croquembouche.xxxlarge_0Since I first heard the news about the terrorist attack in Paris on Friday, I have struggled with trying to find something to say about it.

Like pretty much everyone with a working heart and mind, I was appalled by the news on Friday of the attacks. I was also disgusted by what I saw on social media following the attacks. No sooner had the news broken than professional pundits and amateurs alike were using the horrific events to advance their own agendas. If only the “good guys” had had concealed guns in the theater. Or we shouldn’t pray just for white people (as if we all knew the skin tones of everyone who was killed in Paris). Or we shouldn’t pray at all because religion caused this. Or about how Obama’s stance on climate change led to the attacks. And on and on and on and on.

There’s no need to add more to that cacophony. No one is listening.

About half an hour ago I came across John Oliver’s comments on the attacks on his show Last Week Tonight, and now I know what I want to say. Here’s a link so you can watch John Oliver say it better first.

This is what he said:

“Here is where things stand: As of now, we know this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes. Unconscionable flaming assholes. Possibly working with other fucking assholes. Definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery. Second, and this goes almost without saying: Fuck these assholes. Fuck them, if I may say, sideways.

“And third, it is important to remember, nothing about what these assholes are trying to do is going to work. France is going to endure and I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good fucking luck. Go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloise cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, and the fucking croquembouche. You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend. You are fucked.”

It’s a funny rant, but it’s also deeply true. So I’ll just provide my own commentary for whatever that’s worth.

“This attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes.”

This is important. Those who planned and carried out this attack may nominally be Muslims, but first and foremost they are assholes. Not all assholes are Muslim and not all Muslims are assholes. Muslims around the world are just as appalled and outraged by the attack as anyone else. In fact, it was a Muslim security guard who saved the lives of a few dozen people when he prevented a suicide bomber from entering the Stade de France stadium on Friday. As a result of his actions only the asshole got killed. And good riddance to him.

“Definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery.”

The ideology propounded by ISIS is not Islam but Asshole-lam. As David Wong put it in an extremely insightful piece prompted by the earlier attack in Paris this January, “Their ‘side’ is what I’m going to henceforth call Team Violence. The bully doesn’t fight because he wants to win; he fights because he wants a world in which everything is resolved by fighting (note: The bully himself doesn’t realize this). It doesn’t matter if he loses — the moment you chose to fight, his side already won, and the world becomes more like the world he wants to live in.” Later he says, “if radical Islam went away tomorrow, Team Violence would just pop up again under some other name. Maybe this one doesn’t justify it with the Quran; maybe they’ll do it under the banner of eugenics, or racial purity, or environmentalism, or My Little Pony fandom.”

Here’s a link to an astute commentary on this aspect of things by Waleed Aly in Australia. Listen to what he says and remember it well.

In the book The Last Days of Hitler, author Hugh Trevor-Roper makes the point that in a world at peace, Hitler, Himmler, Goering and the rest of the Nazi gang would never have amounted to much of anything. Oh sure, Goebbels may have had a future writing ad copy for Haribo candies, and maybe Adolf could have drawn the posters, but that’s about it. Real psychopaths can only come to power in times of great chaos and that’s what the folks at ISIS are trying to create.

“France is going to endure and I’ll tell you why. If you are in a war of culture and lifestyle with France, good fucking luck.”

And not just France. The real culture of Syria and Iraq, as well as that of Iran, Palestine, Afghanistan and everywhere else in the world will endure. Because more people want culture than want a world in which assholes run everything for their own assholey benefit.

But let’s look at the examples Oliver cites in respect to France.

“Go ahead, bring your bankrupt ideology. They’ll bring Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gauloise cigarettes, Camus, Camembert, madeleines, macarons, and the fucking croquembouche. You just brought a philosophy of rigorous self-abnegation to a pastry fight, my friend. You are fucked.”

Go watch a TV series called How We Got to Now. It’s on Netflix as well as PBS‘s online site. It’s about how the things we take for granted in our contemporary civilization did not arrive through magic but through the hard work of a lot of people over the span of centuries. The reason you can read this blog is directly connected with efforts to clean up the streets of growing cities over a century ago.

The idea of a “pastry fight” is funny, but it’s also true. The world wants pastry more than it wants some demented Islamified version of the Left Behind books. And to have pastry you need a civilization. To have clean water, you need advanced technology. To have food that doesn’t kill you, you need culture.

“It is important to remember, nothing about what these assholes are trying to do is going to work.”

The lunatics who think they can overturn all of this effort are using technologies that could not possibly even exist at all if the rest of the world wanted to go back to life as it was in the seventh century. They will fail.

Greed, hatred and stupidity are universal human traits. But so are cooperation, love and intelligence.

And more people support cooperation, love and intelligence than will ever support greed, hatred and stupidity.

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123 Responses

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  1. SamsaricHelicoid
    SamsaricHelicoid November 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm |

    Islam does resist secularization though. It is innate in the actual religious beliefs of Islam.

    Wahhabism and Salafism are true Islam, sadly. Consider how Islam had a violent beginning with Muhammad waging war, killing a bunch of innocents and taking their wives. The man was a violent pedophile who even beheaded people, and I could provide verifiable sources if needed. Islam was just an excuse for Arab expansionism and imperialism. It is a religion of savageness and backwardness, and I don’t care about being politically correct, monsieur le Zennie.

    Islam cannot reform. It cannot without changing its genealogy and thus becoming un-Islamic. Look at Baha’ism, for example. It, alongside with Sufism which was TYPICALLY more Hindu, receives a ton of persecution in Iran.

    However, the fact fundamentalist Islam is starting to affect Europe is for three reasons: 1) USA strengthened ISIS by opposing Assad, Russia, and Iran. Assad isn’t that great, but he’s really the best way to end ISIS and introduce stability in Middle East. This constant interventionism is aggravating the situation, and both Assad and Gaddafi, ironically enough, predicted something like this morbid situation would befall Europe. 2) Why, in the world, did Europe open its borders to hordes of Syrian refugees when they already have a large enough Muslim population that has troubles assimilating? It isn’t that hard to predict ISIS would blend in with them, omg. 3) Why is USA and the West allies with Saudi Arabia, the main exporters of Wahhabism and Salafism? If anything, each refugee needed a serious background check, and it would have been better to stick with accepting only the Christians.

    Muhammad was a crazy warlord, and peace be not onto him. I’d be beheaded saying that in most Islamic countries. That should be a hint there is something wrong with Islam, which is irreparable.

    I think Muslims do deserve discrimination, but one should not conflate race or ethnicity with religious background. Always make sure what is the person’s religion before mocking them. Both Shiite and Sunni Muslims deserve nothing but scorn. One has a choice over his or her religion, but one does not have a choice over his or her race or ethnicity.

    Finally, let me respond to one of your statements:

    “And more people support cooperation, love and intelligence than will ever support greed, hatred and stupidity.”

    Lol, you wish

    1. minkfoot
      minkfoot November 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm |

      I like Karen Armstrong’s take better. Fortunately, she has more credibility than you.

