Dogen Sangha International Post Mortem

I’m going to keep posting commercials until everyone in the world buys a copy of the Hardcore Zen audiobook.

This one came out pretty good. This was a surprise because I’m working with iMovie, which is a pain in the butt compared to Final Cut. I used to use Final Cut. But now the program no longer works so I’m stuck with iMovie. iMove is made for dad to edit out the parts where little Molly drools on the dog and then upload it to YouTube and not much else. Bending it to do what I’m doing takes a certain amount of what feels to me like fooling the program into doing things it doesn’t want to do.

Be that as it may. I was talking with Tim McCarthy, my first Zen teacher, yesterday about the demise of Dogen Sangha International (DSI) and about lineages in general. Tim pointed out that the Asian model for passing on lineages in things like Zen, the martial arts, tea ceremony and so on goes something like this. A teacher will often appoint several successors to whom he (or she, but I’ll use he for now) gives his blessing to teach as part of his lineage. When the teacher wishes to retire or feels he’s about to die, he will often single out one of these successors to inherit whatever that teacher has established in the form of a school. There may be property involved, there might be money, there might be a roster of students, teachers and other such members of that school.

In the case of DSI, the school was almost entirely conceptual. There was no property or money passed on to me and not even a list of members. The only property DSI may or may not have held were certain intellectual property items in the form of the copyrights to certain of Nishijima’s written work in English.

I say “may or may not” because even this was never really made clear to me. However, I had long believed that if there was one thing all of Nishijima Roshi’s dharma heirs agreed upon it was that some one person or entity should take charge of Nishijima Roshi’s written work. There has been a hell of a lot of bickering about Nishijima Roshi’s written material in English because he did not produce any of it by himself. He always worked with some native English speaker to turn his ideas into publishable English.

I had believed that all of this had been settled. I was well aware that a number of people were not entirely happy with the way it had been settled. But I had believed at least they accepted things. When I published my last blog I found out immediately that this was not true.

If I felt that Nishijima Roshi’s written legacy in English might disappear unless I entered into the fray and fought for DSI to administer all of this material, I might be inclined to fight about it. But everything is available, even if there are several sources for it. What matters is that it’s out there. Since this is true it doesn’t seem important to me to spend any effort on consolidating things.

What has happened in DSI regarding this material is precisely what always happens when people produce some kind of collaborative piece of art without stipulating one single person or entity as the sole owner of that thing. This is why filmmakers these days are usually very meticulous about having everyone involved sign contracts specifically stating what sort of compensation they will receive and what, if any, rights of ownership they’ll have over the finished product. You don’t want some guy whose only role in Titanic was to go “Arrrrrggghhh!!” and fall off the ship to start saying he now owns the whole movie.

There are currently no legal versions of any of the Ultraman programs made between 1966 and 1974 available outside of Japan because of problems of this nature. Eventually all the animosity involved in this tore the original Tsuburaya Productions apart. None of the Tsuburaya family are involved in the company that now bears their name.

Some of you who like to post in the comments section appear to believe that, as far as spiritual organizations go, this situation is unique to Dogen Sangha. This is because Dogen Sangha is far more open about our own shortcomings than anyone else in this business. We don’t have professional PR people, legal departments and so forth to promote a false image of solidarity like other spiritual organizations do. And trust me folks, they really do. Even the ones headed by those beatifically smiling faces you see on all the covers of the Buddhist mags. Especially them! This is one of the things I like about us. We are honest and open to a fault. It’s one of the reasons Dogen Sangha will never be as “successful” as those other spiritual organizations. But in my way of thinking this is the true success of Dogen Sangha.

The issue of the matter of there being multiple successors with one person being singled out as a kind of special successor, or head successor, or whatever, will always be a problem for organizations like Dogen Sangha. The Western solution in many cases seems to be to either try to create some kind of legal framework around this process or to democratize it or both. That’s how we handle things. That’s how we arrogantly think things must be handled.

But Buddhism isn’t like a government or a corporation. When you try to force it into that mold, it breaks. Lots of people will assure you this is not true. But they’re mistaken.

Typically when one person is singled out as some kind of special successor in cases like these, the older members of the group refuse to accept him, those who joined around the same time as the newly appointed special successor may grudgingly agree to go along, and those who join after the appointment has been made simply accept it. This is precisely what happened with DSI.

I don’t have any interest in trying to convince Nishijima Roshi’s older students to accept me as their new dharma daddy. It’s like asking me to join in a fight over who gets to eat the last chicken leg in the Col. Sanders bucket. I’m a vegetarian. I don’t care who eats it.

