- Remember Genpo Denis Merzel, and his, "It's OK to charge a few folks $50K to be with me for a few days!" interview on Buddhist Geeks?
Vince: Cool, maybe we can get into that a little bit too because I think that be an interesting thing to explore. But first, you kind of point to this, but I think a lot of people assume when they hear about this type of thing that they assume that you’re basically taking all the money yourself. For some reason people go there immediately.
Genpo: Actually just let me say I take none of this money. Absolutely zero pennies of this money, do I make. All my money comes from the workshops that I have been doing with Bill Harris and other workshops that I do on my own. And none of the money from 5 / 5 / 50 goes to me. It all goes… It does go for staff salaries, for getting the work out there, and it does go for scholarships and it does go for equipment, but none of it goes to my salary, and we’ve been clear about that from day one, which I would take none of this money because I felt that was going to be a criticism. Our books prove this and it’s very clear that none of the money goes to me or my wife or anybody else in my family.
Vince: Interesting. I think that’s an important clarification especially for people that may just hear about the idea, like five days, five people, $50,000. And then they just, from there… people just make up what they will.
Genpo: Again, I’m going to say, I frankly don’t give a shit how they feel about it. It isn’t even an issue for me. It just shows to me they’re stuck somewhere. But no, none of that money goes to me. I have a very small and comfortable little house in the Zen Center and I drive normal cars and I don’t have Mercedes or, what was it that Bhagawan had? His Rolls-Royce’?
No. I’ve never had been interested in wealth or being rich in any way. I don’t have a lot of desire. My biggest desire has been to get the teaching out there and this has made that possible. The money that we receive really just goes to get that teaching out there to the world. We’re live at least two times a week all over the world. And then when I do these conferences, we’re live on internet TV for free where people were tuning in the last two weeks, twice a day, all over the world. 450 people sometimes at a time are able to watch it. This is all paid for by the generosity of these very large and, frankly, very, very giving people, generous people. Their interest is in the work. Of course they reap and feel they get a lot of benefits from the events and that’s why they keep coming back. And they all say this: I’d be giving this money away anyways. I really appreciate getting this time with you and with the teachings.
Vince: Nice. I feel like I’m personally following you on all of this, and have no problem at all with what you’re saying. But I feel that I would be doing a disservice to the people that might be hearing this and still their sensibilities are still offended in some way. And so I just want to ask one more question.
Genpo: Can I just say one thing. You can ask me a question. I really don’t give a shit at this point in my life. I really don’t. I had a big breakthrough in June around the issue of caring and not caring and I feel I deeply, deeply, deeply care about all sentient beings. And all my work has evolved all sentient beings, where you have to become more conscious. And healthier and with less shadows. And the other side of this triangle, I really don’t give a shit. But go ahead and ask your question.
Well, for some reason - I can't say why! - but evidently they've either figured it out or somebody's told them that it's gauche to bandy about prices like $50K to get a "chance to work directly with one of the greatest Zen Masters of our time." I totally didn't see that coming! Yep. It's true - there is no mention whatsoever of that magic $50K number anymore on Merzel's "Big Mind" site. Well, I guess he had another breakthrough. Good for him!
- Tom, being human is even spongier than you think. Not only do we think differently than before, not only are there different chemicals coursing through us than in our grandparents' time, but we're actually only transitional forms to something else that might evolve beyond humans in the slight chance we don't go extinct.
- Speaking of spongy humanity, when Barbara O'Brien quotes Norman Fischer as saying "he said that often a 'false' story can be just as useful as a 'true' one to help us move on to the next phase of our lives," it seems neither of them realize that pretty much everything we tell ourselves is "false" in the sense that it's a low-fi simulacrum of reality. That's why you don't want to be accused of murder wrongly and have nothing but sympathetic to the jury "eyewitnesses" testifying against you.
- Here is
an embarrassment tonot the most flattering portrait of Zen practitioners, courtesy of the Zennist. Unlike Barbara O'Brien, who will engage a critic, the Zennist, when pointed out that his train of logic has derailed, responds by deleting the comment. For the record: Aggregates being impermanent + nirvana being permanent ~ → a permanent self (where "~" means "does not" and "→" means "imply.") I could go on about the Zennist; suffice it to say that his teaching reminds me a great deal of Genpo Denis Merzel's, and not in a good way.
- Don't get me wrong. I think some Buddhists' hearts are in the right place. But I did have to chuckle seeing this yesterday after I'd posted this. I mean, has there been some weird kind of postmodern devolution post Alex Keaton? Why is Ballad of a Thin Man whining in my memory? (You gotta hyperlink these things today. Back in my day, we remembered crap like that!)
Update: Evidently, as Duff pointed out in the comments, Genpo & Friends still are asking for a specific amount of money, namely, $5000, for 10 people for 2 days.
It is simply unbelievable to me, a man who has trained under a real Zen master doing real Zen, that this man can get away with nonsense like this.