Friday, 10 October 2008

Internet Buddhist Pyrite

I am not enlightened, nor claim to be, nor claim I am some Zen master or gifted teacher. I do, however, write this blog for many reasons. One is to offer up a the perspective of an average western guy who by chance fell into Buddhist teachings. I've seen new ways of viewing myself, experienced some pretty special moments of discovery and have had more 'ahhhhh' moments then I could even begin to count. I am nothing special. I have an ego just as most of us do, and I certainly gain some happiness to see people read my (poorly written) posts and maybe see someone take something away with them or even thank me for sharing. Perhaps I feel as if I could offer up some more modern ways of expressing the teachings or showing a point of view from an average Joe.

I have met some great people along the way, especially online. The vast majority of who want nothing more than to share some personal experiences, help people understand Buddhist teachings a bit better or just plain like to ease a troubled mind or two. I have read beautiful prose and poetry, heart breaking stories and uplifting encouragement from men and woman, long time practitioners and the newest beginner. I have seen people who take time from their busy lives who may work 60 hours a week, or who are raising a family of 7, just to lend an ear or offer humbled advice. And in return ask nothing but the satisfaction they get of seeing someone benefit in some way or perhaps a thank you now and then.

Then I've seen a few of these sites, big and well done with lots of great resources and links. Some of these have taken on a wonderful community spirit and the exchange of views and ideas go back and forth between all involved. Some of these sites are even gifted with teachers and writers, some even well known in the field, who give their time and advice, freely, in a genuine human caring way.

However, there is that darker, negative side of a few of these cyber Sangha's and supposed Buddhist sites. I see these "experts", who know each Sutra by heart and are quick to correct and admonish the errors of others. They drip with pride and scorn peering down upon those new to the study. New ideas and expressions of others are not welcomed and they are quickly put in there place. The cry "You are no Buddhist!" echo's about, devoid of compassion, sometimes cheered on by a few of their mindless flock. Yet there advice resonates like regurgitated rehearsed words, cold and calculated. For someone new to the teachings they are about as enticing as looking for shelter in a thunderstorm under an iron tree.

I hear sickening stories of a few bad seeds that take advantage of others, preying on peoples good nature, promising enlightenment and endless wonders for the price of a few bucks. Even some, perversely have entered into the real world, conning their way into the lives of some, stealing money or even sexually taking liberties under the guise of being a teacher.

A site may have glitz and beautiful colors and graphics only the best money can buy, and they may promise all sorts of great things and sacred teachings found nowhere else. However, if at the base of all the glitter and charm is not a compassionate heart, only glad to part with wisdom freely and with the understanding that some come to you not seeking judgment but consideration and humanity, then you and your site ain't worth a damn. To those that break the most basic of human decency and take advantage of innocence, either monetarily or sexually, ...well, I won't let my aggressive side be unleashed here.

If you are one of these disturbed individuals I pray someone forwards this to you to read. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Men and woman come to you from the dark, seeking shelter from the confusion and disorder of our modern world. They look to you for guidance, information and encouragement, not judgment and vanity. You take pride in your knowledge like a prancing peacock on the hunt for a mate and sit in the hollow gutter of your ego. If you fancy yourself an enlightened one, or a Buddha or some Bodhisattva then fucking live up to it.

I am so thankful to all those bloggers, communities and sites that keep the true
spirit of Buddhism and humanity alive and well on the internet. Keep it up, you are the future Buddhism needs and yearns for.

The doors of Buddhism should never have a lock upon them.


  1. Hey Kyle
    Good post. I really hope a lot more people come forward and speak about this subject. It is not anathema to Buddhism to criticize.

    And it is an act of compassion to help another avoid suffering if one can. I liken it to someone standing in the path of a gun. If I am seeing the trigger being pulled the very least I could do is give a shout to get someone out of the way.

    I find many people's innocence and will to believe in "something better" (or more real or different-however it is phrased) both delightful and tragic. The outcome so much depends on the circumstances they encounter and the tools they have available to comprehend or deal with those circumstances.

    If enough people speak from experience then hopefully those on a search will somehow stumble upon some amount of wisdom before tragedy has a chance to strike.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I deal with a lot of crap from the so-called "real Buddhists." I find it interesting that I get the most crap from Theravadans. I guess because they are the most traditional and conservative? I don't know.

  3. Right, Kyle. And you are right especially, I think, for noting that displays of pride by some can whither interest in Buddhism for those who are new to it. This is a particular problem on the Internet.

    I commend your effort to get the peacocks to change their ways. Me, I'm an ugly old bird, and amazingly ignorant, but I sometimes have the hubris to display my gray feathers. I will try to be as humble as I wish I was.

    I think it is important, too, for those of us who have lost the gloss of newness, to learn to be bothered less by others' ego eruptions. The Buddha's teachings are different on this issue from Western psychology: We should try not to have our ego rear up in conflict with the offending other's ego.

    Maybe we can "see around" the ego element and still suck the sweet guava juice of others' wisdom? or looking at it objectively, in witness mode, learn from the ugliness of others' peacock displays, thus making us more cognizant of our own Ego Beast needs?

    [By the way, your writing is first class. What the hell are you talking about saying your posts are "poorly witten"!?]

  4. Cpd - Thank you!

    Nellalou - Agreed, funny how our outcomes in life are either side of the extreme, 'delightful and tragic'. I like that very much. Thanks for the kind comments.

    Handsome - Thank you for the kind comments! While I definitely see your point about some Theravadans, but I have met and know some that are extremely compassionate. Perhaps, its a cultural thing? Its hard for me to say. All things are relative I guess?

    Tom - Thanks for the excellent response. I guess I tend to aim a lot of what I say at the extreme's, those brand new to Buddhism and those that take advantage of people in Buddhism's name.

    I think some say they teach the Buddha Dharma, but perhaps don't understand a lot of us Westerners can be driven away by the harshness of the teaching style. Lord knows, from my Zen teacher how hard it was to accept his anger and dispassion for his true compassion for me to learn and understand. This is a difficult thing I think.

    Those of us that have practicing awhile probably 'get' the stark style of teaching, but those new to it, again, dare I say Westerners, aren't so keen on these tactics. Perhaps a delicate touch, integrating their sometimes a bit off the mark ideas into a teaching or a story for them to see, rather than us passing our knowledge over theirs would work better sometimes? I don't know for sure, I just know it would be a shame that the benefits of Buddhism are lost on new practitioners because of stubborns ways of teaching, or cultural traditions that don't fit well here.

    When I write, I tend, perhaps in error, to reword or paraphrase the sutra's and teachings a bit to slowly draw in those with a passing interest. I have full confidence in our human ability to realize truth when seen through experience.

    I agree wholeheartedly, that once we really start our path, we can begin to see passed the ego's of some to get to the good stuff they have to offer. I truly feel it is the difficult parts of our lives and the arduous human interactions that are our best teachers in this life.

    Keep those gray feathers, I've been enjoying your writings for quite sometime! As for the poorly written thing, I think my ex wives would gleefully agree with my assessment.

  5. we are in many ways..

  6. The Real of suffering is terrifying! Keep staying with the truth of it. It's prettier.