Response to Sweeping Zen

Recently a couple of posts about me appeared on the Sweeping Zen website. These were written by Grace Schireson and her husband Peter Schireson. You will have to look them up yourself. I’m not interested in sending traffic to that website. I sent a response to these articles to Adam Tebbe, the editor of Sweeping Zen, after receiving an apology from him concerning some rather unfortunate discussions between us on Facebook.

I reproduce it here for your entertainment pleasure:

Adam,

I had planned a very different response to this apology. But then I saw Grace and Peter Schireson’s latest mean-spirited, nasty and accusatory pieces that you chose to run on Sweeping Zen and I have changed my mind.

Please remove all of my material from Sweeping Zen. You may keep the comments I’ve submitted because I understand that removing them would result in making the comments after them make little sense. But please remove all of my articles from the page as well as the interview that you conducted with me. I no longer wish to be associated in any way with Sweeping Zen.

You say [text omitted because it is personal] has made this a raw issue for you. I understand that and I am sorry for [text omitted because it is personal].

But please also understand that my on-going relationship with L****** M******, whom I consider the one great love of my life and from whom I am quite thoroughly separated by circumstances I won’t go into here, is quite a raw issue for me. To see it characterized in the unfair and frankly childishly bullying way that Grace and Peter have done is extremely hurtful. They cannot possibly imagine how it feels to see that. Nor do I like the fact that L****** will probably once again get dragged into this mess (which is the last thing she needs right now) because of their posts.

Furthermore the idea that my opinions are merely the result of wanting to get as much tail as possible from students is deeply hurtful and offensive. It was interesting to see both “Stephanie” and Jundo Cohen, both of whom I have had some serious disagreements with in the past, rush in to explain that I am not at all like that. It was quite heartwarming to read at least that much in this ugly morass of mudslinging. No. My experience with L****** was nothing of the sort. Again, to see it characterized that way when I have already shared in great detail something that was extraordinarily difficult to share hurts a lot. L****** was brave enough to allow me to use her real name when doing so and it’s very troubling to see Mr. and Mrs. Schireson carelessly drag her into this. I’ll have to do some serious damage control now.

You may certainly share this email with Grace and Peter. I hope that you do. They ought to see it & I do not know how to contact them. Nor do I wish to contact them. They are not nice people. But you MAY NOT share this email on Sweeping Zen, Facebook or any other public forum.

Thank you for doing this. And I do acknowledge your apology. Acceptance may take some time, however, due to these two articles.

Try to stay warm there in Ohio this season. I know how yucky it gets there this time of year. You have my sympathies as a fellow Ohioan!

Brad

So far it seems Mr. Tebbe has not removed my contributions, for which I was neither paid nor offered any remuneration and to which I retain all copyrights or the interview, which I now regret having done. Nor has he shared this with the Schiresons. He did, however, send me their email addresses. As I do not wish to communicate with either of these people, I will not be contacting them directly. If they or Mr. Tebbe choose to respond here, their comments will be deleted. Sorry. But it’s my blog, and it’s my prerogative to do so. They can say whatever they like in the many other forums available to them. This blog will not become a place them to debate this subject. Please excuse the inconvenience.

***

Please feel free to contribute whatever revenue you think I stand to lose by having no further coverage on Sweeping Zen and probably a future of being bashed by their writers.

166 Responses

Page 1 of 4
  1. gniz
    gniz December 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm | |

    Hey Brad,

    That sucks. You might or might not have noticed that I was somewhat active in the comments section of those articles. I didn’t defend you personally, so much as defend the notion that we should not create that kind of climate in our discussions.

    As one of your biggest trolls ever, you may find that ironic–or perhaps hopeful that people can and do change. For me, the change has occurred because of a great deal of suffering I went through with my family.

    Seeing how you’ve been hurt just further brings home the point that mudslinging and blaming do not HEAL instances of abuse, nor does it help people find common ground in disagreements.

    Basically, all this kind of argumentation does is allow us to feel “right” and “better than” on the very surface of our mind. Beneath that, however, the doubts just accumulate.

    All I can say is I am sorry for pain this has caused you around this issue. I also hope that you’re able to understand how the people who acted like this towards you are hurting themselves as well as you (again, I know this personally).

    Best.

