Friday, December 29, 2006
O Light That Shineth in Darkness, Which Comprehendeth It Not:
For some time I have wondered if the obvious moral and spiritual vacuity of America might be ameliorated somewhat by our sending in missionaries, to educate the poor unenlightened masses here, and ease them out of the hole they have dug for themselves. Granted, we would run the risk of creating yet more San Francisco "Buddhists", but they, at least, are benign, if a bit dim.
The response in our community has generally been that, while this is a laudable dream, it is far from realistic. This is a fair point. The majority of the population here sees only two alternatives: Christianity and Atheism. With the exception of minority communities, they are raised in one or the other of these, and tend to abandon the faith of their birth only in order to switch to the other of these two parties. As for the above-referenced minority communities, they tend to end up as atheists within four generations. There are, of course, soi-disant "alternative" or "fringe" groups, but these, by definition, are irrelevant to the aggregate soul of the country.
In order to reorient this nation sufficiently to, say, stop them from destroying all life on Earth, it is the great mass of lumpenproles who need to be reoriented, but, sadly, these are not going to budge from their madness at the urging of such as your humble correspondent.
Some with insight have suggested Atheist missionaries, and, as a native tradition, this is more realistic, and some progress has been made in this direction by more-or-less well-meaning agents of the European Illuminati, still eagerly pursuing the Enlightenment project (Voltaire "Enlightenment", not Gautama "Enlightment"!). Sadly, this conversion generally requires brains, out of which the majority here (as everywhere!) have long since run.
So - what to do to reorient this rogue nation? I have a solution which I believe is both elegant and workable: Let us send Christian missionaries to America!
This may seem an odd suggestion, considering that the majority of Americans already self-identify as Christian. Ah, but what is called "Christianity" here is, in fact, nearly the opposite of that, except insofar as both Christianity and "Christianity" (a) assert to some extent the existence of the supernatural, and (b) revere Jesus of Nazareth.
Let our missionaries reveal to Americans the actual content of Christianity. This will be tricky at first, and may provoke hostility, but, perhaps by subtle networking, or by direct brainwashing if necessary, we may be able to get leading "Christian" clergy to believe what we need them to - that which may not be literally true, but which is much more socially useful than that which they now believe. (This accords well with the higher doctrine of the Lotus Sutra.)
Imagine the results if the clergy and other spiritual leaders of America gradually modified their message to their flocks to this:
The Ultimate Ground of Being, moved by compassion for the sufferings of humankind, manifested and suffered as a human being, for the specific purpose of communicating to all of us this imperative:
Love God, and thy neighbor as thyself.
It is, I admit, incomplete, simplistic, and maybe a little lowbrow - but compare it to what they have now, and I think my point will be well-taken. Surely, they could at least understand that. Or do I hope for too much?
Posted at 02:19 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Monday, November 27, 2006
some leading signs of decay
O Immaculate Maha Avatara:
When I accepted this mission, there were concerns - and I shared them - that it was redundant. We had already had a very fruitful reconnaisance mission a mere thirty years ago, and it was asked: How much could things in America have changed in so little time?
As it turns out, my mission is quite timely - and the answer to that question is: Very, very much.
It is a truism here that the pace of change is accellerating, and it is - though perhaps not in the sense most Americans think of.
In the 1970s, the basic infrastructure for comfortable and harmonious communal life was generally provided. Telephone booths, trash cans, water fountains, benches and bathrooms were everywhere, at least in major population centers, and also in many smaller settlements. Now, if people - especially poor people, or homeless wanderers like your humble correspondent - wish to drink water, to relieve themselves, to rest, or to summon help, they are quite at a loss, unles they can afford to become paying customers of some suitably equipped establishment. As for the trash - it is allowed to accumulate on the streets - predictably doing this most in places with the fewest resources for removing it.
