I’m gonna start compiling some of my frequently asked questions (FAQ) and maybe someday someone with some technical expertise can help me assemble them into a page I can just refer people to when these questions come up.
I’m often asked how to become a Zen monk/priest/nun. My book Hardcore Zen tells the story of how I did it. So I’ll let you read that book for that answer. I think what most people want to know when they ask this is how a randomly selected Western person (generally an American) can get some sort of Zen credentials.
First off, the words “monk” “priest” and “nun” come from the Catholicism and do not really fit with the Zen tradition. Some Western Zen schools try to make them fit. But generally speaking a so-called “Zen monk” does some of the things a Catholic priest does, some of the things a Catholic monk/nun does, some of the things a Protestant minister does, and lots of things none of those people do. For the sake of answering this question, I’m going to use the word “monk.” Remember that in Zen, a monk can be female or male and that, in Japanese style Zen, there is no vow of celibacy involved (at least not usually, see below).
Currently, as far as I know, there are no seminaries or seminary-like institutions for Zen monks anywhere outside of Asia. That is to say, there are no institutions I am aware of that will accept students who want to do a university-style course of study at the end of which they will receive accreditation as a Zen monk. Nor is there anything along the lines of the Universal Life Church or other similar Internet-based organizations where you can get a quick, cheap (or free) Zen ordination.
There are, however, a few Zen institutions in the USA that you can join who offer training that may or may not lead to ordination. The only one I have any familiarity with at all is the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC). However, I am not part of SFZC, so I cannot speak for them officially. I only know what I’ve observed and heard. In the Soto Zen tradition, I believe that Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York, Shasta Abbey in California, and the Minneapolis Zen Meditation Center may offer similar programs. Shohaku Okumura at Sanshinji in Bloomington, Indiana has a priest training program. Maybe Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico has a priest training program, I’m not sure. In the Rinzai Zen tradition, I think maybe Rinzai-ji in Los Angeles has a priest/monk training program. There are probably others as well.
My understanding of how it works at SFZC goes something like this. First you need to go to to one SFZC’s three centers (City Center, Green Gulch and Tassajara) and find out if any teacher there is willing to give you the Buddhist precepts (jukai) as a lay person. There will probably be some requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to do this, such as courses you’re required to take and things you’ll need to purchase and make (like Zen robes, meal bowls, etc.). Maybe you’ll have to sit a sesshin or two. Once you have received the precepts as a lay person, let your teacher know that you’d like to train as a priest (I think that’s what they call it there).
To become a priest through SFZC, you will almost certainly be required to spend a few practice periods at Tassajara, SFZC’s residential monastic center in Carmel Valley. Practice periods, also known as ango, generally last about 90 days, during which you will have to live at Tassajara. You’ll be required to get up every morning at 3:50 am, follow the full monastic schedule, and do lots of duties intended to teach you how to perform the functions of a Zen priest. I don’t think any of SFZC’s teachers would ordain you as a priest after your first practice period, so be prepared to do several of them over the course of a few years.
This does not guarantee you’ll be ordained as a priest. It’s not like going to a university where, as long as you maintain a C average, you’ll get your degree. A lot depends on how your teacher feels about your training. She may feel so great about you that she’s willing to ordain you after a year. But that’s highly unlikely.
Different SFZC teachers have different requirements. For example, from what I’ve heard, Reb Anderson requires all his priest-training students to live at Green Gulch Farm with him for five years, during which time they are expected to remain celibate. Even if you do so, it’s still not guaranteed he will ordain you. He may feel you’re not ready even after all of that, and that’s his call to make.
Once you’re in at your chosen institution, there will probably be a series of ranks to go through. This Wikipedia page is pretty detailed and reliable in terms of explaining what the standard ranking procedure is and what is usually required to attain the various ranks. SFZC and Rinzai-ji follow pretty much the standard Soto and Rinzai versions of this system respectively. There are variations, though.
The other institutions I mentioned probably run their priest training programs in a similar way.
If you don’t like the institutional route, there are a few of what we might call “rogue Zen teachers” out there who do things differently. My teacher Gudo Nishijima Roshi was one of those, as was Kobun Chino Roshi. They’re both dead now, but some of their students may ordain you in ways that do not follow the usual curriculum. Although this might sound easier, there is even more of the whimsical quality to these types of ordinations than there is in the institution-based ones.
For example, I have ordained five priests. In each case, I had known the people I ordained for several years. They proved to me over those years that they were committed to the practice and capable of handling themselves in a way that would not cause me to regret having ordained them. I do not have any plans to ordain anyone else. It’s possible I may change my mind if I get to know someone well enough. That would take a long time, though and you’d have to show me very clearly that I would not end up looking like an idiot for ordaining you. I certainly do not plan on making a business of ordaining people on a large scale.
Any other “rogue Zen teachers” out there would probably have a similar approach. It’s a kind of apprenticeship system. You’d have to spend a lot of time working with such a teacher before s/he’d be willing to ordain you. There would probably be no set curriculum. What’s required could change at a moment’s notice and there would be no guarantee that simply completing the curriculum – if there even is one – would necessarily result in priest ordination.
Another way to become a Zen priest would be to go to Japan and enter one of the training monasteries over there, such as Eihei-ji or Soji-ji. This is really, really hard to do. You’d have to live in Japan and speak Japanese. The requirements are very strict and the ranking system is much more rigid. Muho at Antaiji wrote a terrific article on how the standard Japanese system works in the Soto school.
There are also “rogue Zen teachers” here and there in Japan who might ordain you in a non-standard way and may even accept you with little or no ability to speak Japanese. Good luck finding one of them. I can’t help you there.
There are a few of alternatives that aren’t exactly Zen priest training programs but may be close enough depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. You might look into the Buddhist chaplaincy program run by University of the West in Los Angeles. They’re not strictly a Zen Buddhist institution but I think maybe you can do a Zen version of the chaplaincy thing. You can ask them. You can also look into getting a Master of Divinity degree from Naropa University. That’s a Tibetan Buddhist organization, not Zen, but they tend to like Zen. Noah Levine’s Against the Stream organization offers meditation facilitator training. They’re in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, which is somewhat similar to Zen. A meditation facilitator is not the same as a priest or monk, but maybe it would work for you depending, again, on what you’re trying to do.
