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:


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******,  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!


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.

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166 Responses

  1. King Kong
    King Kong December 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm |


  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    Very fine, Kong. I got a tape of Joy Division from Danny, the drummer of the Avengers, and they were the finest thing (even if it was a crummy tape).

    My landlady will head out to a Real Love group meeting next month. I have to return the book to her (by Greg Baer, M.D.). I glanced at the book, but gist was easy- only unconditional love matters.

    In my vocabulary, unconditional love is action generated out of impact as consciousness takes place and the ability to feel engendered through impact, and the experience of unconditional love is as necessary as the movement of breath. If hardcore Zen practice is emphasized, then only adepts will teach, yet the greater good is perhaps communicating the heart of the practice in words everyone can understand and in words that each of us can use when we talk to each other.

    I suppose hardcore Zen practice and teachers who are adepts is necessary and desirable, but I can’t help feeling that it’s only necessary to the extent that we fail to experience the place we are in at the moment, along with the attendant ability to feel, and to acknowledge that true person of no rank is going in and out of the holes in our faces at this time .

  3. nowthis
    nowthis December 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    Oh good grief … Brad, I’ve just sent my 13-year-old grandson Hardcore Zen for Xmas. Thanks for your efforts.

  4. Mumon
    Mumon December 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    You know, the very concept of Sweeping Zen – “the definitive guide to who’s who in Zen” – is kinda sorta ??.

    It’s too self-important.

    It’s also riotously impossible.

  5. NellaLou
    NellaLou December 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    Better he turns out like you than like some of these other Zen masters.

    Much as I may criticize you once in a while for comparatively minor foibles, I’ve never felt you were deliberately cruel and trying to really, with malice, dehumanize anyone. That’s the sense I got from some of those big wigs. It made me both angry and sad.

    I hope you are OK. Or will be.

  6. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz December 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    “I” have practiced Soto Zen, Zazen, etc. for the past 2-3 years, and I have come to see that Buddhism is not tenable in American organizations. This is a “Dhamma ending age” and pratyekabuddhas tend to emerge in this period. Buddhism has been distilled into simple phrases such as “live in the moment” when it dealt with much more “painful” topics in the past. Zen also began with much promise but eventually became too laid back in its illogical riddles, fetish over non-dualistic “formless practices”, and etc.

    This world is “eat or be eaten” (a constant recycling), nothing is grasped in impermanence, there is no self by which things revolve around, and there is no present moment. We’re not “all” in this together, trust me, because what may be perceived as problem to you is certainly no problem to me.

    Regardless, the biggest problem to me is how people have forgotten Buddhism’s goal of the eradication of attachment, craving, desire, and etc., and Dogen’s “oneness of practice enlightenment” is just a way to avoid hard DILIGENT EFFORT in order to “reach” the ninth jhana of cessation of perception and feelings (i.e., they tend to attach to the eighth jhana and ascribing non-dual properties to it). It seems Dogen and many Zen Buddhists did not take adequate time reading the Pali suttas and just spent some time messing around with Nagarjuna.

    Finally, I have never dealt with such dogmatic people as those in my Zen Center. Sit until my knees bleed in a Sesshin or long-retreat? No thanks. Dogmatically asserting sitting in Zazen posture is “the best expedient ways to realize one’s true nature of emptiness (i.e., dependent origination, no defining quality in the skandhas)” is tantamount to confining the Dharma and forming an attachment. By glorifying “just sitting” as the only means to realize oneself and the true nature of things, live with the way things are, and ascribing it a special contradictory quality (koan-like quality) merged into life (not separate from daily living), is still forming an attachment and heralding it as the best. Zen

  7. SoF
    SoF December 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

    The Grand Canyon @ 9:37 am sed:

    Today’s koan:

    What is the difference between sweeping Zen
    and shoveling manure?

    Any distinction is bound to be somewhat arbitrary* ROFLMAO

    the “the definitive who’s who…”

    self-imposed authority IS an exemplary case of BULLSHIT

    *However, I would put forth the proposition that most manure has some value.

  8. captainhardshell
    captainhardshell December 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm |


    On behalf of all the other perverted sex maniacs studying zen, I say thank you.

    Thank you for actually attempting to express a living philosophy that can make life better, rather than playing zen dress-up on sappy websites that look like the wallpaper in a PF Chang’s bathroom.

