Zen For Business Samurai

DirtyRichDuring dokusan (private interview) at one of my retreats on this current trip through Europe, someone brought up the historical fact that samurai warriors used to use Zen practice as a way to hone their fighting skills. Later on I started wondering if maybe, in the future, people will look upon the way meditation is now marketed as a way to make business people sharper and more competitive the same way as we look at those Zen-trained samurai warriors.

The samurai class figured out that a warrior with a decent amount of Zen training could be more focused, less fearful, more able to understand the minds of his opponents and therefore a far more efficient killer than a warrior without that kind of training. Zen didn’t necessarily make you a better swordsman or fighter. You needed other training to learn those skills. But with the Zen meditation added to a regimen of training in the arts of war, you could get an edge on an opponent who didn’t meditate.

The contemporary Western samurai class, the folks engaged in big business have begun to understand the very same things about meditation. The back pages of all the meditation magazines are filled with advertisements for “Zen and Leadership” seminars and the like. Some of these seminars are put together by people with very little understanding of mediation but with a keen eye for what sells. Others are put on by experience practitioners and teachers who run legitimate meditation centers who need the kind of money only business people are able to spend in order to keep their centers running.

I wonder how much of the ethical aspects of traditional meditation practices are being taught at seminars aimed at the corporate elite. Overall probably not much, is my guess. We have a generalized fear in contemporary society of any sort of education in morality because to us, morality means religion. People who are getting into meditation in order to hone their business skills are unlikely to sit still for anything that sounds in any way religious. So I would think that if you were going to run a meditation seminar aimed at business people you’d have to keep things as secular as possible. Therefore, any talk about the ethics involved in meditation would be difficult, if not impossible, to address.

The increasing insistence that meditation must be taught in as secular a way as possible is a problem. In a way, though, it’s a problem that resembles global climate change. As with climate change, the problematic aspects of teaching wholly secular meditation are, at the moment, pretty subtle and easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. This can lead people to think that there are no problems at all and that anyone who says there are must be a paranoid alarmist.

Yet I am not the first to insist that it’s problematic to teach meditation without also teaching ethics alongside it. In fact, for the past couple thousand years many people have noticed this and worked with this matter. There is a very good reason why traditional Buddhist training puts so much emphasis on ethics and morality. Without any specific training in the area of ethics, it’s very easy for meditation practices to go terribly wrong.

In Genjo Koan Dogen says, “When all things are Buddha-dharma there’s delusion and realization, there’s practice and experience, there’s life and death, and there are buddhas and just plain folks. When zillions of things and phenomena are seen as having no self, there is no delusion or enlightenment, no buddhas or just plain folks, no life and no death. The Buddha-dharma is originally beyond abundance and scarcity and so there is life and death, delusion and realization, just plain folks and buddhas. But although this is true, flowers, though we love them still fall and weeds, though we hate them, still grow.” (This, by the way, is from my upcoming book in which I have paraphrased Dogen in my own words)

Read that second sentence again. It says, “When zillions of things and phenomena are seen as having no self, there is no delusion or enlightenment, no buddhas or just plain folks, no life and no death.” This is describing a significant phase in the life of a person dedicated to meditation. Before you start practicing it seems like everything is how you always understood it to be. There is life and death, delusion and enlightenment and, though Dogen doesn’t say it here, there is also right and wrong.

However, once you get a glimpse into that area in which there is no self, then it starts to break down. It’s no longer clear what is life and what is death, what is delusion and what is enlightenment or what is right and what is wrong. Heck! All is One, right? How can anything be bad when everything is the same? Everyone and everything is just the temporary manifestation of matter and energy. What’s wrong with a war? It just changes energy into other energy. In environmental terms, it’s a good thing to get rid of some of those extra people. Nature does it all the time when animal populations get out of control. And what’s wrong with cut-throat business practices. It’s all survival of the fittest. Besides, ultimately there is nothing and no one to rob from or to benefit. Financial energy just moves from one place to another. If the place it happens to move to is my bank account, all the better!

And that’s where we get problems. That’s where we get samurai warriors who can use their Zen training to become super efficient killers. That’s where we get Zen business people who are super efficient at beating the competition. Often when we go just a little way into the practice, the outlook we develop is so radically different from our usual way of looking at things that we can make big mistakes. We take what long-term practitioners recognize as very initial insights to be evidence they have attained Unsurpassed Complete Perfect Enlightenment. We don’t know that it goes a lot further.

Notice that Dogen goes on to say that in the next stage of practice all those things we thought we had transcended come right back. There is life, there is death, there is delusion, there is realization. There is also right and wrong. In the final phase, Dogen says, “flowers, though we love them still fall and weeds, though we hate them, still grow.” This is the point of view of action. In real action, shit happens. Some of it’s good and some of it’s not. Maybe we don’t know why. Maybe we can’t. But we know that’s how it is.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong about teaching Zen or other types of meditation to business people. There us nothing intrinsically evil about running a seminar in Zen and leadership. Just like there is nothing intrinsically bad about teaching Zen to a samurai warrior. I just hope some of these kinds of seminars and suchlike are teaching the inconvenient truth that one really needs an ethical foundation for meditation practice.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany SCREENING OF HARDCORE ZEN MOVIE WITH TALK

September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY

September 8t, 2015 Helsinki, Finland  BuddhaBuddhaBar Mannerheimintie 5, 5th floor Mannerheim hall 5:30pm

September 9, 2015 Malmi, Finland Brad Gets Naked and Talks About Sex!

September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT

September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT

September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP (sold out, but there is a waiting list in case people cancel.)

September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED

September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT

October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova

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

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

 

ONGOING EVENTS

All of these events will still happen each week while I’m away.

