What I Really Do

You must have seen a dozen of these “What I Really Do” things by now. Some of them are kind of funny. Most are kind of dull. I thought I’d do one for myself before somebody else did. Click on it and you should get the full sized version. If you’ve never seen one of these & want to know what they are, just enter “What I Really Do Meme” into your favorite search engine.

So I just found out this blog gets over 10,000 views a week and over 7,000 visits. I’m not sure what differentiates a visit from a view. But that’s a lot of people. Where are my Gempo Roshi-like piles of cash?

Eh. Whatever.

I’m kind of all Zenned out at the moment. I’ve been answering loads of questions as Tricycle magazine’s Meditation Doctor. If you want to read some of that stuff go to this link. It’s interesting that it all kind of boils down to just one question and just one answer. Some ancient Zen teachers noticed this and responded the same way to everyone who asked. Like Gutei, who would just raise one finger whenever someone asked him anything. I get that. But somehow I don’t think Tricycle’s readers would be satisfied if I just kept flipping them the bird.

Uh oh! The latest question is from someone who says they’ve been “experiencing deep, absorptive states.” Not sure what I’m gonna do about that. I guess we’ll see once I start writing my answer. I think Bounty is the quicker-picker-upper for deep absorptive states!

I kid! I kid! Hey! Don’t forget to tip your bar tenders. I’ll be here all week. Be sure to try the vegetarian imitation veal.

182 Responses

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  1. Soft Troll
    Soft Troll February 21, 2012 at 9:23 am |


    I agree. As I said, "can be a way…"

    As for language, fuzziness and subverting meaning – even the notion that fuzziness and its cognates might not also be experienced as 'heightened', I can't think of a more authentic poet in English than John Ashbery.

    (I immersed myself in everything he wrote last year, so he might be biased in us).

    This one in particular seems to resonate with how the discussion has evolved.

    I also love this quote by him:

    Most reckless things are beautiful in some way and recklessness is what makes experimental art so beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibility that they are founded on nothing…I feel this in the work of great modern painters such as Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. Everyone acknowledges them now as being major artists, and yet, does their work amount to anything? There's a possibility that it doesn't, although I believe in it and want it to exist. But I think that part of the strength of their art, in fact, is this doubt as to whether it may be there at all.


  2. A-Bob
    A-Bob February 21, 2012 at 10:18 am |

    John said, "Language is just another belief system."

    "There comes a time when the world is but a place of many words and man appears a mere talking animal not much more wonderful than a parrot." – Joseph Conrad

    CAPTCHA : man newsgoy : I kid you not

  3. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

    Language is a survival mechanism. In the good old days of hunting and gathering, women (gatherers) had to indicate which fruit, root, or leaf to avoid because it might poison the little ones.

    This also explains process thinking (gathering – women) v. product thinking (hunting – men).

    Women generally shop for a shirt while men tend to just go buy a shirt.

    Belief systems are not a survival mechanism, they are a death mechanism. In that transition from to death, the brain has evolved in humans* – that death mechanism where "one is not alone." It is, apparently, an angst avoidance mechanism.

    *primates and perhaps mammals in general

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    "There comes a time when we heed a certain call
    When the world must come together as one
    There are people dying
    And its time to lend a hand to life
    The greatest gift of all"

    – We Are The World

  5. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 21, 2012 at 6:48 pm |

    The consensus of the group that a particular plant is poisonous constitutes a commonly held belief that if one of them eats the plant, they will surely become ill & possibly die.

    A random quick search for a definition of the term yielded the following,

    Belief: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence.

    The belief was strong enough to require expression in the form of language to convey it.

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    Whatever you do, don't forget to
    change your underwear!

  7. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    On the subject of "sitting:"

    Sitting is one thing sitting.

    It is, at once, a point of balance and grounding.

    Neither future nor past.

    Neither to the front nor to the back.

    Neither to the left nor to the right.

    Neither above nor below.

    Neither inside nor outside.

    Neither a three dimensional space, two dimensional plane, nor single dimensional line.

    Sitting is a point.

    Sitting has no future nor past, no length nor width, no heights nor depths (grounded).

    I apologize for being "preachie."


  8. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

    John E:

    Belief and language…

    Let's not split hairs – you win.

    Someone may believe that a leaf will make them sick or die. That does not make the belief "true." As a mode of survival, the leaf might be avoided – even if the leaf is spinach.

    In the same way, I find avoiding the hysterically religious to be beneficial.

    Do you know the difference between:

    1) A woman in a church.

    2) A woman in a bath tub. (?)

    A woman in church has her soul full of hope.

  9. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm |

    That's cool, Chas, I very much enjoyed this part of your earlier statement:

    "This also explains process thinking (gathering – women) v. product thinking (hunting – men).

