Blues for Buddha
By Jed McKenna
Being critical of Buddhism isn't easy.
Buddhism is most likable of major religions, and Buddhists are perennial good guys of modern spirituality. Beautiful traditions, lovely architecture, inspiring statuary, ancient history, 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 be place to look.
::: The Light is Better Over Here
Such thinking, however, would reveal a dangerous lack of respect for opposition. Maya, goddess of delusion, has been doing her job with supreme mastery since first spark of self-awareness flickered in some chimp's noggin, and idea that neophyte truth-seeker can just sign up with Buddhists, read some books, embrace some new concepts and slam her to mat might be a bit on naive side.
On other hand, why not? How’d this get so turned around? It’s just truth. Shouldn’t truth be, like, 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’s problem?
::: Why doesn’t Buddhism produce Buddhas?
The problem arises from fact that Buddhists, like everyone else, insist on reconciling irreconcilable. They don’t just want to awaken to true, they also want to make sense of 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 reconciling irreconcilable is concept of Two Truths, a poignant two-word joke they don’t seem to get, and yet this sort of perversely irrational thinking is at very heart of 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 than Four Noble Truths which, not being true, are of pretty dubious nobility. They form basis of Buddhism, so it's clear from outset that Buddhists have whipped up a proprietary version of truth shaped more by market forces than any particular concern for 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 as day you signed up.