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

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

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89 Responses

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  1. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 September 1, 2015 at 5:24 am |

    Brad, sounds like maybe you’ve found a niche. Lots of companies spend BIG bucks on one-day seminars for their employees to increase productivity as well as to improve employees’ overall mental/physical health.

    Teach zazen and “Zen lite” to those who will not only benefit from a taste of the dharma but are also willing to pay a pretty penny for your expertise. You definitely have the credentials and would be considered an “expert” in the field. Problem solved.

    Your books sales might also get additional traction as well.

  2. Chris in Galveston
    Chris in Galveston September 1, 2015 at 5:59 am |

    The ethics, in the business world, seem to be the part discarded even before any “non-secular” aspects of Zen are eliminated.

    The ethics, as you have said, boil down to “Don’t be a dick.” Being a dick is the first rule of success in a corporate world.

    Corporations have policies. Policies are where compassion and mercy are taken out and stood against a wall to be slaughtered by a hail of bullet points.

    In the short-sighted realm of “maximize this quarter’s profits, never mind the long term” those who are most dick-like are given the biggest rewards.

    Buddha didn’t have a legal team going over his message before he was allowed to speak.

    It looks to me like they are heading in the same direction as the leader of Om Shin Rikyo. In one talk you have among your podcasts you spoke of him as being like someone who found enlightenment without a guiding teacher. Throw away the ethics that a guiding teacher would bring and where is a purely secular Zen going to go?

    Humans need to be reminded not to be a dick.

  3. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 September 1, 2015 at 6:10 am |

    “”Being a dick is the first rule of success in a corporate world.””

    Nope.

    Showing a profit is the first rule of success in the corporate world and being able to collaborate with others and have (somewhat) happy/satisfied employees are what most businesses these days value as a means to making a profit.

    1. Chris in Galveston
      Chris in Galveston September 2, 2015 at 7:53 am |

      Your mileage varies. What I see are policies that lose money, run off valuable employees and are nothing but deck chair arrangement on a sinking ship. I work for a large corporate hospital in a ward that should be a money generator.

      I see decision after decision that comes from corporate as running counter to both good medicine and good customer service.

      An example: When a doctor enters a frequency for a medication as twice or three times a day the corporate policy dictates that all three doses are to be given within the same 12 hour period, often only 8 hours from the first dose to the last.

      This makes no sense, medically speaking. It means an entire twelve hour gap from the last dose for day one before the first dose on day two.

      This leads to less effective medication for the patients. It puts all the work on one shift of nurses and none on the second shift.

      The same is true for frequency for wound dressing changes that involve pharmacy supplied medication. Instead of spreading out the treatments to provide better and more effective care these are bunched together on the day shift.

      When I raised this point with my director he took it up the ladder to the next rung where he was told this was the way corporate insisted that it be done and it will not change until the change comes from corporate on down.

      That’s what I mean when I say that the first rule of business is to be a dick. Who, but a dick, would insist that we practice bad medicine?

      When GM knows it has a potentially fatal flaw in vehicles it turns out and makes the decision that settling a few lawsuits is less expensive than announcing a recall and repair of the flaw that is what I mean when I say that the first rule of business is to be a dick.

      If you work for a corporation that actually tries not to be a dick then good for you. But I must work with the places that operate where I live.

    2. Shodo
      Shodo September 5, 2015 at 6:30 am |

      “Nope.
      Showing a profit is the first rule of success in the corporate world…”

      Which usually entails being a dick.

  4. Duke_PA
    Duke_PA September 1, 2015 at 6:33 am |

    I went to bed thinking about ethics (not business or samurai) post-some-sort-of-big-universal-awareness-thing and I woke up with this post. Freaky. Get outta my head dude.

  5. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 1, 2015 at 8:29 am |

    “Secular” does not necessarily imply amorality, immorality, or lacking in ethics. “Religious” does not necessarily imply morality or superior ethics. Religion does not put morality into people, people (imperfectly) put morality into religion. Secular morality is often superior to religious morality because it is based on reality and empathy instead of myths and ancient laws that are difficult or impossible to change regardless of how much society’s understanding of morality improves.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAQFYgyEACI

    “Secular” also does not necessarily imply Capitalist. Capitalism seems to have become increasingly lacking in ethics, morality, empathy, and compassion since at least the 1980s, but not because of the lack of religion. Look at the religious morality and “family values” that the Walton family (WalMart) have always claimed to promote and practice while actively destroying the US economy, destroying US manufacturing, and treating their customers, employees, suppliers, and competitors completely unethically.

  6. mika
    mika September 1, 2015 at 9:44 am |

    Brad, please elaborate if this is not what you mean, but like The Grand Canyon above already said, it sounds like you are (again) arguing that morality and ethics are the sole domain of religion and there cannot be ethics in a fully secural setting. You have written similar things before, so I wonder do you really believe that there can not be morality and ethics without involving religion?

    Like Canyon there said, this is plain and simply wrong and sounds awfully similar to what the fundamental Christian in the US are saying about immoral heathen atheists.

    For reference check out for example:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_morality
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_ethics

  7. Zafu
    Zafu September 1, 2015 at 11:10 am |

    The back pages of all the meditation magazines are filled with advertisements for “Zen and Leadership” seminars and the like. Some of these seminars are put together by people with very little understanding of mediation but with a keen eye for what sells. Others are put on by experience practitioners and teachers who run legitimate meditation centers who need the kind of money only business people are able to spend in order to keep their centers running.
    ~Brad Warner

    Others have brands like “Hardcore Zen,” which helps to sell books in order to make some sort of living.

    That’s where we get Zen business people who are super efficient at beating the competition.

