ROOTIN’ AND TOOTIN’


I wrote a nasty piece about Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind™ — a new process for Zen practice Genpo claims will give you Enlightenment in just an hour — for this week’s Suicide Girls article. It’s going to “go live” — as they say — at Noon Pacific Time on Saturday (March 3, just 2 days before my birthday). Ever since I wrote a couple scathing paragraphs about Big Mind™ in a review of the movie “What The Bleep” about two years ago (click on the title of this article if you want to read it) I’ve been hearing from lots of people who’ve been involved in Big Mind™, or BM as I like to abbreviate it. And, man-o-man it sounds like it’s even worse than I imagined! I’ve also heard from Zen teachers nearly everywhere I’ve gone to speak how appalled they are at this new development in the world of Zen. I’m starting to think that, maybe more than being just an obvious bit of low-rent sideshow hokum, this could possibly end up being the stuff of scandal sheets and Movies of the Week before too long. Of course, I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then. Oh how the wheels of commerce do turn.

Anyway, I’ll leave it till Saturday before the serious Big Mind™ bashing begins. But while I was writing, I was fishing around on-line for a quote I recall seeing in which John Daido Loori praised Big Mind™ as an excellent skillful means or some such thing. The quote came from a printed hand-out someone got at a Big Mind™ seminar and kindly sent me, which I then kindly lost track of. I was hoping the same stuff ended up on the Internets somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. So I guess Daido gets a reprieve this time. Maybe he wisely told them to take his name off the list of supporters. Although I wouldn’t give too much credit to the guy who wrote the very worst book ever written in the history of books about Dogen (the reprehensible “True Dharma Eye,” may every copy burn in Hell).

Anyway (again) I didn’t find the quote, but I did find a thing someone wrote way back in the golden year of twenty-ought-five about li’l old me. It’s always funny to see this kind of thing. I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s what they said:

“Notice that Brad Warner hasn’t actually claimed to have tried the Big Mind™ process, or holosync for that matter. His ideas on what meditation/Buddhism must be are frustratingly stubborn. ‘That’s not Zen! THIS is Zen! And I’m the rootin’ tootin’ toughest Zen cowboy in town!’”

Haw! Is that what I sound like? I am definitely not the rootin’ tootin’ toughest Zen cowboy in town. What I am, though, is honest. Real Buddhist practice is hard work. Guys like Genpo Roshi and the makers of the holosync try and con you into thinking there are easy peasy ways to get to the same place. There are not. This isn’t just my personal opinion. It’s a fact.

The dude goes on to say, “If Big Mind™ works, if it really can give you a little satori within hours (I’m also doubtful, but I have no right to claim anything until I’ve tried it) then it doesn’t matter if Genpo Roshi is a 30ft drug taking meerkat.”

I’ve heard this argument a lot, that I shouldn’t knock it till I’ve tried it cuz, who knows, maybe it really does work. But it isn’t a valid argument. Let me give you a metaphor. Let’s say a Martian came to Earth and an unscrupulous Earthling handed him a gram of coke and a straw. He tells the Martian that the coke is what we on Earth call a “piano.” He tells the Martian to suck it up thru the straw into his proboscis. The Martian does so and he goes back to Mars and tells his friends, “When I was on Earth I sucked a piano into my nose through a straw and it felt GREAT!” Now the Martians may believe him. But will anyone on Earth?

The only reason anyone falls for this kind of malarchy is that they don’t have any understanding what words like satori, kensho or enlightenment mean, just like our Martian friend has no idea what we on Planet Earth call a “piano.”

This doesn’t mean I’m calling all y’all dummies. I’m the biggest Neanderthal in town. But does it make sense to you that some new fangled technique is gonna get you 15 years of Zazen experience in just an hour? And if you don’t know the answer to that one, how about this? Do you think a new fangled miracle diet pill is going to help you lose the fat it took 15 years to put on in a single week? I thought not. Then why would you imagine a lifetime of misuse of your brain and body can be undone in an afternoon? (actually Genpo claims BM can give you Enlightenment “before lunchtime.”)

So there’s your sneak preview. Enjoy the Suicide Girls piece this weekend. Remember it’s free to look at my stuff up there. No need to join or risk accidentally seeing any tattooed nudie cuties.

