Once on a journey Zen master Zenko happened to see a ruined temple that he thought should be restored. Completely without material resources of his own, Zenko wrote a large sign saying, “This month, on such-and-such day, the pilgrim Zen master Zenko will perform a self-cremation. Let those who will donate money for firewood come watch.”

Now Zenko posted this sign here and there. Soon the local people were agog, and donations began pouring in.

On the appointed day, people jammed the temple, awaiting the lighting of the fire.

Zenko sat in the firewood, preparing to immolate himself. He called for the fuel to be ignited at his signal.

Now Zenko went into silent meditation. A long time passed. All of a sudden, he looked up at the blue sky and nodded. Then he addressed the crowd, saying, “Listen, listen! There are voices in the clouds! Just as I was about to enter into extinction, the saints all said, ‘It is too early for you to think of leaving the defiled world! Put up with this world for a while, and stay here to save living beings.’ So I can’t go on with the cremation today.”

Then he took the money that had been donated and was able to restore the abondoned temple with it.

(from Sayings: The Wisdom of Zen)

Someone I have recently considered a good friend said to me while talking about how Paul Hackett could possibly be apologizing to Sherrod Brown: “You’re Buddhist, you should get that”.

Well, let’s just say that hit me like a cast iron Shakyamuni. There are times that I feel like I have to push away from this blogging thing and go back to my life – discover who I really want to be and what I am really all about. There is no better place than the Zen cushions. So this is what I did. I sat. What I came away with is that ego went into overdrive and has been since about February 14th as it relates to this senate race.

My post yesterday is a reflection of much anger and frustration – all completely justified and probably felt by many who pay close attention. I would not say that I think any of it was wrong, just that there comes a point when it is what it is and you have to exist in whatever moment you have in front of you. I can’t change the fact that Sherrod entered the race clumsily. I can’t change the fact that he stepped on my guy Paul Hackett’s toes getting in. I can’t change any of it – the truly incompetent online outreach and strategy employed by Phil Devellis, the oppo shopping to the righties, the swiftboat whisper campaign, the Valentines Day Massacre. No matter how much railing I do, it is what it is. That is not to say we shouldn’t rail and expose the wrongs and shed light on the cockroach of political malfeasance. I feel like I MUST. But I guess you arrive at a point where you must step aside and let the arrow pass.

This brings me to the story above. I read it in a book of Zen stories just after morning meditation today and during some nice Awake tea. I am sometimes struck to the point of embarassment at the wisdom of the old masters. How cluttered do our minds have to get that we can’t see what they see? How muddy is our water that would become clear if we would only be still?

Well, it hit me that Zenko was so quickly able to see that it didn’t matter how he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, what mattered was that the temple needed to be restored. Chris was able to see this. I was not. I’m sorry, Chris. Understand that my post was a reflection of the intense frustration I have had with how bloggers have been treated by the Brown campaign and not about you. I stand by my desire to see them reach out further and do a MTB session. I think the issue of what affect blogging about an area that you don’t live in is interesting, but should come up in another way and you are right – it was an ad hominem attack. I’m sorry for that. I know from talking to you and meeting you twice that we are on the same team and I see that you are merely trying to restore the temple. Accept my apologies and consider me moving on.

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  • This post makes me want to be a Zen Buddhist and Jewish at the same time. Nice, Eric.

  • Eric

    I hear that is possible, actually. We don’t always arrive there quickly, but at least we arrive. Now, about that temple…

  • Wow, that’s the coolest apology I’ve ever read. Thanks, Eric.

    While I consider myself a Christian; I say consider myself because many who are Christian would say that my beliefs don’t make me a Christian, my life has been greatly enhanced by Zen philosophy.

    My first French Horn teacher, S. Earl Saxton, introduced me to Zen philosophy as a way to master the instrument. Later on when I studied with Dave Krehbiel his teaching was as much a lesson in Zen as it was in music. He would stand over you and bark at you to hit some difficult note, and over and over you’d miss it while he kept telling you to hit it. Then on a dime he’d start barking at you to miss it, and here as before the note you couldn’t hit if your life depended on it now you couldn’t miss it if your life depended on it.

