Stuff

I’m stuck here at a Days Inn in Wytheville, Virginia after my alternator belt broke just outside of Bland, Virginia (yes, it’s a real place) on the way down to Durham, North Carolina to clear out a storage space I rent down there. I’m gonna type a blog post until the repair shop calls me. Hopefully this will be short!

The reason I have stuff in storage in Durham is because a couple years ago, I decided I had to leave Los Angeles. I was paying a lot of rent on an apartment I wasn’t even living in half the year as I traveled around spreading the Good News of Zen to the people of the world. But I wasn’t earning as much on these trips as I was paying to rent that place. Something had to give.

I’d heard good things about the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area and had a few friends there. So I decided I’d move to Chapel Hill. I was about to leave for two months in Europe. So I packed up everything and sent it to a storage space in Durham. Then I lived in other people’s houses, apartments, closets and floorspace for nearly a year. At the end of that year I decided I didn’t want to move to Chapel Hill. After a brief stint in Brooklyn, I ended up living in Akron. But I didn’t intend to stay in Akron for the long haul. So I just left my stuff in Durham.

I used to scoff at people who had storage spaces. If you had so much stuff that you needed to put some of it in a place where you couldn’t even get to it, then you had too much stuff! And now here I am having to deal with my own stuff…

There’s an idea that a good Buddhist should have no stuff at all. She should only own one bowl and two robes. She should live off the good graces of people who respond to her calling to the truth by supplying her with food and shelter.

That’s a nice ideal. Buddha’s original group of monks and nuns were able, it is said, to live like that in Northern India 2500 years ago. But times have changed. I doubt many people could live like that in Northern India today let alone anywhere else in the world. I also have nagging doubts about Buddha’s original monks actually having lived that way even back then. For one thing, to “leave home” in those days meant going a few miles or less away from home. Which meant you could leave your stuff there if you needed to. I’ll bet you a case of doughnuts a lot of monks and nuns did just that. Of course, some were probably very strict with themselves about this. I just doubt that all of them were.

There are lots of misconceptions about contemporary Buddhist monks with regards to stuff. For example, one would think that a guy whose nickname was “Homeless Kodo” probably owned nothing but his robes and a change of underwear. In fact, the word yadonashi (???, homeless) that was applied to Kodo Sawaki referred to the fact that he did not have his own home temple like most Zen teachers. He did, in fact, have a home to live in. What’s more, his student Kosho Uchiyama complained that as Kodo’s attendant he was required to lug mountains of Kodo’s books whenever Kodo went out on the road to lead retreats. Homeless Kodo had stuff.

Like Kodo, most of what I own is books. It’s probably no shock that most writers are terrible book fanatics. I’ve got a Kindle and I can see the logic of it. But I’ll never get over my affection for actual books on real paper. Which is unfortunate because books take up lots of space and they weigh a ton. They are made of wood!

Every Buddhist monk, male or female, that I’ve known has owned stuff. Most of them are fairly modest in terms of what “normal” people own. But they all have more than their begging bowls and their robes. Most of them, in fact, suffer from the same book collecting disease as I do. Though most of them have “better” books than me. I have lots more Three Stooges books than any other monk I know.

Stuff is a burden and a responsibility. I wish I had less of it. I understand that my inability to simply get rid of things is a sign of being too attached to them.

But it is much easier to espouse an ideal of living simply than it is to actually throw things away that you put a lot of effort into acquiring. If you’ve tried it, you’ll know exactly what I mean. This weekend I have enlisted the help of my good friend Catie who I have instructed to ignore my pleas when I tell her that I absolutely have to keep certain things. I’m very lucky to have a friend like that. Plus I’m giving her some of my collectibles so she can sell them to pay for her upcoming wedding in exchange for this service.

I always feel unburdened whenever I can get rid of things. And yet, having things is not always bad. It is because some people held on to their stuff and took care of it that we know about our history. My friend Jimi (lead singer of 0DFx) is a pack rat who collects all kinds of stuff related to Northeast Ohio rock and roll history. He’ll be exhibiting some of his stuff soon in downtown Akron (I’ll have the details when I get them). I’m very grateful for his work. Historians everywhere are grateful for pack rats like Jimi. This includes Buddhist historians. We wouldn’t even have some of our most important sutras if it weren’t for people who valued their personal stuff and kept it nice. There were times in history where Buddhism was persecuted and most of these precious materials were destroyed. At the time, those who had the few copies left may not have known their real value and may have been inclined to just toss them away and go off wandering. I, for one, am glad they didn’t.

