Ain’t Too Proud To Beg

ultraman3We all beg for a living. Or maybe we don’t.

As I travel the great Northeast of our nation, I have had to end each of my talks with a reminder to the audience that I’m traveling at my own expense (no monetary support from my publishers or my sangha or anyone else), that it’s cost me a lot more than I budgeted for, and asking them to please buy a book or an audio skull and/or leave a donation.

I hate making that speech. It’s truly and deeply humiliating.

See. I grew up mainly in and around Akron, Ohio. Akron is a working class city. You earn your living by doing a job, dammit. And a job means a thing that you wake up for way earlier than you want to five days a week, go to a factory and do for eight hours then come home. A job is something you do not like to do. If you like to do it, it’s not a job. Where I grew up there was jealousy and disdain heaped upon anyone who actually enjoyed whatever it was they did to earn a living. No, a real job is something that you hate and you only do because you need money to survive. You get paid for your job by your boss who gives you a paycheck. The money comes from the company.

When I finally landed the first job I ever actually liked, working for Tsuburaya Productions in Tokyo, I felt guilty about taking money for something I enjoyed doing. It took me a while to figure out why. But even when I did, I still felt guilty.

While working there I was also studying Dogen very intensively. Dogen says somewhere in Shobogenzo that “even working to earn a wage is originally an example of free giving.” Free giving is one of the great virtues in Buddhism. It felt nice to read that. But I wasn’t sure quite what it meant.

I started to think about where the money I got every month in my bank account really came from. It didn’t actually come from the company. The company got that money from lots of people all over Asia who bought Ultraman stuff. Tsuburaya Productions only made the TV shows and movies, not the stuff. Those TV shows and movies usually cost more money to make than they brought in directly through ticket sales or sales to TV networks. We made money by licensing the characters from those shows to companies who made the stuff people bought — toys and video games and T-shirts and novelty condoms and so on. We earned only a few yen from each item sold. But lots of items were sold and thus the company was able to pay all of its 100 or so employees and contracted workers (I was always one of the latter, never an official employee in all 15 years I worked there) a living wage.

Once when I went to one of Nishijima Roshi’s retreats in Shizuoka I took along a children’s book about Ultraman to read. It was a fun way to practice my Japanese. Nishijima saw the book and said, “Those TV shows teach children to believe in power.” I didn’t know what to make of that statement at the time. I didn’t know if it was meant to be disparaging. I didn’t know if he was trying to advise me to find another line of work. I was baffled.

But he was right. Those TV shows do teach children to put their faith in the power of others to rescue them. But perhaps they also teach children to want to be like Ultraman and help others in trouble. I know that the folks at Tsuburaya Productions had a strong sense of morality regarding their shows and the messages they conveyed to children. They were deeply concerned that the shows they produced taught children good things. Although the shows could be extremely violent they always took care to make the violence kind of unrealistic. It took place between the heroes and the monsters and was therefore a kind of abstract violence intended to convey a sense of overcoming adversity rather than a real sense of just duking it out against your opponent.

Whether or not this was conveyed successfully is another matter. In 2001 we introduced a character called Ultraman Cosmos, a gentle-natured Ultraman who was supposed to reason with the monsters rather than hitting them over the heads with locomotives and zapping them with rays. Here is the promo video I wrote and directed about the show. At the time I thought it was a totally wrong-headed idea. It just made Ultraman look timid and ineffectual. By about the tenth episode, the powers-that-be realized their mistake and Ultraman Cosmos started kicking ass just like all the other Ultramen before him.

But I digress.

After Nishijima told me that I started worrying if what I was doing was “right livelihood” or not. But when I asked him if he thought I should quit the company he said, “No. You should continue working for them.” He said that my small influence would make the company and its shows better. I wonder if he was right.

Nowadays, though, I no longer “work for a living” at least in the sense that most people back in Akron would probably understand. I travel the world, which I enjoy, I write books, which I love to do, I don’t have to be at some specific place five days a week, which is wonderful, and I don’t get paid by “the company.” I get paid indirectly by people who buy my books in stores or on line. But I also get paid directly through donations to this blog and by people who come and listen to me talk about my books (which, again, I really like to do).

In a sense, I’m just earning money directly that I used to earn indirectly. When working for Tsuburaya pretty much all my pay came from people who never knew who I was or what I did. They weren’t handing their dollar bills directly to me the way people do now. But they did pay me even though the didn’t know it. Now the connection is much more direct.