    Aaron

  2. jparsons
    jparsons December 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm | |

    I went and read Grace Schireson’s article on SZ – I didn’t like it much at all. You’re right, it was bullying, and I particularly didn’t like the way she attempted to lord it over you with a gazillion titles of subjects she’s studied, which MUST make her an infallible expert on the subject, right? Juvenile.

    I really don’t get why they’re so pissed off at *you*. You did everything right, as far as I’m concerned – it’s like a colleague of mine who started dating a professor who was teaching a film studies seminar she was in – AFTER she quite the class. Yeah, they met in context of the seminar, they were interested in each other, and so she dropped the class so the teacher/student thing wouldn’t be an issue. But for some reason they STILL felt the need to keep the relationship secret for the next six months – presumably so they wouldn’t have to put up with shit like this.

  3. King Kong
    King Kong December 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm | |

    OH YUCK ::((

  4. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 9, 2012 at 7:00 pm | |

    Jesus, are they still hauling this around?

    Put it down guys!

  5. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 9, 2012 at 7:07 pm | |

    I did just pick up a copy fo the next book, Brad.

    Remember, fundamentally not one thing exists. Even assholes.

  6. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 9, 2012 at 7:10 pm | |

    I particularly didn’t like the way she attempted to lord it over you with a gazillion titles of subjects she’s studied, which MUST make her an infallible expert on the subject, right?

    Special transmission beyond words and scriptures, no dependence on words and letter.

  7. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | |

    Crap. That’s a quote, sorry I didn’t realize you filter HTML.

  8. Fred
    Fred December 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | |

    In the past two days I have come to see the opposite point of view. The politics of
    zen is the same as the real world.

    The zen police will be rounding up the non-orthodox for public pilloring.

  9. AnneMH
    AnneMH December 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm | |

    I am so sorry. I can kinda hear the pain through what you are writing so I hope I don’t say anything stupid. I didn’t go read their work or site, bullying doesn’t need more attention. I think by reading your books and how you respond to issues on your blog that we can tell what kind of person you are to some extent.

    I had my own deal that had some similarities, but not public. A person who felt their relationship with me was not what I agreed to went after someone I cared for very much but could not be with for many reasons. I have no idea how they got into personal information of mine to send horrible messages over several days to a private number and knew what was happening during that time as well. I had made some mistakes so it may have been fair to go after me, but to go after anyone else was cowardly and low.

    So if it matters, there are a lot of us who are listening to what you have to say, and what you feel you want to share, who will respect the people you care about enough to keep anything else free from random hurtful speculation.

  10. SoF
    SoF December 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm | |

    Dear Brad:

    My advice, just chill out. PLEASE.

    Grace Schireson is a clinical psychologist and, like it or not, you have a bit of a ‘boundary violation’ to deal with.

    Rev. Suzuki once commented that having multiple lovers is like brushing your teeth. You enter into a kind of responsibility to care for each one (as I interpret the little Suzuki’s words). If I run across the recording on-line, I will share the link.

    Ikkyu was living at a different time and in a different culture. This makes him a bit out of context.

    Were to I estimate you perspective and her perspective with a Venn Diagram, I fear the overlap would either be small or non-existent. This means that I am neither choosing sides nor being judgmental. It just seems to me you are talking past each other.

    She is making an example out of you rather than Richard Baker – who is, as they say, a little closer to home. And you are no Richard Baker! (e.g. where is your BMW 700 series? Where is your arrogance and hypocrisy? Where is your Julia Morgan designed residential center, hot-springs, and farm?)

    So just chill… there is nothing to be gained.

    Grace has experience in driving the viper from her room.

    Cheers,
    Chas

  11. Fred
    Fred December 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm | |

    So Chas, do you not have a Masters in Psych? I could take her on if I felt like it,
    but I don’t play those games any more. There’s too much ego involved in all of
    this.

    “Suchness is the real form of truth as it appears throughout the world — it is fluid and differs from any static substance. Our body is not really ours. Our life is easily changed by life and circumstances and never remains static. Countless things pass and we will never see them again. Our mind is also continually changing. Some people wonder: If this is true on what can we rely? But others who have the resolve to seek enlightenment, use this constant flux to deepen their enlightenment (1975: 58).”

    Riding the shit waves without attachment.