    Did you buy the hype? Yikes.

    Seriously, name one person who is “super efficient at beating the competition” because they went to a zen seminar or whatever.

    Do you believe the people who read this blog are retarded?

    one really needs an ethical foundation for meditation practice.

    You are far too superstitious about meditation and zen, Brad. It doesn’t significantly change a person. If someone is a sociopath before zen training they will be a sociopath after zen training. Look at Eido Shimano Roshi, for example. People with a lot of zen practice who seem wise were pretty much just as wise before they started.

    Ethics are inseparable from zen because zen is a religion. You said it yourself.

    Religion makes promises, that’s all. It doesn’t change people very much.

    1. Fred
      Fred September 1, 2015 at 3:18 pm |

      “Rather secular buddhism means dropping off the supernatural or paranormal beliefs and working from reality as the base.”

      The supernatural or paranormal are not beliefs. They are what is real. Normal is the cultural conditioned filter. Seeing without the filter of thoughts and ideas is beyond the normal

      Beliefs are what an ego clings to. The direct experience of the primordial awareness is rooted in Buddhist practice, and not secular flatulation.

      1. Khru 2.0
        Khru 2.0 September 1, 2015 at 4:39 pm |

        Well stated, Fred.

      2. Zafu
        Zafu September 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

        Supernatural simply means beyond scientific understanding, numbnuts. It’s not scientific to dismiss something as not real just because you don’t understand it. Is it reasonable to say that something you don’t understand is real? No, that would just be applying your conditioned ‘reality’ filter.

        Religious folk need to contrive polarities between real and not real. They need to believe in filters and such. They need these things because it helps to create meaning for them.

        1. mtto
          mtto September 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm |

          Humans are meaning-creating animals. We are also social and embedded in the world. There is no private meaning, just as there is no private language.

  8. Marlene L
    Marlene L September 1, 2015 at 3:58 pm |

    My company (a technology company for a large healthcare insurance provider) actually requires all 800+ employees to take a class and pass a test on ethics annually, which teaches eight types of ethics which you have to be able to differentiate like deontology, utilitarianism, etc. It’s actually one of the more difficult “annual” tests we have. I would like to think the good companies are waking up to the fact consumers want to buy products from ethical companies, not ones killing puppies or causing bodily harm to factory workers in some far off country… so yes, we do differentiate religion (which would not be taught in our corporate world, less you get into Federal discrimination laws) from ethics, which is not just taught, but required.

    Also for anyone who has ever read the book “Emotional Intelligence” you learn that the most successful corporations that have come up with the most profitable products (like 3M, etc.) are not the ones with perhaps the smartest employees, but those that harmonize the best to work as a group. I’d like to think as our society evolves and does things like meditation and Zen, and ethical behavior that we become not only more at peace, but more successful as well…..

    I also have to add Brad, I first read an article you wrote for Lion’s Roar and had to then go get and read all your books. Any Zen monk using the F*ing word I had to learn more. I love your books and your “potty mouth”. Yes Zen / meditation can change people if you are open to really taking from the experience what it has to give you. Brad has got me meditating regularly, and I’m seeing an impact it’s made in my peace level and how I react to the world.

    Keep up the wonderful writing Brad and thank you for your humor and potty mouth!

    1. Zafu
      Zafu September 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm |

      Brad has got me meditating regularly, and I’m seeing an impact it’s made in my peace level and how I react to the world.

      So you don’t lie and cheat as much as you used to? Do you have to keep meditating to keep being more honest and honorable?

  9. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs September 1, 2015 at 6:49 pm |

    Ethics change. The samurais were highly ethical and honorable for their time. They led lives of great stress. Zen was the mindfulness-based-stress-reduction technique of that era. If I knew I had to cut open my stomach and pull out my intestines in front of an audience because I put too much soy sauce in the miso soup and my boss didn’t like it, well then I might have to do some zazen beforehand to help me cope with that, that and I might have to fight another samurai just because he looked at me wrong. Doesn’t matter if I’m not really feeling it that day the swords got to come out because that’s the rule.

    Anyway, I’m sorry but I’m not talented enough to count my breath and do Buddhist ethics at the same time. I don’t have enough fingers for that.

  10. Khru 2.0
    Khru 2.0 September 1, 2015 at 7:40 pm |

    Zafu,

    Why do other people’s personal opinions make you so upset? 🙂

    1. Zafu
      Zafu September 1, 2015 at 9:00 pm |

      There’s no such thing as religious opinions. Did you mean beliefs?

      1. Khru 2.0
        Khru 2.0 September 4, 2015 at 6:43 pm |

        Sure, why not…but I don’t argue about semantics.

  11. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 1, 2015 at 11:28 pm |

    Yeah..
    I started reading it and thinking, “ah, Zen is trendy now, so what ~”
    But as you pointed out, yeah, potential for using mindfullness/meditation/zen as a means of justification of creating more poverty, destroying the environment, objectifying ppl(I wish I could be objectified), setting up sweat shops, and generally creating more suffering and delusion in the world. Obstructing the PureLand.

    However, there is always a need for Zen, and sometimes there needs to be warriors too.

    I remember reading an article in a Ch’an mag that said that meditation could easily go wrong in the wrong hands, without the guidence of a good teacher. That’s totally true. It might not stay that way, but it could go that way…

    I often wonder, that like with so many Zen teachers nowadays, how many of them are enlightened? How many Enlightening Beings are creating Enlightening Beings that are creating even more Enlightening Beings? Or is the typcial case of just more “Dirty Rotten Sticking Rich” Zen mother faux’kers doing business charging an arm and a leg for this and that, and creating paycheques for themselves in terms of donations? Just genereally cashing in on a growing trend thats occured the last hundred years. Not all are good, not all are bad…

    I think “enlightenment” us very rare. I think even the experience of it is very rare. But not possible.

