WHY WE FIGHT (or at least why I do)


I did my talk to the Yoga Hippies in Los Feliz yesterday. That was fun. And while I was talking to them I kind of hit upon why it is I do useless things like write this blog.

The group I spoke with were training to be yoga teachers. One of the questions I got went something like this. How do you deal with the way people react to you being a white guy from the American suburbs teaching in a tradition that many people see as being foreign, where its commonly accepted that the only real teachers of that tradition ought to be old guys from Japan whove lived on top of mountains for the past 50 years? Of course, the question was also related to her position as a young white yoga teacher.

This is something Ive encountered a lot, but Ive never really thought about it in quite the terms she phrased the question. I remember when we played hardcore, there was always the question of whether you could be an authentic punk rocker if you werent English and on the Dole. There must be endless other variations. Can white people play blues? Can California Pizza Kitchen make real pizza when its owned by two Jewish guys? The list goes on

One of the issues involved is the language barrier. When you’re listening to a guy who can’t really speak English, there’s a tendency to fill in the parts he doesn’t quite get across with your own imagination. You do that in English, too. But when the speaker has difficulty with tenses and pronouns and what-have-you, there’s much more opportunity to fill in the blanks. Add to this the fact that Buddhism, or Yoga, is pretty difficult philosophically and the potential for this kind of thing is enormous. So what often happens is that, if someone who is fluent in English tries to explain it a bit more clearly, the listeners may react very strongly because it contradicts the bits they’ve already filled in for themselves with their own ideas.

For my part, I feel like the only attitude you can have towards that kind of thing is just to do what you do and not get too worried whether anyone thinks its authentic or not according to whatever arbitrary criteria theyve set up to judge such things.

In answering the question, I also started thinking about why I teach Buddhism at all and specifically why I write this blog, which seems to be one of my main activities as a Buddhist teacher lately. I never really set out to be a Buddhist teacher. I got into Buddhism because I had some personal concerns, some questions I felt I needed to answer. In the course of my practice, I feel I have pretty well answered those questions for myself.

Along with answering those questions, I noticed that the answers I found werent really for me alone. They were for everyone. And, not only that, I saw that every single person in the world, bar none, has the capacity to answer these questions for him or herself. Furthermore I came to the understanding that, by answering these questions, people could become much more happy and learn to get along with each other much better than they do.

But, on the other hand, I saw exactly why we do not do that. I saw this by seeing what the blocks were to my own understanding and noticing that these also were not specific to me. They were absolutely universal. The reason we do not see the truth for ourselves is only because we are closing our eyes, holding our hands over our ears and shouting, Lah! Lah!! Lah!! I cant hear you!!!! All we really need to do is to learn how to stop shutting reality out. Once we accomplish that, the truth of the Universe comes flooding over us like a tidal wave. In fact, its doing that even as we vainly attempt to shout it down. The pain we experience in life comes not from the outside world and circumstances beyond our control doing awful things to us. It comes from our constant and entirely futile attempts to shut ourselves off from the reality that is actually the largest part of our true selves and to try and live in an absurd and artificial universe of our own mental creation.

This is easier said than done, though. It takes a lot of hard work to unlearn habits that youve developed since the moment you were born and that are reinforced by centuries of human thought and activity. There are no quick and painless ways to do this. In fact, Ive come to believe that none of us ever completely gets away from those habits. But it is the effort to do so that matters. It gets easier. But it is never completely effortless and automatic.

I managed to answer these questions by following the Buddhist tradition. Part of the Buddhist tradition says that anyone who gets to this point has an obligation to tell others about it. I understand that. But, at the same time, I dont really want to do it. Thats because it was a very personal thing. Intensely personal. In the same way that this understanding is absolutely universal it is also as intensely and painfully personal as you can possibly get. Its very difficult to lay all that stuff bare before the public. As in the story I put up the other day (see below), most people who reach this understanding are never heard from again. For that, they have my total sympathy. It can be extraordinarily humiliating to dredge up the stuff you have to dredge up in order to communicate this experience. It is also utterly impossible to just tell people The Answer and get it over with, which is what I suspect many of us expect. I know I sure did. But it doesnt work that way. Any answer you receive from someone else will never be convincing no matter what it is. That’s just the nature of receiving answers from others.

