Friday, November 20, 2015

Self-important Buddhism

See Stein's review of Gafni's book here. A few excerpts:

"The radical teachings in Gafni’s books expose the a-political, apathetic, and defeatist underbelly of so much of Western Buddhism, where the teaching of meditation is combined with affluence and liberal values to create an insular and self-affirming escape from the obligations of uniqueness. Who is left to stand up for the inviolable rights of individuals when everyone is sitting down, counting their breaths, and spending a small fortune on retreats from the world? There is no better ideological lubricant to grease our decline into a global corporate dystopia than a form of religiosity that denigrates the individual, promotes quiescence, and calls for a personal disappearance into some larger structure or process."

"The point here is not to critique Buddhism as a whole (some of my best friends are Buddhists) but rather just to point out that the most rapidly spreading religion in the Western world (Buddhism) is not a form of spirituality that has been leading its adherents to perpetrate disruptive social change in the name of social justice. The last time that happened on a large scale in this county it was a movement firmly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, under the leadership of a reverend with a dream about the dignity of each individual, the inviolability of human rights regardless of race, and the unique expression of humanity represented by African Americans. Today our enthusiasms for Eastern spiritual imports are leading us away from the discourse about individual rights and democracy leveraged so eloquently by Dr. King, which has served as the most powerful catalyst of social change in history. This language of liberation that is our heritage is being replaced by a language of liberation that is predominantly about the qualities of our own minds and emotional states and which includes the remarkable idea that by sitting for an hour a day on our $90 buckwheat meditation cushion we are somehow helping to change the world. There is perhaps no more iconic representation of the new American post-modern spiritual landscape than a room full of homogenized white people sitting on sets of standardized cushions facing the wall."

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