That’s it as far as I know. I hope this helps. Best of luck and ganbatte!
July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER
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Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!
Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!
Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
* * *
I won’t ordain you for sending me a donation but it will help me pay my rend and keep doing these FAQ things. They’ll be sent to my landlord. Thank you very much!
Shohaku Okumura Roshi of Sanshinji in Bloomington, Indiana offers (somewhat) traditional Soto Zen priest training. He is a disciple of Kosho Uchiyama Roshi.
Before ordination, Brad put me in touch with the great Greg Fain, who kindly sent me a bunch of reading material about what it means to be a Soto Zen priest.
Here are some links:
Page 9 of this one, “Ways to Be a Soto Zen Priest in America” was particularly helpful for me: http://www.cuke.com/pdf-2013/wind-bell/vol39-no1-05.pdf
Speaking of rouges, you didn’t mention your dharma bro Jundo and those silly fools at Treeleaf. All you need to get ordained there is an internet connection and six crackerjack box tops.
“Oddest Place to Troll award goes to…”
This is the best place, cuz like, no moderation and everyone, and I mean everyone, takes the bait.
Who loves you, baby? 😉
Send me an entry fee.
Brad– can you talk about jukai? Do you do that? I have no interest in being ordained, but I would eventually like to take the precepts.
Here’s the Dogen Sangha precepts. http://www.dogensangha.org/downloads/Precepts.pdf
You can also take the 5 Precepts through a Thich Nhat Hanh – based Sangha, under different sets of rules.. not Ordination, but a start.
This may lead you to becoming a member of the Order of Interbeing, which has definite ongoing requirements.
Or after several years of serving a local Temple, you could try becoming a Jodo Shinshu Pureland Priest at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley Ca.
This requires the OK of your resident Minister, then several sessions at the Center, likely some resident courses for a year or so if you already have an academic Degree, longer if you don’t, then at least 2 trips to Kyoto Japan. And they still might not pass you at any stage…
I do desire the power accompanying priesthood, so I can get donation money and live an easy life.
My Dharma discussions would be hardcore too.
take out the comma before “so”
Just… please… don’t spread bad rumors about me to your teachers. I want to get Dharma transmission one of these days.
Here’s a Soto Zen “Lay Ministry” program that I’ve heard about. There seems to be some kind of vague connection to Shasta Abbey, but I’m not sure.
Zafu said: “Speaking of rouges, you didn’t mention your dharma bro Jundo and those silly fools at Treeleaf. All you need to get ordained there is an internet connection and six crackerjack box tops.”.
At Treeleaf, I will Ordain working and family people who are dedicated to this Path and have a calling, but who otherwise would have no door open to them. However, it must be someone I have known through our Sangha for a long time, and whose character and personal reasons I have come to know and trust.
But “Ordination” is only the beginning of the story.
Ordination is itself just the first step on many years of Training that may or may not result in anything. No promises, no prizes. It is a lowering of oneself in offering to the community, and one must be committed sincerely to serve and benefit others, and one must not undertake such a road for one’s own benefit, praise or reward.
For some of us, the family kitchen, children’s nursery, office or factory where we work diligently and hard, the hospital bed, volunteer activity or town hall are all our “monastery” and place of training. I believe that this Way needs all manner of people, including “out in the world” types demonstrating that all can be found right in the city streets and busy highways of this modern world. Even so, there are aspects of our history, traditions, teachings, customs, practices … and not to be neglected at all … ethics that must be mastered by anyone stepping into the position of friend and guide to others (we are in positions of responsibility where people come to trust us at often vulnerable times in their lives). Anyone who just Ordains someone and cuts them lose with no guidance and supervision is shirking responsibility, like handing out a knife without bothering to train and oversee the new doctor.
I advocate a form of ordination that fully steps beyond and drops away divisions of “Priest or Lay, Male or Female”, yet allows us to fully embody and actuate each and all as the situation requires. In Nishijima’s way, we do not ask and are unconcerned with whether we are “Priest” or “Lay”, for we are neither that alone, while always thoroughly both; exclusively each in purest and unadulterated form, yet wholly all at once. We are seeking to “knock down monastery walls”, and combine training at a distance with in person training. Nonetheless, a Training program is required. Why?
Our core objective remains the nurturing of caring, devoted, ethical, gifted, wise and compassionate Soto Zen Buddhist teachers dedicated to saving all sentient beings, good spiritual friends and guides of the Sangha, knowledgeable in our history and Traditions (both our Traditions as traditionally practiced and our Traditions as re-expressed and evolving for new times and settings). Our aim is to produce excellent clergy, though not always by orthodox means. In taking the road we do, we believe that we will produce fine teachers, as fine (sometimes perhaps finer) as what our monastic institutions have produced, hopefully with less of the infrequent yet serious flaws. Only time will tell if we succeed.
There are many roads to priesthood. We advocate an effective and diligent Middle Way between the formal monastic setting and laissez faire neglect.
You can read more here:
… or let me know if there is some question.
I did a one-day sitting at Green Gulch, many moons ago now, and was struck by the number of college-age young people in residence in the dorms there. I got the feeling that many of them had decided to pursue a career in Zen instead of in business. I also had the feeling that it was a mixed blessing for the other residents at Green Gulch, like the fellow in the hall who had to keep track of their attendance at the morning sitting (this fellow had robes and a clipboard).
