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Thread: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    The thing is, can anyone really 'teach' Zen? In any way?

    Mostly, it seems a matter of encouraging practice and correcting the ego's endless attempts to make it something like what we all imagine the rest of life is 'about' - progress, attaining, and generally creating the optimal situational happiness we feel we can, generally by expanding our illusions if control - outer, and if that fails, inner.

    Zen isn't a method, a posture, or even really an activity (although Zazen is). How do you 'teach' someone to wake up to something that is so obvious that only our own Herculean efforts at not getting it can successfully keep us deluded?

    So how does physical proximity matter? In a way, being slightly removed allows the ability to ask a 'dumb' question without fear of immediate social consequences - probably the same questions that others would ask if they were honest with themselves and not so slavish to what we may imagine the teacher or our peers expect from us?

    The semi-anonymity also prompts us to express our real pompous jack-assery in print where it is less likely to be denied - and hence real correction can take place.

    Thoughts?

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hi.

    reference to Brad's statement?

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    His blog. Harder to cut-paste in iPhone.

    Chet

  4. #4

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.


  5. #5

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Brad Warner insists Zen can't be taught on the net.

    and it can't.


    other people say he is wrong.

    prove it.

  6. #6

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hello,

    to my knowledge Jundo never claimed that the setup of the Treeleaf community was the most ideal situation imaginable when it came to study Zen. Didn't someone suggest a tongue-in-cheek tagline at the beginning of Treeeleaf's inception that went something like "We're better than nothing"?

    Without Brad's first book I would not have found my way to Jundo and Treeleaf. I am grateful for that. If you or anyone else is unhappy about their practice situation, then do something about it. If you are happy with the way things are, just practice. What Brad might insist or might not insist does not have any importance per se, unless we make his statement an important one. I suggest Brad should do the best he can to realize and express annuttara-samyak-sambodhi...and we should do the same. The title of this post inivtes answers along
    the line of "Brad is right....Brad is wrong..." I will personally refrain from discussing it any further. A topic a la "what are the pros and cons of studying/practicing Zen on the net" might lead to more constructive answers.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  7. #7

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    other people say he is wrong.

    prove it.

  8. #8

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Brad is right in some aspects, but I think dismisses others that make such venues a very welcomed place. Many faiths use different media to reach out those seeking a particular path. I am not sure how Zen Buddhism is any different.

    BTW....really...if you read the blog post, I personally think he needed a Zennie argument for what was at the root of the whole post: close the comments section. I do think it really got to him. He stated many times he never peeked there nor cared for what people wrote. But. He did peek. Some comments were good responses to his posts. Some were just trolling. Its his blog and he can do what he wants with it. I just wished he just said, "I got tired of reading nonsense comments. I don't have time to edit. I'm closing the comments section."

  9. #9
    Myoshin
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hey all.
    I agree with Hans. I do not think talking about Brad's statement in either right or wrong will do much of anything, other than produce a possible heated argument over internet vs. real. I have never been to a real Zen temple, but I have sat with real people, both here and the small sitting group of my friends who were interested in what I did back home.

    Maybe we all could voice, as Hans suggested, pros and cons to the real (what is real anyway?) and the internet.

    Pros:
    -As Chet said, in an internet setting one is more likely to speak his mind or express his own 'Jack-assery' through type than compared to in person.
    -The forum can be reached by anyone at any time. Making it easier for people in different timezones.
    -The forum is open to the world, not just a specific area. Making everything more diverse and culture rich.

    Cons:
    -Practice is more of a discipline of self. No one is forcing you to sit zazen for 'x' amount of time as if you were in a real temple.
    -Tone and expression is not always clear in the written word causing some confusion
    -The forum can be reached by anyone at any time. Making it easier for people in different timezones. This doubles as a con because one could become, for lack of a better term, addicted to treeleaf. Where as a real temple has certain hours of operation.

    Just a few I could think of off the top of my head.

    Good topic!

    Gassho,
    Kyle

  10. #10
    Member Seona's Avatar
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    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I am personally very grateful for both Treeleaf and Jundo. There is no Buddhist community in my area [which always surprises me because I live in a fair-sized city] and I am not in a position to travel and sit with a group elsewhere. I try to do the best I can with what is available to me - I visit the websites of Zen temples and look at their reading lists and then try to find those books at the library. I check out audio dharma talks. I listen to Jundo's talks. I sit regularly and put into practice things Jundo recommends here.

    I have noticed very positive changes in myself since I began studying Zen a little over a year ago. It may not be ideal, but I appreciate what I have, and I am pretty happy with what I have learned and accomplished so far. I think it is wonderful that Jundo is attempting to make Zen more accessible for folks like me, and it is nice to know that if I have any questions, my teacher and my sangha are only a click away.



    Seona

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Brad said: I've said this before and I'll say it again, I don't keep this blog as a way of teaching Zen. Zen cannot be taught via the Internet or on a blog. Same as you couldn't teach someone how to play basketball via the Internet or on a blog.
    Yup, ya gotta do it! Ya gotta learn it yerself. But let's not get caught up in the duality of yes-net teaching and no-net teaching, or the pro and con of it either. Clearly, there is a place for net teaching of zen, and we know this from OUR experience here at Treeleaf, which clearly is not Brad's experience. So let's move on...

