Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Support Sweeping Zen



As part of my commitment to supporting fellow writers and artists on the path, I'd like to offer my endorsement to Adam Tebbe's Sweeping Zen and invite readers to give a financial contribution (of any amount) to Adam's Indiegogo campaign. Sweeping Zen has been run almost entirely on donations from it's beginning nearly four years ago. It has become quite the hub for news, interviews, and noteworthy links for all things American Zen. Adam regularly offers space to showcase the writing of Buddhist bloggers, and has frequently published difficult, but necessary articles about some of the challenges facing our sanghas.

It's important to remember that many of us writers producing regular content online aren't "making it" financially. That goes for those like Adam who are building the structures to house and spread what we offer to wider audiences. In great part, this is because we have chosen to speak from our hearts, as opposed to crapping out the kind of formulaic content that corporate folks love to pay for. Even though "Zen" the word and it's attendant popular associations sell, the bulk of quality writing about zen really doesn't sell. And in a way, that's how it should be. Getting to the heart of the matter shouldn't be about getting wealthy and famous. The teachings of the Eight Worldly Winds are an excellent antidote to such thinking. At the same time, we are each living in material bodies with material needs. I need financial support. Adam needs it for Sweeping Zen. Many other quality spiritual writers need support. It's always wonderful to receive kind words, have your articles shared, and generally get kudos from our readers. But we're in a conundrum in this capitalist society where the aims of our spiritual practice are tangled up by the demands of a manifestly brutal and unjust economy.

Last year, I did my own Indiegogo campaign. It was an experiment in moving beyond capitalist notions of "having a job" and getting a paycheck. I've been considering doing another one for more targeted work in the social activist community, but haven't figured out how to pitch it yet.

In the meantime, if you have a few dollars to spare, please consider sending them to Sweeping Zen. Thank you.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about we support something actually neutral and not hyper focused on negativity and, frankly, pulling people down with craziness.

The owner needs to spend more time practicing and less time worrying about other folks.

Shoot the Messenger said...

Well, Anonymous above is certainly in a "shoot the messenger" mode, confusing printing some material looking frankly at recent scandals with "pulling people down". In fact, the vast majority of what is published by Adam at Sweeping Zen is positive stuff. Some people just want to sweep all the negative under the rug, which is what would happen if not for Adam because the Buddhist "lamestream media" would not print most of it.

genkaku said...

Neutrality is one of those arrogant wet dreams trotted out when someone wants to disagree but can't quite summon the courage to say, "This sucks."

Writers and writing may do what they can to steer a middle course, but the effort is bound to fail -- the writer chooses the words, the presentation and, if desired, the opinion.

I don't always agree with Adam Tebbe's presentations but I am more comfortable with a raging stew that resembles humanity than I am with carefully-circumscribed and often loftily soft-spoken camouflage.

Adam has put together a nice (not 'perfect' or 'neutral' or necessarily 'agreeable') collection of material. The interviews with various Zen -- uh -- teachers is a nice resource. And the other articles offer a point of view that only the reader can applaud or boo.

I'd say Sweeping Zen is a good collection and deserves support. You want 'perfect' or 'neutral?' Get a gold fish.

-- adam fisher

Mumon K said...

I think that Sweeping Zen is flawed, but not for reasons that Anonymous brings up, and I'm not sure it's necessarily worthy of financial support.


But that's not that important, actually, because one thing that does come through from Mr. Tebbe's writing, as it does with Nathan's writing, is that there's human beings in various forms of suffering and stuck-ness behind the words and images.

I do think it's good to point out some of the problems and issues facing American Buddhism, but it's also clear that some of the responses to it have been challenging people to act compassionately in the presence of a whole big ecosystem of suffering and imperfection and stuck-ness.

But getting back to the $$$ issue, I think it's important for anyone who speaks or writes on lives within the meme of Buddhist practice, particularly Zen practice to have some sort of ostensibly non-Buddhist, "pedestrian" way of making money, or if that's too baldly materialistic, to earn a living.

Nathan said...

Hmmm, interesting responses here.

First off, as with Genkaku, I don't always agree with Adam's take on things. That doesn't matter. I still see Sweeping Zen as a good resource, and one that can keep improving with support.

As for the comment about Adam's practice, the guy is in a month long intensive currently. And actually, seeing him commit to that was one of the reasons I wrote my post.

To Mumon's point about money. I understand where you're coming from. I also think that without a major shift in how "we" collectively place value and use money, and what we consider "work" and "earning a living," the plethora of suffering produced by systemic injustice will continue to live on.

There's a lot more I could say about the money thing, but I'll let it be for now. Need to think some of through more.





Anonymous said...

