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September 08, 2023


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Doing zazen and still more zazen, I chalked up nothing
but distress and fatigue; both my head and my body began
to lose their normal functioning. The thought that I would
surely meet my death if I continued in this vein arose
many times to interrupt my practice.

But to give the conclusion before the explanation, I can tell you that matters
most definitely did not take the turn that I feared. The
extremes of fatigue and anguish did not give way to death,
but evolved, quite contrary to expectations, into a curve
that led right back to where I had started out. One night I
sat, in the middle of the night, a lump of fatigue sitting on
a zazen cushion, both body and consciousness were in a
haze, and I could not have roused the desire for satori if I
had wanted to when, suddenly, the fog cleared and a
world of lucidity opened itself. Clearly seeing, clearly
hearing, it was yet a world in which there was no “me”!
106 novice to master

I cannot fully explain that time. Tb venture an explana¬
tion would be to err somewhere. The one thing I am sure
of is that in this instant, the functioning of the heart with
which I was born came into play in its purest form. I could
not keep still in my uncontainable joy. Without waiting
for the morning wake-up bell, I made an unprecedented
call on the roshi and received permission to leave the tem¬
ple for about two hours to deliver the news of my experi¬
ence to Zuigan Roshi.

It did not take me an hour to walk through the black
darkness to Daishuin. When I arrived, Roshi was still in
bed. I crawled right up to his pillow and said very simply,
"I finally saw.”

Roshi sprang from his bed, examined me for a time, as
if with a glare, and said, "It’s from now on. From now on.
Sit strongly."

This is all he said to me. From then on for the next six
teen years, until my fortieth year and Zuigan Roshi’s death
at age eighty-seven, whether in the monastery or back in
the temple, I continued koan practice. No, really I must
say that I continue still. It is not just a matter of the say¬
ings of old masters, but the living koan of human life that
continues without limit.

Awakening to your own original face—“enlighten¬
ment"—does not mean being able to explain yourself or
the source of yourself. Enlightenment is liberation from
the dross of learning and experience that, without one's
being aware of it, has accumulated and settled like so
much sediment—or like cholesterol into one’s arteries! It is
the vivid, lively manifestation of the heart with which one
is born—the heart that is no-form, no-mind, non-abiding,
attached neither to form nor to thought, but in dynamic
no end to practice 107

Consequently, enlightenment is not an end point,
but rather a starting point.

Note: This testimony of enlightenment only came after 5 solid years of absolutely grueling Zen practice in Japan temple.


"The power in which you can come to believe in yourself
is not gained through training. It is the great power that
transcends the self, that gives life to the self. The purpose
of Zen practice is to awaken to the original power of which
you have lost sight, not to gain some sort of new power.
When you have sought and sought and finally exhausted
all seeking, you become aware of that with which you
have been, from the beginning—before ever beginning to
search—abundantly blessed. After you have ceaselessly
knocked and knocked, you realize, as I have said, that the
door was standing wide open even before you ever started
pounding away. That is what practice is all about."

In a dream last night I played with a dog that had patches and streaks of iridescent green fur. Was he a messenger? An astral dog? But he smelled like he needed a bath!

Breer writes
"-- this inner world presents itself as an invisible Presence that has no form, no boundaries, never changes, and is neither spatially nor temporally divided, yet arises in a specific place -- the brain."

But this is illogical since the inner world has no locus other than that we are witnessing it from a place without perceptual anchor and a target of whatever we attend up. And it is constantly changing, as curtains melt away or fall into place. His concept of atheism makes the description of inner experience partly inaccurate.

Breer writes
" ...In the Cosmic View enlightenment implies the discovery of THAT out of which the material world of things has emerged. In other words, it precedes the creation of matter -- e.g., of stars, moons, and planets. So, even if all material objects were destroyed, it would continue to Be."

This is confused. The inner world is a perceptual experience of a part of the outer worlds. It's all part of the same one reality that we are part of.

Breer continues

"Not so according to the Local View which argues that the experience of enlightenment depends on having a physical brain. If that brain, along with all other material things, were to be destroyed, enlightenment would be impossible."

The experience of reality through the physical brain is through that filter.

But thankfully the brain is a part of this larger reality. And our point of view changes as we practice. Calming the body, calming thoughts we see things we never saw before.

How can we know where it began, where it comes from and where it ends?

Science doesn't know enough about that.

So Breer, driven to the mental compulsion for a conclusion draws one prematurely, and therefore hopelessly false.

Spence, your comment doesn't reflect the reality of what other-worldly religions and mystical paths claim. For example, Sant Mat, the religion I belonged to for 35 years and which you also are an initiate of, claims that meditation can lead to an experience of primordial sound and light, or Shabd, which is believed to be the source of this physical universe.

