Most people who responded to my previous post seemed to get what I was going for. But as I anticipated, a couple people in the comments section complained about what they saw as my complaining. I want to address this because I think it may be interesting and useful.
I find it a little difficult to understand the idea that my previous blog post was seen by some as a list of complaints. It really wasn’t. I don’t consider any of the stuff I wrote about there to be all that bad. Rather, I was trying to describe in concrete terms the realities of doing what I do.
For the record, though, I’ll repeat: I love my job. It’s challenging and rewarding and there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I get to go to cool places and meet interesting people. The stress level is low. I make just enough money to have a decent apartment in my favorite neighborhood of my favorite American city. I really have nothing to complain about. So I’m not.
With every job I’ve ever there have been good points and bad points. For example, working for Tsuburaya Productions paid well. But the exchange for that was a much higher stress level. That’s one reason I chose to do what I do now instead of returning to the company when offered that choice (as detailed in the previous post on this blog, “There’s More to Meditation Than Meditation”). To me, a good job is one where the good points outnumber the bad, even if it’s only by a small margin.
Maybe saying anything that might be perceived as negative about one’s job is defined as “complaining.” Maybe I’m not that in touch with how normal people think. I don’t know.
The trigger for writing that piece was that I am constantly asked to come to various places and lead retreats, give talks, etc. (this is also mentioned early in the article). About a third of the people who ask have a realistic understanding of what is involved. That article was not for them.
It was written mainly for the other two-thirds who ask me about coming to their places. I often find myself spending a lot of time writing back and forth to such people before it becomes clear to both of us that what they’re asking for is not realistic.
That article now also appears in my FAQ section. That way, instead of writing this same explanation again and again I can ask folks who I believe might not really understand what’s involved in my work to have a look at the article and then get back to me. (I included it in the main blog mostly for entertainment purposes)
There is, of course, a risk that such people will also perceive what I wrote as overly negative and “complaining.” On the other hand, if they do see it that way, that might also be an indicator that they don’t have a real understanding what’s involved in inviting me to their place. So I’m OK with that risk.
Sometimes people seem to think I’m bemoaning the fact that I’m not as rich and famous as the guys who regularly get their pictures on the covers of the Buddhist rag-o-zines or get asked to chat with Oprah on her Super Spiritual Sunday show or whatever it’s called. But that’s not quite the case.
I know precisely what is involved in becoming a world famous spiritual master who makes loads and loads of money. It’s not something I want to do. So I don’t.
I get that to some people this sounds disingenuous. How could anyone not want to be rich and famous? Or, if you don’t want to be rich and famous why don’t you just quit and become totally anonymous? Why don’t you go dig ditches for a living and only teach Zen students in secret?
But that’s not what I want to do either. Those two extreme options are not all there is. What I want to do is precisely this. I like being just exactly as famous as I am, exactly as wealthy as I am. It’s a good position to work in.
In order to maintain this position I often deliberately try to undercut any opportunity for me to become a rich and famous spiritual master. Telling the real facts about what my life is actually like has been a good way to do this. So has been being seen as kind of a sourpuss. Articles like the one I put up yesterday help. The fact that some people will see them (and probably this one too) as “complaining” helps.
If I am seen as a “complainer” then fewer people will view me unrealistically as some kind of Great Enlightened Master. When that happens, fewer people looking for that kind of Great Enlightened Master will come to my retreats or read my books. When that happens I’ll make less money. When I make less money, I end up having a more earthy, real world-type lifestyle. I’m better able to be there for the people who really get what I’m doing, whereas if I were a rich famous guru guy I’d be too far removed from those people.
For example, no one would ever tell someone they considered to be a Great Enlightened Master that they were politically opposed to his breakfast choices (see my previous article if you don’t get the reference). On the contrary, they would carefully observe everything the Great Enlightened Master ate and eat that themselves. If the Great Enlightened Master survived on a diet of Coco Puffs and Dr Pepper, he would never get any feedback questioning such choices (actually the cereal involved in my story was Shreddies).
That’s only one example. Throughout the day, every day, such a Great Enlightened Master would never be questioned, only imitated and obeyed. He would gradually become more and more removed from reality. This would tend to make him seem even more Greatly Enlightened by the kinds of folks who look for that sort of thing. Eventually he would be so out of touch he’d break down. But, given that he was considered a Great Enlightened Master, even his break down might very well be seen as a further sign he was that much Greater and more Enlightened. If he were surrounded by people who believed that, even the Great Enlightened Master might also begin to believe it himself.
I see this kind of stuff going on all the time whenever I observe the lives of such supposedly Great Enlightened people. I am very cautious about ever going that direction. Perhaps a little too cautious. But there ya go.
In order to be seen by the world as a Great Enlightened Master and make loads of money and get on all the magazines and TV shows, your life has to be carefully stage-managed. It’s not that those who are seen by the world as Great Enlightened Masters never get angry or depressed, never have self-doubt, never worry, never have sex, etc. That’s all smoke and mirrors.
