Random Reflections on Becoming 50

Cool BradToday I turned fifty. Happy birthday to me! As my dad says, “It’s better than the alternative!” At least I don’t look fifty. Must be all that Zen.

This is a self-indulgent post. But it’s my birthday so y’all can just suck it!

Fifty is an annoying age to be. You’re not old enough to be considered wise but you’re old enough to be considered old. I’m too old to be a prodigy but too young to be venerable. Nobody cares what fifty year olds think.

I saw two Cadillac commercials during the Oscars — which I’m not even sure why I bothered watching — that offended me in different ways. One lauded the joys and wonders of copious materialism. That one got a lot of indignant press, which made even more people look at it and probably sold a few more Caddies. But it didn’t bother me very much because Cadillacs are made specifically for the kinds of douche-bags who go for conspicuous consumption. At least it was honest even if it was sickening.

The other bugged me more. It used Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio by The Ramones as its soundtrack. So now The Ramones are being used to sell Cadillacs. That’s what it’s come to. That one made me want to barf. But I suppose that’s what happens.

That song was the first track on the first Ramones album I ever bought, End of the Century. I bought that record without ever having heard anything by The Ramones. Radio in Northeast Ohio did not play The Ramones in them days. I must have read about them in Trouser Press magazine or something and liked the description. I loved the album and played it till the grooves were gone. It’s still my favorite Ramones record even though most fans rate it as one of their lesser efforts.

Maybe those ads bugged me because they’re distillations of what the powers-that-be in this country want people my age to think they should aspire to. And I don’t aspire to those things. I don’t want a Cadillac. I don’t want a swimming pool. I’m not the “crazy, driven, hard workin’ believer” the Cadillac commercial says I should be. I guess The Ramones are supposed to be the music of my generation. But that’s not how I remember things. I remember being  just about the only one in my school who liked The Ramones and then watching with a kind of incredulous fascination as many years later the same weasels who made fun of people like me for liking The Ramones pretended they’d been into them all along. Uh huh.

Which is not to say I’m a Zen monk who only owns a robe and a bowl to beg for food. I’m somewhere in the middle. Maybe slightly more toward the robe and begging bowl side than the Cadillac and pool side. I’ve never owned a house. I’ve never owned a car I couldn’t pay for outright. Which means all my cars have been kind of crummy. I do have a number of guitars because that’s what I buy whenever I come into any cash. And then when I’m strapped for cash I sell ‘em. I’ve gone through dozens that way. It’s fine.

Somehow, when I was young, I saw the folly of the things my peers believed were worth pursuing. The mass media was lying and that was plainly obvious. Whatever they said was valuable, I was sure was not. So I started looking for new kinds of value. I found it in meditation and in a philosophy that encouraged me to question deeply. I’m happy with that choice.

And I’ve never grown up. This annoys a lot of people I encounter. It’s one of the reasons most of my friends are 10, 20, sometimes even close to 30 years younger than me. People my age are often positively angry at me for not being an adult in the way they think I ought to. You can see a bit of this in the opening scenes in the documentary about me in which a fifty-something Zen master asks me, “Do you think that unresolved problems in your childhood might have something to do with your acting like a perpetual adolescent and refusing to become an adult?” I get emails all the time telling me, “You’re almost fifty” followed by a list of adult ways the writer thinks I should be behaving. Now they can remove the word “almost.” It still won’t work.

See, the fact is I’ve paid my own rent and my own taxes for thirty years. I’ve figured out how to travel around the world several times even though there is no way in holy heck I could afford it on the kind of money I make. I taught myself Japanese and managed to land a dream job in a company whose work I had admired since I was seven years old. I published five books and recorded five albums and I’ve been in a few movies. I even made a movie. I’ve done plenty to qualify as becoming an adult.

I’ve done most of the things I dreamed of doing when I was a kid. I am pleased as punch with the life I lead. Money is a problem and it probably always will be. But I look at that guy in the Cadillac commercial, who I assume represents our culture’s notion of the ideal fifty year old man, and he doesn’t seem to be living the kind of life that would make me very happy.

Since I write books about Zen, Zen has sort of become my thing. Which is weird. Because in my own impressions of what I am, Zen seems to be a small thing. It’s a practice I took up in my late teens because it felt good and because the philosophy associated with it made real sense. I stuck with it and ended up being ordained and becoming a teacher, not because I actually desired to ordain and become a teacher but because my teacher thought I should and I trusted him. But I don’t read a lot of Zen books. I don’t hang out with Zen people most of the time. I don’t self-identify as a “spiritual person” and consume the lifestyle enhancing products spiritual people are supposed to consume.

I teach this Zen stuff because it’s been the key to happiness for me. It has surpassed anything else I’ve ever tried. It has taught me how to enjoy life thoroughly. It’s given me the ability to see the negativity we all encounter in life for what it really is, which is nothing.

The powers-that-be want you to believe that you can’t do the things you want to in this life. They’re lying. All you have to do is step back out of what you think of as “yourself” enough to see what it is you actually want rather than believing in the crap they’re trying to tell you that you want, like Cadillacs and pools.

I guess I’m sounding like one of those jerks who believe in The Secret here. But that’s not quite it. The Secret encourages you to envision your ideal life and try to psychically attract it to you. What I’ve found is a bit different. It’s that the life you’re living right now is already your ideal. Which doesn’t mean you can’t improve it. It also doesn’t mean things are always good in the ways that we usually define as “good.” It just means our ideas about what’s ideal are wrong. They’re created for us by people who wouldn’t know what true good was if it came up and sat on ‘em.

I’m fifty and I’m fine. I’m moving to Philadelphia in two days to be with the love of my life. I’ve done stuff I was told never to believe I could do and I’m planning to spend the next fifty years continuing in the same vein.

Go ahead, punk. Tell me to act my age.

*   *   *

My birthday is brought about through your kind donations. I cannot do it without you! Thank you!

Registration is now open for our Zen & Yoga Retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center May 9-11, 2014

The events page is now updated! Take a look at where I’m gonna be!

You can see the documentary about me,  Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen, at the following locations (I’ll be at all screenings except the one in Ithaca):

• March 11, 2014 Ithaca, NY

• March 15, 2014 Brooklyn, NY

• April 20, 2014 San Francisco, CA

215 Responses

  1. UnSan
    UnSan March 9, 2014 at 5:07 am | |

    Better late, than never…

    Grats Brad, keep up the good dharma work!

    I’ve got the 50 coming in exactly 6 months and have to chime in with the other posters, acting “your age” is heavily overrated.

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 9, 2014 at 9:29 am | |

    Hey Charles- agree, and I think kids these days are actually more fortunate than we were in one respect (in spite of the cuts to California education)- they have the internet. They can find out what is happening in a field of interest and where the people are that are doing things in the field.

    I had an interest in Godel’s work when I left high school, I had to study it on the side in college because my college advisors said, “there’s nothing happening in that field anymore” and “you could take the introductory philosophy class, they cover it there”. I could have found the people who are still doing work in metamathematics on the web. Maybe I could have ended up involved with the first formal proof of Godel’s incompleteness theorem, which was done with a computer this century.

    Being around folks who are excited to explore the natural beauty of the world through inquiry and the language of science can make all the difference, I will agree with my advisor on that.

  3. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 9, 2014 at 10:36 am | |

    I came to teaching late, quite late, in fact. Someone told someone else of my earlier work and after a few phone calls I accepted what turned out to be a ten year run at teaching Art and Art History at a small college in the hinterland.

    They let me do my thing. Once, the director walked by one of my classes and observed me sitting on the desk lecturing in full lotus. She also noted that everyone was paying close attention to whatever the hell I was saying, so thought that was just fine (bear in mind this was a v. conservative environment).

    At the time I was enamored w/ R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, and incorporated some of his ideas -not the fascist ones…?- into our Egyptian studies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMdSaPq3rwE (one of his works, The Temple of Man, I notice, is now available for free online, I paid $200 for the slip-cased 2-vol ed. once upon a time… Anybody want a hard copy???) along with other fun stuff… I had top-notch colleagues & friends like Arthur Versluis and Paul Hawkins, who ran with me along these lines, we did a lot of interesting field research, some of which was published here and there.

    Sigh.

    A few of my students went on to do some v. cool things, and I am proud of them, but the whole thing wore me out.

    Nowadays I get my kicks helping people retire and figure out end-of-life planning…

    Here’s my advice: Throw all your books in the nearest well and get on Netflix toot sweet and watch Blue Is The Warmest Color. You’ll feel young again, guaranteed!

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 7:42 am | |

      You sound kinda naive and New Agey.

      Liberal arts students tend to be like that.

      Luckily, I’m not stupid enough to take classes like that…

      I’d rather take classes I know that can land me a well-paying job in the future because I’m not an impractical fucker.

      Who was the mentally ill one again?

  4. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 9:11 am | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    What is the point of what you are doing? You seem to be spending a lot of your time and energy trying to stir people up.

    The internet seems to have plenty of people who are trying to do just that so why not try something original?

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 10:53 am | |

      I just don’t like being talked down to, especially by condescending liberal arts students.

  5. Seriously
    Seriously March 10, 2014 at 9:50 am | |

    NNnnngh!

    NNnnngh!

    Does anyone have the prune juice?

    Comrade Cosmic – pass prune juice!

    NNNNnnnnnnnnnnnggghhhh!

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 10:54 am | |

      Here you go.

