Zen Fiction

Ah, love or hate Brad Warner, the “reform” Zen master, I can give the man props for one primary element of his particular brand of Zen Buddhism: his denial of the existence of an ultimate being/teacher with superpowers. He routinely points out how there is no such thing as a religious superman or infallible leader. I think this is an idea that is overwhelmingly sparse in religion, even amongst Zen Buddhists.

A ha, of course there’s tons of stuff to disagree with Brad Warner about (his Zen Buddhism, like a lot of Zen Buddhism these days, seems watered down — but what do I know?). For example, he claims rebirth does not exist. Which is a major no-no with almost everyone else in Buddhism. And he writes for Suicide Girls, which is questionable, since SG has the potential of being a grimy business scheme.

Still, Brad was only a pretext to discussing religious infallibility, which he has conveniently written about on his most recent post. I know people are afraid of dismissing the idea of a superhuman. The problem is only when people fail to see how “super powers” are only the result of intense practice in any particular thing. It seems the “super” powers of realized minds are actually just the result of incredibly sensitive, mundane mental awareness. I do wish you could protect people from all cults by telling them no person is infallible, there is no superhuman state of existence, etc. But no, everything else sucks people in just as hard: sporting events, politics, romantic relationships, and so on. Still, if Brad is honest, I admire his intention to help people see cults for what they are.

I tend to see “magick” and the traditional occult sciences (astrology/divination, geomancy, Kabbalah, elemental magic) as having been misappropriated by “New Agers.” Most of these practices are considered bunk in the modern scientific world, but they hold esteem– at the very least– as cultural traditions which continue to operate, but as fringe novelty beliefs.

Some hermetic sciences are more like “internal sciences” or “theorems for experimentation with one’s inner mind.” And when people go mad in sorcery, it’s not all that different from a traditional religious teacher going nutso. Sorcerors, like all community leaders and organizers, often fall into the ideas of thinking they’re a god or an excessively powerful person. They think their ability to manipulate people is a sign of their intelligence (the basic tenet of Ayn Rand-ian “philosophy”).

But I think, without all the fancy esoteric dressing, the only honest “answer” to the average human’s need for salvation and deliverance from this world, is one which prescribes that the individual sit and only think of the present moment — the breath. It’s kinda hard to make a cult out of something so simple. Or is it?

Those things I’m wary of: certain kinds of Tibetan Buddhism; martial arts groups like the Bujinkan — I wonder if their dogmas aren’t just intentionally powerful illusions, meant to pull in initiates. Because this stuff totally happens in every religion in the world. So don’t you dare think you have the key while no one else does.

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