What I Really Do

You must have seen a dozen of these “What I Really Do” things by now. Some of them are kind of funny. Most are kind of dull. I thought I’d do one for myself before somebody else did. Click on it and you should get the full sized version. If you’ve never seen one of these & want to know what they are, just enter “What I Really Do Meme” into your favorite search engine.

So I just found out this blog gets over 10,000 views a week and over 7,000 visits. I’m not sure what differentiates a visit from a view. But that’s a lot of people. Where are my Gempo Roshi-like piles of cash?

Eh. Whatever.

I’m kind of all Zenned out at the moment. I’ve been answering loads of questions as Tricycle magazine’s Meditation Doctor. If you want to read some of that stuff go to this link. It’s interesting that it all kind of boils down to just one question and just one answer. Some ancient Zen teachers noticed this and responded the same way to everyone who asked. Like Gutei, who would just raise one finger whenever someone asked him anything. I get that. But somehow I don’t think Tricycle’s readers would be satisfied if I just kept flipping them the bird.

Uh oh! The latest question is from someone who says they’ve been “experiencing deep, absorptive states.” Not sure what I’m gonna do about that. I guess we’ll see once I start writing my answer. I think Bounty is the quicker-picker-upper for deep absorptive states!

I kid! I kid! Hey! Don’t forget to tip your bar tenders. I’ll be here all week. Be sure to try the vegetarian imitation veal.

182 Responses

  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

    Anon said, "Give up everyone! Harry will always have the last word. I'm sure he will respond to this, just watch."

    Anon, In criticizing the small blemish on Harry's cheek, You forgot about the nasty boil on the end of your nose.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm |

    whatever, Harry.

  3. Harry
    Harry February 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

    Well, we've likely all got warts, blemishes and (if you're anything like me) big, puss-weeping boils.

    I really don't expect anyone to be perfect (I'm sure the hell not), but that's all part of the point I'm not making well about 'Zen and the Art of Hardcore Sangha Management'… thrashing these things out in dialogue together with our heads out of our punk-zen asses is better than the 'status quo' of the happy little worlds we make up in our own, isolated zen clouds.



  4. Khru
    Khru February 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm |

    Good one, Brad. I applaud your ability to poke fun at yourself which is not easy with the silly/dumb-ass comments we post.

  5. Stephanie
    Stephanie February 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

    Harry, I am hardly an uncritical supporter or apologist for Brad Warner. I am bothered by the same thing you describe – seeing him (or anyone) retreat from honest inquiry into self-reassuring 'Rightism.' I check back on this blog from time and often leave frustrated by that very dynamic. The odd thing is, though, that the 'Fuck You Bob' post struck me as one of the most honest, raw, and clear things I've read from Brad in a while.

    I think there is truth in the precept to not elevate oneself while judging others, and am uncomfortable with how easy it is for us to sit at home on the couch and pick apart Brad or anyone who puts him or herself in the public eye. That does not mean I think we should never be critical, but that we should cast the same critical eye on ourselves as we do those we critique. Brad is certainly imperfect, messy, flawed, but so am I… and so are you.

    The more I read by Brad, the more it strikes me that there is something truly dark and heavy under that polite, straight edge Midwestern boy veneer. I never found the punk rock PR convincing; Brad in the past struck me as a nice guy with a loud hobby. But I don't think so any more. I think Brad is sorting through some pretty thorny brambles. There's a darkness there, a wound, something that has a hold on him. It's messy to watch someone peel away the layers,, and the self-contradiction and back pedaling can be frustrating, but I believe it's honest and real. I think it took guts for Brad to write that he sees how he could have been a Fuck You Bob. Just like writing and publishing Zen Dipped In Karma took guts. It's the retreats back into preaching rigid views that strike me as inauthentic.

    It is so rare in Buddhist circles to have talk of the less reassuring aspects of our natures. The darkness. But I think that darkness is there for a lot more people than acknowledge it. Are we afraid, or can we face it? As someone with a dark side, I want to hear or read from people who have walked through that same territory and aren't afraid to talk about it. Brad is uneasy about it, plays it down and pulls punches sometimes, but he is the only one I know of out here doing it at all, as a Buddhist. I know all too well from personal experience the enormous pressure to shut up when you start talking about despair, or the perverse forms of desire that grab us by our throats.

    So I am very skeptical of your protest of inauthenticity just when Brad is coming out from behind the mask to say, yes, I see some of this in myself, that has been labelled as crazy or maladjusted. Even people like me who have made peace with their weirdness, can feel shame for the ways they don't measure up to the standards others measure them against. To be able to come out and say, instead of trying to show off how well adjusted and popular one is, "I don't quite fit into this world," requires a vulnerability. And it is a generous act – it opens up the space for others who feel the same way to relate. But then here comes the goon squad, either expressing moral outrage, or deriding and belittling the genuine struggle some have as some adolescent pose.

