Wednesday, January 04, 2006

DON'T VIEW BIG FISH (Censorshit Pt. 2)

I’d like to go a little further into what I wrote about yesterday, particularly regarding Jules’ comments about Thich Nhat Hanh’s interpretation of the fifth Buddhist precept. This precept is most often given as, “Don’t cloud the mind with intoxicants.” Gudo Nishijima gives it as, “Don’t live by selling liquor.” I think Kobun Chino’s version -- and this is just from memory -- is, “No selling wine, no drinking wine.” Hanh’s version is, (deep breath of air) “Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.”

This reminds me of a very early piece by Dogen called Hokyo-ki , and known in English as "Journal of My Study in China." This is a series of notes Dogen wrote while in China studying under his teacher Tendo Nyojo. Here he cites a list of activities that Tendo Nyojo said students first starting to study Buddhism should avoid. The list reads:

Don't read or chant too much.
Don't overwork.
Don't eat onions.
Don't eat meat.
Don't drink too much milk.
Don't drink alcohol.
Don't eat too many olives.
Don't eat fungi.
Don't listen to singing or music.
Don't watch dancing women.
Don't look at pornography or talk about sex.
Don't take medicines for mental diseases.
Don't pay attention to matters of fame and fortune.
Don't be associated with eunuchs or hermaphrodites.
Don't have too much candy.
Don't pay attention to loud noises.
Don't watch herds of pigs or sheep.
Don't stare at the ocean, bad pictures, hunchbacks or puppets.
Always have clean feet.
Don't view big fish

I’ve always especially liked the last one on this list, “Don’t view big fish.” Remember this list was composed 800 years ago in China. Human society has changed somewhat since then. In China in those days, having a pond stocked with big ass fish was a major status symbol. So viewing big fish meant looking at things that caused you to be envious and greedy, like going around Beverly Hills today and looking at big Mercedes Benzes. Most of us don’t have too many chances to meet eunuchs or hermaphrodites these days. Olives are not the rare delicacy they were back then and fungi are not as likely to kill you or send you off on accidental hallucinatory trips anymore. We don’t get quite as excited at the sight of herds of pigs and sheep, either.

Still, in general principle, Tendo Nyojo’s advice is pretty much the same as Thich Nhat Hanh’s. The general principle being, don’t do stuff that’s deliberately intoxicating to body or mind.

This list was given as a general guideline to beginning students who were interested in Zen practice, not as a set of rules carved in stone which all must obey lest they end up in the place with the bad guy with horns and a pitch fork. It’s quite different from censorship, too. Tendo Nyojo never made any attempt to try and get any of this stuff banned. He didn’t even expressly forbid his own students to indulge in them. He just told them that if they were serious about this Zen deal they might want to avoid them.

You may ask yourself, then, why a guy who follows a philosophy that says, “don’t listen to singing and music” and, more importantly, “don’t pay attention to loud noises” can play bass in a punk rock band. I’ve asked myself that too. It used to cause me tremendous worry and grief.

One day I visited Nishijima Sensei and said how I felt about this, and how I felt guilty for spending most of the money I had on CD’s and musical instruments. He just said, “You’re a musician. It’s natural that you would spend money on CD’s and musical equipment.” He also encouraged me to remain in the entertainment business when I told him I was thinking of leaving. In fact, I am certain I’d be doing something else by now if it weren’t for his advice to stick with it.

On the other hand, Nishijima also says, “the best music of all is silence.”

So what the Hell can you make of that? How can anyone follow a philosophy so full of inconsistencies?

It took me a long time to finally get a feel for why this made sense. And I know I’ll never be able to put it into words adequately. You probably need a decade or so of daily consistent Zazen practice under your belt before you’ll get anywhere with this one. But I’m gonna try and put it into a couple of paragraphs which I know most folks are reading while simultaneosuly glancing over their shoulders to make sure the boss hasn't noticed they're not doing the expense reports.

The thing to pay most attention to is this idea of intoxication. What is intoxication? Are you able to recognize when you are becoming intoxicated? Cuz anything can be an intoxicant --including zazen. Watch what gets you high, and when you find yourself getting high, make the effort to regain your balance.

But also don’t just make yourself miserable trying to conform to someone else’s ideas about how you ought to live your life. You need to find out what’s right for yourself. Sometimes this effort involves difficulties. Sometimes you have to quit doing things which you enjoy in order to see what happens when you give them up. Often it’s very hard to do this. But if you discover that your body and mind are clearer without those things, it is your duty and responsibility to give them up.

