Donnerstag, 19. April 2012

The dubious roots of meditation and the negation of human emotional needs in Tibetan Buddhism

 By Barbara Rogers

When Tibetan Buddhism is celebrated today as the peaceful and calming practice of meditation, people overlook the reality of a brutal religion with bizarre traditions that has used meditation as a tyrannizing tool to quash the power of feelings and free, critical thinking. Not only one hell as in Christianity, but sixteen hells doom the believer in Tibetan Buddhism with terrifying horror scenarios. It is a tradition of this controlling religion to force children into becoming monks, remove them from their families, cut them off from contact with women and brainwash them with religious studies that must be learned and recited by heart. In the context of this inhuman religion, the word “compassion,” no matter how often it is conjured, has no real meaning because compassion is not extended to these abused and neglected children. In order to become “spiritually enlightened,” they are betrayed of their human right to a healthy, dignified development, their freedom and their lives.

Colin Goldner writes in “The Myth of Tibet:”

“Tibetan Buddhism systematically raises people with crippled minds and souls.”

”Who will not obey the divine laws of the Lamas will find himself inevitably in one of the sixteen hells. One of these consists of a being immersed to the neck in a ‘stinking swamp of excrements,’ while, at the same time, being ‘picked at and gnawed to the bone by the razor sharp beaks of the huge insects that live there.’ In other hells one is burnt, smashed, squashed, and crushed by boulders or cut into a thousand pieces by huge razor knives. And that is constantly repeated over eons. What this kind of pathological Karma craze causes in the heads of simple structured, uneducated people – not to speak of the heads of three or four year old children who are saturated with this – one can only guess with a shudder.”

Why are fear and control of our feelings so popular and widely spread? Why are we not encouraged to welcome all our feelings, to communicate with them with an open mind in order to find out why we feel what we feel? Is the old childhood fear of threatening parental rebukes, retributions and attacks so strong and prevalent?

When we look at why we feel angry, our anger might be justified in the presence and lead us to empowering and important actions that protect our lives, health and interests and our loved ones too. Maybe our anger leads us to actions where we become activists engaged to work for social changes, for the benefit of other people, for the environment. Why should we want to meditate this strengthening anger away, turn it into fussy confusion, thus deny it and take away its power?

But our anger can also stem from the pain and powerlessness that we suffered as children when we had to bear the unjust attacks of angry, cruel parents and could not defend ourselves and when any protest would only have meant more, even life-threatening danger. When this dormant anger emerges years later, it is directed against weaker, less powerful and innocent people, above all children. As powerful authorities, adults can now vent their old, unconscious anger on those where they don’t feel afraid anymore but in control, where they experience themselves as powerful and can induce fear. How infinitely more difficult and frightening is it to speak up to power, to question and see through one’s parents, to acknowledge the consequences of their hurtful actions and attitudes and to realize how they programmed us emotionally. Because in order to do so, we must confront the terror of the attacked, blamed, condemned and punished child.

When anger becomes a problem in adulthood where it appears clearly out of context and is taken out on innocent others – then we must question it and work in therapy to understand its roots and resolve its destructiveness. Daily hours and years of meditation can never resolve this kind of anger and hatred but only reinforce the tradition of suppressing undesired feelings, which pursues the interests of the powerful – that we remain unconscious, controllable, devoted children/followers.

The practice of meditation, which e.g. the Tibetan Buddhist monks propagate, starts early in their lives. It consists mainly of reciting mantras, religious demands and dogmas, over and over again, 100 000 times on certain steps of ritualistic scales, which are part of their meditation practice. Above all, they are meant to lead to complete submission and guru-devotion. Even if people in the west meditate in less brainwashing ways, the origins of this practice show that the purpose of meditation in the Tibetan context was and is not to get in touch with oneself but to suppress one’s self-awareness, feelings, critical thinking, justified needs and human rights in order to become a loyal subject of the elite monks.

So many in the Western World choose not to recognize this misogynist, authoritarian, brainwashing religion for what it is. They allow its unexamined defraud to extend their childhood blindness. But a good look at history would awaken us to the danger of raising and wanting people who blindly follow their adored leaders.

Children who were forced into a specific way of life that controls them for the rest of their lives do not know choice, themselves, and what freedom and authenticity are all about. Michael Parenti, the historian and author of the essay "Friendly Feudalism--The Tibet Myth" makes the following statement in a radio interview:

"One of the things that the theocratic class did was go around and pick up 9-year-old boys from the peasant families and bring them into the monasteries to be used as sexual objects and recruited into the monk hood, or used as soldiers or domestic servants or whatever else. And a lot of those monks left, when the Chinese gave the option to the monasteries and said: Anybody who wants to leave can leave." And thousands of them left; never wanted to be there. The older monks stayed and continued on a modest government stipend plus whatever money they could make by presiding over weddings and funerals and the likes. So I think there is freedom for Buddhism in Tibet under the Chinese communists but very little encouragement of it, and of course a lot of the monasteries and monastery lands were taken away."

Radio Talk with Michael Parenti - Tibet: Friendly Fuedalism?

