OHAIYO, OHIO!

Jeffro_Mick_Brad_Jimi_3 with teethOhaiyo means “good morning” in Japanese. But you knew that. And I’m in Ohio. But maybe you knew that too. Tonight (Sunday March 10, 2013) at 7pm I will be speaking at the Akron Shambhala Center located at 133 Portage Trail Suite 202 Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221. On Friday Zero Defex played an excellent set (if I do say so myself) at the Spitfire Saloon in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s sad for you that you missed it. But I’m told it will be available on line soon (or perhaps it already is). I’ll try to get the details and post them.

About a week before that I spoke at the Nashville Zen Center. I spent about a week down in Nashville, seeing the Parthenon, going honky tonkin’ and hanging out with my friends Dave and Emma and Claire, and running around town with my dad, who was out there doing some business. Nashville is the Portland of the South.

Next week I will be in Chicago and Milwaukee. The details of the remaining dates on my 2013 Spring Micro Tour are at the end of this blog. Your attendance is mandatory at all of these events. Failure to appear will be noted on your permanent record.

The photo I’ve posted is of Zero Defex signing the contract for the upcoming release of our new album, Caught in a Reflection, which will be available from Revolution Harmony Records on May 4, 2013. We’ve already posted a few videos from the record including our soon-to-be hit single Armageddon.

I’ve got a lot of stuff coming out this year. People keep asking me if I have any new books coming out. The answer is hell yes. In June there will be a new Zen book called There is No God and He is Your Creator from New World Library. I’ll have more info about that when it gets closer to the release of the book. It’s still not quite finished.

In a matter of days you will be able to lay your hands on a copy of my novel Gill Women of the Prehistoric Planet. I wroteGill_Women_brad-copy it way back in the 20th century, but it’s only now coming to light. The book will be first available in an exclusive special edition available only to readers of this blog and subscribers to the Facebook page I’ve linked to above. That is, if I can work out the technological stuff that makes that happen. Wish me luck!

Back in those days I was working for Tsuburaya Productions and struggling to break free as a writer. I thought I would be a science fiction novelist. But Gill Women is only tangentially science fiction — mostly in terms of the title but it does have some sci-fi elements. It’s more about life in Akron in the 90s and the people I knew there. It’s also about Zen but not in the way that Hardcore Zen (which I began writing almost immediately after) was about Zen. You’ll understand when you read it.

June will also see the release of the documentary movie about me directed by Pirooz Kalayeh. The tentative title is Sit Down and Shut Up. Look for it in theaters everywhere this summer. Well, maybe not everywhere. More likely it’ll play at a few places here and there before getting a DVD release. It ought to be summer blockbuster popcorn movie. But I kinda doubt it will.

In support of all this activity I’ll be doing a tour. I’ve got tentative dates scheduled in Saskatoon, Calgary and Montreal. I’ll be in the UK in the Autumn. If you want me to show up in your town — especially of it’s in the USA where I’ve currently got nothing booked, write me. We’ll talk.

Is there a Zen lesson in all of the above? Probably not. I’m gradually coming to terms with the fact that I will never be able to answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m more interested in searching out the answer to to the question, “Why not try everything?”

One answer to that is that it’s confusing to others. Most people in my position have a very clear public persona. There is the mold of the “spiritual teacher” and they find their way by fitting into that mold as best they can while adding little personal embellishments to it. Like, “I’m a spiritual teacher who rides a Harley” or “I’m a spiritual teacher with a big ol’ afro” or what-have-you. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact I often wish I could do it myself. It is a much more sensible approach to take when marketing. And it probably makes life more orderly for them.

Me, I feel like spiritual teacher is just one of the things I do. If “spiritual teacher” is even the right term for it. Which I’m not even so sure about. I also write novels. I act. I play bass. I do a whole bunch of stuff. None of it exceedingly well. But that doesn’t bother me a whole lot. I just enjoy it for what it is.

