Speculative Non-Buddhism

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Embrace, Deflect, Evade: An X-Buddhist Strategy Against Criticism

Posted by Glenn Wallis on December 21, 2013

Rev. Barnabas Billings, Jongbok Sonsa-nim [1]

How much truth is contained in something can be best determined by making it thoroughly laughable and then watching to see how much joking around it can take. For truth is a matter that can withstand mockery, that is freshened by any ironic gesture directed at it. Whatever cannot withstand satire is false. ― Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason

I have been observing a phenomenon in x-buddhist circles lately that cries out for further study. It mainly concerns Zen practitioners. I’ve seen it with secularites and mindfulnistas as well, though. But, given their history, rhetoric, and supposed self-understanding, it’s particularly curious coming from Zen practitioners. I wonder if some of you, the readers of this blog, might, in the comments section, offer some insight into this phenomenon.

(Before reading on, it will be helpful to recall that x-buddhism prides itself on being a vehicle, superior to all others, for attaining acute self-awareness, for destroying self-delusion, for the lessening of neurotic grasping. Zen in particular values the tropes of dismounting the donkey, killing the Buddha, not confusing a finger pointing to the moon with the moon itself, not replacing your head with a new one, and so on. All of x-buddhism speaks of the necessity of eventually “discarding the raft.” And yet no x-buddhist in the history of Buddhism has ever done so.)

To use a favorite Zen metaphor–the mirror–the phenomenon is this: A certain astute observer of Zen (and of all other “spiritual” systems, if you ask me) holds up a mirror to the followers of Zen. The reactions are various. Some glance at the image before them, adjust their pretty rakusus, and walk on. Some scowl, rub their freshly-shaven heads, and grumble, “that’s not how I look.” But some look, hesitate, turn their heads this way and that, and burst out a good old-fashioned Zen belly laugh. The response seems to span: “Ha ha ha. What funny satire! Wow, a little bit of it is actually close to home,”  to “Ha ha ha, look at that buffoon in he mirror. I’m glad someone’s calling out his sorry ass.”

It’s this last type of response that I find in need of fuller explanation. How can this person not recognize him- or herself in the mirror? What tricks of perception and of self-awareness are at work here? Roshi, sensei, Jim Jikyo Jones, Susan Myoshin Smith, etc., understands enough to know that s/he’s seeing an accurate portrayal of some sort, and to some degree. And yet, something prevents the portrayal from really hitting home, from having significant impact. No matter how accurate a picture it is to a neutral observer, they always see it as a picture of someone else.

If you’ve spent time on Tutteji Dai Osho’s blog or Facebook page, you know what I’m talking about (links below). (I made some remarks here about the incisiveness and importance of Master Tutteji’s critique for contemporary western x-buddhism [2], so I won’t say anything more about it here.) A few examples should be enough to illustrate the phenomenon that I am referring to.

* Two robed (and stick-wielding?) Zen priests comment on a review of the book by one Ronin “Corn Cob” Tyrant Roshi: This Stick Never Fails: A Zen Memoir by a Fully Transmitted Soto Zen Master:

  1. Kobutsu said: I MUST get this book!
  2. myoangrace said: ROFL

* On a page satirizing many Secular Buddhist/Mindfulness views–and elsewhere reviewing “his” book, The Mindful Marine: The Path of a Spiritual Warrior–secularite/mindfulnista defender of the faith, Mark Knicklebine (aka as author Mark Knucklebone), responds:

Mark Knickelbine said: This is really very funny. Thanks!

* Tutteji’s Facebook page is potted with responses to trenchant illuminations of Zen pretension, hypocrisy, commercialism, and outright silliness from people with Zen/x-buddhist names and affiliations: Ryo Chikurin of the Rinzai Hokoji lineage; Alan Senauke of the Berkely Zen Center; Hridaya Artha of the blog “Dans Le Sillage d’Advayavajra;” Adam Kō Shin Tebbe (仏門 晃心) founder and editor of “Sweeping Zen.” There are many more. Have a look for yourself.

* Jundo's Avatar This example is particularly revealing, since it seems best explained as bordering on cynicism. Jundo, the “founder and priest” of Treeleaf Zendo, initiates a discussion of Chuck Genkaku Johnzen Roshi’s work (e.g., Biker Zen. A Trip Through Death, Sex, Drugs, and Spiritual Celebrity in Search of the American Dream [3]) with the admission (which I paraphrased above): “I actually asked around other Zen folks if they had heard of this guy before realizing it is a farce. A so so … sadly, sometimes too close to home … bitingly funny satire.”[4] Sometimes? Too close? No. Always, and smack dab in your living room, Roshi. Anyway, white men with names like Enkyo, Shingen, and the gasshoing Koshin respond in ways that exemplify the Dance of EDE: embrace, deflect, evade.

* The most in-depth example is Tutteji’s post and the subsequent comments on “The Triple-edged Sword of Irony, or: All you can do I can do Meta.” There, x-buddhist teachers Kenneth Folk and Daniel Ingram responded to a request to write a blurb for a non-existent book titled Mastering the Core Teachings of Pharmacological Meditation. An Unusually Hardcore Book on Chemically Enhanced Contemplation, by Kenneth R. Lingam, M.D., Arhat.[5][6] Both the title and the author’s name are characteristically brilliant, unambiguous send-ups of Folk’s and Ingram’s respective schticks by Master Tutteji. (Lingam, in addition to rhyming with Ingram, also means “prick” in Sanskrit, by the way). Yet, Ingram and Folk offer serious-sounding blurbs for the “book.”

twitter-danieltwitter-kenneth

Their responses are in good humor; they were not duped by the Master’s request. And therein lies the issue that begs for explanation. What could possibly possess the real-life human objects of biting, even damning, satire to embrace that very satire, and to do so, moreover, with a knowing (deflecting?) wink and friendly  (evasive?) chuckle? Tutteji (paraphrasing Slavoj Žižek) offers some help:

This warm, cosy – and smug – feeling is fed on the assumption that ironic distance is automatically a subversive attitude. What if, on the contrary, the dominant attitude of the contemporary “post-ideological” universe is precisely cynical distance  What if this distance, far from posing any threat to the system, designates the supreme form of conformism, since the normal function of the system requires cynical distance?

I can think of a lot of reasons for this Dance of EDE (embrace-deflect-evade). Smugness in the Dharma is one possibility. Spiritual narcissism is another. Simple stupidity, acquired or innate, of course, is always a possibility when devotees of “no-thought,” such as x-buddhists, are involved. Righteou$ money-making is a possible factor when the Dance of EDE is being performed by members of the X-buddhist Chamber of Dharmic Commerce.

Any other ideas?


[1] “Rev. Barnabas Billings, Jongbok Sonsa-nim is the Supreme Zen Master and Abbot of The Siddhi Institute Rev. Barnabas is a self-ordained Black Bodhisattva Priest as well as a fully transmitted Teacher in several Zen Buddhist lineages. He began studying and practicing Buddhism and the occult arts at the Black Rain Left-Hand Unitarian Lodge in New Hampshire under the tutelage of Revs. Szandor Zephyr and Jimmy Mishma Dodge…He is also a certified Mindfulness Coach as well as an inveterate student of both Jedi  Arts and Sith Magick. In 2009, Barnabas received authorization as a Dharma Holder in the Korean Zen lineage, and in 2010 he received the ”final seal” or Inga (full and complete authorization as a Zen Master) from his Teacher, Bangbop Sonsa-nim, thus becoming the 82nd Patriarch in a highly prestigious lineage of Zen Masters.” (Tutteji Wachtmeister)

[2] Tutteji Wachtmeister: Spiritual Entrepreneur

[3] Chuck Genkaku Johnzen Roshi’s books.

[4] Treeleaf Zendo forum. You can read some discussion of this forum’s response at Tutteji’s blog, here.

[5] The book. The discussion (118 comments).

[6] Although he has been a target of serious, though of course very funny, criticism, Daniel Ingram can write on his Links page: “This is just flippin’ hilarious scathing wit: Tutteji! I hope we all continue to be able to laugh at ourselves and this is one website helping us do that.” I would ask Daniel. What is it about yourself you find so funny?

Additional links.

Tutteji Wachtmeister Blog

Tutteji Wachtmeister Dai Osho Facebook page

Transintegral Scholars Facebook page

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76 Responses to “Embrace, Deflect, Evade: An X-Buddhist Strategy Against Criticism”

  1. John said

    In a way, it’s just mindfulness in action. Instead of engaging with Tutteji and trying to figure out his point or how the critique hits home, they give it their attention, (cynically?) enjoy it, and let it pass on. No unsettling or learning or change required — as you put it: acquired stupidity.

    I think there is also an inability to think that there is a need for critique; they don’t understand their own superficiality. They don’t think Buddhist change would involve re-conceiving and restructuring their world (some of them are already arhats, right?).

    Retiring into mindful bliss breeds a cynicism with regards to the world as well. Instead of engagement with and being a part of the world, the practitioner is removed from the world and looks out over the realm of suffering (and critique, challenge, hard work) from the seat of enlightenment.

    But there is also a more mundane reason for a cynical response — saving face. One of the deadliest sins of modern society is to not be in on the joke. So instead of taking it seriously as a critique, people are quick to laugh along and prove their good sense of humor — that they get it, are hip to it.

    For Folk it seemed that he was more convinced that, deep down, there was no point and that Tutteji et. al. were just trolls. So, play along in hopes of deflating the troll and hope it passes on.

  2. Patrick jennings said

    I’ve been thinking along these lines too. Of course, if you are that far in its hard to begin the process of backtracking, but it does happen. Ive seen such turns happen in politics, especially among those most blatantly in the thrall of virulent forms of ideology …the most interesting root and branch reassessment of long held attitudes and beliefs occurred among jailed republican and loyalist prisoners in the 80′s and 90′s in Ireland.
    This was a long drawn out process , often involving exposure to new ideas in a situation where the person had hit a wall and could go no further along the same old track. As John says:

    They don’t think Buddhist change would involve re-conceiving and restructuring their world (some of them are already arhats, right?).

    For a large number of people to embrace change I think implies something more than an interior process…something concrete has to happen to ‘restructure a world’. I mean at an ‘objective’ level, within the economic and social structures. For American x-buddhists that is going to have to be something ‘seismic’ I think the financial collapse and the twin towers attack and the subsequent imperial wars will be seen to have consequences but until something happens at a fundamental level and in a sustained way a broad mass of people will not abandon their comforting perspectives and various forms of ‘refuge’ x-buddhist or otherwise.
    I know that in the Irish situation satire played an important part in undermining what appeared to be an unshakable conviction.
    Work at the level of ideas, Tutteji’s for example, will be seen to have borne fruit only in retrospect and in combination with a lot of other factors. And I think his work is important, given that x-buddhism does seem to be the perfect fit for more and more professional, white, middle class Americans. Anything that helps to undermine the co-opted perspectives of that class is significant, not only in American terms but for change generally. Until Romans themselves lose faith in the future of empire, the barbarians at the gate can only continue to snap and snarl at the fringes of power. That’s a sad fact.
    And I think there is something of value awaiting decimation within the forms of x-buddhism … again it will only have been seen to be so in retrospect and in combination with other changes in the sphere of ideas. I am sure though, that as you have said many times, its new form will be unrecognizable as/to x-buddhism.

    So lets keep on going.

    A bow to Master Tutteji.

  3. Patrick jennings said

    An additional thought.. the actual people satirized are in a way irrelevant to the process. They are a sort of exaggerated representation of the ‘ordinary’ practitioner. Of real significance is the way the whole ‘whiff’ of x-buddhist thinking permeates the social space, influencing attitudes and perspectives in innumerable ways, so that you end up with a sort of general consensus on what matters.

    A good recent example concerns the death of Nelson Mandela, where there was an unquestioned acceptance of the proposition that when Mandala ‘advanced’ from a position of uncompromising activism to a position of reconciliation and ‘statesman-like’ accommodation’ that that was a situation to be applauded, rather than denounced as a form of political sellout.

    Who, I ask, could put forward such a view in the atmosphere of general consensus about Mandala’s ‘States-man-like greatness’ created by an coalition of interests and dutifully promulgated by the media establishment. But in fact such an analysis is not only plausible, but reflects a widespread and unarticulated ‘counter- feeling’ among poorer black south-africans. Mandala, of course, is held in such high esteem (deservedly so ) by south Africans that all such feelings are deflected, and target the present leadership instead.

    I think much the same sort of censorious is established as a consequence of pervasive x-buddhist shambolical bladder.

  4. One explanation is probably that a lot of x-buddhists (are should I say all, per definition?) live in a filter bubble. They do not understand critic towards their modus operandi. The live huis clos… except for the fact that it is not torture any more they do to each other, it is joking about the torture.

    That might lead to a psychological explanation. Irony can be a kind of relieve valve for a pressure one experiences by coming nearer to the realization of a conflict. The irony in this case functions as a deflecting strategy by excepting the conflicting/stressing/pressuring data and at the same time turning it down again via laughter. The laughter is the important point because it discharges the emotional power which gets powered up by realizing that indeed there is a problem.

    This might show also why Tutte’s irony is limited. It provides the people he ironizes at the same time when they are joked about with the means to pull out again unscathed. That’s probably the point why Ken Folk finally fled the long thread mentioned above [5]: He reached the point where his laughter got stuck in his throat.

    Maybe that’s where true satire begins.

  5. Hey Glenn,

    I hesitate to write a critical comment. You have shown me support for my criticisms of Buddhist corporate culture, and I continue to support yours and SNB’s of the same. I also appreciate that your site has opened up a space for criticism of Buddhism more generally. Nevertheless, I see in speculative non-buddhism the same problem that I see in secular Buddhism and that is: a counter-ideology which is a form of extremism sans the religious values and beliefs.

    You seem proud of your extremism. But I fear it. In my own country right now, in the name of the so-called Secular Charter of Quebec, people have been assaulting Muslin women in the streets by forcibly removing their veils. Violence-in-the-name-of-emancipation just replaces one form of oppression with another. I do not condone it among secularists and I do not condone it among non-buddhists either. Both counter-ideologies seem to be as blind to their fanaticism as the ideologies they criticize. Do you think that you, Tom and Matthias and the SNB project as a whole cannot be satirized?

    While I support all non-violent and humorous efforts to hold up a mirror to our blind spots, the name-calling, inference of motives or of “stupidity” and other attempts to humiliate Buddhists are as hard for me to stomach as watching Quebecers tear off Muslim women’s veils, not because the veil conceals anything shameful but because it is so arrogant of self-declared emancipators to impose their notions of what one should be onto others.

    Finally, I am not sure that the people you mention in your post do not see themselves in the mirror as you claim. You infer from one-word and one-line comments that they see in the mirror “a picture of someone else” as opposed to an ability to laugh at themselves (something which, by the way, I do not see anyone from this site doing).

    If we had to abandon our values, beliefs or religion, quit our jobs or leave our families in order to see through the roles we take most seriously in this life, you would probably not still be teaching meditation at the Won Institute.

    Imagine a world where everyone has cast off his roles, robes and resumes, and is running around naked in search of a play and author, Pirandello-style. I think it would be alternately boring and chaotic.

    I confess that I feel as fearful about posting this as I do on other Buddhist sites where I have posted critical comments as an outsider, and I hope that I have not just set myself up for verbal abuse. If so, I will take it like a pie in the face on your stage.

  6. Patricia (#5). This non-buddhism project is driven by a single question: what does x-buddhism (x = any given doctrinal/historical formulation of Buddhism) have to offer us? “Us” is an axiomaticized human (see “Sutras of Flesh and Blood” if you want to learn more about what I mean). The first issue that confronts a person who asks this question is the fact that the ostensibly human cultural goods which x-buddhism claims to be the custodian of are so encumbered by transcendental representations to be thrown into question as mere human cultural goods. So, work has to be performed on the material prior to its acceptance. The problem that x-buddhists have with this performance is that it renders their formations unrecognizable.