      1. SamsaricHelicoid
        SamsaricHelicoid November 16, 2015 at 5:37 pm |

        Muhammad approved of beheading:

        “The Banu Qurayza was besieged for 25 days until they surrendered.[1] One of Muhammad’s companions decided that “the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives”. Muhammad approved of the ruling, calling it similar to God’s judgment,[8][9][10][11][12] after which all male members of the tribe who had reached puberty were beheaded.[2][13] The Muslim jurist Tabari quotes 600–900 being executed.[1][3] The Sunni hadith do not give the number killed, but state that all males were killed and one woman.[14] The rest of the women and children were sold in exchange for weapons and horses, according to Islamic sources.[1]”

      2. minkfoot
        minkfoot November 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm |

        The Qurayza supposedly betrayed the Muslims. Was Muhammed wrong in saying their judgment reflected judgments by God?

        Oh, but surely it’s unfair to cite a Bronze Age text. After all, Christianity was founded by a pacifist, right? Christian culture is far superior to that. Followers of Jesus are kind, just, and holy people, like Arnaud Amalric.

        1. SamsaricHelicoid
          SamsaricHelicoid November 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm |

          I am specifically referring to the man Jesus in contrast to the man Muhammad. Jesus never tried to murder anyone, and when his followers raised the sword against Roman guards who were sent to capture him, Jesus told them to put down their swords unlike Muhammad who justified a beheading:


        2. minkfoot
          minkfoot November 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm |

          Matthew 10, KJV:

          34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

          35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

          36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

          37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

          1. Conrad
            Conrad November 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm |

            In the first place, that quote about the sword is usually interpreted as referring to the “sword of discrimination”, not a literal sword used to kill one’s family members. It means to cut off worldly ties.

            More importantly, none of Jesus’ followers or several centuries of Christians interpreted that as a call to violence. Instead, Christians felt called to non-violence even to the point of martyrdom. Many, many Christians died as martyrs in the early years, following Jesus’ example, and almost none took up the literal sword. It wasn’t until Constantine that Christianity began to associate itself with war and violence.

        3. Shodo
          Shodo November 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm |

          I think we can agree that the fundamentals of Christianity are barbaric and it’s history reflects it. Go back to the Old Testament and the god you find there is a psychopath. Horrific things are said and commanded by the OT god.

          If you read the Koran, you will find that there are some good things, and many MANY terrible things.
          The good things were said when the Prophet was in Mecca, when Islam was new and had not consolidated it’s power.
          When the Prophet went to Medina however, the revelation took a very dark turn. The good Meccan verses (what we western liberals would like) were abrogated (naskh) for the later Medinan verses.

          You cannot say it’s wrong, that would be apostasy which they kill you for. To suggest reform is to imply it’s not perfect as it is – which is rewarded with death. Ask Mahmoud Mohammed Taha.

          ISIS is following the fundamentals of Islam. Islam long ago divided the world into 3 houses; The House of Peace, The House of War and The House of Kafir. The things they are doing are backed up by their scriptures.

          1. Kyla
            Kyla November 17, 2015 at 10:35 am |

            Lots of interesting comments so far and I find yours the most meaningful to me Shodo. I don’t want to enter the fray however as these discussions can get ugly and personal but appreciate most of things people add to the discussion.

    2. Conrad
      Conrad November 17, 2015 at 4:24 pm |


      I actually agree with a fair amount of what you say, but I need to remind you that Assad was the crucial player in the creation of ISIS. He released their leaders from prison and helped them create the initial group as something that would distract things from his own brutal regime. And his plan seemed to have worked. Now many are supporting Assad so as to oppose ISIS. That was his intention. Never forget the Byzantine strangeness of middle east politics.

    3. wiggle87
      wiggle87 November 28, 2015 at 5:59 am |

      SamsaricHelicoid. A few Facts + exaggerations do not make a true theory. I suspect there is little point in arguing as I suspect you KNOW Islam is evil. Even if there are over a billion people calling themselves Muslim busily NOT being evil every single day.

  2. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 16, 2015 at 5:19 pm |

    Hey Brad! I think I have a comment in the moderator’s queue from the last post (for two links). If so, could you give it a nudge- if not, double shucks.

    Now on to an interesting read about Daish, and the nature of Islam per the Islamic scriptures; here’s the way I posted it on my Facebook page:

    ‘Who knew!- Daesh is expecting Jesus to return and lead them in the final victory:

    “An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.”‘

  3. Shodo
    Shodo November 16, 2015 at 8:09 pm |

    “It is the same whether or not you forwarn them [the unbeliev-ers], they will have no faith” (2:6)

    “God will mock them and keep them long in sin, blundering blindly along” (2:15)

    They will be “rewarded with disgrace in this world and with grievous punishment on the Day of Resurrection” (2:85)

    “God’s curse be upon the infidels!” (2:89).

    “They have incurred God’s most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits [them]” (2:90).

    “God is the enemy of the unbelievers” (2:98)

    “The unbelievers among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], and the pagans, resent that any blessing should have been sent down to you from your Lord” (2:105)

    “They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter” (2:114)

    “Those to whom We [God] have given the Book, and who read it as it ought to be read, truly believe in it; those that deny it shall assuredly be lost” (2:122)

    “[We] shall let them live awhile, and then shall drag them to the scourge of the Fire. Evil shall be their fate” (2:126)

    “But the infidels who die unbelievers shall incur the curse of God, the angels, and all men. Under it they shall remain for ever; their punishment shall not be lightened, nor shall they be reprieved” (2:162)

    “They shall sigh with remorse, but shall never come out of the Fire” (2:168).

    “The unbelievers are like beasts which, call out to them as one may, can hear nothing but a shout and a cry. Deaf, dumb, and blind, they understand nothing” (2:172)

    “Theirs shall be a woeful punishment” (2:175)

    “How steadfastly they seek the Fire! That is because God has revealed the Book with truth; those that disagree about it are in extreme schism” (2:176)

    “Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. . . . [I]f they attack you put them to the sword. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded: but if they desist, God is forgiving and merciful. Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion reigns supreme. But if they desist, fight none except the evil-doers”(21190-93)

    “Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it. But you may hate a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not” (2:216).

    “They will not cease to fight against you until they force you to renounce your faith—if they are able. But whoever of you recants and dies an unbeliever, his works shall come to nothing in this world and in the world to come. Such men shall be the tenants of Hell, wherein they shall abide forever. Those that have embraced the Faith, and those that have fled their land and fought
    for the cause of God, may hope for God’s mercy” (2:217-18)

    “God does not guide the evil-doers” (2:258).

    “God does not guide the unbelievers” (2:264)

    “Those that deny God’s revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of revenge” (3:5)

    “As for the unbelievers, neither their riches nor their children will in the least save them from God’s judgment. They shall become fuel for the Fire” (3:10)

    “Say to the unbelievers: ‘You shall be overthrown and driven into Hell—an evil resting place!'” (3:12).

    “The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam…. He that denies God’s revelations should know that swift is God’s reckoning” (3:19).

    “Let the believers not make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful—he that does this has nothing to hope for from God—except in self-defense” (3:28)

    Oh, there is so… SOOOO much more. 🙁
    Am I the only one who has read the Koran?

    1. Andy
      Andy November 16, 2015 at 11:58 pm |

      You’re not the only one to appropriate its contents in that manner.

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm |

    Ok, and now the opposing viewpoint to the article from the Atlantic I posted; I’m seeing a tread here concerning young men in their twenties, both here and abroad:

    ‘They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government. They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe. This is not radicalization to the ISIS way of life, but the promise of a way out of their insecure and undignified lives; the promise of living in pride as Iraqi Sunni Arabs, which is not just a religious identity but cultural, tribal, and land-based, too.’

    1. Kyla
      Kyla November 17, 2015 at 10:36 am |

      Thanks for this comment.

