Buddhism, Gurus, and motivational mash-ups: caveat emptor…

IMG_0599I’m not trying to win any popularity contests, but if I were I’d be telling you things like: “You are the masterpiece! You are connected to every molecule, every atom, and every quark that has ever existed and ever will exist in this or any other universe! You are the dharma! You are the Christ! You are the reason that the sun rises in the morning and goes to bed at night…

Yes, you are the vibrant and vibrating electromagnetic field for thousands of tiny energy centers pulsing away inside you, each in direct contact with you, each other, and the universe, simultaneously random and predetermined, quantum entanglement at its finest, you and the Big Bang in unison…”

There’s only one problem. It’s all BS, the dharmic equivalent of greeting-card good-feelies, e-Buddhism and all that rap, some of which actually ARE in the stationery bizniz. Which is fine, if that’s what you want, such are the missives that have made millionaires of Osho, Eckhart and Deepak, and I thank them for making us all feel good, if only for a moment, because that’s all it does, really, is put a band-aid (TM) on your boo-boo and provide you a sucker for medicine…

But you are the sucker! Haha, if you believe everything you hear, that is, and that’s okay, because I’ve busted so many Buddhist fan-page administrators on Facebook by now that I’ve lost count, and that’s not really an insult because ordained monks do it, too, their FB ‘avatars’ laden with fake Buddha quotes and misleading memes mostly designed to make Buddhism seem more Christian, and vice-versa, so as to thicken the plot and pump up the sales, I guess, and only coincidentally to make life better for the average bloke, if even that…

Maybe Baba Ram Dass is the only major quasi-Buddhist guru of the last half-century to count his net worth in a modest six figures, and for that healthy selflessness I bow my head and give him credit, not that I begrudge any of them their success, as long as they aren’t profiting off Buddhism, while mangling the message beyond comprehension, and mixing their metaphors with no mercy, because that is my self-described mission, to separate chaff from wheat, especially when it comes to Buddhism and the salvation of (non) self and species…

But none of these major gurus calls himself Buddhist, per se, and that is probably wise, though they all borrow heavily from it, mostly just taking the good parts and leaving the excess baggage of reincarnation and karmic retribution and the innate nobility of fair skin over dark, male over female, accidents of birth elevated into God’s plan, as if by design, when in fact more like you-know-what, ego extrapolated into race extrapolated into a superiority complex to die for…

Notice the ‘you you you’ in the typical sales pitch direct marketing right into the back-door of your mind, and that pretty much tells you all you need to know: pitches to ego, recourse to a resource that shouldn’t even exist in a good Buddhist, but that’s not their concern. Osho is definitely dubious, of course, the artist formerly known as ‘Rajneesh’ back in his Oregon days in the early ’80’s, his commune there as famous for in-fighting as for f*cking, eighty Rolls and counting, damn the torpedoes…

Deepak is legit, I guess, as much as a motivational multi-millionaire can be, but hardly up to the scientific scrutiny that he imagines for himself, Chopra taking his cue from Capra with his ‘quantum’ this and ‘quantum’ that, at one point even blaming physicists for sending mixed messages, earning him the title of ‘random BS generator’, though he gets respect for his friendship with George Harrison, even if his DJ selections on KCRW suck…

I like Eckhart Tolle, and consider him a minor prophet, but even here we’re only talking a tiny lump of sugar, spun up into fantastic cotton-candy shapes for mass consumption, which, after all, is still only a tiny lump of sugar, notwithstanding Tolle’s recurring reference to ‘the teaching’, ahem. And his ‘nowness’, of course, owes a huge debt to Baba Ram Dass, whose book ‘Be Here Now’ kicked all that ‘now’ sh*t into high gear (though I still can’t understand why ‘hereness’ never took off)….

So yes, it’s all about marketing, but Ram Dass is more honest, and less pretentious, than most, he openly playing many angles in a public quest for enlightenment, which is ultimately doomed, but still worthwhile, if for nothing more than its honesty. And you’ve gotta’ respect a counter-culture 60’s icon still vital after all these years, an acknowledged homosexual, in search of liberation. And even if his book was more a hippie classic than metaphysical mind-blower, still it’s worth respect, if only for that…

So why can’t an outright Buddhist do so well with the good news of peace and contentment through non-aggression, non-grasping, and ultimately—non-self? Maybe it’s the lack of profit motive, but I’m not so sure about that. That would be a sad commentary, but applicable to some motivational gurus. I suspect the answer is that indie gurus can tell whatever you what to hear. A good Buddhist is limited to dharma, and dharma only, though the Dalai Lama pushes the boundaries, and Thich Nhat Hanh has made a career of it. That’s cool…