We live authentic lives if we engage in a life-long process of being in touch with ourselves, our questions and exploration of reality. Based on our experiences and observations, we react with feelings, passions, changing needs and goals to our environment, to life’s problems and an ever-changing world. That makes us who we are – not complying with the beliefs and practices of others that stem from centuries of denial, blind adoration, manipulation, repression and hunger for power. During childhood, we have no choice but to accept the beliefs of others, above all those of our parents. No matter what they believe and even if the child at times may notice discrepancies, contradictions and even lies – children need their parents to survive and will internalize many of those parental beliefs. Later, they will follow authorities that either remind them of their parents’ beliefs or seem to promise more humane views. To this day, neither the Ten Commandments nor other religious or spiritual practices have created non-violent humans or societies that have stopped to hate and to kill. The Old Tibet – contrary to wide-spread myths – was a place full of violence and cruelty.

“The ruling elite of monks exploited land and people without pity with the help of a wide spread network of monasteries and strongholds. Bitter poverty and hunger dominated everyday life in Tibet; there were no educational or health facilities. Similar to the Hindu society of India, Tibet maintained a strict caste hierarchy, including a caste of "untouchables." Privileged and, respectively, underprivileged living conditions were pronounced and justified via the Buddhist Karma dogma which postulates that the present life is always a result of accumulated merits, and, respectively, faults in an earlier life.

“The Tibetan penal code was marked by extreme cruelty. Some of the usual punitive measures that lasted far into the 20th century consisted of public floggings, amputation of limbs, gouging of eyes, pulling skin off the flesh of living convicts, and the like. Because Buddhist principles prohibits the killing of living beings, delinquents were often tortured close to death and then left to their own fate. If they died as a result of the tortures, it was considered to have been caused by their own Karma.”

Colin Goldner, The Myth of Tibet:

And now in our time, in the 90ties, a violent fight erupted within the exile Tibetan Buddhist monk community when the Dalai Lama publicly declared one of their many gods, revered since ancient times, as dangerous and no longer worthy of adoration and prayer. To study how he made this decision (as well as countless others) by means of asking an “oracle;” in what a crazy, repugnant and inhuman way that process transpires; and to watch with how much irritation, visible in a video, he harshly denies the violence, which his intolerant decision has created among his loyal and faithful monks, provides an intriguing and enlightening awakening from the idealization that this man is met with.

Salman Rushdie has said:

“The word spiritual should be banned from the English language for at least 50 years... Talk about a word that has lost its meaning! You can't walk your dog without doing it in a 'spiritual 'manner, you can't cook without talking about spirituality!"

Spiegel Interview with Salman Rushdie

Traditional and untrue beliefs, developed by ancient religions to gain and retain power, inspire and influence spiritual movements. What “spirituality” actually means is unclear because these movements are fed by nebulous notions of various invisible and unproven higher powers. The idea of "spirituality" unites movements that do not feel bound to a religion but certainly to a "God," a "higher being" or "higher entity" whom they trust in a childlike manner to know what's best for them and to mean well. They have in common that one has to bow to the will of God or a higher purpose or meaning; that all actions should be done "out of love" – without that one may clearly recognize reality for what it is – that above all anger and rage, protest and hatred are worthless feelings that must be condemned; and that one may not judge others. People with spiritual beliefs see themselves as free from dogmatic religious beliefs, but upon closer examination, it is obvious that their spiritual concepts are also formed by rigid, dogmatic belief-systems that do not encourage their followers to get in touch with who they really are. Fed by vague ideas about “higher powers,” “the universe,” “karma,” “rebirth and reincarnation,” among others, they teach that meditation and forgiveness bring us “serenity” and “inner peace” – and turn useless psychological labels into pop psychology delusions that allege e.g. that the “ego” hosts “bad things” – like being “judgmental” and “opinionated” – which must be overcome.

A closer look at such beliefs, like the concept of karma, and how they were used in the past by the religious and often also political systems that they kept in place, reveals how they served to force their subjects under their control. In Old Tibet, the karma belief kept the serfs and slaves gratefully, subserviently and willingly in check because their miserable lives were cynically blamed on them. The tyrannical and cruel theocracy of Old Tibet was ruled with an iron fist by the elite, upper class of monks who had no empathy and took no responsibility for the plight of their subjects. Neither respect and compassion, nor societal changes for the bitterly poor, oppressed and exploited masses ever came about through all their hours and years of meditation.

Christopher Hitchens describes in his book "god is not Great" how "Japanese Buddhism became a loyal servant -- even an advocate -- of imperialism and mass murder." "By the end of the dreadful conflict that Japan had started, it was Buddhist and Shinto priests who were recruiting and training the suicide bombers, or Kamikaze ("Divine Wind"), fanatics, assuring them the emperor was a "Golden Wheel-Turning Sacred King," one indeed of the four manifestations of the ideal Buddhist monarch and a Tathagata, or "fully enlightened being," of the material world."

Hitchens sums up the workings of Buddhist thinking: " A faith that despises the mind and the free individual, that preaches submission and resignation, and that regards life as a poor and transient thing, is ill-equipped for self-criticism. Those who become bored by conventional "Bible" religions, and seek "enlightenment" by way of the dissolution of their own critical faculties into nirvana in any form, had better take a warning. They may think they are leaving the realm of despised materialism, but they are still being asked to put their reason to sleep, and to discard their minds along with their sandals." (read more here)

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