Zen Has No Morals? Your MOM Has No Morals!

calvin_ethicsFirst up: Today at 10 AM at Hill Street Center, 237 Hill St., Santa Monica, CA 90405, we will have our month ZEN & YOGA get-together. Come do some Yoga and some Zen!

Next up: Tomorrow, Sunday March 31, 2013, I will lead a ZEN MORNING SERVICE at 10 AM at Against The Stream, 4300 Melrose Ave Los Angeles, CA 90029. This will be a full-on Zen Morning Service with bows and chanting and bells and stuff. Come watch the fun! How bad will I mess it all up? You will never know unless you go!

*   *   *

A while ago someone sent me an article entitled Zen Has No Morals. It appears on a website called The Zensite and was written by a guy named Christopher Hamacher. I once stayed a Christopher’s apartment in Munich, Germany. I never met him, but he was very kind to allow me to live in his place. I can’t recall if Christopher himself sent me the article or not. Sorry if it was you that sent it Christopher for taking so long!

The article attempts to prove that Zen is intrinsically an immoral or at least amoral philosophy by citing the actions of Eido Shimano Roshi and other Zen teachers who have allegedly acted immorally — the Joshu Sasaki case hadn’t broken by the time the article was written or I’m sure he’d have been included — and by looking at the Zen literature and practices to find places where an immoral or at least amoral approach to life appears to be supported and encouraged.

When I told my friend Tonen O’Connor, resident priest emerita of the Milwaukee Zen Center about the article, she said, “I don’t need to read that!”* I understand her position. If you look at the actions of their purported representatives and texts it’s simple to prove that any religion or philosophy has “no morals.” It’s no stretch at all to use this method to prove that Christianity has no morals. Remember the Crusades and the Inquisition? Hinduism has its share of incidents that could also prove it is immoral. There’s almost a cottage industry these days devoted to proving that Islam has no morals. Heck, if you gave me access to transcripts of everything she ever said or did in her life I could write a compelling article proving that your mom has no morals too!

That being said, Christopher makes some very good points in his article, and I encourage you to read it. I’m not just saying that because I hope he lets me use his apartment again when I travel to Germany later this year! The kinds of abuses he lists can and do happen. But they are all based on deep misunderstandings of the aspects of Zen philosophy that he sites.

For example, he writes about how the dichotomy between the absolute and relative views can be used abusively. He says, “since from this ‘absolute’ perspective there is no individuated self to feel suffering, one can easily deduce the conclusion that, ultimately, no abuse can ever occur.”

This is a common misunderstanding. But it’s just mental gymnastics. The rock bottom for anything in Zen is reality. If you can see it, feel it, hear it, taste it and so forth, then it’s real. Twisting words around to say that what people actually experience is somehow not what they really experienced in the “realm of the absolute” doesn’t change anything.

There is ultimately no individuated self who feels suffering. That’s true. But that doesn’t mean suffering doesn’t exist. The philosophy of “no self” doesn’t mean that what we mistakenly call “self” does not exist. It means that the definition of “self” is inadequate to describe the reality of the situation. What suffers is not the individuated self. But suffering is real.

One especially compelling point Christopher makes regards the institution of dharma transmission. He says, “All this evidence therefore supports Lachs’ suggestion that a certain ‘old-boys’ club’ mentality persists among Zen teachers who wield the institutional power of dharma transmission, which serves to protect the reputation of ‘long-time friends’ at the expense of preventing further harm to students. Indeed, if even one dharma-transmitted teacher does not live up to the promise of nigh-divinity, then the entire institution presumably becomes open to questioning.”

There do indeed seem to be folks out there in positions of authority who appear to believe that they must protect the aura of “nigh-divinity” of dharma-transmitted masters at all costs. But this idea is not at all universal among dharma-trnasmitted teachers. Neither of my teachers claimed anything even close to “nigh-divinity” for themselves or for anyone else, including Buddha himself. Nor did they protect anyone who did. Rather they were openly critical of anyone who made such nonsensical claims. Most other Zen teachers I’ve met feel pretty much the same way as my teachers.

