Can I Be Your Student?

bash-st-kids1Today someone sent me an email asking to be my student. This prompted the following thoughts, which I now present to you in the form of a kind of open letter. This isn’t precisely the email I sent in response to the questioner. But parts of it are.

I’m never sure what people mean when they ask to be my student. It’s not a straight-forward question. What do you expect would happen if I said “yes”? What are you asking me to do?

I appreciate you asking, by the way. I feel like it’s your way of saying you think I’m a cool guy and a decent person, that you find what I say to be interesting and useful. I’m glad for that. It makes me feel good that people ask me to be their teacher. I realize the people who ask this are my biggest supporters and I would like to do the best I can for them.

So I’m not trying to be difficult here or hurtful or anything like that. It’s just that I get this question a lot and I honestly do not know what is being asked. Most of the time I just say I can’t do it, mainly because I do not know what I’m being asked to do. I figure that, if one is asked to do something without being told just what that something actually entails, it may be best to refuse.

If you want to know how to do zazen the instructions are in each of my books. There’s even a link on my blog. The address is: http://www.dogensanghalosangeles.org/dsla/zazen.html

If you want to sit with me, you can join me most Saturdays in Santa Monica and most Mondays in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles. I say most Saturdays and Mondays because I’m not always there due to my traveling schedule. However, the meetings go on whether I’m there or not. The Saturday group meets at 10 AM at Hill Street Center 237 Hill St., Santa Monica, CA 90405. The Monday group meets at 8 PM at Silverlake Yoga, 2810 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039.

I also travel the world giving talks, leading retreats and doing book signings. You can attend any or all of these. Many of these are either free or by some kind of voluntary donation. In fact, any time I do a thing in some city that I charge a fee for, I try to do something else in the same city that’s either free or by donation. I try to be available to talk to people one-to-one at all of these events.

Do you want more than just initial instructions on how to do zazen and an opportunity to join a group that sits together? If so, what did you have in mind? Do you want me to be available to speak to you about issues arising from practice? If so, how available do you expect me to be? Would you want me to be someone who you can call on the phone any hour of the day or night to discuss stuff? Or do you want some kind of scheduled thing where, say, we’d do a Skype conversation every Tuesday and Thursday at 11 AM Eastern Standard Time or something?

If you want something like that, are you willing to pay for it? I’m asking this not because I want to get rich off of merely talking to people on Skype (sweet!) but because you would be asking me to forgo other things that I could be doing to earn money during the times when you and your fellow students would want me to be available for personal consultation. If I were to do that sort of thing I would absolutely have to charge a fee for it, otherwise I would not be able to pay my rent!

Are you asking for some kind of institutional authority, position or recognition? Do you want to be made a monk or priest and thereby become a kind of religious authority figure? Do you hope to get the authorization to wear certain robes or to call yourself by some kind of title?

Do you want me to tell you some kind of secret that you imagine I know and you do not? Do you want me to teach you some special technique that I have used to attain some kind of ability that you imagine I have? Do you want me to help make you a better person? Or perhaps a more powerful person?

Why do you ask me this instead of asking someone else? Is it because you feel a strong connection to what I say in my books and blogs and so forth? It’s nice if that’s true. It makes me happy. But you should know, if you read my stuff, that I’m not a very by-the-book sort of teacher. I don’t have an institution that you can join and whose spiritual/corporate ladder you might climb in order to attain some kind of position or authority.  You would not be able to study with me for, say, five years and then end up with, like, some kind of special robe or certificate or anything along those lines. It’s not going to be any sort of spiritual career move. If that’s what you’re looking for there are places that offer it. I’m just not one of them.

What do you hope to get out of the practice? Are you looking for enlightenment? Are you looking for a spiritual career?

Are you trying to become a better person? Do you think I can help? If so, why? Do you think I’m a better person than you are? What would you do if you found out I did things that you did not approve of? Will you expect me to live up to your image of me? Will you be inquiring into my sex life? Or how I spend my money? Or what I do when I’m not working with you? Do you have specific guidelines you expect me to follow in order to qualify to be your teacher?