I guess all Im really trying to do is make a public record of my own experience in the hopes that it might be of some use to someone. Im not trying to win followers or converts to myself or even to Buddhism. Thats a waste of time and effort.

Ive also taken some wrong turns and Id like to point those out. Having seen how certain scams work in a kind of universal and comprehensive way, I can spot others like them pretty easily. But here too it doesnt matter much if anyone believes what I say about these things. If you want to waste time with machines that are supposed to give you instant Enlightenment or teachers that promise you primrose gardens while leeching your money and energy, I wont try to stop you. Nonetheless, I do feel its useful to expose these things for what they really are.

Im also trying to ruin the ability of people to run scams like this by constantly demonstrating that, in spite of being a Zen Master, I, for one, am still a buffoon. Im sure a lot of people see this and think, Brad may be a buffoon in a giant bug costume, but His Divine Holiness Sri Sri Guru Rimpoche of the High Clouds (or whoever) is the real deal. If you want to believe that, go ahead and believe that. Still, I think its necessary and useful for a so-called Zen Master to write about things like how great the movie Godzilla Vs. Megalon truly is, if only to dispel the myth that anyone who gets conferred such a title is somehow above such things. I used to fall for that one myself. I dont anymore.

In the end, though, I do this because, in Katagiri Roshis words, You have to say something.

42 Responses

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  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 2, 2006 at 4:06 pm | |

    Your writing provides inspiration. At least for me. So please Brad, continue.

  2. Gesus
    Gesus October 2, 2006 at 4:17 pm | |

    No offence brad, but I thought your were a buffon from your book……. in a good you understand

  3. Jules
    Jules October 2, 2006 at 4:51 pm | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. nai wakara
    nai wakara October 2, 2006 at 5:00 pm | |

    stop with the useless.

    you help so much.

  5. Waylon
    Waylon October 2, 2006 at 6:20 pm | |

    Thanks Brad

    Please keep the blog up.

  6. Matt
    Matt October 2, 2006 at 9:02 pm | |

    Hi guys, some food for thought: I heard a Tibetan Buddhist lady (I can’t remember her name, I think it’s like Talu Rinpoche or something) say “there’s a difference between pain and suffering” I think she meant we’re gonna experience pain no matter what, but suffering is what we try to end. I probably have a different take on that than everyone else, but I thought it was an appropriate response for what you said, Jules. I think Brad also mentioned that it’s not something we can ever fully understand/skillfully handle?

    just some thoughts ;)

    take care guys,
    matt
    matt

  7. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf October 2, 2006 at 9:08 pm | |

    I was listening to WMUB today, in which the topic was Death and Rebirth from a Buddhist perspective. The guy speaking studies in the Tibetan Buddhism tradition, in which I use to study also. One thing that I liked about what this guy said was that Buddha told his followers to question everything, including him. The rest of the T.B. guys teaching was about the usual future rebirth and path torward enlightment. Since I spent many years studying T.B. it’s like a could see right through it as he spoke. (One part that really got me about T.B. and what this guy said, was about their being no soul,but conciousness goes on to the next life. That by just changing the word it was okay to claim that as truth. I mean Buddhism doesn’t believe in a permenant soul but it believes in a beginningless concious that goes on permenantly. I don’t get that at all and as the guy was explaining, I sensed that he realy didn’t get it either) I stick by my own feelings that I don’t know what the fuck happens when we die, and that what is important is right in front of me.

    Now I wouldn’t see all the bullshit that is out there getting labeled Buddhism if it wasn’t for me reading Hardcore Zen and reading Brad’s blogs. It feels good to just read without feeling I have an obligation to take what the teacher says as the Ultimate truth. After doing the Guru thing for years, if feels great just to read Brad’s teachings, disagree with parts, and see the truth of other parts after questioning with my own experience. It’s helpful so I am thankful that he still writes the blog and teaches. After reading this blog and the article in RAZORCAKE, I have been waking up to what real Buddhism is. Buddhism is the wreaking ball of reality that smashes the shit out of are little fantasy box we take for the truth and reveals action at the present moment.