Which isn’t to say that’s the same as me and my Three Stooges books. It’s just that to universally condemn the habit of holding on to stuff is a big misunderstanding.

Buddhism is always about doing what is better. It’s not about being austere for the sake of being austere as if austerity itself were a virtue in its own right. For some, giving up all possessions, having no job (in the usual sense) and living off the good graces of others is freeing. For some, this would be intolerable. I’m one of the latter. There is too much Midwestern work ethic instilled in me for me to ever be comfortable living that way. So I work in the world and as a consequence of that I have stuff. It’s a matter of exchanging one sort of burden for another.

I would not encourage Americans, Canadians and Europeans — or in fact most Asians, Indians, Africans or Inuit — living in the 21st century to try to adopt the ideal lifestyle espoused by the earliest Buddhists. It’s too hard to make that sort of thing work anywhere in the world these days. Sure, it was not easy 2500 years ago either. But nowadays it’s damn near impossible.

Plus I don’t think it really helps others that much. In the society we live in today, it’s important for everyone to contribute economically. It’s OK to go off on a retreat for a while, maybe even for a few years, to get yourself together and suchlike. But I believe it’s also important to be part of the regular world. A retreat is just that. It’s a retreat from the world. Sometimes it’s necessary and honorable to retreat. But I don’t think we should live our entire lives in a state of retreat from the world.

Hey! They just called about my car! Hooray!!!

(The photo I’ve chosen to illustrate this piece is NOT my stuff, by the way!)

In case you missed them last time, here are the new Zero Defex videos

96 Responses

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  1. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 19, 2012 at 7:56 am | |

    Nice post!

    I think the Chinese realized that the Gautamid's social take wouldn't fly in China, that's why they changed the rules regarding work and (maybe consequently) regarding meals.

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 19, 2012 at 8:03 am | |

    (con't) in Japan, the government decided to change the monk's rules regarding marriage and family.

    In the U.S.A., the students decided to change the rules regarding monks and nuns living together, and some even raise their families on the grounds of the community temple. I know of at least one temple where one of the sons is being groomed to take over the abbacy of the temple, I guess that's pretty much along the lines of the Japanese model.

    Zazen remains a thing of pain and numbness to most American sitters, and as such it remains in the province of temples, monasteries, and Zen centers, and there's no shortage of centers around for people to get together and encourage each other to practice. I might even go to one this morning!

  3. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead May 19, 2012 at 8:24 am | |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Corbie
    Corbie May 19, 2012 at 9:08 am | |

    There are Three Stooges books? O_O

  5. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 19, 2012 at 9:35 am | |

    Q: Why don't Buddhist monks vacuum the corners?

    A: Because they have no attachments.

    .
    .
    .

    When I retired in 2004, my assistant packed and hauled 18 Xerox Paper boxes of books out of my office. 6 went to the local library, 6 went to a library in Oakland (Hub of the West) and 6 went into storage for a couple of years.

    .
    .
    .

    Just last year I cleaned out the storage unit – after paying $60 a month ($720 a year) for 7 years!!!

    That's over $5,000 for just storing a couple hundred dollars worth of books!

    .
    .
    .

    That $60 a month now buys PEETS coffee…

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 19, 2012 at 10:28 am | |

    Brad, You might be a Hoarder.. It is not clear whether compulsive hoarding is an isolated disorder, or rather a symptom of another condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prevalence rates have been estimated at 2-5% in adults, and is greater in older adults than younger groups, in men versus women, and is inversely related to household income. Factors associated with the disorder include alcohol dependence as well as paranoid, schizotypal, avoidant, and obsessive-compulsive traits.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am | |

    obligatory link to Stuff

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 19, 2012 at 10:44 am | |

    If only I had the right stuff

  9. Seagal Rinpoche
    Seagal Rinpoche May 19, 2012 at 11:19 am | |

    Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

    Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

  10. Katori Girl
    Katori Girl May 19, 2012 at 11:35 am | |

    Aww… Too bad you've got Stuff To Do. We're up at Lake Kerr (about 45 min north of Durham). The sky's clear; the water's fine. A beautiful day to tool around on the boat in good company and good conversation. If you get free, give us a shout.

