Adbusters and Sogyal Rinpoche. Really?

By Matthias Steingass

X-buddhist anti-intellectualism at Adbusters?

Yesterday I received the latest issue of Adbusters.

On page thirteen we find a citation of Sogyal Rinpoche. It is superimposed on a two-page reproduction of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. The citation begins:

Because in our culture we overvalue the intellect, we imagine that to become enlightened demands extraordinary intelligence.

And it ends with an alleged Tibetan proverb:

Theories are like patches on a coat, one day they just wear off.

I was shocked to read a citation of Sogyal Rinpoche in Adbusters. If there is one big liar in Tibetan Buddhism, it is this man. I wrote a comment at the Adbusters site at once, formulating my objection, but it didn’t go through and wasn’t published. Strange.

The citation is a case of the typical anti intellectual stance x-buddhists take as their savoir vivre.

The logical mind seems interesting, but it is the seed of delusion.

Such a “logic” (also from the citation) is enough for the x-buddhist to disparage thinking once and for all. But this is not the point here. The point is that Adbusters, a magazine that is the self-declared front of the revolutionary meme-war against the dead dog of capitalism is falling prey here to their very enemy. For Sogyal Rinpoche offers nothing whatsoever that can lead us out of the dystopian waste land of capitalism which is unfolding right before our eyes. In terms of spirituality, Sogyal Rinpoche is one of the many incarnations of what we can call an invisible power structure, one that is forcefully normalizing society and the individual without being known as the normalizing power it effectively is. Or in plain words: The “meditation” people like Sogyal Rinpoche are teaching is used only to get exploited, stressed out and depressed people ready for another work day.

Sogyal Rinpoche is the author of a famous book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. This book is influencing the picture of contemporary Buddhism to a large extent. A lot has already been said about this book (cf. for example Donald Lopez’ Prisoners of Shangri-La, p. 78-80). Here, it should suffice to relate a few facts to the people publishing and reading Adbusters about this “Rinpoche” – the latter, by the way, being a Tibetan honorific title that in no way can be claimed by this man. The man should be called simply Sogyal from Lakhar.

Sogyal from Lakhar is the typical Tibetan teller of fairy tales who paints a rosy picture of the oh so holy Tibetan Buddhism. He is good friend of another well-known famous story teller of the Shangri-La myth: Robert Thurman. Both are backed up by the one man nobody should dare say a bad word about, the Dalai Lama – of course. What story do these people propagate?

The myth of the holy land and perennial philosophy

In the first pages of his book, Sogyal from Lakhar paints the well-known rosy picture of his native land Tibet. It is a child’s dream, a fairy tail (remember Tolkine’s Shire?). Everything is good, and every other monk is enlightened. Europe is the opposite. Soygal’s vision of Europe is about a land in which only zombies live. It’s the typical black and white picture esoteric Buddhism paints: the good Shangri-La and the bad West that is devoid of any spiritual life. And our problem, of course, is that we think too much. At no point does Sogyal from Lakhar go beyond this simplistic and infantile picture.

If we turn the page of Adbusters on which the ignorant anti-intellectual and, in fact, kind of racist sermon by the holy Sogyal is printed, we see what there was in Europe when he came there. We see a big picture of a laughing and cheerful Michel Foucault.

I think nothing could illustrate better the mistaken view of Adbusters on Sogyal from Lakhar then putting these two people in such close context.

The black and white picture of Europe vs. Shangri-La Sogyal uses is nothing but a selling scoop to make big money with a commodity x-buddhists dream about so urgently: Enlightenment. In the case of Soygal, this commodity is called Rigpa. Clever as he is – he comes from a very rich Tibetan family of merchants – he founded an enterprise called Rigpa. There you can buy every other hour of hogwash he presents when, for example, his so called Holiness, the unsurpassable Dalai Lama, comes to preach in a sold out stadium. An hour of verbiage you get for $30. Cheap, isn’t it?

By the way. It should be mentioned that the book wasn’t written at all by our clever friend from Lakhar. At least we should be very skeptical about the authorship. It is doubtable that our rigpa merchant really read all those famous names he cites: Montaigne, Blake, Rilke, Henry Ford, Voltaire, Origen, Shelly, Mozart, Balzac, Einstein, Rumi, Wordsworth etc. (cf. Lopez, p. 79). It is much more plausible that his two ghost writers looked up citations from these Westerners to support the claim that what comes from Tibet is, of course, some kind of universal human knowledge about all and everything that everybody knew in the good old times, things the Buddha knew, and which was lost in the bad bad West when it began to think a bit beyond God the Almighty. The two men who most probably wrote the book are well-known for their fantasy literature books and rosy esoteric pseudo-lore: Andrew Harvey and Patrick Gaffney.

What we are speaking here about – this is a point Adbusters must think about – is “perennial philosophy.” Ask Žižek about it. He is mentioned below the photo of Foucault. Sogyal is selling a universal remedy to people we call x-buddhists because they believe in such a universal – and, let’s not forget, who pay for it too. But the universal truth of Buddhism, the Dharma doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, it is the perfect product: It is Putting Nothing in Boxes and selling it. That is what capitalism is all about. Selling nothing for a lot of money. And Sogyal is just doing this.

It is weird that a magazine  setting out to do something against the frantic devastation of our world by capitalism is mentioning such a person. Obviously there is a misconception what this guy is about. Adbusters must educate itself about x-buddhism and its propagators of intentional dementia. Sogyal from Lakhar, Robert Thurman and the Dalai Lama are the main protagonists here. But other people should be scrutinized too. The critique presented at this website about the so called Secular Buddhism by Stephen Batchelor will help. Or see Thích Nhất Hạnh walking mindfully in circles, contemplating how to save the world while it goes to hell. Interrogate all those Buddhist geeks out there: Noah Levine, Brad Warner, Ted Meissner, Vincent Horn, or any other x-buddhist putting up shop in the mindful business. Apart from general remarks about how bad it really is they will have no clue about the situation our world is in and how we got there.

Self control and the ethnographic gaze

From these people we never will learn how society functions and how the structures come to life that govern it. Foucault is a good starter, but forget x-buddhism. In fact, in what Gilles Deleuze called Society of Control, in following Foucault’s historical analysis, we find the subject that internalized control. Control that was executed in the 18th and 19th century by a discipline that had to be learned and fulfilled, is now self control. Meditation is part of this self control. Every little rule how to live today we follow voluntarily. Nobody has to tell us any more what to do. We do it in a seemingly spontaneous way. It seems natural to us. It seems natural to us, for example, to begin to meditate, that is, to look inside for the ultimate remedy. Meditation is the one big hype. Jon Kabat-Zinn makes big money with his MBSR. Just relax, and everything will be ok again. Who told us this? Who told us to look inside for a solution? Yes, Sogyal from Lakhar and the Dalai Lama tell us, and it seems so obvious, so natural, to find peace within, the shelter, ultimate  refuge. But who tells us that this is true? Where can this truth from within come from?

If we want insight into the functioning of our world we have to turn to people like the thinkers mentioned in the opening citation of the text by Hamid Dabashi. That text immediately follows the picture section in the beginning the current issue of Adbusters. But Dabashi rightly asks if also these European thinkers have the “ethnographic gaze.” He mentions, too, many thinkers from all over the world whom we should consider as comrades in thinking new thought. That’s good. Very good. But skip the x-buddhists. They sell their perennial philosophy without knowing that they themselves are deeply infected with the “ethnographic gaze.” Turn to Donald Lopez’s book to get a picture of how, in fact, Tibetan Buddhism, and indeed all Western Buddhism, is the dream the West has about Buddhism – a hallucination to ward of the off the reality of the waste land that is our lives.

There is a direct and unmitigated structural link between an imperial frame of reference, and the presumed universality of a thinker thinking in the bosoms of that empire.

That’s from p. 17 of the text that directly follows the Sogyal from Lakhar citation. x-buddhism as represented by a “thinker” like Sogyal from Lakhar is exactly this imperial thinking. Jacques Derrida, featured prominently on p. 17, told us that there is no original. Imperial x-buddhist thinking will always tell us that there is, in fact, one. All x-buddhists mentioned so far believe, in one way or another, in this original: the Buddha. People like Derrida are light years from this childish dream… although, and that’s where Hamid Dabashi is right, there is residual eurocentrism in Derrida. But that is no excuse to go back to something like x-buddhism.

Spiritual Insurrection

There is a meme used sometimes by Adbusters: Spiritual Insurrection. What kind of spirituality are we talking about here? Certainly not about the imperial x-buddhist thought of enlightenment that we can buy at Sogyal from Lakhar’s rigpa shop. What we can say for sure is that the-Buddha-will-save-us-all-thought will not do.

We have to get a clear picture of how spirituality today is a feature, a component of capitalism, one that functions as a tranquilizer instead of as a wake up-call.

We have to ask what spiritual traditions can legitimately offer – whether we can, for instance, get beyond our inherited “ethnographic gaze.” If at all they have to offer something…

But of course, we have to realize somehow the “ethnographic gaze”? How do we do this?

Can we think out of the box at all? That is a question asked by Foucault. Is there an outside from which to intervene? That is a very spiritual question? What if not?

What kind of resistance is possible if there is no outside of power, no outside of ideology? The fact is that every kind of resistance in the last forty years has been incorporated, used, recycled, and resold to the consumer – in short: has been transformed into a commodity by capitalism. Our protest will be sold to the public.

What can we really do in this situation? That is a truly spiritual question in the sense that it is asking for something really new. Something our spirit will generate without us knowing it yet.

Overvaluing intellect?

Certainly not. We are undervaluing our ability to learn how to think intelligently. We will not learn anything from contemporary Buddhism – from x-buddhism – because this kind of spirituality takes it as a given that the way we think is the only one. True spirituality is to skip every adopted spirituality. The fantasies of enlightenment transported by the references to Buddhism in this edition of Adbusters are not the way to go. That is a dead end. It is not about overvaluing intellect. We are undervaluing it. We are undervaluing intellect in that we don’t ask who taught us to think the way we do. And we are undervaluing it in that we do not try to develop a true spirituality, one that ignites our thinking and pushes it to the edge.

Spiritual Insurrection? Yes: But skip Buddhism.

86 responses to “Adbusters and Sogyal Rinpoche. Really?”

  1. sukhan Avatar

    Well written. Maybe Sogyal IS just a clever merchant. Who knows?
    One claim needs to be put straight: capitalism does not sell “nothing for lots of money”. It sells EVERYTHING for money – for lots or little money, depending on the consumers purchasing power.
    Which in reverse means that NOTHING is being produced which cannot be sold (at a price which exceeds the invested capital).
    Thus is the merciless logic of market economies: if there is no profitability for a private or anonymous owner, even the most essential goods and services will not be produced/performed.

  2. Craig Avatar

    This is all quite shocking. Adbusters? Man, delusion plays no favorites. Alas, I’m reminded of the local zen master’s stock answer to almost every question asked, ‘don’t think about it, just do it…it’s the way we do things.’ The last time I decided to take this as an answer was when i questioned the ‘wake up stick’ that was being used mercelessly that evening. One of many awakenings to the delusion of x-buddhism. ‘Yes, we take vows of non-violence, but we beat each other with sticks.’ WTF?!

  3. Daniel Brooks Avatar
    Daniel Brooks

    I find myself utterly underwhelmed by this text. If this objection you once wrote to Adbusters was, like this one, nothing more than a furious denunciation of all Buddhists and their practice backed when by the context-free name-dropping and their jargon, then I don’t find it strange at all that you had it rejected. You’re not being persecuted, you’re just not making any sense. I can’t even tell if you’re misrepresenting these thinkers as you’re not really getting into the significance of their ideas, rather than just spouting their names from the top of your soapbox.

    For my own experience, I’m reminded of an interview I had with Charles Tenshin Fletcher where he told me, this is not a doctrine set against the intellect. Dogen was an intellectual. Zen practice is the search for a deeper understanding into the nature of your mind, which that intellect is a part of. Where do thoughts come from?

    So what if he told me I should sit down and quiet my mind? It isn’t the seed of practice that’s important, it’s practice itself, and indeed I find my mind a whole lot more malleable and effective when it’s been decluttered from the noise of overthinking.

    There, I said it. I value my thoughts deeply, but just like everything else they are only valuable up to the point when I get attached to them. It is the unchainment from intellectualism that is part of spiritual insurrection, not the sundering from it.

    How goes the liberation from attachment, Matthias?

  4. Tomek Avatar

    It seems natural to us, for example, to begin to meditate, that is, to look inside for the ultimate remedy. Meditation is the one big hype. Jon Kabat-Zinn makes big money with his MBSR. Just relax, and everything will be ok again. Who told us this? Who told us to look inside for a solution? Yes, Sogyal from Lakhar and the Dalai Lama tell us, and it seems so obvious, so natural, to find peace within, the shelter, ultimate refuge. But who tells us that this is true? Where can this truth from within come from?

    We have to get a clear picture of how spirituality today is a feature, a component of capitalism, one that functions as a tranquilizer instead of as a wake up-call.