  5. Andy
    Andy November 17, 2015 at 12:06 am |

    I spoke to Doctor Who and he told me that, as I live in a community made up of real people like me without a Tardis, I’d feel much better reading this than the latest rehashings of Genesis of the Daleks.


    Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon His final messenger Muhammad.

    Due to recent events in the Middle East and their impact on some people in Britain, we as imams and scholars based in the UK, would like to issue the following clarifications in the form of a fatwa:

    1. There is no doubt that President Assad’s regime in Syria is oppressive, unjust and brutal, and has committed numerous atrocities against its own people.

    2. The same is true of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) or self-styled “Caliphate,” formerly known as “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”: it is an oppressive and tyrannical group.

    3. By murdering prisoners of war, journalists and civilians, including mosque imams who
    refused to endorse their campaign, and by enslaving the women and children of their
    opponents, ISIS has violated international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions and conventions on slavery that everyone, including Muslims, have signed up to. God says in the Qur’an, “Believers, fulfil your covenants!” (5:1)

    4. The IS persecution and massacres of Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis is abhorrent and opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans.

    5. Based on all of the above: IS is a heretical, extremist organisation and it is religiously prohibited (haram) to support or join it; furthermore, it is an obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose its poisonous ideology, especially when this is promoted within Britain.

    6. British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited ( haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria, including non-state actors, since this is forbidden by laws in EU countries.

    7. It is a moral obligation upon British Muslims to help the Syrian and Iraqi people without betraying their own societies: “If they ask for your help in religion, you must help, except against a people with whom you have a treaty.” (Qur’an 8:72)


    Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE
    Executive Secretary, Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of UK. Head Imam, Leicester Central Mosque.

    Sheikh Qamaruzzaman Azmi
    Secretary General, World Islamic Mission. Head Imam, Manchester Central Mosque.

    Sheikh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
    Co-Director, The Association of British Muslims.

    Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE
    Head Imam, Makkah Masjid, Leeds.

    Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan
    Author, ISIS Fatwa. Former Imam, Masjid Al-Tawhid Mosque, Leyton. Head Theologian, Quilliam Foundation.

    Mufti Abu Layth
    Founder, The Islamic Council, UK.

    (This was written before the Paris Bombings)

    1. Julian the Apostate
      Julian the Apostate November 25, 2015 at 6:57 am |

      “…opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans…”

      We should perhaps take this moment to remember that the Mughals slaughtered between 60-100 million Hindus over the course of their reign in India. And the Ottomans weren’t exactly live-and-let-live types either.

  6. Andy
    Andy November 17, 2015 at 12:52 am |

    He said it was OK to re-heat this old pastry, though.

  7. french-roast
    french-roast November 17, 2015 at 1:17 am |

    I was in sesshin until sunday night, and heard of what happened only when I came back home. I felt sadness. Monday morning, I went back to work. At the office, there are several Muslims working there, all quite ‘religious’. Women wearing veil, the men going to mosque, doing their daily prayers, slaughtering their lambs with their bare hands, etc. I am the kind of guy who will ‘push’ you until I can see you explode in anger. I can verbally hit on people quite ‘badly’, until they simply cannot withstand it anymore.

    Yesterday as I came into the office, as we saw each others, we all exploded in laughter, even before I said a single word. They were waiting for me, waiting for me to accused them of murdering all those innocent people. Irony is art, and when you ‘catch’ the irony within what is being said or in a situation, you suddenly explode in laughter. It is interesting because now, just by looking at me, they all start to laugh.

    We simply found a way by which our conflicting and sometimes incompatible views found a way to be melt away instantly. I think our world would feel much more at home, like home, were we to make use of irony a little bit more often.

    1. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara November 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm |

      True. It’s hard to suicide-bomb ironically.

  8. Kyla
    Kyla November 17, 2015 at 4:08 am |

    Thanks for this blog and all the thought-provoking links within.

  9. dwsmithjr
    dwsmithjr November 17, 2015 at 4:17 am |

    So, then, how do you deal with the assholes in Syrian? Do you simply leave them alone and try to ignore them while they create chaos and destroy the country? What would you propose doing or not doing if fighting ISIS is not the answer?

    1. leoboiko
      leoboiko November 17, 2015 at 5:17 am |

      Fight Isis with full power, on their home turf, with an international coalition, and flood the entire region with full-on propaganda about how the whole world despises their barbarism—including the majority of Muslims. At the same time, realize that refugees are precisely running away from the Daesh, always assume innocent until proven guilty, always apply tit-for-tat ethics; accept all refugees and treat them exceptionally well, with programs for language learning and integration, and protecting them from bigotry to the fullest extent of the law—as long as they abide by it. Show them what peace can get them. Get them hooked on pastries. Hell, get them hooked on MacDonald’s.

      When the war’s over, offer them reparations and apologies for all the innocents we constantly murder on the Middle East, and give them every possible financial support so that they can get the country back on their own feet, modernizing it like America did with Japan. Make them become grateful, independent allies; not subordinates, not agents to foreign policy, not cash cows, not pawns in dirty socioeconomic games.

      And stop supporting friggin’ Saudi Arabia!

      1. Cygni
        Cygni November 17, 2015 at 6:26 am |
      2. senorchupacabra
        senorchupacabra November 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm |

        Nah. The whole goal of asymmetrical warfare is for the weaker military to force the stronger military to milk it’s resources. There are some guerrilla strategists who believe that a 1000-1 kill to killed ratio is more than reasonable during a Guerrilla campaign. As long as you keep the other side fighting and investing money and resources into the campaign, you’re winning. And we’d never be able to push enough propaganda through in that region because ISIL just has to claim that we’re “occupying” their region and they’d convert a whole bunch of people despite our own efforts.

        More than any Zen or peacenik reasons, this is why it’s stupid to respond to terrorist attacks with a strong military campaign. You have to remember that ISIL wants us to invade and divert resources to a middle eastern campaign. That’s their goal. They know they can’t actually beat us on a field of battle, but they don’t have to. They’re not a “state” in the same way the U.S. or France is a state. States have centers of concentrated resources–such as the World Trade Center of old. Attack the WTC was quite an effective blow. But with ISIL, you’re talking about a group that failed to take Kobane, a town about the size of Grand Junction Colorado or Santa Fe with none of the resources. This isn’t a group that will ever gain any significant power. But because of their terrorist acts we’re being successfully baited into a unwinnable Guerrilla campaign.

        Admittedly, I don’t know enough about count-Guerrilla warfare to speak on how to deal with these assholes. But, personally, I see this most recent attack as an attack on joy. They hit a bunch of places where people go to enjoy life. So, on a personal level, I will continue to go out and enjoy my life. And should the day come when I am face to face with one of these assholes, and he points a gun or a bomb in my face, I will try with all my might to grab my phone, go to, smile gleefully and flip them off as we are all blown to oblivion.

  10. dwsmithjr
    dwsmithjr November 17, 2015 at 4:19 am |

    If it has nothing to do with Islam then how is the secularization or progressive and liberal Islam an answer to Asshole-lam?

    1. Shodo
      Shodo November 17, 2015 at 5:56 am |

      A great observation/question.

      “Religion” is a word we use to describe a vast amount of different beliefs and practices… kindof like the word “sports”.