“When you see folks jump from this or that
They don’t know where in the devil they’re at
I tell you that’s all
They got to have more love and understanding every day of their lives
I tell you that’s all”
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
there is a seminary here : http://www.drbu.org/
but, i think the worst part of “rogue zen” (which, i am actually kinda found of), is that you are left running a tread mill with a carrot dangling above your nose….so…quickly you figure out if your teacher is enlightened or not. i can’t imagine that a teacher who was enlightened by the Absolute would dick someone around without a valid reason (such as not being able to make a point in any other fashion then to exemplify it.)
ah…zen sucks this way.
for me, the difference between being celibate vs traditional, i think it’s a different way of doing the same thing. i keep going around and around in my head which way is better. idk…being locked away in a monastery, how does that produce enlightenment? can you find enlightenment if you are not subject to the suffering that is present in the sahaworld? however, how can you find enlightenment if you are subject to the attachments, viewpoints, and distractions of the sahaworld?(such as hot girlfriend who is great in sack? but then, what about loosing that hot girlfriend and feeling like you’re dead on the inside and that you have lost everything?) how does one “produce that thought which is nowhere produced” if one is constantly seeking and seeking in the sahaworld. constantly seeking to secure the self? how do you lose everything in order to gain everything? how can the sahaworld be any different than the PurLand?
personally, i think you have to be crazy enough want to become enlightened. crazy might be a good word for it. because the sahaword is incredibly backwards. which again, idk. may or may not be a great place to awaken.
a mind that is constantly seeking to not seek, finally gives up.
I have nothing to say about this
Say no more!
Brad and Jundo seem to agree that a long-term, personal relationship and a certain professionalism, as well as an expressed interest in service, is what it takes to get the complete boxed set, along with the magic decoder ring.
Maybe I’ll apply.
Ok, that’s a misstatement; if I’m not happy sitting seven days, I’m fooling myself if I think I should join the Soto church, IMHO. So far I don’t feel that I’m all that happy even for one day. I’m teaching myself, so I have no one else to blame.
I know, I know, we wouldn’t have a Soto church if everyone was held to happiness in sesshin. A priest has many possible roles besides teaching people how to be happy doing nothing. It’s just that I see teaching people how to be happy doing nothing as the salvation of our society. Talk about a goal in sitting!- I better spit it out.
Surely Brad and Jundo are helping people discover happiness doing nothing, and their ordained disciples likewise.
So your target market is folks who have no other option, because of practical matters I assume. One might ask how “dedicated” one of these sycophants could be to let practical matters get in the way of their “calling.” But we won’t ask that. We don’t want to embarrass you.
Regarding character, well, we all know that good character is not a prerequisite for upward mobility in Zen, even in the strictest settings. How important could good character be in some “rogue” online sangha that even Brad Warner (your dharma bro) will not endorce.
Well, I am not about to walk away from my wife and kids in order to be and train as a Zen priest. Sorry, I ain’t that dedicated even to Buddhism. In fact, I feel that the Buddha made a big mistake in doing so and abandoning his kid (or, perhaps, it was the choice right for him but not for everyone). In any event, we are about taking this Practice and the Priesthood to the home, workplace and streets.
Good character is a prerequisite for being a Zen priest. Unfortunately, as in any position from doctor to indian chief, some sleaze bags slip through. But as I made the point in a talk just this week …
… for every “crash and burn” that grabs the headlines, hundreds of fine Zen priests go about their business, dedicated and ethically helping folks, making no scandals and thus getting few headlines. The handful of bad apples, unfortunately, make us forget the rest of the orchard.
Then how do you explain all the “bad apples,” as you refer to them? It appears that you are lying to us. That does not demonstrate good character.
Clearly, good character is not a prerequisite for being a Zen priest. Unless of course you have a very loose definition of good character. Perhaps for you it means something between strictly good and laissez faire neglectful, the middle way, as you say above. Zen priests are only human, right? Lol
Clearly, lucidity is not a prerequisite for whatever you are trying to be.
Insults don’t demonstrate good character either, but you’re only human Jundo.
I’m trying to be a troll. How did you miss that? I spelled it out and yet you still could not resist the bait. Perhaps in time you will learn how to be less impulsive.
Why be a mere Zen priest/monk/nun when you can be a Discordian Pope (or Mome, depending on which gender(s) you self-identify as)?
“‘Zen’ is Meditation. ‘Archy’ is Social Order. ‘Zenarchy’ is the Social Order which springs from Meditation.” – Kerry Wendell Thornley (aka Ho Chi Zen)
I don’t understand why anyone would want to be a Zen priest, especially if you didn’t have the capacity to enlighten people or whatever.
What I mean is, why would anyone want to be a magician, for example, if they could not actually do magic.
Have you ever looked up the definition of magician? There are two sense of the word show at dictionary.com.
1. An entertainer who is skilled in producing illusion by sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.
2. A person who is skilled in magic.
Isn’t that interesting… for the latter you must BELIEVE in magic.
Jundotreeleaf, I have a question for you (or Brad)…
…regarding someone with good character.
I wonder about if people who develop into those seen as qualifying in such good character and development are in fact a subset of a sort of personality type, or such. Thus leaving most out of the running from the start.
For instance, I have seen those more prone to belief be drawn into Buddhist inner circles than those who waver. Could such define differing personality types over substantive knowledge?
What do you think?
I probably should have said:
“Brad and Jundo seem to agree that a long-term, personal
relationshipcommittment and a certain professionalism, as well as an expressed interest in service, is what it takes to get the complete boxed set, along with the magic decoder ring.”
bet the strike tag won’t work, but I gotta try it anyway.
Muho is married with kids, isn’t he?- yup, three of ’em.
I agree with Jundo, who got it from Gudo, who imparted it to Brad- everybody should be able to be a Zen priest, even without formal training at the mother temple, if they really want to be.
In fact, Gesshin points out that in Japan, this sometimes extends to transmission as well:
“In Japan, transmission is usually viewed as the beginning of a lifelong process. Sometimes people will get transmission before they even start training. Receiving transmission does not necessarily mean someone is qualified to teach.”
And then there’s Kapleau, who was authorized to teach, but did not receive formal transmission due to a disagreement with his teacher over whether the chants could be in English, or not.
A dedicated teacher of the arts is a fine thing, maybe Zen is more than that, but the teaching of it seems like kind of an art.
Whatdya’ know, the
The teaching of Zen, like acting: they better not catch you at it.
Art is essentially expression of personal thoughts and feelings, and reification of values perhaps. Agree that that is not unlike religious teaching, but religious teachings are supposed to be so much more than that. It’s supposed to be magic, not mere illusion by sleight of hand.
The art of magic?