*****POST SCRIPT March 8, 2007*****

I dug up the quote by John Daido Loori about Big Mind. It’s from an article called “Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind.” The author is John Kain but the original source is not noted on the copy I have. I believe it was a hand-out given at a Big Mind™ seminar. Here’s what it says:

“Zen teaching is like fishing,” says John Daido Loori, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, dharma brother to Genpo Roshi and author of numerous books including, Making Love with Light (Daido Roshi is my teacher and has a much more traditional approach to practice than does Genpo Roshi. I’d asked him what he thought of Genpo Roshi’s less traditional method). “Every fisherman has a technique. Some use flies, some lures, some bait. The key is to get the student hooked. Genpo Roshi uses the Big Mind process. I use the Arts, and Tetsugen (Bernie Glassman) uses social action. What counts is what happens when the student gets hooked. Genpo Roshi has shown, through the strength of his successors, that he is good at the essential part of Zen training. His successors are excellent.”

There you have it. Although I’m not really sure just what Daido is saying here. It’s not quite as supportive as I’d recalled. In fact, it may be an obtuse way of saying he doesn’t support BM. It’s impossible to know. Which may be the problem (see my March 7 article). I do have a problem, as well, with the idea that it’s OK to hook a student with something deceptive. Or to hook students at all. This may be a matter for another article.

169 Responses

  1. ZenManDan
    ZenManDan March 5, 2007 at 7:22 am | |

    Oh no! Brad used some bad words and a homophoic slur. We should take him out behind the shed and shoot him.

    Seriously people…if you’re offended by what Brad writes, DON’T READ IT! If you don’t like the language he uses, don’t read it.

    I like to read Brad’s blogs for what they are, his opinions. No one, including Brad, has ever said that his blogs and everything in them are fact. They’re simply a bunch of words for us to read based on his own experiences and that of his teachers…his/their opinions.

    Concerning the current topic, it’s rather simple, really. If you don’t agree with Brad about BM, and are curious about it, then go check it out for yourself. Merry Christmas to you…have a great time. I wish you all the best. If you agree with him, you won’t be going to BM, so, good for you too.

    As far as the words used in Brad’s writings; butt buddy, horseshit, or the occasional fuck…they’re words. Just words. As Shantideva writes in “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”, “Contempt, harsh words, and unpleasant speech do not harm the body; so why, mind, do you become so angry?” Brad and the words he uses are not the cause of your unhappiness…you are. You CHOOSE whether or not you’re going to be bothered by his words. As Buddha said, “All fear and infinite sufferings arise from the mind.” Just let it go folks.

    I started my own blog recently. Feel free to check it out at
    http://zenramblings.blogspot.com/

  2. Daniel
    Daniel March 5, 2007 at 8:26 am | |

    David, Fantasy is cheap. Come back when you’ve had an actual dick in your mouth.

    ZenManDan, words do not make me angry, nor even unhappy. All I am doing is pointing out the backwards morals of this culture, which say it is just fine to speak badly of gays. They have been the last ones in this culture to gain respect and I cannot continue to let that happen.

    “How you treat the least of these, you treat me.” – J.C.

  3. Administrator
    Administrator March 5, 2007 at 9:04 am | |

    “How are you going to put aside your mind without using your mind?”

    by realizing that I’m not my mind.

    It’s me (as who I am really) that’s looking – not my mind.

    It’s me that decides to look beyond – not at the mind.

    Mind has nothing to do with it.

    I will simply decide what to focus on – I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It’s a simple decision.

  4. Michael Richards
    Michael Richards March 5, 2007 at 9:54 am | |

    “I’m sure Genpo and his butt-buddy Ken Wilber will end up on Oprah before then.”

    “You never know what’s gonna come out when you start letting all the barriers down and just say whatever happens to pop into your head.

    ~~~ Brad Warner

  5. shrack
    shrack March 5, 2007 at 10:27 am | |

    I think it’s time to take a reality check.

    The precepts according to Nishijima Roshi.

    No.6: Don’t discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.

    No.7: Don’t praise yourself or berate others. Modern psychology tells us that most of us have some sort of superiority or inferiority complex. I think this is basically true, and because of these personal inclinations we are prone to praise or criticize ourselves and other people. But we are all human beings. If we recognize the true situation it is impossible to blame others for their faults, and praising ourselves is needless ? it is a waste of breath.

  6. shrack
    shrack March 5, 2007 at 10:37 am | |

    The precepts as Gudo Nishijima understands them. From Dogen Sangha and Windbell Publications.

