Dogen’s Circle of the Way

ensoTomorrow begins my retreat at Upaya Zen Center with Kazuaki Tanahashi. The retreat is titled Dogen’s Circle of the Way.

Before Kaz invited me to lead this retreat with him I had not been very familiar with the phrase “Circle of the Way.” I’d probably heard it around Tassajara but I’d never paid the phrase a whole lot of attention. It seemed like one of those catchphrases the San Francisco Zen Center has developed. When you have a small group of people dedicated to a frankly unpopular practice, they tend to create their own shorthand. All subcultures do this. Sometimes it’s a way of establishing a cultural identity that contrasts with the larger culture. Sometimes it’s just because they’re sick of restating the same thing over and over. Most often it’s a bit of both.

Whenever you’re having a bad day at Tassajara someone will tell you, “It’s a practice opportunity!” I just want to smack those people. If you talk about being treated unfairly around anyone there they’ll admonish you by saying, “That’s comparing mind!” That kind of stuff gets real annoying real fast.

And since they read Dogen all the time, they’ve got a lot of shorthand for the things Dogen writes about. Hearing these shorthand renderings of Dogen’s ideas isn’t as annoying as being belittled by clichés when you just need to unload, but I tend to let them go a lot of the time without making any real effort to figure out what they are.

I sometimes have to translate their Dogen shorthand into other Dogen shorthand I’m more familiar with. It turns out that the translation of “Circle of the Way” into Nishijima Roshi’s shorthand for Dogen’s ideas is “Continuous Practice.”

It’s a very essential idea in Dogen’s teaching. It may, in fact, be the thing that makes Dogen’s Zen fundamentally different from almost every other form of meditation practice that I’m aware of, and what makes Dogen’s approach to Zen the most practical way of approaching meditation for contemporary people. Here’s Kaz’s take on it. Now I’ll give you mine.

When I say it’s the thing that makes Dogen’s way the most practical I’m not talking here about matters of posture or about rituals or any of that superficial stuff. Posture is important and rituals are significant. But what Kaz calls the Circle of the Way represents something much more fundamental than that. And it’s applicable to all sorts of activities besides seated meditation.

Until Dogen met his teacher Tendo Nyojo, he had been taught that zazen was a means to an end, a way of attaining a specific goal. You do zazen in order to become enlightened.

That’s the way most meditation is taught. You want stress reduction? Do this! You want peace of mind? Do this!

But it’s not just meditation that’s taught this way. Nearly every activity we do in life is divided into ends and means. You do your job to get a paycheck. You jog to lose weight. You practice violin to play at Carnegie Hall. You write books to become a famous author. The list goes on and on.

The problem is that we often do not attain our goals. Maybe our paycheck is less than we deserve, or we never get to play at Carnegie Hall, or we don’t lose that weight as fast as we want, maybe we become a well-known author but not a famous one and we don’t make any money, etc. This causes us a lot of disappointment. It often is enough to make us give up whatever it is we’re doing well before its benefits become evident.

Many, many people give up meditation practice for this reason. I can’t tell you how many times someone has forwarded me a very eloquently written essay by someone about what an obvious waste of time meditation is. This one by John Horgan is a great example. Horgan was disappointed by Zen practice and he explains why in terms that are very hard to refute. But I’d say he was just doing it for the wrong reasons. And the wrong reasons for doing Zen practice are any reasons for doing Zen practice.

Tendo Nyojo told Dogen that zazen practice is enlightenment itself. There is no separation between the activity and the goal. This doesn’t just go for Zen practice. It goes for everything.

There’s a very good piece by Alan Watts about this idea. He compares the absurd idea of doing something in  order to reach a goal to a composer who creates music that is all about the ending of a performance. The South Park guys did a great animation of it.

The idea of practice/enlightenment isn’t just a thing to make Zennies feel good about how boring and useless our practice usually seems. It’s a revolutionary way of living your life. The notion of goalless practice can be applied to absolutely anything we do in life and will make that thing a whole lot better.

There are lots of ways of phrasing this idea. One of my favorites happens to be a little gross. But because it’s gross it tends to be easy to memorize, and it’s this: You don’t eat in order to take a shit.

We all know that. But in other areas we apply goals to what we’re doing and make ourselves miserable by doing so. We become like men who think sex is all about orgasm so they rush through the good stuff. We miss our lives chasing after the future.

*   *   *

Your local parish minister does what he does for “free” because the church supports him with donations. You get YouTube videos for “free” because they make you sit through ads every third one you click on. This blog is “free” because kind people like you send in donations every so often. Thank you for your support!

You can see the documentary about me,  Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen, at the following locations (I’ll be at all screenings):

– March 11, 2014 Ithaca, NY

– March 15, 2014 Brooklyn, NY

– April 20, 2014 San Francisco, CA

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235 Responses

  1. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm |

    Dogs cannot actualize Buddha nature – cats can do.

    This is the decree of God, MEEEE!!! I’m a cat man!

