Silence is Always Available

I will lead Zazen tomorrow at 10 am (Sat. 9/29) at Hill Street Center 237 Hill St. Santa Monica, CA 90405. Come 10 min early for instructions if needed. We do this every week. And every week you, dear reader, fail to show up. What have we got to do to entice you?

How about this? Tomorrow we will make our first attempt at conducting a true life Zen morning service. This may end up looking like a Zen morning service or it may end up being a complete train wreck. For you see, dear reader, I shall attempt to train people how to do the ceremony (which I barely know myself) and then immediately thereafter do the ceremony before your very eyes and ears. Now is that irresistible or what? And you can go to the beach after. It’s the fucking beach! Do you know how much people in Ohio will pay just to get to a beach? A lot! That’s how much. And all you gotta do is drive on the 10 for 25 lousy minutes. Don’t be such a wuss. The 405 is closed this weekend. So don’t try to use that to get there, OK?

***

In other news, my roommate and movie director extraordinaire Pirooz Kalayeh and I are working on The Brad Warner Show, which we intend to debut next month. The opening sequence has been shot and is presented for you above. Watch it and imagine how exciting the actual show will be.

***

Sometimes during the practice of zazen you have small moments of total clarity. And sometimes you try to find words to describe those moments.

They cancel evening zazen at Tassajara far too often for my liking and on days when that happened I’d always try to find a way to squeeze my own zazen time into the schedule. On one such day I was sitting by myself in the zendo and things got all nice and sorted for a little while.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Isn’t that what happens every time? You’ve been doing that zazen shit every day for almost thirty freakin’ years, Warner! You’ve even written books about it! What gives?”

My zazen these days is always much clearer and nicer than it was ten or twenty or twenty-five years ago. That’s true. I’ve had some moments of really astounding insight. But, alas, day-to-day zazen is rarely spectacular. Mostly it’s just nice. But every once in a while the stars align just right and something surprising happens. You can’t wish for this kind of thing. Well you can, but it doesn’t help. You can’t force it to happen. You can’t will it to happen. You just sit and wait and sometimes God goes, “Oh! There you are! I was busy with other stuff for a while. Here. Have a moment of clarity. It’s on me.”

So anyway, this particular little moment left behind a phrase that I will give to you for whatever it’s worth. Here it is Silence is always available.

We tend to think that when we’re in the middle of noise and confusion, silence is gone, that it’s retreated somewhere, that it’s not with us anymore. But that’s never the case. Silence underlies everything, even our moments of deepest noisy confusion and pain. It’s always there. It is the basis of everything.

It’s not always easy to locate it. But it’s there.

Sometimes we fear silence. We think of it as dark, scary, a place where we might get lost forever. So we try to shut it out. But we can never really shut it out. We can only turn away from it. It never leaves us. Not even for a single moment. Because it can’t leave us. We are constructed only of silence.

***

You can’t buy silence. But if you want to you can donate to this blog and help Brad be able to buy Cheerios and cat food and gas to get to Santa Monica and sit by himself.

 

27 Responses

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  1. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin September 28, 2012 at 11:05 am | |

    What have we got to do to entice you?

    Plane ticket to LA?

  2. King Kong
    King Kong September 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm | |

    OH MAN, WILL YOU READ COMMENTS ON THE AIR?!?!?

  3. JustinG
    JustinG September 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm | |

    The last time I went to a beach in Ohio there was a lady rinsing off her baby’s butt. We may all be made out of the same cosmic particles, but I wouldn’t swim in my own shit either. Or, maybe I would…I would rather just not see it.

  4. Jules
    Jules September 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm | |

    Huh, what IS stopping me? I might be able to travel 1100 miles to LA by 10am tomorrow if I leave work early, skip night class, and drive like a bat out of hell the whole way. It COULD BE DONE. But then I’d fall asleep on the zafu.
    =:-)
    -J

  5. Fred
    Fred September 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm | |

    Silence is for when no one’s home.

  6. sri_barence
    sri_barence September 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm | |

    So. First, after reading your blog entry above, I feel like saying, “Now you sound just like a Zen Master.” That might be a compliment; I’m not sure.

    Next, after viewing the trailer for your new show, I say, “Now I’m really convinced. You’ll do ANYTHING for money.”

    Finally, I am donating money to your cause. I’m not sure why. Please don’t cause any more trouble.

  7. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm | |

    I like the trailer, and the blog post reads like you’ve been in front of the camera a lot.

    Cast of thousands.

    Moments of silence for me are just being from this place, together with the cast of thousands, cosmicly candid camera obscura eternity.

  8. Jinzang
    Jinzang September 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm | |

    “Silence underlies everything, even our moments of deepest noisy confusion and pain. Its always there. It is the basis of everything.”

    If silence is the basis of everything, then what is the basis of silence?