    No.6: Don’t discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.

    No.7: Don’t praise yourself or berate others. Modern psychology tells us that most of us have some sort of superiority or inferiority complex. I think this is basically true, and because of these personal inclinations we are prone to praise or criticize ourselves and other people. But we are all human beings. If we recognize the true situation it is impossible to blame others for their faults, and praising ourselves is needless ? it is a waste of breath.

  7. daniel
    daniel March 5, 2007 at 10:57 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Dan
    Dan March 5, 2007 at 10:58 am | |

    “How are you going to put aside your mind without using your mind?”

    by realizing that I’m not my mind.

    It’s me (as who I am really) that’s looking – not my mind.

    It’s me that decides to look beyond – not at the mind.

    Mind has nothing to do with it.

    I will simply decide what to focus on – I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It’s a simple decision. “

    lol at the stupid hippy…. they really never learn.

    also about this whole ‘ dont criticise buddhists’ as has been mentioned (but largely ignored) before, anyone who has read even the first chapter of shobogenzo will know that dogen is just as scathing towards the bullshit of his time as brad is today. it’s no contradiction, he’s just folllowing in his tradition. sometimes you just have to call shit shit.

  9. Dan
    Dan March 5, 2007 at 11:05 am | |

    the other hilarious thing about schrack bringing up precept no.6 is that by doing that in the context you have done you are violating that precept since you are in fact discussing brad’s failure as a buddhist. and now i’ve violated it as well. doh.

    i’ll sum up with my favourite jesus quote,

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

  10. shrack
    shrack March 5, 2007 at 11:33 am | |

    Dan, I knew the danger of the post. I brought the precepts up not as a criticism of Brad but as a criticism of all of us (myself included) who are judging good and bad when there are so many better things to do. Anyway, I got suckered into the discussion I’ll shut up now..and just sit.

  11. Esmerelda
    Esmerelda March 5, 2007 at 11:43 am | |

    To all who do not like Brad’s style – maybe you should go read someone’s site. I like that he writes with a punk attitude. I am interested in doing Zen and learning about it. I find this style easier to understand than the more traditional ways of presenting the matterial.

    I am amazed that this BM stuff is controversial on this site. I expected it at SG. Brad is supposed to teach Zen and he is. Some of the readers are obviously not that interested in Zen. While others like Jinzang, Lone Wolf, some anonymouses and too many others to name check, are very knowledgeable and thoughtful. It is very helpful to me to read their posts.

    Frankly the temptation to suggest a book on self hypnosis and a few good drugs to those who want a short cut is over whelming. There are a lot of quick ways to achieve altered states of mind. Since I didn’t take any kind of vow, I will suggest it – try enough acid or mushrooms and your mind will melt right out of your head. I promise this will happen and you do not even have to send me $150. I know because I thought it was fun at one time. You may think you are enlightened. This is simply not Zen.

    As for enlightenment, Brad has in the past denied its existence. Frankly he is going for boring here way more than controversial. It is very unlikely that he is making money or cares about it.

  12. liam
    liam March 5, 2007 at 12:03 pm | |

    look, let’s cut to the chase.. brad is funny and thought provoking.. this last post has way over a hundred comments. it is not because he is beseeching us with some dry piece about human love and kindness. if he did that we would all would take it somewhere else. sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. sorry.

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 12:13 pm | |

    Dogen’s chapter about people that disrespect women that have obtained realization or whatever cadgy phrase he uses are quite harsh and quite funny. Sort of like this.

    Butt-buddy I think is a bit offensive. However, it is language that lot’s of gay men use, and it is a shame to strip language of all the color. And Wilbur and Genpo are a bit much; did anyone read “The Guru and the Pandit” in the very funny “What Is Enlightenment?” magazine? I was like, please, get a private stall.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 12:15 pm | |

    Shoot, I had that wrong, it was Wilbur and Cohen in WIE. Well, without such a public display of affection, the offensive of butt-buddy rises. Is there some similar published thing between Genpo and Wilbur? (The WIE article is at:
    http://www.wie.org/j25/guruPandit.asp)

  15. magik
    magik March 5, 2007 at 12:24 pm | |

    Hey guys, click here if you want to waste 10 mins of your life;
    Ken wilber stops his brain waves
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFFMtq5g8N4&mode;=related&search;=

  16. Jinzang
    Jinzang March 5, 2007 at 1:26 pm | |

    I will simply decide what to focus on – I can focus on my mind or on who I am beyond mind. It’s a simple decision.