Amanda Palmer has talked about how she conceives of what she does in terms of fund-raising as allowing people to contribute to her work rather than begging for hand-outs. I think she’s right. I know that I like contributing to artists whose work I enjoy. I was happy to by Dog Party‘s new record from their mom when I saw them at Old Haunts in Akron. When Robyn Hitchcock plays somewhere nearby, I always make a point of going and buying some kind of merchandise even if it’s something I don’t really need (I buy his albums as soon as they come out and by the time he tours I’ve usually got everything he’s selling already). It feels good to contribute. It feels right.

I think all work is a form of both free giving and of begging. We give our work to the world and the world gives us money to live and to continue our contributions. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Obviously the system breaks down far more often than it should. We beg the world to support us by doing work to contribute to society. We all shake our cup at passers-by and hope they throw a dime in it.

Maybe someday I can be like Amanda Palmer and put aside my Akron roots enough to enjoy the process.

*   *   *

Speaking of which, my friend Pirooz wants me to mention that he’s about halfway to his goal of funding the completion of his movie about me. If you want to contribute, go to this page. It’ll be a very cool movie, unlike any Buddhist movie you’ve ever seen before.

*   *   *

My Northeast Tour still has two more events. Go see me at:

– 28-June    Asbury Park, NJ    7 p.m. Pure Health Bar & Yoga 701 Cookman Ave Asbury Park, NJ

– 29-June    Long Island, NY 7 p.m.  Clear Mountain Zen Center 519 Hempstead Ave., West Hempstead, NY 11553

*   *   *

Go ahead. Throw a dime in my cup!


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111 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Mumbles
    Mumbles June 30, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

    Your league being the Little League, of course.

  2. My_name_is_Daniel
    My_name_is_Daniel June 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm |

    If someone references me directly or asks a specific question I may respond. I know, a highly questionable thing indeed. What flavor one wants to attribute to that response is clearly on them, whether they care what I say or not..?

    I do care what people say and do within the confines of this site, the effects of which go beyond their personal kick, which I think is worthy of consideration.

  3. dougleader
    dougleader June 30, 2013 at 11:14 pm |


    you guys need to get out of the house more.

  4. Fred
    Fred July 1, 2013 at 6:09 am |

    Dan, this site is not hell. Someone bleeding to death in the emergency ward is

    Should a Buddha meet a Buddha coming through the rye, Dan, what flavor of
    form or emptiness are they?

  5. Fred
    Fred July 1, 2013 at 6:13 am |

    “Mumbles, I’m not threatening anyone, but you should take note.”

    John, Dan is an Arhat and a doctor. He can come to your house while you are
    sleeping, and perform unnecessary surgery on you in your dreams, then send
    you an exorbitant bill.

  6. Fred
    Fred July 1, 2013 at 6:19 am |


    you guys need to get out of the house more”

  7. Harlan
    Harlan July 1, 2013 at 8:07 am |

    Just thinking out loud about the never ending need for money.
    I know the reality of that fact myself and it continually pisses me off more than I would like it to.
    I’m ready to just kick back and let money come to me like the Brits do. Ahem.

    It seems like every time Brad brings up his money problems
    we all start thinking about our own money problems.
    The mood get foul and the sniping begins.

    Once upon a time in the dark ages of this blog Brad didn’t have a bowl to pass.
    People suggested that he get a donation button for the blog and Brad made one and he saw that it was very good.
    Then it came to pass that he made constant reminders for us to push it.
    Guilt about unappreciated art, overseas travel expenses and the truly needy nagged at us.
    Yet I kept having these petulant suspicions that Brad was having way too much fun to be begging for money.
    Begging seems like a last resort kind of thing.
    Not for someone living in out in Hollywood hanging out with porn stars but for someone like me living out here in East Bumfuck..

    Having a donation button on a blog isn’t really begging tho, it’s good business for a blogger.
    Relentlessly asking people to use it however is.
    Yet Brad manages to do this in a affable way somehow.

    If people want Brad to come over and wise them up, he needs some kind of reimbursement.
    He needs to figure out his expenses, make up contracts, get them signed, present bills and let people know exactly what it’s going to take to get him to come and expound. Doing all that is nobody’s idea of fun and takes a lot of work and isn’t very esoteric.. but it’s real practical.
    So lawyer up Brad. Do your begging like a businessman. It’s a lot less truly and deeply humiliating than scrounging around and hoping.