The Shabd is believed to keep the universe in being, but it is separate from the universe. If the universe didn't exist, Shabd still would. Likewise, Sant Mat teaches that after death, even though an initiate's physical body dies, their immaterial soul and other bodies (astral, causal) is carried by the Shabd to higher regions of reality.

This is a completely Cosmic View, not a Local View, just as Breer wrote. Shabd isn't simply a perception by the meditator's brain, it is believed to be the foundation of existence, both natural and supernatural.

The fruits of the spontaneous self?


I can't find any info that Breer was convicted of these charges, so perhaps it was a false accusation.

Turns out that Paul Breer is a convicted felon and registered sex offender.


The good news is that the Professor has no agency & doesn't feel any guilt over this. Cheers.

Hi Brian
You wrote
"Spence, your comment doesn't reflect the reality of what other-worldly religions and mystical paths claim."

The reality of the claims of others who believe differently unfortunately gets filtered through the conditioned thinking of one's own dogmatic mind. It is unnecessary to the discussion of actual inner experience that one can know for themselves. Breer is indeed trying to separate the experience from the various concepts and descriptions that have been layered into it. That's a good motivation, until he attempts to draw conclusions without full knowledge. Then the opportunity to create inclusion around a universally accessible experience is lost.

The inner experiential reality that anyone can experience and explore is universal and non-denoninational. It is very much part and parcel of reality.

You wrote
"For example, Sant Mat, the religion I belonged to for 35 years and which you also are an initiate of, claims that meditation can lead to an experience of primordial sound and light, or Shabd, which is believed to be the source of this physical universe."

I can attest to the dramatic experience of blazing light and cathedral level sound. As can others. But that is just part of reality. As for the source of the physical universe, all we can say is it is part of it.

Anything you can do to experience a part of this reality that is new to you exposes you to be experience. It is just another form of travel.

You wrote
"The Shabd is believed to keep the universe in being, but it is separate from the universe. If the universe didn't exist, Shabd still would. Likewise, Sant Mat teaches that after death, even though an initiate's physical body dies, their immaterial soul and other bodies (astral, causal) is carried by the Shabd to higher regions of reality."

Why does any of that interest you?
Yes, religions teach the existence of an eternal soul.

But isn't Breer attempting to help people see things as they are without anyone's dogma?

Then, if you should find that you do have a" soul".. Whatever that might be, and that "God" exist, in your own life, then that is for you.

I think the point is to journey, progress, make one's own discoveries.

As for Shabd, you're description is almost but not precisely correct. The universe IS Shabd. All of it. The form can change, just like energy and mattter and everything in between.

But neither matter not energy can be created nor destroyed, only transformed (first law of thermodynamics).

Hi Brian
You wrote
"Likewise, Sant Mat teaches that after death, even though an initiate's physical body dies, their immaterial soul and other bodies (astral, causal) is carried by the Shabd to higher regions of reality."

Again, I don't want to speak for Sant Mat, but my understanding is a little different. The astral and casual forms aren't raised, but disgarded, transcended, like layers of clothes removed, so that the" You" that experiences is free of the various conditioning of the past.

But you are already "you" Brian, the person who sees things from one particular point of view. The conscious viewer.

That viewer, through experience, through travel, through education, through focused attention, sees things from a larger view. Including the stars, the sun and the moon. The local is always the cosmic when you see the cosmos, in any form.

SantMat64, Breer speaks of being in prison for two years in his books. Of course, this has no bearing on the message. His behavior was determined by causes and conditions, Circumstance as Breer likes to put it, just as everybody's behavior is. Your choice to research Breer's background was fully determined, as was your choice to write some comments about what you found.

Regarding sexual abuse, I can't resist pointing out that Donald Trump was convicted of this in the defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll, and that "rape" was ruled as applying to what Trump did. So if a person convicted of sexual abuse can be the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, clearly another person can write persuasive books about the illusion of free will.

@Brian Hines:

What "determined" my posting Breer's background as a convicted child molester was your choice to omit that fact from any of your many essays about the wonderfulness of his philosophy. And to let others know that embracing radical determinism tends to rot one's moral sensibilities.

It's funny to me that you hold a convicted sex offender guiltless, but have long been red--in-the-face outraged about your perception of the moral failings of Donald Trump and Gurinder Singh. Does the deterministic get-out-of-guilt-free card only apply to people that you agree with?

Here's the checklist for every authority and aspiring authority.
□ Lussssst
□ Annnnnger
□ Greeeeed
□ Attachhhhhment
□ Eeeeego

Paul Breer is also a novelist. One of his most recently published novels is Tashi.

