Zen is not in the Helping Profession

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  • Saijun
    Member
    • Jul 2010
    • 667

    Zen is not in the Helping Profession

    http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2011/04 ... ssion.html

    Hello friends,

    This is today's article on uncle Brad's website. In it, he details why he is opposed to the idea of joining "the guild," as it were.

    I found it a good article, and would like to hear what you all think. I, for one, can see the merit in his argument; that having been said, I can see how something of an oversight body could perhaps be a good forum for the exchange of ideas and dialogue between what could otherwise be somewhat isolated teachers.

    Not being a teacher myself, of course, I don't exactly know. But I think that it's interesting to watch the growth of the two bodies.

    Metta,

    Saijun
    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB
  • Dosho
    Member
    • Jun 2008
    • 5784

    #2
    Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

    Hi all,

    I just wrote a very long and detailed response to Brad's article, but lost the whole thing which is probably for the best. Basically, I think Brad's argument is flawed when he says that the concept of a profession is inextricably linked to the idea of compensation or a promise of results for services. A profession is merely a group of people enagaged in the same occupation that relies on some body of knowledge. Professionals either transmit what they have learned to others or perform some skill, often both. And in the 13th century the common definition of "profession" was "vows taken upon entering a religious order" which I think pretty well describes what the members of SZBA & AZTA occupy themselves with and profess to know about. And, using the example of college professors, the line between teacher and student was commonly blurred in the earliest universities of Europe and was not always simply about what one person knows and the other does not. In the end I think Brad is caught up in modern definitions of terms like "profession", "teacher", and "student" that only in recent times have had anything to do with money.

    My basic advice to Brad if he cared to hear it: Get over yourself.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Comment

    • Seiryu
      Member
      • Sep 2010
      • 620

      #3
      Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

      Originally posted by Dosho
      My basic advice to Brad if he cared to hear it: Get over yourself.
      I agree. Although Brad does make good points, the understanding of Zen is not something you can pay for and hope someone will just hand you enlightenment with a recite and a 10% off discount around Rohatsu...
      but he pushes it too far. He is becoming closed minded. Just because he disagree with something, he thinks it is completely wrong. Who knows he might be of more help by joining, he may not, but he is never going to find out if he just sits in his room pointing fingers.

      This practice of Zen is to drop off our blinders. Not to drop off the old ones so that we can put on new ones.

      Gassho

      Seiryu

      P.S all this is coming from someone who really likes what Brad has to say at times.
      Humbly,
      清竜 Seiryu

      Comment

      • Taigu
        Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
        • Aug 2008
        • 2710

        #4
        Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

        Hi everybody,

        I really understand where Brad is coming from and I really agree with him. When you are familiar with what takes place in Japan where Zen is but a business, temples places for a family trade handed over from father to son, where the official Institutions are displaying a remarkable lack of compassion and interest in human suffering and seem highly concerned by their bank accounts...When you know how much people like Sawwaki Kodo wanted Zen to not be a profession anymore because of the traps that go with it...Of course he gets pretty systematic and extreme, but that's Brad's style. Anyway, thumbs up to Brad for spotting what is round the corner for American Zen: A big mighty church with greedy fellows and rigid dogma (open your eyes because it has already started...)

        gassho

        Taigu

        Comment

        • Shokai
          Treeleaf Priest
          • Mar 2009
          • 6391

          #5
          Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

          Is there something familiar in that trend?

          I saw the same thing happen to Bahai Faith about twenty years ago and since Mary died I think the decay has blossomed.
          合掌,生開
          gassho, Shokai

          仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

          "Open to life in a benevolent way"

          https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

          Comment

          • Ryumon
            Member
            • Apr 2007
            • 1706

            #6
            Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

            Frankly, my guess is that these groups in the US are set up in part because of potential liability issues. Having a professional organization for "independent" professions helps establish guidelines.

            But I read this in Brad's article, and it really underscores just what's wrong with him:

            "This is why I refuse to accept students. I do not wish to share my work with anyone who defines herself or himself as my student. That would be unfair to both of us. Such a person is only a hindrance to me. They get in the way of what I need to do. Frankly, students are a nuisance. Furthermore, their attitude of viewing themselves as students is a hindrance to them. It’s such a hindrance that it makes it impossible for me to help them even if I wanted to."