The thing the world seems to want most from me is spiritual teacher (for want of a better term). So I tend to devote more of my time and energy to that than to the other stuff. Maybe I ought to dive head first into that role and forget everything else. But I don’t think so. I tend to believe that not devoting myself 100% to playing the role of “spiritual teacher” may also be part of what the world wants from me.

We’ll see…

2013 Spring Micro Tour

March 10th (Sunday) 7:00 pm AKRON, OHAkron Shambhala Center 133 Portage Trail, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221

March 13th (Wednesday) 7:00 pm CHICAGO, ILZen Buddhist Temple of Chicago, 608 Dempster St., Evanston (near the Dempster Purple Line station). The event goes from 7-9pm.

March 14th (Thursday) 7:30 pm CHICAGO, ILLogan Theater2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 Shoplifting from American Apparel screening. I’ll introduce the film and do a Q&A.

March 17th (Sunday) 10:20 am MILWAUKEE, WIMilwaukee Zen Center 2825 N. Stowell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211-3775 My talk will start at 10:20 am but come at 9:30 am if you want to sit zazen with me too.

April 26-28 ZEN RETREAT AT MOUNT BALDY ZEN CENTER F0r more info or to sign up, click here. No groping.

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Donations to support the tour will be gleefully accepted.

21 Responses

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  1. drocloc
    drocloc March 10, 2013 at 11:23 am | |

    Don’t just DO something, SIT THERE.

  2. Zen Maoist
    Zen Maoist March 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm | |

    Looks like Kilgore Trout is soon to have some serious competition.

    Though I have a steady job, one reason I pursued the field that I am fortunate to be in is that I can wander widely with my interests, both philosophically, and in other areas such as playing the bass guitar.

    It is this latter activity that first attracted me to what you have to say as a zen teacher, Brad. When I tell people about you and how Hardcore Zen took me over the line in understanding that I needed to sit in addition to reading Buddhist philosophy and other Buddhist writing, I also tell them that you were and are also a musician, specifically a punk bass player (in fact, while I already had Hardcore Zen on my shelf, I hadn’t read it yet, and then it was the turquoise Rickenbacker bass on Sex, Sin, and Zen that got me moving, and then I read all the books in the order they came out), and also into Japanese monster and SF movies and that you worked in that field and studied in Japan for a number of years, and all of that then is appealing to others as well. In Hardcore Zen, too, you not only explain why to sit in a way that made more sense to me than anything I had read up until that point, but also you explain *how* to sit, and that was something about which I was befuddled previously.

    There are certainly some good zen teachers and writers who focus on that as their primary activity, but there are some who “set up shop” in that way who make me wary. In any case, I think it is good that, at least in zen, there is not some completely regimented way that everyone who pursues more advanced training has to do it. There are zen teachers who do it one way, others who do it another way, and then there is you–and I would also be wary of something that doesn’t have room for someone such as you, so again that attracts me to Soto Zen specifically.

    There are a couple of other things I’d like to get into by and by, especially the question of integrating zen and music in creative ways, creating “zen music” so to speak (as I’m sure you know, there are all these musicians in jazz who are Buddhist, but of the Pure Land variety, and I don’t really see where it influences their music), and also the question of the sangha. But that’s more than enough for now.

    I really look forward to these new publications, I imagine you’ll let us know when they are finally available.

    Keep rockin’, Brad

    –bill m.

  3. boubi
    boubi March 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm | |

    My nowaday reference teacher (Soto, you’ll be proud of it) told me that shedding layer after shedding layer we find that there’s a void in the core.

    Have a good time

  4. boubi
    boubi March 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm | |

    You could actually find the beginning of a serial novel (how do you say??), keeping style, atmosphere, etc etc, kind of Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond … keep cool and you’ll get soon a stretch-pimpmobile with “turtle neck sweater with spectacles” bunnies all over you … yummi!

