear; second hypnogogic state?

"... as a skilled bath-attendant or (bath-attendant) apprentice, having sprinkled bath-powder into a bronze bowl, might knead it while repeatedly sprinkling it with water until the ball of lather had taken up moisture, was drenched with moisture, suffused with moisture inside and out, but without any oozing. Even so... does (a person) saturate, permeate, suffuse this very body with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness: there is no part of (the) whole body that is not suffused with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness." (MN III 92, PTS pg 132-133)

Now I was thinking of the bronze bowl the other morning, and the kneading, and it occurred to me that one hand turns the bowl into the other, as it were. The hands and feet and the teeth all there kneading, the ball one way, the bowl the other. Something like that. But the hypnogogia, consciousness takes place freely. Practice out of necessity and verification, for me of a morning, under control like a boulder down a mountain!

"(the bad person) reflects thus: 'I am an acquirer of the first meditation, but these (others) are not acquirers of the first meditation.' (Such a person) then exults (his or her self) for that attainment of the first meditation and disparages others... But a good person reflects thus: 'Lack of desire even for the attainment of the first meditation has been spoken of by (Gautama); for whatever (one) imagines it to be, it is otherwise." (MN III 42, PTS vol 3 92)

Mysterion said...

Blogger Jinzang said...
"Like quantum mechanics and general relativity?"

or Quantum thermodynamics...

or (poorly presented) nothing at all...

rather than mu-tees, I prefer ku*-tees.

see: The Essence of Zen: The Teachings of Sekkei Harada, p.110

Mysterion said...

Interpreting Dogan's use of KU

BTW, the 'Zen schools', founders, and dates were:
Rinzai - Eisai - 1191
Soto - Dogen - 1227
Fuke - Kakushin - 1255
Obaku - Ingen - 1654

Nichiren wanted to destroy Ritsu (Vinyana), Zen, and Pure land sects with his reformed Tendai or Lotus Sutra Cult: "Namu myo-ho Renge-kyo." (Adoration be to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Perfect Truth).

dhyana is defined by Joseph Kitagawa as "concentration of mind." p. 122

Mysterion said...

as for John Cage, I actually remember seeing this 1960 "Water Walk" LIVE (well, delayed for the west coast). I was 12 at the time.

My favorite moment is the symbol in the bathtub!

Cage was a "non-conformist." But I was impressed. Later I found out that Cage was a Zen Buddhist.

The Brits did a great performance of 4:33.

Here is the Piano Solo

and, for computer geeks, the midi.

We listened to 4:33 in the recital hall at Chico State in 1968 with Dr. David Rothe at the keyboard. His performance was also stellar.

Warren said...

Hello Brad,

I enjoyed your post and agree to an extent. I especially liked the pole vaulting analogy because I think that it was similar to what I was caught up in for a long time. Rather than just being aware of myself and what was going on in my life, I was always looking for the answers by going well outside of myself. I kept hitting my head. I still do it now and then, but being aware of it has been a big help.

Thanks for the insight (and for the good reads).

roman said...

harry wrote:

The Buddhist truth is being expressed everywhere in a supremely real way right now. It has been expressed in simple terms, and it can be expressed in a couple of words with little trouble. That it takes lifetimes to clarify is quite another matter.

Harry, are you joking?

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

No.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

When you reach pure awareness you will have no problems, therefore there will be no need for solutions.

Let's analyze that for a minute.

When (in the future, not now) you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) reach (whatever you imagine to be) pure awareness you (who exist now and will continue to exist in the future) will have (in the future) no problems (for your self), therefore there will be (in the future, not now) no need for (you to have) solutions (and won't that be wonderful, over there, past that hill, just out of sight, let me sell you a way to get there).


great break down,

I guess you make a lot of money by promising the impossible to people in the future that never comes

Uku said...

Roman

there's no such thing as a Buddhist truth.

Harry said...

Hi Uku,

Anyone who had even an inkling of what actually constitutes the Buddhist truth wouldn't say that.