  11. Katori Girl
    Katori Girl May 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm | |

    It would probably help to give you some way to contact me, if, in fact, you do find yourself free to enjoy the rest of the day. I'll send an email.

  12. Cidercat
    Cidercat May 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm | |

    Books! Tell me about it Brad. I'm trying to find space for my 4th bookcase right now.

    I blame Amazon.

  13. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm | |

    Hoarding might just be procrastination…

    Some try to make hoarding an OCD but I don't [currently] see it that way.

    Piling up fire wood for the winter, for example, is just planning and not hoarding.

    Besides, Brad's picture is Squalor and not hoarding.

    One of the challenges – the biggest challenge – that clinicians face is differentiating between an authentic disorder or mantel condition and variations in 'normal' human behavior. Some people are just slobs.

    Like everything in life, there are 255 shades of gray between apparent black (e.g. shades of OCD) and apparent white (Miss Manners).

    To be a personality disorder, it must have a deleterious effect on others. Otherwise, it's just an eccentricity.

    My neighbor Dave (in the next block) converted his second bedroom AND his dining room into libraries – wall-to-wall book shelves. That is just a shade of eccentricity. The rest of his house is 'normal' by any standard, except for his unmaintained front yard.

  14. Khru
    Khru May 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm | |

    Whoa, Brad! I just read your blog-story-thing that you just posted: very nice! I intend to read these more often as I've always gone straight to the comment section to post something important and relevant.

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm | |

    From one Buddhist book hoarder to another, Brad, I really enjoyed this post. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere for car repairs on the way to deal with your acquisitiveness strikes me as an excellent teaching. And as a student of one of Uchiyama Roshi's dharma heirs, I would love to know where you got that story about him schlepping around Kodo Sawaki Roshi's books.

    You have a 3 Stooges habit? Mine is the Marx Brothers. I think most of Groucho and Chico's routines are some of the best koans ever written. But then I also can roar with laughter while reading Dogen. Who knows?

    Good luck with your storage space!
    Domyo

  16. dominic
    dominic May 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm | |

    hey brad, do you know this one, it reminds me of the photo you posted, in case you don`t know it, its one of the most stupid but funny music videos ever ( of one of the solo records of jack johnsons piano player), its called dont touch my stuff : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRSfpxSKbYs
    greetings,
    domi

  17. gee
    gee May 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm | |

    Bland was recently in the news in Oz; apparently they are trying to form a sister city relationship with a town in Scotland by the name of Boring.

  18. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 19, 2012 at 6:20 pm | |

    Sea Gull Rim Shotie…

    yeah, yeah, year…

    Matthew 6:32 the pagans run after all these things…

    Paganus (pagan) in classical Latin means variously villager, rustic, or civilian. In ecclesiastical terms it means someone "outside of the city" who is not directly enslaved to the church. If you are even MORE distant – e.g. even outside of villages, then you are heathen. Heathen is from Old English hćđen meaning living out on the green (hills).

    It is also possible to be a city dweller who never enters the bishops church – a profane.

    So, to Rome, it's not your distance from god(s) that counts, it the distance between you and your ass buddy, the bishop.

  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 19, 2012 at 8:28 pm | |

    I went to the Zen Center, and the abbot encouraged everybody to practice at the Zen Center with the sangha, rather than at home.

    Am I wrong to enjoy my practice at home so much, that I forsake going to the Zen Center?

    I confess, I'm not good at chanting or hopping up off a zafu after a long sitting. The residents at the Zen Center represent the place well with regard to both these things, and with regard to the 108 prostrations they do every morning at the Center. These things don't seem to come naturally to me, and yet sitting in the lotus in the morning at home does seem to come naturally now.

    At home, my practice is about the lotus as a teacher to me. At the Zen Center, the emphasis today was on what everyone should do, in light of the fact that we are all going to die; the implication was, that everybody needs to get enlightened, and that the Zen Center is the place to do this.

    I know I will die, and in no great length of time, but that doesn't tell me what it is now time for me to do. I would like to help the abbot, who has dedicated his life to teaching the practice of Zen around the world; that's not a good reason for me to practice at the Zen Center.

  20. Warrior Two
    Warrior Two May 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm | |

    One thing for sure, you own a lot of bass guitars.

  21. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm | |

    Mark,

    I'm with you.

    The Zen Center is fine… I donate to help them out.

    But Zazen is Zazen, after a point. Did Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni go to the local Zen Center? I think not.