    One of the first things you figure out when you sit down to meditate is that you can’t focus on a thought simply by deciding to do so.

  17. gunderloy
    gunderloy March 5, 2007 at 2:15 pm | |

    I’ll bet Brad can stop his brain waves faster than Ken. Ken also did it laying on his back which is the way a guy who is maybe a little light in the loafers would do it. I also liked the way he ended the demonstration by saying, “I hope you enjoyed the show.” That was cool.

  18. Jared
    Jared March 5, 2007 at 3:03 pm | |

    Whoah! Everyone needs to relax! All of this arguing over semantics and this and that reminds me of the sub-title to the Flapping Mouths blog. I think that sums this all up.

    As for the butt-buddy fiasco, I think the bottom line is that yeah, words are just convenient reference points for common-held ideas blah blah blah blah – “butt-buddy”, a euphemism for gay sex, when used as an insult, implies that there’s something wrong with gay sex. Myself and a few others were just pointing out that we disagree with that sentiment. Problem solved, because there’s no problem.

  19. Deliciously Large
    Deliciously Large March 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm | |

    I don’t like the term Butt-buddy personally.

    I prefer Poo-pusher or Poo-prodder it’s more to the point.

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 3:53 pm | |

    “As far as the words used in Brad’s writings; butt buddy, horseshit, or the occasional fuck…they’re words. Just words. As Shantideva writes in “Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life”, “Contempt, harsh words, and unpleasant speech do not harm the body; so why, mind, do you become so angry?” Brad and the words he uses are not the cause of your unhappiness…you are. You CHOOSE whether or not you’re going to be bothered by his words. As Buddha said, “All fear and infinite sufferings arise from the mind.” Just let it go folks.”

    Do you then encourage children to read and use this type of language then? Is it all right for a child of 13 to walk around saying fuck this and fuck that?

    Wake up to yourself.

  21. magik
    magik March 5, 2007 at 3:57 pm | |

    “I prefer Poo-pusher or Poo-prodder it’s more to the point.”

    Don’t you mean fudge packer?

  22. Dan
    Dan March 5, 2007 at 4:02 pm | |

    anonymous,

    swearing 13 year olds don’t particularly bother me no.

  23. Dan
    Dan March 5, 2007 at 4:06 pm | |

    and no he’s not saying he encourages 13 year olds to swear he’s just making the point that it’s up to you whether you get offended by swearing 13 year olds (or in this case zen masters).

    swearing is gonna happen no matter how morally outraged you get about it so it’s just easier not to mind so much when you hear it. but there is no logical connection between that position and actually actively going around ‘promoting swearing’ or whatever the fuck you were talking about.

  24. nobody
    nobody March 5, 2007 at 4:47 pm | |

    No.6: Don’t discuss failures of Buddhist priests and laymen. As Buddhists we try our best to live and practice the Buddhist life. In doing so we often make mistakes. This is natural. Our mistakes come directly from our efforts. This may sound strange, but it is the fact in our life. So when we see the mistakes of others we should not be critical, for their mistakes are only the product of their efforts in this life.

    Nishijima-Roshi is awesome. This is one of the most compassionate, grounded, sane things I have read in a long time… anyone have a link to his versions / comments on all ten precepts?

  25. Jordan & The Tortoise
    Jordan & The Tortoise March 5, 2007 at 4:52 pm | |

    Nobody,

    You can find what you are looking for here.

    http://www.dogensangha.org/articles.htm

    Be well
    Jordan

  26. Anatman
    Anatman March 5, 2007 at 5:15 pm | |

    Ann Coulter must have read this blog and been impressed by the amount of publicity that can be generated with a single derogatory slur towards homosexuals.

    She calls John Edwards “fag” and the next thing you know, she is on the front page of every paper.

    Ah, marketing and PR. Gotta love it.

  27. Deliciously Large
    Deliciously Large March 5, 2007 at 7:14 pm | |

    “Don’t you mean fudge packer?”

    What’s fudge?

    POO-PUSHER kinda rolls off the tongue, two P’s. Sounds better.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 8:40 pm | |

    And, for the other half,
    let’s not forget the
    wonderfully evocative term

    “rug-muncher”

  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 5, 2007 at 9:03 pm | |

    “All I am doing is pointing out
    the backwards morals of this
    culture, which say it is just
    fine to speak badly of gays.
    They have been the last ones in
    this culture to gain respect and
    I cannot continue to let that
    happen.

