The Zen Gospel of Prosperity

Money Guru 3One of the main things that originally attracted me to Zen is the fact that Zen does not proselytize. On the contrary, rather than trying to get as many people as possible to come to join their groups, the Zen Masters of old routinely told people who tried to enter their practice spaces to go away. In order to enter a monastery, a wanna-be monk had to wait on the doorstep for several days in order to concretely demonstrate that he was deadly serious about being there.

In our contemporary times, things have changed. Running a large Zen, or any other type of meditation center — especially in a big city — costs a lot of money. In order to function, these centers need to get as many members as possible. In order to play the capitalist game of continuous growth, they have to constantly find ways to attract more and more people and thus more and more donations so as to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.

This has changed the fundamental nature of much (though certainly not all) of Zen in the West. It has, in fact, altered it from its original purpose and thus transformed much (again, not all) of what passes for Zen these days into something that is absolutely not what it’s supposed to be.

What we’re getting instead is something approaching a sort of Zen Gospel of Prosperity. The Gospel of Prosperity or Prosperity Theology is a phenomenon that developed in the United States in the 20th Century. According to Wikipedia’s entry on the subject “the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of security and prosperity.”

Most smaller Zen centers don’t engage in anything like the Gospel of Prosperity. But it hardly even matters whether they do or don’t. In our media driven age, it’s the larger places with the bigger overhead to maintain who generally set the tone for things because they’re louder and more visible. The general population has come to expect Zen centers and the teachers in them to be warm, welcoming and above all accommodating.

The selling of meditation as a commodity has only increased the confusion in the marketplace. Every form of meditation is getting called “Zen” these days and the average person on the street has no idea what is what. A very prominent and prosperous teacher of Transcendental Meditation™ (TM™) that I recently became aware of is routinely referred to as being “Zen” in the press and doesn’t seem to worry all that much about correcting this. After all, Zen sells — at least the word “Zen” sells. If there were only one person doing this it wouldn’t matter very much, but, in fact, it’s a widespread trend.

TM™ is a highly a commercialized and expensive program. They advertise four easy payments of $240, though apparently you can end up shelling out around $2500 to get the same “secret mantra” every newbie gets (which is “hong-saw,” by the way). So obviously they’re going to be heavily invested in trying to demonstrate to potential consumers that their programs get results.

TM™ is just one of the many prominent commercial meditation programs cashing in on the confusion surrounding the word “Zen.” All of these programs are as highly profit-driven as any megachurch — though, like megachurches, they’re mostly technically “nonprofit organizations.” So, naturally, they proselytize as much as possible.

There’s a very good reason why Zen does not proselytize. Zen does not work for people who do not actively want to do it.

As regular readers know, I’ve been trying to create a Zen center in Los Angeles. But I have no interest at all in starting yet another Zen megachurch or commercial meditation superstore.

I don’t want a thing that needs to grow, that needs to keep adding new members in order to survive, compelling us to try to convince people to come. I’d like to have a space available for people who are serious about practice, who already know that they need it. I do not want be forced to accept people who aren’t actually serious just because we need more butts on cushions and more dollar bills in the collection plate.

I do not have any interest in spending a single moment trying to teach someone about Zen who has been convinced to come. This isn’t just because I’m a sourpuss or some kind of elitist — although maybe that’s kind of what I am sometimes. It’s because doing that is a complete waste of my time and theirs. Zen is not for people who have been convinced or sold on it. It can’t do any good at all for someone who has come for that reason.

I sent an email about this to my friend Zuiko Redding who runs the tiny but very sweet Cedar Rapids Zen Center. She said, “A Zen center is not a business.  It’s there as a haven for suffering human beings and it’s not about size and fame and all those things Dogen told us to steer clear of.  Letting people know it’s there through social media, the newspaper, fliers, and word-of-mouth is fine.   Suffering people need to know in order to come.  If the emphasis is on growth, the dharma gets diluted.”

I’d go further and say that any emphasis on growth doesn’t just dilute the dharma. It mutates the dharma and distorts it into something completely unrecognizable.

Because many of those selling it are trying to grow their organizations, much of the commercial meditation stuff out there is all about feeling good. It’s sold as a means to success. But the very concept of success is antithetical to the dharma.

There is no success.

It doesn’t matter whether you define success as riches and fame and a brand new Escalade or if you define success as achieving your spiritual potential. Even if you define success as feeling more connected and joyful, compassionate and caring, naturally and effortlessly centered and free from suffering you’re still chasing after a fantasy. You’re still on precisely the same treadmill as every other junkie or consumer. Commercial meditation products are designed specifically to make you feel good so you’ll keep on paying for more.

I’m taking a hard line on this because it is vital to what I want to do. This isn’t just some tangential matter that can be overlooked. It is absolutely essential.

I hope I haven’t turned off every potential donor by saying this stuff. But, then again, if I have maybe that’s OK too.

 

If you’re still not completely disgusted, consider helping me and my friends in Los Angeles make a Zen center. Contribute to our fundraiser to make the Angel City Zen Center come alive! Every little bit helps a lot! Click here to learn more!

I’ve got a new book coming out soon! Stay up to date on its release schedule, my live appearances and more by signing up for our mailing list on the contact page! (I have no qualms about selling books about Zen. It’s hard work to write them! Selling Zen is an entirely different matter.)

UPCOMING EVENTS

October 27, 2015 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

October 30, 2015 Canton, Ohio ZERO DEFEX at Buzz Bin

November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT

April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”

October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat

ONGOING EVENTS

Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!

Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info

* * *

Your donations to this blog are still important. I don’t get any of the Angel City Zen Center fundraiser money. I appreciate your on-going support!

Sharing is caring! Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponDigg this

119 Responses

Page 1 of 1
  1. mtto
    mtto October 27, 2015 at 2:20 pm |
    1. drocloc
      drocloc October 27, 2015 at 3:36 pm |

      Hello,

      Recognizing suffering, and removing suffering; with a place, name and value???

      Just sit.

      Or not.

      Gassho

  2. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 October 27, 2015 at 2:32 pm |

    Brad, you definitely took the high road and didn’t mention “another” known Zen group whose leader charged..a lot of money for his expertise. That’s a lot of self-control.

  3. Shodo
    Shodo October 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

    Brad said,
    “In our contemporary times, things have changed. Running a large Zen, or any other type of meditation center — especially in a big city — costs a lot of money. In order to function, these centers need to get as many members as possible. In order to play the capitalist game of continuous growth, they have to constantly find ways to attract more and more people and thus more and more donations so as to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.”

    This feels like a bit of a caricature honestly…
    Are you sure the state of American Zen really fits this model you lay out here?
    What Zen Center specifically fits this description, and how so? Specifically.

    “Traditional” Soto Zen in Japan has made quite the mint charging fees for sevices at family butsudan for hundreds of years… so really, what is it you are suggesting to keep the light on and the electricity running?

    1. Dogen
      Dogen October 27, 2015 at 3:15 pm |

      Indeed, which Zen Centers are publicly traded and must be in the game of continuous growth to keep the stockholders happy?

  4. Mumbles
    Mumbles October 27, 2015 at 3:58 pm |

    “it’s not about size”

    I’ve always wanted to believe that to be true, but think it’s probably bullshit.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA2saK7ZIlc

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot October 28, 2015 at 5:42 am |

      Maybe what he means is, “(Beyond ‘enough,’) it’s not about size.”

      Opinions (and preferences) differ as to what is “enough.”

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles October 28, 2015 at 6:39 pm |

        Brad’s quoting Zuiko Redding, apparently she said it.

        If you’re referring to Iggy, he more than compensated.

  5. RickMatz
    RickMatz October 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm |

    In “Living and Dying in Zazen” Arthur Braverman describes a Zen priest that he knew that built a zendo and sat in it for something like 10 hours a day by himself. He had no students but had faith that having built the place, the right people would come and sit with him.

    1. Cygni
      Cygni October 27, 2015 at 7:31 pm |

      If I ever became a Zen person that would probably be my approach. I pitched in 30 bucks towards the ACZC and pushed it to $13001, hope you reach your goals. I may never come to LA in this lifetime but major props to your vision and integrity as a teacher Brad.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMcQKz3H0yY

  6. tysondav
    tysondav October 27, 2015 at 7:14 pm |

    Brad, not always so…

    https://nozeninthewest.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/zen-doesnt-proselytize-except-always/

    There have been articles that there have been proselytizing since the beginning of Buddhism. The 4 noble truths, 8fold path, 10 this and 12 thats were systematized so new converts could easily take them to their village and convert.

    In our center, I would feel comfortable with about twice as many regulars as we currently have (not many). Not because that would make me feel more comfortable that Zen is correct and I am right in my beliefs because more people believe what I believe, but because the Center would be more viable and we could “do more”. Unfortunately I think we need more than a website to get the word out.

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot October 28, 2015 at 6:17 am |

      There are distinct differences in outreach amongst religious proponents propagating their religions. I believe everyone has encountered, or at least heard of, examples of rabid, threatening proselytizing, especially from extreme (although common) elements of Christianity.

      One of the main selling points of the Chicago temple, for me, was that, although ol’ Sensei and his disciples wrote articles and gave lectures at schools and churches and what not, their basic attitude came across as, “Hey, we got something good that we would like to share. If you would like to find out what it is, come by the temple to see if you find any value to it. If not, may you live well, anyway!” No threat of damnation if you didn’t adopt the scheme, no consumerist persuasion.

      Although . . . they *did* imply it was a matter of life and death . . . a “Great Matter,” as it were.

  7. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 27, 2015 at 8:16 pm |

    “Zen does not work for people who do not actively want to do it.”

    Zen works for people who actively want to do it.

    “I’d like to have a space available for people who are serious about practice, who already know that they need it. ”

    “Suffering people need to know in order to come. ” (not Brad, but quoted by Brad)

    Here’s where it gets confusing:

    “Even if you define success as feeling more connected and joyful, compassionate and caring, naturally and effortlessly centered and free from suffering you’re still chasing after a fantasy. You’re still on precisely the same treadmill as every other junkie or consumer.” (emphasis added)

    So, those who are experiencing suffering are those who know that they need to come to the City of Angels Zen Center and sit, yet if they do so in order to be free from suffering they are junkies on a treadmill.

    That sounds right. Down and dirty in the City of Angels, I’m still waiting on that check- earning little money at home in my spare time has this drawback.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=350vSyLYBWg

    (thanks, mtto, for restoring the edit funtionality)

  8. Harlan
    Harlan October 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm |

    “I do not want be forced to accept people who aren’t actually serious just because we need more butts on cushions and more dollar bills in the collection plate.”

