A Comfortable Doctrine

 by Minna vander Pfaltz

I have a friend who fancies herself a Buddhist. She knows I am a Buddhist well-founded on history and writings, which modern American Buddhists shun, believing that reading is not practice. This, despite the writing of the sutras, which they hold in such awe that they see them, Mahayana, as a school of Buddhism. It is not. It is a mass, most untranslated, of esoteric and exegetical writings that all schools of Buddhism read and utilize in their practice. Another way of putting it is that Mahayana “is neither a Vinaya tradition or a doctrinal school. It is rather a vision or aspiration, and an understanding of what the final concern should be for all Buddhists (Paul Williams, Buddhist Thought, pp. 112-113) [There are only five schools of Buddhism: Sarvastivada or Vaibhasika; Sautrantika; Theraveda; and Pudgalavada. I am a Pudgalavadan.]

Anyway, this woman invited me to a meeting of her group of Buddhists to chant. That is what they do, chant. Or so they call it. I found it to be shouting out a memorized bit from the Lotus Sutra–and in none too cohesive, unanimous or rhythmic a manner. They do this three times for very short periods, perhaps 2-3 minutes. This, to me, is not chanting. Chanting is a means to an end, the end being meditation, the proper mind for meditation. They, in fact, do not meditate.

This group, a tight knit, small group, calls itself Nichiren Buddhist. It is, in fact, something else.

Nichiren Buddhism is not given much shrift by other Buddhists. To begin with, Nichiren and his followers were violently aggressive. This is not part of the canon of Buddhism. Worse, perhaps, is that Nichiren Buddhism is the only sect of Buddhism that is named after an individual. How egotistical. How egomanic. How egocentric. And how very un-Buddhist. One of the major tenets of Buddhism, as translated in the 19th century, is no-self. Well, no self, no life. No self means death. A better, more accurate translation would be no-ego, for it is the ego that brings on suffering via its illusion of what you are, the illusion of your self, often enough of a Dunning-Kruger sort: an unrealistic vision of your self. It is this illusion that creates suffering and must be bypassed. Ergo, Nichiren had not attained any clear understanding of Buddhism nor had he managed to rid himself of his ego. How can he lead a sect of Buddhism when he has not managed to gain mastery over his ego, his illusion of reality, his illusion of his self?

A second problem is that Nichiren Buddhism teaches only one sutra, the Lotus Sutra. As if there is no other sutra or interpretation of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. There are hundreds translated and thousands untranslated. To only see one exegetical teaching is not only philosophically vacuous, it is as limiting as people who burn books.

So, one is able to maintain that Nichiren Buddhism is not, in fact, Buddhism. It is illusion. This is beyond comprehension to Nichiren’s followers, for their practice makes them feel happy. This, happiness, is taught as the major effect of proper practice. This is not the happiness that any other Buddhist school teaches; this is the happiness of ego, as in “I feel happy and good when I do something for someone else.” (One of these people actually said this to me as if this were the end all and be all of Buddhist goodness and virtue.) Oh puke! That’s not giving or doing for anyone but yourself.

Buddhist happiness begins in mind and it surpasses the sensual. Nichiren’s followers like to feel good, feel good about themselves; this makes them happy. So, I ask you, what have they gained or learned? Happiness for Buddhists is the arising of the Awakened Ones; it is the gaining of wisdom; it is not doing evil. You can only attain happiness by following The Eightfold Path and being mindful of The Four Noble Truths.

When I sat in with this group, I asked about The Noble Eightfold Path. No one knew–and, indeed, blew it off. Far too difficult a thing to deal with. This is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths, which no one knew of. In fact, they told me that since Nichiren had studied for 20 years there is no need for them to study as he and his followers were teaching them his learning. There will never be enlightenment of any kind, here because imitation is not knowledge. Certainly not self-knowledge, which is one of the things that meditation gets you. But they don’t meditate.

