Over the past couple of months, I have not felt a particularly strong urge to blog. I’ve been compelled to write. Some of that has ended up in other places, but most of it has ended up in stuff that I hope to have published in that old-timey medium called “books” (all fingers and toes crossed). So my writerly impulses have been satiated elsewhere, offline. Moreover, to paraphrase Grandpa Simpson, I used to pay attention to the news and read blogs, but they angry up the blood. So, in an effort to be self-compassionate, I’ve been keeping my head down a lot lately.
Via the ever-wonderful RMS at the Worst Horse, I have discovered, downloaded, installed, and am now using Ommwriter. As my long-time readers know, I have a complicated relationship with all things marketed as “Zen” or “Buddhist” or in any way a part of the spirituality business to the extent that it rubs my leftist leanings the wrong way, raising my quiet indignation against the system, the market-saturated culture of oppression in which we often find ourselves.
But. I digress.
I digress because I may be a convert here. The experience of actually using Ommwriter is, to put it bluntly, pretty freakin’ cool. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it is because I was reminded yesterday about an article I read some years ago one of those articles written by a linguist or a statistician at MIT back when the Internet was still called ARPANET, the kind of paper that gets shuffled from hard drive to hard drive before ending up in some dusty corner of the web to be found by the likes of me. I can’t now recall where I found that article, but I do recall that its author claimed that word processing programs are evil. They are evil because they force users to become two fundamentally different types of people simultaneously: typists and typesetters. The art of writing, of typing, is something that requires focus and dedication. And word processing programs, to the extent that they distract you with auto-spelling corrections and troubling you with type face and fonts and margins and so on, get in the way of writing. A good writer, the author suggested, should just write and only once she’s finished, should she worry about Helvetica or Times New Roman, single or double space.
Presented as part of a panel on Shin Buddhism in the west at the XIV Biennial meeting of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies, this paper is a more reasoned, researched, and well-articulated version of some themes with which my long-time readers will be familiar: Orientalism, the dumbing-down of Buddhism, and the politics of representation.
I thought I’d revisit an article (and my response to it) by Clark Strand on American Buddhism, raising Buddhist children, and other sticky issues like baby boomers and white folk. Being a big believer in allowing one’s opinions to grown, mature, and even change over time, I thought I’d reassess my position and see if my own opinion had done just that.
A big hearty thank you to my loyal but quiet fan base.
Just ask this scientician. He’ll tell you that, in nature, one creature invariably eats another creature to survive.
I’ve been reading a book lately called Selling Spirituality: the Silent Takeover of Religion by Jeremy Carrette and Richard King. I’m reading it to help collect my thoughts about a piece I’m working on about Buddhism and pop-culture, the commodification of Buddhism, and how Dharma Burgers will ultimately destroy Buddhism and take down the whole world in the process. (That’s about 75% hyperbole, by the way.)
I have several concerns with the meditation-centric rhetoric of contemporary Buddhism in America. But itâ€™s not the â€œmeditationâ€ part of the meditation-centric rhetoric that bothers me. Itâ€™s the â€œrhetoricâ€ part.
But I think we need to understand that anger, that being offended, that being ruffled or riled, is okay. “Offended” is, at the end of the day, an emotion. It is essentially no different than “happy” or “in love” or “light-hearted” or “sad” or “jealous” or, dare I say it, “enlightened.” And this knee-jerk reaction against being offended isn’t any more “Buddhist” than a calm or equanimous reaction. In fact, when you judge “offended” or “self-rightous” as “bad” and “calm” or “letting it go” as “good,” isn’t that nothing more than discriminative thinking?
Since we live in a de facto Christian country, of course we live in a country that regularly denigrates one religion while staunchly defending another. Rather than presenting and representing Buddhism as a legitimate religion on par with the Judeo-Christian hegemony in this country, it’s something you can trademark and use to sell everything from scented candles to sex toys.