They put up the last part of my interview on Buddhist Geeks. So go give it a listen if you’re into that sort of thing. I listened and did not puke, as is my usual reaction to my own interviews.

I’ve been going to the LA Film Festival this week. It’s sorta kinda related to my “real job.” But mainly I’m just watching the movies that seem most interesting. So far I’ve seen Escape From LA, a trash classic in which Kurt Russell escapes from Los Angeles, which, according to the film, was turned into a penal colony in 1998 after a fascist religious nut president got himself elected ruler for life. I had no idea. I was in Japan in 1998, so I guess I never heard about this and the people I know around here now don’t seem to like to talk about it. When I think how this town operates, though, it kinda makes sense now…

I tried to get tickets to the Transformers premier tonight, but they were all gone and even the connection I have at Micahel Bay’s office proved useless. But there’s still a slim chance I’ll get in one way or another.

On Monday I saw a very interesting film called Join Us. It’s a documentary about a religious cult in South Carolina. According to the movie, the new brand of cult is not a giant international organization like the Moonies or Scientology. What’s more common these days is little cults you never hear about in rural areas. The film follows the fall of one of these, a fire and brimstone Christian cult led by a charismatic German immigrant named Raimund Melz.

I’m gonna try to work up a review of the film for my next Suicide Girls installment. But just very quickly here, whenever I watch a film like this these days I tend to focus on the wrong things. Meaning, I tend to focus on stuff the film makers seem to want to relegate to the background. In this example, the “heroes” of the picture are the brave souls who got out of the cult and taught their bretheren inside what an insidious organization they were participating in, eventually succeeding in toppling the church. The “villains” of the piece are cult-leader Raimund and his wife.

Me, though, I tended to focus more on Raimund. As the leader of a cult of my own, I can see his side of the story more clearly than I can the side of the supposed heroes of the film. I’m thinking, how can I get my followers to buy me a fleet of sports cars and build me a whole subdivision full of houses for free which I can then rent back to them at inflated prices? How come I gotta pay my own money to rent out the Hill Street Center for retreats and Zazen classes and take a huge loss on the thing every month when only five people show up? What’s up with that? Shit, maybe I should charge $185 a session and hypnotize everyone into thinking they’ve been enlightened by the end of the day like some other Zen Masters do.

NO! NO!! NO!!!!! I am joking. Joking. OK? But seriously, I do see Raimund’s side of the story more clearly than his followers’ side. I can see exactly how a guy can get sucked into that. Because, unlike what the film-makers seem to want us to believe, the followers of a cult are not simply poor innocent little creatures who get duped by big, bad, dirty, greedy guys. They are generally very manipulative people who desperately want to get duped. Man, I can feel it from people who come and see me sometimes, how they are seriously searching for someone exactly like Raimund, or like Charles Manson, or bin Laden, or Hitler. And they won’t stop till they find him or some poor sap like Raimund who they can turn into the corrupt leader they so desire. Of course, it takes two to tango, so the leader has to be a fairly bad guy as well. But he never works as a solo act. Never, ever, ever. Nope. Not even one example. Cuz the solo cult leaders, they’re just crazy people yelling on street corners that everyone ignores.

Anyway, I’m gonna spend some more time developing this little thesis and premier it on Suicide Girls this weekend. So forgive me if I steal some of my own words and use it in the piece.

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66 Responses

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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 12:06 am |

    and some love themselves a little too much.

    -NOt I!!

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 12:11 am |

    Mysterion, I forgave thee a billion times and will continue until I die. What anger you might have seen in my posts could have been yours from the start.

    I sincerely hope that you are well.


  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 2:11 am |

    what’s better than winning the special olympics?

    having all your arms and legs

  4. Jared
    Jared June 29, 2007 at 6:23 am |

    What’s worse than making jokes about the physically and mentally impaired?

    Nothing. Have some taste, please?

  5. rev. moon
    rev. moon June 29, 2007 at 7:51 am |

    “Have some taste, please?”

    Jared – anonymous is unfortunately stuck with her own bad taste. She can’t have any of yours.

  6. Mysterion
    Mysterion June 29, 2007 at 8:30 am |

    If you are in the San Francisco East bay, please come by & buy an ear of corn, a bowl of noodles, or 1/2 BBQ Chicken. Young children welcome (sorry, no pets).

    Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church
    32975 Alvarado-Niles Road
    (510) 471-2581
    Bazaar: Saturday, July 7 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    Sunday, July 8 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.


  7. keishin.ni
    keishin.ni June 29, 2007 at 11:18 am |

    when you go a fishin’
    alls you come up with is trash
    an old boot, a part from an appliance, a bicycle frame
    it’s something to ponder:
    the strangeness of things
    the juxtaposition of
    this freedom–
    to write not only for ourselves, but for so many unseen others
    and in what we choose to leave
    here on the path–
    this trail we are blazing

  8. Mysterion
    Mysterion June 29, 2007 at 11:37 am |

    On this path
    take only photographs
    leave only footprints

    (with apologies to the Sierra Club)

    All things are destined to decay.

  9. Imperatrix
    Imperatrix June 29, 2007 at 1:03 pm |

    Dammit! Is anyone else having trouble accessing Blogspot, or is it just me? IIRC, last week some of you were…looks like it’s been my turn!

  10. Jared
    Jared June 29, 2007 at 1:07 pm |

    Rev. Moon:

    Y’all only wish you could have my bad taste 😉

    But in all seriousness, the vast majority of the handicapped that I know use their handicapped brains/bodies to such a greater extent than half the people I meet that I often think the title is misplaced.

  11. Mysterion
    Mysterion June 29, 2007 at 2:19 pm |

    Mrs. Suzuki expresses the strict side of Zen compassion. She helped train and refine Zen students while acting as a teacher of the Way of Tea, commonly referred to as Tea Ceremony. Suzuki Roshi had suggested she take up tea practice, and it became a vehicle for her to share the background of his teaching after he was gone. Mrs. Suzuki used tea and the sensitive handling of its many traditional utensils as skillful means, frequently demonstrating “tough love” in her sharp-tongued criticism of students’ lack of attentiveness to the details of the tea-making forms and choreography. Her lessons helped many Zen students expand their sense of presence, and learn to care for their everyday surroundings.


  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 30, 2007 at 8:00 am |

    sorry about the bad taste joke. i guess everyones too nice around here to find it funny.

  13. Jared
    Jared June 30, 2007 at 6:57 pm |

    I always hear people refer to Leonard Cohen in a negative way, and I’m not sure why. I have no idea who the guy is, unless you mean that singer, in which case I still have no idea what he has to do with Buddhism. Could someone explain it to me, or link me up to a place explaining the controversy?

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 1, 2007 at 7:33 am |

    Mr Cohen was a student of famous Rinzai teacher Joshu Roshi (who recently turned 100!) of Mt. Baldy monastery.

    I consider him a serious Zen practioner and a great artist.


  15. Gregor
    Gregor July 2, 2007 at 8:55 pm |

    interesting point, I don’t know why I never realized this myself. Thanks Brad, really great food for thought.

  16. Paul Grieg
    Paul Grieg July 8, 2007 at 4:24 am |

    Great interview. Brad, did you check out Dhrma Dan’s interview? Or his free book? Is he an arahat? Does an arahat outrank a Zen master? Why don’t you give away your books free? OK I can pick ’em up cheap on amazon, but isn’t it Buddhist to give away teachings? Dharma Dan’s a doc and says he makes enough money to give away everything for free forever. Aren’t you in the same situation? Or are you a new Bhagwan trying to build Bradville with suicide girls for chauffeurs and 20 hummers to drive?

Comments are closed.