    Ski-Bi dibby dib yo da dub dub
    Yo dab dub dub
    Ski-Bi dibby dib yo da dub dub
    Yo dab dub dub(x2)

    B-B-B-Be Bop a Bodda Bop
    Bop a Bodda Bop
    Be Bop a Bodda Bop
    Bop a Bodda Boop(x2)

    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm |

      You can tell by the kindness of a dog how a human should be.
      -Don Van Vliet

      1. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 8:57 am |

        “Take a look sometime at the face of a dog who’s just had sex. He just stares into space with strangely empty eyes. It’s exactly the same with people — in the beginning they work themselves up into a frenzy, and in the end there’s nothing at all.” – Kodo Sawaki from “To You”

        Like I told you, dogs are stupid.

        There’s a reason why Egyptians worshiped cats while Americans worship dogs.

          1. Mumbles
            Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 10:32 am |

            My Border Collie would first win any debate and then eat your cat. Cats are pussies.

          2. CatsareInfinite
            CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm |

            I’ve read enough studies to tell you dogs are shit like most people.

            Cats and birds kick ass.

            I hope you and your dog get run over by a car.

            Don’t you dare ever tell me shit like your dog would eat my cat.

          3. stonemirror
            stonemirror February 24, 2014 at 6:12 pm |

            Mr.-or-Ms. Infinite will no longer be with us. Let’s try to behave like adults.

            Just to be clear, if you get into bickering matches, I’m not here to break up fights: I’ll resolve them by banning whoever seems to be most annoying and/or most at fault.

            Similarly, if you post intemperate things and then demand that I remove them on your behalf, you are not going to be disposing me favorably towards you.

            Let me be very clear on one point: if you post personally identifying information about another user without their consent, you will taste the Wrath of the Big Permaban Hammer. I really don’t like that kind of nonsense. Do not test me.

            We now return you to your regularly-scheduled web site.

  2. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm |

    he rollin he scratchin he meowin
    he climbin that fence and
    I’m N Luv with a kitty
    he pouncin he playin he playin
    I’m not goin nowhere kitty I’m stayin
    I’m N Luv with a kitty

  3. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 9:09 am |

    They see me meowin’
    on my front lawn
    I know they’re all thinking
    I’m so Cute N’ cuddly

    Think I’m just too cute n’ cuddly
    Think I’m just too cute n’ cuddly
    Can’t you see I’m cute n’ cuddly
    Look at me I’m cute n’ cuddly!
    I wanna roll with-
    The stray gangsters
    But so far they all think
    I’m too cute n’ cuddly
    Think I’m just too cute n’ cuddly
    Think I’m just too cute n’ cuddly
    I’m just too cute n’ cuddly
    Really, really cute n’ cuddly

    First in my class at eating tuna.
    Got skills, I’m a Champion at catching birdies
    MC Bigglesworth that’s my favorite MC
    Keep your 40
    I’ll just have a string
    My boxes never spin to the contrary
    You’ll find they’re quite stationary
    All of my action figures are dead
    a cricket in my library
    My ripped toilet paper is all totally pimped out
    I got people begging for to move off the top altar
    Yo I know how to enslave a thousand people
    Ain’t got no hand but I still scratch faces
    I order all of my food with beggin’ in the mornin’
    I’m a whiz at climbin’ – I can play for days
    Once you see my sweet moves you’re gonna stay amazed,
    my paws movin’ so fast I’ll set the place ablaze
    There’s no human I haven’t enslaved
    At rollin & meditatin’, well, I’m number 1
    Trollin’ humans in the mornin’ just for fun
    I ain’t got a gat but I got a sharps fangs
    “Chriping Birds” is my favourite theme song
    I can sure kick your butt in everything
    I’ll ace any trivia quiz you bring on
    I’m fluent in training slaves to bring me tuna
    Here’s the part where I meow on



    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 9:12 am |


      “I got people begging me to move off the altar”

      Anyways, I am an artist.

      I am the prophet of the Cats.

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm |

        So you’re the “prophet of the Cats?” Because cats are the only idiots that could possibly take you seriously?

        Yes, you are an artist. A Bullshit artist.

        1. CatsareInfinite
          CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm |

          You’re a fucking idiot, Mumbles. Some Zen Buddhist you are.

          Why don’t you eat shit and die already?

          1. Mumbles
            Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm |

            I’m not a “Zen Buddhist” you pipsqueak. Why don’t you go back to blowing your cat?


            They left your name off the list but it should be in there because your ridiculous self-important comments on this blog qualify you as one of the biggest douche bags ever.

          2. CatsareInfinite
            CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 4:10 pm |

            I would literally punch you in the face.

            You have made me fuming.

            How dare you say what you just did.

            Mumbles, eat shit and die, really. If you ever hurt a cat, I will be there to torture you slowly and send you to hell.

            FUCK YOU

    2. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm |

      Um, I believe I already told you my dog would eat your cat. Then later he would shit your cat’s remains in the yard, I would scoop it up, and throw it right in your insipid face. Are you as stupid as your cat? Can you read?

      1. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 3:50 pm |

        I’ll rip your head off before that happens.

        I invite you try, fucker.

        You and your dog can go eat shit.