These are the kinds of questions that are triggered every time someone requests to become my student. I offer them to you to let you know what you seem to me to be asking. Thank you for reading.

 *   *   *

Dec. 12 we’ll show the documentary about me in Seattle, Washington. You gotta get your tickets in advance, though. Here’s the link!

Dec. 13 we’ll show the documentary about me in Portland, Oregon. Again, you gotta get your tickets in advance. Here’s the link!

I will be at both screenings to do a Q&A afterwards and sign books and generally hang out with people.

*   *   *

As usual, this blog and my being able to go to these film screenings are supported by your donations! Thank you!

52 Responses

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  1. Impactednurse
    Impactednurse December 12, 2013 at 12:01 am | |

    Thanks Brad.
    That may just be your best post eva.

  2. Sabine
    Sabine December 12, 2013 at 5:12 am | |

    I consider myself as your student. Without asking. Just because. Love Sabine

  3. Daniel Layton
    Daniel Layton December 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | |

    It seems that typically teachers, when asked, will tell the potential student what they should expect and what is expected of them if they do indeed become a student. Or they say I expect you to do such and such first, and then we can talk about it. No offense, but what it hear when I read this is that you don’t want to be burdened with taking on individual students in the traditional Zen sense. Which is fine of course: I think you have a excellent way of teaching people outside of the standard zen model. But I think what people are asking you to do is basically what Nishijima did for you. Their expectations are their own problem.

    1. mtto
      mtto December 12, 2013 at 10:53 am | |

      Hi Daniel,
      “If you want to sit with me, you can join me most Saturdays in Santa Monica and most Mondays in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles. I say most Saturdays and Mondays because I’m not always there due to my traveling schedule. However, the meetings go on whether I’m there or not. The Saturday group meets at 10 AM at Hill Street Center 237 Hill St., Santa Monica, CA 90405. The Monday group meets at 8 PM at Silverlake Yoga, 2810 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039.”

      This is basically what Nishijima did for Brad. I know because I’ve been a regular at Hill Street Center for years.

      One thing Brad didn’t mention in this post is that after sitting practice he answers questions. He very rarely comes in with a prepared talk. So, if you have questions and you’re OK asking them in front of the group there is plenty of opportunity. The other thing is that it is typical for the group to go out for lunch or frozen yogurt after class, and Brad is available then for questions or discussion in a less public format.

      My advice for anyone who wants Brad to be their teacher is: you don’t need to ask, just show up.

      1. Daniel Layton
        Daniel Layton December 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm | |

        I think we’re perhaps using different definitions of the word “teacher”. Clearly Brad is a great teacher to many many people. That is not being argued. He is not, however, a teacher who has taken on ordained students (as far as I know) in the way that has been traditionally practiced. Whether or not this matters is open for debate. I would say that Brad derives much of his legitimacy from the fact that he partook in this traditional system, so I just find it interesting that he’s rather hostile to it.

        1. Daniel Layton
          Daniel Layton December 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm | |

          But regardless I think Brad is awesome and has probably done more to bring Zen into people’s lives than the vast majority of teachers following the traditional model.

        2. mtto
          mtto December 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm | |

          Brad is ordaining four priests next weekend. I’m one of them.

          I’m still open to the possibility that you and other people are using the word “teacher” differently than I (and maybe Brad?) understand the word, and maybe that is causing some confusion…

          1. Daniel Layton
            Daniel Layton December 16, 2013 at 8:54 am |

            I stand corrected! It sounded from the post like Brad didn’t ordain people, but I assumed too much. Thanks for the clarification.

  4. mriramos
    mriramos December 12, 2013 at 9:18 am | |

    A good article here on possible roles of a teacher: http://musingsbyken.blogspot.com/2010/07/what-are-you-looking-for-in-teacher.html

  5. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2013 at 10:25 am | |

    $49.95 Enlightenment right now, baby.

  6. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2013 at 10:32 am | |

    Only $49.95, know what I’m saying

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN8VOsJCJLk

  7. Kev
    Kev December 12, 2013 at 10:53 am | |

    I am the person who prompted this blog post. I should feel lucky: two of Brad’s posts in the last month have been based on my interactions with him.

