Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On second thought, maybe some of these posts aren't all Zen, Buddhist, or anything like that

Nathan wrote a good post yesterday or the day before.  This post is not about that post.  And unlike him, you'll be able to tell who and what I'm talking about here, even though my tendency is to remain elliptical anyway.

The other day I said that everything was perfect, and complete, and lacking nothing, etc., and that's still true.

But with a different mix of treasure and poisons smeared through the aggregates you'd get a different reality more or less.

In reading a couple of the posts about the latest brouhaha, I was struck by two things:

1. Some of the so-called teachers were certainly not acting in a way I'd have done, if I were a designated teacher.  In particular,  two teachers blogging on Sweeping Zen...these folks are supposed to be teachers? (And one of them is a psychologist?)  

2. It seems that I have an issue not with Sweeping Zen's blogging about Zen master sex scandals, but, ummm...the very premise of "Sweeping Zen" itself.  I was kind of surprised to conclude that, but there you have it.

Regarding the first point, I don't know if it's because of the weakness of their teaching, practice, or whatever, but it seemed that line after line from their  posts revealed a profound lack of understanding of various things.  I've already blogged about a some of them, but this attitude of "I'm right - and if I'm mistaken, it's because I'm RIGHT!" that I read from them, well, I hadn't quite caught that before.

Regarding Sweeping Zen itself...hey, I've run this little blog for significantly longer than Sweeping Zen's been around...Mr. Tebbe obviously think's he's filling a need, a niche, etc. But Mr. Tebbe's site...well...about that...

Sweeping Zen is the global Zen community’s largest online resource, a trusted voice on issues that matter most to Zen practitioners of all walks of life. A grassroots initiative, we rely exclusively on the generosity of our site readership to continue our important work.

I have to think Mr. Tebbe wrote this, and it's  at least partially untrue, I regret to say.  I can think of at least two sites that have more resources - like, you know, texts and such (one is the "Zen site.")  I've regularly consulted those sites for texts, histories, etc. While I generally respect some of the teachers that have posted at Sweeping Zen,  I would hardly say that their words, videos, etc. "matter most" to me.   And what am I, chopped liver?

Moreover, the "global Zen community" contains a heck of a lot of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean practitioners, not to mention Vietnamese.  A heck of a lot more folks than read Sweeping Zen no doubt.   There's a Japanese Roshi - in Japan - with more Twitter followers than Sweeping Zen.  Significantly more.   Not that that's any measure of anything, but it's just one data point.

And if you call yourself a "trusted voice," don't be surprised if that engenders skepticism. I'm just saying.

How do people get this way? 

I used to have more grandiose ideas about practice and all that.  I had grandiose ideas about this blog, though I kind of like the way it's settled into itself.  But it's just a blog, dammit.   And I never really entertained the notion that this blog would be authoritative with respect to matters of Zen.  I mean, that's oxymoronic.  

But I think this kind of sort of "mission statement" is part of the same problem as some of those posts I'd read elsewhere. These sort of statements reveal the state of the minds of those who make them, in which there are ...well...how do you want it said? Unskillful thoughts? Poisons? Ignorance? Whatever. 

So ... I guess all I'm really saying is "more humility, please."

The Way was the Way before people discovered problems with power relationships and their own ignorance, and the Way will survive even this blog post.


Nathan said...

Funny. I've never read that statement about Sweeping Zen before. Not sure how he could possibly make such a claim. Then again, given all the rest that's come up recently, it shouldn't surprise me.

Mumon K said...


I think at the "core" this points to some strange dual aspect of wanting "authority" by some in Zen...it's not of course as bad as the scandals, but it's not a non-issue either.

Jordan said...

Yeah, the zen site has been a heck of a resource over the years, and I would have to say that as far as being helpful, the wandering has done more for people trying to study the self than most of the people in Adam's writer's stable.

Mumon K said...

Yeah, the wandling has been a great site too, as well as that huge collections of texts at Buddhanet.

Sweeping Zen Watch - SZW said...

Here is a man who believes his own marketing.