First off I have updated my book tour page again. Some of the specific locations for European gigs that have lacked them are now filled in, particularly in France.

I have also added info about the annual Dogen Sangha Zen retreat in Shizuoka. Since my new book is coming out in September, the organizers have moved the retreat to July. In past years people from overseas have been attending the retreats in Shizuoka. You’re always welcome to attend. It’s a good retreat. But contact the folks in Dogen Sangha Tokyo about it, not me. The contact info’s on their website.

Also, John Graves, who is now the president of Dogen Sangha Los Angeles, made this neat Sit Down and Shut Up/Shobogenzo Index. Check it out. He found all the references to specific parts of Shobogenzo in the book Sit Down And Shut Up and cross-referenced them so you could look ’em up if you wanted to. Why didn’t I do this myself? Because I am lazy, that’s why! But John did it and it is full of awesome. I’ve added it to the links section on the left as well.

I was chatting today via Skype to a friend of mine who is 21 years old. I seem to have a lot of friends considerably younger than me these days. But, then again, I never saw Nishijima interact with anyone less than twenty years his junior. Most people he hung out with were closer to forty years younger than him. Maybe it goes with the territory.

Anyway she’s got a whole lot of choices to make in life, as you do when you’re 21. And as you do when you’re 46 too. So I wrote her this:

“You have to decide what you love the most, I think. And go for that. And don’t believe people who say you can’t do it. I semi-believed those people and it really held me back. It turns out they were wrong. They’re still telling me I can’t do it even while I am actually actively doing it! This is kind of comical.”

It’s funny the things you say in response to people. I teach myself a lot that way, which is why I like doing Q&A; sessions and interviews. But it’s really true. There seem to always be naysayers who delight in cutting you down and trying to make you feel like you’re not capable. It’s important to know how to tell those people to go fuck themselves. Sometimes you have to say it politely. Sometimes you have to say it only to yourself. But it’s important to be able to say it.

Chuck Schodowski was a popular horror movie host in Cleveland, half of the teams Hoolihan and Big Chuck and later Big Chuck and Little John. He inherited his position from the great Ernie”Ghoulardi” Anderson (director Paul Thomas Anderson’s dad) who preceded him. Chuck took a lot of shit when he started because his style was very different from Ghoulardi’s.

In his book, Chuck talks about a letter he got from Ernie Anderson when this was going on. If the book wasn’t in storage I’d quote it directly instead of from my poor memory. But Ernie Anderson said something like, “If the people who are telling you you’re doing it wrong could do it themselves, they’d be doing it themselves. Guts it, baby, guts it!”

It’s good advice. We all have a role to play and there are always those around you who’ll stupidly envy you and think they could do whatever it is you do better, if only. I used to hear this kind of shit from lots of folks when I worked at Tsuburaya Productions, guys who knew that if they just got out of mom’s basement they’d do so much better marketing Ultraman than I was doing. Now I hear it from people who’d be so much better Buddhist writers if only someone would give them a book deal. But there’s a reason you’re in the position you are and those guys are not. So they can all suck it.

As for the wide world of choices… it never ends. When I was 21 I woulda figured that by age 46 I’d either have had everything worked out or I’d be dead. As it turns out neither option panned out. These days my best advice to myself is to do what I love the most, to the best of my ability to do so. Sometimes your own karma places you into a position where it seems like you have no options. But I’ve stopped believing that. There’s always some way to make whatever situation you find yourself in into a place you want to be. I’ve even managed to do this in endless traffic jams on the Los Angeles freeway system, or in a hospital bed with kidney stones so bad I thought the pain alone might kill me.

I made a lot of mistakes because I half-believed those who said I couldn’t ever accomplish the things I truly wanted to do. I majored in history in college not because I liked it that much, but because I believed those who told me I’d never be able to land a career in the film business. Much less in the film business in Japan making giant monster movies. That I’d have far better of a chance getting a job teaching history in high school. All those people can suck it.

