Passing On the Blogisattva Award-an Open Letter to the Buddhist Blogging Community

Dear Friends,

Early morning Dec. 13: I was sitting at Delhi airport waiting to board my flight which was scheduled for 4AM. With time to fill I was looking around the Internet on my laptop and decided to check out the Blogisattva website. Turns out I had won one of the awards, in the category Best Engage-the-World Blog, from the six categories in which I had been nominated. I looked at that list:

  • Best Engage-the-World Blog
  • Best Achievement Blogging Opinion Pieces or Political Issues
  • Best Blogging on Matters Philosophical, Psychological or Scientific
  • Best Achievement in Skilled Writing
  • Post of the Year!  For the post: Sex and the Sangha:Forgiveness, Retribution or Justice
  • Blog of the year, Svaha!

Hmmm.

What kind of reaction to have to all that?

Hmmm.

So I got on my flight, slept a couple of hours until it touched down briefly in Bangkok, ate a little breakfast on the plane and slept again until I reached Hong Kong where I had another few hours to pass. I wandered through the airport, looking for one of those airport massage set ups since my neck was stiff and painful due to both sleeping on the plane and the building results of a case of whiplash which occurred due to an accident we had on the way to Delhi the day before. Someone talking on a cell phone had clobbered us soundly from behind, causing damage to the car and two of the four passengers including me. The other injured person, my landlord’s uncle who was catching a ride to Delhi with us to visit his newly married daughter and see her new home for the first time, had bumped his head.

There is a massage/Chinese medicine outlet in the HK airport but it was a little too busy at the time and I didn’t feel like waiting around for an appointment, which may or may not have been completed by the time I had to board my next flight.

So I connected to the airports excellent, very high speed, free public wireless (YVR take a lesson) and checked my email. A note from my sister informed me that my uncle had just died.

I had just chatted on Facebook with my aunt the morning before I left home for the trip to Delhi and she had let me know that his condition, due to a stroke in June, had deteriorated and he hadn’t been wanting to eat any more. He didn’t want to participate in any kind of rehabilitation for the effects of the stroke since it happened. A lot of family members and friends had tried to encourage him but he had just given up upon realizing the paralysis of one side of his body.

These events set me to thinking about the months, as a teenager, that I had gone to live with that particular aunt and uncle in northern Canada, up near Flin Flon Manitoba. It was a tumultuous time in my life and I was not getting along with the rest of my family so to be in a new environment was really quite welcome (for everyone).

My flight was called and for the next 12 hours on the way to Canada, between naps, the distraction of a movie and meals, attempts to exercise my increasingly stiff neck, recalling things left undone and to some extent unsettled back in India, anticipating holiday travel plans to visit relatives including my aunt, there was a fair bit of turmoil going on in my mind.

Upon reaching Vancouver the jet lag of an 11 hour time change and the full on effects of the whiplash set in as I plowed through months of mail, unpacked, got laundry done, arranged further holiday travel and about a thousand other things.

So interspersed with these highlights from my past week’s life stream was the thought that I ought to address this Blogisattva situation.  Considering that I had made some amount of noise about the advisability of this kind of competition on this blog in the posts The Buddhist Contest in 2008 (Yes I gave Tom a little grief about it in the past-so the current curators needn’t feel singled out) and Blogisattvas last June, as well as comments elsewhere there is some amount of, if not irony, then oddness about both being nominated and winning something.

I am highly ambivalent about awards because there is always a certain amount of subtext either immediately present or implied or imagined somewhere down the line. This subtext in this instance involves the Good/Bad Buddhist dichotomy, convert Buddhist stereotypes, the advisability of competition in the Buddhist endeavor, the potential of misdirected intentions, sensations of inadequacy-either Buddhist or writerly for being unmentioned, sensations of grandiosity-either Buddhist or writerly for being mentioned…the latter two reminds me of a little Voltaire quote that often applies to competition type situations:

The only reward to be expected from the cultivation of literature is contempt if one fails and and hatred if one succeeds.

Such a situation is only beneficial for practice if one is willing to wrestle with it and one’s own competitive feelings. The competitive feelings of others are for them to wrestle.