      *smashes the glass cup with prune juice down your throat*

      1. Seriously
        Seriously March 10, 2014 at 11:05 am | |

        plop!

        Ah. Thank you much, Comrade!

        When you reach the 15 old years, I let you wipe.

  6. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm | |

    If I ever receive Dharma Transmission or a position of spiritual authority, I would make my blog far more meaningful than this nonsense.

    I would talk environmental damage, the proceeding extinction of amphibians due to Chytrid fungus, recent advancements in cognitive science, politics, animal welfare, poetry of the great (e.g., emily dickinson, wang wei, etc.), and etc…

    I have far more wisdom to make people find in themselves than Brad Warner or whatever… It’s just people don’t listen to me.

    Just like you need money to paradoxically be free, in this country, you need credentials to be listened to.

    People just don’t listen unless you “prove” yourself with arbitrary credentials. I’m sick and tired of you people.

  7. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    There is much more to it than that. You have been stirring up a lot of negative energy for some time now and not all directed at one person.

    I am just puzzled as to why you are bothering. I can make up a lot of reasons, but you are the only person who might know.

    For instance if I started talking down to you (what ever that means) and I was not a liberal arts major (which I’m not) would it get you angry?

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm | |

      What do you mean by “negative energy”?

      I gave criticism towards Soto Zen practice and was very courteous when enumerating my issues with it. That got people riled up: the fact there is someone who has significant experience with while not becoming a tool towards its rigid practice.

      I also mention relevant stuff many times which people disregard as being tangential.

      For example, take my criticism towards this blog. It’s just about nonsense and personal drama. Why not focus one’s energies to topics that matter? Such as sustainable energy, sustainable farming, poverty, art-house films, experiences relating to social inequality, poetry, or whatever. There are so many topics out there more important than one’s fucking birthday or Dharma Transmission and ruminating over its significance.

      Maybe this negative energy is essential to push people out of their comfort zone, so they understand life isn’t all comfy like the facade the Zendo gives off? Maybe should take a step back and realize they’re making a cross out of the formal posture of Zazen?

      Of course, you can’t listen to me, since I’m inducing “negative energy”. It’s better to listen to those who are presentable, wearing suits, and giving the false impression of giving a fuck.

      I’m really tired of you morons. I post here because I see a reactionary strain of Zen emerging, which Zizek criticized it for too. You act like you bastards care about “being compassionate”, but I have yet to see a genuine comment filled wisdom, one that steps out of its comfort zone.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm | |

        tl;dr: I feel like people don’t speak from their hearts here. They speaking more from a desire to be accepted. Can you write poetry without referencing anything formal, such as the posture involved in Zazen or the dogmatic assertions of those in authority? I honestly think all of this substantiates the message of the Ecclesiastes, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

      2. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm | |

        If I had my own blog with a lot of followers, I would talk about diverse topics with the aim to increase awareness. I would talk about documentaries such as “You’re Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don’t” and “Symphony of the Soil”. I would talk about sustainable energy such as solar panels, irrigation systems built from collected rain water, and etc. I’d talk about the problems associated with poverty such as the growing rate of organ trade (disturbing stuff we must openly confront as Zen Buddhists). I would talk about the rampant alienation that is breaking communities apart (don’t even know my fucking neighbors). I would talk about deep poetry from the likes of Emily Dickinson, Han Shan, and so forth.

        Just admit it, you guys are fakes, bullshitting about nonsense. It breaks my heart to say the current state of Zen in America is no better than Evangelistic Christianity. Keep pole dancing in your little self-made bubbles. I resent all of you.

        1. Seriously
          Seriously March 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm | |

          Comrade, go easy on prune juice.

  8. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    It seems like Brad does talk about diverse topics that apply to zen Buddhism.

    The blog does wander a lot but that’s fine as far as I can tell.

    The negative energy (uh-oh I’m going off the New Age cliff here) I refer to is your frequent cursing and anger.

    And once again, I just don’t see the point. I really doubt that you will be able to change the tone of the comments section or make people talk about what matters to you.

    You are spending lots time and energy here and not getting what you want (as far as I can see).

    So once again, why bother?

    What do you want?

    Why do you resent anyone here?

    I don’t think I’m talking down to you, I’m just curious what is your point?

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm | |

      What is the point of anything when it’s “just a chasing after the wind”? It’s like a koan.

      I haven’t seen Brad talk about anything important (e.g., the goddamn Fukushima spills and how many news agencies are ignoring the magnitude of damage it’s causing to the Pacific Ocean and wildlife).

      There are also other nuclear reactive sites threatened by earthquakes or floods:
      http://ecowatch.com/2012/09/04/whitewashing-fukushima/

      There is SOOO much important and good stuff to talk about. I read a recent UN study talking about how small farms that rotate crops are more efficient. I also watched a documentary on Alzheimer’s and read some journal articles from PubMed about recent advancements in the research.

      Why not post some poetry from Wang Wei? Talk about that? “Peach Blossoms Journey” (http://www.chinese-poems.com/peach.html) is good and there is plenty of other good stuff out there too. Why constrict oneself to the mindset that Shikantaza here and now is enough? Living in the present isn’t all what Buddism is about. Poetic expression, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, and etc. are integral elements too.

      Let’s just be honest here: you’re shit compared to me. You waste your time dwindling on bullshit like “Sitting is actualizing Buddha nature” and crap like that, without immersing your mind into anything significant. What kind of films you watch? I bet it’s nothing like Tarkovsky or Bergman. What kind of spiritual texts you read? I bet it’s just hogwash written by “credentialed” Zen Buddhist reiterating what we’ve heard countless times! Pick up a real timeless text like Bostan by Sa’di or Han Shan’s poetry or something… then come on here and talk about. By constantly talking about shit, your mind becomes shit! Filth! I have no compassion for filth!

      Talk about activities like swimming, gardening, or whatever ! So much to talk about instead of reiterating your nonsense to me. No humanity when you say shit like, “No separation between self and other,” over and over again – making an ever bigger gulf between yourself and others.

      Han Shan’s Poem #117 (Red Pine Translation)

      I deplore this vulgar place
      where demons dwell with worthies.
      They say they’re the same,
      but is the Tao impartial?
      A fox might ape a lion’s mien
      and claim the disguise is real,
      but once ore enters the furnace,
      we soon see if it’s gold or base.

      1. stonemirror
        stonemirror March 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm | |

        “There is SOOO much important and good stuff to talk about.”

        You should certainly get your own important and good blog and talk about it as much as you think you should. (I know an excellent designer.)

        “Let’s just be honest here: you’re shit compared to me.”

        I agree. You’re too good for us, you’re not doing anyone any favors by wasting your time here. It just makes you cranky and gives the rest of us swelled heads.

      2. mb
        mb March 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm | |

        I haven’t seen Brad talk about anything important (e.g., the goddamn Fukushima spills
        —————————————————————————–

        Because you haven’t looked!

        http://hardcorezen.info/japan-earthquake/262

      3. Autonomy
        Autonomy March 11, 2014 at 4:52 am | |

        CosmicBrainz

        You had me interested until you equated art-house films and “deep poetry” with earthquakes, floods, and poverty in terms of importance, and “what should be discussed”.

        I’d suggest that your pretense is as deep, and possibly deeper, than the people you choose to dismiss.

        1. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 6:40 am | |

          Well, I’m not perfect.

          I do think I’ve learned a lot from Andr3w and other people’s blogs.

          You make a good point. I was just flinging stuff out there. At least I made you think. You can come to the answers yourself, and that is ultimately your responsibility. Don’t cling to any authority figures, including me.

        2. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 6:43 am | |

          Poetry and art-house films help make us more aware of such things though.

          Of course, it is no substitute for real statistics, anthropological studies, or whatnot. I like to have an eclectical mix when discussing stuff. Zen provides the perfect backbone for such a thing.

          Substantiating it with experiences, studies you’ve read, and etc. are all important. We have to think about problems creatively while referencing objectively gathered data.

    2. esfishdoc
      esfishdoc March 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm | |

      Alan Sailer…could it be you are the same Alan I know from flickr?

      CosB: why don’t you have a blog? I do… no credentials.. just a computer..

      Richard

      1. Alan Sailer
        Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm | |

        esfishdoc,

        I post way too many pictures on Flickr of stuff getting destroyed and there aren’t very many Alan Sailers on this planet…so chances are I’m that person.

        1. esfishdoc
          esfishdoc March 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm | |

          Small world Alan…. you destroyed my wifes newly deceased X-20…

          esfishdoc aka Richard Hatch

          1. Alan Sailer
            Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm |

            Richard,

            Yes indeed, thanks for telling me. One of the reasons I have trouble with alias on line is that I don’t know things like this.

            By the way I found the front element of the X-20 in a corner a while back. It had a fairly interesting pattern of chips on the front.

            What did you replace the X-20 with? I still feel bad that I didn’t get you a good picture but so much depends on luck.

            Cheers.

        2. esfishdoc
          esfishdoc March 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm | |

          Alan,

          I picked up a used XE-1 from B & H and now Karen carries that around… I’m sure it will have a short life also.

          Richard

          1. Alan Sailer
            Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm |

            Richard,

            Great call. I really like that camera. Even the kit lens is really nice.

            Modern digital cameras really aren’t that sturdy. Even if you ignore the siren call of updating the things are too fragile.

            I’m sure the battle tank pro model are the exception, but they must be a pain to carry about.