    It’s awesome that I can read Brad’s teaching, question it, sit Zazen, discover reality for my self, and I don’t have to kiss anybody’s ass to do it.
    Now that is fucking punk.

    But the best thing I have realized is that Zazen is the most important part of Buddhist practice.

  8. door knob
    door knob October 2, 2006 at 10:58 pm | |

    Hey matt, your answer to Jules reminded me of this phrase:

    “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

    Believe it or not, I first heard that phrase about 15 years ago on Oprah’s show. For some insane reason, I still remember it.

    (Yes, I used to watch Oprah. Yes, Oprah’s show is that old. Yes, I’m that old, too. And yes, I’m a guy.) :)

  9. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey October 3, 2006 at 4:23 am | |

    “The reality is that your trust was misplaced. Is it just that easy for you? No grief? I can’t buy it. I could buy that it would be a lot less painful if you could avoid torturing yourself by obsessing about betrayal. But you just can’t avoid all pain.”

    I think Brad is referring to general everyday occurances that make us want to pull our hair out and scream “fuck you, sir” to everyone you meet. Such as being honked at in a traffic jam, or being pushed around in the rush hour like a pinball.

    Of course this includes social interactions and nasty little instances that you may experience with fellows around you.

    Your example was a little harsh, and even with the calm and composed mind that is developed through zazen I don’t think you could avoid the grief entirely. Besides thats a problem that most people do not experience everday.

    In fact, Jules, that example is similar to the excuses that people make for not doing zazen.
    Sure you can’t do zazen without legs, but do you have legs?

  10. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey October 3, 2006 at 4:34 am | |

    Anyways Brad, I don’t know if I’ve said it, but your writings have had a significant impact on my life and just like the heart sutra had a great influence on you, your blog has given me the the inspiration to practice buddhism. I will be doing so for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.

    I degress, lately I’m more aware of myself and therefore more aware of my dumb habits. One such habit is visiting various forums when bored. Thats pretty stupid, considering I live in a student flat full of people I can interact with.
    Anyways chow!

  11. oxeye
    oxeye October 3, 2006 at 7:56 am | |

    I am not sure that I agree with your usual position that writing this blog is a useless thing to do. You certainly have been blogging a lot more recently. Maybe you have changed your mind about off-hand writing. I really liked this last post. it was Mucho Bueno.

    “The pain we experience in life comes not from the outside world and circumstances beyond our control doing awful things to us. It comes from our constant and entirely futile attempts to shut ourselves off from the reality that is actually the largest part of our true selves and to try and live in an absurd and artificial universe of our own mental creation.”

    I get that. That is true. But pain comes in a variety of forms and unless we know for sure how and why it has arisen, we will have difficulty in accepting it. There is wisdom in accepting our pain but there is also great wisdom in trying to stop it. You get a pebble in your shoe, you take it out.

    By becoming an artist and a zen teacher you have managed to put yourself into a position to be constantly criticized and publicly examined. Laying out intensely personal stuff for close examination is what those two jobs are all about. That and acquiring great wealth and power..

    Most of us are here trying to glean what wisdom we can from you. When we don’t get what we expect, we can get a little testy. This is probably amusing to everyone but you.

    I don’t know why others read this blog but what you write is usually of great interest to me. so thanks..

  12. V for Vendetta
    V for Vendetta October 3, 2006 at 11:36 am | |

    “But you just can’t avoid all pain.”

    I dont think Brad every said you could he just, as every good teacher does, seperates pain and suffering. One is what happens to us and one is what we do to ourselves.

  13. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey October 3, 2006 at 12:04 pm | |

    Jinzang, your commentary is similar of the philosophy of the Rinzai and Tibetan Buddhist traditions where mere words can shake the foundation of the conditioned mind.