  8. My_name_is_Daniel
    My_name_is_Daniel July 1, 2013 at 9:36 am |

    I could see a Kickstarter working for the next tour. I do doubt however that this hasn’t already been considered.

  9. Andy
    Andy July 1, 2013 at 10:20 am |

    Harlan: “It’s a lot less truly and deeply humiliating than scrounging around and hoping.”

    Maybe whatever we do for a crust (or bread mountain) is going to involve some humiliation, somewhere down the line, or at some level every day, and that the challenge is to directly realise that for what it is and accept the burden. I think for those of us doing jobs that fit the norm, what ails us gets package into normative modes of processing, and for so many I think that can turn into ways we become desensitized to it.

    I think when brad talks about feeling humiliated etc., it’s easy to think of it as some kind of problem that needs solving unique to his non-mainstream way of earning a living, rather than what we all have to do in a different form and sprinkled about in variously unusual ways. Most folk don’t have to apply and re-interview on a regular basis for the same job, for example.

  10. My_name_is_Daniel
    My_name_is_Daniel July 1, 2013 at 11:23 am |

    Yeah, I’m feeling like now would be a good time to contribute to his funds, especially if you enjoy the venue his site provides. Give the man a little moral support through financial means.

  11. Harlan
    Harlan July 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

    Yeah, you’re right Andy. Humiliation is easy enough to understand for anyone who has ever worked for someone else. We’ve all been there. It is unavoidable right? But I’m not sure we have to feel humiliated by doing anything needed to survive because I think that feeling is optional. It’s not hardwired in. You have to expect certain things to feel humiliated by not getting them. Brad told a story about fucking up at Tsuburaya and getting called on the carpet for it. If I remember right he said he was not humiliated by the experience and actually found it to be helpful. He accepted responsibility for what happened to get him there and was OK with whatever resulted because of it. In other words he decided not to be humiliated or concluded there was ultimately nothing to be humiliated about.

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm |

    love the AC/DC. got up and duck-walked to “Runaway Train” last Friday at my favorite dive, loads of laughs.

    Stephanie, that was eloquent! Mumbles, man, those gams are getting all wobbly underneath you, how can you stay above your knees in the air like that! Ha ha!

    Stephanie, your write reminded me of what truly moves me from the amygdala, the emptiness of life that hits me like a slow-moving freight and shifts my sense of location toward action out of feeling. Which usually has a positive outcome, oddly, for all concerned, but it’s a leap of faith to let go of discernment.

    Dan, I too keep having thoughts of signing off the blog and not returning. The feeling that is invoked from me by reading people’s stories about their practice in daily life is what brings me back. Or the slice ‘n dice that is right on target, although it cuts both ways if it’s real; I’m looking for a feel from my community, and the blog from hell continues to come through. It’ll be a sad day when Brad gets a job, as I’m afraid he must based on my only-occasional donation. But hey, I will honor him for having fought the good fight when he does, we cannot know where these seeds will land but only hope for the best; “and above all things, to thine own… ” yah yah

  13. Andy
    Andy July 2, 2013 at 7:05 am |

    Harlan wrote: ” But I’m not sure we have to feel humiliated by doing anything needed to survive because I think that feeling is optional. It’s not hardwired in. You have to expect certain things to feel humiliated by not getting them. “

    I get your drift, Harlan. But in saying that such feelings are optional, I think you’re advocating an attitude or attitudes which may become unhealthy. Expecting not to feel humiliated because it’s optional seems like a recipe for not coping well at all, when the time comes.

    I think my attitude towards humiliating situations can change – maybe a little more humility, say; but I don’t thing it’s realistic or even advisable to expect ourselves to avoid such situations.

    Let’s not forget that being humiliated has to do with situations of power and control in human relationships, our expectations in such instances can’t be simply avoided. And if we attempt to avoid those situations then aren’t we just cooping ourselves up with our fears and unworldly idealisms. Someone else including us is surely going to get bitten on the ass somewhere down the line from that way of living.

    In ten years of teaching, I couldn’t avoid humiliating situations without also avoiding the open-hearted human risk that went into my expectations for my students. I learnt to cope, and less to avoid or opt out. Or rather, at the start of my career I learned how much damage it did to expect myself to behave towards myself as though my feelings were optional. I might have presented a thicker skin, but I worked at being more flexible with my feelings, giving them more room to be heard, inside. Certain choices take their toll. And anytime spent working in schools will provide one with a plethora of face upon which are written the burdens of avoidance and the burdens of embrace.