  12. #12

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    "Be lamps unto yourselves.
    Be refuges unto yourselves.
    Take yourself no external refuge.
    Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
    Hold fast to the truth as a refuge.
    Look not for a refuge in anyone besides yourselves.
    And those, Ananda, who either now or after I am dead,
    Shall be a lamp unto themselves,
    Shall betake themselves as no external refuge,
    But holding fast to the truth as their lamp,
    Holding fast to the truth as their refuge,
    Shall not look for refuge to anyone else besides themselves,
    It is they who shall reach to the very topmost height;
    But they must be anxious to learn."

  13. #13
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    Brad Warner insists Zen can't be taught on the net.

    and it can't.


    other people say he is wrong.

    prove it.
    Honey, I got started with Zen before I even knew what it was. Are you going to discount my first four years of Zen practice because I didn't have a flesh and blood teacher (or teacher of any kind, really)?

    If you propose to answer that question, I wonder - how exactly would you know?

    Chet

  14. #14

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Keishin wrote:
    Brad Warner insists Zen can't be taught on the net.

    and it can't.
    Zen cannot be taught because there is nothing to teach.

    other people say he is wrong.

    prove it.
    I just did.

    Gassho,
    -K2

  15. #15

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I am a HS theatre teacher. My school was closed for two weeks because of swine flu. During this time I taught via distance learning using discussion boards, wikis, skype and other social networking tools. There are some things in theatre that I can’t teach virtually. Acting much like Zen is the art of doing. However, I found that using the discussion boards many of the students were much more willing to open up and the discussions on acting theory were much more fruitful. It seems to me that it is much the same with Zen and Buddhism. There are things that would clearly be easier to grasp in a temple with your teacher by your side, but at the same time there is a place for technology too. Living in the Middle East I just can’t pop down the street and meditate with my sangha. Without Treeleaf or Jundo I would be on my own. Brad himself warned about the dangers studying and practicing without a teacher in “Sit Down and Shut Up.” Luckily my teacher and sangha are only a wireless connection away.

    Imsu

  16. #16
    Member Seona's Avatar
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    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imsu
    Brad himself warned about the dangers studying and practicing without a teacher in “Sit Down and Shut Up.” Luckily my teacher and sangha are only a wireless connection away.
    I have seen the warning about studying without a teacher floating around the Net, but no one ever says why it's dangerous. What is it that we should be wary of? I've always found it rather curious that the same people who are so adamant that we do not practice alone are silent on what exactly we need to guard against. It doesn't make sense.

    I remember when I first joined another online Buddhist community and was reading about the necessity of a teacher. I posed the question - What do you do with a teacher? Not one person answered me. It really doesn't seem like a hard question. In fact, with such importance placed on having a teacher, it should be quite easy.

    I guess I'm missing something, but it's difficult to say, because no one ever wants to talk about it. It makes Zen appear quite clique-ish.

    Seona

  17. #17

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    For Brad, in his opinion, you cannot teach zen on the net. Thats his opinion and he is welcome to it. I would agree with some things, sure. Regardless "Zen" isnt only happening when a teacher meets their student (s). Also regardless of how that teacher and student communicate. The discussion is pointless on this subject. as its all sensations we have that are muddled by our own limited experience of them. I say online is good -someone else says different. we are saying good and bad, right /wrong on ideas that explicitly say to let go of that thinking - then pick it up again... if someone says teaching zen on the net is not possible then for them this is true off we go on our marry way down our path. If DSI says 100% the same thing .... off we go on our marry way... Some folks are convinced that we will all burn in a firey hell too...what are you going to do... argue with them(not trying to draw some comparison of brad or dsi to the last example either..just using a more extreme example and one that i have had direct experience with)

    Anywho, I do not need anyone to tell me what does, or does not work for "Me". Guidance is always welcome. Heeding it is still up to me. and I will learn(well i hope i learn my lessons ).

    If the opportunity arose to go sit with Brad / any one for that matter, here in my home town i would, no hesitation. Since Zen buddhism is scarce in these parts i do what i can with what i have. simple. and what i "get" is invaluable!

    ... my way your - way anything goes tonight!

    Gassho
    Shohei - my pompous jack-assery added in print! (loved that line btw)

  18. #18
    Senior Member Shonin's Avatar
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    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Seona, there were some recent specific warnings in another thread here recently. But it's an irritating read at best. LOL

    I can't comment too muchon it myself, but basically the teacher is the voice of experience. It is their job to essentially guide you in a certain direction. There's traps and pitfalls. Some realizations may cause us to come to different conclusions. Or form different more selfish interpretations of much of the Dharma.

    Take for instance the precept of not stealing. If it is all us why not take it? It's us! But that's not really the right way to look at it as you can tell from the writings and discussions in the Precepts study section.

    One can come to the conclusion that they are the universe and everything in it. Everything in the universe is them. But with the guiding hand we understand that the statement " I am the Universe" is really clinging to a self that doesn't actually exist and can lead to arrogance and actually do more harm than good.

