December 06, 2005

Flamewars and Humility

reallynotimportant and michael have made a couple comments about being on-topic lately.

Jeez guys, I didn't mean to come off like the "on-topic police."

I'm really sorry I contributed to making Nishijima-sensei's blog a hostile environment, regardless of subjective opinions about who was right or wrong. So here's my own blog. If anyone would like to say anything to me (without clogging up other blogs with even more off-topic nonsense) this is the place.

By the way, if a blog conversation naturally strays one way or another, that's totally cool. It's to be expected, even. It's only rude if someone repeatedly attempts to steer every single conversation on a blog towards the same off-topic agenda.

Believe me, this isn't a phenomenon restricted to Nishijima's blog. It's pretty common, which explains why it's addressed in discussions of blog etiquette.

A typical comment-spam entry begins with a superficial attempt to appear like an interested participant in the conversation, and then the spammer casually mentions their product. "Oh, that's interesting, something like that happened in my kitchen just last week. Speaking of my kitchen, I'm selling turnip twaddlers, contact me if you're interested in picking one up cheap. They make awesome Julienne fries, too!"

Sound familiar?

But despite my aversion to comment spam, it would have been wiser for me to take that conversation elsewhere, or perhaps just to ignore the misbehavior and hope that the offending parties grow out of it.

11 Comments:

At December 06, 2005, Blogger Michael said...

Hey Jules,

No, I never considered you as one of the "off-topic police." I value your comments (again, I say this honestly, not gratuitously) and I've been enjoying all the interchange that has been going on.
Best of luck with this blog, and I look forward to being a subscriber.

 
At December 06, 2005, Blogger Pierre Turlur said...

Jules,

I am sorry that you took what i wrote in my last bog entry as a kind of agression. I was really apologizing. I would like to say again that I could not make myself clear enough.

Being a Dharma heir, what does it mean? It is not an honour or something to be proud of. It is extremely intimate and yet very open and ordinary. The essence of it can be expressed this way: it is received before being given, and when given, it is the gift of what is lost.

Once you are free from the delusion to become Buddha, enlightened, once you see zazen as it, then the transmission happens.

I am sorry that you identify as spam and off-topic comments what is for Mike and others, the very core of Buddhist practice. And that is the reason of your irritation.

My irritation is that you don't seem to be willing to listen to the experience of two blokes that are not trying to sell something but precisely make clear what zen sitting is about.

The fact that I am this or that is irrelevant even if in pure Zen tradition (tradition that fortunately we have given up) the debate would stop quickly for different reasons.

What i meet and experience in your contibutions is a person willing to control, to tell what is right or wrong, a lesson giver who reminds me of another one: myself.
Not a pleasant experience.

You are kindly invited to comment on the content of my blogs which is Dogen's Zen. Instead, you choose to take things very personnaly, ignore the real nature of what is expressed and carry on your crusade against the enemies of the good Blog way.

It is very obvious that what you accuse Mike or myself of doing ( to come up with the same off topic agenda) is also your own doing ( being the champion of blog etiquette everytime we make a comment).

So, where do we go from there?

I suggested sitting.

What do you suggest other than "blog etiquette please", "for goodness sake, leave Nishijima's blog in peace" and " when will you get that you are down wrong and I am down God right?

I still suggest sitting.

I agree with you on one thing, it is ridiculous.

God bless

Gassho

 
At December 06, 2005, Blogger Jules said...

michael,
Thanks for your kind comments, and your sense of moderation. I could use a little more moderation myself. :-)

pierre,
So, did Nishijima-sensei formally give Mike permission to teach the Dharma, and did Mike formally give you the same permission to teach the Dharma? That's my understanding of the term Dharma-heir.

I am sorry that you identify as spam and off-topic comments what is for Mike and others, the very core of Buddhist practice. And that is the reason of your irritation.

I'm curious whether most Alexander practitioners call themselves Buddhists and participate in Buddhist sanghas. I am not convinced that the Alexander technique would be recommended by many Buddhist teachers, though I really don't know, being only a Zen student with some experience in bodywork and kinesthesiology, and having only read about the Alexander technique, with no personal experience of it.

My irritation is that you don't seem to be willing to listen to the experience of two blokes that are not trying to sell something but precisely make clear what zen sitting is about.

I don't think that is quite true. Here is a quote from Mike's Alexander Technique web page: "At the Middle Way Re-education Centre our current fee is £20 for a 50-minute lesson, or £100 for a course of six lessons." So I don't know about you, but Mike is definitely selling something. And I was willing to listen to Mike's experience, the first time he posted it, and the second... I did read several Alexander technique web sites, and gave Mike the benefit of the doubt, at first. But now I'm not sure I trust your judgement or Mike's enough to accept sitting advice from either of you.