      2. CatsareInfinite
        CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm |

        You are really a piece of shit to be threatening my cats, Mumbles.

        I seriously hope you and your dog get hit by a car.

        Zen training has done shit for you.

        You piece of shit, scoundrel, disgusting cheese-smelling vermin, culturally conditioned imbecile, entertainment saturated cunt, ignorant asshole, and jingoistic piece of shit. Don’t you dare ever threaten my cats again. I will rip you to shreds if you ever attempted to hurt my cats.

        1. Mumbles
          Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm |

          Not wasting any more time on you dickcheese.

          Cats are infinitely boring, like you.

          1. CatsareInfinite
            CatsareInfinite February 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm |

            I went ahead and told the Mods to delete this.

            Mumbles, if you ever attempted to hurt my cats and feed them to your dogs, I would kill you…

            and I would literally look into your eyes while you die.

            No one has ever threatened to kill my cats but you.

            I have never wanted some to genuinely die before except you.

            Eat. shit. and. die.

            Do not threaten my cats YOU SCOUNDREL.



  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |

    “Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so.”

    What is Tanahashi interpreting, there?

      1. Fred
        Fred February 23, 2014 at 4:35 pm |

        “Without thinking,” according to Dōgen, is the fundamental state of mind; it precedes all discrimination, analysis, and subject/object separation. This prereflective “pure experience” is the basis of all positive and negative reflection. All experiential, linguistic, and conceptual structures arise out of it. This level of experience is prereflective – it precedes thought – both in the sense that it comes first and in the sense that it grounds all reflection. All conceptualized experience has a basis in and is elicited by the world that appears to us preconceptually. The one who does the thinking – the individual subject or self – makes his/her appearance in p 265 the course of time, [7] gradually, and in different ways, but does so, according to the Shōbōgenzō, on the basis of a prior unity. Although forgotten or obscured, this unity is nevertheless always present; without it neither subject nor object would appear. Dharmata (Hossho), “the true nature of all dharmas” is not, therefore, the subject’s correct experience of objective dharmas – it is the “presence of things as they are” (genjokoan) prior to the reflective separation between subject and object. Therefore, very often, when Dōgen (and others in his tradition of language practice) speak of mind (shin), they signify neither the subject’s reflection, nor the mechanism of reflection, but the total, unbroken process whereby the world comes to manifestation through the subject. In the deepest sense, mind is the unity of experience: “This is the stage of pre-thought beyond egocentric cognition. If you reach this state of pre-thought you will realize the true luminous nature of mind – prethought must become the eye through which you view phenomena” (1975:10;1970:75).[8]”

  5. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 23, 2014 at 6:41 pm |

    I want to apologize to everyone here, well, almost everyone… Its really unfair of me to goad the mentally ill into a war of words simply for my own amusement.

    It kinda reminded me of the good old days over at Brad’s old blog, and I got carried away. And I really enjoyed it.

    Sure was fun to see the back hair rise on that cat. He obviously mistakes blog commentary for “real life.” As if his empty threats are meaningful to anyone but his own over-inflated ego.

    His retorts lacked perspective, and above all, humor.

    WRITING ALL IN CAPS came close (to responding with humor), but I do not think it was intentional.

    The funniest part is I’ve probably had more cats than he will ever have as pets.

    When I lived in the country for over a decade, we had scads of cats, often ten or more at a time in the barn. I bet we had close to 100 cats during that period of time.

    They breed like rabbits. You have favorites, of course, but in the wild they come and go, here today, gone tomorrow. They are a favorite snack of coyotes and bobcats. But they sure keep the mouse and snake population down.

    To sum up, although it was hilarious to read poorly constructed sentences like, “You have made me fuming.”, it all seems like a colossal waste of time, and for that, to you regulars here who probably read it through -and I hope some of you enjoyed parts of it- I apologize for amusing myself at your expense.

    1. CatsareInfinite
      CatsareInfinite February 24, 2014 at 7:23 am |

      Looking at your blog, you’re the one that looks mentally ill.

      I’m obviously going to be more successful than you, since I’ll get a real job and shit like that.

      Why don’t you just shut the fuck up and go back to worshiping mangy mutts like the imbecile you are?

      Stupid American.

  6. Andy
    Andy February 24, 2014 at 2:42 am |

    I must admit I was amused too, if also a little concerned for the mental well-being of your addressee. Waste of time? Nah. Try hanging your mind-farts out to dry writing long, analytical posts that test folks scroll finger for that!

    Forsoothe, love has me heaping these snowmen
    and the terrible gifts they bestow upon the desert’s
    conscience. O O O.

    Write soon. Yours ever,

  7. Andy
    Andy February 24, 2014 at 2:50 am |

    (spell -forsooth)

  8. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 24, 2014 at 9:58 am |

    Minkfoot, a return to sanity! (well, sort of…)

    Fred, that link to zensite didn’t have the words “Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so”- I like the quote a lot, so I was hoping for an attribution.

    Brad must be on retreat with the afore-mentioned Tanahashi, or just back. Dedication.

