The Buddhist Conspiracy Against the Human Person

The Buddhist Conspiracy Against the Human Person

By Chaim Wigder


“The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone.”— Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race


I. The First Turning: A Worthy Question

“I know, too, that death is the only god who comes when you call.” — Roger Zelazny, Frost and Fire

It’s true, Camus probably never actually said “Should I commit suicide or have a cup of coffee?” But you can imagine that he might have, had he thought of it and not Schwartz. According to Camus, in any case, the question of whether one should commit suicide is the only one worthy of philosophy’s attention. The ancient Indians would have, of course, rejected suicide as an option. Not because they thought human life to be particularly worth its existence, but because they had constructed a World in which death was not the end of life. To kill oneself is to make no progress toward achieving the intended aim—that aim being, presumably, a total departure from the wheel of causal contingency, the complete cessation of the horror and absurdity of human existence. This is indeed, as it appears, pessimism at its very finest.

Though the Hindus flinched, of course. There is in fact some light at the end of the tunnel. For synonymous with getting off the wheel is the unification of the atman with brahman. All is not lost in this (pseudo)extinction; all is gained… somehow.

The Protagonist (aka. the Buddha) wouldn’t stand for such a flinch…at least not in theory. No, there is no atman whatsoever. Extinction really does mean just that; the lights are out in the most utter sense of the term. To get off the wheel is not to emerge elsewhere on the road in some heroic spiritual triumph. There is only the wheel. And there is no triumph in any part of it, only dukkha. The Protagonist, of course, would find himself being forced to passionately defend his reputation against those ascetics and brahmins who “baselessly, vainly, falsely and wrongly accused” him of being “a nihilist . . . [one who] teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the non-being of an existing individual.” (An existing individual—a cleverly careful choice of words there, don’t you think? A tangential point, however.) To reiterate, the Protagonist only teaches of suffering and the cessation of suffering. Is that not to say: the Protagonist teaches suffering—a necessary link in the twelve-link chain of dependent origination—and the cessation, one by one, of every link in that chain, including consciousness itself? Again, there is no atman with which to make a run for it. There are only empty phenomena, kept aflame by their respective enabling conditions. They must all be extinguished. All phenomena must die.

And so the Protagonist spent decades discovering and teaching a path by which to arrive at this extinction. How much time the poor fool wasted! Despite his alleged omniscience, we know something which our beloved Protagonist did not. In what is arguably the most important discovery for Buddhism since the one made by The Protagonist himself under that mythical tree, we’ve come to be able to say with a fair degree of certainty that death is in fact the end. It is not a transition into some new phase of a karmic cycle. It is in fact that ultimate freedom—freedom from it all, complete extinction.

Does it not then follow that suicide is an equally valid path to the one with those eight tedious folds? This onefold path surely leads to the cessation of becoming, to the same freedom from existence strived for by countless beings throughout history.

Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee? Is this not now the only question worthy of Buddhism’s attention? And by Buddhism’s own tenets, why shouldn’t the answer be immediately obvious?

II. Mahayana: A Questionable Answer

“Consciousness is not yours. Give it up!” Majjhima Nikaya, 22:40

The Hankering Image

The mother of disenchantment has left it for dead. It was, of course, the Enlightenment which birthed what has culminated into the cultural catastrophe of our own era: our utter inability to accept what we, ourselves, have revealed to ourselves through the undermining of our manifest image. Like the tragic mother who looks upon her deformed newborn infant with an incommensurable juxtaposition of biologically sanctioned joy and shameful horror, so too did the two great forces of the Enlightenment, science and reason, look upon the monster to which they had given birth with a derision disguised as a celebratory humanism. The task, it must have been decided soon after, was to use those very forces which led to what is known as disenchantment to resist its unbearable existential implications. The very tools that had revealed humanity’s pathetic finitude were quickly put to work to free us homo sapien apes of that humanity. Where before we were humans made in the image of God, suddenly we recognized ourselves as immature pseudo-gods, made in the image of Beast.

This is what happens when the manifest image is threatened by the scientific image. The instinct is to subsume the latter within the former, to view the scientific image as existing only as a product of, and in the service of, the manifest:

[The] instrumentalist conception of science is the inevitable corollary of any philosophy that insists on the irrecusable primacy of man’s manifest self-understanding. Thus, although they are the totems of two otherwise divergent philosophical traditions, the two “canonical” twentieth-century philosophers, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, share the conviction that the manifest image enjoys a philosophical privilege vis-à-vis the scientific image, and that the sorts of entities and processes postulated by scientific theory are in some way founded upon, or derivative of, our more ‘originary’, pre-scientific understanding, whether this be construed in terms of our “being-in-the-world,” or our practical engagement in “language-games.” From there, one may or may not decide to take the short additional step which consists in denouncing the scientific image as a cancerous excrescence of the manifest image. (Brassier, 2007)

Are we incapable of accepting the inevitability of the extinction of the manifest image, and of our species more literally? Buddhist thought may offer tools that would allow us to accept this fate full stop. To do so, the disenchantment brought about by the advent of the scientific image must be felt not as an abstract entertainment of an “alternative perspective” but as a visceral, flesh-blood-and-bones disenchantment with every fiber of one’s being. A new kind of “image” thus emerges: “a painted image, a mass of heaped up sores, infirm, full of hankering—of which nothing is lasting or stable!” We come to the understanding that if we truly wish for the cessation of suffering, then what we wish for is the cessation of our very being.