    Hi Matthias, I think that this myth of the inside refuge comes ultimately from how our animal body works, I mean, it’s dopamine, opioid systems. Buddhism has been built on this feature of the body and what we hear today from those x-buddhistic celebrities is nothing else than just further exploitation of this bodily ataraxia. I think that to look for a wake up call – in the way you seem to understand it – in Buddhism is just a waste of time. Nor is Buddhism needed to tranquilize the body – I hope that every samadhi junky already knows that.

  5. Neo Stray Avatar
    Neo Stray

    Daniel, #4

    You ignore the “seed of the practice”, and focus on the practice itself, as i understand you – you do not care for factors leading you to preform a certain practice. Your practice makes your mind a “whole lot more malleable and effective when it’s been decluttered from the noise of overthinking”. …

    Maybe, that way, by not “overthinking” and by “quieting the mind”, you finally embody someones depiction of enlightenment, but on the other hand it makes you stupid in the way that you ignore the forces possibly taking advantage of you. Your stupidity lies in that you, while you try to lick the “enlightenment-lollipop”, are being taken advantage of for other ends, and you refuse to approach any such understanding with intellect. Overthinking – isn’t that a term you use to describe the effect of your inability to think sharply. What you need is not to stop thinking or to quiet your mind, but to learn to think effectively.

    As I see Matthias, he is pointing to that we need to apply our minds in a way that “ignites our thinking and pushes it to the edge.” While you may get your moments of a quiet mind, you will still be captured by your own dysfunctional pattern of thoughts – as felt, but ignored, each time your mind inevitably returns to them (when you lose your enlightenment-lollipop to the dust). Your thoughts are dysfunctional in the sense that they does not relate to a real spiritual aspiration. Instead you have adopted ways of thinking, unknown to you, grounded in agendas, maybe not at all related to true spiritual aspirations, but instead related to spirituality perverted by for example capitalism, or maybe shy narcissistic tendencies. Pushing the thinking to the edges is meant to break free from the dysfunctional, by making it known, and it is made known by the intellect.

    What if we find the seeds of our practice, evaluate them, and crush some of them?

  6. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Hi Daniel, #4, thanks for coming to this discussion.

    First of all, I value Adbusters very much. I like the project. That’s why I react to the citation of the Sogyal from Lakhar. A citation in any other place I would have skipped. I like Adbusters and I would like to have people who are spreading the word/meme of spiritual insurrection to think more about the x-buddhists I mentioned.

    The note I send to Adbusters was much shorter and much more succinct then this text. Let me reiterate some points in a straight forward manner.

    Regarding the Shangri-La myth. All three, Sogyal from Lakhar, Robert Thurman, the Dalai Lama are perpetrating the myth of Tibet as a land of eternal peace. I tackle this point regarding Thurman in a text in a forthcoming book (also by Glenn Wallis, Tom Pepper). If anybody wants to get educated about the discrepancy between the two pictures of Tibet drawn by the diaspora of Tibetan Buddhists on the one side and historians on the other I propose to read two books in parallel: The Story of Tibet, a conversation with the Dalai Lama by Thomas Laird and The Tibetans by Matthew Kapstein.

    Please undertake the work of this critical examination and – as it is said – see for ourself!

    Regarding Sogyal from Lakhar there are several problems. I did some research a few years ago and the main point is that Sogyal from Lakhar is making up his spiritual biography on which his authority rests.

    The point is a glaring one. It is open to anyone who wants to scrutinize it – if, and this is important, you happen to own the second edition of his Tibetan Book of Living and Dying published in 2002.

    On page seven Sogyal is talking about a kind of epiphany he had when he was 8 or 9 years old. This epiphany came in context of the death of a “highly realized” Tibetan master he watched dying. This experience led to the epiphany and to the “resolve to dedicate my life to spiritual practice” (p. 7). The problem is that, if you go to page six (of the second edition), you see that Sogyal never happend to experience the experience which led to the epiphany. Look at note number 1 on page six and what it says on page 399. This in itself is strange enough and I urge everybody to look it up – see for yourself (I explained it a bit further in German here)

    I call Sogyal a liar because note number one did not appear in the first edition of his famous book. Please come to your own conclusions and tell me what you think about this. It’s a bit of a technical work but the point is: The whole spiritual biography of Sogyal from Lakhar unravels from this point.

    One more example. On page 17 Sogyal (i.e. his ghost writers) write(s): “After my master died, I enjoyed a close connection with Dudjom Rinpoche, one of the greatest masters, mystics, and yogins of recent times.”

    What you never get to know from this book is that Soygal was 11, when his master died (his uncle) and that he was 20 when he met Dudjom. Nobody knows what he did in the meantime. The only thing we know (at the time of my research in 2009) is that he went to a catholic school. Nowhere Sogyal mentions what he did in these nine years after his master died. But he suggest in his famous book that immediately after his master died he met the next master. Why doesn’t he mention these nine years?

    It goes on like this. Soygal likes to mention that he was on very good terms with Nyoshul Kenpo, another highly regarded Tibetan Buddhist. What his real relationship with this man was like remains unclear. Probably they met a few times like a lot others in the Tibetan diaspora and that was it.

    One should count one and one together here. Sogyal is faking a spiritual heritage he is in by telling a story of a spiritual awakening which never could have happend like he tells it. And he puts together a lineage he sees himself in with three highly regarded Tibetan Buddhists: Jamyang Khyentse (his uncle), Dudjom Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khenpo.

    My point is, this is a smoke screen.

    When it comes to the teachings Sogyal presents, then we find him in a very different linage then the one he likes to be identified with. What he presents is just another version of Tibetan Bardo teachings which present much more what Westerners fantasize about them then what they might have been in reality. Again, please educate yourself and turn to the Book of Donald Lopez.


    Another point. You mention “intellectualism”. I agree that we must differentiate between different kinds of thinking. That is the point at the end of my text. But this is the point: We have to think differently. People like Soygal are suggeting that we should stop to think altogether.

    But then, when you say,

    Zen practice is the search for a deeper understanding into the nature of your mind, which that intellect is a part of. Where do thoughts come from?

    how does this “deeper understanding” works. All these highly realized people always say we should but they say nothing about how we could. All they say is: “Sit down and shut up.”

    Where do thoughts come from? That’s the question.

    Ok, one last point, you ask

    How goes the liberation from attachment, Matthias?

    That question is what a good part of the project here revolves about. But without a further differentiation what attachments you mean this phrase remains one of those empty phrases x-buddhists throw around. The first attachement regarding the topic here is to get rid of the false gurus like Sogyal Rinpoche. I very much hope that Adbusters, their readers and people propagating a spiritual resurrection get into the business to penetrate the lie of x-buddhism. The material is laid out here and elsewhere. Please take the pains to read and learn. First and foremost if you are new to this site read this => Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism.


    Sukhan, # 2 nice to meet you here. “Selling nothing” is a word play referring to the text of Richard Payne I mention. Of course selling everything is very much the name of the game. But x-buddhism is big business. Books, films, retreats, parafernalia, clothing, expensive travels etc. – all this revolves around nothing: For example a silent sitting on a park bench in the evening sun.


    Tomek, #5. Ah “ataraxia”… didn’t now the term. As you know my point is, it’s quite useful to learn how to better control ones own biochemical system. The question is for what use? It must be political in the sense that is must be a means to an end, not the end in itself – what x-buddhism propagates.

    But I don’t think we should wait far a wakeup call in Buddhism. If it sounds that I would do so, I have been not clear enough. I think Buddhism today is a waste of time. That’s why I normally wouldn’t react to a citation from the Liar from Lakhar.


    Neo, thanks, your differentiation sums it up very well.

  7. Tomek Avatar

    Matthias (#7), first you say that “it’s quite useful to learn how to better control ones own biochemical system.” Then you ask what’s the use of it. I don’t quite understand what do you exactly mean. If you think that it’s in some way useful, thus you already seem to have some answer to your question, don’t you. I might ask, does an everyday nap, which certainly influences biochemical system – usually in a useful way – has to be seen as a political activity? Or your “silent sitting on a park bench in the evening sun”?

  8. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Tomek #8. Let’s not make it more complicated than it is. I mean two things: Physical activity and thinking. A nap is no political activity. As political I regard the questions I put in the paragraph “spiritual insurrection” above. And perhaps the most general the political question is, what do I do with my abilities?

  9. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Daniel (#4). You speak of a mind “decluttered from the noise of overthinking.” I wonder if “overthinking” is the right term. Do you mean something like an overstimulated mind or one that is uncontrollably ruminative or discursive? I want “thinking” to mean deliberative cognition. Whenever thought is the topic of conversation, I come away wishing that people would nuance their vocabularies regarding thought more, well, thoughtfully. Think about it: can you really think too much or too well? Is thinking really ever a problem? If so, how is that different from the Christian idea that all our human troubles began because someone ate from the tree of knowledge–of fucking knowledge! So, I am curious to know what it is, precisely, that you refer to as “the noise of overthinking.” Also, what is left when you’ve “decluttered” it from perception and conception?

    Charles Tenshin Fletcher may say that Zen “is not a doctrine set against the intellect,” but does his saying so settle the matter? It has to be thought about, right? Difficult, potentially destructive questions have to be put to Charles Tenshin Fletcher. And when he gives his answer, the questions and response has to sharpen and intensify. Are you up to it? Maybe Dogen was an intellectual, but certainly not in the sense that, say, Kant was or Badiou is. Dogen was too beholden to Zen to be…or, I’ll say it the other way around: in order to see what Dogen has to offer us by way of his thought, we must first free him from the dank prison of Zen. Are you up to that task? If not, then what?

  10. rkpayne Avatar

    Dear Matthias, Thank you for another invigorating post. One point of clarification, if I might…
    The “East good spiritual intuitive” versus “West bad materialistic rational” opposition that you mention is not only deployed by Esoteric Buddhists. The rhetoric goes back to (at least) the British justification for their imperial takeover of India. The British presented themselves as progressive and rational and able to get things done, valued positively, in contrast to the Indians who were portrayed as oriented toward the timeless and spiritual, and basically incompetent. Hence, according to this British self-representation, they were being beneficial to India. The “Hindu Renaissance” of the late 19th century and the move to independence strategically reversed the values, while retaining the basic structure of the opposition. The religious shift can probably be marked at the World’s Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where the charismatic Swami Vivekananda presented Advaita Vedanta as a universal teaching. The rhetoric hooked into the existing antimodernism of the Romantics and has been carried into the present by religious neo-Romantics, who use it to claim superiority over the materialism and rationalism of their own society. (Mea Culpa: I acknowledge having played that game myself for years until I learned enough intellectual history to understand how those concepts were formed in the 19th century.) Hence, today we still get people blathering about the “timeless” spiritual teachings of the Mystic East, while denigrating the Materialistic West. The idealized image of Tibet prior to the Chinese occupation is part of this rhetoric, playing on Romantic conceptions of the Primitive unconstrained by the chains of reason. Thus, these rhetorics are deeply entrenched in contemporary popular religious rhetoric.
    best, Richard

  11. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Matthias. Your experience with Adbusters reminds me of my reaction to diving into the science-meets-meditation literature. I took a course last semester where we learned to read scientific studies on meditation. We also spent some time becoming familiar with the culture of science-meets-meditation–organizations like Mind and Life Institute, and so on. I was bothered by how much slack the scientists gave the Buddhists. I was constantly saying things like, “they would never allow such an idea to stand in scientific research, why do they let it stand as a ‘spiritual’ truth.” The scientists were simply too willing to let the Buddhists have the upper hand in certain matters where, I felt, they should have been much more skeptical. In short, the scientists relaxed their critical abilities in deference to the Buddhists’ supposed “wisdom” and “compassion,” and all that. The professor of the course, a neuroscientist, gave a very interesting explanation for why the culture was developing along these lines. She said that it was so indescribably liberating and heartwarming for a scientist to hear words like “love” and “kindness” and “meditation” at a gathering with other hard-nosed scientists. The people who had no tolerance for x-buddhist spiritual claptrap simply don’t go to such gatherings. So, the culture is perpetuated by self-selection.

    Anyway, my sense is that people are so damn thirsty for “spiritual” succor that they’ll take what they can get, even if that means suspending their otherwise critical acumen. That might be part of the explanation for why some editor or writer at Adbusters used Sogyal from Lakhar like s/he did. I agree that it’s one of our tasks to call out this sort of misstep-from-ignorance.

  12. Nathan Avatar

    Being There

  13. rkpayne Avatar

    Dear Glenn,
    Interestingly I had just the opposite experience in a science & religion conference sponsored by the Templeton folk some ten or more years ago. A Nobel Laureate physicist was given a keynote position on the program, but wound up spouting the most amateurish theological twaddle, despite which everyone was so respectful and deferential. I asked one of the organizers what was going on? His reply was effectively that Well, we can’t expect them (scientists) to be theologically sophisticated, but it is good to hear them validating religion. So we had an hour discourse of pretty sophmoric level philosophizing in order to encourage the scientists to admit to their own religious beliefs. I suspect that in the opposite situation the scientists would tend to be very disdainful toward religious claims about the world, i.e., physics. Perhaps it is just the neuro-whatever types who are more accustomed to dealing with fuzzy stuff to begin with that are more accommodating of “love and peace” talk.
    best, Richard

  14. Craig Avatar

    It’s always so amazing to me how smart people can be so stupid. I’m amazed at how professionals are unable to reflect and critique their discipline and talk nonsense with complete authority about other disciplines. A physicist talking like an infant about theology!

