NE Tour Summary & Who I Wrote My New Book For

Random photo of me, August Ragone and Ultraman Gaia

Random photo of me, August Ragone and Ultraman Gaia

I’m back in Los Angeles from my whirlwind tour of the Northeast.

It was good. It was fun. I met lots of really cool people. I did slightly better than breaking even and slightly worse than if I’d spent those same eleven days serving up Grande Lattes at a Starbucks. So it was a financial success as long as you define success fairly modestly. I sold all the books I brought with me and all the Audio Skulls. So that was good.

There are lots of things I’ll do differently if/when I do another one of these tours. I’ll build in some days off. I’ll find some other way to transport myself from place to place.

I also may have to work out how I can afford hotels. One of the interesting things I keep finding is that no matter how nice the strangers you stay with are and how nice their homes are, they’re still strangers and their homes are still unfamiliar. So there’s a certain degree of extra stress added just accommodating oneself to other people — even when they are perfectly nice people (which everyone was on this trip).

On the other hand, if I had to get a hotel every night there is no way on Earth I could ever afford to tour at all given what I make while touring. So this may take some figuring out!

One question that kept coming up was “Who did you write this book for?”

Honestly, I wrote the book for myself and I wanted the reader (me) to go away from it with a completed book that he (I) was happy with. Measured that way, I’ve been successful.

But nobody wants to hear that answer.

So maybe I wrote the book for people who wondered if there might be another way to look at this idea of God apart from True Believers who insist their view of God is the only one and True Non-believers who insist that anyone who believes in God is stupid. After going away from the book I’d like my hypothetical reader to know that there is another way and to understand that she can experience God for herself outside of belief or non-belief.

The True Believer’s view of God is narrow and sectarian. There is a God, but he is the God of their religion. He belongs to their sect and he behaves exactly the way their book says he does. He is all loving but he allows for Naziism and cancer and hair metal. He hides somewhere in a dark corner of the universe where nobody can find him and yet he’ll send you to hell for not believing he exists. It’s all incredibly stupid.

On the other side you’ve got people who say that anyone who believes in anything spiritual is just childish and silly. There’s no more reason to believe in God than to believe in the Tooth Fairy. Anyone who has had any sort of spiritual experience must be hallucinating or engaging in wishful fantasies.

Of course there are more nuanced views than those. But as far as my eyeballs see when looking at what people write about God and listening to what they say, it appears that these are roughly the two main alternatives on offer.

I feel like Zen Buddhism has allowed me a way to approach the subject of spirituality without having to view it through the lens of religious dogma and belief. Zazen offers a chance to quietly experience for oneself the deeper layers of human experience both spiritual and not-so-spiritual. It’s been good.

Next week I’ll be out on the road again. This time the schedule is far less brutal.

10 July 7pm
Upaya Zen Center 1404 Cerro Gordo Rd Santa Fe, NM 87501

13 July 2pm

Hope and Anchor 4012 North Mesa El Paso, TX

14 July 7pm

Center for Spiritual Living 575 N Main St Las Cruces, NM 88001

 

Then I’ll be out at Tassajara throughout August most likely bussing tables and serving food to rich folks.

*    *    *

Thank you for all your donations, your support really means a lot!

 

 

51 Responses

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  1. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm | |

    Welcome back, Brad, and congratulations on a successful book tour. You’re just in time for the first annual Cubicle Monkey vs. Sock Monkey 4th of July Throw Down.

  2. Harlan
    Harlan July 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm | |

    Are you saying the universe is too small to include tooth Fairy?

  3. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm | |

    Glad to see you’re next going to El Paso, where I was born at the foot of Franklin mountain in the famously haunted Southwestern General Hospital. If you visit, you might see the red hand prints that at times mysteriously appear on the upper windows.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrxePKps87k

  4. Alizrin
    Alizrin July 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm | |

    Here is a solution for both transport and accommodations: get some kind of van type thing. I read about a guy who saved money by living in a van in his college’s parking lot, well, you could do the same! Get a van, drive yourself around, sleep in the van, use showers and such at swimming halls or college gyms or where ever. Or you could go all out and go on tour with an RV, but I am not sure where you can park them in cities.