            Cheers.

            Cheers.

    3. minkfoot
      minkfoot March 11, 2014 at 7:26 am | |

      Alan,

      Why is it taking you so long to realize you’re wasting your time?

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 7:54 am | |

        You’re kinda condescending for practicing Zazen so much. I think it’s made you kinda rigid.

        Rest assured, I read everyone’s comments towards me multiple times… I actually come back many times without “ideas” or “barriers” and read them again. It has helped break down my thinking or reform my perspective many times.

        I just think I’ll leave the blog and find another school of Zen that’s a bit more open to conversing on diverse topics. I get tired of talking about non-practical stuff… Technically, posting on a blog isn’t practical to begin with…

      2. Alan Sailer
        Alan Sailer March 11, 2014 at 8:20 am | |

        Minkfoot,

        It’s a fair question.

        And depending on how I read it, it has several answers.

        In the case of CosmicBrainz I don’t understand his motivation(s) and I was hoping maybe he could explain. It’s not really all that important, but I thought I’d give it a try.

        In the case of myself, I sit every day trying to understand why I am wasting my time. Still no answers, but the questions are interesting.

        Now stop wasting my time asking me why I’m wasting my time.

        Cheers.

        1. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 8:54 am | |

          Alain, I have a koan for you.

          Read this before you sit next time:

          http://antaiji.dogen-zen.de/eng/kodo-sawaki-to-you.shtml

          And then ask, “Why does CosmicBrainz act like LesionedBrainz? Do lesions lead to intelligence, sometimes? Many people have hit their heads and become autistic geniuses…”

          Then you’ll have “exploding head syndrome” seeing beams of light come out of your eyes and mouth while hearing and seeing the angelic roar of angels & Bodhisattvas flying around a golden orb in the sky. Fast food satori experience. That’s how the answer shall come to you.

          jk

          1. Alan Sailer
            Alan Sailer March 11, 2014 at 9:05 am |

            CosmicBrainz,

            I (at this point) am not interested in koan practice, thanks anyhow.

            I try and keep my zen reading to a minimum because I am sure that the answers to my questions aren’t in any book.

            The spray of information you provided is interesting but doesn’t answer my question. Rather than be tedious and repeat it….

        2. CosmicBrainz
          CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm | |

          “jk” means “just kidding”…

        3. minkfoot
          minkfoot March 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm | |

          What is time, that it can be wasted, or not?

          If you want to gain data, observe the reaction to attention or ignoring. Sincerity is dubious, so take nothing at face value.

  9. Seriously
    Seriously March 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm | |

    I gave criticism towards Soto Zen practice and was very courteous when enumerating my issues with it.

    Comrade, I have vocab issue: does the ‘courteous’ mean the spray gun fart in faces, before huge discussion of deep goat?

  10. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    There are probably a lot of good blogs that talk about poetry, films or nuclear disasters in a very serious and deeply thought way.

    This isn’t one of them.

    I’ve watched Solaris and Andrei Rublev (both great films) but I wouldn’t go here to try and start an on-line discussion group on Tarkovsky. I’d go to a film studies web-page.

    So I’m still curious; why you are spending time here?

    Like I said earlier, I can think of a hundred reasons for your anger and cursing, but only you can know why you are so upset.

    1. Charles
      Charles March 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm | |

      “So I’m still curious; why you are spending time here?

      …I can think of a hundred reasons for your anger and cursing…”

      I suspect CosmicBrainz is looking for answers – or an answer to his own anger. And that answer MAY (or may not) be found in the calming effects that Zazen has (on many practitioners – not all). Perhaps a psychologist in “anger management group” suggested meditation as a treatment (as many of them often do…)

      SF Zen Center is as much a resource for the local pool of psychologists as it is a resource for members (some of whom could benefit from ‘group’).

      The coin lands on both sides in an endless cycle of randomness…

      An advanced degree in psychology is another alternate point-of-entry for discovering the Buddha.

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 10, 2014 at 7:43 pm | |

    oy, Johnny- did I ever post this link?- my friend Apech from Tao Bums, writing on Ancient Egyptian Symbols.

    Now I would ask CosmicBrainz, do you still practice a body-position challenge, have you found one that works for you?

    “Proprioception is what allows someone to learn to walk in complete darkness without losing balance. During the learning of any new skill, sport, or art, it is usually necessary to become familiar with some proprioceptive tasks specific to that activity. Without the appropriate integration of proprioceptive input, an artist would not be able to brush paint onto a canvas without looking at the hand as it moved the brush over the canvas; it would be impossible to drive an automobile because a motorist would not be able to steer or use the pedals while looking at the road ahead; a person could not touch type or perform ballet; and people would not even be able to walk without watching where they put their feet.

    The proprioceptive sense can be sharpened through study of many disciplines. Examples are the Feldenkrais method and the Alexander Technique. …Standing on a wobble board or balance board is often used to retrain or increase proprioception abilities, particularly as physical therapy for ankle or knee injuries. Slacklining is another method to increase proprioception. Standing on one leg (stork standing) and various other body-position challenges are also used in such disciplines as Yoga, Wing Chun and T’ai chi.” (Wikipedia, “proprioception”)

  12. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 11, 2014 at 4:40 am | |

    Good stuff Mark, Apech, all.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWP-AsG5DRk

    One question, what does the pink guitar symbolize?

    “proprioception”

    singing and
    playing in
    the eternity
    of golden
    haired girls

  13. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 11, 2014 at 10:31 am | |

    the pink guitar, a ripping desire for a cadillac.

    Hey Cosmic, do me a favor and just “post comment” your remarks rather than “reply”, we can all (I think) figure out which comments you’re referring to (or you can specify) and I will miss the things you have to say if you “reply” and I don’t look backwards in the thread.

    Now I would like to congratulate and thank Alan and minkfoot for their even-handed questions to CosmicBrainz, and CosmicBrainz for the last set of responses.

    “I like to have an eclectical mix when discussing stuff. Zen provides the perfect backbone for such a thing.

    Substantiating it with experiences, studies you’ve read, and etc. are all important. We have to think about problems creatively while referencing objectively gathered data.”

    I’m with you on that. Also with the proprioceptive, pink-guitar holding, Egyptian-walking Bangles:

    “Slide feet up street bend your back
    Shift your arm then you pull it back
    Life['s] hard you know (oh whey oh)
    So strike a pose on a Cadillac”

  14. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm | |

    “Don’t run after poetry. It penetrates unaided through the cracks.” – Robert Bresson

  15. Bizzle
    Bizzle March 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm | |

    “I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.”
    – Steven Wright

  16. Bad Zen Man
    Bad Zen Man March 12, 2014 at 8:59 am | |

    Thanks very much Brad. Readng this made my day. I turned 50 last October. I am doing the Benjamin Button thing: Started as a corporate lawyer and slowly became less mature . . . got ordained 3 years ago. 50 years of playfulness to come :)

  17. bootz
    bootz March 13, 2014 at 6:40 am | |

    Hi Brad,

    I cannot believe this. I always thought that you had a maturity to the writing, though my guess to your age was about 35 at most!!!!

    Welcome to the old farts club, you are only a few years younger than myself.

  18. bootz
    bootz March 13, 2014 at 6:58 am | |

    PS.

    I am continually dismayed at how we are supposed to act seriously as we grow older, especially the need to act seriously about making money.

    I find your playful attitude quite refreshing/reassuring.

    It is very hard to find myself at fifty plus and not settled down to anything in particular.

    It must be even harder to be an American with all the expectations around you to achieve, achieve, achieve. Then you get to buy a Caddy, if you’re lucky.

  19. johnnybw
    johnnybw March 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm | |

    End of the Century is the best Ramones album in my humble opine as well. I too am disappointed in it being used in commercials and how time flies. But what other way is there? What of impermanence if 1978 can’t be different than 2014 or if Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee are all dead? Be glad that you are 50, a young 50, for there is no other way to be. Just as there was no other way than the Ramones to be forgotten and then recalled in the commercials of the 21st century. This is it.

  20. Charles
    Charles March 16, 2014 at 10:20 pm | |

    So, “CosmicBrainz,” are you an epileptic? Or is there one in the family or among your close friends?

    (petit mal epilepsy or grand mal epilepsy?)

    http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/seizures/genconvulsive/tonicseizures.cfm

    onefuriousllama.com/tag/ramachandran/

    Vilayanur S. Ramachandran explored the neural basis of hyperreligiosity…

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm | |

      I’m a Neuroscientist.

      I am actually pretty normal in real life.

      Can you stop with the ad hominems?

      I just don’t like Soto Zen.

      Doesn’t mean I don’t want Dharma Transmission though. :P

      I’m very charismatic in real life. Watch what’ll happen if I ever get Dharma transmission. I’ll reform Buddhism for the better taking the wisdom I learned from Andr3w’s blog.

  21. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    It’s pretty clear from many of your comments that you don’t like Soto Zen. For my own part I can say that your not liking Soto Zen will not stop me from studying/practicing Soto Zen.

    I’d hazard a guess that holds for a fair number of the zen types on this blog.

