Enlightenment and Cat Poop

crumbox

Crum in his box looking cool.

I’ve had a few male cats in my life. There was the late, lamented Shithead who would hump my foot every morning. There was Crum who lived with me in Akron and liked to bite my then-girlfriend’s toes in the morning when she slept over. There was Boy Kitty with whom I shared an apartment in Philadelphia. I am currently co-owned by Cosmo who also owns my friend Nina.

One thing all these cats had in common was this. Often, they’d wake up in the morning seeming sort of grumpy and listless. They’d mope around like that for the early part of the day. Then they’d disappear for a little while and suddenly reemerge all happy and bouncy and ready to take on the world. Before I caught on to the pattern I’d sometimes wonder why the big change. Then I’d smell it. They’d gone to the litter box and taken a big, big poop.

I don’t know if female cats do this too. I lived with one for a while, her name was Girl Kitty, and never saw her do it. Maybe it’s a dude thing.

But at any rate, I started thinking about so-called “Enlightenment” the other day and I realized it was just like when my cat friends poop. We may want to run around the house and bounce off the walls for a while after it happens, but we’re really just responding to the blessed feeling of relief that ought to be our birthright, but for reasons unknown is not.

Somehow we’ve become a species that lives in a constant state of constipation. We just fill and fill and fill ourselves with shit and have no idea how to get rid of it. Not only do we not know how to get rid of it, most of us don’t even know it’s shit and that what we’re supposed to do with it is dump it. Instead we hold our buttholes tightly shut, fearing to ever let go of so much as one precious drop.

Oh, a few people have managed to let a bit of it go. You’ve got spiritual celebrities like Ken Wilber and Deepak Chopra who have farted once, got terrified by the smell and tightened their buttholes up even more than the rest of us, but who have nonetheless spent the rest of their lives theorizing about what pooping might be like. You’ve got guys like Ekhart Tolle who have shit their pants once and insist on walking around years later in the very same trousers, inviting suckers to come have a whiff. They describe the chafing and burning discomfort of leaving all that smeared on their bums as if it’s glorious evidence of cracking the ultimate secret.

Scholars of Buddhism and spirituality are people who have never pooped or even farted themselves (because that would make them biased) but inhale deeply the farts and poops of others. These they then describe in great detail to people who also have never pooped or farted.

A real Zen Master* — as opposed to a dork like me — is someone who has not only figured out how to take a poop regularly, but even knows the value of using toilet paper and washing soiled undergarments. Often people make the mistake of thinking that just because these folks don’t stink, they therefore must not have actually pooped.

Me, I’m still learning how to clean myself properly and eat the kind of diet that allows me to get more regular. Someday I might get it right.

Sometimes someone asks a Zen Master, “Master, I think I pooped once. Let me describe it to you so you can tell me if it was poop or not.” They are dismayed to be told that if they actually had pooped, they wouldn’t need to ask.

So-called “Enlightenment experiences” only seem so special to us because we’ve never known anything but constipation, and have never known anyone who wasn’t constipated. Instead, we celebrate constipation as if the fact of being bloated with our own shit is evidence of great accomplishments.

In a way, then, in the land of the constipated, someone who knows how to poop actually is worth our attention and even some degree of reverence. But it’s not because they’ve achieved something extraordinary that the rest of us could never accomplish. It’s because, unlike the rest of us, they have understood how their body is actually supposed to function when it’s working right.

One of these days, once the knowledge of how to poop becomes something we teach to our children and spread around the world, we’ll look back on these current days with fascination. We’ll wonder how people back in the early 21st century and before ever managed to live at all without ever pooping in their entire lives. We’ll no longer view someone who knows how to poop and even how to clean themselves up afterward as some kind of amazing figure.

We’ll know that people like the Buddha weren’t godlike beings capable of extraordinary powers beyond those of ordinary people, but were actually people who understood what it was like to be truly and deeply ordinary.

 

*”No one masters Zen” – Kobun Chino Roshi

I’ve got a new book coming out soon! Stay up to date on its release schedule, my live appearances and more by signing up for our mailing list on the contact page!

UPCOMING EVENTS

September 16, 2015 Hebden Bridge, England TALK AND DISCUSSION at 7:30pm

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP

September 21, 2015 7:30pm Newcastle, Northern Ireland SHIMNA INTEGRATED COLLEGE (Zazen & Dharma Talk)

September 22, 2o15 6:30pm Belfast, Northern Ireland THE DARK HORSE (Talk: Punk Rock Commentaries on Zen)

September 23, 2015 7:00pm Belfast, N. Ireland BELFAST ZEN MAITRI YOGA STUDIO (Zazen & Dharma Talk)

September 24, 2015 7:30pm Belfast, N. Ireland Oh Yeah, Belfast (Q&A)

September 27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 1-DAY RETREAT

October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm  zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 9:30 am zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

Your donations are important to me. They are my main source of income, far more than book royalties or retreat fees. You are my patrons. Thank you for your support!

