That The Dharma Should Be Given Freely Does Not Mean It Should Be Taken Freely

Buddha-money1First there will be no zazen tonight at Yogavidala and no zazen meeting on Saturday at Hill Street Center in Santa Monica.

This is because I will be leading a retreat this weekend at Mount Baldy. Amazingly, you can still sign up for it. But you’d better do it quick because as of tomorrow morning nobody will be available to register you.

Next up, I am trying to find places in the US, Canada and Europe to speak at and lead retreats and stuff at this Summer. I’ll be on the road promoting my forthcoming book There Is No God And He Is Always With You. I’d love to come to your town. So hit me up!

That being said, the US federal government defines “poverty” in terms of a single person household as those who make less than $11,490 in a year. In 2011 that’s just a little less than what I made before deductions like travel expenses to go give talks all over the place. After travel and other expenses I made well under half that amount. 2012 brought me just out of poverty range (before expenses) because I got a  little extra as an advance on my next book. That’s money I get early and means I don’t start earning anything at all on the book until that advance is met.

I’m managing because I worked for a decade at a job that paid well and I saved that money. I decided to invest that savings in my career as a teacher and writer. I’m starting to wonder if that was a good investment! My nest egg keeps getting smaller and smaller. But for now, I’m all right. I won’t be tossed out on the street any time soon. I was very lucky I had that job. I could not be doing what I do now if I hadn’t worked for Tsuburaya Productions. Ultraman is paying for the Buddhist teaching I do now. Seriously!

This raises a ton of issues. One of the biggest is the idea that Zen teaching (the Dharma) is to be given freely. That’s true. But just because the Dharma is to be given freely does not mean it is to be taken freely.

I have a lot of friends who teach Yoga and it’s interesting to note the differences in what happens with them compared to what happens with me and to others in the world of Buddhism and meditation teaching in general. Folks even in the rust belt of Ohio have no qualms with paying $10-$20 for a 60-90 minute Yoga class and much more for a retreat. Yet folks in Zen or other Buddhist centers often gripe at being asked to support the place. Nobody ever says out loud, “Hey! It’s supposed to be free!” But it’s obvious some of them are thinking that.

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been that guy who puts a dollar in the dana bowl. I’ve been that guy who takes the free books and food from the Hare Krishnas and doesn’t put anything in the bucket when he leaves. So maybe in a sense it’s my karma coming back to bite me on the ass. Still, maybe that karma is also driving me to try to put some things right for all of us out there attempting to teach this stuff.

So if you’d like me to come to your town, also please think about how that’s going to work out financially. I’m not looking to get rich here. But running around doing retreats and stuff is my job. If I choose to do this with my time it means I really can’t go get a “real job” somewhere else.

I know this sounds whiny. But it’s not really as much of a complaint as it sounds like. I love what I do. I am so happy with my life right now I could just pop! I am eternally grateful that I can do this stuff. I want to continue. Yet I’m starting to feel like once my nest-egg from working in the film business is exhausted, that’s gonna be pretty much it for my speaking/writing/retreat-running career.

Maybe that’s OK. Maybe that’s how it’s gotta be. If it is, then I’ll have to accept it. I could do translation work, maybe get back into some aspect of the film industry again, maybe return to Japan and see if they’ll have me back at Tsuburaya. It’ll be fine. I’ll still do my practice on the side just like I did before. There are other teachers out there with Zen centers and stuff. They’ll write books, run retreats and give talks. People can go to those instead. Everything will be groovy.

But I also feel like what I do is unique and valuable. I hate to sound like I’m bragging. I feel like I can say this objectively, or at least semi-objectively. I feel like I can look at “Brad Warner’s” books and talks and stuff almost as if they’re not really mine.

For example, I just got done recording the audiobook version of Sit Down And Shut Up. It’s been six years since I last read that book. I’d forgotten a lot of what’s inside. As I was reading I kept thinking, “This is pretty good. This is actually kind of deep. Not many people write books like this.” It was almost as if it was somebody else’s book and I liked it.

And my forthcoming book is even better. Far better. It makes Sit Down and Shut Up looks like kid’s stuff!

But maybe I’m one of those guys who doesn’t get noticed in his lifetime. Philip K Dick couldn’t even get his agent to return his calls until the last couple years of his life. And now his books have become the basis for a string of top-grossing movies. Amazing. Maybe that’ll be my story.

We’ll see.

