Cutting Through the Glass to Touch The Moon: Materialism and The Decline of the Dharma

Stained. Stained are the halls and shrines of Western Buddhism with worldly dusts and the material decay that comes with it. So obsessed with their material circumstances, their material fortunes which have been gained with deceit and fraud, they forget the modesty that came with grass huts, torn robes and begging bowls, and instead take up rent in the hearts of noisy urban centers, and charge laypeople an admission like learning the Dharma is some sort of attraction. This modesty which has been forgotten, in Modern Buddhism, is key to understanding the True Dharma however, for this modesty is the truest form of both Wisdom and Compassion, which are the founding blocks for all true Buddhist teachings, and are interchangeable and one; Wisdom is Compassion and Compassion is Wisdom, they cannot exist without the other, true wisdom is always compassionate, and true compassion is always wise.

Crowded are the Meditation Halls

with chairs that offer comfort at a cost

when Bhiksuni and Bhikku of kalpas past

would of smiled for a seat on some dirt floor

with the sound of running water, not an air-conditioner

to help guide in their meditation

The West however adores the idea of “easternizing” itself while staying primarily western and Western Buddhism is no exception. Supposed sacred sites and Buddhist centers go up in buildings fit for businesses, not devotion, and then operate as businesses, selling to those who are genuine in their want of learning the Dharma, a watered down, westernized sham, that can be marketed and sold as such: (Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Meditation, Vispassana, Pure Land, Thai etc.) like they were merely individual products or commodities, and completely separate, never containing even an ounce of similarity, let alone an identical origin, The Buddha himself, and the Dharma that he shared.

In Western Buddhism, while Wisdom and Compassion may be taught, its right practice is not. Compassion is only practiced if it offers a good public relations image, or can be sensationalized in some way, likewise Wisdom is only honored when books or online lectures can be pumped out and sold that can backup just how “wise” a piece of paper can make one by measuring it with economic profit. True Practice is diverted in favor of a pat on the head for meditating and book titles that contain pretty words like “tranquility” and “peace” which form in certain states of mind, into material things, that cloud ones perception of what the Dharma is all about. Wisdom and Compassion leave the realm of practice and subjectivity, and enter into the realm of theory and objectivity, where only the old unpronounceable names to western tongues of old Dharma Masters and Enlightened Beings who were able to practice both Compassion and Wisdom. Western Buddhism has become a hobby, a pastime, an aesthetic and an art decor. Faith and True Entrusting in the Dharma, which means not only to believe in the teachings of Buddha, but to practice those teachings, has become a bourgeois fetish, and an elitist commodity, only worthy of a mention when one is forming an identity of oneself, an ego, and collecting material goods based around this created ego.

So yoga studios and dental offices, all across the west fill up with Buddhist statues that people don’t know the name of, or story behind, let alone how to practice and venerate it properly, all to fit a certain image or identity: they wish to be “tranquil”, they wish to offer “peace” etc. Likewise interior designers, furniture makers, landscapers have landed on the gold of selling anything remotely “eastern” or “minimalist” in aesthetic, as “Zen”, often times incorporating Buddhist iconography, even modernizing it and commercializing it, all to market off of the Dharma. Now a question arises, well has the Dharma succeeded in its growth and flowering in the west? No, Mu. It has only succeeded in speeding up the Dharma Ending Age by spreading ignorance and intolerance, rather then Wisdom and Compassion. However there is a hope, and that hope is in those who take up the practice of Wisdom and Compassion, and who understand or come to understand their totality and oneness, as being the Truest Dharma, when one can do that, their practice will be unhindered and they will reach Buddhahood, even in this Dharma Ending Age.

Cutting through the glass to touch the moon-

I wonder if Mahakasyapa would break his smile

maybe even laugh at the thought

of zen being some kind of household decoration

or would he continue just to watch the Buddha spin

the flower, counting and then uncounting every twirl

not hearing, but listening to all


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