    Given that you don’t seem interested in answering any questions, for my own amusement I’ve set up a multiple choice quiz to make it E.Z. for you to help me figure out why you are bothering to post to this comments section

    a) You have lots of extra time and just enjoy posting here.
    b) You think that you can change somebodies mind about Soto Zen.
    c) You like trying to irritate people (I sure hope this isn’t your reason, it’s just so un-charismatic).
    d) You just plain enjoy attention positive or negative.
    e) You are actually an undercover Zen master who is testing the so called zen students at this blog.
    f) The name Brad Warner causes an uncontrollable urge to type.
    g) You are the smartest person in this here Lilly Pond and by darn, we are all gonna understand that or else.
    h) You vow to save all sentient beings from Zen.
    i) All of the above.
    j) None of the above.

    All you have to do when you reply is type a few letters and some of my most pressing questions will be answered.

    It’s easy. It’s fun. Secret prizes may be involved.

    Cheers.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm | |

      So you want to find an answer in Nagarjuna’s Inclosure Schema, Alain?

      Does Zazen provide you any answers? If you say it IS the answer, have you not held it in memory?

      My goal… is not my goal…

      Let’s all deconstruct together while looking at the moon… Put an end to this unwinding ‘my’.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm | |

        derive* an* answer* from*

        typos

      2. Andy
        Andy March 18, 2014 at 12:07 am | |

        All Hail the Comrade CosmicBrainz!

        No need for the head doctor pill

        All Hail the Charisma one!

        Reality like the bull poo in hands of magic Wizard

        All Hail the Ultimate full blood man!

        Who else reach level of read book & surf web with the anus?

        All Hail deep goat of poetry muse!

        Appreciation of vast beauty through special disorder personality of GOD

        All Hail Rage of Emperor of the Honesty!

        The lies sooooo immense all the gravity collapse it into truth pearl

        All Hail the Masterful of Irony

        Deep sophisticate make it invisible to normal man and need the pointing out

        All Hail Prophet of the An3drew!

        He shoot him in head, once secret magic of buddhist reformation revealed – like deep Wallaby

        1. Seriously
          Seriously March 18, 2014 at 12:15 am | |

          Are you taking of the piss?

          1. Andy
            Andy March 18, 2014 at 12:20 am |

            Taking the piss, Seriously. Taking the piss.

  22. Seriously
    Seriously March 18, 2014 at 12:35 am | |

    Understand it Andy, Comrade Cosmic is the right one, even in gigantic hypocrisy and the contradictions: you are the piece of the shit like all here and are jealous of his deep betterness.

  23. Andy
    Andy March 18, 2014 at 12:42 am | |

    You’re right, Seriously. I’m going to have a wank now, and consider my spiritual options.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 18, 2014 at 12:43 am | |

      [sound of one hand]

  24. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 18, 2014 at 6:45 am | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    No answer to an easy multiple choice questionnaire?

    Disappointing. At least I enjoyed typing the comment.

    I hope that I am fortunate enough to never meet you in person.

    Cheers.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 18, 2014 at 8:21 am | |

      Man, that’s pretty rude.

      Anyways, I like the inclosure schema (http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Nagarjuna/NagarjunaTheLimitsOfThought.pdf page 17) more than Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. The former shows such questions that seek to secure meaning or justification ultimately deconstruct.

      “The very condition of a deconstruction may be at work in the work, within the system to be deconstructed. ” – Derrida

      The whole point of sitting in Zazen is to not reflect back on it and then begin speaking about how “useful” it is. In a sense, there is no duration to Zazen.

      This does sound kind of recursive and mind-numbing, but it’s kinda what Zazen is “about”. Sit while realizing how entirely useless it is, so the “just sitting” can occur. No expectations. You shouldn’t even conceptualize “I” sit.

      The fact you build an opposition between “you” and “me” means Zazen has done absolutely nothing for you. Think about it.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 18, 2014 at 8:25 am | |

        “It seems it’s not something that can be done with effort, like “now I will go sit and deconstruct” on the cushion – … it happens more like a sudden emergence of anxiety, and the solid structures of the world become liquid or even dissolve or evaporate … it’s a painful feeling.” – friend

  25. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 18, 2014 at 9:54 am | |

    CosmicBrainz,

    Zen has nothing to do with being polite or suffering fools.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 18, 2014 at 10:18 am | |

      It has to do with the deconstruction of Time, which the conceptualizing and suffering mind are dependent on.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 18, 2014 at 11:06 am | |

        My comment is awaiting moderation.

        But while it seems I agree with Soto Zen on its aspect of time, I think it overlooks this part of the Emily Dickinson poem:

        “And Latitude of Home – ”

        Soto Zen and Zazen help with this part when you don’t reflect back on the activity:

        “Forever – is composed of Nows –
        ‘Tis not a different time –
        Except for Infiniteness – ”

        It seems most people don’t get there either because of the constant obsession of heralding Zazen. Kodo Sawaki said it best when called it “useless”. When you enter the Zendo, your mind shouldn’t take the walls as real or the walls boxing up your memories as real. Thinking gives continuance to Time, and thinking is always of the old since it is rooted in memory. But the point of all this is to let the creative potentiality flourish in solitude in natural scenery, make one’s mind more receptive for artistic or personal creations within the Timelessness. Dogen’s death poems seem to be closer to what I’m saying and have a departure from his norm, to the “latitude of home -”

  26. Andy
    Andy March 19, 2014 at 10:33 am | |

    On a less seriously satirical note.

    Firstly,

    As humble gift, here’s some – rough – thoughts for you on ‘And latitude of home’.

    1. latitude also means ‘scope for freedom, action or thought’ (dictionary def.) and originates from usages to do with breadth. Related to this, of course is the geographical usage. In contrast to longitude, by which we can distinguish time zones, latitude designates the space, scope, breadth of the earth.

    2. Both foci, I think, are important when looking at how Dickinson uses the word. Especially when we consider that her metaphorical/ metaphysical expressions are often exploring limits, freedom, scope, space, circumference, circularity etc, in tension with and/or in contrast to linearity.

    3. The first sentence is quite clear: eternity exists temporally in Nows and not in some heavenly after-life. But importantly, ‘Tis not a different time’ not only underlines this understanding or view, but also extends it by adding the notion of ‘difference’. We have a different line, but it is still now. Also difference has to be placed within the scheme in order for it to relate to the temporal world as we know it. Note how difference turns up again in the last stanza – it is this word that is the pivot on which the poem levers its voice.

    4. So the second line sets up two other aspects of the first line’s expression of unitary, eternal Nows, and these aspects mark the other two ‘dimensions’, if you will, of these nows: a) difference as the quality of ‘infinitness’; ie each now holds infinite variety. b) difference as location, placed-ness, space etc.

    5. Dickinson’s use of ‘latitude’ therefore enables a variety of meanings that coalesce around the notion of space and which she counterweights with the notion of ‘home’ in order to relate it to the world we know, and to suggest location and place. Rather than posit an individual or individuals, ‘home’ emphasizes IT rather than I as the locus of being.

    (Also latitude in its nautical reconfigures what it means to be on a journey, to be somewhere else – but still here/now – but in a non-linear way – compare Donne’s similar use in ‘Valediction Forbidden Mourning’ – there are many comparisons to be drawn between Dickinson and the metaphysical poets, like Donne or Herbert, even if they were not major influences).

    6. So, ‘home’, as the locus of being, is expressed in terms of having scope, or ‘latitude’. And as the locus of being it can stand as a cognate for an individual beings scope and for ‘being’ itself – ie a radical re-visioning of what her Christian Calvanists might call God. Although their god is outside time, in its lofty forever.

    7. Rather than this being something that your straw man zen buddhist world doesn’t cover, Dickinson here is expressing the relation between time, being and space in a fashion expressed quite often. How about replacing ‘latitude’, albeit clumsily, with these: “And the Ten Directions of Home”; “And the Dharma Position of Home”.

    8. As an side on this stanza – note how the compression of syllables work: the clipped t and short i sounds, and the open o, i and s sounds function to embody the sense and create correspondences. Note how ‘different’ and ‘infinitness’ are internal half-rhymes, polysyllabic with short vowels – and how ‘home’ and ‘time’ correspond to each other through a warmly grounded hum of a half rhyme with lone open vowels – and in contrast to difference/infinitness.

    8. I won’t bother with the rest of the poem other than to say: while the second stanza deals in flux it is emboldened by the drama of a human voice using imperatives that build up over the last two stanzas into a tone of defiance at the prevailing Christian world view, while at the same time offering a sneaky resolution (no difference).

    As I said these are just rough ideas – but if you examine them, you should find that you had no need to ask An3drew for the meaning of that sentence – you were perfectly capable of doing a similar type of reading, even if it meant taking time to mature as a reader. There are no shortcuts, unless you like getting angry and frustrated.

    That said…Secondly

    ====================================================

    Sepehr, I find it such a shame that you keep choosing to push the envelope of your delusional impulses to the point where constructive dialogue with you is at best a waste of time – silence or satire seemingly the only responses worth making.

    I say this as a person with many interests, past and present, which overlap with those you have listed. Poetry being one I’m always happy to chat about – and film (I am a fan of Tarkovsky and Bergman to name but two that have appeared on your lists). There are many others.

    Some of your difficulties are well illustrated in how you have used the Dickinson poem (above).

    Only a month ago, you didn’t understand the line ‘and Latitude from home’. Indeed you also expressed the view that you didn’t like most poetry. You asked your latest guiding light, and Dickinson fan, An3drew, for an explanation of what the line meant. His reply, at best, was a tangential response (to put it politely) – not an explanation; and one that you have recycled here and elsewhere before, in connection with Zen etc.

