I Am Now Officially Ordained…

…at the Universal Life Church. Official date of ordination 09/11/11. Hallelujah…

I’ll make you a believer…

I just have to come up with $49.99 for my monastery credential package which includes:

  • 11 certificates (Wedding, Renewal of Marriage, Affirmation of Love, House Blessing, Baptism and Commitment) *contains multiple
  • 1 Minister Window decal
  • 1 Press Pass [That could come in handy]
  • 1 ULC Parking Hanger
  • 1 Hard copy of your official Ordination Credential
  • 1 Wallet ID card
  • Your choice of Clergy Badge, and sample services.

….a $75 dollar value. That’s a good deal hmmm.

I decided to add a religious title to the mix for a few bucks more. I will now be called Emissary…just like Cisko in StarTrek DS9.  I thought to go for “Princess” or “Revelator” but the first is perhaps a little frivolous and the second a little too heavy, unless I want to restrict myself to Depeche Mode songs for services. Which may not be too bad at all.

 

I’m not joking. I can marry y’all now. [At least in some jurisdictions. Others would require a registration with local authorities.]

Here’s a replica something like the certificate.

We are all children of the same universe…seems to be the motto. Can’t argue with that.

There are only two tenets of the ULC: to promote freedom of religion and to do that which is right and within the law.

I can generally abide by that-at least as much as any of my fellow ministers.

Speaking of which,  I am in good company in this particular church.

Some of my fellow ordinees include:

  • Glenn Beck
  • Richard Branson
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Mae West
  • Goldie Hawn
  • John Waters
  • Alanis Morisette
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Hugh Hefner
  • Abbie Hoffman
  • John Lennon
  • Courtney Love

So can you imagine the kind of services that could be held with these folks. I also think that Joey, on Friends, got this Internet minister credential so he could marry Monica and Chandler. There you go. Totally official.

Got nothing to do on a Saturday night? You too can join this illustrious crew. Just click the link above and fill out the form. It’s free. Takes about 45 seconds. The only thing that costs is the paperwork, if you even want to get it. And it’s pretty cheap.

Now I just need to set up a non-profit religious foundation and I’m ready to go!

I am available for private parties if you can afford it. Gotta get building the flock.

 

Your own personal jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own personal jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there

Feeling unknown
And you’re all alone
Flesh and bone
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
Ill make you a believer

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver

Reach out and touch faith
Reach out and touch faith

Your own personal jesus…

Feeling unknown
And you’re all alone
Flesh and bone
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
Ill make you a believer
I will deliver

You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own personal jesus
Reach out and touch faith

Quips & Quotes from the NewCitizenDharma™ Cook Book

Making things accessible and easily understood by the masses seems to be the stated purpose of much Buddhist endeavor among English speaking populations at present. It’s not always successful and often complicates things unnecessarily. That’s OK. We are here to help.

Making milkshakes is also a worthy endeavor, especially if they are strawberry.

We here at the Madhushala, weaving drunkenly as always on our own self-aggrandizement, illusion and disillusionment, feel that now is the time to climb on a horse and get into this race. That’s the royal “we” not the plural we and it’s a mandatory affectation of this new program.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

NewCitizenDharma™ is our proposal for entry into that spiritual-gastronomic-dadaist marketplace. We like this title. It is generic yet specific, modern yet old, descriptive yet vague, ordinary yet exalted. Our platform consists entirely of Twitter sized quips presented by Citizen-Teachers™ with non-traditional but commercially relevant and possibly viable titles. They are also magically delicious. It is egalitarian in that we each choose our own titles. Where one may have a traditional title these are generally transmogrified into NewCitizenDharmaSpeak™  While we’re not high enough on Google page rankings to merit much commentary thus far we will attempt some, where we can, in order to punch up the SEO a bhumi or two. The more words there are the more there is to index. More is always better, except on Twitter.

Our slogan:

Our milkshake’s better than yours.

