Take Meditation Back From the Pussy-Brigade

When I was around 16 I started meditating seriously. I never drank in high school or through the first part of college because it was against the precepts of a serious meditator (as I learned them from reading dozens of books about Buddhism, both pop-zen books and “the hard stuff” like the Lotus Sutra or the Gateless Gate).

For a while I went to a Zen Temple twice a week, in addition to meditating at home every morning and every night.

So my point is, I was fucking serious about this stuff. As a result, I made some very rapid gains in terms of concentration and insight, which I can still tap into to this day.

However, at the same time as I was making these spiritual strides — gaining real, if perhaps only novice, insights into the nature of the universe — I was also deep, deep in the blue pill world. I was a self-professed feminist. I believed the crap taught in school and the media about white people being uniquely awful. I actually said stuff like “people who drive gas-guzzling cars are morally no different than the people who ran the concentration camps.” I was a vegetarian.

God, I cringe to remember this crap now — luckily I rarely said stuff that extreme. And despite how pissy and bitchy that description probably makes me sound, I was actually quite fun, social, athletic and outgoing during this time. I did better with girls than almost anyone else I knew, and didn’t think it was a big deal. So I think I was basically a cool dude (I’m sure not everyone would agree, but whatever). But my whole intellectual structure was deeply delusional and blue-pill.

Almost all of the books written by Westerners about Eastern philosophy I read were either implicitly leftist, or explicitly so. This is also when the cult of the Dalai Lama was at its height (still going strong today, but back then you’d see quotes and pictures of him seemingly everywhere). I call these books “pop Zen”. Some of them were quite good, to be fair, but there was always this general patina of mealy-mouthed pussiness about them.

You see, I wanted to learn deeper states of concentration and insight because I wanted to look into the structure of reality and understand it, and to give away any illusions I had. That’s the original, hardcore goal of all the great, core meditation schools from India, China, Japan and elsewhere.

Part of this process, in Buddhism at least, is to live morally and to generate feelings of goodwill towards all beings. But this is done because it tends to foster a nice, clean, unworried mind that can then settle into a peaceful state, which is just a preliminary requirement for really hardcore, expansive, blissful, or sometimes downright trippy states of concentration and insight.

For the Pop Zen crowd though, it was almost the exact opposite: learn meditation so that you can be nice to people. Don’t be meeeeaan. Be niiiiiiiiiiiice. Western culture is so baaaaad. Learn from the wise eastern buddhas and we can all be feminists and build statues to Nelson Mandela and fly rainbow flags and… ugh.

But here’s the thing! At the time I was learning this stuff, I actually believed all that, on a surface level at least.

It is interesting to note in retrospect, that the most fascinating (and difficult) teachings to me at the time were either the few Pop Zen books that were rather agnostic in politics (and sometimes kind of harsh in tone); or the very strange old texts that I dug up in used book stores, like a Tibetan text on dream-meditation, lectures by a cruel-seeming Korean Zen Master who constantly berated his Western students, and of course the really old stuff, the original sayings of the Buddha (written down 500 years after his death, of course).

Very little in those books was about “kindness” or “equality” or “building a healthier global community.” (Actually, there was nothing in there about building healthier global communities; anyone who has this as a serious and central aim of his practice has yet to learn even the first one of the Noble Truths. But I digress.)

Flash forward.

It was in my late twenties that I first started choking down the red pill (via, like so many others, Roissy). And though I never explicitly expressed this thought to myself, I began to associate my meditative/spiritual practices with my old blue pill delusions.

In retrospect, if I ever had explicitly made this statement (“Feminism and global communitarianism are lies, therefore so are the teachings of the Buddha”), I would immediately have recognized how absurd it was to make such a connection.

But it was all going on subconsciously. I was rapidly rejecting “old stuff” and for me, old stuff included all those retarded Pop Zen books.

