Brad & Skylar Answer Your Questions!

Me and Skylar answering your questions!

It seems like there’s something wrong with the audio/video synchronization. I will see if there’s anything I can do about that. But I suspect it’s an issue of compatibility between YouTube and iPhoto, the program we used to make the video.

43 Responses

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  1. anon 108
    anon 108 June 18, 2012 at 6:57 am | |

    Thanks for answering the questions, you two.

    And the award for the most memorable answer goes to Skylar Goldman:

    “I wanna be a singer or I wanna be a special ed teacher…or I wanna be one of those people that gets to go in submarines and go and [..?] wreck ships. If none of those work out and I suck at life I’ll be a hairdresser.”

    Supplementary question:

    Brad – You screwed up the ODFex bass player gig? Because you’re moving to LA? What?

  2. CPW
    CPW June 18, 2012 at 9:55 am | |

    Thanks for answering our questions! I look forward to your book about god! (or is it God?)

  3. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer June 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm | |

    Yes-good. Very fun watching you both play off each other.

    Cheers.

  4. Voie de Vie
    Voie de Vie June 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm | |

    Thanks for answering the questions – and you two are way too funny in front of the camera.

    To Brad: Acting from bodhichitta = feeling better? While I get the gist of your intention, many people can do rather harmful things and feel better. Maybe a little more clarity there (and still in a soundbite)? And finally, there’s “nothing worse than a fat buddhist?” Again, I get the intention (self-control) of the statement, but the statement itself is rather perjorative and doesn’t quite hit the mark.

    Being mindful of language leads one on a constant path of refinement. :)

  5. moonrakerzen
    moonrakerzen June 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm | |

    Yes, thanks for answering our questions (and my question!)…very funny video too!

  6. wescott06
    wescott06 June 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm | |

    Thanks for the answer Brad–short but surprisingly satisfying! Asking about”bodhicitta” felt a little weird since I’m not a card-carrying Buddhist yet, but saying “innate wisdom” or something just sounded goofy. Looking forward to future episodes.

  7. unitedtaps
    unitedtaps June 19, 2012 at 2:14 am | |

    Brad,

    I’m sorry my question was redundant to you (Did the Buddha outline a method for choosing what to accept and what to change?). You mentioned buddhism does not equal complacency. I’m having a difficult time knowing where to draw the line between acceptance and pursuit. Perhaps you could point me to some text/audio/video that discusses in detail some ways to approach this problem.

    If so I would be quite grateful. Thank you.

    Rod

  8. buddy
    buddy June 19, 2012 at 3:22 am | |

    Rod, Obviously you’re not asking the likes of me but since Brad did kind of dismiss your question, here’s my 2 cents: nowhere can I recall Buddhism being about acceptance. Instead it seems to be about, simply, awareness. Be present to the situation, and respond appropriately. Is your room a mess? Clean it. Unless you really don’t care, and have better things to do. Is someone being a douchebag? Tell them so, unless you really don’t want to risk a punch in the face. The precepts are a good reference, but things are always shifting and therefore in need of a fresh view. Question your assumptions but trust your gut. But at no point is passive acceptance any kind of ideal. That view has been used by so-called Buddhists of a certain status to maintain the good things they had going at the expense of everyone else, but it’s really just bullshit.

  9. unitedtaps
    unitedtaps June 19, 2012 at 5:15 am | |

    Buddy,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply I appreciate it. There’s a book called Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen. In it he says:

    “…our dissatisfaction originates within us. It arises out of our own ignorance, blindness to what our situation actually is, out of our wanting reality to be something other than what it is. Our longing, our craving, our thirsting for something other than reality is what dissatisfies us.

    We generally try to control and manipulate the world: our lives, relationships, events, other people. This attempt is the single greatest source of the second type of Duhkha.

    Until we see this is so, our highest priority will still be to get in there and control and manipulate. We’ll honestly believe that in doing so we can make the world better for ourselves and for everyone else. We won’t realize that all we create in this process is…duhkha. Our way is not through control or intentional action, but through seeing. Just seeing is enough.”

    You response got me thinking as to where I got the idea that buddhism was about acceptance. The passages above seem to imply that trying to change things is not a solution. That trying to change things will only lead to more duhkha.

    Perhaps he is mistaken? I’m confused. Are you saying Buddhism is just about being present to the moment? That wanting to change something, or buy something, or just plain wanting something is fine as long as you’re present to the fact you are feeling that?