    Books aren't so interactive as a teacher. You can't ask the book questions and get responses or discuss something on many deeper levels.

    A teacher can see some of the patterns of misunderstanding as they crop up and encourage one in a different fashion. Help keep the foundation solid and pure and let that slowly be built upon as opposed to "wrong views" building upon each other.

    But that's just my view.

    As for Brad, he can think how he likes. For me, the experience has been different from what he says is possible. So to each their own.*shrugs*

    Dave _/_

  19. #19

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seona
    Quote Originally Posted by Imsu
    Brad himself warned about the dangers studying and practicing without a teacher in “Sit Down and Shut Up.” Luckily my teacher and sangha are only a wireless connection away.
    I have seen the warning about studying without a teacher floating around the Net, but no one ever says why it's dangerous. What is it that we should be wary of? I've always found it rather curious that the same people who are so adamant that we do not practice alone are silent on what exactly we need to guard against. It doesn't make sense.
    I personally do kind of see the point of having a teacher. If you are to have some kind of enlightenment moment, I could see someone with out a teacher getting carried away with it and traveling down all kinds of unhealthy paths. Even beginning to see yourself as some kind of god figure. I see this a lot with my students who start frequently using emotional memory as an acting technique. One might have great experience with one character, but then start playing in all kinds of unhealthy emotional gymnastics to achieve the same effect. I will agree that the guru that says we absolutely cannot study on our own is equally as dangerous, but as we do we ourselves need to make sure that we have our anchors in place, and to seek out a community that will not let us get carried away.
    Imsu

  20. #20

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    It really hurts me to see people in this sangha so bothered by Ven. Warner's comments.
    We can all be attached to our views, even a Zen teacher.
    I also recognize that Brad's comments are particularly painful to people who were initially inspired to take up Zen practice from his books.

    So I'm going to take a HUGE left turn at Albuquerque and go way off subject here in a brief attempt to make everyone feel a little better.
    Brad uses basketball as his analogy for Zen practice but is that truly appropriate?
    I'm going to say Zen Buddhism is a lot more like poker.
    Poker is a skill based game with luck inextricably fused in. Just like life.

    Nobody here knows this, but I'm actually a pretty good poker player. I learned in college and played my fair share of games.
    Won a lot, lost a lot too...
    Now, in the last 10 years or so there has been an explosion of interest in Texas Hold 'Em poker and numerous on line gaming halls have opened.
    Initially this took a lot of criticism from the pros.
    They said you couldn't read your opponent's face on line, you couldn't look for "tells" on line and there was no way; NO WAY anyone could ever beat the "real deal" by learning to play poker on line.

    Well guess what?
    Some of the most recent and most skilled winners of the World Series of Poker started off as on line players.
    Greg Raymer and Chris Moneymaker for example.
    In fact, nowadays it's pretty routine for people to have to pre-qualify for tournaments by winning an on line tournament first.
    On of the old greats, Doyle Brunson did a HUGE 180 on his opinion of on-line poker rooms!
    Now he runs "Doyle's Room", an on line poker service. Interesting change of heart, eh?

    So please don't regret your participation in Treeleaf. I know I certainly don't.

    Let me leave you with this quote from Confucius:
    "The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”
    Gassho,
    -K2

  21. #21
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZenDave
    Seona, there were some recent specific warnings in another thread here recently. But it's an irritating read at best. LOL

    I can't comment too muchon it myself, but basically the teacher is the voice of experience. It is their job to essentially guide you in a certain direction. There's traps and pitfalls. Some realizations may cause us to come to different conclusions. Or form different more selfish interpretations of much of the Dharma.

    Take for instance the precept of not stealing. If it is all us why not take it? It's us! But that's not really the right way to look at it as you can tell from the writings and discussions in the Precepts study section.
    This could only come about via either intellectualization without realization or realization corrupted by rationalization after the fact...typically spaced out in time.

    One can come to the conclusion that they are the universe and everything in it. Everything in the universe is them. But with the guiding hand we understand that the statement " I am the Universe" is really clinging to a self that doesn't actually exist and can lead to arrogance and actually do more harm than good.
    Nah...not so much. People talk a big talk about this sort of thing, but I can't imagine it ever happening. You have to understand that the realization doesn't just destroy the boundaries between self and other, it also destroys motivations based on self and other. The profound practical joke that is and has been one's own stupidity at not realizing something so blindingly obvious - that was the primary 'color' of my own experience. 'Spirituality in service of ego' comes back in all the mundane ways...trying to 'recapture' the realization (very profound stupidity there), or thinking it was some 'state' other than the only 'state' that ever really exists - which is the one in which you are right now.

    Books aren't so interactive as a teacher. You can't ask the book questions and get responses or discuss something on many deeper levels.
    Discussion doesn't help. It really doesn't. They don't call it the 'gateless gate' for nothin'.