  15. torsten strathus Avatar
    torsten strathus

    matthias,i really would like to know what do you mean by “true spirituality”?! at least it seems you claim to know what that means.

  16. Patrick Avatar

    What can we really do in this situation? That is a truly spiritual question in the sense that it is asking for something really new. Something our spirit will generate without us knowing it yet.

    … in answer to a previous worry about there being an outside from which to get a clear view… well let us proceed as if the question was if the question was asked and answered from the inside if the answer will be ‘generated’ by our immersion in our ‘situation’. That is the inevitable confrontation between needs and repressive conditions.. not in the abstract but in the real situation of the world in which our ‘personal’ problems are symptomatic of a general malaise. In this way the spiritual and the human coincide and practice becomes how to think this through to the edge of thought… non-buddhism becomes the practice of bringing xbuddhist phantasmagoria into confrontation with the situation and the thought that tries to articulate a critique of the situation..the blog itself (including its ‘assault’ on our emotional investment in leaving thought in vapidity.) becomes a practice.

  17. Chris Avatar

    The Mind Life Institute was just given a 1 million dollar gift by the Dalai Lama. Presumably for being the number one promoter of his sophomoric, deceptive bridge between the west and the east. The significance of this shouldn’t be ignored since in 60 plus years the Tibetan multimillionaire dollar organizations NEVER give anything to anybody , being a kleptocracy that lives off everyone else, and takes there monies, to build more monasteries and centers, to garner more donations, in a loop that has become a dangerous infection in our society.

    Dan Goleman , who sits at Sogyal L’s feet, as a devoted cult member, enabling Sogyals sadistic sexual predatoriness, of vulnerable young woman, by endorsing him, ( not to mention the mutual book endorsing club they all engage in for their pop dharma self -help books on Oprah’s list) has actually broken his oath as a psychologist to report harm to others, Instead he promotes this little turd in robes, thus continuing to confuse and put in harm’s way 1000 of students every year.Even though they know what Sogyal is doing, and know that it has reached such a serious level that the French police are investigating him. Dan Goleman wrote the Book Emotional Intelligence that was so popular , but was to promote actually more anti-intellectualism in this country, he has been affiliated with the Mind Life Institute for decades, but , in fact, is a stone cold cultist of lamaism. This is called ‘splitting” and compartmentalizing, a common feature of people in cults. D. Coleman, is part of the Spirit Rock Center Syndicate of Psychologists, out of California. These lamas run million dollar corporations. This is a weaving of Spiritual consumerism, to get people to accept austerity programs for the future, as we are turned into a serfdom corporate fascism, with eastern religions keeping us ‘content’ and happy and not protesting the corporate takeover of our world. Why do you think the Dalai lama is on the Wisdom Council of the Club of Rome, with the billionaire corporate 1%, he is there ‘religious strategy and the psychologists, always the arm of the state, have these ‘retreats packed” with psychology-lite therapists out of places like Naropa, who spits them out, they don’t have clinical training they have ‘spiritual /psychological training and feel good therapies, more like ‘life coaches” than therapists, and they are all joined up, the knew completely dumbed down professional middle class, , who have integrated ‘meditation lite” into their bag of tricks, and are great recruiters for these turds in robes, these hucksters , to help facilitate the selling their spiritual path to grow their million dollar empires. I am an ex-cult member of tibetan lamaism and a retired licensed psychologist, and I was fooled, just like these people were, anyone can be seduced into these cults of spirituality, that are so dangerous to the critical thinking and intelligence of westerners. They are here to dumb us down further, that is what is the disconnect that people feel when they go to a Mind-Life program and can’t believe the blathering of these so-called scientists, they are probably already cult members of the cult of lamaism, just because they have a PHd doesn’t mean they can’t be a cult member of these fundamentalist, feudal and medieval occult organizations.

    See Mary Finnigan’s journalistic work on Sogyal the predator , she has been investigating him for the Guardian for decades now. Here is a list of her articles : We should be at the ‘scorn and ridicule phase” by now for what these lamas have done in the west, and how much harm they have caused and are still causing the west, with their anti-rational, anti-intellectual stance. They are a menace and a danger just as all fundamentalist, fanatic religions are a menace. Just look at what is happening in Myanmar if you have any doubt about who these people really are, under they robes.

  18. Luis Daniel Avatar
    Luis Daniel


    You say Derrida´s writings are still somewhat eurocentric … you seem to be searching for something more universal … you get the point. I think there is nothing wrong with being French or German, as long as you don’t pretend to germanize the rest of human culture by pretending that your propositions are not german or european-centric, in other words, are not yours. But generalizations, universalizations in themselves, are of little use except -as history shows us- when used as an excuse to force one way of describing things over another.

    I think it´s time to stop the dull and false dichotomy between science and religion. They are all descriptions, as is philosophy or art, literary genres, some more useful than others depending on the person who is choosing what tool is of better use for her.

    Buddhism is useless for solving the economic, political and environmental problems of today. So is blaming capitalism in general for everything. There are powerful groups which try to benefit themselves and there are more solidarity inclined groups and institutions which need our support. Adbusters sells too…

    So why not kind of outgrow the blaming game on buddhism and start proposing what you think is the way of solving concrete capitalistic problems.

    The same goes for Glenn and the whole non-buddhism thing. It seems at times that he is only projecting his own insecurities about being a buddhist but never quiete gets beyond his fears and corresponding obsessions.

    You quote his critique of secular buddhism. I have hardly read a more mediocre piece of well, non-analysis. The guy on TNH is serious. His way of analyzing could be of good use to Glenn should he want to improve his dent.

    There is not much need for critizising secular buddhism on the basis of incomplete, mediocre, superficial assertions. Secular buddhism is a contradiction in terms to say the least. Secularism was a step forward for mankind which by definition is completely incompatible with buddhism. For good.

    In the case of the use of the law which you mention as a problem, the problem is not the law, which I consider law as some sort of evolutionary miracle over millions of years of aggressive impulses, but bling unquesitoning obedience to it. That we need to change it in civilized ways is another story. We are working hard on that and advancing, the rule of law in the service of social justice and democracy.

    But claiming that law obedience is a problem for social advancement is exactly like saying that the intellectual rationalizations get in the middle of realizing personal happiness.

    So where are the practical questions, the problems, the challenges, the big ones, and what can we do about them?????

  19. tuttewachtmeister Avatar

    As a hard-working spiritual teacher, I find the nihilism and over-intellectual sophistry on this blog quite disturbing. You seem to be intent on destroying all the mindfulness, equanimity, and faith people like me have spent many years cultivating in ourselves and in our students. I can only hope my Dharma colleagues follow my example and discourage all sincere practitioners from wasting time on “Speculative Non Buddhism”.

    With Metta

  20. Alan Avatar

    #20: “I can only hope my Dharma colleagues follow my example and discourage all sincere practitioners from wasting time on ‘Speculative Non Buddhism’.”

    Feeling a little threatened, are we? Who knows what might happen if your followers actually try thinking?

  21. Rexx Avatar

    Hello Matthias #7,

    What is the name of the forthcoming book? When will it be released? Look forward to reading it.


  22. Tutteji Avatar

    Alan #20: As a fully sanctioned teacher, someone who’s been resting, more or less continously, in the One Self for many years, how could I possibly “feel threatened”? I was moved to make my comment out of concern for my students, and those of other spiritual teachers, who haven’t yet attained this kind of stable peace of mind.

  23. Chris Avatar

    Resting, more or less continuously in the One Self? Are you a HIndu teacher? , because I thought this site was about buddhism, Buddhism does not believe in a One Self, That is considered dualistic, it creates a boundary of the One, and no matter how large you make the One , or how inclusive, it is One which implies a not-One.

    New Age , that has completely taken over eastern religions, including buddhism now, with its Alice Bailey nonsense, and has fueled the U.N. world citizen movement and the United Religious Movement, that latter that sees all ‘religions’ as equally valid, also talks about resting in the One Self. it is a dangerous infection , that has spread all over the western world, and has now reached the working class, in the service sector, in hairdressing establishments and spas, everyone does a little yoga, and are, unwittingly being indoctrinated into yoga cults through these yoga centers, spas, and even hairdressing establishments, that offer ‘massage.” So that they too , can be ‘tamed” in this ‘peaceful” bubble of inward looking passivity and ignore the relative world around them. It is very important to not have a rational and critically thinking and educated working class, ever. Very convenient for the corporatocracy, who themselves were imbued with new ageism and a little bit of Hinduism and Buddhism at their Eckart retreats, and TM retreats and New Age Life Coach retreats, when they felt so much angst over making millions in the corporate world and wanted to feel like gods, in the ‘divine light.” or as you say finding a ‘resting place on the One Self, . This has been happening since the 80s. That is when the commodification of buddhism really took off, helped by the celebrity buddhist lamas building their own million dollar empires.

    So I am wondering exactly how resting in the One Self actually relates to a discussion about buddhism , since it is not a tenet of buddhism? Were you taught this as a ‘buddhist”?

  24. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Luis Daniel (#19) and Tutte Wachtmeister (#2).

    There is simply no basis for meaningful dialogue with people who believe things like “it´s time to stop the dull and false dichotomy between science and religion” (Luis Daniel) and “When all thoughts cease, wealth appears in the palm of your hand” (Tutte Wachtmeister, website). Maybe you guys should talk to one another. I think you’d get along very well.

  25. torsten strathus Avatar
    torsten strathus

    Rexx,take a look on”tutteji`s”
    webside and have a good laugh!

  26. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Alan, #21, in this case I feel obliged to fully back up the Wachtmeister. I meditated a bit about this spiritual being and I must say, Yes indeed! The Wachtmeister has complete realization of the integration of Body, Mind, and Market. Chapeau! Here we have the true fulfillment of the spiritual quest.

    Now back to the topic of this thread.

    Chris, #18. The sex life of HH Sogyal from Lakhar is not my point here. In fact, I must say, if two adults have sexual intercorse, what is the problem? I also must say, I sometimes have the impression certain Tibetans are measured with widely differing yardsticks. Sometimes the same people who criticize Sogyal for his alleged sex life have no problem with Trungpa Rinpoche. Perhaps Sogyal should begin to drink large quantities of vodka plus putting lots of cocaine into his system all the while chain smoking cigarettes to be respected in the same way as his predecessor?

    My point here is a question to the Adbusters and their “spiritual insurrection”: How do the Adbusters reconcile their critique of capitalism with the positive valuation of somebody like Sogyal from Lakhar?. The question is, how do the Adbusters work with the faultlines which became apparent when one closely examines the work of Sogyal from Lakhar?: a) the ahistoric stance (cf. Richard Payne #11, and Lopez’s Prinsoners book); b) the apparent making up of his biographie; c) his perennial philosophie which, among other strange things, believes in the mind as an entity independent from the body after death; d) his making big business with his spiritual truths etc.

    Another question to the Adbusters is this one: In a text by Stuart Smithers, The Spiritual Crisis of Capitalism, the Dalai Lama is applauded for being a Marxist. How do the Adbusters reconcile this alleged Marxist with the Gelugpa doctrin of the so called “substrate consciousness” which, as Tom Pepper points out in Atman, Aporia, and Atomism, is an “absolute atman” and which in the view of the Gelugpas “is the deepest and most permanent level of reality, influencing but unaffected by the physical realm”?

    … “unaffected by the physical realm.” How does this work with Marxism? I think this would be an interesting question for Stuart Smithers too.

    More later.

    Just one more point. Thorsten, #16. You want to know what I mean by “true spirituality”. Take Soygal from Lakhar. Take the reputation he has. A highly regarded spiritual teacher. Now take the strange note #1 on page 6. (cf. my #7 above) Look at this text and expose yourself to the contradiction which becomes visible. Such a self exposure to a contradiction which might threaten your believe is part of what I call true spirituality. In this regard you might also look at what I have written about Harald Welzer in a recent entry at my blog: Widerstand gegen sich selbst.

  27. Tutteji Avatar

    Hi Chris #24 There is a brief, spiritual autobiography on my website, with some details of my training and teaching credentials. You can read it here Apparently, we have very different ideas about Buddhism, the working class, hairdressers, and The One, and as you seem quite attached to your thinking about these things, I very much doubt a debate would be fruitful.