    Setting up in Southern California is probably a good idea for a variety of reasons not least of which is the large amount of butts and dollar bills there. I suppose there might be some serious people around too..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYeq6XoOg8s

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 27, 2015 at 10:14 pm |

    “(Zen) doesn’t work for anybody. And yet, it’s not a waste of time.”

    I think myself & the gang (Spanky’s) should come down there and do an intervention. Yes, you can’t see that you’re addicted to negation, that negation is destroying your logic and syntax, that you need negation rehab like a Zen junkie needs his zafu… but we’re going to help you to see it. Most of us have been through it… you can do this, Brad!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMgoxRCEX4w

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot October 28, 2015 at 6:34 am |

      Fuckn’ Zenspeak!

      You ask for a simple yes or no answer, and all you get is
      “Yes, but . . . ”
      “No, except . . . ”

      Fuckn’ po-mo posturers, the lot o’ ye!

      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara October 28, 2015 at 5:51 pm |

        Thank your lucky po-mo stars. Pre-pre-mo zenspeak was muchly worserer.

        Was it?

        Yes. No. Yes and No. Not Yes and not No. Neither not Yes and not No nor not not Yes nor not not No. Maybe.

        http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/logic-of-buddhist-philosophy/

  10. Fred
    Fred October 28, 2015 at 6:03 am |

    selling water by the river
    i gaze into the abyss
    where does all that water go

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot October 28, 2015 at 6:36 am |

      Nice.

      But, if you stare into the void, the void thinks you’re rude.

    2. Cygni
      Cygni October 28, 2015 at 6:59 am |

      “How dare you stare into me” says the void.

      Venus and Mars are alright tonight.
      http://www.pe.com/articles/star-784592-moon-society.html

    3. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm |

      And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the abyss. And the Reflection of Fred moved upon the face of the waters.

      And, lo, a voice doth spaketh out of the void, and sayest: “Who d’ya think yer starin’ at, ya impertinent chump?”

      And verily was Fred befuddled, and words forsooketh him [for once].

      So Fred and the Voice from the Void walked into a bar, and drank of the wine, and were drunken, and uncouth in their karaoke.

      Now Fred was more subtil than any beast of the field, and sayest unto the voice, “If, hic, the void is formless, and (hic) void, and ineffable, and without attribute or function – how come you’re talkin’ to me out of it?”. And the voice saith, “Ssssh! I’m in a functioning blackout”.

      And the barkeep said, let there be light, and there was light. And the barkeep sent Fred forth from the bar, to from whence he was taken, to sleep it off. And evening came and morning came the second day. And there was no more wine. And there was no more voices from the void. And Fred saw that it was good.

  11. Renbyo
    Renbyo October 28, 2015 at 8:45 am |

    I lead a Soto style Zen group in Pasadena, a suburb of Los Angeles. We have been sitting zazen together for about 16 years. We use a donated classroom at a Unitarian church, so our overhead is minimal. We are a donation only group, and the money we get pays for printing, meetup.com, and a web site. Sometimes I get enough to buy a new zafu for the group, or even to buy a soda after our meeting. We have volunteers help with set-up and tear down.

    We usually have about 15 to 18 people a week. I am not a priest, or officially “authorized” to teach. So, I can’t do official services. I have done some monastic residential practice, and try to do 3 or 4 weeks of sesshin a year. I have a loose relationship with a Zen center in So Cal, but they don’t sponsor us. I teach from traditional Buddhist text for my dharma talks (Just finishing a 5 month look at Dogen’s Genjokoan).

    This model works for us. It would take a lot more work and money to go full time. If we had a permanent building, we would have to go to a membership system, or start having admission for each meeting. Is there anything missing – not so much. We get together and sit every week. Isn’t that what a local group should do? I would like to ordain someday, but working full-time, with a wife and baby doesn’t give me much time for that now. I think some aspects of formal practice would benefit my sangha. But we will always be a “sitting zazen first” oriented group.

    I have a feeling that there are more groups like mine in the USA that just don’t get much press. We just do the work, and leave the headlines for the Zen big boys.

    1. Dogen
      Dogen October 28, 2015 at 9:46 am |

      Domo arigato Mr. Renbyo!

      1. Fred
        Fred October 28, 2015 at 10:31 am |

        domo arigato misuto zenoto
        himitsu wo shiritai
        the secret is your little self
        is in your big self
        and vice versa
        that will be $5,000

  12. Mettai
    Mettai October 28, 2015 at 8:48 am |

    Go big or go home. Here is what FB considered related to this post: http://thezencruise.com/

    1. Fred
      Fred October 28, 2015 at 10:42 am |

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQMO1pHX-Gw

      I’m unpacking my memories
      dropping my body-mind
      emptying out my suitcase
      for the void that is sublime

      1. Fred
        Fred October 28, 2015 at 10:49 am |

        taking a little zen cruise
        where the sex is on the side
        don’t need any ayahuasca
        i’m going for a ride

        i’m unpacking my memories
        dropping my body-mind
        emptying out my suitcase
        for the void that is sublime

  13. Shodo
    Shodo October 28, 2015 at 1:50 pm |

    We get it Fred, you’re enlightened!

    Just… stop with the poetry already.

    1. Fred
      Fred October 28, 2015 at 3:21 pm |

      You don’t get it.

      They are just words to the song above.

      How’s Mr. Marchaj? Did he come back to the flock, or did he move on to another way of turning?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8OrMfd87Qo

      1. Fred
        Fred October 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm |

        Wow, a power play. Geoffrey purged his words from the site. Too bad. Geoffrey could learn something from the Master.