    Sometimes what such situations and feelings call for is that one works towards making things better, out there. This might just mean that we communicate that such a situation doesn’t have to be this way and hope people change their outlook and behaviour.

    I think it is more of an option for us not to humiliate, than to avoid feeling such.

    Of course, there are going to be situations where someone feels humiliated, but another doesn’t. There might be a number of pre-existing reasons for this, yet the most salient to our discussion would be one where a person might have felt humiliated in the past by such an event, but no longer is due to something they have done in the intervening time.

    This could be because of a change in the outlook of the person such that they realise that that type of situation doesn’t actually place them in an invidious position, and where those who might be seen as the ‘humiliators’ are seen as not really acting disrespectfully – either through conscious intention or institutionalised habit. Or perhaps, having seen the futility of feeling humiliated in past situations of that type they were able over time to let go of that particular response.

    But in neither case I don’t think we can usefully talk or advise that our feelings are optional, without in fact stunting our ability to realise that very ‘optionality’ the next time we experience such a situation, and perhaps by means of letting go of a lot of other things along the route.

    We are ‘hardwired’ to feel, and human life is ‘hardwired’ for delusional behaviour, and the world is full of asymmetrically and inequity. But thankfully there’s much plasticity hardwired in there too, and the opportunity for some gradual rewiring – so that the light show doesn’t get too miserably confused.

  14. Andy
    Andy July 2, 2013 at 7:19 am |

    … and besides when I say felt deeply humiliated, how deeply did it really go?

  15. Harlan
    Harlan July 2, 2013 at 9:10 am |

    Andy, You make some great points and covered a lot of what I meant to say. I was not saying that you should never feel some degree of humiliation because that might be impossible. But the older you get you start to understand that the tendency towards that feeling isn’t as strong it was once was. I am certainly not saying that we should try and avoid situations that once might have led to being humiliated. All emotions aren’t equal and as you know by being a teacher you can either try and avoid some or try and roll with them. I’m just saying that thinking about what humiliation is and how it arises might lead to experiencing it less when you are in a position when it once occurred. Two people might deal with the same situation in different ways. One person might be deeply humiliated and another person might be deeply amused by the same thing. It’s not as thought A always leads to B for all people. There might come a time when we might see a person acting badly toward us as his or her problem and might respond with a sort of compassion rather than humiliation. Things do change. Anyway thanks for your ideas and helping me sort out my thoughts.

  16. Harlan
    Harlan July 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |

    Well the fog’s so thick you can’t spy the land
    Well the fog’s so thick that you can’t even spy the land
    what good are you anyway if you can’t stand up to some old businessman?

  17. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |

    “There might come a time when we might see a person acting badly toward us as his or her problem and might respond with a sort of compassion rather than humiliation.”

    How about, we might respond with compassion rather than anger and action directed against the other person in the name of some assumed greater good?

    Like, for example, when someone who likes discipline is put in charge of other people in some respect, and fails to notice that an attitude of authority and of superior understanding provokes a predictable response in persons who value freedom and honesty above all else. Such an error could be compounded if the person put in charge assumes the response is entirely the fault of the other person rather than a two-person tango, especially because the person put in charge can continue exacerbating the situation merely by putting forward an attitude without ever slinging mud in the two-person tango.

    Not too late to discover another road, as my-name-is-Daniel put forward in a response to Petrichoric:

    “If I may, I’d like to express appreciation for your honesty. Our emotions are what we have to work with, they are the light that leads the way, whether feelings of joy or hate. A say’n I like, “shit makes good fertilizer” reflects how these difficult emotions are the fuel for growth. “Grist for the mill”, as it were. They show us where work needs to be done so that we may progress on the path of self healing, awareness and realization. Look upon these emotions that cause suffering in a positive light. They are a gift!”

    So I’d like to request that parties here take any conflict not as a sign of misconduct on the part of the other party, but as a mutual piece of grist for the mill, and that any actions that may have been done out of a sense of “the greater social good” on the part of persons in authority come to be seen as similar to the efforts of the Eugenicists in the 1930’s and set right. Thank you.