    Did it not occur to you that his response was as it was because he also didn’t have a clear and objectively transferable interpretation of that line? That it might just have been an obfuscating diversion? People do this all the time when discussing things like poetry and wish to maintain a position of authority. And3rew’s readings are often highly subjective responses, which, while they might be very interesting and sometimes insightful, often lack the critical distance required to help someone get to grips with the nuts and bolts of what he is talking about. This is something people on the Spectrum often find a challenge.

    Taking his views on – or others – as your own, in such a way, is indicative of someone extremely insecure about their own potential to find out about stuff they don’t understand or have a superficial grasp of.

    Your reaction to this insecurity is doing you no favours whatsoever, and is manifesting itself in angry and abusive behaviour, in stridently hypocritical and contradictory generalisations and assertions which thoroughly undermine your own problematic and counter-productive impulse to turn insecurity into authority.

    The spiral of your behaviour forecloses on sincere discussion, sharing and debate – a situation that you choose only to see/express as problem caused by others, and which you meet only with more attention seeking outbursts.

    And before you cry ‘ad hominem’, try and understand what it means, instead of using it incorrectly again to divert the focus away from criticisms of your behaviour.

    Ad hominem refers to a logical fallacy people use when making an argument. Criticisms of your behaviour, mode of address, lack of understanding, etc., are not ad hominem fallacious utterances. They are utterances (reactions and responses) that point to why entering into such debates are problematic, and as such are far from fallacious.

    When using ‘ad hominem’ as you often have to deflect criticisms of your behaviour, and to portray yourself as a victim, you were adopting and repeating a faux-intellectual, logical fallacy all by itself.

    The behaviour I have touched on above, including such things as adopting someone else’s aggressive and abusive mode of address, telling people how clever and sophisticated you are and making lists of what you have read or watched as some kind of proof of superiority is very concerning – and for someone at your stage of development, this would be of such serious concern to me that, if I was your in loco parentis teacher, lecturer or mentor, I would advise counseling and therapy, as I have done in the past.

    If you are on the Spectrum yourself, are undergoing or have undergone therapy for mental illness, perhaps it would be better to come clean on this, so that people can give you some slack. If you haven’t, then I would suggest, with heartfelt sincerity, that you consider the possibility that you might have some difficulties worth exploring.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm | |

      Andy, your response was good until you misconstrued me as having a mental illness. You’re an asshole.

      Let me compare the USSR and USA’s act of atrocities:

      Whenever USSR did something unethical, they were in your face about it. There was no doubt something unethical was done and people could see the stained kitchen right in front of them. However, whenever USA did some war crime, they would conceal the kitchen behind their backs, and only the intelligent would see the blood dripping from the knife. The fact you slyly construe me as having a mental disorder, based off your limited interactions with me, indicates you are the one with a self-righteous complex. You are not in any position to diagnose me.

      I made it clear my past post is still being moderated. Everything you’ve said, this article has mentioned:

      http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/ew26578.htm

      Finally, I have made it clear not to use my name. I have enough respect not to stalk anyone and use their names without permission. The fact you went out of your way to do this indicates you are the vindictive.

      You do not know the first thing about me. Likewise, I don’t know anything about you. However, my criticism of Soto Zen is reflective in your response: double-standards. I got fed up with the double standards, hence I’m looking into alternatives such as older Chan and Kwan Um. I think you were somewhat close to what the “latitude of home” means, but your terse, highly intellectualized response seems to indicate your fear to actually go into the subjective domain to make sense of the poem, personally to oneself. There is no such thing as an “objective interpretation” of a poem, as you seem to be making out, and note, I do not mean this in a post-modernist sense.

      You are the very image of what you hate.

  27. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 19, 2014 at 11:11 am | |

    Andy,

    Not that it makes any difference, but your post above is really impressive.

    It’s one of the reason’s I don’t post too much here, others seem to have so much more comprehension of what the hell is going on and seem to have such an intelligent reaction to it.

    I’m often completely blown away by how much people on this blog have studied ancient Buddhist texts. When I run into these discussions I have to just fast forward because it’s just beyond me.

    My reading runs more towards the Sacred Chicken Soup for the Buddhist Soul text.

    Cheers.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 19, 2014 at 11:36 am | |

      Thanks, Alain.

      We all have our areas of interest, I suppose – and there really are too many not to feel the way you do, even in one subject. I’m pretty much the same on ancient Buddhist texts! I struggled to find my knowing-circumference in poetry for ages – until I realised that that was impossible – and that I’d picked up so much on the way. I think sitting practise is much the same.

      1. Andy
        Andy March 19, 2014 at 11:37 am | |

        sorry – Alan!

  28. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm | |

    Alain is no problem. Alan,Allan,Allen,Alien,Allyn….I’ve answered to a lot of variations.

    My minimum requirement is to start with an “A” and to leave out any Double ss.

    Cheers.

  29. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm | |

    Alain, I responded to your comment, so check beneath your message. I am only responding now to make it clear I did respond.

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm | |

      I mean Andy* Andy I responded to your comment*

  30. Andy
    Andy March 20, 2014 at 2:36 am | |

    to CosmicBrainz

    Andy, your response was good until you misconstrued me as having a mental illness. You’re an asshole.

    The fact you slyly construe me as having a mental disorder, based off your limited interactions with me, indicates you are the one with a self-righteous complex. You are not in any position to diagnose me.

    You do not know the first thing about me.

    I might not know the first or last things about you, but there have been some patterns, signs and clues in the middle that have given me cause for concern. And as I am in no position to diagnose you, that’s why I didn’t. I presented my impressions about your behaviour, instead, and made some suggestions – one of which is that you consider the possibility that you might need professional help/diagnosis. That’s all in the open – nothing sly there, I’m afraid. I didn’t expect you to agree or take kindly to that. But I felt moved to say something.

    Do you expect people who practice zazen to take kindly to your sweepingly pejorative diagnoses of what they do with their lives?

    Asshole? Self-righteous? I sure can be both at times. I try not no let my demons grow to epic proportions, but sadly I’m just the usual limited skin bag.

    Finally, I have made it clear not to use my name. I have enough respect not to stalk anyone and use their names without permission. The fact you went out of your way to do this indicates you are the vindictive.

    Sorry about that. I thought the name thing referred to your full name, not your first name, which you use as a moniker elsewhere. Other people refer to first names here, when they’re known, even if they have a different moniker. There was nothing vindictive in that, I can wholeheartedly assure you. I just wanted to start that second bit on a directly personal note. But I understand, if you have expressly stated elsewhere that you don’t want your first name used, why you might feel that indicates vindictiveness.

    However, my criticism of Soto Zen is reflective in your response: double-standards. I got fed up with the double standards, hence I’m looking into alternatives such as older Chan and Kwan Um.

    You have presented no remotely convincing evidence for this whatsoever. What you have done is construct ridiculously outsized straw men – about what people do, about Zen. When these are defeased, as they were notably by minkfoot, you have regrouped and continued to flog the same old horse. This is much the same as your pronouncements about how cultured you are, while everyone else is living some impoverished Soto hole. I note that you didn’t list your penchant for children’s cartoons and computer games, when letting rip on folk for sharing the fun of their toys.

    I think you were somewhat close to what the “latitude of home” means, but your terse, highly intellectualized response seems to indicate your fear to actually go into the subjective domain to make sense of the poem, personally to oneself. There is no such thing as an “objective interpretation” of a poem, as you seem to be making out, and note, I do not mean this in a post-modernist sense..

    ‘highly intellectualized response’ is another one of those crapshoot cards you like to play when on the defense. You then take another misstep in trying to equate that to how I read the poem, in order to make the notes. Here’s some more notes to help you stop making such hypocritical and contradictory statements again:

    1) Reading a poem involves the body and the mind, because poems usually involve both the intellect and the senses in how they make meaning.

    2) This is why when I read a poem, I always first read it out aloud to myself, a few times, slowing the poem down, slightly and experimenting with tone and voice. I then might make a closer, silent reading for the ideational and syntactical rhythms and phrasing. Then I might make a closer examination of the meaning of certain passages, including some research. I always go back to a poem and read it out aloud again in order to realise my efforts, to manifest the life of the poem. I’ve revisited the same poem over years in this way, enriching our encounter.

    3) For example, note 8 above contains some pointers to the sounds the poem is making in the first stanza. One can only make such notes (if one hasn’t plagiarized another reading) if one has involved oneself intimately with a poem. If you slow down and read the stanza aloud, slightly exaggerating the rhythms, within and between the words, and while doing so, opening your heart out to the voice (your own or an imagined one), then one can become intimate not just with the very human intensity of the poem itself but with the echoes and connections to other poems and voices.

    4) As I returned to this poem by Dickinson, for instance, I found echoes of the Metaphysical poets. But the most surprising thing that arose, from the first stanza, was Sylvia Plath’s “indefatigable hoof-taps”.

    5)When presenting some notes, as I have done, to aid understanding. They will by necessity involve analysis. It is just stupid to make this out as indicative of some intellectualised imbalance. But really, after what you’ve been using the poem to express, you should have thought twice about typing such nonsense.

    6)It becomes even more ridiculous if we consider the academic paper on Dickinson you enthused about to An3drew entitled “Metaphor Making Meaning: Dickinson’s Conceptual Universe.”!!! I didn’t read it, but I imagine it involved some intellectualisation. This is double standards in all its delusional glory.