    ‘How you treat the least of
    these, you treat me.’ – J.C.”

    hello daniel (from *way* above),

    On the societal totem pole,
    below gays, below even
    Rodney Dangerfield, you’ll find
    nonviolent drug-users. Two thirds
    of US prisons are filled with
    them. An incredible injustice
    and an incredible waste of
    taxpayer money. Why is this so?
    To protect black-market profit
    margins.

    Does this have anything to do with
    “Zen”? Only if you’re interested
    in seeing clearly and in
    minimizing the suffering of
    sentient (human) beings.

    Okay, I think that pretty much
    covers everything but the
    kitchen sink. Gotta go sit now.

    ohayou gozaimasu!

  30. Waylon
    Waylon March 5, 2007 at 9:09 pm | |

    ANYONE ELSE IN CALIFORNIA?

    I’ve glanced at a couple of profiles, and locations aren’t always listed. I’m interested in talking to other folks from California that might be interested in ride shares or places to crash in LA for Brad’s seshins and things like that. It would also be really cool if there was anyone else in the Bay area that was interested in getting together and sitting, bullshitting or maybe catching a show or something.

    Also if I met any of you in November at the mini seshin please contact me, I didn’t get anyones info and I met some really cool people. I was the guy that rode his motorcycle down from Oakland with his girlfriend. I wish I could have hung out a little longer.

    I would like to talk to folks that might be interested in trying to organize a 3 day seshin or maybe a full day seshin. If there is real interest in something like that I’m sure that Brad would be into it.

    Thanks

    waylonlove@gmail.com

  31. magik
    magik March 6, 2007 at 12:07 am | |

    “POO-PUSHER kinda rolls off the tongue, two P’s. Sounds better.”

    I don’t like you.

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 6, 2007 at 1:36 am | |

    I like to read Brad’s blogs for what they are, his opinions. No one, including Brad, has ever said that his blogs and everything in them are fact. They’re simply a bunch of words for us to read based on his own experiences and that of his teachers…his/their opinions.

    So words of the Gempo Roshi are to be taken seriously, but when Brad talks it’s just words, no offence to anyone?

    First thing you will learn if you train with good zen teacher is that you should be serious in everything you do. Everything you do matters. Don’t just fool around. Put everything you have into what you are doing. I assume that Brad tries to put himself into his writings and teach buddha-dharma. He has some refreshing writing skills but still I find lots of immaturity in his writing. Kind of fundamentalist thinking. Not hardcore, but fundamentalist in negative sense. If he ever gets his own students, they most likely are going to be bunch of same minding people (because Brad mixes his personal views into buddha-dharma freely). I’m afraid that this kind of proud attitude associated with zen can screw up things in long run.

    Btw. I agree mostly with him in this BigMind thing, but as Brad writes, people who follow Gempo Roshi deserve him in good and bad. There is no need to shout higher than others and try to join public “spiritual market”. Just saying “I do not endorse” or “We do not do that.” is enough. This applies especially to things you only read from internet.

    I wrote this comment, because I think Brad reads these and is in learning mode. Bread is important. I think it is important that I spend time commenting. I tried my best to express my opinion, but most likely failed.

  33. Empty Mirror
    Empty Mirror March 6, 2007 at 2:09 am | |

    I have attended a Big Mind session. I actually went because I read what Brad had said in an earlier article about Big Mind, and thought it would be interesting to have a look for myself, and then found the Big Mind “roadshow” was coming to town a month or so later.

    Having been, I’m not sure why it provokes such objections. If it’s the cost, well, the hall has to be paid for, people’s travel expenses paid, and there appears to be the possibility of concessions for those who can’t afford it.

    As for the “Big Mind” process, it was quite interesting. I’d do it again. I learnt some stuff, and learning is good, ‘coz I don’t know everything. But as for attaining enlightenment, good grief! I didn’t leave feeling that I’d “attained” “enlightenment”, or “attained” anything else (though I had a nice sandwich) nor was I told that I should feel that. And while I can’t speak for everyone there I’d be astonished if anyone else there thought that. I went back home and sat on my cushion.

    I do enjoy Brad’s writing. Thanks Brad.

    EM.