    I swear to sweet baby Jesus, I would never have even attempted a sitting practice if the only zen practitioners I had ever been exposed to were the kind on display at Sweeping Zen. Ikkyu’s poem “I hate incense” is the single greatest thing that makes zen accessible for someone like me, and I never would have gotten there–or to Dogen, or Nagarjuna–if I hadn’t picked up a book with a toilet on its cover that offered me the “truth about reality.”

    Gimmicky robes and plywood cut-outs with suspicious “Japanese” sayings on them and dollar store incense would have driven me as far away from zen as possible, and that would have been a truly significant loss.

    Thank you for not being another hipster with an eastern mysticism fetish, with a photo of you gazing oh-so-pensively into the distance while pretending your photogenic robes aren’t soaked in sweat.

    Thank you for being a weirdo in a bunny suit.

  9. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz December 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

    captainhardshell, you seem to enjoy idolizing Brad Warner. I bet you don’t really live a fulfilling life outside of sitting endlessly on the cushion, huh? I bet you enjoy idolizing your sensei too.

    There is no such thing as Dharma transmission. There is no such thing as *organized* Zen Buddhi*ism*. I am tired of you all, acting like you have the power to advise others on how to be happy. Let me tell you something straight, you will never find yourself or truly be happy in an organized religion. All organizations eventually become corrupt, especially one they start collaborating with the government.

    Dogen never sought to make a “Soto” Zen, and I am sure Dogen wasn’t that dogmatic in his assertion that “Zazen is the only way”. There is no way, it’s a pathless path. I don’t need someone sitting above me saying, “I have figured it out. Sit endlessly until your knees bleed and listen to me lecture about the Way things Are according to the Dharma.”

    **** you. Andr3w was right. Zen is best understood through action, like living in a farm and gardening, and not through your dogmatic bs of “Sit Zazen, it’s the only way!” Your book made me deluded for 2 years, brad, thanks.

  10. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz December 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm |

    ****, I just watched Only Yesterday and I am depressed as hell.

    You people live in f’ing vacuums, disconnected from stuff that really matters. You little *****s sit in Zazen endlessly, but you rarely go out there to do something meaningful or fulfilling… You endlessly discuss stuff about emptiness, yet at the same maintain dogmatic structures. You guys can’t even let go of your weeaboo fascination with Japanese culture, like it is some concrete, solid “thing”. Here’s a hint: Japan has a shit culture now because of you guys imposing your post-industrial capitalistic mind-blowing structure where organizations have to be supported by a greedy ass government that is constantly lobbied.

    You guys aren’t technically here! Have you ever even grown plants, helped a humane society, or done anything else cool besides sit all fucking day? Probably rarely, because your breathing is so vacuous and lifeless you can’t think there is “any other way” besides sitting on your ass all day in Zazen in “proper posture”. It’s good for absolutely nothing. You know what? Fuck your sitting. It’s totally 100 percent worthless. You aren’t going to accomplish anything besides making more divisions, violence, and shit like that. Teacher-student relationships don’t even exist. The teacher has no obligation to you, has no higher stature, has no deeper understanding, or anything besides a power fascination.

    I’ll break it down for you guys finally: the only reason you have organizations is because you are afraid of being alone, of practicing alone, of finding yourself without the help of others. All your Sanghas will do is deepen your illusions, and I quite honestly don’t give a fuck about you guys anymore. There’s my compassion, and shove it up your ***es!

  11. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm |

    CosmicBrainz, when I first started to sit, I couldn’t sit cross-legged in any posture for more than about 5 minutes.

    After awhile I was able to get in the posture and experience some kind of ease and even absorption, and that kept me at it. The fact is, it’s a stretch, and the appropriate stretch is an involuntary function of the location of awareness and the ability to feel in the necessity of breath. So the teachers insist that sitting zazen will cause this to become evident, and they are right, but they don’t tell you that your sense of where you are and what that sense allows you to feel will respond to the breath you need right now, and that you can start from where you are. And they don’t mention that this sense of location is the same sense of the mind moving that we sometimes have right before falling asleep. It’s not hard to find. When it got up and walked around for me, I was sitting in a chair at a desk, resolved to be aware of my breath all day for a day; I crossed the room and I crossed the line between sleeping and waking. You ruin your life to do this, in a sense, I believe that.