For now I am happy, content and extremely grateful to be exactly where I am. It’s fun, even if it isn’t really paying the bills.

*   *   *

This is where I usually mention my donation page. But instead I’ll just thank you kind people who do support it for your help. It really matters!

111 Responses

  1. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:15 am | |

    People look for answers in front of the non sense of reality * and whatever can catch our imagination, we try to grab any straw that wanders in front of us …

    I really don’t want to diss dharma or the people who dedicated so much time if not all their life to it, why should i, but it could be just as chess …

    What is dharma for the dharma people? Some kind of “keeping busy” hoping for some kind of paradise, illumination, what the *blip* else?

    Anybody’s got an answer?

    ————
    *–The notion of the Absurd contains the idea that there is no meaning to be found in the world beyond what meaning we give to it.–
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism

  2. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:16 am | |

    Or could we all join some Pataphysics chapter and be happy the same?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%27Pataphysics

  3. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:33 am | |
  4. Andy
    Andy April 29, 2013 at 6:56 am | |

    “Mumbles says “it is entirely up to you what you think you are getting here and what it is worth.” How can anyone disagree?”

    Because a person’s thoughts can often habitually distract them from what they might otherwise find very valuable in themselves and, by extension, others. And so it can help, in some circumstances, and when the time is ripe, to be prodded.

    Prods like “it is entirely up to you…” can fit as snugly into attitudes that swerve away from what might otherwise matter to someone, as much they can remind one to have confidence in what really does matter.

    It might be entirely up to me, but as that me in the first place wasn’t entirely up to me, I think it’s of some value to also acknowledge the an on-going collaboration that’s going on – so that even those well-intentioned reminders of our own response-ability not slip too easily into group-think prisons bearing consoling slogans about our ‘individual’ agency.

  5. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 29, 2013 at 8:07 am | |

    That the dharma can neither be given nor taken, easily lost in the whirl of notions concerning worth and value, easily lost when confronted with the difficulties of making one’s livelihood in a country convinced of the value of that which makes money and the worthlessness of that which does not.

    I had a judo teacher who worked as a janitor at Lockheed. He gave so generously of his time and his passion, spoke occasionally of how Jesus turned his life around but not often, and smiled a lot. Here’s to Moon Watanabe, a great man and a lasting influence on my life.

    There was a gym fee. I always felt that if I was attending a zendo I should support it, and so far I am current on my dues as a sustaining member of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, although that may soon change as my current part-time gig comes to a close. And I have donated to Brad, this year, hopefully enough to buy him a tank of gas.

    Harder to see the gym, in the electronic age.

    Moon gave me to see that in our society, mostly you work a day job and offer what you have of change to yourself and society at night. So to speak.

    But then, there’s the lure of the casino; one hit record, one string of successful books, one patented invention, one indispensable product, one lucky deck of cards. And it’s real, and we ask ourselves, was I just not the sharpest knife in the drawer? Was I not quite playing with a full deck? Was I behind the door when the dana was passed out? Job had a lot to say.

  6. AnneMH
    AnneMH April 29, 2013 at 9:05 am | |

    Yep, got the day job and it takes a huge amount of time. It would be nice to offer more of the dharma but not gonna happen this year. It is when I do taxes that I see how very little I live on! Eeek, I can;t imagine living on Brad’s income in Cali.

    I would say all the teachers/priests in former traditions I have been in have also had full time jobs. The uber small congregations in independant catholic and orthodox churches do not support more than the building.

  7. Fred
    Fred April 29, 2013 at 9:07 am | |

    “While Sexually Transmitted Enlightenment™ is an important and potent practice on our Spiritual Path, it belongs to an esoteric body of teachings, transmitted in secret from Master to Disciple, and only properly initiated and empowered disciples are allowed to study and practice these teachings.

    If, however, you have a serious interest in the matter, please feel free to set up an appointment with Tutteji, or one of his senior students.”

  8. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer April 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm | |

    Mumbles,

    You are probably aware of it, but the DFW biography “Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story” D. T. Max is out there. I read it over the last few days.

    It clarified many thing about his life, including his fairly tenuous connections with Buddhism.

    My takeaway was understanding the massive set of contradictions his life was. And given his extraordinary intelligence, how paralyzingly self-aware he was of all those contradictions.

    Like the old story about the centipede (how do you manage to walk with all those legs) DFW intensely self-aware intelligence seems to have been his undoing.

    Cheers.