      Not all religions are the same, nor are all sports the same. Some *really are* by nature, more violent.
      Much like table tennis and muay thai – One is more violent than the other.
      The more fundamental a Jain gets, the less likely you’ll ever need to worry that they will be violent in the name of their faith. The fundamentals of their faith are such that it would be like trying to win a table tennis match by K.O.’ing your opponent with an elbow.
      The fundamentals of Islam are like Muay Thai – the fundamentals of the faith are such that you should expect elbows and knees if you step into that ring. It’s really laid out quite clearly.

      Progressive, Liberal Islam doesn’t exist at this time. Show me someone who thinks it does, and I will show you someone who has not read their Koran.

  11. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs November 17, 2015 at 7:01 am |

    Let’s cut the bullshit here. The main reason for Islamic terrorism is a medieval culture and gender laws that make it nearly impossible for a horny young man to get laid in his country. Where else could all this anger come from? It is sexual frustration on a mass scale. Shit, if I knew I couldn’t have sex until I came up with a dowry of 50 goats and an alpaca just so I can marry my second cousin with the lazy eye, I would go insane and maybe don a suicide vest instead. Seventy virgins? That’s a fucking no-brainer.

    Islam has a bad case of blue balls and we’re all paying for it.

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra November 17, 2015 at 3:54 pm |

      You’re more right than you probably think. The War Nerd over at has done a lot of writing about how most of these guys are late-teens, early-20s and how they want to feel important and not being able to get laid all that easily makes them prime psychological prey for a “cause.”

  12. Cygni
    Cygni November 17, 2015 at 9:17 am |

    “Greed, hatred and stupidity are universal human traits. But so are cooperation, love and intelligence.

    And more people support cooperation, love and intelligence than will ever support greed, hatred and stupidity.”

    Amen to that.

  13. Thor29
    Thor29 November 17, 2015 at 9:41 am |

    I like Brad, but he has a fundamental misunderstanding of reality. Brad believes more in the religion of progress, civilization and technology than he does in Zen. Civilization can never create a world of peace as it is founded on violence. He admires the cops and the military who are given the job of keeping the peace through the use of violence.

    “To have clean water you need advanced technology”. Really? Just how advanced do you need? It certainly doesn’t require computers, smart phones, drones, and nuclear weapons. I kind of doubt that Native Americans were constantly dying from bad water – that happened when people dumped their sewage into their water supply. Modern industrial technology rests on a base of environmental destruction, soul destroying enslavement, and endemic violence. Maybe for a guy in Los Angeles who gets to fly around the world and is trying to open a center for people to stare at walls this isn’t readily apparent. But all of this is connected. The West is reaping what it has sown. Just follow the scent of all the jet fuel that Brad is constantly burning and see where it leads – straight into all the chaos of the Middle East.

    1. woken
      woken November 18, 2015 at 11:28 am |

      If Brad admires the US military for “keeping the peace” then he can’t slam others for terrorism. Period. You can’t have it both ways!

      1. senorchupacabra
        senorchupacabra November 19, 2015 at 9:32 am |

        This is a good point.

        Brad believes that the US military protects his right to practice his idea of Zen. Well. there are plenty of Muslims who believe ISIL is doing nothing more than protecting their rights to practice their idea of Islam.

        Funny how that works, eh?

        Terrorism is the poor man’s war. War is the rich man’s terrorism.

    2. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra November 19, 2015 at 9:26 am |

      Yeah. There’s a tendency to conflate technological advancement with “progress” when that’s really not the case. The Europeans were astounded at how healthy the Americans were when they first began infiltrating their shores. People who promote technological advancement always point to medieval Europe and talk about how “there was shit everywhere. Literal shit. on the walls. In the streets. It was a nightmare.” But they neglect to mention that tribal hunter-gatherer cultures, even to this day, tend to be healthier and don’t seem to live this terrible, nightmarish life of constant danger and wanting, and also report far higher rates of happiness. WITHOUT IPHONES!!! HOW CAN THAT BE?!!! WHO COULD POSSIBLY BE HAPPY WITHOUT ACCESS TO THE KARDASHIANS?!!!

  14. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon November 17, 2015 at 11:00 am |

    ‘No Man is an Island’

    No man is an island entire of itself; every man
    is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
    if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
    is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
    well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
    own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
    because I am involved in mankind.
    And therefore never send to know for whom
    the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

    Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
    John Donne

  15. SamsaricHelicoid
    SamsaricHelicoid November 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm |

    Just feel like posting this:

  16. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara November 17, 2015 at 5:59 pm |

    Totally agree with Brad’s article. Asshole-ism, we all gotta stand together and fight it. I’ve been to Paris to watch American rock bands before, could’ve been there on Friday.

    I’d rather have French secularism than Salafism every day for a million years.

    But I must agree with used-rugs and senorchupacabra too. These are damaged, traumatised, (possibly) sex-starved young men, who’ve known nothing but war. It’s too easy to label others with the ‘Evil’ tag as an excuse for our own violence. Understanding is needed, which isn’t the same as tolerance for the unconscionable.

    Nobody is innocent, or we all are. No culture is innocent. Case in point:

    It’s a hard one. This world is full of suffering.

    1. Kyla
      Kyla November 18, 2015 at 1:45 am |

      So true. I’m not going to say I know much about the Islamic religion but am prompted to learn more about due to the assertions here and elsewhere all over the internet, that it is a violent religion. It is more apparent to me that Christianity is steeped in violence throughout history as I am more familiar with that history.
      I don’t think labelling anyone/a group as ‘evil’ ever works because it completely de-humanizes them and then would leave us in a position to eradicate them. It’s the ultimate form of dualism, us vs them.

      1. Dogen
        Dogen November 18, 2015 at 9:41 am |

        History seems to show that it does work. The most iconic example my be how the Nazi’s demonized the Jewish people.

        1. Kyla
          Kyla November 19, 2015 at 2:29 am |

          Yeah you are right. I used clumsy wording. I meant in never works for peace. You can’t have peace or respect if you dehumanize people. I just didn’t make my point clear. It works if you want to justify horrible behaviour, not even just genocide. Labelling and dualism even work to create everyday things like road rage, a sense of entitlement over other people.

  17. Le Petit Canyon
    Le Petit Canyon November 17, 2015 at 6:19 pm |

    Yeah seriously what happened to these men who were once cute babies learning how to walk, loving their Mothers, etc. what happened?

    1. Kyla
      Kyla November 18, 2015 at 2:05 am |

      It reminds of many interviews I’ve seen with young men who have left Neo-Nazi rightwing skinhead groups. They state that their demographic is targeted by the leaders. They expressed that they were lost in their lives, feeling dissatisfied with life, rageful, looking for somewhere to belong, someone to blame for their failures and to be valued/ to have an identity.

      1. Khru 2.0
        Khru 2.0 November 18, 2015 at 5:58 am |

        I agree with you Kyla and another reason some young men have a propensity for violence is those raging male hormones- testosterone especially.

        An interesting fact about how the first release of testosterone kills a baby’s brain cells in the womb:

        “Until eight weeks old, every fetal brain looks female.” And then, in male babies, a huge flow of testosterone actually kills off brain cells in the communication centers and fosters growth of cells in the parts of the brain that support aggression….”

        Raging hormones are not an excuse for violence but it explains perhaps to some degree, why young men are more prone to overly-aggressive behavior.

  18. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 17, 2015 at 7:31 pm |

    I notice that most of the victims in Paris were under 30.

