What concrete answers can you offer to the following question? It is a question that goes to the very heart of this blog:

“Can Buddhist practice be the one place where we are still allowed to open our eyes to the truths that shape our lives everyday? Can it teach us not to hide from the truth inside a cloud of incense, mindfully experiencing our bodily sensations?” (Tom Pepper, comment #28 on “Running from Zombie Buddhas“)

This blog is concerned with the human. Buddhism claims, too, to be concerned with the human. So, why does this blog not simply offer a straight-forward presentation of Buddhist thought and practice? The answer is: because of the human.

Non-buddhism is an exploration of the suspicion that, as it is, Buddhism ultimately fails the human. Many reasons for that failure have been offered here, and more are on the way. They include the failings of both traditional and contemporary, largely secular, forms of Buddhism (and crypto-buddhism); for example: ideological occlusion; facile moralism; emotional prescriptiveness; program subscription; shallow scientism; insistence on sufficiency; unacknowledged transcendentalism (in the religious sense);  hidden ascetic mores; collusion with late-capitalist consumerism, and much more.

Can x-buddhist postulates be employed in creating a place where we are still allowed to name and explore human truths and craft them toward correspondingly truthful ends?

In concrete terms, what would that practice look like? Imagine that you were to design an actual environment. What is required? What is too much? What is too little? Is there dialogue? What mode of language serves it? Which kinds of texts inform it? Do you employ buddhemes? Why? Why not? Which ones? What does the practice physically look like? Is there a protocol? What counts as the sine qua non of meditation? How do you guard against blind ideology? What would an ideologically-transparent practice look like? How do you fend against our tendency toward group-think? What kind of protocol reflects, embodies, and enacts liberation as opposed to program subscription? What about hierarchy? Is a goal or purpose articulated? Either way, what is lost and what is gained? What other questions must we ask? Remember: concrete!

Readers of this blog have already been exposed to many ideas about these matters already. These ideas are strewn throughout the blog. Matthias Steingass has written extensively on the issue in posts and comments. Tom Pepper’s posts and comments, too, are animated by such practical concerns. Other comment writers have asked pointed questions and made incisive statements about this issue: Robert, Eric, Jayarava, Luis Daniel , Saibhu, April, and many others.

Can we take a moment now to fashion some stones and fire some bricks on which to mount the mirror of practice?

{Updated after Robert’s comment #11} Or: In the spirit of Deleuze, fire some bricks to smash the mirror of “practice”?


Image: Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957 ), “Femme Se Regardant Dans Un Miroir.”

109 Comment on “The Mirror of Practice

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