Saturday, November 30, 2013

The False God Called Self

According to Buddhism, by definition we as human beings all worship the false god called the self. Everything we do is motivated by this un-examined assumption that there is some I, agent, subject, or experiencer behind our actions. Zen practice aims to uproot this false deity and reveal the true mystery of existence, one that can never be classified in terms of self, or even no-self.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Addition Through Subtraction

We normally think that if we only get more--objects, experiences, knowledge, friends, love--we will someday be happy. But this is completely backwards. True happiness is to realize that we already have everything we need. This means subtracting out all of the things that we falsely identify with, until we rediscover our true self. In this talk, I explain how the way to awakening is inward not outward, backwards not forwards, through subtraction not addition.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brand-Name Zen

My book Brand-Name Zen: The Commodification of Zen in the West is now in print. Hooray! It's available as a Kindle ebook and in hard copy from Createspace or directly from Amazon.

Below is a synopsis. I hope you enjoy.

Modern American Zen is in a deplorable state: Zen Masters are now pseudo-celebrities; Dharma Transmission has been co-opted as a branding technique; and worst of all, Zen has degenerated into a lifestyle identity whose primary aim is no longer Buddhahood, but rather the perpetuation of the Zen institution itself. Zen is more interested in establishing orthodoxy and orthopraxy than it is in helping people realize their Buddha Nature.

Western Zen has become just as consumer-driven and celebrity-obsessed as the rest of American culture. And the worst part is that no one in the Zen community even seems to notice. Or to care.

Brand-Name Zen takes a bold and daring look at the current decadence of modern Western Zen. It poses very important questions regarding the entire Western Zen institution, such as what is the true function of Dharma Transmission? How has zazen become the signature Zen “pose”? How have kōans been appropriated as a means to establish and maintain authoritarian power structures?

Brand-Name Zen offers an invaluable mirror for Western Zen to evaluate itself. It is a must read for any serious Zen student.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Purpose? We don't need no stinking purpose!

"What is the purpose of life?" has to be one of the most commonly asked questions in the world. The problem, as I explain in this talk, is that this question relegates the present moment to a means to and ends, implying that where we currently ARE is not nearly as important as where we are GOING. This dislocates us from our lives here and now.

Zen does not entertain such philosophical questions, for they are irrelevant to what is unfolding at the present moment. In Zen, whatever you are doing right now IS ALL THAT THERE IS.

Please enjoy and share.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Neti-Neti Meditation

I am starting a new venture, offering meditation instruction to wellness and integrative therapies programs and professionals in the NJ, NY, PA, and DE areas. The program is called Neti-Neti Meditation, named after the Vedic and Buddhist meditation technique of negating everything that is not us by realizing it is Neti-Neti (Sanskrit for "Not this, not that"). In contemplative practice, this is called apophasis or via negativa, named so because the approach reveals our true nature by eliminating all of the things that we aren't. 

This meditation can be enormously helpful in a secular capacity, too. By recognizing that they are not their bodies, thoughts, or emotions, people suffering from physical (and even emotional/psychological) pain can gain more freedom and decrease their suffering. This can be especially helpful for people who suffer from chronic pain, like patients undergoing painful surgery, rehabilitation, or treatments. For the less that they identify themselves as the 'owner' or 'experiencer,' the more they will realize that they are not the pain, nor is it 'theirs'--they are the Awareness in which all experiences arise and subside.

That means freedom.

That's who this project is designed to help.

I am very excited and just finished the website:

To accompany the site and the service, I wrote a brief handbook of sorts, which walks readers through the Neti-Neti process, step-by-step. The book, like the website and the process itself, is called Neti-Neti Meditation: Transcendence Through Negation. It's available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook (click here) or in other epub formats (click here).

May this project help relieve as much suffering as possible.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This is not a Stick

In addition to thinking that we lack something, the main reason we grasp at objects, experiences, and people, is because we think that they have what we are missing. But the great irony is that there are no THINGS there in the first place. In this Dharma talk, Doshim explains how reality precedes thinking, and therefore, THINGS only exist as imputations from the conceptual mind. So the reason we are never satisfied by objects is because there was never anyTHING there to satisfy us!

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Neti, Neti--Negating Duality

This is a continuation of last week's talk, "Neti, Neti." Here I elaborate on the process and explain how Neti, Neti's ultimate aim is to negate duality itself.

Introduction and sound engineering by Tom Inzan Gartland.