  5. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra July 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm | |

    Hey Brad,

    The book is a great one. Totally important and full of the sort of thoughts and ideas that should be discussed by more people. I don’t know if this sounds cheesy or weird or creepy, but it’s a book that made me feel a little less alone in this universe.

    And that’s precisely why it will have a hard time making you rich.

    You should just go full-Chopra and spew a bunch of nice-sounding, comforting nonsense. You deserve better, and if nothing else, people might get curious and check out some of your older, better work. Then, also, you’ll totally be like a real rock star who sold out. And people like me will be called hipsters because we’ll be all like, “His older books were way better, dude, before he got popular.”

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 4, 2013 at 7:54 am | |

    senorchupacabra, tell him about the the groupies.

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra July 5, 2013 at 10:59 am | |

      I think he’d get a better description of the groupie situation from guys like Merzel or Richard Baker or Sasaki.

  7. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 4, 2013 at 8:09 am | |
  8. Andy
    Andy July 4, 2013 at 8:18 am | |

    The book’s just slipped through the letter-box (thanks to my sweetheart cubicle-monkey, who at this very hour will be sprinkling her many kindnesses through the egos of company directors, many of which will be all to happy to put her in her place).

    I must say, it feels like the sort of book I’ve been waiting for someone to write for a good while. That part of me that has long nurtured a nagging frustration at the rigidity of views on such matters. And I’m excited at the prospect of being challenged too by the perspectives it offers.

    I’m very grateful for all your efforts Brad (which I experienced afresh, at the book’s arrival).

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm | |

    Mumbles, liked the pic with Zappa… fascinating history, as usual.

    Did anyone come up with an answer, on the silver bowl full of snow and the white heron hidden in the moonlight? Me either, except I notice a similarity between the two descriptions (you ask yourself, why two) and the two properties repeated in Gautama’s four initial meditative states, namely: feeling at the surface of the body (like water from a well that fills the containment to the brim, like cloth wrapped around the surface of the body so that no part is left without contact) and a feeling for a palpable location of awareness that is free to move (like a soap-ball gathered from powder on the sides of a bronze vessel, like lotuses of different colors that grow up under the water, never breaking the surface). Snow in a silver bowl, a white heron hidden by the moon.

    Just muttering to myself, I know… nobody here but that white heron, and what’s he standing in front of… GOD! :)

  10. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm | |

    “When we consider emptiness the substance of myriad forms, there is nothing before us; when we consider myriad forms the function of emptiness, there is no different road. Therefore at this point the path of teacher and apprentice is transmitted. Even to understand that the seal of approval of Buddhas and Zen masters is of many kinds seems to suggest that there are no divisions, yet even if you understand that there is no duality, you are still carrying a one-sided view. When you examine and evaluate carefully, when a white heron stands in the snow they are not the same color, and white flowers and moonlight are not exactly like each other. Traveling in this way, you go on “filling a silver bowl with snow, hiding a heron in the moonlight.” (Denkoroku translated by T. Cleary, pg 102)

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm | |

    that’s pretty subtle, don’t you think: to distinguish between practice and enlightenment, because although practice is enlightenment, there is neither practice nor enlightenment.

  12. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm | |

    Yeah, I like to look at it -literally, as if everywhere you look you see a whole picture encompassing past, present, future all at once, a gestalt that includes every experience brought together in an instant, in a frame where every event of your life is contained right there, right now, right here. Each moment contains this fullness, and when it does, you don’t even notice it, you are part of it, you’re just “it.”

  13. Fred
    Fred July 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm | |

    “( Zazen ) practice is enlightenment” are the words of a Soto Zen priest.

    From the view of no-self and no goal there is neither practice nor enlightenment.

    From the view of a man before enlightenment, practice leads to enlightenment.

    There is volition in the decision to sit even though the sitting is to be goaless.

    It is not spontaneous emptiness occurring in the engagement of everyday tasks.

  14. Fred
    Fred July 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm | |

    The above words are non-plagiarized except for ” zazen is enlightenment”, and
    are original and authentic as much as thoughts and words are.