    Sorry, but that sounds like mystical bull to me.

    Hocus pocus.

  14. door knob
    door knob October 3, 2006 at 1:06 pm | |

    Oxeye, you mentioned that there’s wisdom in accepting your pain (assuming that was Brad’s message), but there’s also wisdom in trying to stop your pain.

    I don’t think accepting your pain means that you do nothing about it. Saying “yes” to the present moment, even if your present experience is a painful one, doesn’t imply inaction. There’s a qualitative difference in action based on acceptance and action based on nonacceptance of reality.

  15. Waylon
    Waylon October 3, 2006 at 1:21 pm | |

    The same thing seems to happen in the martial arts world. If you are Chinese and teaching a Chinese martial art, people seem to give you more credit. A white person teaching a Filipino art has got a harder time of it, even if they are better instructors and have put more time in. I dunno if thats just a basic racism thing or if it’s because of the media and a basic misunderstanding of what Zen or martial arts actually are.

  16. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey October 3, 2006 at 2:27 pm | |

    “I dunno if thats just a basic racism thing or if it’s because of the media and a basic misunderstanding of what Zen or martial arts actually are.”

    Nothing at all to do with racism.

    Its to do with the athenticity of the teachings. A zen master who has come from the homeland of zen buddhism and is a 13th generation patriarch is more likely to have an authentic understanding of buddhism. The teachings would be “purer”, than from a person who hasn’t come from the homeland of Buddhism.
    Catch my drift?

    In the same way, I would definately learn martial arts from an Asian person. No offense to any white, green, purple teachers out there.

    There are exceptions though, as is the case with Zen teachers. I think people like Brad are the best Zen Masters out there (for me) because they can speak on our cultural level.
    If I had to choose out of Brad and a gentle Japanese monk, I would definately choose Brad as my zen teacher.

  17. Esmerelda
    Esmerelda October 3, 2006 at 3:49 pm | |

    I really like this blog and the book because I can understand them and therefore learn. For example, the post about eyes opened or closed really help at lot. I come out of the Yogic tradition where the eyes are closed and the focus is supposed to be inside, the usual instruction is one inch inside the brow center. I never really got why you are supposed to have your eyes open in Zen meditation until that post.

    So yeah please continue as long as you can. You are definitely helping people.

  18. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 3, 2006 at 5:28 pm | |

    But you just can’t avoid all pain.

    Pardon me for sounding pompous and Zenny, but you “avoid all pain” by stop trying to avoid it and by becoming one with it instead.

    When I was in college a long time ago a Zen monk came and gave a talk. One of the few things I remember him saying is something like this: “Some people say Zen is not being affected even if you house burns down and your family is killed. But that’s wrong. In that case Zen should cry.”

    I think the point is that if your allegiance is to gaining pleasure and avoiding pain, you’re bound to fail. But if your allegiance is to seeing the truth, there’s truth to be found both in pleasure and pain.

  19. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 3, 2006 at 5:37 pm | |

    Sorry, but that sounds like mystical bull to me.

    Since this a comment on a post on my site, I’ve responded on my site. Sorry to hijack Brad’s comment section this way.

  20. Ed
    Ed October 3, 2006 at 6:46 pm | |

    Out of your book and all of your blogging, websites, etc., my favorite thing that you ever wrote was this:

    “Enlightenment is a stupid word anyway. I hate even saying it, it sounds so pretentious and flowery. The concept of Enlightened Beings is like something from a bad fantasy novel. If you want to believe in stuff like that, go right on ahead. You will not get my support.”

    For some reason, I found this incredibly helpful; thanks.

  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 3, 2006 at 7:18 pm | |

    Brad,
    You are helping many. In my uderstanding, this is not realy a choice.