The meaning of this sign is easy to read. Compassion is on the wane. Let the poor crap themselves! Let their dwelling places be streaked with urine! Free water? Perhaps if they dehydrate to death, they will cease to be such a bother.
How can we even contend with such people? Not even people anymore - soul-less, dead-eyed zombis that are more aroused by the latest box-office smash or celebrity divorce or change in their soft drinks than by the domination of their culture by shameless disregard for human beings as such. They cannont be bothered about their institutions being seized and controlled by fascists, devils, cannibals and vampires. No! Not vampires. Vampires, at least, have a sort of purity, a vision, one might say - a refreshing freedom from the strictures of mere morality. (One thinks of such admirably characteristic Occidentals as Fritz Nietzsche or Max Stirner.)
One might even say that, if Americans were simply evil (or amoral), they would be a lot more likable. There is, for example, an admirable humanity about the Hell's Angels. The scheme of the world has a place in it for simple bastards. People of good will may always do what they like in response to the evil - if the evil don't get each other first in some glorious wild-west spectacle of the wide-open clash between unlimited self-assertions.
But what is one supposed to do with a batch of moralists who, in claimed pursuit of a higher vision, destroy all that is good and beautiful about the world, and even about themselves? The situation recalls the stirring, utopian fantasy of the Nazis, which filled common people's eyes with phantoms, shielding them from the sight of their own decency being burnt away in Auschwitz. One recalls also the Nazis' curious abhorrence of jazz - itself one of the few positive accomplishments of the contemporary west... and the corresponding decline of the aesthetic sense in America.
The pathology of souls is complex on first presentation, but simple in the final analysis - I leave it to Your Eminence to "connect he dots", as they say here.
And still I persist in wondering:
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
Posted at 10:05 am by Dukkha-garbha
Friday, November 17, 2006
the whore of babylon sends holiday greetings
O Estimable Fount of Hope:
I find myself embedded in what Americans call "the holiday season" - a span of time bounded by late October on one side, and early January on the other. This period comprises the majority of American holy days, and, perhaps not surprisingly, a large tangled mass of unresolved emotional conflict is traditionally wallowed in during it. Everything distinctive about America becomes explicit, like a subcutaneous boil coaxed to the surface by the colder weather, which inevitably spills pus all over one's church clothes.
It is true that one has to wait for Independence Day (upon which one could compose an epic) for Americans' love of explosives to fully materialize, but the rest of it is here on full display.
Even Americans themselves - generally loathe to exhibit any self-awareness - know that something is amiss here. It is even considered a sign of some sophistication to disparage Christmas in particular as having degenerated utterly into an ugly display of materialism, vulgarity, false sentimentality, etc. Since they have said this of themselves many times, and in great detail, I feel I would contribute little by elaborating upon this matter any further - though I do find it remarkable that the day commemorating the physical manifestation of God's compassion for the suffering and moral frailty of humankind would be so lightly dismissed!
There is an odd tendency to engage in compulsive acts of thematic decoration of home, car, office, and person according to the standard iconography of each holy day as it approaches (and often well in advance). I do not yet completely understand this behavior, which seems to make everyone miserable, but it seems to have something to do with Martha Stewart and conspicuous consumption.
Another oddity of this time of year - and of holy days throughout the year - is the prevalence of food shaped like objects other than those from which they are made. For example, one finds canes made of candy; cookies shaped like little men, or like bells, or many other things; and, most perplexing of all, to fu shaped like turkeys. No-one, so far as I can ascertain, knows why.
It is also remarkable how few of them notice the conjunction here of two Dionysian holy days - one dedicated to a wine-god, the other to alcohol itself - within mere days of each other. But You and I are used to Americans stubbornly ignoring the obvious.
I refuse on principle to comment on "Patriot Day". I haven't the stomach for it.
What I would like to address is Hallowe'en - which gives me hope, surprisingly enough. I know my dispatches to you are normally, as they say here, "downers". (More on directional metaphors in American speech later.) But here, I am sanguine - Americans have, I find, a decent streak after all. One simply has to take the time to see it. Also, it is small.
