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Buddhists Make Me Violent

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message 1: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Recently I saw a new documentary film about Zen Chef Ed Brown from Tassajara Mountain Retreat Center and one of the founders of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. He is a large caucasian man I could easily picture as a convict somewhere, making license plates and carving primitive tattoos into his cell mates' arms. Instead he drills mindfulness of food into the participants at the Zen Center's kitchen. During his interviews in the film he did this thing with his voice that has become the hallmark of annoying New Agey white people everywhere: he spoke with a hush. Nothing can send me into fits of raging contempt more quickly than a whispery voice.

My best friend's husband says that Zen gardens make him violent. A counselor he was seeing for pain management had suggested he get one of those little table top Zen sand trays with a tiny little rake, and to stop watching violent films as a way to decrease his pain levels. He suffers from debilitating nerve damage in his back and legs which require doses of pain killers that would stun an ox. At six foot four and over three hundred pounds it used to take a Mack truck to lay him out. Now lifting a glass can put him in bed for three weeks straight. The counselor suggested he rake tiny sand as some kind of miracle cure. He almost punched her. I know how he feels. I bet she spoke with a hushed voice and a serene smile.

It is my experience that the people who present themselves as the most harmless are often the ones capable of the most damage to others. There was a wispy blonde from Southern California who had completed her EST (oops, I mean "Lifespring") Training and wanted to "help" me overcome my distrust of others with a guided meditation so she and I could become closer, better friends. Two years later she purgered herself on the stand in a court of law in an attempt to help my drug addicted, abusive ex husband prove me an unfit mother to our three year old daughter so he could gain complete custody. Giving her testimony in that Snohomish County courtroom she seemed just as wispy and harmless as ever. She spoke in delicate, softened tones to the fat, fundamentalist judge, spinning outrageous tales of "multiple sexual partners in the presence of the child in question", among other demonic lies. I sat next to my attorney and felt the taste of hatred in my mouth with each whispery utterance. At last I knew the real face of the devil.

Of course, your average Buddhist isn't evil incarnate. Not any more than any other random person on the street. Not unless you ask my younger sister, who has had to cook with them on occasion during silent retreats. We are not a quiet family. We come from loud, Italian stock who laugh as much as they shout, usually louder than any other person in the room. When my sisters and I gather, you can hear our belly laughs from down the block (or so I've been told). When we were growing up, I'm fairly certain the neighbors sometimes wondered if murder was taking place within our walls. So picture my sister on silent retreat with Buddhists, attempting to slam out three meals a day for several dozen people, in summer weather, in the crackling mountains of Santa Cruz. She called me furtively one night from the communal phone in the hall, desperate for reality check by someone not trying to be peaceful all day long, mindful of each morsel of food they slowly lifted to their tongues, while she was worrying whether there was enough tofu for the morning scramble the next day. "Fucking Buddhists," she muttered to me over the phone. I laughed so hard I fell into bed with a stitch of pain in my side. Needless to say she didn't last the weekend. The Buddhists sent her home, their peaceful demeanor strained almost to breaking by the slamming of her pots and her shouts of "hot tray!" across the kitchen. I will go to my grave with that image a secret pleasure burned into my imagination.

Ed Brown is somewhat less annoying than that in his documentary. But the signature hushed edge has made a home in his speaking voice, and likely a day in a kitchen with him would set my teeth on edge. His saving grace on film is his willingness to acknowledge his own arrogance and human foibles. I can make allowances for anyone who laughs at themselves almost as soon as I have a chance to.

As for that wispy blonde, she did come to apologize to me years later for her role in that tragedy. She claimed to be spending her time doing penance by working as a child advocate in the courts. That is between her and her gods. I cried and told her how much pain she had caused my daughter, and how long those wounds were likely to last. I wasn't interested in letting her off the hook.