I think you'll find that is just your own of philosophy of nothing... similar stuff is often passed off by people who mistake what shunyata indicates for just their own philosophical/intellectual negations. Doegn addressed this persistant weakness in Buddhist philosophy very masterfully.

Regards,

Harry.

Harry said...

Doegn is Dogen's Polish cousin BTW...

Derek Ayre said...

Centering post. Like one day I'll become better and will hold that "better" in my hands so that I can show you that I got it.. Or... "Better" not to become, just be.. Drop the "become" too? Such words are too paradoxical and clever and they're not really going to hack it are they? :-)

Anonymous said...

Uku,

What about the three characteristics: impermanence, no-self & suffering? Would you consider those Buddhist truths?

Or perhaps the 'iron law of karma', that wholesome action leads to positive results and unwholesome action to negative results. Doesn't that seem like a Buddhist truth?

Anonymous said...

Mysterion,

thanks for the time-travel. the bad design of the portable turntable is hilarious. cage would have appreciated it, no doubt. awesome that you saw water walk back in those times. would add so much more to the performance in that culture, I'd imagine.

katageek said...

Excellent post Brad. In spite of the snarky responses you are getting, let me say thanks for not shying from relevant topics.

Uku said...

Harry and Roman

but you're talking of the Buddhist truths of yours or to be accurate, the image you have created of something called the Buddhist truth.

Dogen didn't teach the Buddhist truth. He was teaching about the truth, but not the Buddhist truth. Same goes for all the great masters.

With best wishes
Uku

Uku said...

Anon wrote:

Uku,

What about the three characteristics: impermanence, no-self & suffering? Would you consider those Buddhist truths?

Or perhaps the 'iron law of karma', that wholesome action leads to positive results and unwholesome action to negative results. Doesn't that seem like a Buddhist truth?


No. Those are valuable teachings and concepts that are pointing to the truth. But those are not the truth. Or the Buddhist truth.

With best wishes
Uku

Anonymous said...

Uku

Do you mean to say that the Buddhist truth is a concept? and being a concept it is transient, not permanent, etc.?

Or are you coming from the Huang Po / hold up a flower angle... "begin to reason about it and you at once fall into error"?

Uku said...

But ain't the Buddhist truth just a bunch of words? I find it funny when people are claiming "I know the Buddhist truth!" It reminds me some Christians...

Um, whatever.

Harry said...

Hi Uku,

If you think that Dogen didn't consider himself a Buddhist, and didn't expound the truth of Buddhism, you may be just be putting your own values (or lack of) onto him.

If you haven't quite convinced yourself yet you could consider such chapters of Shobogenzo as:

BUTSUDO - The Buddhist Truth

BUKKYO - The Buddha's Teaching

GYOBUTSU-YUIGI - The Dignified Behavior of Acting Buddha

BUTSU-KOJO-NO-JI - The Matter of the Ascendant State of Buddha

SOKU-SHIN-ZE-BUTSU - Mind Here and Now Is Buddha

BUSSO - The Buddhist Patriarchs

KOBUSSHIN - The Mind of Eternal Buddhas

KENBUTSU - Meeting Buddha

NYORAI-ZENSHIN - The Whole Body of the Tathagata

KUYO-SHOBUTSU - Serving Offerings to Buddhas

etc etc etc...

Herein Dogen explains quite explicitly exactly what he means in employing such terms. At no point does he state that he is not expounding the Buddhist truth.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

the buddhist truth is:
1. life is suffering
2. there's a false way out of suffering
3. the false way is meditation etc
4. you will not get rid of suffering, because meditation is a way to stay with suffering, and people have the false thought that is defeating suffering with practices

Buddhism is hardcore!!!
There's no way out of suffering!!!!

Uku said...

Harry

now you're again writing something what is the Buddhist truth. Are you really suggesting that words are the Buddhist truth?

Harry said...

Hi Uku,

They're certainly not seperate from it. Master Dogen considered that the realised words of past masters were themselves the very body of buddhas. He didn't pick and choose in other words.