  22. gniz
    gniz October 4, 2006 at 6:38 am | |

    Drunken Monkey wrote:
    ” A zen master who has come from the homeland of zen buddhism and is a 13th generation patriarch is more likely to have an authentic understanding of buddhism.”
    This is patently false. Brad and others have pointed out that the many of these folks have not even sat Zen, there are political and social reasons why they join monestaries. So many American practitioners have actually engaged in a much more rigorous practice. And assuming that someone’s title or cultural background makes them more wise or knowledgable is just plain foolish.

    “In the same way, I would definately learn martial arts from an Asian person”-Drunken Monkey

    This is another ignorant statement. Why would you assume that a random asian person is more knowledgable in the martial arts than anyone else? Really what you need to do is WATCH that person practice and see how good they are.
    I studied Brazilian jiujitsu. Not only was it taught by Brazilians (as opposed to Asians) who were awesome, but the best guy in the dojo was an American, born and bred.
    And he wasn’t an “exception.”
    It is this kind of foolish, ignorant thinking that gets so many people caught up in learning from fakes and frauds.
    You think titles and ethnicity make up for actually understanding something.

    Aaron

  23. Drunken Monkey
    Drunken Monkey October 4, 2006 at 8:30 am | |

    “You think titles and ethnicity make up for actually understanding something.”

    Gniz, you missed the point entirely.

    What Im saying is that a Japanese monk who is from Japan and is a 13th Patriarch is more likely to have an “authentic” learning of the Japanese Buddhist teachings. There is no doubt about that. You can argue all you want, but the reality is that. Whether that is a truthful teaching or not is another issue. That has nothing to do with ones background.

    Besides, Aaron, I don’t give a crap about your opinion.

  24. gniz
    gniz October 4, 2006 at 10:52 am | |

    Drunken Monkey

    The post you were initially responding to said “A white person teaching a Filipino art has got a harder time of it, even if they are better instructors and have put more time in.”
    It was already implicit in the initial conversation that the American master or white guy was better than the indigenous person.
    You maintained in your next post that this was as it should be.
    I said I think you are ignorant.
    A persons teachings and actions and how they express it is worth more to me than making assumptions based on race, background and pedigree.
    You obviously are more oriented to looking on the surface. I feel sorry for you.

    G

  25. gniz
    gniz October 4, 2006 at 11:01 am | |

    BTW i get that you dont actually think such things drunken monkey.
    but you responded in a careless manner and made statements that i thought were pretty innacurate so i responded, not to what you probably intended, but to what you actually wrote.

    aaron

  26. Matt
    Matt October 4, 2006 at 1:21 pm | |

    define “authenticity”

    –matt.

  27. Jules
    Jules October 4, 2006 at 1:28 pm | |

    Brad wrote: “The pain we experience in life comes not from the outside world and circumstances beyond our control doing awful things to us.”

    Jinzang wrote: Pardon me for sounding pompous and Zenny, but you “avoid all pain” by stop trying to avoid it and by becoming one with it instead.

    My whole point is a semantic one. I agree with what you’re saying, and I think that’s probably what Brad was getting at. I just strongly disagree with the language he used. Becoming one with pain doesn’t mean that the pain goes away, or that deep loss will stop happening, or that you won’t need to grieve anymore, or that it will start feeling good or something. It may mean you have a different reaction to pain, but it’s still pain.

    If you stub your toe really hard, what you feel is pain. I don’t care if you choose to mentally interpret that strong feeling in your toe as “OWOWOWFFF*&@%^*#!!!” or “OMMMMMBehold, a red flower is blooming at the end of this body’s foot.” Whether you’re one with it, or whether you aren’t. That strong sensation IS reality, it is a real signal that travels through your nerves to your brain, and any medical dictionary will describe that signal as pain.

    To say [the pain we experience in life] “comes from our constant and entirely futile attempts to shut ourselves off from the reality…” just doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe I’m just being a picky bitch, but I think distinctions like this are important. Buddhism shouldn’t be sold as some magic formula that, once you get it, will make everything all fluffy bunnies and daisies, and all pain will disappear, forever and ever, amen.