    But it even if a person had the experience of Nirvana, what good is it if it never gets used properly?

    I think on one hand, we turn each other around from the PureLand…

    In another way, we allow ourselves to be to be turned around from the PureLand.

    It’s so hard to bring fourth. Try and sit in meditation of with a PureMind for more than a couple of minutes.

  12. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 1, 2015 at 11:55 pm |

    I sort of feel the same with suttas and sutras, like the Diamond sutra for example….
    Zen guys always say,”We don’t need sutras! We do zazen!” Sure. That works. But teachings of other Buddha’s are just as valuable as Dogen’s teachings. Dogen’s teachings might not be as picture’esk as say the Lotus Sutra, but essentially it’s the same sort of thing. So, if Zen guys don’t need suttas, or sutras, then they, and others, don’t need Dogen either.

    The difference is that with suttas, sutras, Dogen’s teachings etc ; it guides practice of developing a proper mind. A mind that leads to Nirvana.

    A person might be able to become a Prateyakabuddha without any other influence than meditation, but that might be THE LONG ROAD HOME. Suttas, sutras, and Dogen, might guide ppl in the right direction.

    Another example is that in Zen, its considered that ppl are already enlightened… So, meditation may not be necessary. Laugh if you like, but think of the many Enlightening Beings in history who changed the world , and never did Zazen. However, Zazen is the a main avenue to creating a PureMind, and contributing to creating a PureLand around us.

    Suttas and Sutras speed up understanding just like Dogen’s teachings. Without him, it may be a more gradual sort of enlightenment. Non?

    And at the same, it may be that Suttas, Sutras, and even Dogen could be wrong, or just cultural. A good teacher can straighten those sort of issues out.

    Like, Rinzai might say that if you want to become enlightened, you need to seek it. That might not be wrong. Soto teachers say that you are already enlightened. So don’t seek enlightenment. The truth might be that you need to seek not seeking. You need someone to understand, untangle, and plant good seeds in ppl’s consciousness.

  13. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 2, 2015 at 12:01 am |

    I think too, there is, at least a genral enlightenment of societies. Societies/civilizations grow, shrink, an fossilise. I think they gradually become enlightened over centuries. An example would be the improvement of gender equality. You can’t say that there was not a successful Buddhsit movent throughout the world. Or a successful woman’s liberation movement.

    Maybe some day in the future sutras will say Buddha, and specifically mean both genders.

  14. jason farrow
    jason farrow September 2, 2015 at 12:05 am |

    Do you think that during economic recessions, we become wealthier in Dharma?_

  15. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 2, 2015 at 4:08 am |

    “The supernatural or paranormal are not beliefs. They are what is real.” – Fred

    Supernatural donkeys cannot cross over.
    Paranormal horses cannot cross over.
    Real unicorns cannot cross over.
    Cross over.

    1. Fred
      Fred September 2, 2015 at 12:40 pm |

      The horse you killed can’t cross over. Can it.

      1. The Grand Canyon
        The Grand Canyon September 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm |

        Imaginary fantasies about donkeys cannot cross over.
        Conceptual ideas about horses cannot cross over.
        Cross over.

  16. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 2, 2015 at 9:42 am |

    Good and bad, life and death, the sword cuts through.

    Because I said so, is that why ethics is essential to meditation? Take off your robe and say that, I double-dog dare you!

    “Come, live the life of purity, to make an end to suffering”. If memory serves, that’s the way Gombrich described the initial induction for the five ascetics. The 271 (300+ for women) rules were gradually added as circumstances presented themselves.

    Just keep the three main rules, and forget the rest; that’s what Gautama said on his deathbed, but no one could say exactly what rules those were, so they went on observing the 271/300+.

    Gautama felt some things were inherent in enlightenment, in particular that an arahant couldn’t engage in intercourse. I’m not sure if he felt killing someone was something an arahant would be incapable of, but I’m pretty sure it was considered a spiritual defeat for a member of the order and grounds for expulsion, like intercourse.

    The fact that many Zen teachers in Japan marry and have children is to me a strong argument for separating Gautama’s teachings on the practice of meditation from his teachings regarding morality. This is not hard to do, believe it or not, since they are usually in separate lectures.

    Also, I tend to disregard his teachings regarding small fairies.

    Gautama taught a way of life, that he said was his own before his enlightenment, that he said was the Tathagatha’s way of life, and that he said he followed during the rainy season. You could say it had nothing to do with enlightenment, but was a thing “perfect in itself” (his words). Maybe it didn’t have to do with morality either, but only how things really are for human and other beings.

  17. Zafu
    Zafu September 2, 2015 at 9:59 am |

    I’m not greedy, and I don’t use my Zen Powers for evil.
    ~ Brand Warmer, a.k.a. “old blue balls”

    Well good for you. What do you use your Zen Powers for, if I may ask?

    1. Fred
      Fred September 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm |

      “But it even if a person had the experience of Nirvana, what good is it if it never gets used properly?”

      Nirvana is the state occurring in its own right. It can’t be used by a human self.

  18. Zafu
    Zafu September 2, 2015 at 1:46 pm |

    To quote old Blue Balls, “Zen business people are super efficient at beating the competition.”

    Perhaps I should rephrase the question:

    What does your Zen Powers help beat super efficiently? And, does that contribute to global warming?

  19. Zafu
    Zafu September 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm |

    Zennies are meaning-creating animals.
    ~ mtto

    Yup.

