October 28, 2010

I like your Buddha. I do not like your Buddhists. They are so unlike your Buddha. ~ Marissa Faye

When Buddhism became hipster.

Three years ago I moved to Boulder and since then I have been surrounded by self-proclaimed Buddhists. I had once found Buddhism highly intriguing, some sort of mystical religion of enlightenment. And those that practiced it would be calm, understanding, peaceful, and dedicated.

I sat down for lunch at Noodles & Company on one of my first days in Boulder and a woman with a shaved head and saffron robes walked quietly by my table. I still can’t help but think of her as some sort of magical being, like she had the power to read my mind or walk across water. She was the perfect image of what I expected a Buddhist to be.

Hell, was I wrong.  I soon met many other Buddhists in Boulder: my hair dresser, my friends, my roommates, my boss, my co-workers, my neighbors, and so on. For some I have no complaint, but for most I have been disappointed.

The dharma brats.  They grew up with buddhist parents, they meditate, they practice yoga, and they think they’re the shit (though they would never admit this because they know it would be very un-buddhist of them). They judge others for judging others. And they are severely close-minded because their way is always the right way. If ever in an argument with a Buddhist the best you will get is an “agree to disagree.”

Most Buddhists I have met are over-emotional art majors. They pride themselves on how unique they are and their one-ness with nature, though most hardly venture outside the plastered walls of their living room. Every three weeks or so they will go for a hike up Chautauqua and thus call themselves “outdoorsy.”

My first roommate in Boulder ended up being quite the trip. Her Buddhist status was far from lived up to. She had enough clothes to dress three families, obsessed about the “traumatic” happenings in her life, and cried at the smallest inconvenience. But, she did yoga and her mom was a Buddhist and she called herself one… that makes her a Buddhist, right?

The next Buddhist I met could snap in an instant. Like a dog that happily licks your hand before latching onto your arm with his razor teeth.  Another Buddhist acquaintance ended up receiving large amounts of money and spending it on a snazzy car and new, expensive suits.  Even a friend of mine sported an “om” tattoo, which she happily showed off to people while getting tanked on cheap vodka every weekend.

And on elephantjournal.com, people can’t help but to comment on how wrong, demeaning, and rude other authors are (in that I-look-down-upon-you-because-I’m-better-and-enlightened tone), while being totally ignorant to how demeaning and rude they are being themselves.

I question this new generation of Buddhists. I do not mean all Buddhists. I really do believe that there are those out there who have this religion down and who are actually doing it right.  Waylon, a couple best friends of mine, and even my hairdresser, have kept the wonder of Buddhism alive to me.  I know that these people, people who really know a thing or two about the practice, are out there.

But Buddhism is now “cool.” If you want to be hip and fashionable these days all you have to do is put on some tibetan jewelry, throw a “What Would Buddha Do?” bumper sticker on the back of your new Lexus, take a free week at CorePower yoga, and change your facebook’s religious status to “Buddhist.”

Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

Can the same words now apply to Buddha and Buddhists? Will another beautiful religion soon see its demise?

Marissa Faye is a cultural explorer hailing from the far eastern lands of Sherborn, Massachusetts.

She is like a sponge—absorbing all things around her with a forever unquenched curiosity.  Often times she is hidden away in her mountain fortress, madly writing tales of fact and fiction.

A flowerchild at heart and an incurable addict of art, music, food, and the infinite explorations of life.  In her spare time she enjoys deep space exploration.

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