However, there is a cultural element to “20 years” that Westerners completely miss. Amazingly, every Buddhist teacher in Japan studied in China for 20 years. I know of only one for whom this is historically accurate and documented (Kūkai). For everyone else, “20 years” means “for a long time” or “for the appropriate length of time” and can imply gaining insight and understanding. From this, there is nothing “20 years” about Nichiren. The fact that his followers are not interested in learning anything other than his egomanic dogma is a sign of. . .I’m not sure of the word—delusion?

Things get worse in the history these people are fed. In its partial truth, it is no more than propaganda. Somewhere around the beginning of WWII hostilities in Japan (1937 with the invasion of China), Nichiren Buddhism split and a new wing was established, Sōka Gakkai. Sōka Gakkai is not Buddhism. But Sōka Gakkai utilizes Buddhism, Nichiren Buddhism, to gain its ends–or, rather, to hide ever so transparently its true path. Sōka Gakkai is political. Sōka Gakkai is not well-liked by the people because of its political aspirations; they remember the State religion that led to the atrocities of WWII. As well they should. Any state religion is tyrannical and intolerant and prone to atrocities. It is the natural outcome of fascist organizations and thinking, given that any organization that maintains “my way is the only way” is fascist. This is, indeed, what Fascism teaches: my way is the only way, my way is the right way, my way is the best way. That means, everything else is wrong and what is wrong and heretical must be gotten rid of.

Even more telling is that the leader of Sōka Gakkai is called its President. He is, in fact, a businessman, as his predecessors were. A very rich businessman who flies around the world in his private jet. He knows nothing of Buddhism. He has had no training in Buddhism. Ergo, Sōka Gakkai is fake Buddhism.

When this is pointed out to followers, they deny it. They say it isn’t true. They say it doesn’t matter. They say they are happy. What could be more better? Well, even in the degradation of the West, even in the decadence of the West, it is known that happiness is fleeting; that happiness is not an end to be sought for it begets only unhappiness (suffering). As in, what if you don’t gain happiness no matter what you do? As in, once you’ve got it what’s left for you? This happiness is illusion. It is ego blowing its own horn. How long can you blow? You can never stop or you are no longer happy.

And, so, I remain appalled by these people and wish I could get my friend away from this crowd. She—and they—have no idea of the propaganda because they have bought it lock, stock and barrel. They have study sessions and inspirational speakers (not; they’re actually pretty boring, simply repeating, repeating, repeating the happiness mantra) just like cells or cults so that they know what is right and that what is right is feeling good about themselves, feeling happy. As if to say, no matter what happens as long as I am happy everything’s cool. This makes me shiver.

The proverbial garden path.

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Some Ridiculous Things

Some Ridiculous Things

People believing Trump actually speaks sense. As far back as the 12th century–my memory falters–Trump’s kind of socio-political agenda created havoc, more often than not via The Church, but in Japan long-lasting civil wars were the result. What’s in it for the US?

The fact that Christians should actually be expected to stand up for something and, then, do something. If it’s not status quo, why bother, eh? We’re comfortable.

The FBI collecting data on police shootings. As if they’ve not been. But what’s really up, for they don’t have the slightest idea of what they’re looking. They live in a history of preconceived ideas of everything about crime and criminals. If we don’t like it, it’s wrong. Jah! Vee don’t neet no edyucashun! Heil Hoober! Who cares vat ju tink. Vee got dis vun, Schatsie.

Home of the Brave. Land of the Free.

Chipotle in crisis? Anyone interested in conspiracy by a competitor? There is no connection between Boston and the State of Washington. Chipotle is not McD’s any more. If they’re doing anything wrong, outside of succeeding, that other food chains are also doing wrong. . .they’re doing it better.

A Saudi woman, who will probably find herself stoned, maintains that, yes, women may run for office but. . .they cannot drive to the polls. Mah, goo’niss! Don’t this soun’ lahk blacks kin vote, they jest cain’t afford the registration fee? Y’all got a problem with that?

The psychiatric establishment has linked marijuana to terr’ism! Rise up, y’all! Hallelujah! The drug crazed psychiatric community has the answer via dangerous, life-threatening drugs and then says marijuana is dangerous? Om, Freud. Om, James. Om, Skinner. Om, shit.

People. In general. Which amounts to just about everyone. Generally speaking.