I also have no desire to lead Dogen Sangha International. It’s not fun. It doesn’t make money. It doesn’t make me a hit with the ladies. And worse than that it doesn’t even help spread the teachings of Dogen. So why do it? That’s a serious question that I have put to a number of people and I have never heard a single convincing answer.

Once when I was having some trouble with my little band of misfit meditators in Los Angeles, I went to see Mel Weitsman of the Berkeley Zen Center about it. After listening to me whine for a while, he asked, “What’s your bottom line with your group?” I had never thought about it like that. I said that my bottom line was, “I sit zazen ever day. On Saturdays I invite other people to sit with me.” And that was it. That’s what was at the very bottom for me.

In that case if someone were to come on Saturday and start making a lot of fuss and noise, they’d be interfering with my bottom line and I’d ask them to leave. If they refused to go, I’d end the practice of opening my place to strangers.

As far as Dogen Sangha (International or otherwise) is concerned, I feel pretty much the same way. My bottom line is that I sit and you can join me if you want. Anything that interferes with that needs to be stripped away. Dogen Sangha International was interfering with that, and now it’s gone.


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158 Responses

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  1. Seagal Rinpoche
    Seagal Rinpoche April 23, 2012 at 9:50 am |

    Sit down and shut up.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 10:01 am |

    That hurt my ego Seagal.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 10:13 am |

    "If Mysterion had as many cocks sticking out of him as he's had stuck in him, he'd look like a porcupine."

    – Rinpoche Seagal, in a teisho at Dogen Sangha International

  4. pretaville
    pretaville April 23, 2012 at 10:32 am |


    Maybe we link to some of his like Donny Osmond dumbass musick, with his dumbass buddies, who never quite made it to garage band 101 (dude, like what's an arpeggio)

    Go home you mentally ill white trash romneyite.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 10:36 am |

    prickly, aren't you?

  6. Khru Jr.
    Khru Jr. April 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |


    When you 'facefuck' (I picked up this term from an anonymous on your last post) do you grasp your partner by the ears and thrust into his/her mouth or there some other method you prefer?

    Thanks in advance for your answer!

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 11:12 am |

    "Typically when one person is singled out as some kind of special successor in case like these, the older members of the group refuse to accept him, those who joined around the same time as the newly appointed special successor may grudgingly agree to go along, and those who join after the appointment was been made simply accept it."

    Well said, Mr. Warner.

  8. Khru
    Khru April 23, 2012 at 11:16 am |

    Let's stop all the hatin' and just start the lovin'.

  9. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    … in a 'facefuck' way or a neoplatonic way?

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

    Sit up and shut down.

  11. nobody
    nobody April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm |

    I could have been somebody.

    I could have been a contender.

  12. A-Bob
    A-Bob April 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    Ya know Brad, Instead of disbanding the group you might have considered taking someone up on their offer of tea and Zazen.

    Then later, while he was distracted in the afterglow of the visit, you could have asked him to become the new leader of DSI.

    You would have been off the hook and he would have been overjoyed. It would have been a win win..

    CAPTCHA : panti govestop : I kid you not

  13. Misha
    Misha April 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    The practice of Buddhadharma, of zazen, is supposed to be very simple. We're just mucking all of it up slightly by creating these corporations, societies, with boards and lawyers. We muck it up in a big way when we try to monetize it, and create brands from dharma that we hope on day will bring fame and fortune.

    We've seen how mucked up the Xtian churches have become. My cable provider has at least 6 channels with hucksters of all stripes, from Osteen to Creflo Dollar (!)…

    What Buddha taught was a way out of this dungpile…why do we Buddhists try to climb back into the dungpile, some of us standing on the shoulders of others to get a better flying approach into the dungpile?

    Dogen, I'm sure, never wanted a corporation named after him. If he was here with his staff, he'd crack some of you with it.

  14. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm |

    Don't think Dogen was a beater, and he seemed to have a more nuanced take on life than it being a shithole that we had to get out of.

    He loved the complexity of it actually. He revelled in it, seemed to celebrate it in all its complexity like, as he put it, 'entwined vines' ('katto').

    Never ceases to amaze me how we use Buddhism to sort of further loathe our human existence. It's something that I've heard several Asian teachers comment on; the strange (as they se it) tendency for guilt/ self loathing in the West. It's very likely a residue from our clunky old Judeo-Christian programming.



