To Whom It May Concern-An Open Letter to the Owner of Buddhism

To: The Owner of Buddhism

From: One of the Multitude

Subject: Permissions

Dear Sir;

I am told that Buddhism is a patriarchal religion therefore I address you as sir. And since I am not familiar with the official title of The Owner of Buddhism it is the most apt honorific I could think of.

Now, I’ve gone about clearing nearly everyone off of this blog over the past few weeks so you and I could get down to the facts of this matter without a lot of interference. And quite frankly some of the issues that I must bring up might be a little bit embarrassing for both of us.

It has come to my attention that I may not be practicing Buddhism correctly. And in fact it has been postulated that I may not be a Buddhist at all since I do not have the requisite club memberships among other things. There are also a number of related issues which I would request you to clarify.  Please bear with me while I outline some of the specifics.

The most important thing in the Buddhist club, well second most important after establishing dominance, seems to be friendship. I am all for friendship. But Buddhist friendship seems to mean agreeing with everyone unless you are trying to boost SEO or some other stats and then you should indicate that somewhere online lest others think you are actually serious about what you write.  It did not occur to me to write facetiously. And it particularly did not occur to me that others would also do so. Perhaps that is one of the requisite skills I lack in this Buddhist endeavor. I shall dispense with this naivete forthwith. Provided that meets with your approval.

There is a requirement to use a few elaborate or sparse Asian words as my public identifier instead of the name I was given at birth. This is particularly important on Twitter. No one advised me of this protocol. Was there a memo?

History revisionism seems to be a popular mode of tailoring one’s persona to fit in with the club. I am sorry but I have not been doing this on my blog or with my words. I was under the impression that karmic responsibility was my own to deal with. If there is some shortcut which allows me to circumvent that by employing this method could you please outline the benefits of that as soon as possible?

In a similar vein it appears that I have been misleading others. It was put forward that my communications could possibly be believed by those who choose to read them.  The fictional nature of the relative  is well explained  in many Dharma writings and teachings. Is some kind of overt fiction disclaimer therefore necessary?

Apparently I have the average empathy level of a steroid filled body builder going into ‘roid rage. I am not any of those so what gives? I thought Buddhism was supposed to fix these kind of imbalances. Could this be menopause related and could you recommend a good mantra for it?

On a related topic, that of compassion, there is also some disturbance. I have been informed that compassion means to kiss everyone’s ass in public and then go home and cut myself down in the bathroom mirror in order to relieve my anxiety. Others have demonstrated to me the proper procedure quite thoroughly. They have even been kind enough to provide examples for my use. These include “arrogant”, “incomprehensible”, “reprehensible”, “failure”, “ignorant”, “non-Buddhist”, “nuisance”, “crucifier” (oh how very Christian of you).  I would prefer not to practice compassion in this fashion. Are there other options available?

Have I been reading too much? The information that has recently come my way states that a few lines of the Kalama Sutra are the only required reading.  Will there be a test on this? How will it affect my ranking within the Buddhism as owned by you? Do hearing Dharma talks count as study and should I curtail that activity as well?

I had considered writing this letter in poetry form. However it has been made known to me that such form is considered to be in bad taste and that the preferred forms are conglomerations of New Age quotes attributed to the Buddha, or rants.  I have occasionally attempted the latter with mixed results. Said rants are usually greeted with conglomerations of New Age quotes attributed to the Buddha. The theme of these quotes is generally an admonishment to quietude followed by well-wishing.  Is there a formula manual for compiling such responses? Can I get it from Amazon?

As a white person who’s side am I supposed to be on in any dispute?  Apparently I have chosen the side of the wrong people once too often and this has agitated some of your representatives.  Same question regarding those with religious status as convert. These demarcations have unsettled numerous of your agents as I seem to have a habit of picking the wrong side. Are there some special guidelines I need to know about? Is there a course that will teach me how to recognize my “true dharma brothers and sisters”, who I have apparently recently betrayed, as opposed to (?) false dharma brothers and sisters I guess?

I am informed that there is also some kind of issue regarding my motivation. It is not enough to practice for the purposes stated in the Four Noble Truths which involve myself. Nor is it enough, in the Bodhisattva tradition to practice for the release of other’s suffering. Practice must now involve “taking responsibility for the human conscience” according to one of you more boisterous representatives. I am not sure as to the meaning of that phrase. I interpret it to mean telling everyone what to do in minute detail since that is the example they presented to me. Is that correct? If so where may I obtain the necessary equipment with which to examine each individual Buddhist claimant I encounter? And does such examination count as practice?

