Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I probably won't be posting for a while--and I wanted thank you all for doing what you do.

Especially gniz, Jordan, IC and Sounder.

Both within and beyond the terror and joys of life resides a boundless and indestructible equanimity.

Two final things:

--Whenever possible, give the gift of no fear.
--Whenever possible, allow yourself the entirety of this moment.

Friday, September 07, 2007

It was September

It was September of '94 or '84
Doesn't really matter much anymore

The sky was clear
The crew was here
All systems go!

And she was on track
To payback the kickback
The only thing they missed was the simple fact

The hold was overflowed
With darkness undertow

It was September of '94 or '84
Doesn't really matter much anymore

Sometimes everything seems so clear
The people that you're holdin near
The demons that ya call your fear

And she was on track
To payback the kickback
The only thing they missed was the simple fact

The ship had run aground
The captain made no sound
At all.


It has been a really good week. I am kind of starting a new phase in my life--a phase in which I can really start to see that there really are no "new phases", just an ever unfolding moment. This sounds a little, well, suspect... As if I am tooting my own Zen trumpet:

"Hey looky here!!--every moment is a new brand new moment, there is only the moment, and this moment is simultaneously connected with all other moments... etc.etc.. yada yada."

Nevertheless, though I jest, I am beginning to understand, and maybe just ever ever so slightly beginning to shed myself of my self. The intro to this post is a remnant of my past, when I held on to my darkness, suffocated myself with it, and I, as the captain, made no sound at all--even while aware of the simple fact that I was bringing myself down.

Things are falling into place, or rather, they are being seen in their place, not in some way that my mind wants them to be.

I have finally started to actually allow my focus to be here and now. It is a very difficult thing to do. I have a long way to go--the rest of my life--to keep on going--mindfulness is a never ending effort--yet somehow I feel that it can be an effortless effort as well...

I think the biggest thing that has helped me has been in answering the question: Why sit zazen? I have come to the answer. Which is, of course, there is no answer. To do something wholeheartedly with no answer, no gain, no benefit. The point of life is to live.

I used to really despise the kind of stuff like in the latter paragraph. It all seemed so dogmatic. Fresh from the zen vending machine--you know the one down the hall on the second floor--yup, the black one, that's it. Koans two for a dollar. Then on the other hand I really appreciated it too, but really in an intellectual kind of way. Something has changed in my approach and I don't necessarily know what it is, but I am able to really let go more, to allow life to be what it is while still taking care of life.

I think to let go is to not be afraid to be the person you want to be while at the same time "letting go" of all of the things(good, neutral, and bad) that are a result of actually being or trying to be that person.

I also think that to not be afraid of life is to see the balance of other people, other beings, and how they are all part of a interconnected, um, hate to say it but, love or harmony. So basically I am really happy that there are a lot of really nice people out there who aren't trying to kill me or who don't feel they must be totally cruel and selfish towards others. Of course I am happy that my family has helped me to be in a place where I have all the basics of food, shelter, and friendship. I will do my best to extend these simple gifts onto others who do not have them. Yet we all have the responsibility to take care of our own personal situations as best we can.


"By eliminating disturbances we redouble the disease."--Cho Setsu

"...there is no thinker behind the thought. Thought itself is the thinker."--Walpola Rahula from What the Buddha Taught

"Both day and night, allow all things to come into and reside within your mind. Allow your mind and all things to function together as a whole."--Master Dogen

"The greatest gift that one can give to oneself or another is the gift of no fear."--unknown

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Sometimes there is not much to say. To be able to enjoy a noble silence with another is a blessing.

I would just like to say thank you to Aaron and Jordan for extending their wisdom onto me and others.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Desire Part One (of a zillion)

Desire. What can I say about this that hasn't been said a million times before? Not too much. But there is one point that is important because it is a trap that I fall into time after time again.

I have an unwanted desire, realize it, label it and immediately proceed to concluding "I must rid myself of this desire."

On the face of it, it's pretty easy to see that I'm just replacing one desire with another.