But - Hallowe'en! Here is a paradox, as always when one approaches great truths: Christmas celebrates ultimate benevolence, and yet is utterly ghoulish, while Hallowe'en celebrates ghouls, and is utterly benevolent. On Hallowe'en Americans actually visit their neighbors - or at least encourage their children to do so. Bear in mind that avoiding contact with one's neighbors is the rule here! They allow themselves to dress in fancy and whimsical costumes, as all natural and sane people do at festival times. When anyone - friend, stranger, or even neighbor - comes to the door, there is a ritual greeting, after which they give the visitor food! And not just any food, but sweetmeats. This is remarkable in a country where open and unprovoked hostility to beggars, no matter how needy, is customary.
The central motive of the holy day is also sublime: to teach children to approach fear, death, mourning, madness, night, and all that threatens us with - smiles, laughter, whimsy. Everywhere one sees witches, skeletons, the dead, the devourers, and the demonic - all wisely depicted with a twinkle in the eye, a crooked grin, and a crafty wink. There is a trace of our own recognition that the threatening entities are simply the threatening aspects of the benevolent deities - or that what is threatening or reassuring depends on our own posture.
And, whether for children or for adults, the parties are great.
It is as if the entire country becomes, for one night every year, utterly SANE.
Gotta go - It's a Wonderful Life is on.
Posted at 02:09 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Your Eminent Immanence:
Americans are a people quick to take offence, and even quicker to be offensive, in all senses of the word.
They are deeply offended by Pearl Harbor (a simple attempt to reclaim Asian soil for Asian use), by 9/11, and by - well, what else is there?
What indeed! The burning of the White House during the War of 1812 is as forgotten as the rest of that war - and the other wars between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The majority of American history informs the historical awareness of virtually no Americans. Can you imagine not knowing your own history? And not caring that you do not know?
So, what little they recall of attacks on their country offends them profoundly. And yet, they are not offended by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by Lebanon, by El Salvador, Honduras, Granada, Dresden, Panama, Cambodia, to say nothing of Wounded Knee - or Africa...
But why even go on? And who will care? How can we even contend with such a people?
Posted at 06:26 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Friday, September 22, 2006
a report on American casino liturgy
O Rider of the White Horse:
I have recently begun to investigate American religion. As you can imagine, when one approaches such a topic across such a vast cultural divide, the first problem is to identify which aspects of the society being studied are, in fact, religious. One unacquainted with Judaism, for example, might dismiss their various dietary customs as simple oddities of etiquette, or matters of tradition, or of aesthetics. But these are, for those who participate in them, significant and continual reminders of the seriousness of their commitment to their God.
And so, with Americans, I have looked carefully at those aspects of their lives which are clothed in spiritual language, pursued with zeal, associated with belief in the supernatural, and tending to provide each American with their orientation in life. I admit that this is a large undertaking, and I must laugh, at times, at my own naivete. For a while, I mistook their sporting events for religious festivals, comparable to the ball games of the ancient Maya of this same continent, but curiously, there seems to be little connection, and the supernatural element is nearly absent, except in cases such as the Bambino's Curse - which, oddly, has nothing to do with their tribal totem, the Baby Jesus.
Knowing that Americans attribute a peculiar spiritual gravity to the aboriginal inhabitants of this land (confusingly designated "Indians", though they more closely resemble Siberians, or, perhaps, native Taiwanese, or, for that matter, us) I went to a nearby "Indian" settlement (given the peculiar name of "reservation"), and sought out the largest, most ornate building there, knowing that, in all cultures, and in all eras, religious buildings are always the highest architectural expressions of a culture's spiritual life. (Indeed, one of the most influential sects of American priests, with lavish temples in all the major cities, call themselves by the name "Masons", indicating the role of cathedrals in shaping and expressing western religous consciousness.)
