The Messy-onic Tradition, part 2: Eckhart and the Also-rans…

(Continued from here). I would consider Eckhart Tolle more of a genuine prophet than Deepak Chopra, and with a genuine message, however limited, a fairly well fleshed-out theory of ‘the Now’, but here, too, there is vagueness and also many tossed mixed metaphors conveniently confusing empirical facts with familiar fictions, not the same thing, and dangerously close to anthropomorphic representations of entities that are nothing if not God-substitutes…

For example, what exactly does Tolle mean when he asks: “What Is It That The Universe Really Wants To Be Created Thru Me?” Is he implying that the ‘Universe’ is like a person with wants and desires? And there are other bothersome examples of vagueness: ‘NOW’, ‘Presence’, and ‘Consciousness’ are all offered in the same breath as equivalencies but still largely undefined, unfortunately…

And then there are his ‘energy centers’. Google that if you want to get the address of your nearest marijuana dispensary in SoCal. ‘Nowness’ is his big deal, but that can lead to irresponsible hedonism, too, if not correctly applied…

Still, Tolle has accomplished something very important by shining attention on to Buddhism’s best features, without calling it ‘Buddhism’ to be sure, and without all the excess baggage of past lives and the generation-jumping karma of retribution. I’ll have to admit that he woke me out of a complacent slumber. But my favorite line from Tolle was: “…a new species is arising on the planet…and you are it!” Ha! Yeah, right…

Buddhism itself has its own weak spots, too, to be sure, whether we’re talking about the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh. Sometimes it just doesn’t resonate. Other times it’s just plain wrong, regardless of what the Buddha said, or would’ve said, if he were alive today. Mostly, when it’s guilty, it’s just guilty of feeding us comfort food, when what we really need is a sharp jab in the butt. Still it comes closer to ‘the Truth’ than any other religion I know…

So I reject most of the Buddhist one-liners, many falsely attributed to the Buddha, but I like its method and inclusivity, almost analogous to scientific method, the religious version. And there is no shortage of religions or messianic movements in the cultural mix today, such that the sometimes hippie-dippie New Age seems almost quaint by comparison…

This must have been what it was like in that previous ‘End Time’ scenario, two thousand years ago, when prophets roamed the fringes of the Roman Empire like flies on poop, talking trash, accepting cash and baptizing in the river for good measure, all in preparation for the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of life as they knew it, just waiting for the Aryans to invade…

But did you know that it was similar in India 2600 years ago? There the Aryans had long since invaded, with religion, they apparently genetically equivalent to modern-day Russians, but the society was still in flux. And the Buddha was only one of many rishis and bhikkus traversing the landscape with disciples in tow, carrying just a bowl and a change of clothes, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst, and enduring harsh realities, by custom and by design…

And now it’s happening all over again, messiahs a dime a dozen, most of them still underground, on the ‘deep web’, just waiting to go viral, to see who or what rises head and shoulders above the rest, just like JC did way back when…

And a lot of it is not bad, though they all seem to ask more questions than they answer, like the film ‘Samadhi’ with ‘Baraka/Chronos’-like visuals to a docu-style narrative, or ‘Bio-Centrism’ by respected theoretical physician Robert Lanza, in which the human species essentially creates the universe to its own collective specs..

Then there’s old-fashioned parapsychology making a comeback with Bashar, channeled by another, similar to ‘Lobsang Rampa’ previously channeling himself, or Alice Bailey channeling ‘the Tibetan’. And in some ways that old Theosophy/New Thought era of a century ago is an apt comparison, with a populace increasingly superstitious and unashamed of it, science lost somewhere in the shuffle, mined only for somewhat murky ‘quantum effects’ and related hard-to prove-or-disprove phenomena…

And the funny thing is that any or all of these man-with-a-plan schemes can work, and work quite well, thank you, for the same reason that religion always worked in the past and good meditation works now: it puts an end to all other thought, at least for the time being. The details are not always important. Let the webmaster deal with that—later. For they all—every one—invoke that now sacrosanct metaphysical category of the ‘eternal now’ in some wary shape form or fashion. And they all name-drop Einstein..

As I write this the Pharoah Sanders jazz classic “Creator Has a Master Plan” is playing in the background. I love that song! I love that sentiment! It makes me feel good—for a minute or two. But it’s most probably wrong—pure fantasy, intelligent design and all that jazz. But like they say: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

So I’m not here to bash any other religion, or bust anybody’s chops. My Buddhism has no problem with any other religions, philosophies, belief systems, motivational mantras—or science. And that’s the way I like it. And that’s the way it’ll stay. The future is another story…