In high school I was a flamboyant dresser and punk rock fan in rural Ohio where that kind of thing was generally unacceptable. Several members of the Wadsworth High School football team were outraged by my mode of dress. When I dyed my hair bright blond this confirmed their suspicion that I was gay.
After a while I got fed up with having these idiots yell “faggot” at me. One morning in the commons one of them shouted, “I heard you was a homosexual!” I just yelled back, “Yeah, that’s right” and kept on walking. This was around 1980 or ’81.
I wasn’t gay, but I really didn’t care what they thought. Nor did I think anyone should ever be called a faggot. The only time I would ever be concerned about someone else’s sexual orientation is if I were trying to have sex with them or if they were trying to have sex with me. If one of the guys on the football team had changed his hair color, I would not have even noticed. The fixation these guys apparently had on me seemed bizarre.
Anyway, after that I got threatened constantly, though no one ever did anything. Once a guy named Kurt followed me into the local Fisher’s Big Wheel department store and cornered me in the record department. He asked me if I’d dyed my hair. When I said I had, he told me he was going to pound the shit out of me when I left the store. But my friend Joe showed up a couple minutes later and I guess he didn’t have the nerve to take on two skinny nerds. We biked right past him in his pick-up truck.
The threats continued for the rest of my stay at Wadsworth High. But I realized that those guys were all hot air when they were on their own. One big, muscle bound football player named Tom had a locker near my homeroom. I was always running late for first period and so was he. He’d taunt me when he was with his buddies, but when I’d pass him in the empty hall each morning he never said anything. I finally started staring right at him every time I’d pass him. His response was always to look down at his shoes.
From this I learned that homophobia in America is serious business. I never forgot that. I was probably placing myself in more danger than I actually realized at the time by acting the way I did around those guys. These days I’ve heard that gay couples walk the halls of Wadsworth High School holding hands and nobody bothers them. Good.
It’s kind of a bummer, after all that, to find myself occasionally labeled as “homophobic” these days. Last week I got called homophobic by a few people on Facebook after I posted a video of a Cookie Monster toy and an Elmo toy apparently going at it. It was an attempt at a humorous tribute to Pride Week. To me the video said, “Me and Elmo, we gay and we no care who know about it!” But I suppose that was not clear to everyone who sees my Facebook page. A little while before that I was called homophobic because I used the phrase “butt hurt” in some article I wrote. I’m still not precisely certain why that’s homophobic, though I have made some attempts at guessing.
I think we need to be careful with stuff like that. The message I got from Kurt and Tom and their friends was “Conform or be punished!” The message I got from the folks who called me “homophobic” was precisely the same.
I realize that the Internet is a special place. I don’t think the individuals who labeled me homophobic were bullies. In any case, I don’t really care any more about what they think of me than I cared about what Tom and Kurt and their buddies thought of me. The Internet tends to encourage name-calling and I’m quite accustomed to it by now, though it never feels very good.
I see a whole lot of very unappealing gloating going on in cyberspace now that the Supreme Court had made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states. I’m not talking about celebrating and putting rainbow filters on your profile pictures. I’m talking about some of the really mean-spirited stuff I’ve been seeing. That makes me a little sad. If we believe we’re different from those who attacked us, then we have to prove it by actually being different.
Now that the Supreme Court of the USA has done the right thing, those of us who have long thought what they’ve decided should have been the case all along ought to watch ourselves. Now that we have become part of the majority, we ought to avoid treating those who have become the minority as they have treated us in the past.
July 8-12, 2015 Vancouver, BC Canada 5-DAY RETREAT at HOLLYHOCK RETREAT CENTER
August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT
August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE
August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR
August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY
September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE
September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY
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
September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED
September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT
November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!
Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!
Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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The donations I receive from this blog are my main source of income. All contributions, no matter how small, really help me a lot. Thank you very much!
Yes. I wrote about this some when Brendan Eich was defenestrated.
I disagree with you slightly on one nuance: I do think the people calling you homophobic are being bullies. I’m sure they, like the football team, don’t *think* they’re bullying you; but the point, as you say, is to tell you “conform or be punished.” Is there a more apt word than “bullying”?
