Thursday, March 09, 2006

Flapping Mouths

I think to a large extent, what's written here really is a waste of time. All you could possibly get out of it is motivation to practice, or motivation to find a real teacher who can get to know you personally and help you to see your own BS, and to see through your own BS. I'm not saying anyone is full of BS any more than anyone else is, especially me. We're all full of shit. And I don't think blogging is going to change that.

I really enjoy discussing things. Some of you have made some really insightful comments. And I've personally gotten a lot of value out of a general feeling of support from some of you recently -- in a sense we really are a sangha, so to everyone who's still here, thanks for sticking around.

But what are we doing? Lately there's been a lot of venom. A lot of people seem to be upset, and several others have left.

It seems like even Brad's mostly given up blogging, unless he sees something he's gotta comment on, like for example getting lumped in with Zenmar and Mike Cross.

What do we hope to get out of blogging? I mean, some of the stuff is good -- what kind of Zafu works best, tips on sitting, etc. That's all good... Boring, but good.

Arguments over philosophy? What could be farther from Zen practice? Tips on finding good teachers? Brad's covered it. Vegetarianism? Brad's covered it. Hell, I suspect everything you could possibly say about Zen (which isn't a lot) has been said by people a lot wiser than I am.

Every idea one could possibly have about Zen is just an idea, and on a blog we can't do anything but exchange ideas. I can write all day about 'vast wonder' but all I'm really passing on is a two-dimensional idea.

I really like you all, but... what are we doing? Some of us have been practicing zen longer than others... some of us haven't started practicing yet. Some are afraid to post for fear of looking dumb or getting ridiculed. Some of us are posting like crazy, looking for some kind of support, for ego, or whatever. We're all just human beings, and we seem not to be relating to each other very well anymore. Maybe we're wasting too much time with this stuff. So why ARE we still posting here? Can anyone tell me? I wanted to continue the sense of community that we had on Brad's blog, but it seems like we're starting to lose that anyway. No?

What have you gotten out of Flapping Mouths? What do you like about it?


At March 09, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

I blog because I want to.

I like to read other people's thoughts and ideas to see if they set of some chain of thoughts in my own head and lead me to learn something that I didn't before.

I like to contribute if I feel that I can add a comment that in some way may be of value to others.

I like to be in a place that is not a sangha where not all views are identical and where differences can be explored.

Do I think it is pointless? Yes I do.

Do I think it is Zen? Not much.

Do I think it has a purpose? Maybe.

Each day I visit this place and my place anew. Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes something happens. No plan.

For me blogging will die out or continue naturally. This is no different to what I was doing 10-15 years ago when the Internet was a baby. Only the subject has changed.

I have perspective over it. I live my life and fit blogging in whenever.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

Another thought: Is it no more than this blog is not turning out with the idealised image that you had of it when it started?

At March 09, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

I come here because I don’t really know many people in the ‘real’ world that practice zen or Buddhism. The online Buddhist communities provide a venue for the exchange of thoughts and ideas on the subject among like-minded people. But I have asked myself the same questions several times: Why talk about it? Why write about it? What is the point? But then again, why do anything other than activities related to survival? I do enjoy the interaction and exchange of ideas, and personally, I don’t mind if someone calls me stoooopid, or feels angry or insulted. If I agree with everything that is expressed, there is no discussion to be had. It is the disagreements that make the interaction interesting, and result in learning. I prefer this type of atmosphere over saccharine-sweetness. In the ‘real’ world, I sometimes find myself at gatherings where I am exposed to new-age-type ‘spiritual’ people. “Love, love, love, Baba O’baba, all is love, koom bye yah.” My instinct is to respond, “All is NOT love.” Then they do not love me so much. Blah, Blah, Blah.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger Tom said...


There are many corrections to your post. But allow me to begin with the idea of Brad getting "lumped in with Zenmar and Mike Cross" which supposedly justifies another of his putrid displays of cynicism that so many of you find merit in and ape.

I will happily send anyone who is interested the stream of emails between me and Brad. This would be appropriate with Brad's mischaracterizations and faux victimization crap from his "I'D LIKE TO THANK THE ACADEMY" post.

There is a lot in the Buddhist blogosphere that is worthwhile, in the extreme. Blogmandu is a compilation of some of it. Perhaps this group blog, Brad's blog and your blog could disappear immediately and the world would instantly be a better place for it. I think you are right about that.