    I think you're smarter and more insightful than that Harry, I think you've been there too, struggled through a darkness that is not just a fashion statement. Maybe you've made it to some better adjusted place in your life. I hope you are successful. I like knowing people with brains are out there doing well. But a difficult journey, thorny emotions, rage, a beast that pulls hard on its tether – these are not always signs that someone just needs Jesus, or to get over himself. Some of us find our strength in the demons we are forced to wrestle.

    I hope that Brad continues to explore and write about the sort of things that came out in the Fuck You Bob post.. I can learn from him, then, as I cannot from people that have never met or dealt with the "creep in the cellar."

  6. Harry
    Harry February 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm |


    Yeah, the Fuck You Bob article was cool. I just picked up on a tangental 'Fuck You Zen' thing from it; and I still think it's a fairly good handle for a dodgy take on zen that does the rounds.

    I think Brad's good at that confessional/insightful stuff; it's his strength, and it's part of what he brings to the scene that's really important. It seems though that the nitty-gitty, the real work/effort of it, is often not what's picked up on.

    And yeah, we're all defective. If what I say seems wrong then feel free to reason otherwise… if it seems like bullshit just call it bullshit, or ignore it, or whatever. Thrashing these things out is good, particularly if we do it well.

    …and do bear in mind that I tend to load statements so as to rock the status quo a little 😉



  7. Harry
    Harry February 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  8. proulx michel
    proulx michel February 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |

    There's something I'd like to add here, and that is to warn against too quick reading that makes confuse different things under one name.

    When one knows Brad personally, one can see that the "Fuck You Zen" attitude is very much counterbalanced by a very honest dedication and humility. And that doesn't exclude the dark side: this might be even more menacing in that way…
    But I feel it is an important one, considering the whole of the Brad character. If he were a soothsayer type of person, like the one he often denounces, with his mild manners, he could quite easily pass for a saintly person (and therefore attract throngs of followers). This harsh and direct tone of his is also a very real part of him, and may very well contribute to his balance.

    But it is always somewhat easy to exaggerate…

    As for myself, I know I'm a power hungry bastard, and that is why I try so hard not to get any students…

  9. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |

    Do what I do.

    Pick a number – a big number.

    Just as you cannot study QBL if you are under 40, so too, you cannot study Buddhism if you are under (a big number). That number, for me is 50.

    Unfortunately, I just accepted another student so now I have three – or four (depending on how busy they are). However, a party of 5 will not attempt to conquer the world – unless they are Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, and Bush.

    Thank whatever gods may be that even right wingnut voters tend to wake up a bit when their ox is gored. (see Ex 21:28-36 and Ex 22:4-5)

  10. Stephanie
    Stephanie February 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

    Harry and michel,

    I liked what you both wrote, and find in the hashing out of it, we seem to be on the same, or at least a similar, page. I am no more interested in some gimmicky 'Zen with attitude' stance than I am 'Zen treacle,' but the very balance you point to, michel, in Brad's personality/style, has prevented either in taking dominance in his presentation.

    I don't know about 'sinister,' but darkness is much more interesting when it is balanced with light. It is just that I find the reverse also to be true. In my own life/practice, a refrain from a Tom Waits song always comes back up: 'If I exorcised my devils, well my angels might leave too / And when they leave, they're so hard to find.' I think for most of us, our worst is intimately tied up with our best. I like the more Tantric (or at least based on my perhaps poor comprehension of some tantric writings I have read) notion of becoming acquainted with demonic forces and having them become allies, rather than trying to slay them or lock them up somewhere. What patience, courage, and capacity for empathy I have seem to come directly from my dealings with the darker side of my nature. Nothing that is purely of 'goodness and light' seems to have weight to it.

    It is easy to exaggerate or load statements, when one is trying to make a point, I believe I may occasionally be guilty of the same myself 😉


  11. Cidercat
    Cidercat February 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

    I know what you mean by 'all zenned out'. Think I've been that way for 10 years! But I still like the banana hat.

    How's Crum? I worry about him.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    Speaking of Whitney Houston…

    What's the difference between a crack dealer and a prostitute?
    A prostitute can wash her crack and sell it again.

  13. WBC
    WBC February 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  14. boubi
    boubi February 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm |


    The problem is that while knowledge/science is cumulative through generations, personal growth/maturity isn't, it just starts anew with each generation.