I know what you’re getting at, where the motivation for bullies may not be the strong guy who enjoys persecuting the weak kids out of sadism. I was the target of lots of bullying when I was a kid, and I doubt most of the people who beat me up and taunted me were trying to be bullies. I was different from them in many ways,– fresh from a different country, with a different accent, wearing weird clothes and with a weird haircut, and outperforming them in tests within days of my arrival. I was probably a threat that needed dealing with. One guy relentlessly picked on me and beat me up several times, until the time he came at me in the locker room, and I got so angry and frustrated that I managed to get him by the neck and choke him while repeatedly bashing the back of his head against the lockers behind him. The noise brought the teachers running, and they sent both of us to the principal. I think he expected me to talk, but I refused to tell the principal anything, and after word of what happened got around, I was left alone by that bully and pretty much all the others. I think I had proven myself acceptable both through fighting back and not squealing — both normative jr high behaviors.
All that being said, the word for the behavior I was relentlessly subjected to for a couple of years was bullying. No. There’s no better word for it.
Love the Godzilla rainbow image. I’ll do some name calling’ for ya Brad…..way cool Zazen Dude. Love your stuff.
Hey, hey, yeah!
With shamanic magic mystical music
So strong we keep comin’ on…
I raise you a shaman. Drink up!
Dear people with speed problems on this site:
Is it faster now?
Sadly, no. Not for me. It just took two minutes to open the blog, then two more to open the post, and I am anticipating two more to leave this reply.
Last week for a couple of days it worked great. Super fast. Then back to the slow motion, long distance runaround…(nod to YES: R.I.P. Chris Squire)
Long distance run around
Waiting to feel the sound…
Bummer. I spent hours today setting up CDN (content delivery network) in hopes of speeding things up for you. All my attempts at cacheing plugins result in the site turning into blank white pages, at least for some people.
The site has been running like lightning for me ever since you switched servers, and I’m in a whole nother hemisphere.
Just a suggestion: the one thing that’s obviously different about the site now is that all the pages are served as https. It used to just be the login/logout/post comment pages… everything else was plain old http. (Yes, I’m a geek with rainman-level aspieness for these things)
It could be that the people with the slowness experience are using older browsers/computers that are bad at encryption/decryption…
Mumbles, are you running Mozilla version 0.0.1 on a PalmPilot by any chance?
Nah. I’m in the same hemisphere and city as the HCZ servers (L.A.) My computers are “middle-aged” and the browsers nearly new. With that setup, on the old server, it ran like lightning on them. When switched over to the new server, it ran like molasses (as in minutes per operation). Then I just moved and had to switch my ISP (due to geographical ISP-territory reasons) from Verizon to Time Warner and it runs like lightning again. You go figure. It ain’t the https…
it has gone from fast to FAST for me. I don’t understand the details, but our local downtown LA office intranet connects to St Paul’s servers before getting to the internet, so that websites trying to serve me local content think I’m in MN. I’m sure none of that matters. but hey.
In this day and age it seems like everyone is terrified of offending a single person. So if you post silly jabs like “butt hurt” and one person finds this offensive, you are name called and shunned. If you apologies to them about offending them, you become their slave.
Acceptance for everyone is important but we cant let ourselves be slaves to other peoples emotions. Conformity to everyone is, I feel, becoming an issue in America. If someone does or doesnt support gay marriage, so what? Its not like my opinion will actually harm them in any way, like in other countries. What ever happened to “free speech?” Nobody should feel pressured to conform to this or that opinion.
Im not a huge fan of Stephen Fry, partly because I dont know anything about him, but he has an interesting quote that I like to use on occasions like this:
“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘Im rather ofended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more…than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”
Fry’s quote is nice, but it doesn’t seem to be that helpful, either. If someone finds something offensive and they’re an outlier, we may choose to blow them off. If lots of people find something offensive, there may be a good reason, and we probably want to pay attention. Rarely do I think we really want to just ignore that someone takes offense without at least making this sort of judgement. Because day-to-day living requires navigating between these extremes and modifying ones own behavior appropriately. Rarely is there someone who purposely decides FUCK THEM ALL, I DON’T CARE WHO IS OFFENDED BY WHAT!
Yeah, the people calling you homophobic are bullies, as well.
In our zeal to not be bigots, we should try not to be bigots toward the bigots…or toward those posting homo-positive pictures of elmo and cookie monster going at it.
“As human beings, we are biologically programmed to try to determine who is in our tribe and who is not. We feel nervous when confronted with those who are outside of our tribe because we do not know if they might also see us as outside of their tribe and therefore be a danger to us.”
I think this is true among most mammals. Those football players in your High School were acting in a completely predictable way. You dyed your hair yellow and started dressing differently from the other tribe members. The not completely understood feeling among the boys was that you were sick and probably dying. Any show of weakness on your part would have confirmed that. Of course we don’t do that in our society nowadays but that was what their reptilian brains were telling them. We need to kill this guy. I don’t think bullying is going away any time soon.