I don't care if he posts about scandals but when it is ALL he posts about a lot of the time, it gets tiresome. Then there are the rants on his personal blog on his site and his attacks on third parties (which is why this is anonymous and I'm not engaging in hyperbole here).

Why support a man who has actually threatened people I know to the point of saying that if you disagree with him, you're supporting Zen leaders molesting people? I'll pass.

I'm sorry if this is negative but I'm not making this up.

Zeno said...

I have it on good authority that Adam Tebbe rejected some reports related to the coverage of Sasaki because it didn't agree with his previous accounts. First hand reports.

He is biased. Look it up, Fisher, if you can.

As to this one month "intensive", it seems more like a one month meet and greet, with fundraising all the way. I didn't know that was now called "practice", but maybe I'm too old to know better.

Kogen 古 元 said...

Why do people post anonymously? I can think of no good reason, especially in this blogosphere. I feel like if you can't say something yourself, maybe you shouldn't say it.

Nathan, I wonder how Sweeping Zen would do if it adopted the Elephant model- 1 dollar to read unlimited. How much traffic is it getting? I feel like these general calls for money aren't enough to create a dana based culture. Can giving a dollar, or 10 for the year, become like dropping an alms in a bowl? And if it can't, why should Sweeping Zen be different than a magazine? Maybe a subscription is in order here. I know I'd meet it.

And christ almighty, let's not talk about other people's practice, not even if you sit so close to them you can smell their farts.

Nathan said...

Kogen,

I hear you about the dana based culture issues. It's something Buddhist communities all over the country are having to face. How to deal with money. How to keep the doors open. Our sangha is looking at changing part of our programing over to donation only, as opposed to charging set fees. I tend to support that, but do wonder if our larger community will understand how that works and treat it as another practice opportunity.

Zeno,

I don't think there's something called "unbiased" in dealing with situations like zen teacher scandals. There were things I would have handled differently during all of that, but again, I offer my support to SZ not because I agree with everything, but because I think it's a good platform with the potential to grow into a better one.

In my view, it's healthy to have a more diverse media covering issues in our sanghas. Which means actively supporting those with fledgling or small scale operations when we can. It's totally fine if you, or anyone else reading my blog, don't think Adam's work is worth supporting. But please consider another online journal or blogger you could support, then, either through donations or by spreading the word about their efforts.

Anonymous said...

The reason for anonymous posting here is Adam has in very specific and very real ways targeted people that he's had disagreements with. This includes threatening to talk to the employers of folks. This is from first hand accounts.

I expect that this comment, like my last, won't be unmoderated thouh.

Nathan said...

Anonymous. I have a 48 hour open window on comments for every post. After that, they're moderated, mostly so that I don't miss something from a previous post.

I honestly don't know if Adam reads this blog regularly, if at all.

There was a hell of a lot of back an forth mudslinging during the height of the zen scandal posts.
What's true and what's not? I don't know. But I do know that whenever a teacher scandal has broken, there's always this kind of back and forth. It's a predictable drama, one I experienced firsthand in my own sangha nearly a decade ago.

I'm not interested in hosting a trial for or against Adam. Especially since I have nothing of substance to work with.

Anonymous said...

Adam presents himself as just a messenger. He's merely providing a venue for teachers to share their views, so he says. But to me it looks like the site has been hijacked by a few vitriolic and politically motivated "teachers" who are trying to exalt themselves by abasing others, teachers whom Adam wholeheartedly supports and is in full agreement with. In many ways Sweeping Zen has become the Fox News of Buddhism, publishing any vile rumor it can to get attention, while giving any person wearing a rakusu a chance to do so.

I'm all for grassroots type Buddhist publications but there have to be some journalistic standards and Adam needs to be a lot more discerning about the political motivations of teachers who are basically just using him to advance their own agendas.
Sweeping Zen could be something great, but right now, there isn't anything on that site worth contributing to .

Nathan said...

"I'm all for grassroots type Buddhist publications but there have to be some journalistic standards and Adam needs to be a lot more discerning about the political motivations of teachers who are basically just using him to advance their own agendas."

This is fair. I made public comments against a few posts during the scandal uproar that I felt were over the top. There was too much deference to a very small number of teacher's views, something that probably was in part a function of who was willing to submit to SW, and also Adam's outreach (or lack there of.)

My overall take though is that SW is publishing articles from many more teachers than the few you're mostly like speaking of. Sure, there's a small cadre of "featured" writers/teachers which needs to diversify.

How much of that is bias, and how much is a function of outreach and connection building? It takes time to solicit articles and build relationships. If SW looks the same or almost the same in a few years, then I'd be completely on board with your assessment. As it is, what you said feels like an assessment of a period of a few months when SW was "big" because of the teacher scandal publications.

Chendo Fraser said...

"The reason for anonymous posting here is Adam has in very specific and very real ways targeted people that he's had disagreements with. This includes threatening to talk to the employers of folks..."