    With Metta

  28. Chris Avatar

    Yes, Alan, they are very very threatened, It is “called cognitive dissonance.” that is almost unbearable. These buddhists sanghas, to a one, cannot tolerate any dissension now, after their new age training, in buddhism. . They have knee jerk reactions, and do not even contemplate what is being discussed, since their rational and critical thinking skills have been ‘shut down” from years in these groups. , . These new age buddhists also trained in this hindustani One Self, are being literally ‘programmmed’ in these sangha groups, to discard and replace it with a no-nothing, see nothing, speak nothing ‘negative.” in their pursuit of their conceptual fantasy of ‘enlightenment.” Their world is as divided as a fundamentalist Christian, while believing that they are vanguard of the new science and the ‘new paradigm shift ‘ for the world they , in fact, tolerate no questioning at all. Which is actually the opposite of what a so-called spiritual path should engender. . . The sanghas of buddhists now, ( and the millions of yoga cult members) are a critical and growing mass that is going to bring the rest of us back to feudal times, eschewing real science, and critical thinking skills. This is purposefully being encouraged in the West, by the multinational corporations and the controlled media that serves it.

    This actually had a name, in buddhist teachings, i.e. the resting in the One, it was called ‘stupid shamatha” it could put people literally in comas, or in a deep catatonic state for years. Yogi’s were found in caves that appeared ‘dead” but were still alive but “deeply resting” in the allaya, a state of ignorance, believing it to be ‘enlightenment.” . Stupid shamatha was the opposite of the liberation promised by buddhist practice , which was to increase clarity and wisdom, not by rejecting critical thinking and reasoning, but to appreciate all of the mind’s display , as it arose and dissolved, including thinking and discriminating wisdom ,that our very survival depends on both as individuals and in groups. It was a very practical spiritual path, that should have increased critical reasoning’s sharpness, not dumbed it down so completely , that any debate or questioning was completely rejected because of the One Self and the One Way. .This is being spread throughout our western culture, this stupid , hindustani mediation purposely. These corporations learned a lot, not just in their Est retreats, but also from their ‘outsourcing’ in countries who use this form of ‘religion’ to control the masses, sustain a caste system, and create a passive work force.

  29. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    By the way, everyone, that Tutte Wachtmeister site is a parody site. Think of it like the Onion of spirituality. Whoever runs that site is more insightful and less of an idiot than I initially thought. But you have to read it in reverse, so to speak, to see that. It’s really a funny send-up of the very crap we’re exposing on the blog.

  30. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    I wasn’t going to comment on this, but I can’t resist–Tutteji, your site is very funny. Spot on, perfect satire. I have just one question: what will you do when someone actually tries to make a donation or “book” time with you? Has it happened yet? I have had many students over the past several years who are devoted fans of Stephen Colbert, and have not idea he is kidding. Really. And, of course, there’s “The Shortest Way With Dissenters.” Nice job though. Here’s possible tag line for you: When you’re one with the universe, you’re kind of full of yourself!

    And personally, I still think the image/text in Adbusters is meant ironically. But that’s just me. I have trouble imagining anyone could be as stupid as they would have to be to mean that seriously.

  31. Chris Avatar

    Matthew, I understand that you want to keep this on an ‘intellectual level” but since this was about Adbusters and you mentioned capitalism and consumerism, and buddhism and Sogyal L ‘s credentials and the irony of Adbusters using him as a representative of ‘critical reasoning, in this thread, I am simply pointing out the social/cultural context where this anti-intellectual buddhism is being promoted, on blogs, and in the mass media, Otherwise it remains an intellectual exercise and is not really “radical at all. It remains a discussion between a very small group. who aren’t looking at the ‘bigger picture” at all. . After all the buddha actually tried to end the caste system , he was not apolitical, quite the contrary. His teachings were revolutionary in India at the time. Unfortunately the hindustani brahmin caste system took buddhism back over, after the buddha died, and we have been in this confused state ever since

    As for Sogyal L’s behavior, there is a difference between consenting sex between adults , (always the excuse buddhists, particularly male buddhists , make for him, bringing up CTR ) and the sadistic , sexual predatoriness of Sogyal L, who not only has questionable credentials as a buddhist teacher, which you mention,, which CTR did not, but is using the vajrayana teachings to enslave his western devotees, demean and abuse (physically beating) these women and keeping them in a state , similar to victims of polygamous fundamentalist mormon groups. He has brought buddhism to a new low, and his , book endorsing, celebrity psychologists, also in the cult of lamaism, are enabling this, (you also had comments here from people who attending the Mind Life Institute, and were shocked at the blathering of these neuroscientists, (Sogyal has been on their panel discussions). These things are not separate topics, These lamas are now a lama mafia, working in concert with multinational , monopoly capitalism. it is a case where ’causes and conditions” are creating the perfect storm for the complete dumbing down of the masses, with buddhists being the new vanguard if inducing Quietism for the masses. Buddhists will also be the morality police and the happy- faced censors or ‘wrong thought” , with the buddhist psychologists being trained by the thousands to ‘correct’ deviations from ‘right thinking” of the new groupthink. Everyone in the 60s read Doors of Perception, that had such an influence in making us receptive to the ‘gurus” after the drugs, too bad we didn’t read Aldous Huxley’s sequel, Brave New World Revisited, written in 1949 where he predicted that group mind control would be facilitated without any need for guns and violence anymore.

    It is important to see the big picture and not focus on the trees, and miss the forest, when you are looking at consumer buddhism and how dangerous it has been to critical thinking and reasoning. Sogyal, the Mind-Life Institute, the Dalai Lama, the Eco Kamapa, being promoted to take the Dalai Lama’s place,( to tie in to the green washing , sustainability component or the new ‘eco-buddhism), read EcoFascism Revisited: Lessons from the German Experience by Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier , same conditions that we have now) multinational corporations, , the shocking repressive, censoring in these buddhist sanghas, who will make the perfect thought-police enforcers, if you go by their current behaviors and they get any more power. These things are all tied together. They are not ‘off topic” to the anti-intellectualism and spiritual materialism ad nauseum we find in contemporary buddhism today.

    Sogyal’ L’s ability to induce cult like behaviors in the professionally educated, is a very very scary state of affairs. He may not be the smartest teacher, but he knows how to keep whole groups enthralled, after all , these lamas kept their own people enslaved and enthralled for nearly a 1000 years , and still do, such that they still set themselves on fire for their God Kings, and their ‘political causes.”

    As for ‘true spirituality” it used to be connected with the uncovering of layers of self-deception, and the development of a true genuineness in all things, including speaking freely and spontaneously, trusting that compassion, in all its forms, including wrathful compassion when needed, , was encouraged to cut through deception, including self-deception. . This is no longer true in these sanghas, no anger is allowed, except if you start questioning what is happening in these groups, then you are attacked, demeaned, insulted etc. and the compartmentalizing of these behaviors by these ‘evolved kind ones” , resting in the One Self, and the Divine Light, is truly frightening. They have no idea that they are engaging in these attacks at all. .This new buddhism is the perfect religion for a controlled centralized State. That is why buddhism , when it is a state religion, always is a repressive arm of the State.

    So I don’t think what I am saying about Sogyal L, and his ‘connections” and his enablers, is disconnected at all to the new consumer buddhism, that has Adbusters, using his words as a logo, and having no idea at all that this is absurd on a site that is suppose to be promoting ‘deconditioning” from knee jerk reactions and mind control of the Mad Men.

    That is how deeply our society has been infiltrated and conditioned by this eastern colonization of the west, that a site devoted to ‘cutting through deception ” could unknowingly use Sogyal one of the masters of beguiling and deception as a voice piece.

  32. Glenn Wallis Avatar


    And personally, I still think the image/text in Adbusters is meant ironically. But that’s just me. I have trouble imagining anyone could be as stupid as they would have to be to mean that seriously.

    It really is hard to tell sometimes. I often read x-buddhist/spiritually things twice: once as a serious piece, once as farce. It is often impossible to determine which is correct. Tutte Wachtmeister–which, by the way, I’d translate as “The Watchful Master in the Bag”–is such a good satirist because he nails the thing he’s exposing. But what about someone like Kenneth “people are getting enlightened here” Folk? He reads easily as farce, and yet he isn’t (is he?). Really, the same can be said for the whole gang, from the geeky secularists to the staid bhikkhus and clownish sensei-s. Maybe someone can juxtapose the obvious send-ups with the apparently pious and sincere versions. I bet they’d be indistinguishable.

    About the ironic intent of Adbusters. I recently saw a book written by a noble-prize-winning physicist. The book was on mindfulness blah blah. It was childish beyond belief. It verifies the point Richard makes in #14. Just because someone is good at physics doesn’t mean he can think well generally. I see this all the time, people who are intelligent in one area and morons in others. I myself am very stupid in many areas of knowledge. I see this childish appropriation of x-buddhist materials by otherwise sophisticated thinkers on a nearly daily basis. I suspect the writer at Adbusters had a similar lapse. But, it really is hard to tell . . .

  33. Chris Avatar

    Thank you Tutteji, as Tom says, you must be engaging in satire? Perhaps Adbusters is too,.We should hope so,

  34. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    Yes, Glenn, I’m not sure. As I mentioned, my students frequently think Stephen Colbert is serious, and every single time this happens I’m completely, idiotically, stunned that someone could be so dumb–but I never expect it to happen again. When I read McLeod or Ken Wilbur, I am reminded of the character Malcolm McDowell plays on “The Mentalist,” and think that nobody could take such nonsense seriously; I am repeatedly proven wrong, and yet, every time, I’m shocked by it. Of course, Tutteji’s satire is funny only because what he says, in his comments here, is exactly the same thing we have heard said in all seriousness from so many x-buddhist teachers. Do they “mean” it? Or are they, like the head of the “Visualize” cult on “The Mentalist,” merely saying what will sell? Maybe McLeod or Folk seem like satire because they are being so “earnest” about saying what nobody could possibly believe, but what their audience will buy?

  35. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Chris, did I hit a nerve with my comparison of Trungpa and Sogyal?

  36. Chris Avatar

    Scorn and ridicule is the place we should be at now. It’s hard to ‘argue” with satire. You should write a spiritual autobiography now, Tutteji , I think it would be a best seller. with international translations,

  37. Chris Avatar

    No, not at all, I believe that CTR created a cult situation around him. I was merely pointing out that there are gradations of sexual predatoriness, and Sogyal L, is physically abusing these women and creating a very demanding and demeaning situation that meets all of Liftons 8 criteria for mind control. . CTR , on the other hand, was much more subtle, After all his favorite sexual conquests were promoted ,into teaching positions and administrative positions. He knew the power of the carrot. (he actually did know the dharma and taught it quite brilliantly, he also promoted questioning at all times, even if his sangha around him weren’t up to that task, and wanted a big daddy. But he too, had dreams of creating an empire in the west, but he hated new age spirituality, and this bull shit ‘peace and love” hindu concept, and thought that people who were trying to create ‘peace ‘ on earth had a very skewed and naive view of ‘spirituality”. But he was also a human being, not a divine king like so many of his students still believe, so much so, that they have allowed his illiterate, high school drop out son, to be seen as a god king, and now it is a Tibetophile cult, which CTR did not want. .

    Most of these lamas were sexually abused in these androcentric monasteries themselves, and sexual promiscuity is often a symptom of sexual abuse, beside Tibet being a polyandrous( for the poor) and polygamous (for the elite lamas and their hillbilly aristocratic relatives) and the latest incarnation of Kalu Rinpoche has opened this reality wide open where he has revealed on Youtube his own sexual abuse by these predatory lamas, in his monastery. It was rampant in Tibetan monasteries as was using female consorts for their ‘energy ‘ and then they were discarded. Jost as Sogyal is doing, he , unfortunately is only an abberation in terms of his sadistic behaviors. These lamas are basically shills for the monasteries labrangs,( read family trust funds) put out to endlessly fundraise. They are prisoners as much as their cult devotees. CTR probably felt absolutely free of all of it,when he came to America, after stuffy Scotland, but he still was a product of the Tibetan lama aristocracy, and couldn’t escape repeating the same misogynistic paradigm that they all promote. This is a feudal society that only reaches its hand out for the money, while remaining atavistically stuck in the 14th century, while blathering on about impermanence. They are so frightened of ‘impermanence” that they have to recreate themselves and their lineage over and over, through this hindustani priestly brahmin caste system, the ‘reincarnation of such and such lama” to remain on the top of the heap , on their golden thrones, forever.

  38. rkpayne Avatar

    Dear Glenn, One moderately sure guideline between satire and serious inanity would seem to be the donation link. Tutte’s is just a graphic. Folk’s actually leads to PayPal. So, while Folk wants money, Tutte is having fun. Also, I’d be tempted to render his name as “All-Seeing Master.” Best, Richard

  39. Chris Avatar

    Yes, and I think that Tutte’s site, as I read all of it, which I didn’t at first, (sorry I had my own knee jerk reaction), is brilliant, and covers all the bases that I was addressing. The Margaret Thatcher Thangka is is perfect!

  40. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Thanks Chris. I think my question is clear enough. Let’s see if somebody will answer it. I bet nobody will.

    Rexx, #22: The title of the book is Cruel Theory | Sublime Practice, Toward a Revaluation of Buddhism. It’s by Glenn Wallis, Tom Pepper, and myself. It’s in the final stages of production. No publication date yet. Probably it is out in around two months.

    Tom, I bet it’s not irony. They mean it. Did you read the Smithers text?

    Richard, thanks for the historical view in #11. Any “spiritual insurrection” nowadays should learn about such ancestry.

    The Margaret Thatcher Thangka is perfect!

