I am cooking up some new ideas here: the result is too longl.
This is really three posts in one: skim through it, I will rewrite the material during the week.
The failure of buddhism in America (which isn’t final) is a kind of miner’s canary for a system that preaches a lot of blah blah blah about freedom where the reality is a highly robotic population, constantly conditioned by massive doses of media and subtle forms of advertising, stunning doses by many measures. The Mad Ave. techniques have matured to a scientific hypnosis. It is small wonder meditation doesn’t work. The assault is so monumental that it is not surprising buddhists can’t get out of cold storage. Being on the left does not exempt you from this. Turning off the TV doesn’t solve the problem (but it might be worth a try) either. The totalitarian effect is intangible, and menacing. Converting to Xtianity will NOT help. Xtianity is part of the problem. And buddhism? more of the same? sounds familiar. This system can be beaten: I am not promoting despair, but it is getting worse and worse, and almost silly. When it is silly, you can snap out of it. This system is now computing all your buying habits, and putting that in databases. Maybe it is all so silly you can slip past it.
Americans in general will say, this is not America’s task, buddhism, who cares? Meditation is too much to expect form Americans, stuck in a very narrow groove. OK. fine.There is some truth to this: Americans can’t just jump ship into buddhism, but their Xtianity isn’t an alternative. They have wrecked that religion, totally. It does not provide the salvation it promises. It has become part of the mindcontrol process, the Xtian pacifier in the mouth of the suckers in the system, of economics, and religion. If you think Jesus Christ is going to be your savior here, best of luck. But to be fair, the worse problem is the amateur Nietzsche syndrome, at work in too many economic operatives who are routed into the ‘last man sink the masses’ syndrome that philosopher hyped up, for last men. Nietzsche, behind the scenes, unspoken, has become a real menace in this system. Tens of thousands are acolytes of this wish to destroy the last man in the name of ‘superman’. That’s outlandish, yet apt. Most of the recent neocons were stuck in this brand. It is part of a new and menacing social darwinism resurgent that is going to destroy the old American way. Who needs it in the elite: They can manufacture overseas, ship our their money, and buy up small islands. They must think they are the survivors, as the fittest. (Here a little buddhism could help). They are in for a big surprise.
But even the American specialty, where cultural diversity could find tolerance, and economic realization, and business success, is under threat, and has reached a point where the planetary life can no longer support that ecologically unsustainable culture. So the buddhists are onto something, no? I could be wrong about American buddhism, and the long term result could be unexpected. My statements are by no means conclusive, but… (and I am not even a buddhist, so…) But the fact remains that no real foundation for American Buddhism exists. Part of the problem is not America but the way that good teachers are afraid of America: it is a crypto-totalitarian environment, with all sorts of dangers, witness the case of Rajneesh. The chances of American buddhism probably died when the CIA poisoned him. They sent a message: no entry. Note that they ignore American buddhists as harmless fools.
The American environment is confusing: behind its surface it is a culture controlled by psychopaths, covert agencies, and corporate fascism, plus, sad to say rancid Xtianity. Xttiaity is a bum steer on all this. Useless. You should be able to step aside from that situation, but the reality is that even the most acute leftists denounce anyone close to the exit of ‘conspiracy theorist’ lunacy: it ought to be obvious that the 9/11 situation forebodes the reality of what is the case. Even the left is paralyzed here. But that’s is merely a sign that the force of domination is monumentally thorough, an unprecented situation. No culture in history has had this amount of robotization, covert action, commerical hypnosis, madison avenue, television, political lying, now suddenly without its complement: easy ways to make a living. Now that is passing too. It is almost grotesque in its amount, this conditioning. Big corporations invest billions to improve these methods of control.
That’s brainwashing, first class.
The left must come to a better buddhism that buddhists can manage, just as one more tool in their arsenal. At present the left is immersed in something that was actually worse, Stalinist totalitarianism. (Actually, the American brand is worse, because it looks so good on the surface).
Further, the ‘living buddha’ effect is lacking in overseas Buddhism: the hatred of modernity, of the West, of colonialism, of perceived materialism, and fear of Xtianity’s occult domination of consciousness, means that American buddhists are on their own with no real spiritual help. And classic Gautama has long since passed away one suspects into parinirvana. Check out the Osho ashram, even from a distance. The mysterious presence is there.
Buddha delayed that to an extraordinary degree, but his effect is now past (or so I suspect). And finally the dead hand of Mahayana is crippling everyone. The entire Tibetan scene is simply going through the motions, but in the process controlling all the techniques, which serve no purpose for a boddhisatwa.
But the psychology of the American scene is a BAD CASE. Americans are ROBOTS and meditation doesn’t really work here for that reason. Buddhists come to the point, in most cases, where they realize this, and give up meditation because, in fact, it is pointless. That springs from the mechanization of meditation practice.
In general the attempt to do yoga in a monotheistic culture produces a queer fish, as with the sufism of Moslem cultures. Sufism is not buddhism, and is too often a means to reestablish monotheistic control over a spiritual path that is a hidden or disguised form of Indian meditation culture (like zikr, or sufi dancing). That need not happen in an Xtian culture, but the equivalent seems to happen. It is very hard to do Buddhism in a culture of Xtian idiocy.
I am a little unfair to Sufis: many have done the best disguise of meditation as ‘meditation in action’, something you can anywhere, disguised from the totalization. But it rarely succeeds. But the point is apt: even meditation can become mechanized consciousness. But too much sufism is part of the system of control: with really devastating methods of mind control.
Someone needs to rethinking buddhism for a new age, but that task is apparently beyond the capacity of even the most advanced intellectuals.
Mindfulness is a new distraction. The issue is self-consciousness, and even meditation, for that, is marginal. Mindfulness has become a psychological fetish, a substitute for mediation. Is Sam Harris thinks it is great, stop doing it! Drop it and be mindful in a new way. The issue is ‘real meditation’ on a real path. What is that? Make that a key question.
I don’t claim to have solved this problem, so my statements aren’t advice. You are up sheet’s creek and it’s your move.