"I know I’m not supposed to say this, but Tibetan Buddhism really freaked me out.How different? Well, aside from the "garish statues of dancing demons, fat golden Buddhas surrounded by wads of cash, walls and ceilings painted in super-lavish colours, and such a stench of incense that it’s like being in a hippy student’s dorm room", he says:
The most striking thing is how different real Tibetan Buddhism is from the re-branded, part-time version imported over here by the Dalai Lama’s army of celebrities.
Listening to Richard Gere, the first incarnation of the Hollywood Lama, you could be forgiven for thinking that Tibetan Buddhism involves sitting in the lotus position for 20 hours a day and thinking Bambi-style thoughts. Tibetan Buddhism has a 'resonance and a sense of mystery,' says Gere, through which you can find 'beingness' (whatever that means).
Watching Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel read a collection of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Central Perk on Friends a few years ago, you might also think that Tibetan Buddhism is something you can ingest while sipping on a skinny-milk, no-cream, hazelnut latte.
Or consider the answer given by one of Frank J. Korom’s students at Boston University when he asked her why she was wearing a Tibetan Buddhist necklace. 'It keeps me healthy and happy,' she said, reducing Tibetan Buddhism, as so many Dalai Lama-loving undergrads do, to the religious equivalent of knocking back a vitamin pill.
The reality couldn’t be more different."
"The first devout Buddhists I encountered looked neither healthy nor happy. They were walking from their villages in southern Tibet to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest site, and the journey had taken them nearly three months. Which isn’t surprising considering that with every third or fourth step they took, they got down on their knees and then fully prostrated themselves on the ground, lying flat on their bellies and burying their faces in the dirt, before getting back up, taking a few more steps, and doing the painful prostration thing again.Now that sounds like a truly "green" lifestyle to me! And one O'Neill says he'd "like to see Jennifer Aniston try", as would I, since she's so keen on getting the rest of us into it. I'd also like to see the inside of her home because, I'm sure, it's probably not "spiritual" enough yet:
It looked life-zappingly exhausting. They moved at a snail’s pace. Their foreheads were stained grey from such frequent, unforgiving contact with the bruising earth. They wore wooden planks on their hands, which made a deathly clatter every time they hurled themselves downwards."
"Packed with weird statues. Red demons with contorted faces. Smug-looking Buddhas smiling patronizingly at the poor, exhausted worshippers. There’s a statue of the 'Living Buddha' (now deceased) who administered this temple in the 1950s and 60s and it is wearing sunglasses. Terrifyingly, it looks like a cross between the Buddha and Bono."Are you starting to get the impression these holier-than-thou celebrities are either deceiving themselves, or "trying to pull a fast one" on you, yet? And what about all that Western worshipping of the Dalai Lama? Surely in Tibet, of all places, they must be down with that, too, right?
"Tibetan Buddhism, like every other religion on Earth, is made up of various, sometimes horn-locking sects. I excitedly lined up an interview with one of the monks and asked if he’s looking forward to the day when the Dalai Lama returns from exile in northern India. He patiently told me—dumb Westerner that I am—that he doesn’t worship the Dalai Lama, because he is a member of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism while the Dalai Lama is head of the Gelug school. Then there’s the Kagyu school and the Sakya school—making four in total—which have hot-headed disagreements and have even come to blows in recent years over which deities should be worshipped and which should not. Religion of peace? Yeah, right."Hmmm. This isn't going too well. So maybe Jennifer wants the rest of Americans to go the Eastern route because Buddhism isn't like those close-minded religions in the West? You know, receiving all that "enlightenment" one gets when you're "spiritual but not religious"? That has to be it.
"Tibetan Buddhism has a whole lotta hang-ups about gays and girls, too. It says gay sex is 'unnatural.' The Dalai Lama declared in a talk in Seattle in 1993, during one of his whistle stop, U2-style world tours, that 'nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… same-sex organs cannot manage well.' (Someone needs to explain to His Holiness how gay people get it on.)"Funny, but I've never heard Richard Gere mention that when he was putting on a show, bowing and scraping at the Dalai Lama's feet in San Francisco. Surely, it was only a mere oversight - or maybe he's got it all wrong - or somebody's lying:
"As Bernard Faure of Columbia University says: 'Like most clerical discourses, Buddhism is… relentlessly misogynist.' So while Tibetan women can become nuns, they can’t advance nearly as far as men. Because according to Buddhist teachings it is impossible for women to become 'the perfectly rightfully Enlightened One,' 'the Universal Monarch,' 'the King of Gods,' 'the King of Death,' or 'Brahmaa'—the five highest, holiest positions in Buddhism."Wow. That sounds a lot like the evil Catholic church, there. So much so, that even O'Neill notices something is amiss:
"It is striking how much the backward elements of Tibetan Buddhism are forgiven or glossed over by its hippyish, celebrity, and middle-class followers over here,...the way in which this religion has come to be viewed in Western New Age circles as a peaceful, pure, happy-clappy cult of softly-smiling, Buddha-like beings. Again, it’s no such thing."Well, I'm glad to see he got the "c" word in there, but "backward"? Buddhist nonsense is supposed to be far, far superior to the nonsense being delivered on this side of the planet, isn't it? I've been told that for years - some Buddhists have practically threatened my life to make the point of how great it is - and now you're telling me it's just the NewAge nonsense I've been railing against all along?
"Frank J. Korom describes it as 'New Age orientalism,' where Westerners in search of some cheap and easy purpose in their empty lives 'appropriate Tibet and portions of its religious culture for their own purposes.' They treat a very old, complex religion as a kind of buffet of ideas that they can pick morsels from, jettisoning the stranger, more demanding stuff—like the dancing demons and the prostration workout—but picking up the shiny things, like the sacred necklaces and bracelets and the BS about reincarnation.In other words, it's just more racist NewAge crap, dressed up to make white Westerners feel good about themselves - again:
It is all about them. They have bent and warped a religion to suit their own needs. As the Tibetan lama Dagyab Kyabgon Rinpoche puts it, 'The concept of "Tibet" becomes a symbol for all those qualities that Westerners feel lacking: joie de vivre, harmony, warmth and spirituality… Tibet thus becomes a utopia, and Tibetans become noble savages.'"
"Western losers have ransacked Tibetan Buddhism in search of the holy grail of self-meaning.""Western losers" - just as I've always said. A bunch of empty, purposeless fools in search of a way to attract attention from the rest of us, and away from themselves, because if they don't have *something* - anything - to distract them, the idea they're absolutely worthless human beings will become way too obvious and overwhelming. Even if they have money. Especially if they have money.
Or did you think "Friends" was great art?
It's no wonder Jennifer Anniston can't keep a man.
Or that - by a long shot - Western Buddhists/NewAgers make being an atheist (of knowing yourself and the world around you for what it truly is) look better and better every day.
Oh - and before I forget - if any of this information is new to you, you might want to also check out my post, "Goose-Stepping To God":
There's more to this "Dalai Lama" person - and his fans - than meets the eye,...