Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don’t Forget, “Buddhism” is Just a Tool

Want an insider’s view on Buddhism?  Here are some secrets.  Don’t tell anyone I told you.  
Stop wasting your money.  There’s no way in hell that a two-thousand-dollar-gold-plated-Buddha- statue, handmade buy some guy in India, is gonna bring you any closer to “enlightenment.”  As a matter of fact, stop even thinking about the word “enlightenment.”  It’s distracting.  
You don’t need to learn a foreign language to meditate... not even Tibetan. 
It doesn’t matter if you’re vegetarian or not.  
Take those damn prayer beads off your wrist.  They’re not jewelry.  
You don’t need to take any “vows.”  
You can still get angry, have sex, and drink beer.  (Maybe just not in that order, per say.)
“Yoga” has nothing to do with it. 
Forget about Tantra.  Really.   
You don’t need “Buddhism” at all.  “Buddha” is not the goal.  The Buddha is just a tool.  
YOU are the goal.  It’s all about YOU.  
Whoa, wait a second!  I know you’re asking yourself, “Did he just say YOU?”  
Aren’t we as good little Buddhists, supposed to know, understand and accept the fact that there really is no “YOU.”  There’s no “ME” either, right?  
Well then who the hell is sitting here writing this?  I AM.  That’s who.  
Philosophically, we “Buddhists” understand that there really is no “YOU,” “ME,” or “I,” but try telling that to yourself when you’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and you’re late for work.  Try telling yourself there’s no “I” during sex.  Hard, right?  
I was gonna start this whole blog thing with a long introduction on how I was first attracted to Buddhism, but the more I sat here thinking about it, the more I realized how that would be pointless.  Buddhism has nothing to do with it.  We don’t sit around meditating because we want to learn more about some religion called “Buddhism.”  We do it because we want to understand the mind.  We want to know how it works.  We want to explore it and learn how to use it in becoming more aware of life before we die.  
Remember, “suffering” is relative.  Buddhism is just a coping mechanism.  
Existence is easy to philosophize when you’re sitting on a pillow in a quiet monastery somewhere in Nepal.  It’s much harder to understand the concepts like “emptiness” or “compassion” when you’re a regular working class bum trying to make a living and be happy.  
I’m here tonight, writing this blog because I think I have a voice that needs to be heard. I represent the all those underrepresented “kinda-Buddhists” out there who have no interest in drastically changing their personalities and adopting what so far has been a culturally Asian religion.  
One of my main goals for this blog is to demystify the abstract concept called “Buddhism;” to bring it down from the clouds and make it available to use as a tool to help understand the mind.  We need to Americanize Buddhism simply so we can ingest it, digest it and leave it behind us to go on living our lives.  
This blog is just as much an exercise for myself to organize my thoughts and come to terms with where I fit in on the “Buddhist” spectrum as it is a forum for me to express my ideas and opinions to an audience.  I’m going to go a bit deeper about who I am in my next post, but for now, here is some information about me:
I’m a 29-year-old American guy.  I’ve had many occupations but currently, I’m a middle school English teacher in New York City.  I’ve been involved with Buddhism for about fifteen years now.  I studied both academically at a major university well known for its program in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism and as well as with several monastic teachers.  I’ve taught some small courses on Buddhism and meditation in formal and informal settings.  I feel disillusioned by the current state of Buddhism in America.  I think the time is ripe for change.  
In my next post, I plan to elaborate on my “disillusionment.” 


  1. you are tapping into something many are afraid to admit. i'm very excited to read your future blogs. i think ya got something here, kid!

  2. sounds like you just got burned by the snake oil salesmen selling commercial American Buddhism real Buddhist practice exists in the USA. It doesn't matter if you call yourself a Buddhist or not, you sound very Zen.

  3. LOL Yea...you kinda sound like our kind of Zen. I look forward to reading more!

  4. Buddhism offers us nothing except disillusionment. Get used to it.

  5. As one library monk to another,
    A life happens while we find nothing,
    I'm mostly greatfull for mine.

    Words are such burden, some sages don't talk so much. Not that they have nothing to say but too much that can't be said.

    Train Universe grinds me to powder.
    Vaccum refuses to be, the more floods in.
    Goldfinch lands beside me, twitch i must not!

  6. Hi,

    Great post, great blog!

    But I was wodering if this '“Buddhism” is Just a Tool' statement wasn't itself another cliché used and abused in “Buddhist” circles.

    Greatings from Hungary!

  7. I love this!

    Would be cool to hear your thoughts on my writing...


  8. What do you mean by

    "Remember, “suffering” is relative. Buddhism is just a coping mechanism."