    Much of this blog is taken from our Facebook message to each other. Hm.

    Last month at a very nice retreat in Mt. Baldy I had privately asked Brad how a practitioner goes about finding and selecting a teacher, which in my mind is probably thought of as a skilled mentor. The concept was originally presented to me by Ken McLeod in his excellent book: Wake Up To Your Life. I had been sitting for about a year and the idea that a partner who challenges us in our thinking and helps move the ball down the field in terms of Buddhist practice is highly recommended.

    14 years later and still no “teacher,” there I sat before Warner, alone. And after talking over things for a bit:

    Me: How does one find a teacher?

    Warner: Well, I haven’t been in the habit of taking students for a while, but I am doing that here and there.

    Me: Hm.

    Later, as the retreat was wrapping up, after sitting with things for quite a while, I privately approached Warner.

    Me: What would you say if I asked you to be my teacher? [note: an open ended, perfect time for any response, question if ever there was one]

    Warner: I think that would be fine.

    Me: Wow! Given where we live, I’m sure we can figure out how to work it out.

    Warner: Yes. Facebook message me …..

    So what do we have here? Early onset senile dementia? IDK. Something very strange.

    Suffice to say, the student/teacher relationship is alive and well in all Buddhist traditions. It is nothing to be ashamed of. The task is that the right individuals find each other. One good smacking is okay. Pick up your shit and move on. Lord knows life has brought smackings and utter disrespect on a level that tower over this. And yet all that remains is this fervent belief in Love. Always!

    Hey. And it just so happens that Ken McLeod has a public session in Santa Monica on Jan. 14. 7:30 pm. Maybe I should have started there 14 years ago.

    But, what has kept the issue at bay for me is that everything and everyone, and all experience, is the “teacher.” The issue becomes, what if you are so full of your own shit you don’t realize that’s what your small island is made of.

  8. sri_barence
    sri_barence December 12, 2013 at 11:03 am | |

    I just want to know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. No fish please.

  9. Brent
    Brent December 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm | |

    swimming upstream, there’s a rock, go around it

  10. lisa
    lisa December 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm | |

    I asked someone to be my teacher. If I would have received this response, I would have been so very sad. I had no idea what I wanted when I asked (still don’t). The pain of life seemed too great, and asking felt like the only way I could turn. Of course, the teacher couldn’t do anything to help. I didn’t know that at the time. I had to learn that myself.

    Of course, all of Brad’s questions are fine. And perhaps need to be asked. But, still, the questions make me sad…

  11. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm | |

    Dif topic: The author who wrote the book the movie Brad starred in last year was based on http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2044856/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 has a relatively new novel out that is outstanding: Taipei by Tao Lin. Kind of a contemporary update of Burrough’s Naked Lunch or maybe more like Junky but the narrator is a writer who travels around a lot to readings and whatever, sorta like Brad, but fueled by Big Pharma instead of Zen…

    1. Fred
      Fred December 12, 2013 at 5:13 pm | |

      Really, John, what appealed to you?

      “The protagonist, Paul, weighed down by his own aloofness and disaffectedness, slogs through life and is so self-centered he never knows when a feeling or thought is authentic. Many sentences begin with “Paul felt such and such but then realized he was only feeling such and such and then realized he was really feeling such and such.” Paul is trapped in his own solipsistic universe and much of the novel is a microscope of Paul’s inner labyrinth and I must say it gets tedious after a while.

      Another problem with the novel is that there is no narrative push; Paul meanders in a drug-filled haze. In fact, you can’t get through a page without swimming through a smorgasbord of names of illegal and pharmaceutical drugs”

      1. Fred
        Fred December 12, 2013 at 5:24 pm | |

        I read Junky, Naked Lunch and Fear and Loathing, and they may have
        appealed to my 20 something personality, but a vapid, drug addled
        existence drifting through a shallow, meaningless life really is a great
        waste.

