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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Treatise of a Burnt-out Buddhist.

The Crazy Buddhist, himself. In the flesh. See? I'm no Buddha--Just James.

This is a long treatise, so to speak of me thinking out loud on where I find myself on the Dharmic path; in a manner of speaking. Or, whatever mumbo-gumbo is the lastest Buddhist slang going 'round. It's a bit of a rant I guess but take it for what it's worth and nothing more, or less. It's simply me in the process of sorting through a lot of spiritual baggage. Some of it I keep, but a lot of it I frankly no longer have use for. I'm cleaning out my Buddhist closets and shooting for the simple and minimal. Enjoy it, hate it or don't read it. I wrote it out to help me put into words what I'm experiencing. I'm not here to appease or please anyone. This isn't a post I'm writing necessarily for anyone. It's just my thoughts that I didn't know where else to put them. So, if you're going to bitch me out then go ahead but I've got bigger issues than whether people "agree" with me. Agree, disagree--whatever. I've got enough work to do besides babysit those who want to throw firebombs from the anonymous, dark, alley ways of the cyber world.

DATELINE: December 19 - Midnight - Colorado - USA - planet Earth hurling through the vastness of space. Here are the rantings of a Buddhist without a Buddhist card.

I'm not interested in enlightenment; it's the sand trap of wide-eyed ideologues. I'm not interested in monkhood as I don't believe one has to leave the world to learn how to live within it and amongst it without letting it dominate your life. I don't really care if Buddha was real or not; the teachings work for me--period. If they didn't work then I wouldn't mindlessly worship an archetype out of tradition and romance for a mystical realm where rainbows cascade from our rears. These teachings are utilitarian; and that's what I like about them. They don't make me levitate, perform miracles or transform me into some Hollywood cliche "wise man" at the top of a mountain.

They help me be a person who is less selfish, nicer and a person with less stress. I'm not a Buddhist because of "Buddha"; I'm a Buddhist because I can't deny the results. I'm not saying I don't find benefit from the symbolism of the Buddha and monks; It's simply that I don't worship them--or, anyone for that matter. I see them as experienced philosophers; teachers who present the self-help system and leave you to figure out what that means to you--if, anything. I don't feel the need to defend my Buddhist pedigree to anyone because, frankly, I'm not too interested in being a, "Buddhist" anyhow. I just want to be a better person, and Buddhism helps me be that person. And, to survive this wacky world without losing my marbles (going crazy).

I'm not interested in being a spokesperson for Buddhism or "Buddhism in the west." I'm simply trying to make sense of the same crap as anyone else. Yes, I do happen to practice Buddhism from a foundation of scientific secular humanism but I don't think that makes one less of a practitioner of the Dharmic path. And, honestly? If it did I really don't have time to concern myself with the sanctimoniousness of people who are interested in such fraternal, fundamental religiosity. I'm not in this for the honor and pride of a tradition. I'm following the Dharma because it helps me worry less, stress less, anger less, relax and just be. I don't have the strength, will power or desire to wrap myself up in a theological pretzel and debate what tradition is the most pure. I'm just trying to make it through life with a little less stress and ability to stop and just enjoy the still moments. Those precious minutes that remind you of the true beauty of life--of being alive in that moment. A profound realization of being at ease with it all -- the chaotic and the serene.

I'm not concerned with the future of Buddhism one bit as Buddhism is just as fragile a construct as the ego. It's a shell that has a role to play but it is the curtains as opposed to the real moments unfolding through the window. I am trying not to take all this religiosity so seriously anymore. If one isn't careful, Buddhism itself becomes a vehicle for attachment and suffering. It's the ego's natural desire to "be apart of the pack." Instinct from the evolutionary days when ego was what kept us alive. We want to be apart of the club. However, after a certain level of gorging upon the outward hipness of the robes, bells, monasteries and shaved headed old dudes, the shine of that unrealistic, wide-eyed delusion that we picture Buddhism should be wears off. The starkness of it dawns sharp peal of the morning bell; stirring us from our dreaming slumber.

It's not the trinkets and esoteric stories that bring one relief from suffering. That's all the decorations on the outside; inside Buddhism is a stark, one room cabin with no heating and no where to hide. The perfect place to slaugther the Buddha--that ego that grabs onto the specialness of Buddhahood. So, if it can't thrive and drive us like usual it adapts to lust after "englightenment" "Buddhahood" or "monkhood." Monk hood, which tends to be a station along the wide-eyed, westerners, pilgrimage to find Shangra-la. Well, I'm hear to tell you there is no such place. There are no levitating monks, there is no old, monk living on top of a mystical mountain, there aren't many people who are enlightened, (which is a word I cringe to use but it's ubiquitous) and the sharp truth is that practicing the Dharma can be hard, long work. It's not for everyone.

But don't listen to me--seriously. Don't listen to the Dalai Lama, don't listen to Thich Nhat hanh, doesn't listen to the 130th incarnation of Buddha himself. In fact, if you see the Buddha--kill him. In other words, don't let the iconography and tradition wrapped around Buddha prevent you from living the Dharma for yourself. Follow your gut and return to the archetype of Buddha; not the legend but the archetype or example. He was alone and on his own when he wandered off into the forest to find himself.

