To think is always to follow the witch’s flight.
—Gilles Deleuze (respectively: What is Grounding? and What is Philosophy?)
I find the prevailing x-buddhist “image of thought” disturbingly conservative. Wherever it manifests, that image mimics society’s established values of conformity and order. The x-buddhist image of thought refracts a practitioner who is “well-adjusted,” regardless of the repressive (e.g., Thailand) or hedonist (e.g., the U.S.) climate of his or her state and society. Examining the American x-buddhist product, I find this judgment unavoidable: x-buddhist thought serves the prevailing political-cultural status quo, and, to that end, functions to bolster the mind of its subject against challenges to the comforts of convention.
An animating contention of this speculative non-buddhism project is that x-buddhism suffers from a pathological inability to unleash the force of its own thought. Whether oblique (going against the stream, home-leaving, not taking the bait of the world, abandoning the raft) or direct (no-self, causal contingency, emptiness, dissolution), x-buddhist ideas suggest lines of thought that are primed to subvert, or otherwise profoundly disrupt, contemporary modes of life. And yet, American x-buddhism, whether in religious or secular guise, panders to contemporary culture like a kowtowing sycophant.
Why is that? We can attempt to answer that question in several ways. Read the rest of this entry »