In his review of Brad Warner's book "Sex Sin and Zen" John L Murphy (Fionnchú) says, "[Brad Warner] reminds us how “mystical serenity” has nothing to do with true wisdom..."
So true, but it seems to me - from reading the review - that Warner's (shall we say?) “banal bashing” also has very little to do with true wisdom!
I suggest that Warner's “demystifying banality” is just the other side of the same coin that is expected to be dropped into the donation boxes at the market stalls in that illusive and deluded world of spiritual mercantilism.
Come to think of it:
- What if Warner, Osho, Allan Watts* and the like all have something in common: that they are (were) somehow unable (disabled** perhaps?) to have their genuine (yes!) enlightened insights help them to actually and factually realize & apply them - that is making them tangibly real!
- What if they were somehow prevented** from seeing that their compulsive reactive activities (caused by a third party's ill intended conditional and thus illusive maneuvering) were meant to prevent the reclamation of their original freedom (everyone's birthright!)
- What if they wished but could not** (yet) use their genuine insights as a tool to regain their authentic and genuine existential/essential state of freedom (liberation, moksha)?
It may well be that their letting it all hang lead them into no more than pseudo-realization, fake liberation, or, if not that, than at least an incomplete form of it.
It seems to me that what they have in common is that they are (were) not able (yet?) to detach themselves from the compulsiveness of their impulses while they unfortunately assumed that their giving up and giving in, their letting go and letting it all hang is the real thing... not suspecting it to be as deluded as (indeed) the “mystical serenity” of their more hallowed new age competitors, the spiritual mystical strivers, the ones they so seem to detest...
* This is not meant to say that the value of the copious contributions by Alan Watts and Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) to the cause of liberation (the Zen way or the Hindi way) are to be dismissed. The dissemination of their insights (quite pioneering in the West) into liberation, enlightenment and realization introduced the Oriental approaches to a wide and ready public.
** To find out more about the hows and whys of "ill intended maneuvering" that "third parties" peruse to bring about unilateral dependency and conditional freedom (which is no freedom at all) there are many articles on this website that deal with that. Please check out the Main Menu (top of the left column) for topics on this.
Comment by Fionnchú:
I like your term "spiritual mercantilism", Wim, it complements Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche's "spiritual materialism." There's a lively sub-genre as Noah Levine's "Dharma Punx" popularizing this generational iconoclasm, perhaps as Warner & Levine both come out of a post-hippie reaction to its vibes? For comparison and contrast, peek along the way that Juniper: Buddhist training for modern life may be pioneering as a secular-scientific rapprochement, along the lines of Stephen Batchelor, as well as Skillful Meditation Project with its consideration of "unlearning meditation," suggest other, less snarky or pop culture alternatives for the West (and recalling Dzogchen Ponlop's call for a dharma that globalizing Easterners can also accept!). Juniper takes Tibetan and SMP Vipassana rooted traditions while applying them to Western mindsets and what we know now about the mind and body. Directions such as these may show a more mature reaction to what Buddhism can evolve into, one that may be more integrated than the interim stages that Warner may be reacting to.