    Chet

  22. #22

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I am happy that Brad turned the comments off. That place had become too much negative, angry and hateful which is just the opposite of Buddhist action of love, kindness and compassion. Part of the reason was that Brad did not accept responsibility to lead and teach in his own comments community. It went so far negative that he had to dissassociate from it. I think you can teach Zen anywhere, anytime. The whole notion of time and space is just a delusion. I also believe that face to face contact between a student and teacher is important. Jundo is trying to provide that as best he can. The bottom line is you do the best you can with what you have. So its not a matter of you can't teach Zen on the net or you can only teach Zen face to face in person, it's both, it's everything, so just keep trying, sitting and learning.
    /Rich

  23. #23

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hi All,

    I am going to make a very "small" comment on this topic ... (actually, it is a little longer than I thought when I started. This topic is close to my heart) ...

    I have seen the warning about studying without a teacher floating around the Net, but no one ever says why it's dangerous. What is it that we should be wary of?
    I believe that an experienced guide is necessary for about the same reasons that one would not take a hike in wild mountains without a guide, or teach oneself to sail the ocean without some experienced words of advice. Without such, there is a very good chance that one will end up lost in the bush, or crashed onto the reefs and rocks in a storm.

    Zazen is a formless practice, without goal ... but that does not mean it can take any form, or head in any direction. Zazen is a clay, and without guiding hands and molding ... the Buddha's philosophy and insights, the guidance of an experienced teacher ... there is a good chance that the clay will crack on baking, or fail to reach its full potential.

    All a "Zen teacher" is, in my opinion, is a teacher ... like any teacher ... a voice of experience and learning (and un-learning, in the case of Zen practice ) who can help keep the student in a healthy direction. We have some music teachers in this Sangha, guiding music students through hours of practicing ... and it is much the same. In fact, it is not the "teacher" so much as the total "Sangha" that does the teaching, each supporting each other and guiding each other (the other, just oneself).

    Now, the "teacher" or the "Sangha" cannot sit one second of Zazen for you. You have to do all the heavy lifting for yourself ... your "self" sitting and wrestling with its "self" alone. All the teacher/Sangha can offer is a gentle hand of guidance. That has always been true since this Buddhist Way first began ... whether in a monastery with thousands of others, as a hermit or wandering pilgrim, or a member of an "on-line" Sangha, the work is for each of us is with "me, myself and I (and not-I, in the Buddhist case)", all alone on our little Zafu.

    Now, I will say this about the title of this thread ... one may not be able to "teach Zen on the net" unless one uses some skill, and great care Frankly, I don't see my honored Dharma Brother's "basketball jump-shot by observing" analogy, because there is no jump shot here ... just sitting still, manifesting silence and illumination, body-mind dropped away, with many Precepts, philosophical points and Buddhist perspectives to master. Frankly, I have never been to a Zen group or even a large monastery where one got to "hang out" with the "master" for more than a few hours here and there (Zen masters are busy ... they don't hang around). Taking this "Zen Way" is more one of inner (and outer, not two) contemplation/non-contemplation, put into action in our own lives ... no teacher can teach much of that by just observing how he sits and chews his meals (you have to chew your own meals).

    As this Sangha is about to enter its 4th year ... I frankly find our experience here about the same ... often much better, rarely worse ... as most "bricks and mortars" Zen centers that are geared for lay folks and meet in a building.

    Here's why:

    Because (as I said), in this practice, you have to do the "heavy lifting ... and sitting" yourself ... your "self" by its "self". The teacher and community are just a support and guide. That is true in any Sangha or "Zen Group" I have sat with (a monastery is different, to the degree there are ceremonies and "priest craft" to master for a young priest in training.). But, in any lay Sangha ... the focus is sitting.

    Thus, in --any-- Sangha I have sat with ... well, it is just like here: People come and go, stick with the practice and give up, while a few people keep at it year after year ... realizing the true fruits. The community, like ours, is always a few dozen people very active at any time ... some devoted handful who are constantly at the heart ... hundreds who drop in from time to time. There is no community that meets once or twice a week for a quick "talk & Zazen" ... or even for an hour or so every day ... that can offer the support that we can here.

    Look ... my "small comment" has already ended up longer than I anticipated. The only thing is to pile more words on it. Here is something I wrote on this question at IBF ... some folks have read it before ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    It is dangerous to walk this Zen walk without a flesh and blood teacher and companions, much as one would be foolish to set off on a long hike in the wild mountains and deeps woods without some experienced guide and supplies (even though there is "no where" to get to on this trip ... do not think that there are not many traps and pitfalls along the way). One is more likely to wind up wandering in circles, or falling in a ravine, than getting where one wishes to be ... if one sets out like a fool in the woods.

    What is more, the woods are perilous and ever changing, and no single book or map can capture it all.

    Thus, merely reading some books, watching some videos and listening to tapes is not sufficient. One needs constant back-&-forth feedback and support, coupled with a willingness to be open minded to advice that one is lost.

    Now, the best ... the only way ... to be assured of that is through regular interaction with a "flesh and blood" teacher and fellow members of a Sangha walking the same woods.

    If at all possible, one should seek out a "flesh and blood" group of people, meeting near one's geographical location ... in a building made of bricks or wood ... and sit with them, talk with them, see them and touch them. Learn from them.

