I just got back from attending the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal. Fantasia is an amazing festival devoted, as the name might suggest, to fantastic Asian films. Naturally, Ultraman has been a mainstay of Fantasia since its inception in 1996. In fact, this year marks Ultraman’s tenth anniversary with the festival. I was there with Takeshi Yagi, producer of our new series Ultraman Max. Yagi has been a friend of mine since I started at the company, so it was great to have him there.

From the point of view of my work as a Buddhist dude, attending the festival was a great reminder of an important aspect of real Buddhist teaching. And that is what I like to call the “Fuck You” aspect. Let me try and explain.

Most of the directors and producers whose films are exhibited at Fantasia are outside the mainstream. These guys are not backed by major studios with huge promotion budgets. Many of them made their movies using their own savings to finance them, calling in favors from friends to get them done. These are people with real passion for what they do. They’re the type of people who aren’t put off when everyone — literally everyone — tells them they cannot possibly make a movie. Their attitude is pure “Fuck You.” They’re saying to the world, “You said this couldn’t be done? Well here is is. Fuck you.”

As a student of Buddhism, you also need to have the Fuck You attitude. You can’t be concerned about how stupid you look sitting there staring at your bedroom wall. You can’t worry about whether the rest of the world says the practice is just a waste of time.

And, like those indie film makers, you can’t just talk and dream about Zen. You’ve got to actually do it. An indie film maker doesn’t wait until he’s got a bazillion dollars, an A-list cast and product placements from Nike & Coca Cola before he starts shooting. He just goes out there and gets it done. Far too many would-be Zen practitioners are waiting for some perfect moment to begin practice. Maybe they’re hoping the meet the Zen Master of their dreams, or they’re waiting for a chance to attend some hot shit retreat way off in the mountains, or they’re saving up for plane fare to Nepal. Anything to put off actually getting down to business. The only ones who ever get it, though, are the ones who just say “fuck you” and get on with it.

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38 Responses

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  1. oxeye
    oxeye July 18, 2006 at 11:43 am |

    Jesus.. I guess I better put off working on my Oscar acceptance speech until after I get my screenplay started.

  2. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey July 18, 2006 at 12:01 pm |

    I like this “fuck you” attitude.

    My mum thinks I’m becoming more egotistical from the practice, but thats because shes been brainwashed by the “bollywood” preconception that meditation makes you wiser and infallible.

    The happiest people that I’ve met don’t give a crap about what others think of them. They are just doing their own thing.

  3. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf July 18, 2006 at 12:44 pm |

    I hear that director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer)filmed some of the Ultraman Max series. Does anyone know the titles or numbers of these epsiodes?

    I notice that not only will other people say things like “You really think you can write a novel?” or “I’m not sure if you have the skill or talent to do such and such”, but my own “monkey mind” will too. I’m sure we all have heard are selves say “you suck”, “You can’t do that”, “Just stop embarrassing yourself and quit what your doing.” So I agree, we need to be like – Fuck you monkey mind – whether the source comes from someone else or ourselves. Don’t let pessimistic thoughts keep you from living the life you want to live.

  4. Dan
    Dan July 18, 2006 at 12:44 pm |

    drunken monkey, i don’t know how old you are and i know nothing about your mum obviously but when i was a teenager my mum noticed negative things about me that i too put down to her being ‘brainwashed’. being a teenager, at the time i assumed that i was right (that’s what teenagers do). it’s only some years later that i’ve come to realise that for a large part of the time my mum had been right and i had been wrong.

    what i’ve realised is that my parents did actually know best and i didnt. i just couldnt see that at the time. just as in the same way, back in the 50’s my parents parents knew best and my parents couldnt see that at the time.

    of course i could be wrong. like i said i know nothing about you or your family. but it’s always important to remember that when you’re a teenager you know WAY less than you think you do about almost everything. life seems to get harder to understand as you grow up not easier (from my limited experience of being alive anyway. i’m definitely less sure of what’s what as i was even 2 years a go let alone when i was 15).

  5. Sutta
    Sutta July 18, 2006 at 1:00 pm |

    As a student of Buddhism, you also need to have the Fuck You attitude.