Sharing is caring! Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponDigg this

29 Responses

Page 1 of 1
  1. crasstifarian
    crasstifarian September 13, 2015 at 8:57 am |

    zen guys love shit metaphors. Even more than British comedians. But still, this was a good one

  2. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs September 13, 2015 at 10:15 am |

    Beat Zen, Square Zen, Poop Zen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6oXW_YiV6g

    1. Fred
      Fred September 13, 2015 at 10:22 am |

      “Oh, a few people have managed to let a bit of it go. You’ve got spiritual celebrities like Ken Wilber and Deepak Chopra who have farted once, got terrified by the smell and tightened their buttholes up even more than the rest of us, but who have nonetheless spent the rest of their lives theorizing about what pooping might be like. You’ve got guys like Ekhart Tolle who have shit their pants once and insist on walking around years later in the very same trousers, inviting suckers to come have a whiff. They describe the chafing and burning discomfort of leaving all that smeared on their bums as if it’s glorious evidence of cracking the ultimate secret.”

      Thanks, Brad. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  3. mika
    mika September 13, 2015 at 10:23 am |

    “One of these days, once the knowledge of how to poop becomes something we teach to our children and spread around the world, we’ll look back on these current days with fascination. ”

    So, have you changed your mind about this, because I recall you once writing that you definitely wouldn’t want Zen or zazen to be taught at school. Or was that just a criticism of the US education system?

  4. Fred
    Fred September 13, 2015 at 10:26 am |

    What’s the name of your new book? Poop Like a Buddha.

    60 characters pooping like a Buddha.

  5. Annascat
    Annascat September 13, 2015 at 11:39 am |

    What an analogy.
    I laughed so hard i nearly shit my pants.

    Thanks

  6. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 September 13, 2015 at 12:06 pm |

    Uh….Uhh……..

  7. Mumbles
    Mumbles September 13, 2015 at 3:34 pm |

    Enlightenment? Who gives a shit?!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD0iyQ_HWBM

  8. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara September 13, 2015 at 3:42 pm |

    Great read, Brad.

    Me, I’ve got chronic amoebic spiritual dysentery, and I love the smell of my own farts. Yum!

    http://dispensablecosmos.blogspot.com/2012/07/borborygmus.html

    [I had cryptosporidium too one time. That sucks, not spiritual. Never let a cat run around a farmyard, then claw your lunch with its shitty paws]

  9. Zafu
    Zafu September 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm |

    Sheep will even enjoy shit if it’s served up to them by their shepherd.

    1. Fred Jr.
      Fred Jr. September 14, 2015 at 2:34 am |

      Za-poo,

      We may not be sheep enjoying the shit but we are certainly buzzing around it like flies, aren’t we?

      Smell U l8r!
      Fart Jr.

    2. drocloc
      drocloc September 14, 2015 at 4:13 pm |

      A typing butt holder!!! Who can type? YOU can! What a blessing . . .sentient furniture. GOOD typer!
      Gassho

  10. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 13, 2015 at 9:37 pm |

    Go ahead, Khru, say it! (this was a _____ post).

    The kangaroo guy in Australia pointed out that the abandoned young joeys in his care must eat adult kangaroo poop in order to acquire the bacteria they need to digest brush, since they can’t get it from their moms. A lot of people to seem to be eating something special, at least figuratively, around spiritual teachers.

    In the early translations done by the Pali Text Society, “dharma” was translated “the norm”. As in, the standard. The way that people are supposed to live, just like Mr. Warner is describing (but with perhaps a little less color).

    I am glad to hear you express this sentiment, Brad:

    “One of these days, once the knowledge of how to poop becomes something we teach to our children and spread around the world, we’ll look back on these current days with fascination. ”

    Maybe you didn’t intend to imply that Zen could be taught outside zendos, in living rooms and hallways and such, in America. Taught without a need for vows, and chants, and (heaven forbid) over-long sesshins. Taught by example, yes, because some things are difficult to appreciate until they occur right where we are, yet explained in a manner that is not simply “because we’re expected to say something”.

    I’ll go sit in the corner, after I wash my mouth out for such utter nonsense (want the soap after me, Brad?).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jj7Etk64k4

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 13, 2015 at 9:47 pm |

    Love Fred McDowell! Is that a parlor guitar he’s playing there?-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAwoqUhLAPU

    (pulling your leg, GC)

  12. One Human
    One Human September 14, 2015 at 9:59 am |

    Brad wrote:
    “…we’ll look back on these current days with fascination.”

    Your post reminds me of C.G. Yung’s vision of God shitting through the cathedral roof. Yung recognized an involuted path stated as architecture.

    We the unshat have cooed and awed at the great piles of the past from Han, Greek or Maya, not recognizing them for the sings of failure that they are. The ancient western kings (now Americas) wore variously, symbols of killing like the knife or jaguar on their foreheads. They were taking psychedelics, slashing out hearts and drenching their temples in blood. Were they thinking; ‘There must be some more shit in here somewhere!’

    Our ruling elite should wear the symbol of drone murder. The current Worldwide Plastic Hegemony will leave the biggest pile ever.

    One Human

    1. Khru 2.0
      Khru 2.0 September 15, 2015 at 11:24 am |

      Very nice, O.H.. That was some good shat. But it’s never too late to turn to the god.