    1. constantine
      constantine September 2, 2015 at 2:50 pm |

      Zafu: A thing zen people fart on. 🙂

      1. Zafu
        Zafu September 2, 2015 at 3:44 pm |

        Yup. But it’s also the place where you get your Zen Powers.

        What do you do with your Zen Powers? And, are you ethical enough to use them for good?

        1. The Grand Canyon
          The Grand Canyon September 3, 2015 at 3:49 am |

          “What do you do with your Zen Powers?”

          What has everyone always done with their Miraculous Zen Powers?
          Chop wood. Carry water. Eat rice. Drink tea.

        2. constantine
          constantine September 3, 2015 at 8:55 am |

          I don’t have any zen powers.

          1. Zafu
            Zafu September 3, 2015 at 9:24 am |

            Bummer. Well, at least you don’t need the ethics then?

          2. constantine
            constantine September 3, 2015 at 10:40 am |

            I don’t quite know what you mean by that, so I can’t quite answer. I do know that my sense of ethics comes from me, not from zen.

  20. otaku00
    otaku00 September 2, 2015 at 10:54 pm |

    ” I just hope some of these kinds of seminars and suchlike are teaching the inconvenient truth that one really needs an ethical foundation for meditation practice.”

    Nope. It is vice versa. Ethics stem from insight. Insight in your own nature, i.e. what was there from the beginning. That is why criminals (inmates) can immediately start zazen. The basic “ethical foundation” that is in the common rules or sila of main religions are taught to children anyway worldwide. But if you read the newest book of Frans de Waal about his Bonobo research, you will see that morality was there before religion, it is s.th. inborn. What you seem to refer to above is s.th. “unnatural”, s.th. “made”. Otherwise there’d be no need to mention it.

    Master Ching-hung said: “If you praise others, you will earn some merit. If you blame others, you will earn the same amount of merit.” (compare that to the eightfold path)

    No real master I know said that ethics are the foundation of meditation. All learnt through meditation (insight) that their ethics had changed. That is exactly why almost all prominent masters of modern times are known to us as breakers of precepts. Sawaki killed, Shimano committed adultery, Sasaki embezzled money, Katagiri drank alcohol and all of them must have lied. Just a few would say that they did not meditate or had no insight. The connection between an “ethical foundation” and meditation as made above is thus wrong. It is not an “inconvenient truth” but a very widespread cliche. Actually, with most Buddhists I know this cliche is extremely popular and convenient.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo September 5, 2015 at 6:42 am |

      “No real master I know said that ethics are the foundation of meditation.”

      True.

      “Ethics stem from insight. Insight in your own nature, i.e. what was there from the beginning.”

      Also true.
      What they say is that enlightenment = morality.

      “That is exactly why almost all prominent masters of modern times are known to us as breakers of precepts… The connection between an “ethical foundation” and meditation as made above is thus wrong. It is not an “inconvenient truth” but a very widespread cliche.”

      Yup… it also means that most so-called teacher’s ‘enlightenment’ is intellectual, or non-existant.

      https://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/zen-minus-moral-precepts-equals-no-zen/

      1. otaku00
        otaku00 September 10, 2015 at 2:06 am |

        It is only fools like Daido Loori who believe that. Zen did NOT teach that enlightenment equals morality. It always taught that it equals wisdom. You will understand the difference when you get there.

  21. Michel
    Michel September 2, 2015 at 11:39 pm |

    otaku00, i completely disagree with you. Those examples you give are flawed in that, 1- Sawaki killed as he was conscripted as a soldier, and that was long before he really became invested into the practice. Katagiri drank alcohol but that’s either an addiction, or it’s rather innocuous, compared to embezzlement or adultery.

    But my experience with the AZI (the school founded by Deshimaru in France) is that 40 years of sitting Zazen without any ethical consideration has made most of them into egoistical psycho rigid fascists without any compassion or consideration for the good of others.

    So I do think that the Sila branch of the 8fold Noble Path is just as important as the rest. And, as for drunkards: alcohol is a disinhibant, which makes people say truly what they have on their mind, when drunk. So, if you’re hiding things, you’d better not get drunk. If your inner personality is a good and happy one, the only problem which comes with it is if you have to perform anything correctly, where it does entail problems. If it’s only for chatting and then going to bed, it’s not that terrible. Stealing other people’s money or breaking up their couples, on the other hand doesn’t seem terribly sensible to me.

  22. otaku00
    otaku00 September 2, 2015 at 11:44 pm |

    Michel: “Sawaki killed as he was conscripted as a soldier, and that was long before he really became invested into the practice. ” No it wasn’t. The same goes for his disciple Deshimaru. Both were practising Zen Buddhists when they went to war. Kodo joined Eiheiji at the age of 16 and was ordained in 1897.

    (AZI) “without any compassion or consideration for the good of others” I do not think that goes for the Sangha of Coupey.

    1. Fred
      Fred September 3, 2015 at 6:16 am |

      It could be that the state of compassion which may flow from meditative practice is being confused with a set of prescriptive admonitions which are defined as morals or ethics.

      Can you say that ethics stem from insight, and that morality was before religion.
      Is that seen without the conditioned mind? Or is it a by-product of cultural commerce.
      In this tribe we don’t kill our own kind.

      1. Fred
        Fred September 3, 2015 at 6:21 am |

        Is it possible to understand the behavior and thought of a man who was raised in a foreign culture 100 years ago?

        How many things that are alive, do you kill every day?

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 3, 2015 at 9:38 am |

    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.

    (extracted from various places in Dogen’s Genjo Koan, tr. Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi)

    When you make the two one, and
    when you make the inner as the outer
    and the outer as the inner…

    (from the Gospel of Thomas log 22)

    Mysterious stuff from an ancient urn in the Middle East, that last, similar to the first two lines of the mysterious stuff from an old book in Japan.