The Ironic Heroism of the Bodhisattva

I have claimed that the discovery of death is the most important thing to happen to Buddhism in all of its history. If we accept this, then we can’t help but become suspicious of the fact that Buddhism has almost entirely ignored it. Certainly, it has failed to deeply consider its implications. I say Buddhism has almost entirely ignored the discovery of death. It did, nonetheless, respond to it in some sense, with the introduction of the concept of the bodhisattva by the Mahayanists.

If the only way to eradicate human suffering is to eradicate human being itself, then we are left face-to-face with Camus’ dilemma, but with the obligation to accept suicide as the answer. The bodhisattva is the attempt to avoid this problem,  a way to flinch through the introduction of a kind of existential irony. It is the very same ironic flinch to which even the greatest nihilist thinkers inevitably succumbed, each in their own way, but all with a self-imposed heroism carved out of their own ostensibly nihilistic premises. For Kierkegaard, this meant finding solace from despair by positing a true self that can be found through God, as he could not help but remain committed to the Christian faith which sanctions a belief in human superiority and significance:

The possibility of this sickness is man’s advantage over the beast, and it is an advantage which characterizes him quite otherwise than the upright posture, for it bespeaks the infinite erectness or loftiness of his being spirit. The possibility of this sickness is man’s advantage over the beast; to be aware of this sickness is the Christian’s advantage over natural man; to be cured of this sickness is the Christian’s blessedness. (Kierkegaard, 1849).

Sarte, too, couldn’t help but hold on to some kind of anchor, though for him it wasn’t religious faith but some hallucinated notion of individuality and authenticity. Schopenhauer posited meaninglessness as a fundamental aspect of The Will, and yet fantasized about finding some escape through asceticism (though he never actually attempted to commit to such a project, for which Kierkegaard openly criticized him). Nietzsche famously had his “banks full of roses under [his] cypresses”. Even Camus, who would repudiate precisely this feature of existentialism, criticizing what he saw as the tendency for existentialist thinkers to “deify what crushes them and find reason to hope in what impoverishes them,” and who hesitated to call himself an existentialist—let alone a philosopher—ultimately turned nihilistic absurdity into an ironic, Sisyphean heroism.

What is the bodhisattva if not the courageously ironic Sisyphean hero? She vows to save all sentient beings even though they are numberless, to overcome all delusions even though they are infinite, to put an end to all desires even though they are endless. The bodhisattva, like the existentialists, rejects true liberation—that is, suicide—and she does so in favor of self-admitted fantasies of eradicating suffering while keeping existence in this flesh, on this earth, intact.

We may ask what the construction of the bodhisattva opens up for us, and what it closes off to us. For surely its primary ideological product—“compassion”—has bored itself into a capitalist reductio, diluted into no more than a cynical meme, a buzzword tossed around by the technocrat elite as they muster up their hearts’ boundless benevolence to declare their compassion for those they exploit, while they recline on the beach, sip their kombucha, and design the digital tools of mass social deterioration. Sure, it’s easy to choose to be a bodhisattva if you are privileged enough to do so. But to what extent can we grant ourselves an image of striving to reduce suffering while participating in and being a product of the very systems that lead to so much of it, all without falling into delusion? Where do we find the balance between the manifest image and the scientific image? The latter forces us to confront our real situation—the one in which we are actively and needlessly suffering and contributing to suffering—and to abandon our imagined situation, the one in which it all cashes out through some given or self-created system of meaning or another. Is there even such a balance, or are we doomed to choose between extinction and ironic compassionate self-delusion?

III: Western Buddhism: The Triumphant Manifest

“Give the man a land, he’ll bury himself in it.” ― Ljupka Cvetanova, The New Land

Buddhist Apocalypse Now

In the film Apocalypse Now, Colonel Kurtz says that “we train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write ‘fuck’ on their airplanes because it’s obscene!”

What an apt metaphor for the ideological temperament that drives Western Buddhism today. I can only imagine the astonished look, the gaping mouth one would witness were one to suggest to any Western Buddhist teacher that extinction might be the best conceivable method for dealing with suffering. Extinction is rarely ever used as a concept by Western Buddhist teachers—save, perhaps, when referring to the negation (that is, repression) of unpleasant thoughts or emotions. In Tragic Perception, Max Finkel reflected on the end of the Applied Meditation Studies program in Philadelphia as a symptom of “the societal tendency to turn our eyes away from tragedy in tandem with the tendency for educational institutions to evade and resist pessimistic theories of the human condition.” If this tendency to turn a blind eye to pessimistic conceptions of human existence (a category for which, relative to the manifest image, the scientific image surely qualifies) is one deeply ingrained within our society, then it is Buddhist communities and institutions which manifest that tendency in the most flagrant, un-self-aware manner. Recall the ever-helpful Humophobia heuristic:

X-buddhist typology cynically belies fear of the human of flesh and blood, and thus fashions in its place fantastic constructions of enlightened mutants. The only way the x-buddhist typology can function is both to subsume and to overcome the human. That is, x-buddhism first determines what “the uninstructed worldling” is (lustful, deluded, hostile, unskilled, etc.), and then instructs him on how to surpass himself. (Wallis, 2018)

Strangely, Buddhism seems to aim at once to “overcome the human” as well as to remain human, the latter applying insofar as the attachment to particularly human ideological social practices remains constitutive of the wish for the possibility of “enlightened [mutation]”. Indeed, to actually escape the human condition is quite an elementary objective: one need only extinguish oneself through suicide. The irony is that the attainment par excellence of Buddhist religious practice is indeed to overcome the human—though not via enlightened mutation, but rather through extinction of the human tout court. Thus the Buddhistic Humophobia we see manifesting in Buddhist formations in this world is a phobia of humanity rooted in an underlying desire to maintain humanity; but, specifically and crucially, to maintain the manifest image of humanity. Buddhism has thus committed to a self-destruction apparent of a self-affirmation. It is through this reversive self-destruction that Buddhism is allowed to perform a multitude of ideological inversions upon itself, such as the transference of the canonical “uprooting” of its spiritual enemies into “planting” instead.

From Uprooting to Planting: Greed, Hatred, and Delusion

It is well-known that most Buddhists are dualists, despite their nearly invariable insistence to the contrary. They are dualists on more explanatory strata than one, and in several senses of the term “dualism.” Relevant for our purposes is the way in which Western Buddhism has created a dualism between so-called internal mind-states and the collective actions and consequences associated with them. What would it mean to “uproot” the fetters and poisons such as greed, hatred, and ignorance? One would think that this would require a cessation of any actions that are bound up with these things (an utter impossibility within our current social structure, we might add). And yet Buddhist hegemony sees no contradiction in a greedy banker practicing mindfulness to make him function better, and to feel less “stressed” (perhaps less guilty?) as a result of his exploitative economic practices. There appears to exist an impression that the immoral thing about greed is its instantiation as some internal state within the individual’s mind, as opposed to its dynamic relational existence in terms of actions and consequences between multiple human beings. One can act greedily (i.e. consume or hoard more natural resources than one absolutely needs at the expense of others’ basic survival), in variably broad or narrow senses of the word, as long as one does so with the right intention of mindful compassion or some such meaningless construct. There seems to be no problem, similarly, with committing to a functional aversion (hatred) of particular human realities, be they in the form of thoughts, emotions, and so on, and to practice with an intention of getting rid of “negativity” and fostering personal well-being—again, even if that necessarily occurs at the expense of other sentient beings as a result of the actions necessary or supplementary pursuant of said well-being (e.g. the direction of material resources toward building a meditation center, the purchase of consumer goods such as incense or Buddha statues, etc). Ignorance, furthermore, is proudly pursued through the avoidance of engagement with critical thought. Yet the state of mind that this avoidance results in is keenly embraced as enlightened wisdom and knowledge.

Let’s note that this kind of inversion is not necessarily a conscious undertaking. That is, it is unlikely to result from any sort of inherent malice on the part of Buddhist practitioners. Indeed, it is precisely because they are unaware of the ideological nature of their practices that Buddhists are functionally incapable of grasping such critiques, as simple as they are, or to display any real comprehension or self-awareness in their responses to them.

To restate, in short: instead of uprooting acts of greed, aversion, and ignorance, an encouragement of these actions is planted. It is only the negative mind-states associated with these concepts that are to be uprooted, but only so that the actions themselves are able to be carried out with greater affective ease. The ignorance piece is most crucial, for the lack of critical thinking which is celebrated as trans-intellectual/trans-linguistic wisdom is what makes this practice opaque to those engaging in them.

The scientific image is, in one sense, repressed from collective consciousness. This repression is obviously not uniquely Buddhist; it can explain every one of our reflexive aversions to a true confrontation with the possibility—ideally, the inevitability—of extinction. The scientific image depicts what our species actually is, partly as a function of what we actually do. The manifest image hallucinates that which best serves to keep our collective ego from dissolving. To sustain the manifest image, we must not even consider the possibility of extinction, neither as a material future nor as a moral imperative. For any level of acknowledgment of extinction is the greatest threat to our image as infinite beings who stand a chance against our own ever-accelerating crawl toward self-destruction.

IV: A Magnificent Self-Defeat?

“It is evident that we are hurrying onward to some exciting knowledge—some never-to-be-imparted secret, whose attainment is destruction.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Buddhist Accelerationism

Slavoj Žižek has pointed out, as have many others, that Western Buddhism is the ideological soul-mate of neoliberalism. I see no reason to reiterate this argument, given how obviously true it is, but I wonder if there is a way in which the acceleration of the Buddhism’s triumphant manifest, which will surely eventuate its own ruin, might parallel hypothesized accelerationisms vis-à-vis capitalism. Accelerationism is generally served in two flavors, each being palatably differentiated by its driving intention. On the one hand, some accelerationists’ goading for the exponentially rapid acceleration of the (techno-)capitalist program is guided by their belief that that is the only way it can be defeated; that is, capitalism threatens our humanity, but it is too powerful to be resisted, and must therefore self-destruct—it must implode from the inside under the crushing weight of the virtual infinity of human social forms which it has subsumed in its global imperial expedition. On the other side are those whose externally identical goading of such an acceleration is guided by the opinion that capitalism and technology ultimately improve human social relations, and thus our task is to accelerate its progression indefinitely. I haven’t found myself capable of committing to any position regarding accelerationism in general. Needless to say, regardless of the reasoning behind any particular accelerationist ideology, the material implications of such a strategy will be the same independent of the ideological commitments its adorers spew as they watch and cheer on the magnificent catastrophe which, were it to occur, would transcend their philosophical impositions on it.