  5. Pistil Pete
    Pistil Pete March 10, 2013 at 6:40 pm | |

    Dood!
    You sound happy.Good on ya!I look forward to your new words…
    If you were here I’d share some of my really good bean dip…
    Peace
    Pistil

  6. Kvitsh
    Kvitsh March 11, 2013 at 9:24 am | |

    Calgary?!? That’s almost Edmonton! I’m so excited!!!

  7. tkpriest
    tkpriest March 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm | |

    You should swing by Ashland Oregon!!

  8. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm | |

    Brad Warner- Making Zen Fun.

    (not necessarily zazen, though).

    A friend of mine and I powwow once in awhile about how to making a living while making the world a saner place; he always reminds me, it has to be fun. If we have succeeded at all, it’s tangentially; but we have had fun!

  9. monistmark
    monistmark March 11, 2013 at 3:54 pm | |

    Dang! I thought ASHEVILLE was the Portland of the South. Must have heard it wrong. They do sound alike…

  10. Stephanie
    Stephanie March 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm | |

    “Spiritual teacher.” What a load of shit! I look at all these people with their Zen robes and self-conscious smiles and it just comes across as a pageant. The eagerness of Westerners to “get” Dharma transmission as a spiritual commodity that can be exchanged for power, respect, and dollars has sucked the life out of it. It used to be most people who described themselves with the epithet “Zen teacher” caught my attention and impressed me, now I’m unimpressed with about 90%. People are saying the same shit in the same way it’s been said 100 times; what’s the point of buying a 300th remix of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind? The greed for transmission has flooded the market with Certified Zen Masters (TM) and you know what they say about quantity vs. quality. Now teachers have to market themselves: I’m the Internet Zen teacher, I’m the UU Zen guy, I’m the one with the alpaca farm, or whatever. I used to think that Zen Buddhism was going to become another mainstream religion in the U.S. but now I think it will capture an increasingly shrinking niche as sincere spiritual seekers look elsewhere to find the passion, the poetry, and the spark. Then again perhaps there is always a market for spiritual materialism. I still look for the Real Deal, those folks whose live words grab your gut and give it a squeeze, and luckily I find it, but nowadays 9/10 times it’s someone who does not identify as a Zen teacher, or it’s some wise ancestor whose time has already come and gone. Maybe there’s a lot more of the Real McCoys out there in the nooks and crannies of Zen America–the ones I’ve met are something of hidden treasures, not the ones who make sure their face is out there in the Buddhist rags and blogs and what have you. (None of this is meant to disparage you, Brad, btw, I respect you as someone who’s always done your own thing, whether I’ve always agreed with it or not.)

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence March 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm | |

      “Old Tokusan hasn’t yet learned the last word of Zen.”

  11. HarryB
    HarryB March 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm | |

    Re. Zen and writing (poetry in this case), here’s dear old Gary:

    INTERVIEWER

    What does zazen do for the poetry? Do you feel that there is a relation there that helps somehow in the writing?

    SNYDER

    I was very hesitant to even think about that for many years, out of a kind of gambler’s superstition not to want to talk too much or think too much about the things that might work for you or might give you luck. I’m not so superstitious anymore, and to demystify zazen Buddhist meditation, it can be said that it is a perfectly simple, ordinary activity to be silent, to pay attention to your own consciousness and your breath, and to temporarily stop listening or looking at things that are coming in from the outside. To let them just pass through you as they happen. There’s no question that spending time with your own consciousness is instructive. You learn a lot. You can just watch what goes on in your own mind, and some of the beneficial effects are you get bored with some of your own tapes and quit playing them back to yourself. You also realizeI think anyone who does this comes to realize that we have a very powerful visual imagination and that it is very easy to go totally into visual realms where you are walking around in a landscape or where any number of things can be happening with great vividness. This taught me something about the nature of thought and it led me to the conclusionin spite of some linguists and literary theorists of the French ilkthat language is not where we start thinking. We think before language, and thought-images come into language at a certain point. We have fundamental thought processes that are prelinguistic. Some of my poetry reaches back to that.