Christianity is under attack.

The NRA.

Incomprehensibilities

Incomprehensibilities

Medical practices that evaluate whether they will allow someone to be a patient.

Christians who twist their souls into knots about accepting or not refugees (in this case). I’m sure such an ideological dislocation exists with other people, in other situations.

Buddhists who do nothing to help people but, yet, hold Bodhisattvas in high esteem.

Luddites who use technology while damning it.

The image I see in the mirror. The face I comprehend but my mind still sees me as thin beyond measure but the mirror image I see is fat. Skinny arms and legs, gorilla belly. This being and percepting are incomprehensible to me. I also do not understand why I’m so old. Surely I was given the wrong body when these were handed out.

Why people accept–why media airs!–reporters who comment on and opine in the most graphic, negative manner about incidents. . .and then say they were not there. The instance to mind is the attacks on the two blacks at a Trump rally by the whites in the all-but-two white crowd. Even while the video was rolling showing the two Black Lives Matter blacks doing nothing but being set upon, beaten and kicked and corralled so they could not escape, the on-air reporter classed these two as nothing more than thugs, rabble rousers and troublemakers who deserved what they got. Overtly racist. And spouting the same language, the same rhetoric used during the early portion of Hitler’s Cancellorship when Jew-baiting and Jew-beating was beginning. It is not only incomprehensible that such vituperative, racist sentiments be aired on TV but that the audience would choose to believe what they are told rather than what they see. And then, by-the-by, “I was not there.” A stage throw-away line that will, indeed, be thrown away by the audience.

As Lucy Liu’s pineapple-heiress’s boyfriend says when she stands before him and his two girlfriends in bed with a gun, “You gonna believe what I tell ya or what ya see?” She killed ’em all. Present-day American audiences choose to believe what they are told, fuck what they see.

I remember the I-was-there novels; CNN and Fox are beginning the TV equivalent I-was-not-there novels. Great stuff.

Isis in Paris

Not likely. This was far too well-planned, far too intricate and involved much more time than ISIS is interested in spending on anything. But we, the US, Britain and France want it to be ISIS. Especially the US. We need more fear and aggression so our military behind-the-throne rulers can lobby for more money, more killing, more chaos.

One Syrian, so far. So, now, all Syrians are terrorists. All Syrian refugees are terrorists. All injuns is bad too. All nigs is less than human. All Chinks and Nips are sly and cunning, super intelligent and bucktoothed. All Krauts are Nazis/Fascists. All wetbacks are lazy and greasy. All Polaks are dumb plumbers. All Russkies are uncivilized communists. Only America is great and wonderful. Mostly, white rich America.

But all America is immigrant. Some of us undocumented and what would now be called illegal. We’ve done a good job of killing off of the original Americans and hatefully treating immigrants that came after us.

ISIS is no threat at all. No Navy. No Air Force. No heavy land materiel. A few hundred thousand men who once held territory about the size of Indiana in an area where everyone hates them. Even the Arabs hate ’em and they love terrorists. The Arabs sent us the 911 bombers.

The US has lost any sense of identity and so we create enemies and give them ideals of hate that they probably don’t have and call the result a personality, a character. The US has no face to keep. My country, with so much potential has blown this all to hell by its mindless, thoughtless behavior. America has become an easy target for hating.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Paris debacle. Well, of course! Look at all the publicity they’re getting? Now they are really on the map!

Fucking wake up people!!

Lawrence, Kansas: The Rich Heritage

Lawrence has seen growth in the past, outside of the usual population growth, that is, houses. All such imposed growth projects have, to be kind, turned sour. All have involved one or all of a rich people’s consortium.

Let us start with North Lawrence.

North Lawrence is a working class area, a much maligned area in this town of rampant classism. In the 1990s, at the entrance-exit for I-70 on N. 3rd St., a shopping mall was built. Tanger Mall, Tanger Factory Outlet Centre. Tanger is an out-of-state company. And Tanger did absolutely no demographic study, for they opened a mall with nothing that would appeal to the people of North Lawrence or that they could afford. Indeed, people from Lawrence itself, south of the river, would not bother themselves to travel miles into and through unacceptable territory to get to what they could, in fact, access at the south end of town along Iowa St. and on K-10 through town, W. 23rd St. The Mall did not perform well and it was sold to a local consortium in 2000.