    About the last line, from the old book in Japan:

    Brighty crosses a steel bridge;
    the canyon walls shimmer as the air shifts imperceptibly.
    The nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach;
    Brighty must have Buddhist ethics down, to be crossing like that.

    1. Mark Foote
      Mark Foote September 3, 2015 at 9:58 am |

      Brighty apparently understands the meaning of the wind reaching everywhere; don’t leave home without it, and especially don’t carry water or chop wood.

      One time Huike climbed up Few Houses Peak with Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma asked, ‘Where are we going?’ Huike said, ‘Please go right ahead–that’s it.’ Bodhidharma said, ‘If you go right ahead, you cannot move a step.’

      (“Transmission of Light” (Denkoroku), tr. T. Cleary), 30 pg 111

  24. Zafu
    Zafu September 3, 2015 at 9:41 am |

    “What do you do with your Zen Powers?”

    What has everyone always done with their Miraculous Zen Powers?
    Chop wood. Carry water. Eat rice. Drink tea.

    They use it for camping?

    Blueballs says in the blog post that the samurai used their Zen Powers to efficiently kill people, and that business people today “are super duper efficient at beating off the competition,” with the use of their Zen Powers.

    The point is that Zen Powers are, well, POWERFUL! And because they are so powerful you must get the ethics to use them for good rather than evil. Good is good and evil is bad. You may not know that unless you got the ethics.

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 3, 2015 at 10:03 am |

      Zen Powers: the son of Austin Powers and Fook Yu. Or was it Fook Mi?

    2. Mumbles
      Mumbles September 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm |

      Wasn’t “beating off” the topic of the last post?

      Meanwhile…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VgLkk_drx4

  25. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 3, 2015 at 10:01 am |

    Imaginary hands cannot grasp imaginary hoe handles.
    Imaginary people can neither walk along nor ride imaginary oxen.
    Imaginary oxen cannot cross imaginary wooden bridges.
    Imaginary bridges cannot flow; imaginary waters cannot be still.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6Xj72bP0To

  26. Zafu
    Zafu September 3, 2015 at 10:59 am |

    I do know that my sense of ethics comes from me, not from zen.

    There is no “me” in Zenism. “Me” is considered a delusion. But you don’t have the Zen Powers so it doesn’t matter. We only need the ethics if we got the Zen Powers, according to old Blueballs.

    1. constantine
      constantine September 3, 2015 at 6:38 pm |

      Oh right, Zenism. Ok. . .

      My sense of ethics is basically a pattern my illusion of self deals with when “it” wrongfully identifies with said patterns and reacts to it, or whatever nonsense I am supposed to say to have Zen Powers.

      What I meant with my “I do know that my sense of ethics comes from me, not from zen.” statement, is that Zen doesn’t make me ethical. I don’t know why it would.

      Are you really passionate about zen and so you are wanting to defend it from teachers you don’t like, or are you a hater of zen? I don’t get you, but what is funny is that your comments are sometimes more interesting than the original articles. No offense to Mr. Warner.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu September 3, 2015 at 8:48 pm |

        are you a hater of zen?

        Zen is a religion like any other. Religions provide meaning for those that need it. Nothing much to hate about that.

        what is funny is that your comments are sometimes more interesting than the original articles.

        Wonder Bread is more interesting than Blueball’s articles.

        1. constantine
          constantine September 4, 2015 at 12:02 am |

          Ok maybe hate was the wrong word. You have some kind of thing going on here where you are into zen but not liking other people being into zen without telling them they are doing it wrong or whatever your agenda is.

          Still, you’re funny and should keep posting.

          And Wonder Bread, like all bread, is actually pretty interesting.

          http://rs1img.memecdn.com/baking-bread_o_777504.jpg

          1. Zafu
            Zafu September 4, 2015 at 9:49 am |

            You have some kind of thing going on here where you are into zen but not liking other people being into zen without telling them they are doing it wrong or whatever your agenda is.

            It would be more accurate to say that I found meaning in Zen Buddhism, once upon a time. But we all grow up eventually.

            As far as telling people that “they are doing it wrong,” I don’t believe there is a way to do it wrong. If you can derive any sort of meaning from it then you’re doing it right. If you don’t get any meaning out of it then it fades away.

            Wonder Bread is a good metaphor for Hardcore Zen.

            Is Wonder Bread wonderful? Perhaps, if you like bread made primarily of bleached white flower, sugar, and preservatives. Children like it because it’s more like cake than bread.

            Is Hardcore Zen hardcore?

          2. The Grand Canyon
            The Grand Canyon September 4, 2015 at 10:10 am |

            religion…
            meaning…
            religion… meaning…
            religion… meaning… religion… meaning…
            religionmeaningreligionmeaningreligionmeaning
            WOOOoooo! WOOOoooo!

  27. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 4, 2015 at 8:09 am |

    Keith Richards proves once again that he is an idiot…

    http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/keith-richards-plenty-plenty-article-1.2346653

    … a burnt-out old junkie who never did anything more original than ripping off some Chuck Berry riffs, some Bo Diddley riffs, some Muddy Waters riffs, and some early 70s Los Angeles country-rock. But he plays some syncopated rhythms so he thinks that makes him a better musician than Black Sabbath and Metallica. Go smoke some more weed and change the batteries in your hearing aids, Keef.

    1. Fred
      Fred September 4, 2015 at 3:43 pm |

      “Are you really passionate about zen and so you are wanting to defend it from teachers you don’t like, or are you a hater of zen? I don’t get you, but what is funny is that your comments are sometimes more interesting than the original articles. No offense to Mr. Warner.”

