A FLAMING FISTFUL OF REACTIONARY WISDOM
by Charles and Tara Carreon
Are you a traditional Buddhist? Does it just chap your hide when you hear someone accusing traditional Eastern Buddhism of an authoritarian agenda? A little slow on the trigger with snappy comebacks? This short essay will change all that forever. Never again be left undefended when unexpectedly assailed by a sharp-witted anti-authoritarian. You too can stand tall, knowing that you are packing a Doctrinal Defender argument, neatly classed for swift deployment. These tried and true zingers will set your opponent on his or her ear, contemplating the incontrovertible core of your argument. Classed into nine basic categories, this flaming fistful of reactionary wisdom will be your dogmatic sidearm.
"It's Bigger Than All That"
This general purpose put down is best delivered with a long look down the snoot. As the words drop, exude pity for this miserable insect who has no idea how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is. Hard to beat, this will work equally well as a brutal rebuff to a newbie or a deft snub against seasoned adversaries. At a loss for words when caught consorting with authoritarian henchmen? Just drop into this self protective crouch -- and as you come out of it, demonstrate genuine surprise that your adversary just doesn't understand how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is. The following list of related doctrinal arguments can be deployed against hard cases. Just say them naturally, with that tone of pomposity that befits your station as an elder student, even if you're still trying to get your mala to get that worn look.
"It Works, That's Why"
This category is overused because Americans are so practical. We just want to get the job done, okay, get enlightened, get home in time for supper. It's a button-down, business-like category that will make you look like a schoolmarm if you use it too often. So be careful, at the risk of becoming terminally uncool.
This is a very popular category, probably because you don't have to be very smart to deploy these zingers. Takes you right back to grade school.
"This is Much Better Than Anything We Have in the West "
This category capitalizes on the inherent sense of inferiority that Americans feel when faced with saintly-seeming Easterners in colored robes. We didn't grow up with it, and we don't know how it works, so we'll believe anything. Your basic Texas oil scheme in the spiritual patch. If you've got the stomach for it, grab a piece and hang on, because this stuff will sell!
"One Bad Apple"
Everybody remembers this song by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl." You may recall that our grandparents had a different take, believing that indeed one bad apple would ruin the entire lot, and I dare say they had more experience with barrels of apples than all five of the Jacksons. Be that as it may, the argument has numerous adherents, as the following quotes will show.
"Assumption of Risk"
This is a legal term for "you had it coming." As in, "you had it coming breaking your neck flying down that hill on that snowboard like that." As in, "well, when you dress like that, what did you expect, he may be a priest but he's only a man!" The assumption of risk theory makes your average church yard look more dangerous than a toxic dumpsite, since you went there with your faith in your hands, you idiot, just asking to be taken for a ride. The problem with the assumption of risk defense is its excessive candor, but aside from that drawback, is a very useful first strike strategy.
"Gurus are Special People"
This category is very large, and seems to comprise quite a bit of the heavy timber in this structure. These are tautologies at their best, solid to the core, because of their unitized construction. You can rely on these phrases, because they depend upon nothing.
"We'll Side With the Majority After All"
We wanted to call this "consensus redux," to encapsulate the notion that, however much a movement rejects consensus decision-making, when it lacks the power of the majority, once it can invoke the authority of widespread acceptance, it will immediately do so.
"Jar Jar Speaks"
Sometimes things are put forward in a manner so beeble-bumbled that they have to be dedicated to the God of inarticulateness, which for us is Jar Jar Binks. Here you go.
That pretty much wraps it up. If you're still here with us, thank you. We will try to think up some rebuttals to these rebuttals, but just right now we're feeling a powerful urge to regret our apostasy and engage in some full-scale repentance and ice-cream eating.
Advanced Teachings on Repelling the Rebels -- The Ear-Whispered Teachings of The Warriors of Traditionalist Dogma. These hand grenades of authoritarian Buddhism are entrusted to those with the courage to bandy doctrines boldly. Leave them stunned with these brain-stoppers.