Anyhow, now that I’ve thoroughly muddled up the whole thing I’m gonna go do some “real” work for my day job.

By the way, about Hunter S., I’ve never actually read any of his stuff. So I’m not talking about HST the writer, but about HST the dude who drank, and smoked, and partied for years and years and then blew his brains out so he wouldn’t have to face the consequences. Please don’t end up like that. OK?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Someone asked if I was in favor of censorship. I find the whole subject of censorship fascinating. I think it relates very much to Zazen practice.

I’ve gone back and forth on the subject. When I was a young punk rock anarchist type I was against all forms of censorship. But then for a short time I went through a very idealistic phase of wishing that someone would come along and censor the ever-increasing levels of violence we were being exposed to as well as all the ultra-right wing crap that was being forced down our throats in the 80’s. But that was just a fantasy.

The problem with censorship is that it’s always completely arbitrary what gets censored and what doesn’t. Japan’s attitude towards pornography is a great object lesson. Japan has always had a tradition of erotic art. After WWII, when MacArthur and his posse came in to fix up the country, they knew something had to be done about that. I’m not really sure what happened next. But I assume it went something like this. MacArthur and his boys tried to explain to the Japanese that all this nasty stuff had to go. But the Japanese didn’t really get what was wrong with that stuff. Since the Americans could not explain why porn was sinful to people who had no concept of what a sin was, they gave the Japanese some specific guidelines which were meant to achieve the aim or eradicating pornography in spite of the public’s utter lack of comprehension about the reasons for doing so. The solution was to denote specific parts of the human body that were forbidden to be portrayed in works of art.

At first the guidelines were written in a rather coy way. Not wishing to expressly state in potentially rude words that human genitalia were not to be portrayed, the lawmakers decided that pubic hair was not to be shown, figuring it would be obvious what the real meaning was. Of course it wasn’t long before pornographers started shaving their models or even using teenage models who hadn’t yet sprouted any. In protest one artist made a famous photograph of a girl with pubic hair up to her chest titled “Where Does Public Hair End?” So the laws were amended and the current restrictions allow hair to be shown but specifically forbid the display of pee-pees and wee-wees.

The thing is, though, the Japanese still don’t really seem to get why these things are nasty. Thus Japan produces a huge amount of truly hardcore porn, some far more explicit than would be acceptable in America or Europe, while scrupulously avoiding the display of sexual organs. In other words, you can show anything at all as long as the human reproductive organs are covered, usually with digital filters. Um, not that I would look at any of this stuff except for, erm, research purposes.

This seems funny to we Westerners who understand the underlying reasons for this censorship. We’re also baffled by societies that take censorship to its ultimate extreme by forcing women to hide their entire bodies from public view, while at the same time allowing citizens of all ages to enjoy public beheadings. But it really shouldn’t. Our own criteria for what should and should not be hidden from public view are just as arbitrary.

The problem with censorship is that it cannot possibly work. When you hide something from public view, people just desire it more. If we didn’t allow people to look at photos of tangerines, the Internet would be full of illegal newsgroups for downloading the juiciest pictures of luscious, ripe, young tangerines. It’s especially true in the days of instant communication via computer networks. Censorship hasn’t become just difficult. It’s become absolutely impossible. The concept of parental controls on computers is a joke. Kids today know more about computers than their parents can even dream of.

That’s one level of censorship, the public level. There’s another level of censorship which most of us are not aware of. We censor ourselves constantly. And I’m not just referring to the way we don’t say or write certain things. We have to do that or society cannot function. Not to mention that if we did say all those things, we’d be spending all day nursing black eyes and picking our teeth up out of the gutter. There is also a much quieter more personal form of self-censorship at work. There are many things that cross our minds that we do not allow ourselves to think of. This self-censorship often works so well that we are not even aware that these thoughts and ideas are part of our psychological make-up at all.

One of the strange side effects that people who practice forms of meditation occasionally report is the feeling that they are experiencing thoughts that are not their own. If this is handled badly, the person will sometimes get the idea that they are experiencing psychic communications from demons and even from God. But what is actually happening is that you have stopped censoring the things that cross your mind. So now, instead of that John and Yoko album being wrapped in a plain brown sleeve, you’ve got John’s flaccid wiener and Yoko’s floppy titties staring you right in the face. And worse. All the nasty stuff you ever shoved into your brain comes flying out. And even more worse, all the beautiful things you ever imagined start to come out in gorgeous three-dimensional Technicolor®. Lots of folks get swept away by that stuff and stay swept away for the rest of their lives, all the while amassing hordes of followers eager to learn the secret of how to get swept away for themselves.