    Seems like the same psychology is at work there as in the school shootings here. Young men, without a job and who see no future, willing to die if they can make someone else in their age group who is succeeding share their suffering.

    1. Cygni
      Cygni November 17, 2015 at 9:03 pm |
  19. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon November 18, 2015 at 4:22 am |
  20. woken
    woken November 18, 2015 at 11:23 am |

    Great and all as it is for American zennies to be outraged by the Paris Terror attacks, keep in mind it was The USA asshole government who inflamed this with the mass murder/bombing of Iraq,support of incredible asshole rulers of Saudi Arabia and ripping apart of North Africa. Oh, and where did those terrorist nutters get their guns and training from. Maybe Yanks should be focussing their anti terrorist ire at their own government. Bush’s government killed far more innocent civilians than any scumbag ISIS group ever did.

  21. mika
    mika November 18, 2015 at 12:47 pm |

    “I have struggled with trying to find something to say about it”, why did you feel as if you HAD to say something about it?

    1. Dogen
      Dogen November 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm |

      That’s his job as a priest, giving structure and meaning to us sheep.

      1. Fred Jr.
        Fred Jr. November 18, 2015 at 5:44 pm |

        Oh it’s you!

        1. mb
          mb November 18, 2015 at 5:56 pm |

          Yes, it is He, Whose Past Incarnation Shall Remain Nameless.

          1. Dogen
            Dogen November 18, 2015 at 8:11 pm |

            I’m blushing.

          2. constantine
            constantine November 18, 2015 at 9:31 pm |


  22. SamsaricHelicoid
    SamsaricHelicoid November 18, 2015 at 1:46 pm |

    Hate crime towards Muslims is increasing in response to Paris attacks. There was recently a Muslim couple beat up by 15 people in Scotland.

    While Islam is a dumb religion, physically hurting people isn’t the way to go.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm |

    Did Sam Harris say something interesting after the part about how boring it was, how I should let the boredom sink (somewhere, I left him there)?

    1. Fred
      Fred November 18, 2015 at 4:23 pm |

      No, Sam Harris did not say anything interesting.

      1. Shodo
        Shodo November 18, 2015 at 5:33 pm |

        Actually, in spite of Fred not liking Sam Harris, he did say somthing interesting – as he almost always does. 😉

        “In any conversation on this topic, one must continually deploy a firewall of caveats and concessions to irrelevancy: Of course, U.S. foreign policy has problems. Yes, we really must get off oil. No, I did not support the war in Iraq. Sure, I’ve read Chomsky. No doubt, the Bible contains equally terrible passages. Yes, I heard about that abortion clinic bombing in 1984. No, I’m sorry to say that Hitler and Stalin were not motivated by atheism. The Tamil Tigers? Of course, I’ve heard of them.

        Now can we honestly talk about the link between belief and behavior?”

        1. Fred
          Fred November 18, 2015 at 6:24 pm |

          Unfortunately Sam is giving you another conceptual overlay that is unrelated to Zen Buddhism and leads away from hanging on the emptiness of emptiness.

          Sam himself is sleepwalking through the halls of belief and behavio(u)r.

        2. senorchupacabra
          senorchupacabra November 19, 2015 at 9:30 am |

          That…that is not interesting. In the least.

          Of course there’s a link between beliefs and behaviors. A lot of atheists are assholes too. That who killed almost 200 kids in Norway several years back was an Atheist.

          The real problem is fundametalists of any kind. It’s not belief itself (for how can we live without a belief of any kind?) it’s the belief that I’m right and everyone else who disagrees with me is so wrong that I must control them and/or their world that’s the problem. And people of all backgrounds and denominations or non-denominations have those in their midsts who think like this. I hate to break it to people like Sam Harris, but there’s really nothing special about Islam. Marx, for example, spoke about how eventually there would be a bloody communist revolution. Does that mean communism is inherently violent and it’s adherents will commit terrorist acts?

          1. Shodo
            Shodo November 19, 2015 at 10:04 am |

            “Of course there’s a link between beliefs and behaviors. A lot of atheists are assholes too. That who killed almost 200 kids in Norway several years back was an Atheist.”

            There is no creed in Atheism at all. That’s like saying that “people who don’t believe in Astrology can be assholes too, take this mass murderer here, he doesn’t believe in astrology and he killed a bunch of people.”
            It’s a complete non-sequitur.
            Atheism is NOT a belief, It’s a LACK of belief on a SINGLE claim.

            I hope you heard my derisive snort through the internet…

            And Marx -predicted- an overthrow of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat… it doesn’t -command- them to kill everyone who doesn’t believe in Communisim.

            Also, do you -really-think there is no difference between religions? Is fundamental Jainism really identical to fundamental Islam? How about Buddhism? Is there any words that the Buddha spoke that supports genocide of anyone who insults or disbelieves or deconverts from Buddhism?



          2. senorchupacabra
            senorchupacabra November 19, 2015 at 12:07 pm |




            I’m sorry. I’ve been down this road before, as I’m sure you have, as well. It goes nowhere. Derisive snorting and all (which is what a lot of Atheists are really good at. It prevents them from actually having to take a critical eye to their own viewpoints. Derisive Snorting TM it’s like magic, but real!).

            I will say this though, of course there is a difference between religions. There’s also a difference WITHIN religions, which is something you dickheads don’t seem to understand. The biggest fallacy a lot of Atheists make is believing that people are assholes because of what they believe and not that they believe something because they’re assholes. Most people don’t just accept a religion or a belief. They have things they want to believe and then they find an outlook that allows them to believe those things. Radical Islam is just a bunch of despotic assholes who want to feel important. Radical interpretation of Islam is pretty convenient for those means. (In our own culture, for example, people want to hate homesexuals and a certain interpretation of Christianity fits those means. They don’t hate homosexuals because of their religion, they are religious because they want to hate homesexuals). If it wasn’t Islam, it’d be something else. Maybe it’d be Communism. Or Racism. Or, god forbid, “Democracy.”

            What I don’t understand is how easily all you assholes can dismiss the long history of non-Islamic violent movements. There were violent assholes before Wahhabi-ism and there will assholes after Wahhabi-ism is long forgotten. It’s not that hard to understand.

          3. Shodo
            Shodo November 19, 2015 at 12:51 pm |

            “What I don’t understand is how easily all you assholes can dismiss the long history of non-Islamic violent movements.”

            Name one that was around before the 19th century.
            Name one that AREN’T living in non-Muslim countries – with the freedom to interpret scripture without the sword hanging over their necks.

            You don’t know anything about Islam… you’re just assuming it’s sortof like Christianity. It’s got a holy book that contains contradictions and has good things and bad things, and the nice people will do the nice stuff and the bad people will do the bad stuff… But you don’t actually know anything.

            Ease up a bit hauss, you act like your ideas have never been critisized on the internet. 😉


    1. Cygni
      Cygni November 18, 2015 at 6:36 pm |

      I’m starting to get interested in this Dogen character, this is the most interesting thing I’ve heard all day.

  24. woken
    woken November 19, 2015 at 5:04 am |

    That quote from Sam Harris is typical American centric arrogant ideological bullshit: Is he seriously arguing that American atrocities waged in Iraq etc that have caused this upsurge in terrorist attacks have NOT been driven by ideology?

    1. Shodo
      Shodo November 19, 2015 at 6:30 am |

      woken said:
      “That quote from Sam Harris is typical American centric arrogant ideological bullshit: Is he seriously arguing that American atrocities waged in Iraq etc that have caused this upsurge in terrorist attacks have NOT been driven by ideology?”