    Must we sit under a 'Ficus Religiosa' to achieve nirvana? I think not.

    In fact, was Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni a vegitarian?

    The Vinaya Pitaka, or Book of Discipline, specifically states that the destruction of vegetable growth is an offence (pacittiya). The five different kinds specified are what is propagated 1) from roots, 2) from stems, 3) from joints, 4) from cuttings, and 5) from seeds.

    Tonight I ate a baked potato (propagated from a root) with cheese and cottage cheese. I'm feeling a little guilty. Very little.

    Will I be reborn as a potato?

    If so, how will I know?

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 2:12 am | |

    I know several Theravadin Forest tradition monks who own nothing except their robes and bowls and live off alms food here in the UK…. It most certainly is possible in the west, if you are that way inclined.

  23. hana shin
    hana shin May 20, 2012 at 4:00 am | |

    Great post. I'm trying to decide whether to purge and clean my house today, or enjoy the sunshine. I always let the sunshine win, but in fact making that choice too often makes returning home a burden.

  24. anon #108
    anon #108 May 20, 2012 at 4:16 am | |

    On "The Zen Center"

    Some people say a group gives support and encouragement. They say it’s good "practice" to deal with the problems you have with other people in a group. But some people don’t like the company of other people so much. They prefer to practise alone.

  25. CPW
    CPW May 20, 2012 at 4:16 am | |

    Hello Brad,

    I'm not sure how to get in contact with you without commenting here, so I'm going to do it! I've been reading your old blog posts for the last few days (although I can't actually remember how I got here) and I've recently started a personal programme of mindfulness meditation.

    I was wondering what your opinion is on secular-type meditation and the 'Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction' programme run by Jon Kabat-Zinn, if you know about it, as well as 'Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy' developed in the UK by Dr Mark Williams.

    Do you think it's good that medical science is employing an ancient aspect of Buddhism like this?

  26. anon #108
    anon #108 May 20, 2012 at 4:27 am | |

    On "Stuff"

    I have quite a lot of stuff. It collects dust.
    I had some other stuff once. I mourn its loss.

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 4:57 am | |

    stuff?

    sho 'nuff!

    snuffed.

    snif :(

  28. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner May 20, 2012 at 6:11 am | |

    I know several Theravadin Forest tradition monks who own nothing except their robes and bowls and live off alms food here in the UK…. It most certainly is possible in the west, if you are that way inclined.

    Yes, I'm sure it is. If you are prepared to join their community and deal with all that entails. For example, there has been a lot of controversy lately regarding the position of women in their tradition.

  29. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner May 20, 2012 at 6:15 am | |

    I'm not sure how to get in contact with you without commenting here, so I'm going to do it! I've been reading your old blog posts for the last few days (although I can't actually remember how I got here) and I've recently started a personal programme of mindfulness meditation.

    I was wondering what your opinion is on secular-type meditation and the 'Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction' programme run by Jon Kabat-Zinn, if you know about it, as well as 'Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy' developed in the UK by Dr Mark Williams.

    Do you think it's good that medical science is employing an ancient aspect of Buddhism like this?

    I don't have any strong opinions on the matter. I don't think of it as good or bad. I do have some reservations about the way they present what is a Buddhist tradition as something newly invented. That strikes me as somewhat dishonest. I know nothing about what they actually do in their programs.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 6:50 am | |

    Oh Brad, so lame on the reply to the Theravadan guy. The point was whether it was possible to live without stuff in the western world and you come back with an unsubstantiated and irrelevant dig on their community. How is your point connected to living without stuff?

    laaaaame :(

  31. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 6:55 am | |

    Lame again on the reply to the MBSR guy. I listen regularly to talks by the originator, Jon Kabat Zinn. I've been to his talks and even had a chance to say hello. In all of his presentations he describes how his understanding and application of mindfulness came from exposure and experience practicing in the Theravadan tradition. So you are wrong on that point and then you make a judgement call on it (dishonest). Slander is lame Brad. Lame as in 'impared'.

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 7:00 am | |

    MBSR guy….

    It's a good program. JKZ and Larry Rosenberg are old dharma friends and studied with SE Asia masters. At a certain point JKZ decided to go to med school and bring what he was learning about Buddhadharma in to that community. Larry Rosenberg founded the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (spin off of Insight Meditation Center – Joseph Goldstein/Sharon Salzberg).