What’s really going on is that they are stage-managed just like Hollywood celebrities were back in the old days. They’re surrounded by people whose job it is to make certain nobody ever gets to see the reality of what’s actually going on. When that machinery breaks down, as it often does, we get scandals and spectacular falls from grace.
Someone who wants to be seen as a Great Enlightened Master is forced to play a very specific role pretty much all the time. It’s not a role he can define either. It is defined by the public at large and what they will and will not accept from a Great Enlightened Master. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with actual enlightenment. Our Great Enlightened Master becomes a pampered prisoner of that false and ultimately damaging image. There aren’t enough luxury cars and vacation homes in Hawaii to ever make that seem worthwhile to me.
Of course some of our spiritual celebrities are genuinely decent people. Just like celebrities in every other part of the superstar business. Yet even they have to play the game to make it work.
The more famous you become the harder it is to have real friendships, or real human connections of any kind. Even at the very low level of fame I have, I find that I’m highly suspicious of people who try to get close to me. I didn’t start off like that. But I learned the hard way that there were people who just wanted whatever they thought I had, such as the ability to ordain them or confirm their spiritual status or the ability to impress their friends by virtue of knowing me. If I already need to be suspicious now, when hardly anyone really knows who I am, I can only imagine how terrible it would be to actually be famous. Nope. I don’t want that at all.
My strategy has been working pretty well so far.
I’m a happy guy.
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“But as I anticipated, a couple people in the comments section complained about what they saw as my complaining.”
So let the complaints about Brad’s explanation that he is not complaining to the people who are complaining about his perceived complaining (which really wasn’t complaining), start…
…a real hall of mirrors around here as of late.
What you are doing is telling people the real deal.
It’s helpful. There is reasoning behind disclosing how it works. It will help you and others chart future actions that are less stress inducing and more dharma sharing.
Some people are pussies and can’t handle the real deal. –and yes they are part of the learning and moving forward too.
I have a complaint. I believe that in the phrase “real world-type lifestyle” there should be a hyphen between “real” and “world.” This is because the expression “real-world” is being used as an adjective in front of the noun “lifestyle.” Yeah, yeah, you’ll end up with two hyphens (real-world-type), but that’s nothing to be a nervous Nelly about.
Other than that, I don’t have any complaints about what you wrote. As a part-time musician I can very much relate to the frustration of having people not recognize what you do as “work.” Sometimes there seems to be this idea that it’s only “work” if you hate doing it. If that were the case, the world would be full of awful school teachers.
The state school teachers I worked with who loved their job had a love/hate relationship with it, like me. I don’t know if you were in some way referring to my post in the last thread, but that was what I was attempting to convey from my perspective.
If you “can very much relate to the frustration of having people not recognize what you do as ‘work’,” maybe you can also relate to working in a cultural context in which, from the government down, folk will easily dismiss, derogate and misrepresent what you do but hold you to impossible standards at other times.
No need to single out teachers for an attitude that’s rooted very much in the protestant work ethic. Yes, there are folk who take the attitude that it’s not work unless it’s taking chunks out of you. And there is also the attitude that if you express what you hate about what you do, you can’t also love what you do, you’re in the wrong job and/or are rubbish at it.
Maybe the attitude that frustrates you as a musician derives substantially from the many pretentious, narcissistic posers who think their half-assed efforts & mediocrity entitles them to think what they do deserves special regard.
Andy, I wasn’t replying to any post or anything. The reason I mentioned teachers is that I am a teacher and have been for over 30 years. My own perspective is that it isn’t a “job.” My opinion (note that I am careful to say that) is that teachers who look on their work as “just a job” are usually not good teachers and very seldom stay at it for very long. The good teachers, in my experience, are the ones for whom it is a calling and who love their work. Of course that doesn’t mean continuous bliss and euphoria; there are always staff meetings and other assorted shit. But the work is something that one loves in that serious love sense. Do I do it for money? Well, it’s more that I need money in order to do it.
The music thing: I’m talking about real music, the result of many years of dedicated work, with countless hours of band practices, with the lugging around of equipment, with the unloading of equipment back into the garage in the wee hours when those who danced and enjoyed the music are fast asleep. Like teaching, it’s something I love doing and get huge satisfaction from. It also costs me a fair bit of money to keep doing. And it is work. At the end of a three hour show, with the loading and unloading before and after, one is exhausted. Is it worth reasonable pay? Of course it is. The posers you talk about won’t get many gigs. The proof of the pudding is in the dancing and cheers and euphoria of the audience. That should be worth something, if only to ensure the ability of the musicians to keep making the contribution to the world that they do. Just like Brad needs enough money to enable him to keep making the contribution that he is making.
Thanks for clearing that up, SH.
I think we can end up unnecessarily complicating things re the word ‘job’. If it’s regular paid employment then it’s a job: a neutral category for something like teaching or cleaning toilets, so we know what we’re talking about & what to write in the little box on the form when applying for the mortgage. On the other hand, a phrase like “just a job” is to do with our opinions and attitudes as to what that job entails and constitutes, ie “teaching isn’t a just job, it’s a vocation,” or a ‘calling’ and so on.
Having said that, I agree with your general point about teachers who don’t love what they do not lasting for long – especially in the contexts I worked in!