But in order to stay swept up in that wonderful spiritual place, you have to place even stronger restrictions upon what you will and will not allow yourself to experience. Which is why you often find folks like this going completely off the deep end in the opposite direction and getting involved with sex and money scandals way more disgusting than those that comparatively more realistic rock stars and Hollywood celebs get sucked into. That’s what happens when the internal Hayes Office censorship board gets tired after working 24/7 for a few years and treats itself to a well-deserved little nap.

This is why I remain convinced that Zazen is the only way to go. Any level of arbitrary censorship you introduce into the situation just causes more trouble. We believe we are censoring wrong thoughts while allowing right thoughts to come through. But like the Japanese laws on pornography, our own criteria for what should and should not be hidden from ourselves are completely arbitrary. They are developed through years of conditioning. Some of this conditioning comes from outside, but most of it we do to ourselves.

And yet, you need to be able to practice some kind of self-regulation. We do need to know right from wrong. Otherwise you’d end up like Hunter S. Thompson or somebody like that. Or you end up just buying loads of porn and never doing anything else. Zazen is the perfect exercise of true self-regulation. You force yourself to sit there and not move or do anything about it while allowing your mind to go about what it needs to do without any fetters at all. Eventually it settles down of its own accord. This can take a long time depending on how thoroughly you scrambled things up before you sat down on your cushion. But in time, with practice, right and not right become absolutely clear and all forms of censorship are unnecessary.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Today at Amoeba Records I came across a long forgotten early 80's gem. They had the first three volumes of Shrapnel Records' US METAL compilations. I'd forgotten all about these. It was a series of metal compilations featuring unknown guitar shredders. When I looked these up on Google just now, there was hardly even a mention of them. But I remember them getting a lot of press in Guitar World magazine when they came out. Compiler "Mister" Mark Varney solicited tapes from unsung guitar heroes and I even put one together, but never sent it in.

The cover of each volume was a crudely painted gory militaristic scene of macho American guitar virtuosos slaughtering wimpy new wave nerds! Yeah! The contents are mostly sub Iron Maiden screeching. You gotta love these...

Doing more video making. Today's nugget is The Offbeats asking the musical question, "Why Do You Hang Out?" (click on the link below to see it) By the way, is anyone else having trouble seeing the foto on the page announcing the weekly Zazen classes?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

IZOD MISSIONARIES IN THE SPIELING GENDER POOL or How to Keep It Together Without Really Trying

Happy New Year everybody! This year will be the 40th anniversary of the year 1966, the best pop music year in history. 1966 was the year of The Beatles' Revolver, The Who's A Quick One and of pop gems like The Electric Prunes' I Had Too Much To Dream, Pushin' Too Hard by The Seeds, You're Gonna Miss Me by the 13th Floor Elevators, Talk Talk by The Music Machine and just about everything on complilation albums like Nuggets, Chocolate Soup for Diabetics, and Back From the Grave. I make a lot of my hardcore punk background, but even then, as now, I'm far more likely to listen to music from 1966 than from 1982.

Yesterday I said I'd talk about keeping it together. It's an interesting subject to me because I've felt for a long time like I've been straddling two different worlds. I have friends in both. I know people who are so artsy they have never been able to hold down a normal job. They cannot deal with the bullshit involved. And I have friends who are totally corporate, who completely buy into the idea of getting ahead and making money and all that. For many years I felt kind of half-assed about it. I could never commit to either direction. I couldn't go totally corporate because it was such an obvious sham. You were always chasing after a carrot on a stick. But you were never, ever, ever gonna get that carrot. It continues to amaze me that so many people seem to believe that eventually, if they run fast enough, they're gonna get that carrot. On the other hand, I saw the misery my artsy type friends had to endure. They were always scraping just to get by. (Of course, some people make artistic careers work, and more power to ya if you can. The world needs more good art.) Me, I always kept a day job in the straight world and did music and Zen and that kinda stuff on the side. Though, truth be told, I was, and am, far more comitted to music, art and Zen than I'll ever be to the corporate type stuff that pays my bills.