  9. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm | |

    About producing a vision with no form

    “Therefore Subhuti, all Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas should thus produce a pure mind which does not rely on forms, sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects or dharmas. ” Diamond Sutra

    Please have a look here
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recovery_from_blindness

    … Oliver Sacks recounts the story of Virgil, a man who saw very little until having cataract surgery at age 50. Virgil’s subsequent behavior was that of a “mentally blind” person —someone who sees but can’t decipher what’s out there; …
    “look ‘ma no form !”

    Now, kindly, any knowledgeable person here could explain what is it for that we should look for “no form” sensation?

    I remember a video with K. Wilder talking rather pleased to a rather envious/in awe audience, his glorious “no form” perceptions “testing a blue pancake that was the sky”. Agreeing with Brad, but maybe not for the same reasons, i thought “so what”, what scrambling neurones has to do with buddhism … ? Is this illumination?

    Ok, please don’t tell me that it’s just a mind acrobatic of his , because he just reproduced there SOME CENTRAL BUDDHIST MANEUVRE “look ‘ma no form !”

    If it were in some obscure third tier appendage to some forgotten sutra of uncertain origin or translation, ok, BUT it’s the Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra is even more specific, SO these ARE central to dharma …

    Anybody’s got an answer? What’s the link between “no form” and the final goal, enlightenment, whose definition everybody restrained to give till now?

    … ?

  10. Picard
    Picard April 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm | |

    If our Brad is a “Dharma Bum” he is indeed in good company!

  11. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm | |

    Sorry i don’t mean to be mean but all the copy-paste of deep thoughts doesn’t seem to me to be of much help in this case …

  12. boubi
    boubi April 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm | |

    Now an example of “look ‘ma no form” could be found in modern art, space annihilation and all parts piled up without perspective nor relation until the sum of the elements becomes un-recognisable, un-knowable, you cannot “name” them again, they lost form

    Properly named “A Revolution of Spatial Presentation in Artistic Expression ”
    http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/40 you can see a formless portrait

  13. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm | |

    Well, unless you are a man or woman of seriously comfortable means, some tiny percent of the global population,
    http://www.upworthy.com/theres-around-223-trillion-in-the-world-heres-who-owns-most-of-it
    then you are looking at poverty or a pay-for-hire situation that hopefully involves some temporary autonomous zones http://hermetic.com/bey/taz3.html in which to either do meaningful artistic endeavors or just play to pass the time.

  14. anon 108
    anon 108 April 30, 2013 at 4:42 am | |

    boubi: “what is it for that we should look for “no form” sensation?”…”What’s the link between “no form” and the final goal, enlightenment, whose definition everybody restrained to give till now?

    I’ll have a go.

    Realising that the things/forms perceived by our senses and the conceptual systems that derive from them don’t have permanent, intrinsisc existence or ‘truth,’ makes it easier to let go of them. Attachment to permanent forms and true ideas/views, believing them to be ‘the way things are,’ leads to suffering. So understanding the emptiness of form (material and immaterial) = less suffering. That’s the theory as I understand it.

    What ‘emptiness’ is not about is aspiring – or pretending – to live a life of emotional indifference. Neither is it about experiencing a fleeting funny feeling, a “‘no form’ sensation”. Not for me.

  15. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 30, 2013 at 4:44 am | |

    Krznaric quotes the French writer François-René de Chateaubriand, who wrote over a century ago:

    A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

  16. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 7:39 am | |

    Hi anon 108

    Of course those experiences are aimed at doing what you just said, but IMO there’s a problem and it consists in the fact that what Diamond and Heart sutras are talking about are the mean not the goal in itself … they talk about formless not to what formlessness points to.

    Heart sutra seems to me very explicit saying “go formless*” and then WOW “Bodhi Svaha” !

    Anyhow thanks for the contribution, did you see the beast yourself?
    ———–
    * on all senses

  17. anon 108
    anon 108 April 30, 2013 at 9:49 am | |

    Heart sutra seems to me very explicit saying “go formless*” and then WOW “Bodhi Svaha” !

    Mahayana sutras are like that…and some of the earlier stuff. I see it as a sign of the times. Humanity was developing; people were questioning earlier understandings, seeing them in a different way…and getting excited about it.

    So I think you have to read between the lines. I don’t think Buddhism has ever been about attaining super-powers; becoming a god. Samsara is not different from nirvana; nirvana is not different from samsara. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.