    Women generally shop for a shirt while men tend to just go buy a shirt."

    Now I get it! All this time I'd chalked the shopping thing up to boredom!

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    "Now I get it! All this time I'd chalked the shopping thing up to boredom!"

    I hope this is sarcasm.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |

    "Most London babies
    have foreign parent.
    84% in places."

    Blimey! Is this s good or bad thing.. I suppose with multiculturalism and all it's just wonderful!

  12. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm |

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry, reading the comments here. It's a wonderful feeling, followed by a depression, ha ha!

    Dogen left Japan for China, asking why if everyone has buddha-nature was it necessary to practice.

    On his return, he said, "practice is enlightenment".

    If the Gautamid had just taught posture, what do you think.

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

    I met a Zen teacher in Palo Alto, and she was certain I should find a teacher, and work on my posture. I told her I had considered zazen my teacher, since the day it got up and walked around; I wonder if we cannot communicate now in the vocabulary of all three early teachings, and kinethesiology, and cranial-sacral therapy, talk to people about the funny intersection of will and hypnotic phenomena around the breath.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

    The words of language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images.

  15. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 7:24 am |

    Harry what is your favorite Koan?

  16. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 8:08 am |

    I'm not hairy but I'm betting he's a waffle koan man.

  17. Uncle Willie
    Uncle Willie February 22, 2012 at 8:32 am |

    "Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is."

    Albert Camus

  18. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 22, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    A monk asked Zhao Zhou: “Has a Dog Buddha-nature or not?”

    Zhao Zhou replied: “Wu!”

    A monk asked Zhao Zhou, "What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the west?"

    Zhao Zhou said "The cypress tree in the courtyard."

    It's not a snow koan.

  19. Andrew Cohen
    Andrew Cohen February 22, 2012 at 9:22 am |

    "Everybody wants to get enlightened but nobody wants to change."

    -Andrew Koan

  20. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

    oh how the mind loves to tell it's favorites !

  21. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    I think a suitable Zen teacher accepts you just the way you are and leaves you just the way you are…

    Any changes in you come from within you and not from external forces.

    Oh, there are certainly external influences, the teachings, the sangha, and the dharma talks (and, perhaps an occasional chant or mantra).

    What you get is the sitting posture and, hopefully, a quiet space in which to initialize your practice. What you leave with is exactly what you entered with plus the posture.

    Over time, you might gain balance, tranquility, and peace. Wait, and see.

  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm |

    Is it just me or are the captchas getting harder to read??

    Captcha: sures (?)

  23. Harry
    Harry February 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    "Harry what is your favorite Koan?"

    Hi, Anon. I'd say the one that springs to mind is the 'Gensa stubs his toe' koan:

    On painfully stubbing his toe while leaving the monastery to seek a classier truth Gensa remarks 'Truly I cannot be decieved by others'.

    Another one (although not a traditional one) might simply be 'what is this?'. When the posture, and everything else, is a big, wide, open 'what' I think that's the koan.



  24. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 22, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    So, then, "What" is your favorite koan, Harry?

  25. Harry
    Harry February 22, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    Whatsville can be a pain in the arse sometimes, whether I'm deceiving myself or not.



  26. Mysterion
    Mysterion February 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

    More on the Buddha nature of a dog.

    Just because a dog does not, in theory, know that s/he is born from the belly of a dog does not mean it has or lacks a Buddha nature. Nor does the dog control her/his impulsive nature.

    So the answer to whether a dog has a Buddha nature or not is hidden within the dog and is not available for a human to readily know.

    The answer, therefore, depends on two things:

    1) which dog
    2) who is asking

    The same case applies to all salient beings. It's not about dogs or humans at all.

    and yes, the CAPCHA is more difficult to read…

  27. Buddha Dog
    Buddha Dog February 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

    waffle koans for your consideration

    has balls

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 22, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    dont forget this one!

  29. Harry Cohen
    Harry Cohen February 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    What's on second.

  30. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 23, 2012 at 8:34 am |

    thanks, anonymous, for the unattributed quotation from yours truly.

    Thanks, Mysterion, for the write-up by Tarrant. I am close to a zendo led by someone in his lineage, and that was helpful to me in understanding something of the philosophy of the practice at the zendo, there.

    The article left me wondering about one thing, and that was Tarrant's statement that he finished the course of training in koans. If he finished, why are not all sentient beings enlightened?- something is missing, to me.

  31. john e mumbles
    john e mumbles February 23, 2012 at 8:54 am |

    Hi mark, The answer to that is simple: we are enlightened. Probably, unlike John Tarrant, you just don't know it. & Of course, neither do I!

    Ignorance is bliss, baby!

  32. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 24, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    Ha nice Meme 🙂 There's a website out there that has a bunch of them if you'll are interested at http://www.whatireallydo.net

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