What the North Lawrence neighborhood most needed was a grocery store; this was not forthcoming. What they got from Atlanta’s Tanger family was a low-priced bookstore that was, in fact, not so low-priced and stocked with books that were of interest to south of the river residents; even I thought this store’s prices rather high. A pricey cosmetics outlet. Regularly priced clothing stores but no work clothes, leather goods stores; handbags were sold, too. No restaurants were forthcoming.

After the Mall was sold, Burger King put up a stand across the street. And appropriate strip malls were built all along N. 3rd St. with repair shops, multiple restaurants and a Dollar General that has done a smashing business. The Tanger Mall now houses DMV licensing, a State Police office—even the test prep centre failed. Many store fronts stand empty. Scotch Fabric Dry Cleaners rents a large store property every winter and gives winter clothing to the poor and needy.

There are, in fact, many such in Lawrence—and not limited to North Lawrence or even East Lawrence, another much misaligned section of the city. The deterioration of the Federal job situation has been exacerbated by the debacle-making programs of Kansas’ governor, Sam Brownback, making of a thriving town filled to the gills with students, a place of growing poverty where housing is much less than “limited” and the homeless become more numerous and filled to the gills with students, albeit the only Indian University in the country is not to counted.

The working and poorer classes still do not visit Tanger Mall except, perhaps, to get their driver’s licenses. There is nothing there for them. So, not only a loss for Atlanta Tanger, a loss for the rich consortium that bought it. But, hey, they have a vision. And the city collects taxes.

At this point, it might appear that the City Planners and their rich consortium buddies are not very successful or, for that matter, not too far-sighted. And you would not be wrong.

In the 1990s, the Riverside Outlet Mall was built. Fast food restaurants, a discount bookstore, clothing outlets, a few non-retail offices. Right along the Kansas (or Kaw) River at the north end of historic downtown, east of the Bowersock Dam and right at the point where Bald Eagles come to nest in season. For this latter, the riverside walk is closed to visitors, though bird fanciers with cameras flock to the area. A huge bi-level parking area was built up on street level. Yet success was short-lived and the stores closed. A test prep centre died a timely death, as did a telephone answering centre and, more recently—as in a month ago—the downtown Marriott Inn vacated the premises.

Down on the lowest level with entry from the lower parking lot off E. 7th St. is the Heartland Medical Practice, a God-centred practice with ties to the local Community Mental Health Centre, Bert Nash, that serves the poor with Behaviorist and drug therapies but doesn’t do a good job with the homeless or poverty stricken without insurance. WOW!, the horribly expensive and indolent Internet purveyor, is on the top floor. Not enough character-mauling comments can be made about WOW!’s CEO and the company’s offerings. Demograpics are here, again, of no interest at all to the capitalist mentality that only sees resources and profits upon profits, while the poor and the retired are put in the position of choosing food over medicine or vice versa; for, to find jobs any more, the Internet is necessary. And even then, people must spend money traveling back and forth to make interviews.

The Riverside Outlet Mall did not meet expectations. That is, yet another jaded enterprise by the monied consortium, together or individually.

The reason for moving the 9th & New Hampshire bus centre was precipitated by the building, still in progress, of monstrous block buildings reminiscent of 19th century Industrial Revolution architecture in an attempt, we are told, to make Lawrence into a big city, big cities having tall buildings. An apartment-business structure, the new Marriott Inn and an as yet unfinished block-long monstrosity take up three corners; the fourth is doctor’s offices, lawyer’s offices and local businesses, including a coffee shop and a bar, The Bourgeois Pig, that are well-attended and have been for years.

The idea of Lawrence as a big city is ludicrous enough without the old-fashioned, out-of-date architectural vision. The reason for tall buildings was a lack of space on the ground. Thus, with viciously high prices for earthbound expansion and, in fact, a lack of ground, there was only one way to go: up. But Lawrence is not a big city, nor will it ever be. There is little to no industry in Lawrence. There is little in the way of interstate much less intrastate business enacted here, outside of KU basketball. The only big town in Kansas is Wichita, in the south central area of the state not far north of the Oklahoma border, about 50 miles, and about 300 miles from Lawrence.