      No, that is the opposite of what he is saying. Did you mistype your question? Because if you had read the article I find it hard to believe that you could even ask that question.

  25. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon November 19, 2015 at 5:13 am |

    The Zen Master asked, “Of the 95 fascicles of the Shobogenzo, how many are Buddha’s words and how many are devil’s words?”
    The Zen student replied, “They are all devil’s words.”
    The Zen Master concluded, “Hereafter, no one will be able to deceive you.”

  26. Shodo
    Shodo November 19, 2015 at 6:35 am |

    More from Sam Harris…
    “More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas.”

  27. woken
    woken November 19, 2015 at 7:02 am |

    “No, that is the opposite of what he is saying. Did you mistype your question? Because if you had read the article I find it hard to believe that you could even ask that question.”

    I call bullshit on Harris, because he is as ideologically driven as any religious believer. Harris, Pinker et al, are essentially fascists in the vein of Hobbes: willing to overlook the mass murder of hundreds of thousands when it suits them. If Harris really gave a shit about terrorism, he’d be taking his own government to task for destroying the middle east and starting this cycle of violence.It’s not about religion it’s about ideology, and the one that Harris subscribes to: American “western” superiority, has murdered and maimed more than any religion has so far this century.

  28. Shodo
    Shodo November 19, 2015 at 7:24 am |

    News flash.

    Religion and ideology are equivilent in Islam.

    “If Harris really gave a shit about terrorism, he’d be taking his own government to task for destroying the middle east and starting this cycle of violence…. American “western” superiority, has murdered and maimed more than any religion has so far this century.”

    Is it western imperialism that has people being stoned for adultery, thieves having hands cut off and apostates killed? Is it Western Imperialism that has Sunni and Shia killing each other since the death of the prophet over trifles like where to hold the hands during prayer??

    Next time, try reading the article before flipping out – the Sam Harris quote you originally responding to was conceding your point.

  29. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon November 19, 2015 at 8:33 am |

    Woken’s recent comments sound like he might be a disciple of Noam Chomsky. This e-mail exchange between Chomsky and Sam Harris seems relevant at this point.

    1. mb
      mb November 19, 2015 at 10:04 am |

      Wow, talk about prickly exchanges! This one puts anything ever contentiously communicated on this forum to shame. Chomsky clearly does not like Sam Harris one little bit.

      1. Used-rugs
        Used-rugs November 19, 2015 at 10:26 am |

        Sam Harris does what every sophist douche bag does when he finds himself out of his depth. He accuses the other guy of being emotional and irrational, and then attempts to make the argument about that. It’s boring and predictable.

  30. woken
    woken November 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm |

    I’m not a “disciple” of Chomsky (nice choice of words, very Harris-esque 🙂 ), but he is bang on regarding the “debate” that Harris tries to engineer. Harris just doesn’t get it. He starts from the ideology that the US is a beneficient Giant with good intentions.It doesn’t INTEND to commit all these atrocities: these are collateral of trying to do the “right” thing. The guys who flew the planes nto the world trade centre thought the same thing: they really were doing the world a service by destroying the idolatry of finance, which is a denial of the ultimate reality: God. Chomsky gets this because he is a linguist. BTW lumping Baudrillard and Chomsky together reveals Harris’s intellectual limitation. Chomsky has absolutely no truck with post modernism. He’s closest to the analytic tradition a la Bertrand Russell.

    1. Fred
      Fred November 19, 2015 at 2:08 pm |

      The non-sequiturians are the worst. We need to bomb those fuckers back to the stone age

    2. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon November 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm |

      When people say that they see no moral difference between deliberately murdering people and accidentally killing people I prefer to assume that they are just equivocating to try and win an argument.

      1. Used-rugs
        Used-rugs November 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm |

        Bombing a pharmaceutical plant that may or may not be producing nerve agent for Al-Qaeda, which you know is going to cause the deaths of thousands of civilians is not accidental killing. That’s just us not giving a fuck. I believe Chomsky’s asking the question is there really a difference between deliberate murdering of civilians and us not giving a fuck?

        1. The Grand Canyon
          The Grand Canyon November 20, 2015 at 3:32 am |

          “I believe Chomsky’s asking the question is there really a difference between deliberate murdering of civilians and us not giving a fuck?”

          I believe that Chomsky has stated explicitly and implicitly that the US is the world’s largest terrorist organization and is as morally reprehensible as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Facts, logics, and morality do not support his assertions. I do not believe he is asking any questions and he has already solidified his beliefs.
          Morality is not absolute. Many times we have to choose not between what is moral and immoral but between what is more moral and less moral. Sometimes the US has to kill dozens of people, some of whom are not terrorists, in order to kill terrorists and prevent the murder of thousands of people.
          Even if all non-Muslims magically disappeared, ISIS would still be terrorizing and murdering non-Wahhabi Muslims. When the US and other countries attack ISIS they are not just trying to protect themselves, they are also trying to protect the vast majority of Muslims who are not members of ISIS.

          1. Used-rugs
            Used-rugs November 20, 2015 at 7:28 am |

            This wasnt’ the US killing dozens of people accidentally, this was a bombing (pre-9/11 mind you) that we knew would lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of people based on nothing more than a hunch of there being chemical weapons. And our reaction was–whatever. You see how that might rankle peoples feathers over there? Granted, Al Qaeda and Isis didn’t need this bombing to become murderous and hateful as their sexual frustration and blueballs are the source of that anyway, but I can see no greater recruiting tool, and no better way of telling the Muslim world what we REALLY think of them.

  31. Fred
    Fred November 19, 2015 at 4:23 pm |

    Collateral damage is not accidentally killing people

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon November 20, 2015 at 3:41 am |

      Most of the time it is. If the US and its allies could kill all of the terrorists without killing a single innocent bystander, they would. Unfortunately, in many situations that is not possible. ISIS does not worry about “collateral damage” because they would happily murder every person on the planet who was not a Wahhabi Muslim if they had the ability. There is an obvious difference.

  32. Shinchan Ohara
    Shinchan Ohara November 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm |

    What most of you freakin angry merkin zentards seem to be forgetting here is that eyes are horizontal, and noses are vertical.

    Every ideology, every religion, is devil’s words, when it goes unmoderated by natural humanity. A po-mo atheistic cultural relativist is just as capable of inhumanity as someone who avows murder on the contradictory diktat of a sky fairy – because both of them ignore that suffering biology underlies belief.

    We’re all made of the same frail, temporary concoction of nerves, meat and gristle – the same reflexes and instincts. Nobody disagrees with that, but everybody seems to forget it, as soon as the war starts. If you stress a human hard enough and long enough, it will either die or aggress: aggress against the stressor or against the self. The details of aggression vary from human to human, but the basic fact is as predictable as plants growing toward sunlight.

    For a muslim boy from a Belgian slum, with no feasible path to creating a secure sense of self – whether he tries to assimilate with wider society, or meet the demands of his parents’ culture – life must look bleak. Fear, isolation, loneliness, and huge frustration: no exit, as Sartre would say. One human in that scenario might abuse narcotics, another will strap cordite to his belly. Aggression against the self, anyhow.

    Words, however lofty, just express how we feel, and how we feel just expresses the condition of our soft tissue. This is the big lesson of all modern psych and neuroscience that we all ignore. Ideologies float on the well of feeling. When fear goes, cultural expressions of fear, including terrorism and jihadism subside too.