    You’d like Storlie: Lineage Delusions: Eido Shimano Roshi, Dharma Transmission, and American Zen

    Storlie mentions that he refused the opportunity to become a dharma heir.

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    Wrote that before you added your second comment, Cos- hope you feel better.

  13. robert
    robert December 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |


    “You little *****s …”

    You little … you little … …. you l-i-t-t-l-e …
    Nope, I give up. You little whats?

  14. CosmicBrainz
    CosmicBrainz December 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |

    Mark Foote, I can sit for an hr without any pain on my ankles or knees, but I just don’t find the value or point in practice anymore, especially in an organization.

    Robert, I apologize for the outbursts, but I feel kind of suicidal after watching Only Yesterday. I wish the past could be left behind, so I can live a meaningful, hard working life, one not in this wretched society that exploits the labor of peoples. I hate how whenever we buy something it is from exploited people in other countries, people in factories and etc. How can anyone, for example, want their nails done by workers that get pain next to nothing? I might as well just hang myself now. My entire life has been a waste up until this point, and even if the path is without difficulty to those who do not pick and choose likes vs. dislikes, I am just simply tired of it at this point. Wish I was never human. Maybe a big majestic oak tree or something.

    I just want to leave this society and its wretchedness behind. I do not want to escape, just want to leave and live on a farm or something. Looking into WWOOFing. I have no friends, I keep losing my aspiration in this wretched college life, I just want someone to put a bullet in my head, get it over with.

  15. ookami
    ookami December 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

    i’m at a loss of words over this situation. but at the same time, i am compelled to say something.

    there was a point in my life that i didn’t know much about zen. this was not long ago… and now i know even less. but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

    you realize you don’t know shit. and all that you thought you knew was bullshit.

    so why are there so many egos? why all the finger pointing and shaking?

    “the definitive online who’s who in zen”

    are you fucking kidding me? maybe it’s a joke and i’m missing the point. i hope it is. i’d like to think the same of this disagreement between the parties mentioned above, but i have less hope there.

  16. D351
    D351 December 11, 2012 at 1:38 am |

    Hello, I’m new here (looking forward to buying your first book some time next month, and omg do you have reasonable prices on the zafus in you site shop), and to all these things (zen and its community) in general, but I think that may be the right stance for this. Too many details that are irrelevant to the correct response. If life and limb are not at risk, I say that all conflicts should eventually be resolved with kind words. However, we are humans and are not always capable. At bare minimum, it usually takes time to cool off enough to seek reconciliation. Sometimes we never get to that point. What’s important to remember is that you can not blame your enemies for a lack of reconciliation. There is almost always some set of truthful words that could reconcile the deepest conflicts. We must admit to ourselves that regardless of their failings we have either failed to find those words or held too much pride to use them. This is even more difficult in many cases than simply finding and using them. Everyone has their reasons for their behaviors, not all of them logical or moral. One must try to empathize with the failings of others, even when their failings are directed aggressively at our own person. We are best at doing this if we try to understand their motives, but if we can’t understand, we must acknowledge our own ignorance and give them the psychological benefit of the doubt. We may not always be capable of this response (I rarely am), but I believe it to be the correct one. In this case, I find it easier as an observer to keep a clear head by not reading the articles in the first place, but I will say that in the case of the admin, if I ran a site and gave people I knew the ability to post articles on it, I would let them post whatever they wanted as long as I found their postings to be honest. It’s important to let contributors have their freedom. I’m going to stay out of further specifics (as I probably should have there) as I am not qualified to speak on them and feel it muddys the basic issues involved. I only wish I was capable of what feels like such lucidity when I wasn’t half asleep. Looking forward to finally getting your book(s) when I’m less broke, D351.

    1. D351
      D351 December 11, 2012 at 1:46 am |

      Also, I fully admit that the “psychological benefit of the doubt” can be a very self-righteous and condescending response to another person, but I don’t know of anything better yet. I suppose it’s less condescending if one remains open about ones own temporality of self-control. Emotions are just like that. Or so my experience has been thus far.

  17. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 11, 2012 at 1:58 am |

    Read the original post over at Sweeping Zen and posted this response:

    I think this is really very simple. No special rules for Zen teachers. Setting up special rules for Zen teachers just perpetuates the myth that Zen teachers are special people. They aren’t. They are just people, like everyone else. They should be treated like everyone else.