    Ill Will

    You can’t be concerned about how stupid you look sitting there staring at your bedroom wall.

    Restlessness and Remorse

    You can’t worry about whether the rest of the world says the practice is just a waste of time.


    Don’t forget Sloth and Torpor and Sensual Desire, which round out the Five Hindrances.

  6. Waylon
    Waylon July 18, 2006 at 3:29 pm |

    That made me think of a funny T-shirt design, a white on black sillouette of someone sitting full lotus with the nike slogan under it. It also makes me think about all the people that bitch and moan about not being able to pursue their “dreams” while simultaneously trying to keep up with the Jones’s.

  7. Jinzang
    Jinzang July 18, 2006 at 6:34 pm |

    In Tibetan Buddhism they prefer to say that you should cultivate the perfection of perserverance (vriya) to saying cultivate a “fuck you” attitude, which might be misunderstood. I have notes from a recent teaching on perserverance by Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen.

  8. L.A. Girl in Minnesota
    L.A. Girl in Minnesota July 18, 2006 at 7:24 pm |

    The “fuck you” attitude seems to come naturally as we get older (I’m 38). Without it I never would have gotten into grad school, started practicing yoga or began sitting zazen.

  9. cappy
    cappy July 19, 2006 at 3:18 am |

    Is there a difference between a “fuck you” attitude and an “eat shit and die” attitude?

  10. MikeDoe
    MikeDoe July 19, 2006 at 4:52 am |

    “You can’t be concerned about how stupid you look sitting there staring at your bedroom wall. You can’t worry about whether the rest of the world says the practice is just a waste of time”

    I’m curious. Do you actually have these thoughts when you practice? Do you have lots of people watching you sit in your bedroom?

  11. Pupster
    Pupster July 19, 2006 at 5:27 am |

    **shaves hair into a mohawk**

    **looks in mirror**

    Are you talkin’ to me? ARE YOU TALKIN’ TO ME?

  12. kshingo
    kshingo July 19, 2006 at 6:50 am |

    Fuck you attitude… hmmmm… sounds like some world leaders in the news recently, bombing and killing. Sounds like a heart broken with pain, screaming out in defense and anger. Sounds like it could be a momentous first step on the path to discovering Buddha nature, to finding a raw, tender, feeling of gratitude and awe, an “undercurrent” in your very core that is not shaken by anything. And maybe as the current grows stronger, it moves one to say/feel “thank you” more and more often. Thank you for this breath, thank you for this body, thank you for breaking my heart open and showing me the path to freedom…

  13. Sutta
    Sutta July 19, 2006 at 7:38 am |

    kshingo and jinzang. word.

  14. earDRUM
    earDRUM July 19, 2006 at 8:25 am |

    He, he… now that’s Hardcore Zen!

    I have had to struggle against my friends attitude about me pursuing music for 20 years. Their attitude was that there’s no point in trying since I will never be at the top of the charts. I found it really hard when I started out. But I just love making music, dammit. So I had to assume a “fuck you… I will be vindicated” attitude towards them. And that’s where I am at now. I knew inside that I wanted to do it. And I did it.

    The word “perseverence” sounds nicer, but “fuck you” got my attention.

  15. overjoyed
    overjoyed July 19, 2006 at 9:04 am |

    I guess this isnt the most appropriate spot to post this..but I couldnt find a place to contact you..Anyway..I just finished reading your book Harcore Zen (literally one minute ago and came inside to find your website) and I absolutely loved it. I’m sure you hear that alot..but it couldnt have come into my life at a more appropriate time. I guess thats how things work. I just wanted to say thanks for writing it, it opened my eyes at a time where I really needed it..i’m going to go into my bedroom right now and stare at the empty wall for a few minutes..see what happens…love health happiness

  16. Bob
    Bob July 19, 2006 at 4:29 pm |

    I think you’re confusing the “fuck you” attitude with the “fuck it” attitude.

  17. Infernon
    Infernon July 19, 2006 at 6:29 pm |

    i think sometimes, it is good to say ‘fuck you’ to yourself. at night, when i find myself trying to make an excuse not to sit, i kinda think ‘fuck you, time to sit, asshole’.