One of the things sitting Zazen does for you is show you just how lame and ridiculous most of the "straight" world is. Once you begin to see through the scam, it can start to be very difficult to play along with it. Go far enough into it, and you begin to see that the entire universe as most people conceive of it is absolutely false. The material world is an illusion. The spiritual world is an even cheezier illusion. When you run into this, it can be tempting to just want to walk away from it all.

But, but, but, that's not the Zen way. There's a famous series of paintings known as the Ox Herding Pictures. These ten pictures show the stages of Zen practice. Stages 8 and 9 show the situation where one has forgotten both subject and object and returned to the source. This can be very enchanting and beautiful. Lots of spiritual type practices posit this as the ultimate aim. But Zen goes a step further. The last picture shows the Zen dude returning to the market place. This is very important. You have to come back here. You have to. You have to.

I once picked up a really stupid book called something like Converstaions With Enlightened Masters or some such thing. And in it was a conversation with the ever-so-enlightened Andrew Cohen. He talked about some spiritual retreat where he and a group of people spent like a week in a house in India being in Perfect Bliss. Ah, perfect bliss. But they had to come down. Andy didn't seem to understand why. But the answer is obvious in what was left unstated. Who feeds you when you're in perfect bliss? Who cleans the toilets? Who earns the money? And what happens when those people get sick and tired of supporting you and your perfect bliss? Well, we know what happens in Andy's case (read Enlightenment Blues for details, it's pretty twisted).

The fact is, no matter how much you hate the day to day drudgery of your life, you are here because this day to day dudgery is where you really want to be. You don't want to live in the world of Perfect Bliss, no matter how much you think you do. You want to live in the world of jobs, and bosses, and paperwork and car insurance payments. That is your true desire. You can find out what your true desire is by simply opening your eyes and looking around at where you are right now.

Lost of us don't wanna face this. When I gave this answer at my talk last week I could tell from the face of the person who'd asked that this was not at all what she wanted to hear. I can relate to that because when I first heard it it was not at all what I wanted to hear either. I wanted Perfect Bliss, man! I still sometimes do. But I cannot deny the truth. And the truth is what I'm living in right now.


Today's musical offering was recorded on December 12, 1984, at the height of my infatuation with 1966. It's called "Twice the Speed of Time." This was recorded in my room at the f-Models' house in Kent, Ohio. I did not have a four-track cassette machine. So I made multi-track recordings by recording first on to a cheap boom box, then playing that recording back on another cheap stereo while playing along to it & recording the results back onto the cheap boom box. I would do this until the layers of noise got so thick the recording was unlistenable. I always recorded the drums first since I kind of liked the degraded sound the drums got by doing that. It reminded me of the compressed drum sound on lots of 60's recordings. The problem was that the two tape players ran at different speeds, meaning I had to retune for each track. This is the noise you hear at the beginning of this tune. The guitar is a Univox Les Paul copy. The bass is the same Univox played through an Electro Harmonix Micro Synthesizer to make it sound an octave below normal pitch. The drums are a set I found at a garage sale for $20. The fade out at the end was accomplished by turning down the volume on the machine playing the instrumental track while recording the vocal track. I re-recorded this on 16 track for the second Dimentia 13 LP, Mirror Mind. In retrospect, I should have used this version instead.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Yesterday I was asked an interesting question at the Zazen class. Actually I got a few interesting questions. But the one I wanted to talk about was the one about thinking & conceptualizing reality. The questioner pointed out that if, as Buddhists always say, all concepts of reality are ultimately wrong, then even the Buddhist concept of reality is also incorrect.

This is perfectly true. Ultimately it's all a bunch of B.S. The Nihilists understood that every concept they could possibly come up with was a bunch of BS. While I am no expert in Nihilist philosophy, as I understand it, their idea was that we should just dump everything in the trash can. Throw it all away, as my friend Donnel once said while on two hits of bad acid and a full bottle of Scotch as he tried to demonstrate by attempting to throw the oven into the trash can -- but only getting as far as ripping off the door and swinging it all over the kitchen -- while I ran for cover.

But Buddhism is not Nihilism. In the very early days when Western philosophers first started translating the Buddhist scriptures they found all this bleak sounding stuff about nothingness, meaninglessness, the void and life being nothing but suffering. They were really puzzled by the fact that the adherents of what they took to be an extreme form of Nihilism seemed so happy, and that such a dark, depressing philosophy was embraced by so many people.