Uku wrote in his blog post Why I don’t like blog contests and awards:

I don’t think this world needs celebrity-awards-contests-glamour-shit.

I don’t think the world “needs” that either but it’s here so it has to be dealt with.

Socially one is expected to follow a gracious script of acceptance upon receipt of recognition. I have been kind of stuck deciding if I want to play against the script about this award situation or not. In seeking the answer to that dilemma a few questions arose that I had to address. These are things like:

Is there such a thing as healthy competition? I don’t really think so. I have yet to see one example of competition where all, or even the majority of the participants feel satisfied with the outcome. If someone can name one such situation I’ll be happy to reconsider that position.

How are any of these categories quantifiable? To  make a comparison between things there has to be some kind of criteria. And to be fair it has to be somewhat objective. There would be some distinguishing characteristics by which to judge. We have the 32 marks of the Buddha, either taken literally or metaphorically, but what are the 32 marks of “best blogging”? And with such an amorphous blog subject matter as “Buddhist”.

What does “engage the world” mean? The only time one is disengaged from the world is if they’re dead, so I don’t understand this category fully.

What am I doing here on this blog and why am I doing it? This blog is like a form of dana to me. The giving of what few gifts I have. Maybe not always the nicest gift sometimes but that’s what’s within my means at that particular moment.  If such a gift is not appropriate for someone they are free to pass it on or just pass on it.  That’s pretty much my theme today.

I am being “participated” here whether I choose to be or not. It’s a situation based on the decisions of others to put it another way. Quite a few things in life are like that. If my taxi driver decides to quit his job while we’re stopped at a red light then it’s likely I won’t get to my destination. If my grocer has an argument with a supplier then it’s possible my favorite cheese won’t be available. If a friend decides to make dinner for me then I’m going to be well fed or vice versa. Someone may decide to strap on a suicide bomb and blow it up at the market I’m visiting that day. Someone may decide to give me a winning lottery ticket for Christmas. It gets complicated when thought about in those terms.

Now I am not ungrateful for the nominations. That is a gift of sorts also. I feel the intention. So to those who chose to enter my name in the contest I accept under those terms. Thanks.

As for winning in this specific category I am neither going to fully accept nor fully decline. Nor am I going to follow the gracious script or play against it. I am going to rewrite it.

I want to give this award away.

And the blogger I want to give it to is Bhante Sujato.

He writes Sujato’s Blog:Buddhism for a small world: views and opinions and you can follow him on Twitter @sujato for blog updates.  What he can do with a recycled, or is it regifted, Blogisattva Award I don’t know but he seems to be a resourceful person so I’m sure he’ll think of something.

I’m not doing this to try to make some kind of karmic merit, that manifestation of some kind of imaginary spiritual currency that in some situations pays off alleged debts or stokes the spiritually materialist egoic notions of accumulation. I don’t know Bhante Sujato, never met him and probably never will.  He’s not my teacher or even an acquaintance.

But he really walks the talk.

Bhante Sujato is a student of Ajahn Brahm’s in Australia. Here is a full biography.

Bhante Sujato (Anthony Best) was born in Perth, Western Australia on 4/11/1966. He was brought up in a liberal Catholic family and attended a Christian Brothers’ school. Impressed by the profound visions of the world opened up through science, and especially the Theories of Relativity, he rejected his Catholic beliefs while in his teens.

He read philosophy and literature at the University of Western Australia for two years, but left to play rock n’ roll guitar. Together with the singer Peggy van Zalm, he formed Martha’s Vineyard, a successful indie band in the late eighties, which however broke up before realizing its potential.

After a number of years drifting around the alternative music scene, he became disillusioned and, needing a drastic change, went to Thailand in 1992. There, despite having no previous experience of Buddhism, he fell into an intensive retreat at a monastery in Chieng Mai. Afterwards he began to seek ways to embody and deepen the insights offered by this experience. Within a year he had arrived at Wat Pa Nanachat, the International Forest Monastery run for and by English-speaking monks in the tradition of Ajahn Chah. He asked for and was granted novice ordination, and in the following year took full ordination as a bhikkhu on 5/5/1994.

