RAZORCAKE, SATURDAY ZEN RETREAT, ZEN NOIR, JOHN LENNON


Razorcake magazine has published an interview with me in issue #34. If you can’t find it wherever punk rock magazines are sold, try ordering it using the link on this article. It’s a pretty OK interview. I mean, at least it sounds like me. Even as far back as the interviews I did as the leader of Dimentia 13 I was always amazed at how most of the quotes attributed to me were actually made up by the writers. This one’s not like that. Plus there are some pretty idiotic photos you can cut out and pin up on your wall.

Not a whole lot of people have signed up for the monthly day-long Zazen micro-retreat in Santa Monica this Saturday September 23rd (see the link to your right for full details & schedule). With all the traffic and comments this blog gets and all the sales of my book, it’s kind of surprising how few of you are really willing to actually do the practice you so enjoy reading and talking about. Such is life I suppose. Maybe I should write a book called “Put Up or Shut Up.” *

I will be at the 7:15 show of Zen Noir on Saturday Sept. 23rd at the Westside Pavillion Theater on Pico Blvd. in Los Angeles. It’s a weird, funny movie. Go see it. Go to the article called “Zen Noir” (2 articles below this one) and click on the link there if you want to know more about the movie.

Last night I went and saw “The U.S. vs. John Lennon.” I liked it. But, then again, I’m a sucker for just about anything Beatle-related. Yoko comes off pretty good in this one, unlike in other documentaries about John or The Beatles. I’ve always been a fan of Yoko. I’m one of the few people who actually digs her Plastic Ono Band album perhaps more than John’s Plastic Ono Band album.

The film focuses on Lennon’s political activities, particularly his 1972 “Sometime in New York City” period. That album has always been one of my favorites of his, maybe because Yoko’s more fully featured on that one than on any other until “Double Fantasy” and “Milk and Honey.” Also because of the rockin’ sounds of Elephant’s Memory, their back-up band at the time. If I didn’t know better, I might have been convinced by the movie that Lennon was more a political activist than a musician. Even though the film quotes him saying he was an artist first more than once, the producers seem more interested in him as a political figure. Which is OK, I guess. Every documentary has to have some point of view. It’s just that it isn’t really true. Lennon’s overtly political phase was pretty short-lived. Though it did, obviously, concern the Nixon administration.

I’m not entirely sold on the film’s covert message that Lennon was the force of Light and Life while Nixon and Bush are Darkness and Death personified. That’s way too simplistic and idealized. Lennon was an amazing talent, no doubt about it. But he was, by his own admission, a dreamer. Songs like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Imagine” are absolutely 100% spot on correct. There can be no doubt whatsoever that sentiments like those point in the direction mankind needs to go if we are to survive. But we also need to be aware of the real facts of the world which, unfortunately, are not as beautiful as our dreams.

In the 80′s I hated Reagan with a passion and supported the idea of the nuclear freeze. Yet nowadays I am, quite painfully, forced to admit that the arms build up Reagan supported was the real key to the end of the Cold War and the end of the threat of total global nuclear annihilation. Reagan, who would surely have been tarred as part of the forces of darkness by these film-makers had the film been made in the 1980′s, was right and I was wrong. Peace is established by and large through the threat of violent retribution towards those who would disturb it. I do not like this fact. But I cannot deny it. This is something which we must certainly change. But we will not change it by refusing to face it, by pretending that the way to peace is all beads and flowers and love-ins, and insense and groovy spirituality. It isn’t. The real way to lasting peace is to establish a realistic outlook and stick with it no matter if we like it or not.

* OK, I know a lot of you would come to the sittings if you didn’t live a bazillion miles away from Los Angeles. But I also know that people are buying the book in LA. I see them show up at the bookstores I frequent, watch the numbers dwindle and see them get restocked. It’s all very gratifying. But I have to wonder, where are these people on Saturday mornings…?

29 Responses

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  1. docretro
    docretro September 19, 2006 at 10:34 am | |

    The cold war ended, because the socialist confederation collapsed under it’s economical problems.

    The threat of violent retribution doesn’t produce peace. It only leads to a non-violent situation, but doesn’t solve the underlying problems.

  2. Jules
    Jules September 19, 2006 at 11:31 am | |

    Huh. I wonder how many people posting on this blog are within three hundred miles of Santa Monica.

  3. Jordan & The Tortoise
    Jordan & The Tortoise September 19, 2006 at 11:40 am | |

    Nine hundred seventy one.

  4. oxeye
    oxeye September 19, 2006 at 11:43 am | |

    Ronald Reagan’s arms build up might have been a contributor to the end of the cold war, but it might have led us into our current position where nearly every third rate, would-be dictator now has sophisticated wmd at his disposal. Some might say we are now in a state of permanent war because of our manufacture and distribution of these modern weapons. You say peace is established by the threat of violent retribution towards those who would disturb it. But actually, peace is established by actual fighting and killing. Peace would not exist without that part. In the words of some wise man in Vietnam, we must destroy the village in order to save it. Otherwise we better be prepared for generations of fighting with no end in sight. If we must have these weapons of mass destruction, we better be prepared for their eventual use because that is where we are going. That is reality. Ronald Reagan and the rest of us have created a world where crazy people will soon have access to nuclear weapons. And they will use them sure as hell unless we kill them first. How is that for an ugly truth. If you cannot accept that truth you might not be ready for any truth. Of course, We could reject all violence and start loving our neighbors but that isnít a very realistic outlook is it?

