Thursday, November 24, 2011

burn it all down

Lately I have had occasion to recall a TV presentation in which a Japanese Zen teacher was interviewed as part of the New Year's Eve celebrations in Japan. In Japan, the New Year is often ushered in on TV with a visit to one temple or another.

The teacher was asked how he would feel if the communists invaded Japan and wiped out all the temples there. "Oh yes," he laughed approximately, "burn them all down!" I had heard similar sentiments in Zen centers, but never on TV and seldom so gaily. Imagine a Christian or Jewish or Muslim potentate with that sort of chutzpah, with that sense of humor.

Not long ago I was talking to a Zen-inclined friend on the phone and he tentatively suggested that the whole of Zen in America, if not everywhere, was bogus. He did so with a combination of some conviction and some question-mark in his voice. He wasn't trying to sell the idea. He wouldn't go on TV about it. It was more as if he were trying the idea on for size, to see how it dovetailed with his gut experience and honest-heart understanding. My friend is too old to do an arm-flailing, teen-aged let's-pretend-we-know-what-Zen-is schtick.

Burn it all down! -- how about it?

I can hear and make up the simpering counter-arguments, but what about it really? On the one hand, you don't want to hurt anyone else or deprive them of a useful tool in their attempts to create a peaceful life. And, on the other ... cut the crap! This is organizational bullshit!

Either/or. Both/and. Neither/nor.

Just something that seems to appeal lately:

Burn it all down.


  1. Yeah fuck it all. Fuckm it all.

  2. Economist Steve Keen is one of the few economists to have predicted the global financial crisis and now he says we are already in a Great Depression. He says the way to escape it is to bankrupt the banks, nationalise the financial system and pay off people's debt.

    He admits what he is advocating is radical but says it is time governments gave money to debtors to pay down debt instead of to creditors such as banks who have held onto it.

  3. I admit that one of my first thoughts, back when the full extent of the Shimano scandal really dawned on me, was: "String the pair of them up and burn the place to the ground!"

    Today I probably wouldn't really wish that. But even if you burn ALL the Zen temples down, still nothing important would be lost.

  4. I may sometimes misunderstand the roadmap. It may not be a perfect roadmap. But if i'm to be my own cartographer, i'd think any how to information would be helpful.