I started this article weeks ago. In fact it was the day after the article was published. I purged it from my person, I was furious and I wrote until the angst left me. I wrote over 1500 words then erased and rewrote nearly as many times. Finally once my temper tantrum reached a point where it was clear to me that this was no good and was coming from a place of anger I put it down, meditated, slept on it, and finally, got the fuck over it. Admittedly it’s me being a bit of a baby. Here goes…
A response to the piece recently published on Tricycle.org by Lama Jampa Thaye. If you’d like to read the original piece this link will take you there The Danger’s of Diluted Buddhism
I just want to say if it wasn’t for a healthy practice of meditation Samatha, Vipassana, Mantra, and, Metta I would have quite frankly lost my shit. This piece is reminiscent of a lot of the reasons The Unusual Buddha exists. Dripping with the pretentious horse shit, that seems to come with years of training, that’s usually dismissed or down played as old school or traditionalist this is the elitism of the Buddhist world, front and center. This piece is directed at those of us in the west that aren’t following a Lama with an extensive lineage. If that’s your thing, and it works for you more power to you. One of the greatest tenets of Buddhism regardless of school is non-judgement as that is a function the subjective and rationalizing mind, both of which fall short of the path to our eventual Enlightenment. This piece is only serves to establish the dominance of a “tradition” that holds extensive rituals and ceremonies that aren’t a part of the original canon of Buddhism itself. It’s articles like this one that put people in the place of feeling beneath others because it isn’t by rules according to this book or that teacher. So let’s dive into this shit show.
“It is a great tragedy that nowadays many people’s connection with Buddhism bears all the tell-tale signs of a journey from credulous enthusiasm to resentment. Maybe in some cases it’s because they have embraced a phantom—a version of Buddhism that would be unrecognizable to any of our Buddhist predecessors, not to mention the Asian people who still make up the bulk of practicing Buddhists—and one, sadly, that cannot benefit them in any profound manner. One need only glance at the concerns and assumptions of vocal “Buddhists” in the West to sense that these are two very different worlds, and to wonder what “Buddhism” it might be that most Westerners have embraced.”
So let’s break this down the problem cited here is that the western version of Buddhism is unrecognizable to Asian practitioners. Let’s be clear with the state of Buddhism in Asia. For example many Thai monks became monks at a young age for the simple fact that their parents either didn’t want children, couldn’t feed them, or had no way to educate them. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. However anyone who has spent the slightest amount of time studying Buddhism knows intention is one of the chief deciding factors Buddhist moral and ethical structure. How about the fact that most Asian Buddhists don’t meditate. In fact in some places it’s not even allowed to by all of the monks at the monastery. Furthermore it wasn’t considered for “laypeople” until the 20th century
Let’s compare that to a student in the west who studies their ass off, reading every site, blog post, and article all while practicing as best they know how, until they know better. Why? You might wonder how about for the simple fact that our indigenous faiths don’t answer the questions we have. Whether you’re an investment banker in Wichita who wasn’t satisfied with Mom and Dad’s answers growing up, or a trash truck driver in Perth who has invested in the Dharma because it’s the first, remotely spiritual, system to deeply move her, or a cab driver who lives in Toronto that turned to Buddhism at a low moment in life and it just fit. Why you are a student of the teaching is less meaningful than the fact you are here studying this fine ass Dharma, getting your learn on and sharing what you know.
Looking back on this I am not ashamed or embarrassed for writing my heart. I feel glad that the poison driving this one left though it took it’s sweet time. It isn’t overly salty but man was it coming from an angry place.
My anger comes, in part at least, due to my ego on a couple levels. Not too long ago I went on a campaign of trying to get something published outside of my normal scope. I wrote a piece and I sent it to all of the big publications and like most I was rejected. That hurt my ego. I didn’t see it then, not as clearly as I do now.
Why would this bother me so much?
This was a problem in me. The ego is a subtle mofo. Bringing down ideals, causes, businesses, organizations, armies, shit even rec. league sports teams. It’s so sneaky and it thrives in the shadows of our awareness. Ego, that little “How dare they…” or “they should respect me…” whatever other little, passive aggressive, internal dialogue phrases the ego tries to turn… All of them are shit! Pure and unadulterated grade A first class Shit! We are better than that. We as meditators and grown ass folk need to look at these things and call ourselves out on it. I don’t mean to advise anyone to become meek. Never be a door mat. However, humility is one of the greatest assets you could ever hope to come across. Develop it, dwell in it, abide in it. Humbly approaching a situation, as I understand it, means to come in knowing your worth and to work from there as a spring board into growth.
Having written pieces for several publications and getting turned down awoke a great big ol’ entitled punk ass in me. Which I have to admit is sobering as hell to say the least. It did bring me an opportunity to look inside and see something that needed work. Look at me, 11 years of practicing pretty heavy introspection and meditation and still got issues, go figure. So in my mind the above article had no real fault in it (even if it is bull shit, still learning) it was in me. I still possess more issues than I fully know and like all the others it will be worked on and studied and eventually handled. Because this path, whether you’re Buddhist, Christian, Pagan, Muslim, Wiccan, etc., is about growing. That’s what the purpose is, that’s what it means to Define your Spirituality
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