He spent three vassa studying under Ajahn Brahm at Bodhinayana Monastery, and several years in remote hermitages and caves in Thailand and Malaysia.  In early 2003 Bhante Sujato returned to Australia, arriving at the property then known as the Citta Bhavana Hermitage. The decision was made to develop the hermitage into a training monastery, and the name was changed to Santi Forest Monastery. Since that time the monastery has grown rapidly and has accomplished a number of milestones, including the first samaneri ordination on 9th Mar 2008 and many bhikkhu upasampatha, not to mentioned the various completed or on going building projects and many more future projects pertaining to the financial situation.

The vision for the monastery has always included a role for nuns, and Bhante Sujato has become well known for his articulate and passionate support for the fully ordained bhikkhuni lineage, the most pressing controversy within contemporary Theravada Buddhism.

The main influences in Bhante Sujato’s spiritual development have been threefold. Most obvious is the lifestyle of the forest tradition in which he was immersed. This demanded a strict application of the Buddhist monk’s code of discipline (Vinaya) and the repeated reminder that one’s entire life must be dedicated to the practice.

The second great influence was the Buddha’s early teachings. Having spent nearly ten years studying the canonical Pali scriptures, he became increasingly aware of the outstanding and little-known fact of the existence of thousands of parallel passages in Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan texts. This congruence is regarded as the single most important historical clue to the Buddha’s original message, and Bhante Sujato has taken the lead in introducing cross-tradition text studies to the Buddhist community.

The third major spiritual influence comes from his two main meditation teachers. From the little-known Thai monk Ajahn Maha Chatchai he learnt the practice of loving-kindness that still forms the backbone of his own meditation and teaching. From Ajahn Brahm he learnt especially how to understand this practice within the overall context of the Buddha’s path. In recent years Bhante Sujato has taught Dhamma and meditation to a varied audience in his local area and internationally, and has spoken at several major international Buddhist conferences and events.

His writings explore the earliest Buddhist scriptures, using a comparative and historical approach to illuminate the process of formation of Buddhist ideology and identity; books include A Swift Pair of Messengers, A History of Mindfulness, Beginnings, and Sects & Sectarianism.

A special field of interest is the role of women in Buddhism, and particularly in the revival of the bhikkhuni order within the Theravada tradition. Bhante Sujato brings his text-critical faculties to bear on this urgent modern dilemma, in addition to his work in actually establishing a bhikkhuni community at Santi.

He has acted and spoken fearlessly on supporting the bhikkhuni ordination. He had explicitly expressed his genuine wish…in the statement, “My vocation is to work with the international Sangha for the establishment of the four-fold community worldwide. I think we need to accept that this is where the future lies.”

-from the old Santipada site (the new site, with writings is here–Santipada is the production of the Santi Forest Monastery in Australia)

Bhante Sujato was one of those involved with the bhikkhuni ordination that took place last year and caused such furor in Thailand. He has written a lot about that on his blog.

He also writes about other topics that are pretty important including consumerism, progressive politics, environment, drug legalization, Thai vinaya reform, pornography, poverty, fundamentalism, Christianity and interreligious dialogue, sexism, racial issues, gender issues, schisms within Theravada, philosophy, psychology, consumerism, human rights, world events, ethics, freedom and of course Buddhist practice.

When someone is part of an establishment and has given over their life to fulfill the principles of that establishment, to go against it based on the uneasiness of conscience that certain aspects of that establishment may engender, is very difficult. It is far easier to go along to get along and just attend to one’s own personal business. It is far easier not to risk anything.

But for those few individuals who cannot just go along the risk is of everything. That is everything they’ve committed their life to, everything they’ve become familiar with…just plain everything. The risk is of rejection, ostracization, removal of all that one’s life has been dedicated towards until that point. That’s huge and it’s also fairly uncommon. And to chronicle it, as a participant, is revealing and useful to those of us who also would seek to speak truth to power in our own ways.

Taking such risks have very little rewards. Not that rewards are the least bit related to the motivation of the risk taking.

We all share the struggle in this world, so we all share the glory as well as fleeting as it may be.