A PERSON OF KNOWN ORIGINS CAN NEVER BE AN AUTHORITY
Originally pointed out by Jesus of Nazareth, who responded to local criticisms by observing that "a prophet hath no honor in his own country," this wry observation has been hammered into a rule of universal application. As a result, spiritual adulation can be lavished upon any ham-brained, be-robed individual of Mongolian extraction with enough moxie to sit on a throne while acting (pick one or more: profound, benign, whimsical, attentive, subtly threatening, or humorously avaricious). While they eventually may lose stature when they lurch drunkenly at a pair of mammaries attached to some hapless devotee (Sogyal), or engage in too many tall tales and blatant solicitations for cash (Kusum Lingpa), still they will be treated as authorities, because of the corollary rule, which is:
REGARDLESS OF OTHER CHARACTERISTICS, YOU CONTINUE TO BE AN AUTHORITY SO LONG AS YOU ARE SO RECOGNIZED BY AN AUTHORITY
This rule means that, until the Pope says to kick the guy out, the pervert priest can still say Mass and continue to defile the bodies and spirits of the young. Until actually ousted and defrocked, any authority can continue to exploit their position.
This rule is so powerful that we can even make gold out of clay -- witness the tulkufication of Catherine Burroughs and Steven Seagal, and the trail of self-stuck idiots that Kusum Lingpa has left in his train by haphazardly recognizing anyone who gives him the right ass-kissy vibe as the reincarnation of some heretofore unknown Tibetan saint. And despite all of Burroughs' Leona-Helmsley-style antics and the very absurdity of Seagal's posturing as a spiritual guide, until their "recognition" is withdrawn by Pednor Rinpoche, they will continue to collect accolades from the faithfools.
Examining the implications of these two rules, we see a third:
WESTERN PEOPLE WHO DON'T BUY AUTHORITARIAN HEIRARCHY CAN NEVER SAY ANYTHING VALID
First, since they are
western, they can't self-authorize,
Having gone through this analysis with respect to any speaker, a true faithfool can safely stop his ears once it is clear the speaker has no authority.
However, there is one last rule every good faithfool should keep in mind, to avoid dissing your own kind:
ANY STATEMENT BY A PERSON WHO PROFESSES FAITH IN AUTHORITY IS PRESUMPTIVELY VALID
Aha, you were waiting for this one, weren't you? This is why it is worth having a "Free Tibet" bumper sticker, or otherwise announcing your alliance with the authorities. To gain the benefit of the rule, simply append to any damn thing you say, the following: "I speak not from my own knowledge, but simply in repetition of what the gurus have declared -- it's all in the teachings -- I have nothing to add that hasn't been said before."
WARNING: THIS LINE OF ARGUMENT HAS BEEN PROVIDED AS A SERVICE TO THOSE PERSONS DEDICATED TO LIVING INSIDE A SAFE, AUTHORIZED BELIEF SYSTEM, SO THAT THEY WILL NOT BE TEMPTED TO OPEN THEIR MINDS AND INHALE A NEW THOUGHT THAT COULD BE POISONOUS TO THEIR ENTIRE WORLD VIEW AND RESULT IN THE WASTE OF MANY HOURS OF DEVOTION, MEDITATION AND SELF-ABASEMENT. BY RUNNING THROUGH THE ANALYSIS IN ADVANCE, YOU WILL NOT BE CAUGHT UNPREPARED. THE WORKINGS OF THE MACHINERY HAVE BEEN REVEALED ONLY BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THE FAITHFOOL WILL NOT BE SHAKEN BY ANY OF THE HOKEY SARCASM THAT FILLS THE INTERSTICES OF THE ARGUMENT, AND SO THAT THE DEVOTED FAITHFOOL CAN BE READY FOR THE SORRY-ASS ATTACKS THAT WILL COME FROM THOSE STUPID ANTI-AUTHORITARIANS.