    Did I see the beast? If you mean have I ever had a vision of the world without form? No I haven’t. But there are many times throughout the day when I’m unaware of any distinctions between myself and things and when I’m not consciously conceptualising. Gudo calls this the state in action (also the state in zazen), and that understanding of ‘emptiness’ (as a state) makes sense to me.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 April 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | |

      I don’t think Buddhism has ever been about attaining super-powers; becoming a god.

      I mean Real Buddhism. Proper Buddhism. The Buddhism I like.

  18. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 10:24 am | |

    —”I don’t think Buddhism has ever been about attaining super-powers”—

    Agree, the one we refer to here not, but other flavors of Mahayana yes, just look at the tantric forms, with siddhis*, but they are not the goal, from what i understood, they are some kind of by-product of their practices and even they can be a danger distracting and creating pride.

    I think that “Bodhi Svaha” means some kind of wonder, but it also looks like it is what you aim to, it’s also in the end of the text.

    —”I mean Real Buddhism. Proper Buddhism. The Buddhism I like.”—
    I would be a tad less assertive here, let’s keep it to “The Buddhism I like”, less we start a religion war … i think we had enough of this kind of absolutism.

    Also i don’t even think we could talk about “buddhism”, i think a better wording could be “void doctrine” or some other similarity, as much as we don’t call gravity Newtonism.
    But it’s just words, if we understand what we talk here it’s ok for me.

    —”But there are many times throughout the day when I’m unaware of any distinctions between myself and things and when I’m not consciously conceptualising”—
    Nice :)

    But why do you think “formlessness” is so hyped in buddhism?

    —”Humanity was developing”—
    I think they were already very well developed, i don’t know if we are today on level with their level of thougts … maybe, i personally don’t see such an evolution in human kind.

    —”and getting excited about it. “—
    They already had a rich tradition of visions of the absolute (?), i don’t think that Siddharta Gautama brought such novelty … samadhi being samadhi … and there were many schools (i’m not so cultivated to tell them) like in ancient Greece, what he brought IMO was “the middle way” into a non theist school …

    ———
    * which exist

  19. minkfoot
    minkfoot April 30, 2013 at 11:30 am | |

    “Someone some time ago said that the (i imagine some of them) church going people he met were, usually, happier than the dharma folks.”

    This is not at all my experience. I find most of the Christians I know to be in some kind of desperate close-mindedness. The few who are what I would call real Christians are quite wonderful, though. And the Dharma kin in general seem much happier than anybody else.

    Who do you hang out with?

  20. Fred
    Fred April 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm | |

    “Anybody’s got an answer? What’s the link between “no form” and the final goal, enlightenment, whose definition everybody restrained to give till now?”

    In just sitting, there is no goal, and enlightenment is a dirty word.

    Enlightenment for whom; there is no self.

  21. Fred
    Fred April 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm | |

    “Someone some time ago said that the (i imagine some of them) church going people he met were, usually, happier than the dharma folks.”

    Yes, and they are fully attached to their ego and religion is their happy trance.

    The dharma folks with no or less attachment to this self aren’t pulled by the
    emotions of happy or sad as strongly. No highs, no lows; just choiceless
    awareness of what is.

  22. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm | |

    —In just sitting, there is no goal, and enlightenment is a dirty word.

    Enlightenment for whom; there is no self.—

    Is it your own experience? If yes i would like to discuss it

    thanks

    About the church people ask to the one that said that here :) i was just commenting

    And for “no attachment folks” please stand up :)

    1. boubi
      boubi April 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm | |

      No real need to stand up, just waive your hand with a loose wrist … you know, like royalty

  23. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm | |

    — real Christians are quite wonderful, though. —

    I think it’s not worth talking about the fake variety … and i’m NOT of the theist kind, so i’m not trying to sell any religion here.

    As much i think it’s not worth talking about the fake buddhists either.

    But there is a problem, the first one is a faith, you believe that’s it, the second is a “prajna” (correct me if i’m wrong), yo have to get there

  24. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm | |

    Fred

    Just a question, because you seem to have plenty of wisdom, and i would really like to get some word of advise from someone (i think it shows from the last posts).

    Is all you say from your direct experience?

    Do you spend some of your time turning/perceiving/whatever samsara into nirvana, in between mundane tasks, or even better during mundane tasks?

    I’m not able to and some coaching would be very welcome.