    7)You write “There is no such thing as an “objective interpretation” of a poem”. I thought you might trip over there. What I wrote about An3drew’s response to your specific question was ” clear and objectively transferable interpretation”. He didn’t provide one. This doesn’t mean he didn’t he have an interpretation worth listening to. It also doesn’t mean that I think his reading should be ‘objective’. It means that he avoided turning his reading – subjective/objective or whatever – into an answer to a specific question about the meaning of a phrase into something you or anyone else could understand – re that specific question. Hence ‘objectively transferable’. What he did do is provide some mystical advice to go out into nature and watch the stars or something.

    You swallowed his own pronouncements down wholesale re Dickson and Zen and keep regurgitating it back here and elsewhere. You’ve chosen An3drew as an authority in areas that are yours to struggle over and glean the fruits therein. That’s a real shame. In order to sift the wheat from the chaff with a voice like An3drew, and there is some beautiful grain to be had there to make bread with, then you should work first on your own intellectual integrity and confidence.

    Until you begin to acknowledge to yourself your own very obvious and well-documented patterns of heavily delusive behaviour, you’ll continue to put off people who you could learn a thing or two from and severely limit your appreciation of those things you say you value.

    Most folk don’t need to be practicing clinical psychologists in order work out that they should cross to the other side of the street when faced with certain behaviours walking towards them.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 20, 2014 at 2:49 am | |

      btw – as for stalking, I’ve been dropping in on An3drew’s blog long before you decided to make him your prophet, and since I engaged with him on this site in 2012. I always find a few pearls when I do. I first came across your chat with him about Emily Dickinson on Zen Forum International, where you reproduced it for everyone to politely ignore. Funny how you hold back on the soto pejoratives over there.

      1. CosmicBrainz
        CosmicBrainz March 20, 2014 at 8:19 am | |

        Andy, you make many good points, but why are you defending Soto Zen so much? Don’t you think you are implicitly making a “me vs. you” mentality regardless of my caustic approach? Are you justified since I “started” it?

        I admit I was rude many times, but that is due to my knee damage. I gave long explanations about how I don’t like Soto Zen’s heavy emphasis on existence monism, gung-ho attitude towards sitting, glorification of what Dogen says, constrictive attitude in regards to sitting, and etc. I made it clear I thought Toni Packer and J. Krishnamurti were closer to the source because, while they would meditate, they would not glorify the tools at the expense of other activities. I made it clear my issue is exclusive to Soto’s obsessive fixation of Shikantaza, and even Brad Warner personally told me, over Facebook, there are issues in Soto Zen, especially with the bureaucracy. You know I would still go if there wasn’t an undercurrent of tension making people sit through pain and long hours? Andr3w is right with the sources he gives regarding the damage of long-term sitting. While sitting for 2 hrs a day is fine, anymore than that hits me as overkill. This is not a practice I think I can give my whole body and mind to consistently, especially in Sesshins, but I can sometimes sit as Zazenkais, just not long-term. There is a point the effects of long-term rigid sitting accumulates and one’s hips and knees become a little “worn out”. I was sincere in my practice for 2-3 yrs, and I did give SOME valid criticisms. Are you going to dismiss all of these criticisms as nonsense simply because of my initially rude approach?

        I honestly think the “you against me” mentality is preventing you from really communicating with me.

        Andy, you are 50% right and 50% wrong. I have difficulty communicating over Internet because I suppress these thoughts in real life and then it just explodes all over the place. I do not have a Dharma “brother” in real life to converse with, no real life outlet due to alienation and excessive school work and stress (going back an extra year to improve math for BME), but I always want to talk about my readings of Buddhist texts and etc. I feel like, even when I was in Zendo, people had this attitude:

        “You’re either with us or against us. You’re either doing Zazen or not.”

        It to me, is no better than fundamentalist Christianity or Islam because it makes people easier to manipulate. Someone on Andr3w’s blog says he prefers the cross over the symbol of the Buddha sitting in Lotus Posture; he argues the former captures the pain and suffering central to life and does not get lost in lofty ideals. I, however, like neither ultimately. They are both over-simplifications, and when taken to their extremes, can be very damaging to both mind and body.

  31. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 20, 2014 at 9:23 am | |

    Andy,

    I admire your attempts to clarify things with CosmicBrainz. I hope you got something from the process and unlike me, weren’t hoping for some useful result.

    I don’t meet people like him in real life and thus have no clue of how to engage.

    Cheers.

  32. Andy
    Andy March 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm | |

    Cosmic

    Thank you for that response.

    If all your posts were as measured and respectful as that, even if they contained criticisms of my views or of anyone else, I doubt anyone would have any major problems with what you have written.

    My intention has never been to defend Soto zen. I don’t consider myself a Soto person, and many of the general concerns you highlight I am aware of and am sympathetic to. I think its really important to consider that whatever problems there are with any tradition, the people who are alive practicing it may not be mere clones of these generalities. And most likely they are struggling with those challenges and are very aware of them.

    If I had your concerns and bitter experience, I would ask ‘Soto’ people on this site and elsewhere for clarification of how they see things. As far as I’m concerned there are as many Buddhisms as there are people who engage with its various traditions all over the world.

    Don’t forget, when you are stressed, to the extent that you have expressed, this is mental illness. I have suffered mental illness in my life, and so believe it or not, my grand efforts to communicate with you have largely been based on how disturbing I found some of your behaviour.

    I look forward to catching the breeze with you again, through less forceful rhetoric!

    Andy

  33. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm | |

    “Don’t forget, when you are stressed, to the extent that you have expressed, this is mental illness. I have suffered mental illness in my life, and so believe it or not, my grand efforts to communicate with you have largely been based on how disturbing I found some of your behaviour.”

    Stop. You don’t know what you’re taking about.

    Do you have a background in psychiatry, neurology, or any other related field? It isn’t simply reduced to stress and “expression”.

    Also, you cannot diagnose someone over the Internet. It is both rude and condescending. You are in no position to diagnose others. Worry about yourself.

    The point of counseling is to make people “functional” and not necessarily happy. I am already functional, dealing with school and stuff. Like I’ve said, you don’t know anything about me, and I don’t like people to tell me what “I am” from limited exposure.

    Maybe you should look a bit more closely to your vindictiveness? It’s more destructive than anything else, honestly. I would say, you are possibly more disturbing than me in real life. You don’t express your true intentions, I feel, but ultimately, I don’t know.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 21, 2014 at 3:26 am | |

      The detail is also important.

  34. Andy
    Andy March 21, 2014 at 2:59 am | |

    CosmicBrainz

    Stop. You don’t know what you’re taking about.

    Do you have a background in psychiatry, neurology, or any other related field? It isn’t simply reduced to stress and “expression”.

    Also, you cannot diagnose someone over the Internet. It is both rude and condescending. You are in no position to diagnose others. Worry about yourself.

    Nobody needs such a background to recognise mental illness. Many people recognise it in themselves and contact either their doctor or some form of counseling. Often friends or family will recognise mental illness and suggest to the person they go see an expert – or take their child to a doctor. Often the people at first contact in counseling won’t have that background either, but will have some training, so that they are able to suggest a person go see an expert for a diagnosis.

    Sometimes the people who are suffering mental illness (or an underyling physical/psychological condition that produces such) don’t or don’t want to recognise what others see clearly as the signs and patterns of mental illness – even if these others are in the dark as to the sort of diagnosis and prognosis that will emerge from visits to an expert. The experts are also often at odds, don’t forget, but of course they are trained to deal with that sort of ambiguity.

    Sometimes certain personality disorders manifest as illness only in certain contexts, and the person can be highly functional in most areas of their life.

    As I said before, I am not diagnosing you. When I referred students to the appropriate services, I wasn’t diagnosing. When I referred myself, I wasn’t diagnosing.

    If by ‘it’ above you mean ‘mental illness’: I clearly wasn’t reducing it to ‘stress and “expression”. When a person experiences stress, in contrast to pressure, even if only for a relatively short time, they are suffering a form of mental illness, often alongside some form of physical illness, even if it is only a temporary condition. It can be as fleeting and as common as having a cold, which is also an illness. Or it can become chronic, and sometimes it, along with other things, can be symptomatic of more serious underlying problems.

    But we can also turn this the other way round: how certain can you be that your ‘diagnosis’ of yourself and your behaviour is sound?

    I have had intimate experience with someone who a) was nominally unaware that they had a very serious problem and more than not projected it onto others; b) who then, by turns, would confess to having a serious problem, and then disavowed the same at other times – sometimes even hours later; and c) who finally admitted to themselves that they had a real problem, sought help, and was diagnosed as needing treatment. This took years, before they began applying the treatment and adjusting their behaviour for the better.

    So much was lost to them before that stage was reached. Perhaps if they’d had a non-expert willing to recognise and convey this earlier in their lives, the problem would not have become as chronic as it had over decades; the causes feeding on the effects and establishing damaging and destructive habits that reached into ever more areas of their life – and effecting others in no small way. Some relationships were damaged for good. Also, there were people this person knew, including there inner-circle of intimacy, who took advantage of this person’s problem. Having such problems can make one a target for people with their own difficulties, and such situations can cause even more damage.

    Also, you cannot diagnose someone over the Internet. It is both rude and condescending. You are in no position to diagnose others. Worry about yourself.