  12. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm | |

    That was too much but, if there’s such a thing…But but but…anybody know if that movie (above) is available for purchase on dvd?

    http://www.amazon.com/Taipei-Vintage-Contemporaries-Original-Tao/dp/0307950174

  13. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm | |

    As I drift and die………

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyDykQWck74

  14. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 12, 2013 at 6:04 pm | |

    Well, Fred, concerning Taipei, IMHO, for one thing, the writing…is excellent, every page is compelling in a way hard to pin down, like nothing else I’ve read, and I read a shitload…alot. So just saying its “like nothing else I’ve read” or rather, realizing this as I read the book, was astonishing in and of itself. The subject matter could’ve been anything, really, and the style and craft would’ve carried it; in some ways it reminded me a lot of how I similarly went through the drug life when I was young, and this made me reflect on how all that changed, and when, and why. How is any experience “a waste?” Its all relative. I’m in an excellent place right now, possibly if I hadn’t experimented it would be different, who knows? And as far as whats “meaningful” well, I don’t even know what that means. One person’s “meaningful” is another’s “nothing at all.” But again, I find Taipei worth mentioning because it has some astounding lyrical passages, and seems to convey -possibly a very common & dangerous- rite of passage, and above all, it seems real, not at all contrived. Just my opinion, I liked it, a lot.

    1. Fred
      Fred December 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm | |

      Very good John.

  15. Mumbles
    Mumbles December 12, 2013 at 6:13 pm | |

    “After blearily looking at the internet for a little, then peeing and brushing his teeth and washing his face, he lay in darkness on his mattress, finally allowing the simple insistence of the opioid, like an unending chord progression with a consistently unexpected and pleasing manner of postponing resolution, to accumulate and expand, until his brain and heart and the rest of him were contained within the same song-like beating–of another, larger, protective heart–inside of which, temporarily safe from the outside world, he would shrink into the lunar city of himself and feel and remember strange and forgotten things, mostly from his childhood.” Taipei-p94

  16. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 12, 2013 at 9:20 pm | |

    What Gudo Nishijima did for some of his students:

    “And then, for a reason that nobody clearly understands, Nishijima Roshi suddenly got the idea that several of us needed to travel back to Tokeikin, our root Temple (Niwa Zenji’s Temple) to perform “Shukke Tokudo” again in a completely Kosher “Soto-shu” Ritual with all “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed.” (Jundo, coupl’a comment threads back)

    Impressive to me, that he would give his students the option of being really formally recognized by the Soto-shu if they desired to be. I presume that’s what that was about? Although it doesn’t sound like it was optional at the time, really- Jundo would know better about the circumstance, I guess.

    A difficult thing, to both regard the Soto-shu as a funeral directors guild, and make sure your students have the option to be recognized as teachers in the lineage of Dogen by the very same institution.

    I can relate to Brad’s ambivalence, and if I had had the opportunity and the insistence of a teacher I would have registered as a monk with the Soto-shu too. And done what Jundo did, if I could have and my teacher insisted, as well.

    I had trouble with the basics. Seems like it was hard for me to learn without the experience of some kind of necessity, and the lotus was good for that, because I have experienced a necessity in the posture regularly.
    My sense was that I wouldn’t make progress until the experience of my necessity was also the experience of my ease and joy and then something more.

    There are a lot of prayer postures, and Nisargadatta just attended to the sense “I am”. Nisargadatta did have a guru. I guess the real question for Kev is, what do you intend to do with it if you do undertake a formal training, which is what students do in the Zen tradition? That’s what Brad and Jundo did, right?- at least enough to satisfy Nishijima that they had something to teach.

  17. Fred
    Fred December 13, 2013 at 4:47 am | |

    Necessity is the ineffable calling to itself.

  18. M1k3
    M1k3 December 13, 2013 at 6:02 am | |

    Kev, I could be way off and often am but reading this thread I get the feeling that you were upset that Brad didn’t met your expectations for what you were looking for in a teacher.

    Sorry, but that’s not his job.

    Expectations are nothing more that future disappointments.