  16. nowthis
    nowthis April 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

    proud of you, brad

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |

    These blogs about DSI are getting boring and repetitive, Bradley.

    Can someone drag out some old Jundo shit?

  18. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  19. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

    Wow! The wonders of our living language.. I'm not sure how that got in there Harry but it must be a fairly recent addition.

    It's kind of like when you Google Santorum.

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

    From Harry's link:

    1. Jundo

    A jundo is a basically fat girl, usually so called when they are in a club and obviously willing to pull anything. The Jundo is usually most prevelant at around 2am when the club's lights are turned on. At this stage they are determined to pull someone before they go home in order to build up a little self esteem before it is later shattered by their standard morning weigh in

    Question: Where's Rob?

    Answer: He's in the corner pulling some jundo

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    3. Warner

    the last name of a whore with an abnormally large vagina, usually tries to imitate her slutty relatives.

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

    could have been written by Khru Jr.?

  24. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

    Brad 1166 up, 539 down

    Is known to be the ultimate sex machine. It's common to share his crazy sex stories to his friends. This sounds like torture, but it's actually entertaining when you meet a Brad. They usually play guitar really really really good, and know every single definition of every word on urban dictionary without having to look it up.
    -"Hey you wanna hook up?"

    -"Wait, aren't you a Brad?"

  25. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |


    A number synonymous with evil; a number that can represent and manifest evil; an evil omen; often identified with cult practices
    The killer's identity was obviously foreshadowed when he stayed in room 108.

    According to the dead sea scrolls, the anti-christ's birthday will be on October 8th (the tenth of August in Europe).

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

    These are frightenly accurate.

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm |

    Let's form DSI.

    What is the first rule of DSI?

  28. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    3. "Bradley"

    When a police officer sticks his baton up your butt to check for drugs.

    officer1: "Did you give that kid a bradley?"

    officer2: "Yes I did"

    Hee hee, I can't vouch for the editorial integrity of Urban Dictionary, but it turns up the odd nugget.



  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Jundo Cohen (b. July 14, 1960) is a S?t? Zen Priest, founder and teacher of the Treeleaf Zendo, a Soto Zen Sangha located in Tsukuba, Japan. He was ordained in 2002 and subsequently received Dharma Transmission from Master Gudo Wafu Nishijima, and is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and American Zen Teachers Association. Treeleaf Zendo was designed specifically as an online practice place for Zen practitioners who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or childcare and family needs, and seeks to provide Zazen sittings, retreats, discussion, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online. Members now sit in over 50 countries. The focus is Shikantaza "Just Sitting" Zazen as instructed by the 13th Century Japanese Master, Eihei Dogen. Jundo Cohen's netcast and video Zazen sittings and podcasts are available through the Treeleaf website.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm |

    Harry from the Urban Dic:

    Harry's are near guru standard, people ask and we provide the answer. However our own problems are hidden, you may pester but we remain zen. It's like dropping a pebble in a lake, but no ripples emerge. A voice of wisdom people turn to when no one else knows what to say. If you don't tell him the problem. sometimes we already know…

  31. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm |

    "2. DSI stands for "Dick Suck Island". Basically referring to a girl taking a guy to any private place (which is considered to be the "island" to imply a sort of seclusion/privacy) to give him oral sex (blow job) without interruption."

    "4. DSI: A text abbreviation that stands for "Dying Slowly Inside" and is used as the opposite of "lol" or "laugh out loud"

    "7. DSI: Dangerous Somalian Immigrant".

    Re: forming DSI. I propose Brad as the officer in charge of the gift shop. And Jundo for tea lady.



  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

    DSI = "Dick Suck Island"???

    Khru Jr. has definitely been working on the urban dictionary.

  33. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

    'harry' on seems closer to the mark:

    to harass, annoy, or prove a nuisance to by or as if by repeated attacks; worry: 'He was harried by constant doubts.'

    to ravage, as in war; devastate: 'The troops harried the countryside.'

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

    gudo: gudo meaning thats weird or disgusting or anything that is is just random and spontaneous.
    (someone yells fat cow and moons you)That's was gudo.

    Chodo: an abnormal shaped dildo, usually in the form of a chode (a dick that is fatter than it is tall).

  35. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |



    another word for "chode"
    usually used to describe a person

    Do you see that guy over there?

    Wow, what a dogen.



    A penis wider than it is long:

    "My boyfriend wanted a hand-job but i couldn't get a good grip because he had a chode."