        Well, that’s how it works in this world. Saints get nailed to crosses; heretics burnt at the stake.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMyFMZXHmk

      2. Shodo
        Shodo October 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm |

        He’s gone. He wanted to continue his shaman stuff.
        After his 6 months break it was decided that he shouldn’t come back, and I think that was fine by him.

        So no, no teachings by him on the MRO site. 😉

        1. Fred
          Fred October 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm |

          A beautiful man.

          Ryushin Sensei:

          “Our trust in practice and the confidence that arises within, allow us to clearly see the past and the future, and to be unintimidated by others. From the vantage point of our practice, we access the lineages of buddhas and ancestors. From that vantage point, they do not impress or frighten us, nor do they demand that we be an idealized version of ourselves. We don’t need to compare ourselves to them. There is no problem with finding one’s own identity. We are all the expression of the same wisdom—when we practice, we are the expression of the actualization of the way of the ancient sages, which is now our way. We are the wisdom from before the eon of emptiness, wisdom that is not based on being or non-being. We are the self before the appearance of any differences—any distinctions—and we are free and unhindered in how we live this life. The future depends on just this instant. How the world will unfold is this action, this thought, this word. The future is how we practice now. And so, we do ride the clouds and follow the wind, which indeed, touches everything”

          1. Shodo
            Shodo October 28, 2015 at 4:27 pm |

            Pretty words.

            Didn’t help him not cheat on his wife Hojin, however…

        2. minkfoot
          minkfoot October 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm |

          I see his talks are still on WZEN.org.

        3. Shinchan Ohara
          Shinchan Ohara October 28, 2015 at 7:02 pm |

          E’s are good. DMT sublime.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b2T8K2D-ps

  14. Fred
    Fred October 28, 2015 at 4:55 pm |

    “Didn’t help him not cheat on his wife Hojin, however…”

    Yes, there are certain expectations when you enter into a relationship with someone. There is a defined way in and a way out. I have cheated and been cheated upon, and it’s stupid shit. If you are sick of the person you are with just end it.

    “We are the self before the appearance of any differences—any distinctions—and we are free and unhindered in how we live this life.”

    If the DMT and MAO Inhibitor reprograms the brain as someone argued in another thread, the personality could radically shift. What’s holding the previously programmed patterns of behaviour together?

    1. Dogen
      Dogen October 28, 2015 at 5:18 pm |

      love

    2. Shodo
      Shodo October 28, 2015 at 5:36 pm |

      I never figured you for one to buy in to the old “blame it on the drugs” excuse, Fred.

      1. Fred
        Fred October 28, 2015 at 6:16 pm |

        It’s a cumulative combination of factors.

        The ‘just sitting’ disconnecting from attachment to the props of the relative.
        So all the artifacts of our conditioned lifestyle lose their hold on who we are.
        2. The drugs altering the neural constructs.
        3. The shamanistic practices loosening the grasp of every day life.
        4. The previous practice of psychiatry altering the way he experienced the human self.
        5. Boredom with being an abbot and running a zen program.
        6. An huge I.Q.
        7. The realization that time was running out and that he had the talent to do many things.

        1. Fred
          Fred October 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm |

          “I never figured you for one to buy in to the old “blame it on the drugs” excuse, Fred.”

          Read the stories of people who took ayahuasca. Their existences were altered in every possible way.

          1. Cygni
            Cygni October 29, 2015 at 5:08 am |

            Sex, drugs, and lazer cat GIFs put Buddhists in a tizzy every time.
            https://shogofawafa.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/sex-and-psychedelics/

          2. Mumbles
            Mumbles October 29, 2015 at 4:13 pm |

            It changed mine in every possible GOOD way, Fred.

          3. Cygni
            Cygni October 29, 2015 at 8:26 pm |

            Don’t know how much my brain has really changed due to drugs, seems to get less sensitive with age, thrown a lot of heavy drunks at it over the years. Trying ayahuasca is something I’ve thought about, before I die I would like to experience N,N-DMT as well. Mushrooms can get into some visionary territory, but it’s not always rainbows, Buddha bodies, and falling flower petals exactly, can equally be a horrifying nightmarish dissolution into the reality process of which our fragile egos aren’t well equipped to navigate. 5 MeO is even more intense and unspeakable but not as long a haul as a shroom slog. Esctasy with mushrooms or acid is a feel good and snuggly opening, but it ends a little rough sometimes. Either way you eventually find yourself back on the meditation cushion, presumably… Death may prove to be the biggest trip of all, and certain dreams can take you to some pretty strange worlds it seems. I have seen things I prefer to keep to myself. Think I may leave this planet and transmigrate elsewhere eventually, although this is purely conjecture on my part. Perhaps there never was any coming or going to speak of, but once you get into semantics you’ve already missed the bus. Life is painfully ordinary, except when it isn’t. Work in the morning.

  15. Shodo
    Shodo October 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm |

    You may be right on a few of those Fred – spot on on a few of them too imo.

    He is a brilliant man, and was an amazing example of selfless giving of time and what it means to be a Buddhist monk. For years and years he lived that life and that schedual. He was an incredible example to all of us.

    *if* one could blame it on the shamanistic stuff, then whatever ‘answers’ it provided wasn’t worth sacrificing all that he was to aquire them. Certainly wasn’t worth the pain he caused Hojin.

  16. Dogen
    Dogen October 28, 2015 at 9:42 pm |

    Behind all the religious bullcrap people are who they are. They hurt themselves and others.