      Nope, he’s a straight up fucking troll.

      1. Zafu
        Zafu September 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm |

        “Oho!” said the pot to the kettle;
        “You are dirty and ugly and black!
        Sure no one would think you were metal,
        Except when you’re given a crack.”

        “Not so! not so!” kettle said to the pot;
        “‘Tis your own dirty image you see;
        For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
        That your blackness is mirrored in me.”

      2. constantine
        constantine September 5, 2015 at 7:37 am |

        Fred,

        It does seem that Zafu enjoys getting the attention, but I don’t know if I’d write him off as being 100% troll. Maybe more like 75%. He does have a thesis here.

        What I don’t get is the attention whoring/pushing buttons part that, yes, is trollish.

        The meaning idea he keeps hitting you all with is rather zen though, no? It’s just that it’s not really that innovative.

        1. constantine
          constantine September 5, 2015 at 8:44 am |

          What I mean by that last sentence is, doesn’t zen already take the stance that it is just providing meaning?

    2. Mumbles
      Mumbles September 4, 2015 at 9:34 pm |

      Keith Richards has a new cd “Crosseyed Heart” and a bio-pic “Under the Influence” coming out this month. He’s just saying shit to promote them. You now the drill.

      But he’s right, one of his riffs = ten Metallicacaca or Lack Sab tunes. And it was fukin funny what he said about the Beatmeoffs and the Maharishi.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbHJ0KNYEoA

      1. The Grand Canyon
        The Grand Canyon September 5, 2015 at 3:48 am |

        I think you missed one of my main points about Keef. Those are not “his riffs.” He copied them from Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Gram Parsons, etc., etc., etc. Keef is not creative, he’s a parrot, and not even a good one.
        Many amateur guitarists love Rolling Stones’ songs because they are so easy to play. Within a couple of months after they first pick up a guitar they can sound exactly like the record. Little or no talent is required.
        Keef insulting Black Sabbath and Metallica is like Steve Allen making fun of early rock and roll lyrics by reading them as beatnik poetry with jazz in the background. He’s just an old man afraid that he is no longer “hip” or “cool” and making a feeble attempt to be relevant. And don’t forget, Black Sabbath was most popular in the late 1970s and 1980s, Metallica was most popular in the 1980s and 1990s, and this is 2015. Keef might just as well be saying that disco sucks and the Bee Gees are terrible.

  28. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara September 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm |

    Zafu was one of us

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0XfpkQF3UaA

    60 is a lotta characters

  29. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara September 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm |

    Zafu, compadre. Did you get buggered by you zen teach? Coz you investing a lotta energy in the religion meaning thang

    1. Zafu
      Zafu September 4, 2015 at 8:19 pm |

      I don’t follow your reasoning. How does being buggered by ones zen teach relate to the essential purpose of religion?

  30. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara September 4, 2015 at 7:35 pm |

    Zafu, whatever the story, I love your work.

    ……….. …. … .. . … .. . … …. .. . ….. … …….. . .

  31. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara September 4, 2015 at 8:01 pm |

    Internetz is excellente. Wright words and dey appearz foreverz. Moi opinionz iz excellentez y haz meaninz. Gasshoz

    1. Fred
      Fred September 5, 2015 at 10:34 am |

      Constantine:

      “Fred,

      It does seem that Zafu enjoys getting the attention, but I don’t know if I’d write him off as being 100% troll. Maybe more like 75%. He does have a thesis here.

      What I don’t get is the attention whoring/pushing buttons part that, yes, is trollish.

      The meaning idea he keeps hitting you all with is rather zen though, no? It’s just that it’s not really that innovative.”

      There’s meaning in Zen? How is that? How can there be ” meaning ” in the ineffable?

      Meaning is the known, in meaning there is knowing. This meaning is something that you can hold onto like a sucky blanket.

      To rephrase Krishnamurti this path is a journey into a freedom from the known.
      A journey into the unknowing.

      Zafu’s words have nothing to do with Zen, a Zen blog. They are just 100% trolling

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm |

    Thanks for posting the link to the Richards interview, ‘Canyon. I hadn’t seen it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I actually agree with Keith, but I understand that my musical tastes are my own. Not that I can tell a paradiddle from a diddlysquat, but I have discovered two things:

    1) Travis-style picking, like that of John Fahey, doesn’t engage people the way steady bass/syncopated melody picking does, the latter demonstrated here by Richards with “32-20”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5ANjb-yAVE

    2) What appeals to me about many of Richards’ songs is his use of open G, and his ability to make simple chords work through his sense of syncopation; in this I feel he is the bearer of the torch of people like Robert Johnson, whom I consider to be the father of rock ‘n roll.

    A moth ate some words — it seemed to me
    strangely weird — when I heard this wonder:
    that it had devoured — the song of a man.
    A thief in the thickness of night — gloriously mouthed
    the source of knowledge — but the thief was not
    the least bit wiser — for the words in his mouth.

    (an Anglo-Saxon riddle)

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 5, 2015 at 3:32 pm |

      Personally, I would nominate Jimmie Rodgers for both “the father of rock and roll” and “the father of country and western” because he was probably the first to record a combination of white folk music, western swing, black blues, and early jazz between 1927 and 1933.
      Some people might not like Rodgers’ yodeling, but I think of it as a soaring vocal imitation of an instrument solo. He did not have a lot of instruments playing on most of his recordings. The one instrument that he always played was his parlor guitar.
      Jimmie Rodgers died of tuberculosis in 1933 at the age of 35.

  33. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon September 5, 2015 at 2:15 pm |

    “It sounds like a dull thud to me,” says the Rolling Stone (Keef with the false teef). “For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation.”