I did come to thank her in my own mind later on, however. It was the last time I ignored my intuitive distrust of the whispery peace waif. I have unfettered license now to declare without pause or reservation, warning: Buddhists (and other sundry New Agey whisperers) make me violent.

message 2: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) Dang, Charissa, I feel for you. And, believe it or not, I feel the exact same way about these kinds of people. I know my knickname is Cosmic Sher & I do dabble in these realms (believe it or not with a very critical eye), but the truth of the matter is if someone is claiming to fix all your woes & bring you enlightenment for $299.95 over a week-long retreat... RUN THE OTHER WAY!

They are no different than quack doctors who get their certificates from some South American mail-order clinic, or seance holders with switches that illuminate crystal balls or kicking a board under the table to mimic the responses of the dead. If their primary purpose is to a) receive materialistic gain or b) tell you what you need to believe in order to get better (usually in consequetive sessions that don't seem to really do much more than you could do with a nice relaxing tape while sitting in the sunshine), they are not anything but salesmen and scheisters. At the very least, they are very lost people who have bought into others wiles with their very souls and now are trying to push it onto you because they need validation that their enlightenment is real.

And then, when this is mostly what the mainstream media shows, any real spiritually seeking person tries to wade through all the shite that's out there, it's almost impossible to tell what is real and what's not.

I was just reading a Tibetan Monk talking about Buddhism in America and how false most of it is, how it takes years and years to fully understand the techniques and what enlightment really is, which is a highly personal thing for each person seeking it. He sounded really sad about it all, and I think he would have agreed with you 100%.

message 3: by Todd (new)

Todd | 56 comments Very powerful Charissa. Personally I loathe everything about the so-called New Age movement, which thanks to our consumerist lifestyle, has gone from cottage industry to multi-billion dollar industry where thousands of people are bilked out of large sums of money annually while being fooled that they are on some kind of spiritual path.

As a former philosophy major I have a hard time not choking the shit out of every New Age yokel that misuses the term "metaphysics.'

That isn't too say that there aren't good and sincere teachers out there. I think there are. I respect the work of Vietnemese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, and have attended Sanga meetings and retreats that are patterened after his teachings. But, this does not make me a Buddist, nor would I have the chutzpah to call myself one. I am simply attempting to understand his teachings and see where I can apply them.

I attend A UU fellowship and so many people seem to want to call themselves "Buddhists" or "Taoists" and such and yet they have very little, if any, understanding of the traditions they supposedly practice and the cultures of which they come. The statements made by the Tibetan Monk you referenced most likely ring very true.

This post modern pseudo spirituality that seems so prevelant today seems to me to be, in part, due to the failure of Western Religious traditions to meet the needs of so many people. Additionally, it seems that so many of us are disastisfied with our experience of life and the "American" lifestyle that we start grasping at straws hoping desperately the next thing will solve our issues with anxiety and the existential crisis that is common to us all.

I am a proponent of meditation, especially when it comes to managing chronic pain, anxiety and other health issues. It also helps one gain insight into oneself and life. But, these are not the entirety of the solutions.

Anyone suggesting that raking a desk top Zen Garden as a tool for managing pain probably has no real experience of intense chronic pain.

One of the things I hate the most about the New Age or Post Modern Spiritual movements is that it often lacks genuine empathy and insight into the human condition. But, how could it when so many people are trying to use it as a means to make money?

Just because you have a personal ephiphany or an insight doesn't mean you should hang a shingle and advertise in some local New Age rag.

message 4: by Todd (new)

Todd | 56 comments One other comment. There is a huge difference between being credulous and being open minded. Many people credulous people confuse the two.

Being open minded is simply the willingness to consider new ideas or ideas different from yours. But that willingness doesn't mean acceptance if they are not based on fact or some type of evidence that can be evaluated.

New Agey people and the superstitious often like to accuse those who don't accept their ideas as not being open minded not realizing that they have not presented any credible reason for doing so.

Wishful thinking does not make something so. Just because some whispery voiced pissant blithers cliches and platitudes at you with a smile doesn't mean its worth accepting.