    I had to kill time Saturday while my HDD was replaced with an SSD, so I went to SMZC and bueno, there was Soto lineage everywhere. Except Bill Kwong, who was apparently in Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco having his ticker diagnosed. Daiosho Bill Kwong, now. Son Demian received permission to teach in a ceremony officiated by Hoitsu Suzuki.

    I cornered Issho Fujita downslope from the Zendo, and we conversed about teaching zazen. He asked if I taught, and I said no, apart from writing for my own benefit. He thanked me for sending him a copy of something I had written, and I thanked him for his videos and his approach; we parted, and he said “I try to make it fun.” My main guy! 🙂

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 24, 2014 at 10:23 am |

    ah, the topic; you all know I’m fascinated by cats. Big ones, little ones…

    No, what I meant was: dogs.

    Gotta stop.

    Ok, as you all know, my fascination is actually the controlling factors of the four initial meditative states, the rupa jhanas, as described in the Pali Canon sermon volumes. Oh, look, I made a description of the induction of trance that I still like!-

    “A hypnogogic state occurs naturally as the stretch and activity generated through the sense of location in the occurrence of awareness relaxes in the movement of breath.”

    Anyway, the faculties are described this way:

    In the first state, “… the controlling faculty of discomfort, which has arisen, ceases without remainder.”

    Similarly, in the second “… the controlling faculty of unhappiness, which has arisen, comes to cease without remainder”, in the third it’s “the controlling faculty of ease”, and in the fourth “the controlling faculty of happiness, which has arisen, comes to cease without remainder.”

    Hmmm, this is interesting; I had forgotten that he goes on to talk about the controlling faculty of indifference, which ceases with the final arupa jhana (it’s all from here: SN V 214, Pali Text Society V pg 188)

    He does say that there is a happiness in all the meditative states, and he tells his monks to respond to those who question this (in particular, question how the controlling faculty of happiness could cease in the fourth meditative statement but happiness could continue) in this way:

    “(I do) not lay down that it is only a pleasant feeling that belongs to happiness; for, your reverences, (I, the thus-gone one, lay) down that whenever, wherever, whatever happiness is found it belongs to happiness.’”

    (MN I 400, Pali Text Society II pg 69)

    Now to my mind, the ease he speaks of is ease in stretch; the cessation of ease, stretch past the point of ease; the happiness he speaks of is the happiness of the distinction of the senses, including the sense of location, the tactile/proprioceptive/kinesthetic sense, the sense of gravity, and the sense he identifies as mind; and the cessation of happiness is the distinction of the senses past the point of happiness.

    So I’ve been thinking Dogen’s “non-thinking” was associated with that last, and maybe that’s so, but all the elements are present as “the stretch and activity generated through the sense of location in the occurrence of awareness relaxes in the movement of breath”, which is happening all the time. “Although not noticed by others or by yourself, it is so”.

  10. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    I got it, Fred, it’s from Gyoji in Shobogenzo, and that is on thezensite but I like the translation by Tanahashi better. Looks like it’s in Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen which he edited.

  11. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm |

    Dogs cannot actualize Buddha nature because they lack the capacity to combine stillness with action. Their quiescence of mind is one of complacency, hence why they are easily controlled. Human beings form divisions in the sense of “I”, creeds, and so forth, furthering divisions and strife, and dogs are similar to in this mentality with how they fetishize their owners. They are shallow and their pact mentality, plus highly sexualized natures, make them incapable to take in the beauty of the surroundings while remaining still. They are obsessive and fixate on their owners to an unhealthy, to the point that becomes an idol for them. Their minds are clingy and they lack a poetic grace.

    Cats on the other hand have a poise that is impossible to convey except through poetry. I have seen both of my cats meditate on front yard, looking around at the birds and the trees. Once I had a picnic with my cat, feeding him raw commercial diet and raw goat milk, and he simply sat by me; he looked at me for a moment, then looked at the trees. I also looked with him, and it was then I received Dharma Transmission.

    Americans have bastardized the Dharma. It is no surprise they also worship dogs. You assholes are bunch of filthy dogs.

  12. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm |

    “Every happiness that a man enjoys, and almost every friendship that he cherishes, rest upon illusion; for, as a rule, with increase of knowledge they are bound to vanish. Nevertheless, here as elsewhere, a man should courageously pursue truth, and never weary of striving to settle accounts with himself and the world. No matter what happens to the right or to the left of him,–be it a chimaera or fancy that makes him happy, let him take heart and go on, with no fear of the desert which widens to his view. Of one thing only must he be quite certain: that under no circumstances will he discover any lack of worth in himself when the veil is raised; the sight of it would be the Gorgon that would kill him. Therefore, if he wants to remain undeceived, let him in his inmost being feel his own worth. For to feel the lack of it is not merely the greatest, but also the only true affliction; all other sufferings of the mind may not only be healed, but may be immediately relieved, by the secure consciousness of worth. The man who is assured of it can sit down quietly under sufferings that would otherwise bring him to despair; and though he has no pleasures, no joys and no friends, he can rest in and on himself; so powerful is the comfort to be derived from a vivid consciousness of this advantage; a comfort to be preferred to every other earthly blessing. Contrarily, nothing in the world can relieve a man who knows his own worthlessness; all that he can do is to conceal it by deceiving people or deafening them with his noise; but neither expedient will serve him very long.” – Schopenhauer

    Dogs have no self-worth unlike cats.