And let me add this correction to the subheading of this blog. The story coming from ancient China ends with the Third Monk's words: "Mind is flapping." ["waving" is how it is properly translated, I believe] The idea that the topper to the story is people bullshitting -- flapping mouths -- is a cynical corruption, which perhaps explains a lot about the problems with this group blog.

Tom; Blogmandu reporter

At March 09, 2006, Blogger DA said...

No offense Jules, but I'm not really sure what you're getting at. Is blogging a waste of time? Maybe! I dunno. it's not the same as working out, eating , doing zazen, etc. But then, neither is reading the Heart Sutra. I like it okay in moderation.

As for people being superior and venemous; I get your point, but this blog started as an offshoot of Brad Warner's blog. That guy is condescending, arrogant, combative, sometimes insulting, and more. I like him, but he's not exactly someone who doesn't piss people off. I mean, he attacks plenty of Buddhist (and other teachers) calling them pricks, idiots, fools, sick, irresponsable, and other fun things. I doubt they all called him up and asked for feedback first either! What's good for the goose is good for the gander, imo.

If you wanna take it down, that's cool, your call. same if you wanna leave it up. I personally would like it left up.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

I don't have any intention of taking it down. I'm just wondering who would care if it did go down, and why.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger karen said...

I started to post on Brad's blog because I read his book and respected it. Then as he wrote more and his true colors began to show, I was a let down that yet another person could write books, pontificate and turn around and do the same thing they accused other people of doing. And when he decided to shut his down I got the feeling that he was a sore loser and wasn't really ready to learn anything from anyone else. He was close-minded. In his intro he says to take everything he says with a grain of salt and then when you do, he takes his toys and goes home. I signed on for this sight because even though I have been at this for a very long time, there aren't many people out in the work world who are practicing buddhists or who are interested in the philosophical side of things. I also am always amazed at how other people think. Sometimes things are written that I would never have thought of myself. Sometimes I like to read the smart ass comments from people, especially when I know their right on the money. There was one person on Brad's sight for a while that I related to so closely and now he's gone. I wanted to copy some posts from his own blog but he took it down. I wish I could come across more people that were that straight forward and knowledgable about their experience. Maybe that's what I'm looking for. I totally agree that there is an underlying one-up manship going on a lot. It's like someone hones in on a weak spot of someone else and just lets it rip. But this is so much more refreshing than the sickening sweet, always smiling, "I will be the savior of the world because I am so good" attitude that I have experienced in every temple that I have ever been a part of. In an earlier post I had written that I am really going through what I think of as a crisis for me. I am, after 25 or 26 years starting to think this is just nonsense. Not the basic philosophy but all of the forms that have come up around it. And it breeds ego in some people. That turns me off and makes me want to throw the baby out with the bath water. That scares me because it's like when I was 16 and realized the people I was friends with were all going down the tubes real fast. Between drugs and jail time, they were dropping like flies. And I knew in my heart that I had to give it up. And now I'm feeling the same way about organized buddhism. My favorite philosopher is Krishnamurti even if he is maddening at times. And I ask myself, Would Krishnamurti be writing our his feelings and arguing on a blog?

At March 09, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Zenmar is a self-righteous clown. Brad's right on-target with that dude. While I would agree with you that there is a lot of value in the Buddhist Blogsphere, I have my doubts about your talent for separating the wheat from the chaff, both in regard to Zenmar and the "Flapping Mouths" story.

And I'm not sure that this blog adds much of value anymore, but I don't know, that's why I'm putting the question to the group.

I also had an e-mail exchange with Brad about that post, but I have no intention of publicizing a private e-mail correspondence.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger PA said...

Of course blogging about Zen is valuable! Why shouldn't it be? There are many things in Zen that you can learn from other people. I personally post here looking for answers and sometimes I get them and sometimes I just get a feeling that we're all in the same boat in practice. I don't think a bit of arguing or disagreement or one-upmanship takes away from the fact that sometimes what people write here is informative and helpful.
I've definitely felt that it's not what I want it to be, but things rarely match my ideals, but that's the way it is,eh.
Even though Brad says Blogging is a waste of time, it doesn't mean it is a waste of time. If it is some higher understanding, then I haven't got it yet, and until then I think blogging is moderation!
And that's the point isn't it? If you spend all day blogging about this and that and reading posts and getting caught up in it, it's like spending your whole day thinking. And that's not so good, imo.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger flux said...

I think to a large extent, what's written here really is a waste of time.