    For many years I considered myself a failure since I never secured a position with a major symphony orchestra. But while I never made it to my destination the journey was wonderful beyond my wildest imagination. Their life lessons have served me well in everything I do.

    (I should also mention Bob Ward, my teacher between Earl and Dave. He taught me how through discipline and relaxed methodical repetition you could master anything. He got his first major gig as a pro horn player while on strike for an auto plant.)

  • strange post, in so many ways, but one in particular.

    brush up on your latin. pointing out that someone whose political blog is named after, built its reputation on, traded in credibility on, a place in which he cannot vote, none of which is disclosed anywhere on the blog, is not ad hominem, nor is it an attack. it is relevant. it may be less relevant than a lot of things, but it is relevant.

    now, if you had called baker a morbidly obese cow – that’s ad hominem. ask him. he employs it well.

  • Eric

    Yes, I don’t know Latin as well as a former lawyer might. What I do know is that where Chris lived was not the main point of my post and probably would have led to more people talking about the substance of it than focusing on what I view to be a minor point.

    Like I say above, blogography is a mighty interesting topic of discussion and we can have it. It just had very little to do with my rant and probably didn’t belong there. The way in which I worded it could be viewed as an attack. The point really is that he felt attacked and I was responsible for that. I take responsibility for it and I decided to apologize.

    Now, while I step aside and let the arrows fly, what about that temple?

    I’m also very interested to know what else about this post is strange.

  • Tim Tim Tim Tim Tim… you make it all so easy.

    Why don’t you do yourself a favor and be quiet?

    (See Eric… this is the Christian in me talking.)

  • AmberCat

    I’m baffled about all this fuss about where Oh-02 is blogging from.

    I’m also baffled that anyone thinks the problems with Brown have anything to do with Hackett. Brown has long since ceased to matter. Even the way he handled THIS event was awkward. But I don’t let it bother me nor do I have much interest in that race. I’m focusing on the fact that the Democrats are running an outstanding slate of state candidates and the Republicans are running a pack of slithering devolved cockroaches. The important thing to me is getting Strickland/Fisher, Brunner, Dann, Sykes and Cordray elected. Do you really want Sandra O’Brien to be your next treasurer? Or Greg “Kenny, you’re doin’ a heckuva job” Hartmann to be your Secretary of State?

  • Pho

    Excellent post. And I know what you mean about how hard it is sometimes to practice your faith while enmeshed in politics.

  • I should also apologize for getting so carried away. When I see the blogo double team I start to go into full out flame mode.

  • I was appalled by yesterday’s comment thread. I am very encouraged (and intrigued) by this post. Today’s experience has been much more enjoyable (except for Tim’s inexcusable comment).

    Thank you!

  • Pounder

    I was impressed with myself for not wading into this whole mess. LOL. It’s going to ruin my rep.

    Nice post Eric.

  • Muffet

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am very impressed by your apology. It has made me just a little less angry. Thanks to you and thanks to Paul.

  • Mrs Editor

    Eric, I am very impressed. Makes me want to find out about that Zen thing. You hang out with some krazy kinda folks but this its all good.

  • angelina

    Very beautiful apology. I am Catholic but I find getting my mind into Zen state helps when there is nothing to be done about circumstances I don’t like. Zen, a philosophy , meshes nicely with most religions. I don’t get the personal attack on Editor by others. Be mad at Brown and/or Hackett but what’s Editor got to do with it? Those of us active in the 2nd knew Editor didn’t live here. I’m not sure how or why he got involved but I don’t care and am very grateful he did. If we don’t care, why should Russo?

  • angelina


    And one more thing – why the cheap shot about Editor’s appearance? It’s one thing to attack him on his ideas or actions but his physical appearance? This isn’t jr. high and you shouldn’t have been making fun of people in jr. high either.


  • Todd

    Eric, I am also very impressed by your post and yes, as difficult as it may be, its time to give Sherrod another chance. Let’s hope he will take it.

    Can I borrow your zen cushions? I have had a rough week too 🙂

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