    So societal evolution is fragile and slow and prone to go back to easier but more retrograd models.

    If you add up the fact that people don't like introspection because painfull and because it's hard to do, it ends up generating hate, aggression towards the others (oneself).

    I'm very worried of what will come up in the next future with the end of the party on global scale, geopolitical and religious confrontations and tension around primal resources gas, food, space.

    We are more or less consciously watching the end of the world as we know it.

    Here and now seem to be the sole refuge left.

    Longing for what enounced in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, but too stupid to work for its realization.

    Someone said to his pupil at the inka ceremony "now you have a knife, it's up to you to sharpen it".

    Wish you all the best.

  15. gniz
    gniz February 18, 2012 at 6:51 pm |

    Another great comment section! It's been better lately, for some reason (imo of course).

    I'm another "dark" guy who has his demons and sometimes they still come back and bite me or scare me, or fill me so that I behave like one of them.

    In other words, I feel the presence of that part of me that could just lose it so easily, this grasp on the thread of happiness and security and comfort that I hold so dear.

    So, yes, it's nice to have people like Brad who seem to "get it" and not fight those tendencies, but actually accept that it's all part of the mix.

    The willingness to be ourselves without pretense–well what is that? I think there's maybe no such thing, and yet–we get closer every time we react from that instinctive, simple part of ourselves. Children and dogs have such simple interactions with the world, so true and yet not always beautiful. Kids will smear shit on the walls sometimes too.

    Not sure where I'm going with this but just adding my voice to the mix.

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm |

    Hairy, sometimes I doubt your commitment to Fuck You Zen.

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

    I think all Zenned out means living consistently in the moment. It's sometimes confused with not caring.

    Example: Someone who is crossing the street suddenly jumps back as a blue Mustang races by.

    "What was THAT?" (pedestrian)

    "A blue Mustang." (Zenned out)

    "That car almost hit me!" (pedestrian)

    "And?" (Zenned out)

  18. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

    The demons I see are not the demons I am looking for; the angels I feel are not the angels I can cope with.

    I gotta getta gota kola, cherry soda, salt and ice cream; lord, ya give 'em soap and water, honey for to keep it clean. (fractured Charley Jordan)

    As regards zen, what are we talking about? Ok, I said a bad word. As regards zazen, what are we talking about? f#*!k you Buddha? There's a great tradition of killing buddha- on the road, sitting making a buddha- maybe f@*!#k you buddha is encouraged in this tradition, the dark side of me has always thought so. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say!

  20. boubi
    boubi February 19, 2012 at 1:36 am |

    To Gniz

    Go visit your demons, accept them, look them in the eyes, you will better understand yourself, and your demons will be belittled or you will recognize them as beeing a pale construction of your mind due to avidya creating attachement and avversion.

    Most probably they will still be there but will stop barking in the back of your mind and haunting your nights and distorting "reality".

  21. Moni
    Moni February 19, 2012 at 1:55 am |

    It is interesting to follow this conversation about Brad`s person, attitude, possible intentions to write this blog etc.

    It reminded me of one quite interesting conversation we had at the high school in a Literature lesson. The topic was how big emphasis we should put on the artist as a human being, his/her life in order to justify the art he or she does.

    At the high school I was more on that opinion that the artist`s life has to mirror the values what he represents in his works and that it plays a big role who actually the artist is as a human being in "real life". For now my opinion changed about this and I think artists/masters/philosophers/bloggers are just channel through which some reality is transmitted when all the circumstances are ready for it and it is not so important at all who this channel is besides the moments of this transmission. It is more important, that luckily in that moment the circumstances allowed that something valuable comes to life through that channel.

    What I try to say with this is that I personally read this blog because some of the articles are making me think about things which I think are beneficial for me to think about/I like to think about, but for me it is not so important at all who Brad is as a private person or if he has had some dark times in his life (what almost all of us have had).

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 5:00 am |

    The pomp criticism here is truly a step beyond fuck you zen!


    I'm sure Bob is giving you the finger right now, but he'll never play on your level with that amateur stuff.

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 5:21 am |

    Brad your answers are bad ones. They won't work for beginners and you're oversimp,ifying sitting in a way. From your perspective and mine they're right and good. But for a starter it just won't help at all to say 'just sit'. Think about your brain state when you started and what kind of exercises you did before you did 'just sit'….