The Buddha counciled his followers to not accept sometnhing simply because he or anyone said so or because it was written in a holy book somewhere. He advised experience and experiment.

message 5: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Yeah, there is that whole making a buck aspect to the New Age movement. And the cultural misappropriation aspect (don't get me started about that). It's unfortunate because, in my experience, there are real and tangible benefits to each spiritual tradition... but you can't take the parts that work and simply leave behind the rest without repercussions. "Incorporating the shadow" is how one of my art teachers put it. Many people in the SF Bay Area seem to have trouble with that. A perfect symbol of that is Marin on one side of the Bay with Oakland on the other side. So close, and yet so contrasted. Lots of well to do white people in Marin feeling good about their enlightenment while a few miles away poverty and related violence and despair eat a community from the inside out. Classic. In this country, all too often, enlightenment is for those who can afford to buy it. That is only one of many reasons why it is crap.

A good way to make a room full enlightened white people uncomfortable is to ask them if it bothers them to be learning to breathe through their third eye to the tune of 20k a year while outside across the street a 13 year old girl is selling her baby for a crack fix.

Yeah, I'm mean. I know.

message 6: by Todd (new)

Todd | 56 comments Your art teacher reminds me of a statement made by Carl Jung, "We don't become enlightened by imagining beings of light, but by making the darkness conscious." Its been my personal motto for the past few years.

The whole New Age Buffet approach to spirituality - take what you want, leave the rest - is pure sophistry.

message 7: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
That's a great quote, Todd. I'm going to ruminate on that today while I wander into the darkness of Costco. : )

message 8: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments My idea of making the darkness concsious? ...oh about a dozen megatons. It's a real attention getter.

message 9: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Not Bill wrote: "My idea of making the darkness concsious? ...oh about a dozen megatons. It's a real attention getter. "

Why put a limit on it?

message 10: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments It's not easy...the Russers popped a 50 megaton badboy but that was a 3-stage job.

message 11: by Félix (last edited Jun 03, 2009 04:54PM) (new)

Félix (habitseven) Ah. I see.

message 12: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
that doesn't even make sense.

message 13: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Which part?

message 14: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
from NB's first comment onward. I don geddit. then again, this ear infection is making me thicker than usual lately.

message 15: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) It didn't make sense to me either. But since when did that ever stop me?

message 16: by Not Bill (last edited Jun 03, 2009 11:01PM) (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments It all depends on your definition of "darkness".

message 17: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
or your definition of consciousness

message 18: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments I thought about that, Char. In the end it's the same... one defines the other as I see it.

message 19: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
only if you believe in absolute duality.

message 20: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) there you go.

message 21: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) It's all about balance in life, taking a bit from the darkness and a bit from the light. To only have one or the other is pretty much hell, I think.

“Evermore in the world is this marvelous balance of beauty and disgust, magnificence and rats.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.” ~ Frank Herbert

message 22: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
Ha ha ha... if you read the whole post you will see that I am taking these woo-woo kitty litter eating fools to task, woman!

message 23: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
LOL!!!! consensus is overrated. XOXO

message 24: by Jude (last edited Jun 06, 2009 04:23PM) (new)

Jude (jude42) | 34 comments i have big disdain for woo-woo of the highly-marketed-pitches-at-the- gullible variety. i don't even like effective teachers whose smug attitude just make me itch & snarl (cf any time i start talking about The Artist's Way, etc).

i have campaigned against cultural appropriation for most of my adult life.


AND i have huge respect for people who work hard and people who facilitate hard work for others.

i am not a buddhist. & buddhism is a lot of things, but 'new' ain't one of em.

i think it's easy to take swings at idiots whose egos hit the scale somewhere between not entirely in check & completeley out of control, or who are pretty good, have done consistently great work, but ain't perfect.

On the other hand, if we are discriminating enough not to let murdering wackjobs who go after doctors represent all christians , then i would hope we don't actually let quacks & charlatans represent all of buddhism. (or yoga) (astrology aka rocks in the sky will have to get by without me)

(categorical write-offs of groups of people always tweak my logic button, so i was about to challenge assumptions made about wealth & workshop attendees - but i have a lot to do today...)

