Thursday, November 20, 2014

the 'inclusion' racket

For whatever reasons, I seem to have circled back to the old aspect that might roughly be described as "inclusion in Zen Buddhism." How come there are not more minorities, more women, more poor people, less educated -- more people who are not a bunch of middle-class white guys and gals with too much time on their hands? The question, usually stated less baldly, can really bring on a case of social discomfort: Doesn't the kindliness of Buddhism mean that I should exert myself and my practice (however wobbly it is these days) to put a more palatable welcome mat out in front of Zen Buddhism's door?

My answer is no.

This doesn't mean I haven't tried the techniques of tacking on psychology or social action or even hugging teddy bears as a means of inducing others to try what I consider a very good tool in anyone's battle against uncertainties or attempt to find a bit of peace in this lifetime. As I look back, I see this as a thinly-veiled acceptance of the Christian culture in which I live -- a Christianity that encourages its participants to sell the Tupperware of 'the one true faith.' Oh yes, it may be much subtler and more accepting and better dressed in Buddhist terms, but it's pretty much the same shit on a different day.

I have nothing against psychology or philosophy or social action. They can be very good tools. But individual lives are not credibly eased in these realms, and so I maintain some doubt that Zen should be dressed up in such clothes as a means of sucking outsiders in and seeming to make Zen more "inclusive" or, on a personal level, somehow better.

Zen, to my mind, is inclusive, but it is not inclusive because anyone says so or offers a cozy potluck supper on Saturday. To suggest otherwise is to set up a barrier where the object of Buddhism is to clarify if not remove all barriers. Naturally, a little social intercourse is part of the spectrum but imposing a feels-good inclusiveness can really screw the pooch over the long haul.

It is one thing to speak your piece and quite another to imagine others need convincing.

Bottom line, as best I can figure it: Trust the suffering. Selling blue sky when the sky is blue hardly seems sensible, not least because it doesn't work and those whose relief and release are the point are more likely to miss the point ... or not.

As New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel (or maybe it was catcher Yogi Berra) said: "If people won't come out to the ballpark, you can't stop them."


  1. "If people won't come out to the ballpark, you can't stop them."

    It was one of them, what a coincidence reading this and today I gave the Camus lectures (Sisyphus) another working over.
    Absurdity cannot be directed like a film and neither can suffering, But you can try your best to avoid layers of layers of it being thrown your way and you don't have to be a Japanese Zen Master ( he knew ) to see which way will the absurdity land once your hit.

  2. The rich prefer money to peace. The poor want to hear that it was all worth it somehow, not another job to do.