Jesus F***ing Christ

This is not who served me at Enterprise in Philadelphia!

This is not who served me at Enterprise in Philadelphia!

First, here’s what happened.

Zero Defex, the hardcore punk band in which I play bass, is playing a show tonight (Friday May 18th) in Akron, Ohio as a benefit for our friend Logan Firestone who is dealing with stage four esophageal cancer. I went to high school with Logan and later on shared a decrepit punk rock house with him.

On Monday, I reserved a car at the only car rental place within walking distance of my house, the Enterprise Rent-a-Car at 510 N. Front St. near Philadelphia’s Spring Garden elevated train station. I arrived on Thursday morning a little after 9 am, which was about an hour and a half later than my intended departure time. It took me a lot longer to get packed than I thought it would. When I got there I wasn’t in the best mood I’ve ever been in. I don’t really like driving and I was looking at around seven or eight hours of it, and I was late.

I handed my credit card over to the guy behind the counter. He tried swiping it a number of times but it kept not working. After maybe the fifth time through I looked at the ground, shook my head and muttered under my breath, “Jesus fucking Christ.” The guy at the counter angrily slid my credit card and driver’s license across to me and said that he wouldn’t rent a car to someone who swore.

My first thought was, “You heard that?” I barely even vocalized it. It must’ve sounded like “jzisfgguncrise.” My second thought was, “What the fuck? Is this really happening?” I apologized to the guy. Which in retrospect is bizarre in itself. But whatever.

I told him I really needed to rent this car. Rather than go through the entire explanation of what I was doing I told him I was going to a funeral. He half-assedly ran the card through a couple more times but said it still wouldn’t work and handed them over again with no apology.

I made a mad dash back home to try to look up ways to get to Akron. I was now close to two hours behind schedule and had no idea what I was going to do. The first three places I called about renting cars said they were sold out. There was an Amtrack train getting into Cleveland at three in the morning. There was a bus to Pittsburgh.

But my plans didn’t include someone getting me from Cleveland or Pittsburgh, or finding someone to cart me around to the various other things I had to do that weekend. And how was I going to get a bass, amplifier and a box full of books along with my suitcase on an Amtrack train or a bus?

I knew the moment the Enterprise employee refused to rent me the car that it was going to be a desperate rush to get any kind of  contingency plan going. The guy behind the counter knew that too. He knew exactly what he was doing to me by refusing to rent me that car. He knew he was making a whole lot of trouble for me. He did so deliberately. He did so, I can only assume, because I had insulted his religion.

Eventually I found a Budget Rent-a-Car location that still had cars available. They also had trouble getting my card to swipe. You know what they did about that? They typed the numbers into their computer. Just like everyone does when that happens. Heck, I’ve even been to places where they’ve written the numbers down on paper because the computer was busted. It can be done. Primitive man did it this way for millions of years. I remember. I was there.

I finally got on the road around 1pm, now nearly six hours behind schedule. The time I had wasted was critical to the band being able to get in a decent rehearsal before the gig. As it was, I sped through the rain and made it in time for us to be able to get through our set once. But that was all we were able to do.

When I posted a two-sentence version of this story on Facebook a couple of people opined that I might have made the man feel threatened or created a hostile working environment. Maybe if I’d yelled that at him. But no. I muttered it just the way Popeye mutters stuff in the old black and white cartoons.

Anyone in Northern Philadelphia in the Year of Our Lord 2014 who is too sensitive to hear someone mumble, “jzisfgguncrise” probably should not have a job working with the public. If Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a policy against renting to people who insult Jesus, that is a big problem.

I don’t agree with everything Richard Dawkins says. But in one area we are entirely in accord. Neither of us has any sympathy at all for people who get butt-hurt when someone insults their religion. Insulting someone’s religion is on precisely the same level as someone saying to a Star Trek geek that Star Wars is better, or someone telling a Godzilla fanatic that he really liked the 1998 American Godzilla movie. Get over it.

The big difference, of course, is that Star Trek geeks and Godzilla fanatics won’t kill you if you insult their fictional time wasters.

But let’s move on to the other question – Should a Zen Master mutter “Jesus f***ing Christ?”