Like a manic patient who refuses to swallow his medication because he flinches at the prospect of sanity—which is to say, at the prospect of the submission of agency which sanity obliges—Buddhism has chosen to reject its own prescriptive declaration of extinction as the only comprehensive cure for human suffering out of fear of leaving behind that which gives it its own life: human life. Resonant with its characteristically double-edged Humophobia, Buddhism intensifies in its commitment to invert its ideological material—the ideas, concepts, and practices designed to engender a confrontation with the necessity of extinction—into a panicked plea for immortality. In franker terms, Buddhism contains within its premises the implication of literally committing suicide, but Buddhists (we all!) are simply too cowardly to do so. The greatest defender of our fear of death, as Becker pointed out, is the ego: “[Our] repression of the idea of [our] own death is made easy for [us]  because [we are] fortified against it in [our] very narcissistic vitality.” With this in mind, the “robes and rokusus and bows and dharma names and oryoki, and . . . those horrendous fake Japanese chants. . .,” as Wallis recently put it, make perfect sense. Despite endless ventriloquizing about the dangers of the ego and the necessity of its dissolution, the cultural artifacts of the spiritual circus are to the ego as the opiate is to the addict: the knowledge of the inadequacy of the quick-serve, short-lasting cure is there, but the terrifying prospect of the actual final and eternal cure is too harrowing to fully confront, and its repression must therefore be an ongoing process, a “way of life”, as the Secular Buddhists might call what they are too embarrassed to call religious superstition.

The Buddhist accelerationist project can thus be stated: We must pursue egoic vanity to levels of spiritual infantilism hitherto unseen by even the greatest organised religions, and carry out the magnification of enlightened narcissism to the point of a parodied, self-undermining absurdity. Listen to any talk given by the Dalai Lama, or read today’s “Daily Dharma” in Tricycle. Is this clearly not precisely what is occuring already? Is Buddhism in the West not increasingly headed toward a total loss of intellectual and moral credibility?


Death, wastage, or expenditure is the only end, the only definitive terminus. — Nick Land, The Thirst for Annihilation

Buddhism takes as its aim the end of suffering, an affliction necessitated by consciousness itself—indeed, the very first phenomenon every conscious creature is forced to confront at birth. Birth results from becoming, becoming from craving, and so on. To break the chain of conditions with which suffering is co-dependent is to break the chain of existence. But most of our suffering is not personal; it is collectively co-created and shared. Buddhist accelerationism, despite its overt ugliness at all registers of its manifestation, offers something that individual liberation, which is to say the death of the particular individual suffering homo sapiens ape, cannot. It rejects suicide as a viable option for the individual practitioner; that is seemingly too difficult a bullet to bite. But it does, if unknowingly, pacify and numb the individual in preparation for something much more dramatic and consequential: the extinction of the human in toto, which is to say the extinction of the human race. For if one were to come to a recognition that suicide is the way to end one’s suffering, along with the recognition that suffering is collectively constituted, then the only logically viable step is species-wide extinction.

It is precisely because of this that Buddhism and capitalism are so compatible. There are, of course, many ways in which Buddhism takes advantage of capitalism in pursuit of its own interests, and they are all ways in which Buddhism’s ostensibly primary agenda, the end of suffering, is entirely sacrificed to the rat race of global capital. And there are even more ways in which Buddhism serves the interests of capitalism, by producing the precise kinds of subjects needed in order to make resistance to capitalism impossible. In the end however, unbeknownst to either party, it will be Buddhism’s primary agenda, thus far obscured from site by its outward performative pretensions, that wins the day, for the only possible outcome of this collusion, if allowed to exhaust itself, will be the end of the human race, and with it, the end of human suffering.


Brassier, Ray. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Finkel, Max. Tragic Perception. Speculative Non-Buddhism, 2018. 

Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness Unto Death. Princeton University Press, 1951. Originally published 1849.

Wallis, Glenn. In Augury of Oneness Restored. Speculative Non-Buddhism. 2018.

21 responses to “The Buddhist Conspiracy Against the Human Person”

  1. Poppajee Avatar

    Close but no cigar. Buddhism’s primary agenda will not be, “sacrificed to the rat race of global capital,” because it is global capitalism itself that Buddhism has trolled for the very purpose of ending human suffering ‘in toto’ once and for all. Thus would Buddhism create bodhisattva sailors to helm the raft of capitalism that will carry us all to the other shore of complete extinction. And to the question of how such willing Buddho-Nietzschean uber subjects might be created, the answer is, (drum roll) by means of the exclusively Buddhist special insight meditation that overcomes any resistance to sitting, “so as to be reminded again and again that what I am doing is in fact impossible.”