    1. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 28, 2015 at 10:05 pm |

      I prefer your early work. Why did you have to sell out and go all po-mo?

      More like this please…

      “To study the Way is to study the Self. To study the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with traceless enlightenment goes on forever and ever”

      … makes my balls tingle every time.

      1. Dogen
        Dogen October 28, 2015 at 11:06 pm |

        Reprise!:

        “If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing, cuz it’s all bullcrap, baby.”

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 28, 2015 at 10:18 pm |

      Next you’ll be telling us how religions only exist to provide meaning. Yawn.

  17. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 28, 2015 at 10:53 pm |

    Shinchan Ohara, thanks for that article (“Logic of Buddhist Philosophy”). The author lost me when he got to his demonstration of how the ineffable could be added to the catuskoti, though I thought his explanation of the catuskoti was prime.

    The book I’ve been studying for the last while says this:

    “In 1908 Brouwer, in a paper entitled ‘The untrustworthiness of the principles of logic’, challenged the belief that the rules of the classical logic, which have come down to us essentially from Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), have an absolute validity, independent of the subject matter to which they are applied. Quoting from Weyl 1946, ‘According to his view and reading of history, classical logic was abstracted from the mathematics of finite sets and their subsets. …Forgetful of this limited origin, one afterwards mistook that logic for something above and prior to all of mathematics, and finally applied it, without justification, to the mathematics of infinite sets.’

    … A principal of classical logic, valid in reasoning about finite sets, which Brouwer does not accept for infinite sets, is the law of the excluded middle.”

    (Introduction to Metamathematics, Kleene, pg 46-47)

    So there we arrive at the catuskoti again, some other possibility besides simply true or false.

    Treating infinity as a completed or complete-able thing, results in contradiction.

    Gautama seems to me to have been very careful in dealing with infinities, speaking of “the plane of the infinity of ether”, “the plane of the infinity of consciousness” but assigning them meaning only as way-stations in the cessation of habitual activity in perception and sensation, as phenomena that could be discerned before the cessation of (habitual activity in) perception and sensation.

    Renbyo, may I offer a commentary on the Genjo Koan (mine, of course!):

    http://www.zenmudra.com/zenmudra-dogen-genjo-koan.html

    Pretty amazing, that you have a group of people who sit together without seeming to need a teacher with lineage to inspire their effort.

    Tonight at the Berkeley Zen Center discussion group, we talked of how intention results in karma, regardless of whether the intention is for good or for evil. I suggested that we all undertake an action without intention, letting go of the law of the excluded middle in everyday life. I’m lucky the tea went over my lips instead of all over my lap!

    I look pretty studious in this photo, don’t I?- I might have to change it.

    1. Dogen
      Dogen October 28, 2015 at 11:08 pm |

      I look pretty studious in this photo, don’t I?- I might have to change it.

      And how does one do that, anyway?

      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara October 29, 2015 at 1:47 am |

        photoshop?

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 29, 2015 at 4:57 am |

      I thought I just about followed that article the first time I read it, Mark… I’ll re-read it today and comment again if it still makes sense.

      Yup, completed infinities mess with classical logic – that’s my sense of it too (although I’m no expert).

      But, not all set theoretical paradoxes involve infinities. For example, “The village barber shaves all the villagers who don’t shave themselves. Who shaves the barber?”* This seems to be just about self-reference. The standard solution to this these days is to work with a three-valued logic: a proposition or sentence can be true, false or ‘undefined’ (section 3.2.1 in this link: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-reference/ ). Priest’s alternative is that “the barber shaves himself” is not ‘undefined’, but ‘both true and false’.

      Nobody nowadays really groks this stuff… maybe Gautama or Nagarjuna did. There might be some built-in flaw to the way human brains work with sets, that doesn’t dovetail with physical reality. Somehow, the barber’s been shaved, after all.

      *Yes, the barber is a man, and he’s a villager, and he gets shaved.

  18. Fred
    Fred October 29, 2015 at 8:48 am |

    “*Yes, the barber is a man, and he’s a villager, and he gets shaved.”

    Was it meaningful?

    I didn’t make it through the logic/4corners article because when I came to the word logic I said “well there is no such thing as logic. It’s a human fabrication. So what’s the point of following this meandering trail of words”

    1. Fred
      Fred October 29, 2015 at 9:07 am |

      Ask An3drew if the enlightened state where he exists which he calls Infinity is complete or incomplete

      http://mueller_ranges.tripod.com/andrew/pending_poems136.html#ryushin

      Obviously he still reads HZ, as he comments on Ryushin

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 29, 2015 at 10:03 am |

      “and he gets shaved.

      Was it meaningful?”

      No. But close.

      1. Khru 2.0
        Khru 2.0 November 2, 2015 at 2:23 pm |

        “Meaningful?”

  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 29, 2015 at 10:32 am |

    “In classical mathematics there occur non-constructive or indirect existence proofs, which the intuitionists do not accept. For example, to prove there exists an n such that P(n), the classical mathematician may deduce a contradiction from the assumption for all n, not P(n). Under both the classical and the intuitionistic logic, by reductio ad absurdum this gives not for all n, not P(n). The classical logic allows this result to be transformed into there exists an n such that P(n), but not (in general) the intuitionist. Such a classical existence proof leaves us no nearer than before the proof to having an example of a number n such that P(n) (though sometimes we may afterwards be able to discover one by another method). The intuitionist refrains from accepting such an existence proof, because its conclusion there exists an n such that P(n) can have no meaning for him other than as a reference to an example of a number n such that P(n), and this example has not been produced. The classical meaning, that somewhere in the completed infinite totality of the natural numbers there occurs an n such that P(n), is not available to him, since he does not conceive the natural numbers as a completed set.”