  12. Jundo Cohen
    Jundo Cohen December 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm | |

    Hi Brad,

    I am going to briefly post here if you allow me. Yesterday, I posted the below to both Grace and her husband. They are not bad people, and meant well I am sure, but what they wrote about you was twisted and foolish. I understand your feelings. However, dropping out of Sweeping Zen and such with your panties in a twist, perhaps too much and not the best way. You should reconsider.

    Gassho, Jundo

    ———–

    Hi Grace.

    As someone who has supported all your efforts, I think you do not describe the Brad I know or correctly characterize his point (whether I fully agree with it or not). Brad is what I would call “straight edge”: no drugs, no drinking and certainly no willy-nilly seducing the women who come to his sittings. In one single book, meant in fact to bring the image of “Zen Teacher” down to earth (where it should be) he discussed one relationship with a woman who in the past had been attending his sittings. I also agree with his point that relationships between Zen Teacher and student can and will happen, and do sometimes result in very positive relationships (some of the AZTA members, for example, are now happily married to partners who were once their students), and that it is case by case. On the other hand, I think that the situation is so rife for abuse, that it generally should be discouraged. Also, the real question is the misuse of power, using the cloak of bestowing a “Special Teaching” as a pick-up line, saying that crawling into bed with the “Roshi” or being fondled is a necessary spiritual practice and that the seducee is somehow unworthy if she refuses, confusing the aura of “spiritual friend or guide” with the role of lover … something that can be very damaging to folks who are often (not always) at a very sensitive, fragile, searching time in their lives where they are absolutely trusting and easily (not always) damaged and disillusioned when the fires of sex are misused. Brad certainly seems — in no way — to be encouraging or advocating anything like that. I think your and Kuzan Schireson’s posts are a twisting both of what Brad said and his character.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. gniz
    gniz December 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm | |

    I admit that it would be nice to see some reconciliation for a change, and watching some teachers model that would be great. Brad, I know you feel burned but I do believe this might be a chance to forge ahead and try to see a way through. In other words, I agree with Jundo…

    (cue Hell freezing over)

  14. Alizrin
    Alizrin December 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm | |

    My oh my, sounds like everyone has been thinking far too much and not meditating enough. But hey, I must admit, it is always good for us to realize that despite being Buddhists, we are humans! Humans are rather chronically fallible, just how it goes.

    Now, where can I buy the “I LOVE BRAD WARNER!” bumper sticker?

  15. King Kong
    King Kong December 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm | |

    TWISTED PANTIES ??

  16. sam
    sam December 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm | |

    I am very sorry to hear how you feel about what has happened on SZ. The article that I saw and responded to was a little confusing to me since it seemed cut and pasted and not really inline with what I have come to expect from you. I knew something was fishy but didn’t know the whole story. I hope that you and those you care for will heal from this.

    I don’t know the Schiresons and not sure I want to after the exchanges that I have read subsequent to your posting. My own difficulties with the hierarchy in Zen are somewhat known to you. I continue to be in this position of being a practitioner with no teacher. I think that the one thing I have learned from you and Tim M. is that the need for a teacher is not what people claim it to be. Perhaps these growing pains for American zen will lead us to a healthier place for all.

    gassho

  17. MJGibbs
    MJGibbs December 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm | |

    What is this idea that is assumed by Grace that Zen students have to be “vulnerable” or submissive to their teachers? Is that how she sees her position. What gives a Zen teacher such “authority?” I believe the placing of Zen teachers on a pedestal like supernatural beings is the most harmful issue in the Buddhist community. If anything needs to be addressed it is that (which seems to be the epitome of Brad’s work). If a woman or man sees their teacher as powerful and falls in love or becomes “vulnerable”, it’s due to that stupid fucking facade in the community, and how is that the fault of the teacher (though many teachers do play that “supernatural” role well). And if the teacher falls in love with a student who loves him back and they have consensual sex. How is that illegal?

    Now if a teacher has non-consensual sex with a student. That is rape. That is horrible. That is illegal.

    I believe it is stupid to make sexual relations between Zen teachers and students illegal. It’s not illegal for two consensual adults to fuck. The facade of placing so much authority power upon Zen teachers is the problem.