  2. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    Poppajee: I apologize, but I am unable to find any coherent thesis or question in your comment. Did you intend to include one, and if so, could you kindly rephrase it so that I may satisfy with an appropriate response?

    Thank you!

  3. Joseph Ratliff Avatar
    Joseph Ratliff

    Reblogged this on Quaerere Propter Vērum.

  4. Poppajee Avatar

    Failed Buddhist:
    No apology necessary. Though I basically agree with the critique of this author, as well as those of others here, I question whether we might not be expending too much effort in the endeavor to coherently explicate the incoherence of “performative pretensions” involved in any X-ism or X-ity. Notwithstanding my own efforts to wrap my head around such explication, might not the result in either case really be just so much dust obscuring the mirror we otherwise laboriously polish a tile to make? Forty five plus years of such independent polishing have convinced me that there is meaning and value to be discovered sitting, “so as to be reminded over and over that what I am doing is in fact impossible.” But I’ll be damned as to how one might sell that, (vis a vis rapacious global capitalism or any other power structure under which we must survive) without involving some kind of performative pretensions and contradictions. Having long ago adopted the motto that the only thing worse than fooling oneself is being fooled by others, whatever pretentious foolishness with which I may be involved is my own. Finally, while aspiring to coherence in my pretensions, and tolerance of others’, I realize that my reflections are not always free of their dusty near enemies. I thank you for pointing out the former and beg forgiveness for the latter.
    Thank You, George

  5. dhammarato Avatar

    never met or heard of someone who so thoroughly messed up the teachings of the Buddha, surely this author has only book reading knowledge has never spent one day in the robes and has no clue as to what or how to practice, and with this misguided view, no internal drive to practice. it is so sad that fools like this get their foolish thoughts into print only for Walls to stumble upon. No wonder Western Buddhism is so messed up.

  6. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    I take you to be raising the question of if, and when, the business of critique wears itself out. This is a fair question. I have discarded much more than I’ve published, for precisely the same reason that perpetually polishing a dusty mirror (or making one’s bed in the morning) eventually becomes tedious: the mirror becomes dusty again no matter how many times one polishes it. Yet if we abandon the naive longing for arriving at the Truth, the final answer, a mirror which remains spotless (to stretch, perhaps beyond appropriateness, the metaphor further), etc etc, then we are forced to perpetually challenge, ask, criticize. The proof is in the Buddhist-favored pudding that is sold in every spiritual supermarket: x-buddhism has not learned its lesson (see, for example, the comment by dhammarato immediately below yours).

    This piece in particular is more an instance of a buddhofiction than a critique per se. As such its goal is not to stake any claim on a property within x-buddhism’s estate. The sole intention is doing something using x-buddhist material for its own sake, to see if, upon doing so, it does anything for us, TO us; if it has some immanent effect in our world. If it does, great! We see where that takes us. If not, we toss it, move on and try something else. That’s all there is to it.

  7. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    Why would I ever want to wear a robe? It’s the 21st century. “Direct experience” is for Neanderthals. There is a reason us Homo Sapiens have developed spoken and written language.

    If you read this text thinking that I place any interest, care, or value in “the teachings of the Buddha”, then you are too deluded by those teachings to understand the intent of the former, and nothing I say can get you to understand it until you come to the realization that the Buddha scammed you and is laughing his way to the bank.

  8. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Dhammarato, the following comment landed in the spam folder. It really is of suspicious origin (Hell, Michigan?), so I am keeping it in there. It is from one “Sensei Mu,” a slightly familiar name. I thought his/her comment might clarify some things for you. So, I am copying and pasting it for you:

    Dear Mr. Buddhi Rato. I have spent the last half decade doing extensive research on the Speculative Non-Buddhaists. I will soon publish my findings. You will not be disappointed. Although I cannot speak to The Failed Buddhaist, it is my understanding that “Walls,” as you so exquisitely refer to him, selects mainly writers who have been certified by a mysterious teacher by the name of “Tutteji Wachtmeister”.

    “Tutte Wachtmeister, affectionately called ‘Tutteji’ by his devotees, is an internationally respected spiritual teacher, cutting edge theorist, entrepreneur, cultural visionary, and founder of the Liberalism 3.0 think tank. Through his writing, teachings, and ongoing work with integrating spiritual values and market-oriented goal optimization, he has become known as one of the defining voices of a new, evolutionary and thoroughly integral step in transhuman evolution. In 2013, Wachtmeister was listed as #2 on Mind-Body-Spirit Magazine’s list of ‘Top 100 Up and Coming Spiritual Teachers’…When he was 16 years old, Tutte had a second spiritual experience. He was sitting up late one night, reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, when suddenly the doors of perception were opened WIDE. In no time, he was swept up in an ocean of ecstasy that seemed infinite. Over the next several weeks, he experienced many insights that unfolded one after the other.”

    If The Failed Buddhaist is like the other writers on this infernal blog, he most certainly has advanced trainings in Mindful Management™, Digitally Enhanced Contemplation™, Global Transintegral Coaching™, The Big Bucks Process™, Erotic Affirmation™, Integral Body-Mind-Market Practice™, and of course Sexually Transmitted Enlightenment™™™. While I share your contempt for these rotten non-buddhist scoundrels, I do feel that you owe The Failed Buddhaist an apology, for a “fool” he most certainly is not! Thank you and Om.