  18. nai wakara
    nai wakara July 19, 2006 at 7:46 pm |

    domo domo domo.

  19. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey July 20, 2006 at 2:10 am |

    “I’m curious. Do you actually have these thoughts when you practice? Do you have lots of people watching you sit in your bedroom?”

    He was adressing this to the readers, rather than himself. I think.

    Even so, thoughts are just thoughts, they come and they go. Whilst practicing zazen, an image of a rabbit with bloody fangs screamed out my name and threatened to kill me. There is no limit to the absurdity of some thoughts.

    Im sorry, but practicing zazen doesn’t alchemise your thoughts from dung to gold.

  20. Grim
    Grim July 20, 2006 at 2:27 am |

    How can I find the end of saying FUCK YOU to myself. It just goes on forever? Fuck that, fuck this, where does it fucking stop? Where?

    Silence. Listening. Not one voice here knows. Not one voice here can tell. Let’s pretend these words right here could contain subtle helpings of truth. Even so, the real truth is they must be read. Reading is not writing.
    Interpretation is fantasy.

    (grim is drunk :P)

  21. Jules
    Jules July 20, 2006 at 7:05 am |

    A rabbit with bloody vicious fangs, thou sayeth? This foe can only be defeated with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Forget not the Instructions of the Lord:

    “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.”

  22. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey July 21, 2006 at 3:29 am |

    Haha Jules, thankyou for that solution.

    I shall take the holy pin and count to… when?

    I keep getting the timing wrong and look, now I am typing with my feet, since the bunny ate my hands.

  23. karen
    karen July 21, 2006 at 6:25 pm |

    I think that anytime you set off to do something that is your hearts desire you will encounter people who will try to discourage you. Even if what you are doing turns out to be worthless after all, you still have to do it and prove that to yourself. You can’t take anyone else’s word for it. I wanted to be an artist for as long as I could remember and was discouraged every step of the way. When I was 30 or so I moved far from my home state and went to college with two small children at home yet and got my degree. Did it help to pay the bills? NO. But it was something that I wanted to do and I think I would have regretted it my whole life if I hadn’t. I still paint and draw and do commissions (sometimes), but I also have to work a regular job. So everyone doesn’t get to be famous. So that’s no big deal. It’s the same with practice. What have you got to lose? It isn’t harming anyone and there are a lot worse ways you could spend your life. It is something that has to be “done” though, not just talked about or dreamed about. When I was younger my ideas of practice involved trips to the Himalayas and India and meeting wise men and women. Now my idea of practice runs more along the lines of accepting the events of my life as they come and learning to let them unfold as they will. Easy to say, hard to do. It would definately be easier to take a trip to India.

  24. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf July 21, 2006 at 9:17 pm |

    I feel good, because I saw Clerks II today and laughed my ass off. I highly recommend it, unless you are easily offended by vulgar dialouge and a little beastiality.

  25. 6billionghosts
    6billionghosts July 22, 2006 at 5:30 am |

    i told some people in my philosophy class that i like to sit and stare at a wall in my free time, among other things. they were bewildered and one person said to me “you need to get a hobby/life!” or something to that extent. i just laughed.

  26. Dan
    Dan July 22, 2006 at 12:24 pm |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. Dan
    Dan July 22, 2006 at 12:25 pm |


    i’ve had that too but what’s funny is if you say i like to ‘meditate’ then people are always like ‘ahhh, he’s all ‘spiritual’ an cool’. if you say ‘i like to sit and stare at a wall’ they act like you’ve just said something really weird. people often have trouble accepting ( i sure did at first) that zen meditation IS basically just sitting and staring at a wall.

  28. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey July 22, 2006 at 3:12 pm |

    “Balancing the Autonomic system”, sounds way cooler.

    Sitting down and staring at walls is kind of vague description of zazen since zazen is more of a balancing act than anything else. Its easy to stare at walls but to sit still (with back straight) for 25+ mins is no easy endeveour.

  29. katyzen
    katyzen July 22, 2006 at 3:22 pm |

    All of the worry of what others think about you is just that silly monkey that tries to rattle our mind. In all likely hood they are not thinking or viewing you the same way you think they are. How in the hell can you let other people dictate your life based on how they look at you.

