Bad Buddhist

Categories: Buddhism, Life
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Published on: November 22, 2011

I occasionally frequently have days when I wonder if self identifying as a Buddhist isn’t a combination of irony and an attempt to pull the wool over other people’s eyes. I’ve been reading a lot more books on Buddhism and Buddhist themed blogs recently and I’m constantly struck by the gulf between my experience and the experience of other middle class white Americans who similarly self identify as Buddhists.

I don’t care about enlightenment. This isn’t false modesty, I don’t doubt that there some state of being in which one perceives and groks the nature of existence but such a state seems so distant from my daily mental locus that it’s like looking at the moon; beautiful but infinitely out of reach. I struggle just to not be a dick to people in my immediate vicinity

I think dharma names are silly. Maybe it’s because I did the whole goth thing back in the 90s and hung out with people who referred to themselves with fanciful names dripping with angst and import (you know who you are). I think it’s great that Rob Wierzbaski from Scranton has taken up meditation and instruction from a saffron robed teacher from the roof of the world. I admire his dedication and the discipline of the vows he has undertaken. When, however, he is referred to or refers to himself as Tendo Dorje I either have to stifle either a smirk or a sneer.

I’m suspicious of dharma transmission. I have a very different and more mundane take on the Flower Sermon. The Buddha silently holds up a flower, everyone is wrapped up in what he means by this, one person, looking at the flower, smiles. I’m sure that somewhere an enlightened tulku just had a shooting pain in his left arm as a result of how wrong I am but it honestly makes more sense to me than mental telepathy.

I masturbate about as frequently as I meditate. Okay, a lot more frequently. I sometimes wonder if there’s really that much of a difference but, in general, I’m far more relaxed after one than I am the other.

I have an Indonesian style Buddha head statue on my desk that was given to me as a wonderful gift by my loving wife. I don’t bow to him. I don’t pay homage to him. Truth be told, I don’t even dust him all that often. I do, however, wonder what music he listens to when I use him as a rack for my headphones.

I guess when it comes down to it there is a lot about Buddhism that speaks to me. The Four Noble Truths make sense although I’ll admit the third is a leap of faith. A lot of the things you’re supposed to strive for as a Buddhist strike me as things we could use more of in the world. Kindness, introspection, inner and outer peace, all pretty good things.

I saw Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back as a kid and wanted to be wise like Yoda. I had a philosophy professor in college who one said I had sainthood within my grasp which is a hell of an ego boost for a twenty-something year old but, in retrospect, is more like a gypsy curse that has taken the form of the 800 pound gorilla of unrealized potential.

Anyway, time to wash the dishes and vacuum the house.

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