  9. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    Bear in mind that the author of that comment failed to mention the masters degree I recieved from Naropa University in the field of Compassionate Entrepreneurship. As such, I will not be requiring any apologies. The (quite frankly disrespectful and heretical) insults directed at me—and by extension, Lamae Tutteji himself—was absorbed as nothing but boundless love. Dhammarato will need to answer, when the time comes, to Māra herself and no one else.

    Glenn: You might want to lay low for a bit. I have it on good authority that the hinted-at forthcoming report will be devastating. There is a newly discovered sutta, traced directly to the Protagonist himself, which is rumored to systematically and conclusively refute your recent book.

  10. Poppajee Avatar

    Failed Buddhist:
    I couldn’t agree more with your conclusion in, “if we abandon the naive longing for arriving at the Truth…then we are forced to perpetually challenge, ask, criticize.” However in your premise I would substitute ‘belief’ for ‘longing’. Thus in my practicable buddhofoolery, subsequent to the abandonment of naive belief in the possibility of arriving at the other shore of noble truth, there is this agnoble verity: discerning inquiry into the reality of longing that knows no end, (at least this side of the grave) is the open-ended expression and fulfillment of genuine longing. It is partly in this sense, i.e. ‘no end’, that I concur with your observation about ‘sitting’, “so as to be reminded again and again that what I am doing is in fact impossible.” However there is another sense as well. Here I submit that ‘sitting’ – understood and engaged as the process of open-ended desire productively circling back upon itself in discerning inquiry – can be experienced as intensely meaningful and purposeful. However in the midst of this intensity, which one might call “meaningness”, (per David Chapman)* it is impossible to conceptually grasp what that meaning might be, or control the experience in any way. Which is to say that it is conceptually meaningless and effectively purposeless. In any event, one thing in my experience that “meaningness” most certainly does not mean, and does not presage otherwise as far as I can tell, is an, “escape from the contingency and the interdependence of suffering which marks this human social existence,” as you say. In this respect ‘sitting’ is not only impossible but utterly useless – except to the extent that it might inoculate an otherwise willing subject against surrendering their capacity for critical inquiry to the naive belief that some ism or ity is performatively sufficient for enlightenment or salvation, i.e. the end of longing. I would also point out that to whatever extent, “it is a Buddhist World that coeffects the comfortable middle class numbness necessary for the unchallenged perpetuation of our current neoliberal catastrophe,” (per Glenn Wallis)** it has a long way to go to catch up with Christendom.

    David Chapman,
    ** Glenn Wallis, “A Critique of Western Buddhism”, pg. 154

  11. danielmingram Avatar

    Would a point-by-point response be interesting or useful? There are a lot of points here in the article, many of which are quite good, I think, and many others of which are thought provoking and worthy of discussion. The main issues raised in this post, while at once relatively simple in their bone-cutting essence: the key question of existentialism, suicide, global capitalism/neoliberalism and aspects of Buddhism in ways reinforcing this, reptant, environmental destruction by human top predators, Buddhist idilic eternalism, Scientific materlistic extinctionism, and Buddhist Romanticism, and the End of Suffering, with apologies to those who view this list as inadequate), are explored with a relatively large range of approaches, paradigms, references, and apparent paradoxes, many of which are very interesting to ponder and discuss.

    I realize that, by being here, I risk many labels, as have been used before, imagining titles such as “Buddhist Apologist”, “Buddhist Closet Capitalist”, “X-Buddhist”, and the like, but, if one is willing to simply take the ideas seriously as topics one by one as they occurred, I am willing to play that game. It is interesting that this site routinely asks those of us on “that side” to come over to this one and talk. I will again see if that is a true offer that can be sustained.

    Given the tendencies and habits of this place, I will graciously tolerate three cheep stereotyped shots at my person, so use them wisely, which could either be to just fire them off all at once in the next post to make me go away and leave you to your own comfort zone (““The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.” ― Nietzsche) or save them strategically for when you really feel they are needed to avoid actually discussing the ideas you claim to wish to discuss. Ok, that’s my first cheep shot!

    I have some real-world experience with these issues, more than many, as I have Buddhist friends who killed themselves, for example, as well as a reasonable number who have tried but not died, and I get a slow but relatively steady series of emails from those who seriously wish to kill themselves, often after some Buddhist retreat or powerful meditation-related or entheogenically-related experience, but sometimes after reading Sartre’s Nausea or the SNB site (kidding! That’s my second cheap shot). As a doctor in a large emergency department, I helped to take care of literally hundreds of people who tried to kill themselves or wished to kill themselves, including numerous children as young as 8 years old. I have gotten to listen to their various reactions to their failures to die, which have spanned a surprising range. I also cared for lots of people that somebody else tried to kill but didn’t wish to die. I got to witness numerous deaths of other sorts in various capacities. While at the National AIDS hotline years ago as a young man, I listened as the drugs that a man with terminal AIDS had taken ended their life as they talked about their suffering in increasingly slurred tones. It makes for a certain gritty Real that can make even Existential philosophers who idealize the gritty Real (yet have so far failed to kill themselves) occasionally not be so enamored of it. Ok, that’s my last cheap shot, so no more of them, I promise! 😉

    I also know more than the average bear about the scientific phenomenology regarding topics such as near death experiences and “past lives”, having talked with people who have had near death experiences, sometimes in my hospital and even my emergency department. There are aspects of the science of them which might make strict scientific materialists and excinctionists who don’t like woo woo uncomfortable in the same way that being a top global predator should make naive “X-Buddhists” uncomfortable but often doesn’t. Willing to go there? I am if you are.