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Harry

so those who can't read or are blind or deaf, can't find the Buddhist truth because it's so grounded in words?

Harry said...

Nobody who can make the many right sorts of effort is restricted in doing so in any way.

Regards,

H.

Uku said...

Harry

so in the end, words are not necessary for finding the Buddhist truth?

Harry said...

If the buddhist truth isn't anything seperate from your everyday life, how could it not include words and meaning (presuming for a moment that you communicate with others)?

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Harry

but still you're talking about the Buddhist truth... for me the everyday life is not some friggin' mumbojumbo Buddhist truth. It's just everyday life. Maybe that's the truth but that's not the Buddhist truth. The truth is not just for the Buddhists.

Harry said...

Hi Uku, I think you'll find that the Buddhist truth, the real stuff of it, is something quite real, and it is a specific truth that has been transmitted, so it's not correct to say that it's the same thing as other truth, such as the Christian truth of getting to God through Jesus (although these need not be mutually exclusive, but still, one big blob of ultimate 'truth' might be more like mumbojumbo actually).

The problem that you have with the truth not being 'buddhist' is just your own value.

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

Uku, Harry, that's a nice conversation.

THe BUddhist truth is the truth. To call it a Buddhist truth means to say that it is the truth that is based on reality and not just some kind of concept. It is the universal truth, not just Buddhist, because the Buddhist truth is universal.

To claim that there is no Buddhist truth could mean that the person who said that is either sceptical or trying to delete the concept of "Butthist truth" that is an obstacle for realizing or recognizing the Buddhist truth. I think Uku tried to put away the concept-obstacle that prevents one from realizing the truth itself.

As for Dogen, yes, of course, Dogen writes about the Buddhist truth, but that doesn't mean he believed that the Buddhist truth is something that is possible to replace with words. It is not enough to understand the concept, but recognize the truth. To recognize the truth, or reality, it is necessary to drop all concepts including the concept of Buddhist truth.

When it comes to the problem of who knows the Buddhist truth, it is not about knowing rather about recognizing it. As long as we are attached to the intellectual understanding, we cannot recognize what reality is.

Anonymous said...


Buddhism is hardcore!!!
There's no way out of suffering!!!!


Anon, no there is, there is a way out. Its a hella lot of work to do it. I believe it can be done.

Hereis a decription of the last stages of the path in the Theravadan tradition. Page 172 "The Corpse Within" and on...

roman said...

yes, the concept of Butthist truth has nothing to do with the Buddhist truth itself which is not a concept,

here is a glass of milk, drink it, please,

impossible? huh?

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

So what then is the Buddhist truth?

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Harry

are you suggesting that the Buddhist truth is shiho? Is this a problem of being a real Buddhist?

Timothy Leary said...

Be careful not to impale yourself on your point of view!

Harry said...

Ha ha, the Buddhist truth is not a piece of Japanese theatre, no.

But Dogen placed great importance on the nature of 'transmission', and just what it substantially and really is. He put it into the realistic context of our own practice/realisation in other words.

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

Harry, I never know if you are joking. Ask somebody you trust. You obviously don't trust me. Ask Brad. He has recognized the truth. Ask Dogen, ask Shinji Shobogenzo. There are dozens of stories and explanations what the Buddhist truth is, but only YOU alone can recognize it. I cannot recognize it for you, as I am not you.

Dictionary said...

Buddhist = one who follows the teachings of Buddha.

Truth = A statement proven to be or accepted as true.

Buddhist Truth = Statements accepted as true by one who follows the teachings of Buddha.

( I think you guys are having different understandings of 'truth')

Anonymous said...

Roman are you wearing that sweater today ?

:)

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

So, what you just said, what does that imply about what the Buddhist truth is? And it's just a simple fact, its not a matter of having to trust or not trust anyone else.

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

anonymous, that picture is like 100 years old, so I am already dead and the sweater turned into dirt a long time ago somewhere in a ditch - you are talking to a cheerful corpse that is trying to tell people what Buddhism is

roman said...