    Zen teachers are not shrinks nor should they try and play one (even if they are one). When you are a shrink, just be a shrink. When you are a Zen teacher, just be a Zen teacher.

    Why does Buddhism in the West always reek of puritanism? Fuck happens! Art teachers sometimes fuck their students. Sometimes students fuck their college professors. Managers fall in love with their employees. Employees sometimes fall in love with their managers (and might even get married and live happily till death do them part).

    Men are always seeking positions of power to attract woman, because many woman find a man in a position of power attractive. Some men find woman in position of power attractive. Sometimes successful woman fall in love with men who have no job and live with their parents. Is there really such a thing as equal power in these matters? Sometimes a woman is more “powerful” and sometimes the man is more “powerful.” Often such power switches from one person to the other in that one relationship. It’s all a big dance of energy.

    If Brad really wanted to find a career to become powerful and fuck a lot of woman, he would be better off becoming a rock star (the man can play a mean bass) or become a rich Hollywood insider than a Zen teacher.

    Power is an illusion. A projection of the mind. People are always falling in love with their projections of other people and find out the other wasn’t that “powerful” person who they fell in love with.

    Some waves are bigger than others. We are all equal in the end, because we all die back into the ocean.

  18. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm | |

    Well, well, well, oh well
    Well, well, well, oh well

    I took my loved one out to dinner
    So we could get a bite to eat
    And though we both had been much thinner
    She looked so beautiful I could eat her
    Well, well, well, oh well
    Well, well, well, oh well

    I took my loved one to a big field
    So we could watch the English sky
    We both were nervous feeling guilty
    And neither one of us knew just why
    Well, well, well, oh well
    Well, well, well, oh well
    (repeat several times)

    We sat and talked of revolution
    Just like two liberals in the sun
    We talked of women’s liberation
    And how the hell we could get things done
    Well, well, well, oh well
    Well, well, well, oh well

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhYrMb6pJQw

  19. King Kong
    King Kong December 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm | |

    I LUV THE MIND GUERRILLA !!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp0Jk7Li-ao

  20. gniz
    gniz December 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm | |

    Hey MJ, loved your heartfelt posting, much of which I agree with. Of course, I feel I can agree with both sides of this though–because I do feel that there truly are abuses of power going on.

    But agreed that it is the way that the hierarchy is being set up which in part creates it.

    Also, loved this line you wrote: “Sometimes successful woman fall in love with men who have no job and live with their parents. ”

    Thank goodness for those saintly women, I say. Lucky I found one myself!

  21. hrtbeat7
    hrtbeat7 December 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm | |

    Hui-k’o, the Second Patriarch of Zen passed on the bowl and robe to his successor, the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts’an, signifying the Transmission of the Dharma. Hui-k’o, who had received the seal of approval from Bodhidharma himself, then went everywhere drinking and carousing around like a wildman and partaking in the offerings of the brothel districts. When people asked how he could do such a thing, being a Patriarch of the Zen school and all, he would respond with: “What business is it of yours?”

  22. King Kong
    King Kong December 9, 2012 at 10:34 pm | |
  23. MJGibbs
    MJGibbs December 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm | |

    Thanks, Gniz!

    I know there have been terrible sexual abuses in the Buddhist community (not to mention other religious communities). Any accusation of harassment should be investigated. But wanting to send a teacher and student to jail for having adult consensual sex is mind-boggling to me.

    The facade of religious authority and power is always fucking things up…from sexual abuse to suicide bombers.

    It would be a shame to not let two people that fell in love be together just because of their positions of “power.”

  24. Khru
    Khru December 9, 2012 at 11:49 pm | |

    Throw away your sutras, your robes, your damned religion…

  25. Jundo Cohen
    Jundo Cohen December 10, 2012 at 2:04 am | |

    !Geezus Brad! BE QUIET ABOUT US! You’re going to blow a good gimmick and it’s almost Zen ratings sweeps.

  26. katiecantread
    katiecantread December 10, 2012 at 4:46 am | |

    I completely agree with you Brad. No one has the right or responsibility to “characterize” what this person experienced.

    I was sexually abused as a child and I would find it very insulting for anyone to attempt to describe my experience.

    It is my experience and no one else’s. Period.