    No, but there are plenty of situations where experts identify mental illness or disorders through evidence other than a personal examination. Criminal profiling being one such example. The fact is that mental illness can leave very obvious trails in various forms. And one doesn’t need to be a an expert to identify and recognise very obvious patterns of behaviour. There is also an increasing amount research being undertaken, since the boom in social media, that addresses such patterns of behaviour re disorders and mental illness, and that are intended to help everyone – not just experts – come to grips with and identify problems as they appear through such media.

    If I was only concerned with myself, in the way you mean it, I would be a very limited human being. We are social animals and being concerned about other people is part of acting like a rounded, healthy human being – it is one way that we look after ourselves.

    As for ‘rude and condescending’. Well, that’s a risk anyone takes. It’s difficult not to point such things out without being charged with that. I’m not sure that avoiding such an issue and not pointing things out is always the best course to take. Nothing is clear cut.

    For my part, your own behaviour has been persistently more than just rude and condescending – so really we are already in that territory (of rudeness and condescending tones). Your spat with mumbles, in which your moniker catsareinfinte was banned, was full of it. Indeed you recently poked him back a couple of times, way after the event, in order to reinvigorate the the hate. I have indulged in satirical responses. So of it’s rude and condescending to point such things out directly and openly, its at worst, no more of the same. Especially when you consider what your own response to people choosing to ignore you has induced.

    Think about Alan, who has continually come across as an intelligent, sensitive, humble and respectful human being, for years on Brad’s sites. I’ve no memory of him expressing that he wished to never meet a person in real life before. Doesn’t that give you a little bit of doubt as to the impressions you are giving people on here, and to your own assessment of what your behaviour might indicate?

    The level and persistence of your behaviour has meant that most people have simply ignored you. This silence in itself, on numerous occasions, has lead you into abusive and delusional behaviour. The evidence is really is there. I don’t know what an expert would make of it – although I have some strong suspicions – that I shall not and was never going to share directly because I am not an expert. Despite the training I did receive in identifying such things as a teacher, and despite my own research, as a teacher and as carer for someone who went through a severe mental illness of the most slippery kind.

    But I do know that what I have read from you over the last couple of months (and from 2012) is way above the imaginary line, below which I wouldn’t consider expressing a concern (expressed some concerns then, as did others for your well-being), and above which I feel I am presented with a dilemma: say something and make the situation worse or have some small effect for the better. If I am completely off the mark, then I wholeheartedly apologize; if I am not, then I wholeheartedly apologize.

    The point of counseling is to make people “functional” and not necessarily happy. I am already functional, dealing with school and stuff. Like I’ve said, you don’t know anything about me, and I don’t like people to tell me what “I am” from limited exposure.

    Being functional doesn’t mean someone isn’t mentally ill or have some disorder than can produce mental illness – in themselves and others. Counseling is for broadly, yet intimately, helping people help themselves: whether that be to help them function or to identify things in themselves that might need to be addressed that are causing them pain or misery – under their own steam or through more expert help.

    I do not know you in person, that’s right. That level of intimacy is not required in order to recognise patterns of behaviour that point to the strong possibility that someone has a real problem, for which they might be helped by seeking out expert help. That you don’t like it, and were always going to dislike it, doesn’t necessarily mean someone shouldn’t offer their opinion, even if they end up wide of the mark.

    Let’s not forget in 2012, you expressed, repeatedly and openly, your intense, personal anger and hatred of An3drew, and in extremely violent terms. I don’t think I was alone in seeing in that signs of a person in the throes of some form of mental illness (however temporary or intermittent), and with some underlying causes. Even then, I felt much more concern at your behaviour than his. Nearly two years later and those patterns and signs are still there.

    It really is a case of: either I’m right in recognising that your behaviour amounts to a real problem (the diagnosis for which is not mine to make), for which outside help might be worth considering; or I’m wrong. And the same applies to you:

    Could it be possible that you don’t want to recognise that you have a problem, like so many people who have one do not, or perhaps cannot ‘see’ it through automatic mental habits? And if so, isn’t it worth considering that, however cack-handed my approach, that my concerns are sincere and based on a sound apprehension of the, albeit limited, evidence? Could it be that your charges of vindictiveness are form of denial? If I anyone has been vindictive, does that mean that their assessment of you wide of the mark? Could it be that nasty responses are what a person with a problem might experience – if their difficulties manifest in equally or more extreme versions of nastiness?

    I don’t expect the above questions to be met with answers that I would agree with or even like. I have some faith, in light of the intelligence you have shown at times, in light of the level objectivity I’m assuming you can access to in order to function as a neuroscientist (as well as in other things), that you might at least, in private, consider those questions to have some value, and to be worth exploring at some point.

    All I can really say is versions of: I might be off the mark completely, and projecting my own problems onto you, but I might also be in the right territory, in being concerned that, if your less than sociable behaviour on this site is replicated in your life away from the computer, then you might be in thrall to a condition that could harm your life and those close to you, and that that condition might also involve automatic habits of thought that foreclose on you fully accepting this – habits which, if not checked, could become more entrenched and chronic as the years pass, as they feed off and misconstrue the flash-points where these problems arise at their hottest.

    If you feel now that you were off the mark about An3drew to a large degree, then perhaps on many important things that get you very upset or make you more reactive, you might also be wrong now.

    I really do feel no vindictiveness at all as I write this. Only a concern that my efforts to convey my impressions to you are counter-productive – that if you do have some difficulties, I might be encouraging a more entrenched position. If I’m wrong then I’ve been no more insulting to you than you have been to others here. So hopefully you might at least be able to see where I’m coming from on this.

    But to reiterate: you have been so persistent in behaviours, which few would consider not to be problematic and indicative, that I felt moved to explore it directly and offer my take.

    Whatever the truth amounts to, it really is such a shame that you have adopted such behaviours as your dominant mode of communication, and I thank you for reining much of this in, in our most recent discourse.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 21, 2014 at 7:32 am | |

      typo: So of it’s rude and condescending to point such things out directly and openly, its at worst, just [not 'no'] more of the same.

      Sorry for the occasional weak grammar/typos there, I was typing quite quickly.

  35. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 21, 2014 at 5:27 am | |

    &CosmicCats, always remember this: “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like SUNBEAMS and you will always look lovely.” -Roald Dahl

  36. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 21, 2014 at 8:05 am | |

    You act like I’m Andre Breivik or something! Now that bastard deserves something stricter than a light prison sentence in Norway, and I feel the indignation from the parents of the victims is justified, unlike your indignation over some cuss words I’ve said, you butt-hurt pansy. It seems the negative elements of American culture has rubbed off you:

    “OHHHH, this guy is rude and mean! He MUST have some kind of mental disorder!”
    1
    “OHHHH, this guy didn’t treat me with respect over the Internet***, he must have some kind of mental disorder!”

    “OHHHH, this guy doesn’t agree with my religious sensibilities or feign respect towards them, he must have some kind of mental disorder!”

    Over 1 in 5 Americans are on some kind of drug for depression or a mental disorder. Have ever asked why? Obviously, sociopolitical reasons are on the forefront (e.g., economic downturns, depressing news, paying off loans, etc.) and nutrition (e.g., lack of grass-fed beef, HFCS, additives, preservatives, GMOs, etc.), but I think the main reason is how language changes (i.e., you get a label, add some supposedly* determinate characteristics to it from half-assed reductionist research, and then make it a part of the plebeian vocabulary).

    I admit, I was pretty rude when beginning this conversation, but I think you’re interpreting my written tone to be harsher than it is. Why are you spending pages and page ruminating on it? I tried to become impersonal when I actually engaged people in my criticisms of Soto Zen. While I could have approached it much better, the fact you’re not letting go of your indignation towards my past messages is stupid. I have no regrets, and I don’t care if people hate me. I’m not in a popularity contest. Sitting meditation was important in past Chan practices, but it wasn’t the focal point (e.g., Wang Wei). A lot of people have remarked a sharp contrast between my text and speaking in real life. Maybe I should just quit communicating over the Internet altogether. It’s a waste of time.

    Like I’ve said, you don’t know anything about me. I was actually involved in a lot of community service in the past, making me some saint whose sweat exudes a perfume scent for heavenly and celestial Bodhisattvas, but I stopped due to a sleep disorder which I fixed a couple months ago… I think. Seriously, just shut up, Andy. If you want to discuss something constructive, why don’t you talk a bit more about Soto Zen which I have many surprising things to say about? You are reeling totally off-topic and wasting my damn time. I admit I am kind of schizoid and rude, but that’s because I have little tolerance for bullshit. Your dramatic post was painful to t/drudge (I do not know which word would suit this more) through, and is an example of the bullshit I try to avoid. Congratulations, you’ve succeeded in making me not want to post anymore, unless I see other off-topic references directed towards me randomly interspersed in the comments section. What made me comment again was a sly sarcastic attack towards me from nowhere.

  37. Andy
    Andy March 21, 2014 at 8:44 am | |

    Nothing you have written has upset me. When I used the word ‘disturbed’ it was in apprehension of how awful it must be, at times, to be the person writing the posts you have.

    I expected this response, and my efforts were not aimed at producing a ‘better’ one. Although I had hoped you might tone yourself down.

    I think you know you have a serious problem. I hope sooner or later that you will come to terms with that – for your sake and the sake of whoever has to live with you.

  38. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer March 21, 2014 at 8:59 am | |

    There has never been a series of posts on this blog that has been sadder to read.