I think you’re right about this. schools seem to be focusing on the bullies, but it may be helpful for at least older kids to understand things in terms of this primitive mindset, so they could figure out a behavior that may reassure the group. Because we can get kids to not bully, but they’ll still have the same negative feelings unless and until the person being bullied can demonstrate that they aren’t a threat or that they are part of the group and understand they’re part of the group.
Sadly, it’s not just a problem among kids. And in my opinion it has more to do with misguided attempts at dominance or overcompensation for a feeling of lacking something than xenophobia (which IS a convenient excuse). Plenty of adults engage in bullying, and the perceived anonymity of the internet has tended to exacerbate the problem lately.
Anyway, I don’t like bullies. Never have. Even (and especially) when I’ve done it.
I loved the Elmo and Cookie Monster video! I understand that some people might be offended. Those kinds of people should never watch Doctor Who Season 8. The new Doctor is arrogant, condescending and sarcastic. He also has enormous “attack eyebrows.” Whiny, weak, lilly-livered bottom feeders beware!!
Also, Brad has a good sense of humor. Some people just aren’t prepared to deal with that. Rock on, Brad!
As a young skinny punk who dressed differently and got fed up with being bullied, I sent a bully to the hospital when I was 14. The Gods smiled: no one in high school dared to fuck with me after that, and I became (and stayed) a peace and love hippy.
This is about the greatest thing I’ve stumbled onto lately…
“Dear people with speed problems on this site:
Is it faster now?”
Yeah, man. But it’s not really a problem man. Know what I’m saying.
Intolerance will not be tolerated!
That which is not mandatory is forbidden!
Thank You. Have a Nice Day. 🙂
In the last post, Brad empathized with black people because he’s maybe sorta black or something; in this post, he empathized with gay people because he maybe sorta used to be gay. What will the next post be? Empathizing with amputees because he stubbed his toe once? Empathizing with veterans because one of his ancestors fought in the civil war — which sorta makes Brad a veteran?
probably he’ll emphasize with people who stuff phallic vegetables down their trousers because he’s a vegetarian and thus knows all about you lot.
Careful how you wrap that rascal, Mr. Pants.
Now that Elmo and Cookie are out, why can’t we finally be open about the obvious that everybody on Sesame St. is LGBTI? (Except Oscar, and maybe Snuffleupagus)?
Kermit’s orientation is a moot point: his energetic style and vocal tone clearly indicate a lifelong eunuch.
You know who I don’t fucking tolerate but have to anyway, those goddamn free loaders who come to zen centers every Sunday and can’t stop moving around during zazen. I can understand moving once in a while to relieve discomfort but the near constant fidgeting for forty minutes straight– playing with your hair, loud sighs, checking your watch, picking a scab, what the fuck is that? And then you go to dokusan and waste the teacher’s time with your free psychotherapy session because of course you’re too goddamn cheap and lazy to go to real therapy which is where you really belong, asshole. And then after all that– the zazen which you ruined for everyone with your ADHD twitch fest, the free dharma talk, and free tea and cookies–you don’t even bother to leave a few bucks as a donation. Yeah, thanks a lot fuck face. Gassho and see you next week.
LOL. I enjoy having someone next to me who fidgets. Somehow, it makes my need to fidget less urgent. plus i look comparatively awesome at zazen and letting my mind and body drop off, you know? And for me, zazen is all about inflating my sense of no-Self.
Nuke all fidgeters! I can relate. I’ve been going to the Sunday public Shambhala sits for a few months now and there’s always a few people that just shouldn’t be allowed into the room. I had one guy sit next to me whose idea of meditation (I guess) was simply to achieve making it through the session without having to stand up and leave his cushion. Other than that, it consisted of raising his right hand from its resting position so the back of his hand could be inspected at close range in front of his face for about 30 seconds, then set it back down to resting position. Then lather, rinse repeat every 2 minutes. If this is the starting point for beginning meditators, their journey will certainly be long and arduous. Worse yet sometimes some of the “official” Shambhala people who sit in front of the group and announce “Walking” or “Sitting” every 20 minutes or so while are a bit fidgety themselves. I personally recommend that such people engage in yoga asanas prior to meditation so they can be somewhat calmer when they actually sit. In the end, it’s all just arising phenomena to be attended to dispassionately, I suppose!
Fidgeters should have their own zendos and these zendos should be labeled as such. Hopefully this type of ostricization, which if you think about it is an indirect form of bullying itself, will provoke intense self-loathing in the fidgeter who will then try his best to sit still. Indeed, there can be no inclusion without exclusion, first.