    Maybe it sounds like a dull thud because all that cocaine permanently damaged his auditory nerves, among other things. Does Deef Keef even know what syncopation is? Has he ever actually listened to Black Sabbath? Because some of their individual songs have more syncopation and complex rhythms than an entire decade of Rotting Scones albums. Black Sabbath virtually invented heavy metal, or at least perfected it. What did Keef The Thief ever originate?

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm |

      Metallica demonstrating syncopation, complex rhythms and originality that Keef never even dreamed of in his wildest drug induced hallucinations. Metallica resuscitated heavy metal after the corporate hair and spandex bands almost killed it.
      The Rolling Stones have also demonstrated year after year that they are terrible in live performances. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts usually kept the beat steady, but Mick could never sing live and Keef was always sloppy as hell, whether high or sober. At least their roadies got better over the years at keeping the guitars in tune, once digital tuners became so common. Black Sabbath and Metallica, on the other hand, were very consistent in giving excellent live performances, even when their substance abuse was at its worst.
      The main reason that The Rolling Stones had any success at all is because of their record producers, talented studio musicians, and their publicity department. They peaked between 1968 (Beggars Banquet) and 1974 (It’s Only Rock and Roll), so it’s possible that guitarist Mick Taylor and producer Jimmy Miller might have been the most talented members of the band. All of the albums before 1968 and after 1974 had one or two hit singles and about thirty minutes of filler.
      Advantage: Black Sabbath and Metallica.

  34. zenmite
    zenmite September 5, 2015 at 2:18 pm |

    “Often when we go just a little way into the practice, the outlook we develop is so radically different from our usual way of looking at things that we can make big mistakes. We take what long-term practitioners recognize as very initial insights to be evidence they have attained Unsurpassed Complete Perfect Enlightenment. We don’t know that it goes a lot further.”–B.W.

    And this is exactly what is meant by “deeper levels of realization.” It’s not only for suckers. While you may want to use words and phrases like ‘deeper levels of realization’, ‘kensho’ and ‘satori’ to mean some esoteric, trippy trance state in order to destroy those pesky Rinzai strawmen, the way most zen practitioners use the terms is simply to describe the same things you do. Your experience on the bridge….it’s what most of us mean by kensho…even though you dislike the word. Subsequent, deeper understanding of the dharma is simply further levels of realization and may be accompanied by sudden flashes of insight or satori. Though phoneys and hucksters may appropriate these terms along with zen itself, it does not follow that the way they use the words are their true meaning as used by most zennies.

  35. Zafu
    Zafu September 5, 2015 at 3:21 pm |

    So, why make a religion out of the unknown, Fredy?

    1. Fred
      Fred September 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm |

      Those are words coming from your brain.

      Here are other words:

      http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Dogen_Teachings/TheDragonHowl.htm

      1. Fred
        Fred September 5, 2015 at 4:41 pm |

        “Total suchness is ‘a deadwood post’ in that it is in reality not as or what it is made out to be by mundane consciousness observing superficial appearances and partial definitions.”

      2. Zafu
        Zafu September 5, 2015 at 7:56 pm |

        That’s an awful lot of [meaningful?] words.

  36. Mumbles
    Mumbles September 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm |

    GC, It’s only a competition between bands in your mind. Who cares? You don’t like The Stones. We get it.

    Some say that “Heavy Metal” began with Paul McCartney’s awful song Helter Skelter on The White Album. Heavy Metal doesn’t even qualify as much of a rock category anymore, unless you count bands like Sabbath, or Metallica, Mastadon, Cannibal Corpse…yeah whatever? I dunno, I never listen to that stuff, not my thing. Headbang yourself to a pulp if it makes you happy.

    The Rolling Stones album I play most often is Exile On Main Street. Love it. Who cares? It’s only rock ‘n’ roll.

    But I figger you’re more into having the last word, so, c’mon, let’s have it…

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 5, 2015 at 3:53 pm |

      I’m just providing evidence that Keef Richtards ridiculous statements about the musical incompetence of other bands are not supported by the recorded evidence, music theory, or critical analysis, and are probably more accurate criticisms of The Rolling Stones than the bands that he attacked.
      http://www.xkcd.com/386/

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles September 5, 2015 at 8:55 pm |

        “Keith Richards has a new cd “Crosseyed Heart” and a bio-pic “Under the Influence” coming out this month. He’s just saying shit to promote them. You now the drill.”

        -Me a day or so ago. ‘Nuff said. Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  37. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote September 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm |

    “Although deviants talk about the dead tree, they don’t know the dead tree, much less hear the dragon howl. Deviants think the dead tree is dead wood, and practice as if for it there is no more spring.”

    Love that!

    Not sure I love this, but I’ve had a good time dancing to it anyway (er- perhaps not to this rendition):

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

  38. Mumbles
    Mumbles September 5, 2015 at 8:52 pm |

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdfqzuQ8j5I

    Oh snap! She must suck because she’s so… “derivative!”

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon September 6, 2015 at 3:32 am |

      The Rolling Stones don’t suck solely because they are derivative. They suck because Mick is a lousy singer, Keef is a lousy guitarist, and they write mostly lousy songs.

      Question: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
      Answer: ZZ Top.

      1. Mumbles
        Mumbles September 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm |

        As I pointed out, you have your opinion, I have mine. There are millions of fans all over the world who would agree with me. If you love Black Sabbath and Metallica, both who have publicly counted the Rolling Stones as a major influence on their own music, well, you are left with…your opinion.

  39. economy news
    economy news September 19, 2015 at 11:38 pm |

    Nice post lol.

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