  13. CatsareInfinite
    CatsareInfinite February 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm |

    “Not coveting a single thing is the greatest gift you can give to the universe.” – Kodo Sawaki

    Cats do not covet.

    1. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer February 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm |

      Bow Wow.


  14. stonemirror
    stonemirror February 24, 2014 at 6:28 pm |

    (Promoting Earlier Comment)

    (For any folks who might be unaware, I’m the administrator of this web site; I keep the gears turning and the skids greased, and I keep you safe from spam and malware. I’m not as good a Buddhist as Brad, but I’m a heckuva lot better at technology. I’m also the one who ships your book orders out. That said…)

    Mr.-or-Ms. Infinite will no longer be with us. Let’s try to behave like adults.

    Just to be clear, if you get into bickering matches, I’m not here to break up fights or dispense justice: I’ll resolve them by banning whoever seems to be most annoying and/or most at fault.

    Similarly, if you post intemperate things and then demand that I remove them on your behalf, you are not going to be disposing me favorably towards you.

    Let me be very clear on one point: if you post personally identifying information about another user without their consent, you will taste the Wrath of the Big Permaban Hammer. I really don’t like that kind of nonsense. Do not test me.

    We now return you to your regularly-scheduled web site.

    (But, just for the record, anyone who believes that “cats do not covet” has never opened a can of tuna.)

    1. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer February 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm |


      I do not covet your job. Thanks for doing it.

      Keep on keeping on.


    2. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm |

      Even if you open up a can of tuna, the cat is still not coveting. The cat does not form a rigid bond in the same way a dog does.

      Let me use a metaphor made by Ueda Shizutera. He argued there is a double movement between breaking out of language and back into language. In Zen, it is claimed the immediacy of an experience precedes thoughts. In order to experience the primordial silence, you cannot enter something with expectations. When you enter a room, if you were to enter with expectations, it is like a veil of being or conceptualizations that prevent direct experience. In this stillness, or beginner’s mind, subject-object dichotomy fall apart and pure experience, which by nature non-dual, “presents itself”.

      Cats are like poetry that flows in from that stillness. Similarly, the best poetry is written in this kinda stateless state, especially in solitude within natural scenery. Cats oscillate between delusion and beginner’s mind much more frequently than humans and dogs. I hypothesize it is due to humans and dogs having a strong divisive pact nature and also being very sexualized. A dog stares blankly into space after sex (reference the Kodo Sawaki quote), but a cat runs in the forest and looks at the sky with grace and an open mind, being one with it. A cat does not seek to “become” what his or her “master” wants.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz February 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm |


        Emptiness is the stateless state before discrimination and categorizations of language (i.e., “emptiness which is synonymous for pure experience”). Form are the attributes or constructs originating from language, and it only exists in relation to subjects (i.e., making form intersubjective).

        However, the stillness of the cats mind makes it to where his or her actions, or immediate preceding thoughts, (such as pouncing to catch a bird) unify with the stillness. Dogs and humans must train to do this because their minds are evolutionary predisposed to fetishize and fixate on certain elements, sex in particular, and this makes them define themselves in an obsessively intersubjective way. This is a consequence of selection pressures against those who are not able to be intermingle well within their pacts (e.g., it can manifest as organizations, religion, or whatever).

        “Take a look sometime at the face of a dog who’s just had sex. He just stares into space with strangely empty eyes. It’s exactly the same with people — in the beginning they work themselves up into a frenzy, and in the end there’s nothing at all.” — Kodo Sawaki from “To You”

        A cat’s eyes are full however. Take a look at their eyes after they finish running in the forest..

        It, too, is the forest…

        Send all the dogs to Korea…

    3. mb
      mb February 25, 2014 at 10:29 am |

      Mr.-or-Ms. Infinite will no longer be with us.
      Maybe not under that handle, but now we have CosmicBrainz…whatever.

      Whack-a-Mole comes to mind. You can ban a login handle, but like a tube of toothpaste, squeeze in one spot and the squishy stuff inside just moves to another
      location. You can do bans by the sending IP addresses also, but that’s a real needle-in-the-haystack approach.

      Not that most internet blog/forum comment sections don’t sometimes wind up in these situations – they often do. But too bad that otherwise-interesting and thoughtful discussions have been hijacked lately in favor of overly-passionate and misdirected screeds concerning dogs v. cats.

  15. Andy
    Andy February 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm |

    I like how the font & size of the comment text are the same as that which Brad posts in. I think it indicates a democratic spirit of respect consonant with the attitude Brad writes in.

    A Mod who intervenes in tones that suggest he enjoys the power – whether he does or not – in my view does some damage to that spirit.

  16. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 4:49 am |

    Well said, Andy, however, in this case, I think Stonemirror’s actions are considerably louder than his words, and I, for one applaud them.