We have searched over the entire Internets and come up with a good selection of folks we’d like to see join our cause and help us in the kitchen. Many have already composed their own slogans and possibly their own recipes, a collection of the former is listed below. As NewCitizenDharmatists™ of course they are not required to join anything and may certainly remain just as they are, none the worse for wear having been mentioned. That’s the essence of the First Paradox of NewCitizenDharma™ of our list of 2,149 Unsorted and Unnumbered Paradoxes™ which form our somewhat wobbly platform. The Second Paradox™ lies within the First as they are both numbered and unnumbered, sorted and unsorted. Resolving the Paradox Problem™ is the essence of the practice of NewCitizenDharma™. The Third Paradox™ involves leeks, Sharpies and a handful of ball bearings.

And if you join us you can be sure we have a few lovely rituals that will alter your perception if nothing else. [If nothing else consider yourself lucky] These are usually done to the following chant. We’ll even hire this very band if you donate enough.

So, again, here are some worthies we are considering admitting, possibly against their will.

I’ll get there when I get there. And so will you. ~ Bardo “Why you lookin at me?” Warmer, Mobile Astronaut and dinosaur fetishist

A sleepy monkey in hand is worth a blog post. ~ Rev. Jim “Catch This” Flood, Ambidextrous Spiritual Juggler from coast to coast

Graph this! I did. ~ Harun “the Angry” Likathi, Sociological Math-e-magician and 1st Degree Consciousness Raiser

Well groomed angst is not the path to nirvana ~ Maggie “May or May Not” Finewinegarten, Chief Hairdresser to the Neurotic and fancy talker in blogs such as this

In the midnight sun you can’t spit fire with a beer in your hand. ~ Paavo “the Norseman” Sankari, Wrangler of Ideological Implements and purveyor of premium juntas

One can’t hear the shuffling blur of leaves through the neighbor’s open window with electronic books ~ Jack “Hermes” Fotopoulos, Librarian of Nostalgia in the Babelogue of the Interneticus

Spiritual social media is my schtick. Get used to it. ~ Billy “Shytown” Black, Karmic Provocateur and part-time ego bouncer

I’ve got your philosophy right here buddy! ~ Justice “London” Wittgenstein, Academic Cyclotician and frequent guest on esoteric cable reality shows

Chewing gum, as a noun, is a little redundant. I decline it. ~ Jeremiah, Shader of Meanings and envied blog decorator

I ain’t your spiritual waitress! ~ Babs O’Malley, Provocatress and political bowling league organizer

Get some. Or not. Kodo Sawaki maybe said that. It doesn’t matter. Yeah! ~ Mac “Igo" Lateralinen, Exotic Running Gear aficionado and occasional inter-dimensional shifter

Zappa, wine, Dhammapada – order varies. ~ Ritchie “the Fox” Gerold, News Dude and human powered transportation devotee

Now that’s what I mean. ~ Davey “the Skeptic” Chaplin, Vampire Lore Remixer and Science Officer on the good ship Aro

The DJ is always on. ~ Mott “the Hoople” Mitchell, Professor of Isms-ness and Leader of Official Chants

There’s one for everyone. ~ Rev. Manny “the Fish” Piscatorian,  Lord of the Cosmic Dance and formerly Official Scrapbooker to the Movement

Some potential affiliates, if they step up their game paradox-wise:

Mental Technologies-R-Us are us. Really. They are. ~ Vaughn “Blow This” Piccolo, Director of Research for Mental Technologies-R-Us

If we join hands, what do we really join? ~ Eman “Mitra not Meetcha” Nichler, sponsor of and participant in Teach Ins, Sit Ins, Love Ins, Walk Ins and other matters of ingress.

Note: Please be advised that we are not associated with similar organizations which also pump out 140 character milkshakes at a rate we are striving to challenge. You will notice, as per our slogan quoted above, that our milkshake is quite superior to theirs. Here are a few samples of the lesser vintages:

We are not here to make others happy. We are here to make me happy. ~ Willy “I deserve it” Lexus, small time blog operator turned spiritual entrepreneur.