The most obvious candidate for this role was a large complex of buildings with ample parking, dazzling lights and decorations, and the auspicious name of "Lucky Coyote's Paradise Mountain Casino". Coyote is an indigenous deity, and mountain worship seems fairly perennial throughout the world, so I felt confident that this must be a worship center. As for the last word, "casino", I am still uncertain concerning its precise meaning, but I gather it refers to the houses of worship of a particular cult, which, by the number of such temples, appears to be at least as widespread as the Scientology and Amway cults, and possibly as widespread as Bible-worship.
Upon entering, my conclusion was confirmed - nearly everyone there was consuming tobacco (the sacred herb of the "Indians") and alcohol (sacred drink of the Christians, who identify it, in fine mystical language, with the blood of their God). There were, furthermore, some thousands of worshippers, each with their private altar, into which they made sacrifices of money - the most spiritually meaningful act an American is capable of, and a sure sign that one is in a church.
Just as we are given sacrifices of food by our lay people, religious figures here are given sacrifices of money - and one's devotion to one's religion is measured in this quaint fashion. The Americans even have a proverb: "Put your money where your mouth is", which may be interpreted as saying that prayer unaccompanied by monetary sacrifice is insincere, and therefore ineffectual, the gods being believed to know bullshit when they hear it.
In typical high-tech American fashion, everything was lit up with neon, and glazed with chrome. The individual altars were electro-mechanical, computerized, and festooned with decorative video screens, on which rows of mystic glyphs would appear in succession, while the worshippers read these auguries intently, often bemoaning or rejoicing at the prophecies they would reveal. Periodically, many of the worshippers (apparently, the exceptionally devout) would gently caress the video screen, tap on the glyphs, or press a lucky charm against the glass, while muttering prayers under their breath. The glyphs themselves ran the gamut of American religious iconography, featuring such staples of American religion as devils and witches; mystic numbers (notably sevens); food (mostly fruit for some reason); Maya, Aztec, and Inca deities; cowboys and Indians; Egyptian pharaohs, sphinxes, and pyramids (I haven't figured that one out yet); angels; the ancient Greeks; fishing; and fireworks.
I would like to return to the holy mountain of Coyote to do further reconnaissance, but I cannot afford to, having lost my disposible cash on my last outing.
Posted at 12:37 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Monday, September 11, 2006
further reflections on American sexuality
Radiant Bringer of the Entelechy:
As I have said, sexuality is as good a place to begin as any in trying to unravel the American mind - especially as it is simultaneously so apparent and so veiled. We shall see where we end up, having started out, as it were, from the red-light district.
In a country whose cultural institutions are still dominated by men, it is perplexing that no-one appears to notice that predominant notions and emotions concerning sexuality - one of the few reliable and enduring bonds between male and female - are, in effect, equivalent, or adjacent, to those concerning women. If American pornography is to believed (and what could be more honest than pornography?) these consist primarily of narratives of prostitution, slavery, and humiliation. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)
Alan Watts observed that the aesthetic of pornography and prostitution (especially as it shades into bondage, domination, etc.) is derived from that of the clergy. To clarify, western clergy have traditionally outfitted themselves in vestments both severe and oddly decorative. (How unlike our patched-up robes of salvaged cloth!) The color scheme is predominantly black and white, with brocade, and sometimes lace, used for accents or ornamentation. Certain elite officers are partial to am intense scarlet. Beyond the material specifics of their clothing, there is the general mood of it - shame, penance, humility, service before a stern and rather abusive series of Fathers - "Oh, Daddy!" indeed!
It seems also, in America, as if the identification of sin with sex is quite complete - so that commoners usually identify the Fall out of Eden with some sort of sexual awakening, though there is little basis for this in the original myth. It is as if all other sins were mere mis-steps - as if stealing, for example, were of little weight as a sin! So one may chuckle (embarassed, perhaps) over one's swindles, and admit to an understandable, and rather touchingly normal, human moral weakness, which may, of course, be regrettable, but ... so it goes.