    This project is not a “counter-ideology.” It is a straight-up, transparent ideology. It just happens to be one that has the formation x-buddhism as its foil. I use x-buddhism to get traction. I am thinking about dropping “buddhism” altogether, scrapping this blog, and replacing it with “education”–non-education. I don’t care enough about some x-buddhism to alter or reform it in any way. I do care about those people around me who participate in the sick social formation that continually reproduces itself via such formations as x-buddhism. The formations around education have even wider relevance to society.

    Not only is non-buddhism an ideology, it is one that provides a heuristic for enabling the reader to do the same kind of work as the ideology holds valuable. So, you could, for instance, use it to come to some conclusions about Muslims and veils in Quebec.

    I am not sure that the people you mention in your post do not see themselves in the mirror as you claim.

    I am certain insofar as I use their own texts as evidence.

    I don’t understand your meaning from “If…chaotic.” Thanks.

  7. Chris said

    Political correctness and moral relativism has merged, no one can be offended, and certainly not any ‘religious group’ of which many are out and out cults. this is thanks to neutral and pathologically ‘polite’ academia and psychologists, who ensured that poltiical correctness would prevail, we now call them ‘new religious movements” , (the ‘religious’ part allowed them to become multimillion dollar tax free 501 Church empires selling ‘buddhism’ as a massively marketed commodity Lamaist ‘buddhist groups’ particularly meet all the critieria of a thought controlled cult, with their ‘sanghas’ living in the feudal eighth century of misogynistic tyranny of the lamas, whatever mask they don for the public, inside it is a timewarp of medieval master slave paradigm , where the Lamas ecouraged to be seen as living gods who can do no wrong, and if you see ‘wrong’ it is your own impure perception, that only the Lamas can beat, sexually abuse and steal you out of your money and labor to ‘purify’ your impure sight, on you way to a higher birth. My experience is with Tibetan Lamaism , I can’t even call it buddhism because Lamaism , of all the ‘buddhist’ groups dons the most deceptive masks, including ‘buddhism” and now a ‘secular ethics’ mask. Mindfulness training, i.e. Insight meditation and Lamaism have in fact ‘merged” through the Dalai Lama, ,through the Mind Life Insititute, DL who consults an oracle for all his major decisions ( 7 or eight times in 2012) t has enthralled the most naive in the ‘scientific community’ who believe his rhetoric of Scientism. Sam Harris, a student of Sharon Salzberg who founded Insight Meditation and is now a fanatic devotee of Tibetan Lamaism, is on the Secular Ethics bandwagon of the Dalai Lama, and people believe he is promoting Atheism! Joan Halifax, of Ecofascism fam, a Zennie, has embraced Tibetan Lamaism, and now teaches together with Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche has Hare Krisha chanting at his retreats..Theravadins also are coordinating with Lamaism. The most popular and most corrupt Buddhists teachers, are now working together, including with New Age Christians, as well such as Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Sogyal, Rinpoche, toady and sexual exploiter extraordinaire, who both ‘teach’ at the Unity Church, a New Age ‘ecumenical church” funded , in part, by the C-Street Fellowship a Dominionist Christian group.

    So while ‘buddhists’ are speculating and turned ‘inward’ as usual, contemplating the nature of the ‘goings on’ in buddhism, there is a massive movement of coordination in the external world between these groups, to suck in naive people through one ‘of these streams” that all serve the same purpose, to deflect from the economic realities we live in and , to quell protest, to numb and dumb people down. . In fact, many of the ‘elite’ 1% of the neoliberal fascists of our new economic realities, are the wealthy ‘benefactors”of these ‘buddhist’ groups, and often members of these groups, because promoting this ‘peace and harmony’ tyranny of the cults of ‘buddhism’ serves to quell populations into ‘acceptance’ of ‘austerity as their ‘karma’. . Like George Soros , who promotes and financially supports Tibetan Buddhism. They all see the benefits it has in creating groupthink, groupmind. You don’t need clubs or drugs to quell society, just have a critical mass of ‘buddhists” in society and the groupmind and groupthink will censor itself.

    Do you know that the U.S. military has now incorporated “mindfulness training’ and TM into their training?

    These eastern meditation buddhist groups are thought controlled cults within their sanghas, because they that meet all of the criteria of thought control according to the objective criteria. , and that is why they don’t allow any criticism of themselves, it is why they censor all ‘negativity” within their groups, and without , because they are all members of a ‘we are very special’ groupmind that believe that they are s’ on their way to enlightenment and now are ‘working together” to usher in the new Utopia, for the rest of us poor dupes who just cant see the light because of our ‘negativity’.

    Individual ‘enlightement’ is no longer their goal, they want to ‘save the rest of the world” and they believe they can do it together. So to separate these Buddhist groups anymore, i.e. Zen , from Tibetan Lamaism, from Theravadin, from Theosophy, is a false separation.
    and would be “missing the forest for the trees”.. Buddhism has gone ‘engaged’ , met the “Secret’ and is ‘envisioning’ itself as the new world religion .These groups are now working together. A very scary proposition.

    .

  8. And the more sinister side of this ‘cooperation? Amongst the Theravadins, Zen ecofasicsts, and Tibetan Lamaism?. Sharon Salzberg’s teacher in Burma. before she became a Tibetan Lamaism, and favorite of Oprah Winfrey, has still not spoken out about the genocide being committed there in the name of Buddhism and by those ‘compassionate buddhists” monks, who have always had a morally ambiguous relationship with killing, i.e. ‘intent’ and ‘motivation’ absolving the perpetrators, Tibetan Lamaism takes it to another level against Muslims by predicting a world war out of which Buddhism will prevail. Can you imagine? . 969′s leader who was inspired by the Kalachakra tantra. that the Dalai Lama spreads throughout the world now, and has given five times more in U.S. almost as many times as in India, where hindustani guru worship has kept their people mentally enslaved for millenium. . And little do people know that the Kalachakra that the Dalai Lama has given all around the world is an ‘apocalyptic , millienium cult ‘inner’ teaching, that encouraged Shoko Asahara’s ‘new religious movement’ to expedite “Shambhala’ with his sarin gas attacks in Tokoyo. Asahara was not a casual aquaintance, he gave over 100,000 to the Dalai Lama , took teachings from him , and was ‘inspired’ by Tantric ‘buddhism’ which is best expressed in the Kalachakra tantra and its world buddhocracy view. The Mind Life Institute of the Dalai Lama, that combo of Insight (Theravadin) meditation and Tibetan Lamaism, is infiltrating into academia in Europe now, after firmly establishing itself in some of our more prestigious Universities, Stanford, Berkely, U. of Wisconsin, Emory, to name a few, where the thought control cult of Lamaism is firmly established, and after duping almost the whole section of the ‘new age “psychology profession, who always becomes an ‘arm of totalistic states, left or right are happily enabling this movement of ‘engaged Buddhism” the ‘new secularism’ brought to you by medieval, repressive fundamentalism of groupthink ‘Buddhism”.

  9. I am certain insofar as I use their own texts as evidence.

    Okay, I’ll take the bait. What writings? Please show your examples. Also, can you provide your own examples of not looking in the mirror? Why aren’t you included in your piece?

  10. Adam (#9).

    What writings? Please show your examples.

    Please begin with the links that I provided. You’ll see the juxtaposition that I’m highlighting in the post if you start with those texts. They’ll lead you to others.

    Also, can you provide your own examples of not looking in the mirror?

    Should I name names? I would be happy to. But let me know first. The names would be of zennies and other x-buddhists whom I have engaged with and, in some cases, explicitly pointed toward Tutteji and even asked for a response. If you follow some of the links I provided, you’ll see some mirror-avoidance as well. How about you, Adam Ko Shin, do you see yourself in Tutteji clear mirror?

    Why aren’t you included in your piece?

    That’s your job, bro. This project is one of labor. Together with Tom Pepper, Matthias Steingass, Master Tutteji, and a few others, I have provided, and continue to provide, a shit-load of tools for doing the kind of work that needs to get done. There is some good thinking and dialogue taking place outside the zendo. I like Cioran here: “There are no arguments. Can anyone who has reached the limit bother with arguments?” I no longer engage with people who haven’t done their homework. So, strap on your tool belt and get to work. You can, again, start by reading through the links in the post and in this response.

  11. sweepingzen said

    Well but it’s interesting you cite the interaction of people like Kobutsu and Myoan (and yes, myself) without including your own amusement on Facebook with Tutteji. I find that ironic considering this is a post alleging people not seeing themselves in the mirror. Maybe you don’t see that irony, but I think you do. Or perhaps you are an x-x-buddhist, with even more ironclad armor than those you lump in to one theory, to serve that theory. There are a lot of blind spots present in all this, surely you see them.

    The links you cite actually aren’t citing any info on many of the people you included in this piece, or maybe you’re saying they do, that everyone is Chuck Genkaku Roshi, etc. It seems that is what you allege.

    Citing a few passing comments by people is hardly scientific. Hell, you’re asking me to read the extent of your website without your having done the same with those you pretend to see in the hearts of. So, I think we’re at a stalemate, neither wanting to engage with someone weho has not taken the time to do their homework.

    …Heck, you are an x-buddhist. You’re a non-buddhist, speculating on what is and is not Buddhism. Everyone has it wrong, you’ve got it right. Hmmm, is that Buddhism? You have to tell me, you’re the expert on it all it seems.

    In the mirror I see Adam Tebbe, Be well.

  12. Glenn (#6),

    Thank you for your clarifications.

    Your response addresses the first and last parts of my comment but leaves out the most provocative (I thought) middle part on fanaticism and my view of the SNB project as “extremist” and “violent”. I would really be interested in hearing your responses to my observations.

    I also wonder what would show you that someone does see him or herself in Tutteji’s mirror. Can you give an example of the kind of AHA response you were looking for?

    You say “I don’t understand your meaning from “If…chaotic.” Sorry. What I meant was that it seems to me that you are hoping that Buddhists might cast off the roles, robes and resumes that identify them with their creed, something that- if we were all to do this with our “human cultural goods”- would be alternately boring and chaotic.

  13. wtpepper said

    RE #6: Non-education might be an interesting project. To question the assumptions about the subject and the nature of knowledge that keep our educational system a dismal failure on every conceivable measure? But then, the goal of the school system is very openly to produce functioning and obedient subjects of capitalism–so it doesn’t quite have the contradictions you find in Buddhism or psychology, which at least claim to be doing something different. Are you familiar with Henry Giroux? He’s one of those infernal commies who keep insisting that students should be taught to actually think. Damn pinkos.

    RE #3: Patrick, have you read Zizek’s short piece on Mandela in The Guardian? http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/09/if-nelson-mandela-really-had-won

  14. Adam (#11). I was going to delete your comment. Instead, I can use it to illustrate a couple of points about this project, and about where I stand with it now.

    There is nothing in what you say that helps to clarify the nature of x-buddhism. And that–that clarification–is the sole purpose of this project. Who knows more or less, who’s an expert or not, that’s all irrelevant. So, I am not the least bit interested in having debates about x-buddhism. I am interested in hearing what it is you’ve learned about it, via employment of our critical tools, that you did not know before. If you are interested in doing a certain kind of critical excavation of your Zen tradition and practice, you’ll find what we have on offer to be quite attractive. If you are not interested in such excavation, well, I’d just move along if I were you. I wonder, however, why a Zen practitioner would pass up such an opportunity for critical self-reflection. Isn’t that, after all, what Zen’s all about? (You could use the non-buddhist heuristic to explore that question.) I warn you, though: the critical work we are recommending to you will be harder work than Zen practice. For, it requires that you think, and that you do so (1) really fucking hard, and (2) in ways that are currently, I suspect, foreign to you.

    Your response here is a nice instance of looking in the mirror and saying, “yo, that ain’t me.” Tutteji is a master mirror-maker. Others of us are master tool makers. Again, the point of this project is not debate, it is critical labor. So, maybe go back to Tutteji’s mirror, and look a little longer and more closely. I am certain, Adam, that you will benefit.

    From your (textual) demeanor, however, I suspect that you are not yet ready to do the kind of critical reflection that Zen touts but avoids like a death trap. Your demeanor exemplifies that of a practitioner caught in the net of affective decision. You can read about that condition and much more in an excellent treatment of the non-buddhist approach here: “How to eXplode x-buddhism,” .

    You say:

    I think we’re at a stalemate, neither wanting to engage with someone who has not taken the time to do their homework.

    But that is not true for me. I can still make virtually countless moves. I have done my homework, for one thing. But, more crucially, I have some really sharp tools at hand with which to expose and evaluate what you, apparently, wish to keep hidden. That’s okay–for now. I’d predict that you won’t always feel this way about it, as long as you continue to grow.

    In the mirror I see Adam Tebbe, Be well.

    You can’t see Ko Shin standing in the shadow?

  15. enno said

    we have two essential exercises: 1.: “I am you”
    2.: if that is not possible at the moment: “I do not despise you”

    what that means in relation to the x-buddhists?

  16. Patricia (#12). Do you know this Deleuze statement?:

    “When someone asks ‘what’s the use of philosophy?’ the reply must be aggressive, since the question tries to be ironic and caustic..The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy which saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy. It is useful for harming stupidity, for turning stupidity into something shameful. Its only use is the exposure of all forms of baseness of thought. . . . Philosophy is at its most positive as a critique, as an enterprise of demystification

    I think the same can be said for this project. Ironically, x-buddhism says the same thing about itself (the beginning of the path is disenchantment; the major thematic being pain and suffering, and so on). Yet, x-buddhism fails miserably in its own self-claimed project. And it doesn’t like to be shown that that’s the case, much less specifically how that’s the case.

    I can think of no better way to explain my (our, really–but I’ll just speak for myself) extremism and violence, if you want to call it that, than that offered in the preface to Cruel Theory|Sublime Practice. We say there, for instance: “This book is a radical laying bare of the brutal refusal of x-buddhism to honor its most basic pledge: abetment of liberation.” My approach is, in short, as extreme as it is because of what I see as the brutality and violence of x-buddhist modes of thought, discourse, human relationship, and more. My years’ effort of having toned-down discussion with x-buddhists about its hidden ideological machinations were fruitless. X-buddhism seems genetically disposed toward what I call interminable exemplification. No matter what issue, contradiction, aporia, absurdity, or outright error a trained x-buddhist is confronted with, you can be sure that there is some example that will be presented to counter and dismiss your point. They all do it, from the Atheists to the Zens. The problem is that the examples are rarely adequate. In fact, they are typically trivial, facile, or platitudinous. You can get nowhere with such discussion. X-buddhists always and inevitably circle around to…x-buddhism. It reminds me of talking to a climate change denier. What matters are not the actual ecological data. What matters is that the (in this country, Republican) ideology remains intact. If the examples they throw at you don’t disable your critique, they then yell “that’s not right speech” and walk away. You yourself have discussed this (violent) tactic in “Tweet your own Horn.”

    I also wonder what would show you that someone does see him or herself in Tutteji’s mirror. Can you give an example of the kind of AHA response you were looking for?

    The reversal of the kinds of the affective and cognitive symptoms of decision that I discuss in the heuristic: ventriloquization; buddhemic utterance; spiritual narcissism; thaumaturgical refuge; vibrato; humaphobia, and so on.

    if we were all to do this with our “human cultural goods”- would be alternately boring and chaotic.

    Who knows what will come from knocking down the pole of transcendence?

  17. Enno (#15). Huh? Try in German, if you like. I see you’re affiliated with a Rinzai temple in Germany, right?

  18. Patricia, you fear this place? Rightfully so!

    But the reason is different from what you think. You clearly show that you don’t understand most of our critique. For if you would, you would be able to analyze what happened to you. You would be able to look into the mechanism at work whereby you have been lured into believing that there is something extraordinary in x-buddhism an its teachers.

    I say you do not understand “most” because there is something you understand. You understand that if you would use the tools of critique provide here, your own desire to be seduced by x-buddhism would become apparent. But it is a painful process (we all more or less are going through), and to avoid this you deflect the pain by projecting the aggressor into us.

    In this way your equation of people randomly attacking people on the street with our discourse falls back into you.

