Blues for Buddha

Written by Jed McKenna

Blues for Buddha

By Jed McKenna

Being critical of Buddhism isn't easy.

Buddhism isrepparttar most likable ofrepparttar 122164 major religions, and Buddhists arerepparttar 122165 perennial good guys of modern spirituality. Beautiful traditions, lovely architecture, inspiring statuary, ancient history,repparttar 122166 Dalai Lama — what's not to like?

Everything about Buddhsim is just so... nice. No fatwahs or jihads, no inquisitions or crusades, no terrorists or pederasts, just nice people being nice. In fact, Buddhism means niceness. Nice-ism.

At least, it should.

Buddha means Awakened One, so Buddhism can be taken to mean Awake-ism. Awakism. It would therefore be natural to think that if you were looking to wake up, then Buddhism, i.e., Awakism, would berepparttar 122167 place to look.

::: The Light is Better Over Here

Such thinking, however, would reveal a dangerous lack of respect forrepparttar 122168 opposition. Maya, goddess of delusion, has been doing her job with supreme mastery sincerepparttar 122169 first spark of self-awareness flickered in some chimp's noggin, andrepparttar 122170 idea thatrepparttar 122171 neophyte truth-seeker can just sign up withrepparttar 122172 Buddhists, read some books, embrace some new concepts and slam her torepparttar 122173 mat might be a bit onrepparttar 122174 naive side.

Onrepparttar 122175 other hand, why not? How’d this get so turned around? It’s just truth. Shouldn’t truth be, like,repparttar 122176 simplest thing? Shouldn’t someone who wants to find something as ubiquitous as truth be able to do so? And here’s this venerable organization supposedly dedicated to just that very thing, even named for it, so what’srepparttar 122177 problem?

::: Why doesn’t Buddhism produce Buddhas?

The problem arises fromrepparttar 122178 fact that Buddhists, like everyone else, insist on reconcilingrepparttar 122179 irreconcilable. They don’t just want to awaken torepparttar 122180 true, they also want to make sense ofrepparttar 122181 untrue. They want to have their cake and eat it too, so they end up with nonsensical theories, divergent schools, sagacious doubletalk, and zero Buddhas.

Typical of Buddhist insistence on reconcilingrepparttar 122182 irreconcilable isrepparttar 122183 concept of Two Truths, a poignant two-word joke they don’t seem to get, and yet this sort of perversely irrational thinking is atrepparttar 122184 very heart ofrepparttar 122185 failed search for truth. We don’t want truth, we want a particular truth; one that doesn't threaten ego, one that doesn’t exist. We insist on a truth that makes sense given what we know, not knowing that we don't know anything.

Nothing about Buddhism is more revealing thanrepparttar 122186 Four Noble Truths which, not being true, are of pretty dubious nobility. They formrepparttar 122187 basis of Buddhism, so it's clear fromrepparttar 122188 outset thatrepparttar 122189 Buddhists have whipped up a proprietary version of truth shaped more by market forces than any particular concern forrepparttar 122190 less consumer-friendly, albeit true, truth.

Yes, Buddhism may be spiritually filling, even nourishing, but insofar as truth is concerned, it's junkfood. You can eat it every day of your life and die exactly as Awakened asrepparttar 122191 day you signed up.

Impersonating Jed McKenna

Written by Jed McKenna

Impersonating Jed McKenna

By Jed McKenna

"No man is a prophet in his own country."

That line keeps running through my mind as I sit over lunch with my sister who I haven't seen in several years. These days I'mrepparttar enlightened guy, but to her I'm justrepparttar 122163 bratty kid who couldn't make eye contact when she wore a bikini.

It's summer '01 and we're having lunch in lower Manhattan. She read a preview copy of Damnedest and has had a few months to digest it. It was very nice of her to read it because it's really not her kind of thing. She's a good citizen; a successful executive, wife, mother, Republican, tennis nut, Christian-ish, and all-round productive member of society. (She once told me she was raising her children to be productive members of society and I winced so hard I almost chipped a tooth.) She's a wonderful person, but not a member ofrepparttar 122164 demographicrepparttar 122165 book speaks to.

There's a plate of chilled pasta in front of me and a salad in front of her. We're both drinking iced tea. She's runsrepparttar 122166 creative side of a medium-sized ad agency and, I have no doubt, she's very good at it. She's taking time out of a busy schedule to have lunch with me. After this, I'm going torepparttar 122167 park to lay inrepparttar 122168 grass and watch people play with their dogs.

Visiting your sister and having lunch shouldn't be a confusing ordeal, but it is. Is she really my sister? What does that mean? We share some history and acquaintances, such as childhood and parents. Are my parents really my parents? Genetically they are related to my body, butrepparttar 122169 person who lived my childhood is no longer here. The past I share with this person is about as real and important to me as if I'd read it in a brochure.

The problem is that these people, my family, are all related to my shell, and I'm not. They're looking atrepparttar 122170 outer Jed McKenna and assuming an inner Jed McKenna. I'm inside Jed McKenna looking out and I can't really remember what he's supposed to do or say. It's all fakery. I'm an actor playing a role with for which I feel no connection and have no motivation. There cannot be anything genuine in my dealings with people who are dealing with my outer garment. (The whole thing is further entangled byrepparttar 122171 fact that there's no "I" inhabiting my shell, just a fading echo, but let's not go down that road just now.)

Actually, it's not really confusing. I possess notrepparttar 122172 least shred of doubt about who and what I am. The tricky thing is that who and what I am is not related to this pretty, professional, salad-eating woman across from me. By coming to this lunch I have inserted myself into a situation where I do not belong. I am an imposter. I have some residual fondness for my sister and if she died I'd be saddened to think that she was no longer inrepparttar 122173 world, butrepparttar 122174 simple fact is that our former relationship no longer exists.

Okay, so why am I telling you this?

Because that's what I do. I try to hold this enlightenment thing up for display and this seems like an interesting aspect ofrepparttar 122175 whole deal. How do you relate torepparttar 122176 people who were most important to you before awakening fromrepparttar 122177 dream ofrepparttar 122178 segregated self?

She asks why I'm in town.

"My astrologers told me it was a good time to get away and not try to accomplish anything. They said that ketu and rahu wouldn't be letting me get anything done for awhile anyway..."

I look up and see that she has stopped chewing in mid-mouthful and is staring at me incredulously.


"My astrologers..."

"You're not serious. You have astrologers?"

Oh yeah. I guess that sounds weird. I was vaguely aware that I was trying to be funny by starting a sentence with "My astrologers told me..." but what's a little amusing to me is other-worldly to her. Might as well have fun with it.

"I have dozens of astrologers. I can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who's doing my chart or explaining how my future will unfold; advising me on pretty much everything."

Her expression doesn't change. "You have astrologers?"

"Lots. Gotta beat 'em off with a stick."

"And they tell you... They tell you whatrepparttar 122179 future holds? What you should do? When you should do it? What you should avoid? Is that what we're talking about?"

"I suppose."

She resumes chewing butrepparttar 122180 wide-eyed gaze remains. There's a chasm in this conversation across which there's no point trying to communicate. She knows I'm into some serious weirdness, but not how much or what kind. I don't really have astrologers, of course, but in those days it did seem like I was surrounded by students of Eastern and Western astrology who were always very eager to share their readings.

"What do you do with all that information?"

"Me? Nothing. I mean, I don't ask for it. It's not like I wake up and summonrepparttar 122181 court astrologers to plan my day."

Cont'd on page 2 ==> © 2005
Terms of Use