And still there they are! Look in the comments section of this very blog and you’ll still find people telling me I can’t do what I am already doing. They’re clever enough not to put it in those words. But that’s the message. They can suck it too.

When they tell you the same thing, just remember they can suck yours as well.

Guts it, baby.

142 Responses

Page 1 of 3
  1. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2010 at 12:13 pm |

    Whoop! I'm famous again!

  2. Hokai
    Hokai April 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm |

    Harry, don't you have anything else to do than starring at your PC and push the button, when Brad post another story?
    It's boring !

  3. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm |

    Hi Hokey,

    No, this is what I do… sometimes I scratch, but only on Saturdays and some holy days.



  4. Number 2
    Number 2 April 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm |

    When Harry is number one it cause me to cry with happiness. Go Harry-san, Tell Hokai to suck it!

  5. Harry
    Harry April 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm |

    "Suck it" is so 'last post'. I'm over that now.

    Let's cry 2getha, Number 2.


  6. Steven
    Steven April 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm |

    "GUTS IT BABY" is the greatest Zen slogan of the year so far.

  7. 108 the merciless
    108 the merciless April 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    Brad: I think of you as the Big Chuck of Buddhism.

  8. Chris C
    Chris C April 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm |

    I believe that many, many people want to be TOLD what to do…what to think…how to to talk…how to LIVE…

    They wander through life seeking the validation of the teacher, the boss, the wife, the husband, the friend the community.

    I bet Brad gets this kind of stuff all the time. Either people telling him he is full of shit, or people looking to him for ALL of the answers. Not much in between, maybe? I don't know, but I think it is good to get the young and middle and old alike to start thinking for themselves about themselves…

    There is great strength in being able to tell someone in your life to "suck it!" or to even just say "no". How many of us have thought it…but never dared say it. We retreat in our own cowardice, fear and subservience…settling for the validation of another, rather than have our own realizatons and living our own lives just as they are.

    This is what my practice has been for me. Not a search for "enlightenment", but to know myself…apart from the judgement of others and myself.

    Just thinking out loud…

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm |

    Is this going to be the subject of Brad's next dharma talk, to reach for the stars and believe in your dreams, and fuck all the haters? Is this zen or this the ramblings of a disgruntled high school career counselor? Love your haters Brad, for without them you would clearly have nothing to write about.


  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm |

    Congratulations, Harry !!!
    So happy for your success today 🙂

  11. anon #108
    anon #108 April 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. anon #108
    anon #108 April 23, 2010 at 3:07 pm |

    Hi Brad,

    I can't see the picture you posted to illustrate this post.

    So I clicked on the blank space. I got "You don't have permission to access /images/horror_ghoulardi3.jpg on this server."

    I've tried telling you to fuck yourself.
    I've tried gutsin it…
    Nuffin 🙁

    Should I suck it?


  13. Back At'cha
    Back At'cha April 23, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

    Love your haters Brad, for without them you would clearly have nothing to write about.


    And you would have nothing to bitch about or hate upon…

  14. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 23, 2010 at 4:04 pm |

    Brad, you should know that linking to images on other sites is bad karma.

  15. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm |

    reach for the stars and believe in your dreams …

    A cliche is a truth whose edges have been worn smooth by use.

  16. Brad Warner
    Brad Warner April 23, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    I fixed the problem with the image. The one I accessed on the 'net must be "owned" by paranoid people who don't want anyone else accessing it. It's a scan of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's TV Times from 1965 that every Ghoulardi fan has a scan or copy of (it's been reprinted a zillion times). Now it's up again from my own hard drive this time so nobody can pull it down. Geeks… (and me for being lazy)

    As for haters, I love 'em. As for cliches, some of them happen to be true. And I don't think you can possibly hear some of them enough.

  17. Pirooz M. Kalayeh
    Pirooz M. Kalayeh April 23, 2010 at 4:31 pm |

    Great post! Guts it, baby!

  18. anon #108
    anon #108 April 23, 2010 at 4:33 pm |

    Mr Ghoulardi –
    I see him now!