Such an attitude is not unreasonable, I suppose. However, a person who takes a similar, equally plausible attitude toward their sexual peccadillos is regarded as some sort of lust-deranged monster. I refer to the differing public conceptions of, say, Bill Clinton and Ivan Boesky, or Ken Lay, or Neil Bush.
Now, this may be less so in the 'liberated' circles found in the cities (& sometimes elsewhere), but this is only because those circles do not believe in the value (bad or good) of anything. They abjure politics, religion, metaphysics (the crown jewel of human intellectual striving!), learning generally, and especially do they disdain those who actually care about poverty; the ruin of the environment; the plight of the oppressed; the victims of war, famine, disaster, and other violence; the ongoing poisoning of their own bodies and minds; or, indeed, about anything. (Those rare people who do profess to care about such things are labelled with the peculiarly American epiphet: "Negative".) These soi-disant metropolitans are above caring - arrogant in their sophistication.
And yet, for all this, the 'free-thinking' urbanites are still superior to their more committed mid-American competitors in the culture wars who do, indeed, still dare to believe in something. That is, they believe firmly, and one may say zealously, in cruelty; nationalism verging on, or identical to racism; exploitation; indiscriminate revenge; entitlement to every pleasure and luxury, including those of sadism, rape, torture, theft, and cannibalism; and above all else, the luxury of asserted superiority - of arrogance toward the poor, toward women, toward children, and toward anyone unchurched, or even not a Protestant, or even not the right sort of Protestant. These people are called, in American double-speak, "Christians".
And so we see, not surprisingly, that arrogance is the primary disease of both groups contending for the alleged soul of America. In the end all Americans are addicted to laziness, to luxury, to over-consumption, to the privilege of not having to know how the machine they are riding in works, how it is piloted, who pilots it, what motivates the pilots, where it is going, and upon what fuel it runs.
Which is, of course, our blood.
Posted at 02:05 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Sunday, September 10, 2006
another dispatch from enemy territory
O Kalki, Bearer of the Flaming Sword:
Since arriving here to do reconnaissance for all of you back in Shambhala, I have been at every step reluctant to write each report I send to you on the nature and development of the Black Iron Empire of the Americans. This is not, as I trust you to understand, from disloyalty or lack of proper effort, but from the near-impossibility of beginning such a report.
How does one of limited powers approach a topic so vast, so horrifying, and of such global, even celestial weight? The fall of Lucifer into Hell is a small tale, and easily told, by comparison (pace Milton). The vast exertions of the Boddhisattvas, the clear vision and selfless compassion of the Christ - all have been told and will readily be told again, and in narrow compass. But this one is, frankly, a toughie.
This is, after all, the story of "the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams", as one of their own prophets, William Seward Burroughs, Sr., says in his sacred text, Thanksgiving Prayer. And if one is no prophet, how does one tell such a story? For this is the story of the very downfall of humanity, of the soul of the Earth going mad. As a seizure starts locally, then amplifies itself through the whole span of the brain by recruiting more and more neurons into its tarantella, so shall we all be brought down in this storm.
Finally, as my recent letters have shown, I demurred to my conscience, and took into counsel the words of another American prophet, Charles Hoy Fort: "One measures a circle beginning anywhere."
And so I have begun my reports; may I find peace when it is done! But I will not. "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?"
Never has a people so forcefully demonstrated that that ignorance and blindness are qualities one chooses to cultivate. Their spiritual sloth is dizzying. Or it should be, yet no-one here is stumbling or weaving. They drive ever forward like bullets toward ... what? They, in their voluntary darkness, do not look, and could not see if they were to look. They follow the trajectory that is laid out for them like they follow the hideous roads that gird the aching landscape.