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    2. Soto

    a sexy ass Cuban boy from Florida who all the ladies love . He usually has an asian girl girlfriend from California whose badass in every single way . He loves smoking than going to McDonalds to fufill his munchies . He's a sexy ass motherfxcking beast . He's a ladies man but he loves his girlfriend to death . So back up bitches , or his barking cat will attack you .

    3. Soto

    The act of being a Mexican and picking strawberries or other fruit on the side of Bemiss road in Valdosta Georgia.

  37. John Baker
    John Baker April 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    In the Gopaka Moggallâna Sutta just after the death of the Buddha, a minister of King Ajâtusattu Vedehiputta asks Ananda if the Buddha designated a successor. Ananda replies in the negative.

    However, despite this seeming setback, the Sutta goes on to inform us that there are qualities the Buddha has taught which make a person worthy to be relied upon. Here is a smaller and more understandable list of the ten criteria which I have taken from Wendi Adamek’s book, The Mystique of Transmission.

    “These ten qualities are (1) he is perfect in conduct according to the prâtimoksa, (2) he is learned in good teachings, has mastered them verbally, investigated them intellectually and penetrated them through his own insight, (3) he is content with the simple life of the bhiksu, (4) he obtains the four dhyânas (absorptions, higher levels of consciousness) at will, (5) he has mastered the various supernormal powers, (6) he has the “divine ear,” (7) he has insight into the minds of others, (8) he recollects his past lives, (9) he has the “divine eye,” and (10) he has realized the truth for himself and “abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints.”

    What I find interesting about this list, no latter-day Zen master comes close to these qualities—just read the claptrap they write calling itself Zen, as with Brad Warner.

    If somebody asked me to name a past Japanese Zen master who came closest to meeting all the qualities it would have to be Zen master Bassui. He, unlike, the so-called teachers of today, grasped the notion of pure Mind which is the key to unlocking the mystery of these ten qualities.

  38. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

    "(5) he has mastered the various supernormal powers*…"

    Right. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Leaps tall building with a single bound.

    Wanna talk crap?

    Mastered Supernormal (e.g. supernatural powers like levitation, ESP…

    SuperPower WIKI

    I just prefer the simple 3:

    1) Drinks water
    2) Passes water (e.g. takes a piss)
    3) Walks on water (that is less than ankle deep).

    What was said after Buddha died fills libraries and very little of it has significance beyond commentary, fantasy, or amusement.

    The careful study of Sutta reveals that even the various and sundry Sutta collections are – to a degree – corrupted.

    There is no successor to Buddha because each salient being IS his/her own Buddha. There is no other authority.

    Here's a start.

    Spend 45 years studying scriptures and you soon enough discover…

    …of the lot, one rings particularly pure:

    'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.' source

  39. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm |

    If we're quote fencing, don't forget the Urban Dictionary!

  40. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

    …and as the video footage with this blog post clearly indicates, Brad can fly a real UFO… Dead Buddha Guy couldn't do that for nuts!

  41. Fred
    Fred April 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

    The John Baker who co-edited
    Chogyam Trungpa's books?

    I read the two books you co-edited,
    but I was disappointed with the
    fornication and alcoholism of
    one who had not dropped the

  42. Mysterion
    Mysterion April 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm |


    did you contribute to the Urban Dictionary also?

  43. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 4:49 pm |

    Can't say I do, Mysti.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    *Unleashes HUGE wad of cum in Mysterion's mouth*

  45. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    So zazen/realisation is a cure for alcoholism now… is there anything this product CAN'T do???

  46. Fred
    Fred April 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

    Harry, wht don't you sit quietly
    and look at where your ego has
    taken you. Is this the man that
    ponders koans? What's going on ?

  47. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

    *facefucks Mysterion until he gags and vomits…waits until he finishes vomiting and rams cock back down his throat and restarts violent thrusts into Mysterion's mouth*

  48. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm |

    Fred, my dear chap, your curious beliefs around 'dropping body and mind' seem matched by your lack of understanding regarding koan practice (I won't hold it against you, it's pretty widespread in the impovrished latter day Soto othodoxy that we've all been spoonfed).

    But, really, I think you'll find that you are quite perfectly placed to have your very own insights into what you are calling the 'ego' here. You just have to buck up like a big boy and attend to the business that it is you can attend to.

    When you can offer a few substantial words of your own on the matter then maybe we can even have a sincere little chat about it.



  49. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    I'm imagining that potato head icon doing the talking. so great.

Comments are closed.