  41. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Matthias (#41).

    I think my question is clear enough. Let’s see if somebody will answer it. I bet nobody will.

    Which question is that?

  42. Craig Avatar

    Kind of related to this and all x-buddhist delusion is an excerpt of a graphic novel in the newest issue of Shambhala Sun. It depicts our hero TNH slicing his finger and letting his blood drip into the water. This somehow makes all the suffering in war torn Vietnam just a little bit more meaningful.

    I was blown away by this! Graphic novels about TNH! Trungpa can’t be too far behind.

  43. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Glenn, #42.

    In #27 the one to the Adbusters and the one regarding the Dalai Lama as a Marxist.

    The other general one: What kind of resistance is possible if there is no outside of power, no outside of ideology? Part of the answer gives Patrick #17. Critique is part of the answer. But what action is possible which is not at once commodified and resold again as entertainment?

    And what regards Chris topics. It’s not so much how certain Buddhists behave. That’s not new, we all know how low personal integrity in Buddhist circles can be. It’s about the Adbusters. I really would like to know what spiritual insurrection means for them? I don’t get it. The Smithers text (cf. #27) also leads nowhere. Do they flinch when it comes to true spirituality?

  44. Patrick Avatar

    Hi Matthias ,
    I think your questions can only be partly answered, and probably only after a long debate (I mean a more general debate among leftists and those interested in radical change. I think a blog such as this could make an ongoing contribution to that debate despite or even because of its narrow focus)
    As far as the Dali Lama being a Marxist I think it is irrelevant in the long term but significant in the short. Its irrelevant in the long term because when social collapse and upheaval finally comes to the U.S all ideological half measures will be swept aside and the naked face of empire will appear before empires own native subjects. At that stage the generals will unleash war on their own population and without hesitation…I mean they will bomb American cities just as Assad has in Syria. Anyone who believes otherwise is living in cloud cukoo land, just as anyone who believes in some sort of pure revolution hasn’t experienced social breakdown and has learned nothing from history…for instance the way violence and war becomes in the end a young man’s affair, misogynist (widespread rape) adrenalin driven, and anarchic.(Read Trotsky account of the Russian revolution or accounts from any modern war correspondent or just look at the videos emerging from Syria ). My impression of many American Leftists is that they think in terms of something akin to the tea party version of revolution… for instance although they live in a racial melting pot they can’t seem to envisage a scenario in which one minority will side with the ruling class and be used as a paramilitary proxy to carry out the more unsavory work of extermination. Such ridiculous naivety is laughable.
    In the short term though the debate about the nature of Buddhism and its relationship to Marxism is relevant as a component of a wider debate about a critique of capitalism and its inevitable collapse (or widespread ecological collapse which amounts to the same thing) Its relevant because it will be an element in the formation of a ‘revolutionary subject’… the human being who will see through the upheaval to come and in the end partly determine its nature and outcome. For the formation of such a subject questions as to the nature of critical thought and the limitations of thought , the possibility of forging a humane revolutionary ethic, and the way ideology is formed and functions, are all crucial .

  45. Patrick Avatar

    I meant to say also…. Don’t quite know what you mean by ‘true spirituality…can find no better definition than the following from Glenn:

    Nothing can, except through illusion, substitute itself for you and for your identity. And you cannot, except through illusion, substitute yourself for x-buddhism, for The Dharma, etc. Homo sapiens is an inalienable reality. There is no reversibility between homo sapiens and x-buddhism.(9)

    An addendum:

    Nor is there a reversibility betweenHomo sapiens and any ideological formation, including those thought formations that once functioned in the service of homo sapien but are now degenerate ideological formations..I mean the the various Stalinisms that might ‘infect’ critical thought. Not that one can escape ideology, but that it is the function of the practice of critical thought to reduce ideology by degrees to the inalienable reality of Homo sapiens , and in the process re-define the merely human.

  46. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    A few thoughts…

    I regret a bit that The Wachtmeister has been outed explicitly so quickly. I would have loved to see how the conversation between him and the ones who wouldn’t look at his site twice would have developed. We all have this problem: we take something at face value too quickly and we react reflexively. It’s strange. Subtleties get lost and even the glaring obvious becomes obscure.

    Chris for example. You had everything from Huxley, to EcoFascism, to I don’t know what in what you’ve written so far, but the one single question I have doesn’t interests you. In fact you denounce it in #32 as too intellectual. Funny, the first subtitle in my text is about “anti-intellectualism” and now I am too intellectual.

    Let me repeat my question to Adbusters in the most general way:

    What is the relationship of Adbusters to x-buddhism?

    This is a very practical question. I think Adbusters should be forced to think about this question. Maybe when Mai 1st is over and they are done with #goldman they have more time to think about this. Let’s not forget, they call themselves “meme warriors”. What does this mean in reality? The meme “Dalai Lama” for example? Or the meme “Sogyal Rinpoche”?

    The reason why I reacted to the latter is that it becomes – for those who are willing to take a closer look – so obvious that it is a Potemkin village.

    And I wonder what people like Sukhan, Torsten, Daniel Brooks etc. are doing with the example I give in #7. There are a lot of examples like this everywhere in x-buddhism but this is one of the best I know. What do people with such an information?

    This is too about my use of the term “true spirituality” (Patrick, #46) in the text. I wrote in #27.

    A self exposure to a contradiction which might threaten ones believe is part of what I call true spirituality.

    Normally I would call such an act simply honesty, truthfulness, or sincerity. But Adbusters are about “spiritual insurrection” so I use the term too to put the ball into their field again. The question to them is:

    How honest can the spiritual insurrection be, if its alley is x-buddhism?


    Patrick, #45. The question is of renewed interest for me. I think also it is the perhaps the most important question here on the blog, because we have to think about what happens if we stripp Buddhism off its transcendental camouflage? That means, how do we come to think something new? Something new being by definition unknown! Badiou’s theorie of the event is about this. Laruelle is about it too. Gene Gendlin, for example, is about it too: thinking at the edge.

    I will concentrate more on this question again. But not so much in ad-hoc discussions like this.

    What interets my is what kinds of protest, art, action… can leave a lasting impression on thought. And how we can develop real new thought. The problem a lot of people see and a lot of people are discussing (one example here) is that a lot of action against the capitalist system is affirming the system in one way or another. Look at the arts for example. The film Exit Through the Gift Shop, and the story and development around it, is a great example how subversion turns into affirmation.

    As for your last paragraph. I really don’t know what Buddhism (as a tradition of a wealth of good thought) really has to contribute. At least in my case I must say western contemporary thought teaches me much more than Buddhism. Not the least problem with this I have is the hermeneutical problem: I can understand western thought much more directly than Buddhist thought. To get to Buddhist thought I have to overcome several gaps : time, language, culture, the bias of contemporary ideology, history of passing down of the material etc. Why not go straight to the important questions. Do I need Buddhism if I can learn from, for example, Badiou’s Ethics?

  47. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Force the truth:

    Here are the text pages I mention in #7. If anybody has a satisfactory explanation for what seems to be the total incompatibility of the text and note #1, I would appreciate to hear it.

    Also I would like to hear by Soygal supporters how they explain this.

    Klick here to get a full resolution copy.

  48. Tutteji Avatar

    Let me quote from our favorite Slovenian philosopher’s forthcoming comments on Tutteji:

    The first reaction of the Leftist critics of Western Buddhism, Mindfulness, “Spirituality” and so on, was to conceive of Tutteji as the ironic imitation of X-Buddhist or Neo Advaita rhetoric; however, their support of Tutteji is always accompanied by an uneasy feeling: “What if he really means it? What if he truly identify with this spiritual crap?” -or, a more cunning version of it, transferring one’s own doubt onto the other: “What if Tutteji overestimates his audience? What if the morons take seriously what Tutteji mockingly imitates, so that Tutteji actually strengthens what he purports to undermine?” This uneasy 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 “postideological” universe is precisely the cynical distance toward public values? 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? In this sense the strategy of Tutteji appears in a new light: it “frustrates” the system (the ruling ideology) precisely insofar as it is not its ironic imitation, but over-identification with it – by bringing to light the obscene superego underside of the system, over-identification suspends its efficiency. (In order to clarify the way this baring, this public staging of the obscene fantasmatic kernel of an ideological edifice, suspends its normal functioning, let us recall a somehow homologous phenomenon in the sphere of individual experience: each of us has some private ritual, phrase [nicknames, etc.] or gesture, used only within the most intimate circle of closest friends or relatives; when these rituals are rendered public, their effect is necessarily one of extreme embarrassment and shame – one has a mind to sink into the earth.)

    The ultimate expedient of Tutteji Wachtmeister is his deft manipulation of transference: his audience (especially intellectuals) is obsessed with the “desire of the Other” -what is Tutteji’s actual position, is he truly an x-buddhist or not?- i.e., they address Tutteji with a question and expect from him an answer, failing to notice that Tutteji himself does not function as an answer but a question. By means of the elusive character of his desire, of the indecidability as to “where he actually stand,” Tutteji compels us to take up our position and decide upon our desire.

  49. Chris Avatar

    Well, you guys are a wordy Zen Koan indeed. The sound of many hands clapping to a discernable pattern , rhythm and direction. So that is not bad. one has to slow down, and really contemplate what you are asking, as you provoke, its the provocation that I am drawn to , because no one, so far, has ever really pushed the envelope like you are doing. and I so appreciate it.

    I am not a philosopher, and have only a superficial understanding of post modern philosophers, although my brief encounter with reading Zizek ,is that I like him very much,without much of a understanding of his own “lineage. ” Is that possible to appreciate Zizek without being a philosopher?Probably not as fully, but it was that he was “dead on” about buddhism allowing one to keep one’s hands clean of messy reality from an imagined , transcendent distance. While also appearing to be ” fully engaged ” with reality which, in my experience is impossible with this filter of giant superego churning the wheels of the new ‘engaged’ buddhism, , coupled with the ‘non violent communication ‘group speak” operating in every lived moment.

    I had an immediate knee jerk reaction to Tutteji, , because his presentation is within a ‘hair’s breadth of the actual presentation of what is passing for buddhism these days , right down to the presentation of the shrine, with the symmetrically placed ikebana . So one has a knee jerk reaction to the old theatre of it all. Same presentation of ‘props” That’s what makes it so effective.. So it is at first, hard to tell , if he is being ironic. Unless you pause and look again at more than the Home page. . So it was not ‘desire of the Other” as much as rejection of Other, but still ‘transference” yes.

    So I will have to ‘think” about your question and Tutte’s post,, , or I will have to let thinking arise spontaneously and simultaneously again, along with intuition, feeling etc. about your question. Being in the cult of buddhism and having rejected thinking , for so long, has left me rather crude, from years of laziness. I really appreciate what you are doing, No one else is doing it, certainly not the punk, rebel, buddhist sites that I have come across.

    I resist however, having to read the whole modern and post-modern body of philosophy,to understand some of your questions. You second time around was much more clear in asking it. It wasn’t intellectualization at all. It was very clear. And I will contemplate it.

  50. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Tutteji (#49). Zizek makes very good points about you. I agree with nearly all of it. The only part I would change is this: “[Tutteji’s] audience (especially non and phobic-intellectuals) is obsessed with the “desire of x-buddhism”.

    Here’s an example. We’ve all seen many examples of hostility to intelligence by the Secular Buddhists. And we’re left with a bit of confusion about it, since many of the people being attracted to Secular Buddhism seem intelligent. So what’s happening? As Zizek/Wallis-on-Tutteji suggests, Secular Buddhists* are not as anti-intellectual as they are fearful of the intellect. They must reject the demands of the intellect in order to preserve their hope-providing impetus toward the thaumaturgical refuge. They must, that is to say, at all cost, preserve desire for x-buddhism itself. As I define that desire elsewhere:

    “X-buddhism” indexes a sacrificial rending from reality. Its rhetorics of display, whether secular or religious or anything else, constitute an act of high pageantry, whereby empty reality is both ruptured and repaired. But the sacrifice and its sacrament are confined entirely to a circle of x-buddhism’s own creation. Reality remains untouched. X-buddhism does not offer up knowledge. It is a matrix of hallucinatory desire—the manufactured desire of the x-buddhist for realization of x-buddhism’s self-created world-reparation.

    Over at the Secular Buddhist Association, for instance, on a thread titled “The Problem of Well-meaning Amateurs,” you asked Mark Knickelbine a good question. What prompted your question was one by “Zuma,” who wrote:

    Yet you all claim to be dharma teachers. No? Teaching what? Relaxation response? Definitely not new age, but a reification of non-existing dharma.

    To which Knickelbine replied, as he and all the other Batchelorettes always do, by demurring to be a “teacher” of any sort whatsoever:

    Zuma, I sure don’t. The only real dharma teacher is life. I lead group practice sessions, and hopefully they give people a context in which to learn from themselves and each other. I couldn’t do this if I weren’t confident that I have nothing to give anyone that they don’t already have in abundance.

    So, you asked:

    What is the difference between leading “group practice sessions” and being a teacher? And do you have any other qualifications for doing the former, except that you “have nothing to give anyone”?