  19. enno said

    (Translation of German, below. Enno may want to improve on it. GW)

    For one thing, I have certainly underestimated the complexity of this blog. For another, I have over-estimated my English ability.

    The theme that concerns me is the uncovering of the causes that lead to the misuse of Zen, and to help the victims, insofar as this is desired and is, as far as I am concerned, possible. It is to this end that I created my Facebook site “Enno Thomas Kaffner.” This site has served as a way of organizing support for the Christopher Hamacher’s article “Zen Has No Morals!” and for the dismissal of a legal trial with which a victim had been threatened.

    Tutte Wachtmeister Dai Osho’s methods reveal defects that are intolerable. But you are right, most of those whom the critique targets merely find his work funny. I follow Matthias Steingass’s blog Der Unbuddhist with great interest (http://unbuddhist.com). And it was through his blog that I found my way here. The critique of Buddhism is very important, and everyone must practice critique to the extent of his ability to do so. Critique reveals drawbacks. And it is those drawbacks, and not the critic that points them out, that we must attend to.
    My involvement with the theme referred to above also eventually led to my departure from the official Zen lineage with which I was, until recently, affiliated (my website still needs to be updated in this regard). I am once again amateur, left to my own devices.

    The drift toward delusional belief is a constant danger. It is one, moreover, that affects not only the “other,” whoever that may be, even if the protective shields appear as perfect as philosophy and rhetorical theory.

    Original.

    Zum einen, habe ich die Komplexität dieses Blogs, wohl unterschätzt, zum anderen habe ich meine Englischkenntnisse wohl überschätzt. Mein Thema ist das Aufdecken von Ursachen die zum Missbrauch von Zen führen, und den Opfern zu helfen, soweit dies erwünscht und meinerseits möglich ist. Meine facebook seite: “Enno Thomas Kaffner”, wurde aus diesem Grunde erstellt. So konnte Unterstützung für den Aufsatz von Christopher Hamacher: “Zen Has No Morals!” organisiert werden und die Einstellung eines Gerichtsprozesses erreicht werden, durch den ein Opfer bedroht wurde.

    Tutte Wachtmeister Dai Osho zeigt mit seinen Mitteln Mißstände, die unerträglich sind. Aber Sie haben Recht, die meisten finden es nur lustig. Ich verfolge mit großem Interesse den Blog von M. Seingass: http://unbuddhist.com/ und habe so auch hierhergefunden. Buddhismuskritik ist sehr wichtig, und jeder muß sie auf seine, ihm gemäße Weise vortragen. Kritik weist auf Mißstände hin, und es sind die Mißstände, um die wir uns kümmern sollten, nicht um den Kritiker.

    Meine Beschäftigung mit diesem Thema hat letztlich auch zum Abschied aus der offiziellen Zenlinie geführt, der ich bis vor kurzem noch angehörte ( die Webseite muß noch aktualisiert weden). Ich bin nun wieder Amateur, auf mich selbst gestellt.
    Das Abdriften in den Glaubenswahn ist eine ständige Gefahr, die nicht nur die “anderen” betrifft, wer auch immer sie sein mögen. Mögen die Schutzschilde auch noch so perfekt scheinen, wie Phillosophie und Retoriktheorien.

    Zum einen, habe ich die Komplexität dieses Blogs, wohl unterschätzt, zum anderen habe ich meine Englischkenntnisse wohl überschätzt. Mein Thema ist das Aufdecken von Ursachen die zum Missbrauch von Zen führen, und den Opfern zu helfen, soweit dies erwünscht und meinerseits möglich ist. Meine facebook seite: “Enno Thomas Kaffner”, wurde aus diesem Grunde erstellt. So konnte Unterstützung für den Aufsatz von Christopher Hamacher: “Zen Has No Morals!” organisiert werden und die Einstellung eines Gerichtsprozesses erreicht werden, durch den ein Opfer bedroht wurde.
    Tutte Wachtmeister Dai Osho zeigt mit seinen Mitteln Mißstände, die unerträglich sind. Aber Sie haben Recht, die meisten finden es nur lustig. Ich verfolge mit großem Interesse den Blog von M. Seingass: http://unbuddhist.com/ und habe so auch hierhergefunden. Buddhismuskritik ist sehr wichtig, und jeder muß sie auf seine, ihm gemäße Weise vortragen. Kritik weist auf Mißstände hin, und es sind die Mißstände, um die wir uns kümmern sollten, nicht um den Kritiker.

    Meine Beschäftigung mit diesem Thema hat letztlich auch zum Abschied aus der offiziellen Zenlinie geführt, der ich bis vor kurzem noch angehörte ( die Webseite muß noch aktualisiert weden). Ich bin nun wieder Amateur, auf mich selbst gestellt.
    Das Abdriften in den Glaubenswahn ist eine ständige Gefahr, die nicht nur die “anderen” betrifft, wer auch immer sie sein mögen. Mögen die Schutzschilde auch noch so perfekt scheinen, wie Phillosophie und Retoriktheorien.

  20. Re 13# Thanks Tom. I hadn’t seen the Guardian piece. It pretty much hits the nail on the head. We will be off on the same media merry go round when His ‘Holiness’ dies., and Tibet will still be in the same sorry mess, or worse .

  21. Patrick jennings said

    Hi Tom , Hadn’t seen the guardian article.Hits the nail on the head. We will be on the same media merry go round when ‘His Holiness dies’ and Tibet will still be in the same sorry mess or worse

  22. Glenn (#16),

    Thank you for your replies.

    You left out a section of the Deleuze quote that I think is relevant: “La philosophie ne sert pas à l’État, ni à l’Église, qui ont d’autres soucis. Elle ne sert à aucune puissance établie.” At what point does an ideology become a “puissance établie”?

    I do not hear any justification in the quote for using violence against persons. It speaks about using philosophical critique to expose and demystify stupidity, not persons. Demystification may cause unpleasant feelings of sadness and/or shame in a person, but this is the result, not the means of, “laying bare”.

    Demystification exposes something for what it is, and violence does not catalyze it. In fact, it usually tends to elicit a defensive reaction, a recoiling into a self-protective shell that postpones the process. In using x-buddhism “for traction”, as you say, you are declaring outright war, personifying the enemy in the form of particular people and practices. I do not think this is what Deleuze meant at all. Elsewhere, he writes about the « Eventum Tantum » that it is “imperceptible”, as sublte as an SBD.

    I think that, between violence and a “toned-down discussion”, there are other alternatives.

  23. Matthias (#18),

    Thanks for your insights. As a German, you may not be familiar with the American heuristic device I referred to in #22 above: the SBD. It is “heuristic” in the sense of being “an experience-based technique for problem solving, learning, and discovery, whose solution is not guaranteed to be optimal” (Wikipedia). Quite popular in certain philosophical circles, the SBD is the slow, silent release of a nearly imperceptible toxic flow of information intended to ambush one’s unsuspecting interlocutors, and is very effective in clearing the room of stuffy intellectuals.

  24. wtpepper said

    I would agree with John (comment #1) that this response to satire is a form of cynical refusal of thought. The goal of neoliberal ideology is to promote cynicism and anti-intellectualism, and to insist that everyone is personally responsible for their own impoverishment and suffering in the global economy. X-buddhism supports all of these goals well.

    There are few groups of people more lacking in self-awareness that x-buddhists (psychologists might be a little less self-aware, on average, but not by much), and their “mindfulness” practice serves to protect them from any glimmer of thought or insight. I recently read a comment in an internet discussion from someone accusing Jayarava of “clinging to thought” because he was trying to suggest a more correct translation of a sutra. The very same person, in the same comment, cited a passage from the Pali canon as the reason that this kind of intellectual work should not be done–no argument, no claim that it added nothing, just “Buddha said don’t do this, we have to listen to the Omniscient one.” There is surely no way he would see the contradiction in his own comment. Those most likely to shout “finger pointing at the moon” are them most devoted to endlessly quoting the same decontextualized sutra passages as divine authority for everything. It’s the same with x-buddhists saying “with metta” the way we used to say “fuck you” on the playground–the ultimate assertion of superiority and dismissal. No x-buddhist will ever recognize their own hostility when they say “metta.” It is just one more way to avoid self-awareness, and thought in general.

    I suspect that satire only works in a culture in which truth is valued. When everyone can assume there are only opinions, and all opinions must be tolerated, because nobody can ever be wrong (or right) about anything, then satire is too easily dismissed with cynicism. The only other response is impassioned argument, which x-buddhism also easily dismisses: Clinging to Views!!

    The one that really stumps me, that seems an impossible contradiction NOT to notice, is the tendency to quote sutra passages as if they are divinely revealed truths that cannot be debated, and in the very same breath employ the cliches about abandoning the raft and killing the buddha etc.

  25. Patricia (#22).

    You left out a section of the Deleuze quote that I think is relevant: “La philosophie ne sert pas à l’État, ni à l’Église, qui ont d’autres soucis. Elle ne sert à aucune puissance établie.” At what point does an ideology become a “puissance établie”?

    That part of the Deleuze quotes applies as well. In English:

    Philosophy does not serve the State or the Church, who have other concerns. It serves no established power. The use of philosophy is to sadden. A philosophy which saddens no one, that annoys no one, is not a philosophy.

    I think that the issue of x-buddhist collusion with the “puissance établie” is a major thematic of the non-buddhism project. Matthias Steingass has written several pieces on the historical roots and permutations of x-buddhism’s relation to power. Patrick Jennings has a couple of intelligent essays at The Non-Buddhist. Tom Pepper writes extensively on this theme, bot here at at The Faithful Buddhist. Maybe you can explore their writings on the subject.

    I write about it, too. In short, the point of the investigation is that instance where x-buddhism gloms onto the prevailing value system of the country that it finds itself in. This fixation (in both senses of the terms) of x-buddhism for the ruling social structure is a consistence theme in the historical spread of x-buddhism. I see the current communities of x-buddhism here in the United States as microcosms of the greater American master-formation. Whether its a supposedly non-conformist Zen group or a supposedly skeptical secularist one, the values of the greater society are being reproduced. I have in mind matters like gender dynamics, power hierarchies, consumerist mentality, the inevitability of capitalism, anti-intellectualism, and so forth. X-buddhist communities may challenge the dominant structures from time to time, but they never do so robustly enough. The end result is that x-buddhists became the same good, docile citizens as the rest of the herd, albeit somewhat more calm ones. This is a problem, and hence a problematic worth investigating, because x-buddhist thought and practice harbors bombs packed with enough power to help explode those formations. I believe that x-buddhism is actually a (potential) formation that could be employed to create revolutionaries of cultural and society change. But its bombs are never detonated. It’s weapons are kept locked up, out of harms way.

    I do not hear any justification in the quote for using violence against persons.

    I’m not condoning violence against people. Do you think I am?

    In using x-buddhism “for traction”, as you say, you are declaring outright war, personifying the enemy in the form of particular people and practices.

    Yes, I am. If you want to know why and how, my little piece “Sutras of Flesh and Blood” is the place to go.

    I think that, between violence and a “toned-down discussion”, there are other alternatives.

    Maybe you can share with us an example of an alternative.

  26. boy named sue said

    The point from Patricia, as I understood it, was not about physical violence, or random acts of violence, but about the mentality of extremism. When you are so sure you are right, and others are wrong, what are you prepared to do to others (for the greater good?) in the name of your rightness?

    A separate point. If the goal of your x-buddhist practice is to just to be happy, then ironic distance (and other strategies mentioned in the post) could be considered functional responses to fulfill that goal, as abhorrent as that might sound to you. And so a question I would like to ask is how much of your problem with x -buddhism is down to your belief that this is the “wrong” goal?

  27. Note:

    I translated Enno‘s comment #19. I don’t want to discourage anyone whose first language is not English from commenting here. And I hope I didn’t shake your confidence, Enno. In fact, I’d really like to encourage as much international collaboration as possible. I can translate from German and French. Maybe someone can volunteer to translate from Spanish. You can also just try to formulate your thoughts in English, and see how it goes.

    Luis Daniel: you recent comment was not allowed not because it was critical of this project, but because it was incoherent, or at least incomprehensible to me. Maybe too much Crassmas cheer? Try again?

    Also, Patricia #22 mentioned Deleuze’s idea of “eventum tantum.” Here’s an essay on that concept.

    Finally, a reminder that I am only interested in advancing a critique of x-buddhism in the 21st century West. X-buddhism is influencing our social formation here. It does so both directly and indirectly. From what I can discern, it is doing so in ways that reinforce the norms that not only perpetuate the status quo but, worse, disable the vital forces in x-buddhist thought and practice that have revolutionary potential. For that reason alone, serious critique is worthwhile.

  28. enno said

    Hier ein Zitat eines tibetischen Mönches, das mir sehr geholfen hat meine Situation und die meines Lehrers zu verstehen:

    Tibeter haben ein passendes Sprichwort, das geht ungefähr so: “Auch der beste Lehrer wird durch zu
    hingebungsfreudige Schüler zerstört.” Es ist ein wechselseitiger Prozess. Ist der Lehrer nicht völlig frei von
    Geistesgiften, gibt es eine Basis, dass diese sich manifestieren können. Ist der Schüler blind “hingebungsfreudig” und
    nicht differenziert in seiner Beziehung wird er eher dazu beitragen, dass die Geistesgifte sich im Lehrer vergrößern,
    er nährt sie in gewisser Weise und trägt so zum zunehmenden Wahn des Lehrers bei.
    Westler tendieren wohl eher in die Extreme: totale blinde Hingabe=Unterordnung vs. völliges Ignorieren der
    Möglichkeiten, Notwendigkeit und Potenziale einer gesunden LehrerSchülerBeziehung und Glauben, man könne
    völlig auf diese verzichten.
    Da alles wechselseitig bedingt entsteht und es keinen Schuldigen oder Selbst gibt, ist mE der beste Ansatz um diese
    Dynamiken zu verstehen, den wechselseitig bedingten Prozess zu analysieren, der zu Missbrauch welcher Art auch
    immer führt. Es gibt Anteile beim Lehrer, Anteile beim Schüler, es gibt kulturelle Missverständnisse,
    Gruppendynamiken … es ist immer ein Mangel an Weisheit+Mitgefühl der zu Problemen führt. Das gilt für Lehrer
    wie für Schüler.

    Es ist sicher hilfreich sich mit klaren Fällen von Mißbrauch zu beschäftigen, um dann ein geschärftes Auge für die noch harmlos erscheinenden Vorstufen( die oben im Blog angesprochen werden) zu entwickeln.
    deshalb empfehle ich folgende Seiten:

    http://blog.buddhistische-sekten.de/?p=245
    http://blog.buddhistische-sekten.de/?p=227
    “Zen Has No Morals!” (englisches Original) – Christopher Hamacher
    http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/zen-has-no-morals/
    Sex in the Sangha: Apparently, we still haven’t had enough by James Shaheen / Tricycle Blog

    Ich selber habe auch die bittere Erfahrung gemacht, was es heißt “einen ein Mangel an Weisheit+Mitgefühl” zu ignorieren.
    Deshalb ist es die Aufgabe jedes Einzelnen die Arbeit an den Fundamenten niemals als erledigt zu beenden, oder als Anfängerübung oder “Kinderkram zu diskreditieren.
    Die Übung: “Ich bin du” ist scheinbar eine Anfängerübung. Sie ist in der Lage die Schranke der Dualität auf der personellen Ebene zu durchbrechen und damit beides, Weisheit und Mitgefühl zu entwickeln. Dies sei noch angemerkt, um meinen ersten blogeintrag zu verstehen.

  29. What are the reasons for this Dance of EDE?

    A few days ago I saw Romeo and Julia in a theater (did you know that this piece is the one by Shakespeare with the most dirty jokes?). The first half of the production is a hilariously funny deconstruction of the myth of romantic love. The second half takes us down the road of inevitable tragedy. Finally the end looms. Everybody knows it: Julia faking her death to avoid being forced to marry the wrong man. Romeo thinking that she is actually dead and killing himself right away. Julia awaking, finding Romeo dead, killing herself too. (And as we all know from history, this is only the beginning of war.)