    Do not offer sympathy to the mentally ill. Tell them firmly, ‘I am not paid to listen to this drivel. You are a terminal fool.’ -William S. Burroughs:

    1. Andy
      Andy February 25, 2014 at 8:42 am |

      I have no problem whatsoever with a poster being banned. I appreciate and am grateful for the voluntary efforts of the mods. Banning folk and sifting through heated mind-farts can’t be the most pleasant thing to deal with.

      I also have no problem with stonemirror – I’ve enjoyed and valued his intelligent, forthright and often amusing posts here and elsewhere.

      I do think though that when a mod posts as a mod to intervene and remind/warn those involved and everyone else of the rules and consequences that condescending and patronising language should be avoided. I think this true for any situation in which some is is expressing power – even on often wild-eyed cyber realms such as this one.

      Of course, the world doesn’t run along my or anyone elses disinfected ideals and notions about how those with their finger on the ejection button should behave, and crying over some occasionally harsh or belittling words should be tempered with a little real world give and take.

      That said, I think Brad’s blog, even in its present form, is marked by an inclusively tolerant spirit and attitude that is reflected in the comments section. A CS where people have expressed themselves in many ways and on a variety of subjects that wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere (Proulx michel calling a female zen teacher a ‘zen cunt’ comes to mind). Sometimes arguments and bickering, even when they drag their baby neanderthal knuckles across the screen for all to see have undercurrents of value or have resolved themselves in interesting and salubrious ways – even if it it might not seem so at the time. Sometimes allowing folk that extra rope can be a benefit to them and others all on its own.

      In such spaces the freedom to make a fool of one self (etc.) is a gift. But as in other areas to which this pertains (being a teacher and parent are two I’m familiar with), those who safeguard that gift – those freedoms – can inhibit it unnecessarily if their necessary interventions do not give the impression that they respect it, even if they very much do.

      I am not a foolish child, but I reserve the right to act like one now and again, in spaces that allow me to, within obvious and/or readily defined limits. I also anticipate and allow that other commenters as commenters are free to respond/react/intervene in kind if I behave that way.

      Obviously, individuals are in the position of prime responsibility to honour and uphold the spirit of such a comments section, while always bearing in mind that if the flexibility of the ‘rules’ change, so be it – it’s just a comments section after all.

      But moderators should, perhaps, also bear in mind that the nuts and bolts of their policing responsibilities are not just enabling, but tone setting . And on this blog their authoritative position – when and where they are flashing their sheriff badges – endows their expressions with a similar kind of authorial power that the blog writer has, and if Brad intervened and expressed himself like some alpha daddy doing the world a favour, the best of the spirit that this comments section has to offer, would, in my view, not be there for all to enjoy and gain much value from.


    2. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 8:55 am |

      I am not terminally ill. I just do not like dogs.

      I got angry when you jokingly threatened my cat. I would never threaten to hurt your dog, so then why would you do the same to me?

      Honestly, I wouldn’t care if you threatened me. My “pets” are technically my children. I go over and above and give them raw goat milk (from pastured goats), commercial raw food (such as Stella and Chewy), and mineral supplements.

      Seriously, you’re an idiot.

      One thing I am is prejudice. Your American attitude really pisses me off. It’s due to the amount of racism I have received which makes me come off as schizoid over the Internet. In real life I’m just meek and endure the brutality of the inefficient school system.

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm |

        At least you recognize that I was “joking” …after I pointed that out to you. Good boy or girl, or whatever you are. I would never harm your pussycat. But continuing to throw around insults, calling me an “idiot” etc., hardly furthers your obvious need for continued serious attention. If you want to be taken seriously, drop the aggressive, prejudiced tone. Then you won’t provoke “idiots” like me into “joking” with you about some ridiculous dogs vs cats ridiculousness.

        We “Americans” =well, this one anyway, could care less about what you think of “Americans” in general, but, again, you are not exactly winning friends and influencing people by continuing to address whoever you may think you are addressing in this condescending way.

        I have said it over and over again: I am only here to entertain and be entertained. That’s what most “Americans” want, to be entertained. Try to be more “entertaining,” please. Seriously.

        Let’s see if you can possibly respond without anger and/or an insult attached?

  17. Fred
    Fred February 25, 2014 at 7:20 am |
    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 7:32 pm |

      LO fuckingL

      one of my all time favorite songs.

  18. UngKwan
    UngKwan February 25, 2014 at 9:15 am |

    My dog sits in lotus posture. My neighbor’s cats mostly fight with each other and shit in their yard.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm |

      Lotus posture alone does not indicate wisdom. For all you know, the dog may be in that “void-like” which Sawaki references.

      I feel like a lout of people who tout to be sitting in Zazen are also engaging in that void-like mind.

      Cats naturally meditate and have an easy time actualizing prajna-paramita in their actions whereas humans and dogs (whose minds function very similarly) must work for it.

      “Does a dog have Buddha nature?”

      Unless he works for it he cannot recognize, but the cat is always reflection it as a beacon of inspiration to others.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm |

      The Pharaoh Dogs were bred by Egyptians by they still chose to worship cats over dogs. Pharaoh Dogs are an intelligent breed.