    Rod

  10. Ted
    Ted June 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm | |

    This seems garbled to me. He could be talking about mindfulness—the practice of being in the present moment at all times. If you can keep your mind in the present moment, this will serve to keep your mental afflictions to a minimum. Or perhaps he means seeing as in the wisdom that understands the true nature of things. That if we understand that what appears to us as dukha has causes (karma), we avoid responding to this dukha by creating more karma.

    None of this says that you shouldn’t clean your desk. It just says how you should go about cleaning your desk: what state of mind you should have while cleaning your desk, and what state of mind you should have about your desk before it is clean, and after it is clean.

    For instance, suppose after your desk is clean, you become attached to it being clean, and don’t use it as you need to, because you are focused on keeping it clean rather than on its power to serve you as a tool. And so you don’t do what you need to do because of this attachment, and this becomes an obstacle to your happiness. Or suppose you get annoyed when it is dirty, and either put yourself down for being such a slob, or criticize someone else for making the mess on your desk. In either case, you are creating new causes for dukha. Instead, if the desk is messy, and you have nothing else to do, straighten it up with a happy mind. If you have something better to do, do that instead. Don’t become attached to your vision of yourself as either a slob, or as a neat person.

  11. boubi
    boubi June 19, 2012 at 6:38 pm | |

    Hi Brad

    Now, let’s go back to basics.

    What is your experience about buddhism being an (the) answer to the pain originated from
    – illness
    – old age
    – death

    ps
    In a former post you said that you started meditation inspired by Kapleau’s experiences but that you didn’t get the same ones (kensho i suppose) … it seems to me (from what i can remember) that after that you treated kensho as kensho smensho … like the famous fox in the vineyard.

    Did you ever consider that those experiences (kensho) were caused by koan study?

    Most probably coming from that Linchi’s (Rinzai) evil cult whose sole aim was to be a “kensho machine ” (your words).

  12. buddy
    buddy June 20, 2012 at 1:49 am | |

    Rod, To add my slant to what Ted said, it’s not that practice is only ‘just about being present to the moment’, but that it is the foundation from which any ‘right’ action is based. It’s like any given moment is a unique meeting of all sorts of different factors, socalled inside and socalled outside, and the more one is aware of these the more appropriate one’s action can be.

    I agree with what Hagen says up to a point- this constant dissatisfaction with life that we project out there and then try to manipulate is a deadend. But I have to sign off when he says ‘just seeing is enough’, or as you put it ‘trying to change things will only lead to more duhkha.’ Not trying to change things will probably lead to even more duhka! To me it’s connected with the ideas of impermanence and interbeing. Each moment is ‘the pivot of nothingness’ as Katagiri Roshi would say, where the past and future meet in freedom to create the universe. But our ability to actualize this freedom is dependent on how present or how caught up in our own conditioning we are. Speaking of Katagiri, I would recommend his book ‘Each Moment is the Universe’ (as does Brad in his ‘Zen books that don’t suck’ link), esp. the chapters on creating the future, causation and karma. Worth buying, but here’s a link: http://books.google.ca/books/about/Each_Moment_Is_the_Universe.html?id=mBP3_UQSBDgC -if you scroll down a bit you can read the chapters with titles in blue.

  13. Fred
    Fred June 20, 2012 at 8:59 am | |

    “What is your experience about buddhism being an (the) answer to the pain originated from
    – illness
    – old age
    – death”

    There is no pain originated from old age. The body is suppose to get old and die.
    The fiction clings to that what isn’t, and dissonance arises.

    Watching the self to forget the self ,The Unborn, the Undead and the Unformed
    aware.

  14. Fred
    Fred June 20, 2012 at 9:14 am | |

    http://books.google.ca/books/about/Each_Moment_Is_the_Universe.html?id=mBP3_UQSBDgC

    “The 3rd is actualizing emptiness in oneself with the forms of daily life”

  15. Ted
    Ted June 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm | |

    To say that the body is supposed to get old and die demands someone to do the supposing. The body _does_ get old and die, but it is not supposed to, nor is it supposed not to.

  16. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm | |

    Great thread, don’t you think so Khru?

    Boubi, have you seen “Zen Teaching, Zen Practice: Philip Kapleau and the Three Pillars of Zen”? Short essays by his principal students about their experiences, mostly disappointing, with regard to kensho and satori.