  13. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 14, 2015 at 11:28 am |

    Thx Brad!

    Yeah.., I guess you have a point there. Its like a anxiety that runs it course. Once we accept?…idk…May be there is no formula…

    It definitely seems to be the case with patients that an exceedingly large, and extensive bowel movement is a part of recovery….That can be analogus to Prajna in meditation as well. Relax and letnit happen by letting the world go to hell for the moment…As well as there seems to be a moment of dhyana before a person has a bowel movement.

    Yeah, hopefully someday we will all be far more regular l0l! May be then there will be many Buddhas in Amitabha’s PureLand 🙂 This is the way it seems to be going!!! Making many contributions such as this one to keep ppl more “regular” l0l!

    Nice post!

    Amitabha 🙂

  14. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 14, 2015 at 11:37 am |

    A more naturalistic view suggests that nirvana is the culmination of a long process of personal discipline and self-cultivation. Living an “enlightened” life, in touch with the way things truly are, free of delusion, greed and hatred, ultimately gives rise to nirvana, a state of human excellence

    http://www.ancient.eu/Siddhartha_Gautama/

  15. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm |

    “All human happiness is biological happiness. That is strictly scientific. At the risk of being misunderstood, I must make it clearer: all human happiness is sensuous happiness. The spiritualists will misunderstand me, I am sure; the spiritualists and materialists must forever misunderstand each other, because they don’t talk the same language, or mean by the same word different things. Are we, too, in this problem of securing happiness to be deluded by the spiritualists, and admit that true happiness is only happiness of the spirit? Let us admit it at once and immediately proceed to qualify it by saying that the spirit is a condition of the perfect functioning of the endocrine glands. Happiness for me is largely a matter of digestion. I have to take cover under an American college president to insure my reputation and respectability when I say that happiness is largely a matter of the movement of the bowels. The American college president in question used to say with great wisdom in his address to each class of freshmen, ‘There are only two things I want you to keep in mind: read the Bible and keep your bowels open.’ What a wise, genial old soul he was to have said that! If one’s bowels move, one is happy, and if they don’t move, one is unhappy. That is all there is to it.”
    – Lin Yutang

  16. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs September 14, 2015 at 2:53 pm |

    This shit is gonna get very old very quickly.

  17. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 14, 2015 at 4:15 pm |

    “If one’s bowels move, one is happy, and if they don’t move, one is unhappy. That is all there is to it.”

    – Lin Yutang

    Pressure in the fluid ball of the abdomen is induced by the part, induced by the whole, induced by the somersaulting of the mind in open space, induced by the distinction of the senses; when the part sustains the whole, the mind’s appreciation of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation has a happiness. That happiness is like the happiness Gautama described with regard to walking on the highway, no one in front and no one behind: sometimes more to his liking than answering the calls of nature, so he said.

    Most people seem to find that happiness without difficulty, it’s a wonder to me.

    https://vimeo.com/86313858

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 15, 2015 at 8:10 am |

      “Most people seem to find that happiness without difficulty, it’s a wonder to me.”

      Stop painting unnecessary legs on paintings of snakes.
      No fluid balls.
      No waterwheels.
      No meridians.
      No minds in open space.

      “If one’s bowels move, one is happy, and if they don’t move, one is unhappy. That is all there is to it.”
      THAT IS ALL THERE IS TO IT!

  18. Cygni
    Cygni September 15, 2015 at 12:07 pm |

    Nature calls, even for the Buddha’s, here’s something to clean up with…

    http://meaningness.com/images/mn/Emperor_card.pdf

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 16, 2015 at 2:32 pm |

      Dragons are not snakes because snakes are real. Dragons, just like Taoist Chiropractic Hypotheses, are the products of too much fantasizing about the “supernatural” and too little understanding of natural processes.

  19. coburn23
    coburn23 September 16, 2015 at 10:31 am |

    Truly inspired Warner. One of your best.

    Try oatmeal with a little flax seed mixed in every morning. You won’t believe the excellent poo bomb that results. That’s some shittin, damn spiritual.

  20. minkfoot
    minkfoot September 17, 2015 at 5:55 am |

    ROSHI AT 89 

    Roshi’s very tired
    he’s lying on his bed
    He’s been living with the living
    and dying with the dead
    But now he wants another drink
    (will wonders never cease?)
    He’s making war on war 
    and he’s making war on peace
    He’s sitting in the throne-room
    on his great Original Face
    and he’s making war on Nothing
    that has something in its place
    His stomach’s very happy
    the prunes are working well
    There’s no one going to Heaven
    and there’s no one left in Hell

    – Leonard Cohen,
    Mt. Baldy, California, 1996

  21. Zafu
    Zafu September 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm |

    Shitty zen stories seem so humble. Don’t they? Well, that’s just good branding.

  22. Kyla
    Kyla September 22, 2015 at 7:46 am |

    I was at a book store and overheard a women saying to a friend she wanted to find Deepak Chopra’s book “Ageless Time, Mindless Body”.
    The real book (it seems to be tailored to those who don’t to age; look old) is called “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” but I preferred her title!! 🙂

Comments are closed.