Archive for faith

Triple Gem Meltdown

Posted in Buddhism, Monasticism, Philosophy, Religion, society, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I seem to be totally obsessed with religions, particularly Buddhism. One reason is because, to me, religions seem to give the initial impression of possessing clusters of virtuous people among their ranks. Obviously virtuous people are socially all over the board (and never mind the fact that any group you think is special will look special to you), but this is the racket. Yeah, I think religions are idealized as clusters of virtuous people.

But then, like every social mechanism — government, law, science and research, business, and so forth, religious hierarchies are easily subject to social and financial corruption. Ah, too bad for us sorry saps who want to place lazy faith in something! So much for that idea…

Again, let me reiterate: the false connection a dopey person like me is making here, is aligning virtuous people with religious people. That’s like aligning artistic talent with financial success, really. It has no basis in reality. Oh, and never mind the whole freaking problem of defining “virtues” of virtuous people in the first place. But for the sake of convenience, let’s just assume virtues are like… classically positive, wholesome, energized character traits in some cosmic reference book.

Yah, the “virtuous people” do seem to exist. And I am somewhat a fan of them. I suppose my confusion as to associating them with religion is the way religions describe their paths to virtue. A religion like Buddhism defines the Triple Gem at the heart of the practice as: faith in the Buddha, the Dharma (teaching) and the Sangha (religious order). In other words, you gotta stick to the Buddhist Sangha if you plan to figure it all out. But don’t all the other religions say the same thing? It’s almost like they naively think their own path is the only path. Ha! Obviously false, but also obvious that it’s dumb to try and take all the different paths at once… I do smite thee, New-Ager!

Therefore, I have my own religious interpretation of dogma, one which declares, in order to shine super effing bright (spiritually speaking), an individual takes refuge in (1) virtuous people, (2) virtuous conduct and philosophy, and (3) virtuous peers and habits. Virtuous people are just any people who are wise and really cool and realized. And the last one is really easy because virtuous habits can be found in every person. That’s why we say absolute cock-a-mamey baloney about slimy businessmen, like, “although he’s a jerk, I can respect his drive for business.” Or maybe, “yeah, he’s a malicious businessman, but you have to admit he’s pretty smart.” Except unfortunately, intelligence is not really a virtue.

To admire someone’s positive traits, you don’t have to be all dorky and “New Age” about it, pretending to ignore the person’s glaring flaws, but just make sure the habits that one retains from others are positive ones.

There you go, totally excellent advice and nothing asked in return! Actually, promise me this, dear reader: pull me outta this torturous, illusory existence once you transcend the samsaric waves of all creation, will you? Pretty plz?


Working for the weekend (a.k.a. paradise)

Posted in Drug Abuse, Happiness, martial arts, Reality Bites, society, Ultimate Reality, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 3, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It’s funny when one considers the usefulness of martial arts, or anything else. You’ll probably never need to use it. Most people who do use this stuff, do so out of choice (realistically it should only be do-or-die). Of course, this has been covered elsewhere. But my point is relevant because the same goes for almost everything. Lots of people save money their whole lives and never spend it or save it for emergencies that never happen. Some people become well-read experts on philosophy and then never have to engage in a logical debate for any reason except sick personal pleasure.

So it makes you think… who does need to legitimately use stuff? Government scientists? The military? Politicians? Business moguls? The more power a person has, the more important we take their decisions to be, the more often we consider their actions as significant. That kind of power seems to be what everyone in society admires or envies the most; the ability to influence or sway large masses of people. But a lot of powerful people are careless and make typically unwise decisions, which impact everyone on a very direct economic or community level. This is not surprising though, as to get mad military or political power, you have to give up a part of yourself that is very precious.

At the other extreme of social irresponsibility, are people who refuse to take any consciously active steps in the direction of their lives or actions. I once had an idiotic friend who could never get his life together. Drug addiction, stealing, failing out of school, lying — all the bad stuff you could do without getting violent he pretty much did. I think they were mostly self-destructive things, but anyone around him got pulled along for the ride. Appropriately, in his brief swings of sobriety he would start talking about how spiritually advanced or enlightened he was in comparison to everyone else — he was a real piece of work. One of the million times he had cleaned up his act and gone clean temporarily, he started chatting me up about how important it is for us to get out there and help the poor unprivileged people. You know, he was basically saying we should throw cash in the streets of Africa and give everyone shelter and food.

Now, I don’t actually think that helps anyone. I think that temporarily assuages a crisis. But the thing is, this guy was championing these marvelous humanist ideas before he had ever made a single car payment, paid his own rent, cooked his own food or (most necessary of all) spent consistent time practicing a skill. How on earth could he possibly help other people if he was pissing off his friends and relying on his parents while repeatedly getting addicted to drugs? Unreal.

His spoiled-rotten charity sounds almost like the inverse version of a ’70s Japanese Yakuza movie or something. Taxi Driver-type stuff, amirite? Total psycho screw-up goes all out to save an abused prostitute from being a sacrifice for a rich-kid fraternity. A loathsome person with ugly methods does a virtuous thing that the “upstanding” community services are too lazy or afraid to do. Of course, these kinds of idiot-savante superheros are pretty rare. Their help is sort of arbitrary. It doesn’t seem… dependable?

To be human is to experience pleasure and suffering. The internal peace we all claim to desire probably culminates in a non-human existence. A lot of people lose track of peace, or when they talk about peace it’s like they’re blowing hot air. In other words, most people don’t want to fess up to their subtle belief that it’s fun to have problems. Even when people try to claim that’s not true, that they don’t like drama, don’t they still like it when there are unfortunate people for them to help? Those are still problems, albeit not one’s own. So that’s a problem there, isn’t it? The problem of subtly desiring problems to solve.

And then we all think, “but not me! I see how the world is for real. I’m a good person. I like everybody!” Which is just more typical sandwich counter baloney. People reveal who they are during disasters or horrible situations and threatened circumstances. It ain’t pretty. When the average person is confronted by terrible fear or lust or anger or any other strong emotion, they become possessed and blank out. When they come to, they’ve done something they regret.

That is the craziness of life, my friends. Deep realization is often comprised of personal factors of responsibility, consistency — an embodiment of faith. Not faith in the magical, make-believe way. Faith as in, action without question. Something needs to be done and you do it. But it’s not the same as just being a hard worker or a military man, ‘coz enlightened folks are morally perfect and nice and charming.

Ultimately, in life you don’t have to do anything. But you’ll be (more) miserable if you do nothing. So you do stuff. End of story. Existential problems solved.