If things are as they appear then time will tell and we have a remedy for that ~ Brother Omniglot Nomenclature, Director of VanCare, ‘the “Walmart” of mobile spas’

It’s not how big your Tantra is but what you do with it!  ~ Douggie “Big Tantra” Merman

We at NewCitizenDharma™ would like to extend an invitation to all and sundry to join our cause, whatever it is, and donate bucket loads of cash to maintain our endeavors, whatever they may be. We operate somewhat like the Colbert SuperPAC but without the PAC or the Super or the Colbert as these are all extraneous expenses. Unmarked bills in plain brown envelopes via the mail to our anonymous post office box in Aruba works just fine for us. This is in keeping with NewCitizenDharma™ policy.

Want to learn the secrets of great Dharma milkshake making?…I could teach you, but I’d have to charge. See above for payment instructions.

Yeah OK it’s been a strange week

But then again not everything has to make sense.

 

.

And so it goes….

Being the Bad Guy

imageUku has a good post up called Burst your Buddhist bubble!  It has brought a lot of thoughtful commentary.

He discusses emotional honesty, means of expression and the frustration with the social pressure to conform to  “Buddhist” stereotypes.

Another point that got brought up related to the photo he chose to accompany his post. It is a picture of 2 of his kids playing with light sabers pretending to be the classic characters from Star Wars.

Lauren made an excellent point in the comments:

As I stared at the photo and considered your post, I had a fantasy someone wondered aloud to you how the sons of a buddhist monk could engage in such violent games, imitating killing each other, tisk, tisk [shaking of finger with a frown]. And as I thought of this, some truer (I think) realization came. Children can only engage in these games because they see the difference of “good” and “bad”, Vader against Kanobe, as essentially a show, a charade, a falsehood. Okay, they don’t conceptualize it this way, but they know, (instinctively?, with real prajna) that both beings are the same, equal, both-supposed-to-be-there, even though they are dressed up in differences. And, I think, they assume this of the adults they see. They assume all adults understand that the enemy is their friend dressed up and fighting for the exhilarating energy of the situation. They see us all as equals before they know how to conceive of the question of whether we are.

What an excellent point.

I’d like to take the ideas from the post and the comment on a somewhat different tangent.

When we notice children playing these kinds of games or perhaps when we recall playing them ourselves there is an eagerness to acting out either character. An undifferentiated enthusiasm. Kids will happily become Darth Vader or the pirate captain without hesitation. Playing some villains is often even better and more fun than playing the hero who generally must stay within certain behavioral guidelines and who are usually forbidden to explore beyond well defined boundaries.

In children’s literature there is often some element of the defiant character. The Cat in the Hat being a prime example.

Even in adult popular culture the bad guy as hero is a frequent movie trope. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thelma and Louise and V for Vendetta to the Jack Nicholson character McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, these characters express sentiments and commit actions that go against the stream of their respective social situations.

On TV there have been similar characters such as Spike and Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. House, Alan Shore on Boston Legal and Tony Soprano.

In stand-up comedy the bad boy or rebel who speaks out is a staple. Where would comedy be without the voices of people like George Carlin, Chris Rock, Richard Pryor?

This is even more pronounced in literature. The outcast, rebel, misfit or even villain is given empathetic or in some instances heroic treatment. Consider novels such as A Clockwork Orange, Gormenghast-the Steerpike character or plays by Shakespeare which often contain characters that transgress arbitrary boundaries. image

One can call this acknowledging the shadow aspects of the psychological self or integration of our complete human natures or recognition of hidden desires or impulses. These characters symbolize elements we may be too timid or afraid to confront directly within ourselves.

All of these are about challenging status quo situations whether they are social or psychological or spiritual. These archetypes would not continue to exist and be popular if they did not fill some psychological or emotional need, be easily recognized by most people and have a social function.

“The antihero emerges as a perturber and a disturber, a subverter of things as they are.

For more on the literary value of the anti-hero read John Sutherland’s book review. “Beautiful Losers: A literary critic analyzes the role of European antiheroes.”, The New York Times, May 9, 1999.

That doesn’t mean it is advisable to wallow in nihilism or emotions that are blatantly destructive either. When we get too far toward the ends of the scale of idealism versus cynicism we end up negating much of our own reality as well as propagating an extreme level of social or psychological disruption. If we express all that is within in a manner of complete abandon there are social costs, and if we suppress most of what is within there are psychological costs as well. Neither of the extremes renders anyone fully functional. It is perhaps only useful to indulge in extremes in the creation of fictional works. Art has often been labeled a destructive process.