    Thanks :)

  25. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm | |

    Christianism, from what i understand, is kin to some bakti-yoga, you open yourself to a deity … and this makes you free from your self … and we get there, to the “free from your self” thing, which could make of it a “christiayana” … :)

  26. Fred
    Fred April 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm | |

    Just close your eyes and go to no where, no self boundary, no thought, just
    awareness.

  27. boubi
    boubi April 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm | |

    Thanks Fred

    I hoped you had some personal wisdom to pass along, although i appreciate the link, but you know it’s just a link, another copy-paste.

    But thanks the same, are you Adam?

  28. Fred
    Fred April 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm | |

    Boubi, Fred is just a character I play in life, but I am not that character. I have
    no personal wisdom.

    According to Ingrams system I crossed the A and T in 81 meditating off and on
    all day ( mindfulness ).

    The link leads to ways to drop the self

  29. boubi
    boubi May 1, 2013 at 4:44 am | |

    Fred

    Thanks for the sincerity, but i was looking for someone who threaded there before and could have given me some insight/advice

  30. Andy
    Andy May 1, 2013 at 5:41 am | |

    boubi wrote: “but why do you think “formlessness” is so hyped in buddhism?”

    and this popped into mi noggin:

    “Fred, I love Ultimate Spinach!!” – scribed Mr Warner, a while back.

    I like it when that happens – the popping.

  31. Andy
    Andy May 1, 2013 at 6:14 am | |

    The Popping:

    Mostly fizzy and it tastes like pop when drinking pop (Brit. Eng. Slang for a sweet, fizzy drink – that is, when said drink is fizzy). On occasion, it occurs as a pronounced singularity of thought, like a burp. From having drank a little too much pop in one session. Its flavour depends much on the ingredients in the pop, inflected, as it were, by whatever else one has digested preceding and/or during the ingestion of the beverage.

    From an inclination to observe these phenomena closely, one might discover that the fizz, flavour or plosive sensation etc describe a peculiar component otherness seemingly at odds with one’s normal experience of an Orange Tango or the familiar workings of the body’s expulsive reflexes. But this needn’t be a problem, as no-one makes post-modern love to their partner – or should be sternly advised against it (preferably with a particularly stimulating image at hand).

    This message will self-destruct in 0 seconds.

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 1, 2013 at 8:08 am | |

    “body’s expulsive reflexes”- back to the sexy blog, the bodhisattvas Kong and Khru will be satisfied (leave offerings at the alter for them, here).

    ‘The “beholding stopping” that followed “beholding detachment” in “the intent concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths” concerned a cessation of the exercise of volition in action, in particular the cessation of that exercise of volition that is set in motion through the ignorance of things as they are. Gautama saw ignorance as a source of volitive activity, and volitive activity he saw as the source of an experience of consciousness as stationed or unresponsive. From the experience of consciousness as stationed, he said, a chain of cause and effect is set in motion that leads to the thought “this is mine; this I am; this is my self”. This chain, he said, constituted the genesis of suffering; at the same time, the cessation of ignorance was the cessation of all the elements of the causal chain, and therefore constituted a cessation of suffering. “Beholding stopping” concerned the natural witness of a cessation of the exercise of volition born of ignorance; such a cessation follows from the witness of detachment.’

    that, of course, is from here.

    As to emptiness, I think the presumption is empty of any abiding self, so that no form but also no extinction of form. In the piece I link above, I only describe the first four meditative states, and of course I describe them for my own benefit.

    There are also five further states. Interestingly, there is a sermon where Gautama describes the extension of the mind of friendliness, the mind of compassion, the mind of sympathetic joy, and the mind of equanimity in ten directions as the method of induction of the further states. Well, actually, the extension of the mind of friendliness he doesn’t associate with a further state, but the mind of compassion in ten directions he claimed brings on the state of infinite ether, the mind of sympathetic joy brings on the state of infinite consciousness, and the mind of equanimity brings on the state of “no-thing”. The state of “neither perception and sensation nor yet not perception and sensation”, he said follows the state of no-thing, but he didn’t give a method for its induction. The state in which volition ceases in action of the mind, in perception and sensation, he said followed the state of “neither perception and sensation nor not perception and sensation” with the thought, “all this is constructed and thought out, yet whatever is constructed and thought out is impermanent, is subject to ceasing”.

    So how much of the heart sutra is based on the state of “no-thing” and the state of “neither perception and sensation nor yet not perception and sensation”? We know that these two states were the accomplishments of the two teachers that Gautama had before he realized his dissatisfaction with them and move on (the first people Gautama thought to share his accomplishment of the cessation of perception and sensation with were these two men, but he realized by means of his psychic ability that they had both passed away at the time).