    I’m sure Brad wasn’t intentionally trying to sell it like that, but that’s the way it read to me.

    doorknob quoted Oprah: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

    That makes a lot more sense.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 4, 2006 at 1:39 pm | |

    Pain and suffering.

    Here is good discussion:
    From pain to suffering by Marvin Minsky

  29. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 4, 2006 at 5:11 pm | |

    That strong sensation IS reality, it is a real signal that travels through your nerves to your brain, and any medical dictionary will describe that signal as pain.

    Have you ever seen a very young child fall down? For a moment they’ll sit there with a puzzled expression on their face. And only then they’ll start crying. What you’re calling pain or suffering is not a single simple indivisible experience. It’s a complex pattern of perception, memory, and habit. To identify this complex pattern with a simple nerve impulse is to make a large mistake.

    The point is that our experience is very limited. To set limits on what is possible based on that experience is to fall into the same fallacy as the frog who lived in a well and thought he knew what the ocean was like. I’m not telling you to shut up and believe. Continue looking and find out for yourself. But don’t set up preconceptions and limitations about what is or is not so.

  30. Waylon
    Waylon October 4, 2006 at 5:20 pm | |

    hey drunken monkey

    if you don’t give a shit about Gnis’s opinion why did you respond?

    There are as many crappy asian martial arts teachers out there as there are of any other race. Because someone is asian doesn’t mean they are any more “authentic” than anyone else.

    The flowing robes and pseudo-spiritual Bruce Lee talk is what alot of martial arts teachers sell themselves on. Apparently it’s an easier sell if your asian and have memorized some kinda “grasp the pebble from my hand” type bullshit. Or maybe you lived in china for a bit or have an asian spouse. The fact that I am PART asian does not make me a better MA teacher.

    BTW I guess its pretty easy to buy a belt, some people inherit a martial arts system. None of that means much if you don’t get out there and prove it to people through hard work and example.

    I still think that it comes down to racism.

  31. Jules
    Jules October 4, 2006 at 5:57 pm | |

    Jinzang wrote: What you’re calling pain or suffering is not a single simple indivisible experience. It’s a complex pattern of perception, memory, and habit. To identify this complex pattern with a simple nerve impulse is to make a large mistake.

    Any word can have multiple definitions. You are choosing one definition of the word pain, but the simple physical nerve impulse is another possible definition of the word.

    All I was saying is that pain is undeniably a part of reality. Do you disagree?

  32. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 4, 2006 at 6:44 pm | |

    All I was saying is that pain is undeniably a part of reality. Do you disagree?

    What I’m saying is that neither pain nor reality are what you think they are.

  33. Jules
    Jules October 4, 2006 at 10:08 pm | |

    What I’m saying is that neither pain nor reality are what you think they are.

    I’m entirely certain you’re correct on that point, and I’m sure that what you think they are is equally inaccurate. But in any case, I don’t see how it affects my argument: that Brad might want to use different language unless he wants people to think that practicing Buddhism is a way to avoid dealing with pain.

  34. Jules
    Jules October 4, 2006 at 11:26 pm | |

    I don’t think there’s a magic happyland where you’re freed from disappointment, tragedy, and grief. But I think we can get a lot better at seeing all the positive stuff at the same time as the negative stuff.

    Sorry if I come off bitter. My practice has been difficult the last several months. I’ve been grieving. Practice has helped, but I still spend most of my time distracted, unfocused, depressed, and angry.

  35. Jules
    Jules October 4, 2006 at 11:28 pm | |

    “Some people say Zen is not being affected even if you house burns down and your family is killed. But that’s wrong. In that case Zen should cry.”

    I really liked that.

  36. oxeye
    oxeye October 5, 2006 at 8:32 am | |

    Jules, When Brad wrote, “The pain we experience in life comes not from the outside world and circumstances beyond our control doing awful things to us.” That seems very closely related to what he wrote about seeing ourselves and others as victims in a much earlier post. Because of our individual circumstances I did not understand Brad’s meaning in the same way you did. If we understand that the pain that we feel is part of our being right at this moment, and it will not go away any faster if we struggle against ourselves, then it will eventually pass if we let it. If we can see it for what it really is. Which is just an unavoidable, temporary part of life.