  34. Paul
    Paul March 6, 2007 at 3:35 am | |

    “All I am doing is pointing out
    the backwards morals of this
    culture, which say it is just
    fine to speak badly of gays.”

    I’ve sat back and listened to this farce, but come on, you’ve got be kidding?? That’s a joke, right?

    Does anyone really think that Brad had homosexual men in mind when he made the ‘butt-buddy’ comment?

    That may be where the phrase is originally derived from, and I don’t know about where you guys live, but from where I come from, that term is never used to describe gay men (actually, in England it’s rarely ‘butt-buddy’, but ‘bum-chum’…same thing). It’s most often used to describe people who brown-nose each other, and anyone who understands that term will know that it’s not a homophobic remark at all.

    In fact, it’s this extreme political correctness that is making a farce of our society. People picking and choosing at words they don’t like without even considering the context in which they’re used. I’m not sure about America, but here in England you can’t call a blackboard a blackboard anymore. It’s racist…apparently. Yeah, like someone was thinking ‘yeehaw, this’ll show them dang niggers!’ when they named it a blackboard. It obviously wasn’t anything to do with the fact that it was a board which happened to be black, solely because that color was practical for writing on with chalk…

    Can we get back to Zen, please?

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 6, 2007 at 5:57 am | |

    Someone who posted here as “Empty Mirror” reports that they attended a “Big Mind Process” event, found benefit in it, would do it again, and did not leave the event feeling that they had attained enlightenment, “nor was I told that I should feel that. And while I can’t speak for everyone there I’d be astonished if anyone else there thought that.”

    The issue that Brad addresses in his Suicide Girls essay has to do with claims made by Ken Wilber and Genpo Roshi that the “Big Mind Process” is a more or less instant means of attaining kensho, satori, or enlightenment.

    Before I quote them on that, I want to mention that a couple of years ago I listened to an audio at Genpo’s website, of him being interviewed on a radio program about his “Big Mind Process.” At one point he led the woman interviewing him through a presumably shortened version of the process. He then told her that she’d just realized what the Buddha realized as he sat under the Bodhi Tree. I just about threw up on my computer keyboard.

    Dennis “Genpo Roshi” Merzel is part of an organization founded by Ken Wilber called Integral Institute. Ken Wilber has a blog where he has posted his foreword to a forthcoming book by Genpo. (Brad provides a link to the foreword in his Suicide Girls essay.)

    In it, Wilber says, as Brad quotes him: “It often takes five years or more of extremely difficult practice (I know, I’ve done it) in order for a profound satori to occur. With the Big Mind™ Process, a genuine kensho can occur in about an hour—seriously.”

    Brad also quotes Genpo himself, saying that by using his technique–the “Big Mind Process”–”you will have in one day — before lunch actually — the clarity and experience that a Zen master has. But Zen is seen as the school of sudden enlightenment. And we’re just making sure it remains sudden.”

    We live in a consumer culture, a culture of celebrity, where news about Anna Nicole Smith overshadows news about the scores of human beings who are killed, maimed, disfigured, and otherwise injured and wounded in Iraq on a daily basis, as well as a lot of other news that serves to highlight the Buddha’s “First Noble Truth.” We live in a culture of distraction and stimulation. It seems that many people in our culture are running as fast as they can away from anything that represents discomfort and dissatisfaction.

    As sociologist George Ritzer writes in his book The McDonaldization of Society, we live in a society where everything is “McDonaldized.” (To get a sense of exactly what he means by this, on can look up Ritzer and McDonaldization on the web.)

    It seems to me that what Wilber and Genpo are offering is part of a trend which can accurately be characterized as McSpirituality. In his blog post here, Brad comments that perhaps at some point Wilber and Genpo will end up on Oprah. I am sure that Oprah is a positive figure for some and perhaps many people, but those of us who are capable of discriminating can surely see that there is a difference between the Oprah-Chopra version of spirituality and, say, Dogen.

    Brad’s unique function at this time is apparently to cut through a lot of bullshit (a messy but necessary process that punk rockers were known for doing back in the day) and for appealing to people with a sensibility similar to his. (Generally speaking, I would not expect to find the same people who attend operas in tuxedos and gowns also attending hardcore rock concerts in street clothes, though I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule.)

    Brad has gotten a lot of feedback here that some of his verbiage is offensive to some, and a review of the posts here so far makes it obvious that Brad’s verbiage distracts from his message. His message, like so much of his message in Hardcore Zen, is all about cutting through bullshit.