Topeka, the capital of Kansas, failed as a modern big city: it’s downtown area is more or less a ghost town. Kansas City, KS is bigger than Lawrence; but it is a bedroom community, most people crossing the river for work in Kansas City, MO, the famous Kansas City. It has tall buildings, albeit not many. Lawrence is only 30-40 miles from Kansas City, both KS and MO. There is no need of another big city in the area. There is, in fact, nothing to warrant Lawrence becoming a big city. For this to happen, there would need to be a major revamping of the RR stations, only one of which is used and passenger service only occurs in the wee hrs of the morning, twice, once from east, once from west. And the Greyhound bus station is a gas station out of W. 6th St., visited only once or twice a day and always headed to KC. That is, for instance, if you want to go to Salt Lake City, you must first go to KC and wait four hours or so to catch a bus going north or south before making a connection to get you, days down the road, to Salt Lake City. That is to say, there is no interstate connected travel in Kansas, much less Lawrence.

So, what is to happen to the unfinished old-fashioned building at 9th & New Hampshire? As it is, getting to and from the Marriott Inn which does big business at the beginning and end of the school year and during sports season, is not easy. Narrow streets and stop signs at every corner. . .and no directional signs.

Earlier this 21st century, the rich man’s business consortium destroyed shops up on the hill (The Hill = KU) and a dormitory in order to put in a high class hotel. This is filled only at the same times the Marriott Inn is filled. As not enough income was being generated, these rich investors managed to get pushed through a measure that allowed them to circumvent the law regarding tailgating on public streets: an entire block of Indiana St. is now cordoned off for home sports games so that tailgating income can be generated for the owners, nothing for the city. The private family owned housing across from the hotel be damned. That is, this high end hotel investment went sour, as the Tanger Mall and the Riverside Mall did.

Now that a K-10 bypass around Lawrence has been all but completed, these same rich guys want to build a strip mall at the southern city border in the name of garnering more income, more for themselves than for the city, of course. The reason for a highway bypass is to bypass business concerns and quickly get to the other side of town. So, why yet another strip mall? Is anyone thinking here? If so, only of dollar signs—and who cares if it sours? R. L. Stevenson wrote a good novel that illustrates this point, though it is perhaps more apt for the oil industry: The Wrecker. A wrecked business is worth more than the good business; the wrecking is built into the design.

One wonders what will happen next in historical, pleasant almost to a park Lawrence. Of course, the park-like atmosphere of Lawrence ends at W. 23rd St. where strip mall mid-America begins and proceeds west at the intersection with Iowa St. before growing exponentially south. Shopping, shopping, shopping.

Oh! But even worse is coming!

The problem with WordPress

I am registered as Minna vaner Pfaltz, my pseudonym. I have a direct link to this wordpress account. But I am told, upon opening this site/page, that I am NOT Minna vander Pfaltz. Not only that but, upon opening my site, I find several posts from whoeverthefuck, articles I and Minna find utterly repulsive. But who to complain to?  Jeff the Happiness Enervator (I take liberties here) is not in the last interested because WordPress is never wrong. It cannot be. Anyone with half a brain could follow the given e-mail and find that, well duh!, it belongs to Jimsecor. What the hell is going on here? I’m sure that whoeverthehell posted to MY site has no idea where the title came from or what it means. How the hell did this happen?

This is my site. Mine and Minna vander Pfaltz’s. It does not belong to these other anatomic excretive valves. Yet they can post here and I cannot. (I went around the block to manage this.) I am told this is not my site and I must exit the program and enter via whateverthehell WordPress wants me to, though WordPress does not say just what it is I’m supposed to re-enter under. . . since I don’t exist and did not establish this page, though I can prove it.

Homer Simpson at his airhead blonde sorority sister cheerleader valley girl best has more sense.

Minna vander Pfaltz and James L. Secor