  37. earDRUM
    earDRUM October 5, 2006 at 1:41 pm | |

    Brad, I’m glad that you write the things you do. I like the deep and subtle zen philosophical points. And I like the mundane everyday topics too. They both speak of the same reality.
    I think it is important for us zennists to keep our feet on the ground. I used to enjoy feeling holier-than-thou after reading books about zen. I think I crossed an important line when I let go of that fantasy world, and saw reality for what it is.
    Your writing was the first zen writing that really got through to me. One reason for this is the fact that Soto zen feels the most “right” to me. Another reason is that you both understand zen and are able to communicate your thoughts clearly using the English language. This language (communication) thing is so very important.

  38. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 5, 2006 at 5:12 pm | |

    I don’t think there’s a magic happyland where you’re freed from disappointment, tragedy, and grief. But I think we can get a lot better at seeing all the positive stuff at the same time as the negative stuff.

    Since Buddha talked about suffering, its cause, its elimination, and the path leading to its elimination when he taught the Four Noble Truths, I’m pretty confident that we can be freed from these problems. The Buddhist teachers I;ve met over the years, including the above mentioned Zen teacher, seem to have gotten beyond a lot of these problems as well. They all seem very happy people.

    Sorry if I come off bitter. My practice has been difficult the last several months. I’ve been grieving. Practice has helped, but I still spend most of my time distracted, unfocused, depressed, and angry.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your difficulties. You’re right, you don’t make things hurt less by pretending they don’t. I make no claims of being a great or even a good practitioner, so I can only quote what my teacher has said.

    “This experience, as unpleasant as it is and as apparently discouraging as it may be, is a great opportunity. If you can look at the nature of this, you stand a chance to make great progress because it is in that context, when you are actually able to look at the nature of your mind in the midst of this disturbance or agitation, that you can first begin to really understand what it means to say that the mind is the root of all phenomena or the root of all things. You will recognize that there is nothing that you experience that is beyond or other than your mind. Looking at the nature of the experience, you will start to move toward a realization of the minds emptiness.”

  39. Rick
    Rick October 6, 2006 at 4:15 am | |

    I thought the only requirement for being a yoga teacher was to be HOT.

  40. yudo
    yudo October 7, 2006 at 1:45 pm | |

    drunken monkey, I don’t agree. No one is better only for racial reasons. There are people who have gone through great pains to learn some foreign art, and very often, have been able to revive something that had gone very stale because of too much “tradition”.

    In Montpellier, the best TaiChi teacher is a man of Viet origins, who went to China to learn TaiChi with one of the most renowned teachers, a man dreaded by his students. Wei Son, though despised him almost openly because of his heavy alcool addiction. That teacher ended by deciding to quit alcohol just because of that mark of irrespect. Too much respect had almost killed him. By the way, despite his name, the man is French.

    I had my apprenticeship with an Italian Master (violin making). A nobleman’s name, illustrious ancestors, even a saint in the family. Extraordinarily skilled. So self important he could not teach (that would have been handing over some of his authority). So stubborn he would never accept anything new about organology. A terrible teacher in one word. Wouldn’t you expect an Italian violin maker to be some sort of reincarnation of Stradivarius?

  41. endofthedream
    endofthedream October 27, 2006 at 7:55 pm | |

    In the end, though, I do this because, in Katagiri Roshis words, You have to say something.

    And, as Richard Shrobe (Zen Master Wu Kwang) notes, “Open Mouth, Already A Mistake.”

  42. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 22, 2007 at 11:15 am | |

    It is time you took off your cloak of “Zen Master” and walked with the clouds and the sky.

    See how lost you are in intellectual mumbo jumbo, see how you now stoop to ridicule the holiest of holiness.

    See how justified you feel in being angry even aggressive.

    You don’t fool me, I hope you haven’t managed to fool yourself.

    It is time to be silent and get back in touch with the Buddha.

    Love and regards.

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