    After the deconstruction of the first half, the tragedy cannot take its familiar route. During the unfolding tragedy Romeo and Julia begin to play with the actual script of the play. In the German speaking world you only need to hold up one of these little yellow books by the Reclam press and every body knows you have the actual script in your hand. Now, towards the end of the play the whole cast gathers around Julia to watch the final stage of the drama unfold. Even the dead rise again to watch calmly how Julia is to act out her script. Julia looks at them and wants to join them but is gently and decisively pushed back onto center stage. She reads the script. Sits down. Ready to pull the trigger. Then hesitates, looks at the script again, tears out the last page, stands up and leaves – leaving the cast and the audience staring at an empty stage.

    Now, some will say, this is all very postmodern. Yes, but this very remark is the problem. It is the same ironic distancing like that in the play itself. The real question is, what happens after Julia didn’t act out the play as scripted? We don’t know. But one thing is sure. After we watched the play unfold in this way, we cannot ever watch it again in the old version and not even in this new version, because the spell is broken once and for all – the emperor is naked now, visible to all. But, as Zizek remarks, this critique isn’t sufficient anymore. Everybody knows it. The stage is empty.

    But still we go to watch the same piece again and again. We are acting out the Dance of EDE again and again. We are acting it out on different levels.

    Perhaps the most stupid level is that on witch Jundo acts. Probably it some kind of uneducated magical world in witch Zen is providing the practitioner with the True Eye of Dharma of absolute insight. Its a kind of permanent promise with which I can calm myself down again and again – even when exposed by Grandmaster Tutte –, because if I only do zazen hard enough, one day I will understand it all. If I close my eyes nobody will see me.

    Another level we can watch at a certain discussion at Sweeping Zen, especially in this contribution. Here a person has the insight that

    it’s not about the very bad contributions of a very few people, but about the unfortunate contributions of a large number of people caught in a system in which an average amount of courage, discernment, and fortitude are often not enough to recognize abusive behavior, stop it in a reasonable period of time, or support the people who have been victimized by it. (my emphasis)

    But instead of actually using “discernment”, this person in this discussion asks the very system she just has identified as malfunctional (personated by Jundo) for help. She sees that the stage is empty, but she wants to repeat the play to see if nevertheless there is an overlooked solution. Probably this is a stage where ancoric loss is actually happening and my eyes are open but still I look for the answer in the script – therefore I repeat the play again and again.

    Probably the most sophisticated level on which the play can be repeated is that of the critique of ideology. That’s what we play. We are the cast looking at Julia playing and finally shunning her role. While she is gone we are still staring at the place where she was supposed to kill herself. And against the glaring stage lights we see the audience sitting in the dark. We see it again and again, every evening. We play again and again the same play. To the same people who return to the same postmodern theater again and again. Stoically we fulfill our role acutely aware that it is a role. Knowing that we are actors playing a role. Knowing that we have no choice. Knowing that there is no solution in the script. In the script that says: No outside to the system.

    Maybe it’s some kind of spiral in which the system finally kills itself. From the outer regions, from where the audience comes, to the more dense regions on the stage, to the focal point where revolution happens. The ripping apart of the script. Maybe that’s even more violent then suicide. The most violent act of all.

  30. Hi Patrica,

    You have initiated an interesting conversation and for that thanks.
    As Glenn has covered most of the points you raised and that discussion is on-going, I will not go over ground already covered.

    Reading your comments, it struck me that you seem to take a too narrow approach to the questions raised by the non-buddhist critique. There is very little ambiguity here, especially in the formulation Glenn has given non-buddhism in the heuristic. ‘Fitting proximity’ is a vital concept, since it very clearly situates the non-buddhist critique in relation to x-buddhism. On a theoretical level non-buddhism does not seek the destruction of x-buddhist material but its decimation—-a term that cannot be rightly understood without situating x-buddhism within its social/political context. X-buddhist postulates are a sort of excess—a symptom of the circularity of x-buddhist thought which creates a bifurcation—-a rending of reality in which a deficiency is diagnosed–the truth of suffering— and a cure is affected—-the noble eight-fold path. All of this happens, however, within the confines of abstract thought. Obstencibly, according to x-buddhism itself, this constitutes real change, since according to its own understanding the phenomenal world is either wholly a matter of thought (on the most extreme idealist reading) or a dependent, though casually sufficient, effect of thought (as some sort of primal ground) Change on this reading is the compassionate activity of those who have embraced the eightforld path (or its Mahayana equivalent) and overcome the bifurcation by means of a purely subjective move.
    Within this self sufficient circularity it is never felt necessary to break out, as it were.

    And this is just the core ideological co-option of x-buddhist thought . There never was a bifurcation in the first place. X-buddhists act (and think) as agents in the world, as concrete social beings; and x-buddhist thought is a particular social formation intepellating individuals in a ‘hail’ which is experienced (subjectively) by x-buddhists as a ‘call’, an inner gestalt aligning one not with an exterior social formation, but with an inner subjective truth. This move also ‘happens’ in the social world, and produces social consequences ( the a-political, quietist, co-opted world view of (primarily) white professional midde class Americans, although we have our own home grown version here in Europe, but for the most part this is an expression of American cultural hegemony)

    For individuals caught in the swirl of x-buddhist circularity, the non-buddhist critique will be experienced as an incomprehensible personal attack. It cannot but be so. Until they emerge out of the circularity of x-buddhist thought and see that there never was a bifurcation of the world in the first place, they will be caught in a painful reactive circularity of confusion and aversion ( the underbelly of ‘enlightened compassion’ or it dark accompaniment.)

    Paradoxically, as Glenn says above, there are ample means within Buddhist thought to enable the decimation of x-buddhist postulates, although , until one emerges from the circularity, such means remain invisible . And what is left, the original raw material, turns out to be that selfsame eminently useful core insight attributed to the ‘Protagonist’ —pratityasamutpada. At the moment I am struggling to understand one formulation of this insight explicated by the 13th century Buddhist Paddits Tsong Khapa. It ends with the following:

    More, as experience dispels absolutism
    And voidness clears away nihilism
    You know voidness dawn as cause and effect
    No more will you be deprived by extremist views

    As for the affective swirl of non-buddhism and its own ideological consequences—-non-buddhism terminates itself with the decimation of x-buddhist postulates; since it is unquestionably coupled to x-buddhist thought, decimation is the termination of its own dispensation. What remains is simply ordinary human material which is, by its very nature, wholly relational and therefore social/political.

    Sorry if this seems unnecessarily long-winded but really I think there is a deeper dimension to all of this. You seem to ignore it (it is very much in evidence within Tutteji’s satirical attack on x–buddhism for example, ), which leads me to the conclusion (and I am not being arrogant here) that you too are caught within the affective swirl of dicisional circularity I have tried to dscribe.

  31. Glenn (#25),

    I am sympathetic to many of your criticisms of Buddhism, and I certainly share your disappointment in its failed potential as an emancipatory project.

    The current problem with SNB as I see it is that, in apparently condoning name-calling and insisting on the regurgitation of non-buddhist ideology, it leaves the door open to reproducing the same dynamics of “established power” and the “prevailing value system” of the Buddhist ideology it criticizes (#25).

    In terms of right speech and censorship, for example, non-buddhists apparently resort to these tactics no less than Buddhists, quashing the expression of ideas they do not like or lumping all critics into the same enemy camp like Matthias recently did when, in his (censored?) comment, he called me a “stupid buddhist” because he found me, and perhaps my SBD comment , too “obvious” and “primitive” for his palate. Devaluing the outsider and using other pressure tactics to garner allies in adopting and applying the ideology and heuristics of non-buddhism arrests the organic process of individual differentiation from the group and shuts down dialogue and critique. This is what cults do.

    You say that you are not condoning the use of violence against people but, to my mind, this is implicit in the things mentioned above, as well as in your apparently sanctioning the use of “cruelty” in laying bare the truth as you see it. I think it is very important to make a distinction between being brutally honest about the truth and brutalizing others when you speak about it.

    I was going to add in my earlier comment (#22) a linguistic point that I thought was splitting hairs but, since our exchange has come to what for me is the central point over which hair-splitting may be useful, I will raise it now.

    Your Deleuze quote (on philosophical criticism) translates “sert à nuire à la bêtise” as “useful for harming stupidity” when I think it would be better translated as “serves to undermine stupidity”, or “is useful to undoing stupidity”, something like that. The difference is slight but it underscores that the hits taken by ignorance and stupidity are the result of philosophical demystification, not the other way around. You can remove mystique without poking at it. In fact, as I mentioned above (#22), it may be more effective.

    You say (#25), “Maybe you can share with us an example of an alternative.”

    My other Deleuze reference, to the Eventum Tantum, was intended to highlight such an alternative, using an author and language that is familiar to you. Here is my own translation of Deleuze and Guatarri, from Mille Plateaux:

    “An “Eventum Tantum” may be imperceptible and yet change everything. The making of an event, small though it may be, is something very subtle, the opposite of creating drama or making a fuss. Love those who are like this: when they enter the room, they do not enter as people, characters or subjects, but as an atmospheric variation, a change of hue, an imperceptible molecule, a discrete inhabitance, a mist or cloud of droplets. Yet everything has changed. Major events do not happen otherwise: the battle, revolution, life.”

  32. Patricia (#31).

    The main response I have is to emphasize again that I am hoping to catalyze serious and sustained critique of x-buddhism. A blog, in my experience, is well suited as a catalyst, as a vehicle of instigation, but not much beyond. So, I think that the points you are making have gotten about as far as they can in an online discussion. I would encourage you to take the next step, and write up a sustained account of what you see happening in some area of x-buddhism, if that social formation interests you enough. Or you could write up a critique of non-buddhism. Before you do that, though, I hope you’ll read Cruel Theory|Sublime Practice. “Cruelty,” for instance, is a technical term adapted from Artaud. So, yes, I (we?) am employing a rhetoric of violence, but it is nuanced in crucial ways because of this association with Artaud. The same with “sublime.” In our book, it has none of the flavor that spiritualized thinking brings to it, but is rather derived from Kant.

    About devaluing the outsider. I think the insider/outsider distinction here is not between believers and non-believers of non-buddhist claims and propositions. The distinction is between those who, having picked up some non-buddhist tools, have discovered some compelling lines of thought, and those who have not yet picked up the tools. We are not dealing in a system of thought, much less belief, here. I will continue to say it as long as I have to: we are offering tools for excavation and exploration. As such, a central feature of the non-buddhism project will and should, I think, inevitably be incommensurability. A really good example of what happens when forces of thought collide can be found in Tomek Idzik’s essay Is Speculative Non-Buddhism a form of spiritual Xanax?b.

    I want explosions. Explosions create chaos. I am not interested in order, or in reasoned arguments, anymore. Like I’ve said before, that’s fruitless because x-buddhists, like all blind ideologues, play with loaded dice. As you can see, I also don’t mind name-calling. In fact, I see a certain honesty in it.

  33. Boy Named Sue (#26).

    The point from Patricia, as I understood it, was not about physical violence, or random acts of violence, but about the mentality of extremism. When you are so sure you are right, and others are wrong, what are you prepared to do to others (for the greater good?) in the name of your rightness?

    I am interested in “the mentality of extremism,” but not, I suspect, in the way you mean it. I’d like to encourage extreme thought, in the first instance, thought that is violent and destructive, but equally creative and revelatory. “Right” and “wrong” are completely foreign to the mentality of extremism that I encourage.

    A separate point. If the goal of your x-buddhist practice is to just to be happy, then ironic distance (and other strategies mentioned in the post) could be considered functional responses to fulfill that goal, as abhorrent as that might sound to you. And so a question I would like to ask is how much of your problem with x -buddhism is down to your belief that this is the “wrong” goal?

    Good question. Yes, it is a goal founded on an impossibility, on, that is, a delusion. The delusion that it is founded on is, moreover, one that constitutes one of the most important discoveries, and thus contributions of x-buddhism: social-symbolic identity (anatman). Tom Pepper is doing the most important work in exposing the dominant function of the opposite, atomistic identity (atman), in all contemporary x-buddhist thought. I’d just start by reading around his blog, The Faithful Buddhist. But be sure to read “Taking Anatman Full Strength.”

  34. boy named sue said

    Glenn Wallis #33

    Say there was an x-buddhist type, who made no claims about what “real buddhism” was, and instead was unashamedly honest that their goal was just to maximize their own happiness. For the sake of argument, let’s assume they found a version of x-buddhism or tools in x-buddhism, that were extraordinarily successful in achieving that end. That it wasn’t an impossibility. And let’s say a person taught whatever that was, without making any claims that this was the right or wrong thing to do, just that this particular technique was very successful for that goal. They could acknowledge a critique of the implications of such a goal, such that it is anti-intellectual, is harmful for society, and so on, nod their head, but then they simply say, my goal is different from yours. I don’t care about the evils of capitalism, about thinking, and I am not preaching about the real message of the Buddha, I just want to be happy, and I have found a method that works, and doesn’t break any laws. At what point would you say to the teacher (or, alternatively, to the individual following that teacher), fair enough, I might not like it, I might think it is harmful for society, but I will leave you to it. Otherwise, where do you draw the line between encouraging and the enforcing of your goals and value systems on to others? To say this is the wrong goal, my goal is the right goal, and you should be adopting my goals? Doesn’t this lead to veil ripping in the end?

    To put this in a personal context. I haven’t been long invested in x-buddhism, and have engaged with it, despite my doubts. I have been aware of your project for a while (and that essay, for example), and I was in the category of – yes, a useful critique and important insights, but aren’t they a bit, well, mean, bullying, overly intellectual, and obsessed with Marx and philosophers with French names whose books I don’t understand. But the longer I have immersed myself in x-buddhism, the longer the stench becomes unbearable. And I suppose, I have been engaging in the project in my own way. So, just a pat on the back. It does work. It does sink in. But however much at times I think the goals are worthwhile, exposing hypocrisy, engaging thought, exploring the promise of buddhism, and so on, I am held back by the indoctrination of compassion, the instinct to avoid causing suffering in others, the doubt of “who am I to judge them” and being the one to cast stones.

  35. Patrick (#30),

    It seems to me that, by using the project you are “decimating” to define yourself while flushing those who do not straight down the bowl, you do not break the circularity of the “affective swirl” at all, but follow willingly down the vortex of the hole.

  36. enno said

    Wie geht es weiter,
    ich habe von verschiedenen Zen-Lehrern gehört, das die Laienbewegung die Rettung aus der Misere sei, aber dies scheint nur eine theoretische Erwägung zu sein, denn in ihren Taten fördern sie in der Regel das monastische System mit all seinen verkrusteten Strukturen. deshalb poste ich den Beitrag von “Gui Do”, der meinen Ansichten sehr nahe kommt.
    der gesamte Blog ist nachzulesen unter:

    http://blog.buddhistische-sekten.de/?p=329

    7 Antworten auf Zu Dr. Klaus Zernickows Darstellungen Zen-Meister und Dharma-Nachfolger von Seki Yūhō Rōshi zu sein

    Gui Do sagt:    
    11. September 2012 um 06:40 
    

    ….. will ich doch die Moeglichkeit eines Lehrers entgegenhalten, der ganz offiziell auf alle Titel verzichtet, denn auch das hat Tradition im Zen. Ein Lehrer also, der sagt, ich habe mit dieser ganzen Hierarchie nichts zu tun, ich blende euch mit nichts, seht selbst, ob ihr hier was lernen koennt oder nicht, ein Lehrer vielleicht sogar, der eigentlich gar keine Schueler haben will.