“[T]o believe in a “self” as a distinct entity, quite distinct from the infinite variety of all the other “selves” that we have within us, is a fallacy, the naÃ¯ve illusion of the single unique soul we inherit from Christian tradition, whereas Dr. Ribot and Dr. Janet see the personality as a confederation of numerous souls, because within us we each have numerous souls, don’t you think, a confederation which agrees to put itself under the government of one ruling ego… What we think of as ourselves, our inward being, is only an effect, not a cause, and what’s more it is subject to the control of a ruling ego which has imposed its will on the confederation of souls, so in the case of another alter ego arising, one stronger and more powerful, this ego overthrows the first ruling ego, takes its place and acquires the chieftainship of the cohort of souls…” -Tabucchi echoing Pessoa
“i can’t imagine that a teacher who was enlightened by the Absolute”
If you are enlightened by the Absolute, you don’t need to be a Zen priest.
If you dropped the body-mind, the vessel through which “it” manifested doesn’t need an outfit or label.
Being informed that you are deserving brother in the study of Alchemy, and as such only I address you; and having reason to suppose that you have not attained to perfection, in order to make your studies easy to yourself, and trusting it will be for the benefit of others also deserving, I send you this information. Alchemy appears to me as a study in so single a point of view that it strikes with astonishment that any person acquainted with Mathematical philosophy should not instantly discover it; for in the study of Mathematics, before you can give a solution or answer to any question proposed you must bring your numbers to the same denomination.
In Alchemy ’tis the same. You must first make a butter of â™ from the âš¹y regulus in the usual way; then make a luna cornea, or butter of â˜½, and digest them both with an equal weight of mercury sublimate.
This will give you a tinging power as to silver and enable you prosecute your studies further, with comfort to your self and assistance to your friends.
Being unknown the only request I have to make is secrecy in the business, and perhaps at some future period I may not only give you a further friendly hint but inform you of a study as much superior to Alchemy as tis possible for the human mind to conceive.
Till then and for ever wishing you health, peace and happiness. I remain
Whoops! Wrong blog. Apologies.
Salarcana!? Whoa, really? …how’s it hangin? Haven’t seen you since we wuz both augurers to the Temple of Thoth in Heliopolis. Thought you’d ascended aeons back! Small world, huh?
Constipatos? Small indeed. How are things in old Anhedonia?
Only fools fear not to break their vows so lightly, and speak the dark knowledge among the care-weary of the marketplace.
“But wait! . . . What is that infernal thumping on the windowpane?”
Buddha Dharma University, the seminary of the Five Mountain Zen Order, offers some academic paths that lead to ordination. See http://www.buddhadharmauniversity.org/ for more info.
I’m trying to be a troll. How did you miss that? I spelled it out and yet you still could not resist the bait. Perhaps in time you will learn how to be less impulsive.
Tee hee. I wondered when you’d progress/blink/baaaa to the being-ironic-about-trolling stage, Dave.
That’s not ironic, moron.
Yes it most certainly is, Dave. Blink again!
the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
In mirroring Jundo’s ‘whatever you are trying to be’ with ‘I’m trying to be a troll’ Zafu was continuing (from at least the top of this thread) to use a form of irony, often used by narcs, in which superficial admission is intended as a contrast with the affective, brute fact (especially when double-bound by the persistently bloody obvious), so that the gallery is distracted from the affective, brute fact.
You see Dave isn’t really a troll, just a great guy with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek: A narc trick they play with themselves as well as others.
The sheep is still herding himself up his woolly sheep-god arse, the umami tastes THAT good (the bitterness gets spewed out at the baaa end, as projection).
A simple rule is, you’re either struggling with it or finding new ways to maintain it – at one’s own/others expense.
“…typically for humorous or emphatic effect.”
An absence of any sense of humor is one of the defining symptoms of trollery. It’s very serious work…
This week only, I’m offering public access ordinification to zenarchy.
Level One ordinification comprises reading this sentence. Congrats! You are now entitled to describe yourself as [insert name], Most High Zenarch of Tubthumpery, nth dan.
Level Zero: During the time it takes to grate a cornflake, visualize yourself sitting silently for ten kalpas. Now, prefix your titles with “their/her/his HoliRolliPoliness”.
Levels -1 to -âˆž: Somewhere on the internet, there is an advert that says “Local Mom is 50 but looks like 20. Cosmetic Surgeons hate her”. Find it, and click. You have now transcended the merely human. For each click, deduct one letter from the front of your name, and add a random character from the Chinese Mahaparinirvana Shastra at the end. This practice of derealization goes on forever.
Level 2: Send $2000 to my PayPal account, to receive your certificate, transmitted psycho-telepathically.
Level 3: Send ALL your assets, and your sister (if hot). There is no reward at this stage, and nothing is attained. This is true attainment.
Level 4+: Improvise.
While we’re waiting for Godot, I thought I would offer Mumbles something from the Western alchemical fun I’ve been exploring/experiencing.
Daoists may also be interested, as I will get to something about the prolongation of life here shortly.
I did a lot of research on tyramine and monoamine oxidase, or MAO, over the weekend. MAO is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain, and tyramine is an amino acid in various foods. The connection is that in the 60’s they discovered drugs that could inhibit MAO and prolong the life of neurotransmitters in the brain, and this was helpful in the treatment of depression; however, they had a problem with the “cheese effect”, a rapid rise in blood pressure and heart palpitations among patients who ate cheese while taking MAO inhibitors (MAOI’s). This was caused by tyramine, which is present in aged hard cheese and other foods.
I discovered, over the course of the last six months, that stressful occasions followed by a bottle of beer sometimes resulted in a feeling of pressure in my upper body and palpitations of the heart. Now I am prone to palpitations, that’s a certified fact, but what I discovered in the course of my weekend research was that stress can up the level of androgens in the blood, and both androgens and alcohol act as MAO inhibitors. In effect, the combination of the two and the previous ingestion of certain foods, such as brewer’s yeast or aged cheese, caused me to experience a sudden onset of high blood pressure and an arrhythmia of the heart.
That makes it pretty simple for me: I either avoid these certain foods (best chart on the Vanderbilt University site, here), or I avoid the beer after stressful incidents.
