By Glenn Wallis
I’d like to draw your attention to three English-language blogs. These blogs are encouraging thinking and discussion about x-buddhist material. But they are doing so in a manner that is uncoupled from, hence unburdened by, the subjugating network of dharmic postulation. To my eyes, the texts and discussions unfolding at these three blogs offer fresh openings onto the brute human truths articulated, at times, by Buddhism yet obstructed, trivialized, or outright avoided by our contemporary western x-buddhist teachers–traditional, secularist, pragmatic or whatever, without exception.
The blogs are (links below):
The Faithful Buddhist
Each of these blogs takes a different approach, including propositional reasoning, philo-fiction, and hilarious, yet shit-kicking, humor. If we add to these approaches my own attempts at schizoanalysis, wordblood, and aesthetic exhibition, it appears that variety of approach is developing as a central feature of our contemporary critique of x-buddhism.
I’ll highlight the first two blogs later. Here, I want to let the newest of them, The Faithful Buddhist, present itself. The blog is founded by Tom Pepper. Here’s a description from the site. I encourage you to visit, read, respond, and engage. It can’t hurt…can it?
Are there any Buddhists out there who can accept the truth? Any who don’t use Buddhism as a means of retreating from reality into comforting illusions? I’d like to hear from you, to get some serious discussion going, and to try to devise new ways to help more people strip the comforting veil of illusion from the brute frame of reality.
Some preliminary caveats:
- This blog rejects idealism or dualism in any form; there is no atman of any kind.
- Capitalism is a humanly created social system, which can be changed by humans, and should be because it requires enormous human suffering.
- Our lives in the world require beliefs and practices that are socially created; I will call these ideologies. We must have an ideology, there is no way to act in the world without one. However, ideology does not need to be an illusion or a deception, and we can consciously choose our beliefs and practices instead of assuming they are natural or universal.
I will simply reject any comments trying to insist that capitalism is natural, a result of “human nature.” I will also reject any comments arguing that there is such a thing as an atman/soul/transcendent consciousness, etc. There are plenty of places to discuss and engage in these deluded beliefs. Here, we will only discuss the truth.
It is my fundamental assertion that Buddhism is founded on a truth, not an ideology. The truth of Buddhism, the “truth event” to which I wish to be faithful, is the essential insight that we must always have an ideology, but that it is possible to consciously choose our ideology. This is a truth that obtains for all human beings in all times. We can escape determinism and suffering if we can learn to be conscious of, and consciously choose, the beliefs and practices with which we engage in life in the world. These beliefs and practices are real, they are not “mere illusions,” but have real causal powers. They are our social formations, the structures which shape our interactions with one another and with the non-human world. Unlike the laws of physics, we can change these structures–but only collectively, and with effort. What I call the “Buddha event,” the truth event of the advent of Buddhism, is the recognition that there is no atman of any kind and, along with that realization, the recognition that there are “two truths,” an intransitive truth of the mind-independent reality in which we exist, and the transitive truth of our social systems, which have real inertial force, but can be understood by the human mind in collective symbolic thought and so can be transformed.
Although I will not engage with reactionary sophistry and attempts to deny these truths, I will gladly engage with any serious questions about them, including critical responses and any attempt to introduce new concepts or approaches to the truth.
I think Pepper’s project of “hypertranslations” is an approach that promises a good deal of rubble-clearing rabble-rousing. He asks that you join him. Imagine that! When was the last time your sensei or precious guru invited you to write a new sutra and create new knowledge? Here’s more from the blog:
This blog is Tom Pepper’s “spin-off” from the Speculative Non-buddhism Blog. It is meant to focus only on this one goal: forcing the Truth of anatman and the “two truths” into our World.
I will continue to participate at Speculative Non-buddhism; this is not a “split” from that blog, and in no way indicates a disagreement with anything said there (although I might sometimes disagree).
I am a practicing Buddhist, and consider myself a Shin Buddhist. However, I have no official authorization from any school of Buddhism, and no interest in having any. I have a PhD in English, and presently work as an adjunct professor at colleges in CT. I have no degrees in Buddhist studies, and I am not a Buddhologist. My interest in Buddhism is purely as a practitioner.
If you would like to participate in this project, please feel free to comment, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to post pieces that help expand our investigation of this topic–particularly attempts to clarify confused Buddhist concepts or to create a dialogue between Buddhist thought and practice and any other discourse that might help to force the Truth of the Buddha Event.