    Es mag vielleicht seltsam klingen von einem, der wie ich sehr viel Zenklassik uebersetzt und verlegt hat. Meines Erachtens ist diese ganze Titelei und zum Teil auch Arschkriecherei innerhalb von Hierarchien aber auch kein sicherer Massstab, einen weisen Lehrer zu finden, sondern eher der Garant dafuer, dass es ein Angepasster ist. Es ist im Zen nicht noetig, sich irgendetwas bestaetigen zu lassen. Wenn das die Dummkoepfe, die keine Bestaetigungen haben, aber solche behaupten, einsaehen, waere uns schon geholfen. Denn leider gibt es viel zu viele Schueler, die eben nur deshalb zu Lehrern gehen, weil diese Titel haben oder dies zumindest behaupten. Ich gehe davon aus, dass jemand, der ein im Zen oft zitiertes “Erwachen” erlebt hat, in der Regel selbst erkennt, wo er steht, und dass die als erwacht geltenden und moeglicherweise zertifizierten Lehrer einen solchen “Genossen” auch erkennen. Dies wird allerdings gar nicht so haeufig geschehen, weil die meisten der zertifizierten Zenlehrer nie erwacht sind. So jedenfalls mein unbescheidener Eindruck. Die Ernennungen aus Japan haben meist nichts mit Reife, mit dem Erlangen einer gewissen Weisheit (prajna) zu tun und werden darum auch haeufig einfach nach jahrelangem Sitzen etc. oder weil jemand zur Familie gehoert erteilt.
    
    Wir sollten dazu kommen, das Zen nur noch als Laienbewegung zu akzeptieren.
    
  37. Boy Named Sue (#34). I’m feeling you here. I formulated the idea of “fitting proximity” to account for what you’re identifying here. Sure, let people experiment with the self-soothing properties of, say meditation or mantra recitation. Maybe most people will want to stop at that. Fine. My critique leaves them alone. I am addressing the leaders and teachers, in short, the master explicators of x-buddhism. My intended audience is someone who knows both the potential benefits to be derived from x-buddhist thought and practice but who also should know (1) the limitations of those benefits and (2) the specific ways in which they and their fellow leaders function to ensure that those limitations remain in place.

    About “Marx and philosophers with French names whose books I don’t understand,” try seeing them simply as people who have shared their thinking with you. Who cares what professional title they carry?

    About being “overly intellectual:” that’s not possible. Against x-buddhist, which preaches “think less,” we preach “think better.”

    Patricia (#35). That comment just doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn;t do any real work. Do you see what I mean? It makes very large claims using a miniscule apparatus of evidence. Again, I encourage you to work up a sustained, detailed critique of what you find problematic about the various lines of critical thought that have taken flight from my initial formulation of speculative non-buddhism.

    I will say it again for everyone: We have now created a considerable body of work. So, commentary about the project that does not take that work into account sounds thin and uninformed. We’ve moved beyond generalizations. I am trying to ignite further serious work.

  38. Patricia Re 35#

    ‘decimating’ to define yourself’

    Probably. Isn’t that an inevitable outcome of grappling towards an understanding? That is to say of trying to move from one position of ignorance to another hopefully less confused position. Are you doing something else? I would like to know your secret.

    You put ‘decimating’ into quotation marks which is proper for you …for me the word now represents a particular understanding. A better word might be found. The same goes for ‘minimal transcendence’ and ‘fitting proximity’ There is a way in which such terms might function within a larger context as elements within a non-buddhist ideological formation. I am aware of that possibility.

    You have totally ignored the substance of my comment, which tried to show how the political quietism and co-option of x-buddhists is connected to a philosophical position which is just a rehash of forms of idealist philosophy . The result is a turn away from engagement with the social /political reality, and the adaption of an understanding of the individual as the outer manifestation of an ‘inner’ transcendental realm of truth and bliss. This turning inward just is the passive acceptance of an imperialist political/economic/military machine that wages war with impunity, destroys indigenous cultures and communities in return for raw materials and market share, while driving planetary life, human and non-human to the brink of extinction.

    Those x-buddhist who have come to an understanding of this are simply tinkering at the fringes and need to engage with a radical critique of religion, and more importantly of totalist philosophical systemization—for instance the critique of philosophy put forward by Laruelle.

    You have been invited here to contribute a detailed critique of non-buddhism. I would dearly like to see that. You were invited to do the same over at the non-buddhist, and on more than one occasion. As is often the case when such an offer is made, the person involved withdraws until something here triggers another bout of reactivity. Why not take up the offer? I find all of this difficult to do. I am often at a loss when confronted with the complexity of the issues. Do better please, by all means. You are already engaged here and your standing is confirmed by the detailed response to your critique.

  39. wtpepper said

    Re #34: My response to this would be, okay, good, I have nothing more to say to you, then. If any x-buddhist would admit that they want personal comfort and don’t care that their personal comfort is at the expense of forced suffering, literal oppression, of the majority of the human population, if they would say this, then there’s not more argument, right? Then, at least, we can point to this statement and say, to the majority of humans on earth, look, these x-buddhists want to oppress you so they can live lives of idle comfort, they admit it, and they don’t give a damn what you think. The goal is never going to be to persuade these x-buddhists (who are doing exactly this, and denying it, using their mindfulness to remain oblivious to it); the goal is to explain to those being oppressed, and to those not quite able to swallow the mindful pill, that there is an alternative. No x-buddhist would ever admit this, though, right? They won’t admit that they want to be free to oppress others so they can feel more comfortable. In this respect, at least, the Roman slave mode of production was more honest and less oppressive–their violence against the oppressed was out in the open, while we mask ours as law and justice and “freedom of opinion”

  40. boy named sue said

    Glenn (#37). In response to the last two lines, I am not against intellectualism (though being British we do have a thing about the French). My point was that I was identifying in the past-to-present (though not wholly) with a caricature of how (perhaps) many x-buddhists see you and the gang – (i)relevant dicks. But I am/have been won over. I may have different reference points (mine aren’t Marx and continental philosophy), but I think it is worth giving a shit.

    Tom (#39). I think you can get x-buddhists to admit that their primary goal is just their own happiness and well being. This is explicit in Theravadan influences, and the modern take on Mahayana, in that if your goal is just to be happy then training yourself into being nice to others is the only way you will achieve that goal. However, you aren’t going to get them admit that they don’t care at all about greater society. They would counter that by their goal of being a happy person serves the world, as by being happy they are more compassionate and more ethical. And if everyone was like them then the world would be a wonderful place where all radiate metta to each other. So this allows them to feel less guilty about pursuing their own agenda. But if you push them hard enough to be honest, they might admit they really just care about themselves, and close family and friends, and really aren’t that bothered about billions of wage slaves living in oppressed poverty. Like it or not, this is a pretty common feature of social psychology – we care about our in group, and don’t care about the out group, out of sight, out of mind.

    Now I see Glenn and Tom arguing strongly for the of impossibility of x-buddhism to achieve the goal of personal happiness. For example, Tom would say that there is no evidence that mindfulness practice “works” as claimed. But this seems like this is a strategy that will never work. You will always run into the force of personal experience which runs counter to that claim. So (#37) I see difficulty in getting a buddhist teacher to be clear about the limitations of the benefits you see, as their perception of the limitations are different.

    And so doesn’t it really come down to convincing x-buddhists that the goal of personal happiness is the wrong goal? You should care about social justice and equality, truth, the greater good, and various ideals worth striving for, even at the cost of your comfort. This is the “right” philosophy of life, and yours is the “wrong” one.

    Back to the question in the article – what permits embracing? I would see it through the organizing principle of identification. You can be seen to joining in on the critique and laughing with you when you see you others as the real targets. Then there is a part identification – seeing the fun of caricature and generalization which captures something of you, but misses the essential points which make you different and unique. Most mysterious of all is full identification. I agree that there is something unique in zen approaches to this, where they have learnt to laugh at the foibles of human nature – “oh what a silly dance this is…”.

  41. John said

    Boy Named Sue (#40), I think the issue is less about convincing x-Buddhists that happiness is the wrong goal than it is about transforming their practice by confronting them with things they are ignoring.

    In your response to Tom, I think you gave a very plausible account of someone who sees happiness as the ultimate end and benefit to society. We imagine some dialogue where they become increasingly honest with themselves, and they admit that they don’t actually care for others that much and are willing to let others suffer at their expense so long as they can be happy.

    I think that the person who sits down to meditate without ever having this dialogue engages in quite a different practice than the person who has been forced to be honest. With the illusion shattered, metta practice is now the actual practice of cognitive dissonance (or confrontation with it). How can you sit with the thought ‘May all beings be happy’ while you know that you don’t really care. What comfort will it provide?

    Critique has the ability to make Buddhism an uncomfortable place for those clinging to delusion.

  42. Boy Named Sue (#40). Thanks for your comments.

    Now I see Glenn and Tom arguing strongly for the of impossibility of x-buddhism to achieve the goal of personal happiness.

    I think that one of the most difficult points, because of its apparent counter-intuitiveness, is that Tom and I (and I think Patrick and Matthias and others) are very generous in our estimation of x-buddhist materials’ value for human happiness. (Or something like it. Maybe we’re holding out more for Freud’s everyday unhappiness as opposed to neurotic unhappiness than some sort of utopian, Shangri-la happiness.) A basic line of argument followed by all of us, I think, working with a non-buddhist critique goes roughly like this: The potential of Buddhist teachings for emancipation are to be found in certain of its postulates, for instance, in classical-buddhist terms: disenchantment, ancestral anamnesis, vanishing, social-symbolic identity, nihility, conceptual proliferation, contingency, world, surface, perspicuity, unbinding-extinction, flesh-and-blood humanity (nibbida, sati, anicca, anattā, suññtā, papañca, paticcasamuppāda, loka, sabba, paññā, nibbāna/nirvāṇa, bodhi). The emancipatory force of these postulates can only be activated and realized by means of a robust, unsentimental embodiment. Can you imagine what the result, the embodying subject/person, might be like? And contrast this potential subject with our current product of x-buddhist sanghas and retreat centers. I’ll leave the imagining to you.

    And so doesn’t it really come down to convincing x-buddhists that the goal of personal happiness is the wrong goal? You should care about social justice and equality, truth, the greater good, and various ideals worth striving for, even at the cost of your comfort. This is the “right” philosophy of life, and yours is the “wrong” one.

    Tom Pepper writes a lot about this issue of the personal/social nexus. May I suggest that you read through some of his essays and then communicate with him? I don’t mean to put you off, but Tom is doing the most thinking on that issue.

  43. Patrick,

    You say I “seem to take a too narrow approach to the questions raised by the non-buddhist critique” (#30) when, in fact, I was suggesting an alternative approach. Now, if non-buddhists prefer something more “explosive” (#32), say, an eventum tantrum, why is this not a question of personal choice? Is there no room for choice in your ideology? If not, then perhaps it is you who are taking a too narrow an approach by relying exclusively on the SNB “tools” to dig around the questions raised here.

    You say, I “put ‘decimating’ into quotation marks which is proper for you”. Actually, I put it in quotation marks because I was quoting you.

    You also say to me, “You have been invited here to contribute a detailed critique of non-buddhism. I would dearly like to see that. You were invited to do the same over at the non-buddhist, and on more than one occasion. As is often the case when such an offer is made, the person involved withdraws until something here triggers another bout of reactivity.”

    You sound just like Ted Meissner over at the SBA site who, in response to my wanting to express my point of view as I saw fit, insisted I participate as HE saw fit: “So you are refusing to help? Just want to make that clear — we provided a means for you to help… Perhaps you can see why this indicates a lack of sincerity […] We’ve even invited your participation in the formation of a Code of Conduct, which you’ve refused to do.”

    This is a kind of brow-beating device, Patrick: Here are the rubrics. If you choose not to use them, only them and nothing but them, so help you God, you must be trapped in “reactivity” (I cannot believe that you used the lexicon of the x-buddhists you wish to decimate).

    Finally, Patrick, you say I have “standing” here. Is that perhaps because there is a hierarchy, a measure by which we are evaluating contributors: you’re in, you’re out, and you’re in good standing. According to what and to whom do you decide where anyone stands, Patrick? The tools? The SNB founders? Hmmm…sounds like cult thinking to me.

    Glenn (#37),

    You say about my comment that it “just doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn;t do any real work. Do you see what I mean?… I encourage you to work up a sustained, detailed critique of what you find problematic”.

    Yes, Glenn, I see what you mean: you define the direction, the tools and the work… the way, the truth and the life. I pick up my cross, I mean my tools, and follow you. How is this so different from the “stultifying explicator” that you criticize for appointing himself as the only one “authorized to think”?

  44. Patricia (#43).

    you define the direction, the tools and the work… the way, the truth and the life. I pick up my cross, I mean my tools, and follow you. How is this so different from the “stultifying explicator” that you criticize for appointing himself as the only one “authorized to think”?

    I am not suggesting that you follow anyone, especially, for God’s sake, me. I am suggesting that, in the first instance, you “lodge yourself on the stratum” of non-buddism, as Deleuze puts it. In this phase of the project, I am trying to stoke more non-buddhist critical work. That’s what this blog is about. “Non-buddhism” is a technical term now, one that has a decent body of work–ideas, suggestions, claims, concepts, in short, tools. I am curious to see what you or someone else might do with those. That requires a period of lodging. What happens after that is completely beyond my control. I would hope you would produce thoughts and ideas that I am incapable of. Of course, maybe the non-buddhist tools don’t seem to hold promise to you, or seem, perhaps, over-determining of some pre-ordained outcome. In that case, maybe you will offer another type of critique, maybe even of non-buddhism. That would be a great gift. But, I am fostering the non-buddhist experiment here. Here’s the full Deleuze quote.

    This is how it should be done: lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times.

  45. Patrick jennings said

    Patricia,

    Re: 43#

    Your standing –it was simply an observation about the way all of the main contributors responded to your intervention, and a way of expressing my own positive opinion. I measure standing without any sort of overt thinking, intuitively I suppose… you always struck me as honest and intelligent. There’s no hierarchy.

    The invitation to contribute…I re-read that part of my comment a few times and it does look like a sort of passive aggression, something I was totally unaware of— so maybe there is something there I need to address.

    Reactivity—I concede that was a silly thing to say.

    Decimating..I was simply pointing out that I use the word in a particular way you might not, or in a way you might not agree with.

    You again ignore the substance of my comment, an overtly political stance against capitalism and x—Buddhist ideological co-option. This is central to the non-buddhist project. (Although Marxism is important for me, as I have tried to make clear on other occasions I don’t think anti–capitalism and Marxism are necessarily synonymous.). I have been committed to an anti-capitalist stance all my adult life, long before I was a practicing Buddhist and before I read Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism. There is certainly room for choice here but I can’t see how a pro—capitalist stance is compatible with the non-buddhist project, or indeed with Buddhist concepts and practices of compassion as I understand them. But I’m talking here about a ‘decimated’ remainder, of course.

  46. Thanks for your clarifications and for your willingness to reflect on my comments, Patrick.

    You say I ignore the substance of your comment. I am sorry but I am not sure how your comment is a response to to my own. You seem to think that I am adopting a “pro-capitalist stance” or saying that such a stance is “compatible” with the non-buddhist project (or even with x-buddhism)? Is that correct? I never said this, nor do I see how you might infer this from what I have said.

  47. Patricia (#46), and everyone else:

    Communication is hard, isn’t it? Communiblogging is nearly impossible. It seems like that at times, anyway. I appreciate the on-going attempt to make our ideas clear. Often, it’s hard to really see what is missing from an exchange, such that one side feels misunderstood. Wherever there are two, it really does seem to be a “site of struggle.” I am still convinced that a lot of good comes from the exchange of thoughts and perspectives, even in this clunky blog format. Even when misunderstanding occurs. Even when feelings are hurt. Thanks.

  48. Amen to that, Glenn!

  49. Patrick jennings said

    Oh well Patricia it seems we are communicating at cross purposes . My original comment about the narrowness of your approach was trying to communicate the possibility of broadening the discussion from a ‘personal’ or ‘individual’ level to something bigger… for me this means broadening it to take into account the wider social/political implications of a critique of x-buddhism. That is to introduce the idea that we are all in particular ways articulating various perspectives conditioned on ideological/symbolic systems . Non -buddhism tries to keep that in focus, as much to monitor its own developing ideological discourse as to critique existing systems, such as x-buddhism. In a way that is all that is missing from x-buddhism, in the sense that such awareness makes it possible to take a position transcendent to one’s own perspective in order to ‘see’ it. What I find valuable about Laruelle’s concept of ‘minimal transcendence’ is that it enables this form of non-identification without positing a transcendental overview that would entail embracing a fully fledged idealism.