    Important to me in my practice is the experience of the mind as having place, and the freedom of that place to move in the body and with contact in the senses. However, in my old age, I see that this is really only a sharpening of the distinction of the sense of equalibrium, of the sense of proprioception, and of the sense of gravity along with the other six senses. Have I seen a cessation of ignorance get up and walk around? Yes I have. Does it mean I won’t grope people, I’ll have a hit record, and I’ll write great books and impart wisdom to strangers who won’t contribute to my tin cup but who love me and want me to succeed on my own as a rite of passage and then maybe become a Republican? Nyah… (crunch, crunch)- what’s up, doc?

  33. Fred
    Fred May 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm | |

    “Thanks for the sincerity, but i was looking for someone who threaded there before and could have given me some insight/advice”

    No one can give you insight. You have to let it happen to you from your endeavours in meditation.

    Advice is sit and do zazen; walk and do mindfulness.

    ‘Study the self to forget the self’

  34. Fred
    Fred May 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm | |

    @ Mark:

    ‘the mind of sympathetic joy brings on the state of infinite consciousness, and the mind of equanimity brings on the state of “no-thing”. The state of “neither perception and sensation nor yet not perception and sensation”, he said follows the state of no-thing, but he didn’t give a method for its induction’

    For sure Ingram has a method for its induction.

  35. boubi
    boubi May 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm | |

    — One day, so it is said, when Naropa was sitting in the shade of a large banyan tree, studying his books, an ugly old woman come up to him.

    She asked him if he could understand the words which he was reading.
    “Yes, of course,” he replied, thinking that she was just some old illiterate peasant woman. At this she cackled with laughter.

    Then she asked him if he experienced the meaning of what he was reading. Again, he replied, “Of course.” The old hag burst into tears.

    “Why do you cry?” Naropa asked.

    She then explained to him that first she was overjoyed when he said he could comprehend the words, but she wept when he also claimed to really know the meaning.

    “You, having not experienced Enlightenment, cannot possibly really know the actual meaning,” she explained.
    “Yet, being a scholar, you mistakenly believe that intellectual comprehension equals genuine Enlightened experience.”

    Naropa had to admit that she was correct. —

    http://www.dharmafellowship.org/biographies/historicalsaints/mahasiddha-sri-naropa.htm

  36. Fred
    Fred May 2, 2013 at 4:01 am | |

    To know the meaning of emptiness is known by emptiness.

    Some say that Sasaki could speak from the unknowing. But often he said show
    me your breast.

  37. Fred
    Fred May 2, 2013 at 4:05 am | |

    Should the dharma be taken freely? Who is doing the taking? What does it mean
    to take the dharma? Is there a dharma to be taken?

    Emptiness is emptiness.

  38. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 2, 2013 at 7:02 am | |

    “Master Jay is a well-known lecturer and teacher of Oriental Philosphy. For three decades he has worked with students and groups, helping them find inner awareness.”- that Ingram?

    “Everything changes- work out your own salvation.”- a dying old man, to a gang of homeless bums that followed him around. Pathetic.

  39. Fred
    Fred May 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm | |

    Nope, Dan Ingram:

    http://vimeo.com/28182481

  40. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm | |

    “Some say that Sasaki could speak from the unknowing.”

    Form is emptiness,

    “But often he said show
    me your breast.”

    emptiness is form.

  41. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote May 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm | |

    crack me up! :~)

  42. jkmaoc
    jkmaoc May 3, 2013 at 8:04 am | |

    Hi, Brad. There are WAY too many lengthy replies to this post for me to read them all (that’s your job), so I apologize if I am repeating something already written.

    I am a person who would very much like for you to be able to keep doing what you do. I don’t like to use the word “fan” because that holds juvenile and trivial connotations for me. Neither do I like to use the word “supporter” because, in all honesty, I haven’t done much to support you (I’ve only donated to you once, and although I own copies of all of your first 4 books, only two were purchased new). But I like your writings and ideas and the life you are trying to lead (at least from what I get from your writings). So, when I read this post in which you open up about your financial state, it brought up questions that I’ve been sitting with for a few days. Questions like: Why does Brad not have enough money? From whom does Brad want to receive money? What is Brad offering in exchange for the money he’d like to receive? and, most importantly, if I may quote (misquote?) a line from Office Space, “What exactly is it that you do?!?” (here’s where you throw up your hands in disgust and yell “I’m a people person! I help people!”)