Yet, the hard part is that even while I am aware of this, I really just don't get it. In other words desire is a really, really, ultra-amazingly subtle thing.

There is nothing wrong with desire, per se, at least I know that much. And intellectually, I can recognize that I would be better off accepting my desires as they are and not adding layer after layer on top of them, but nevertheless this is what I do--like I am on auto-pilot. I guess the more you get used to doing something, the easier it is to keep on doing it. There is a certain psychological momentum we're dealing with here...

So, over and over again I am usually either drawn to one extreme or the other: feeding my desires with hedonistic abandon, or crushing my desires with a fascist zeal. And the whole craziness of it all is that even if I am "aware" of it--I can't even be sure of that awareness because it just might be a false awareness created by my unseen desire. That is why it is such a subtle thing.

Balance is needed.

Another reason that it is so subtle is that all of the expressions of this desire are not usually even expressed in the "real world". The part that actually ends up being expressed in the actual concrete world is just a small fraction of what is actually going on, expressed in the "real world" only as electrons whizzing about within the lump of fat we call a brain.

Just because it is not actually happening in the "real world", though, doesn't mean it is not happening at all. Furthermore, it is the root of what does happen in the "real world".

So just how can we keep from falling into the trap of more and more desire? By being aware of what makes us fall. And by getting up again when we have fallen. There is a Japanese proverb that states: "Fall seven times, stand up eight."


"Rather than just seeing(what is going on), we act upon what we notice instead: 'I shouldn't be wanting pizza. I must stop this desire for pizza.' This very reaction is already more craving. We're desiring an end to desire. We're doing the usual thing again--reaching for, insisting, grabbing. This is bondage, not freedom. This is a subtle but crucial point. There is no bandage to use on this problem that will not itself be the same problem over and over again...

The only way to eradicate this problem is to see it
(for what it is) and thereby no longer feed it."--from Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen

"By eliminating disturbances we redouble the disease."--Cho Setsu (quoted by Master Dogen)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why the Hell am I Doing This?

For as long (not very) as I have been doing zazen (sitting meditation) a certain line of thought inevitably pops up: "Why the hell are you doing this?... What is the point? Ooooh you're gonna get all enlightened, totally zen..." Stuff like that.

"If you expect something from zazen you have created two goals: zazen and the purpose of zazen. If you want to do zazen, just do zazen.

Perhaps you may ask 'Why should I do this?' When this happens, what you must do is just forget any expectations you have about zazen and just sit."

--paraphrased from Steve Hagen's comments in You Have to Say Something by Dainin Katagiri

"To some people, thinking about how to solve all the world’s problems might seem very important, how to help all the people in the Third World, how to set the world right. Compared with these things, watching our breath seems insignificant, and most people think, ‘Why waste time doing that?’

People have confronted me about this, saying: ‘What are you monks doing sitting there? What are you doing to help humanity? You’re just selfish, you expect people to give you food while you just sit there and watch your breath. You’re running away from the real world.’

But what is the real world? Who is really running away, and from what? What is there to face? We find that what people call the ‘real world’ is the world they believe in, the world that they are committed to or the world that they know and are familiar with. But that world is a condition of mind.

Meditation is actually confronting the real world, recognizing and acknowledging it as it really is, rather than believing in it or justifying it or trying to mentally annihilate it."

--from Now is the Knowing by Ajahn Sumedho

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Retire the Eye

It has been a good avatar. But all things must pass.

I've always liked this particular Escher. Acknowledging the "darkness" within.

It's also a good representation of Buddhist wisdom:

In life, death.

We are but walking skeletons.

Here is my new avatar.

If you look really really close you can see the little skull in his eye too.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Spark That Bled

--words by The Flaming Lips, from the album The Soft Bulletin

I accidentally touched my head
And noticed that I had been bleeding,
For how long I didn't know.

What was this, I thought, that struck me?

What kind of weapons have they got?

The softest bullet ever shot…

I stood up and I said Yeah!

I stood up and I said Hey! Yeah!

From this moment on,
Blaring like a trumpet,

Coming from above us
And somewhere below…

The confidence of knowing…
Descending to relieve us
Of the struggle to believe it's so.