  12. danielmingram Avatar

    Curiously, as this moment as I sit here in Copenhagen, I have with me a white flower pedal taken two days ago from the grave of Søren Kierkegaard, whom you philosophers and scholars almost certainly know as one of the founders of Existentialism. I quote from this article found here

    “This idea of Kierkegaard’s seems to be a fundamentally radical idea and a fundamentally practical idea all at the same time. He is urging readers away from “hard agnosticism” which would probably ultimately lead to a life in the Aesthetic Sphere and encouraging them to choose either dedication to God or the life of a rational non-believer in the Ethical Sphere. While Kierkegaard believes that the choice to follow God is the better one, he knows he has no real proof of this claim. The individual most make the choice while never knowing that he had chosen the right one.”

    I believe that some aspects of the struggles he had with philosophy, suicide, and ethics are echoed here, and understandably so. There found in the article above elements of his “rational non-believer in the Ethical sphere,” yet there is underlying all of this a certain odd sense that there is some dissatisfaction with this position, a Romantic calling, an Anxiety, a tension resulting from the human condition and the ability of the mind to think with such razor sharpness about it, the call of oblivion as release from sorrow. That I have the white flower pedal taken from his grave is also romantic, so I have no problem with romanticism, nor razor sharpness, as to be reminded of death, both our own and the thousands of deaths we cause by merely living, is about as sharp as it gets without actually cutting something.

  13. Glenn Wallis Avatar

    Hi Daniel. Thank you for coming by for a visit. I emailed the author of “The Buddhist Conspiracy Against the Human Person” piece and asked him to engage your comments. So, hopefully something is being cooked up in the kitchen of the Great Feast as we speak.

  14. James R. Martin Avatar

    “To kill oneself is to make no progress toward achieving the intended aim—that aim being, presumably, a total departure from the wheel of casual contingency….”

    “Casual contingency.” I like that. (undoubtedly it was meant to be written “causal” — but it may be a little more fun as “casual”. Like most words — in any language — casual means lots of things. Some synonyms of one kind of casual are
    “relaxed · friendly · natural · informal · unceremonious · unpretentious”. Maybe we could all enjoy a bit more casual contingency. I certainly would like more of it in my life, and I’m already one of the most casual people you’ll ever meet. I’m also one of the more “serious”.

  15. James R. Martin Avatar

    “There appears to exist an impression that the immoral thing about greed is its instantiation as some internal state within the individual’s mind, as opposed to its dynamic relational existence in terms of actions and consequences between multiple human beings.”

    Bravo! Now THERE is the sentence which really makes reading this sometimes tedious essay worthwhile! This is a juicy observation with feet and wings.

  16. James R. Martin Avatar

    Jesus! Do we ever make too much of the fear of death! Don’t get me wrong. Like all other biological organisms who have knowledge of death, I have my own. But why magnify it out of all proportions? What use does such magnification serve? I’m going to die and that will be the end of me. So what? Sheesh.

  17. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    Daniel: Thank you for stopping by. I’m not quite sure I understand the intention of your comment. Are you requesting permission to offer a point-by-point response? If so, that was a very roundabout way of doing so. Then again, I realize that the original article is itself nothing if not roundabout, as well as—as James so aptly described— “sometimes tedious.” In any case, permission granted! I would be happy to discuss the points here and will try my best to keep the insults to a minimum (although, really, where’s the fun in that?).

    Two points to put out there before proceeding, though. First of all, I hope you have already gathered that this piece is intended as a buddhofiction. I’m not going to explain what that is, assuming you don’t already know, so I suggest doing the requisite homework, so that nobody mistakes the philosophical (or non-philosophical) spirit in which this piece is written. I often think that x-buddhists are simply incapable of grasping what a buddhofiction is, but I am often wrong, so I hope that you are capable of doing so. If I understood your recent conversation with Matthew (of which I will have more to say, so stay tuned!), I suspect you may appreciate that spirit.

    Second point: In the interest in satisfying the x-buddhistic fetishization of “direct experience,” I will mention that I do write this piece from a very personal understanding of “the Real” of suicide—or at the very least, of attempts at, and experiences related to, such. If I understand your comment correctly, there is somewhere in there an attempt to smack my theoretical musings with a bit of reality, by pointing out how truly awful and “real” the topic of suicide is. Allow me to assure you that I have quite a bit of expertise on this topic, both from a clinical perspective and from the perspective of being that person in the emergency room waking up to face a failed suicide attempt, and as the person on the other end of the line in the process of doing so. Your point about the “romanticization” of suicide is well taken, and in fact was in large part precisely my point in the essay.

