Trash Community #4

Hierarchies are celestial. In hell all are equal.

Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Please join us today, Sunday, September 29, 3:00-5:00pm EST for the next Trash Community gathering. Tune in using the following Zoom link:

We will discuss Chaim Wigder’s text below. Chaim writes:

I would like to call for a Trash Community gathering to discuss these six articles, so that it can be clarified, critiqued, revised, expanded, and agreed upon. Is there any interest out there in the kind of project I outline here?

I. On Suffering

I’ve spent some weeks writing and re-writing what I intended as a kind of declaration for my vision of the Trash Community project. I’ve written a lot, most of which I’ve thrown in the figurative bin. What has been difficult about writing this kind of thing is that we are stuck here in a catch-22. The difficulty of figuring out what a Trash Community might look like lies in the fact that it is the Trash Community itself which was supposed to provide the direction for answering this question.

The Speculative Non-Buddhism project has been, in part, an attempt to slap the complacent smirk of idealism off the face of Western Buddhism. I would like the Trash Community to address the next step in this process: once we’ve become disillusioned enough to wipe the shit-eating grin of transcendence off our faces, how do we proceed? How do we stay committed to materialism; that is to say, to human existence, rather than the non-human existence always so cherished, but never attained, by capitalist spiritualism?

I propose that the Trash Community should be an exploration of the following fundamental question: How can we become less indifferent and oblivious to the suffering that exists all around us?

This is, of course, a question on which Buddhism has had a lot to say. But Buddhism has been mostly in the business of obscuring this question by transcendentalizing it—and it is here that I part ways with Buddhism, while retaining the right to make use of its conceptual arsenal.

Again, this simple question: How can we become less indifferent and oblivious to the suffering that exists all around us? It is so easy, so tempting, to take this question as the point of departure into idealism. And so, to be perfectly clear, I am speaking here of material suffering, which is the only kind of suffering there is. Therefore, I have no interest in wasting time discussing idealist answers to this question. The distinction between “spiritual” and “material” is hereby abolished. We are, first and foremost, creatures living in the Real. We are material creatures. What we call “spiritual,” what we so wish to delusionally think of as over and above the socio-material reality of human existence, is in fact what is most deeply human, which is to say the most deeply social and, hence, the most deeply material.

The attitude toward suffering employed by Western Buddhism is to assert that suffering is an illusion that must be “seen through” via meditative introspection. In the Trash Community, we will reject this absurd notion and assert the opposite: suffering is real; it is material, ideological, social; and it must be acted upon materially, ideologically, socially.

II. On Desire

What are the operational desires that motivate a practice community?

Continue reading and join the conversation at The Failed Buddhist

4 responses to “Trash Community #4”

  1. April Avatar

    We can linger longer in our own suffering and allow ourselves to really feel it. We, the self-help industry, western mindfulness culture, and indeed capitalism encourage us to very quickly be better, happier, stronger people after pain…all while not really allowing the discomfort of being IN the pain and letting it run its natural course. Studies have shown that the general public can tolerate public grief for about 6 weeks max, before encouraging “transformation.” Surely anyone who has ever trudged though the grief process knows that timeline is utter horseshit. Western Modern Buddhism is no help in that regard; since the focus has shifted from “we all suffer and there is no way out” to “do x,y,z and you’ll be enlightened past all suffering.” If we can’t handle sitting with our own suffering without wallpapering over it or blaming ourselves for it (which modern (Buddhist) culture encourages) how in the holy hell can we sit with the suffering of others?!

    Never mind that the next step is even harder…doing something about it, holding the wider culture accountable, beyond blaming the sufferer.

  2. April Avatar

    Oh wait…was that a rhetorical question? 😏

  3. Chaim Wigder Avatar


    I agree, that it is difficult to really accept the enormous amount of suffering that exists. Discourses like self-help, Buddhism–or most of philosophy for that matter–insist that if we really want to address suffering, we must change our “mind,” either through meditation, or brushing up on the latest fads in contemporary philosophical thought that try to deny reality. It is also so much more difficult to commit to actually doing something about that suffering.

    This is what I want to start addressing. I want to engage in discussions of specific instances of suffering, so that we can show how that suffering is both real and grounded in the actual world that we live in, rather than in some realm called “consciousness.”

    I’m completely open to having discussions about practices that can help us be more aware of suffering, and to see that suffering for what it is. This is a powerful way to move on to actually tackling how to go about getting rid of it, not in consciousness, but in the actual world in which it exists.

    I’m tired of engaging in reactionary discourses, be it x-buddhism or Foucaultism, that obscure the world that we actually live in. I must admit, it’s incredibly difficult to find others willing to drop the bullshit and have such conversations. But I have no choice but to keep looking.

  4. Matthew Drill Avatar
    Matthew Drill

    I’m still trying to get where you’re coming from with denying non-material forms of suffering. Would you consider forms of suffering caused by dysfunctional brain processes and/or negative thought patterns to be material suffering (since they are rooted in the brain which exists materially)? Or would you deny that those forms of suffering exist? I guess what I’m trying to understand is, do you consider thinking and other forms of conscious/neurological activity to be material?

What do you think?

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