But Buddhism doesn't seek to throw everything in the Dumpster®. Buddhism offers a philosphy that attempts to approach as closely as possible a true conceptualization of reality as it is, while understanding clearly that such an attempt can never truly succeed. It is the attempt itself that is worthwhile, not its relative success or lack thereof. Shobogenzo, the Heart Sutra and Nagarjuna's Fundamental Song of the Middle Way are good examples of this attempt.

The degree to which your conceptualization of reality is close to reality as it is determines your ability to be happy. To take an extreme example, there are plenty of people in this world who imagine that if they could kill a rich person and take all his money and get away with it, they could be happy. But that idea is utterly wrong. On the other side you have supposedly "spiritual" people who believe that if they could only escape from this world into the perfect spiritual world they conceive of in their minds they would be happy. Also wrong. You might ask how I could possibly know these ideas are wrong if I haven't actually killed anyone & gotten rich from it, or made it to whatever version of Paradise you subscribe to. The answer is, I do. And even if I didn't, it wouldn't matter. I am not living among ill gotten riches, nor have I made it to Paradise just yet. So what does it matter?

Buddhism is about looking at the facts of your life as they are. Live here and live now. This is the only way of life that makes sense because you can never be anywhere else.

But Buddhism does offer some ways of conceptualizing reality. These are mostly phrased in negatives, which is what caused those early translators such trouble. In the main, Buddhist philosophers tend to negate whatever concepts about reality, the purpose of life and what-have-you are trendy in the time and place they live. Buddha just said "no" to the Brahmanist concept of ataman, the human soul. Dogen said there was no such thing as Enlightenment. Nagarjuna said no to just about everything.

This nay-saying is intended to get you to put away all your ideas about life, the universe and everything, and allow yourself to experience yourself and the world as they really are, apart from these conceptual frameworks.

I had another question I liked about how to walk the line between realizing that life, as most folks live it, is a bunch of crap and dealing with the crap necessary to sustain yourself within human society. If anyone is interested I'll try & write about that next time.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Tonight will be the final Thursday night Zazen class at the Hill Street Center in Santa Monica. Starting January 7th, the classes will be on Saturdays starting at 9:30 AM. One Saturday a month will be a day-long sitting. Check the links I have added to this blog for details. I've been invited to a few weekend long Zen to-do's in other cities in 2006. This means the Santa Monica classes will frequently be cancelled. I'll probably miss at least one a month for most of the year. Please check the webpage before heading out to Santa Monica. I hope that switching to Saturdays will enable more people to make it to the classes.

My tour schedule for 2006 looks like this so far:

February 24-26 Still Point Center in Detroit
March 10-12 Nashville Zen Center
April 7-9 Clouds and Water, Minneapolis (tentative)

I'll probably be visiting my parents in Dallas one weekend in January (which means one of the classes listed on the webpage will probably be cancelled, but I don't know which yet). If anyone out there wants me to come and talk somewhere or whatever, please get in touch. Any excuse to get to San Francisco or NE Ohio would be very welcome. I'll pretty much go anywhere anyone asks me to go. Just e-mail me and we can work out the arrangements.

I'm still plowing along on the translation of Nagarjuna's MMK, on my second book (still untitled, by the way) and on the documentary about the Cleveland and Akron punk scene. The documentary is the most fun to work on. I've been capturing the interviews I shot onto the computer. Some are quite interesting. But I found that shooting interviews in bars is probably not the best idea. I'll have to figure out a way to deal with all the background noise. It seems like every time one of my subjects says something good that's the moment someone in the background chooses to yell, "More Jagermeister!!!"

Today's video offering is an out-take from the documentary. It's ODFx at Square Records in Akron, Ohio, Dec. 11th. I kinda screwed up in importing this. At the beginning, Jimi, the lead singer, says to me, "I gotta drink some water. Tell a joke!" But here you just get the clipped-off syallable "-oke!" at the beginning. The song was written by drummer Mickey X-Nelson. It's called Swine Hunt Doggen. Its genesis goes like this. Mickey was sharing a crummy house in Kent with Bill Ferrell of the f-Models, which I later moved into and had the bad acid trip descibed in Hardcore Zen. Bill had a doberman named Delilah. When Delilah was bad, Bill would yell "Achtung, Swinehunt!" which is bad German for "attention, pig dog." When she heard this, Delilah would head for Bills' room with her tail between her legs. Mickey was toasting a bagel once on the stove, since there wasn't a toaster in the house. Delilah came up behind him and stuck her nose in Mickey's ass. Mickey dropped the bagel which promptly caught fire.

