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Stirring it up

Hello? Is anybody out there?

I was sure my blog post Spiritual Life would bring in a flood of comments; so was Caroline. True, it wasn’t that profound, but we thought it was at least provocative; while it did express some of my thoughts I was more interested in yours, dear reader. I guess mine just weren’t radical enough.

Or, could it be that I make so much sense that you all just agree with me? God, you’re not just being polite, are you? In either case, I feel that I’m preaching to the converted, and that’s too close to religious conformity for my liking.

In that post, I used a word that I usually avoid religiously: spirituality. Let’s face it, it’s a highly unspecific blanket term used more by those who want to believe what they want than by those genuinely investigating their own minds. I suspect that most of the latter, like me, don’t actually consider themselves religious at all. The best word I know to describe the decision to slow down, get to the root of consciousness and uproot stress, is practical.

This is what the Buddha was all about. He rejected the establishment of his day — the Vedic teaching that ritual, not self-development, was the way to salvation — and sat under a tree to see what he could figure out for himself. After he died, of course, Buddhist orthodoxy began to paint him as perfect. Most establishment Buddhists today are horrified by the suggestion that we might ourselves reach the same level of accomplishment as the Buddha himself — but clearly, they’ve got issues. If we’re to believe anything about the man Siddhartha Gotama, it’s that he taught so that others could find the same peace of mind as he. That was really, really nice of him; it’s just plain rude to suggest that we can’t do what he did.

Anyway, all this provocation is probably falling on deaf ears. None of you are hard-core Buddhists or you wouldn’t be reading The Naked Monk — unless my old teachers have set spies upon me — so you won’t take umbrage at my little sacrileges.

Hmm … how can I stir things up?

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5 responses to “Stirring it up”

  1. sandra

    Those “spiritual” people you mention remind me of almost every yoga teacher I ever had. They moved as if they were floating, and posessed some higher sense the rest of us just didn’t have. Frankly, that’s why I stopped going to yoga classes.

  2. Eric

    My basic issue with the post, is I was wondering why you didn’t use an Ipod ????

    Noise-cancelling earbuds are’t effective against heavy vibrations coming through floor and walls

    When I was going to a hardcore gym back in the 90s I used my walkman and blasted that sucker in order to drown out the dance music… Judas Priest + Iron Maiden helped a lot but also damaged my hearing I suppose.

    I love music, mostly classical and jazz, but not when I’m trying to focus on my workout

    As for stirring things up, go with simple concepts that could be understood by the common person. Like what do you think of Tiger Woods saying he wants to go back to his Buddhist roots?

    You’re probably right, but I don’t have much to say about Tiger Woods. If he’s looking for discipline, most religions have something to offer, as does plain good sense. He was brought up Buddhist, so why not start there? I expect it won’t be easy; the wealth, adulation and sense of importance he’s used to makes for more complications than the rest of us have to face. It’s interesting how celebrities are seen to be more fortunate than the rest of us. Do you think they are?

    Just a thought…

    Thanks!

  3. Eric

    Every situation has it’s good side and it’s bad side. Fame is the best example. It gets you gratification but it leads to dead ends in almost every case.

    Are you speaking from experience?

    Too much, too little, not enough, too late, too soon. It’s never in the right amount.

    As for Tiger going back to his Buddhist roots, wouldn’t quitting the professional golf circuit be his only true option?

    Why would that be?

    I think he is using Buddhism to his advantage.

    I don’t know the man, so I can’t say; but the Buddha taught for the advantage of his students; if that is what Woods is doing, maybe he’ll find what he’s looking for. It’s up to him; it really has very little to do with Buddhism.

  4. Eric

    Not experience, but most people when interviewed rarely have good things to say about fame. I guess it’s how you use it. Bono seems to know how to use it for good, but then again the expectations might be overwhelming after a while, even for him.

    Because he wants/needs to win. It creates expectations and to fail to meet these expectations causes problems and ultimately suffering. Quitting the professional golf circuit and playing for the sheer love of the game would be more “honest?”

    That presumes a lot about his inmost motivations, which I dare say are far more complex and human than the tabloid press have the faintest inkling of.

    What I meant by using Buddhism is to deflect attention from his “problems”, since it is not politically correct to criticize Buddhism.

    According to whom? Buddhism is a human institution subject to misunderstanding, superstition and self-serving distortion of the facts, just like any other institution. The fact that it means to promote ethical values and life’s purpose means that it should be held to an even higher degree of accountability than other systems. The Buddha would pull his hair out in despair (if he had any) at the notion that his teachings are beyond criticism.

  5. Eric

    It’s all about perception and image. Christianity had the crusades + inquisition + a bunch of other fun stuff. Islam is not really riding high on the appreciation meter, Judaism has a love/hate relationship with the world. Hinduism has been ignored but ask the Muslims in Pakistan and they have their view on it. So with the Dalai Lama as figurehead Buddhism has pretty much a love fest going on. Unless your are the Chinese government…. But then again having the Chinese as your nemesis is not a bad thing image wise.

    So by saying he’s going back to Buddhism, he pretty much covers his butt. So he can get positive press. Apart from Howard Stern and Bill Maher who have been critical.

    It’s pretty cynical for me to think this but I just think it’s just too convinient and besides shouldn’t he have kept it quiet ?

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