I'm not an expert. I'm not a holy guru and I don't profess to be any better than anyone else. I'm still a beginner after 8 years of going the rounds with my ego. I'm not perfect, never was and probably never will be but the important thing is that I'm "O.K." with that. It's not about being perfect; it's about find a place grounded in reality where suffering isn't gone, but manageable. I'm perfectly content in letting whatever happens after this life happen, however it will--or, won't. I'm not going to spend what precious few days I have left on this curious but fascinating world ruminating over a possible life after this one. I have a hunch that there's something else but I'm not clinging to it. If I die and that its the end--well, c'est la vie!! (that's life). Besides, it's not going to matter either way if your dead and obliterated into oblivion. There's no "you" there to fret over it!!

So, I'm nothing special--I'm just a guy, trying to be better person. Buddhism is like a guide that points me on a grounded direction and the rest is up to me. I wouldn't have it any other way. Buddhism is a way of life for me rather than a trophy to collect and lord over others. I'm happy and working on improving my treatment of others and hoping for the best!! There's nothing left to do except, "be." Once you give up searching, it somehow has a way of bubbling up with-in you; when you least expect it. I've only realized fleeting moments and glimpses of it but once you experience it, you're never the same. But I don't call it englightenment -- there is no "name" that can truly define or convey what those moments of oneness are. It's beyond words, and I've gone on long enough anyway. I'm sure most of you didn't get this far, so if you're still with me--thanks for listening. Stay strong, be brave and don't forget to just be yourself. I love you all.

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G said...

Buddhism helps you to be "okay," James?
That's reason enough. (And to be truly okay is to be enlightened, so maybe you're further along the Path than you seem to think!)

michelle said...

You go James! I am a monastic (works for me) and the first thing I say when I meet people who start treating me with reference is,"I am not holy. I am just trying to make sense out of this world. This is just my full time job."

After 5 years in Dharamsala, I have backed as far away from the institution as I can. A lot of western monastics disrobe and leave buddhism after seeing the corruption, etc. But as you do, I find the teachings sound and I'm a better person for them. So I keep at it. And that is all that matters.

Thanks for putting you thoughts out there.

BD said...

2 Thumbs-up,way-up...

David "Shinzen" Nelson said...

Good sh*t man! keep ranting.

metalbuddha said...

Great post, man. I can really relate this this.

Charmaine said...

Very aptly put James. I like your frank and openness..Thank you for all the wonderful posts..

Sandra said...

Thanks James...
My thoughts in your words exactly.

"Stay strong, be brave and don't forget to just be yourself."

I will hold on to this wise advice..

Peace to you always

zenfant said...

great post james. i've had the same thing in my head lately but haven't put it into post format. thanks for doing it for me :)

Ambud said...

Did it help James?
Your rant I mean. Seems like something got under your bonnet. Not that I didn't enjoy the rant, I did. I thought it was quite open and expressive.
Your friend

Dean Crabb said...

Nice post James. It's so true and very well expressed. I had someone write a response to one of my posts the other day saying "This is not what Buddhism is about". I couldn't help but think "I'm not trying to be a spokesperson for what Buddhism is, I was talking about my experiences in life, I'm talking about the human experience, and what has helped me". I think people sometimes try to let the cart lead the horse. We must first return to the meditation and let that guide our life.

It is funny how when we read other people's blog we can sometimes find time and space are no barrier. I often find people have written topics similar to what I was writing. Just today I posted a blog called "I'm not Perfect" (Part 2 is still to follow) which is along the lines of what you've written here.

Really nice rant mate

Dean 'Jagaro' Crabb

Doug said...

Great job James, you said many things that folks can relate to.
I agree with you about much of it esp. the secular bit. I am interested in what the man taught, the guide to a happier existence while we are here. I am not into worship. Buddha developed a guide for living (and dying actually)and existing with sanity, contentment and compassion.I am a householder, responsible for a family and I simply use Buddhist psychology and philosophy to train myself to be a better human being.

sandy said...

I loved this post. The words are pointers. "IT" is not a word it's just what it is. How hard to convey this.

The words, thoughts and concepts come and go and come. Everything changes(a pointer) yet remains the same.

Concepts are not the totality of our existence. There are words again: these come and go also.

But the silence between your words and through the words speaks volumes as I just become aware of where you are which is where I am.

They call him James Ure said...

@G...I certainly am getting better at being okay with who I am and what's around me. Thanks for the reassurance.

@Michelle...I call myself a lay-monk sometimes lol. Yeah, there is no need to be venerated and adored. That's all ego. I'm interested in the root issues--the meat of life.

Yeah, if you get into Buddhism because of an unshaking faith in a teacher then you will be disappointed. They aren't perfect beings--but they do have a lot of experience in balancing things.

I will definitely keep at it--always will. Thanks for the pep talk. :)

@Dean...Yeah, I'm sure Buddha too would be stumped if someone said he wasn't being "Buddhist." He doesn't teach being a "Buddhist." He teaches liberation from suffering. As he reportedly said when he was alive.

Thanks everyone else for your kind and supportive comments. You guys and gals are the best. I just feel so blessed to be apart of this online sangha.

Shyine said...

I enjoy your blog, thanks. I haven't read it lately and after this post, I think I love you.

Tammy from Colorado said...

wow!!! I'm not a buddhist either but I get good from what little i know of it. In fact just reading what you had to say made me start to slip into a com tranqil feeling. Its so weird just a few words or thoughts help me to get to a place i so desperatly need to be. My problem is trying to stay in the moment and not slip back into the negative

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