But I’m aware that a certain degree of this kind of foolishness does exist. I’ve been doing my level best to demolish it. But I’ve met with tremendous resistance. I think this is why a lot of people were so upset by my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. In tearing down my own “nigh-divinity” as a so-called “Zen Master” I made it hard for anyone else to believe in such claims made by others. Astoundingly it’s not the teachers who have complained so bitterly about this but their students who desperately want to cling to the notion of their teachers’ “nigh divinity.”

What’s happened in the Sasaki case may explain my own teacher, Gudo Nishijima Roshi’s rather peculiar way of dealing with dharma transmission. Nishijima was the opposite of Sasaki in that he named a whole lot of dharma heirs. Sasaki has so far named none. I tallied Nishijima’s up a while back and there were well over twenty. Some of them were people he had very long and deep associations with, like me or like Mike Leutchford, Peter Rocca, Mike Cross and Jeremy Pearson. But in other cases he seems to have given transmission almost on a whim to people he barely knew but who impressed him somehow.

I once asked him why and he said that people who gave very few or even just one dharma transmission were “trying to control things.” At the time, this answer just puzzled me. But reflecting upon what happened with Sasaki, I think I see what he may have meant. If everybody is waiting to see who gets the be the one single dharma transmitted heir of the great master, they’re less likely to rock the boat by questioning or casting doubt upon the master. I’m not saying this is what happened in the Sasaki case or the others. I really don’t know. But I am saying that perhaps Nishijima saw this kind of thing as a possibility in his case and did what he did in order to circumvent it.

This leads some to speculate that it’s the one-to-one nature of dharma transmission which is the root problem. Dharma transmission is not like pope nomination. There is no committee of cardinals to oversee the process and collectively ratify the next dharma heir. It’s strictly down to one person’s subjective opinion. Some would like to rectify this in American Zen by making dharma transmission a matter to be determined by committee, but that’s because they don’t understand dharma transmission very well. It’s much more like falling in love than it is like electing the next pope. There are just some things that cannot be determined by committees.

San Francisco Zen Center’s solution to this is to allow dharma transmission to continue to be a one-to-one thing, but to separate the traditional connection between dharma transmission and abbacy. So a dharma transmitted person does not necessarily become the next abbot of their center. The abbacy is determined in other ways, which I’ve never really understood. Nor is abbot a permanent position in their tradition. The abbots serve for a certain time and then a new abbot is appointed.

This works if you’re the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) and have a number  dharma transmitted potential abbots to choose from. But most Zen places in the USA are not so well staffed with potential abbots and so this solution would not work for them.

The other more serious problem with the SFZC solution is that it makes the abbots beholden to what Marx called the “tyranny of the majority”. Wikipedia defines this as cases in which, “decisions made by a majority place its interests so far above those of an individual or minority group as to constitute active oppression, comparable to that of tyrants and despots. In many cases a disliked ethnic, religious or racial group is deliberately penalized by the majority element acting through the democratic process.”

When a dharma teacher is forced to act and speak according to the wishes of the majority of her students, she becomes unable to speak the truth as she sees it and the teaching suffers. Teachers of Zen need to be able to express themselves with absolute freedom. This is why Zen teachers are more like artists than religious authority figures. If you don’t like a particular artist’s work, all you have to do is stop supporting it. The same with Zen teachers.

I am well aware this doesn’t solve every problem. I’m really just trying to lay out the problems as I see them rather than suggest any solutions. I think the solutions may present themselves over time. But the one most currently in vogue these days — making Zen more rigidly institutionalized and democratic — is not going to work.

Just a little food for thought.

* Tonen told me she doesn’t recall saying this. And I could be remembering wrong. But says that if she did say it she was, “recognizing that it sounded like it was rehashing the age-old problem with misinterpretation of the Buddha’s teachings on the absolute and the relative, on ‘neither good nor bad’ and no-self.  The literature has warned for thousands of years about misinterpreting these teachings such that one can be amoral and just do what ever one wants.”

*   *   *

And speaking of food, that’s what Brad will be able to eat if you send a donation to support this blog. Seriously folks, donations to this blog have been my main source of income over the past two years. Far more than anything I get from book royalties or speaking fees (which often cost me more to travel to than I earn from them). Thanks!