I stood up and I said Yeah!

I spoke up and I said Hey!

I stood up and I said Hey! Yeah!

And it seemed to cause a chain reaction,

It had momemtum it was gaining traction…

It was all the rage it was all the fashion…
The outreached hands had resigned themselves to
Holdin' on to something that they never had,

And that's too bad--
Cause in reality there was no reaction.

I accidentally touched my head
And noticed that I had been bleeding,
For how long I didn't know.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Recurring Themes

The following quotes are simply a reflection of my intuition--occluded as it may well be.

"It's not meant to be a strife
It's not meant to be a struggle uphill

-from "Undo" by Bjork from the album Vespertine

"The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living."

-General Omar Bradley (1893-1981)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Mirror

Suppose reality is a mirror and consciousness is vision.

What consciousness sees in the mirror is nothing other than its own image. It is not satisfied, however, with what it sees. It does not realize that what it is seeing is itself. It takes the mirror to be itself and undertakes to change the mirror. Consciousness stains itself with the blood and sweat of its efforts.

Yet there is no improvement. Its image remains quite the same.

Consciousness redoubles its efforts and continues to try to "fix" the mirror. Its vision becomes one-pointed and the reflection of itself becomes like an apparition, an illusion. Its work is the only thing that is real, the only thing that it can see. Yet the awareness of its reflection is a persistent, troubling memory and from time to time consciousness sees itself in the mirror.

Despite all of its best intentions and efforts the image remains hauntingly, lovingly, laughingly...

...the same.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


there is a place
of unbelievable light
the body leaves
no trace

Sunday, May 06, 2007


the mind is a tomb
in a dark graveyard
it is haunted by the ghosts
of all of us

Monday, April 02, 2007

Zappa Koan

"Oh no I don't believe it.
You say that you think you know the meaning of love?"

-Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

One Day It'll All Be Fine?

I came across a nice, optimistic quote this morning and I re-realized that at heart I do believe, o garwsh, cheezy as it sounds that everything'll be just fine!

It also seemed to tie in nicely with a thought from the previous 'Multitudinosity' post:

"What are people actually thinking about? We don't even know because we are too caught up in the fear-consumption cycle of our modern world. I see it, and can actually feel it, a sickening feeling of fear every time I turn on the local evening news or CNN or Fox...It's like a cold sweat on the inside of my stomach."

Here's the nice optimistic quote (from this interview):

"Despite the evening news, I am an optimist. I think intelligence of the species is greater than the intelligence of the individual; and the intelligence of the earth itself, the living biosphere, is greater than that of any species; and there are hierarchies of intelligence quite invisible to those who think that the abominations of politics are the important things happening on this planet."--Robert Anton Wilson

And in case that was a bit too fluffy clouds and lotus blossoms for you I'd just like to say that notions of cosmic consciousness and 'hierarchies of intelligence' generally make me want to puke if only for the reasons that many good hearted and well-intentioned people have lovingly handed over their common sense and scepticism to hop on board the 'New Age' spaceship. Nevertheless there are a few new agey ideas that are somewhat plausible. But that is a whole 'nother topic that I really don't want to touch with a ten foot orgone generator.

Here's more from the same interview:

"Can (we) look critically, even momentarily, at (our) false dogmatic certainties, and see the statistical possibilities and probabilities? All the rage and alienation around us these days is caused by the hopeless feeling that the stupidities and brutalities on the news every night will continue until they blow us away entirely."

Yes, we can.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Variations on a Theme

Theme: Responsibility. You always hear that we should be responsible for our actions. Actions are easy. The subtler point may be that it is our attitudes, our intentions which we must be responsible for as well.

I keep telling myself: Be responsible for your own mind! But it happens to be a damn hard thing to do. Here's some excerpts from a person calling himself 'Proteus'. The comment (good luck finding it) is about 1/3 of the way down the whole page (look for 10:03 am--the time is listed at the bottom of each comment).