    I’m sorry for all concerned.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 21, 2014 at 9:09 am | |

      Why so sad, Alan?

      1. Alan Sailer
        Alan Sailer March 21, 2014 at 10:57 am | |

        I’m not sure Andy. When I read such devoted posts, I see so much human energy is going to such cross purposes, it just makes me sad.

        (“Or I sad myself make” to phrase it more accurately).

        Cheers.

  39. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 21, 2014 at 9:32 am | |

    “might tone yourself down”

    I am very direct in what I have to say, unlike you. You can slyly attack others by diagnosing them as “mentally ill”, as a way to elude the specific points the poster is making, and get away with it because the person you’re criticizing is unpopular. I, however, don’t have time for such bullshit, and I am direct in what I have to say.

    You didn’t respond to a single point I made:

    1. How these abstract labels such as mental illness are rooted in incomplete, reductionistic research, and it is not clear-cut when diagnosing someone especially over the Internet.

    2. How your approximations are weak given the partial evidence.

    3. How you keep getting off-topic regarding the subject matter pertinent to this blog “Soto Zen”.

    Why do you keep getting off-topic? If my tone bothers you that much, then don’t talk to me. My tone was bad, but unlike you, I never went off-topic: about Soto Zen. Heck, I even quoted Realizing Genjokoan, a bunch of other books, and even referenced my own experiences… Whenever I did this and reverted to being courteous, people who fling ad hominems at me saying I haven’t practiced enough or am forming straw mans… or that I have problems. I was literally stopped from talking about my issues with Soto Zen more. Like I’ve said, there is nothing that distinguishes dogmatic, rigid Soto Zen practice from fundamentalist Christianity or Islam. Seriously, talking to you is what makes me ill. My fiance says I always look grim whenever I am typing a response to you.

    There is something about you I simply don’t like, Andy. I can’t put my finger on it. You are not a direct person, especially in regards to your feelings and thoughts. If you want to discuss something constructive, then let’s discuss Soto Zen’s methodology. Otherwise, just shut up.

  40. Andy
    Andy March 21, 2014 at 10:47 am | |

    I have responded to what you have written as roundly and in as much detail as I could muster, ignoring the most deluded fictions. My aim was to engage with you about your behaviour, whether you liked it or not.

    We have reached the point where anything else said is going to just be treading over the same territory.

    Best wishes to you, your lovely cats and to your fiance.

    I hope things work out well for all of you.

    Andy

    1. CosmicBrainz
      CosmicBrainz March 21, 2014 at 11:23 am | |

      “I hope things work out well for all of you.”

      You should mind your own business and not lie to others. Don’t get personal with people you don’t even know.

      Also, humans are not necessarily “social”. Everyone is after their own self-interest, and people have been conditioned to treat others as resources. Afterall, there is a field called “human resources”, and actuarial science is likewise all about trying to predict when employees will die, by utilizing complex mathematical equations (Calc III and above), as a way to minimize expenses.

      Be honest with yourself: you were indignant and sought to put me down. I leave you with this poem and a goodbye:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gifEn61dZBc

  41. Andy
    Andy March 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm | |

    Alan,

    I’m not sure Andy. When I read such devoted posts, I see so much human energy is going to such cross purposes, it just makes me sad.

    It might seem a lot of energy, but for my part, it wasn’t so much really. Just lots of words (too many again!). Keeps me sharp.

    As for cross purposes: I didn’t expect it to be otherwise, and as for my reasons in engaging, the cross purposes were more like the means rather than an evil to expunge.

    Nevertheless, there is so much to be sad about.

    Every day is a good day, though. Although it may not always seem so.

    Cheers back!

  42. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm | |

    “Nevertheless, there is so much to be sad about.”

    Now you know why Borges was afraid of mirrors.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 22, 2014 at 2:13 am | |

      Personality disorders, and the effect they have on all the human beings involved. That makes me sad.

      1. Andy
        Andy March 22, 2014 at 3:10 am | |

        Be honest with yourself: you were indignant and sought to put me down.

        I sought to give you a memory.

        Your disorder chews up what you read and spits out what you’re scared of. Getting indignant at the effects of such disorders was something I let go of many years ago.

        But being indignant at those effects in real life will most likely be a healthier thing – for those who regularly breath the same air space. It might be their only path out from hell.

        Sadly, such disorders often target those who are credulous. These tragic people inevitably become a punch-bag for the person with the disorder’s self-loathing.

  43. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm | |

    Perhaps, although he was blind …are you? Do you know why you are scared of dogs? And truth?

  44. Mumbles
    Mumbles March 22, 2014 at 4:56 am | |

    Borges and I

    The other one, Borges, is the one to whom things happen. I wander through Buenos Aires, and pause, perhaps mechanically nowadays, to gaze at an entrance archway and its metal gate; I hear about Borges via the mail, and read his name on a list of professors or in some biographical dictionary. I enjoy hourglasses, maps, eighteenth century typography, etymology, the savour of coffee and Stevenson’s prose: the other shares my preferences but in a vain way that transforms them to an actor’s props. It would be an exaggeration to say that our relationship is hostile; I live, I keep on living, so that Borges can weave his literature, and that literature justifies me. It’s no pain to confess that certain of his pages are valid, but those pages can’t save me, perhaps because good writing belongs to no one, not even the other, but only to language and tradition. For the rest, I am destined to vanish, definitively, and only some aspect of me can survive in the other. Little by little, I will yield all to him, even though his perverse habit of falsifying and exaggerating is clear to me. Spinoza understood that all things want to go on being themselves; the stone eternally wishes to be stone, and the tiger a tiger. I am forced to survive as Borges, not myself (if I am a self), yet I recognise myself less in his books than in many others, less too than in the studious strumming of a guitar. Years ago I tried to free myself from him, and passed from suburban mythologies to games of time and infinity, but now those are Borges’ games and I will have to think of something new. Thus my life is a flight and I will lose all and all will belong to oblivion, or to that other.

    I do not know which of us is writing this page.

  45. Andy
    Andy March 22, 2014 at 6:57 am | |

    Of Whom Am I Afraid?

    I was feeling a little at loose ends, so

    I went to the Farmer’s Supply store and just

    strolled up and down the aisles, examining

    the merchandise, none of which was of any use

    to me, but the feed sacks and seeds had a calm-

    ing effect on me. At some point there was an

    old, grizzled farmer standing next to me holding

    a rake, and I said to him, “Have you ever read

    much Emily Dickinson?” “Sure,” he said, “I

    reckon I’ve read all of her poems at least a

    dozen times. She’s a real pistol. And I’ve

    even gotten into several fights about them

    with some of my neighbors. One guy said she

    was too ‘prissy’for him. And I said, ‘Hell,

    she’s tougher than you’ll ever be.’ When I

    finished with him, I made him sit down and read

    The Complete Poems over again, all 1,775 of them.

    He finally said, ‘You’re right, Clyde, she’s

    tougher than I’ll ever be.’ And he was crying

    like a baby when he said that.” Clyde slapped

    my cheek and headed toward the counter with

    his new rake. I bought some ice tongs, which

    made me surprisingly happy, and for which I

    had no earthly use.

  46. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz March 22, 2014 at 8:57 am | |

    Andy, stop saying I have a personality disorder. I have never gotten into a fight with my fiance or anyone else, really. In the Zendo, I was very polite and never even brought up my issues with Soto Zen.

    I’m asking you politely to stop using a pretentious air of “professionalism” when slyly diagnosing me as having a personality disorder. I will most likely be more successful than you in the future, financially, if things go the way I plan (no one can know for sure though). You see, I have no problem people cursing me or trying to act tough on the Internet, if I offend them, but it really bothers me when people act pretentious and step outside their bounds trying to rigidly define the other outside of Internet communication.

    Andy, what do you do for a living? You are older than me, yet you respond on this infantile site even more than me! I didn’t even look at these comments until now because I went online to plan my schedule more and other stuff.

    You see, I do have one problem. I am prejudiced towards Americans such as yourself Andy. I have many friends who are Bangladeshi, Russian, and etc., but people like you I generally avoid or talk very meekly to because I have to. In reality, I tend to keep my views to myself and like to avoid people such as yourself, who are actually more dogmatic than they make themselves out to be. You are the type of person to ask someone, “Where are you from?” before you serve them tea. There is a Sufi riddle about why that is destructive, which I can’t find at the moment. My point is, you want to cogently define everything even though you claim you don’t. You are not fine with not-knowing no matter how much you claim otherwise. This is an important point for your practice.

    If you were to see me in real life, I would just casually observe you without judgment. The story you just wrote about me is full of shit because everyone, including my family, who knows me thinks I’m Stoic and into obsessive about my aspiration; they also know I am very professional when I have to be. My biggest flaw are ultimately periods of lethargy that make me unable to be productive, and this is more of a consequence of diet and recent sedentariness.

    So yeah, you can go fuck yourself, Andy. I bet you don’t have many ethnically diverse friends? If you do, they’re probably homogenized by the common global culture of consumerism or so. I don’t see how you can get along with anyone who doesn’t act like yourself. You strike me as being the type of person who likes looking at himself in the mirror.

    I have gone days without looking in the mirror because I have important matters to attend to, because my life is generally on the line over fulfilling arbitrary standards. You wouldn’t understand.

    I genuinely mean it when I say I don’t give a fuck about you, Andy. I’m not going to say “good luck” when I don’t mean it.

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