My teacher training mentor, a fantastic secondary school teacher & HoD (since god were a kid), who died of leukemia a year before retirement, used to regularly tell us rookies:”Remember: it doesn’t matter how much you loved or hated it today – it’s just a job. You’re not here to change the world and you’re not here to kill yourself!”
I’m curious, SH. Is that 30yrs teaching in state high/secondary schools full time?
If so, I’m impressed with “staff meetings and other assorted shit” being the only words that come to mind after three decades. That’s some serious love!
When you write 29 paragraphs passively-aggressively “explaining” why doing a one-day retreat really messes with your writing for a whoooooole week, is more of a nuisance to you than helping, even after you ask for these gigs all the time, and heaven forbid, once you get there the thermostat is off by a degree or two, people MIGHT take that as complaining. But I’m sure it’s us, not you.
“Guys, I really enjoy doing these retreats all across the world. It’s an amazing experience that not many people get to have. But just FYI, there’s a lot more that goes on before I get to them and after I leave them than most people realize. Just please keep that in mind when we are in discussions.”
I realize the above paragraph doesn’t fill up your word quota, but it sounds a lot less whiny. But if your objective was to troll all of us with the first post, then come back and double-troll and chastise us in the second one, your way was much more effective.
Looking forward to reading tomorrow’s post, “Poor me, I can’t win with you guys! Gosh! *Napoleon Dynamite voice*
I will donate to you for being able to yell at you on your own blog. Gasho.
No problem. Glad to help. I want you to be able to take your own box of cereal to these retreats!
I like your concise version, tysondav, but not everyone is affected by such messages without them being exemplified and illustrated in more detail. Perhaps if Brad wrote in a more ballsy tone, you and others with a similar mind-set might have been less inclined to interpret his words as passive-aggressive. That, however, might not sit very well with those he originally had in mind when he wrote the first article.
Besides, I think he’s done the less-is-more version many times before, on many subjects, and this has led to the odd accusation of being passive-aggressive, too. Often unfairly in my experience.
You very well may be right Andy. And honestly, it’s Brad’s blog and Brad’s life, so he can do whatever he wants. And I greatly appreciate the fact that he lets people blast him on his own blog. A LOT of bloggers don’t have the balls to do that. And on top of that Brad responds to these idiots (me included).
I did donate enough to him to buy a box of cereal for himself. So at least I am supporting him while blasting him. However, there is an undercurrent in a lot of his writing that he never gets enough support from his fans or students. To me, it comes off as very whiny and wears thin after awhile. Now, I could easily stop reading his blog if I don’t like it. That’s not what I’m saying though. I find Brad’s blog very interesting. I don’t agree with him on a lot of things, but he’s a wise Zen Master and I’m not. But my opinion is that if he cut down on his whiny-ness and passive-aggressiveness he might keep a few fans and students.
Interesting. I will work on being less whiny and passive-aggressive.
But let me say this, lest it come off as whiny and passive-aggressive too. I used to work jobs where, like normal people, I got a paycheck each month whether I asked for it or not. I just did my job and ~presto! ~ money!
Now I work a job where I will not get paid unless I ask for it. And I have to ask for it often. And many times I have to actually demand it, sometimes in an uncomfortably aggressive way.
I hate that. It’s really awkward and embarrassing. It’s the only part of the job I do now which I feel entitled to actually complain about.
Each time I ask to be paid, I am gritting my teeth as I type or say the necessary words. I try to make it funny sometimes, or self-effacing, or … anything … just to get through it.
I wish there was a way to do the job I do without constantly having to ask people to please pay for it.
Quiet a while ago on the Internets I ran into a talk by a guy named Mike Monteiro. He is a founder and designer with Mule Design Studio. The talk described his grief getting people to pay him for the work he does. His talk centered around a rather blunt idea called “Fuck You, Pay Me”. It was interesting hearing him describe all the creative reasons clients had for not paying him what they owed.
I’ve run into a surprising amount of the same problem with the non-paycheck work I have done. People are generally very eager to get my work but can be very hesitant to pay me what was agreed. It’s one of the main reasons that I work for someone rather than for myself.
For a long time I have observed that there are a lot a really creative artists in the world. The question is why so few of them can make a living at it. My theory is that making money in the art world requires a rare combination of salesmanship and talent. And I am cynical enough to believe the salesmanship is by far the more important of the two.
So I completely understand Brads discomfort in this area. The dharma may be free but food and rent aren’t.
My theory is that making money in the art world requires a rare combination of salesmanship and talent. And I am cynical enough to believe the salesmanship is by far the more important of the two.
Cynical? It’s just the simple truth of the matter. I’m a self-employed computer programmer and although I don’t have any outstanding issues with getting clients to pay me, I do make a point of traveling in person to the client’s location and picking up the check in person, combined with a bit of schmoozing while I’m there. In the old days, I would ask clients to mail me a check, and that proved pretty dicey and easy to forget about on their part.
I know an artist and a musician who market themselves like crazy on Facebook and it seems to work for them, but you have to have the kind of personality to want to do that. And in their cases, the FB marketing is mainly just for visibility, no actual money involved, (except indirectly) which sometimes results in CD (or iTunes downloads) and art object sales.