    And now, the phobia shows itself. Does Knickelbine answer your question? Of course not. He evades the unavoidable contradiction exposed by your question by simply letting on that he gets your satire.

    Tutteji, your WordPress site is tremendously funny. The part where you get Buddhism, Ayn Rand and Scientology all rolling together made me laugh out loud. That shot of you with the Alfred E. Neumann face and the Andy Warhol-cum-Shemp Howard hair in front of the picture of Maggie Thatcher hung with a garland — a true stitch. Thanks for the giggles!

    Then comes a inexplicable coment by Papa Ted. It makes me wonder if something you said has been deleted. They are quick to do that over there. Or was Meissner just embarrassed that he didn’t get what you’re up to? OR maybe he saw a bit of himself in your exposure? Meissner:

    We didn’t need to waste our time on it at all — practical jokes are neither. When people make threats of legal action against our members, we take it seriously, and spending time dealiing with their bullshit prevents our resources from doing more beneficial work for everyone else.

    Finally, some astute reader named Bodhidharma666 says:

    Mark Knickelbine: Whether Tutteji is a satirist or not, his question to you is a very good one.

    “What is the difference between leading “group practice sessions” and being a teacher? And do you have any other qualifications for doing the former, except that you “have nothing to give anyone”?

    I’d also be curious about the answer. Thank you.

    Don’t expect a thoughtful reply from the secularistas. The unthinking x-buddhists simply cannot permit themselves the destructive potential of thought.

    UPDATE. Apparently, Ted the Protector did delete text. For Master Tutteji protests:

    Come on, Ted. I never made any “threats of legal action”, and the absurdity of this accusation would be perfectly obvious if you hadn’t deleted the discussion where it was insinuated that I am some kind of fake guru. I also notice that Mark is evading my question while presenting the bizarre suggestion that my website is some kind of prank.

    UPDATE. The compassionate and wise Bodhidharma666 had his last comment deleted and was banned from the site. The terrible, ban-deserving comment:

    Ted, for the sake of transparency, would you mind reinstating the deleted text? Thank you.

    *Secular Buddhists = not only the starry-eyed Batchelorettes, like the Secular Buddhist Association, but the entire Gang of Mutual Admirers: Vincent Horn/Buddhist Geeks, Stephen Schettini, Ken McCleod, Hokai Sobol, Kenneth Folk. As always, I skip over the the True Defenders of the Faith, since they are obviously bewitched beyond help–people such as Alan Wallace, Bob Thurman, Brad Warner, Noah Levine, etc., etc., not to mention the Oz-ian bhikkhus, senseis, rinpoches . . .

  51. Tutteji Avatar

    Glenn (#51):

    I agree that Zizek’s recent comments on my project show some insight, even though he is plagiarizing himself.

    As for the weirdness over at the Secularist forum, it all started when it was hinted that I am some kind of fake guru. That discussion was swiftly deleted when I let them know that my attorney considered this suggestion slanderous.

    I hope the perceived threat of legal action won’t take attention away from the much more interesting question about the qualifications of the secular meditation teachers. It is kind of fascinating when someone makes a profound-sounding, seemingly humble statement like: “I couldn’t do this if I weren’t confident that I have nothing to give anyone that they don’t already have in abundance.” I mean, it is one thing if a Fully Transmitted Master in several recognized lineages like myself would say something like that, quite another when it comes from Mark Knickelbine.

  52. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    Chris: Re 50, There’s no real point in trying to read any “whole body of philosophy” to be able to think. As one of my favorite writers on the topic of the analytic-continental debates in philosophy, Christopher Norris (I think he may be Chuck’s Welsh cousin?) argues, Anglo-American philosophy is killing itself by endlessly insisting on arguing over arcane matters, making them appear more complex than they are to continue avoiding solving them. And Zizek is about as anti-postmodern as anyone in the field.

    Can you appreciate Zizek without being a philosopher? Well, I think Zizek’s work is best readthe way we would a novel. I think “Less Than Nothing” is the best novel of the century so far. That is, we don’t need to get every reference, or agree with every reading he offers to let the work have its effect. Just read it for the love plot (When Hegel met Lacan), and let it have its effect. It works the way novelistic discourse does, to distantiate and reconfigure the symbolic/imaginary structure, to re-produce the subject, the way “Ulysses” or “Finnegan’s Wake” does.

  53. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Tutteji (#52). You are certainly not a fake guru. You are the genuine thing. I understand that. Onward ho . . .

  54. JRC Avatar

    Since we are all one big happy interconnected family here on planet Earth and the average one of us tends to move his or her bowels every time a butterfly gets its wings, would not spirituality 3.0 be more along the cutting edge line of evolution? In fact, since such a state of affairs would have to be the way things have always been, are now, and ever will be and therefore revealed; how does the idea of evolution even enter into it? And how can spirituality 2.0 lay in the wake of liberalism (see Tutte Wachtmeister’s liberalism 3.0)? Does spirituality, in fact, rest in the One Self; and is that One Self liberal?

  55. Tutteji Avatar

    While I was busy designing the new Spiritual Supply Shop, run by the Tutteji Foundation® Charity Trust (Speculative non-buddhists receive a 15% discount on their first purchase, so please pay a visit), I was banned from the Secularist site as well. Too bad, otherwise I would have thanked Mark Knickelbine for his kind and compassionate answer to my question.


  56. Patrick Avatar

    The link you provided seems relevant but needs careful reading so I will keep it in mind… I really don’t think the Dali Lama’s position is all that important except as something to react against.. I don’t think his commitment to Marxism is anything to take seriously… As for buddhism I agree…there is more to be gained from reading Badiou’s or Larualle ..or rather we should continue to force the question to its logical conclusion by putting the outlandish claims of xbuddhists into proximity with the work of Laruelle and Badiou….but I think there is still something useful to be gained from Buddhism’s particular way of articulating the concept of emptiness as an opening into dependent origination or immanence, even if only as part of the process of redefining it in terms of ‘western philosophy’….Glens heuristic is the best way I have come across to do this and the most intent on pushing thought visa vie xbuddhism. Its a very clear lesson on the formation of an ideological position from the inside…how xbuddhism ‘ticks’
    Also I think there is something in the way this blog seems to ‘get at’ intellectual laziness and investment in unexamined thinking that (despite my resistance) is worth a lot. (which is why I said earlier that commenting here is a practice of sorts, although for me less commenting and more in-depth reading works best. Its painful though, because Glenn has ‘cottoned’ on to the affective component of ‘decision’ and seems to relish using the Zen stick. Is that much the same as what you say below?

    A self exposure to a contradiction which might threaten ones believe

    Laruelle seems to have missed the affective element of this or downplayed it, but then my reading of him is minuscule.
    As for Soygal… reading that text now after so long makes me depressed…at my own gullibility when I first read it… I presume he was forced to acknowledge in the second edition the quote from chodron and could no longer pass it off as his personal experience… I have no doubt that his being caught at barefaced lying will be explained away in true xbuddhist fashion or they will just ignore it as in ‘the Emperor has no clothes’.

    Re 53# and what you said to Chris…I’m intrigued at your suggestion that we could read Philosophy in the same way as we would read Joyce. …to let it sink in and have its effect… my own way of (trying to )read philosophy is to take a paragraph at a time and just plug away until I think Ive got the point. Its a huge chore and hugely stressful… I would love to believe that the way you suggest was workable but I think I would just sink further into confusion. Also it surprises me that you think that there is a way of something ‘having its effect’…it suggests a sort of intuitive approach to the subject that doesn’t seem to sit with your insistence on pushing thought…you always come over here as extremely national or even analytical…at the moment I’m reading something about Spinoza’s idea about an emotion being akin to a fuzzy or unclear thought…the more I think about it the more I agree with that but how does your suggestion fit with that . Isn’t letting it have its effect just making do with fuzzy thought or maybe the analysis is built on that…anyway I will give it a go with Spinoza and see what happens.

  57. Craig Avatar


    The emotions that come up in reading philosophy are unclear thoughts, as you say. Now, how do we get them clear? Curiosity helps me. Nothing transcendental about it, I don’t think.

  58. Patrick Avatar

    Hello Craig,
    ‘nothing transcendental’ yes but I am thinking of the relationship between emotion…’gut feeling’… intuition and thought (This is an instance of unclear or fuzzy thought for instance… I can feel that there is something important here that we should avoid downplaying when we throw out the transcendental ‘bathwater’.) Curiosity as you say is a help. I’m no longer content with the old refrain ‘just trust ‘gut feeling’…Ive been wrong more often than not and that can be painful and mischievous when it comes to often is ‘gut feeling’ nothing more than prejudice?
    With philosophy it plays a big part though..maybe you just have to let ‘fuzzy thought’ peculate for a while and then start with the analysis…I am sure when you write a lyric its a combination of clear thinking and ‘fuzzy thought… what I’m clear about now ( thanks to Tom’s insistence on Spinoza’s point… I have never read him before this) is that its all thought and not anything qualitatively different from thought…which is really important, since it makes intuition, emotion, gut feeling, fuzzy thought, workable… since it all becomes part of the work of pushing thinking to the edge of thought….

  59. Tom Pepper Avatar

    Patrick: I’m not sure why this would be surprising. My goal is never to eliminate or “reduce as far a possible” our ideologies–I prefer an abundance of ideology!! Lots of desires, and motivations, and interests. The point is just to know that they ARE ideologies, humanly constructed in social practices. If we can become readers who read Less Than Nothing with the same enjoyment as we might read Ulysses or any other novel, we become readers who take enjoyment in active thought, and in trying to think dialectically all the time about everything, from the design of our toilets to the ideological function of the camera angle on a sitcom. The novel is a discourse that produces ideology at the level of the structure and position of the subject in the symbolic order (it is about Love, Human Nature, desires, voice, point of view, etc.) We may need to plod methodically through an exegesis of Spinoza’s Ethics, and it may do little to shape our subjectivity at the level of desire, remaining at the level or reason and the symbolic; but if we learn to read Zizkek or Freud or Sartre for the fun of it, we become subjects who desire thought, who enjoy thinking, and it becomes easier to get out of the morass of unclear thinking called emotions we are taught to wallow in.

  60. Chris Avatar

    I think you are making a false dichotomy between feelings and thinking, or emotions and thinking , or thinking and intuition. Any of these ‘skandhas” for want of a better word, work best when they work together, or arise together as seemingly pre-thought, but is more than that. It seems to inform better thinking, better poetry, and better philosophy. , I would imagine , when they arise, seemingly from nowhere , but not separated. . In other words, my ‘intuition ‘ when it is working well about a situation, is informed by my past experiences, ( and the more life experience one has the better one is at ‘intuting things pretty quickly . Usually pretty dead on. I think that is what by ‘first thought, best thought” in is best if it is based on more than thought and also includes emotional reactions,, and feelings, somehow integrated with each other. When I separate these modalities, , such that I am just thinking a lot, for example, my head actually hurts , I am disconnect from my bodily feelings, gut reactions,intuitions flowing freely as well. I actually seem to have a disembodied head that feels askew. However, when I relax in all these ways of relating to the world around me, , my ‘thinking’ or analysis of something works better because it is more fully informed, my analytic thinking is clearer, and more precise. Creativity becomes natural and not forced. .

    Funny, since finding this site, I am actually experiencing a renewed appreciation for the buddhist teachings, something that was eluding me for so long now, , since I had been finding the group buddhist thing increasingly limiting and stifling, but was stuck in a more emotional reaction to it. Rejection as still an attachment . Since buddhism had also become my whole social world. as it does for anyone ‘staying too long at the fair.” it was like being stuck in a small town for too long, and wanting to break out and travel but being stuck in the airport, a no man’s land.

    in 2008, I did a Dzogchen retreat, 10 hours a day for a month, no reference points , similar I would imagine to zazen, but more relaxed bodily, (they say these teachings had the same roots); things got so clear from all that sitting , feelings arose and dissolved, thoughts arose and dissolved, but they no longer seemed separated, my thinking got actually clearer, and all the things I shelved as a non thinking buddhist, were still available and they came flooding back as though a ‘dam had broke.” Analytical thinking was available again, and appreciated, as though I had ‘snapped out” of a dream world.

    But the first thing that had to dissolve was my attachment to my social self, (or as someone said, “Other as the object of desire”), and I began to see clearly the narcissism of this lama, and his own stuckness in his ‘social self” of Tibetan Lamaism, his duplicity having to shill for the monastery while teaching about buddhism, , and insanity of the administration of this retreat, who were not doing the retreat with us, but “managing it.” They started to look actually fascist ad insane as they tried to used guilt, shame, all kinds of group mechanisms (even confession before the group) to control us. ( I don’t think people are acknowledging that these groups really are cult-milieus) Anyway I just kept ‘sitting ” doing nothing, and they had no control over me, anymore. .My thinking got much sharper, and after the retreat, I realized I had catapulted out of these scenes forever and from the need for a “sangha” , or a need to identify with being a buddhist, . I started to experience the freedom that I had imagined and clung to as a goal of all those practices. (‘it’s only a leap, before you leap, then it is no big deal as they say) and this just happened naturally, with all that relaxed sitting, and what felt like a real integration of feelings, intuition, gut reactions, and thinking arising together in an integrated way, without falsely separating them, or making any big deal about them. .

