Buddhist Chic



… I personally encountered this last summer when, during the Dalai Lama visit to Washington, His Holiness performed grand Kalachakra initiation, I posted a comment on the Huffington Post website trying to explain to its readers that the traditional Kalachakra ceremony had nothing to do with peace and tolerance and explained why. Giving credit to the Dalai Lama for making several steps toward adjusting Tibetan Buddhism to the modern world and to Western humanist values, I suggested that he should publicly dissociate himself from the medieval misogynist rituals of Kalachakra. In response, furious “true believers” attacked, not the substance of my arguments, but me personally. I was called a Chinese Communist agent and an insensitive person. One critic was appalled by the fact that I was writing about Kalachakra without being initiated into this noble tradition; according to this logic, if tomorrow I decide to explore the Catholic Church, I will have to become a Catholic. To another critic, it was simply mind-blowing how a person criticizing Tibetan Buddhism could possibly be teaching in an American college. The most „rational“ argument came from a lady who, instead of addressing the raised issue, shot at me with hysterical rants about American imperialism being responsible for genocide against Native Americans and for keeping blacks in slavery for 200 years. I felt almost like being back in the good old Soviet Union, where, in response to Western criticism for violation of human rights, Soviet leaders routinely shot back by using the same rants.
… There is no doubt that, by now, Tibetan Buddhism has become a part of the mainstream religious landscape in the West. Yet, for those numerous representatives of educated Western elite who tend to smirk (and rightly so) at archaic elements in Christianity and Judaism but who at the same time flirt (the grass is always greener on the other side of the road) with such medieval rituals as Kalachakra, it might be useful at least to ask themselves if these rituals are helpful for a spiritual renewal of our society or do they serve as mere publicity stunts to keep going the interest of Westerners in the Tibetan cause, or, still worse, simply harbor a vehicle for a totalitarian „mind-fuck“ control.

Prof. Andrei Znamenski (University of Memphis), “New Opium for Intellectuals: Tibetan Buddhist Chic in the West

… Tibetan Lamaism and the Dalai Lama is the new “Santa Claus” for western adults, …


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