    (“Introduction to Metamathematics”, Stephen Kleene, pg 49-50)

    More:

    “Hilbert conceded that the propositions of classical mathematics which involve the completed infinite go beyond intuitive evidence. But he refused to follow Brouwer in giving up classical mathematics on this account.

    To salvage classical mathematics in the face of the intuitionistic criticism, he proposed a program which we can state preliminarily as follows: Classical mathematics shall be formulated as a formal axiomatic theory, and this theory shall be proved to be consistent, i.e. free from contradiction.”

    (ibid, pg 53)

    In 1931, Godel publishes his two theorems, demonstrating that if the formal system is consistent, then it is necessarily incomplete (some things that are known to be true are not provable within the system; if all the things that are known to be true are provable, then the system is inconsistent).

    “There has been some debate over the impact of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems on Hilbert’s Program, and whether it was the first or the second incompleteness theorem that delivered the coup de grâce.”

    (from Hilbert’s Program, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

  20. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 29, 2015 at 10:43 am |

    Thanks for the inspiration, Shinchan Ohara. I looked over the rest of Kleene’s “Intro to Metamath” in composing the above, and I’m no longer thinking I will complete this book with any kind of confidence in the results obtained therein. That is to say, I think it might be beyond me. Oh well.

    However, I continue to think that it sheds light on why Gautama was very careful in his teaching to articulate particulars and the relationships of particulars. I’m distrustful of later Buddhist philosophers, and of philosophy in general, and I’m grateful that there have been amazing mathematicians in the last hundred years to demonstrate why that might be appropriate.

    1. Used-rugs
      Used-rugs October 29, 2015 at 11:00 am |
    2. Fred
      Fred October 29, 2015 at 11:04 am |

      “Classical mathematics shall be formulated as a formal axiomatic theory, and this theory shall be proved to be consistent, i.e. free from contradiction.”

      And whosoever who doth posit a contradiction shall be struck down and smited.

      Well, I’m off to Diamond Mountain for a 3 year stint in a hut with scorpians, rats and rattlers. It’s going to be a meaningful spiritual experience with lots of hallucinations and trances.

      1. Cygni
        Cygni October 29, 2015 at 4:28 pm |

        Are you serious Fred? I used to fantasize about doing a 3 year retreat somewhere, that or traveling with a Gypsy caravan.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B8naOKxX8c

        1. Fred
          Fred October 29, 2015 at 5:02 pm |

          Yeah, I’m doing a three year retreat in Newfoundland with a bunch of gypsy nymphos – 10 women in a yurt practicing tantra.

          1. Cygni
            Cygni October 29, 2015 at 6:02 pm |

            Fred you must be some sort of God, that’s twice as many woman as I’ve had in my entire life. Even with 10 dakini consorts to cuddle I suggest you pack a warm sleeping bag and a snow shovel, Newfoundland winters are brutal and unforgiving. Better pack a parka too, your presumed tummo powers may not be enough to see you through to spring.

    3. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara October 30, 2015 at 1:55 am |

      I guess meta-math is a subject that nobody really gets their head around without making a career of it, MF. But it’s a good workout for the gray matter.

      And it sure ain’t the dharma gate of bliss and repose either. Too much of it leaves me camped out on the tundra of abstraction, with lemmas stampeding through my brain, mad axiom men on the rampage, and not one tantric love goddess in sight.

      I had another go at the catuskoti article. Far as I can see, he just shows that it’s possible to construct a system of mathematical logic where one of the symbols is called ‘ineffable’. I don’t think that helps us to think or talk about anything at all – at least he doesn’t explain how it does.

      I’m all logicked out now. Any spaces left on the yurt retreat, Fred?

  21. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon October 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm |

    Hardcore Zen: The Asperity Gospel

    1. Fred
      Fred October 30, 2015 at 6:48 am |

      Thankyou Shinchan.

      I made it to this:

      ” It requires something to take both the values true and ineffable, which, on the understanding at hand, is impossible”

      It is possible to see ultimate reality without being able to describe what is seen, and that is enough.

      “Did you see ultimate reality?”
      “Yes, but there is no I to see it’
      “Then why say that you saw it?”
      “I don’t know. I’ll let you work that out”

      1. Fred
        Fred October 30, 2015 at 6:53 am |

        “Well, I’m pissed. I’ve been sitting for 15 years, and very little has happened. And my teacher, who I trusted is screwing around and broke all his vows. Zen is a bunch of shit.”

        {T}, {F}, {T,F} and { }and i

        1. Fred Jr.
          Fred Jr. October 30, 2015 at 11:04 am |

          Dad you are freaking hilarious sometimes 🙂

          …never both and/or null

          1. Fred
            Fred October 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm |

            { }/{i}

          2. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. October 30, 2015 at 4:06 pm |

            o_O

          3. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. October 31, 2015 at 4:43 am |

            Hey Dad, What’s a good book to read?

          4. Fred
            Fred October 31, 2015 at 7:29 am |

            Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness

          5. Fred Jr.
            Fred Jr. October 31, 2015 at 2:24 pm |

            Ooh that looks fun. Here’s one you might enjoy.