    Regarding “Our way is not through control or intentional action, but through seeing. Just seeing is enough.”-

    I think I am down to this, there’s a relationship between the ability to feel and the consciousness that takes place freely with regard to the six senses. That relationship is automatic in waking up and falling asleep, and anyone can find it there, if they have a need to find it.

    I sit until a relationship between the ability to feel and the consciousness that takes place freely with regard to the six senses gets up. In the course of my experience with this kind of relationship, I have discovered that things that I’m not consciously aware of will sometimes get me up, things that are only on the edges of my awareness will sometimes get me up, and what I really believe will sometimes get me up out of a sitting. When it’s the latter, there’s no point in staying seated, even though my belief could change. If I truly believe I need to clean my desk, and I am set in motion behind it, I accept that being absorbed in cleaning the desk will follow.

  17. boubi
    boubi June 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm | |

    Nice fancy footwork Brad

    But first things first, you tried to push on me a CURE, or you acted as if i asked for one, sorry i said
    What is your experience about buddhism being an (the) answer to the pain originated from
    – illness
    – old age
    – death

    and please notice that it was that guy Gautama Siddharta who got out looking for that answer.

    I’m not looking for any cure and even less going to pay anybody for some snake oil.

    I’ve met death a couple of times or i though i was going to meet my end, the last time i ask to myself if i had my share of life, the answer was “yes, a nice share of it actually”, more than i would have expected when younger, did i have ghosts/daemons still running round my head “no, i visited them and saw them for what they were”

    I asked about YOUR experience, you didn’t answer, you don’t have too, you are already so kind to give us the opportunity to write here, but for coherence i thought you were going to give one.

    About the fox in the vineyard it’s a Aesop fable (La Fontaine etc) ask the other french dude

    ps
    Please, in order to avoid shame, don’t talk about things you don’t know shit , as in the tibetan 3 years retreat, please

    thanks

  18. Fred
    Fred June 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | |

    Mike Cross might say that Buddhism isn’t the answer to anything.

    Brad might say to sit down and shut up

    Fiction might say there is no problem with death, illness, old age, pain.

    Krishnamurti might have said be one with pain, illness, old age. Embrace them
    and they will melt away.

  19. Jinzang
    Jinzang June 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | |

    Seems to me a lot of people read the Four Noble Truths / First Sermon of the Buddha and get hung up on the wrong stuff. Like all sermons, it was aimed at an audience, the five ascetics who had practiced along side of Buddha. Let’s keep what Buddhism has to offer real & connected with your present situation. If you’re like most people you have problems & worries. A big part of these are needless, just the mind spinning about inconsequential stuff: “Why did he speak to me in that tone of voice?” “Am I going to get what I want?” And so on. If we understood our minds better, we’d see how pointless most of this is. But you can’t go to the extreme that *everything* is unimportant and just sit in the dark like a zombie. All meditation does is help clear our minds so we can see what’s important and what’s not. And when you do, you can take action when it needs to be done and keep quiet when it doesn’t. Some people get drawn into the big philosophical questions, and they have their place. But philosophy is one thing and day to day life is another. You shouldn’t try to base your life on an intellectual understanding of an abstract principle like “all desire is suffering.” You need to *see* desire and *see* suffering and then you’ll know what to do on a practical and not a theoretical level. And meditation, along with trying to follow the precepts, is the key to this.

  20. Fred
    Fred June 21, 2012 at 10:39 am | |

    “But you can’t go to the extreme that *everything* is unimportant and just sit in the dark like a zombie”

    Someone might say that staying in a hut in a tibetan 3 year retreat is sitting in
    the dark like a zombie.

  21. Jinzang
    Jinzang June 21, 2012 at 11:50 am | |

    “Someone might say that staying in a hut in a tibetan 3 year retreat is sitting in
    the dark like a zombie.”

    Someone would be wrong.

    First, the three year retreat is a group and not a solitary retreat. Second, you are very busy during the retreat, if what Lama Phurbu Tashi tells me is correct. Not only meditating, but also learning many things.

  22. Fred
    Fred June 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm | |

    The impression given of Diamond Mountain is that the individuals spend time
    in their huts alone without communicating with other retreatants. Unless
    they telapathically exchange information where is the social intercourse?