Thank you friends for your consideration of the words you find here and for the opportunity to respond to your kind gesture. I hope you understand.

Thank you Bhante for all you do. It is an inspiration.

Most sincerely,

NellaLou

Additional Note:

Bhante Sujato has kindly responded to being regifted the Blogisattva http://sujato.wordpress.com/about/#comment-7302

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25 comments on “Passing On the Blogisattva Award-an Open Letter to the Buddhist Blogging Community

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Passing On the Blogisattva Award-an Open Letter to the Buddhist Blogging Community « Smiling Buddha Cabaret -- Topsy.com

  2. Bookmarked Bhante Sujato’s blog. I can’t believe I’d missed it before, it does look like everything you say it is. Very good choice!

  3. Weird reading your complaint about the B’va Awards in a post following the one where you bestow your 2010 “Best Buddhist Book I Read” trophy.

    Anyway. I didn’t actually read your blogpost, here, have fallen asleep somewhere between Hong Kong and Manitoba, but complaints of this type are all the same, an indistinguishable gray, so I can just pull out my “Retort to #487” template and paste in the usual words.

    I’m not a party to the awarding of the B’vas this year, as you know, but I am in a position to “return fire” to this kind of whimper and whine. So I will proceed.

    Most Buddhists are Green Meme. Being GM, they commonly have a greatly mistaken notion that ultimately there are no distinctions of merit. They favor equality and assume (plenty ridiculously) that equality means sameness. Being noticably good shouldn’t be noticed and doing something that is good is a assault against the crowd. Green Memesters wonder why everybody doesn’t just wear the Mao Suit uniform and shut-up.

    The Green Meme likewise hates competition. By God! Somebody might stand out, and, damn it, we can’t have that in the ultimate imagined world of grayness where everybody speaks in a monotone with everyones genitals operated on such that we are all “Unisex” on the census count.

    The Blogisattva Awards are not an effort to create “celebrity-awards-contests-glamour-shit.” They are an effort at, only, noticing. Noticing what is “good” is valuable because if we do that it helps us seek it out and strive for it, ourself. Excellence is valuable in everything and Buddhism is far from being outside that.

    The story of Buddhism and the manner of a meaningful practice has everything to do with “the good” and excellence.

    A better world is not a homogenized gray, Nella Lou. You are mistaken.

    • Commerce is all about competition. Books are commercial products. Blogs are not. At least in this instance.

      I don’t know what most Buddhist do or think tho you apparently do. I’ve no problem with things being excellent either. But I don’t think some self appointed committee can decide that.

      It has nothing to do with striving for mediocrity or greyness which is not what I said had you actually read what I wrote rather than imagined it, and everything to do with freeing one’s self from the influences of conditioning whether it’s psychological, social or otherwise.

      If people don’t have the wherewithal to figure out what is good and what isn’t without the dictates of a committee then we are far worse off than we imagine or we’ve time warped back to Bodhisattva Mao’s Cultural Revolution. If they need to be fucking told by some group or even some loudmouth on the internet like myself, this is good or right or whatever, then we’re into Buddhist brainwashing territory which I want absolutely no part of.

      “The story of Buddhism and the manner of a meaningful practice has everything to do with “the good” and excellence.”

      This kind of value judgment is meaningless because what gets defined as good and excellent has far too many cultural connotations and personal interpretations. Buddhist practice as “being good” is an even more damaging meme than the greenies with their greyness. It promotes a certain kind of spiritual egotism which becomes all about becoming the “Best Buddhist”.

      • Blogs are supposed to be read. They are in a commerce of a kind. You market them in the blogroll you put up to the right of what I’m typing.

        A panel of judges isn’t “deciding” what is absolutely good or excellent. There are no absolutes here, anyway. It is merely doing the best it can at finding good and excellent stuff and ‘exposing’ it to readers. Which is what you do all the time. [Just pointing our your hypocrisy, again]

        The Blogisattvas AREN’T a huge deal. Gweneth Paltrow won’t be walking down the runway. Egos won’t be going nuts, but some people may be happy to know they’re appreciated. [Of course, others won’t be and will want to try to spoil the party.]

