Friday, December 16, 2011

Tu Quoque? Not really...

I'm reading the comments on Warner's latest bit summarizing what's wrong with Genpo Merzel.  While they typically run the gamut of juvenile to reflexive yes-commenter, a couple do bear further commenting, at least on my part, and at least over here.

Here's one:
Doesn't really matter, who's to say Genpo's more or less deluded than you are? (by you I mean you)

Brad admits he's doing his own seminars next year. If he charges $100 a pop or $10,000 a pop, says he'll get you enlightened or doesn't say it, how is that any different? It's relative.

Poonjaji said if anybody charges money for satsang they're a fraud.

He was right. 

 And another:

Genpo is correct to charge. He's teaching a lesson. Americans feel they have to pay big bucks or else their not getting anything. There's been double blind test on this. They make two products or services available one is just about free and the other is ridiculously expensive. Consumers or the people always picked the expensive one thinking they want the better of the two or none at all . Thinking the one that was just about free couldn't be any good. Deep conditioning

 And another:

"At the core of what drives Steven Seagal with all he does - his music, his Martial Arts and his acting - is his commitment to Asian philosophies and religion. As a Buddhist, Zen teacher, and healer, Steven lives by the principles that the development of the physical self is essential to protect the spiritual man."


 And still another:

 Charging for teaching also going on here:

(The HTML link in the last one was added by me.)

There's a lot of people teaching a lot of things out there.  A good teacher can teach by the way he walks, by the way he moves his body.  Even a mediocre student can pick that up after a while.  I picked these comments above to explore the question, "Who's legit and who's a huckster?"

And to further motivate the issue, I direct you to this bit on the "Big Heart Zen Center" page.

Beginning the following week, Tuesday December 6th, the Sangha’s normal program of morning practice and Sunday talks will continue at new locations as authorized and approved by Genpo Roshi. Zazen, Service and student interviews will continue at the same times on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. The Sunday morning schedule will begin earlier at the new location in order to accommodate the shared usage with the Xuanfa Dharma Center.
 Now let's google "Xuanfa Dharma Center", OK?  You get, inter alia,  this link.  It says "The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel Mirror" at the top of the page.  Know what that means? Neither do I.  In the Intro page, though it says:

I have been extremely fortunate to receive oral transmissions of the Esoteric Buddhist Dharma directly from my Buddha Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and have access to many unpublished translations from the Chinese of the Buddha's discourses that are not yet available to the public in English. I have also been granted the dispensation to write about certain of my experiences, even though one does not usually talk about these matters.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to this world to correct the translation and interpretation errors that currently exist in earlier transmissions of the dharma and to bring us the highest teachings. The Buddha Master has told us that there are teachings by Shakyamuni Buddha that the world has not been ready for until now that will be given to us to help us complete the “quick path to enlightenment.” It is true that holy beings came to the mandala when the Buddha Master was giving us the discourse on "What Is Cultivation?" That discourse, which can be found in the treasure book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and on this web-site, outlines the steps we must follow on this path. This auspicious event only confirms the importance of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III's work in the world today.
Based on the teachings that I have received and my limited understanding of the Dharma, and the fact that we live in such an auspicious time where it is possible to progress rapidly to enlightenment, I have prepared this web site in the hopes that it will help introduce the Correct Dharma to those who do not understand Chinese. There are many books and recorded discourses available in Chinese from the Buddha, but they have not yet been translated into English.
Any errors are strictly my responsibility and will be corrected when we have H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III’s teachings in English in a more complete form. It is so important that we all begin our cultivation of ourselves and prepare for this journey to full enlightenment and freedom from suffering.
We must not waste time!
What I say and present in this website just represent my personal sayings and understanding. I am a humble rinpoche and cannot possibly represent His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III.

Dorje Chang Buddha III is the true Vajradhara or supreme leader of all Buddhism of this age.This great holy Buddha came back to these degenerate times to teach the correct dharma and show living beings how to escape the suffering and unhappiness of worldly existence and to attain complete liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. The Buddha Master is a man of boundless compassion and wisdom. Based on the precise principles of the Buddha-dharma, Dorje Chang Buddha III teaches people in every day language the compassion and wisdom obtained through cultivation. The wisdom of the Buddha Master excels that of all previous masters in history. One after another event proves this to be totally true. The book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III contains over 30 testimonials from the heads of the leading sects of Buddhism and many fully enlightened masters.
There's a lot of phonies out there, and  I suspect that "Dorje Chang Buddha III" is one of them (see here).  So it's not surprising that Genpo Merzel's group seems to be now operating out of space owned by a group of hucksters. 

Steven Seagal isn't a Zen teacher, despite what is said on his website.  And despite what are probably Vincent Horn's good intentions, there's simply no way I'd pay him or recommend anyone else paying him $70/hour to teach meditation.  Go read Kapleau's Three Pillars of Zen instead, or Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness.

Ven. Warner's main gig isn't pretending to be a "teacher" with "students," and so I don't put him in the same category as these hucksters.  He writes books, goes on book tours, holds lectures, etc, though I think from time to time he does do  or will do seminars.  There's simply no way he's in the same league as Genpo Merzel.  And I don't have an axe to grind at all here: I've never given Ven. Warner one red cent.  I've never bought his books, nor seen his lectures (except for a few minutes on Youtube.)   Heck I don't even train in the Soto school.

Even if Warner had students - and frankly I think he has somewhat of an obligation to have students, especially given the above - and if Warner continued these activities, it wouldn't be problematic if he didn't make grandiose claims or if he didn't try trolling for students with his fundraising activities. 

And that's the difference between Warner and Merzel, in my opinion.


Adam said...

"This great holy Buddha came back to these degenerate times"

That always grabs people right at the jugular (and makes my bullshit alarm go off). People are convinced that these, of course, are the end times, and at no point in the history of the world have things ever been so bad! Look at all the war and hunger and people without jobs!

Reality is far from this dystopian fantasy of course, but it is a common theme among cult leaders to play into this perception that people have about the current state of things. It helps with the messiah image.

Mumon K said...

Adam -

You nailed it. One of the things I like about the real folks is they really don't need a neon sign.

"It's never been this bad" is just like "We're Number 1!"

Barbara O'Brien said...

I've been keeping an eye on Dorje Chang Buddha III for a while. If there could ever be a more obvious fraud than the late Fred Lenz, I'd say DCBIII is it.

As far as the comments are concerned -- to me, there's an obvious difference between charging for a retreat or seminar to, say, help keep an institution operational -- light bills don't pay themselves -- and paying for access to the teacher. And I think anyone who willfully won't see that obvious difference is not capable of an honest discussion on the matter. Maybe after they've wasted their time and money for a few years, a light will dawn.

The most striking difference between real teachers and phonies is that the teachers point to dharma, and the phonies point to themselves. And, as Adam says, part of the shtick is persuading people that "you can't make it without me" or "I'm the solution to your problems."

Anonymous said...

It's a pretty mundane reason that Genpo's group is now sharing the house where DCBIII is set up in SLC. One of the senior students that is leading Genpo's sangha is married to a senior follower of DCBIII. (She's a former Genpo student).
Still interesting, though.

UncleMeat said...

I've never given Ven. Warner one red cent

I wouldn't exactly call Guru Brad bogus, but....a clever salesman and no holyman. His site bugs me (though at times he says something ...worthwhile). His commenters are the usual sort of blowharded white boys (I suspect...mormons)

That's what Merican Zen produces really. Had some of these ...freaks had to study sanskrit before starting out thangs would be different.