  23. Fred
    Fred June 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm | |

    What type of many new things would be learned during this description of a
    retreat day at Diamond Mountain:

    “Daily practice weaves in the traditional four one to two hour meditation sessions, and one to two hours of physical activity of yoga and pranayama (breathing practices). There were will sessions for prayer and mantras. That takes up most of the day, along with light cooking and sleeping.”

  24. Jinzang
    Jinzang June 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm | |

    Someone also never heard of Bodhidharma sitting nine years facing a wall.

  25. Fred
    Fred June 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | |

    “Someone also never heard of Bodhidharma sitting nine years facing a wall.”

    “Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend.”

  26. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm | |

    I have pondered the meaning of dependent causation for years, along with the meaning of Zap Comix and the Jefferson Airplane’s Saturday Afternoon.

    There is a passage where the Gautamid summarises the end of the chain, illness, old age and death, as “the five groups of grasping”. From this I surmize that he is talking about first and foremost about an experience of consciousness in the moment. Well sometimes my consciousness gets really old, but what a peculiar juxtaposition that is!

    That ignorance can give rise to a station of consciousness, to the chain of causation and the five groups of grasping, that’s straightforward. That the eight-fold path develops and goes to fruition with the experience of consciousness with respect to each one of the six senses/sense objects along with equanimity toward the resultant impact and feeling, so far so good.

    The happiness associated with the state that ensues when the signless state is comprehended as thought out, effected, impermanent, subject to end- a bowl of water instead of soup.

  27. Ted
    Ted June 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm | |

    Zombies don’t sit in the dark. They shamble in the dark, in the direction of human habitation, in search of brains to eat.

    Three-year retreaters don’t talk, so socialization is kind of difficult. During deep retreat, they don’t do it at all. Outside of deep retreat, they do get together for gaye (play) sessions and biweekly rituals, and whenever else they want at their discretion. During the previous three year retreat, the retreaters developed a kind of sign language to communicate. I don’t know what the current batch do—we’ll find out when they come out of retreat and tell their stories.

    They don’t typically sit in the dark. First of all, the sun rises even in Arizona, and their adobe, straw bail and/or wood frame houses have lots of windows (some of them, unfortunately, facing west). Secondly, they put candles on their altars for offerings, and some offer incense as well. Thirdly, most of the cabins have solar collectors and batteries to power lights at night.

  28. Katageek
    Katageek June 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm | |

    Hey Brad, does Jizo have any storyline in the Soto Zen world? If not, what is the story of his importance in Japan?

  29. Jinzang
    Jinzang June 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm | |

    Here’s a blog that was kept during a traditional three year retreat, to give you an idea what one is like.

  30. Fred
    Fred June 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm | |

    “So let’s meditate a little together. The instruction is to rest in the essence of whatever arises. ‘Whatever arises’ refers to whatever appears to our various senses—sights, sounds, thoughts that arise in the mind. So whatever arises, instead of being involved in the content of those experiences, we look directly through what is arising and just rest within the essence of the mind’s nature.”

  31. Cidercat
    Cidercat June 22, 2012 at 7:04 pm | |

    Why did you make a dinosaur out of Plato?

    Those are not English accents dude!

    1. Cidercat
      Cidercat June 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm | |

      Can we have Crum in the next video please.

  32. MJGibbs
    MJGibbs June 23, 2012 at 12:22 am | |

    How can Zen help me deal with a rude and belittling manager/boss?

  33. boubi
    boubi June 23, 2012 at 11:40 am | |

    Come on Brad!
    “Boudi, I’m sorry I didn’t give the answer you wanted.”

    You misread the question or you choose to answer to the side (? french expression) and then i’m the one to blame, because “it’s not the answer i wanted”?

    What your zen training gave you when you were going out of money (little death) or when you were trying to “seduce” someone (stress? little death), and when you didn’t succeed (little death) and was there frustration for not succeeding (attachement to expectation).

    And when you were ill was the experience different from “before” the cure, were you in some kind of “now” that kept outside all the “poor me” stuff that worsen the pain?

    About old age, hmmm wait some more ; )

    By the way did death (your own) ever came close to you?

  34. boubi
    boubi June 23, 2012 at 11:42 am | |

    MJGibbs June 23, 2012 at 12:22 am | Permalink | Reply

    How can Zen help me deal with a rude and belittling manager/boss?

    ————————-

    Join fight club

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