Sunday, March 27, 2016

Alienation from the Buddhist Blogosphere...

Obviously, because I haven't been blogging much lately other stuff has filled the time; some good, some not so good.  Lately though I've been doing more on my practice, and I'm looking at some of the old Buddhist blogosphere haunts.

I don't plan on linking to others, or even mentioning some of them by name.  But here's some stuff:

  • What happened to  Oh, he went to of course, and then is likely on a hiatus or working outside the blogosphere.   Good for him! I have to add editing this blog structure on my to-do list. 
  • Tricycle just keeps getting weirder and weirder.   I think Tricycle is in large measure responsible for the commoditization of mindfulness.  
  • Buddhist Geeks.   Is this still a thing?   Regardless,  the folks there keep putting stuff out there, and are evidently into "branding" Buddhist Geeks as some kind of technically hip form of "American" Buddhism.  Buddhist Geeks is tempting me to re-title and perhaps re-purpose this blog as "Old School Zen," or perhaps "May True Dharma Continue."  The reason I am tempted is that so much of Buddhist Geeks appears to be irrelevant to the project of Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism.  To put it another way, trying to express Buddhist meditation practice using the memes of computer programming, is just a more constrained form of scratching one's foot through one's shoe.  Ditto for meditation research.  I think the proprietors of Buddhist Geeks have good intentions.  But I also think that "Old School" Zen practices are what they are because they've evolved over centuries to be that way.   There are some aspects to those practices that might seem out of step with Western culture, but, so what?  I think it's a valid question to raise: Can those aspects of  "Old School" Zen practices really be ported over to modern, Western ways of practice without reference to the benefits and characteristics of "Old School" practice? (And either way, why or why not is that bad cultural appropriation?) That seems to be a topic largely unexplored in Western Zen and Western Buddhism in general, except in regards to concerns about decolonialization (which is kind of strange if we're talking about Japanese Zen, in a multitude of directions).   As an example, the relationship between Zen and the deepest meaning of kung fu is pretty much wide open territory. 
    • Also they should put more transcripts in.  Reading is often a quicker way of assimilating information. 
  • "Engaged" Buddhism:  I used to do that on this blog, and wouldn't forswear doing it again.  But in this political season, I've posted those opinions copiously elsewhere, especially in places that aren't a Western Buddhist echochamber.  Yeah, we have one too.   But that aside, I'm coming to think there's more useful "Old School" Zen Buddhist things to write about than politics, except, perhaps, where somebody's trying to hijack progressive politics one way or another, in a way that doesn't bring everyone along.   Or when, out of political considerations, one wants to call charlatans such as Frederick Lenz or Li Hongzhi Buddhists. 
    • That said, I also think it's extremely useful to explore the issues of ethnicity and race in Western American Buddhism.   Too much of it comes across as the Buddhist equivalent of P.F. Chang's, or, alternatively, like one must completely reflexively abandon from Asian paradigms.  That also impinges on my "Old School" writing inclinations.
  • Kōans:  I've seen a nonsensical site wherein some guy purported to give "answers" to kōans, which completely, and totally misses the entire point of kōans!
  • Sweeping Zen:  A while back Adam Tebbe was rather, um, characteristic of himself at the time toward me, regarding the scandals at the time of Eido Shimano and Joshu Sasaki.   I believe the point of contention involved lots of questions about how Buddhists might respond to the situations presented by Shimano and Sasaki, and to what extent Sweeping Zen might be "tabloidizing" these scandals.  My understanding is that Mr. Tebbe was in a better place these days, and his blog kind of reflects it, though it is a bit Sōtō heavy.  But they have Genjō Marinello on there, and the Kwan Um folks, so lately it's been more or less OK.   That said, I still think the whole affair points to, yes, sick Zen authorities that abused their power flowing with a whole goulash of Orientalism, misunderstanding about the Dharma, and harmful innocence in the sense that Rollo May indicated. And I still agree with Brad Warner about Myoan Grace Schireson. I also still agree with him on the futility of standardized certification of Zen teachers beyond one's own teacher or tradition. 
  • MOOC-derived/On line/Cloud-based sanghas:  It might be helpful for people to practice where there are no "teachers" or temples around, and it might be useful to rank beginners, but eventually you must come face to face with someone.

So I guess yeah, there's some alienation from what the Buddhist blogosphere is these days on my part, though if anyone knows of any blogs that address some of the points above that I'm not currently following,  please let me know!

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