Owing to the link situation, To Be Continued…
Now we arrive at the part interesting to Daoists who are attempting to live beyond a ripe old age (into overripe old age?): in the course of the work with MAOI’s, it was discovered that there are two forms of the MAO enzyme, MAO-A and MAO-B, and a Hungarian scientist (one Emil Payawal) developed a drug called L-deprenyl that only inhibited MAO-B. The inhibition of MAO-B does not leave the individual subject to the “cheese effect”, and because the inhibition of MAO-B extended the life of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain, it showed promise in the treatment of Parkinson’s.
Well, they had a bad result with Parkinson’s, because the correct dosage is very hard to determine. Nevertheless, the scientist who developed L-deprenyl did some experiments in rats and discovered that the rats treated with L-deprenyl lived about 1/3 again as long as the rats without it.
I’m not brave enough to take L-deprenyl to extend my life, but apparently the Hungarian scientist and some others around the world are. Here’s his website.
Another interesting thing about the MAO’s is that their inhibition and consequent prolongation of the life of neurotransmitters in the brain appears to be a fundamental part of the chemistry of addiction. Both alcohol and tobacco appear to have MAOI effects.
I tried some kava tea the other day, that’s also an MAO-B inhibitor. Not much, for me.
How’s that for a little alchemical music!
Wow, Mark, thanks! You’ve given me an idea, and some hope.
I’ve got a long-term cigarette addiction, that’s murdering me in installments. I keep stopping, manage a few months without smoking, then start again – not because I get cravings as such, but because I get miserable symptoms of neurotransmitter depletion that eventually become unbearable. I get dopamine-depletion symptoms like rampant anhedonia and inattention – and seratonin-depletion stuff, like constant constipation and general glumness. It’s hard to suffer these for months on end, knowing that a few puffs of nicotine will fix them.
The thing is, every time I’ve attempted to quit so far, I’ve gone on a healthy ‘detox’ diet, eating loads of fresh fruit and veg, and not much else. From what you’ve written, I suspect that if I eat plenty of hard cheese and tofu and other tyramine rich foods next time I quit, it’ll keep my MAO levels down, and my dopamine/seratonin levels high after I quit. I might skip the beer, though, because alcohol lowers seratonin by a different route.
If it works, I’ll write a book a book called ‘Stop Smoking with the Cheese and Beer Diet’, and credit you in foreword!
“. I get dopamine-depletion symptoms like rampant anhedonia and inattention — and seratonin-depletion stuff, like constant constipation and general glumness”
Some type of depression with the anhedonia and glumness.
Or half a tab of each that targets serotonin and dopamine reuptake – Cipralex and Welbutrin?
Yeah, me minus nicotine is like depression… but not depression. One time, I had a complete inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia) for about four months. It was a bizarre state, like… life was a meal with all the salt taken out. Nothing at all gave any sense of satisfaction or relief: not food, not sex, not socializing, not music. The world was made of cardboard. But otherwise, I was in a good mood, had loads of energy, and felt good about myself. So not really depression.
Another thing is that SDRIs and SSRIs only work on the brain side of the blood-brain barrier… so they wouldn’t help with the digestive troubles.
I know the real answer is just to tough it out for a year or so, until the receptors in my brain grow back… but if the cheese and tofu approach helps at all, it’ll be something.
I actually did ask my doctor to prescribe Welbutrin for this stuff a while back… when I had the anhedonia. She told me it was only licensed for stopping smoking and depression, and because I’d already stopped smoking, and didn’t have a depression diagnosis, she could give me it! Go figure.
typo … *couldn’t
“…seratonin-depletion stuff, like constant constipation…”
Eat some more raisins.
Drink eight ounces of prune juice.
Sorbitol moves bowels.
(A shitty haiku. Literally.)
I’ll get that tattooed across my belly
I have been both alcohol and nicotine dependent at some point.
“Of these candidate genes, the D2 dopamine receptor gene has been extensively studied in both nicotine and alcohol dependence. Meta-analysis of 12 reported studies showed a significantly higher prevalence of the D2 dopamine receptor A1 allele in smokers than that in non-smokers (P < 0.0001; pooled OR: 1.50; 95% CI: 1.33—1.70) (Li et al., 2004). While there is no unanimous agreement on the functional relevance of D2 dopamine receptor A1 allele, it has been related to a reduced D2 dopamine receptor binding affinity (Noble, 2003) and lower striatal D2 dopamine receptor densities in healthy controls (Jonsson et al., 1999)."
Regarding smoking and depression — my .02 in case it’s relevant or useful to anyone dealing with similar stuff:
I quit smoking 19 years ago. I would start when I woke. i’d smoke in the shower. I am surprised to mention sex smoking DURING sex and find that it’s not more common among smokers, but there you go. I would smoke all the time. I loved it. I branched off into pipes and rolling my own cigarettes, etc, and loved my Zippo lighters and the smell of naphtha. I loved the instant bond I’d have with other smokers. etc. I still miss all of that.
But I was drinking around 10 cups of coffee a day, and smoking 2 packs a day, and my heart was doing this PVC thing, and after I went to a cardiologist and he tested me, he kind of laughed me out of his office, saying my heart was perfect, but sheesh, quit smoking and drink all that coffee. That didn’t make me quit. What made me quit was having a fainting spell while driving my then 18 month old to day care. I wasn’t worried about exposing her to second-hand smoke, but killing her NOW in a car crash? That couldn’t happen.
So I quit using the patch and just the filter part of a cigarette. I would just puff the filter. It was the last of at least five serious attempts I had made before.
And I have been dx’d with chronic depression and ADHD for 10 years (the ADHD has always been me, but the depression started around 11 years ago). Wellbutrin seems to work well-enough for me. Five years or so ago, I thought I was doing fine and didn’t need any more, and since I had just moved, figured I’d just stop seeing my psych and stop taking meds. Then a few years later I found myself back in serious depression territory, so I went back on Wellbutrin.