    Empty Mirror (the poster I refer to above) apparently did not feel that he or she was handed a bowl of bullshit when he or she attended the “Big Mind Process” event. However, the fact remains that Ken Wilber and Genpo Roshi have made statements to the effect that this process leads to instant kensho or satori or enlightenment, and in our consumer culture this is tantamount to promoting a “Happy Meal.” It’s McDonaldization, McSpirituality, McZen, and that is far more vulgar than anything Brad has ever said in his efforts to grab people’s attention.

    There are two issues here:

    1) Is there any technique that can produce kensho, satori, or enlightenment in an hour or “before lunch”?

    2) Does it even make sense to speak of “enlightenment” in such terms?

    Brad has made his point quite clear (in his Suicide Girls essay): “Enlightenment — the very word makes me cringe at this point — is a process that necessarily involves maturation over time.”

    If Brad is right about this, and I think he is, then it literally makes no sense at all for Ken Wilber and Dennis “Genpo Roshi” Merzel to promote the “Big Mind Process” by implying or stating outright that it will give one kensho, satori, or enlightenment in an hour.

    I think Brad is doing good work, and will continue to do so as long as he continues to remain open to the feedback he gets from his readers and adjusts his communication accordingly.

  36. Jared
    Jared March 6, 2007 at 6:34 am | |

    I think Paul is right. I don’t believe anyone here is under the impression that Brad harbors anti-gay sentiments. Even if he did, those are just his opinions, as is everything else on this blog INCLUDING his thoughts about Big Mind.

    I guess the term butt-buddy means a lot of things to a lot of people, and I really don’t think Brad was out to offend anyone, let alone the gay community, when he used the term. I do think it’s funny that everyone and his brother is off commenting on this blog, but Brad is probably sitting quietly somewhere (no pun intended haha) minding his own business.

    Plus, Brad opposing Big Mind and drugs as alternative methods to zen practice is nothing new. I seem to recall him posting that article on the old Hardcore Zen site almost a year back or so, maybe more. Why all the fuss now?

    If anyone wants to check out my blog, that’d be awesome. I just started it, so it’s a little bare -
    http://heavymetalzen.blogspot.com

  37. MikeDoe
    MikeDoe March 6, 2007 at 7:45 am | |

    anon:
    You make a lot of very valid points.

    To some extent BM is a marketing exercise. There is a massive difference between ‘can’ and ‘will’.

    Maybe it can for some, but so can a pebble on a bamboo stick.

    Is it likely? That’s a whole other question.

  38. UncaDan
    UncaDan March 6, 2007 at 8:07 am | |

    If you understand, things are just as they are. If you don’t understand, things are just as they are.

    -Zen Koan

    There is no lake so still that it has no wave; No circle so perfect that it has no blur. I would change things for you if I could as I can’t, you must take them as they are.

    -Han Fei Tzu

    All effort must be made by you; buddhas only show the way.

    -The Dhammapada 17:221

    The kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourself, then you become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you will dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.

    -Gospel of John 3

    It’s not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.

    -Agnes Repplier

    The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.

    -John 3:9

    That you may have pleasure in everything, seek pleasure in nothing. That you may know everything, seek to know nothing. That you may possess all things, seek to posses nothing. That you may be everything, seek to be nothing.

    -St. John of the Cross

    Truth is one; the sages speak of it by many names.

    -The Vedas

    In my opinion the only true enlightenment is the realization that there is no enlightenment to attain.

  39. Waylon
    Waylon March 6, 2007 at 8:08 am | |

    “Butt-chum”? Eeewww….that sounds like something that you attract sharks with…..and watch out bro, someone might misconstrue that whole “brown nosing” comment as gay bashing as well. LOL.

    Does anyone remember that kids in the hall skit where the gay dude is dressed up as an old lady and complains about how homosexuals had ruined the english language?

  40. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 6, 2007 at 8:24 am | |

    I don’t think brad is anti-homosexual, I just think he feels that men having sex with men is laughable. That is a subjective matter.

  41. A Strange Day
    A Strange Day March 6, 2007 at 5:24 pm | |

    Also, there is a copy of Loori’s “True Dharma Eye” in my university’s library which I’ve looked through pretty extensively. It really is terrible. The commentary is so pretentious and tries to be so “Zen” that it’s worthless, and even incomprehensible at times. Loori also writes a little verse after each koan which tends to be even more incomprehensible than the commentary. Brad isn’t just being mean here: Nishijima’s translation is ridiculously better.