  9. King Kong
    King Kong September 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm | |

    UM… EVERYTHING?

  10. DanUK
    DanUK September 29, 2012 at 4:29 am | |

    Come and do a class on the East Sussex coast, UK, I should be able to make it. (and we also have a beach.)

  11. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer September 29, 2012 at 6:43 am | |

    King Kong,

    Since the theme that has been running through Brads posts as of late is the twisted relationship betwixt fame and money I am more than curious about how you deal with fame and just how big is your bank account (?).

    Just what is the conversion rate from dollars to bananas?

    Has fame made you more or less effective as a building crawling ape?

    What does Fay Wray look like naked?

    Please share.

  12. Charlie Cardoza
    Charlie Cardoza September 29, 2012 at 7:58 am | |

    I love the “sometimes we fear silence” paragraph. Awesome!

  13. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 29, 2012 at 8:31 am | |
  14. DanP
    DanP September 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm | |

    Brado,

    I’d love to come there to sit with you. Alas, 2000 miles intervene.

    So, I’ll just set here in Cocoa Beach with the locals.

    Twas great (I think) seeing you at Tassajara. A good amount of the time, you looked annoyed, but at least authentically so.

    Who else can tell Tass-tales about stolen robes, rolled in blood?

    Auspicious.

    Did you get the photos of you and David C.?

    In Silence and Noise,
    Danny

  15. King Kong
    King Kong September 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm | |

    WELL ALAN, I”M OLD FAME, LIKE BOB HOPE, WHICH IS THE CLOSEST TO ROYALTY ONE CAN GET WHEN NOT BORN WITH THE SILVER SPOON. SO I DON”T DEAL WITH FAME AS MUCH AS FAME DEALS WITH ME !!

    BANANAS ARE PRICELESS OF COURSE AND FAY WAS A LOOKER, TO BE SURE, BUT HONESTLY JUST A LITTLE TOO TINY, RIGHT?

  16. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer September 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm | |

    King Kong,

    Should have re4alized

    Sorry.

    Now I understand that Past a Certain Point fame morphs into archetype. And the rules no longer apply.

    Enjoy it as you can Kong.

    Cheers.

  17. King Kong
    King Kong September 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm | |

    YOU”RE FAMOUS IN MY TODAY ALAN… KUDOS :)

  18. SoF
    SoF September 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm | |

    There is a journey in which you spend your first year in silence, make an increasingly Herculean effort over the next seven years and then spend another full year (your 9th) in silence as a reward.

    I played with the notion of silence in the past… the John Cage 4:33 stuff, for example.

    Silence really isn’t silence… it’s just ‘the ambience of the moment’ of which you must become aware (egh! mindful). When you are ‘out there’ in the ambience, you are no longer ‘in here’ inside the ‘me’ of my head.*

    I think I am the only “Former Master” in the room.

    I got it when I gave it up.

    first it = fruits of the effore

    second it = “effort”

    *I don’t think it’s an ‘out of body’ experience – though for some, it may well seem that way. I think its more like becoming water to the sponge of the moment.

    It’s a shitty explanation but just go for your own experience, not mine.

  19. King Kong
    King Kong September 30, 2012 at 8:19 am | |

    YO FORMER MASTER !!

    THAT”S ALL.

    BYE BYE, BACK TO THE ISLAND !!

    GOOD LUCK IN LA BRAD !!

  20. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 30, 2012 at 9:00 am | |

    Is it ’cause I’m old that the necessity of breath becomes my practice?

    here’s a weird old man in his living, by God it’s me, what is he on, too much coffee:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noHxGR_oygM&feature=youtu.be

  21. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 30, 2012 at 9:04 am | |

    Hey, Brad- would you like a guest on your show? Think I’ve got somebody in L.A. who would put me up. We could talk, maybe at Venice beach, or on the avenue somewhere- where, you know, the times are.

  22. Fred
    Fred September 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm | |

    “I dont think its an out of body experience though for some, it may well seem that way. I think its more like becoming water to the sponge of the moment.”

    It’s an out of reference experience, but not really an experience because it was
    always there.

  23. SoF
    SoF September 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm | |

    Fred sed:

    “Its an out of reference experience, but not really an experience because it was
    always there.”

    Yeah… that works well too.

  24. AnneMH
    AnneMH September 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm | |

    I like the silence writing. I got to a 2 day silent retreat for the first time this weekend. Very cool and challenging. I learned that composting toilets are not only good for the environment but also a lot quieter when everything is soooo quiet.

    I would love to come by and sit with you guys on Saturday, it is a good time for me but a bad location. A bit of a 2 day drive. But if I ever went on a business trip (haha my school district does not send me places but they still pay me) then I would make sure I stop by. I wish I knew more people in Colorado here to support you making a visit here financially feasible. Maybe some day

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