    Mike

    1. Kev
      Kev December 13, 2013 at 10:57 am | |

      Mike. First, I disagree with your last assertion. Expectations are not just future disappointments. I hope you don’t really believe that. These days, I can see why people, especially up and coming people, look around and might think that’s true. But forget the world out there. Expectations we have of ourselves are absolutely essential to happiness. For us and our those around us. Yes, unrealistic expectations are the source of immense suffering, but learning to be realistic is possible and hard, and in fact essential to maturity. Realistic expectations! They’re vital to our lives and society.

      The thread you are reading began with a private conversation between Warner and I. There were no expectations. Only, on my part, exploring an avenue, with the understanding that, being relatively new to Zen, but definitely a veteran of life, I may be way off in how to progress in my desire to eventually teach others in the soto tradition and help as they work through the various issues and struggles they deal with [which was my answer to Warner when asked recently] Buddhist practice has been the singular tool that has helped me process the daily experience of managing, as the primary caretaker, a severely disabled daughter, maintain a family and 25 year marriage to my dream girl, everyday with renewed poise and joy. And a smile. What better than to learn how to give that to others in a quality fashion. And when one sits with Warner over 5 days, reads his insights, laughs at his wit, etc., why not shoot for the best. It’s worth a shot.

      But notice, if you carefully read the thread, that’s not how this began. I simply asked Warner HOW to obtain a one on one teacher/mentor, not a guru, or any of this nonsense. He cd have said anything at that point. He could have said “why do you want a teacher?” “I don’t know and don’t care,” “don’t look at me,” “you’re full of shit, get the f*** out of here,” “hey, if you’re thinking of me, just come to all of the things I’m at,” “hey, I know a great someone that might work,” “set up some private time and we’ll discuss what you mean further; and just know I have to charge a fee for that bc I cd be doing something potentially more lucrative that staring at your ugly ass, pathetic face for 45 min.”

      He didn’t say any of those things. You can read what transpired. I put it there just as it occurred. One of the reasons he didn’t, though, is undoubtedly bc who he saw sitting there was clearly someone who didn’t expect anything wondrous from anyone. This whole post is manufactured from nothing special. It’s like he took a scenario and, literally forgetting who he is dealing with and how it really went down, led me out for a public flogging, exploiting as the seed a very basic, and private (should I say that one more time?), well-meaning, but probably ignorant approach on my part.

      Full disclosure: I followed up w Warner a month ago, after the retreat, and he evidently missed that message. After traveling to Ojai to view his film last weekend, and pondering it a bit, I thought I would message him one last time, mostly to close an open loop. His at that time private response back was challenging to me. I didn’t find it hurtful. It got me thinking. I did wonder if Warner really remembered where we left it on Mt Baldy a month earlier, but actually crafted a response. It was probably insufficient, but I tried to be honest.

      Then this post. Which I view as exploitation.

      And this is good.

      Loop closed. That’s really all I was aiming for at this point.

      1. mtto
        mtto December 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm | |

        Kev,

        If you wanted Brad to be your Zen teacher, why not just show up to class on Saturdays for a year or two and see if it is actually a good fit? I suspect you’re beyond that at this point, but I’m totally confused as to what Brad being your teacher would mean, if not that you show up to Zen class on an at least semi-regular basis, sit, ask questions, and listen?

        Am I reading you right that you want a Zen teacher so you can become a Zen teacher? And that you want to be a Zen teacher because you want to help people? That is a good reason to become a Zen teacher, I suppose. But you don’t need to be a Zen teacher to help people. To jump from not even being a regular attendee of class to considering being a teacher is putting the cart before the horse.

        Also, Brad didn’t mention you by name or description in this blog post. Even now, most people reading this have no idea who you are, other than from your own descriptions. It isn’t accurate to call this post a “public flogging” of you, as it doesn’t mention you, the retreat you attended, or any other identifying features. I know who you are and would never have guessed that this post was directed at you.