        • Seems to me that you’re pissed because I won’t do what I’m “supposed” to do, or believe what is “common” knowledge. What blogs are “supposed” to be is open to interpretation. Some people don’t care about them being read and even keep private blogs for their own purposes. Marketing and listing something are quite different things. Such list as is on the right is a convenience to me. I don’t care if people click those or not. It’s like a set of bookmarks. Now if I were going around obsessively plugging them into stumbleupon or reddit or whatever you might have a case. But I don’t put anything on those kinds of sites. I’m not a freakin proselytizer-tho apparently that is what is being called for.

          There’s a huge difference between one individual opinion in the middle of nowhere and an official organized committee under a united banner, supported by the masses, advertised in diverse media by numerous people with the mandate to recognize “The Best”. It’s the difference between an individual and an institution.

          No one said anything about absolutes and relatives. That’s a whole other category. I’m talking strictly relative here even if you may choose to conflate that.

          I am well aware of the significance of this event. And what other people choose to do or feel about it is their own concern to deal with.

        • Oh, and I’ve never said I wasn’t a “hypocrite”.

          If one’s views and opinions do not change somewhat, one isn’t learning anything and becomes stultified and frozen in their attachment to said views.

          There is nothing reliable in this world because there is nothing enduring.

          And what would be real hypocritical would be to just let this all pass as if I tacitly agreed which clearly I don’t, and haven’t over the years. At least that’s been consistent.

    • “Green meme?” Isn’t that some kind of Integralist claptrap? Surely you realize that that argument will only convince someone if he already buys into that particular load of malarkey. Not very good as arguments go, IOW. About as effective as explaining to an atheist that he’s “unsaved.”

      • I am embarrassed to have gone after Aitken, viciously, in March 2009. As for him getting a special Blogisattva, I think that was a mistake. It would be just as justified to have made him Miss Congeniality in the Miss America Beauty Pagent. His acclaim has zero to do with his blogging.

  4. Bhante Sujato’s blog is excellent. I love this recycling of the award. I had this moment of deep cringing about the whole award thing when I saw Bill Schwartz repeatedly saying he was the “Blogisattva honorable mention” as part of his responses to people about the KPC issues. It looked ridiculous, seeing that award comment in the middle of his arguments at least three or four times.

    Other than the post in June I made that you and dozens of others commented on, I didn’t participate in the awards at all. I nominated no one and added no links to the list. I didn’t even think about it again really until the announcements about finalists appeared.

    I think there may be some benefit in terms of increasing readership for blogs and whatnot, but mostly it’s something that has come, and gone – I can’t imagine many people are thinking much about the winners and non-winners at this point. But maybe that’s just me.

  5. The awards aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s OK. It’s done now, some enjoyed it a lot, a few didn’t. And I agree about Sujato, though I don’t agree with everything he says. If I may say just a couple of things:

    I wouldn’t call it ironic, since it was me who nominated you, at least in 3 things. Not because you were a critic of the awards, and not because I agree with all that you say, (because I think I split on agreeing with you about 1/2 the time) but because you made a difference. You took a lot of time and effort to bring a lot of important issues to light, and people took notice. You write very articulate and open, and to me, this deserved recognition compared to a blog who only writes sticky sweet quotes all the time.

    @Nathan – I agree about Bill mentioning it so much, but you know everyone reacts differently to these sorts of things. So far, it seems like he is about the only one hoisting it up proudly like that, but that is his thing.

    But like I’ve said before, I did this not for winners or losers, but because I felt it helped build some sense of community. And in that, I think it succeeded somewhat. And I admit I was a bit defensive when Uku wrote his post because I thought his “dick sizing” comparison was rather misplaced.

    So, we will see what happens next year, if anything. I am learning to appreciate positive as well as negative comments better than I have before. If their is one thing I’m going to work on harder is to get more lesser known blogs more attention. This was a big learning year for all of us.

    Thanks!

  6. Kyle, I think the collection of links and talking about different peoples’ blogs is of benefit. To me, that was the main point, and I supported that. My reaction to Bill’s comments was seeing the other side, how people get hung up on awards, even tiny ones like the Blogisattvas.