  18. Harlan
    Harlan July 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

    Some people might go directly to anger from to insult, but I think most people need to simmer in their humiliation for a while before it turns into anger. If a person won’t acknowledge the possibility that there could be some truth in the comment they have very few options left to restore their previous sense of self. They can either swallow it or take revenge. The problem is in thinking that they are someone that they’re not.

    “The most dangerous men on earth are those who are afraid they are wimps.” ~ James Gilligan

  19. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm |

    Safransky: You’re rather an uncompromising critic of spiritual movements and everything called “new age.” You once suggested that meditation is a fascistic activity, that people who meditate are as uncaring as psychopathic killers.

    Hillman: I did once remark that meditation, in today’s world, is obscene. To go into a room and sit on the floor and meditate on a straw mat with a little incense going is an obscene act. Now, what do I mean? What was I saying, for God’s sake, aside from shooting off my mouth? I was saying that the world is in a terrible, sad state, but all we’re concerned with is trying to get ourselves in order.
    I remember hearing a student say something once that threw me into a real tizzy. He said we should meditate and let computers take care of world problems. They could do it much better than humans. I mean, he was really spiritually detached from the world.

    Safransky: It sounds like he was also emotionally detached, but something called “spirituality” gets the rap.

    Hillman: Your question is very legitimate. I don’t want to be locked into an anti-meditation position. I think every consumer – for that is what we actually are – needs a lot of neutral time, a lot of turnover time: idleness, fantasies, images, reflections, emptiness; not necessarily disciplined meditation. But when meditation becomes a spiritual goal, and then the method to achieve a spiritual goal – that’s what worries me.

    Safransky: And the goal you’re suspicious of is transcendence.

    Hillman: Yes. The quest to flee the so-called trivia of the lower order seems misguided. Personal hang-ups, fighting with the man or woman you live with, worrying about your dreams – this is the soul’s order.

    Safransky: What if the goal is merely a few minutes of calm?

    Hillman: If that’s the goal, what’s the difference between meditation and having a nice drink? Or going to the hairdresser and sitting for an hour and flipping through a magazine? Or writing a long letter, a love letter? Do you realize what we’re not doing in this culture? Having an evening’s conversation with people; that can be so relaxing. I think we’ve misguidedly locked on to meditation as the main method for settling down.

    It’s better to go into the world half-cocked than not to go into the world at all. I know when something’s wrong. And I can say, “This is outrageous. This is insulting. This is a violation. And it’s wrong.” I don’t know what we should do about it; my protest is absolutely empty. But I believe in that empty protest.

    You see, one of the ways you get trapped into not going into the world is when people – usually in positions of power – say, “Oh, yeah, wise guy? What would you do about it? What would you do about the Persian Gulf crisis?” I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know. But I know when I feel something is wrong, and I trust that sense of outrage, that sense of insult. And so, empty protest is a valid way of expressing feeling, politically. Remember, that’s where we began: how do you connect feeling with politics? Well, one of the ways is through that empty protest. You don’t know what’s right, but you know what’s wrong.

    [from an old interview with the late great James Hillman]

  20. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm |

    and Keith Richards on the self-same Elvis Presley:

  21. Andy
    Andy July 3, 2013 at 6:08 am |

    Sometimes us folk just say it outright and at other times we take the more indirect route!

    Is it me or did and Mark and Mumbles effectively suggest via fiendishly different and very readable strategies that someone had been acting like a bit of an overzealous boot-shiner?!

    On a related but tangential subject. I get increasingly cog-dissed when I read about people acting out of compassion v. anger. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a worthy and often practical principle for well-being.

    But I think what irks has something to do with a kind of top down pressure in the attitude as I often read or hear it expressed.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the overlapping areas of morality and therapy and how we blend the two as a way to pre-empt who we are going to be and how we should act in any given situation.

    I suppose what I’m saying is that idealizing compassion can become insidiously programmatic. And that demonizing anger as a basis for any given action might just be akin to making the old goat wear a very tight and itchy old goat themed straight jacket.

    Maybe the best I can do is work towards really knowing my anger and let it rev the engine without stalling or crashing the vehicle. And as for compassion. Maybe it deserves a good kicking. I’m mean really stick the boot in to the fucker.

  22. Harlan
    Harlan July 3, 2013 at 6:26 am |

    Speaking of sticking the boot in the fucker..