    This point concerns what I see as a “flinch” from the Real—in this case, from suicide—that one will invariably find in existentialists like Kierkegaard et al. There is nothing “radical” about Kierkegaard’s decision (both in the ordinary and philosophical sense) to urge away from “hard agnosticism” into an acceptance of the religious, social, and economic dogma of the day. It’s the same move you find in x-buddhism: the assertion of some “radical” idea, promptly followed by a rejection of radicalism in the service of the dominant ideology. The individual must make “the choice” to become interpellated into the dominant ideology while “never knowing [whether] he had chosen the right one,”—i.e. while refusing to take social responsibility for such a choice. My “dissatisfaction” is not with my own position, but rather with the position that we must not actually accept something radical because it is intellectually and socially difficult, and we must instead flinch from whatever radicalism we do manage to profess in some masturbatory “existentialism.” The answer to this is not Romanticism, but a rejection of it.

  18. Failed Buddhist Avatar

    James: Ha! Casual contingency! That’s funny. I did mean “causal.” If only contingency were casual!

    The “magnification” of death, in my view, serves a purpose. It can serve two, actually. It can serve the purposes of the existentialists, which is to say the purpose of romanticizing death so as to discover within this romanticization some mechanism by which to justify an “existential” or “authentic” participation in individualistic capitalism. Or, as I want to clumsily argue, it can serve the purpose of eliciting true radicalism, in accepting that, in our current social formation, suicide is a completely morally acceptable position to take. Suicide is not some moral or psychological pathology, but a completely justified response to the social intoxication prompted by global consumer capitalism and neoliberal ideology.

  19. James R. Martin Avatar

    Chaim –
    My comment about “magnification” — “Do we ever make too much of the fear of death!” — was not making a claim about the magnification of death but, rather, of the fear of death. More precisely, however, my concern is less with the fear of death as the fear of annihilation (non-existence). Death is a real thing, an event, a crossing from being living to being a corpse without awareness or experience. And the process of dying is more often than not quite unpleasant. It’s natural that we’d fear that. But it’s not a fear worthy of the amount of time and psychic energy we generally give to it — as it isn’t directly happening to us at the moment, usually.

    I’m of the attitude that I’ll face my dying process when it is happening and not worry over it overly much before its onset. This leaves of my eventual dying only (so far as I can tell, basically) only how I will live with my eventual annihilation while I am here living and breathing. Obviously, there is nothing to fear in not-being, for there is no there there to be fearful. So non-being is only an issue for those of us who are being (alive and breathing).

    Pondering non-being (my own eventual) does evoke some fear, purely whooped up out of its imaginary darkness (non-being cannot be dark, it is nothing. Nothing has no color, taste or flavor). But facing that fear head on is rather like plunging oneself in cool or cold water on a summer morning. The water stings for a moment but then wakes one up, refreshes. The blazing mystery of existence (being) stares one directly in one’s face, kisses one on one’s very own buddho-fictive lips! It’s a good morning, after all. A good day to live. A bad day to die — since who wouldn’t enjoy prolonging the kiss?

    How are we going to come alive and awake by magnifying the fear of death? It (our eventual disappearance) requires no actual magnification to wake us up–which is to say to plunge us into a protracted facing of the wild mystery of being head on without flinching. It’s all of that flinching before deciding to shock oneself in the cold morning water that obviates the shock of awakening which is the plummet into the very heart of this mystery. There is death and there is “death”. The first is “real” while the second is a fiction, a fear-driven dark fantasy (death is not dark). I close my eyes and the world goes largely dark for a moment. When I die? What color? What flavor or shape will my non-experiencing take? I’m okay if death is annihilation. I’m equally happy should I awaken from my death in an icy creek, both wishing I had not so foolishly plunged into icy water naked and glad I had. Sparkles of icy water hanging in the air of this very, incomprehensible moment.

    Not knowing is most intimate. That’s why we flinch. It freaks us out, doesn’t it? And this freak out is what we darken and name “death”. We wrap our tenderness in swaths of cotton bandaging as not to feel the shocking refreshment of sensory aliveness. We fall into waking sleep. We dream while awake. Our dream becomes a nightmare — individual and collective. Meanwhile aliveness, if we are lucky, stalks us. A patch of shadow. A patch of light. A few colors we’ve never noticed before, a long, long kiss. And the gift which cannot help but grow in all of this.

    All living is giving. All kisses are given. Aliveness isn’t something I can contain or hold. It is not mine.

  20. James R. Martin Avatar

    Here’s a kind of buddho-fictive poem I wrote a few years ago. It makes use of the same images as appear above. It also comments upon what I wrote today.

    the collector –

    forget for now the collector of words
    who names silence
    in hope one day to carve a poem

    to match the intricate
    and the impossible


    this itself

    wasn’t it always an eye was a flame?
    and haven’t we always looked askance?
    because there never has been
    the slightest drapery?

    to conceal the burning
    is to house ourselves?
    and who would homeless dance?
    and without dancing
    what center forms? around which
    a bird might nest?

    and where would we leap from the
    obvious rhyme
    to find ourselves
    properly lost?

    take off your shoes!
    forget dancing
    i’m too awkward when
    so far under

    and here we are already in the unhinged night
    where all that’ s broken and scattered
    settles of itself
    with or without
    a name

  21. Landon Harrison Avatar

    Interessting read

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