Equanimity is the marker i have come to trust the most. when you lob something at someone's value-vocabulary of choice and they meet it with respectful witnessing & an utter lack of defensiveness, then i think you might be in the presence of someone who might deserve your respect & lack of assumptions as well. I learned this the most from a lively & often insulting/condescending-on-my-part exchange with this very patient & humble-within-his-practice dude:

there are teachers whose lives really are about offering, not trading.
i know ya'll are havin a good time, so, ya know... had to be contrary ;->

carry on :-D

message 25: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Huh?

message 26: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (sardonicprincessofcheerfulness) Ditto

message 27: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I'm not even sure at this point.

message 28: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I think that may be correct.

message 29: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Ha!

message 30: by Jude (new)

Jude (jude42) | 34 comments sorry sorry sorry.
in the odd & lovely dept - i just wowed folks at a potluck last night with a version of a dessert from Tassajara Bread Book that i developed over 25 years ago. It's also where my legendary waffles are from.

message 31: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) So no kitty litter?

message 32: by Jude (new)

Jude (jude42) | 34 comments ko - nice to finally disagree bout something. thought you might be a fantasy of mine ;->

message 33: by Jude (new)

Jude (jude42) | 34 comments been organic for long long time. use only whole wheat pastry flour. nothing yo'd notice...

message 34: by Not Bill (last edited Jun 09, 2009 12:43AM) (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Jeebus Kreist...reading the rest of this thread, I just want to ass fuck all of you! Please, enough of the overly breathy goodness that we all know is just a metric tonne of horseshit. Enough!

Jude...just so you know, I'll kick your ass in the kitchen anytime, anywhere and I'll do it with the most nonorganic and least PC products known to MANkind..bwahahaha!

message 35: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) Glad to hear you're spreading the joy as usual NB. It instills such a sense of hope for change in humanity.

message 36: by Jude (last edited Jun 09, 2009 07:46AM) (new)

Jude (jude42) | 34 comments Sherri wrote: "Jude, why would you even bother noticing? I certainly don't -- haven't for a long while. Much better that way."

agreed. i just got attached to that hands-free cooking image.... i have deleted my pearls. retreating to my sheltered life ;->

message 37: by Not Bill (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Oh man...did I post that into the Unicorns and Rainbows thread? I thought it was Buddhists Make Me Violent (they also give me potty mouth)

message 38: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) Well damn, I didn't realize I wasn't in the Unicorns & Rainbows thread. I guess I'll just toodle off and spread sunshine somewhere else.

Namaste. (and pretty purple pandas) :)
(btw, the ass fuck did give me a bit o' start... that was pretty violent - you get the prize)

message 39: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) Thanks Ko, we needed that.

message 40: by Richard (new)

Richard | 86 comments Having read this thread at my leisure, I'm off to meditate on the meaning of it all. Sadly, I will be unable to assume the lotus position for some time, having suffered Not Bill's sudden sodomy.

message 41: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
leave it to NB to ritually sodomize random people while I'm looking the other direction. Dude, give a girl a heads up so I can at least take photos.

Sorry about your lotus position, Richard. I think there is a salve for that. Or an ointment. It does, however, smell of lavender.

:::::waves madly to all and sundry::::::

message 42: by Richard (new)

Richard | 86 comments That sounds like a cure I might have wanted to use in advance of said sodomy.

message 43: by Charissa, That's Ms. Obnoxious Twat to You. (new)

Charissa (dakinigrl) | 3620 comments Mod
if only serial rapists would use nice smelling lube.

message 44: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) You said a mouthful, girl.

message 45: by Cosmic Sher (last edited Jun 25, 2009 10:38PM) (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) Bwah! That was so ... horrifically laughable, Charissa.

I wonder if there are British Gentleman serial rapists - "Pardon me, ma'am or sir. I am about to commence with an unavoidable sodomy upon your person. Would you prefer lemon verbena or raspberry mousse lube?"

message 46: by Not Bill (last edited Jul 09, 2009 12:08AM) (new)

Not Bill | 1062 comments Richard's fantasies of my sodomizing him aside, c'mon peoples get a grip! What's the title of this thread? You gonna get all limp wristed over vulgar speech in a thread based on induced violence?


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