  23. Wedged
    Wedged July 3, 2013 at 7:10 am |

    Brad’s new book “…no god” is/will be his masterpiece. If you haven’t read it don’t listen to the 2 naysayers…it’s incredible and couldn’t possibly be more “Zen”. Each page oozes Zen and you know what he’s getting at right away. It’s not god god, it’s god. I see it, i get it…i also would have quielty refered to it as god even though i know it’s not god. The book reinvigorated my sitting, i dug out my copy of Shobo…i even get my wife to read certain pages because they are just so well written. A lot of the time i could only read a page or 2 and then i needed to put it down for a few days to allow it to absorb. Nothing better has been written in the last 30 years and in a few years this book will sit along the classics. It’s funny how i find it almost freeky with certain books…there’s this magic, the author has tapped into something and There is no God is one of those books. You can’t write something like that and have it collect dust on shelves…this thing will be read by millions, it’s not in Brad’s control anymore.

    All hail the new King…Warnerishim.

  24. Fred
    Fred July 3, 2013 at 7:40 am |

    “I suppose what I’m saying is that idealizing compassion can become insidiously programmatic. And that demonizing anger as a basis for any given action might just be akin to making the old goat wear a very tight and itchy old goat themed straight jacket.”

    Compassion flows from the dropped-“I”.

    It’s not an idealized act that a ” self ” aspires to become in relation to other selves

    Beginning with mindfulness, an observer watches anger arise as conditioned
    response to stimuli. Over time the space between the observer and the arising
    anger grows, and the attachment to anger is dropped.

    At some point the attachment to the self is dropped.

  25. Fred
    Fred July 3, 2013 at 7:53 am |
  26. Fred
    Fred July 3, 2013 at 8:00 am |

    The disappearance of the subtle field image talk = there is no God and He is
    always with you.

  27. Fred
    Fred July 3, 2013 at 8:14 am |

    ” any actions that may have been done out of a sense of “the greater social good” on the part of persons in authority come to be seen as similar to the efforts of the Eugenicists in the 1930”²s and set right. Thank you.”

    After all the talk about seeing the conditioned 2 party dance, the little twister at
    the end.

  28. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 3, 2013 at 8:53 am |

    Did I twist out, there? Yeah, I think I did. Sorry.

    Hopefully the dog is out, and the neighborhood will never be the same but it never was… yee haw!

    It’s a new day.

    “Even if you seem to be a beginner, if in a single moment the mind is turned around to reveal its original inherent qualities, nothing is lacking at all; together with the realized ones, you will commune with the Buddhas.” (Denkoroku, translated by T. Cleary, #28, pg 101)

    “When we consider emptiness the substance of myriad forms, there is nothing before us; when we consider myriad forms the function of emptiness, there is no different road. Therefore at this point the path of teacher and apprentice is transmitted. Even to understand that the seal of approval of Buddhas and Zen masters is of many kinds seems to suggest that there are no divisions, yet even if you understand that there is no duality, you are still carrying a one-sided view. When you examine and evaluate carefully, when a white heron stands in the snow they are not the same color, and white flowers and moonlight are not exactly like each other. Traveling in this way, you go on “filling a silver bowl with snow, hiding a heron in the moonlight.” (Ibid, pg 102)

    What’s he saying, here!

  29. Andy
    Andy July 3, 2013 at 9:17 am |

    Fred wrote, “It’s not an idealized act that a ” self ” aspires to become in relation to other selves.”

    The self doesn’t aspire to become an idealized act? Fred, you’re going to have to be a little clearer if I’m going to understand what your points are about my points.

    I was addressing attitudes toward a notion like ‘compassion’ in relation to anger. We can certainly be idealistic, and as a result end up being a little hard on ourselves and others. The history of religion is rife with examples of suppressed do-gooders and the repressive behaviour, attitudes and beliefs that spin out from such.

    So in the sense that people hold to beliefs and attitudes that govern their behaviour, people do aspire to act in ways that can be deemed overly idealistic, and we may not always be aware of the pitfalls of what we opt into.

    And we can have an edifying conversation about it, without resorting to emptiness abuse.

  30. stonemirror
    stonemirror July 3, 2013 at 9:32 am |

    Writing books is work. Giving readings and talks is work. Traveling is work. Making blog postings is work. Making videos is work. Promoting a new book is work. Keeping web sites up to date is work. Filling people’s book orders is work.