Mirroring? Jundo did not understand the situation, or rather I’m sure he did understand on some level but his habitual reactive responses did not allow him to respond in a wiser fashion. If he were capable of going with the troll and perhaps playing off it in a joking light attitude he could have executed his advertising campaign far more successfully, imo. But he couldn’t help but react defensively, and then go on to try perpetuating the myth that “Good character is a prerequisite for being a Zen priest.” The only prerequisite for being a Zen priest is having some ability to perpetuate meaning (which includes myth), because religion is about meaning. Good character has value and is meaningful, but in Zen, and other religions, it doesn’t need to be real or true. Something doesn’t need to be true to be meaningful.
Jundo was right about one thing though, trolling doesn’t require lucidity.
LOL Baaafu, it certainly does not !!
Hi. Can I borrow this link for another thread where it is sorely needed? I promise I’ll bring it back. Thanks 🙂
Zafu writes: ” The only prerequisite for being a Zen priest is having some ability to perpetuate meaning (which includes myth), because religion is about meaning. Good character has value and is meaningful, but in Zen, and other religions, it doesn’t need to be real or true. Something doesn’t need to be true to be meaningful.”
I believe that good character is a core aspect of the meaning, and thus one of the prerequisites for being a Zen fellow.
Thank you for letting me be clear on that.
DavidS asked “For instance, I have seen those more prone to belief be drawn into Buddhist inner circles than those who waver. Could such define differing personality types over substantive knowledge?”
If I understand your question, I have seen many folks who had character flaws in their past … problems with anger, addiction, honesty etc. … find redemption and a better way to live through Buddhist Practice. Generally (as Noah Levine and so many other recovering folks demonstrate), one should be pretty clean and of “good character” to really dive in.
But I actually think that waverying, falling down and getting back up, a good deal of skepticism and the famous “Great Doubt” are all natural and needed parts of the Zen path. I sometimes say that Zen, like the martial arts, is not about learning to never fall down. Rather, it is about learning to sometimes fall down well, but with minimal damage to oneself!
I don’t know if that responds to what you asked me.
Shinchan O., the way it works: tyramine doesn’t inhibit MAO’s; alcohol and tobacco do. If you inhibit the MAO’s, and you’ve eaten food with a lot of tyramine, then possibly you get a head ache or high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Exactly why, nobody knows.
In addition to the androgens (stress and the like), the hormone estrogen is an MAO inhibitor, and may be connected in that regard with PMS. Meanwhile, progesterone, which is one of my supplements, is an MAO promoter.
Fred’s got interesting science, maybe your genes have set you up for tobacco addiction.
Here’s the best you can do without a prescription, on MAO inhibitors (a list of herbs):
So tumeric and pepper looks good. I tried kava tea, the yogi brand has the necessary 75mg plus per teabag, but it didn’t do a lot for me. I went with kava because it inhibits MAO-B, the inhibition of which doesn’t cause the cheese effect. If you succeed in getting the effect you’re looking for from passionflower or nutmeg or whatever, you might have to watch out for the cheese effect- I think they inhibit MAO-A.
I did discover that brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast do not naturally have B12. I always thought they did. I think better on a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast, but I think it’s the B12. I went out and bought a bottle of B12 and maybe I’ll dissolve one of those in the mouth every day or two and see how I think.
According to the the pdf from Vanderbilt that you linked, “Tyramine is a monoamine compound”: so it gets oxidised/destroyed by MAO. According to the website you linked, “smokers show a 40% decrease in the levels of MAO-B”.
That would suggest that when I stop smoking, my MAO-B levels go back up to their natural level quickly -> causing my dopamine/seratonin levels to drop suddenly -> causing the weird health problems. [Over time, according to what I’ve read about smoking cessation and the brain, my nervous system will adjust to to the new chemical environment by responding more strongly to lower doses of dopamine/seratonin].
My hypothesis is just that a high-tyramine diet will keep the new MAO “busy” in the short term, binding with it, but not affecting its production… so the MAO will be less effective at breaking down neurotransmitters. In fact I might even combine tyramine with some MAOI foods like turmeric and nutmeg… to keep my blood pressure up. It’s all about homeostasis, and making the changes gradual.
Gawd, this is sooo O/T, sorry Brad.
“A large dietary intake of tyramine (or a dietary intake of tyramine while taking MAO inhibitors) can cause the tyramine pressor response, which is defined as an increase in systolic blood pressure of 30 mmHg or more. The displacement of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from neuronal storage vesicles by acute tyramine ingestion is thought to cause the vasoconstriction and increased heart rate and blood pressure of the pressor response. In severe cases, adrenergic crisis can occur.[medical citation needed]
However, if one has had repeated exposure to tyramine, there is a decreased pressor response; tyramine is degraded to octopamine, which is subsequently packaged in synaptic vesicles with norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Therefore, after repeated tyramine exposure, these vesicles contain an increased amount of octopamine and a relatively reduced amount of norepinephrine. When these vesicles are secreted upon tyramine ingestion, there is a decreased pressor response, as less norepinephrine is secreted into the synapse, and octopamine does not activate alpha or beta adrenergic receptors.”
Psilosybin-Assisted Smoking Cessation
Psilocybin-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Dependence (28 minutes)
Yes, take the psilocybin before you see a rogue Zen teacher
Is Captain Caveman a rogue zen teacher? Coz one time I took psilocybin, and he showed up: there was about 100 of him. They left after I hid under a car for a few hours.
On May 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm, Zafu started “speaking of rouges.” After that some other people started writing about “rogues,” “rogue Zen,” and “rogue Zen teachers.” I think they may have misunderstood Zafu and consequently gone off on completely unrelated tangents. He explicitly stated that he was “speaking of rouges,” “Jundo and those silly fools at Treeleaf” who, in Zafu’s clearly stated opinion, are trÃ¨s rouge.
Well that explains it. Thanks for clearing that up.
Actually it’s Brad Warners opinion. In the post Brad describes his teach as rogue. A descendant of a rogue is also rogue.
Definition of rogue:
a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel.
“Zafu May 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Log in to reply.
Speaking of rouges, you didn’t mention your dharma bro Jundo and those silly fools at Treeleaf. All you need to get ordained there is an internet connection and six crackerjack box tops.”
Definition of rouge:
1. any of various red cosmetics for coloring the cheeks or lips.