    That means Zen teachers can have sexual relationships with their students, but it also means that we judge them based on the relationship, the same way we would anyone else. If they act like a selfish ass, we judge them as a selfish ass. If they act like an ordinary fellow in love/infatuation, we judge them as such. There’s nothing inherently wrong with such a relationship, unless there’s actually something wrong in the relationship, judged as a relationship, rather than as some special kind of relationship with its own rules.

    This also means that groping women is just as gross and immature when a Zen Master does it, as when anyone else does it. You don’t excuse bad behavior just because the guy is a Zen teacher. But you don’t condemn ordinary human behavior just because the guy is a Zen teacher either. Creating a double-standard for Zen teachers just perpetuates the illusion that they are a different class of human being. They aren’t. They are ordinary folks, with no special status that changes they way we judge them. Same with psychologists and preachers and everyone else. All just folks.

    1. Sai
      Sai December 11, 2012 at 8:39 am |

      Very well put, I completely agree.

  18. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel December 11, 2012 at 3:01 am |

    gniz wrote:

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

    Aaron! Ther was NO initial scandal element!

  19. King Kong
    King Kong December 11, 2012 at 4:46 am |


  20. Mr Nay
    Mr Nay December 11, 2012 at 5:08 am |

    Wow, there are a lot of loose units and insecure folks among the online zen community.
    Maybe it just because I am new to all this, lol.

  21. Kman
    Kman December 11, 2012 at 6:57 am |

    So, people are mad because Brad is too honest, and take advantage of his openness by making his life more difficult.

    What else is new?

  22. JaphyDeluxe
    JaphyDeluxe December 11, 2012 at 7:05 am |

    I don’t know how useful it is to take “sides” in this discussion, but I do want to say that Brad’s books and blog have been super helpful to me, and it’s nice to have a (somewhat) prominent voice in Zen that isn’t from the baby boomer generation or who doesn’t treat Zen as merely a subset of psychotherapy.

    Long story short – thanks for writing what you write. I find it really helpful.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 11, 2012 at 7:28 am |

    Cosmic, I often thank the universe that I am not coming up in college now. At 62, I am still looking for work, and I still believe the same things you do about the toxicity of our society. It all seems pretty pointless when what we study doesn’t seem to relate to a job that will help better the world, I agree. Maybe I’m fooling myself when I say that I assumed my job all along was to experience the truth that the great religions all describe and then find a way to contribute to making that experience more common in our society. That made the work world my second job, as it were, and a lot of places want more commitment than that; I’ve met great people who were willing to employ me regardless, so it’s not hopeless.

    It’s great that you can sit like that. I still deal with some numbness when I get up from sitting, frequently.

    I was a vegan for awhile in college and after, and I got pretty out there but I think it helped me realize my necessity.

    all the best, Mark

  24. charlief
    charlief December 11, 2012 at 9:46 am |

    @JaphyDeluxe Brad is from the baby boomer generation albeit right at the tail end.

  25. zacharythax
    zacharythax December 11, 2012 at 9:47 am |

    Brad, don’t let this get you down. They give you flak because you’re honest and you tell it like it is. Everyone who ever does gets crap. Howard Stern and The Ramones, for examples, went through all kinds of mudslinging and hate campaigns against them because they dared to challenge bull$#!. You’ve helped me immensely and you’ll always have my support.

    I once got into a world of crap from everyone for falling in love with a much older woman, but we had a great rapport, she laughed at my stupid jokes and was drop-dead gorgeous (she looked like Ivy Rorschach from The Cramps!) The whole thing was considered inappropriate and scandalous, but they got over it. I say fug ’em.

    Write your own rules as conscience sees fit. People see only an incomplete picture.

    BTW, I think I have found a teacher, although she is of the New Kadampa school and I don’t exactly buy all that reincarnation stuff literally, she does what a teacher is supposed to do, be the reflection, to bounce things off, challenge me and make me see I’m not always right.