It’s a dilemma – I’m a musician as well – and I hate marketing, so I wind up just playing gigs that other musician friends invite me to play at.
Why not do a subscription podcast? A lot of comedians are having success doing that. I would pay a couple bucks a month to listen to 4 podcasts per month from you. I’m sure I’m not alone in that. You would just have to do them consistently. You could buy a lot of cereal with just a few subscribers.
‘I wish there was a way to do the job I do without constantly having to ask people to please pay for it.’
My own experience with ‘getting’ paid for work that I did, changed as the years passes. I never expected people to pay me for I always felt that when I was working I was enjoying myself so much that I did not feel that I needed to get paid for enjoying myself and when people would actually give me money, I was amazed. Only if you anticipate that people have an obligation to pay you will you feel awkward. I felt deep gratitude to those who gave me money without anticipating them to do so. During those time, I was flat broke, could barely pay my apartment, etc. And as people continue to amaze me by giving me money for work that I enjoyed so much doing, I started to pile up some of it, until I bought a house. From the moment I bought that house, things changed, for I had a lot of financial obligation to care for, such as municipal taxes, banks loans, etc. From that time, I expected people to give me my due. At the beginning I felt exactly like you, embarrass, uncomfortable, that I had to ask people to give me what I considered was my absolute right to get paid for work done. On many occasions I had to be verbally aggressive to get paid, which wasn’t really good, because as we do this, we kind of say to ourselves ‘you fuckin bastard, that is the last time that I will do work for you’. To beg for what we consider is our due is truly a very embarrassing situation. Now that my house is paid, I feel quite different, I do not care at all if you pay me or not. I explicitly tell people that they should pay me x amount when the work will be done. If they do, that is fine with me, if they don’t, that is also fine with me. I am a self employed carpenter, a god dam good one and people hire me to fix their home, I am not a spiritual teacher, I must also add that a carpenter is very useful within a spiritual organization that have houses, during the last 25 years, I have spend all my spare times and much more to fix, repair those houses, I spent several thousands of hours fixing things up, those organizations took it for granted that whoever comes to work for them should do it for free, which was not what I had in mind at all, they simply never ask me ‘How much do we owe you’. I never complained! You could say that I got screwed the most by those who saw themselves to be the most honorable. Am I upset? Do I complain about it? No, not at all, I simply live with it.
What if what you want is ultimately unsustainable? If you start getting tons of medical bills or something, then what? If gas goes up to $10/gallon, no more book tours! (Anyway, what are the ethical implications of driving all over the place for these events?)
Lots of people are quite comfortable with their economic situation, but if it had to change drastically, they couldn’t cope. The last post sounded like somebody who doesn’t want to cope with certain inconveniences that he used to put up with, like sleeping in little Timmy’s bed or being critiqued about his cereal.
The guru market is saturated, between Vedanta, zen, mindfulness and whatever. If you don’t want to have the “great enlightenment” thing going for you, then what’s your angle? “I’m a normal guy who’s ambivalent about soto zen and doesn’t really have anything special or new to say, but you should pay for my travel expenses and let me travel around the world….” Hmm.
I actually have a lot to say that nobody else is saying. Until someone else starts saying those things, there’s work for me to do.
Well, to be fair, I’ve read only three of your books (3.5 if you count skimming the “god” book at a bookstore). I may have missed the original stuff…
It’s in this article! I’d be very interested if you could find even one other person who points out that being a spiritual celebrity is exactly like being any other kind of celebrity, that it’s the same kind of machinery, the same kind of schmoozing, the same kind of who-you-know cliquish bullshit, etc.
Seriously. I’m not even trying to be mean here. I would LOVE to read or hear the words of absolutely anyone else at all who says this.
That’s not the only original contribution I have to offer. But it’s the one that fascinates me most. I believe the silence on this issue is because the people in the position to know it’s true are the ones most unwilling to say anything about it.
I think J Krishnamurti already said those things. He deconstructed every institution and the desire for gurus, etc.
For instance, he would question your desire to label yourself a zen buddhist or to advertise that you’re ordained and all that stuff. Question the robes, the rituals, the Soto establishment and especially the way that any “spiritual” group ends up breeding divisions. Krishnamurti went beyond what you have to say here, and he wasn’t solely fixated on taking gurus down a peg. He was pointing people to find out for themselves, to ask themselves the tough questions, not to trust him that, for instance full-lotus zazen is THE ONE TRUE WAY.
It seems like you’re differentiating yourself as the guy who trashes other gurus, but you haven’t exactly let go of the guru title, either! You know, why associate with a hierarchical organization, with rituals and dogma and so on? Is it because it offers you a more reliable platform to express your views? I don’t know, but that’s the sort of thing that Krishnamurti would have “gone into”…
Krishnamurti’s story is unique – he was groomed to be the “avatar of the ages” by the Theosophists from a very early age, and had the smarts to reject that whole thing that he was being groomed for. Nevertheless, he went on to be quite famous, giving talks to large groups of people well into old age, selling lots of books, having public appearances with famous scientists and other spiritual “leaders”. I generally resonate with his message…but I don’t think he was ever lacking for money at any time in his life, or just “scraping by”. The Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai is still alive and well as a matter of fact, well after his death in 1996. So the comparison of Brad’s situation with Krishnamurti seems a stretch to me.