    However, for folks who do not have that option ... or for people who wish to supplement attendance in a building because they are limited in the times that they can attend (due to health concerns, living in remote areas, or childcare and family needs) ... I will put up what we have at our Treeleaf Sangha, "online" as it is, head and shoulders with any Sangha in the world.

    Even a brief visit to our Forum, with its dignified and self-discovering heart-to-heart communication and interaction on the matter of this Practice and Life (not two, by the way) ...

    index.php

    ... reveals a "flesh and blood" family of people, fellow seekers ... sitting together, talking together, learning together, supporting one another, TRULY seeing and touching each other. As but one example, please follow some of our recent discussions on Zen practice and the members of our Sangha who are survivors of cancer and other life challenging medical conditions ...


    Please remember that all of life is virtual, all of our experience of life is virtual as explained by Buddhist philosophy ... Yogacara, Madhyamika, Abidharma the earliest Buddhist teachings all in accord on this ... a model of reality created in the Mind (as mediated through the senses, and re-assembled in a very complicated process). Sure, at Treeleaf, we have a couple of limitations on which senses we use at any one time ... but in Buddhism, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    We are taught to thus rely, to see as never before seen, through the senses that remain ... learning from the blind Zen masters who communicate in other, creative ways!

    And what of the supposed "distance" that separates us?

    Where are you at the instant all thoughts of "here" and "there" are dropped from mind?

    In Zazen, those words, those concepts, can be dropped quick away. The mind thinks the thoughts "here" and "there," and thus the mind can be let to stop doing so too. We need not experience some "here" where we are, as opposed to all "theres" where we're not.

    So then, where are you?

    I completely agree. If someone can, one should go sit with folks under the same roof.

    Of course, one can still be as separate and isolated from other people even if sitting an inch apart or skin to skin. Barriers and dividers can still pull us apart, even when living as friends and family in the same house! It is all up to the mind, emotions and attitudes we all bring into it.

    And as our Treeleaf Sangha proves daily, we can build connections and make true contact with each other in ways which compensate for the limitations of distance and sense. I would not say that we are playing at Zen here ... not the Zazen equivalent of "virtual sex" to true love making ... but instead, we are building friendships, compassionate relationships, intimacy and supporting each other without thought of distance or physical separation. It is, again, all up to the mind you bring into this.

    (By the way, I think that many of us at Treeleaf, with time and honest communication, have come to know each other better than in many a Sangha I have attended where folks meet for a few hours, once or twice a week, mostly for silent sitting. We talk to each other more, and on a daily basis. I would insist that our level of intimacy surpasses many a non-residential "Sangha meeting inside walls" where folks show up once or twice a week at best, chat for a bit, listen to a talk then sit without a word ... all before getting in the car and driving home. Maybe a Sunday potluck dinner or sometime outing is their only real chance to really find out about each other. Well, our folks truly meet and open up to each other day after day. There is constant teaching, there is constant learning.)

    When we drop all thought of "here" and "there", where is Zazen not to be sat? Where is Zazen not, right in the moment we are sitting Zazen?

    Anyway, enough on this.

    Gassho, Jundo

  24. #24

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Jundo, thanks so much for your comments and observations. I was getting a bit unsettled reading this thread. Treeleaf is a very important part of my life each day, either by reading new posts on the forum, sitting with you or Taigu after your teachings, or simply sitting with the cat each morning. I know the regular members who participate in the forum, they are familiar friends who I sit with each day. Finally, the most important aspect is that I have access to you when things don’t quite fit or when I want to share that things are going great. A true friend and TEACHER.

    It is not just a “this or nothing” relationship with the sangha. I doubt I would trade it for a local sangha or sitting group if it did exist out here in far West Texas.

    Thanks to you and Taigu for being our Teachers at Treeleaf.

    Jim

  25. #25

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Brad might be wrong.

    Gassho,
    Eika


    Be lamps unto yourselves. Be a refuge unto yourselves. Do not turn to any external refuge.... Work out your own salvation with diligence.

  26. #26

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    In all seriousness, jazz musicians were adamant that "you can't play jazz on electric instruments!" back when a few folks like Miles Davis started trying it. One never knows until one tries. I forgive Brad for not being able to see how to make it happen on the Net, it is not his responsibility to be on the "cutting edge" of Zen pedagogy. Maybe Jundo will succeed, maybe he won't. His success depends more on us as students than on him as a teacher. We are the ones who will either take the things that Taigu and Jundo offer and live lives that honor the teachings and their lineage, or we will let it be wasted. So, Keishin's challenge is actually a very good one. Talk will never prove or disprove a thing like this. It really is up to us to demonstrate that it can be done . . . not for the sake of being right, but to find a new way to realize the Dharma.

    Peace to you all,
    Eika

  27. #27

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Yeah, he can teach the curious people who found his books at Barnes and Noble in Albuquerque, but the internet is just a waste of time.

  28. #28

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hi,

    I've heard some people say that Brad Warner inspired them to take up Zen practice. That's wonderful. If they also find reading his blog and books to be helpful for their practice, that's fine too. However, no one should make the mistake of thinking that anything he says has any bearance on your life and on your practice - unless you personally allow it to. It's just one voice amongst many. You decide which ones are worth listening to. Personally, I've looked at his blog, but never felt the urge to read any of his books. If you take him seriously, that's OK, but you certainly don't have to. I don't.