Politics. Are we in or out there?

Altruism. It has been made apparent to me that some sort of resume is required which lists every altruistic act that I have committed in my entire lifetime. This is for comparison purposes with other representatives in order to determine dominance in conversation and other areas. Would I get extra points if I put it into a searchable database?

Now I have tried to ask these questions of several people who may or may not be within the consortium of Buddhism owners. A response was not forthcoming. Additionally they vehemently deny any ownership of Buddhism despite wearing the uniform. But then again I don’t speak any of their applicable non-European origin languages very well. I had to use a lot of dictionary style translation so perhaps they thought I was just looking to buy some toilet paper. That happens to me a lot when I travel.

But maybe that was for the best. None of these others has ever given me detailed instructions the way the representatives of the English speaking owner, yourself, have. And your organization certainly has a lot of representatives. Sure the other guys told me about the Tripitaka and meditation and rituals and stuff. They even told me about the many options available within their branches should I decide to become an affiliate or even go full-time. There were even openings available at that time or in the future should I decide to avail myself of them.

But apparently these things are not relevant to the actual Buddhism as owned by yourself. That is the group to which I am, by some kind of default, deemed a member.  I am reminded of this on a regular basis. So I just thought it was time to get this cleared up.

Now was there some meeting I missed between the representatives wherein my actions were to be so singularly scrutinized and sanitized so as to fit into the organization? Postal service here is rather haphazard so I may have missed the invitation.

And finally sir, will you sign my permission to be scrappy letter? It seems that any words that are not in agreement with the majority need to be sanctioned by a higher authority.



Musical Accompaniment-Take it to the Limit done by the Fabulous Etta James

All alone at the end of the of the evening
And the bright lights have faded to blue
I was thinking bout a woman who might have
Loved me and I never knew
You know Ive always been a dreamer
(spent my life running round)
And its so hard to change
(cant seem to settle down)
But the dreams Ive seen lately
Keep on turning out and burning out
And turning out the same
So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
You can spend all your time making money
You can spend all your love making time
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?
And when youre looking for your freedom
(nobody seems to care)
And you cant find the door
(cant find it anywhere)
When theres nothing to believe in
Still youre coming back, youre running back
Youre coming back for more
So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time


What is Buddhism? Jayarava has made a great post that takes up a number of issues presented here.  And he is not writing facetiously.

12 comments on “To Whom It May Concern-An Open Letter to the Owner of Buddhism

  1. Congrats. You seem to have identified all the problems of being an online Buddhist. I think it’s less pronounced offline, but many of the same problems are there.

    It’s been on my mind lately to write about about questions like: “what is Buddhism?” and “Who is a Buddhist?”. It seems many people want to claim authority on both, and sadly ‘Buddhism’ is often either defined in sectarian terms, or in terms of what is in 2000 year old texts. ‘Buddhist’ seems to suffer from the same problems – despite the fantastic variety of practices, the infinite permutations, many of us want to define ‘Buddhist’ narrowly, and exclude those who practice differently.

    Everything about human nature is write large in the cultural/religious forms of Buddhism. Without an historical perspective that is lacking in all traditional forms of Buddhism we are bound to take a too narrow view of Buddhism and Buddhists – we need to see that from the start Buddhism was interacting with, drawing on, and adapting other forms of worship and meditation; that Buddhists have been constant innovators; that Buddhism is what Buddhists do.

    Give than we Buddhists preach that EVERYTHING CHANGES, why are we so precious about ancient attitudes and texts? Why are change and difference viewed with suspicion and hostility by Buddhists?

    Great post. One of your best.

    Best Wishes

  2. What we need is not the same as what we want or what makes us feel good.

    A Dharma teacher or writer provides what is needed,even if that does not coincide with what others want or prefer.

    Being Buddhist means being a fair witness.

    Buddhist precepts warn against our darkening our minds and bodies with intoxicants. Using fashionable politics or using using celebrities or guru as intoxicants runs counter to this precept.

    Years ago, in the film, A Fish Called Wanda, a protagonist tells her self involved boyfriend, ‘And Buddhism is not another name for every- man-for-himself!’ before she walks out on him and slams the door.