            This sort of hostility suggests that he is certainly in the wrong line of work. I think he has some idea that he's above everyone else, and that lack of humility makes him arrogant and out of sync with what Zen seems to teach.
            ---
            Ryūmon (Kirk)
            流文

            SAT/LAH

            I know nothing.

            Comment

            • Keishin
              Member
              • Jun 2007
              • 471

              #7
              Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

              I already wrote a comment on Brad's blog regarding this post.

              I said if I could only read and share one article of his with others this would be the one.

              Comment

              • Nenka
                Member
                • Aug 2010
                • 1238

                #8
                Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                Originally posted by kirkmc
                "This is why I refuse to accept students. I do not wish to share my work with anyone who defines herself or himself as my student. That would be unfair to both of us. Such a person is only a hindrance to me. They get in the way of what I need to do. Frankly, students are a nuisance. Furthermore, their attitude of viewing themselves as students is a hindrance to them. It’s such a hindrance that it makes it impossible for me to help them even if I wanted to."

                This sort of hostility suggests that he is certainly in the wrong line of work. I think he has some idea that he's above everyone else, and that lack of humility makes him arrogant and out of sync with what Zen seems to teach.
                I was about to agree with that; I was about to ask how a Zen teacher could have no use for Zen students. But then I noticed the first line of his bio: "I'm a Zen monk, writer, bass player and film-maker." Not teacher. Well, so be it.

                I used to believe organizations like the AZTA were useful in protecting students against unethical teachers such as [insert one of them here], but no longer. What purpose do they serve? (Really, I would like to know.) The acronym just seems to be another credential tacked onto the bottom of every "Write a Check and Get Enlightened With Celebrity Zen Master X!" ad littering the pages of Buddhist magazines.

                For the record, I don't "like" Brad Warner; I find him arrogant and full of the punk posturing I couldn't stand in high school and college. However . . . a big gassho to him on this one.

                For what it's worth,

                Jen

                Comment

                • Nenka
                  Member
                  • Aug 2010
                  • 1238

                  #9
                  Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                  Edit: whoops posted twice somehow

                  Comment

                  • Rev R
                    Member
                    • Jul 2007
                    • 457

                    #10
                    Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                    advice for the iconoclast: don't be surprised when the last ivory tower standing is your own.

                    Comment

                    • Taylor
                      Member
                      • May 2010
                      • 388

                      #11
                      Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                      I came to this article expecting to agree that, "Oh yes, bad Brad! He should humble himself." But after reading it, I couldn't agree more.

                      For me, big organizations of like-minded people can do a lot of good, but they can also do a WORLD of bad. No necessarily in the sense we normally think of, yes yes it's all founded in the precepts etc... but what does such an organization do? Police? Enforce? With what authority?

                      Fundamentally, the issue with the scandals that have arisen have been two fold: One - there is a "teacher" engaging in unacceptable behavior. Two - there are students who don't seem to get that zen masters are people too. The g*ddamn mystic bull of this "Zen" pulls a curtain over their eyes and APPARENTLY common sense leaves. Suddenly, one feels they are inferior to a teacher and must kiss ass to somehow attain the state of the "guru". I feel that organizations like the SBZA and the AZTA take responsibility away from the "student". They make it seem as though the blinders may stay on because "Oh! They're SZBA approved!"

                      Personal responsibility speaks volumes. I thank Brad for taking the time to write this.

                      "You can't share as much as a fart with anyone else" Kodo Sawaki. So how do you expect a teacher to share enlightenment? Hm?

                      Gassho,
                      Myoken
                      Gassho,
                      Myoken
                      [url:r05q3pze]http://staresatwalls.blogspot.com/[/url:r05q3pze]

                      Comment

                      • Hans
                        Member
                        • Mar 2007
                        • 1853

                        #12
                        Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                        Hello,

                        I have nothing to add other than to say thank you for your posts. I just returned from a six day trade fair with no time to log on to the internet....it somehow feels very nice to return to Treeleaf after a few days on the road and read all your insightful posts.

