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Comments are for the page: “Buddhism” is an obstacle to Buddhism
I greatly appreciate your reference to and discussion of vampires here. Lately I, and many in Troma Rinpoche’s sangha, have been a bit “vampire-crazy” with Twilight and the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series, and some other movies/books as well. It is super fun to think of vampires in the context of Buddhism. If you have any more thoughts on this topic, would you write another blog on the subject? I am intrigued… “In fact, the connections between Buddhism and vampirism seem to me much more pertinent than those between Buddhism and punk. I may not take this too far, but I may offer some more details at some point.” OH! please don’t leave us hanging....
Thanks for your enthusiasm about this! I’m an Anita Blake fan (more the earlier than later ones in the series) and I love Underworld (the movie). And I do like Sookie, and others, too.
I’ve got about fifteen pages of potential material on “Buddhism for Vampires”—it would need to be its own site! Lots of lovely romantic Buddhist gore and horror. The question is whether this is the most useful thing for me to be writing now; but if there is enthusiasm/interest, I will go for it.
(Sorry, by the way, to be slow to post your comment—I’m on retreat and have been off-line for ten days, and will be offline again for another ten days now.)
I guarantee there is interest in this subject. If you write it, we will read it. If you don’t, however, we will understand. No worries about your delay in posting my reply, but maybe you could go ahead and shoot me off an email when/if you post this one, or have anything else to say…so i remember to check back! I’m excited about the public teachings coming up in California with N’gak Chang Rinpoche.
Thank you for your encouragement! Due to your enthusiasm, I’ve completed a first draft page on the topic. I have to check some bits with Ngak’chang Rinpoche at the California retreat, because it describes his dealings with a vampire, and I want to be sure that part is factually accurate. It should be ready in time for Halloween…
[Update: here it is!]
Without really intending to, I’ve also written a plot sketch for a Buddhist vampire romance set in the time of the Indian Mahasiddhas, featuring a female vampire Lama. I’m quite excited about it at the moment!
I have read this blog post a long time ago already, but I looked at it again and it kind of hit the nail on the head concerning the recent development in my own life.
I have become an apprentice in the Aro gTér lineage relatively recently, which also meant that I formally became a Buddhist. Soon after, I noticed that telling other people (who actually are interested to hear - not for everyone) that I am a Buddhist, has seemed to be a bit problematic. Of course I am a Buddhist so there should be no problem mentioning it, but there is.
That is because saying that you are a Buddhist, raises a completely wrong picture in the mind of many peoples, and here I am just talking about the more spiritually conscious people in my own social circles. Aro gTér is not the most typical kind of Buddhist lineages, and even my own direction where I approach the whole thing is not the most typical one.
I think that only solution to this seems to be that I do not say as much that I am a Buddhist, but I say what I actually practice. On the other hand, in that case there is the problem what one can say about the practices and be understood, and it does take a lot more time to explain everything too.
Yes, explaining our corner of Buddhism to acquaintances is difficult, isn’t it?
When the subject comes up, I find myself using the phrase “not that kind of Buddhist”. I eat meat – so “I’m not that kind of Buddhist”. (This applies to a long list of things that contradict typical assumptions about Buddhists.)
Usually, “not that kind of Buddhist” puts a quick end to the conversation. That seems to be about the best I can do. The idea that there might be different kinds of Buddhism, with different practices and beliefs, is more complicated than almost anyone wants to deal with. It is rare for anyone to really want to understand, so I hardly ever mention Buddhism at all.
I hope you find a better approach!
I liked your recent post on your blog about the difficulty of communicating meditation experiences – a somewhat related topic. I meant to post a reply in a comment, but found I didn’t have anything to say beyond “yes, that’s what I’ve found, too.”
an interesting thing is that happy-vegetable people are attracted towards happy-vegetable Buddhism, but on the contrary, freaky, attention-seeking, “cool-because-not-vegetable-and-raw-meat” Buddhism could attract the same kind of people. Defined vegetable and defined meat are both problematic! I think I heard an interview of ngakchang rinpoche where he told that you gotta begin somewhere! Honestly, who understands Buddhism but Buddhas! Whatever we are, it is no denying that most of us begin from fascination, either with vegetables or with meat, then we understand sadness. Or we bore it off by sitting.
And of course it is problematic to declare around that you’re a Buddhist! What you mean is that you meditate everyday and to you, Buddhism means ‘normal human being’ that you were always anyway, but to others, sadly, it means ‘trying to be Buddhist’ which is sad. Any enthusiastic beginner will agree with me that it is what convinced them that Pratyekbuddhayana-ppl can’t really tell other people about the Dharma, and the less you speak about it the better!
Hey! Sorry for the twitter call out, I could not find the comment section earlier! I also wasn’t so sure if I wanted to disagree with you in public when this is my first time to your blog, hehe :)
I’m confused on your stance on the relationship between Buddhism and punk. You like it? You don’t like it? What makes you think it is superficial, but yet a welcomed ‘gimmick’ (other’s wording you’ve heard for it, I realize)? And what makes you think vampires have more Buddhist weight than punk? (That is not meant to sound snooty, honestly curious, I see you have an interest in this and I’m not discrediting it, I just ask that you don’t discredit punk’s relation as well).