    Gassho
    Bansho

  29. #29
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.
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    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Brad's Hardcore Zen was the right book for me at the right time. I shall always be grateful to him for that.

    Treeleaf is the only sangha that I have. Apart from family, friends, work, and the rest of humanity. I am so grateful to Jundo and Taigu and to all of you for making all of this possible.

    I work as a Mediator. Helping people settle disputes without going to court. I spend time with each party in turn hearing their case, helping them understand the other party's position, sometimes feeling their pain, sometimes laughing with them, always helping them face the risks and uncertainties of going to court, always helping them think about a future solution rather than a past grievance. Mostly, the day ends with a settlement and hand shakes all round. About 75% of the time.

    Some while ago on line mediation was suggested. The great and the good of the mediation world were unanimous. You can't mediate on line. Can't be done. Period. You have to be there in the room with the person. You have to have to be able to be sensitive to the whole person, to pick up their mood and tone, to know when to laugh and when to cry, to know when to press and when to stand back, to sense when a kind word is needed, when a harder word is needed, and when no words at all are needed. Doing that on line would be impossible. Like trying to teach basketball on line. And whilst I wouldn't count myself as among the "great and the good" of the mediation world, I agreed with them. Nothing so personal, so intimate, could possibly work on line as opposed to in person.

    Never the less, I agreed to take part in some preliminary trials for on line mediation. Partly, because I could see there might be instances where it had a very limited role e.g., where disability prevents people taking part in a "proper" mediation. But partly, also, to help "prove" those who thought this crazy idea could work, wrong.

    So far the indications are that on line mediation works. In some instances, it works better than in person mediation. People feel free, perhaps. The success rate in our trials is well over 90%. "Better" than for face to face mediation. And my business is building it's own on line mediation platform.

    Odd, no? Sometimes what matters is the connection, not how it's made.

    Gassho

    Martin

  30. #30
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
    Join Date
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    1,247

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Martin said:
    Sometimes what matters is the connection, not how it's made.
    Excellent!! But maybe most times or all the time.

  31. #31
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin

    Odd, no? Sometimes what matters is the connection, not how it's made.

    Gassho

    Martin
    It is odd. It's downright counterintuitive.

    I feel that all of you here, especially the regulars, know me much better from a dharma perspective than any other group with which I've been.

    Chet

  32. #32

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I feel that all of you here, especially the regulars, know me much better from a dharma perspective than any other group with which I've been.

    Chet
    Speaking for me, know and like.

  33. #33

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I'm hardly on here but I think disaster mouse produces a lot of gems. I also love his stache, and would totally grow one if I wasn't genetically cursed with this "urban amish" type of beard.

  34. #34
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I feel that all of you here, especially the regulars, know me much better from a dharma perspective than any other group with which I've been.

    Chet
    Speaking for me, know and like.
    Ah shucks, Jundo!

    Chet

  35. #35
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaintop Rebel
    I'm hardly on here but I think disaster mouse produces a lot of gems. I also love his stache, and would totally grow one if I wasn't genetically cursed with this "urban amish" type of beard.
    I shaved it about a month ago

    My new Avatar is what I look like as of five minutes ago...

    Chet

  36. #36

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Having just arrived...I find this thread very relevant. Some disclosure: haven't read the book as the cover's aggression pushed me away....I live 30 mins from the Great Vow Monastery & am not involved....I've been sitting since the early seventies with no teacher or guidance....and NOW @ 61 I have a strong desire and need for a teacher to deepen my practice.

    Treeleaf as an entire context...Jundo, the site, the forums, sangha, my laptop, everything here is my teacher now....and most probably it is a new and different type of teaching for the 21st century....I suspect if one Googles
    online teaching
    , one will find quite a bit of research going on....

  37. #37

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Ah,

    you know the old adage: don't judge a book by its cover!

  38. #38
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    There are things you can't do on the 'Net, and certain learning experiences that happen in "flesh and blood" sanghas that can't happen on the 'Net. For one, it's easier to control one's presentation on the Internet, so one doesn't come up against one's rough edges as often as one does in dealing with the inescapable challenges and confrontations of sharing the same physical space with people. You can click away from the posts by the annoying person you can't stand or log off when you've had enough.

    All that said, there are things you can do on the 'Net that you can't do elsewhere. Discussions about intimate issues that might never occur with one's sangha members in the flesh easily and naturally arise on the Internet where distance evokes comfort and safety even with the most tender issues. Disembodied communication cuts out some of the basic animal responses to other humans that get in the way of direct knowing of the other.

    In other words, just because it's different, and some things are lost in the transition from physical space to the virtual aethyrs doesn't mean that nothing is gained. Buddhists, who study and practice the arts of emptiness on a regular basis, should be able to appreciate the virtues of communicating through the virtual aethyrs! It brings freedom. The Dharma can be taught anywhere. How could anyone not know this?