  26. Hungry Ghost
    Hungry Ghost December 11, 2012 at 11:34 am |

    Your books have meant a lot to me and I reflexively found myself jumping to your defense on the Sweeping Zen website. As a childhood victim of therapists and their big pharma masters the language of her article really bothered me. I railed against her in the comments section as childishly as any zen teacher. I think the big question for me is, is there any benefit to practicing buddhism? It all seems pretty pointless to me. I’ve seen no evidence that long-time practitioners are any happier or wiser than anyone else and they kind of seem ill-suited to help anyone else. Anyone else finished with this sad theater? Who says there has to be answers anyway?

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 11, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

      Hungry Ghost: “It all seems pretty pointless to me. I’ve seen no evidence that long-time practitioners are any happier or wiser than anyone else and they kind of seem ill-suited to help anyone else. Anyone else finished with this sad theater? Who says there has to be answers anyway?”

      Once returned to your own natural state, on the so-called “other side”, it is not uncommon to recognize your former human religion/philosophy/view of choice (including the highest concepts of liberation in Buddhism) as almost embarrasingly naive and even infantile, in the larger scheme of things (and there is most certainly a larger picture that we as humans cannot even begin to comprehend — the bio-vehicle just isn’t built to handle “reality”. Just one small flash of it would incinerate the physical mechanism!)

      More importantly, you come to realize quite vividly that the only part of your life’s efforts that really mattered was how you treated other people, and if your various life practices had not enhanced your capacity for love, then they were wasted.

      Everyone wants the truth. And everyone receives their own truth. The deal is: we are not here to get the truth. The truth is none of our business. We are here to do the right thing in every situation we are “put” into. And that’s the truth!

      Why are we so easily offended by others? That is the root of most of our problems. The “powers” will throw gasoline on our greed, envy and hatred. The more issues we have the more fire we get. Those are the tests, to see how we will react. That’s why it’s best to snuff out ill feelings as soon as they arise. If Buddhism helps you to do that, cool. If not, discard it too.


      1. floating_abu
        floating_abu December 12, 2012 at 9:06 am |

        From the person who only allows positive, glowing comments on your blog you sure can talk well, Bob.


  27. Hungry Ghost
    Hungry Ghost December 11, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    that’s a lot of anyone else’s

  28. Fred
    Fred December 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    “You guys aren’t technically here! Have you ever even grown plants, helped a humane society, or done anything else cool besides sit all fucking day? Probably rarely, because your breathing is so vacuous and lifeless you can’t think there is “any other way” besides sitting on your ass all day in Zazen in “proper posture”. It’s good for absolutely nothing. You know what? Fuck your sitting. It’s totally 100 percent worthless. You aren’t going to accomplish anything besides making more divisions, violence, and shit like that.”

    Great doubt is good. And when you see It, you can question that too.

  29. SoF
    SoF December 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    Proulx Michel at 3:01 am:

    “Aaron! Ther was NO initial scandal element!”


    Context. A monk is NOT constrained by the ethics of a Shingled Psychologist!

    I would suggest comparing medical marijuana to street pot.

    Or compare a Medical Surrogate [also HERE] to a prostitute.


    However, the question becomes: “Why criminalize pot OR prostitutes?”

    It’s not a war and it’s not a battle, it’s only perspective!

  30. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel December 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm |

    One has to suppose that, all through Buddhism’s history, the number of those who truly understood what it was all about always remained minimal.

    There is one thing, though, that I’d like to say. The celibate thing has always been intended as getting rid of a hassle. But it’s so easy to jump to the conclusion that sex is bad, which is what Xtians always do. There is that Northern Irish joke about them asking you what religion you are; and you answer “a Buddhist” and then they’ll ask “A catholic Buddhist or a protestant Buddhist?” (I’m not at all sure it’s a joke, though). And when you inflict upon yourself something you truly don’t want, just because it’ll make you look good, the odds are that you’ll want everyone to do the same, not only in order to apease your doubts, but also as a vengeance for having to do it while not wanting to.

    I’m sure that, if there was still one of those nutty (!) religions where you have to get castrated, they’d try to get everyone castrated too.

    I observe that, in the USA, people marry and divorce all the time. I’m quite sure that the mere idea that the President of the French Republic is not married, and never was, although he has three or four children would be anathema in the USA. For us, in Europe, that seeming necessity of going through marriage in order to have the authorisation to fuck seems a bit weird. But, that’s a bit what it looks like from my point of view.