                        Gassho and deep bows,

                        Hans

                        P.S. I even met a Japanese business contact who turned out to be a lay Sot-shu adherent

                        Comment

                        • Dosho
                          Member
                          • Jun 2008
                          • 5784

                          #13
                          Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                          Hi all,

                          I have to admit that I was initially puzzled by some of the responses here, especially Taigu's. However, I realized that I do not know much about the actual politics of AZTA and SZBA and was speaking of them in the sense of what would be ideal. And I get the feeling that is not the case (nothing ever is), but will do my own research on what I think of them and their methods.

                          I agree with what a couple of you said in that organizations with less than pure motives can be very damaging, but I think things can be very much worse without them. And while I do remember hearing of what has happened in Japan (but at the same time profess to be largely ignorant of it) I don't think the exact same thing would happen in the West. Oh, we have some very bad organizations and people who run them, don't get me wrong. But exactly the same? I don't think so. I think of it like unions: Do I think many are corrupt and greedy? Yes, absolutely. But do I still support them as a whole because I think corporations would squash the common worker if they did not exist? Yes, absolutely.

                          And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that some of my negative feelings towards Brad's post are because of my impressions of him overall and that's not something I'm proud of at all. However, like someone mentioned he also reminds me of people from high school who are now trying to recapture a youth they believed they missed. Brad is brilliant in many of his insights and his contributions even at Treeleaf in the people he has brought here through his books are significant, but underneath that raw intelligence I see an enternally scared little boy who so desperately wants to feel in control of his life but does not. As such he acts out and tries way too hard to be a "Badass Suicide Girls Punk Rocker Zennie". And his ego loves nothing more than to be praised as the iconoclast he believes himself to be and to some degree is. He deserves credit and may even be right in what he says in the post, but I for one am not going to feed the creature that is Brad Warner, Inc. until he shows some humility and openess to opinions that differ from his own.

                          Gassho,
                          Dosho

                          Comment

                          • Ankai
                            Treeleaf Unsui
                            • Nov 2007
                            • 912

                            #14
                            Re: Zen is not in the Helping Profession

                            Frankly, I thought the blog was a bunch of self-aggrandizing nonsense, making egoistic excuses for shirking responsibility and getting paid for it. I'm obviously in the minority, but that's how I felt about it and I said so. My objection was simply this, the blog is about the same as that insipid commercial years ago with the basketball player saying, "I am not a role model."
                            When Brad states, "This is why I refuse to accept students. I do not wish to share my work with anyone who defines herself or himself as my student." he belittles the learner, and he's not really being honest. He IS a teacher, he DOES have students, whether or not he'd prefer not to. But people ARE looking to him for guidance, and in his compassion, he would turn on the beginner or easily swayed student rather than give true direction, choosing instead to avoid such a one altogether. Where would we be if Buddha had rejected Subhuti or Ananda? Yes... there is a risk of a student over-identifying with a teacher... but that is a sorry excuse not to see ones' self as a teacher.
                            And this simply isn't honest. Brad teaches. In a Zendo, a classroom, or elsewhere... he teaches. He writes books. He lectures. Apparently, our "non-professional" doesn't eschew the paychecks, delivering the Dharma instead in small doses and sound bytes, complete with t-shirts and souvenirs, without the inconvenience of a "student" coming back to shatter his ego with the startling news that his advice or teaching just didn't pan out.
                            I don't honestly see what others have in this blog. Sorry.
                            Gassho!
                            護道 安海


                            -Godo Ankai

                            I'm still just starting to learn. I'm not a teacher. Please don't take anything I say too seriously. I already take myself too seriously!

                            Comment

                            • Dokan
                              Friend of Treeleaf
                              • Dec 2010
                              • 1222

                              #15
                              Re: "Zen is not in the Helping Profession"

                              Well I read what Brad had to say. And I read through the comments. Maybe in my practice I am in an unusual placed but I just really don't care what his thoughts and opinions are. Nor whether the role of governing Zen bodies are effective our needed.

                              I suppose in the end it is because they have almost no impact on my practice and neither detract from nor enhance it. Maybe it is just the hermitage I've been on lately. :-)

                              Gassho,

                              Shawn


                              Sent from my GT-P1000 using Tapatalk
                              We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
                              ~Anaïs Nin

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