It is one of the few meditations--dense as it may be--on authority and power(of which I have always had a problem with)--that struck me in the same way that many Zen writings have: like a good shot of ice-cold water to the face. On the other hand, it does seem a bit 'Adbuster-ish' in its all-inclusive cynicism and implication of depression or mental illness. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the author is a contributor to Adbusters.

"Authority exists only in the vacuum of our lack of awareness."

" The solution lies within, yet we opine and swim in our own excrement and ponder why we are becoming ill. It seems that we are manifesting a reality so grim that we are making our complacency impossible to ignore."

" The journey is inwards. So you don't like the tactics of the State? Guess what? We reconstruct it every day. This is where the false dichotomies presented through politics and religion reflect the underlying truth to us."

-Cover Art from Pink Floyd's Animals

I am becoming more and more convinced that reality demands one thing from us. Recognition.

I am also becoming more and more convinced that the older I get the more and more reality demands to be faced. But still I don't want to face it. In fact I have gotten quite good at not facing it. Or, in other words, I have gotten quite good at suffering.

Being convinced generally leads to convictions… of which I am convinced are quite dangerous unless they can be dropped quickly and easily when the time comes to drop them.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hardcore Zen Remix

I don't think Brad Warner is God. He simply has some useful things to say about Buddhism and is in my opinion an important figure for people who recognize the value of just stopping for a sec and questioning reality. The following are quotes taken directly from the blog 'Hardcore Zen' by Brad Warner.


"I guess all I’m really trying to do is make a public record of my own experience in the hopes that it might be of some use to someone. I’m not trying to win followers or converts to myself or even to Buddhism. That’s a waste of time and effort." 10.2.06

"Don't ever accept crap teaching." 9.8.06

"A loosely defined but generally accepted picture is emerging in the West these days of what is and is not 'Zen.' …If I’ve ever given the impression that the things I say and do are somehow supported by some nebulous thing out there in the ozone called 'Zen,' I apologize. I’ve never deliberately set out to do so. Ain’t no such thang anyhow." 10.17.06

"There is no such thing as a written teaching that means exactly the same thing to whoever reads it no matter how hard you try to preserve the words." 11.19.06

"I can't stop people misinterpreting me unless I just shut up forever. And I'm not gonna do that. So, go ahead and misinterpret away. It's not my problem." 9.20.06

"I’m also trying to ruin the ability of people to run scams like this(spiritual/religious scams) by constantly demonstrating that, in spite of being a Zen Master, I, for one, am still a buffoon. …In the end, though, I do this because, in Katagiri Roshi’s words, 'You have to say something.'" 10.2.06


"It(Buddhism) is not based on thought but upon action. It has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with what you do." 7.31.06

"…you can't just talk and dream about Zen. You've got to actually do it. …Far too many would-be Zen practitioners are waiting for some perfect moment to begin practice. Maybe they're hoping the meet the Zen Master of their dreams, or they're waiting for a chance to attend some hot shit retreat way off in the mountains, or they're saving up for plane fare to Nepal. Anything to put off actually getting down to business. The only ones who ever get it, though, are the ones who just say 'fuck you' and get on with it." 7.18.06

"Zazen is perfect freedom. But you can only find perfect freedom in what is a very restrictive practice. It’s ironic. But it happens to be true. Real freedom has nothing to do with vainly trying to tear down all boundaries and restraints. Real freedom is when you discover that the only person who has ever, or could ever, bind you is you. What appears to you as outside sources or authority do not come from outside. …This is very hard to accept. I know it right down to my toenails and I still have a tremendously difficult time with it. I still fight it every damned day." 8.26.06

"It's not really an appealing practice, when you get right down to it. It wasn't terribly appealing to me. But once I got into it, I could see its practicality and truth. It's like dieting and exercise. Dieting and exercise are hard work. But it's really the only way to lose weight. Other methods may be quicker. But they never really work. We all know this. Yet still we hope there might be an easier solution. There isn't. And there never will be. It's inherent in the problem itself. The human body just works like that. Same deal with Zen, which is very practical and very much physical labor." 8.4.06