    Dogen knew this. To heal the suffering world, we must bypass ideology, and practice non-thinking in the upright sitting posture: eyes level, nose up and down. Zazen or Armageddon, take your pick.

    1. Dogen
      Dogen November 19, 2015 at 9:13 pm |

      I know, right? Call me an idealist.

    2. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon November 20, 2015 at 3:48 am |

      Should we send Zen missionaries to Syria and Iraq to teach ISIS the errors of their beliefs and how to meditate? Can anyone “practice non-thinking in the upright sitting posture: eyes level, nose up and down” after they have been decapitated?

      1. Shinchan Ohara
        Shinchan Ohara November 20, 2015 at 6:37 am |

        Yup, I propose you go

    3. Cygni
      Cygni November 21, 2015 at 7:01 am |
  33. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 19, 2015 at 9:12 pm |

    I spent all day with my seat back in the upright, non-thinking position, at Green Gulch. Embarrassed myself silly trying to follow directions and get right up after sitting seiza for breakfast (a sixty-person breakfast takes some time)- my ankles both turned, and I nearly fell on Reb, who was preparing to do the ritual in front of the central altar.

    My feet can get a little numb sitting the lotus sometimes, but a few seconds is usually enough for me to stand without numbness, and I can get up directly without falling over. Thought it would be the same for seiza, as it was the last time I sat a meal, but lo and behold- this morning, the flying chicken!

    “The condition of our soft tissue”- we return to GC’s analysis of the basis of happiness!

    1. Dogen
      Dogen November 19, 2015 at 9:16 pm |

      I fell once, so embarrassing. I blame the jeans I was wearing. Not the best choice of attire for sitting in public, or anywhere really.

      1. Fred Jr.
        Fred Jr. November 20, 2015 at 3:04 am |

        Were you sitting on a Zafu?

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara November 20, 2015 at 7:00 am |

      I sometimes do a bit of this before sitting. I can sit a bit longer before getting any numbness in the feet or legs when I do it.
      Never tried it before seiza yet.

      Grand Canyon, you should maybe get daesh to integrate their primitive reflexes first, before you introduce the full on shikantaza proselytize?

    3. minkfoot
      minkfoot November 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm |

      Dharma Drum Chan generally has people self- massage for up to ten minutes before getting up. Self-massage is part of the basic instructions. Besides getting circulation back into the legs and feet, the idea is also to have a transition from meditation to the everyday. (There are also prep exercises like headrolls and special breathing.)

      It’s one of the things I think Zen can learn from Chan. That, and removing socks.

      1. Alan Sailer
        Alan Sailer November 23, 2015 at 11:27 am |


        Both of the teachers I have spent time with are also students of Nishijima. They also both like teaching socks-off meditation.

        I had assumed this meant that soto zen sitting was traditionally done sock free.

        Not true?


  34. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs November 20, 2015 at 7:35 am |

    “We can talk for a century about what causes human aggression; we can try to find the springs in animal instincts, or we can try to find them in bottled-up hatreds due to frustration or in some kind of miscarried experiences of early years, of poor child handling and training. All these would be true, but still trivial because men kill out of joy, in the experience of expansive transcendence over evil. This poses an immense problem for social theory, a problem that we have utterly failed to be clear about. If men kill out of heroic joy, in what direction do we program improvements in human nature? What are we going to improve if men work evil out of the impulse to righteousness and goodness ?” -Ernest Becker

    1. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara November 20, 2015 at 9:28 am |

      Meh. Becker had many good ideas, but not so sure about this one.

      Yes, there can be a joyful, liberating, expansive power-surge when we issue a medieval ass-whooping to whoever’s seen as oppressor, or as a disturber or the community. We can all enjoy that. And yes, aggression is a feature of the mating rights contest among young men – but it has natural limits.

      Even so, nobody can issue brutal whoop-ass without a whole lot of cognitive dissonance – unless they’ve faced a severe immediate threat, or been brutalized in Hate School, or they’ve got a systemic illness. Our endocrine plumbing just doesn’t work that way.

      Everything we know from science suggests that ideology and its expression in behavior is largely a function of material circumstances, including stresses to the organism. When circumstances change, ideologies respond.

      To believe (stupidly) that humans have an unconditioned murder-urge as part of our make up, is to give up on peace.

      Stopping IS must involve removing the emotional/biological salience of their beliefs to potential recruits – ie offering a saner route to prosperity and potency. Shooting them just treats the symptoms.

      1. Fred
        Fred November 20, 2015 at 10:04 am |

        “Stopping IS must involve removing the emotional/biological salience of their beliefs to potential recruits – ie offering a saner route to prosperity and potency. Shooting them just treats the symptoms.”

        Yeah well that’s not going to happen. The political sociopaths running these systems don’t give a shit about the people in the slums, or who gets killed.

        1. Shinchan Ohara
          Shinchan Ohara November 20, 2015 at 10:59 am |


          The Danes have had some success in persuading jihadis that everyone can get along:

          … but then it’s an easier sell for Denmark, them not having the same track record of molesting brown people as France, Belgium, Britain, America, and all.

          1. mb
            mb November 20, 2015 at 11:39 am |

            Unless you’re a Danish cartoonist lampooning Islam. That guy has had ongoing death threats from various jihadi sources since those cartoons were published.

  35. Used-rugs
    Used-rugs November 20, 2015 at 10:26 am |

    Whether it’s blueballs or material circumstances which leads to ideological aggression doesn’t change the fact that men do take great delight in the good old pay-back against one’s perceived enemies. It’s not so much a murder-urge in men as the hero urge or do-gooder urge, which then manifests itself as murder. In combating evil, we end up committing evil ourselves, and discover that it does bring us joy and meaning (thanks Zafu). So how do you take the joy out of killing? My grandfather, god bless his soul, joined the US military in world war II because he wanted to kill Japs. Killing Japs was in his mind something very pleasureable. I imagine those young Muslim men with their engorged, backed-up testicles must feel the same way about us.

    1. Andy
      Andy November 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm |

      Well put, Used-rugs. Cheers.

      1. Used-rugs
        Used-rugs November 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm |

        Don’t encourage me.

  36. Jinzang
    Jinzang November 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm |

    From Sweeping Zen:

    Kobutsu Malone, a person who has worked tirelessly to address ethical issues within the American Zen community with his Shimano Archives and Sasaki Archives, is in ailing health and needs the community’s support. Kobutsu, who is indigent, recently returned from the hospital having had some heart attacks and stroke, something he is no stranger to.
    He is having great difficulty completing everyday tasks like laundry, cleaning, cooking. I spoke with him last night and was greatly concerned with what I was seeing. He told me he spent hours converting a document in to PDF form, constantly forgetting what he was to do.
    Kobutsu is in need of cleaning services and also needs help with paying for medicines. Your support will go a long way toward helping a real friend to us all. I may create a GoFundMe campaign on his behalf at some point but, for now, please visit his Engaged Zen Foundation website and make a contribution

    1. Mumbles
      Mumbles November 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm |

      Not sure where he is, New Jersey? There should be a Dept. on Aging nearby where he lives. Under the Older Americans Act there is another called the Senior Care Act which allows a few hours a week for someone to come into the home to clean, do laundry, help with shopping, etc. It typically requires only a short intake and assessment process. It is often free of charge.