  22. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs October 30, 2015 at 9:23 am |

    “There is Buddha for those who don’t know what he is, really. There is no Buddha for those who know what he is, really”

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon October 30, 2015 at 9:43 am |
      1. Cygni
        Cygni October 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm |

        There is Buddha suited to Fred,
        http://realitysandwich.com/318983/meriana-dinkova-tools-for-navigating-altered-states-the-ayahuasca-experience/

        And twin Buddhas suited to Fred Jr. and The Grand Canyon,
        youtube.com/watch?v=48hxWiWVDcw

        Get in touch with your inner Jedi.

      2. minkfoot
        minkfoot October 30, 2015 at 2:03 pm |

        I honestly have trouble deciding whether I feel those twins are delightful or disgusting.

  23. dogen
    dogen October 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm |

    Why Zen Gospel of Prosperity bad-sudo?

  24. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote October 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm |

    Dinkova’s pretty amazing. Talk to the “Shaman Within”, sort of like “Big Mind” ™.

    “Ask for what you need”… but “be careful what you put into the cosmic Google.”

    “Show me how to do this”, “show me the part of me that already knows how to do this”, “get me there”.

    “When you find your place where you are, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point”, “when you find your way at this moment, practice occurs, actualizing the fundamental point”, “although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be readily apparent.”

    Call in the archetypes, that’s nice!

    I watched “Ponyo” last night, Miyazaki weaves archetypes into his stories in a way that invariably blows my mind. Suddenly sobbing at the end of the film, where did that come from; same place that left me crying at the streetcar running on tracks under water in “Spirited Away”, no doubt.

    Must be Samhain, I feel strange.

    Shinchan, for me all the logic boils down to “watch yer ass, if somebody talks completed infinity instead of particulars and relationships”, because it’s not possible to be consistent when the existence of a completed infinity is assumed. As in: God, the Cosmos, Emptiness, the Void, Nirvana, never, always, past, future, dharma, dharmakaya, all Buddhas past, present, and future. Self.

    For all my bitchin’ about negatives, somehow “there is no place it does not reach” and “reaching everywhere” are not quite the same to me, as the former includes the place at the moment and the latter somehow must be translated to a real sense of space before the people on the other side of the wall who are walking around act in my sitting. I’m slow that way (sometimes the planchette doesn’t move at all)…

    1. Fred
      Fred October 30, 2015 at 2:39 pm |

      “For all my bitchin’ about negatives, somehow “there is no place it does not reach” and “reaching everywhere” are not quite the same to me, as the former includes the place at the moment and the latter somehow must be translated to a real sense of space before the people on the other side of the wall who are walking around act in my sitting.”

      Actualizing the Fundamental Point

      “Do not suppose that what you realize becomes your knowledge and is grasped by your consciousness. Although actualized immediately, the inconceivable may not be apparent. Its appearance is beyond your knowledge. Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. When, then, do you fan yourself?”

      “Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent,” Baoche replied, “you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere.”

      “What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. The monk bowed deeply.”

      { }+{i}
      {T}={F}={T,F}={ }={i}

      1. Fred
        Fred October 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm |

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuke-sh%C5%AB

        “The theoretical basis of Fuke-shu was to emphasise the concept of the incommunicable aspect of enlightenment, an ideal traced to various Buddhist sects and relayed in paradoxical Zen writings such as the Lankavatara Sutra, the Diamond Sutra and Bodhidharma’s “Bloodstream sermon”. Thus Fuke monks rarely chanted sutras or other Buddhist texts”

        { }={i}

    2. minkfoot
      minkfoot October 31, 2015 at 11:37 am |

      Statements of absolute truth (like this one) are invariably false. Statements of relative falsity are usually true.

  25. zenmite
    zenmite October 31, 2015 at 1:29 pm |

    Gee, if zen does not proselytize or send out missionaries……why did Bodhidharma make that hazardous journey from India to China? Yuk yuk yuk.

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon October 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm |

      Four feet, thirty-three inches.

    2. Fred
      Fred October 31, 2015 at 3:46 pm |

      He had a hankering for beef chop suey

    3. Dogen
      Dogen October 31, 2015 at 4:25 pm |

      Brad-san say because Bodhidharma needed to get away to find cave to practice alone. I ask, “but Brad-san, don’t they have lonely cave in India?” Brad-san no answer-sudu.

  26. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs October 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm |

    He got kicked out of India for bangin’ his students.

  27. Mumbles
    Mumbles October 31, 2015 at 5:58 pm |

    When I was four I used to play this single over and over and over on my older sister’s little turntable. I still know it by heart. Back then hot rod culture was hip like zen, man. Don Sargent was my first sensei. Big Daddy Roth would come a bit later..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpeybp41_nw

  28. Michel
    Michel November 1, 2015 at 1:43 am |

    October 29, 2015 at 11:04 am, Fred wrote:

    ““Classical mathematics shall be formulated as a formal axiomatic theory, and this theory shall be proved to be consistent, i.e. free from contradiction.”

    And whosoever who doth posit a contradiction shall be struck down and smited.”