    Here's a link to a JKZ talk at google about mindfulness

    "Full Catastrophe Living" is a good read to describe the program.

    Worth investigating to see if it's right for you.

  33. CPW
    CPW May 20, 2012 at 7:04 am | |

    Thanks for the response Brad, and @Anonymous, I don't think Brad's reply was lame at all, he admitted not knowing much about it! While Jon Kabat-Zinn may have come to mindfulness through Buddhism, his lectures and books strike me as involving as little reference to religion as possible so as to avoid alienating people.

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 7:10 am | |

    Brad said: Yes, I'm sure it is. If you are prepared to join their community and deal with all that entails. For example, there has been a lot of controversy lately regarding the position of women in their tradition.

    I reply: Sure, but the position of women was not my point. Besides, many of said women have formed their own community free of gender discrimination living a renunciate lifestyle with robes, bowl and alms food in california. Gender is not the issue.

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 9:57 am | |

    uh, sorry about calling you lame Brad. I just disagreed with some of your statements and gave my reasons. Could have done without the name calling… sorry! Good luck with your stuff.

  36. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 20, 2012 at 10:05 am | |

    @anonymous,

    agreed, gender was not the issue, begging for a living in the U.S.A. was the issue and I believe that is basically protected as a 1st amendment right (not quite resolved yet, see Begging and the Public Forum Doctrine).

    The Theravadin monks who live in Redwood Valley near Ukiah, CA, have given serious thought to begging on the streets, since they come from a Thai forest-monk tradition. However, the last I heard they had not actually attempted it. In fact, since they receive adequate donations through their money-handling non-initiate associates, I would think they might consider leaving the street begging to the homeless and others who have no 501c3 avenue to garner support (even though the monks would be begging door-to-door for food, which is a little different- "here you go, have some Cocoa-Puffs!"?).

    The gender issue in Thervadin is simple, you need five nuns to ordain a nun according to the Vinaya rules, and there came a moment in the generations where five nuns could not be gathered to ordain the next generation. So the succession was lost in that strict tradition, although some women have sought to make an end-run around the tradition by being Theravadin and receiving ordination from other traditions. Last I heard.

    Gautama was not a vegetarian- first I'd heard of Vinaya rules against killing plants, that's interesting. The Gautamid expected his followers to eat what was given to them, meat too as long as it wasn't killed specifically for them. His cousin thought monks should not eat meat, that's one of the reasons he tried to kill Gautama. Truth is stanger than fiction!

    I think the real issue with monks living off alms bowls is not that a few monks do so and succeed in getting enough to live within the rules of the tradition. The issue comes in when you have a community of monks, especially if it's a large community. Without public acceptance of guys in orange robes with shaven heads knocking on the door with bowls in hand, it's hard for me to visualize the success of such an regular procession through town. And hard it would be, to persuade American women to kneel down and conceal their female aspect as the line of monks walked by!

  37. John Baker
    John Baker May 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm | |

    The Buddhist in me has always been attracted by this paragraph from the book Fields of Force by William Berkson:

    “Helmholtz proved that once a vortex is put into a perfect fluid, it is eternal: there is no way the fluid's action alone could destroy it. William Thomson suggested that perhaps all atoms are vortex atoms. A vortex atom is something like a smoke ring in shape and behaviour, and it followed from Helmholtz's theorem that once such a vortex ring had been created, it could not be destroyed.”

    From this we can reason that in addition to the vortex being eternal, so is the fluid from which it arises. Taking one more step in reasoning, this fluid or medium is made of what Buddhists who follow the Lankavatra Sutra refer to as Mind-only or the same pure Mind (cittamatra).

    Given that we are fundamentally this Mind and the phenomenal world is its unlimited expression, all that we have to overcome is our blindness which binds us to the ever changing display of phenomena. Put another way, we have to overcome the illusion that the enlightened nature, or pure Mind, does not exist—which is no simple undertaking. (Especially for the materialist or physicalist, there is no pure spirit like Mind. All comes from matter.)

    The only way to accomplish this realization is by, let us say, attending to the zero phase of phenomenality which again, I must say, is no simple undertaking. When our Mind links up with Mind which opens to us in the zero phase of phenomenality—wham! One instantly steps into the Buddha’s world. Our former world is recognized to be a continually moving and unfolding expression of absolute Mind (ekacitta) like waves are to water.

    From this vantage point, whatever Mind perceives or experiences is really only itself just as the vortex is an expression of the eternal fluid.