  24. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 6:57 am |

    I agree to anonymous. Sitting is about being aware or better said letting awareness happen/get out of its way. Its not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit. For some reason though brad cAn't say that in public. Though if you meet him on a sesshin he will say so…weird. Maybe he has to make sure to not be mixed up with the other meditation teachers and stay unique…

  25. Gore Vidal Sassoon
    Gore Vidal Sassoon February 19, 2012 at 7:17 am |

    Wake up, you somnambulists.
    Brad is obviously some kind of crypto-fascist.
    Free your minds before it's too late.

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |

    GVS: Your Mom is a somnambulist.

  27. anon #108
    anon #108 February 19, 2012 at 8:19 am |

    anonymous @ 6.57am said: "…It's not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit."

    Most humans will just daydream? Is that a guess, or the result of careful and extensive research? Or is it a generalisation based on what you do?

    My guess, generalising from what I do, is that most people who bother to sit regularly work out for themselves what they are doing and whether they want to do anything to change it. And that, for me, is 'what it's about'.

  28. Jeff Alexander
    Jeff Alexander February 19, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    Regarding "deep absorptive states"
    you could go Shakespearean and say, "Yes, a nap by any name feels as sweet"

  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 8:53 am |

    Stephanie, the lunatic is in my head but its not me. I think its marvelous.
    So enjoy your writing.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |

    My higher power wants me to have lunch.

    captcha = Friendly ellegyQ

  31. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |

    @anon #108: it's from experience. I've talked to many people about sitting. It's also known from scientific research. And it's logical since that is what the human brain does on auto-mode. If it wouldn't, why the heck would you need to practice at all? 😉

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    What a County Sheriff really does

    Just in case you missed
    the CSPOA convention in
    Las Vegas NV last month:

    Support your local
    Constitutional County Sheriff!

    (Join "Fuck You Bob" in
    saying FUCK YOU to all
    tyrannical assholes 🙂

    *Special treat…
    Former IRS agent
    Joe Banister
    at 28:33.

  33. Harry
    Harry February 19, 2012 at 11:06 am |

    If ever there was a role that Anthony Quinn was born to play, it was the lusty, life-affirming title character in Zorba the Greek. The scene is the isle of Crete, where English writer Alan Bates arrives in the hopes of realigning his own values and outlook on life. He is "adopted" by the flamboyant Zorba, who determines to educate Bates in the ways of the world-or, to be more precise, Zorba's world. Along the way, Bates is introduced to widow Irene Papas, the unrequited love object of everyone on the island, who comes to a tragic end when she is accused of adultery. The writer is also a spectator to the equally benighted romance between Zorba and venerable courtesan Lila Kedrova. Other disasters follow, but Zorba is able to convince Bates that failure is an inescapable part of life, and that only by constantly tasting defeat can one truly enjoy life's victories. Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek earned Oscars for actress Lila Kedrova, cinematographer Walter Lassally and art director Vassilis Fotopoulos. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Great movie. The full show is on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbYKngLqSqQ

  34. A-Bob
    A-Bob February 19, 2012 at 11:52 am |

    Harry, now I want to see the movie again. I saw it once before a lifetime ago..

    Zorba: Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You've got everthing except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else…Basil: Or else? Zorba: …he never dares cut the rope and be free.

  35. Zorba
    Zorba February 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |

    On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!

  36. Jinzang
    Jinzang February 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    Sitting is about being aware or better said letting awareness happen/get out of its way. Its not about sitting there daydreaming which is what most humans would do one they just sit. For some reason though brad can't say that in public. Though if you meet him on a sesshin he will say so…weird.

    Not giving specific instructions on shikantaza is standard operating procedure in Soto Zen. It's not something Brad or his teacher invented.

  37. Roger Doe
    Roger Doe February 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

    Jinzang, Nice to hear from you. I felt bad you let a few trolls chase you away. Why did you decide to go. Why did you decide to return?

    “True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

  38. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

    Sometimes I'm sitting there staring at the wall, daydreaming for probably all but 2 minutes of my 25 minute sit.

    What the fuck good is that?

    Still I sit.

  39. Khru
    Khru February 19, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

    Dear Stephanie,

    Please stop trolling on our Zen message board-thingy.


  40. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm |

    Blogger Zorba said…
    "On a deaf man's door, you can knock forever!"


    When even time is finite?

    I doubt it.

  41. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

    Stephanie's good people. Huge ego, but A-okay by me.

    I remember a few years ago when Jundo went public with his recommendation that she undergo a psych evaluation. That was ridiculous and embarrassing for Jundo.

    Is "Jundo" even the guy's name? What is he, another Cassius Clay?

  42. Khru
    Khru February 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    Oh, I'm joking with Stephanie. If it were not for her insights, this comment thread would suckooski worse than usual.