  42. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf March 6, 2007 at 9:25 pm | |

    So that damn “Cake” song suprisingly manifested itself in my Zazen today. Brad wasn’t lying lol.

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 6, 2007 at 10:19 pm | |

    What do you people think enlightenment is? A state of altered brain chemistry for a few seconds? minutes? days? a lifetime?

    No, it’s Wisdom. You have it, I have it and if you go to a Big Mind workshop you will see that EVERYBODY has it. You will hear people speaking the innate wisdom we all have access to, when we leave the ego perspective aside — even people who have never spent a minute in meditation, already know everything they need to know. Wisdom and compassion are the true pearls of spiritual practice and your website is knocking, very prejudiciously and without any valid evidence, a upaya that puts people quickly in touch with their own innate wisdom and compassion.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 6, 2007 at 10:24 pm | |

    Bravo Bravo Bravo

  45. zenair
    zenair March 6, 2007 at 10:26 pm | |

    Finally right on

  46. Jared
    Jared March 7, 2007 at 4:30 am | |

    I think the point that some people here are trying to make is that even if Big Mind or any other device gives you the same insight as some sort of satori or enlightenment (if you believe in that sort of thing), it is still lacking compared to zazen. What that device can never give you is the patience, dedication, and discipline to put to practice that wisdom that you gain, which Zen seems to do a good job of doing. It seems sort of like giving someone all of the right answers to a test, versus someone studying (assuming the machine does anything). Theoretically, both will get high scores on the test. But the person who studied will better know how to apply that knowledge than the person who only knows the answer.

    That’s how I see it, anyway. All of the above depends, though, on whether or not the machine does anything. I think some people here are pointing that out, and that things claiming to give you the quickest pay off are often scams and this may be no different. In that instance it’s better to just stick with zen.

  47. Jinzang
    Jinzang March 7, 2007 at 8:02 am | |

    your website is knocking, very prejudiciously and without any valid evidence, a upaya that puts people quickly in touch with their own innate wisdom and compassion.

    Have you heard the koan, “Whatever comes through the front gate cannot be the family heirloom?”

  48. gniz
    gniz March 7, 2007 at 8:04 am | |

    Jared,

    VERY GOOD point, I think. Sure, Big Mind might provide someone with a glimpse of how their mind has all these different thoughts, voices, or whatever. So what?

    “Enlightenment”, “satori,” “kensho”…these words are just pornographic titilation for spiritual seekers hungry for their next fix.

    A great deal of these people going to Big Mind may never have even meditated before, so its possible that simply seeing the many voices of the mind is new and exciting.

    A lot of us got high the first few times we meditated. Who the hell gives a shit if they get some kensho experience after an hour? And then they’ll STILL be pissed off in traffic on the way home.

    http://www.gangstazen.blogspot.com

  49. zenair
    zenair March 7, 2007 at 8:05 am | |

    Very well said Jared, but you don’t stop sitting because of the result. Perhaps you sit with a mind
    not chasing it self.

  50. Brad
    Brad March 7, 2007 at 9:01 am | |

    I don’t usually post here. But I can’t resist making this 150 comments. Besides, I dug up the quote by John Daido Loori about Big Mind. It’s from an article called “Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind.” The author & original source are not on the copy I have. Here’s what it says:

    “Zen teaching is like fishing,” says John Daido Loori, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery, dharma brother to Genpo Roshi and author of numerous books including, Making Love with Light (Daido Roshi is my teacher and has a much more traditional approach to practice than does Genpo Roshi. I’d asked him what he thought of Genpo Roshi’s less traditional method). “Every fishernan has a technique. Some use flies, some lures, some bait. The key is to get the student hooked. Genpo Roshi uses the Big Mind process. I use the Arts, and Tetsugen (Bernie Glassman) uses social action. What counts is what happens when the student gets hooked. Genpo Roshi has shown, through the strength of his successors, that he is good at the essential part of Zen training. His successors are excellent.”

    *****

    There you have it. Although I’m not really sure just what Daido is saying here. It’s not quite as supportive as I’d recalled. In fact, it may be an obtuse way of saying he doesn’t support BM. It’s impossible to know. Which may be the problem (see my March 7 article).

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