Thursday, March 16, 2006

Militant Buddhists

So on a lark, I googled "militant Buddhist" just to see what it would come up with. Honestly, I fully expected to find mostly a series of sarcastically titled blogesque sites that may or may not have anything to do with Buddhism at all, along with some history and sure, maybe a few stories from Buddhism's radical fringes, because what's a religion without a decent radical fringe, eh? While there does appear to be some of that, I was also fascinated and somewhat disheartened to see a ton of articles about the rise of real live no joke militant Buddhism in Sri Lanka over the years. I'll let you pick through the results yourself, but the long and short of it is that Sri Lanka and her government seem to be very much in the grip of a brand of Buddhist extremism comparable to our very own homegrown Christian right-wing fundamentalism. Did you guys know about this? Color me shocked and uninformed.

Militant Buddhism? WHAT THEEEEEEE FUCK?!

But then, should I really be all that surprised? When you stop and think about it, militant Christianity makes just as much/little sense...that is, when you stop and think about it. I guess militant violent warmongering bigoted Christianity just goes down easier because, well, we're used to it. On top of its bloody past, its present isn't exactly holy. And that goes for both its radical fringes as well as its politically oriented mainstream. From efforts to maintain cervical cancer rates to increasing coathanger sales in South Dakota to helping out gay teenagers, American Christianity is looking pretty ugly. Not that all (or even most) Christians fit into this vein, but seriously, I'm tired of these Old Testament-inspired social intrusions that are designed to recreate the world in some kind of bizarre pseudo-Christian fascist image where obedience to a POORLY INTERPRETED Biblical law is legislated, and failure to obey is punished. These people are known as fundamentalists, so all right then, let's get fundamental. Let's try loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Let's try judging not lest we be judged ourselves. Let's try serving the poor. Let's try some compassion. Could we try these fundamentals out instead? Please? Just for laughs? Just to see how it goes? If it doesn't work out, we can go back to war and oppression. Deal?

I dunno, maybe as human beings, we're just wired to constantly miss the point and focus on bullshit. Really, why should I expect the modern day followers of a fat and happy Asian fellow to be less susceptible to human failings than the modern day followers of a Jewish hippie?

Anyway, enough of this rambling. In honor of all the militant religious practitioners around the world, I present you with my dramatic interpretation of this sadly all too real phenomenon that is militant Buddhism.

Enlightenment Now!

Andy and Dominic sit under a tree, eyes closed, legs crossed, backs straight, deep into their meditation session. Oh, Dominic is Asian and Andy is white.

After a few moments of silence, Dominic's inhalations begin producing a high pitched whistling sound. This goes on for a few moments before Andy notices it. He remains in his meditative state, but his concentration is clearly breaking down until finally he just can't take it any more.

ANDY: Uh, hey man.

Dominic continues meditating.

ANDY: Hey, Dominic? Hey! (nudges him)

DOMINIC: Huh, what?

ANDY: Do you mind?


ANDY: Your...(motions to his nose)?

DOMINIC: My...? Oh! Right, sorry. Yeah, it's just these allergies.

ANDY: Yeah, it's just kinda...

DOMINIC: Yeah, I'm sorry.

ANDY: It's kinda loud.

DOMINIC: It's this tree, ya know?

ANDY: It's okay. I just, you know.

DOMINIC: Totally. I'll take care of it.

Dominic pulls some tissue paper out of his pocket and plugs some into his nostrils.

DOMINIC: Allright.

Dominic goes back to meditating. Andy looks at him somewhat incredulously for a moment, then goes back to his meditation as well.

Things go well for a few moments, except for the fact that Dominic is now breathing through his mouth which, while not all that loud, is enough to break the otherwise complete silence. Andy again tries to ignore it, but no matter how hard he tries to ignore it, his concentration is compromised. He finally can't take it anymore.

ANDY: Hey. Dominic. Hey.

DOMINIC: Huh? What's up? Did you get enlightened?

ANDY: Uh, no. That's kind of impossible at the moment.

DOMINIC: What's the matter?

ANDY: Your breathing.

DOMINIC: What about it?

ANDY: Well it's fucking loud.

DOMINIC: My breathing's loud?

ANDY: Yeah, it's like (breathes loudly through his mouth to demonstrate).

DOMINIC: It's not that loud.

ANDY: Yes it is.

DOMINIC: No it's not.

ANDY: It is dude, and you know what else? It doesn't sound natural.

DOMINIC: Doesn't sound natural?

ANDY: No, it sounds like you're doing it consciously instead of just, you know, letting it happen. You're supposed to just concentrate on your breath without consciously breathing. Hello? Meditation? Duh?

DOMINIC: Hey, I know how to meditate, okay? I'm just not used to breathing through my mouth.

ANDY: Well it sounds forced.

DOMINIC: It's not forced. I'm just breathing through my mouth and concentrating on it and that's all.

ANDY: Well it's loud, okay? Some of us are trying to attain enlightenment out here.

DOMINIC: Well then maybe you should be mindful of your own breathing and stop getting distracted by mine.

ANDY: Well maybe I wouldn't get distracted by your breathing if you knew how to breathe right.

DOMINIC: Well maybe if you knew how to maintain any level of mindfulness you wouldn't be so easily distracted.

ANDY: You know, I brought you out here to my favorite meditation tree because I thought you were cool. I thought, you know, you weren't like those other idiots at the meditation center who are just into Buddhism as a way to reject their whitebread religious background.

DOMINIC: Oh I see. So you picked out the Asian guy in the room and said to yourself, gosh look at that shiny yellow skin. Why I bet that guy is personal friends with the Buddha himself.

ANDY: Hey! Just because I'm white doesn't mean that I think that just because you're Japanese...

DOMINIC: I'm Vietnamese.

ANDY: Whatever. You're never going to attain enlightenment if you keep hanging on to all these identity labels.

DOMINIC: Yeah, well you'll never even achieve a state of mindfulness if you don't learn how to sit in a full lotus position.

ANDY: My legs won't stretch that far.

DOMINIC: I don't wanna hear your excuses man. And neither does the Buddha.

ANDY: Hey watch it buddy. You're the one with the breathing problem.

DOMINIC: Listen asshole, one more comment about my breathing and you'll be breathing out of your eyeballs.

ANDY: (imitates exaggeratedly loud breathing) What are you gonna do huh?

DOMINIC: That's it.

Andy and Dominic get into a fight, a vicious brutal nasty fight with absolutely no rules being followed. While they're fighting, the Buddha walks by. He checks them out from one angle, then another, then another. He exits. Andy and Dominic don't notice and keep on fighting.

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