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111 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Fred
    Fred April 1, 2013 at 11:25 am |

    “The empty hand grasps the hoe-handle
    Walking along I ride the ox
    The ox crosses the wooden bridge
    The bridge is flowing, the water is still”

    This is enlightenment Mark.

  2. Picard
    Picard April 1, 2013 at 11:58 am |


  3. boubi
    boubi April 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

    Back pain come from weak body.

    When i was very very well trained for competitions i never ever had any back pain and didn’t understand how other were complaining. Now it all a different story back hurts.

    Knees always did hurt, unless i was meditating well, funny thing.

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

    I think Fuxi is talking about the practice of seated meditation, and just like in Gautama’s description, some states unfold. At the same time, the transition to the experience of consciousness that shifts and recognizes proprioception in the movement of breath is sudden, and cannot be made to happen. Enlightenment would be Gautama’s identification of suffering with grasping, and the declension of the origin of suffering as ignorance, volitive activity, station of consciousness, name-and-form, feeling, craving, grasping, all of which came out of his experience of the cessation of volition in perception and sensation. Everybody experiences the cessation of volition in perception and sensation, generally at least once daily.

    Same as Fuxi, also in four lines:

    “You must strive with all your might to bite through here and cut off conditioned habits of mind. Be like a person who has died the great death: after your breath is cut off, then you come back to life. Only then do you realize that it is as open as empty space. Only then do you reach the point where your feet are walking on the ground of reality.”

    (Zen Letters, translated by J.C. and Thomas Cleary, pg 84)

    “…Although Yuanwu was not explicit that walking on the ground of reality requires an aware state of relaxation like that in which any subject of hypnosis rests, he was quite explicit that walking on the ground of reality is associated with an experience of necessity connected with the movement of breath, and he implied that such an experience is a gateway to an altered state of mind.

    (from the soon-to-be-on-the-web “Letting Go in Action: the Practice of Zazen”)

  5. Fred
    Fred April 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

    “you arrive at great cessation and great rest on the fundamental ground. Your sense faculties have no inkling of this, and your consciousness and perceptions and sentiments and thoughts do not reach this far.

    After that, in the cold ashes of the dead fire, it is clear everywhere, and among the stumps of the dead trees everything is illuminated. Then you merge with solitary transcendence and reach unapproachable heights. You don’t have to seek mind or seek buddha anymore: you bump into them wherever you go, and they do not come from outside.

    The hundreds and thousands of aspects and facets of enlightenment since time immemorial are just this. This is mind: there is no need to go on seeking mind. This is buddha: why keep struggling to seek buddha?”

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 1, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

    No inkling: did he fall, or was he pushed?

    He had a way out, under his robe somewhere… ha ha!

  7. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

    my ancient and twisted karma, I now fully confess. I am reading Denkoroku, and the brocade on the robes is starting to hurt my eyes, you know?

  8. Fred
    Fred April 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm |


    “The Venerable Prajnatara asks Bodhidharma, “What is it that is formless amongst things?”

    Bodhidharma says, “Formlessness is unborn.”

    Prajnatara asks, “What is the highest amongst things?”

    Bodhidharma says, “The Actual Nature is the highest.”

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 2, 2013 at 6:32 am |

    ““The ox crosses the wooden bridge” describes an effect of the rhythm of stretch and activity as the weight of the entire body rests in the ligaments that connect the sacrum and pelvis: each step of an ox on a wooden bridge reverberates to the headtop and throughout the body of any rider, from the spine to the surface of the skin, and the same is true for the individual whose weight rests in three directions between the sacrum and pelvis.” (Ibid)

  10. Sageor
    Sageor April 2, 2013 at 8:38 am |

    From my investigations the prejudice in the title arrises from the following: feelings are useless. By this I mean that they cannot be leveraged for gainful advantage like the intellect regularly does. I realize this is somewhat axiomatic and undefendable. It is just what I believe. So moving on; when Zen gets a person closer in touch with their feelings?

    Well all the sudden they [men?] become somewhat more likely to take actions that cannot be defended as productive. This cuts both ways because some of the actions are seen as irrational or feminine. And some of them by undercutting the tremendously proactive bent of modern society are seen as “immoral” or “ammoral” with respect to its aims. IN other words it is an individual in revolt agains progress which is something emotions do all the same.

