I am confused as to why I stopped zazen last time – and surprisingly I did not blog the decision. First reading of the Dogen Sangha’s precepts definitely shows that morality cannot be the issue – see here [p4]:-
The first thing I looked at when retiring was sila and order link . The rest of the precepts bring sila with them. Maybe it was the 4NT that was why I stopped. On reflective retrospection I did not get from zazen what I am getting now so maybe that was the reason.
Amongst some Brad stuff is a talk on Zen and Politics. Here is a clip.
In this he describes Zen as doing the little things because the bigger things lead to frustration – the frustration that was at the basis of punk rock. Let’s examine this in the context of the 1%. The 1%-system includes the control of change. Colonialism changed to neo-colonialism primarily because maintaining a colonial presence was too expensive – this was before the politics of the MIC and before a shift in economics. Let me try to explain this shift in economics. As ordinary people we understand economics as we pay for something, if we don’t have the money we don’t have – unless we borrow. If we borrow we have to pay back and this is a millstone around our necks. The 1%-system does not work like this. Over time economics has changed, and let’s consider the MIC as an example. War is big business. He amounts of money are spent on war products that creates a flourishing economy in the areas where those products are made. The money for such products come from governments, and that money they argue is taxes but in reality most of it is fiat money – money created. America has a huge amount of debt because of this fiat money that it keeps creating but who do they owe it to? Who is going to make them pay it back? Through the MIC the 1% get vast amounts of money, and the economy ticks over. This is a pack of cards, totally unstable, but where will that instability come from? It requires an awareness of the instability. In 2008 the 1% wanted to control the economy, too many people were getting rich through hedge funds. Through the media the crash was engineered – see the Two Johns for an explanation of these hedge funds and download Money Masters for an analysis of the crash. Much instability was exposed then and since 2008 the gap between rich and poor has increased, to understand the hand of the 1% we have to examine what happens and not what they say; this is now economics. The instability is still endemic in the system whilst the 1% get richer. This is what economics is – a mechanism to make the 1% richer, and not the delusions of the textbooks.
Colonialism changed because policing was not financially effective, it is cheaper to get people to police themselves. In the West this is what we do. We live in the 1%-system, and we accept the benefits of that system; previously in “Am I extreme?“, I have examined how those benefits arise. We collude with all that is wrong. In this audio clip Brad says that Zen deals with the little things and avoids the frustration of the bigger stuff – I surmise because the frustration causes suffering. The little things are part of the 1%-system – they allow you to have small victories to give you the delusion of effecting change. Typically unleaded petrol came in when it was practical for them to make a profit from it, health and safety regulations were first used by unions to make better working situations now they insist on them so profits are made from sticking to the regulations. Whilst winning little things can be beneficial to the winners, in the bigger picture they don’t matter. In the bigger picture Snowden is in exile, Assange is under arrest on trumped up charges, and Manning is in prison for 30 years – all for telling the truth.
So the zen issue is as Brad describes it, (paraphrasing) accept the status quo and work for the little things. Morally this is unacceptable because of all the hurt that is caused by the 1%-system, but can it be accepted because it reduces suffering? In my life I found less frustration by being true to myself, it was frustrating but I was not deluded. I definitely feel this was better for me, would it be better for all? Or is accepting the status quo better, accepting delusion? I do however completely agree with what he says about the speed of change, but I would maintain that if that change grew out of a grassroots movement in which all participants owned the change then the speed would appropriately change.
As for political leadership I feel that spiritual people should lead in spiritual matters only, that is their field of expertise. Brad sees Zen as not being spiritual, that is his decision. However he is not a wage-slave; he chooses what he wants to do, his zen teaching and writing, and hopes he has sufficient money to live. If you have not learnt from the life of being a wage-slave perhaps you are not equipped to understand the struggle, and politics in the 1%-system is fundamentally about controlling the wage-slaves. Can someone not in the struggle lead those who are struggling?
Such people as monks end up advising because they are respected for their spiritual knowledge; some advise about sex when they are celibate!! I have difficulty accepting this but it is up to those concerned.
So where does this leave me? On the question of morality and zen I was confused. On the 4NT that is not zen but there is nothing to say I can’t do them …. so far, and as zazen is helping I continue. I have to work on Dogen’s Shobogenzo whilst continuing with zazen.