The song is a mock German retelling of these events with lines like "flamen ze bagel" and "uber doberman." The chorus, such as it is, goes "Achtung Swine Hunt Doggen! Achtung, Achtung, Three Four!" Of course, you can't understand any of it the way Jimi sings. It's a 2.6 MB Quicktime movie file. Click the link below to see it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Last time I mentioned I was reading about the history of Jesus. But I thought I oughta mention something about the history of Buddha too since that's sort of my job. The best books I've found about Buddha's life are The Historical Buddha by A.K.. Schumann and Gotama Buddha by Hajime Nakamura. The Schumann book is good because it is very thoroughly researched, but it also short. The Nakamura book is in two gigantic volumes. I've only made it through volume one so far. The research is almost obsessively thorough. So it's more for scholars and hardcore Buddha fans than for casual readers. Heinrich Dumoulin's two volume Zen Buddhism: A History is good and bad. It's good because it's the only English language book I know of that gives you a comprehensive overview of the history of Zen. But it's bad because the author enjoys expounding on his own dodgy insights into the philosophy of Buddhism. I tend to hum over these passages, some of which are exceedingly long, and try to get to the actual history.

I read books like these out of a certain amount of interest, but also because I kind of feel obligated to know the history of the subject I'm expected to teach. Of course, Buddhism really isn't about history at all. It's about here and now. So it's not absolutely necessary to know all the background stuff. It's more along the lines of a hobby.

As for Christian history, though, I read that just for the enjoyment of it. Cuz, let's face it, Jesus' life story and the later history of Christianity is way more entertaining than Buddha's life and the history of Buddhism. If Buddhism's answer to Mel Gibson ever tries to make a Buddhist version of The Passion it'll be a box office bomb for sure. Boring! There'll never be a rock opera called Gotama Buddha Superstar. Although there have been some intersting attempts to tell his life story in music. Akira Ifukube, the man most famous for writing the scores to the classic Godzilla films, wrote a Symphonic Ode to Gotama the Buddha. But I like this mainly because it sounds like a long lost Godzilla soundtrack. While listening I always end up imagining a 150 foot tall Buddha wrecking the cities of India with his atomic fire breath.

I got into Jesus way before I got into Buddha. When I was 10 I wanted to be a Jesus Freak. I loved Jesus Christ Superstar and even Godspell. I read the Bible and had theological discussions with my best friend Tommy Kashangaki who was Catholic. In my teens I seriously considered going into the ministry, though I had no idea which sect to choose. I wasn't gonna be Catholic because I didn't have the necessary family history and because of the whole celibacy thing.

The problem was that when I explored a number of churches in my area, I found that you were required to actually believe that all the stuff written in the Bible was literally true and that the Bible was absolutely free from any kind of errors or omissions. I've since learned that not all Christians believe this. But I found out too late because I'd already fallen under the sway of Buddhism, a philosophy whose own founder had said his followers should not accept the idea of an inerrant scripture.

I don't want to fall into the trap of playing one philosophy against the other and trying to say which one is best. But I can tell you the reason I ended up as a Buddhist priest rather than a Protestant minister comes from that early experience of discovering the difference between the Buddhist understanding of scripture and that of every other religion I encountered. To Buddhists in general all scriptures are the work of human beings and are subject to exactly the same failings as any other writings by human beings. Buddhists don't even believe in some kind of divine force who might guide the hand of those who write scripture. Other religions claim their own scriptures are special, that they alone among all other written works are pure and undefiled. But how can it be that there are so many supposedly unadulterated works by God himself which disagree so strongly with each other? When this question was put to Buddha he told his followers that the very idea of an inerrant scripture was a bunch of B.S. Google the words "Kalama Sutra" if you want to see the actual text of what he said.

I'm very happy to see the examination of the Christian scriptures reach a popular level. Sure, it's been going on for centuries as one commentor on this blog said. But it's only within the last few years that even the mainstream book shops are selling stuff like Misquoting Jesus. Of course, the shelves are mostly stocked with goopy "Christian fiction" about the End Times. But, then again, most books you find about Buddhism are utter crap as well. The change is happening slowly. But it's definitely happening.