Stupid Bodhisattvas and fucking Arahants.

David "Bodhisattva" Byrne thinks all bitchy monks should shut the fuck up. DB never said this but he could be a bodhisattva. HE IS AWESOME!!!

Man.  Don’t mess with David Byrne….

Over at the New Heretics, the son of a pastor described this interaction at a Thiền Buddhist Temple…

I mentioned some of my Theravada experiences/training; which they kept on referring to it as Hinayana (lesser vehicle) and made it clear (through some mocking and jokes) that they held little respect for that school. That bothered me a bit, but I figured that nobody is perfect and it is to be expected from a very traditional Mahayana sect.

I wouldn’t expect this from any Mahayana sect but I would expect it from some very dip-shitty (yes, it is a word) monks that falsely believe that they are bodhisattvas.  Anyone who would degrade another practice and scoff at meditating probably needs a little mat time (or, at very least, some mantra-time).  This exemplifies one of those silly debates between practitioners of the Theravadan vehicle and the Mahayanan Buddhists that has always annoyed me.  Both vehicles glorify two different ideals – the Theravadan place an emphasis on becoming an Arahant while Mahayana places its emphasis on becoming a bodhisattva.

Both of these goal are perfectly legitimate and I would love to claim that I was either (But I am not). Unfortunately individuals take these paths and mistakenly think that they have already achieved their goals by simple puting on the right shoes.  I liken the arahantship or becoming a bodhisattva to, as a child, wishing to become the President or an astronaut.  Both these goals are achievable (not likely, but achievable) and both of these goals have a path(s) that will lead to success.

However, the chances of us becoming either an astronaut or the President are highly, fucking unlikely.  However, snake oil salesmen like Eckhart Tolle or Adyashanti will swear over their accomplishments and enlightenment.  They are the Dr. Phils of the Buddhist world – Full of shit but willing to spoon feed you what they have to spare.

These are ideals.  You should not or cannot expect to achieve either of these (Arahantship or Bodhisattva) because some dipshit says that they are one or that you can be one if you do what they say.  The moment that you say you have achieved that goal is the moment that you are the crazy guy on the subway that says he has been to the moon…don’t be that guy.

Just like David Byrne from the Talking Heads said – “We’re on the road to nowhere” so don’t expect it to lead anywhere.  Just walk it and enjoy the ride.  And don’t buy any snake-oil while you’re walking.  It only slows you down.

Cheers,

John

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14 thoughts on “Stupid Bodhisattvas and fucking Arahants.

  1. Hey John. I was with up to the Eckhart Tolle hate. What’s up with that, man?

    I’m really dissappointed in any Buddhist monks who treat those of other tradtions like that. My own temple currently hosts a Theravadan and has hosted many other in the past. The monastic who is “our” Monk, meaning the one who’s a native English speaker and spends much of his time with the English group, spent time in a Zen temple and was ordained by an altogether different sect of the Mahayana tradition.

    I ahven’t encountered this sort of sectatianism but it’s especially troubling for for monastics to act in this manner.

    • Yeah….well. The Eckhart Tolle thing (I don’t “hate” him) irks me in a why that is probably not (as termed by a Buddhist friend) “healthy”. I will probably eventually get over it. But for now, I really hate the overblown marketing bullshit that follows him like a tail on a cow.

      That being said. I don’t view him as wrong for anyone other than myself. If people gain from his teachings then great.

      Self marketers of enlightenment and organizational buddhism (dogma over actual teachings) irk me. They are two extremes on the same spectrum.

      And he does look like a turtle…

      Cheers,

      John

  2. Hi John,

    just discovered your blog through The Zen Community and wow, this was truly a pleasant surprise. You seem to be honest guy, respect!

    I agree with you that Bodhisattva and Arahant are just ideals. But I think ideals can be also very important for our path but if we’re thinking them to be “real”, then we’re creating more delusions and then ideals can be really dangerous like we have seen what has happened in religions (Satan said kill kill). Like the Precepts (Bodhisattva Vows) that I have took, they are just guidelines to help and support my path; they’re not spiritual truths or they’re not don’t do this/don’t do that- stuff. They are guidelines and the idea of Bodhisattva attitude is to me only a nice idea of having a attitude of respecting and helping others, trying to do the best I can and to learn from my mistakes, to be more a nice guy than an asshole; it’s not idealistic attitude but realistic attitude. Sometimes I am an asshole but I’m learning. I think that’s the way of Bodhisattva. But because I’m not interested of any idealistic stuff like enlightenment or anything like that, I have always found the Buddhist sect bashing to be little funny and sad. Man, what is wrong with the people who are arguing like little kids “my Dad is better than your Dad”. Maybe I am little cocky, but if those monks etc. who are fighting against others, would have practiced like they should practice, like their teacher or like Buddha taught, there wouldn’t be any sect bashing parties. Arahant, Bodhisattva, I don’t care.

    Thank you for your writings, they’re really fresh and sincere! I added your blog to my blog roll because I want to know what you’re writing. Really good stuff you have!

    Peace,
    Uku

    • Thanks for the compliments and your inputs. I agree 100%. I try to be honest with and about myself and my views in this blog. Too often bloggers (especially spiritual ones) but on a rosy mask (something like a glamour shot at the Mall) so that everyone thinks that they are happy and complete and beautiful.

      I am those things sometimes and at other times the exact opposite and I try to put it all out there for people to see and judge on their own terms.

