Archive for February, 2010

Buddhism and Denial

Posted: February 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

For a couple years I was very much into Buddhism and meditation. The lessons learned during this season in my life were invaluable and I still use many of the practices and principles in my daily life. Mindfullness, meditation, and awareness are things that all religions and spiritualities teach, and are things which everyone should integrate into their life. My disconnection with Buddhism came when I first began to realize that it is often (mis)used as a vehicle of denial. It seems appropriate that the rise of Buddhism in the west has taken place among a very particular class of people, the upper-middle class. The teachings of Buddha and the practice of meditation, at their core, represent a radical disassociation with reality. In the East, this has been used as a means of overcoming the suffering that is an inevitable part of civilized life, the first noble truth. It has been an avenue to channel inner peace despite the suffering. Yet in the West, for those who are largely unaccustomed to suffering, it has become a way to channel inner peace, denying that suffering exists. We "create our own reality" and "only suffer if we let oursleves." This whole philosophy of dismissal has been created in which people believe that the way to peace is by convincing themsleves that the world is perfect in it's present state. The practice of "accepting the present moment" has lost it's radical ability to focus the mind and has been twisted to represent a utopian wish for a perfect world, denying the reality of suffering. This is no longer Buddhism. 

    Suffering exists. Within the capitalist system, suffering is inevitable. For some reason this stark reality is hard for the peace-loving 60's generation to accept. They, out of anyone, should be intimately acquainted with the inevitable suffering in the world and the bursting of utopian bubbles. The events of 1968 show us exactly what we are up against. There is something deeper going on. Perhaps it is precisely the bursted bubble that has created this tendency for people to deny the reality of the world. The efforts of the 60's failed, giving way to more of the same. Perhaps this is the reality that modern Buddhists accept. Yet when taken with a certain portion of nihilism, the acceptance of this reality can create a tendency for escapism, which is exactly what Western Buddhists seem to latch onto. 

    Accepting the suffering of the world is not nihilistic in and of itself, as it may seem. It's realistic, leaving room open for investigation as to where the suffering is coming from. Denial closes this door of investigation. Things are bad, yet not hopeless. Utopian dreams are not escapist in and of themsleves. They leave room open for hope, for praxis, and shut the door of nihilism.

    Denial and escapism are the fuels that keep the wheels of the capitalist machine spinning. How many people do you know who hate their job, or are bogged down by their many responsibilities? A few, a bunch, everyone? It's only possible to swim through the drudgery of this system's reality if we accept it as inevitable, and if we accept is as inevitable and natural, then we accept it as eternal and unchanging. No wonder we must create or co-opt a religious system that will help us "just get through" the stress and hardship of daily life. This is what Buddhism has become.  

"The problem of Capitalism is one of meaning, and it is here that religion is now reinventing it's role, rediscovering it's mission of guaranteeing a meaningful life to those who participate in the meaningless function of the capitalist machine." 

-Slavoj Zizek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

    Buddhism has the potential to be a revolutionary force, as the monks overseas have attested to this last decade. When practiced properly, it offers one a way to move through life unaffected (emotionally) by the things that are inevitably affecting them. It does not necessarily produce denial or nihilism, it simply helps one cope. Yet in the West, just like most religions, it's revolutionary potential has been cut short by a mindless co-opting of an Eastern religion to Western standards. That's why I don't associate with Buddhism anymore.     

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State of Mind

Posted: February 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

     I haven't ever been depressed before. At least not in such a
noticeable way. I feel inhibited, trapped, kept down. On Wednesday I
caught a glimpse of my true self, but then she disappeared and I
haven't seen her since. It was at a show. This person played who I had
seen once before. The experience of seeing them play brought up
feelings and emotions I hadn't realized were suppressed. It brought me
right back to when I saw them play before, at a radical queer
conference in Chicago, an experience that sort of marks the highlight
of my Chicago days. The songs were about being active and doing shit,
something that used to be important to me. The night ended as the crowd
sang "never surrender" in unison. I've never felt so trapped. I didn't
sing.

    Where have I gone? Where is my peace? How have I
lost all that is important to me? My schedule has been such that I have
been on the run constantly. Everything I have been spending my time
doing is good, but it's not me. I have lost a sense of self and failed
to conjure up any strength to go looking for myself again. As the rain
falls and the cold shivers through my body, I sit here acknowledging
for the first time in a while that I am lost. Perhaps acknowledging the
problem is the first step to doing something about it.

May all I say and all I think be in harmony with thee,
God within me,
God beyond me,
maker of trees.

I’m back

Posted: February 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

There's a lot on my mind and I finally got internet access in my house, so you can expect to see more posts from me in the near future. I really miss writing! My new hectic schedule, which I'm sure you will indirectly hear about in my upcoming rants, has been keeping me from doing much of anything I love. (Though today I taught my first legit class on herbal medicine and I'm feeling pretty stoked about it.) I've been living the sedentary life in the swamps of Gainesville, FL. Life is good right now… really good. It has just been a bit overwhelming. I'm studying therapeutic massage full-time. I haven't done anything full-time since high school and I dropped outta that shit as fast as I could. So anyway, all that said, you will be hearing from me soon, as I am literally reconnected with this much needed outlet of expression…