  30. Matt
    Matt July 22, 2006 at 11:05 pm |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  31. Matt
    Matt July 22, 2006 at 11:11 pm |


  32. Dan
    Dan July 23, 2006 at 4:17 am |

    ” Sitting down and staring at walls is kind of vague description of zazen since zazen is more of a balancing act than anything else”

    you’re right ‘sitting down staring at walls’ can be kind of misleading. thinking about it, that’s probably why people have looked at me funny! specially when you consider the instructions, ‘don’t look through the wall don’t look at the wall don’t look in front of the wall’

  33. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey July 25, 2006 at 10:09 am |

    Brad, I have a question. Do you sit with the back straight with all your weight balanced on the bottom(pelvis), or do you sit with your vertebrae stretched as far as possible, so as to keep the head as high as possible?

    The latter is almost impossible for me as I get involuntary twitching throughout my legs and back as I try to hold this position. The former is fine and comfortable.

  34. A Strange Day
    A Strange Day July 25, 2006 at 10:37 am |

    Ok, this is something that’s confused me since your last major post, and this article has further boggled my mind. In the last major post you wrote:

    “Bad manners are not Buddhist. Never were, never can be. You can rack up all the “Enlightenment Ecperiences” you want, if you cannot behave yourself, you have no Enlightenment at all. To be Enlightened is to behave politely.”

    Now for the record, I’m a fan of the “Fuck You” attitude. It runs through the very core of your writing, and is one of the reasons I’ve continued to read your posts despite all the horrible drama that seems to follow them. And I can appreciate that there is a difference between having a “Fuck You” attitude and being an asshole.

    But when the hell have you ever advocated being polite? Your writing has unsparingly cut down many well respected institutions and people whom, at least from where I’m standing, probably don’t deserve the respect that they are given.

    So, really, what’s the deal man?

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous November 8, 2006 at 11:15 am |

    I can understand letting go of our concern about what others think. That makes sense.

    But “fuck you” is only said by people who care *a lot* about what those people think. In fact, they are so upset about what they think — or so attached to the idea of “showing them.”

    Why do you care what other people think? Or what they said?

    You say the attitude is summed up by, “You said this couldn’t be done? Well here is is. Fuck you.”

    How does saying that help me down the path to awakening?

  36. PA
    PA October 30, 2008 at 2:07 pm |

    I’m not a big fan of this sort of attitude. A lot of the time people might be saying something important. A lot of the time it’s important to listen to what people think of us because it’s important how we come across to others. We live in a social world. This ‘fuck you’ attitude is too clear-cut in my mind. I’m never sure what I’m doing is right. I feel it’s good to question our own actions rather than just having this sort of defiant attitude. I know a lot of people like this and it doesn’t seem very wholesome. How can we be so sure we’re right to do what we want to do?
    My wife questions my Zazen. Questions why I want to go on retreat. I’ll listen, see if it makes sense. If not I’ll carry on. But it’s not a ‘fuck you’ attitude rather a softer, ‘I’ll make my own mind up’ attitude.
    So ‘I’ll make my own mind up’ Brad!

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 28, 2009 at 3:03 pm |

    Dear Brad,

    what is the Zen Buddhist view on sex. I know that this is an abstract question and maybe a bit naive, but I just want to know. Can a proper Buddhist have recreational sex?

  38. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 20, 2014 at 11:24 am |

    I’d say right now it’s kind of “fuck me”. Too many questions with no answers.

    One of the most surprising aspects of practice for me over the past few years is a growing feeling that I’m becoming less able to cope with the world.

    Rather than feeling more capable of dealing with the world I am increasingly feeling like a puff of air coming from the wrong direction could destroy me.

    It’s not a pleasant place to be.

    I can argue myself in to thinking that it a part of my practice journey (which given that everything is a part of practice makes it a tautology), but that does not make it any less disconcerting.

    The fact that people who are practicing zen occasionally commit suicide adds to my disquiet. I’m not in that degree of distress, but trying to convince myself that things are normal when they may well be not…..


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