I have to say the Brad Haters and the Brad Bashing Fests have been a bit odd for me.
You see, I like the guy, I like the man. I sit with him. I've been sitting with him weekly (I think I missed one Saurday out of all of them). He's my teacher.
As luck would have it, I've had several teachers. So I actually have others I could compare him to. He's beyond compare. I feel very lucky, at this stage in my practice to have met such a person--a person of no rank--
He is completely unassuming, he is humble. He is funny, he is respectful, he in person is not his writings, but his person. Having met the person, the writings assumed a different perspective for me. Kind of like hearing a radio personality, meeting them in person and then hearing them on the radio again: once you've seen them in person, you can't go back to the way you imagined they would be from only hearing them.
Brad's writings are like that for me now--I don't remember what I thought he would be like from his writings....but they didn't put me off. He put things in a way that was refreshing to me. Actually Brad's style at its core is not dissimilar from my own.
The latest article which caused so much ruckus--all I could say was meh, I've read other things I've liked better--but what he wrote I had a clear understanding for--there was nothing shocking to me.
Of the different sangha's I've sat with, the group at Hill Street Brad leads is my favorite of all. I enjoy each and every member--it is quite a special group, kind of like this group, here at Treeleaf, only live and in person.
So I count myself quite lucky. Here in my own town, within walking distance (if only my foot would fully heal), my favorite sangha, and a truly wonderful teacher.
Just this last Saturday, after sitting, 14 of us went out for lunch together and took a walk back along the beach. Brad and I walked together for a while, he, asking me how the week had gone...we chatted a bit, at the light someone wanted to ask him something...there is nothing about him to dislike...he is a thoroughly likeable person.
Strange so many people here who have never met him, never heard him give a lecture, never sat with him, have so much to say about him--sure, responses to his books/articles are valid--but that's such a narrow slice of the whole.
Oh, well, I don't understand it, but it does leave me an 'outsider' here because I am not a Brad hater, and Brad hating crops up on a fairly regular basis here.
I've been sitting with him weekly just coming up on a year in a month or so--so I barely know him but all in time, zen time, zazen time. This is a slow practice, this zazen. I do know that there is no other way for me.
I do know that Brad's excellence as a teacher for me is as evident to me as my legs carrying me forward (bad foot or no).
I'm sorry there is so much bad feeling here for my teacher. I see no point in defending him, as I do not, could not, and would not speak for him.
I feel protective of him--as if he were a rare sighted bloom of an endangered plant. I'd like to put a fence around him, a glass globe over him--but that won't do at all. His very fragility must find its own way in this world exactly as it is, after all isn't that how he (we all) got here in the first place?
The world is a small sangha, after all is said and done.
in deep gratitude to all teachers, past, present and future,