Tashi is Breer's story about how a 14-year-old girl falls in love with an adult, and how her love helps the guy transcend his feelings of guilt over his past.


Are pedophiles enlightened or willfully depraved when they justify their lust for the underage as normal and wholesome? Discuss among yourselves.

SantMat64, here's a synopsis of the book by Breer that gives a different impression than your moralistic judgmental comment provides. You do understand, I hope, that Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is on many great books lists. It deals with the compulsion of a middle aged professor for a 12 year old girl. Breer reverses that compulsion, apparently.

"Tashi is the story of a young girl's love for an older man. The two are brought together by their common love for music, Richard being a composer and she a budding cellist. As she matures into young adulthood, her love for the reticent composer is continually tested by jealousy, physical separation, parental concern, and above all, by his unconscious fear of rejection. Through it all, she is sustained by support from her eccentric but compassionate grandfather, who provides her with the ultimate key to unlocking her would-be lover's suppressed desire. The novel draws on a theme familiar to both literature aficionados and opera-goers, the theme of a flawed man redeemed by a woman's love. Most often associated with Richard Wagner's operas, it tells of how an otherwise heroic figure, typically saddled with guilt or fear, is absolved from self-punishment by a woman whose love is deep and pure enough to transcend the most despicable of sins.Paul Breer received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. In subsequent years he taught or conducted research at the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, and Dartmouth Medical School. Since retiring, he has spent most of his time writing books (both fiction and non-fiction) and music. Tashi is one of his four novels, the other three being The Reluctant Savior, The Unwanted, and The Lady and the Lord. Breer currently lives in the mountains of Western Colorado."


Sexual obsession with children, and making the child the pursuer of the older man, written by an older white guy, is just plain creepy, Brian.

I'm sure a lot of creepy older white guys would find this interesting and there is a market for it.

However, Lolita is about obsession, and the enslavement of obsession, when the basis for it has no value. The protagonist kidnaps and sexually abuses the girl. It's a tragic tale of what happens when someone has nothing of value to cling to. It's a tragedy, not a romance.

But Breer makes it a romance and turns the child into the pursuer.

"Through it all, she is sustained by support from her eccentric but compassionate grandfather, who provides her with the ultimate key to unlocking her would-be lover's suppressed desire. "


The fact the author is a convicted pedophile just raises the question about whether he is in any position to comment about religion, God or any of the hard-won efforts at emancipation by others, with any credibility.

One of the reasons older men become obsessed with children is that they are gullible, can easily be victimized, and led astray. These men are themselves enslaved victims of their own narcissism, and commit what is nothing less than acts of violation and aggression against children. To make the girl the active agent, as a child, does not exonerate any adult from their duty to help children become fully independent and happy adults, and that includes freedom from obsession of any kind.

Instead, Breer concocts a tale to justify sexual predation upon a minor. The very act he was convicted of.

Breer's situation is most assuredly open to review by the public as he is a public figure.

Add your recent promotion of Alan Watts and we now have two old white men passing judgement on the beliefs of other cultures, other religions, other people who don't look like themselves, who themselves were sexual predators, themselves victims to obsessions they never faced nor overcame.

There are nobler representatives of Atheism than these, who make the case on noble grounds, not judging others, not narcissism, not obsession. And certainly not with a personal history of pedophilia, sexual predation and sexual abuse of minors.

The point of philosophy is emancipation. Let's find those who have some credibility to speak from, or if they remain enslaved, who can honestly acknowledge this, and their struggles. That is also worthy of respect.

Most people are a mixture of good and bad, I've noticed.

umami, I've noticed that also, except I'd say all people are a mixture of what is often referred to as "good" and "bad." Funny thing is, some people believe that they are all good, so they criticize people they consider bad because they're not as exalted as they (wrongly) believe they are.

The problem is not that we are all a mixed bag.

The problem is when one philosopher criticises the belief system of others as inferior or unnecessary and disposable when they are themselves the victim of mental issues their philosophy in theory would free us from.

Any philosophy that makes claims of liberation can reasonably be asked to provide evidence, even if it is personal disclosure. Especially so.

Unless the author can say "this works for me." Then that's fine. But to claim it is superior to others is a claim that can be challenged.

Then that is claiming to be superior when in fact we all have issues. Better to admit what those are and what they have learned trying to deal with them.

Brian, true. "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)

The age of consent in Japan was only 13 until recently. In China it's 14. The promo video and book cover depict Tashi as Asian, so cultural relativity must be a theme. Perhaps Breer published it as confessional of sorts, ten years after arrest, and was actually sorry.