I don't think this is a bad thing. I need something to get through the work day :) And really, anything is a waste of time if you choose to view it that way. Sitting in front of a wall for an hour a day - come on, nothing's a bigger waste of time than that, right? Well, not if you're into it.

So why ARE we still posting here?
What have you gotten out of Flapping Mouths? What do you like about it?

I like the venomous, meaningless, full of shit, time wasting posts. And the other ones too. It's all interesting to me. That's why I'm here.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger karen said...

I think this blog is of value. My issues are something personal that I am going through and I don't want to confuse that with what is happening here. I think that when people communicate honestly, not necessarily hurtfully, there is always some good in it, for all concerned. I think that sometimes when people write on here they may not be taking into account what their intention is at the time they write certain things. If this is a buddhist blog, intention is everything. And it shows in some of the posts. But, we can't be perfect all the time and sometimes we react instead of responding to comments. Sometimes people may not even realize that they are responding in an effort to put someone else down. But I can tell you, you will find the same thing in any sangha except that it will most likely be cloaked in sugar coated, condescending comments on how you "might want to think about" this or that. Good teachers and like-minded folk are hard to find. Perfection is non-existent.

At March 09, 2006, Blogger Michael said...

Hi Jules,

I like this blog because it has introduced me to genuine, sincere, compelling people like you. I also like a lot of what DA says.
But, as a friend once told me, any time you gather more than three people together, it's an invitation to chaos, good intentions notwithstanding.

At March 10, 2006, Blogger ryunin said...

i feel the same as Jules about this blog - there are practical questions and links to teachers and links to real practice and ideas how to do things

among people who don't like each other, there is no argument, nothing to do about that, i am very different in my attitude to life and buddhism from karen and i have no emotional problem with it, there are thousands of buddhists whose experience is very different from mine and that is why i am so happy that thanks to internet i could find buddhist teachers i could really relate to and i can trust

venom, i don't know maybe when you fool around buddhist forums for a year or so you stop taking things personally - they are just opinions of people, nothing else, no need to be hurt by such words

if this is a kind of sangha, i have doubts about that as sangha is usually a group of people who do respect the same teacher and learn from him or her, while here we are divided into guys who criticize Brad seriously and who respect him as a teacher and there is no point to battle about this, but this is not a sangha rather a coffeeshop where different guys somehow connected to buddhism go to chat and fight and you can't expect much more from this

At March 10, 2006, Blogger Vince Anila said...

That guy is condescending, arrogant, combative, sometimes insulting, and more.

. . . supposedly justifies another of his putrid displays of cynicism that so many of you find merit in and ape.

I started to post on Brad's blog because I read his book and respected it. Then as he wrote more and his true colors began to show, I was a let down that yet another person could write books, pontificate and turn around and do the same thing they accused other people of doing.

The above quotes are all about Brad Warner, who recently visited our Zen temple in Detroit. "Arrogant, combative, insulting, not to mention putridly cynical" are the last things that come to mind when I think of the fellow I hung out with.

"I was let down that yet another person could write books" and what? Be human?

I haven't spent too much time around these blogs, but something about them seems to foster the need for gods and demons. Maybe Brad quit blogging because he's tired of being made into either.

At March 10, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

Hello All,

I have a couple of opinions on this, and I am figuring that these opinions will stay in your minds after reading it about as long as a fart stays pungent in a hurricane.
Anyhoo, firstly, I am personally here because I am BORED. I dont want to pay attention to my experience so I try to escape from my body and project into this little computer screen. The more gossipy, bitchy, and lude the conversation, the more jet propulsion I get when I try to blast out of my body. In other words, the gossip and bickering is the fuel.
I am continuing as I write this--why? Fear. Fear of actually turning away from this stuff and experiencing life.
However, I am not some namby pamby Buddhist, I've tried "turning away" or renouncing and all that becomes is more repression.
So I continue to gossip and read blogs like this hoping for a fight.
Notice those new, nifty poetry posts dont have so many comments?
Notice when a post is not inflammatory, nobody gives a shit?
Thats why Brad writes the way he writes (I like it, for the record) and RUsh Limbaugh talks how he talks.
So, lets all get in our spaceships together and continue the journey through the blogoverse.
I, for one, dont feel like working right now.


At March 10, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

"All of these beings want to be happy, and yet they have no idea how to put into practice what brings about happiness, the ten positive actions. None of them want to suffer, but they do not know how to give up the ten negative actions at the root of all suffering. Their deepest wishes and what they actually do thus contradict each other. Poor beings, lost and confused, like a blind man abandoned in the middle of an empty plain!"