    From: http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1323/the-art-of-poetry-no-74-gary-snyder

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 12, 2013 at 8:04 am | |

    Thanks, Stephanie and Harry, for brightening my foggy morning here in Sebastopol, CA.

    Stephanie, you should lead your own group. There’s a training this summer you could attend, quite close to Yosemite, that would give you all the tools you need. Once you had your own group up and running, you could arrange to have an official Zen teacher come to give dokusan, or just to conduct weddings and funerals for the group; there are many teachers now, so I’m sure some one among them would be more than happy to come and lead the group for you, once you got it going.

    The hard part is to get people started without scaring them off with the Japanese aspect of the practice; maybe it’s better to start the group without a formal teacher and then sort of ease everybody into the idea. Eventually you can pop the notion that unless you can sit cross-legged, you’re not sitting zazen, and get people started on respecting the tradition and the transmitted teachers. If they are looking to find a good teacher who is certified, there are several associations of teachers in the U.S.A. and I’m sure they could recommend someone, possibly even someone who has had training in the ethics, in the “do’s and don’ts” of Zen clerical behaviour.

    Happy Walpurgis (or is it Easter?)!

  13. Fred
    Fred March 12, 2013 at 9:33 am | |

    What if you can wrap your legs around your head while sitting and entering into
    the unknowing?

    Does that count as authentic practice?

  14. Fred
    Fred March 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm | |

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-f7pCQjHqM

    Ha,ha. Scan down the page and you will see An3drew’s comments.

  15. Sageor
    Sageor March 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm | |

    “One answer to that is that it’s [trying everything] confusing to others.” Who kNEW!? Nah, I’m not taking the piss, i just resonates. And so required some exclamation. You don’t need to be famous, though I understand equating the two.

  16. SoF
    SoF March 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm | |

    4 a book title:

    “Everything you never wanted to know about Zen – and had the good sense not to ask.”

  17. Fred
    Fred March 13, 2013 at 9:53 am | |

    Humans stuck in their own slots seek relief from their attachments to the fear
    of an unpredictable future of impermanence and seek to reify and solidify the
    illusion of self by pigeonholing another human as a Zen teacher.

  18. King Kong
    King Kong March 13, 2013 at 10:25 am | |

    ISN”T “OWN” THE “SLOT” ?? IF SO,, ANYTHING BEYOND THAT WOULD BE EXTRA.. JUST SLOTTING AROUND, RIGHT??

  19. Stephanie
    Stephanie March 17, 2013 at 3:10 pm | |

    Mark, I’m glad my rant cheered you. I feel guilty and embarrassed sometimes when I vent even in the relative anonymity of the Internet and it pleases me that sometimes those moments catch others in a pleasant way. Luckily I have a local sitting group that is very down to earth and sincere and with whom I appreciate sitting (I’ve been remiss about it the last couple of months but it’s not due to any issues with our sangha, just a particularly hectic period of life). I used to feel a little bummed we don’t have a local sangha with a formal teacher but I have gotten over that. Despite my rant I have met some good persons of Zen out there – including some who visit our sangha from time to time – but I am increasingly finding that a good encounter with a teacher plus one’s own strong determination can give one’s practice fuel and clarity for weeks, months, and even years. I think the “Dharma transmission” that matters is very informal, intuitive, and mysterious, an ongoing process of connection and clarification.

    As for how to sit, I am very non-dogmatic about that. I used to put my legs in full lotus despite the fact they never wanted to stay that way. My top leg always started sliding down the other leg. I assumed there was something I was doing wrong but no one I asked had a solution. I finally just realized it had to do with the way I’m built. My zazen got a lot better when I switched to Burmese. I went from pain and numbness within 20 minutes to the ability to sit for over an hour in relative comfort. I think the correct posture is whichever one allows a person to sit relatively still for longer periods while remaining alert and comfortable. I believe this will be different for different folks with different body types. I believe for some folks a chair may even be best, though sitting in a chair doesn’t work for me at all.

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