      Hope to see you here again!

      Cheers,

      John

  3. You know, from what I have studied before there were these two traditions at each other, a Bodhisattva was simply a proper follower along the path and a Hinayana was someone who was following the path, but with impure motives. It seems ridiculous to me that one day one school of thought woke up and pointed to the other and states “Yes, and we are the one and you are the other.”

    • I agree with the fact that one day “someone” made that distinction. From conversations with deeper practitioners than myself, many monks back in the day would study with different sects for what each sect had over the others to, hopefully, grasp a greater understanding of Buddhism. Thus a Zen monk would study in a Theravadan monastery or vica versa. Theravadan side by side with Mahayanan monks. Conservative and liberal.

      My understanding (flawed that it probably is) is that Hinayana was a designation created by Mahayana sects to denigrate that particular vehicle. I appreciate your input on the etymology.

      Thanks for your comment,

      John

  4. great post, very entertaining! A lot of it rings true with my experience. Though I occasionally get a little bit hoodwinked by the pop-spirituality kinds of books, the only thing that has really worked (whatevr that means..you know) is sitting.
    my teacher is really caring, doesn’t show off his attainments, but isn’t afraid to tell you how to meditate, and when you might be doing something wrong. (wrong in this case being hindering your path to arahatship.)
    about the Theravadan path to arahatship, though.. There are other levels along the way that are life-changing attainments. Like becoming an anagami, or a stream-enterer. It’s not like you’ve failed if you don’t become an arahat. I’m sure it’s the same with the Mahayana path.. you don’t have to reach some pot of gold for it to be a beneficial practice.
    anyway I know what you’re saying, and I wouldn’t trust anyone who claims to be an arahat! 🙂

  5. Yeah there are a lot of shysters out there willing to make a buck off people looking for instant enlightenment — just add money!! I admire most monks until they give me a reason not to. Then again I also have a past of defying authority. Well, let me rephrase that. I don’t mind obeying as long as it makes sense to me but I’m not into the master/slave mindset that unfortunately some monks and students fall into.

  6. Hi John,

    You know I find your blog really interesting and that you have some great things to say, but I’m very uncomfortable with this post.

    It’s not just your use of uncredited images (or perhaps did you take that cool photo of David Byrne?), I recognise that using other people’s photos without giving them any credit is common on many, even Buddhist, blogs..

    …it’s also the words you put into David Byrn’s mouth.

    The caption to “your” photo says:

    “David “Bodhisattva” Byrne thinks all bitchy monks should shut the fuck up.”

    Did he really say this?

    I know you might think that this is also nit-picking, but if I were Byrne or his representatives, I might think it is both theft (of the image, assuming their is a copyright on it) and some kind of misrepresentation.

    Not to mention the foul language.

    Is there a slide here towards a kind or squirrel-themed blog (you know what I mean) in which delight is taken in precept-breaking?

    Okay, now you can tell me I’m a pompous git, and so much for my not engaging in on-line debates anymore! But, believe me, this comment is meant as constructive feedback and not outright attack.

    And, of course, I’ve always loved David Byrne!

    All the best,

    Marcus

    • Its been awhile Marcus! Good to see you again. I won’t call you a pompous git because you are being honest.

      I love David Byrne! I don’t think anyone out there actually thinks that David Byrne said the words on the caption. Seriously, I don’t. It is almost (but not completely) unbelievable. Now if I stated “David Byrne is a buddhist” or quoted a source…then maybe.

      I rightfull stole the timage from another blog that stole and image. Usually, I use open source images or ones that I took myself. I was rushed in this case (see post about Nazis) and a little ummmm…angry.

      If Byrne’s representatives tell me to correct this, I would, and then ask for an autograph.

      I curse in this blog occassionally when it feels right. No sliding towards squirrel themed blogs. Although check out Kyle’s other blog “Zen River” in my sidebar. Completely curse (but not squirrel) free.

      Hehe…precept-breaking, funny. Some changes in my life brother…check the side-bar and the book I’m reading.

      BTW “Road to Nowhere” was my wedding song and “stay up late” was playing at the birth of my daughter. I almost think that Byrne is a bodhisattva! I also think he would appreciate my humor but…one never knows!

      Thanks for your comments and don’t worry about me thinking you are attacking me. Just say what you feel.

      Cheers,

      John

      • Hi,

        “Road to Nowhere” was my wedding song and “stay up late” was playing at the birth of my daughter.

        That is so funny and brilliant! LOL!

        I almost think that Byrne is a bodhisattva!

        And I’d agree with you there!

        I also think he would appreciate my humor…

        I suspect that, again, you are right!

        All the best and thanks again for a great blog!

        Marcus

  7. Oh, and regarding the substance of the post….

    ….I’ve spent the last ten years back and forth between Korea and Thailand, and never once heard any monk in either tradition disparage the Sangha in the other tradition.

    In fact, quite the opposite. I can honestly say that – in my experience in Asia – the experience described by The New Heretics blog is most certainly not at all typical.

    • That is my understanding too. But, unfortunately, some monks are better than others. Some people forget that even “holy” men can suck at their jobs!

      Thanks Marcus!

      John

  8. “Is there a slide here towards a kind or squirrel-themed blog (you know what I mean) in which delight is taken in precept-breaking?”

    Really Marcus, you really want to go there? BTW Jack was edgy way before I was. I think this deserves its own post…..

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