    Crazy name!! Crazy guy!!!

  19. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm |

    The one I accessed on the 'net must be "owned" by paranoid people who don't want anyone else accessing it.

    Sysadmins get a bit ticked when you siphon off their bandwidth and they get nothing in return. So they set up their rewrite rules so offsite image accesses get denied. It's just how things are done on the web. You know, the code of the geek.

  20. Jinzang
    Jinzang April 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm |

    As for haters, I love 'em.

    I hope Dana Ullman is cultivating a similar sense of equanimity, as he surely needs it.

  21. David K. Lemming
    David K. Lemming April 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm |

    I agree that at times we are afraid to try and do what we can actually do because we have been told that we can't do it. I have spent most of my life being told that I can't do things and it has led to me feeling like I can't do things that I want to do. I have overcome that to some degree, but it still feels like their is someone behind me telling me that I am not able to do anything.

    I liked your theory on being able to tell people to stick it, even if it is in your own head, that is a problem I have had most of my life…not being able to say it. Keep posting wisdom for us to learn from.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm |

    Ah, but what about when you know you have something calling your name but you don't know what it is? Or, on some days you're drawn to one thing but on other days it's something else? Telling folks to fuck off when you know for sure where you're going is one thing but telling them when you have no clue? Whole nother story.

  23. zen sky
    zen sky April 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm |

    One of the benefits of practice is a clarity that cuts throught a lot of bullshit. You clearly "get it" in your books and are very clear in real time q&a;, so I am inspired to practice again, thanks!

  24. zen sky
    zen sky April 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm |

    Oh yeah, "Doing what you love" is really great advice, never too late to do that.

  25. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead April 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm |

    Hello Ladies,
    My name is PhilBob-SquareHead
    I'm 37, divorced with one child.
    I like long walks on the beach, Lifetime movies while snugglin', camping, hunting for rare musical recordings, playing guitar, supporting left of center causes and drinking craft brews in Bohemian establishments…..

    If interested, contact me here…we might as well make Mr. Warner's blog a HOOK UP zone.

  26. Uku
    Uku April 23, 2010 at 11:34 pm |

    Bite my wire! Great post, Your Holiness Über King of All Dharmas Zen Master Odo Bene Roshi Sensei.

  27. Ran K.
    Ran K. April 24, 2010 at 2:47 am |

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Ran K.
    Ran K. April 24, 2010 at 2:49 am |

    Anybody knows the origin of the name “Led Zeppelin”?

  29. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 2:50 am |

    This post of yours really resonates right now. Talk about timing. Last night I got laid off at work, a totally unexpected shock. This morning I read your post and it raised my hopes a bit. Serendipity? Karma? Random cause and effect? Whatever, keep writing.

  30. Sleuth
    Sleuth April 24, 2010 at 3:10 am |

    Ran K –

    I didn't know the origin of the name Led Zeppelin, so I googled "led zeppelin name origin".

    Now I know the origin of the name Led Zeppelin. I'm sure you do too.

    Are you trying to tell us something?

  31. Harry
    Harry April 24, 2010 at 3:15 am |

    "They decided to drop the "a" so Americans wouldn't mispronounce it."

    …Damned illiterate yanks!



  32. Sleuth
    Sleuth April 24, 2010 at 3:24 am |


    I wonder if our colonial cousins are familiar with the expression "to go down like a lead balloon"?

    I'll google…

    Apparently they are, but prefer the form "go over like a lead balloon".

    How unnecessarily awkward of them.

  33. Ran K.
    Ran K. April 24, 2010 at 3:49 am |

    Brad says: “But there's a reason you're in the position you are and those guys are not”.

    It’s not always so.

    I’d say it could be unequivocally be said that at least 50% of the CD’s released are unworthy and we might very well be better without them. (While 50% is a very carful assumption, – it might be 90%.) Having the masses decide the quality of art is ridiculous. So many who are where they are not necessarily there for the right reasons.

