But sometimes our affection for the Dalai Lama seems strangely close to the way my 3-year-old son feels about Barney.
And like all infatuations, there are downsides, usually in the form of unreasonable expectations. Which brings me to my hate mail.
The Gobbler|7.28.10 @ 2:19PM|#
" But what is striking, and what caused me to be so startled by the weirdness, is the way in which this religion has come to be viewed in Western New Age circles as a peaceful, pure, happy-clappy cult of softly-smiling, Buddha-like beings."
I would contend that this is because the bulk of "Buddhists" in the US are influenced by what author Meera Nanda calls neo-Hinduism "the brand of Hinduism that is taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, and their clones, not Tibetan Buddhism.
Think the Beatles and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi circa 1968.
Tman|7.28.10 @ 2:43PM|#
If you haven't seen Unmistaken Child I would highly recommend it. There are parts of that movie that touch on what Mr. O'Neill is referring to in this article in terms of the not-so-calm-and-peaceful aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.
There are a few scenes wherein the four year old that has been chosen as the reincarnation of a deceased Lama is basically abducted by the monks so that he can fulfill his destiny.
There are clearly mixed feelings present among the parents as the child is taken away, for several reasons. Obviously they are "honored" that their child has been chosen, but the father talks of how this means they have one less man in the fields to help feeding the village and mother is clearly upset about losing her child.
One gets the feeling that the family is not entirely down with the program, but due to peer pressure has to go along with the whole thing.
The movie definitely does a good job of making you question the omniscience of the monks themselves.Quote
Raven Nation|7.28.10 @ 10:01PM|#
And, if you don't have time for the movie, watch the "King of the Hill" where the monks come to town & think Bobby is the next incarnation
Corboy: Wikipedia summary of the King of the Hill episode referred to above
Voton|7.29.10 @ 10:22AM|#
Quite right. American Buddhists will never truly realize the dharma as long as they cling to their hippy-dippyness. It always amuses the shit out of me when they're all hurt and disappointed when ol' Grampy Lama, the former absolute theocratic ruler of Tibet, turns out to be a bit right-wing.
M Whitney|8.2.10 @ 9:38PM|#
Good for you with your clear eyed report on Tibetan Buddhism. You might have mentioned the observations of the author of "Seven Years in Tibet". I was struck by the accounts of authoritarian monks who would club the insuffieciently pious with wooden staves. Not up to Taliban standards but there is certainly a common theme.
AnaV|3.20.14 @ 7:55PM|#
Women are treated VERY badly in Tibetan circles. They have no place, in a room, in a house, in a temple. Many have to carry the babies of so-called celibate lamas, also nuns. Imagine the impact! There are also those who pose as the sister of a so-called celibate lama (very high ones) but are, in fact, the hidden wife! Some of these also have to sleep with other lamas, get pregnant, and have to give away their babies (I had a very famous one in my house in India begging me for the pill).
whereas Siddhartha Guatama cultivated such remarkable powers of meditation that girls engaged in erotic dancing and armies threatening him with violent death could not break his concentration, devotees of
Ram Bomjon complained that their guru’s meditation would be disturbed if anyone got within 15 feet of the boy, or if a medical doctor was allowed to examine Bomjon to determine that he was, in fact, not secretly taking in food or water.
When Siddhartha Gautama was attacked by the demon Mara, all Gautama did was to touch the earth with his finger to hold the Earth as his witness. When Ram Bomjon was teased by a passing villagers, Bomjon stood up, gathered his friends, and beat the villagers with sticks until they were bloody.
false buddha in nepalRam Bomjon’s supporters said that no one could watch him at night, and so no outsiders could know what the so-called Buddha Boy was doing after dark. Such efforts to prevent anyone from confirming the truth about the claims of Ram Bomjon’s magical powers led the government of Nepal to accuse Bomjon and his cadre of teenage followers of fraud. Just as the government was about to begin its investigation, Ram Bomjon got up from his daytime meditation pose, and declared that he would travel to a secret location in the forest, to continue his enlightenment efforts there.
Since that time, Ram Bahadur Bomjon has reappeared, now calling himself a bodhisatva, Palden Dorje, giving speeches about the realizations he has had as a result of his deep meditation. The odd thing is that these supposed realizations are the same old bits of Buddhist doctrine that have been preached for thousands of years, which Bomjon was taught as a child.
Now, admirers of Bomjon are reporting that, “the so-called ‘Buddha Boy’ has been sitting under a pipal tree in uninterrupted meditation since May of 2005. According to the set of people who surround and control access to Ram Bomjon, he asserted just before sitting down that he was entering into a six-year meditative state in order to attain enlightenment, a la the original Buddha Siddhartha Gautama”.
Anyone who has been following the facts of the Ram Bomjon case know that Bomjon has certainly not been engaged in uninterrupted meditation for six years straight. Ram Bomjon has been walking around, eating, preaching, and getting into fights.
These documented facts don’t seem to matter to people who believe in the magical powers of Ram Bomjon. They are so eager to have a mystical leader to place their trust in that they ignore reality and concoct increasingly absurd legends.