  38. Dany
    Dany May 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm | |

    Hi Brad,

    after reading your books what I don't get yet is what's your point on "zen in everyday life"? What I mean is okay we sit an hour each day which is a good thing. But when we get up from the cushion and walk into the office, do we just forget about zen and practice or are there ways to practice in the office? If so how?

    Thank you!

    Dany

  39. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner May 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | |

    Oh Brad, so lame on the reply to the Theravadan guy. The point was whether it was possible to live without stuff in the western world and you come back with an unsubstantiated and irrelevant dig on their community. How is your point connected to living without stuff?

    My point was that these folks do not live on their own on alms. The community collects alms and shares them with members. It's not as if each individual lives on his own beggings.

    So in order to live like this, one must agree with the community. In my own case I would have a very large problem with their treatment of women (if what I've heard about it is true). Therefore I could not agree to be part of this community.

    There are plenty of other issues one must agree with or agree to be silent about if one wishes to join a community of this sort. The issue of women's role in it is just one example I decided to use.

  40. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm | |

    "But when we get up from the cushion and walk into the office, do we just forget about zen and practice or are there ways to practice in the office? If so how?"

    Quite literally, these are stupid questions. That old saw about there being no bad, dumb or stupid questions is incorrect.

    Live your fucking life and don't rely on some internet "guru" to dictate to you. In fact, our favorite anti-guru (Brad) doesn't have time for this shit. That's why I've hopped on here to tell you that you've asked dumb questions.

    Sit, live, sit some more. Come back in 8 years and explain why your questions were horrid.

  41. TED Listener
    TED Listener May 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm | |

    An informative Ted Talk for all of you wankers.

  42. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner May 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm | |

    After reading your books what I don't get yet is what's your point on "zen in everyday life"? What I mean is okay we sit an hour each day which is a good thing. But when we get up from the cushion and walk into the office, do we just forget about zen and practice or are there ways to practice in the office? If so how?

    I have a friend who does zazen in the break room of the office she works in. But that's not always possible or even necessary.

    I think it's enough to bring the attitude that comes from practice into work and life.

    In a sense, you forget about practice. You don't have to consciously recall practice. Just let it affect you.

  43. Dany
    Dany May 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm | |

    @Brad: Sounds good to me! I just keep on wondering if that's enough considering that traditional zen-monks maybe (not sure if it's true) practiced much more. Also Joko Beck keeps on saying in her books that one should practice 24/7 and that just sitting for an hour is not enough.

    So I personally would prefer your answer…but sometimes I wonder if it's enough and "real practice" but maybe that's just an ideal…

    Dany

  44. Mysterion
    Mysterion May 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | |

    Blogger Brad Warner said…
    "I think it's enough to bring the attitude that comes from practice into work and life.

    In a sense, you forget about practice. You don't have to consciously recall practice. Just let it affect you."

    Yep.

    That's the same kind of thing Les Kaye said 30 years ago…

    at least THAT hasn't changed much.

  45. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | |

    Who cares what Les Paul said, Mysterion?

  46. Anonymous
    Anonymous May 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm | |

    The effect of regular zazen is noticing what you're doing more often, on and off the zafu. Sit twice a day for a year or two. If you feel like sitting more at that point it's easy enough to do.

    Leaving home is fairly simple in the West, but you're talking about being homeless, and that's not an easy life. I don't know if wandering monks in the Buddha's day were subject to robbery, assault, rape, and murder; but modern Western monks would be. I think being a modern homeless monk would be exremely difficult, way too hardcore for most of us householders. Give time to a homeless shelter instead.

  47. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm | |

    "If you are equanimous toward everything, including the ultimate ungraspability of mind itself, and your conditioned mind falls away and spontaneously comes to an end, then the perfect illumination of inherent nature appears whole without needing any contrived efforts to make it."

    "Be aware of where you really are twenty-four hours a day."

    (Yuanwu, from "Zen Letters" pgs 88 & 53 translated by the Cleary brothers)

    I attend to where I am, and I attend to where I am when the conditioned mind falls away. The conditioned mind tends to fall away in waking up or falling asleep; after awhile, attending to where I am is waking up and falling asleep.
    That's my experience.

  48. Honk
    Honk May 21, 2012 at 12:37 am | |

    I think it's enough to bring the attitude that comes from practice into work and life.

    What attitude is that? :)

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