  15. Wedged
    Wedged July 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm | |

    Find coolest quotes from There is no God…

    page 22 – “we are not beings who move through time, we are time itself. And the only the only real time is this moment.” ***that blew my f***ing mind.

    page 108 – “There may not be much going on…but this is reality. It’s concrete. it’s here. Any other place I might think of is unreal. And that’s what makes the mundane world not so mundane after all.” ***I read this at a public pool while my kids swam…I wanted to tap the lady beside me and say “read this paragraph…do it, thank me later”

    page 115 – “God is the ultimate security camera” This, turns out, is a fact.

    If anyone else has any, post ‘em. Reading the book alone is like watching The Empire Strikes Back and not getting to talk to anyone about it. I need to tell someone that Vader is his dad!

    God to Jesus…”Jesus…I am your FATHER….” “noooooooooooooooooooo”

  16. kathmando
    kathmando July 5, 2013 at 3:05 am | |

    Yes, the books are so memorable, so skillful. Why mightn’t the talks be so, too?

  17. kathmando
    kathmando July 5, 2013 at 4:52 am | |

    “Serving food to rich folks.” Rich folks?

    Sounds like “Homicidal bitching
    that goes down in every kitchen
    to determine who will serve
    and who will eat.” (Leonard; Democracy is Coming)

  18. zucchinipants
    zucchinipants July 5, 2013 at 9:05 am | |

    The motivation to write a book is a funny thing. It seems usually the case that, when I feel like writing something (for somebody else), it turns out that it’s already been said better than I could. And considering that publishing a book involves a lot more time, effort, and expense than writing a blog post, I would have to be pretty sure that I had a unique/new/better perspective on the subject.
    Brad, is that the case for you? Because I wonder what makes this book different from what was said in “The Perennial Philosophy”, most of the works of Alan Watts, “The Way of Chuang Tzu” (Thomas Merton translation), or many, many other books.
    You say it’s a book that could be helpful for people on two different “poles”, but it’s not likely that fundamentalist christians will care about it. That kind of leaves the other pole. Would it be a stretch to say that you have found in your constituency/readership a kind of hardcore materialist/atheist zen, and that this book is a corrective?
    I just wonder if it’s all preaching to the choir – a choir that maybe hasn’t read (or experienced) widely enough to see what else is out there…

  19. Fred
    Fred July 5, 2013 at 10:49 am | |

    Huxley in the Perennial Philosophy:

    “The Buddha declined to make any statement in regard to the ultimate divine Reality. All he would talk about was Nirvana, which is the name of the experience that comes to the totally selfless and one-pointed. […] Maintaining, in this matter, the attitude of a strict operationalist, the Buddha would speak only of the spiritual experience, not of the metaphysical entity presumed by the theologians of other religions, as also of later Buddhism, to be the object and (since in contemplation the knower, the known and the knowledge are all one) at the same time the subject and substance of that experience.[27]”

    So how is this the same as what Brad is saying in his new book?

    “The experience that comes to the totally selfless and one pointed”. Is that the
    same as the underlying ground that is alive? Or is it no one and no thing, that
    cannot be described?

    1. Shodo
      Shodo July 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm | |

      Fred said:
      “So how is this the same as what Brad is saying in his new book?”

      Personally, I think that calling it “god” does the exact opposite of what the Huxley quote showed…

      Calling it god – as loaded a concept as it is – is utterly metaphysical.

    2. zucchinipants
      zucchinipants July 6, 2013 at 7:52 am | |

      I don’t have a copy of the book handy to quote, but I know there were examples from zen, not just “what the Buddha said”. Look to the Lankavatara, Huang Po, or anything mentioning tathagatagarbha. Is this not what Brad means by “God”? If it is, then it’s no departure from Mahayana Buddhism, Christian mysticism, Vedanta etc…

      Huxley covered the differing perceptions of “the ultimate ground of reality”, explaining how a personified deity is an immature understanding of God.

      The question is, does this book have anything new to say about the subject?

  20. Harlan
    Harlan July 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm | |

    “Y’know, that’s not a totally ridiculous idea.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D7nsUh2CrQ

  21. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm | |

    (Trying like hell to “stay on topic” Dan, and not stray down the Devil’s path and simply post another random unrelated music video…, well, see, this is what happens:)

    “Honestly, I wrote the book for myself and I wanted the reader (me) to go away from it with a completed book that he (I) was happy with. Measured that way, I’ve been successful.”