    With regard to things discussed earlier – (I had very little time to read) a person who seeks fame and fortune does not know what art is.

    (That isn’t not to say that they might be pleasant.)

    So there may be many who might have been able to do it better but won’t take part in the shitty celebration.

    And btw – there may be people who write books simply because they have something to say.

    Same as the comments you write here. (I personally never do but I know there are many who actually do so on regular basis. You can’t really miss it if you check the comment section 3 or 4 times. Try and see.)

    Not everybody are after fame and fortune

  34. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 4:14 am |

    Ran K wrote: "I’d say it could be unequivocally be said that at least 50% of the CD’s released are unworthy…Having the masses decide the quality of art is ridiculous. So many who are where they are not necessarily there for the right reasons."

    Unworthy? Of poor quality?

    You mean you don't like them. There are no unequicoval, objective aesthetic criteria.

    And why are they there? Maybe not for the right reasons, Ran – I don't think Brad was talking about "right" reasons. But there's no doubt that there is a reason, a cause, why everything is where it is.

  35. Ran [K.]
    Ran [K.] April 24, 2010 at 4:36 am |

    "You mean you don't like them" – I don't.

    "There are no unequivocal, objective aesthetic criteria" – says who?

    "But there's no doubt that there is a reason, a cause, why everything is where it is" – if you see it that way – it's OK.

    But I'm not sure that's what brad meant.

    Since he’s dead now [- after the Ultraman explosion] we'll never know. – I'm not even sure he ever lived. Always was a funny guy.

    – 108? [- Or did I misrecognize your voice?]

  36. Ran [K.]
    Ran [K.] April 24, 2010 at 4:39 am |

    Anything about that, Misterio?

  37. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 5:30 am |

    "There are no unequivocal, objective aesthetic criteria" – says who?

    Lots of people.
    Immanuel Kant does:

    For Kant, beauty is not a property of any object, but an aesthetic judgement based on a subjective feeling…Good taste cannot be found in any standards or generalizations, and the validity of a judgement is not the general view of the majority or some specific social group. Taste is both personal and beyond reasoning, and therefore disputing over matters of taste never reaches any universality. Kant stresses that our preferences, even on generally liked things, do not justify our judgements.

    (From wiki on "Taste")

    To me that sounds a lot like what Gautama Buddha said, too.

    More importantly – I said it, and it's nice to know they agree.

    (don't you get sick of seeing that old trolley bus?)

  38. Mr. Reee
    Mr. Reee April 24, 2010 at 5:49 am |

    The approval game takes two players: one seeking approval, and another (usually desperate) to offer it.

    Tis true–once you reach a certain place in life, you begin to see that many of those 'helpful' people who are telling you that you can't do something are really telling you why they can't do it. Nothing more.

    This is often paired with the insight that the approval one has been seeking is from ones self.

    And the truth is–we don't really need advance "permission" from anyone, including ourselves, to do what we care about. Just do it.

  39. Stephanie
    Stephanie April 24, 2010 at 6:00 am |

    What in the heck does this motivational pep talk have to do with Zen? I'm with Anon "Hater" @ 1:37PM. This reminds me of "The Secret"–use the power of positive thinking to get what you want! The wonderful thing about Zen is that it doesn't give us new techniques to "rise above the haters and realize our dreams" but rather helps us see that our dreams are just dreams, and whatever happens is all Reality. You can be a history teacher, monster movie maker, janitor, or office worker, and feel completely at home in your life. Because what you do and whether you realized your dreams or not has nothing to do with liberation.

    I find this kind of motivational cheese off-putting because it's great for those of us who have had the luck and ability to pursue and realize our dreams, but not so great for the people who did not. I don't believe that the only thing that separates "winners" from "losers" is that the former had "clearer positive intention." A lot of it is out of our control and I think the notion that people who don't realize their dreams simply did not believe in themselves enough is feel-good yuppie fluff that isn't true. Life is hard and some people do the right thing and still suffer.