First off, get that word “Zen Master” out of your mind. I’ve only ever used the term ironically. Technically I am as much a “Zen Master” as all those guys out there in fancy robes introducing themselves as Zen Master Whatever and I like to point out that it’s just as ridiculous to call them “Zen Masters” as to apply that term to someone like me.

Shouldn’t a Zen person be eternally serene, and unperturbed? Surely the Dalai Lama would never say ”Jesus f***ing Christ” at an Enterprise Rent-a-Car place.

No. He wouldn’t. Because he would never even be in an Enterprise Rent-a-Car place. He’d have a limo to take him where he needed to go and a bunch of Secret Service guys to make sure nobody gave him a hard time.

Deepak Chopra recently spent a little time with some Buddhist monks in a monastery and was impressed by how serene they were. But Buddhist monasteries are set up for serenity. They are designed to create an environment that is protected from the usual day to day troubles we all have to deal with. The monks’ needs are all taken care of so that they can devote themselves to deep inquiry without distraction. I’m pretty damn serene when I’m at Tassajara too. Put those same monks in a big time crunch in an Enterprise Rent-a-Car place with a born-again Christian who wants to give them a hard time and see what happens to all that serenity.

Maybe it would’ve looked better if I’d just been all like, “We are just one consciousness inhabiting different bodies. Even if I don’t make it to the benefit in this physical form, I will still be there as part of the eternal consciousness of the universe.” But actually, a lot of people were counting on me to be at this thing. I’d already spent a couple hundred dollars on it even apart from the car rental. This was not the sort of thing one can simply snap one’s fingers at and go, “Aw darn.” It was an important thing.

I’ve written in a few of my books and a bunch of these blog postings that I came to Buddhism in a large part to deal with how angry of a person I was. My default emotion was rage. I spent most of my days just being pissed off at everything. People who know me now seem to assume I’m exaggerating all this. But I’m not. I used to have big dents in my car’s dashboard from pounding on it. My closet doors never lasted long because I slammed them so much.

I don’t slam closets anymore or pound on dashboards. I rarely yell at anyone. Things have improved markedly. But you never really get away from who you are.

There’s a new book out about how meditation made a newscaster “10 percent better” in his estimation. I’ve been at it a lot longer that him and I’d say it’s made things 80 or even 90 percent better. I would’ve done a lot more than just mumble and apologize back in the day. I don’t believe 100% is attainable. But I’ve started to understand that we really wouldn’t want to be 100% better because that would take all the fun out of life.

As for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, I’m going to rent from Budget from now on.

*   *   *

I need a benefit to help pay my way to go to this benefit! Your donations to this blog really help! They’re my main source of income these days. THANK YOU for your support!

May 17, 2014 at 6:30pm Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen will be shown at the Cleveland Buddhist Temple 

On May 21, 2014 at 6:30pm, Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen will be shown at Drexel University in Philadelphia! I will be there the do a Q&A afterwards.

I will be hosting a five-day zazen retreat at Benediktushof in Germany (near Wurzburg) October 12-17, 2014. Contact Benediktushof directly to ask about registration.

BWHZ Movie Tour2HARDCORE ZEN LIVING ROOM MOVIE TOUR

Sometimes a movie is made to tour.

Are you interested in seeing HARDCORE ZEN with your local community? Would you like Brad Warner to speak at your university, meditation group, or personal guests?

Now you can have both. The film will screen at a location at your discretion. Simply contact booking@bradwarnershardcorezen.com with the following specifics: your location, contact info, and potential date for the event.

103 Responses

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  1. Andy
    Andy May 19, 2014 at 9:16 am | |

    Alan wrote: Close to 80% of United States identify as Christian. In my experience its a good starting point to assume that a random person you are interacting with is Christian…

    Hi Alan. A good starting point, yes, when in the midst of the events. But Brad wrote “He did so, I can only assume, because I had insulted his religion…”. This is after the event, and so I’m curious as to why Brad was still expressing this assumption as an ‘only’ when he wrote the piece. I can construct some reasons, of course, but they don’t seem sufficient to curtail my curiosity.

  2. The Idiot
    The Idiot May 19, 2014 at 10:21 am | |

    When it comes to precepts and people and stuff, I think as soon as you think something then it is true.

  3. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer May 19, 2014 at 10:21 am | |

    Andy,

    True facts, those.