        1. Kev
          Kev December 14, 2013 at 11:57 am | |

          Mtto. I ask you to look up the definition of “open letter.” I am more than willing to identify myself bc a) this is what Warner himself termed as such, so it WAS to me and perhaps others b) it contains the exact message he sent me personally c) tacks on several utterly ridiculous questions to boot, which can only be interpreted as rhetorical and, yes, those became very hurtful given how this entire process began. With a question: how does one find a one on one teacher in this tradition. Is it exploitative? In my opinion very much so. But it’s not huge in my mind. It just raises an issue the ancients noted: if you want to know how a person handles the big things in life, just look at how s/he handles the little things.

          Now. To pick up my shit and move on.

          1. stonemirror
            stonemirror December 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

            This is why if anyone asks me to teach them something, I tell them, “No”.

      2. DarrinRice
        DarrinRice December 14, 2013 at 8:18 am | |

        Hi Kev,
        What I notice about this situation that you seem to be missing is that you are the one who brought yourself out into the open. I’ve been reading Brads blog for a few years and the personal interactions he has are the fuel for his writings. He never mentions names.

        You say you don’t have expectations but just asking the question is an expectation. We have expectations because we believe there is an “I” that can expect something.
        Show me your “I” and I’ll give you all your expectations.

  19. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 13, 2013 at 10:11 am | |

    That’s a pretty darn passive-aggressive post, Brad. You already know what the asker is looking for, so why post that? I still love you, though! Rest easy with that knowledge, my friend.

  20. Fred
    Fred December 13, 2013 at 11:26 am | |

    It’s a straight forward response.

    Whatever the asker is looking for, as a self, isn’t there.

    What if a teachers job was simply to frustrate you in every possible way, so that “you” do
    not cling to the past, to the conditioning, to a vision of what should be, to the
    mental constructs propping up a limited locus with a focus?

  21. M1k3
    M1k3 December 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm | |

    Kev, my comment on expectations has more to do with seeing reality as it is. When we have expectations we are trying to impose our own views or desires on how other people, places or things should be or behave rather than accepting them for what they are. For me it’s just easier to OK and walk away.

    Mike

  22. M1k3
    M1k3 December 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm | |

    Edit my last post. it’s easier to SAY (missing word) OK…

    See, I have expectations on what my fingers will type and that doesn’t always work either. :)

    Mike

  23. John Matrix
    John Matrix December 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm | |

    Kev,
    You seem to have taken Brad’s attempt at expressing a general teaching concern as a personal attack. And forgive me for saying I don’t really see why… Your very recent question was used as an example, sure, but Brad never used your name, never used any of your personal details, didn’t use any of your text. Brad made it perfectly clear that this is a question he gets over and over again from folks and so he felt the need to address the student/teacher issue in a general sense.

    If you’re mad because you didn’t like the answer, that’s one thing… but to say you were wronged or exploited seems a little unfair.

  24. Wedged
    Wedged December 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm | |

    asides from what came up in the comments section…speaking of the post itself – I kept relating to the random student, which is also me. I’ve never read a Zen book where the author doesn’t quote his teacher. How would Brad answer this question about his own teachers? If we respect him and his path, and clearly a key piece for him was getting a teacher…we’re just asking the same thing. I don’t know what I want from a teacher…Like Lisa posted.

    I see Brad’s point though…i’d be saying the same thing in his shoes. 100%.

  25. Five Blogs – 16 December 2013 | 5blogs December 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  26. christopher1
    christopher1 December 17, 2013 at 6:14 am | |

    I am a relative novice in all of this but would note many areas of the country have limited opportunities to interact with Zen teachers who the student can relate with. Therefore, each persons request would be different, but I think I could make some analogies that might help if I was the one asking the question. You (Brad) note during your experiences in zazen you felt certain experiences were leading to “truth” but mention that your mentor Nishijima was pivotal in leading you away from these false paths and directing you back to your zazen practice. I have read other teachers such as Seung Sahn of the Kwan Um school, who would respond to student via letters (or nowadays email) and potentially help students avoid false paths or thoroughly confuse them through koans (your choice). Most people don’t live near Brad so dropping in on his classes would be impractical. My question would be, how did you come to study under Nishijima? What were your expectations of him? I think the answer is that you began attending zazen with him and listening to his lectures, I can’t speak to your personal expectations. I also believe your statement concerning Skype leads to a greater question, would you be willing to host events (weekly, monthly, once in a blue moon) using this technology (paid or unpaid as you see fit) where those who can’t make it to where you are but are interested in zazen practice with you could login, practice zazen, hear your lectures, and ask questions?