"Most people, when they do some kind of meditative practice like Zazen, hope to be successful at it. …It may be that the times you feel least successful in your sittings are the most valuable while the times that Zazen feels successful are times when you've gone wrong in the practice. …What you are doing in Zazen is quietly and carefully studying whatever happens to be going on at the very moment of your practice. And by 'studying' I don’t mean intellectually considering it. You study yourself by allowing yourself to be exactly as you are without any consideration. Consideration can only get in the way. It’s a distraction. Even considering your breath is a distraction from practice. Any effort you make to become calm, clear, Enlightened, Awakened, have an 'Opening experience' or whatever you call it, is just a distraction from real practice." 8.24.06

"We are constantly dumping obscene amounts of toxic garbage into our minds and then we wonder why we're so muddled and unable to stay focused. There's a kind of centeredness you get from Zazen practice that you cannot get anywhere else. And there's a power to practice with a group that cannot be found in any other activity. It is truly an amazing thing our buddy Mr. Gotama discovered all those many years ago. You ought to try it sometime." 10.15.06

"If you cannot find the truth of your life right here, you will not find it anywhere else. There is no anywhere else." 4.20.06


"The person who reacts is responsible for his own actions. No one gets let off the hook. That ain't the way this universe works. …Take some responsibility for the things you have made." 4.22.06

"There are burning issues of international and historical importance that you must take care of right this very second and they are not thousands of miles away. They are right here. It's only when you attend to these matters very close that you can do anything about the ones that are far away." 11.13.06

"The world out there is not something apart from you. When it changes in ways you don’t like, who is responsible? Someone else? Not you? Yeah, right. And when things go the way you want, watch out. See what your own reactions really are. See what they are not." 11.9.06

"Peace is established by and large through the threat of violent retribution towards those who would disturb it. I do not like this fact. But I cannot deny it. This is something which we must certainly change. But we will not change it by refusing to face it, by pretending that the way to peace is all beads and flowers and love-ins, and incense and groovy spirituality. It isn't. The real way to lasting peace is to establish a realistic outlook and stick with it no matter if we like it or not." 9.19.06

"We exist for the people and things we encounter as much as we exist for ourselves." 10.10.06


"Basically I hate talking 'Zen.' I'd much rather discuss just about anything at all other than Zen. This is because most people who want to talk Zen have no real interest in the subject. They're not serious at all. They'd never even consider sitting on a cushion for an hour every day facing themselves down the way you'd face down an angry Rottwieller intent on making mincemeat out of your internal organs." 7.3.06

"It's(Buddhism) an understanding arrived at by not thinking about anything. This sounds impossible to most people because we assume that the only way we can understand things is to think about them." 7.26.06

"The reason we do not see the truth for ourselves is only because we are closing our eyes, holding our hands over our ears and shouting, 'Lah! Lah!! Lah!! I can’t hear you!!!!' …The pain we experience in life comes not from the outside world and circumstances beyond our control doing awful things to us. It comes from our constant and entirely futile attempts to shut ourselves off from the reality that is actually the largest part of our true selves and to try and live in an absurd and artificial universe of our own mental creation." 10.2.06

"Buddhism has nothing to do with attaining higher states. Higher states are just a fantasy. You may be able to create a pretty fantasy and devise ways of attaining it. But what you have attained is only the fulfillment of your fantasy. …What is really needed is not the ability to induce temporary lapses into so-called 'higher states,' but the ability to understand thoroughly and exactly what this state we have right here and right now truly is (and is not). This is the key to everything." 8.22.06

"'From birth to death it's just like this' means that this moment, this reality, right now is what is really true. Everything else is bupkiss. All your thoughts, ideas, clever notions, fears about the future, guilt about the past, plans, schemes, and all the rest are just images in your head. Nothing more. The only thing that ever really counts is what's right here, right in front of your nose." 9.30.06

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ahhh.... multitudinosity. I looked it up and it wasn't even listed in my 'American Heritage Dictionary'. Ah well, doesn't mean it's not legit. Come to think of it words that end with -osity are kinda cool words: luminosity, viscosity, animosity, all great words right? Even the-ocity words are pretty cool: ferocity, reciprocity.... anyways. I am trying to stay away from the 'delete' button on the keyboard so bear with me.