    This is an old movie by todays standards. But..its lesson still stands.

    Buddhism is NOT every-man-for-himself.

  3. Hoo boy, looks like I’ve missed out on the dhrama again.

    However, you may be interested to know that I just talked to the Owner of Buddhism® today at Zazenkai®. Or, at least, listened to him. Well, actually, one of his lawyers. At least, I think that’s what he was. Not being one myself, I couldn’t quite make sense of his Dharma® talk, but he did make it very clear that trademarks have to be respected.

    He also announced a new revision of the Four Vows, better suited for the current spiritual market:

    1. I would very much like to liberate a couple of beings.
    2. It would be nice to uproot some desires.
    3. I hope my teacher will wheel me through a few Dharma® gates.
    4. I greatly admire the Buddha’s® Way®.

  4. When the current owner of Buddhism retires, can I apply for his spot? I have a resume, I’ve been saving it for this very special occasion.

    In speaking without that cheesy grin: One of the things that I originally thought was refreshing about Buddhism is that I don’t see any place where politics could take root, in it – besides that I like what Bassui had to say. I’m glad to see if we can make a little fun without anyone’s feelings being dramatically hurt, then. I think sense of humor is important. I wish I was remembering that, more often, myself.

    Not to start throwing lit matches, but does anyone ask questions about who represents the Dharma? I guess the question could be invalid?

    Thinking about something I think I read, then, I suppose that Dharma would be such that nature represents Dharma of itself, spontaneously. If it’s not, I just might go jump in a Tao river. to express my sentiments about the matter :)


    • You might have to get in line Sean. There are probably a few thousand of us looking at that spot! I am prepared to wrestle Barbara O’Brien for it if necessary.

  5. I am not the owner of Buddhism, nor do I sit on the Board of Directors, however I am one of the many shareholders.

    I looked in the by-laws and I didn’t see anything about online behavior. Must be an oversight. So, I guess, it’s pretty much anything goes. Now, this is the first time I have visited your place so I don’t know what you have been experiencing. In fact, I’ve been out of touch. I don’t know who owns Buddhism anymore. However, I think the old owner would be disappointed if you dispensed with any naiveté. I always had the impression that a certain amount of guilelessness was supposed to be a good thing.

    I just remember what my old grandpappy use to tell me, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Although, I am intrigued by idea that you can boost SEO by being a phony.

    You know, I’m not sure just what history revisionism is anymore, because it seems to me that whenever people run across a new discovery or take on history they don’t like, they use that term. Maybe its something that belongs in your most recent post, but I have to admit that I don’t know any of the referents that go with your use of the term, so I really shouldn’t say anything.

    One thing I can say, however, is that you are supposed to fix the imbalances yourself. Buddhism just helps you do it. But maybe you were being facetious.

    Also I see here in the bylaws that compassion is the only option. Sorry.

    Ah, the Kalama Sutra. Bet it’s the part that says “Don’t go by tradition . . .” Am I right? Hey, that’s good stuff. Of course, there’s other good stuff, too. Are you sure that these people who have been speaking to you are bone fide representatives of the owner? You’d better be careful. They might be misrepresenting themselves.

    Are you in need of some New Age quotes attributed to the Buddha of your own to throw around? I can get them for you wholesale. Never been used.

    Seriously, now you have made me regret everything I’ve written on my own blog this week.

    Seriously Two: Go ahead and be scrappy if that suits you. I don’t think Right Speech inherently means never saying a discouraging word. From what little I’ve read I think both the Owner and the Board of Directors can be confident that you will practice responsible scrappiness. You know what I mean, that old saying about shouting “Fire!” . . .

  6. Does being the owner of Buddhism rule out hostile take-overs? I wouldn’t apply to be OoB2b unless hostile takeovers are allowed!

    Thanks for pulling back the curtain! :0)

  7. There has already been at least one hostile takeover attempt. Vaishnava devotees claim that Buddha is simply the ninth incarnation of Vishnu.

    Mind you Buddhism has made two conversions of Shiva. During the last one the deva was first tortured and then killed only to be resurrected and forced to submit to the will of the Buddha by the demonaical Vajrapani. Our very own Abu Ghraib?

    Also Buddhism received a number of outdated Vedic gods as a job-lot and incorporated them as Dharma protectors (what a come down: from master of the universe to security gurard!)

    A more serious response on my blog this morning: What is Buddhism?

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