    My comment was not an accusation. Really, I lose faith in this sort of engagement the more I take part in it, but at this stage I can’t seem to resist.

    As to the original issue of Tutteji’s blog satirizing particular individuals in a ‘personalized’ way I think this is the nature of satire. I have actually suggested to Tutteji that he extend his satire to the fast developing non-buddhist ideological perspective, so as to act as a sort of foil or mirror to our own blind spots. I think, for example, the ‘Non-Buddhist’ blog style, as it is developing, is ripe for satire. I am sure I would find that quite painful! Its probably unrealistic though at this stage since it would complicate things and obscure the main focus of non-buddhist critique, which is x-buddhist discourse.

    My opinion is that the non-buddhist critique and x-buddhism are ‘tied at the wrist’ and that a critique of one sheds light on the other; they are distinct but mutually conditioned entities. If x-buddhism adapted a robust critical stance on its own tendency to political quietism and its overt transcendent bent, non-buddhism would be unsustainable as a practice. Something else might replace both—–a new ideological entity of some sort—–an engaged Buddhist . Tom’s ‘Faithful Buddhist’ might be an early prototype of such a new entity, although I personally don’t see how it could be recognizably Buddhist or Marxist, as they are understood at present. Anyway that’s a separate issue.

  50. Patrick (#49), I am all for your contributing to the discussion in any way you see fit. I just did not see the link between your comment and my own. (By the way, I did not see your comment as an “accusation”, just as a false inference about my own position.) You seem to want to re-frame comments using binary opposites which has a tendency to polarize contributions in ways that are not intended.

  51. Patrick jennings said

    You seem to want to re-frame comments using binary opposites which has a tendency to polarize contributions in ways that are not intended.

    Don’t quite know what you mean but I will think about it.

    One thing I’m sure of is that the ‘real’ world is a mass of contradictory entities and interests, and that the opposition cannot be resolved in thought; as if we could resolve issues of oppression, war, and planetary depletion by proclaiming the unity of all human beings . No such unity exists in fact, and no proclamation of ‘sisterhood’ will make it so. I’m all for polarizing the discussion, but in the direction of addressing what exists ‘out there’ as a mind independent fact; starvation, torture—-a very particular social/political/economic structure which enables and perpetuates the suffering of sentient beings, human animal and non-human animal alike.
    Perhaps I am way off the mark again and you mean something entirely different. Its a thorny problem —- how to establish a space of dialogue that does not shy away from contention, but manages to hold the conversation at a point of tension, without collapsing the unity that makes dialogue possible.

    One of the things that depresses me about these discussions is that too great an emphasis on individual motivations usually gets nowhere in the end. I mean how objective can we really be about what agenda lies ‘behind’ any comment. I always remind myself to deal with what is there in the comment and not to ‘suspect’ more. Only to find I am doing just that.

  52. Patrick (#51),

    You say: “One thing I’m sure of is that the ‘real’ world is a mass of contradictory entities and interests, and that the opposition cannot be resolved in thought”.

    Any “mass of contradictory entities” that is a projection of binary thinking contains precisely the kind of oppositions that CAN be “resolved in thought”. But ‘real’ problems, Patrick, the ones that you list, for example, and that DON’T fit into your binary logic, cannot be. Nor is it possible to grasp what ‘real’ persons are saying (in this instance: me) by forcing their words into your categories and re-framing them into a distortion of themselves (arguably, another form of oppression that you can put on your list), because reality is complex, not just “ONE or TWO”.

    I never said anything about proclaiming “sisterhood” or collapsing tension/unity, for example, but, in your haste to dissolve my contribution into something easier for you to digest, you reduced my distaste for binary opposites into a (sexist) distaste for opposition. How indeed is dialogue possible when one of the interlocutors is so hungry to have things fit into logical categories that he ceases listening to what it is actually being said?

    You say, “Perhaps I am way off the mark again and you mean something entirely different.” I think you are genuinely interested in righting the world and find your doing so in earnest both rare and touching. But please show me the courtesy of first clarifying what exactly you hear me saying before pigeonholing me another time.

  53. Patrick jennings said

    Patricia,

    Re 52#

    I never said anything about proclaiming “sisterhood” or collapsing tension/unity, for example, but, in your haste to dissolve my contribution into something easier for you to digest, you reduced my distaste for binary opposites into a (sexist) distaste for opposition.

    I used the term ‘sisterhood’ in a pointed way to avoid using the word brotherhood, which I find sexist. I have been using that term in that way since the seventies. My usage has nothing to do with you. That being the case your inference that I have ‘reduced my distaste for binary opposites into a (sexist) distaste for opposition.’ is a projection on your part. You illustrate exactly the point I was making about my own tendency to read into comments and respond to what I imagine is there.

    I think you are genuinely interested in righting the world and find your doing so in earnest both rare and touching. But please show me the courtesy of first clarifying what exactly you hear me saying before pigeonholing me another time.

    I find that comment patronizing. For one thing my wanting to ‘right the world’ is neither rare or touching. A whole section of my generation ( Irish) found it necessary to right the world. It was horrible, shoddy, confused, sickeningly violent, (often involving the deliberate and cynical use of psychotic individuals in acts of violence whose only justification was that they succeeded in terrorizing the opposition.) The term ‘right the world’ is a silly generalization. I don’t want to right the world. I passed through that naive phase when I was eleven or twelve. I want to do very particular things; one being to try to undermine and eradicate philosophical idealism or transcendentalism from x-buddhist discourse, and replace it with a materialist/immanent perspective, as the ground on which to shift x-buddhist political perspectives to the left. Why bother? Because I believe there is a core to Buddhist thought that adds an extra dimension to the formation of the radical subject.

    Any “mass of contradictory entities” that is a projection of binary thinking contains precisely the kind of oppositions that CAN be “resolved in thought”. But ‘real’ problems, Patrick, the ones that you list, for example, and that DON’T fit into your binary logic, cannot be.

    For this comment I am grateful. There is a fundamental philosophical question to be explored here.

    More generally my ‘logic’ is neither binary (although it uses binary models for specific purposes) nor logical (since it involves a dialectical ‘twist’ that cannot be construed as logical in the way you seem to use the word. ) In any case I think you are the one ‘pigeonholing’ my comment as ‘binary logic’

    You contend that ‘contradictory entities’ are ‘projections’ of ‘binary thinking’ and can therefore be ‘resolved in thought’.. ‘Real’ problems on the other hand cannot be resolved in thought because

    ‘reality is complex’, not just “ONE or TWO”.

    I hope I am not distorting anything here.

    I don’t know to what you are referring when you put one and two in capitals and enclose them in quotation marks. I never used such a term or emphasized numbers in this way. Again you are projecting into my comment elements that are not present there.

    If reality is ‘complex’ I understand only one way in which that can be so; reality is ‘complex’ in that reality is a relational process in which multiplies (one cat, two mice, three people…..) are not self-powered or separated entities whose essence withdraws infinitely into itself ( as, for example, in Harman’s object orientated ontology) but are multiplicities in relational process….. there is no irretrievable essence. On the other hand there is no sense in which this complex of relational multiplicities can be flattened out into a amorphous or unified field of reality, complex or otherwise. Reality is holarchic in the sense that there are distinct layers enclosed within one another. Within these layers or levels distinct mind independent processes occur which are traceable as abstracted models, laws or patterns that are predictable to specific science practices. ‘Binary thinking’ is not a projection onto an amorphous field of ‘reality’, but a model in thought corresponding to a mind-independent process available to the appropriate scientific practice, in which matter spontaneously self-forms in unique constellations of relations, at myriad levels of complexity.

    Science is the active intervention into this process from one level ( the human body/mind complex) into another level (the sub-atomic, the biological, the social, the neurological, for example). By means of this intervention, one level (mind/body process) can abstract models applicable to particular levels of complexity. Binary thinking, as in inside/ outside, conditioning /conditioned, opposition /unity, subject/object etc, is a model tracing actual mind –independent processes and structures, many of which can be resolved into the binary individual /environment, where individual is a distinct complex of dynamic processes at a particular level of complexity, and environment is the background dynamic against which one form of complexity—the human mind/body complex–is able to abstract a model of individuality from what might appear to another sentient being, at a different level of complexity (an ant for instance ), to be an amorphous or chaotic mass.

    Maybe you can explain exactly what you understand by the term ‘complex’ and how contradictory entities are a projection of binary thinking?

  54. Patrick jennings said

    Patricia

    Re 53#,

    A short addition to clarify, at the risk of pushing things beyond the point where they can be reasonably dealt with in comment:

    reality at the micro and macro levels resolves itself into processes that are relatively ‘simple’ and deliver to science high levels of patterned predictably. At the level of organic life , and particularly at the level of human social processes, things become very complex , especially when the possibility of human agency comes into play. Because of its obvious complexity, social /critical interventions deliver the least amount of predictability and the greatest amount of disagreement, especially when the distorting effect of concreted forms of ideology constantly ‘hail’ the individual into particular socially conditioned ideological perspectives.

    Never the less such critical tools are the only ones we have to try to negotiate our own social evolution in ways that minimize destructive potential and consolidate hard won gains.

    At the level of macro and micro, we arrive at the border of what is humanly knowable and of what exists as a seemingly infinite realm of multiplicity. Metaphysical speculation at that level is of little practical use . So I tend to share the ‘protagonists’ impatience with metaphysical speculation. Which doesn’t mean I see no value in the imaginative pushing of thought against constraints; I think Quentin Meillassiux’s After Infinitude is a beautiful example of such imaginative writing.

    I would be very grateful for a constructive critique of my position that would clarify my own thought and that of others reading here. I am sure there are glaring inconsistencies I am blind to.

  55. Patrick,

    The relevance of your initial response (#30) to my original comment (#5) still escapes me, and our “dialogue” has just gone downhill from there. I don’t see how anything I’ve said has anything to do with what is going on for you. I’m stopping it here.

  56. Patricia (#55). Have you read Patrick’s essay “Foreclosed to Thought: Marx and the Human”?

  57. No, Glenn (#56), I haven’t. Why, is it part of the curriculum?

  58. Patricia (#57). As curriculum sententiae patricii it may help. I am thinking about creating a non-buddhist reader. I’d hope that Patrick’s piece would be in there.

    I’ll just say again that I want to make this blog a very narrow, limited venue–really, a workshop–for creating tools for a contemporary critique of western buddhisms. I don’t expect our current crop of x-buddhist figures to participate. They are too beholden to the status quo. They also just happen to be, with barely an exception, uniformly well-behaved, even milquetoasty. So, I don’t expect anything from them, from the inside. But some of us are observing and thinking about x-buddhism in intelligent ways. We can create texts and other materials that some future x-buddhist figures, fed up with it all, may find useful. So, I am really trying to turn to this long-range view. Essays like the one by Patrick that I mentioned are going to figure in an eventual shift, I think. I would hope that your work on power dynamics would, too.

  59. mkw said

    #58 Glenn. You are seeing this as a collaboration project that sets out to engage with only those that fit in the SNB direction? Is that right? If so, and it succeeds then x-buddhists will scurry off into the shadows with their ideologies in tatters – right? Presumably then a new order (or more accurately perhaps – a new chaos) will become lodged in the stratum? This may well be the ‘least worst’ way of moving forward right now, but in twenty years time or so I suspect the tools you are making for our disposal now will look more like fashionable nonsense? Without anything other than small samples of anecdotal evidence on which you seem to have relied upon in developing these tools, I fear it can culminate only in a relatively trivial political correction based on culture (not on research data of quality and quantity) – and I really don’t see any need for more politics based only on culture – and that goes for America as well as anywhere else – do you? The politics of culture has become so widespread and cemented into Buddhism and in many other places besides i think. No, what is needed is a politics based on what we might recognize as clear empirical support?

  60. mkw (#59).

    Your question marks are a little confusing to me. Are they intentional? You make an indicative statement, but mark it with the sign that says “this is a question.” So…?

    You are seeing this as a collaboration project that sets out to engage with only those that fit in the SNB direction? Is that right? If so, and it succeeds then x-buddhists will scurry off into the shadows with their ideologies in tatters – right?

    Yes, I do. And, no, I don’t know what will eventually happen. I much prefer the rhizome to the tree. People read my criticism with an implicit image of a tree in mind. A tree has a firm, unitary root system. Its branches connect in obvious, even causally determinate, ways. Its growth pattern is predictable. My idea of scrambling x-buddhist postulates in order to create buddhistically-indefensible varieties requires another image. Deluze/Guatarri’s concept of the rhizome works nicely. In short, a rhizome grows in all sorts of unpredictable directions. A new root can develop out of any node and take any possible trajectory. If a rhizome is cut up into separate parts, wholly viable individual plants ensue. For those who want to know more, I include Deluze/Guattari’s summary of their concept, below.*

    I suspect the tools you are making for our disposal now will look more like fashionable nonsense?

    It’s hard to answer without sounding flippant, but I don’t give a shit. First, I don’t subscribe to others’ notions of sense/nonsense. Second, I present things in a way that seems necessary to me. Finally, there is nothing “fashionable” at all about what I’m up to here.

    As to the remainder of your comment, I think the work here is based on much more than “small samples of anecdotal evidence” and so on. In any case, even a small bud of non-buddhism will get you seeing things differently. It may even be legal soon!

    Let us summarize the principal characteristics of a rhizome: unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature; it brings into play very different regimes of signs, and even nonsign states. The rhizome is reducible to neither the One or the multiple. It is not the One that becomes Two or even directly three, four, five etc. It is not a multiple derived from the one, or to which one is added (n+1). It is comprised not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject nor object, which can be laid out on a plane of consistency, and from which the one is always subtracted (n-1). When a multiplicity of this kind changes dimension, it necessarily changes in nature as well, undergoes a metamorphosis. Unlike a structure, which is defined by a set of points and positions, the rhizome is made only of lines; lines of segmentarity and stratification as its dimensions, and the line of flight or deterritorialization as the maximum dimension after which the multiplicity undergoes metamorphosis, changes in nature. These lines, or ligaments, should not be confused with lineages of the aborescent type, which are merely localizable linkages between points and positions…Unlike the graphic arts, drawing or photography, unlike tracings, the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable,, and has multiple entrance ways and exits and its own lines of flight. (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, 21.)

  61. Luis Daniel said

    Glenn,

    Let me say first loud and clear that I sympathize with your project. My writing in this blog I keep under the name “critical buddhism”. I also think that your personal sort-of-acidic style doesn’t help it much. Nor do your intellectual fixations and careful lack of (public) self-criticism.

    I won’t even address the incongruence about criticizing right speech and rejecting writings in this blog with the cheap excuse of labeling them “incoherent”. Suffice to say that incongruence and abnormal discourse that holds (the only really important change I think we all are seeking) go hand in hand.

    With the above said I prefer to make a list of what for me are suggestive themes in relation to non-buddhism, that is always in the tension/confrontation/direction from speculative non-buddhism to what I could call practical non-buddhism, or whatever.