    I disagree that the issue needs to be addressed. No one should make decisions for other people. It is further enabling them to not take responsibility for their lives. We’re talking about an adult who has made a conscious decision to allow someone to abuse her. She feels that being abused by him was the closest she ever got to God. While I disagree with her decisions I do not think anyone has the right or responsibility to address her experience or others experiences for that matter.

  27. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2012 at 4:53 am | |

    “Power is an illusion. A projection of the mind. People are always falling in love with their projections of other people and find out the other wasn’t that “powerful” person who they fell in love with. ”

    This.

    What does strengthening of boundaries in ego therapy have to do with dropping
    the body mind, with the dissipation of a conceptualized and conditioned self
    into the Universe, with the realization of the pre-existing no self upon the
    Absolute?

    In the minds of the Grand Inquisition anything that threatens the power and
    reified dogma of the church is heresy.

    It isn’t Zen.

    1. fightclubbuddha
      fightclubbuddha December 10, 2012 at 5:41 am | |

      Bravo. +1

      “Self improvement is masturbation. Now self destruction …” Tyler Durden

  28. Al
    Al December 10, 2012 at 5:06 am | |

    Hey Brad,

    Sorry to hear about this. The idea that a relationship is always unethical is absurd.

    Personally I think that Sweeping Zen is a cheese ball site. I thought the idea was cool originally, but the guy who runs it sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong. He hasn’t been practicing all that long and it seems to be a fan boy type of thing. I’m not a fan.

    Al

  29. King Kong
    King Kong December 10, 2012 at 6:33 am | |

    LOL !! !! ZEN COMMUNITIES R AWESUM ::))

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YdGcLci2hU

  30. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel December 10, 2012 at 7:47 am | |

    SoF wrote:

    “Grace Schireson is a clinical psychologist and, like it or not, you have a bit of a ‘boundary violation’ to deal with. ”

    Psychologists tend to be psychos in the first place. The number of cases I have met with people who had to deal with some on a private level (me included) has shown hallucinating similarities of behaviour (perfectly idiotic behaviour at that). You meet someone who tells you “I was with this person and he/she had this kind of reaction and so on” and you react by asking “Was he/she a psychologist?” and the answer is yes, almost every time.

    There is also that experiment where a clinical psychologist was told that she’d meet a patient who had this strange quirk that he thought he was a psychiatrist. And they told a psychiatrist that he’d meet a patient who thought she was a clinical psychologist. What do you think happened? Every argument the opponent gave his vis-ŕ-vis that he/she was what he/she insisted was considered as further proof that they were mad.

    And it is not fair to say (or imply), SoF, that Brad had multiple simultaneous affairs. From what I understand, he just was in an affair with a girl he met at a moment his wife rejected him and was in the process of asking a divorce.

  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2012 at 8:15 am | |

    Agree with Proulx Michel; the psychology majors I knew in college were strange, and seemed to have control issues (to me).

    Then again, when I was doing my teacher ed, before they cashiered me for what they saw as my poor classroom discipline, the coursework included a psychology text that apologized for the useless information that had characterized education psychology texts in the past. Progress!

    Now as to the Schiresons, I would fault the mister for naming names; that’s not something you do in cases of abuse, if you truly believe it’s a case of abuse, even if a name has been previously published. For the Ms., I think it’s a great thing that she and two others have undertaken to help anyone who feels traumatized by Sasaki. That they will publish their finding seems entirely invasive to me; am I alone in this?

    Yes, I understand that if Sasaki has broken laws, he should be held accountable. Speaking of laws, it may be that consensual sex between a minister and a congregant is illegal in thirteen states (did I read that right); gay marriage is illegal in many states, including California at the moment, and marijuana cannot even be used for medicine in most states. Prostitution is legal in Nevada, and Californians just voted overwhelmingly to criminalize a prostitute helping a parent or loved one to get by financially. If I understand correctly.

    If the Mr. had a problem with karma and chocolate, wait until he gets to Nina Hartley!

    ok I’m done.

  32. tim
    tim December 10, 2012 at 8:42 am | |

    This most recent round of Dharma Drama is a wild and surreal situation. It is interesting how this transformed from an inquiry as to the behavior and possible sexual misconduct of Joshu Sasaki to how Brad Warner is a womanizing man-slut. This leads me to suspect that much of this is nothing more than a vague reason to attack Brad. There may be several valid reasons to disagree with Brad, but I just don’t see any constructive criticisms with this current spectacle.