    I don’t really have a very clear idea of what you are trying to be vocationally nor to whom you are trying to be it. Maybe you don’t, either; I don’t know. But if you do, you might be better off focusing on (and “branding” yourself as) a particular function for a particular group. For example, do you primarily consider yourself to be an entertainment author? You certainly write entertainingly and could probably do fairly well as such IF you follow the well-established paths and processes for success as an entertainment author that already exist. There are thousands of examples of authors that make their living this way; find out how they do it, and give it a go. I don’t know of many entertainment authors, however, who make their living by rattling their begging bowl on their blog. I know I don’t donate to any.

    Perhaps you see yourself as a “self-help” author or “dharma teacher” author. Again, find some examples of successful people in this field and do what they do. From what I can see, these folks lead a lot of retreats and such and usually charge fairly handsomely for it. But some people are willing to pay for it. Although, from the purely writing perspective, your books seem more narrative to me than illustrative. I definitely feel some cameraderie with you when I read your books (and blog), but when I want to explore aspects of the dharma more deeply I pick up books from other authors (usually with Japanese names, but not always).

    Maybe you’d like to surrender to the pressure and be a religious leader; take a title (roshi, sensei, priest, master, whatever), have a place (temple, monastery, center, zendo, etc.), and be responsible for the cultivation of followers/students/seekers-of-the-hidden-flame/whatever. I know for a fact that the priest at my church (as well as the pastor at my children’s non-franchised church) doesn’t have a problem paying bills. I give every week at my church, and it is not because I am a drooling fanboy of my priest (although I do like him a lot; he’s a great guy). I give because it is an organization of like-spirited people who get together to DO a lot of good things (ministries and such), some of which require money. We also want a full-time manager of the facilities, unifier of the liturgies, and spiritual teacher, so we pony up and pay for a priest. There is no revenue stream from blogs, books, or random people from across the country who’ve never seen each other’s faces.

    Or, if you just want to be a soto-rebel-monk and “do your thing”, I’m all for it! Just don’t expect people to pay you to do it. I think part of the allure of this persona is the fact that you are flicking an impertinent F-YOU at the establishment which supercedes the petty rules and needs imposed by The System (like paying rent and buying groceries). If you expect someone else to pick up your tab, you’re not really being much of a rebel; you’re being more of a first-world-princess.

    Anyway, good luck with whatever it is you do in life. I’m rooting for you! (I’m just not certain what sport you’re playing.)

  43. Fred
    Fred May 3, 2013 at 9:52 am | |

    “Some say that Sasaki could speak from the unknowing.”

    ‘Form is emptiness’
    Emptiness is emptiness,

    “But often he said show
    me your breast.”

    ‘emptiness is form’
    Form is form.

  44. Mumbles
    Mumbles May 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm | |

    And words are words.

  45. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi May 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm | |

    Brad’s not going to like this, but I basically think that individual teachers simply shouldn’t charge money, period. Nor should they solicit donations from ordinary students, listeners, etc. In fact, if such people offer donations, they should be refused. The only acceptable donations are from well-to-do philanthropists or close friends and family members who wish to offer support. No one in the public should ever be asked to donate, and any such donations offered should be given back.

    Charging for books or other items is probably the only acceptable monetary exchange between students and teachers that should be allowed. Or travel expenses to and from some place. But again, not through soliciting donations, but through people getting together and sponsoring such travels.

    If one cannot make a living in this manner, the teacher should get a job, or write science fiction novels, or become a chicken hawk, whatever they need to do to earn a living. It just shouldn’t be from hawking their personal spiritual guidance and advice. It’s just the way it needs to be. Great spiritual masters in the past have often done it this way. If you’re not great enough to inspire the universe to support you, you probably shouldn’t be in the game anyway. The universe sends us messages like this all the time, and we have to pay attention to what it is saying, no matter how much we don’t like the message.

  46. boubi
    boubi May 4, 2013 at 6:25 am | |

    Yes Brad, find yourself a job.

    You know those artists nobody understands, pestering nobody’s giving them money …

    If you charge for the blog it’s dead and it’s still an average soap box from where you can talk to people.

    I know giving advices is a shit … but … i have a degree but i washed dishes when i needed to, i hope not to need again.

    Change

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