    Marnie, I’d have to agree with Tom that each of us tend to uphold blogs and writers we find excellent, and/or offer criticism of those we consider shoddy. And while I tend to find most competition based experiences and practices troubling, I don’t think competition is always a problem.

    Tom – the Green Meme argument seems misplaced here, given the history of writings on this blog.

    • I’ve replied way ^^up there about the “hypocrisy” and the difference between an individual and an institution.

  7. One thing that also occurs to me about the listings in blogrolls and such. Does that mean that a library, because it has a catalog or list of books, is “marketing” books? Someone does select the books that appear on the shelves. Libraries don’t get a copy of every book printed everywhere automatically.

    And about praise and criticism of blogs. A blog is not a person. It has become very clear to me during this episode that some people do not fully realize there is a difference between a conceptual product and themselves. Or between an idea/thought/issue/institution/comment and themselves. That’s some of the subtext I was referring to above. Sort of like a supermodel who fully identifies self as body/image. That’s not very healthy, that kind of investment. Really leaves one tossing about on the vicissitudic waves.

    In blogs, with all the rage being personal branding or whatever, what gets lost often is motivation or intention. Everything produced by humans is not necessarily a commercial product. Commodification of opinion, art or what have you has really blurred intention. Producing something with a price in mind, with the thought of personal gain in other words, turns it into a commercial production. Producing something for the sake of producing it is quite another matter. By personal gain I am referring to not only actual material like cash but egoic gain in the form of praise or attention, spiritual gain in the form of merit or blessing or conceptual gain in the form of general social capital or recognition of a particular hierarchical social position as in “The Best”. The process of production itself, the means not an end, the path in other words.

    I realize the intention behind such awards is not commercial or “evil” and is in fact “good” but the reinforcing of patterns of gain and various kinds of materialism, particularly by way of competition and particularly related to the Buddhist endeavor doesn’t do much to dispel those patterns.

    The intention of bringing exposure to a diverse group and particularly to those who are, for want of a better word, marginalized is laudable. Inclusiveness is a nice idea.

    But here’s some quick numbers about the nominees.
    Americans 44
    Canadians 4
    British 4
    Australians 1
    Malaysians 1
    Swiss 1
    and a couple of unknowns either because they’re groups or don’t give a location on their blogs. Should I play “count the Asians” or leave that to Arun?

    I realize there’s a project going on to get more participation from other countries at the Blogisattva site. Maybe something will come of that.

  8. I don’t want to venture too much into this discussion, seeing it only now, except to say that in many circumstances competition is indeed healthy, Tom’s “Integral” lingo notwithstanding.

    In my son’s school they avoid in certain things like science fairs, talent competitions and the like, any semblance of ordering, of finding a best X.

    But the kids know who’s better than whom, and not recognizing that ordering is an affront to their sense of their own accomplishment.

    Competition in the realm of ideas is what drives us to (sometimes) make better technology. It just shouldn’t be without any consideration of moral factors.

    But on the whole, I support your decision to re-gift the award.

  9. I did not like the awards because I did not like the judges and judging process was not explained. I thought it funny you get best engage the world award because you do not seem very engaged just long-winded and complain a lot. You should change name to Whining Buddha Cabaret.

  10. Competition undergirds so much of our culture. Being able to consider that it is not healthy and inflames delusions of inherantly-separetely-existing-self is to take a vast step out of culture as most imagine it.

    An extreme example of how competition and rivalry were fostered as part of military training:

    “Things have certainly changed since I went to boot camp in San Diego during the early 60s. My CC was a very salty First Class Signalman (Skivvie Waver). He helped me grow up and appreciate the soft home I left. I remember scrubbing our clothes with a ki-yi brush on a cement table and using clothes ties to tie our clothes to a clothes line. No washing-machines for us. All our drying skivvies were required to be lined up on 2 lines with the fly facing the Marine boot camp, “Piss on the Marines.””
    http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-rtc-video.html

    This was not a one-time thing. Here in this vignette, we see the distinction made between the ‘coddled swabbies at Great Lakes Navy boot camp vs Camp Nimitz Navy boot camp

    “Oh — just an aside. Unlike those coddled wannabe swabbies at the NTC in Great Lakes with washing machines and dryers, we had scrub tables and lines. And early on, we were instructed how to hang our laundry (using clothes ties with the proper knot of course). Two fingers apart, and they had to be facing in a certain direction (mostly with trousers) — so we could piss on the Marines!”

    and competition within the group–if one man messed up, the others were made to suffer.