It is very obvious that what you accuse Mike or myself of doing ( to come up with the same off topic agenda) is also your own doing ( being the champion of blog etiquette everytime we make a comment).

The difference is that I do not come to a blog with an agenda. My intent is not proselytization. I don't run around and make etiquette-police posts on every blog I visit. I come to the blog with no intent to post anything at all, unless a response to what I see there arises. Minor etiquette violations are everywhere. The only time I have ever commented on them is when I feel they are significantly impacting the value of the entire forum.

You and Mike came to Nishijima-sensei's blog with the intent of spreading your ideas. You don't seem interested in the conversations Nishijima is beginning. That is what I object to, hijicking his blog with your own agenda.

I suggested sitting.

I do, every day.

 
At December 09, 2005, Blogger g said...

I come here from Michael's place to find two birds squabbling on the wire. Which one flies off first?

 
At December 09, 2005, Blogger DA said...

Ah, good ol internet drama :-) Hey man, how's it goin?

 
At December 10, 2005, Blogger Jules said...

It's goin' just fine :-) How are you?

 
At December 12, 2005, Blogger Mike Cross said...

Jules,

Your perception that Pierre and I have some agenda which is different from Nishijima Roshi's own agenda might not necessarily be true!

Having devoted quite a large chunk of my life to serving Nishijima Roshi, I think I know what his agenda is as well as anybody. But let us agree to differ on that one.

But the main reason I visited your blog is because I want to ask you this:

A buddha by the name of "Foolish Thing" posted on the Dogen Sangha Blog a comment on the subject of our intention in Zazen: THE INTENTION JUST TO SIT. The comment was just about the most beautifully clear description of Zazen that I have ever read in English. But for some reason -- who knows why? -- the comment was deleted from the Dogen Sangha Blog.

I would like to get in contact with Foolish Thing. When I followed the original link I found the name of Foolish Thing's blog was "This Brightness," but I could not access it. Do you have any clue as to who and where Foolish Thing might be?

Best regards,

Mike Cross

 
At December 12, 2005, Blogger Jules said...

Mike,
Sorry, no idea. FT's blog was never set up as far as I know, I tried to look at it when FT first posted, but I got the same error you did.

-Jules

 
At December 15, 2005, Blogger reallynotimportant said...

I have allowed myself to be dragged into some of this stuff too far. I have now taken a big step back.

I have no problem at all with anyone going o/t - hell I do it myself. I do get irritated (a flaw) sometimes when the same people go off-topic in the same direction every time.

In many senses I have found it very very funny (in a sad sort of way).

In the UK there was a program called "Red Dwarf". One episode featured a Talking Toaster that had been upgraded so that it now had an IQ of 1000. It was incredibly intelligent but it always managed to alter the answer to any question so that it included toast or bread products in some way.

 
At December 15, 2005, Blogger Jules said...

That's hilarious, and fitting. :-) I don't think I ever saw that episode. The smegging US networks rarely carry RD, but now that you've reminded me how much I enjoyed that show, I've discovered they are available from a DVD rental service I use. Thanks!

Yeah, I've mostly given up trying to get through to Mike. It's the weirdest thing... for a minute I felt like I had made a connection and actually communicated my intention and perspective, but then another post shows up with what looks like a snide comment about "punk attitude." As if someone with the True Enlightenment Merit Badge is supposed to abandon all their old hobbies, preferences, and opinions. Whatever.

From what Brad said in that Mr. Angry article, Mike's been attacking Brad in e-mails to the whole Dogen Sangha for a while. I wonder what Brad did to deserve that, if anything. Whatever's got Mike so upset, I think it started long before the Mr. Angry article.

I think part of him believes that there must be something wrong with Nishijima if Mike doesn't understand the teachings after studying with the man for twenty years. And I think by now it's pretty clear he doesn't recognize how little his (or anyone's) opinions are worth. He certainly seems to think Brad's opinion is pretty important, based on his reaction to the Mr. Angry article.

But another part of him recognizes that he still has something to learn from Nishijima, so he can't leave him and move on to another "better" teacher who will give him the "magic secret". Pride is a tough pill to swallow. If I was in Mike's place, I can see it would be hard to accept that Brad's understood it and Mike hasn't.

 
At December 16, 2005, Blogger reallynotimportant said...

I was going to write a lot of stuff here instead, I think what Mike writes on his and other Blogs says it all.

I think in the end I feel some compassion for all 3 parties - for different reasons in each case.

However, some of the posts are unintentionally funny.

 

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