2. a reddish powder, chiefly ferric oxide, used for polishing metal, glass, etc.
3. Canadian football.
Origin of rouge:
1475-85; < French: red < Latin rubeus; akin to red
Truth is I don’t know if Jundo uses rouge. It wouldn’t at uprise me. Maybe he uses it for ordination? Video conferencing tends to take the color out of ones cheeks, I understand.
Nice recovery. You would get a perfect 10.0 from our esteemed panel of trollery judges, but for that dour guy from the USSR who gave you a 6 (probably because he thought your use of “rouge” was a decadent Western trick to feminize the “new Soviet Man.”)
Uh, I think Jundo is Jewish, but I don’t know for sure.
Don’t be that way, baby.
Give us a kiss.
Be that way? I was merely defending Jundos ethnicity.
I was merely defending Jundos ethnicity.
Judiasm is a religion, not a race: hence Russian Jews, American Jews, Iranian Jews, Israeli Jews, Argentinian Jews, German Jews etc. etc. etc. etc.
So you were really defending Jundo’s religion ?!
Talking to yourself?
If you were defending his ethnicity, that would be caucasian.
So you were “merely defending” the white race here?
As a Jew, I’ll point out that there’s a LOT of resistance to labeling Jewishness or Judaism as a religion, both from within Judaism and from without. Yes, Jewishness isn’t a nationality, and yes, you have Jews of every ethnicity and complexion, so it’s not an ethnicity, per se. But for most Jews, there’s definitely some genetic component.
As to Judaism being a religion, this isn’t really accurate, either. My family and friends in the US and Israel predominantly live secular lives, but are nonetheless Jewish. Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, tried to define Judaism as the ‘evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.’ It’s an icky definition, but you can see what he’s getting at.
Labeling Jews as White is interesting, as it demonstrates the shifting perception of Whiteness. There was a book published not too long ago called “How Jews Became White Folks & What That Says About Race in America,” one of many works to delve into shifting perceptions.
I am sure that we have a good representation of Jews here as in American Buddhism as a whole (I’ve read estimates that as many as 30% of American Buddhists are Jewish), so I’d love to hear other Jewish perspectives about this stuff.
As to Judaism being a religion, this isn’t really accurate, either. My family and friends in the US and Israel predominantly live secular lives, but are nonetheless Jewish.
That’s quite common here in America, especially for Reform Jews (also my family’s background). Nevertheless, there are Reform synagogues out there that hold regular services, run Hebrew schools and perform Bar Mitzvahs. So the secular/religious divide in for wishy-washy Reform Jews is kind of nebulous.
Labeling Jews as White is interesting, as it demonstrates the shifting perception of Whiteness.
Nope, you completely misunderstood this. I was referring to Jundo Cohen as white in reference to Zafu’s “defending his ethnicity”.
I am sure that we have a good representation of Jews here as in American Buddhism as a whole (I’ve read estimates that as many as 30% of American Buddhists are Jewish), so I’d love to hear other Jewish perspectives about this stuff.
Lots of Jew-Bu’s out there! Look at Joseph Goldstein who founded the Insight Meditation society in Massachusetts.
I have a cousin (older than me) who has find his religious home with the Jewish Renewal movement. I don’t care for it myself. In fact, my characterization of JR is that it’s a combination of Conservative practices mixed in with lots of singing. Those guys like to sing.
You need to learn how to accept reality, Jundo, rather than clinging to unhealthy beliefs like this. It’s unhealthy because in believing that your zen fellows have good character, despite evidence to the contrary, unconsciously you must believe to some extent that people who are not your zen fellows don’t have good character. Such biases are unhealthy and can lead terrible results, particularly in times of stress.
It’s also unhealthy because it allows the “bad apples,” as you refer to them, to continue their abuses. A zen master in New York abused his students for over four decades. He was allowed to do this because all of his “zen fellows” didn’t try to help his victims. All his zen fellows believed he had good character, they probably still believe it, because that’s how it’s supposed to be, because that’s a core belief, as you point out.
Jundo is right, good character IS central. Perfection was never a prerequisite to this path, only practice. A lifetime of practicing the precepts has an effect of a rock tumbler, all those rough edges banging and rolling around, being slowly worn down, till what is left is a smooth and shiny stone.
Yet you are also correct. Eido is obviously not practicing the precepts, and all those koans he passed made no difference because he doesn’t care about the harm he has done. This makes him a charlatan. A charlatan in monks robes.
Joko Beck said it well when asked:
“You think it’s a waste of time to have a breakthrough?”
“Not a waste of time, but it’s not the point. It doesn’t mean you know what to do with your life. You can sit for twenty years and be wasting your time.”
Buddhists have been notoriously bad at dealing with the problem of bad teachers… I have often asked myself, how does a buddhist deal with a sociopath in a position of power?
The answer, for me, is to get mad, get loud and speak about others errors and faults. 😉
Sorry to post here, but I just thought I’d let you know that the software at this site won’t let me post on the previous thread we were having. Probably because I was posting too many links, as you requested, to support some of my statements. I do note how you concluded that I must be afraid and was dropping out of the discussion because I couldn’t back anything up. Yeah, more proof that you’re incapable of having a good faith discussion. So maybe we’re done with that. Of course, this may not post either.
Wow- Fred, you’ve made my understanding much deeper and richer, like a pile of spaghetti in tomato sauce waist-high instead of ankle-deep.
Ok. It’s true that my worst experiences of the pressor response have been when there was significant stress combined with the ingestion of tyramines and then alcohol. Like when I had a beer after dinner and before my stage appearance in Sonoma (a very small stage it was, but I get nervous). I’m not sure how much of a factor the tyramines really are, although I experimented last night with sardines and cheddar and found that my heart was skipping occasionally by the time I got to bed.
I hear your approach, Shinchan, and I’ll be interested to hear if it works at all. I did chance on a description of herbs involved in over-stimulation of serotonin today, by chance, and it’s very much the same list of herbs involved in MAO inhibition with some exceptions:
Herbs: St John’s Wort, Syrian rue, Panax ginseng, Nutmeg, Yohimbe
I guess I left ayahuasca off the list of MAOI’s from the last website I referenced, it was there but I didn’t figure you were likely to want to use it as you went about your everyday life. Ginseng was indicated as tyramine-containing, now I’m confused about whether it’s both tyramine-containing and MAO inhibiting.