    Being an honestly honest guy and all, Brad, if you wrote it primarily for yourself, then why send it to your publisher? I mean, you were already happy, why go the next step? Of course its obvious but why this pretentious BS. Come on. You’re a writer, you write books. You want people to read them. We get it.

  22. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 5, 2013 at 10:00 pm | |

    Oh what the hell…this is genius:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB2POWSnStU

  23. Fred
    Fred July 6, 2013 at 7:47 am | |

    Kathmando welcome.

    Your blog said :

    “I am a Zen guy, but don’t know if I’m a Buddhist (though I meditate, Zen style, every day, I’m not aimed at understanding Buddhist doctrine).”

    Brad Warner said:

    “I feel like Zen Buddhism has allowed me a way to approach the subject of spirituality without having to view it through the lens of religious dogma and belief. Zazen offers a chance to quietly experience for oneself the deeper layers of human experience both spiritual and not-so-spiritual. It’s been good”

    Seeing and being emptiness exactly as it is?

  24. Shodo
    Shodo July 6, 2013 at 8:01 am | |

    Mumbles said:
    “Being an honestly honest guy and all, Brad, if you wrote it primarily for yourself, then why send it to your publisher? I mean, you were already happy, why go the next step? Of course its obvious but why this pretentious BS. Come on. You’re a writer, you write books. You want people to read them. We get it.”

    well… to be fair to Brad, he did say that nobody likes that response and he further clarified his statement.

    … and i think, “making a bit o’ money in the process” was obvious enough that it didn’t need to be stated.

  25. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 6, 2013 at 9:40 am | |

    Mumbles, thanks for the genius of Skip James.

    “In 1964, Henry Vestine and John Fahey located Skip James in the town of Tunica. They encouraged him to play blues guitar again and succeeded in getting him into the folk circuit and back into the recording studio.”

    The cast of characters, in some strange play of starving artists and disappearing stages and cafes that moves like a revolution across the country and back again. Sort of like Brad.

    “The experience that comes to the totally selfless and one pointed”. Just a restatement of the Pali Canon description of the power of concentration (one among five powers I believe): “Making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, lays hold of single-pointedness of mind”.

    I tried to describe single-pointedness of mind to a friend, who asked if it was observing a point like the tan-t’ien with focus; I said no, it’s more like being at the tan-t’ien, a sense of awareness physically located somewhere in space, like the sense of awareness physically located at the point of balance that a person might have while walking a tight rope. Or a slack rope, if you’re Issho Fujita teaching zazen, I guess.

    Gotta stay on the ball!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONVVilKIM9s

  26. Mumbles
    Mumbles July 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm | |

    That was a v. nice little ditty, Mr. Foote!

    Here’s a little travelin’ music for the next leg of your book tour, Brad:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BePz4N156-Q

  27. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon July 7, 2013 at 3:38 am | |
  28. Fred
    Fred July 7, 2013 at 7:04 am | |

    J. Krishnamurti:

    “There is no path to reality. Reality is a pathless land, and you must venture out and discover it for yourself. It is because you are frightened inwardly that you depend on something, on the priest, or on a belief, and so you get caught in the net of an organized religion.”

  29. Fred
    Fred July 7, 2013 at 7:56 am | |

    Brad said:

    “Then I’ll be out at Tassajara throughout August most likely bussing tables and serving food to rich folks.”

    Do you do this for money or for some other reason such as you like the vibes and
    feel a calling to be there?

  30. minkfoot
    minkfoot July 7, 2013 at 9:19 am | |

    The attack was not very impressive, but effective as terror.

    There is speculation that it’s related to what’s happening in Burma. What’s the matter with “those people”? Can’t they tell the difference between real Buddhists like us and the fake “Buddhists” who are killing Muslims in Burma?

    It’s not fair. But karma, though some people think it’s a way to impose some kind of fairness on the way the universe works, is not subject to human ideals.

    There is a collective dimension of karma, as well as individual. I was still a teenager when I began to question our involvement in Vietnam. I heard no convincing justifications for our military actions there and, although politics tended to bore me, decided to join in protests against the war in 1965. In a March through downtown Boston, I encountered the psychiatrist who administered a tranquilizer to one of my panicked friends on my first acid trip. We walked in the closed street between hostile crowds, which seemed to include little old Irish grandmothers from South Boston, yelling and giving us the finger. Suddenly, I realized that, even if events proved us right in our opposition, we were not really ever going to be given credit for being right. The shrink agreed.