    My biggest concern about the Internet as a Dharma vehicle is that I personally think it is easier to hide behind an idealized representation of oneself online than it is in fleshspace. This can forestall some growth experiences that need to occur to smash through certain delusions we accumulate over time. It's a lot easier to think your mental sandcastles are more substantial when you can beautifully portray them with measured phrasing in the written word rather than hear the crickets as you garble your enunciation of what you thought was going to be a very deep thought...

  39. #39

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    In other words, just because it's different, and some things are lost in the transition from physical space to the virtual aethyrs doesn't mean that nothing is gained. Buddhists, who study and practice the arts of emptiness on a regular basis, should be able to appreciate the virtues of communicating through the virtual aethyrs! It brings freedom. The Dharma can be taught anywhere. How could anyone not know this?

    My biggest concern about the Internet as a Dharma vehicle is that I personally think it is easier to hide behind an idealized representation of oneself online than it is in fleshspace.
    I like these two points, Stephanie. BTW, good to see/hear/read you back here!

    There are trade-offs, to be sure, and I would never suggest that my opinion is anything other than speculation, because this is an emergent field. I think there are real pitfalls to both methods, and real benefits to both methods. Just because one teacher cannot conceive of teaching using the internet does not mean that others can't. Everyone's vision is limited. I am here because Jundo's teachings resonate with me AND because there is no Zen teacher within a 3-hour drive of my house . . . my wife and I have full-time jobs and we have three small kids, so, this is about as "real" as Zen can get for me at this point in my life. That being said, I don't mean to imply that Treeleaf is a "lesser" experience than "realspace" zendos. It does what it does. It should be evaluated by how "helpful and healthful" it is in the lives of the practitioners who come here. If it is, then it is real for them; if it isn't, then it should be abandoned. But, just as no one brick & mortar zendo is right for student or teacher, Treeleaf is not for everyone. Some can't make it work for them. OK, cool.
    The internet has some disadvantages, but so does face-to-face "groupthink."

    I would be interested in hearing from people who are "leafers" who do have zendos near them and why they choose this over those centers.

    Welcome back, Stephanie. I hope all is well with you and that you will hang around.

    Peace,
    Eika

  40. #40

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Hi Stephanie,

    Very nice and sensitive post. You raise very interesting issues. The ease with which people would open and share intimacy for instance or the easy way we can avoid unpleasant posts. Although one might say that blogging and posting can lead to a very intense feeling of frustration too and sometimes fuel arguments and fierce debates.You may have a look at my last vid (simplicity please) and understand that giving my best profile is far from being a priority; as I met Jundo in the flesh I could see with my naked eyes that the guy what really as I could perceive him on the screen of my computer. Of course, menju, meeting face to face, adds different layers to the experience but does not contradict the virtual-real first glance.

    gassho


    Taigu

  41. #41

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    My biggest concern about the Internet as a Dharma vehicle is that I personally think it is easier to hide behind an idealized representation of oneself online than it is in fleshspace. This can forestall some growth experiences that need to occur to smash through certain delusions we accumulate over time. It's a lot easier to think your mental sandcastles are more substantial when you can beautifully portray them with measured phrasing in the written word rather than hear the crickets as you garble your enunciation of what you thought was going to be a very deep thought...
    Sometimes when I write here it just happens very spontaneously (usually when I identify with someone's feelings and situation and want to offer support and help by sharing my experience) but sometimes I think about what I am going to write because I'm not always clear about what I want to express and don't want to appear stupid or worse. When I am with the zen group, its mostly small fun talk related to what's happening in the moment or communicating basic info. So to get to your point, I think we all have a persona or 'idealized representation of oneself' that we hide behind and seeing thru that and letting it go is the practice itself whether its online or offline. There was a zen master that answered every question by just raising his finger.
    /Rich

  42. #42
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I think people present pretty honestly here, which is what makes it a refreshing space and one major reason I was drawn back. Some people are a bit "nicey nice" here but the same is true in analog zendos. (Not that I'm saying being nice is a bad thing, I just have a preference--oh, those pesky things!--for a slightly sharper, rougher aesthetic. I love listening to guys talk smack to one another in Staten Island-ese, for example. Anyway...

    This may be surprising from someone as verbose as me, but I have a growing appreciation for nonverbal communication. I don't know by what mechanism we pick up on messages or feelings from others just by sitting near them--sometimes one does not even have to look to get a "vibe"--and of course that's somewhat lost on a virtual zendo. But I think it's nicely made up for by the ability to express oneself with a link to a poem, song, or image; sometimes the result is even more poetic and subtle than "realspace" nonverbal communication. There are a lot of ways to communicate online other than just blocks of prose.

    The question of the ability to teach Zen on the 'Net? There may be some subtle polishing of personality that happens in 'realspace' zendos that's harder to realize online, but when it comes down to being able to direct people to the truth, to point them to their own minds and subjective experience--that is certainly possible through media other than geographical proximity. Chet has helped adeptly guide me past some stuck places just via phone and online contact. I feel closer to the truth than ever and it certainly didn't require or come about by sitting in the same room as a Zen teacher (though the interviews I'm doing regularly with a teacher in 'realspace' are certainly helpful too).