“Ostricization?” Nah. They’ll just bury their busy little heads in the sand. 🙂
Better yet: instead of sitting and meditating, sit them at a table and let them play the board game Zendo:
Yes, they can play the game and compete for a spot in the regular zendo, provided they don’t fucking move.
Esteemed Rinzai teacher Jack Nicholson Roshi on dealing with anger:
Thanks, mtto, for your efforts. All of us “snails” appreciate it!
Again, while it’s a slight inconvenience for me, its obviously not stopping me from accessing/ commenting on the blog. However, I do worry that newcomers might be discouraged, and that would be a shame. Because I do think that Brad’s Zen (and other) perspective is unique, and needs to be considered if/when someone is looking around, wondering what it’s all about. Huh. What’s it all about, anyway?
Thanks again, and keep trying!
“Ostracism” : exclusion, by general consent, from social acceptance, privileges, friendship, etc.
The word comes from “ostraka” that is to say, oyster. Why? Because they didn’t have paper, and the cheapest support for votes was oyster shells. Then, later, pieces of broken terracotta pots. On those, you’d write the name of someone whom you thought was obnoxious and likely to, through demagoguery, access supreme power. You didn’t want that, because you were a staunch partisan of radical democracy, and you wrote that man’s name on the shell or the pot shard. When a given name had too many votes, the person was exiled for ten years. He had ten days to leave.
I think we need that procedure…
“A mystic is therefore someone who, already concerned with religious questions, has a strong peak-experience. This experience can be described as a ‘primitive experience in which there is a radical transformation of the experiential self sense and radical axiological and existential grounding’. It may very well have all the characteristics traditionally associated with mystical experiences: ineffability, noetic quality, transiency, and passivity. Based on his or her religious preconceptions, the mystic then interprets this as an experience of a force or an agent conceived as absolute rather than as the result of some ordinary cause such as food, drink, sleep, a joyful occasion, or the like.
The experience turns into a conversion only when it triggers a mystical quest. The mystic wishes the state glimpsed so briefly to become accessible at will and eventually be the permanent reality of his or her mind. With the help of a variety of practices – such as fasting, austerities, meditations, and trances – old feelings and emotions, ideas and conceptions are cleared away, and the new state is attained. First only induced once in a rare while, it ultimately becomes permanent. The personality of the individual, disrupted by the experience of something interpreted as higher and greater, is reintegrated on a higher and greater level.
In the end, the individual loses all sense of personal consciousness; he or she feels at one with the absolute agent or force, believed to be first glimpsed in the intense peak-experience. The old self is gone; a cosmic self is found. The mystic who has maintained seclusion from other human beings for the time of transformation returns to society, a cosmic and universal spirit in human guise.”
– Livia Kohn, Early Chinese Mysticism: Philosophy and Soteriology in the Taoist Tradition
I have a beautiful Chinese mug that I’m fond of, nice when its full of mushroom tea.
“Although the 5-HT2A receptor is responsible for most of the effects of psilocin, various lines of evidence have shown that interactions with non-5-HT2A receptors also contribute to the subjective and behavioral effects of the drug.[nb 5] For example, psilocin indirectly increases the concentration of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the basal ganglia, and some psychotomimetic symptoms of psilocin are reduced by haloperidol, a non-selective dopamine receptor antagonist. Taken together, these suggest that there may be an indirect dopaminergic contribution to psilocin’s psychotomimetic effects. In contrast to LSD, which binds to dopamine receptor D2, psilocybin and psilocin have no affinity for the dopamine D2 receptors”
Distorting the neurochemical foundations of the self versus allowing the self to be used by the Tao arising from the Tao.
Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao,
Lovely Tao, wonderful Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao,
Lovely Tao, wonderful Tao, Tao, Tao, Tao…
Need them oyster shells…
‘Mayu, Zen master Baoche, was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, “Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?”
“Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent,” Mayu replied, “you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere.”
“What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?” asked the monk again. Mayu just kept fanning himself.’
(Genjo Koan, trans. Aitken & Tanahashi, et. al.)
“In Aristotle’s system of classical elements, aether had none of the qualities the terrestrial classical elements had. Aether was neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry. Aether did not follow Aristotelian physics either. Aether was also incapable of motion of quality or motion of quantity. Aether was only capable of local motion. Aether naturally moved in circles, and had no contrary, or unnatural, motion.”
(Wikipedia, “Aether (classical element)”)
The aether actualized in the fanning of Mayu.