    Buddhism as texts, Buddhism as organizations, Buddhism as history. Buddhism as a subject is self-defeating, but analyzing its texts is simply poor intellectual rigourosity. The organizational and historical aspects of Buddhism are where its real power dynamics take place and can be better understood, and such an analysis, a critical one of course, is missing.
    Buddhism as subject. A relatively conclusive historical fact of the problem of Buddhism (no need for the x) is treating it as a subject. The first acid test for Buddhism is treating and therefore dismantling it as a no-subject.
    The importance of continuity. Teleology is born out of the urge to sustain continuity, and continuity doesn’t exactly help creating abnormal discourses, not even when disguised as a “rhizome”. You seem to assume the post of “general enquirer of the (buddhist) culture” entitled to ask THE important questions in name of all of humanity, “a la Kant”.
    The burden of choice, objectivity and heuristics. So if we apply your “x-” non-buddhist heuristics to a given text we then have result x1 (i.e. a liberated subject). Or let´s go to the source. If we apply a truth procedure, then we get Truth. This is absolutely irresponsible and self-defeating. For it subsumes in a method, in normal discourse, the personal burden of choice, of personal responsibility, of ethics, of personal failure and fragility, of learning, of real creativity and effective solidarity.
    The problem of transcendental standpoints. Mind, Reason and Truth. You reinforce the western urge for escaping time and chance every time you talk about Buddhism and Truth (the two registers, etc). It will be my pleasure to elaborate more on this.
    Conversation as ground for accidents, creativity and solidarity. Humm … so as I have said before in SNB 1.0, conversation is the only ground that matters for creating abnormal discourses, witnessing accidents., harboring creativity and strengthening solidarity, the big we. I use to like SNB 1.0 commitment to embedding free conversations (your co-authors´ blogs were already born unfitted and unable to do this – a regretful involution you seem to embrace in SNB 2.0).
    Buddhism, pragmatism, philosophy, science, Marxism, democracy and economic power. Is there a difference between these, does it matter, how?
    Buddhism as literature, as critical and creative writing, as poetry and art.
    Buddhism as the practice of questioning buddhism.
    The problem of eternalizing the secular, normal discourse of the day. The real limits of the secular buddhism movement.

    Cheers !

  62. mkw said

    Glenn #60 I have no qualms about the SNB analysis or much to worry about the way you articulate it but NO, I REALLY don’t have an ‘image of a tree in my mind’ when I read your criticism, (and FTR the question marks are an attempt at de-intensification of my words – mainly because it is consistent with my claim that I think all (many? some?) of SNB projects conclusions are wickedly underdetermined at the moment and I would hesitate to make too many precise criticisms at this stage. In keeping my claims broad right now might then be more accurate and avoid wringing my hands over precision [precision and accuracy can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method]. If you are still interested, what I do have (rightly or wrongly) is an image of someone who has constructed (confabulated?) a fantastic thesis but not bothered to support his conclusions with anything other than tiny samples of anecdotal testimony, an original interpretative turn about what some buddhist you know says or does and a range of inferences that may not turn out to be be valid, such is the tendency in fields of the humanities and French continental philosophy in particular which both you and I obviously share an interest. I am not here to argue deleuze, badiou, lacan, nancy or Buddha. I am here to respond only to the SNB critique which appears to be lacking, especially in terms of data that might convince sufficiently to transform it into anything other than an intellectually fascinating but politically sterile project – and it is in this sense ‘fashionable’ – the politics of seductive ideas and culture dominates over scientific understanding – the latter you may gather is my preference. I discounted //I don’t give a shit// as nothing more than a frustrated gesture, which although understandable doesn’t take us much further beyond a political philosophy of feelings – which has had quite a long and dark history. Perhaps we can agree that at least we give enough of a shit to tough it out here for a while longer? Okay, so you probably have a short list of repeat x-buddhist offenders, a broad grasp of what Buddhism is (theory and concepts), how it is practiced and so on – and so do I – and i don’t want to argue any of that – I am here because I recognize your analysis but I would instead like to argue against your conclusions because that may be more instructive for us both? so, what do you think is at stake here with the clearly an x-buddhist movement that I see as accelerating towards intellectual; bankruptcy? I am not looking for more analysis of how deficient it actually is – I am looking for evidence that, for example people lives may be at risk, or significant extra peril to life or our environment is accumulating, or appreciable numbers of people are being put in harms way as a direct result of – say explication or some other observable x-buddhist tyranny which may or may not be operating? Once it has been established that this is a threat worth giving more consideration too, other than through these comment boxes, then maybe the SNB project could help us signpost more succinctly some interventions that folk might want to consider in their own lives – presumably other than bitching about x-buddhists ad infinitum which (whether this is true of not) certainly appears to be somewhat infantile. So, 1) What is at stake here? and 2) Do you have any notion of what needs to be done? Thanks.

  63. wtpepper said

    Mkw: Ah, the standard rhetoric of the reactionary, always assuming that thought is a sign of childish naivete, immature or “infantile,” that only real concrete action in the real world (in which, of course, there must be only empiricist proof and positivist evidence of real damages, leading to specific actions). The reactionary always sees thought as ineffectual, unimportant, unable to make any difference at all–and, once everyone is convinced of this, then they are more enslaved to the dominant ideology, the “common-sense” thought that actually does determine what actions they can conceive of taking. Paradoxically, it is only once we are thoroughly convinced that “mere critique” is useless and unimportant, that “mere words” have no influence on action, that we are most thoroughly enslaved by the real power of words. What is really infantile is assuming that anyone should be told “what needs to be done.” True liberation requires that they learn to think critically, so that they can decide for themselves what to do. The reactionary, of course, sees nothing wrong with people being deluded and unable to think–because thinking is a mere epiphenomenon, and there is no truth anyway–only Bodies and Languages.

    What if the only thing “at stake” is providing one more impetus for people to think for themselves, and decide for themselves what actions to take? I know, I know–infantile naive idealism. If you would engage all those thinkers you dismiss as irrelevant (Badiou, Laruelle, Lacan, Deleuze), maybe you would not be so hopelessly deluded, stuck in the cloud of positivism, empiricism etc, and not even aware of your own assumptions.

  64. mkw said

    @Wtpepper #63. Have you considered work as a journalist? You have a great line in oversimplification and exageration. I am sure you can and do – do better elsewhere but your sarcasm and wishful thinking here don’t interest me – so do you want to get down to some detail?

    always assuming that thought is a sign of childish naivete, immature or “infantile”

    Of course, if we are //always// doing anything, (which seems to me like more wishful thinking than speculation) it will be so banal that it won’t be worth commenting on further – so let me move on to what I hope you will recognize as being a more fertile predicament for discussion – making sense of our own transitional functioning. In this sense, infantilism to me is not the pejorative you took it as – but a choice and my enquiry to Glenn was why, (given the alleged seriousness and harm of x-buddhist ideology) would SNB choose that trajectory over (say) a more substantive response? Is it because you can’t get any funding for research? Is it because research isn’t important to you? Or something else? What I am seeing is that SNB has not put much effort into defining the problem and rather too much on anecdotal testimony to try and illustrate something that may only be imagined? Speculating naively, critically or otherwise about this given description is all fine – I get that the analysis is meant to be speculative – and I agree with most of it – but are you saying I am out of line for suggesting that this speculative turn would be more influential / visible if it was backed up with a broader evidence base to support the claim that x-buddhism is having more than just a trivial, annoying effect on the lives of a relatively small population of followers and dissenters?

    there must be only empiricist proof and positivist evidence of real damages, leading to specific actions.

    Well, unless you see SNB as pursuing the politics of feelings of a minority then of course, yes. But I don’t think Rousseau’s philosophy has much to offer in the way of re-invigorating Buddhism personally, in fact I would say your rhetoric in #63 might be admissable into the pantheon of x-buddhism as described ad nauseum on this site, and yet SNB (masquerades?) as a ‘tool’ to help others now. Perhaps the SNB morphology could now be described as a kind of ironic, x-buddhism – squared – a whole new level of indirection and abstraction of x-buddhism outputting a different matrix of values but built on the same fundamental structures, functions, forms and concepts?

    always sees thought as ineffectual, unimportant, unable to make any difference at all… blah… blah…

    Discounted most of the rest as a straw man – obviously – this is not me – who are you responding too? If you re-read #62 I said:-

    I am not here to argue deleuze, badiou, lacan, nancy or Buddha

    This says nothing about my commitment (specifically – a lack of) thinking critically does it? I think you did that all by yourself. To me, it only implies that my judgement is that this is not the place for me to argue them, which is my choice. I would thank you in advance for respecting my choices, but if you can’t then we have nothing more to say to each other here, after all I wasn’t looking to the SNB blog to find more people that can/do not respect my choices – there are many other internets I know that stream facile, agitated banter.

    What if the only thing “at stake” is providing one more impetus for people to think for themselves, and decide for themselves what actions to take?

    Well, this presumes that people are either unwilling or incapable of doing that for themselves without external impetus AND they will be able to work out what actions to take. In other words – it presumes that the problem is at the critical thinking stage and not at final stage of implementation or application. If it is – I am asking that point is justified normatively – you will know this is quite possible even in the humanities, (for me, the work of Bourdieu is exemplary in this sort of structured argument for a politics of cultural reform – which I believe is what SNB is really arguing for?). So, IF SNB is not interested in offering some ‘real life’ examples of x-buddhism’s supplementary or surplus threat to humanity or the environment, or in merely offering another alternative, or solving this alleged issue – then I think it needs to say that more explicitly because if it doesn’t it is creating more of a labyrinth than a procedure of truth – it certainly begs the question – What’s the point of SNB? because there is as much evidence in the other direction – that critical thinking can attenuate social and organisational reform, especially when it is not based on data – the kind of intellectual effort you want to privilege – which sounds to me suspiciously like an educational paradigm – for all it’s good – is silenced when it comes to a hijack by the amygdala isn’t it? We can of course both cite many examples of critical thought being brought into service to add credibility to all kinds of dubious socio-political movements as well as less harmful ones? Perhaps we should speculate on the importance of data when it comes to governance issues like policy making and so on? I actually think that if we relied more on robust analysis of data and not so much on hearsay and appeals to emotion we could all go home but since not even SNB appears to live up to this most radical of perspectives – then you are – to my mind – heading in the same direction as those that attract your ire – as Freud might have put it well – without more empirical support for these claims – SNB has yet to free even itself from the x-buddhist, “narcissism of small differences”?

  65. mkw (#64). I can’t figure out what you’re missing, assuming, of course, that you’ve read through a bunch of our shit before writing that comment. I am wondering if you have a slight allergy to abstract thought. Not that our texts are necessarily or exclusively abstract. In fact, I see the majority of what is emerging as a non-buddhist critique as being through and through concrete. That you see the “narcissism of small differences” at work here just makes me think that you have not really engaged the critique very carefully. I see all the difference in the world; and I have stated that, along with examples, numerous times here and elsewhere.

  66. mkw said

    Glenn Wallis (#65).

    I can’t figure out what you’re missing, assuming, of course, that you’ve read through a bunch of our shit before writing that comment.

    Yes, I’ve been raking through a lot of the muck for quite some time and what I can’t find anywhere is sufficient anthropological data that might encourage me to interpret your analysis of x-buddhism as the serious candidate for further study which you say it is, and so be tempted to buy the book.

    If you look at link the researchers draw a conclusion that appears to be going in the opposite direction to yours, theirs allegedly does:-

    lend strong support to the thesis that the phenomenology of mystical experience reveals a common experiential core that can be discerned across religious and spiritual traditions

    The evidence for this sort of tentative abstract thesis is being brought into service by the dominant, neoliberal, ‘western’ universalist dogma and it is stacking up all the time, from the secularist side, from the complimentary therapy nuts and from within industrial strength psychology and a few other places thus it would be good to hear WHY you think this is happening, and not just to take idle, passing comfort from a tiny handful of SNB apologists who appear to be quite obsessed with describing x-buddhism over and over and over again.

    The blog as it stands seems to be about you and your new mates being mostly righteous and indignant, and tho’ looking intelligent on a blog must be lots of fun it is also saying that you prefer pageantry to outcomes. SNB then feels to me like it belongs in the burgeoning set of empty buddhist gestures.

    Before you are tempted to spend any more time constructing yet more descriptions of x-buddhism and it’s crackpot ideas and strange symptoms I would ask: How many frightful crimes have been committed in the name of this x-buddhism? Do the crimes of Buddha, Rinpoches, Swamis and Roshis really mean that nothing x-buddhism has to say on any subject can be taken seriously?

    And what in the unlikely event SNB were to become more trustworthy than x-buddhism, wouldn’t it then be priming us to be led even further into a labyrinth?

    All of this to my mind makes the SNB voice sound like the Christopher Hitchens of Buddhism – in the sense that it seems to:-

    lack the courage to be a real soldier or a real dissident… seen just enough warfare and political violence to know that, while… pleased not to ‘crack’ at first coming under fire …could never be a full-time uniformed combatant or freedom fighter, or even a war correspondent. (Hitch-22, Hitchens C.)

    Taking a vituperative turn this time towards some of the main contributors – I would wager that SNB could easily be said to be implicated in helping to persuade people (whom the contributors are never likely to meet) into yet more indirection, intimidation and perplexity rather than what it promises. Is it then just another suite of ‘tools’ and wickedly speculative trajectories – not unlike its nemesis – x-buddhism?

    I am wondering if you have a slight allergy to abstract thought.

    No, not really

    In fact, I see the majority of what is emerging as a non-buddhist critique as being through and through concrete.

    In what sense is it concrete? Personal, anecdotal testimony and imaginative interpretation both have a place but I don’t see anything other than more x-buddhist products on the market here – muddled thinking / lazy inferences / romanticism / bigotry / oversimplification / hyperbole and so on.

    That you see the “narcissism of small differences” at work here just makes me think that you have not really engaged the critique very carefully.

    Your audacity to suggest I haven’t engaged sufficiently with SNB when it has no explicit directives for reform I admit nearly caught me out.

    If you think describing something in nauseating detail but lacking clear directives as to how you think the socio-political stasis might best be unseated represents something drastically different to the sort of passive mythology of the x-buddhists then that for me might indicate a failure on your part to fully engage with your own critique and certainly fits the description of the( x-buddhist) narcissism of small differences by my reckoning.

    To be frank, it is difficult to engage with (as in: ‘grasp’) a critique that is quite so ill-defined, so loose and so baggy.

    I see all the difference in the world; and I have stated that, along with examples, numerous times here and elsewhere.

    I am clear on your direction and analysis and have no problem with it as it stands – but it is disappointing that you have adopted such a reckless approach. If, (it is as you seem to want us to recognise) – x-buddhism is an order of threat alongside other ideologies that cannot be named then I expected more in the way of evidence – call me old fashioned but this perhaps is what we are ALL ‘missing’?

    It just doesn’t stack up – either the difference is significant – in which case I would have liked to see more evidence for it, or it is trivial – in which case your critique I think is way overblown since I haven’t found any robust evidence for it on this platform so far.

  67. Craig said

    Mkw,

    You said it yourself, you’re not here to critique. Your excuse is that it’s too early to critique. That’s a new one. Most wouldn’t come out and say that. Your blathering on about how SNB is pointless is just, sorry, lazy critique. How about some real engagement with the material? Maybe your assumption that empiricism is not ideology?

    One thing I kind of glean from your comments is that SNB has not made a good case indicting X-Buddhism. Maybe you could pick a specific issue in this area and discuss that? Maybe the one in the article above? Or will you continue to deflect and evade?

  68. mkw said

    Craig #67 Well, if you are going to bother to interpret my comments I suggest you at least take into account my mood, which is inquisitive, subjunctive but rarely indicative.

    Your blathering on about how SNB is pointless

    Check again, I have not blathered I don’t think? neither have I declared that it IS pointless – only that it might be – I am asking questions of the thought leaders and they don’t seem to like it – which is good – because for me the burden is on the project managers to convince and not for the audience to leap into an abyss two-footed.

    One thing I kind of glean from your comments is that SNB has not made a good case indicting X-Buddhism.

    Yes, because there is no substantial, compelling evidence that suggests the judgements being touted should be regarded as conclusive – the ‘last word’ if you like. It’s a start, but much of it comes across as a premature beat-down, rather than honest investigation into what might be happening in these places, and (more importantly for me) what might be done about it.

    Maybe you could pick a specific issue in this area and discuss that?

    Well, that would be great, but my main point is that I am very skeptical because the SB framework appears to be – how shall I say it – mistaking symptoms for causes maybe? Just because there are a few dicks pretending they are enlightened, compassionate and wise teachers and many more who are calling themselves Buddhists but know very little about the history, thought, practice and culture doesn’t mean there are ‘issues’ does it? An issue is a topic or problem for debate or discussion – and although there are many descriptions of phenomena and faulty belief systems and ideologies and so on, there is no definition of the problem – or if there is – no one has been able to show me it. This article superbly describes one such phenomenon, apsychoanalyst might call it a defence mechanism, or coping strategy or some such – we can all seeit and describe it – but is it an issue?