    . Now would that have happened in my lifetime, without that Dzogchen retreat? I don’t think so. So this site really got me to reflect on this, and re appreciate my experiences with that retreat.

    I don’t think most people had that experience at the retreat, however, maybe a handful, because the majority clamored to have the lama of the retreat give them all kinds of ‘reference point” practices, again, abishekas, even preliminary practices, they seemed to have a more solidified social self after this retreat, becoming more close to each other and close -minded as a group. More of a cult- situation then it had already been, and they became even less able to handle any criticism about their ‘sangha”. .

    Maybe all these modalities , thinking, feeling, intuition etc. all need each other for each modality to optimally work best , i.e. clarity arises when they are all functioning together.

  61. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    No, Chris, you’re completely missing my point. I’m not drawing a “dichotomy” at all -although you clearly are. My point is simply Spinoza’s–what we call emotions are not different in kind from what we call thought or reason, they are just poorly done thinking. Intuitiion is thought, but though done for us in the dominant ideology, and when we think we are leaving behind our social self, we are most completely living as pure automatons of the dominant ideology. Read around a bit more on the blog–or some of the essays in non+X–and this may become clearer. xbuddhism (particularly the kind of Dzogchen you describe) functions to reify our ideologies and strengthen our beleif in and attachment to the deep and transcendent atomist soul, even while we are saying we don’t have a “self.” An attempt to balance “thinking, feeling, intuition, etc” so they can “function together” is an attemtp to cling to our delusions, abd convince ourselves that our feelings are transcendent truths instead of unlcear socially produced ideological thougths. I’ve discussed this on the blog many times–in “samsare as the realm of ideology,” eg, or in the essay on “Buddhist anti-intellectualism.’

  62. Chris Avatar

    Well what you are describing didn’t happen to me. It was the opposite. I could suddenly access thinking and analytic thought again, I was analysing the situation more clearly ‘in front of me” in that retreat as I was more in touch with my feelings and gut, and body, and I found the situation suddenly absurd.

    I don’t give a shit about a transcendent atomist soul, never did. .You are putting words in my mouth that I never said, you interpreted what I said, incorrectly. And I certainly don’t give a damn about enlightenment anymore, I have read the blog, not everything, and I think you are still separating these modalities, with a preference for ‘thinking.” Maybe this is a function of your doing all that Zen practice? Didn’t I read that it really rejects thinking ? Anyway , Tibetan buddhism is a richer display, and we were never supposed to reject thinking , The analytic thinkers in Tibetan Buddhism, gravitated to madhyamika practices and that was suppose to shoot them out of the canon, with ad naseum rationality . You are quoting Spinoza now, and it would be like me quoting Nargajuna to make my point.

    So you lose your audience if you have to rely on a particular lineage of philosophy and I didn’t say I left my social self completely, that would be absurd, it’s just that I catapulted out of the social self as a buddhist, and all the garbage and tethers that it created for me, and I didn’t just think my way out of it either, although thinking and analysing the situation became a part of it again, on that retreat. But there were other modalities as well operating. I don’t think you really read my post either. You seem, I intuit, to be having quite an ’emotional reaction’ to my post, and not just “analysing” my post. Perhaps too much thinking, and not paying enough attention to ‘your emotions”.

    Anyway, I am not trying to piss you off, but I certainly don’t want to be part of a Zen boys’ club. Not many women writing on here. Or commenting, Just an observation, analytical and intuitive and gut feeling.

    I wasn’t ‘balancing’ these modalities, , I said they arose , more or less simultaneously, that’s how it seemed although it could be nanoseconds of alternations between the modalities, so I use the world ‘simultaneously’ cautiously, and certainly one modality or another could dominate, and should ,given different situations, but they weren’t separated and then ‘integrated”, perhaps the use of integrated led to the confusion, as though they were inherently separated and then fused together or integrated. . It is hard to describe this, .

  63. Chris Avatar

    And it depends on who was teaching the “Dzogchen” again a label, I should have just said retreat and described what it was. And never in Tibetan buddhism, whether, madhyamika , vajrayana, mahayana, hinayana, it included all of those practices, was there ever any focus on an idealized , atomistic soul, that is Hinduism, which certainly infused itself into Tibetan buddhism because that is what the monastic, or clerical side of tibetan buddhism incorporated along with its shamanistic, superstitious modes of pre buddhism. . It was a very rich display as I said, And certainly it sounds that way when you read the teachings of Dzogchen, it seems heavily influenced and seemingly ‘reifying” a Self a bigger more transcendent self , again, but that wasn’t the experience of doing that retreat, In fact, after the retreat, I couldn’t read any of the texts anymore, and just gave all the dharma books I had away, except for maybe one or two, even that became ‘suspicious to me” why I was keeping them. Probably superstition, we can never get rid of anything, and why would we want to? Things are always changing, but it was just ‘sitting” with nothing to do and things fell away , more than reified again. I was now ‘bereft” , of a need for a buddhist social group, it is not necessarily a pleasant feeling, it is actually quite lonely since these sanghas become ‘built in social groups” where ever you go.

    Anyway, too much personal narrative for this group, I can see. Experience as anecdote or to make a point, seems to be discouraged.

    Anyway that ‘s what I LOVED about Tutteji’s site. It really is very direct, . by cutting through the bullshit,with humour, very direct, reaches all the modalities at once, mostly intuition. You can’t really debate humour and it would reach pre buddhists, and stuck buddhists, I have survivor’s guilt to have ‘escaped.”

  64. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    Okay Chris, whatever. If you want to stay deluded and cling to your intuition, to live as an automaton of capitalist ideology fooling yourself that your “see clearly” and are “free,” that’s up to you. I was trying to point out how to get undeluded–but if you like your delusions, I can’t help you with that, so I won’t respond to you anymore–please return the favor.

  65. Chris Avatar

    Wow, I see you are a counselor, as well. Hmm. Always the most prickly, an ex-buddhist counselor? At least you are not trying to engage me with NVC, I’ll give you that. Maybe it was my saying that the psychology profession has endorsed Sogyal, and continues to enable him? Whatever it was, you sure ‘reacted” to my post, Do you notice you are doing what this site is ‘calling out.” The censoring and cutting off of communication because you don’t like my posts, and the immediate ad hominem attacks, from the ‘oh so wise” and enlightened ones?

    Pretty ironic, don’t you think, and it didn’t take much, Mr. Peppery.Prickly.

  66. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    Please note: nobody is censoring or cutting off any comments on this blog. Suggesting that somebody read around a little before commenting is hardly censorship. I’m an English teacher, by the way–and I often cut off students who are staying stupid things and wasting everyone’s time. THAT may be censorship, of a sort, but my refusing to indulge your infantile stupidity is not censoring you. I hope this is clear enough, because I really will not respond again–although you are free to comment here all you want.

  67. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Hi Chris (#61).

    Maybe all these modalities , thinking, feeling, intuition etc. all need each other for each modality to optimally work best , i.e. clarity arises when they are all functioning together.

    I’d be interested in seeing an analysis of the x-buddhist concept of “clarity.” I have resorted to it myself, often, in fact. But whenever I do, I have the same uncomfortable feeling I get when I use what turns out, on closer examination, to be murky language. So I have stopped using it. My basic language practice is to find a word that gets as close as I can to what I am actually doing. So, usually, when I want to say “clarity” I am just doing aa certain kind of thinking, coupled with a mental sharpness. It feels very creative. But the metaphor of clarity, it turns out, is just a lazy approximation, a kind of lexical short cut, to what’s really happening (a variety of thought).

    So, how does the term ‘clarity” function in various x-buddhist discourses? Personally, I have heard it used in different senses in Dzogchen, Soto Zen, and Vipassana contexts. I am too lazy right now to spell it all out. I just want to bring up the fact that when we used such terms–I call them buddhemes–we are involved with rhetoric, not, as the buddhemes themselves ask us to believe, with phenomenology.

    For those who are interested in classical-buddhist “psychology,” we can remind ourselves that there are no terms for “emotion” or “intuition.” What we call emotion is just the confluence of pre-verbal sensation and thinking. In the classical-buddhist system, thinking is unavoidable. That’s why I say: let’s not try to think less. Let’s try to think better!


  68. Chris Avatar

    Well , thanks Glenn, clarity is definitely a “concept” with a capital C in Vipassana and Dzogchen , that could be ‘deconstructed ” and I like the term ‘buddhemes” am now curious if by using that term , clarity, I am taking much for granted and it’s just more lazy thinking, rather than taking the time to define what I meant further, You give me pause…I’ll want to explore that definitely. ..

  69. Daniel Brooks Avatar

    OK, since you ask, I’ll answer. Your main point here seems to be that Sogyal Rinpoche is a damn liar because he claims to have had a spiritual awakening from an event he couldn’t have participated in. Sorry but to me that seems like pretty thin soup, and highly contextual. There are plenty of examples of causes leading to awakening effects spread out over vast distances in time and space. This isn’t to say that magic ju-ju sprang from the one to the other, merely that maybe Sogyal got this experience through contemplation on the death of this master rather than the presence to it. You know, like you can think of a dinosaur without ever having encountered one!

    Your other question, what use is the Dalai Lama meme or the Thich Nhat Hahn meme? Oh what troublemakers those two are! How deep their commitment to perpetuating the suffering of the world they are with all their kindness and compassion! I admit, I don’t really know what good those memes are except a vague intuition that preaching kindness to those who will listen might do some good, especially when many of them are in positions of great power. But what does that matter if there are assholes on the Internet who call themselves Buddhists while they clearly aren’t Buddhas! Liars, all of them!

    And yes, the themes that these memes have infected me with have some grip over the way I approach the world(although maybe moreso the memes behind them, such as dependent coarising, the four noble truths, etc), but such is the way of humanity. You are also to a certain extent enthralled to the concepts of the philosophers you like and relate to. This is fine; your mind is not something that is contained within the confines of your skull, it arises in the combination of that grey matter with all the other things in the universe. It’s fine to subscribe to the ideas of others, as long as you are able to exert a choice in what to think about when applying them. Try this on for size: maybe, just maybe, excercising the fullness of that choice involves being able to choose whether or not to think at all. And you cannot think your way to that ability, it has to be trained. The truth is that most people who pride themselves in their ability to think also have the least choice in whether they actually want to think in a given situation, because the ego-attachment to thought makes them think to a certain extent that thought is all they are. If you truly believe that no situation would benefit from not thinking, I pity you. I certainly wouldn’t want to think about what happens next when I’m kissing a beautiful girl or about refractory indexes when I’m staring into an entrancing sunset. Consider also the (paraphrased) words of David Foster Wallace here: to be truly educated does not just encompass the ability to think, but also about *what* to think about. The mind is a great servant but a terrible master, and it is the desire to kill this terrible master that leads gunshot suiciders to shot themselves in their heads although the heart is a better target.

    I’ve read the Zizek piece that you’re very fond of and for the longest time I was just angry at him. Then I realized that it was just because I don’t recognize this ‘western Buddhism’ he talks about at all. A Buddhism that makes me a good little capitalist consumer? He must be smoking something really nice, because the Western Buddhism I’ve been exposed to involves long hours of grueling self-inquiry that were the hardest things, cerebral or physical, that I’ve ever done(and I’ve taken on some pretty foolhardy challenges in my day). As a direct consequence of this, I’ve gotten rid of two-thirds of my possessions and yet feel richer everyday despite, nay, because of it. Some of the best people I know own little more than a towel, a set of robes, and some shoes. The only reasons I can think of why Zizek would find my Buddhism to be capitalist is if he is engaged in an all-or-nothing, you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us revolution against capitalism where anyone not throwing bricks on the street or mailing the newspaper on a daily basis is a traitor to the cause and a part of the problemm. Or maybe he’s just talking about pop buddhism which comes in a number of half-hearted versons.

    Perhaps though, another question about memes would be: What good are the Matthias Steinglass and Glenn Wallis memes? If I were a discriminating man, and I am, I’d say that judging from the sheer amount of judgemental cynicism and condescending spite in this discussion forum, I’d have to go with Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh any day of the week. Even more so because I am discriminating enough to question their wisdom as this is the path to understanding the practical applicability of their words. I don’t have to believe in Tulku reincarnation to acknowledge the compassionate involvement these men, and many others less well-known but equally worthy. I also recognize that the wisdom that equates to this compassionate involvement is arrived at by a process that requires much more than deep thought, reading books and arguing about whose philosophical daddy is stronger on the Internet.

    And on that note, I’ll leave you with this one: I’ve said my piece and I wish you the very best on your journey guys.

  70. Danny Avatar

    Daniel Brooks, re:70

    I certainly wouldn’t want to think about what happens next when I’m kissing a beautiful girl

    That’s funny. this is exactly what I’m thinking about when kissing a beautiful girl: what happens next?

    happy trails

  71. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Daniel (#70).

    Consider also the (paraphrased) words of David Foster Wallace here: to be truly educated does not just encompass the ability to think, but also about *what* to think about. The mind is a great servant but a terrible master, and it is the desire to kill this terrible master that leads gunshot suiciders to shot themselves in their heads although the heart is a better target.