    I get the feeling that Ms. Schireson likes to have titles. She seems to enjoy mentioning that she is a member of the clergy, a therapist, educated, and so forth. Literally playing the holier than thou card. It’s just sad.

    Mr. Schireson had to respond to protect his woman because, obviously, as Sweeping Zen pointed out, women need men to stand up for them. The poorly written and executed satire is evidence of such haste and desire to defend Ms. Schireson from the predatory sexual deviancy of Mr. Warner. One more notch in his obi, for sure.

    I have been trying to discover some sort of redeeming lesson that we can take away from this. Much of it is petty, obtuse rantings. My one personal take-away, is that I have no desire to interact with the Schiresons. They seem to come off as dreadful and smug people (Smeagol?).

    Beyond that, much like a junior high drama fight, very little was accomplished. This may just be yet another footnote in the growing pains of growing up Zen in America.

  33. Alizrin
    Alizrin December 10, 2012 at 9:05 am | |

    Dharma Drama, love that, should be the title of a book.

  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2012 at 9:15 am | |

    I need to apologize to my friends who were psychology majors. I think maybe they are drawn to psychology as a coping mechanism, and I have to say the draw for me with Zen was the same.

    so there, I’ve said it.

  35. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon December 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | |

    Today’s koan: What is the difference between sweeping Zen and shoveling manure?

  36. Stephanie
    Stephanie December 10, 2012 at 9:40 am | |

    I do not recall the major disagreement I had with Brad but I guess that’s to be expected given how often I have strong opinions and disagreements with people online. I know there are times I have not been into what Brad was saying at all, but I have never had any concerns regarding Brad’s ethics. I find the words being hurled at Brad outrageous, to the point of comedy. Someone on Sweeping Zen called Brad a “sexual predator”? Really!? 

    I see Brad, from the brief impressions I’ve had of his personality in person, as a very gentle person who would want to meet someone on equal terms for a relationship. No relationship is perfect and anyone could pick apart anyone else’s relationships, but I see nothing questionable about what Brad has described going on between him and L. What I recall reading was that it was a sweet, meaningful connection.

    I think people just crave a big juicy drama. We want to feel heroic so we make up monsters and bad guys to fight a la Don Quixote. It amazes me what could be accomplished if people turned this energy against real problems in the world instead of this “nosy neighbor” type of bullshit. 

    What is so clear to me is this is all about ego, all about people’s need to define the groups they belong to and defend their sense of rightness. We all do this, but what to me makes the difference between being on the path and not being on it is the extent to which a person looks at him or herself and inquires into these tendencies and the extent to which a person wants to look at, judge, criticize, and condemn others. 

    What strikes me is how rarely you see this in online Zen; how rarely you see people say (or write), “Hmm, maybe I could be wrong? What is my stake in defending this position?” If anything, people seem more entrenched in their positions than people who are not practicing Zen. I notice how eager everyone is to have the answers and be able to share them with everyone else, and how few people seem to present with real, burning questions that can’t be resolved with a fee homilies and platitudes. Having questions is edgy and uncomfortable! We don’t want that in Therapy Zen! We want tranquility and calm, not liberation; we want to have it affirmed that everything we are doing is already Zen, not be reminded of the ancestors who sat on the edges of cliffs eating pine needles because they were so determined not to let themselves get pulled into the somnolence of everyday society. 

    The funny thing is I don’t think we necessarily need to walk away from job and family and sit on the edge of a cliff, but we do need that spirit of strong determination that we will continue to look and question no matter how uncomfortable it gets. This Zen stuff is all so much wallpaper if all of us are sleeping the sleep of ego and don’t wake up. How important is it to people to wake up? 

    I become increasingly convinced that very few people who enter the Zen world actually have much desire or will to resolve this great matter of life and death; I think most people want a community to belong to and some reassurance and guidance when things get tough in life. Just like any nice Protestant asking their pastor about their marriage or work problems and what God would want them to do. Which as far as I’m concerned is the opposite of Zen. 