  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 25, 2014 at 11:03 am |

    Ah, the beauty of dynamic IP address assignment!

    Andy, would this be Brad’s comment thread if Stonemirror didn’t express himself outright?- I ask you. Yes, all true, but we’re all mad here.


    1. Andy
      Andy February 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm |

      Andy, would this be Brad’s comment thread if Stonemirror didn’t express himself outright?

      We’re all mad here, but hopefully we all get the opportunity to be criticised for it too. It’s easy for things to slip away or askew otherwise. And I’m not sure if sticking to one’s old guns in the same way all the time necessarily amounts to ‘expressing oneself outright’. Occasionally we might find ourselves playing the same old record regardless of the context and our potential to be sensitive to where we are now and to whom it may concern.

      It was just a point I thought was worth making, what with all the points being made. But I don’t want to come across as having some personal gripe against stonemirror or his style per se, which I genuinely appreciate.

  20. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 1:56 pm |

    The reason people get afraid by owls or cats staring at them is due to their quiescent minds. Humans and dogs have monkey minds which seems to be a consequence of the pact mentality; for example, our sense of “I-me-mine” is a social construct which is correlated to thalamo-cortical oscillations and etc. The sense of “I” emerged at first to help minimize energy expenditure and better guide goal-oriented action, but in the process of its evolution a kinda “maladaption” happened wherin people started to condemn or praise themselves in relation to others, like a kind of judgment.

    Cats and owls can naturally watch without the sense of “I”. Many beautiful poems have been inspired by both cats and owls. Nothing beautiful has been inspired by dogs because they are naturally deluded like human beings.

    “Man’s best friend” is more like “Man’s best *****”. People have the expectation to be praised and gain please. Zen is about breaking from that gaining and losing mindset. This means one must cease trying to appease others. We all have to appease others to survive, like dogs; for example, I must appease the higher-ups for the sake of my job, but if you believe this is “right”, they you too – like a dog – will remain deluded.

    “A person outside of the Way is someone who only thinks of gain and loss. A devil is someone who makes a profit off of this.”

    Dogs and humans are strange. They have to work to end the becoming and subsequently become like owls and cats.

  21. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm |

    “Morpheus: The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. Now we can implement the same functionality with data-mining algorithms.

    JC Denton: Electronic surveillance hardly inspires reverence. Perhaps fear and obedience, but not reverence.

    Morpheus:God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgement and punishment. Other sentiments towards them were secondary.

    JC Denton: No one will ever worship a software entity peering at them through a camera.

    Morpheus: The human organism always worships. First, it was the gods, then it was fame (the observation and judgement of others), next it will be self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgment.

    JC Denton: You underestimate humankind’s love of freedom.

    Morpheus: The individual desires judgment. Without that desire, the cohesion of groups is impossible, and so is civilization.”

    Dogs are no different than humans in this aspect. Cats and owls have something “spiritual” that very few humans, except SOME Chan/Zen Buddhists, came to apprehend. If seize worshipping certain phenomena in isolation and stop heralding certain practices or people as being realized, then “you’ll” comprehend what I’m getting. Pathless path… you dogs.

  22. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm |


    “if you cease”*

  23. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer February 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm |

    My cat sits in cat pose. My dog sits in American pose.

    I have never been either a dog or a cat so I can’t tell you what’s going on in their tiny little brains.

    From what I’ve written here you can probably infer some of what’s was going on in my tiny little brain, but only some.


  24. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm |

    So this “Cats are finite” person just reverts back to his old “CosmicBrainz” moniker and continues on, huh? What good does moderation do in this case? None, apparently.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm |

      Let’s be honest here:

      I haven’t violated any rules besides giving my controversial opinion on why I think most dogs are stupid. I think owls and cats have an affinity towards “awareness without grasping” whereas dogs don’t. “Awareness without grasping” is referred to as “becoming familiar with the innate nature” in Buddhist sutras. In that stateless state, there is a lot of creative potentiality and so forth (e.g., it’s similar to Wu Wei).

      It was only when you threatened to feed my cats to your dogs, Mumbles, that I overreacted. My cats are my children. I would jump in front of a bullet for them. If you had insulted me, I wouldn’t have cared.

      Technically, you’re the one that started this mess. What are you, a high school dropout or something? You lack sophistication in practically all regards.

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm |

        “You lack sophistication” Bwahahahaaha!! No Shit! That is one of the most spot on things anyone has ever said about me, thanks!

        &I always WISHED I was one of those cool “high school dropouts” -thanks again!!

  25. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer February 25, 2014 at 4:59 pm |


    It’s one of the features of the internet that I understand the least, this ability to post without identifying yourself. As far as I understand it’s purpose is to allow people to express their opinion without danger of retaliation.

    In practice it seems to allow people to become creatures of unbridled Id, expressing all the venom and tastelessness that they want without having to accept any of the consequences.

    When Brad expresses the opinion that on-line life can never be close to real life, this is one of the things I think of.

    I never see people behave in real life they way I see them act on-line. They would be too ashamed.