Breer made lemonade out of lemons, an act most people of faith hold in high esteem!

Hi Umami

I like your intention to forgive others, but not to the degree of enabling child abuse.

Take a look in context...
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

We are all a mixed bag. This is what Breer should do, take the plank out of his own eye first before claiming those who believe differently are wrong.

But no one should defend child abuse.

" But whoso shall cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6

Breer's book doesn't atone nor apologize for his pedophilia. In his story he tries to justify it and indulge in it by making the child the instigator and Breer the passive character.

Defending child sexual abuse? That's quite an accusation, Spence. No, not at all.

My read of the synopsis is that the love Tashi developed for the composer was chaste and benefitted her as a musician. It wasn't till later, when she was of age, that they consummated. Neither could handle it until they matured. He wasn't over his demons, and she was too young. Not having read the novel, I can only speculate, but it sounds like a story about the healing power of art and the very opposite of child abuse.

We can read between the lines and decide Breer still has a perversion, or we can decide he learned a lesson and wished he'd developed the restraint of his characters earlier on. It could be a little of both, since people are complicated--a mixed bag, as you put it. To this day Breer might experience the impulses that got him into trouble but have mastered them. The novel Tashi comes across as an exercise in bad taste, but maybe it helped him progress.

I don't have your superpowers, however. You may have entered his mind and communed directly with his thoughts, as you have with the Buddha's. Did the Buddha only get as far as Maha Sunn? Is that nirvana? I've often wondered.

Earlier you wrote: "The problem is when one philosopher criticises the belief system of others as inferior or unnecessary and disposable when they are themselves the victim of mental issues their philosophy in theory would free us from."

Breer couldn't be Enlightened, because in his indiscretion was still wildly subject to desire. Does he claim Enlightment? I've looked back over the passages Brian reprinted, and I don't see where Breer says other philosophies are inferior, unnecessary or disposable, but I definitely remember a commenter calling others nihilist a few times recently for interpreting religion without his superconscious lens. Ahem.

Michael Jackson still gets airplay. Woody Allen still makes movies. Any number of alcoholic, druggie, abusive, insane artists still have their works in museums. Creepy, but if the work is good, people separate the art from the artist. Is it defending perversity or just what happens? Breer's work will probably fade away on its own someday, not as impactful.

Remember the pedophile priest scandals starting in the '90's. Did the Bible lose all credibility for you then? Did you call Catholics enablers of child abuse for going to mass? Maybe you're moral outrage is misaligned. I doubt that anyone worships at Paul Breer's feet, nor at Allen Watts'. To me they're weirdos with interesting ideas that barely penetrate, and I'm probably not alone in taking them with a grain of salt.

Ideas, ideation. They're pretty shallow next to your profound, inborn, multidimensional worshipfulness, but sorry, that's all I got. Do we have to speak in tongues?

Hi Umami
I think you may be slightly confused, but not entirely.

You wrote
"I've looked back over the passages Brian reprinted, and I don't see where Breer says other philosophies are inferior,"

Well this is really the crux of the matter, because whatever a person finds for themself, that doesn't hurt anyone else, if it really helps them and doesn't enable hurtful behavior, doesn't harm others, is worthy of respect and praise.

But unfortunately, you may have missed the holier than thou Breer commits in the comments Brian quoted..

"I refer first to the fact that in both cases what appears to be true turns out on closer examination to be illusory; like those two previous beliefs, the belief that we are the universe or that in our role as the Absolute we created the material world out of nothing is unsupported by either common sense or logic."

Calling someone else's beliefs about enlightenment illusory when they aren't there yet, is just plain ignorant.

Now you can argue that no one should be finger pointing which is really my point. We all have feet of clay. Funny you don't remember my saying this on several occasions.

More important, in my humble opinion, is to be honest about one's experience and shortcomings, and the work to take their next step. Not what's wrong with everyone who doesn't think the way you do.

As for Breer being a convicted pedophile, that is like drug addiction. It doesn't disqualify Breer from having an opinion about enlightenment or to accuse others who believe differently of living in illusion.

It just discredits his claims to understand enlightenment better than those who have spent their lives in disciplined, careful practice.

He certainly can discuss his own efforts to raise is awareness to all things including the plight of his victims, and his efforts and current results to change. That carries significant credibility, if he is sincere.

But when he presumes to understand others better than they understand themselves, that is pure ethnocentrism. It's bigotry.

It's what old white men have done for a long time, dismissing the voice of women, other peoples and other beliefs. Or worse, presuming they want to indulge his fantasies, and even writing about it, putting his words into their mouths.

It's false and out of date.

The Cosmic View and the Local View are the same, just different descriptions from different spokespeople with different lenses.

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