  31. bokononsmoothie
    bokononsmoothie December 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

    I have read all of the blog posts under discussion here. Though I have to say I mostly side with Mr. Warner on this blog battle, no one involved comes across better for having gone through it.

    That said, I would just like to say how nice it is to read comments that are not all misspellings, racial epithets, and comparisons to Hitler. Say what you will about the inanity of this blog battle and what it might have to say about our emerging “American” Buddhism, I cannot remember the last time I read a comments section (on both sites) full of people who treat each other like people rather than screen names.

  32. King Kong
    King Kong December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm |


  33. Fred
    Fred December 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

    My truth this morning was that desire does not create suffering, but attachment to a fixed certainty creates suffering.

    The second truth was that love is simply seeing that you are the Universe.

    The third truth was that the universe is in complete flux, and that the use of language/words is an attempt to create the fixed certainty.

    Gandhi said somewhere that he was not committed to a model of reality, but he was committed to the truth as he saw it each day.

  34. Fred
    Fred December 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    The Zensite:

    “Ordinary thinking (shiryo) is the subject’s own creation. It accords more with the subject’s desire or habits than with the situation at hand. The failure of ordinary thought is that it pre-forms all experience; it simply cannot allow what is to be present as it is. “Thinking without thinking” requires that the subject let go of its own plans and devices, and attend to what is as it comes to presence. Rather than eliminating thought, this simply realigns thought with reality, beyond the subject’s own will to enframe it. On some occasions, it is sufficient to be aware of the situation at hand directly, without thinking. More complex situations call for more elaborate and systematic reflection. Both extremes, however, are grounded in the situation rather than in the subject, and both call for an openness that is uncharacteristic of p 273 anything we typically regard as thinking. Pure experience then, gives rise to thought of its own accord, and D?gen’s religious thought is one form that this thinking can take.

    This understanding has far reaching consequences for the status of doctrine. If the situations to which thought conforms are impermanent, always turning into new situations, then doctrine would have to change along with them. D?gen does not shy away from this conclusion: the teachings are impermanent: “Therefore, teaching, clarifying impermanence, and practice are by their nature impermanent. Kanzeon proclaims the Dharma by manifesting himself in a form best suited to save sentients. This is Buddha-nature. Sometimes they use a long form to proclaim a long Dharma, sometimes a short form for a short Dharma. Impermanence itself is Buddha-nature” (1983b:128; 1970:54).

    What this means is that there cannot be one permanent body of correct doctrine because the reality to which it would have to conform is itself variable and in transformation. As the text says clearly, “circumstances are constantly changing the form of suchness” (1975:130;1972:252). Religious thinking that originates in pure experience does correspond to the reality of the situation, but it is also empty (Ku) in the sense that it originates dependent upon the particularities of the given situation. As an expression (dotoku) of a given occasion (jisetsu), it is neither permanent nor universally applicable. On this account therefore, the Sh?b?genz? should be read as a series of such expressions occasioned or elicited by various and changing circumstances in D?gen’s world between 1231 and the year of his death in 1253.”

  35. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

    Hungry Ghost: “It all seems pretty pointless to me. I’ve seen no evidence that long-time practitioners are any happier or wiser than anyone else and they kind of seem ill-suited to help anyone else. Anyone else finished with this sad theater? Who says there has to be answers anyway?”

    Took what I wrote to Cosmicbrains the other night, and finished it on my site:

    “Zen teachers … don’t tell you that your sense of where you are and what that sense allows you to feel will respond to the breath you need right now, and that you can start from where you are. And they don’t mention that this sense of location is the same sense of the mind moving that we sometimes have right before falling asleep. It’s not hard to find.

    When it got up and walked around for me, I was sitting in a chair at a desk, resolved to be aware of my breath all day for a day; I crossed the room and I crossed the line between sleeping and waking. You ruin your life to do this, in a sense; at the same time, you can now move beyond doubt, even though what you believe in your heart will still lead you to do foolish things. “

  36. tysondav
    tysondav December 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

    Brad, many times when i read your posts, one phrase comes to mind and this is one of those times– grow up.

  37. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm |

    To anyone who thinks they are grown up. Sorry.. That won’t happen in this lifetime.

  38. SoF
    SoF December 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm |

    A couple of times I have tried to compare similar things in different contexts – to no avail.