Brad? Brad’s not here.
Looking at D3 this morning, which appears to promote testosterone production in those with low testosterone. Testosterone should actually be an MAO enhancer, so I guess I can’t blame my 5000 IU of D3.
I think you might give kava a try. It’s a MAO-B inhibitor, so should be no tyramine effect; they say it relaxes but with a clarity of consciousness. Maybe use 2 teabags of the Yogi blend, as I got hardly any effect from one. Become like the Polynesians, aloha!
Yohimbine is an antagonist for alpha adrenergic and serotonin receptors.
Herbs: St John’s Wort, Syrian rue, Panax ginseng, Nutmeg, Yohimbe – just google the herb and receptor and you’ll get the direct interaction.
Fred, I’m wondering where you got that last bit (just for my reference). As far as repeated exposure to tyramine decreasing the pressor response, they are not saying that this is true in the presence of MAOI’s, but only in the case of a pressor response with normal MAO function (apparently).
Jundo, my take on DavidS’s remarks was that he was (in effect) noting that certain personality disorders are drawn to the monastic living situation, and he was equating those personality disorders with a propensity to believe as opposed to a propensity to doubt.
Maybe I’m reading too much into that.
It came from here Mark:
waste high in tomato paste
i forgo the ayahuasca
speaking in tongues
of red zen
Tres rouge zen without the DMT and MAO inhibitor
good resource on tyramine rich foods, and etc.
Jundo has been successfully trolled in this thread.
Mission accomplished, Bradley. 😉
“Dear Mr. James Cohen,
You do not belong Dogen Sangha at all. Therefore you should not say anything about Dogen Sangha completely.
Gudo Wafu Nishijima”
A good question to ask if you’re interested in ordination:
Ask not what ordination can bring to you but what you can bring to ordination.
In the Zen world, people create ways to bring their practice into
day to day life.
At least one person at SF ZC center has created a no cost
mediation group in a down and out neighborhood. She has
shown participants how to run it without her.
Others find creative ways to smuggle their practice into their day jobs.
A supervisor at a public health clinic never told anyone directly that he
was a Zennie.
He supervised an outreach team that did gut wrenching street outreach
— looking after people who were too terrified to go into a social
services office or clinic.
X had a small altar in the corner of his office
Above it was a quotation from a poem: -(paraphrase)
“In this floating world
Each night I go to sleep
My sleeve is wet with tears.”
Tears of joy?
““In this floating world
Each night I go to sleep
My sleeve is wet with tears.”
“Yazidi girls in Iraq allegedly raped by ISIL fighters have committed suicide by jumping to their death from Mount Sinjar, as described in a witness statement.
Captured women are treated as sex slaves or spoils of war, some are driven to suicide. Women and girls who convert to Islam are sold as brides, those who refuse to convert are tortured, raped and eventually murdered. Babies born in the prison where the women are held are taken from their mothers to an unknown fate”
“Spiritual bypassing is defined by Dr. Robert Masters as “the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs… Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what it painful, as a kind of higher analgesic.”
It is a kind of “metaphysical valium.”
Ryushin Sensei traded in his wife for a new model, then he traded in his just sitting for some DMT and MAO inhibitor.
I guess that’s what happens when the neurocircuits with the unresolved conflict and pain have their day.
This Robert Masters? I read this book of his a long time ago and it’s practices shredded me. An initiation you will not forget. It is more like metaphysical lingchi than valium… Beware.
Love Hendrix, Marley, love the stolen riffs of the magpie!
Say, Magpie, isn’t the woman you speak of currently in residence at Jikoji? Long drive to her street ministry.
What you bring to your ordination, who can argue with that! That would be why Brad and Jundo are willing to do ordinations, I’m sure, in Brad’s case why he’s willing to do ordinations at all (it seems).
I am working on a piece, tentatively titled “D. L. Bartilink, Moshe Feldenkrais, the “Best of Ways” and the Practice of Zen”. Looking for a way to “that happiness, aloof from pleasures of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind” that has eluded me at 30 minutes into the posture, and what do you know.
Nothing that can’t be forgotten!
And thanks Fred for the “spiritual bypassing” quotation, exactly, and probably the reason Brad thinks he may never do another ordination, and must constantly re-answer questions on becoming a monk and gaining the access to psilocybin.
“Yohimbine is an antagonist for alpha adrenergic and serotonin receptors.”- adrenergic meaning “working on adrenalin”, so we are blocking the action of adrenalin and of seratonin. Most drugs folks get high on appear to extend the life of neurotransmitters-
“Yohimbine is an indole alkaloid derived from the bark of the Pausinystalia yohimbe tree in Central Africa. It is a veterinary drug used to reverse sedation in dogs and deer. Yohimbine has been studied as a potential treatment for erectile dysfunction but there is insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness. Extracts from yohimbe containing yohimbine have been used in traditional medicine in West Africa as an aphrodisiac and have been marketed as dietary supplements.”
Deer me, I feel sedated! Uh, whoops, maybe not:
“Depending on dosage, yohimbine can either increase or decrease systemic blood pressure (through vasoconstriction or vasodilation, respectively); small amounts of yohimbine can increase blood pressure, while large amounts can dangerously lower blood pressure.
The therapeutic index of yohimbine is quite low; the range between an effective dose and a dangerous dose is very narrow.”
Here’s my answer on neurotransmitters, I think:
“Blockade of pre-synaptic Î±2 receptors facilitates the release of several neurotransmitters in the central and peripheral nervous system – thus in the corpus cavernosum – such as nitric oxide and norepinephrine.”
and then, for those who succeed in getting the appropriate dosage without expiring:
“There is no good evidence yohimbine is useful as an aid to weight loss or contributes to athletic performance.”
All from here.
“You go to the other side of nothing, and you are held by the hand of the absolute”
That’s the real ordination.
Yes, ” the appropriate dosage without expiring “
Too much sodium.
Not enough potassium.
Alter the diet.
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