Well, old habits die hard, of course. And when I got particularly wound up, tight, angry, or just confused, I would still sit down to meditate from time to time. And just like always, it was a great idea. I have literally never, not one time in my life, regretted meditating. Meditation is batting 1.000, with thousands of lifetime plate appearances. Which is more than I can say for getting laid, which I have regretted once or twice the next day!

The irony here, of course, is one you can see coming. True concentration and insight meditation is about as “red pill” as you can get. It’s a slow, deliberate, even scientific method of carefully examining delusions one by one and (hopefully) gradually abandoning them over time. It has nothing to do with any political agenda, and certainly not a blue-pill one.

The other funny (and wonderful) thing is that it really does make you feel happy and loving and just generally open to the world, almost as a byproduct. More than anything (for me at least), I’d say it gives you humor. Good humor, and a sense of humor.

I can still be intense, lift weights till I’m nearly puking, stare down hipsters who disrespect me with snide remarks, caveman a girl and pull her hair in bed and slap her ass and call her Daddy’s dirty slut. I can still let myself get sort of joyously pissed off when someone cuts me off in traffic. I can still get in heated arguments over politics or sports, or whatever.

But when I’ve been practicing, I just have this sense of humor about the whole thing. Space, distance, and also presence, all at the same time. It puts a twinkle in your eye.

Anyway, if there’s anyone out there who associates meditation with the Pop Zen pussy brigade and the smug, faux-at-peace smiles they always seem to have: I encourage you to just ignore all that and give it a try for yourself.

Here are some cool books you might like:

Seung Sahn Soen Sa Nim Unpredictable, funny, and sometimes threatening Korean Zen teacher. (This guy had a “scandal” because it came out that he fucked a few of the many women who came to his lectures, none of whom had any complaints about it whatsoever.)

The Doctrine of Awakening Completely badass book about the originally elitist and austere teachings of the Buddha, by the horrible, awful, very very bad, nasty, mean, fascist, racist, naughty, wowjustwow, and problematic 20th Century übermensch, Baron Julius Evola

Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha Book by a modern Westerner who shares my distaste for “look at me” peacenik Pop Zen, and who is obviously very, very far down the path. No patience for whiners or people who don’t want to do the work.

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7 Responses to Take Meditation Back From the Pussy-Brigade

  1. K-hole says:

    Excellent post. I’m interested in meditation but I have no idea where to start. I’ve been to the Buddhist meditation group in my city (filled with aged hippies, of course) and I can’t tell if it’s worthwhile or not. Do you have any recommendations on what kind of meditation to do and how to learn it?

  2. Nice post man. I can definitely identify with wanting to leave absolutely EVERYTHING of your old self behind, and this often leads to “throwing the baby out with the bath water” just like you describe. There’s an automatic feeling of disgust towards anything you associate with the person you used to be and are trying to get away from, but then when you actually examine the belief/interest/behaviour/whatever you realize that it wasn’t actually that bad. In my own case I think it was often more “the place I was coming from” rather than the actual thing itself.

    Also agree with you on the humour bit. Before I started meditating, if some small inconvenient thing happened (spilling a drink, for example, or dropping a plate and it breaks or something like that) then I would get angry. But after meditating for a while when these things happen now I just laugh. It’s not even deliberate, it literally seems funny rather than making me angry. Just another one of the many great side effects of meditating.

    • Master Dogen says:

      Yeah, that no-man’s land between one set of ideals and another can be a real minefield. I just came across this post today: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2014/10/08/the-adjacency-fallacy/

      It’s about career options and social status, and it’s pretty long, but it’s interesting. And if you make it all the way to the last 3 or 4 paragraphs (or skip to the end), he talks about the dangers of getting trapped in that place where you doubt your old values but you no longer trust your new values or, dangerously, ANY values.

      And yeah, humor might be one of the greatest things about meditating.

  3. xsplat says:

    Amazing writing.

  4. Pingback: People Can See Inside Your Heart | Master Dogen's Hall

  5. Pingback: Do You Believe That Women Can Read Your Mind?

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