This is much more zen, right? Yeah, right as if.... So, sticking right with the etymology thing we've got goin is words that begin with the letter K. Somehow the letter K is just like a force in and of itself. Wha? Who knows--well except when k is silent as in 'know' then its power is inverted and it becomes a total wuss. Let's start small and innocent: Cool-Aid vs. Kool-Aid. See what I mean? Okay, how about a little twist now: magic vs. magick. Hell, even putting it at the end of a word makes it somehow stronger (actually 'magick' isn't that great of an example because the 'c' is still in there). Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is one of the least used letters e.g. 'k'-words (and also 'q'-words and 'z'-words).

So it is the basic 'kuh' sound as well that has a uniqueness when paired with the visual or written symbol k and maybe in our brains workings this sound/symbol combination is singled out as the brain may have to work through its habitual 'c'-word/sound association and maybe an extra neuron or two is fired thus giving 'k' more "power". Maybe not--but I think this ridiculous exercise in pseudo-linguistic analysis is at least burning a few extra calories in the form of brain metabolism which is another subject I am veering off into having no idea whatsoever. But I think it's fun.

Whatever. Yet I do feel pretty strongly that the average person ought to get up an run around inside their brains a little more often--you know shake out some cobwebs fire off some receptors get that lump of fat goin like some crazy thunderstorm and do it while you can! Be grateful that you can--someday you might not be able to. So even if it is just "useless" thought... I really believe though that thinking for oneself is of critical or kritikal importance.

Back to multitudinosity (ironically, perhaps) with this quote from an essay entitled 'Enlightenment and Ignorance' by D.T. Suzuki:
"In fact, our logical as well as practical consciousness is too given up to analysis and ideation; that is to say, we cut up realities into elements in order to understand them; but when they are put together to make the original whole, its elements stand out too conspicuously defined, and we do not view the whole 'in one thought'… an effort is to be made to go beyond our relative empirical consciousness, which attaches itself to the multitudinosity and not to the unity of things."

This effort which stands out among all other efforts is what I like to call the cultivation of mindfulness, or simply honest awareness, some would call it zazen. The real bummer for my analytical mind being that I feel an intuitive notion that true zazen itself is devoid of effort. My mind grasps and grasps to explain this just a little bit more but can only reply that it is perhaps the effort to obliterate effort.

I came up with a little saying well before I ever started to actually practice zazen and it was: "To explain not thinking in terms of thinking." One can plainly see that I am in what Suzuki calls the "hopelessly entangling logical mesh" of practical consciousness. Perhaps, but appearances can be deceiving.

Back to thinking for oneself.Most of the information we hear and see today has been taken over by the media/political/industrial complex. Conversely, most of the information we don't see and hear today has been taken over by the military complex (and much less obviously by our own individual ego complex--which is a whole nother point entirely).

It saddens me to see so many thoughts out there (virtual and actual) being preyed upon by the tunnel vision effect of these monolithic, monophonic, monotonic minorities(as in they are all owned/controlled) by a miniscule sliver of the populace.

Good people are doing the dirty work for them! It's not that the gabillion blogs out there that are abjectly political in content are invalid by any means, but I just don't believe that the communication going on here on planet earth is an accurate representation of what people are actually thinking about.

What are people actually thinking about? We don't even know because we are too caught up in the fear-consumption cycle of our modern world. I see it, and can actually feel it, a sickening feeling of fear every time I turn on the local evening news or CNN or Fox. The graphics, the headlines, the ticker at the bottom of the screen, the cornily inserted stories of heartwarming common people inserted between sensationalized reports of human cruelty, greed, vengeance, and confusion. It's like a cold sweat on the inside of my stomach.

The fnords have gone viral. Be mindful! A personal note in memory of RAW: You were/are/will always be a great teacher and kyosaku-like inspiration to many! Thank you so much.

"I would hate to be taken seriously. Serious people are always so grim and uptight that they make me want to dance naked on the lawn playing a flute."--Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007)