    “Oh — one other thing. Do you know the difference between “clean dirt” and “dirty dirt”? If not, “clean dirt” is that which is picked up from the ground. “Dirty dirt” is from the body. We had this one guy who was notorious for dirty dirt. Our company would get gigged repeatedly at inspections from this guy’s dirty dirt in his hat, and other pieces of clothing. The four of us one night had had enough of it — we had cautioned him over and over about the matter — so we literally took him into the head with a major-duty scrub brush and gave him a GI shower. Big time. I think he got the message.”
    http://www.usshancockcv19.com/oralhistory/bootcamp.shtml

    By contrast, many years ago, at work, there was a raffle. A man in our data entry typist group, was Vietnamese Chinese and an immigrant. Had the values of group harmony rather than competition. Got along well with everyone and on breaks would chat pleasantly and at the same time, study thick texts on code writing and computer systems

    Instead of accepting that raffle prize for himself, X was embarrassed at being singled out and insisted on giving it to our boss. He wasnt being obsequious. Our boss was a pleasure to work for and she had the knack of keeping a large work group happy and productive. X wanted to preserve harmony in the work group, that meant taking care of our work leader.

    In a practice discussion I said, ‘Competition is so ingrained in our culture that it is in the air we breathe–its nearly impossible to step back and grasp that competiton is more than word, or a patter of activity, but that it actually structures how we are preformatted to perceive reality when still too young for instropection.

    Competition isnt a part of our culture, it is our culture. Rivalry between sports teams. A guy in our dharma center wore a second hand cap that had the insignia for an out of town baseball team. He was called so many bad names that he hand stitched a plaid patch over the emblem so he could continue to wear the hat without having projections thrown at him.’

    Our teacher replied, ‘We are here to be bearers of a diffent kind of culture than that.’

    PS That ‘green meme’ stuff is based on a system of competiton that is branded with Ken Wilber’s name. He is an ideologue who has entrenched heirarchy and competition using his color coded system.

    If concepts from buddhist practice are filtered through this kind of competitive rank ordered system, whether it is Wilber’s or someone elses, whether it is a modern tin metal competitive hierarchy with celebrities and rankings and color codes, or something ancient, it is no longer buddhadharma, because the container–competition–renders the Buddhadharma inert keeps us prisoner in the reactivity of competition (green meme is lower and inferior to the higher levels in Wilbers system) rather than showing us how to examine the afflictive emotions that make it seem necessary to create such systems and appoint pundits who can tell you what color you are and what level you are.

    At least its simpler when we read the stories about Navy boot camp. But when the equivalent of piss on so and so is tranferred to what is supposed to be Buddhadharma–thats wrong.

  11. Competitiveness and hierarchy are so much a part of our reactive culture that if these become tied to Buddhadharma, it becomes tragically difficult for us to remember that Buddhadharma is there to examine to state of mind that creates competition and ranking catagories (green meme vs beige vs turquoise) or entry level sutra practice vs higher levels of tantra etc)

    The ‘piss on the marines’ rivalry inculcated by the US Navy stories cited above, created a climate meant to train people in reactivity so that they could cope with the reactivity of battle.

    Buddhadharma is meant to prevent war and end suffering by tracing reactivty to its roots in the mind-body and by insight and compassion dismantling the fire hazards of reactivity.

    Creating rank orders and catagories and a sense of inferiority if you are ‘one down’ adds to the kindling for such fires of reactivity.

    Interesting. Ken Wilber’s father was in the Air Force.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Ken+wilber+air+force&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&client=firefox-a&btnG=Search

    The military, including the Air Force, goes by rank and by color coded decorations.

    Wilbers color system is a lot closer to the military system than to Buddhadharma.

    Worrying about what color you are would contribute to reactivity, rather than remedying it.

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