Also there’s the small matter of Krish being an abject hypocrite and a condescending narcissist all along.
I can’t think of anyone, I posted a longer reply but I will repeat that in my little meditation group the facilitator group do take your words seriously. Despite what we say we sometimes deal with people reacting to us negatively as ‘teachers’ and none of us claim to be teachers. Sometimes just sitting in the front of the room brings this up.
When we first got there, he came off like a reluctant guru. He came off like people put him in this position and he didn’t really want to be in it. We didn’t know if it was false humility or what. Eventually he allowed it to happen, enjoyed it, and then enhanced it and directed it. But originally, back in 1985, it was like, “I don’t want a bunch of people worshipping me. We’re all the same.”
Oh! Interesting! Thanks!
Don’t sweat it, Brad. Some people just like bitching. (Ironic, given that their favourite bitch is “you’re bitching”. But these are not very introspective people.)
Lots of us dig somebody who says, “Here are some things that annoy me.” Especially if it’s part of an overall assessment that includes things that compensate for said annoyance, and/or suggestions on how same can be remedied.
And yeah, a few find that “depressing”. I find _them_ depressing. (I’m not being cute; those people literally make me feel like never expending effort to fix anything ever again.)
So “complain” away, my brother. Those who can listen, are listening.
Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit
Brad, I did not see your last post as a list of complains. If you simply are in need of some money, then get a ‘real’ job. (By the way, I do not have a ‘real’ job either, but I do work) A teacher once said; one day without work is a day without eating. My wife is a writer, and her annual income does not even provide enough money to feed our cats. You might be surprise to hear what I am going to say to you, but I do like you a lot. Which does not mean that I do agree with everything you say or do all the time. I like your honesty, your authenticity, your openness, etc. Some see this as humility traits, but I do not, I do not see you as a humble individual, I see you as someone who has integrity. In Zen, there are way to many humble teachers (actors), and they all stink badly. I also think that you do enjoy teasing those who have some rigid, absolute views of what Zen is or ought to be, and for that I do thank you. Some of my Zen friends have simply decided to go away from any kind of ‘official’, ‘formal’ Zen teaching, public or private. They (myself included) have drop away from the ‘normal’, ‘business as usual’, traditional Zen framework. What is it that is so unique and original about myself or Zen that I should go around and talk or teach about? Rough times, very rough times coming ahead.
“Thanks, too, to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for providing me and my two children with a place to live, to Dharma Realm Buddhist University for a monthly stipend, and to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program for continuing support.”
– Red Pine (Bill Porter), preface to The Diamond Sutra
Hell yeah. Complaining, and being otherwise irritating and sarcastic at a safe distance from your target is all the internet is good for. That, and porn.
Sarcasm aside, it is ridiculous how people demand supernatural virtue from anybody who wants to talk or write about ‘spirituality’. It’s childish idealism.
Out of 7.4 billion people, there must be at least one who can live among all the madness of modern life – and still be constantly ethical in every way, and do it in an ungrudging spirit of joy. The laws of statistics demand it. But don’t bet on meeting her.
I hear Mother Teresa got better healthcare than the poor she cared for. Didn’t the Buddha die from eating rotten pork, or something? Jesus wept. Mohammed vacillated. Deepak farted.
Enjoy the coco pops Brad
Hey, I want to complain about the real-world-type guy using too many hyphens.
“Out of 7.4 billion people, there must be at least one who can live among all the madness of modern life – and still be constantly ethical in every way, and do it in an ungrudging spirit of joy”
Nope. Not a chance.
“Yet teaching as a caring job, even accepting being hamstrung, is one of the better jobs because most work is wage-slavery. And the money needed to survive in US society is part of that enslavement. The cost of living and then taxation are kept high in order to ensure that people like Brad find it difficult to live outside the wage-enslavement. Most of the people commenting on Brad’s blog are not so fortunate as Brad in that although they maybe have more money their daily life is enslaved. Brad has gained some element of freedom from that slavery, and there must be some envy. I could imagine that a wage-slave factory worker reading Brad’s blog would look at what he has to do in the factory and then see Brad as a whinger. Of course the commenters would not be in such a job but they would be wage-slaves, but a different sort of wage-slave – a deluded wage-slave in that they might well feel they have chosen their job”
Ha-ha-ha, you’re a wage-slave-comedian
Hello, Buddha-slaves, how’s your stinking-life-in-the-stinking-world.
P.S., I live on a dung pile and eat dead people. No stinking wage-slaving for me.
What is wrong in your opinion, with the Aghori path? I suppose you’re not so hot on criminal deities, either?
Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees
Essays on the Guardians of Popular Hinduism
Alf Hiltebeitel – Editor
Hardcover – 491 pages
Release Date: October 1989
Out of Print
The Hindu sacred order is guarded by the very gods who violate it and the demons who oppose it. This book is a who’s who of such transgressive figures, both familiar and unfamiliar, showing their place within the Hindu order that they violate. It is also a reflection of the serious scholarly debate over the nature and composition of this Hindu order.
The chapters range from pan-Hindu deities such as Bhairava and Virabhadra to guardian gods of specific regions and lineages and of different goddess cults. Chapters cover violent themes in Shaivite hagiography, the position of Brahmans in relation to cultic carnivorism, guardian heroes in folk epic, the deified dead, the royal mythology of a “criminal caste,” and a wide-ranging overview of transgressive sacrality.
For myself…why complain?
“Our Great Enlightened Master becomes a pampered prisoner of that false and ultimately damaging image. ”
“And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device””
The word for “work” in French is “Travail” of which the origin is the latin “Tripalium” an instrument of torture. I think it talks by itself…
from wikipedia: “The subject of the torture would be tied to the tripalium and burnt with fire… The words “travail” and “travel” have their roots in this word, as do cognates in other modern languages.”
Appropriate. I’ve had jobs that felt like that.
I’ve had jobs that felt like being an Aghori too, except I had to talk to the dead people, and eat the dung.
1. express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something.
“local authorities complained that they lacked sufficient resources”
I don’t know. It sounds like complaining to me.
Not that it’s a bad thing. Complaining is necessary. I may love my life, but when I stub my toe when I get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night, I generally complain about it. Sometimes for days after if somebody asks the wrong (right?) question. Does it mean I hate my life or think life is unfair? Not usually, it just means that it sucks when I stub my toe. Just like it kind of sounds like it sucks that people don’t understand that you need money to do what you do.
All of these Zennists can’t see that our aversion to “complaining” is just another manifestation of the Puritan Work Ethic, and not an “immoral” thing, metaphysically speaking. Complaining’s just like most things–necessary in moderation. You obviously don’t want to wallow in your troubles, but you also need to be able to identify them and feel frustrated by them if you’re going to do anything about them.
I don’t think it’s necessarily complaining to admit that your life isn’t perfect; that there are issues in it that aggravate you. It seems more like an acknowledgement. People who never do that may not have a great grip on reality.
HardCoreLeaf CyberZendo(tm)? Subscriptions due quarterly in advance. Digital Certificates of Wisdom $1500, available on the store page? … Just a thought.
He could start a zen center that requires monthly dues.
the comments of people who complain or are just mean…it’s really sad. The world needs more frigging Brad Warners…make me go deep here and i didn’t want to, but Brad changed my life. Funny too how all the suggestions to get a job. reminds me of my wife telling me about her day. men have to fix things…they cant’ just listen. I cant’ listen to my wife’s struggles at work, i have to try and offer suggestions.
he’s devoted his life to helping us schmucks, for god sacks those negative people should be ashamed of themselves…very doochy. Makes me sick…i’m getting the f*** out of the comments section.
“I know precisely what is involved in becoming a world famous spiritual master who makes loads and loads of money. It’s not something I want to do. So I don’t.”
I continue to believe that fame and fortune on the popular stage have something to do with a peculiar match between the needs of the individual and the needs of society, in the particular era.
In my estimation, your success is due to your claim to legitimacy as a Zen teacher, combined with the way you continue to answer your own need and the need of a lot of other people in our society (for something along the lines of zazen).
I think it does take tremendous talent and salesmanship for an artist to become even a break-even commercial success, but for an artist to become rich and famous I think requires some additional magic in the timing of their emergence as an artist and the state of society.
I really feel that you flatter yourself, to imply that you could be rich and famous if you chose to be.
I personally don’t believe in the exercise of choice as a way of life; I actually think of choice as an illusion, and I look to zazen as a way to relinquish the exercise of volition.
Very astute, sir. I heartily agree. In the immortal words of cartoonist Ace Backwards (as this applies to most of us, ahem:)
“I’d sell out in a minute if anyone was buying.”
Even just the first 20 seconds of that video were too painful to listen to. Why would you post such an atrocity? That is worse than Rick-rolling someone. Much worse. Are you one of those “trolls” that everyone keeps complaining about?
Ultimately it’s the blogger’s business what they write in their blog. If I don’t like it I can go start my own blog. I can’t say what’s real for someone else or expect to agree with everything I read.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
I realize I try some people’s patience; even so:
Shikantaza and Gautama the Buddha’s “Pleasant Way of Living”
I have edited and rewritten portions, and my conclusion is now:
‘I would say that concentrative experience tends to follow from the distinction of the senses in a bent-legged posture, and the experience of the mind at the tanden is one such concentrative experience; as essential as such an experience might be when a bent-knee posture is held for any length of time, the rhythm of things in a natural way of living must also include experience that returns a person to just breathing in or out, and therein lies “something peaceful and choice, something perfect in itself, and a pleasant way of living too.”.’
I’ve emailed Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler.
Thanks, everybody; / \
Your comments/blog are not trying at all, Mark- not to me at least. Communicating ideas about the ‘interior’ senses (proprioception etc) is challenging. Translating what the old sages said into modern concepts is even harder. Your valiant attempts to do so are appreciated. I’d like to comment a bit on my own experience (by way of comparison, not debating what you’ve written).