Needed a match, did Mayu.
An Irish lullabye:
From the interview with Stephen Batchelor that Mumbles linked:
‘…the Buddha says, “I do not dispute with the world; the world disputes with me. What the wise in the world would agree upon as existing, I too say that exists. What the wise in the world agree upon as non-existing, I too say that does not exist.” [SN 22:94]
Now that’s a powerful statement, and it supports my whole approach very well. (That’s why I quote it!) But to me it shows quite explicitly that the Buddha is not actually interested in getting his view of reality correct. That’s not what he’s into, whereas Buddhism, from the Abhidhamma on, has more or less committed itself to that sort of approach. In other words, enlightenment becomes a cognitive understanding of the true nature of reality. The person who’s got that, who’s arrived at it through meditation, that’s the person we consider enlightened, and if somebody’s account of the nature of reality doesn’t agree with that, then they’re not enlightened.
So in other words, the whole discourse around enlightenment becomes about being cognitively correct or incorrect. The whole way in which Buddhist epistemology developed, certainly in India in the early centuries CE, was very much down that track. It didn’t question that assumption.
By approaching the Dhamma as a task-based ethics, we don’t have to deal with that anymore. It’s no longer relevant to get into a battle with beliefs, because beliefs, in one way or another, are not terribly significant, and we kind of miss the point. We get sidetracked, much as the Buddha said in the parable of the arrow [CÅ«á¸·amÄluá¹…kya Sutta, Majjhima NikÄya 63], where the person just endlessly discusses what kind of arrow it was, what kind of bow it was, what kind of person shot it.
Other texts too seem to be clear that the approach of the Dhamma is entirely pragmatic and therapeutic and ethical. That’s what it’s all about. And somehow that idea got lost as Buddhism mutated into a metaphysical religious system dominated by people who claimed to know “the truth.”’
Lots of other interesting stuff in the interview. Thanks, John.
“Lots of other interesting stuff in the interview.”
I agree. Lots of stuff that is interesting and relevant to Zen Master Brad’s blogs.
“I was brought up in a humanist, non-theistic world. I was educated in that world, and I’ve never really been able to make much sense of words like ‘God’ or ‘the sacred.’ The same goes for ‘the absolute’ or ‘the non-dual’ or other terms borrowed from Vedanta. That language doesn’t speak to me. And I’m somewhat uncomfortable when Buddhists start employing these terms. It seems like a last-ditch attempt to keep God in the picture somewhere, even though we don’t call it God. I think we have to go beyond God language altogether. There is a dimension of our experience – certainly as soon as we start doing mindfulness practice – that we open up to a kind of humility within ourselves with regard to the overwhelming experience of finding ourselves as this brief, little human being in a vast universe, that actually brings our minds to a stop. We’re simply thrown into a condition of awe or wonder. My sense is that Buddhism is not concerned at all with trying to say what that overwhelming sense of awe or wonder is about. What it’s interested in doing is cultivating certain forms of practice that actually make us more receptive to that kind of experience.”
– Stephen Batchelor
“But to me it shows quite explicitly that the Buddha is not actually interested in getting his view of reality correct. That’s not what he’s into, whereas Buddhism, from the Abhidhamma on, has more or less committed itself to that sort of approach. In other words, enlightenment becomes a cognitive understanding of the true nature of reality.”
The Buddha has no view of reality. Reality sees itself through the conduit of the Buddha.
You can’t say it’s a cognitive understanding in terms of what a human brain is conditioned since birth to experience.
“We’re simply thrown into a condition of awe or wonder. My sense is that Buddhism is not concerned at all with trying to say what that overwhelming sense of awe or wonder is about.”
Can you describe awe in the awe moment. You are the awe. You are the non-duality. What it is about is non-describable when whatever you is, is immersed in the wonder of it.
Adherence to a particular discipline will hopefully open up something innate in the human organism, however, it’s not necessary. Practices like Zen (not picking on Zen at all, just convenient) seem designed to exhaust the intellect to the point of giving up questioning and trying to arrive at some ultimate “answer” that equals “enlightenment.”
Discernment between the endless opportunities nature and our abstractions of it afford for distraction that give the illusion of “meaning” to our lives; in other words, how we choose to entertain our selves to death, and the simple unconditioned non-conceptual perception that is also present, -sitting with That, is enough.
I am writing this right now as my eight-year old son loudly spins his Bey Blades three feet away from me, the tv is on, and my wife is banging around in the kitchen making waffles. Feel the serenity!? I do. Loves me some waffles!
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