Saturday, September 26, 2009
I just finished reading the comments section on a recent post by Zen Teacher Brad Warner (Bye-Bye Tokio). It's probably been two months since I have looked at his blog, primarily because it was easier to find drama and pissing matches than dharma discussion. Of course, you can learn a lot from drama and pissing matches, but they're everywhere, so why go looking for them in dharma blogs.
Opening the post above, though, and seeing the lengthy exchange below it - 185 comments to date - was like stepping into a wild west movie. I say movie because it's hard to tell what's real and what's not, and the whole thing unfolds so much like a movie script, complete with chattering extras adding their two cents to the drama.
Some of you may know that there seems to be a long standing conflict/drama between Brad Warner and another dharma heir of Gudo Wafu Nishijima, who is known for, among other things, his excellent translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo (which he completed with fellow translator Chodo Cross). This conflict is at the center of the comments made on the post by Brad Warner above.
The drama unfolds complete with a set of letters that supposedly were exchanged between Warner and Nishijima, during which Warner resigns as head of the Dogen Sangha International(Establishment of Dogen Sangha). The kicker is that Jundo Cohen, the other dharma heir, was cc'ed on all the messages, and decides to make them public by posting them on Warner's blog.
I can see it now: James Bond as Dogen 07. As the camera pans in on the squabbling zen students and their teachers, Dogen 07 leaps into the center of the screen, wearing a Dogen Sangha International t-shirt, and pointing his trusty gun at the villainous zen teacher (you pick which one). The villainous zen teacher drops his incense, and throws his hands in the air, clearly scared. Dogen 07 cocks the trigger of his gun and says "You forgot, venerable one, to forget the self!"
Throughout the months I have been blogging, I have noticed how much people seem to gravitate towards drama, myself included. A few conflictual comments can easily turn into a full scale, online fight in a matter of hours. This is true in real life as well, which makes me wonder if people struggle to actually enjoy peace. Most all of us talk about wanting peace, and yet how easily we seem to get bored with it. Quiet, beautiful sunsets, or everyday chores like sweeping the floor, are just fine for awhile. But if a car crash, domestic dispute, football brawl, or loud action film is available, how quickly many of us (zen teachers included) will drop the calm and peaceful and run straight for the drama.
It's something to look into, this desire to stir up the shit, instead of staying with what is present. And in the meantime, maybe I should start writing the Dogen 07 screenplay, just in case the quiet sunset doesn't hold up.
Posted by Nathan at 9:09 AM