The first ten or so years of my trying to practice zen were tortuous. I knew that sitting zazen was the right thing for me to be doing – somehow – but I couldn’t shake the feeling I must be doing it very wrong. I couldn’t believe that everyone else experienced the same levels of physical pain in sitting that I did – but how could I ever tell? When you mention pain to a zennist, they give you a benignly condescending ‘knowing’ look, and say it will pass, that you’ll learn how to deal with it. Well, I didn’t learn.
Thing was, my back and neck were as crooked as a line of dog-piss in the snow. Multiple injuries over the years, and habitual compensations for them, had left me with what FM Alexander calls ‘debauched kinesthesia’: I didn’t know which way was up (down,left,right, fore or aft). My usual way of sitting in chairs was to slump. My concept of ‘sitting up straight’ was to stretch and clench like a ski jumper or a drill sergeant. Even fifteen minutes on a cushion could be agonising. I started to think that zazen was just a purgatory to burn off bad karma.
With hindsight, it didn’t need to be like that (or maybe it did for me, but maybe someone out there can avoid it by reading this). These days I can sit for quite a while, comfortably, with nothing much in the way of pain. Eventually a mild ache in the buttocks, and it spreads a bit wider during a retreat… but I guess that’s par for the course. Zazen isn’t about endurance any more.
Over the years, I tried everything I could think of to find a way to sit and move with more ease: chiropractors; massage; osteopaths; jacuzzis; PT; AT; rolfing; yoga; tai chi; bioenergetics; somatics; pullups, pushups, squats and deadlifts. It took up a chunk of my time and income. They all helped just a little, temporarily. I read some of the authors you mention, and a lot of anatomy, trying to piece together what ‘should’ happen in sitting, and what I was missing.
What made all the difference for me (maybe just for me, with my particular problems?) was a sentence I found randomly online: “sitting is just standing on the sit bones”. I started to sit ‘as if’ I was standing. The pain went away – my body knew how to maintain the minimum required tone and the right balance in standing, it could do the same thing on sit bones as on legs. All I had to do to maintain this posture was to keep the weight of my head balanced above my ass.
And then I noticed that in keeping my head balanced, and my weight going evenly down through the two sit bones, I was naturally following all those arbitrary-seeming instructions that zen teachers give. Chin in slightly, back of neck open, slight gap between arms and torso. And then I noticed that when my head was balanced, dead center, most of the mind-chatter went away of its own accord, and there was an open clarity to the whole experience. That had been an occasional feature of sitting before before, now it’s typical.
I couldn’t give a monkey’s whether or not the way I sit, this practice of simply balancing the head over the spine, agrees with what the sutras say. It surely feels like the ‘dharma gate of bliss and repose’ to me, for now anyway.
Sorry for the long comment. It was this quote in Mark’s blog that brought it up:
Thanx for that one Mark! Great fun, but Hendrix is billed, no show!
(Mitch Mitchell, of the) Jimi Hendrix (Experience)… not the same?
Well yeah Mitch is in there but under the vid it sez:
John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mitch Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix
I kept expecting Jimi to jump on the stage and Eric to look up from a solo and run away.
But nevertheless this was very nice, one of my fave late John/Beatle songs done nicely live.
I didn’t realize he’d ever played with Clapton; now I see that he asked to Jam with Cream, and they let him, but apparently his rendition of this song caused Clapton’s hands to drop from the guitar.
“Do we have any foreigners in the audience tonight? If so, please put up your hands. Wogs I mean, I’m looking at you. Where are you? I’m sorry but some fucking wog… Arab grabbed my wife’s bum, you know? Surely got to be said, yeah this is what all the fucking foreigners and wogs over here are like, just disgusting, that’s just the truth, yeah. So where are you? Well wherever you all are, I think you should all just leave. Not just leave the hall, leave our country. You fucking (indecipherable). I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country. Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck’s sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!”
– Eric Clapton, during a concert in Birmingham in 1976
“You never told me he was that fucking good.”
Eric, “After first hearing Jimi Hendrix perform, as quoted in “Jimi Hendrix: ‘You never told me he was that good'” by Ed Vulliamy in The Guardian (8 August 2010)”- same Wikipedia article
Just drop off the keys, on your way back to Saxony…
Clapton: overrated. Plays insipid, soulless, metronomic honky blues – technical skill but no feeling.
Ginger and Jack made Cream. Any halfwit could strum a strat over them and sound epic.
Bob Geldof performing in a dramatic recreation of Eric Clapton’s Benefit Concert to Keep Britain White. Heil, heil, rock ‘n’ roll.
I get it, I don’t find it complainey either. I have a Theravadan nun I study with (partially based on your advice to find someone who is actually accessible, typically local). She does do retreats around the world. We have an entire non-profit to support her, her lifestyle as a monastic, all the rules of not handling money or how she needs to be offered food, and of course retreats. Retreats are a big deal and have so many moving parts, and many people don’t see the cost. I do think you are saying something that is not part of the larger picture and I have referred to it in our little peer led meditation group. The 4 of us who take turns leading all have had people put their stuff on us even though we are clear we are not teachers, but it happens. So as a team we work together to stay grounded and give each other feedback on what we are doing or could do better, not to stay in our safe bubble of “I must be right”, and it isn’t always great.