    In a visit to family in the Soviet Union in ’72, as an American I was frequently challenged on why the US was at war in Southeast Asia. Despite my opposition to the war, I could not get away from sharing in the collective responsibility for the war.

    So it is with the anti-Rohingya atrocities, the Thai conflict with their southern Muslim rebels, the Shri Lankan government’s war with its Hindu Tamil insurgents, and the policies of the Bhutanese government towards its Hindu refugees. There are Buddhists who are assholes. We can’t get away from sharing in the results of their actions.

    So, should you name yourself a Buddhist, or ever accept any benefit from the Buddha’s teachings, what are you going to do with your share of this karma?

  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 7, 2013 at 11:11 am | |

    What I’m going to do is to find a way to communicate the basis of Gautama’s experience to myself and possibly to others, in such a fashion as to leave only an unreligious description of the relationships involved in human well-being.

    Because stretch that exceeds the comfort zone and the discrimination of the senses that exceeds the happy place are a part of the experience of human well-being, it’s not easy for people to accept their own nature. There’s a lot of ignorance and confusion. And yet, the more the truth is out there, the more it will be heard.

    Here we are.

  32. Fred
    Fred July 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm | |

    ” what are you going to do with your share of this karma?”

    I don’t believe in karma, so I guess I’m not a Buddhist.

    http://sweepingzen.com/karma-free-will-and-determinism/

    “However we are left with the problem that if all decisions are simply determined by conditions, then who’s responsible? Responsibility is moral accountability, which is a basic human convention. Since we live in a world where people do believe in free will, then we agree to go along with this conventional appearance; if other people believe I am a “self” with actual free will and that I am responsible for my actions, then as a bodhisattva I would vow to go along with them. A bodhisattva is one who is willing to play the game of appearing as a sentient being who is in control of herself and living in accord with other sentient beings, completely willing to receive the effects of karma, even though ultimately the set of conditions we called “me” that did the action is not the same set of conditions called “me” that receives the result. The freedom of the bodhisattva is that by seeing the illusory nature of free will, they are willing to receive whatever effects come. Also, since they are no longer so concerned about their limited “self”, they don’t take advantage of others; they don’t say, “Since I’m not in control, I’ll hit you.” They don’t cause harm, since intentionally harming others always comes from thinking there is a self that is in control and must meet its needs even at the expense of others”

  33. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote July 8, 2013 at 8:51 am | |

    What’dya think of that, Fred?

    “Outwardly cease all involvements, inwardly have no coughing or sighing in the mind– with your mind like a wall you can enter the Way.” (attributed to Bodhidharma, in Denkoroku translated by T. Cleary #30 pg 112).

    I was asked what I meant by “the ability to relax and allow action generated by the stretch of ligaments or fascia is part of the necessity of breath in the posture, and informs the place of occurrence of consciousness and the ability to feel.” I meant, “outwardly cease all involvements, inwardly have no coughing or sighing in the mind”, ha ha.

    No, but seriously, how can you enter a hypnogogic state (let’s call it the Way, for fun) involving a singularity in the sense of location and action without volition if you believe your mind is something other than like a wall? Say, if you believe there is a you that is the recepient of deeds even though that you is not in control of the actions? A “you” that must graciously act on the basis of the Bodhisattva vow?- uh-oh, sneaky how a reason to exercise volition shows up, right on cue!

    Gautama was actually asked what self was affected by deeds, if consciousness was simply a function of sense and sense object and the notion of a self (a continuity in consciousness) was an illusion. His reply was that the questioner was foolish to ask such a question, which went too far, put words in the mouth of the teacher, and was essentially a question that could be formulated in words but had no meaning. Mind like a wall, that guy.

  34. Fred
    Fred July 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm | |

    Everything is arising and passing away. The conscious you is arising and passing
    away as well.

    So there is no singularity in the sense of location and action with volition.

    And the hypnogogic state is the one you are born into, the concrete, cultural
    maya that supports the belief of a self.

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