  5. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey September 19, 2006 at 11:55 am | |

    “If we must have these weapons of mass destruction, we better be prepared for their eventual use because that is where we are going. That is reality.”

    Reality is not a pessimistic outlook.

    “And they will use them sure as hell unless we kill them first. How is that for an ugly truth. If you cannot accept that truth you might not be ready for any truth.”

    Again, alot of people have the mentality that what they think is truth. You see it on nationalist websites, propaganda posters, forums supporting anarchy etc.
    Your view comes across no different, “if you cannot accept the truth (oxeyes truth), you might not be ready for the truth (oxeyes truth)”

  6. V for Vendetta
    V for Vendetta September 19, 2006 at 11:59 am | |

    So its ok if i do Earth liberation and Animal liberation activities then??

  7. earDRUM
    earDRUM September 19, 2006 at 1:02 pm | |

    I wonder if world peace is possible?
    I kind of doubt it, because it seems that there is always one culture taking advantage of another… until they retaliate.
    Greed (for resources) and religious intolerance seem to be major factors.
    As long as these things continue, then we will need to defend ourselves.
    The human race seems to be a rather stupid one. After 10000 years of “civilization” we still haven’t figured out how to live in harmony. We ain’t too bright.
    It is hard not to be pessimistic these days. But I still have hope.
    Maybe I am crazy?

    I live a peaceful existence in my own life. Most people I know do so too. I know I am lucky to live in this bubble.

  8. JustKeith
    JustKeith September 19, 2006 at 1:06 pm | |

    Not that it matters to anyone except me, but I’ve got to disagree with Brad here. Docretro stated my position pretty well.

    I have to say that both Brad’s and Nishijima’s blogs are getting pretty weird and actually kind of irrelevant to me and my Zen practice. I began reading both blogs because in both their work I found a no BS, down-to-earth Buddhism with which I connected. I hoped to learn more, and I did. However, I now have to admit that it’s become too voyeuristic, like not wanting to turn away from a car wreck. I am frankly tired of doing this. This has nothing to do with my needing Zen masters to be perfect or my having to agree with everything they say. My teacher isnít perfect and even though Hardcore Zen is one of my favorite books, I donít give a ratís ass about punk rock or monster movies. But, I am no longer learning anything from these blogs except how silly people are. And I knew that before I came here.

    And Brad, I love your work! It has been the only work that has actually got my ass on the cushion, but jules is right, do you actually think we all live near you? Please don’t cast aspersions on those of us who have actually been interested in and spent time on reading your writings. If youíre not doing it for others to read, donít frigginí publish it. And know that if I lived anywhere near you, my ass would be on a cushion next to yours. But since I live in FL, the best I can do is read this blog and wait for your next book. However, even though I didn’t post a great deal, I no longer will be hanging around here, so I look forward to the next book. Iíll be one of the first to buy it.

    But, I’m out of here.

    I sincerely wish you all peace and tenacity in your practice.

  9. oxeye
    oxeye September 19, 2006 at 1:17 pm | |

    monkey, There are a lot of patterns in history and a major pattern is violence. It is not just the pattern of the human race. It is the way animal life is. If it makes me a pessimist not to imagine the human race changing in any fundamental way very soon, then I am a pessimist. I do not condone violence. I think it is stupid behavior. but I think violence is inevitable and all we can do about stopping it is to try not be violent ourselves.

  10. gniz
    gniz September 19, 2006 at 1:26 pm | |

    Brad
    You are ego-tripping brother!
    You claimed in your last post to know the way to go to get world peace!
    WTF
    Nobody else thinks this dude is drinking funny Kool Aid?

  11. gniz
    gniz September 19, 2006 at 2:04 pm | |

    Dude, BTW just cuz no one shows up to sit Zen in Santa Monica, doesnt mean people arent sitting.

    Ah…you can sit anywhere bro.
    We dont need you or Gudo or anyone else to sit our ass on a fucking cushion you fool.

    g

  12. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey September 19, 2006 at 2:41 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey September 19, 2006 at 2:53 pm | |

    gniz, don’t underestimate the powah of a teacher. Although you don’t neccessarily need to choose out of the two.

  14. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf September 19, 2006 at 3:24 pm | |

    I once had a freind who asked me if I would rather be loved or feared?

    He said feared, because he thinks you can control people through the manipulation of fear to get what you want.

    I think fear or using violent threat can bring temporary peace, but in the long run, it will cause more hate and violence. It causes uprisings. Plus you have the whole karma thing.

    There may be a time when violence needs to be used as a last resort to do the right thing, but I feel using violent threat in the long once creates bitterness and the taste for revenge.

    But I don’t to choose being loved either, because it’s unrealistic.

    I do choose love not fear when it comes to dealing with situations, even if I may have to knock someone out to apply love.

