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)