    Ask anyone who has been in love what their aspirations are. They, if honest, will admit that these change themselves on a dime. And not only could not care less what society or friends or family say, they often could not care about their own goals, in life were prior to falling in love. Of course this is a trite example.

    The depth of contemplation of feelings NOT the depth of feelings that I experienced with my awakening led me to go much futher. It is not love is blind. But more love has no use for sight. IT is genuinely possible to feel ones way through life. Though perhaps only those who carry Budda nature have the gal to do so. There is none of the plotting and scheming that the rest of society engages in to get ahead. That is be productive with the mind.

    But i digress and perhaps damage my argument by being so personal. Simply said those in love seek to satisfy their highest feelings not lesser rational aims unless some grave conflict arises. IT can be argued that satisfying feelings is itself a useful end. Though as you pointed out so well there would also have to be a distinction between feelings and absolute notions of feelings or there lack there of. And notions of productivity reside within those absolutes entirely so it would be meaningless to claim in summary that feelings have any conception of their own usefullness. Have I made my case!

    But the tell for all this is that critics always confuse immoral and amoral. The two could not be more different and any one who confuses say wolves and sheep is clearly making bad argument.

    Of course none of this makes sense. Have a good day.

  11. Jules
    Jules April 2, 2013 at 9:05 am |

    Brad wrote, “Astoundingly it’s not the teachers who have complained so bitterly about this but their students who desperately want to cling to the notion of their teachers’ nigh divinity.”

    Just recently ran across “Kumare” on Netflix. Thanks for the recommendation, Brad, it was a great movie! For those of you who haven’t seen it, Brad’s review was here:

    I thought it was interesting to notice which of Kumare’s students walked out angry at the end. I expected the yoga teacher to get it, but she was really pissed off. I guess she didn’t want Kumare to be a regular person, because that means she had to be just a regular person. And who wants to take Yoga classes from a regular person, when they can study with an exotic nigh-divine Yogi in robes? Or, at least, the next best thing: someone who basked in the holy presence of the exotic nigh-divine Yogi.

  12. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra April 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

    The problem is in our use of language. To borrow from Chuang Tzu, none of the people having these discussions have forgotten the words.

    The concepts of “moral” or “immoral” or “amoral” are merely the products of the human mind. They don’t exist concretely “in nature” the same way your pet cat does. That isn’t to say these concepts aren’t worth philosophizing about or discussing or pondering, it just means that it’s important to keep in mind that they only mean what we will them to mean.

    This is true of such concepts as “relative” and “absolute.” Ultimately both are just creations of the mind. Again, they can be helpful when we understand the limitations of such ideas. They can help point us into a certain direction or to conceptualize certain ideas, but ultimately they’re just metaphors. The trouble is in confusing the metaphor for the real thing. And when you start talking the about he “morality” of the “absolute” vs the “immorality” of the “relative” you’re talking a whole lot of gibberish.

    Again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, if you realize as much. But most people don’t realize as much.

    For further, more competent reading, see: Wittgenstein, Ludwig; Jaynes, Julian; Tzu, Chuang.

  13. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

    See also: William H. Gass, The Biggs Lectures In The Classics, collected in LIFE SENTENCES, at page 267, “Metaphor.” Metaphor means “to move to a strange place, to be a word that wakes up in an unfamiliar bed…” All language is metaphorical, even “pet cat.” What points directly to “reality” has no use for words.

    As Mansur al-Hallaj reportedly said to someone rhapsodizing about the beauty of the moon’s reflection in a pool of water, “unless you have a boil on your neck, why not just look up at the moon?”

  14. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    “wetati tawi ‘a* [a] weta ti tawi hu’
    atira (ira) wikatasa [a]

    I am telling of her
    My mother…..who lies up against the sky

    -2nd stanza of a Pawnee song honoring Mother Cedar Tree”

    that’s quoted here (from somewhere else).

    trippingly on the tongue, beautiful language; think I’ll go sit under the birch and see if the cat joins me.

  15. AnneMH
    AnneMH April 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

    Oh good! (Kumare on netflix) I have been looking for it but did not see it playing in Denver. I din’t think we were that much of a hick town. In any case I am putting that on my plan for the weekend!