      If he is 65 he is eligible for Medicare and various Medicare savings programs including one that will pay for his Pt B premium, and zero out any prescription drug charges. This can be explained and accessed through his local Dept. on Aging as well.

    2. Shinchan Ohara
      Shinchan Ohara November 22, 2015 at 10:57 am |

      The GoFundMe campaign is a good idea, Jinzang – just so it’s clear that Kobutsu can and should use any contributions for his current personal needs.

  37. woken
    woken November 22, 2015 at 12:24 pm |

    The difficult thing to face is that the terrorists acts are actually against the dehumanising postmodern “empire” that has destroyed and commodified everything that is closest to humanity : our work, our consciousness, our subjective selves. It is the great betrayal of becoming in post modern hyper capitalist world. Hence, even zen, which may be seen in its true form as the direct experiencing of oneself as subject, in modern LA speak becomes an objective commodity: an sellable idea: enlightenment becomes a fetish. Through marketing zen, Brad has bought into the great capitalist nightmare and has conducted a great betrayal: He is helping to destroy the dialectic relationship that makes us human: Bye bye to Dualistic thinking.

    As Baudrillard said:

    Terrorism is the act that restores an irreducible singularity to the heart of a generalised system of exchange. All those singularities (species, individuals,cultures) that have been sacrificed to the interests of a global system of commerce revenge themselves by turning the tables with terror. Terror against terror… The terrorists are not aiming to transform the world. Like the heretics of previous times they aim to radicalize the world through sacrifice, whereas the system aims to convert it into money by force.

    and as Eric Harris, one of the columbine terrorists wrote:

    If by some weird shit luck me and V survive…we will move to someplace where the americans can’t get us.If there isn’t such a place we will hijack a hell of a lot of bombs and crash a plane into NYC with us firing away as we go down.

    “They” is “Us”

    1. Fred
      Fred November 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm |

      “The difficult thing to face is that the terrorists acts are actually against the dehumanising postmodern “empire” that has destroyed and commodified everything that is closest to humanity : our work, our consciousness, our subjective selves.”

      It’s all just stuff, mutable stuff.

      Work is the empty hand holding the hoe handle.

      Consciousness is the awareness of the universe.

      And a subjective self is an illusion.

  38. woken
    woken November 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm |

    It’s all just stuff, mutable stuff.

    Work is the empty hand holding the hoe handle.

    Consciousness is the awareness of the universe.

    And a subjective self is an illusion.

    If you believe that, you’ve bought into the false conciousness that Althusser, Foucault and Baudrillard et al have permeated: “You” are simply a reified consumer idol: The concept that there is no “self” is the illusion bolstered by capital: there is no good or evil, subject or object, all is for sale. You are a perfect post modern capitalist creation.

    1. Fred
      Fred November 22, 2015 at 3:40 pm |

      “All conditioned things are impermanent.”
      “All conditioned things are dukkha.”
      “All dhammas are without self.”

  39. Fred Jr.
    Fred Jr. November 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm |
  40. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote November 22, 2015 at 9:35 pm |

    “Shikantaza not here,” he insisted in elementary English, pointing to his head. “Not here,” he continued, pointing to his heart. “Only point here!” He drove his fist into his lower belly, the energy center that the Japanese call hara.

    I have spent the last several years in an American Zen temple that by our standards is strict and intense, but my training, I am finding, seems moot here. I have labored for years to open out my meditation—which is, after all “just sitting”—away from reliance on heavy-handed internal or external concentration objects, and toward a more subtle, broad, open awareness. Roshi-sama is said to be a master of this wide practice of shikantaza, the objectless meditation characteristic of the Soto school. But he insists, again and again, weeping at my deafness, shouting at my stubbornness, that hara focus is precisely shikantaza. That it makes no sense makes it no less inspiring; it is his presence, not his words, that I believe.

    “No grasping—only point here.” He rested his fist on his belly. I had nothing to say.

    …“Here,” he said, pointing to his chin and thrusting it out to show me that doing so made his back slump in bad Zen posture. He looked up at me with wide, soft brown eyes, and a kind smile that exposed his crooked teeth. In a warm, encouraging voice, like a boy addressing his puppy, he pointed to his back and said, “Like this no good. Keep try!”

    My posture is quite good; I’ve been told so by peers and teachers alike in the U.S.

    (Two Shores of Zen: An American Monk’s Japan, Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler pg 4-5)

    Thanks, Shodo, for the link.

    My posture is flapping like a chicken.

    “Breath enters and reaches the tanden, and yet there is no place from which it comes. Therefore it is neither long nor short. Breath emerges from the tanden, and yet there is nowhere it goes. Therefore it is neither short nor long.”

    (Dogen, quoting his teacher Rujing)

    Peculiar that he says “enters and reaches”. Maybe that’s the same as what I’m experiencing, when I “comprehend” the long or short of inhalation; my awareness can take place in the lower abdomen as a function of breath, which is something like “the breath enters… the tan-t’ien”, but the breath may not be satisfied until I intuit the length of the breath– “the breath… reaches the tan-tien”.

    I still contend that comprehension of the long and short of breath and activity that maintains pressure in the “fluid ball” of the abdomen (in support of posture) are flip sides of the same coin. That and $2 buys me a cup of coffee, apparently; so far it doesn’t seem to have made sitting in the lotus for even a one-day sesshin any easier. It’s made my sitting in the lotus at home more satisfying, between the 30 and 40 minute mark. And it’s made letting go of the notion of self a little more rounded, because when I can really let go and experience the cessation of habitual activity in my body, I find myself comprehending the length of inhalation and exhalation. Ass-backwards from the way of living described by Gautama.

    I think he was describing something natural, that an unnatural like me has to go around the world backwards to arrive at.

    I don’t think I’m going to do sesshins of any length entirely in the lotus anymore. For me, it’s not about making a special effort at sesshin, and yet in effect that’s what I’ve been doing. I think I’ll cut it out.

  41. gsmalarm
    gsmalarm November 25, 2015 at 10:20 pm |
    1. mb
      mb November 25, 2015 at 10:50 pm |

      who has a small arm?

  42. Quotes | Zen Mischief November 28, 2015 at 3:06 am |
  43. Michel
    Michel November 28, 2015 at 5:01 am |

    Obviously, people all over the world want to live decent lives, and don’t shit everywhere because they are quite aware that this would mean them stepping in the poo all the time. This is also valid for Muslims.

    But the USA and its special brand of religious fanatics, ready for anything that might speed up the “return of Jesus” have been makin alliances with what’s most backwards and bigotric in the world’s religions since the War (and maybe even before) and have given Wahabbis quite a help in propagating their ideology of hatred, coercition and murder. So it is no wonder that we have now, everywhere where their ideas have penetrated, hatred, coercition and murder. And oppression of women. Indeed, to handle women, you really need to have trust, and people who don’t even trust themselves won’t trust others, particularly women.

    It is indeed that Xtians who have wanted to justify violence and hatred have always had to recourse to the Ancient Testament, because the Gospels would be ill put to give that to them. What with the Book of Joshua where the God recommends smashing the head of infants against the walls…

    But Muslims don’t need such detours and by-passes. Their Book has it all. And since their religion has few obligations (5 actually) and no ethical necessities (as long as you pray, give contribution, fast during Ramadan and have the intention of going to Mekka, everything goes), Islam can get very popular, since it justifies everything that’s worse in Humanity, from murder to theft (as long as it’s in the name of religion).

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