This is correct. Adam is not averse to making things very personal and not above entirely inventing things if he comes across someone who points out what he is really up to or strongly disagrees with him and has the temerity to make it known. The man has barely begun to practise, and that largely as a publicity stunt and, whilst Sweeping Zen has done some positive things, the man himself is deeply disturbed and courts publicity and an association with some Zen 'teachers' that is on the point of obsessive, not to mention deeply duplicitous. I was recently forwarded a conversation that this man had with a Zen monk in which he was rude to the point of revealing his true colors and, frankly, his paranoia and just sheer nastiness. If he had been aware that the monk was a meditation teacher with many decades of experience, you can bet that he would have spoken to him differently but if Adam thinks that someone is not a teacher he feels quite comfortable threatening people with publishing private conversations (carefully edited and altered)in which he sets himself out as under attack. In reality Adam Tebbe is a highly disturbed individual who will bring a lot of drama and trouble to the Zen tradition in America in particular before he is finally outed for what he is.

Nathan said...

" Adam Tebbe is a highly disturbed individual who will bring a lot of drama and trouble to the Zen tradition in America in particular before he is finally outed for what he is."

Seems like we've had plenty of trouble over the last century (Zen has been in America a little over a century) already. I'd like to think that if these teachers Adam is spending time with are really doing their work, they'll see the issues you and others speak of, and act accordingly.

In the meantime, as I said to others, whatever you think of Sweeping Zen, please help support independent Buddhist media in some form. SW is just one example. There are many others.

K said...

Just found this blog. Can also attest to Adam Tebbe blocking and deleting comments and witness accounts of the Sasaki incidents because "he didn't wanna". He also had no problems with Spike calling a Sasaki student a whore when she explained her situation - his site is the last place that deserves financial support.

It's the epitome of a fake in Buddhist head gear. Too bad so many people bought into his baloney marketing.

And no, genkaku, FOX news is not neutral, but good logic. Thanks for nothing, you.

"Sweeping Zen WATCH"

Nathan said...

I'll just repeat myself, since I have zero interest defending SW's work anymore.

In the meantime, as I said to others, whatever you think of Sweeping Zen, please help support independent Buddhist media in some form. SW is just one example. There are many others.

Simon Matthewson said...

I wouldn't support Sweeping Zen. Just saw this https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sweeping-Zen-WATCH/623995074353972

Nathan said...

If someone is interested in SZW, they can click the link. I am finished publishing comments about it. Thank you.

Adam Tebbe said...

Hi K,

What witness accounts are you referring to? I've seen this alleged elsewhere and it's simply not true. So please do share with us who's account we did not publish. Who contacted us with an intent to publish an account that we rejected?

Hi Zeno,

Same to you. Since you have it on good authority, who's report did we not publish? Who is the person or persons who contacted the website with a report that we did not publish. Thanks so much.

Adam Tebbe said...

Chendo Fraser said: "If he had been aware that the monk was a meditation teacher with many decades of experience, you can bet that he would have spoken to him differently but if Adam thinks that someone is not a teacher he feels quite comfortable threatening people with publishing private conversations (carefully edited and altered)in which he sets himself out as under attack."

Could you point to an example of this on my website, please? Thank you. It's interesting how in each on of these criticisms I know who we're discussing. I've not ever published a private conversation. I have suggested that you reflect on how that would look for you, Genryu, if I did. PMs calling me mentally deranged and asserting that I needed to accept your view of Dharma teachings. We never would have had the exchange to begin with if you'd not PM'd me after I disagreed with your correcting my dharma understanding on my Facebook wall.

See, this is a further conflation of things here, as what happened her was between myself and an individual via my Facebook profile. It never involved Sweeping Zen. It was never published on Sweeping Zen. This person can't provide an example of my having published a private conversation because I didn't. What I did was ask them how that would look for them.

Sweeping Zen Watch - SZW said...

Sweeping Zen Watch's Facebook page has been temporarily taken down. Not because of Mr Tebbe's actions to have it closed, but in spite of them.

Mr Tebbe has already directly followed the administrators at every turn, commenting, accusing, concocting. It is regrettable behavior, but we hope Mr Tebbe can get better and not think that making things up about people is acceptable or ethical.

Sweeping Zen Watch only seeks to record and collect related Sweeping Zen feedback and opinions from diverse sources over many years. As was published on the Facebook page, It is not a debate forum nor is it a dialogue further with Mr Tebbe.

Mr Tebbe: I say it again - do not harrass Sweeping Zen Watch or its administrators again, and cease your communications and fabricated stories herewith. Following people incessantly then yelling 'I am being followed' is a sickness of the highest order. Hope you get better soon, and do not do this to anyone else ever again.

Thank you.