    Do you really want to quote David Foster Wallace on knowing “what to think about”? Is this quote ironic?

    You may want to see some “compassionate involvement” in the actions of the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn, but can’t you see the harm done, too? Does it really have to be spelled out for you? Well, people love the Pope, too, and for the same reasons.

  72. Craig Avatar



    I think we’re on the same page. I was thinking about feelings aging for a while and then hopefully becoming clearer, or something. I don’t see how we’re throwing anything you suggest away when we dispense with the label ‘transcendental’.

    BTW, if you posted over on Buddhist Peace Fellowship, please find my apology. It might have been another Patrick. If so, ignore 😉

  73. Craig Avatar



    Thanks for this comment. I’ve been struggling with integrating Thought with personal interest and preferences. For example, how do I decide on anything with all these ideologies? What’s the right one? I really wasn’t seeing the fact that ideology can be used intentionally. Even my attempt at non-ideology was an ideology. The big obstacle is people without any ideological awareness (i used to call it self awareness). Ironically, they call us the ideologues!

    Taught to wallow in our emotions. I agree with this. Pulling out of this seems impossible. Also, how does this fit into analysis where we’re basically forced to feel our feelings in real time rather than let the stew? Maybe the stewing of the unconscious rage is the wallowing. No?


  74. Patrick Avatar

    Re: Giving up on ‘popular’ buddhism …agree…we should set our sights higher…am posting at the moment on secular buddhism… really depressing to see what they are doing there… haven’t had much experience with American buddhist sites (or European for that matter) cant take much more of it …really at this stage I am almost finished with Buddhism… will consider it a strange lapse brought on by personal issues and move on … to what …well as much thinking as I can muster and remain sane!

    Yes its me … am a bit ‘deranged’ at the moment.. feel poisoned by the Internet and what do I do ..go and post on secular I sinking fast I wonder? anyway sent a comment in your direction there. Craig … critique the hell out of me! Its always welcome from you ( despite your bloody smileys!)

  75. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    RE 74: Craig, if your therapist tries to “force” you to “feel your feelings,” she is not a psychoanalyst. If she calls herself one, she is an idiot, and you should find an new therapist. Freud was very influenced by Spinoza, and transforming unclear emotion into conscious understanding is a big part of the goal of analysis.

    RE 75: I’m pretty much giving up on buddhism too, at this point. No signs of intelligent life there. Unlike Matthias, I was never in the “Thaumaturgical Refuge,” and was under the mistaken assumption that people turned to Buddhism because they believed in the concept of anatman, and because they wanted to eliminate their ignorance and delusion. I’m impossibly dense on this particular point: I persist in assuming that people will think. I know full well that Lacan is right on this, that ignorance is not a lack but something we passionately pursue, that Deleuze is right that we must always be “forced to think,” and yet…in every concrete instance I expect every person I encounter to be willing to think, to be seeking to remove ignorance. I persisted with x-buddhism for so long because I kept believing foolishly that somewhere there were other who wanted to eliminate delusion and ignorance. But now, finally, it is getting through my thick head that absolutely everybody else who turns to Buddhism does so exactly to cling to their delusions and stay ignorant–and they become furiously angry (mindfully, of course, and with metta) when somebody points out the error or contradiction in their beliefs.

    There must be some intelligent people somewhere, some “bad subjects” willing to think, but they aren’t in the x-buddhist world.

  76. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Hi Tom, didn’t you want to resist the urge to comment here? And btw, you know what you write here (again)? That you are the only one who persisted in x-buddhism for so long for the right reasons, while everybody else is/was in it because they are stupid, lame thinkers, morons, lazy asholes etc. Marvelous, indeed.

  77. Tom Pepper Avatar
    Tom Pepper

    Yes, certainly, my stupidity and persistence in a foolish delusion of my own was, clearly, the “right reason” to persist in Buddhism for so long. It is kind of pathetic that it took me so long to abandon this particular delusion. I used to think that people like Naked Monk or Bachelor were idiots for taking so long to see through the obvious delusions of Tibetan Buddhism, but surely I’m much more of an idiot, because I didn’t even have any illusions about any charismatic leaders to cloud my judgement–it was just idiocy plain and simple.

    You are right, I should stop commenting here, and have the sense to move on to something else, to pursue my pathetic and desperate need for real intellectual community in some more hopeful direction. Thanks, Matthias, for the “wake up”! (I do NOT mean this sarcastically–these last two comments from you have really, I believe, broken this delusion at last).

  78. Patrick Avatar

    Craig.. Re commenting over there…should be buddhist pease fellowship of course

  79. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Tom (#75).

    I’m pretty much giving up on buddhism too, at this point. No signs of intelligent life there.

    I reached that point, in May 2011. I left my sangha, never to return. I gave away my original language texts as well as thirty boxes of secondary x-buddhist literature. But then I hesitated, and started this project instead. It is my last attempt to make Buddhist materials part of my life, to think along with and practice with the most radical elements of Buddhism. I share your frustration. The x-buddhist communities, the groups who are supposed to preserve and force the truths of anatman, paticcasamuppada, anicca and all the rest, make it impossible to work from within. And like you I assume that when people get exposed to some delusion-busting idea, they will respond accordingly, and we can all move on together. Think of the power implied by the metaphor of exposure. But it rarely happens. When I read Badiou’s three-fold classification of subjects, for instance, I naively assumed that everyone who was exposed to it would make it a part of their thinking. They couldn’t help but see themselves and other x-buddhists in that light. And they would then produce new thinking and insights using Badiou’s tool. Why did I think that his classification would have such an impact? I guess that since it was so illuminating for me it would be for others as well. And that’s where, at that place of personal obviousness, dismay and disappointment always seem to take root. Beckett asks, “What is the good of passing from one untenable position to another, of seeking justification always on the same plane?” I agree. So I seek out forms of thought that will enable me to go from my current plane to another. This attitude produces dismay because all around me I see people doing just the opposite, clinging to the comforting delusions of their current, apparently cozy, plane.

    There must be some intelligent people somewhere, some “bad subjects” willing to think, but they aren’t in the x-buddhist world.

    The first part of what you say there is what keeps me in this game. One big reason that I’ve crafted this project in the way I have-with its refusal to engage right speech, the value placed on disruption, its abstractness, and so on–is that I think it’s a good approach to spark the life of the latent bad subject. The second part I have not yet concluded for myself. I think many intelligent people are drawn to x-buddhism because of the fact that there really are valuable goods to be found in it’s doctrines and practices. But I do wonder what it is about x-buddhism that creates such tepid thinkers. Just look at the people who have success as x-buddhist teachers today. How can that be explained, given the potentially ruinous materials they have in their x-buddhist shops? Badiou’s classification goes a good way toward an explanation–but we’re going around in circles now.

    I often fantasize about how well a flesh and blood Rinzai or Bodhidharma would do in this x-buddhist environment. Would s/he be able to unleash the devastating consequences of anatman? Then I read exchanges here, and think: I already know the answer.

    For a while longer, anyway, onward ho . . .

  80. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Tom, you are a coward as soon as you get some fire yourself. And nobody said you should stop commenting.

    You are really good when it comes to slapping others but when the troll you are often enough gets what he asks for then you begin to lament. I find this is a stark contrast to the firepower you like to use.

    I find it very interesting too that the split wich finally opened here in this project is kept under wraps as if it doesn’t exist, all the while there is a big discussion about the SBA and their inability to confront contradictions.

    This is not about the tone (as you Tom like to have it). It is about one person who juges in an absolutely autocratic manner what is right and wrong, while being totally unable to hear what somebody wants to say if it is not in the only language Tom can understand.

    The judgment you Tom use and the force you use to implement it is a kind of censorship. You even use psychoanalysis to dismiss and denounce your opponent – what is the most ridiculous of your speech acts, and the one which makes you definitely unreliable.


    P.S. There are some points open in this thread which do not fall under the topic of the self-aggrandizement of Tom Rinzai. Perhaps we can come back to them later.

  81. Craig Avatar

    Yeah, the smileys are ridiculous. I need to work on that. Thanks again for your understanding.


    We’re in agreement here. My point about force is that when your in an analytic relationship you have no choice, but to feel them and then are invited to reflect on them…making them clear thoughts.

  82. Matthias Steingass Avatar

    Patrick. #57

    I think there is something in the way this blog seems to ‘get at’ intellectual laziness and investment in unexamined thinking that (despite my resistance) is worth a lot. […] Its painful though, because Glenn has ‘cottoned’ on to the affective component of ‘decision’ and seems to relish using the Zen stick. Is that much the same as what you say below?

    A self exposure to a contradiction which might threaten ones believe

    I don’t know if I understand you right.

    Glenn recently said, without any apparent irony, as far as I see it (Glenn you might correct me), that Tom is some kind of Rinzai and that we should be thankful for Tom’s compassion for us. Craig also mentioned, without any irony, that we should be thankful for Tom’s compassionate teachings. Tom himself seems to find this title – the new Rinzai – right to the point for him.

    If you Patrick mean that here we see a contradiction between the claim that Buddhist tenets might become unrecognizable when we suspend its claim of sufficiency and the effective turn in this blog towards a truly Buddhist leader we have to believe in while suppressing his obvious inability to communicate in an grown up way, and if you mean that “true spirituality”, like I defined it, would mean to look at this contradiction and to realize that something is going terribly wrong here, than I would say: Yes it is painful. It is painful to see how this contradiction is negated and it is painful to see how true spirituality here is shunned.

    What we have seen here since sumer 2011 is a group process without any reflection about the process itself. Like in any other sangha. The process has been more or less with out any rules. What is typical of such processes, is that a social configuration emerges which reflects unconscious power structures. In this regard we are here now at a point many other internet forums come to sooner or later. This is not to say that this blog hasn’t its own qualities. It definitely has! What it lacks is a reflection about its power structure.

  83. Patrick Avatar


    Well ,I never mentioned Tom and he wasn’t in my mind when I made my comment…I was thinking of Glens formulation in the heuristic where he adds an affective element to laruelle’s concept of decision…my point in saying that Glen had a liking for the Zen stick was that he was intentionally making the uncovering of this affective component of decision a part of a process and I think my opinion is confirmed by the following;

    One big reason that I’ve crafted this project in the way I have-with its refusal to engage right speech, the value placed on disruption, its abstractness, and so on–is that I think it’s a good approach to spark the life of the latent bad subject.

    If I understand the ‘latent bad subject’ is a subject who has lost faith in the self-sufficiency of x Buddhism and its promise of ‘refuge’ from vicissitude. Following which;

    once we have suspended the structures that constitute Buddhism, once we have muted what to the believer is Buddhism’s very vibrato, we are free to hear fresh resonances.

    This whole process of the necessarily painful suspension of decision would be the case without or without Toms presence. Is this so or not? I think in my case it is so.
    And it seems to me to be invaluable for two reasons; I am addressed in my totality as a person, and this process of painful reorientation is freed from the infected discourse of ‘right speech’ or ‘mindfulness’ .

    I haven’t made up my mind about the implications of Tom’s approach, which I have felt uncomfortable with from the start and said so in an early comment…his reaction to Chris confirms nothing has changed…but who am I to expect change from anyone…I observe the same tendencies in myself . On the other hand your last paragraph I agree with :

    What we have seen here since sumer 2011 is a group process without any reflection about the process itself. Like in any other sangha. The process has been more or less with out any rules. What is typical of such processes, is that a social configuration emerges which reflects unconscious power structures. In this regard we are here now at a point many other Internet forums come to sooner or later. This is not to say that this blog hasn’t its own qualities. It definitely has! What it lacks is a reflection about its power structure

    I think this hits the nail on the head but have no idea what it might mean for how we conduct ourselves here…if Tom sees no problem with his approach and Glenn agrees, wel, I don’t know what that means since I have no idea about how you three interact outside of the blog . I don’t feel competent at all in this area. Its part of the ‘group dynamic’ and in this regard SNB is reproducing the sort of internal dynamic common on the left but rarely seen in Buddhist groups or forums. I mean a concerted pushing of philosophical positions to the point where the original formation can no longer accommodate the contradictions. Something always gives at that point. As Glenn has said its an experiment with an unforeseeable outcome and probably cannot be anything other than that.A close analysis of what has happened here in terms of group dynamics would be very interesting and would set in stone the difference between non-buddhism and xbuddhism…that is if
    SNB could voluntarily conduct such a public analysis while continuing to function visa vie its work with xbuddhist materials.

    The ‘Rinzai’ thing is beyond me…I didn’t understand what Glenn was implying and I still don’t… that anyone would apply such a criterion to his own or anyone else’s behavior seems surreal to me especially in the context of this blog.But then maybe I’m being too literal ..if so the ‘esoteric’ meaning is lost on me …..

  84. Patrick Avatar

    the comment about smileys was in jest…anyone who could write the lyrics of ‘Dusty Porch’ and play that well can post smileys where ever he likes !

  85. Craig Avatar


    Way too kind! Thanks so much for checking the music out and the comment.


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