Blues for Buddha

Written by Jed McKenna

Continued from page 1

::: Bait & Switch

Buddhism is a classic bait-and-switch operation. We’re attracted byrepparttar enlightenment inrepparttar 122164 window, but as soon as we’re inrepparttar 122165 door they start steering us over torepparttar 122166 compassion aisle. Buddhists could be honest and change their name to Compassionism, but who wants that?

There'srepparttar 122167 rub. They can’t sell compassion and they can’t deliver enlightenment.

This untruth-in-advertising isrepparttar 122168 kind of game you have to play if you want to stay successful in a business whererepparttar 122169 customer is always wrong. You can either go out of business honestly, or thrive by givingrepparttar 122170 people what they want. What they say they want and what they really want, though, are two very different things.

::: Me Me Me

Torepparttar 122171 outside observer, much of Buddhist knowledge and practice seems focused on spiritual self-improvement. This, too, is hard to speak against... except withinrepparttar 122172 context of awakening from delusion. Then it's easy.

There is no such thing as true self, so any pursuit geared toward its aggrandizement, betterment, upliftment, elevation, evolution, glorification, salvation, etc, is utter folly. How much more so any endeavor undertaken merely to increase one's own happiness or contentment or, I'm embarrassed to even say it, bliss?

Self is ego and ego isrepparttar 122173 realm ofrepparttar 122174 dreamstate. If you want to break free ofrepparttar 122175 dreamstate, you must break free of self, not stroke it to make it purr or groom it for some imagined brighter future.

::: Maya's House of Enlightenment

The trick with being critical of so esteemed and beloved an institution is not to get dragged down intorepparttar 122176 morass of details and debate. It's very simple: If Buddhism is about enlightenment, people should be getting enlightened. If it's not about enlightenment, they should changerepparttar 122177 sign.

Of course, Buddhism isn't completely unique in its survival tactics. This same gulf between promise and performance is found in all systems of human spirituality. We're looking at it in Buddhism because that's where it's most pronounced. No disrespect torepparttar 122178 Buddha is intended. If there was a Buddha and he was enlightened, then it's Buddhism that insults his memory, not healthy skepticism. Blamerepparttar 122179 naked emperor's retinue of tailors and lickspittles, notrepparttar 122180 boy who merely statesrepparttar 122181 obvious.

Buddhism is arguablyrepparttar 122182 most elevated of man's great belief systems. If you want to enjoyrepparttar 122183 many valuable benefits it has to offer, then I wouldn't presume to utter a syllable against it. But if you want to escape fromrepparttar 122184 clutches of Maya, then I suggest you take a very close look atrepparttar 122185 serene face on all those golden statues to see if it isn't really hers.

-Jed McKenna

::: About the Author

"Jed McKenna is an American original." -Lama Surya Das

Jed McKenna is the author of "Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing" and "Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment", published by Wisefool Press. Coming in 2005: "Spirituality X" and "Jed McKenna's Notebook". Visit to learn more.

Impersonating Jed McKenna

Written by Jed McKenna

Continued from page 1

"Sounds like you do."

"I was speaking lightly."

I'm trying to skip playfully alongrepparttar surface of this conversation. I don't want to sink down intorepparttar 122163 kind of answer I'd give a serious student. The truth is that I don't possess any mechanism that would allow me to be curious or concerned aboutrepparttar 122164 future, but saying that doesn't make for breezy conversation.

"Jesus," she says, shaking her head. "My little brother has his own astrologers."

"Well, they're not really mine. They're just in attendance, so to speak."

I'm used to conversing with people who aren't awake and aren't happy about it. Everything else is chit-chat; talking forrepparttar 122165 sake of talking, reinforcingrepparttar 122166 illusion of self. I'm not against it, I just don't care to participate in it. My fault.

"So, you obviously have a great deal of influence over your students," she says as she sips her iced tea. I mull her statement over and decide that I don't have a response. I take another bite of pasta, wishing I'd ordered something with meat.

"I mean," she says, "they obviously hold you in very high regard. That's quite a responsibility."

She thinks, quite understandably, that she's my big sister and we're having a reunion; a nice little catch-up lunch. She's been thrown a curve with this little-brother/spiritual-master thing and she's trying to handle it. Does she think I'm a fraud? Does she think I'm running a game? Does she think that underneath it all I'm still really her little brother? I don't know and I don't much care. The fact that she's read Damnedest doesn't mean that she and I can speak; it means she should know we can't. She doesn't seem to be clear on that. Maybe she thinksrepparttar 122167 enlightenment thing is just my day job and that I can step out of that role to be with someone who knowsrepparttar 122168 real me.

"I don't know. I suppose it's a responsibility."

"You don't know? Obviously these people are strongly influenced by you. You don't think that's a big responsibility?"

I shrug. The first thing she said to me when we got together was that I wasn't dressed well enough forrepparttar 122169 restaurant. Such a statement is so alien to me that I could only shrug. Now it seems that every statement she makes is so alien to me that I can only shrug.

In accepting this lunch engagement, my hope was that I could slip back into my old persona enough to manage a civil meal. That was too hopeful. I can no longer impersonate myself and I am simply unable to formulate a reply to anything she has to say; I've forgotten my lines. We don't share a common tongue and there's no way I can make her see that. From her point of view she's saying perfectly normal, conversational things.

"Yes, I suppose it's a big responsibility," I say, trying to say something that sounds like I'm saying something.

She lowers her voice. "You hear a lot about people in your position taking advantage of that responsibility for... unsavory purposes. I hope you would never do something like that."

I could simply tell her whatrepparttar 122170 preview copy ofrepparttar 122171 book was meant to tell her, that we are no longer related because what I am now doesn't relate. But why say it? To satisfy myself? It wouldn't. To inform her? It wouldn't.

"You mean sex stuff? That sort of thing?"

"Whatever. Power corrupts. I just hope you'll be careful."

Sweet. Big sister giving little brother some advice on how to shoulderrepparttar 122172 burden of power. Being in advertising, perhaps she thinks we have something in common; wieldingrepparttar 122173 power to influence people's thoughts. Maybe she thinks we're inrepparttar 122174 same business, I don't know.

I set down my fork and sit back. "Well, when I walk throughrepparttar 122175 house, I always have someone proceed me with a boom-box playing Darth Vader theme music to lend a weighty and ominous air to my approach. And I certainly don't dress like this. I have, you know,repparttar 122176 robes,repparttar 122177 beads, and I always carry fresh flowers. Just trappings, all very tiresome, really, butrepparttar 122178 minions expect it. There was a little resistance at first to having them call me Shri Shri Shri Shri Jed, but they gotrepparttar 122179 hang of it. And remembering to speak inrepparttar 122180 first person plural there and singular here can take a little getting used to, but we are, I mean, uh, I am, happy to makerepparttar 122181 effort. Noblesse oblige and all."

She stares at me for a moment, then bursts into laughter. I guess some ice has broken because we are able to continue in a lighter and friendlier manner, and eventually say goodbye with genuine fondness.

I doubt I'll ever see her again, but I'm happy knowing she's still inrepparttar 122182 world. -Jed McKenna

::: About the Author

"Jed McKenna is an American original." -Lama Surya Das

Jed McKenna is the author of "Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing" and "Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment", published by Wisefool Press. Coming in 2005: "Spirituality X" and "Jed McKenna's Notebook". Visit to learn more.

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