    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 5:51 pm |

      Alan, I’ve always tried to link my fake name to my real live self via my website. & as shocking as it may seem, I act exactly the same way in real life as I do in cyberspace. I just try to be funny w/my Idself. I more than often fail, but that’s fine. Try and try again.

      When I get fed up with some self-important, posturing, insulting, would-be-cyber bully not-very-smart straw man, as you have seen me do here many times: I call them out.

      That they respond with overreactions simply points out their lack of self-control, often landing them in trouble. That is exactly what I count on. Trust me, they have no “shame” in real life, either. They just know how to blow hard.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm |

        Cut the crap. Let’s just be honest:

        You became offended and hurt with my harsh criticisms against the Canis lupus familiaris species.

        It made you butthurt and retaliate in a harsh way – threatening to hurt my cat.

        Do you by any chance have any Roman in you? Read up on the Sassanids. I’ll make you bow to me just like Shapur I did to Valerian.

      2. Alan Sailer
        Alan Sailer February 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm |


        Yeah I agree with your presentation of yourself and your alias. I have no argument with it or how you behave.

        To sum up my point in another way, using a fake name on-line doesn’t automatically mean bad behavior.

        But if I see on-line bad behavior, it’s always comes from someone using a fake name.

        I just get tired of people who come to this web-site, act out and then get all happy when the locals have any negative reaction.

        Zen has nothing to do with accepting idiotic behavior.


  26. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 6:06 pm |

    Hilarious. Got you right where I want you, kid.

  27. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm |


  28. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 6:14 pm |

    I don’t even have a dog.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 7:28 pm |

      You said you have a border collie.

      1. Andy
        Andy February 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm |

        You said you weren’t Daniel. Go figure.

        1. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm |

          I really am not Daniel…

          I swear about that one.

          You guys can go talk on Skype, or have the Mod prove we have different IPs or something.

          Also, if I were to have an alt, it’d be more original than Daniel. I’d probably make SmiteYHVH

  29. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm |

    Also see my response above to your comment today at 8:55 a.m.

  30. Fred
    Fred February 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm |

    Hey man, it’s cold in here.

    Somebody close the door.

  31. Brent
    Brent February 25, 2014 at 6:46 pm |

    …but let the cat out first.

  32. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
  33. minkfoot
    minkfoot February 25, 2014 at 7:40 pm |

    People keep saying “seriously.”

    If I were serious, I wouldn’t post a thing to this thread.

    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm |


  34. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm |

    Kitty cats shall take over the world.

  35. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm |

    Here is the full op song with subs.

  36. Andy
    Andy February 25, 2014 at 7:59 pm |

    Out of interest, Mr Brainz, did you receive an explanation for being banned from this thread or was the door just locked?

  37. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm |

    It takes itself and puts itself in a burlap sack and takes itself to the river and slowly rolls iteself into the water. The water gently rolls itself downstream into….

  38. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm |

    oblivion… oh, the no self!! er, proprioperceptionality, er, the afterlife, or, nothingness, urp..

  39. Mumbles
    Mumbles February 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm |

    meditate on it motherfu….s

  40. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 8:11 pm |

    “The water pours its embracing arms around the stone
    Decay drips from the unquiet void where the ice forms, where life ends
    The stone is by the crimson flood, swallowed
    The red tide beyond the ebon wound, contorted
    My sacrifice bids farewell in this river of memory… a wave to end all time
    Red birds escape from my wounds and return as falling snow
    To sweep the landscape; a wind haunted, wings without bodies
    The snow, the bitter snowfall
    You wish to die in her pale arms, crystalline, to become an ode to silence
    In the soul of a mountain of birds, fallen
    The cascading pallor of ghostless feather
    The snow has fallen and raised this white mountain on which you will die and fade away in silence”

  41. Andy
    Andy February 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm |


    I once tried to replicate Rodin’s The Thinker in a semi-standing posture while naked in the bedroom, and then fart. For the amusement of my wife. It wasn’t a fart. I kept my posture, while my wife fetched a toilet towel for my foot.

    Thinking about it now, I think the universe was telling me something.


  42. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 8:27 pm |

    Here’s some depressing Finnish music:

    Eng. Translation taken from Website:


    wind echoes here
    sorrow choir following a plague-ridden night
    shallow is this season
    aeon´s etheric passing
    the stars aloof
    from my grasp you have eluded bleak gaiety
    i breathe the air
    i get stoned
    a dwindling dream will wake me
    standing cold in the rain
    i can hear every raindrop fall

  43. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz February 25, 2014 at 8:59 pm |

    Buddha nature is Azathoth, Azathoth is Buddha nature.

    Jesus never wore a condom, condom never worse a Jesus.

  44. minkfoot
    minkfoot February 26, 2014 at 4:29 am |

    Ah! The nihilistic posturing of youth trying to be taken seriously!

    Like teenage goofs trying to materialize a demon they don’t really believe in, utterly unprepared for what their petty whims invoke.

  45. Fred
    Fred February 26, 2014 at 4:30 am |

    But seriously, the no self is real, man.

Comments are closed.