  16. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |

    Nice looking cat, Mark, does he/she like sitting zazen?

    Side note, back in the day I did a bibliography of books related to the much maligned Pawnee (read Hyde’s book) for what was left of the people, who live in tiny towns in Oklahoma and they sent me a set of cassette tapes of their dying language, because they thought that I must have an interest that their own young people did not have in preserving their heritage.

    It is a beautiful language.

  17. Fred
    Fred April 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |

    The Absolute doesn’t have a morality; it is beyond human convention.

    And maybe that’s the problem with Zen

  18. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra April 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |


    I’m going to have to check out Gass. Jaynes does a good job of showing how all of language is metaphorical, even elaborating on the etymology of various forms of “be” to show that early civilizations didn’t have words for “existence” so words like “am” and “be” evolved from root words meaning “to grow” or “to move.” Jaynes’s book is not for everyone, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it. But the first chapter is the best summary of the power and limitations of language I’ve ever read. It’s not as thorough as Wittgenstein, but it’s much more concise and precise. He even argues that consciousness is a product of language and doesn’t really exist, and he does so persuasively. The problem is he then proceeds to go off the proverbial deep end.

    Understanding the paradox of how much language controls our views of the world despite the fact that it’s mostly useless is a big step toward understanding a lot of other things about “our world.” I always get a little excited when I come across someone else who seems to understand it.

  19. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

    Thanks for all of your comments senorchupacabra, I read Jaynes years ago after meeting William S. Burroughs who recommended him.

    He (Burroughs) was also enamored of Korzybski’s “the map is not the territory” (and theories) which I have found useful.

    As Burroughs said, language is a virus, we are all sick with it.


  20. My_name_is_Daniel
    My_name_is_Daniel April 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |

    I agree with you on the point of SFZC. In the end, I left with a very bad taste in my mouth (Sasaki strikes again! kidding). If I went to those in authority (and I did) with an issue, I was presented with a cluster fuck of interviews, opinions and the inevitable fact that those in positions of authority are often times there because no one else is qualified (or willing) to fill said position. Red tape galore. All too often it became “you should practice with this” as opposed to making a staff change. I’d love to return to Tassajara or Green Gulch with my one remaining PP credit, but I see no use banging my head against that wall again.

  21. Khru
    Khru April 3, 2013 at 12:04 am |

    Say something authentic and alive…while you still have the chance.

  22. Picard
    Picard April 3, 2013 at 3:38 am |


  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 3, 2013 at 6:42 am |

    @mumbles, Buddy the cat’s favorite pose is on my box of assorted electronic cords next to the window sill, preferably with the window open, a slight smile and an alert posture discernable as he admires the birds and squirrels in the adjacent oak.

    Maybe you could upload the Pawnee tapes somewhere?- love to hear them. How’d the juniper tincture turn out?

    Sun coming up on Half Dome (but it’s live and if you’re not online this morning, you may see something very different):


  24. boubi
    boubi April 3, 2013 at 8:00 am |

    Hi Brad

    Just saw Kumare.

    It just showed me how a great guy you are and how a good teacher you are.

    Thanks for the blog, it really helped me

  25. boubi
    boubi April 3, 2013 at 8:04 am |

    Days Of Darkness 2007
    ?????????? IMDb: 6.8 104 minutes
    Jean-Marc is a man without qualities living in times that are out of joint. His wife and children ignore him; he’s a mid-level government functionary in Montreal doing his job without care. He has an active imagination of sexual conquest, but his only real feelings come when he visits his aged mother, whose health is failing. When his wife leaves abruptly to work in Toronto, Jean-Marc sets out to reorder things with his daughters, his social life, and at work. In a world that at best is a farce, does he stand a chance?

  26. Zafu
    Zafu April 3, 2013 at 9:38 am |

    Now, I like Entertainment Weekly. I’m even a subscriber. But I’m not at all surprised that they were unable to grasp the point of this movie [Kumare]. As they say, this is a movie about a guy of Indian descent who posed as a guru and filmed it. But what Vikram Gandhi did was not in any way a “mocking scam” nor is this film at all “Borat-esque.” As Borat, Sasha Baron Cohen played his character and the reactions it got for laughs. ~ Brad Warner

    With all due respect, perhaps you don’t fully grasp the point of Cohen’s films?