  15. Anatman
    Anatman September 19, 2006 at 3:52 pm | |

    Lone Wolf:

    OMG, you were friends with Nicolo Machiavelli?! ;-)

  16. Momentarilysane
    Momentarilysane September 19, 2006 at 3:55 pm | |

    Peace – in the world, as it is – is established by and large through the threat of violent retribution towards those who would disturb it.

    The inevitable undercurrent, however, is that with that follows continuous motion towards establishing even greater fears of violent retribution, on the side of those who would disturb the peace in the first place…

    Isn’t the real way to lasting peace the realization of the fact that the real way to lasting peace is to choose NOT to be violent? And, is it (I wonder) possible to be non-violent in a flowerless kinda way?

  17. docretro
    docretro September 19, 2006 at 4:38 pm | |

    “And, is it (I wonder) possible to be non-violent in a flowerless kinda way?”

    Yeah, you could try the incense and cimbals kinda way – no plants needed there… ;)

  18. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead September 19, 2006 at 4:43 pm | |

    Hey folks! Don’t forget the lesson
    learned in Dr. Seuss’s “The Butter
    Battle Book”.

  19. Anatman
    Anatman September 19, 2006 at 5:26 pm | |

    Sorry but no one, Zen master or otherwise, knows “the real way to lasting peace,” because we’ve never seen it in the first place.

    A Zen master may be qualified to offer advice on personal matters such as personal peace, but on matters of global politics? I don’t think so.

  20. lkjlkjlkj
    lkjlkjlkj September 19, 2006 at 7:27 pm | |

    Not a whole lot of people have signed up for the monthly day-long Zazen micro-retreat in Santa Monica this Saturday September 23rd

    My personal view is that seriously sitting people gather around teachers who are just teachers and don’t talk anythig else. The same way we don’t like to hear our doctor to lecture politics to us. We don’t care as long as he is good at his own speciality. Dalai Lama, Thich Nath Hanh, Brad Warner etc. may be popular talkers, writers and famous and they are invited to many places, but they don’t have many personal students. Just not enough time.

  21. Graham
    Graham September 20, 2006 at 12:00 am | |

    Look people, anybody who spends an hour a day looking at a wall is going to come out with some cookie stuff now and again :)

    (…just trying a bit of humour….)

  22. WH
    WH September 20, 2006 at 6:17 am | |

    Wow, you were the leader of Dementia 13? I had no idea, and here I’ve been following your blog since I read one of your articles in one of the Buddhist magazines a while back.

    I was really into your band (especially the silver, mirror-like covered album) back in my druggy days. You made some great trip music.

    Strange that the drugs led me to Buddhism — not sure if you followed the same path, but cool to know I once really liked your music.

    Peace,
    Bill

  23. Anatman
    Anatman September 20, 2006 at 12:37 pm | |

    Wow. Talk about irony, unintended consequences, and crossing paths…

  24. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf September 21, 2006 at 3:53 pm | |

    Anatman – After reading what I wrote, it sounds a bit strange to me.

    I was just saying that using violent threat may stop a few people from doing something crazy, but in the long run won’t bring peace.

    Then I said sometimes you may have to break the Buddhist precepts in order to bring about peace or to do the right thing.

    Say your friend is about to run out in front of a train because his girlfriend just dumped him. The trains coming, he’s going to run out in front of it. You might want to knock him out before he kills himself, then you can apologize after and let him know that it’s not the end of the world.

    Just an example.

    I think Brad talks about using these kind of puzzles are just churning the muck around in your brain and just waste of time.

  25. dave
    dave September 21, 2006 at 7:40 pm | |

    Sometime in New York City was the first John Lennon album I bought in 1977 & have always liked it. Never knew anyone else who did.

  26. Anatman
    Anatman September 21, 2006 at 10:54 pm | |

    Lone Wolf:

    Sorry if I sounded like a smartass.

    When I refered to Machiavelli I was just being silly. It was Machiavelli that wrote that it is better for a ruler to be feared than loved:

    “This gives rise to an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the opposite. The answer is that one would like to be both, but since it is difficult to combine the two it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to make way. For generally speaking, one can say the following about men: they are ungrateful, inconsistent, feigners and dissimulators, avoiders of danger, eager for gain, and whilst it profits them they are all yours. They will offer you their blood, their property, their life and their offspring when your need for them is remote. But when your needs are pressing, they turn away. The prince who depends entirely on their words perishes when he finds he has not taken any other precautions. This is because friendships purchased with money and not by greatness and nobility of spirit are paid for, but not collected, and when you need them they cannot be used. Men are less worried about harming somebody who makes himself loved than someone who makes himself feared, for love is held by a chain of obligation which, since men are bad, is broken at every opportunity for personal gain. Fear, on the other hand, is maintained by a dread of punishment which will never desert you.”

  27. So Daiho Hilbert
    So Daiho Hilbert September 22, 2006 at 10:11 am | |

    With palms together,
    Hello Brad. All we can really do is offer ourselves and the opportunity to practice. You do both. If people sit with you, OK. If not, OK. Some of my “best” practice sessions were alone in our empty zendo. Be well.

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