    Cheers.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot May 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm | |

      Umm, Alan? Can you give an example of a false fact?

  4. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer May 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm | |

    minkfoot,

    I can give an example only by stepping outside of conventional forward flowing time.* (**) (***)

    Which may not be permitted…remind me of the rules again?

    Cheers.

    * ie going forward into time and learning about falsified present day facts.

    ** They would then be known as Facts Formerly Known as True or Princely facts.

    *** I (just for the record) can’t step out of time so I don’t know which present day facts are actually false.

    So I am sorry, very, very sorry that I can’t give an example. Large frowns are being presented as I type this…

  5. boubi
    boubi May 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm | |

    Brad

    Imagine you were in Germantown in Philly, in an ethnic shop.

    Would have you sweared the alleged guy’s religion?

    Would have you judged him an asshole for refusing to serve you?

    Would have you found “bizzare” to apologyze?

    Would have you considered yourself racist for swearing the guy’s religion?

    Would have you thought the guy beeing right in resenting to be deeply insulted in his legitimate believes?

    But everything goes when it is related to western religions, it’s cool, it makes feel against the system somehow, fighting some delta-shit Bush conspiracy.

    Right? NO! WRONG!

    Got confused by reality?

    Make a grid with real everyday facts on one axe and religions/regimes on the other.

    I think that the neocons from Reagan to Bush just destroyed everything on the altar of illimited profits for a few scoundrels, who wash their conscience, when they do it, with philantropy.

    This doesn’t mean that anybody who oppose them is automatically right.

  6. The Idiot
    The Idiot May 19, 2014 at 3:53 pm | |

    Borges!

  7. Harlan
    Harlan May 19, 2014 at 10:10 pm | |

    The Enterprise guy was probably only having a bad day. He might have wanted to be somewhere else but was stuck at a counter dealing with rude assholes with maxed out credit cards. He might have recently developed a twitch. Consider yourself lucky.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U2Px5OR0eA

  8. Daniel
    Daniel May 20, 2014 at 2:09 am | |

    Brad here’s something I’d like to recommend to you so that next time your expectations on how a person/situation you’re dealing with in real life should behave are not met – you don’t react in a mindless, reactive auto-pilot mode of Anger.

    Go and do an 8 week MBSR course (Mindfulnes Based Stress Reducation), it really helps – you seem to be very stressed out lately. Just google which one’s next to you, “mbsr training los angeles” brings up a lot of possibilities.

    Once you made it through the course you will be able to react less reactive and more mindful with whatever situation you’re in. Sure you might still become angry but next time it happens you will meat it with greater levels of awareness and less reactive, automatic-pilot behavior.

    If you go there, why not keep us up-to-date here on the blog how it’s going, you could do a MBSR-Diary or something – many do that in one way or the other!

  9. Andy
    Andy May 20, 2014 at 3:20 am | |

    Umm, Alan? Can you give an example of a false fact?

    As far as I understand it:

    A fact is true when it is treated as true. All facts are, therefore, context-bound, and the propositions or thoughts we make are their form.

    The proposition, 80% of men have an extra nipple, is a fact if it is treated as true. For it to be claimed as a scientific fact the context must have been expanded such that the proposition’s truth is dependent on the context of the scientific method: its testability and its falsifiability.

    When we attempt to remove the context-bound nature of a fact’s truth-hood, and make absolute claims about it, we are left with contradictory propositions which undermine its status as a stable truth: it can be seen to be both true and not true, true and false. This, in effect, grounds or reasserts the truthfulness of facts as context-bound, because nothing can be treated as a fact if it is treated as ambiguous.

    So in one sense all facts are false facts and if they weren’t they wouldn’t be facts.

    In addition, the context-bound nature of a fact means that the form it takes as a statement of truthfulness is treated as varying in veracity.

    For example, the proposition, ‘Andy is a man’ is a statement of fact which everyone whose context can be defined as a regular on this comments section will treat as a statement of truth to a greater degree than the statement of fact, ‘Daniel is CosmicBrainz’.

    Therefore, when ‘Daniel is CosmicBrainz’ is treated by someone on this comments section as questionable fact, a statement of fact that equates to ” ‘Daniel is CosmicBrainz’ is a false fact” is true for regulars.