    I've learned a lot from my mother, who has suffered many disappointments, lost a lot, and has many dreams that were unfulfilled. She works a job she doesn't like and that holds no meaning for her, but for many reasons has no options but to continue, including financial reasons, job market, and not having the time/money to return to school right now. But she has grown in wisdom throughout her life and not always getting what she wants or realizing her dreams is part of what has made her wise. She has realized the preciousness of "this moment" in her own way, and that love and appreciation of life itself are enough. I think this is a much more mature and true perspective than the narcissistic American "you can get whatever you want if you want it enough!" approach. The beauty of Zen: we are liberated from "what we want" and no longer have to be yoked to its tyranny.

    Word verification: 'chedoo.' As in, 'This post has the consistency of melted chedoo.'

  40. Mr. Reee
    Mr. Reee April 24, 2010 at 6:05 am |

    oops–too early in the morning for typing:

    "The approval game takes two players: one seeking approval, and another (usually desperate) to offer it."

    I meant to say 'to offer it, or withhold it.' Withholding approval seems to be more germane to the point of the post.

    Now, more coffee.

  41. Ran
    Ran April 24, 2010 at 7:36 am |


    I’m not really in for it, can’t spare the time – but:

    “Lots of people” – I know that. And you should know I do.

    If you really understand Buddhism (or perhaps the spirit in general) western modern philosophy might seem something like a joke. Guys like Brad don’t tell you that cause you won’t believe them. There may be exceptions. Kant does not definitely seem to be one of them. [you might put me on a Mysterion attack here, I hope all will be quiet]

    beauty is not a property of any object, but an aesthetic judgement based on a subjective feeling” – first you need to be able to see what beauty is. I think only a Buddha can. But one might be able to come to a reasonable idea. I don’t think Kant can even hope for that. He seem to imagine he can figure things out by the power of the intellect and has no idea of what might be attained through Zazen. [or other alternative means, – like questioning Mysterion, or being a [true] member of the Rolling Stones]

    Good taste cannot be found in any standards or generalizations” – it might depend on what you call “standards” or “generalizations”. Not rigid hard ones as our K might have been able to refer to with his seemingly materialistic thinking.

    the validity of a judgement is not the general view of the majority or some specific social group” – definitely true. Goes for philosophy as well. Mind you.

    Taste is both personal and beyond reasoning” – I suppose Kant couldn’t imagine otherwise.

    disputing over matters of taste never reaches any universality” – definitely untrue. It’s a matter of a depth of your mind. Most people would see it as Kant did.

    [“preferences … do not justify … judgements” – of course they don’t. How could they? But then If we’d see things Kant’s way – I don’t suppose that would even matter.]

    I don’t want to get into Gautama. And if I would I would probably ask you to be more exact but it would be very long.

    As for you: (mentioned as well)

    I would like now to prove this through the subtle criteria of the ancient patriarchs: ” [*]

    i.e. – How equivocal can you get about that?

    Could you say it does not have objective value? (and don’t let me know that you don’t even know if the computer in front of exists – that’s not what we’re about)

    If you don’t like the bus picture you can call yourself 107 the great. Or 106 the miraculous. Or Mysterion or Harry. Anything will do. Simply “Anonymous” is confusing or inconvenient. Be ingenuitive.

    And just in case you intend to continue – I can’t spare the time – as I said. I probably won’t respond this week.

    So far,
    HCZ chat.

    [*] – E. Dogen, Japan, 1200-1253 AD, “Shobogenzo Bendowa” (1231, [57])

  42. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 7:53 am |

    Right on, Steph. Brad's post originally appealed to me because I feel that, so far in my life, I have achieved mostly what I set out to achieve. But your response has reminded me to also realize why that may be so, not the least of which has been having access to education and other stuff that others may not have. While I am grateful for what I have in my life, I need to be reminded that there are plenty of other circumstances that have assisted and continue to assist me, and not just because I had "guts" and told others to "suck it." Thanks, Steph!