Harry, it is not necessary to talk to you anymore as your understanding of Buddhism is very weird and you are not interested in the truth, obviously.

Uku said...

Harry

thank God Almighty you weren't talking about shiho when you referred to transmission. But I don't really think we can capture the Buddhist truth in the narrow or wide prison of words. It's ineffable, like good old chap Gudo used to say.

Roman

how can you be so sure of this Buddhist truth you're referring to? And how in hell you know that Brad has recognized it? Geez, you're starting to sound like a lunatic fan. Brad is just an average guy like Dogen was.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

It appears that you feel that I'm not interested in what the Buddhist truth is, yet you can't tell me what it is. Don't you find that a strange state of affairs?

If I really wasn't interested in the Buddhist truth, why would I ask you about it?

Regards,

Harry.

roman said...

Harry I have already told you what it is about 12 times but you didn't notice, which is absolutely normal situation when people look for the truth, the teachers keep tel;ling them but they don't get it, so just keep trying, one day you will get it

Uku, it is not so difficult to recognize that. And I have met Brad in person. I have met my teacher in person, I can tell a true teacher form a fake teacher, it is something based on my 20 years of meeting Buddhist teachers, some of them true, some of them fake. You learn this after some time. I never met Sawaki, but reading his notes suggests clearly he recognized the truth. Etc.

Harry said...

Hi Roman,

It seems you are confusing the Buddhist truth with something that someone else can give you.

Regards,

Harry.

Anonymous said...

You three are priceless. This page could pass easily as a Beckett play. Fantastic!

There is the truth that is experienced and there is also the truth that makes a map leading in the direction of true experience. For those who are sincere, there is no need to hit others on the head with the truth that is experienced. Instead, by all means, discuss the maps, clear up misunderstandings - in the map.

Harry said...

"Waiting for Gudo".

Uku said...

Anon, yes, I agree! Map is the word. Fuck the Buddhist truth. Maps are totally different and that's why for example master Dogen's words are pointing so clearly to the truth. But like mr. Sawaki said, without zazen those are just a bunch of lies.

Roman

now I'm also as curious as Harry to know what does the Buddhist truth really means to you? What is the Buddhist truth? How can you really tell if someone has recognized it or not? What are you standards? Do you have somekind of meter?

Anonymous said...

Harry... KILLS IT!
LOL

Anonymous said...

Yes I would agree. I could easily read and expound on the precision involved with Formula One Racecar Driving from the comfort of my soft chair. Haha :)

Now I am getting the idea to start collecting maps and hanging them on my wall. If I were to then get on the internet and say I knew all about the countries of the world I would be a big fool.

Uku said...

I want a Buddhist F1 car!

Harry said...

Well, thanks for asking Uku (even if I'm not sure you'll believe me). Curiosity will certainly stand to you in this line of enquiry much better than assumption or belief will:

You, Uku, are the real, actual stuff of the Buddhist truth. There is no Buddhist truth to be found outside of you, and any teacher who points any other direction (particularly at him/herself) has not understood the Buddhist truth or is pursuing his/her own narrow agenda.

Now, the whole question of just what constitutes 'you' is the matter of endless ongoing practice and enquiry. I think Dogen expressed it masterfully here (avoiding both the quagmires of 'nothingness' and narrow, restrictive views of the self)...

"To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things."

...It's easy to trot out these lines of course and forget that they are the hard-won product of years of sincere practice and enquiry across many methods and forms of conduct.

Regards,

Harry.

Uku said...

Damn, Harry! I think we should mark this day as the day I agree with you wholeheartedly. Well said, you crazy Irish! :)

roman said...

the truth is just reality, no nobody can give you that, you must get it on your own

as for recognizing those who recognized the truth, i cannot imagine learning anything about BUddhism if I didn't rely on my intuition to choose the right stuff, for example I have no doubts Dogen recognized the truth, or that Brad recozniged the truth / it is impossible to prove scientifically, but believe me, intuition is sometimes stronger than meters, luckily for those who need to find the right teachers / Do you Uku have doubts about Dogen recognizing the truth?

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