Posted at 03:28 pm by Dukkha-garbha
Friday, September 08, 2006
a report on peculiarities of American speech
Your Most Serene Majesty,
It is generally accepted that American English has deviated from British usage; though I am not intimately familiar with the latter, I have made some discoveries concerning the former, which I believe will help clarify the nature of the crisis afflicting this most peculiar people.
It appears to me that Americans no longer make any semantic distinction between the verbs to know, to believe, and to feel. For example, the sentences: I know that God is real ; I believe that God is real ; and I feel that God is real are generally regarded as wholly synonymous, and, in fact, all three are treated as synonymous with the sentence: God is real.
We can blame this in part on the prevalence of semantic laxness among the American people. It also has, in part, to do with the relatively primitive stage to which their study of psychology has atained - it can hardly be called a science at all, in comparison to our achievements in this field. One might say that American psychology is oriented primarily toward the goal of allowing people to ignore basic truths about their own minds in order to avoid confronting the sort of unpleasantness with which we are all too familiar. (Regarding the state of philosophy in America, I shall refrain from commenting.)
But there is much more to this problem - and it is a problem - than this. Americans are, in their current state of development, no longer able to distinguish, in words or in thought, between the cognitive and the affective. That is not to say that they have entirely forgotten the meaning of the word truth. (Although they may have!) It is to say that they have fallen so deeply into confusion that they regard as true whatever they fear to be false, or, in other words, whatever they desire strongly to be true. One may say that their long affluence, and their notorious attachment to convenience and luxury, have accustomed them to expect the world to conform to their desires. As Heidegger might say, they no longer distinguish between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand. Or, we may say, they no longer recognize the difference between the way of nature and the way of technology.
I believe, however, that the core problem is their worship of their emotions - despite appearances, this is the dominant religion in America. Their older spiritual institutions have devolved into militant fan clubs comparable to British football hooligans, primarily devoted to self-assertion and hostility to other, similarly-constituted groups. That these groups are, from our point of view, nearly indistinguishable, is, sadly, just what one would expect.
And so, for their religion, the Americans are left with this, the stern god Emotion, who encompasses and lends meaning to all their experiences (that is, the world, as each one knows it), and dictates all their acts and preferences - thereby serving the traditional role of religion in providing a metaphysics and an ethics. To this god they sacrifice their better judgement, their critical faculties, and, certainly, the lives of millions.
If not billiions.
Posted at 02:14 am by Dukkha-garbha
Thursday, September 07, 2006
a report on American sexuality
As your agent in the United States, I feel obliged to report all that I discover, as I discover it, no matter how unseemly it may be. In this spirit, I regret that I must burden your most serene self with this report regarding American sexual mores, taboos, and folkways.
It is axiomatic among us that Americans are a spiritually troubled people, and in this area, their confusion is quite pronounced. Nothing arouses their mating instincts unless it is forbidden, so, naturally, they have had to forbid everything. Practices that would not provoke so much as a yawn among us are quite controversial here. With everything forbidden, and therefore arousing, Americans seem to exist in a perpetual daze of arousal - or so they believe. And with even innocent things forbidden, the distinction between the perverse and the wholesome in matters of the body has been nearly erased - after all, it is all perverse in their view. As a result, they are characterised by a manic and destructive lust that usually leads nowhere.
America is a land where the prostitutes dress like little girls, and the little girls dress like prostitutes. There are support groups for (if you will excuse me for being so direct) people erotically attached to nuns, corpses, balloons, and cartoon animals. Of course, their nuns do not shave their heads, as ours do, but if they did, they would simply add to their appeal to certain fetishists. The only two conceptions of sexual intercourse that prevail are a ridiculously diffuse, peurilely "romantic" conception that has little to do with glandular secretions, and, in a word, rape.
Please extend to everyone in Kalapa my best wishes and my fervent desire to be reunited with them.
It is very confusing here, but I will remain and learn, so long as your eminence finds my (at times taxing) labours of use in your glorious mission.
Posted at 02:05 pm by Dukkha-garbha