I was recently mentioned in Tricycle magazine in not the best light and since I wasn't given a chance to respond to these charges in the article, I'll do so here. I was criticized for defending myself when attacked by commenters -- especially when they level that criticism with rudeness. I can listen to advise and criticism but not when it is done with rudeness and anger. Here is the article, Dharma Wars. Below is my response to the article:
I am the author of "The Buddhist Blog" mentioned in the article and I would have hoped for the author to have contacted me before using my words. As well as ask me for a comment on his article. Anyway, I have never claimed to be a teacher, master, monk, rinpoche, ordained or enlightened. If you read in my profile it states that I'm just an average practitioner trying to travel the path on the middle way.
The reason I reacted to Twisted Branch was because of the aggressive manner in which he leveled his criticism. I don't mind criticism but since I'm not a Buddha or Bodhisattva I still get hurt when people I don't know attack me for being something that I am not. So of course I'd do what any red blooded person still struggling with samsara would do -- defend themselves and their blog. I have worked hard to establish my blog as one of the top blogs addressing Buddhism today. That said this doesn't make me an expert but a kind of "Buddhist columnist." I don't appreciate being attacked and my integrity as a Buddhist questioned just like you probably wouldn't like it either.
We Buddhist bloggers are often attacked by mainstream columnists for Buddhist magazines but what makes our columns any more controversial and misinformed that some of the ones I've read in these magazines? I've read editorials and articles in your magazine and in other places that are debatable. So this isn't just a blogosphere thing.
I titled my blog, "The Buddhist Blog" not because I think it is the last word on Buddhism but frankly because I couldn't think of anything else as a title!! I didn't realize that it was causing such a stir amongst people. I guess I should change it to "A Buddhist Blog" so as not to offend anyone but I have had that title since the beginning and changing it would only confuse my readers. I honestly didn't think it would be that big of a deal to people. Maybe I should put it to a vote on the blog. I try really hard to be a fair minded but passionate blogger and I try hard to write posts that show the peaceful side of Buddhism but I will defend myself when attacked. And being still human I will say some controversial things from time to time.
I feel as though you misrepresented my blog is adding this quote after the exchange between Twisted Branch and myself:
“People who purportedly are teachers—whether they’ve been given transmission or not—are seen as Zen authorities online,” she says. “Sometimes students get swept into currents of basically malevolent speech. How can that be what the Buddha taught? I’m very concerned about it.”
Again, I'm not purported to be a teacher. I go to great lengths to say this in many of my posts as people who regularly read my blog know. I can't be responsible if people consider me an authority because I don't claim such a title. I simply put forth what I'm thinking about on issues involving Buddhism. As well as how my practice is going, etc. "If ego is wrapped in opinion" which it might be to a degree then aren't you just as guilty as you claim some of us bloggers are? We're not Bodhisattvas in the Buddhosblogosphere -- we're just average folks trying to figure out the Dharma in our day to day lives. We don't always represent the Dharma best but then again neither do many who write in your magazine and other Buddhist magazines. We all just try to do our best.
Post Script: But hey!! At least my blog is being advertised!! They say that bad press is good press so let them say what they'll say. It just seems like this author wasn't familiar with my blog as they took one exchange with a rude reader and made it appear as if I argue with every commenter on my blog. They also make it sound like debate is bad in Buddhism. One can debate and still do it with love and respect. It doesn't always mean people hate each other. However, that said I'm about to vent a bit since the author of this article cited didn't give me the common courtesy to tell me I was being featured in a major publication.
I'm a bit tired of what I see as, "Marsh mellow Buddhists" who think the Buddhist community should always just smile and agree on everything. They are practitioners who seem to believe that "true Buddhists" don't still struggle with samsara. These people sometimes give off an air in my opinion of fake peace and tranquility. They wear these pseudo smiles thinking that you have to just force yourself to be happy, o.k with everything and everyone. In other words, "fake it until you make" it -- make it meaning Buddhahood. I don't get that logic but these fakers make all the right postures, say all the right things but look like cult members with their artificial smiles, textbook answers and elitist posturing that they are better Buddhists because they supposedly never get angry or say a bad word. That's at least what it appears they are trying to portray to me and Zen history isn't devoid of some serious debates within monasteries even.
This is the real world -- my practice isn't all gumdrops, unicorns and rainbows. It's often tough, ugly, gritty and a bit messy but that's the real world isn't it? If we don't get down in the mud of our lives then how are we ever going to find the lotus seed of enlightenment to water and experience unfold? It's easy to put on a show that makes you look like some Hollywood version of a Buddhist practitioner who rises above the fray of the messiness of samsara but rare is the being who truly encompasses such a state. I'd rather be a bit rough around the edges at times, on the fringes of accepted, elitist Buddhism but real and true to who I am then use Buddhism as a costume to try on once a week to wear about other costume clad wannabes. I'm not enlightened, I'm not perfect and I do get pissy sometimes but so do you -- even if you don't show it in the social circles you frequent. So spare us the "holier-than-thou" lectures Zenshin Michael Haederle. I find it sad and hypocritical that you misrepresent me as claiming to be an ordained teacher and then insinuate that I'm leading people astray but then you go on to tell us all how to behave in the Buddhoblogosphere!!!
---End of Transmission---