    Or will you continue to deflect and evade?

    I hope so, until that is there is something clear worth spending my time focussing on, so care to give it a try Craig?

    In a nutshell, what IS the wickedly invisible and threatening ISSUE that SNB is claiming to make good, visible and benign would you say? Thanks

  69. Craig said

    #27:

    MKW,

    What I find puzzling is that people come on here and say, in so many words, this SNB project is a bunch of bullshit. Yet they continue to comment. So, I guess I could ask you the same question as you’re asking Glenn, ‘what’s the point?’ My experience here has been that when folks comment, something has ruffled their feathers and rather than engage or try and understand they just say the project is pointless. That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with x-buddhism.

    I took the opposite route, for some reason. I was intrigued and thus engaged. I’m trying to think better, as Glenn put it. I guess it really comes down to whether you want to take the problems SNB has with x-buddhism seriously or just blow them off as not worth your time. Only you can make that decision. However, the ‘there really is no problem so stop talking about it’ reactionaries here and everywhere are becoming tiresome. It’s too bad, for you, because some of the most helpful contributors to this blog no longer interact with those with this stance. It’s their (yours?) loss.

    Glenn pretty much sums up SNB in comment #42 above.

  70. Craig (#68)

    Like Patrick, you seem to view comments in a very black and white fashion, as either for or against SNB. Is there no other way to engage with SNB? Perhaps you could give us an example of how one might critically engage with the content and still be viewed as legitimately interacting with others here.

  71. mkw (#67). I guess this project just ain’t no use to you. Why not move on to something else? Believe me, bro, I’d understand. I sometimes feel like moving on myself.

  72. Craig said

    Patricia,

    Me responding to you about how many of the comments here are about snb in general and Glenn rather than the actual content of the site. People don’t like Glenn messing with Buddhism and they can’t help but constantly tell him so and in the same breath say they the opposite.

  73. When I look at this discussion I indeed feel like moving on myself too. Mkw, Patricia, Louis, all three talk in general ways with not the least sign of any reception of anything what was written and discussed in this forum and in texts which have been written over the last three years. But nonetheless, despite having said often enough that we don’t have anything to say they keep on saying that we don’t have anything to say. Didn’t you already said it often enough?

    Mkw. What is your argument apart from some general remark about the insignificance of SNB? You want to use broader samples. Go on. Personally I would be very interested in more robust research in how Buddhism, mindfulness etc. is influencing society – if at all. Start with the National Health Statistics Report of the NCCAM. If you have more statistics like this let me know.

    Patrica. You keep going despite you find us as aggressive and cruel and stupid like your Montreal street gangs randomly attacking people physically. So what? You like going on discussing the equalization of bloody physical attack and polemics and want to go on snivel about how cruel this is without recognizing how aggressive in itself this is.

    Louis. You say I use to like SNB 1.0 commitment to embedding free conversations (your co-authors´ blogs were already born unfitted and unable to do this – a regretful involution you seem to embrace in SNB 2.0). It is exactly because of the above mentioned points (and some more, like long incoherent boring comments one has to wade through as a blogger) why the style of discussion has to be changed. If you don’t like it go on somewhere else. Why not?

    Glen, you mentioned recently that you would like to change the discussion into something more like a workshop. I think that’s one way to go and we should think about how this this could be implemented. At least this would mean that people taking part would have to confront themselves with the material which is talked about. There are more problems to go in such a direction but personally I don’t think that this has to be discussed any more in the open. I mean, our ‘critics’ do not even see our own most weak points, our own very stupid actions. They are really not worth to look at our own internal discussions.

    The only thing I have to say in this regard – in the open – is the following. The longer I look at it, the more I am convinced that neo- respectively x-buddhism is a form of deep stupidity. Examples for this can be found abundantly not only anecdotally. And this is not a case of circular reasoning in which the stupid are labeled as x-buddhist. For anybody who wants to know what I mean: The texts are here. Read!

    But what I would want to argue for is a more differentiated approach towards people who call themselves Buddhists apart form a plain SNB/x-buddhist dichotomy. What I see is 1) Buddhists how really move into a direction which supports our work – e.g. deconstruction of historical myths about Buddhism –, and 2) Buddhists who feel a more (let’s say) emotional accordance with us without being able to express themselves in a very sophisticated way and often times even staying with plain x-buddhists notions while at the time displaying what I would call (for lack of a better term right now) intuitive understanding.

    I just through this in. I do not intend to discuss this in this setting which has showed itself only capable to a certain extent to tackled problems I want to discuss in our ongoing work. A workshop for this would be very much the thing we need.

    Power On!

  74. Matthias (#72),

    Yes, a “workshop” where you train followers in using SNB tools is what you are really after, not a public conversation or debate about the tools themselves. That, in essence, is what some of are trying to say. Thank you for clarifying it.

  75. mkw said

    #42 #69 #70 #71 Glen Wallis, Patricia and Craig and forthcoming Matthias Steingass’ (usual?) stupendously incoherent, self-pitying, reactionary, cynical, Teutonic ex cathedra statements (#72?).

    @Craig

    What I find puzzling is that people come on here and say, in so many words, this SNB project is a bunch of bullshit.

    Yeah, I can see that you would be befuddled, because I am on record here for not saying that and saying something else. Bro, with as much respect as I can muster – you seem to have a voice in your head, so may I suggest therapy and NOT philosophy, and especially not BAD philosophy.

    In this case, SNB might actually be of assistance to you (I remark that SNB might already be an alternative therapy – below).

    I took the opposite route, for some reason.

    No, I think you MAY (I repeat for your benefit, MAY) have actually taken the same route under a different name, and for no particular reason – much more likely your amygdala has been hijacked by your response to some over-bearing western buddhists? But THAT response is x-buddhism too I think – and it may also be SNB – and that’s why I continue to comment – to see if the authors have anything other than anecdotes and sub-cultural interpretivism to offer. Okay?

    I’m trying to think better, as Glenn put it.

    I really can’t imagine any optimal configuration for thinking, as I put it – as SNB might say – that’s more x-buddhist / mindfulness / abhidhamma constructivist / idealist myth working its dastardly magic (see below) ?

    ‘SNB thinking’ will of course turn out to be more ‘socially-constructed’ thinking, which is the same as x-buddhist thinking – maybe discuss that with @Glenn or @Tom – esp. ’cause Mr. Pepper reduces cultural relativism into a v. blunt shaped instrument.

    I guess it really comes down to whether you want to take the problems SNB has with x-buddhism seriously or just blow them off as not worth your time.

    I think I want to do both if that’s okay with you. The problems are serious for those that take them seriously, but without better data I’m afraid they can be ‘blown off’ quite easily. If your mom dies of a heart attack sitting on a cushion, the claim that cushions are dangerous to human health would need to be put into perspective with proper research – and that is ALL THAT’S MISSING from SNB mostly. In any case I am sure @Glenn would be horrified to think SNB has become a magnet for black and white thinking (see #70 – @Patriciaivan) as well as ‘EITHER/OR’ – there is an ‘AND’ and many other logical constructions – Bertrand Russell was a fan of all that stuff, so maybe you want to look up some dead white guy stuff, rather than posting here?

    However, the ‘there really is no problem so stop talking about it’ reactionaries here and everywhere are becoming tiresome.

    Well, if you are seeing my responses as suggesting there is NO problem and everyone should shut up then I really despair for your general wellbeing.

    Restated then, I ADMIT there IS a problem, BUT no one knows how big it is or what shape it comes in and in any case, SNB might be a ‘quick fix that fails’ (a systems archetype).

    Glenn pretty much sums up SNB in comment #42 above.

    Nope, he gives another description of (the same?) problem – see the response I made to you earlier about the under-determined (and possibly non-determinable?) morphology of x-buddhism. That is a problem for SNB – because if you can’t define the problem it’s harder to study it. You need to be able to separate the thing from its environment to be able to analyse it fully, and I am suggesting that x-buddhism may not be a system in itself, some may be an emergent property from the neoliberal environment of the West whilst others might be as a result of cultural norms and so on – in India for example. Not easy is it? That’s another point. It’s not as easy as SNB want to have it i don’t think – but with more work something might be worked up – but I get the feeling – folk are more interested in the pageantry of writing clever descriptions rather than outcomes – Glenn as pretty much said as much – he doesn’t care what happens next – and that to me is the WHOLE POINT. What happens from here IS IMPORTANT – too important to leave it in the hands of folk like Steingass and Pepper – it would be like handing your baby over to a pack of wolves.

    So next up is @Matthias Steingass – in anticipation of @Glenn continuing with his charitable disposition towards commenters and moderating only lightly comments that muddy the water – I probably ought to say that I find his online contributions abhorrent and boring at once. His online presence here does not appear to be as significant or original as the others and the only reason I continue to try to ‘enagage’ with SNB is DESPITE his work, not BECAUSE of it. In real life though, who knows? he could be one of the good guys and the others could be complete dicks but at least Tom Pepper and Glenn Wallis have an interesting and lively turn to their work, or maybe it’s just they’re just better at covering things up – in which case he would come out on top. either way, it’s about the work and the propositions so I hope he won’t take this too personally (I suspect he will) – but you know even Adolf Hitler had maybe one or two interesting things to say – the fact he was evil as ~### needed to be handled separately – which is what the German nationalists and poliuticians understood way too late. From what I have seen of his work it is stinkier than Toms, who is generally is worth reading on balance and Glenns is the least stinkiest of all. I actually like the way Glenn writes and most of what he has to say – all IMO.

    From these comments I’ve failed to keep things more succinct – though brevity is no friend of clarity. What I see is a shared acknowledgement that x-buddhism is letting people down in one way and another, but mainly philosophically and psychologically it is said here. There is a gap between what it promises and what it delivers – if I can put it in that slightly blunt way. I GET THAT. There are lots of ways of saying that and SNB offers an intelligent critique of those very many WAYS. I GET THAT TOO. Really, all power to folk who speak out on hypocrisy and so on, we desperately need that. All this is fine – but there’s facebook and twitter for all of that grassroots politics stuff.

    (This is for everyone like @Craig who like to see complaints as ‘issues’) there is a massive ISSUE to my mind in assuming that because we think we have accumulated sufficient skills and knowledge to be able to create useful distinctions and diagnose maladaptive behaviors and beliefs for ourselves – we also have a vocation to write about them. Claiming this as being equivalent in stature to being skilled and knowledgeable enough to develop an appropriate response to them for everyone, or anyone else would appear to be an x-buddhist and snb problem both. When we see no such gap, then anyone can think they are their own best teacher, lawyer, financial consultant, pastor, psychoanalyst, doctor, football coach and friend and evidence suggests that both x-buddhists and snb buddhists (if I can call them that just for a moment) are actually very poor at making decisions like this in a temporal context.

    So, now – the number of occasions where SNB authors think it is necessary to tell us that x-buddhist skin is susceptible to rashes, spots and dryness I think is not only entertaining and interesting – it is instructive in engaging with the SNB procedure – or what I suspect – is a lack of one.

    How long before SNB starts formulating and marketing skin creams? (As it turns out – in our modern networked society the answer is ‘not long’).

    And what should we make of an author who refuses (or at least sidesteps) having to answer a complaint about the provenance of these sorts of maladies and the dangerous factors / agents / functions and forms that are CAUSING this pandemic?

    Might they have something to hide too? Are they talking straight? Has SNB constructed a high new buddhism and kicked away the ladder?

    Is x-buddhism like a health pandemic or is it isolated in the surgical minds of the authors? Worse, is this disease simply being imagined by the SNB crowd? Are we observing a small sample fallacy working it’s way around in hypertext? Moral panic?

    Then, when asked how we might set about treat either the symptoms or the causes we are told we are too disinterested to engage fully – or we are invested in some other imagined ideology to be able to REALLY get it (where have you heard this before? x-buddhism maybe?) …and they’re so busy telling everyone about how everyone has such terrible x-buddhist skin conditions and writing blog posts and books that their only suggestion is to avoid skin rashes by cheering their mocking of the afflicted online, in public forums. How seriously should we take this ‘cure’ this ‘tool’? THIS is the very point that I think is crucial, because SNB is holding itself out as a kind of alternative medicine for x-buddhism if you like. By enaging with this ‘critique’ it is suggested that we will find some relief from x-buddhism. It’s just the politics of a sub-culture at work, not much else, and that’s great, but if it would only own up to that.

    Thinking critically is the SNB ‘tool’ (think: exfoliant) to deconstruct (think: sooth away the itchiness and come out smelling beautiful) of x-buddhism. Is SNB is an alternative therapy claiming to be a philosophy? If it is , well that’ soooo x-buddhist isn’t it? …and if it isn’t then I will dare to ask the question again – What is the point of SNB??

    The SNB blog carries a kind of health warning, and now with @Matthias talk of ‘workshops’ without a hint of irony when can we expect to find SNB in a tube? maybe it will join all the other x-buddhist unguents on youtube or in videoconference one day if @Matthias has his way? This is what is so controversial (and hypocritical) to me. As @Patriciaivan points out – we are being asked either to engage or politely f~~k off somewhere else. Again, this feeds into the sort of mindset SNB is allegedly unseating. This is the evasion. And it’s right here – right now. @Glenn Wallis has shown some civility in responding to this criticism but has not been able to provide anything to curtail my advocacy that that SNB = x-buddhism. Is it in fact, the worst kind of x-buddhism because it is pretending to be something else? This pretty much sums up MY complaint – no one is pushing back on that charge – mainly because the only way to push back on that is to DEFINE x-buddhism so it can allow proper research and then show some policy directives or procedural notes that the authors are putting forward to solve a DEFINED ISSUE – and if they can’t, or don’t then it seems like we are witnessing another iteration of sub-cultural alternative therapy for folk who don’t appear to have anything else to worry about – again – that’s very x-buddhist isn’t it?

    SNB has shown it’s developed enough to instigate an intracytoplasmic injection into the wider x-buddhist milieu of blogs, conferences and general new age indirection, but it seems it hasn’t worked out yet how it is going to cope with (sorry – just continuing the metaphor) Allogamy and Heterosis? Let alone develop any parenting skills? Going by @Glenns latest responses, perhaps the authors are considering a termination sooner than we think, and that would be shame because snb is in need of life support – maybe it needs some light chillout music while people browse the site? (for the avoidance of doubt I AM JOKING)? maybe it needs to trundled out for some fresh air somehow? – it certainly needs to flourish more than it is right now. I’m all for having a discussion like that – Is anyone up for recovering SNB from being merely another artifact in a virtual museum made up of spoilt, wild children of Utopian Dharma and into a more concerned, influential and active campaigner for personal autonomy and social equity? If not I am happy to f~~k off now because I am not a Necrophiliac and have no interest in necromancy either. Thanks for reading.

  76. mkw (#75). Congratulations! You have the last word, before I take a new course through the dark woods of Comments. I wasn’t going to allow your comment, but it looks like you went through so much damn trouble. Anyway:

    but [Wallis] has not been able to provide anything to curtail my advocacy that that SNB = x-buddhism. Is it in fact, the worst kind of x-buddhism because it is pretending to be something else?

    If you take a look, you will see that x-buddhist postulates, concepts, etc., in our hands have become mutant forms of the original. No self-respecting x-buddhist would see an image of his precious x-buddhism in the mirror of non-buddhist thought. Maybe “cloning” applies in some sense (think of Laruelle’s usage). But clones are pretty fucked-up versions of the original, you know, genetically and all. You’ll find examples of “re-commissioning” in one form or another in Tom Pepper’s hyper-translations. Patrick Jennings’s”Tsongkhapa: In Praise of Relativity; The Essence of Eloquence” is the most recent, and quite an excellent, example. You may find both examples particularly satisfying in that they treat concrete instances.

    It’s been nice exchanging ideas with you. Good luck.

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