    Likewise, when ‘Andy is a man’ is treated by someone on this comments section as a questionable fact, a statement of fact that equates to ” ‘ Andy is a man’ is a false fact” is false for regulars.

    Thus, if the proposition, ‘A fact is true when it is treated as true’ is true, then the proposition, ‘There are false facts and there are true facts’ is also true, because ‘treated as true’ means all facts are necessarily context-dependent to be true, to be facts, and this also must necessarily include statements about the veracity of facts, which when stated as facts and treated as facts are also factual statements about facts.

    This is in contrast to an opinion. For example, Alan treated my two statements “ But Brad wrote “He did so, I can only assume, because I had insulted his religion…”. This is after the event.” as facts. In calling them true facts he was asserting them as very high on the scale of veracity, and thus treating ‘true fact’ also as a fact about a fact ie as though it were absolute and not just very high on the scale of veracity.

    When Alan framed my statements, “Daniel is CosmicBrainz” as “Andy’s opinion about your possible double identity.” He was treating a statement of fact as a false fact and re-framing it as an opinion. In other words, for Alan, it was a false fact and also an opinion. As an opinion it is not a fact, or a false fact by implication with certain characteristics.

    But Alan could have had written, “Andy, your claim that Daniel is CosmicBrainz is a false fact, because I don’t know if it indicates an opinion, a belief or a lie; whereas your claim that Brad wrote the above blog entry ‘after the events’ is a true fact, because I’m certain that it is, for you, neither an opinion nor a lie. ‘True fact’ and ‘false fact’ in this instance are not merely statements where the ‘true’ and ‘false’ are redundant, and neither are these usages in themselves contradictory.

    They are being used to highlight the implicit contrast we can and do make between statements of fact, when the usual contrast between statements of facts as opinion (a type of false fact) and statements of facts as facts (true facts) is insufficient. Indeed the hierarchical category mismatch between ‘a type of false fact’ and ‘true facts’ is one way to highlight the necessity of treating ‘true facts’ as on a scale in certain contexts – ie when their veracity is questionably applicable and not merely a matter of the rounded up opinion v fact contrast.

    So, all facts are true but not all facts are equally true and all facts are false but not equally false, are both facts about facts?

    1. Daniel
      Daniel May 20, 2014 at 5:40 am | |

      Good post Andy, it’s really funny. I’m still not sure how that idea that I’m the other guy came up but I’m fine with it, it’s sort of funny – and in a very real way it’s true. But I’m also Andy in that way, and Brad…

      What’s more important is that it’s a true fact that Sam Harris is the MAITREYA.

      Also do you also think that Brad should attend a MBSR course for his and societies own good?

      1. Andy
        Andy May 20, 2014 at 6:24 am | |

        What’s even more important is a sincere attempt to verify your ‘true facts.’

        As for the MSBR, I have nothing to say on the matter, other than that I question your sincerity.

    2. Andy
      Andy May 20, 2014 at 6:20 am | |

      nothing can be treated as a fact if it is treated as ambiguous. Treating here is meant in the conventional sense and in conventional contexts, in contrast to the putative context of an individual arousing the mind of nondual, unitive vision.

    3. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer May 20, 2014 at 8:33 am | |

      Andy,

      I feel 20% smarter for just having my name appear in your essay on facts.

      Cheers.

  10. Daniel CosmicBrainz
    Daniel CosmicBrainz May 20, 2014 at 4:43 am | |

    You’re why I keep coming back!

    1. Andy
      Andy May 20, 2014 at 7:01 am | |

      How about KwaiChangCaineBuddha next time?

  11. Andy
    Andy May 20, 2014 at 7:05 am | |

    My curiosity cut the cat.

    Bye bye everyone.

  12. Linda
    Linda May 20, 2014 at 9:34 am | |

    Brad, you must be perfect, absolutely perfect or else the Zen Buddha will condemn you to Hell for eternity! Meh, bad happens, you dealt with it – and moved on.

    I know that you needed a little sympathy else you wouldn’t have written about your tense trip – so hear is some understanding that bad days are hard to deal with.

    Tenseness about your friend, Logan Firestone, didn’t make things easy. How did the fundraising go?

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