I also really related to the teacher here. Besides people in education wanting you to volunteer more, there seems to be a misunderstanding about what it really takes in skills. Recently a church group came in to do an activity with our students out of warm fuzzy feelings, but had no skills in managing the kids. I do a lot of my professional development on my own money, our district doesn’t have money for the type of training I want. So one thing I am doing is mindfulness in the classroom starting with baby steps. I have struggled with this as part of being the McMindfulness movement but ultimately people are doing it and I feel strongly that the teachers need a long term meditation practice. The risk of it being another fad and behavior control technique is strong. However the rub, I am bringing in decades of practice and decades of working with kids. If I move towards that being a bigger part of my career then I need to get paid. The thing I really respect in teachers that I have sat with is the ability to answer questions and facilitate discussions skillfully. There can be difficult people in groups and so group management is a huge skill that is often taken for granted. The same way that I feel managing a large group of children well is a skill that can be taken for granted.
I get your point of view. I work in an area- professional cooking- and I get paid $12 p/h if I’m lucky. I think the common issue is that some of us have great skills and insight- but they are not currently valuable to most people. Proper education and good food are not valuable in the current society. We must stand up for these principles. It is difficult. Eat properly! Look after your children! This is the basis for a better society. All I can say is take care and keep doing what you do- so important!
David Bowie’s will apparently states that his ashes be scattered in Bali according to his Buddhist beliefs…? Is Bali a traditional final resting place for Buddhists? This is news to me. A quick look at Bali’s wiki page says in a poll taken in 2010, the vast majority of the population are Hindu, 83.5%, in fact, and only 0.5 % are Buddhist.
DB studied Tibetan Buddhism for awhile, Chogyam Trungpa being one of his first teachers (so says unreliable info on the webs), but at different times he professed beliefs in various stripes of Christianity, the Golden Dawn (western kaballah), and also stated he was “close” to becoming an atheist later in life. The title of one of his last songs, Lazarus, is obviously based on the New Testament story, with it’s line “look up here, I’m in Heaven.”
As with everything else in his public life, there seem to be endless contradictions…and speculations. The director of the local public library told me the other day that there is a belief that the sign over his head on the cover of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars is proof that he is a “time traveler” -is Kanye West the “Blackstar” he’s singing about?
Next he’ll be spotted in Africa running guns, or in Paris taking a really long bath…
Maybe time traveling Mr. Bowie wrote “I Can’t Read” about Kanye Kardashian in 1988. It contains the line “Andy, where’s my 15 minutes?” along with other gems.
The tracks on the album were recorded raw and live with no overdubs to capture the energy of the band. The band urged Bowie to avoid re-writing his lyrics: “They were there all the time saying, ‘Don’t wimp out,’ sing like you wrote it. Stand by it. I have done and frequently do censor myself in terms of lyrics. I say one thing and then I think, ‘Ah maybe I’ll just take the edge off that a bit.” He elaborated, “We wanted to come out of the box with energy, the energy we felt when we were writing and playing. There’s very, very little over-dubbing on [the album]. For us [it] is our live sound.” There were no demos made for the album; Gabrels said “Basically the album is the demo.”
…When asked in an interview what the main criticism of the record would be, Bowie conceded that the album might be “not accessible” to fans. “I guess it’s not as obviously melodic as one would think it would probably be [for a Bowie album].”
(Wikipedia, Tin Machine (Album))
Wow- you are way over-thinking Bowie’s wishes. If that’s where he wanted to rest why are you criticizing? Do you have any dead loved ones in a box? Maybe that was just where he felt most comfortable and felt a connection. Get a grip man, and get upset about something that matters now.
Hi Brad- First I want to apologize for being a weiner in a previous post- about a year ago- where you talked about your frustrations when dealing with “the bottom line”- money. We live in a world where money and self-support are central to people’s concerns and stresses about life. Instead, I would like to offer you some wisdom-hopefully- from personal experience that may benefit you. It is essential to establish boundaries with others- including those you do business with. I got burned majorly when I was too “whatever, man” about money – I thought it was too materialistic and so on, etc. I have found that being direct and clear about what you need- is a positive thing for all parties and leads to much less resentment/frustration, etc.
You have a great life! So do I! We are very lucky. Set boundaries- for example: If working and writing at home in your own space is important, then maybe set certain times of the year for “at home contemplation”. Then dedicate other times for travel, seminars, etc. It’s OK to say no to people who don’t have a proper set-up if they want you to speak to them. The FAQ section that you set up is great. Being a punk doesn’t mean letting other people roll all over you- rebellion isn’t an excuse for abuse or taking advantage.
Brad- you are a person that others need for guidance and support. Take care of your own needs and you will be better equipped to care for others. I hope this helps in some small way, and again- sorry for being a jackass. I love the Ramones!
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