  27. Fred
    Fred April 3, 2013 at 9:52 am |

    Grasp, hahaha. Where do you think Sasaki’s Injas got their training.


  28. Zafu
    Zafu April 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm |

    What do you think, Brad, is jerking off a camel more difficult than jerking off an old Zen master?

  29. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra April 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm |


    After I posted, I was thinking Bill Burroughs could’ve been included in the discussion. That must’ve been an experience, meeting Burroughs.

    I’ve read some Korzybski here and there. I always agree with what I read, but I haven’t yet gotten around to any serious study. Maybe it’s time I get on it.

  30. Fred
    Fred April 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

    Bill Burroughs:

    “The disease in short arm hath a gimmick for going places unlike certain unfortunate viruses who are fated to languish unconsummate in the guts of a dying jackal slobbering silver under the desert moon” – Naked Lunch

  31. boubi
    boubi April 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

    Burroughs, Artaud* and others i read them when i was myself quite confused and mistook them as visionaries in the sense used by Rimbaud (the Arthur one), forerunners of some hidden meaning(s), with things corresponding (to f***k what?).

    I realize now that they were, in different degrees, just lost souls with a literary talent.

    They were hallucinating, plastering layers upon layers on what is in front of us (what?), which is more than enough to fill up our senses and make us content.

    Using one of those wordy words they lacked absolutely of “prajna”, having had some pseudo-pseudo insight , not through hard work (whatever way), but through blindly fiddling with their brain synapsis.

    They became lost ghosts.

    * You can have a try at “Eliogagalus” (Héliogabale ou l’Anarchiste couronné, 1934), it’s not for the faint of heart …

  32. A-Bob
    A-Bob April 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm |

    It would take me all night to tell about Old Bull Lee; let’s just say now, he was a teacher, and it may be said that he had every right to teach because he spent all his time learning; and the things he learned were what he considered to be and called “the facts of life,” which he learned, not only out of necessity but because he wanted to. He dragged his long, thin body around the entire United States and most of Europe and North Africa in his time, only to see what was going on…. there are pictures of him with the international cocaine set of the thirties — gangs with wild hair, leaning on one another, there are other pictures of him in a Panama hat, surveying the streets of Algiers…. He was an exterminator in Chicago, a bartender in New York, a summons-server in Newark. In Paris he sat at cafe tables, watching the sullen French faces go by. In Athens he looked up from his ouzo at what he called the ugliest people in the world. In Istanbul he threaded his way through crowds of opium addicts and rug-sellers, looking for the facts. In Chicago he planned to hold up a Turkish bath, hesitated just for two minutes too long for a drink, and, wound up with two dollars and had to make a run for it. He did all these things merely for the experience….

    Jack Kerouac, about a character said to be based upon Burroughs, in On the Road (1957)

  33. anon 108
    anon 108 April 4, 2013 at 6:19 am |

    Hey Brad!

    Some other Boodists are out to nick your schtik. See here:


    I recommend you disassociate yourself toot sweet!

    1. Zafu
      Zafu April 4, 2013 at 10:55 am |

      That’s some serious brand infringement. I’d consult with an attorney pronto!

    2. Picard
      Picard April 4, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  34. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote April 4, 2013 at 7:34 am |

    Boubi, that was eloquent!

    Looking for the facts has been possible from one’s own living room, since the publication in 1957 of the last of the Pali scriptures in English and the publication shortly thereafter of the Gospels of Thomas and many works in the Zen tradition. My opinion.

    Here in the U.S.A. we are rich with the traditions of native American peoples, the music and dance brought to us from Europe and Africa, the science of cranial-sacral osteopathy; hypnosis and the phenomena of hypnogogia are still regarded as parlor tricks, so I would have to recommend staying home and practicing tricks over trotting the globe as a way to get at the facts of the Great Matter.

  35. Fred
    Fred April 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

    Daniel Ingram:

    “. Do not confuse training in morality with training in insight. One is concerned with attempting to modify the content of one’s experience and behavior, and this is valid within its scope. The other is about seeing things as they are regardless.”