  27. jiesen
    jiesen December 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm | |

    i think, because you are a recognized teacher, who has received transmission, which everyone holds so dear( but really like you say, it’s typically more political or friendship based)>ppl want to follow in your footsteps if they see the value in what you do.
    in a way, it’s a compliment. but i don’t think that is the point of the “asking.”

    as a suggestion, may be you should go FullThrottle Zen. make all kinds of students and teachers…make soto zen even bigger then it is now. could be good, could be bad. but if you throw your best into it, may be you will turn out some good teachers.

    may be sorta like Tassajara?

    if a person does their best, and thinks that they are doing the right thing, then how can it be wrong?

    i thing in Zuimonki where Dogen talked about building a temple. he said he wasn’t worried about completing it, or it lasting forever, his objective was to build it(for obviously good reasons.)

    may be there are ppl who want to follow your example because they see the value in it. so i think asking to be your student, would be a logical place to start.

  28. jiesen
    jiesen December 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm | |

    may be if Dogen never built that temple, there would be no Hardcore Zen Blog.

  29. jiesen
    jiesen December 27, 2013 at 9:24 pm | |

    actually…idunno…may be not going fullthrottle is best…that’s a hard one…may be my idea of fullthrottle is minuet comparatively speaking to “FullThrottle.”…May be fullthrottle was the right way in Dogen’s day, but not today. because the guys who are going fullthrottle today are sort of…not that great l0l!

    may be you could do better…or may be you are already doing better….well, you are already doing better l0l! so, may be ignore my stupid suggestion and keep on Troopin’

  30. tombo
    tombo December 28, 2013 at 10:34 am | |

    You guys are funny. No guru, no teacher, no method.

  31. zacharythax
    zacharythax January 6, 2014 at 4:53 am | |

    I think I am truly the most fortunate old punk rocker to find a nerve struck by zen. I live in a city with the only Soto Zen priory on the east coast.

    You already gave the nudge to go back to those guys, who scared me at first. Now, I regularly get to sit zazen with real zen monks, so all the stuff described in your books like reading the Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra AND get to sit down and have tea and discuss life with two actual Soto Zen monks.

    They even have pictures of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennettt (who is quoted in THERE IS NO GOD AND HE’S ALWAYS WITH YOU.

    Not only that, but a member of one of our most successful local punk bands shows up on occasion.

    I think my heroes, like Iggy Pop, are not people who I wish to emulate or worship, but just folks who drink from the same well, whose roots touch the same soil. The point is not to try to be someone else but to keep training, keep experiencing 200 proof undiluted reality

  32. Heffyson
    Heffyson January 6, 2014 at 10:59 am | |

    I’m a pretty busy guy Brad, however, I would consider taking you on as a teacher. I don’t know exactly what that should mean. For all I know you know nothing about me and thus make most of it up. That’s ok though. As your student you would have to figure out a lot of the relationship on the fly, but I have faith. You seem like a pretty cool person with a lot of knowledge on Buddhism, and that really helps calm some of the fears of taking this on. Listen though, I have a lot people asking to be my teacher. Every week I get 2- e-mails explaining how they can teach me this or that and how great my mediocre practice is. I’m just not sure how you are any different. I sit in my bedroom once in a while and weekly at local Zen Sangha on Saturdays at 6:20am. If you are serious about becoming my teacher, you can come to either and we can talk.

    Thanks

  33. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin January 10, 2014 at 11:48 am | |

    Well, gee, Brad, all you have to do is ask. As one of those people, I meant, as you suspect, that I like your stuff and your attitude, and I like the fact that you don’t get all Zen Master-y. Plus, you seem to know things I don’t know. Or not-know things I know. Or something like that.

    And, if I’m going to have a teacher, I want one who’s interviewed Nina Hartley. I’ve had a crush on her for about 20 years.

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