I believe the analogy of punk and Buddhism goes very far indeed.”People who are realistic about some things—people who hate fake niceness and moral hypocrisy and kitschy sentimentality.” might be the teenage angst that leads a young punk to Buddhism or Zen mind, but it is only the beginning thoughts and it is definitely not the most valuable! Punks were raised by the 60’s love children wind-chimers, and they didn’t like the result, which is why they rebelled. Many have dealt with substance abuse, been homeless by choice, and truly live the ‘live every day like it’s your last’ mentality everyone always talks about. They are not afraid to shave their head or tattoo their whole body because they know neither are truly permanent. I could go on and on on this subject :)
I do agree with a lot of what you said about the prejudice of modern Buddhism, or even just spirituality, in this country. Using the word “exercise” or “method” all of a sudden makes meditation techniques less scary. Try this ‘breathing exercise’. There are so many athiests, agnostics, I”M NOT ANYTHING!!!’s that are determined to avoid organized or label-worthy religion, they fail to see they are already practicing some of them, (and I swear most of the time it’s Zen), or maybe their (insert mental problem) could be helped with it.
Often times when I tell people I’m Buddhist, they say, “I’m not religious, but I’ve studied them and if I was, I think I would be Buddhist.” This statement cracks me up. To me, that is just them saying they are a non-practicing Buddhist. They usually believe in the Golden Rule, and that what they do here on Earth matters right now. But how to get them to take a harder look, you know? I think this is why The Dalai Lama preaches very broadly, always claiming kindness can be practiced regardless of religion is in a way shedding the title of Buddhism, just like you said.
Great article, got me thinking, I wish your name and the comments were easier to find ;)
@ZenPDX aka Red
I am just wondering, Mr. Chapman, if you may have seen David Cronenberg’s “Blood and Donuts,” or Michael Almereyda’s “Nadja”? There are elements in both of these movies that you might appreciate at one level or another
As A ‘Punk’ and a ‘Buddhist’, and one who knows many ‘Punks’ who have also become ‘Buddhists’, I can’t say that I care or have any stance regarding the two in combination other than the fact that the ability to see past one’s own culture (in my case this meant 80’s pop culture, religious fundamentalism, reactionary nationalism, and economic warfare - like nafta) can lead one to question the whole paradigm-construction process, which can lead to Buddhism - the ne-plus-ultra in paradigm deconstruction toolkits.
@ ZenPDX — Hi, thanks for the comment, and sorry to be slow to reply!
I’m sorry that the page wasn’t clearer about my opinion. What I wrote was unclear, and my appreciation of the punk/Buddhism connection has grown since I first published this (three years ago now I think). I’ve done some re-writing just now; I hope it’s clearer that I’m enthusiastic about it. My page on Brad Warner goes into more detail.
I’ve never been a part of the punk sub-culture, so I’m probably limited in the extent I can understand the connections. You said you could go on and on about it—maybe you should write a blog!
I didn’t mean to imply that vampires were more Buddhist than punk. Just that there are many different potential audiences for presenting Buddhism in very different ways. Having a monolithic mainstream Buddhist culture excludes a lot of people. (This is the sub-culture vs. counter-culture issue I talk about in the linked post.)
It seems that most people under, say, 40, don’t want to belong to a religion (“I”M NOT ANYTHING!!!”)—so the sub-cultural model for Buddhism doesn’t work any more either. I’m going to try and say something about that fairly soon on my Wordpress blog.
Thanks for letting me know that the comment link was hard to find. I’ll see if I can make it bigger and more obvious!
@ James C — Thanks you for the movie recommendations! I haven’t seen either. I watched the trailers on YouTube and read the Wikipedia entries, and they both look very good. (Using Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” as the score for the Blood and Donuts trailer sold me—that’s one of my all-time favorite songs. I’m also a big My Bloody Valentine fan (used in Nadja).) I’ve put both on my “movies to watch” list.
Pathetic. This reminds me of Christian Rock. Equally pathetic. Have some dignity. Die like a man. Let Buddhism die with dignity. There is no need for gimmicks like Buddhism for Vampires just to keep it alive, like a patient in the ER full of tubes, catheters, and an iron lung machine besides.
The only way to keep something is to give it away.
Thank-you for replying and editing, just a few words and I’m now nodding along with the parts I was previously scrunching my nose at :)
I’m not really all that wrapped up it labels like “punk” and “Buddhist”, but I myself am quite the punk and a lot of the rebellious thoughts I had as a young teen because of that culture led me to Buddhism. I just thought I’d let you know, it’s no gimmick, I didn’t know about “Dharma Punx” the book and movement until I was at a retreat by the same name at a hot springs!
Oh and sorry for replying to such an old blog (and perhaps leading that hate comment here? Gross!). Keep doin’ what you’re doin’.
@ ZenPDX — Thank you; your comment led to a substantial improvement, I think.
Glad to have comments on old pages, it keeps them alive (and sometimes leads to revisions when my thinking has changed).
I kind of like today’s hater, actually. He’s got a consistent point of view and explains it reasonably coherently, which puts him ahead of many blog commenters! And he’s certainly prolific; he seems to be engaging seriously with the material.
(Admittedly his negativity and superior attitude are tedious, and this particular comment was content-free.)
I find this all very interesting. This talk of punk and vampires. While not punk, nor a vampire I have lived most of my life outside of popular culture. My musical tastes run from the Babys to Zappa with a little Tom Waits for good measure. I embrace technology but think the world is past its prime. I might enjoy being a menonite maybe, maybe not. But life would be much simpler. Quite simply put I feel most of the time a man out of his time.
I think that buddhism does need different methods of delivery to reach a more diverse audience. I recently had a conversation with an author who was writing a romance novel with the leading man being a buddhist monk. What was unusual was his involvement in BDSM as a submissive. And you thought vampires were a stretch of the imagination.
I Look forward to reading your vampire blog as well as you other musing.
Jeez, what do you guys have against wind chimes. I love them, and I also listen to death metal and even some punk. Lighten up, Francises!
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