    1. Picard
      Picard April 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

      Call me a Borg but I just don’t think he gets it. The three unwholesome roots grew into a large tree. To properly uproot it, one first cuts the branches, then chops the trunk, and finally digs up the roots. The branches are outgrowths of the trunk. Attempts to chop the trunk without taking out the branches are futile.

      Or maybe I am completely wrong.

  36. Fred
    Fred April 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

    Bill was a heroin junkie and the product of his synaptic firing was heavily
    influenced by his need and use of heroin.

    Not having stuck a needle in my arm, I am not fit to judge his life experiences
    and literary creativity.

    I enjoyed reading Naked Lunch 40 years ago.

  37. Fred
    Fred April 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  38. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

    A few years ago I got quite a lot out of Daniel Ingram’s
    Mastering The Core Teachings Of The Buddha -An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book

    The entire book is available here for free:


  39. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 4, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

    If anyone is interested in Theraveda, Vipassana, etc., A pretty good short introduction by Vince Horn (the Buddhist Geeks guy), who also references Daniel Ingram and somewhere else mentions that while stumbling through the ocean of Insight Meditation techniques, finding Mastering The Core Teachings Of The Buddha -An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book was a major help to his practice, is found here:


  40. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

    Vince doesn’t explain “Noting Practice,” it is introduced here by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw (scroll down to Basic Exercise 1, then 2, and 3):


    This practice is based on the Satipatthana Sutta:


  41. anon 108
    anon 108 April 5, 2013 at 3:13 am |

    So very old news, then.

    Daniel Ingram is an Arahat:

    “The Arahat feels done with the path of Wisdom in the very specific and ultimate sense of that word, as in the classic phrase “done is what is to be done”. Gone is the compulsion that drove them to higher and higher paths. Gone is the sense that there is more to know or do on that front. This is a lasting and abiding wisdom that is reinforced by the way their basic sensate experience presents itself.

    The Arahat perceives reality in a way that is direct and unfiltered through duality at a very core level. This is their baseline of experience, and doesn’t require effort to occur.

    The Arahat is “traceless here and now”, meaning that in their sensate field of experience, they do not feel at a fundamental level that any sensations can be said to either be them or not be them, and thus the whole field of experience is simply that, a field of experience.

    That said, within that field of experience the standard apparatus of mental processes and discrimination obviously can occur just as before.

    The DhO doesn’t tend do subscribe to the standard Limited Emotional Range Model, the Limited Action Model or related models, such as those involving emotional or psychological perfection.”

    I watched some of the video Fred linked. If Daniel Ingram is an Arahat, Brad Warner is a Zen Master.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 April 5, 2013 at 3:17 am |

      “I watched some of the video Fred linked. If Daniel Ingram is an Arahat, Brad Warner is a Zen Master” contains very many levels of infinitely regressable sarcasm and irony. Just so you know.

      1. minkfoot
        minkfoot April 5, 2013 at 4:54 am |

        I wondered if it was just me or . . .

  42. Mumbles
    Mumbles April 5, 2013 at 4:36 am |

    I expected someone to quote something ridiculous. Daniel’s stuff, like Brad’s contains passages that make you want to throw the book against the wall, along with what seem to be pearls of great wisdom. Both are at times overbearing egomaniacs, but there is something of value to be found if you can set aside the easy sarcasm and really look at the material. But I suppose most won’t, having decided exactly whats what about everything. Must be nice to be so self-satisfied with life. Just sayin’.

  43. boubi
    boubi April 5, 2013 at 4:45 am |

    I don’t understand what you say, sorry

    You don’t need to have been a junkie to understand that something is wrong about it, his life experiences were a pile of shit, just read the “monkey on the shoulder”.

  44. anon 108
    anon 108 April 5, 2013 at 4:56 am |

    Mumbs, mate. The irony and sarcasm I hoped might be inferred from what I wrote was along the lines of:

    Brad Warner doesn’t look or sound anything like most people’s idea of a Zen master. Most people think he isn’t. And yet… So to those who would deride Daniel Ingram (confessedly my first inclination) I say: “If Ingram doesn’t match your idea of an arhat – think on.”

    Having no intimacy with the man or his teachings, I’ve no view – other than that.

    I could have been more explicit, I suppose.

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