Zen Anarchy

27 August, 2008

A very good three-part look at the core of Zen – the playful, anarchic, dogma-shattering side.

This is what all the great teachers show: Zen is the practice of anarchy (an-archy) in the strictest and most super-orthodox sense. It rejects all “archys” or principles—supposedly transcendent sources of truth and reality, which are really no more than fixed ideas, mental habits and prejudices that help create the illusion of dominating reality. These “principles” are not mere innocuous ideas. They are Imperialistic Principalities that intrude their sovereign power into our very minds and spirits. As anti-statist as we may try to be, our efforts will come to little if our state of mind is a mind of state. Zen helps us dispose of the clutter of authoritarian ideological garbage that automatically collects in our normal, well-adjusted mind, so that we become free to experience and appreciate the world, nature, and the “Ten Thousand Things,” the myriad beings around us, rather than just using them as fuel for our ill-fated egoistic cravings.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

(Found via Technoccult)

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The Dalai Lama, heresy and politics

26 August, 2008

I like a good heresy, me.

It’s always seemed to me that heresies (that aren’t extinguished) usually end up as the new orthodoxies – but before they do, they’re interesting to watch and often instructive… at least, of the current orthodoxy.

So it was with some interest I read this bit in (of all places) The New Statesman, on the Dorje Shugden heresy in Tibetan Buddhism. I’m far from an expert on this subject (though I use some tools and concepts from Bön Shamanism which drifted into Tibetan practice long ago), but the basics go like this:

Dorje Shugden is a ‘protector-deity’ who, when called upon, looks after those seeking enlightenment. His worship is banned by the current (14th) Dalai Lama, for reasons which vary depending on who you talk to. His stance seems to be that Dorje Shugden is a) an evil spirit, b) not a real Buddha, c) the preferred version of Buddha-worship favoured by the Han Chinese authorities or d) all of the above.

Worshippers of the Dorje insist that this is a political move on the DL’s part, an attempt to unite all forms of Tibetan Buddhism under his leadership – and the tail-end of a political struggle some 400 years old, involving the previous incarnation of the Dorje who was a rival of the 5th DL…

You got to love it when the archetypal ‘peace-and-love’ belief system falls into this kind of schizm. And especially when there’s a fair bit of evidence that that nice old man the 14th Dalai Lama has caused purges of thousand of heretical worshippers from temples both in Tibet and elsewhere using the O***pics as a distraction…

I don’t, as they say, have a dog in this race. But my inner cynic leads me to seriously consider the claims of the Dorje Shugden followers – and the magician part (that is, most of me) leads me to wonder the kinds of results one might get from working a system which simultaneously claims no god-figure but has thousands of gods, goddesses and demons in the pantheon… and which are which depends entirely on context and minor differences of teaching.

Well, not wonder so much as smile slyly at the similarity to the syncretism of, say, Xtian and Yoruba traditions that resulted in the effective system usually called Voodoo.

That whole Guttershaman thing on ‘authenticity’ and tradition? Coming real soon.