    The Way cannot be realized online but that is because the Way is not realized in any particular location or medium. It's not realized "in New Jersey" or "in a zendo by the sea" either. It's an inward turning, which can be coaxed through online contact, face-to-face contact, or any number of ways.

  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Rochester, NY, USA
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    4,879

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    I would be interested in hearing from people who are "leafers" who do have zendos near them and why they choose this over those centers.
    Hey Eika (and welcome back Stephanie!),

    I do have a zendo near me and quite a well known one in the Rochester Zen Center (about 20 minutes from my house). There is also the Springwater Center (about an hour away) and although it is not affliated with any lineage, nearly all the teachers are former Zen folks (from RZC). When I came to Treeleaf I had a 3 year old son(now 4) that I stay at home with and we added another about 3 months ago, so even getting to RZC would be difficult. However, before we had our kids I contemplated going there and never did, even for the tour. Like many westerners I assumed the type of zen taught there was representative of zen in general and after coming here was quite happy to learn that many of things I didn't care for at RZC were not part of the Soto tradition.

    I do ask myself if I will visit RZC after both the kids are in school and have wondered if I avoid the "bricks and mortar" aspects. Like Stephine suggests, perhaps I hide behind the relative anonimity we have here at Treeleaf and use it as a haven from a "real" zendo. But I have always been someone who likes to delve into issues like we do here that I very much doubt takes place at RZC. I suppose I'll find out in a few years, but for my current circumstances I believe Treeleaf is where I belong.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  44. #44

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    I don't agree with Brad.

    Because zen can be taught by both in monastery or on the net.

    But, to really understand the way, one can't only rely on zen master in monastery or net.

    We must do it by our self. Depend on our self, even though there is no self.

    Gassho, Mujo. =))

  45. #45

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Though I wish he would honestly come out and say that he does things that he doesn't do. He used to say he never ever read the comments sections. but he did. Then he would say he did read comments once in a while, but it never bother him enough to intervene....but it did. And on and on until he closed off the comments sections. I do see he likes to visit this place.

  46. #46

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    I don't agree with Brad.

    Because zen can be taught by both in monastery or on the net.

    But, to really understand the way, one can't only rely on zen master in monastery or net.

    We must do it by our self. Depend on our self, even though there is no self.

    Gassho, Mujo. =))
    Shui Di ... he comes, he hits the target, he goes ...

  47. #47

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    other people say he is wrong.

    prove it.
    Thank you for your most eloquent answer

    gassho,
    Jinho

  48. #48

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk

    If the opportunity arose to go sit with Brad / any one for that matter, here in my home town i would, no hesitation.
    Gassho
    Shohei - my pompous jack-assery added in print! (loved that line btw)
    Hi SHohei,

    I certainly would not go sit with Brad since everything I have read that he has written has shown him as an abusive deluded person. Perhaps he isn't but I can only go by what I have read and that it was his choice to post what he has posted (on his website).

    gassho,
    Jinho

  49. #49

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seona
    Quote Originally Posted by Imsu
    Brad himself warned about the dangers studying and practicing without a teacher in “Sit Down and Shut Up.” Luckily my teacher and sangha are only a wireless connection away.
    I have seen the warning about studying without a teacher floating around the Net, but no one ever says why it's dangerous. What is it that we should be wary of? I've always found it rather curious that the same people who are so adamant that we do not practice alone are silent on what exactly we need to guard against. It doesn't make sense.

    I remember when I first joined another online Buddhist community and was reading about the necessity of a teacher. I posed the question - What do you do with a teacher? Not one person answered me. It really doesn't seem like a hard question. In fact, with such importance placed on having a teacher, it should be quite easy.

    I guess I'm missing something, but it's difficult to say, because no one ever wants to talk about it. It makes Zen appear quite clique-ish.

    Seona
    Hi Seona,

    (Forgive me all for posting this without reading the rest of the comments).
    I may be one of the only people on the list who has practiced with a group and teacher who are physically in the same place. For several years I practiced with a Kwan Um zen center and the wonderful teacher Jeff Kitsis (Bon Soeng).

    As for the continual warnings, the thing they are warning about, IMHO, is that one might mistake a momentary mystical experience (however meaningful it might be) for enlightenment. For me, a firm hold and constant reminder of the second vow "delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them" is central to my life. That's it, nothing obscure about the "warnings". But a continually inquiring mind, as most people have here at Treeleaf, will keep one just ok.

    Also, as to what you do with a teacher, you go to see the teacher and questions are asked (both ways) and hopefully are enriched by the teacher's understanding and that the teacher's understanding is useful to the student).

    gassho,
    rowan/Jinho

  50. #50

    Re: Brad Warner insists you can't teach Zen on the net.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Shui_Di
    I don't agree with Brad.

    Because zen can be taught by both in monastery or on the net.

    But, to really understand the way, one can't only rely on zen master in monastery or net.

    We must do it by our self. Depend on our self, even though there is no self.

    Gassho, Mujo. =))
    Shui Di ... he comes, he hits the target, he goes ...
    You are so on the mark!

    many gassho,
    rowan/Jinho

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