Flapping mouths is like the ghost of Brad’s blog. It exists with no real direction yet. I am disappointed that Brad is no longer posting to his blog. It was a great time and a great opportunity. But all things come to an end. Flapping mouths doesn’t have to be any more than what it is.. It is perfect. I think Brad’s blog was as much of a lesson for him as it was for us. But he seemed to be frustrated by the limitations of blogging as a real teaching tool. I think he took a long look at his blog and decided what needed to be done about it and he did it..

At March 10, 2006, Blogger me said...

What is the sound of one mouth flapping?

A: lonely

Keep it up everyone (I'd miss this blog) and let's not get depressed everytime things get a little heated - remember impermanence. Neither the good nor the bad lasts.

And thanks Jules.

At March 10, 2006, Blogger DA said...

"The above quotes are all about Brad Warner, who recently visited our Zen temple in Detroit. "Arrogant, combative, insulting, not to mention putridly cynical" are the last things that come to mind when I think of the fellow I hung out with."

That's fine. I can only judge him but what he's publicly written and said about others. Maybe he's different in person. Who knows? really, who cares?

At March 10, 2006, Blogger gniz said...


It seems like you are really trying to stay out of the drama as posted on your blog.
Keep it up.

At March 10, 2006, Blogger earDRUM said...

I like this blog. It is a little community of people heading down similar paths.
It has ups and downs... it breathes, like amny living things.
I have learned a lot of subtle things from almost everyone here.
I even learn something about myself by reading the posts that are nothing but stupid arguments. I get a kick out of the people who constantly berate Brad (because he berates others, or whatever).
Someone said that we dislike in others what we dislike about ourselves.
But, on the whole, I dislike the arguing. I realize that some people enjoy conflict. But not me. It makes me want to go somewhere else.
And arguing for the sake of arguing (or as a form of one-upmanship) feels anti-Buddhist to me... even if it is not.

Having said that, I find that this little community has a way of self-correcting itself. And sometimes I find wisdom in the arguments. I just happen to think that it could be done in a kinder fashion.
But that is me. Maybe I have issues?

The most helpful thing I have got our of this blog so far was the list of recommended books. Thanks much.

Keep on bloggin!

At March 10, 2006, Blogger aumeye said...

Rock on, earDRUM! ;)

At March 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What have you gotten out of Flapping Mouths? What do you like about it? "

Without reading the other comments first -

I like the practical "here's my experience with X and Y" stuff I've read. The gist is I'm interested in the everyday APPLICATION of zen in one's life, or one's life as a zen practitioner. I'm less interested in metaphysics or arguments about metaphysics.

While philosophy and philosophical discussions can be invigorating, the value lies in what you do with that philosophy in your everyday life, not the philosophy itself. Do I still have fun with my kids and do my cats rub against my legs when I come home? Okay, then everything else is gravy.

At March 12, 2006, Blogger 6billionghosts said...

i would not have discovered sitting meditation if it were not for the internet and blogs.

while this communication may not have a "point" in itself it certainly has helped me in my life.

At March 12, 2006, Blogger nobody said...

I think there are things more important than zazen. And this is coming from someone who values zazen quite a lot.

I think zazen is a way to train for our human job--taking care of each other. One way we take care of each other and lean on each other as we stumble along the way is to communicate with each other, share our ideas and enter into dialogue with one another. If we remained silent in order to meet an abstract ideal in our heads about how "Zen people" are supposed to act, we would be failing at our human job.

A lot of people find ways to connect with others over Internet forums like this that are lacking in their "3-D lives." I know being able to gab like a moron about inane (and not-so-inane) stuff probably has helped save me from despair over the years and encouraged me that I'm not alone.

The way we save this world (that does not really need saving) is not with perfect turns of phrase or even "noble silence." We do it simply by loving it and loving each other. But that's not as easy as it sounds, and Zen practice and zazen and studying the teachings really help in this endeavor. But they're simply tools. I think it is an error to devalue the basics of our human experience--which includes shooting the shit with other folks about what interests us or raises questions for us--in the name of some pure ideal.

(BTW, how can one get added to this blog? I'd love to post a poem or two.)

At March 13, 2006, Blogger flux said...

It looks like you can't get added as a contributor at the moment. The first post on the blog explains.


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