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    This is the worst comment section I have ever seen on Herr Bradley's blog.

  44. buddy
    buddy February 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    Regarding the issue of whether just sitting is a good practice for beginners, I think that depends on the person. Some people are, by nature, habit or occupation, able to concentrate well without a minute of meditative training. I think it's no accident that people are attracted to whichever teacher they are: someone who needs a lot of basic training in concentration will probably be drawn to a vippasana or rinzai style scene, while others will be drawn to soto or dzogchen etc. It's Brad's 'job' to teach what he knows; if it doesn't work for someone, they can go elsewhere.

  45. sute
    sute February 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm |

    Keep writing. Do best, no regret. I want to buy burberry kids skirts and burberry bags. I also concern on gucci outlet.

  46. Harry
    Harry February 20, 2012 at 1:47 am |

    Jinz (our prodigal brother) wrote: "Not giving specific instructions on shikantaza is standard operating procedure in Soto Zen. It's not something Brad or his teacher invented."

    Well, I think that's true in some instances, and there's a lot to be said for dropping the jargon and just 'riding the bike' at times. At the same time, Dogen's Fukanzazengi is a highly revered text within Soto Zen and it presents the postural and (for want of a better term) philosophical teaching of zazen.



  47. anon #108
    anon #108 February 20, 2012 at 2:59 am |


    It's undeniable that people are attracted to whatever they are attracted to, and good luck to all of them. Those attracted to shikantaza as taught by Dogen should not be surprised to learn that it is not a method for learning how to be a good concentrator.

  48. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 20, 2012 at 6:21 am |

    Meanwhile, everybody, Wake Up!!


    Captcha: Peace enderss

  49. A-Bob
    A-Bob February 20, 2012 at 6:42 am |

    There's nothing wrong with developing concentration. There are ways to do that. But Shikantaza seems about becoming a good sitter by sitting.. Developing good sitting skills takes some discipline. A little more personal discipline might be all you get. I need that myself. It's nothing to turn you nose up at.

  50. Saft Trill
    Saft Trill February 20, 2012 at 7:25 am |


    I didn't read Brad's,

    "a way to placate people so they're numb enough to function as cogs in the social machine"

    as not accomodating, as you put it, "the fact that, whether we like it or not, most or all of us are social animals".

    To me Brad's statement also allows for implications to be drawn, one such that there are

    ways to not placate people so they're not encouraged to numb themselves as merely cog-like functions of the social machine, but rather able to function healthily in society (which will often mean 'playing its games') as an aspect of flourishing as a human being in valuable roles.

    The implication you draw appears to focus too strongly on the use of the cliched term 'cogs in the social machine' and how that locates Brad's view ideologically.

    I would agree that this type of language is often used by idealistic lefties and the like, and that this usage can be seen as reflecting an 'individualism' which pervades many attitudes and stand-points – not just those that I have glossed as 'left-wing'.

    But for me, this cliche is modified significantly by the words 'placate' and 'numb'.

    The use of 'function as cogs in the social machine' can be read as an appropriation of a cliche or slogan as a way to communicate to a wide audience what Brad views as the dangers of placating and numbing with regard to Zen and religion.

    Moreover, if one views it as a reasonable point to make that placating and numbing can often be part of how we can become habituated 'lifeless' functions of our social conditioning and circumstances, then the use of the deadened metaphors ('cogs', 'machine') of a well-worn 'slogan' expresses that point well.

    Using such cliches doesn't necessarily mean conventional affiliation with the ideological positions they are most commonly associated with. Using them can also mean one is using a level of common understanding and the 'truths' they have the potential to express, and by re-shaping that common understanding in context, communicate or, perhaps, in this instance, also remind people of things that have been well-trodden pitfalls historically. Being so well-trodden these things have found homes as cliches or slogans in all sorts of discourse and filtered into common usage, refracted into common understanding and misunderstanding.

    Any mode of expression has it's pitfalls, and one pitfall of writing in a popular idiom is that it can also lead to folk drawing implications from the appearance of the cliches and slogans it will often will often use, so that we interpret the text through the cues and filters of how we already understand those cliches. In doing so we can end up suppressing or demoting other important aspects of what the writer is expressing and how s/he is expressing it.

    Often our buttons are pushed and we can miss the other aspects of what is being expressed.

    Perhaps using such modes and idioms can lead to as much placation and numbing as any other. Some folk might find a more analytical style and the jargon it throws up just puts them off, pushes their buttons, or whatever.

    And why the need to always follow up and reason out what is thrown in a blog, with a comments section allowed to be full of so many people with such different voices and approaches willing to do that anyway?


Comments are closed.