  43. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 8:52 am |

    So when is Brad going to come out with his "Suck It" enlightenment video where in the span of two hours you too can develop the inner courage to tell people to "suck it". I think he could make millions catering to the American culture of Me, which he's kind of already subtly doing. Come on Brad, get in the game buddy, don't let those Zen precepts hold you back. Get that paper baby.

  44. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 24, 2010 at 9:17 am |

    can't say I care much for this post of yours Brad

    that's ok there are hoards of other posts that are shear brilliance

    you are allowed a pass in my book

    in fact you are allowed a handful

    one down

    four to go

    sounded like you had sugar frosted cornflakes for breakfast

    I'd watch my intake of carbs if I wuz youse, and other sweet morsels too
    but probably not
    'cuz if I really WUZ wuz you I'd been asking for second helpings of everything

    no matter how far you wander on your world domination tours, sooner or later you will always come to your senses

    if word gets out you've ever taken to charging thousands for someone to spend time with you in your hotel we'll know the pressures of fame were too much for you

  45. Cyril Coombs
    Cyril Coombs April 24, 2010 at 9:31 am |

    I have to give a "Suck Out" (kind of like a shout out but in the vein of this blogpost) to Brad.

    The "good" Star Trek is TNG. The original Star Trek never got good until The Wrath of Khan. Mwahahahahaha

  46. IsabellaLaRouge
    IsabellaLaRouge April 24, 2010 at 9:46 am |

    maybe my "newbie-ness" is showing here, but I dont get you people. so, zen is just accepting where you are and living with it? "Oh well, this is reality." Since none of us are likely to ever reach Buddah status, I say its ok to have dreams and strive for accomplishments. Not all articist endevors are in the name of money and fame. Some people just feel compeled to write, paint, play music, or whatever. But if a person can find a way to make a decent (or more than decent) living doing what they love, more power to them. Sure, you're gonna get people like Thomas Kinkade who paint just for money (my college art professor HATES that guy), but such is life in a world where everybody thinks differently. So get off Brad's ass. If you don't like what he has to say Im sure there are othere blogs that tell you what you want to hear.

  47. Mr. Reee
    Mr. Reee April 24, 2010 at 9:56 am |

    "so, zen is just accepting where you are and living with it?"

    That's kinda part of it. Recognizing reality, instead of wishing it away, is sometimes a simple acknowledgment, and sometimes a prescription.

    The idea, as I understand it, is that if you are paying attention to things, it will become apparent that some of the problems we encounter our of our own making–inside our heads. When one notices this, it makes it easy to focus effort on the problems 'out there.'

    In no way does zen, or anything else, make problems go away. It just makes it easier to see, and perhaps not get carried way by problems.

  48. anon #108
    anon #108 April 24, 2010 at 10:48 am |

    Hi Ran,

    We disagree.
    It's not important 🙂

  49. anon #108
    anon #108 April 24, 2010 at 11:20 am |

    Hi Isabella,

    Some of what you say might refer to what I wrote on the previous post about (an aspect of) what motivates us when we write, paint, play music etc.

    Some people play or paint and never display their efforts. Others do. There may be different motivations.

    There's nothing wrong – at all – with needing approval, acceptance, confirmation, understanding, love. Such needs/desires are part of being human, I think – we may never "transcend" them. We may be able to recognise them and become more 'balanced', so that they don't lead to harmful behaviour.

    Approval, acceptance etc aren't bad things. In no way was I having a go at Brad.

    Re the bigger picture – I pretty much see it how Mr. Reee sees it.

  50. anon #108
    anon #108 April 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm |

    In no way was I having a go at Brad.

    …except in as much as he may not acknowledge the part those needs/desires play in what he does – in what we all do.

    Of course, Brad may disagree that the need for approval plays a large part in publicly shared artistic endeavours.

    If my supposition is true, then recognising that fact must be the first step to relinquishing the hold such needs/desires can have on us.

Comments are closed.