    None of this work provides a particularly steady paycheck, but it’s better work than being a cubicle-monkey in exchange for biweekly direct deposits, in my opinion.

    Every major subway and train station in Tokyo, at least, has its own regular crew of mendicant monks in a variety of costumes, each with his own “territory” in the station. A friend told me that I shouldn’t keep giving money to them, that at least half of them were fakes.

    “So what?” I said. “That’s their bad karma, not mine.”

    (Also, people seem awfully wrapped up in who “got” how much kenshō before whom. Here’s the thing about the “Buddhist Olympics”: even if you win a gold medal, you’re still a gaki.)

  31. Sensei Evan
    Sensei Evan July 3, 2013 at 9:37 am |

    I missed you in Asbury on Friday, but I’m glad to have found this blog. If you ever need a place to host you in our area again, please feel free to contact us at Fair Haven Martial Arts. We would be delighted to have you speak. And it seems you travel on a low budget, so if you need a couch, come surf near the beach.

    Thanks for being the kind of awesome the world needs, hope to catch you next time around!

  32. Andy
    Andy July 3, 2013 at 9:39 am |

    “None of this work provides a particularly steady paycheck, but it’s better work than being a cubicle-monkey in exchange for biweekly direct deposits, in my opinion.”

    My wife worked hard to be a cubicle monkey, and sometimes I see the shining face of an angel. Her children grew healthy teeth. She ordered Brad’s book for me as a gift. Better?

  33. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 3, 2013 at 9:59 am |

    Monk or not, standing around, day in day out in a subway begging is work. Where’s the bad karma?

  34. Harlan
    Harlan July 3, 2013 at 10:37 am |

    I don’t mind being negatively compared to an artist, teacher or globe trotter. But being called a cubicle monkey.. It’s humiliating. Or funny.. Take your choice.

  35. Fred
    Fred July 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |

    “And we can have an edifying conversation about it, without resorting to emptiness abuse.”

    You are trying to define the parameters of discussion about Karuna without any
    reference to emptiness?

    That itself is abuse, the abuse of the self for the self in its culturally slanted word
    fed existence.

    1. Andy
      Andy July 4, 2013 at 7:36 am |

      … and without being willfully stupid too. Let us continue our self-satires without future dialogue. And I would appreciate it, from now on, if you could find it within you to use comments other than my own to further your Yoda-impulses. It pains me to have to respond to them, and, perhaps regrettably, I’m not possessed with Mark’s disposition for suffering your kind of fool.

  36. Jules
    Jules July 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

    I believe it’s actually pronounced, “Amanda Fucking Palmer,” not just “Amanda Palmer.”

  37. Harlan
    Harlan July 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

    The Bright Light Social Hour – Wendy Davis

  38. Fred
    Fred July 4, 2013 at 8:18 am |

    Yes, Andy, you must be what you are.

    Mike Cross:

    “In the ordinary way, when a stimulus comes, we react to it in the only manner possible. The response is made without thought — without any knowledge on our part of what we are putting into motion. The reaction is the immediate response of the whole self, according to habitual patterns of movement which we have developed from our earliest years. We have no choice in this, we can behave in no other way. We are bound in slavery to these unrecognised patterns just as surely as if we were automatons. When Alexander reached understanding of this part of the problem he had found the key to all change”

  39. Andy
    Andy July 4, 2013 at 9:50 am |

    I respect Mike Cross for the authentic efforts that have fashioned of him a forthright voice worth listening to. He comes across as one with the courage, honesty and discipline equal to the teachings and practices he has made his own and seeks to share. More importantly, he comes across as so many can and do, whose words express more about who they are and where they’re at, and less about who they wish people to see them as. And so, I would say at worst, via T.S Eliot, that he appears to be a real thief and not a petty one.

    That’ll be it from me, in responding to you, Fred. I’ll no doubt pause to take of what you keep dogmatically plagiarizing or rehashing of what was of value in the primary sources themselves, from a distance; and where I notice the human flesh peak out of cybernetics, I’m sure I’ll take it to heart. But, like many of us sad apes, a response to what I’ve written often leads to the desire to respond, Iwhen perhaps the better part of me says we shouldn’t, and I would prefer my own readily verbose flaws to be distracted somewhere that doesn’t leave me with such a sense of futility, before I’ve even begun the response.

  40. Fred
    Fred July 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

    The words about compassion came from experience and not from a book.

  41. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm |


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