    This is the reason Zen is not therapy. In the Zendo we enter a place where we can be challenged rather than coddled, have questions thrown back on us rather than be given easy answers. This can happen in therapy too, sure, but there is a certain sense of safety that is and should be expected in therapy where Zen is the place that we can peer over the Abyss or walk into the fire and not have someone pull us back, where we can actually be encouraged to keep going. You are only truly free when you break away from the need to be reassured, or appreciated, or “part of.” That is the gift of Zen. 

    And it bothers me when I see people using Zen to reassure themselves and prop up and endorse social norms and myths instead if questioning them. But my practice is looking at and questioning that and everything else in my experience. When I notice myself getting caught up in focusing on others, I make the effort to turn the light back inward. I can’t make anyone else want to wake up; I can only tend to my own practice. And make annoying posts like these when I can’t resist the urge any more, and then go back to asking why I felt the need to do that.

  37. hrtbeat7
    hrtbeat7 December 10, 2012 at 10:06 am | |

    “You people are just like drunkards. I don’t know how you manage to keep on your feet in such a sodden condition. Why everyone will die laughing at you. It all seems so easy, so why do we have to live to see a day like this? Can’t you understand that . . . there are no ‘teachers of Zen’?” ~Huang Po

    So, what do we find here, in the midst of a parade of Asian Dharma heirs and their successors groping students, crusading busybodies with the “stink of therapy” righteously pilloring them, spiced with equal dollops of hypocricy, prudery, vindictive sarcasm, endless gossip, and accompanied by cries for more police, regulations, and prohibitions, that seem to be representative of the current state of affairs in the game of Zen Buddhism here in the West?

    Any signs of awakened Bodhicitta in the considerations? Nope. Any hint of a willingness to skip the internecine politics and examine the root of the issue — the prevailing emotional/sexual contraction that infects most human relations? Nope. In other words, the same old same old? Sadly, yes, which is why I and so many other former or prospective practitioners I encounter choose to avoid the current institutions of Buddhism like a contagious disease.

    Yes, Huang Po was right — there is Zen, but no teachers of Zen, just plenty of mad children running around in dress-up robes, playing games of one-upmanship, flashing empty credentials, and pretending.

    Btw, Thank you, Stephanie, for your comments! It’s good to see that there are a few who are still willing to open their eyes and inspect their positions.

  38. Fred
    Fred December 10, 2012 at 10:20 am | |


    not be reminded of the ancestors who sat on the edges of cliffs eating pine needles because they were so determined not to let themselves get pulled into the somnolence of everyday society”

    .The last time I ate pine needles I had diarrhea for a week.

  39. Piles of Trials with Smiles
    Piles of Trials with Smiles December 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | |

    Stephanie, on my best day I could not have put it any clearer than you. My jaw is just on the carpet with appreciation. So many times in Zen practice, my comfort, my values, even my “morals” have been collateral damage. But without this practice I would be totally dead inside: Thoreau’s man who “when he dies comes to discover that he has not lived.” Your words ring true, thank you so much: “This is the reason Zen is not therapy. In the Zendo we enter a place where we can be challenged rather than coddled, have questions thrown back on us rather than be given easy answers. This can happen in therapy too, sure, but there is a certain sense of safety that is and should be expected in therapy where Zen is the place that we can peer over the Abyss or walk into the fire and not have someone pull us back, where we can actually be encouraged to keep going. You are only truly free when you break away from the need to be reassured, or appreciated, or “part of.” That is the gift of Zen. And it bothers me when I see people using Zen to reassure themselves and prop up and endorse social norms and myths instead if questioning them.”

  40. Serenity
    Serenity December 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | |

    I was going to comment on the situation with Sweeping Zen but I don’t have an answer. It almost seems like “much ado about nothing”. It’s gossip and gossip’s mean and I’ve been hurt by it so I know a little of the pain and I know a little of the fear it can instill in someone. Aren’t those the two biggies that we hope buddhism will help us overcome? I’m new at this, so I don’t know.

    So instead of offering a solution, I looked for insight. I loved all the posts. Stephanie thank you and Mark and King Kong and hrtbeat7 especially. Sometimes when I read these posts I find answers I wasn’t looking for. I hope you find comfort and reassurance Brad. They pushed your buttons and that is possibley exactly what they wanted to do.