But that doesn’t mean that these extremes can be left unexamined in real life either.

When we practice Buddhism it may result in “becoming a better person” at some point, but if we don’t know what kind of person we are to begin with then “better” comes to mean more deluded and contorted and confined than when we started. Finding out who we are, in all it’s aspects is crucial to reaching some kind of understanding especially on the Buddhist path.

We can put on the most beautiful and ornate Buddhist mask in the world and please everyone we come in contact with. We can disguise our demons as angels and fill their mouths with marshmallows so they cannot speak. We can deny the substance of our desires by a feigned renunciation. We can bind up any hint of violence the second we sense it’s approach and hide it carefully.

All that can become the role and work of a lifetime. But there’s no life to it. It’s a facsimile of our idealization of ourselves.

We cannot resist against ourselves for the sake of maintaining the complacency and comfort of others. That is a form of slow motion suicide. We can have some amount of discipline in our expressions of ourselves provided we are aware of our own reasoning and motivations. But again without doing the work of the examination of the areas that provide much of our motivation, these being generally the more disruptive and unpleasant aspects, we spend our time living in fear of that which we do not really know. Ourselves.


For more on popular tropes, characters, stereotypes and the structure of fiction of all types visit the TV tropes wiki where a good deal of what comprises popular culture is well outlined and explained. The main index is along the left side of all the pages. You’ll be there for hours.

I know you’ve suffered
But I don’t want you to hide

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognize your beauty’s not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart

Regarding the Shimano Case

I am writing again about the Shimano Case because there is a meeting coming up at Dai Bosatsu in a few days and decisions will be made at that time that may impact future directions.

A new document [pdf] has appeared on the Shimano archive website that gives some indication of the predatory practices and lack of regard for students which Eido Shimano has practiced.

“Olivia”, in a open letter to the new abbot and ZSS board has written some of her story in an effort to attempt to bring further results to the severance of Shimano from that organization. There seems to be a great reluctance to let go there and numerous members have even called for a continued teaching relationship with him.

Students have left, board members have quit, outside parties have become involved yet the dependence for some is such that no amount of evidence will allow clarity of thought and vision.

In the letter, the author states that she received a sexually transmitted disease from Shimano and that even though she thought she was the only one he was involved with in this way there were several others simultaneously involved.

You can read the letter yourself at the above link for her story but a portion I want to quote here. After describing her joy at Zen practice and the surroundings of Dai Bosatsu she writes:

It was painful to leave all of that behind, as well as the possibilities that I imagined for the place as a whole. Unlike Eido Shimano, I was essentially banished from the monastery. In the aftermath of one of his own scandals, Eido Shimano has written that he “bravely marches on”. Marching on over the lives of women and men he has directly impeded, slandered or thrown aside—with the overall support of the board—is hardly a form of courage.

Olivia has shown great courage in revealing her story to add some perspective to the issue. These are not abstractions but human beings who have been injured, ignored and who must live with the way they have been betrayed, not only by Shimano but also by those who would not hear words against their teacher-god.

I don’t know what kind of Zen that is.

I don’t know what kind of Buddhism that is.

I don’t know what kind of never ending dream some choose to abide within.

Such fear.


This post also appears on The Buddhist Channel in the Letters section

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=22,10409,0,0,1,0

What Does it Mean to be You?

Philosophy is starting to catch up with Anatta. He even talks about that. But then in the interview portion he mischaracterizes it somewhat. Then he gets corrected by the interviewer. Interesting exchange though.

Don’t agree with some of his statements about Buddhist objectives. Oddly they are similar to what a few Buddhist teachers have said, which I also don’t agree with. Dissolution of or killing the ego is not possible. The sooner that notion is put to rest the better.

 

 

The topic of personal identity is strictly speaking nonexistent. It’s important to recognize that we are not the kind of things that simply popped into existence at birth, continue to exist, the same thing, then die off the cliff edge or go into another realm. We are these very remarkably ordered collections of things. It is because we’re so ordered that we are able to think of ourselves as being singular persons. But there is no singular person there, that means we’re forever changing.” ~ Julian Baggini