    Example: Behavior 1 in situation 1 and behavior 1 in situation 2.

    Behavior 1 is legal, ethical and moral in situation 1 but (usually) behavior 1 is illegal, unethical and immoral in situation 2.

    Therefore, it is not the BEHAVIOR but the CONTEXT that determines legality, ethical, and moral behavior.

    Furthermore (usually) is a perceptive characteristic – subject to individual views. As much as ‘authoritative personalities’ would like to project a single standard to all contexts, the projection fails.

  39. Doug
    Doug December 12, 2012 at 12:49 am |

    Brad, after reading through the history on this I felt downright upset on your behalf, and I can only imagine how painful it must be for you personally. You say some unpopular things and that can make you an easy target, but I think it’s important that you keep saying them because sometimes you’re right. In a culture prone to sexual hysteria it’s I think you do a lot of good by voicing what you do. I’ve enjoyed your writing for a long time, and your words have inspired to me to spend more time on the mat than I otherwise might have. Keep it up, I for one appreciate it.

  40. Senjo
    Senjo December 12, 2012 at 1:58 am |

    Brad, I think the point Hungry Ghost was trying to make (and HG can correct me if I’ve misunderstood it) is that it is very dispiriting to those of us who are relatively new to the practice to see those who have practised for a long time, lambasting each other “You’re wrong”, “No, you’re wrong”, “You’re talking kuso”, “No, you’re talking kuso”in this way. It’s hard not to read this stuff and go “Right, so you guys are all supposed to have an understanding of the lack of self are you?”. It just all sounds like ego talking (and I was hoping this practice might help me to tone that down a notch).
    I like what Stephanie wrote a few posts back about instead trying to point that acute spotlight back at ourselves and our own flaws. We all have quite enough flaws of our own without investing in pointing out other people’s. Why is all the Zen interaction on the web seemingly about how everyone else is wrong and an idiot and doesn’t get ‘it’ (just read the comments sections here and on sweeping zen for numerous examples)? Sometimes the interaction don’t seem much above the comments on Youtube vehemently arguing over whether a video of a cat yawning is fake or not…
    I write this as a big fan of this site and your books.

  41. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2012 at 6:37 am |

    “Why is all the Zen interaction on the web seemingly about how everyone else is wrong and an idiot and doesn’t get ‘it’ (just read the comments sections here and on sweeping zen for numerous examples)?”

    On the expansion there is no one or place to hang onto, and on the contraction
    you call people idiots, and shove women’s hands under your robe.

    Study it in your self, you know, the self that follows you around all day, or watch
    the video a couple threads back.

  42. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 12, 2012 at 6:58 am |

    crack me up, and IT’S NOT FUNNY! 🙂

  43. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2012 at 7:06 am |

    Sorry, I changed the expansion/contraction thing.

  44. A-Bob
    A-Bob December 12, 2012 at 7:26 am |

    Er Brad. You know I think you are a good guy. Enjoy your blog and all. Love your books.. However, on the surface of it, you seem to be venturing into David Icke territory here.. Stating that, “Of all the people you have met, only Tim and Gudo were 100% human.” I think you must mean something other than what I am reading, like maybe Tim and Gudo were two really standup guys. Or Tim and Gudo were the two best teachers I’ve ever had. It’s just hard to believe you have never recognized another 100% human. None of your pals? No 100% human females out there? What else could they be?

  45. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2012 at 7:30 am |

    Another way of saying it is The Who’s Who is changing at every minute, shifting
    between the polarities of the personality, and some moments you’re dropping
    bits of guano on the floor, and other moments you’re Sweeping Zen.

    As long as you don’t try to push women’s hands under your robe, all will be well
    in the garden.

  46. Fred
    Fred December 12, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  47. Alizrin
    Alizrin December 12, 2012 at 8:22 am |

    Boy, the Zen gang has so much more fun than us banal Shambhala people. We started out with a wildly flamboyant teacher and it seems like everything since has been about homogenizing and smiling sweetly and creating McDharma centers. I just might have to find myself some black cushions and decamp to the local Zen center where I can stir up trouble by declaring my loyalty to Brad. (I do that a lot at Shambhala gatherings but they all just stare at me blankly, they are really not a bunch that likes to go off the reservation.)

  48. King Kong
    King Kong December 12, 2012 at 8:27 am |



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