  41. gniz
    gniz December 10, 2012 at 11:48 am | |

    I don’t think Sweeping Zen was wrong in publishing articles relating to the initial “sex scandal” per se.

    The tone was off, and as usual, it degenerated into blaming and accusations and self-righteousness. It’s typical, it’s nothing new and clearly people are sickened by that.

    The way out is not to “sweep” stuff under the rug, nor is it to sit around pointing fingers. Each one of us has (I believe) a real responsibility to be better, to listen better, to try to have actual compassion (rather than theoretical compassion).

    That means compassion even when it hurts and even when we feel hurt and wronged. If each one of us can do that, then the comments on Sweeping Zen and everywhere else look very different.

    But I do believe that Sweeping Zen had every right to discuss the initial scandal elements, if it had been handled better.

  42. gniz
    gniz December 10, 2012 at 11:49 am | |

    And when I say the sex scandal, I mean the one about Joshu, not the secondary accusations leveled at Brad–those were clearly egregious and even the people who wrote and said those things are seeming to acknowledge that now.

  43. sri_barence
    sri_barence December 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | |

    Brad,

    Strongly suggest you stay with Sweeping Zen. I think it would be healthy and useful to have a dissenting opinion, (if that is what you have to offer). My impression of your teaching is that you are just like this. That is pretty rare. I have met several Zen teachers, and you are the only one who acts like a Regular Joe in public (although I actually haven’t met you). When one of our local teachers mentioned that he thought of someone as “that m*thrfkr,” I noticed that the students (me included) were surprised and impressed. I rather liked that story, because it showed that the teacher was in fact human. We don’t see that enough in this Zen life.
    I try hard not to idolize the teachers, but still find myself doing so anyway. Some of them are very cool! I think you should keep wearing the bunny suit and making goofy videos with Skylar. Someone has to do it.
    Maybe you and Grace should go on the lecture circuit together, each one sharing your points of view, and encouraging the audience to participate. I’ll buy a ticket if you come to my town with that show.

  44. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | |

    The Zennists are just mad because Mr. Warner apparently has certain attributes, such as, a “sense of humor,” or a “personality,” or that his writing is “interesting” and “fun to read.” Jealousy is a hell of an emotion.

    I don’t always agree with you Brad, but you appear to be pretty honorable and genuine and responsible. So, in the words of the great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, “Fuck those people.” The whole Zen “scene” is pretty distasteful, anyway. It’s no different from any other scene where a bunch of assholes are trying to get a bunch of attention. You’re not missing out on anything.

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence December 11, 2012 at 5:13 am | |

      Very nice post! Your description of Brad’s “attributes” had me laughing out loud.

  45. SoF
    SoF December 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | |

    Yes, Virginia, I do have the M.S. in Pcych. But one semester of the practicum convinced me that there were people who were just too F*ck*d Up for me to deal with and I did NOT follow up on the Shingle.

    I have a lot of friends who hanged out a shingle (since they are all females, the word hung does not apply).

    There IS a difference between a Board Certified Psychologist and a Zen Monk. (DUH!)

    Religious freedom dictates that what Monk’s do (providing it is not with under age altar boys) is a matter of “personal choice.” And as much as some might bind an apple in the peel of an orange, it doesn’t hold orange juice in the apple.

    Sexual misconduct must be defined IN CONTEXT. The legal, ethical, and moral constraints differ in different professions. A prostitute and a surrogate perform similar functions in different contexts. As cited, neither are illegal! Which is immoral? Which is unethical?

    CONTEXT.

    Perspective.

    I advocate the decriminalization of quite a bit…

    The “war on drugs” is a farce on steroids.

    The attempt to control the oldest profession is another farce, it needs to be legalized, regulated, and made safe – or safer.

    In Buddhism, we are taught to control ourselves – not others.

  46. semilano
    semilano December 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | |

    It was easier to judge other Zen “Masters” in your books, then being judged yourself, wasn’t it Brad…

  47. boubi
    boubi December 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm | |

    I didn’t understand anything of all this, how did it started? But please don’t tell me.

    Now what is evident is that mastery of meditation doesn’t make people different from (soap opera) people, scheming, trying to impose themselves on others, ect

    How comes? Where is this “morality” many think is embeded in buddhism?

    Or are they just so many unqualified teachers, what about trasmission?

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