    Sorry for being a grammar nazi, Fred, but the past participle of “smite” is “smitten”.
    One of my teachers in Conservatory used to say “What deserves to be done deserves to be done well”…

  29. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 1, 2015 at 3:17 pm |

    How the karioke night at City of Angels Zen Center will look:

    https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/12191022_961917333875071_4584727383582804745_n.jpg?oh=08655ab71560fe434fb3b357416cfe4b&oe=56F9EEA4

    (notice the chant translation on an easy-to-read screen, behind the participants)

  30. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 2, 2015 at 9:15 am |

    This is interesting to me; here’s the sample schedule for Saturday sesshin at Berkeley Zen Center:

    5:00 Zazen
    5:40 Kinhin
    5:50 Zazen
    6:30 Service
    7:00 Breakfast
    7:45 Rest
    8:30 Zazen
    9:10 Kinhin
    9:20 Zazen
    10:00 Kinhin
    10:10 Lecture
    11:00 Kinhin
    11:10 Zazen
    11:50 Service
    12:00 Lunch
    12:45 Rest
    1:45 Work Meeting
    3:30 Cleanup
    3:45 Tea in the Zendo
    4:00 Kinhin
    4:10 Open Period
    5:30 Kinhin
    5:40 Zazen
    6:20 Service
    6:30 Supper
    7:10 Rest
    7:40 Zazen
    8:20 Kinhin
    8:30 Zazen
    9:10 Departing Refuges

    Eight 40-minute periods of zazen, plus the “Open Period” at 4:10pm lasting 80 minutes in all. Starts at 5:00am, finishes at 9:10pm. There’s a work period of 1 hour, 45 minutes in the afternoon. The lecture is 50 minutes.

    Here’s the sample schedule for a one-day sitting at Green Gulch:

    4:35 Wake-up Bell ends
    4:50 1st Bell
    5:00 SITTING
    5:40 Walking
    5:50 SITTING
    6:30 Morning Service
    7:00 Soji (temple cleaning)
    7:20 BREAKFAST
    8:15 Rest
    9:00 1st Bell
    9:10 SITTING
    9:50 Set up for Talk
    10:00 DHARMA TALK
    11:10 Walking
    11:20 SITTING
    12:00 Noon Service
    12:15 LUNCH
    1:10 Rest
    GREEN DRAGON TEMPLE
    Green Gulch Farm
    2:00 1st Bell
    2:10 SITTING
    2:40 Walking
    2:50 SITTING
    3:20 TEA
    3:45 Rest
    4:00 1st Bell
    4:10 SITTING
    4:35 Walking
    4:45 SITTING
    5:10 Walking
    5:20 SITTING
    5:50 Evening Service
    6:00 DINNER
    (in dining room)
    Everyone is welcome
    to stay for dinner.

    So there we have four 40-minute sittings, all in the morning; three 30-minute sittings, two after lunch and one for the close; and two 25-minute sittings, in the afternoon after tea. There’s a “Soji” period of 20 minutes in the morning, and the lecture is an hour, ten minutes.

    I find the Green Gulch schedule more in keeping with what I’m looking for in a one-day sitting. I appreciate the shorter periods after lunch, I’m not really looking to spend a lot of the afternoon washing windows or weeding the Roshi’s garden, and I like to have the evening to transition back to my normal routines.

    I think the Green Gulch people realize that not everyone who signs up for a one-day sitting on a Saturday is looking to knock their brains out, fall into bed on the back-end, and wake up Sunday wondering what hit them. For me it’s more about getting into my legs, my pelvis, and my spine in as gentle a way as I can find, and getting out again in an equally gentle fashion.

    I think particularly indicative of the character of the two establishments is the choice of wording in the schedule, “zazen” and “kinhin” in one and “sitting”, “walking” in the other. Also, inviting everyone to dinner in the common dining room where folks can talk to each other and unwind is a great way to end the day, IMHO.

    I did a Saturday at BZC, now I’m signed up for a Thursday one-day at Green Gulch. Although I can take BART to Berkeley, I like the schedule better at Dragon Alley.

    1. Fred
      Fred November 2, 2015 at 10:06 am |

      “The pace of walking meditation may be slow (several steady steps per each breath) or brisk, almost to the point of jogging.”

      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara November 2, 2015 at 10:42 am |

        “several steady steps per each breath” is slow? Really? I was taught, ‘foot up during inhale, foot down during exhale – one step for each full cycle of breath’. You Americans rush everything.

        1. Used-rugs
          Used-rugs November 2, 2015 at 11:18 am |

          Does your mommy still hold your hand when you cross the street?

          1. Shinchan Ohara
            Shinchan Ohara November 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm |

            Your mommy still holds my shaft while she’s rimming me.

  31. Cygni
    Cygni November 3, 2015 at 7:41 am |

    Your flesh and bones took form together, but in the end are sure to separate; People of Tingri, do not believe that you will live forever.

  32. Dogen
    Dogen November 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm |

    Studying the Buddha way is studying oneself.
    Studying oneself is forgetting oneself.
    Forgetting oneself is being enlightened by all things.
    Being enlightened by all things is to shed the body-mind of oneself, and those of others.
    No trace of mommy remains, and this traceless mommy
    continues to endlessly rim Shinchan.

    1. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara November 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm |

      Dunno why I had to go and lower the tone like that. Beginningless ignorance, I suppose.

      Sitting by the abyss,
      I peer over the rim.
      Mommy?!

  33. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon November 3, 2015 at 3:22 pm |
  34. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 November 3, 2015 at 9:55 pm |

    I’m mean it, this really is the worst comment thread ever seen on H.Z.

  35. mai_neh
    mai_neh November 4, 2015 at 4:00 am |

    The stock ticker for ZEN is already taken 🙁

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zendesk

  36. Who Was This Buddha Guy? | Hardcore Zen November 4, 2015 at 8:46 am |

Comments are closed.