March 8, 2012

Junk Shops, Facebook & Spiritual Materialism.

Photo: the justified sinner

I have seen a trend in modern “New Age Spirituality.”

It has been used as forms of self help that, in my opinion, have been more damaging than helpful.

It has been of no small annoyance to me that this has become the norm of those practicing, as well as supported, rather than admonished.

However, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that society is beginning to realize this, to know that what has been happening is not what was ever intended by teachings and dharma.

This leads to this brilliant article by Canadian Soto Zen Scholar Andrew Titus on Tricycle, a blog devoted to a new way to teach Buddhism to the masses. This article came to me, like a snowball rolling downhill, and inspired an insightful discussion that I felt needed to be shared because it pertains to us all.

Having obtained the permissions of those involved I let you into our minds….

“In Buddhist terms, Facebook is most clearly seen as representing a nefarious temptation to continually assert our false sense of self and the continued objectification of those around us.” ~ Andrew Titus

Read the rest of the article here.

The recent guest post is by Andrew Titus, a Canadian Soto Zen Buddhist and an English literature professor at St. Thomas University. In his piece “What’s On Your Mind? Facebook, Suffering, and Letting Go,” he explores what the use of Facebook means to a Buddhist practitioner. In the end, let us know wh…

Andrew P. Delany: Brilliant!

Me: I am truly enjoying this new trend of true spiritual scholars attempting to correct the errors the marketed brands of spirituality have created in pursuit of the fulfillment of ego masturbation.”

Andrew P. Delany: Emptiness is form, form, emptiness!

Me: precisely. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche stated that we all begin with a beautiful white room with only one thing in it. However, because we refuse to accept that one thing as perfect, in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge, we clutter the room, making the once beautiful room a junk shop.

That is what Ram Das, Eckhart Tolle, Wayne Dwyer, Rhonda Byrne, Byron Katie, Deepak Chopra—all of them—that is what they have done to Buddhism and spirituality.

Photo: Making-Things-Better

By creating things and followers that must always come to them for further fulfillment, they have created spiritual materialists.

They have created junkyards.

Brian Fundakowski Feldman: One thing is for sure: I’m not preaching from the mount. In fact, it is exactly because I know for sure that I’ve treated Facebook this way that I’m able to come to any of these conclusions at all. I have intentionally posted statuses with a certain flair knowing full well what kind of responses they would draw.

That said, I don’t see what is the harm of intending to have a certain effect, as long as you are genuine about the expression of your viewpoint, not merely doing it to inflame.

Brian Fundakowski Feldman: As an example, I try to be funny and witty when I can, but it’s because those things entertain me greatly and so, as encouragement to others, there is value, and there is also value in providing entertainment to others even though I know full well that the entertainment is also for myself. But I try not to form an egotistical attachment to how people see me because that is not genuine. I don’t try to hide or sugarcoat things. I like where he [Andrew Titus] went at the end of the article, but not quite how he got there. But that doesn’t matter because it may be the perfect lesson for someone else on a different spiritual journey.

Me: I somewhat agree. However, how many people have you seen with Facebook pages showing off their yoga poses, showing off themselves, attracting more and more people that are “equally spiritual”?

There is nothing genuine about that. It’s just trendy for them. A private club.

A new social circle.

My estranged wife does this. She has renamed herself Ania “Mukti.” (I know what that means, but does anyone else?)

And knowing her and how selfish she actually still is, that is both presumptuous and pretentious, as well as egocentric.

That is the absolute opposite of the meaning of both those words.

I actually elected to change my name here as a satire to that.

But I was not so foolish as to choose something that was the opposite of myself.

Me: I would like to use all of this in an article for elephant journal, if you don’t mind? I mean the comments as well.

Brian Fundakowski Feldman: Indeed! Whenever I post about yoga, I feel like it is mostly as an encouragement to others: look, I suffer from terrible depression and anxiety sometimes, but there are things that feel genuinely amazing in life and I love them in spite of that!

Another component is slightly less forthright—it also makes it easier to “commit” to something that feels hard, like it’s behind a wall that you can’t find the door to get around. I think Titus missed out on mentioning how social networks can be ways to strengthen your own morale as well.

Me: No, I think he was actually touching on that, but felt it necessary to address the pitfalls as no one, with all the “cult of positivity” we see in the news and on Facebook now, really touches on that at all.

Brian Fundakowski Feldman: True, that’s really the one dangerous direction to take it, directly toward the land of egotistical temptation. I need to reflect more on the concept of lessons not being universally right for everyone.

You’re more than welcome to use any comments of mine for an article. I may be embarrassed later by things I say, but that doesn’t change that I said them, so that’s all there is to it!

Me: Thank you. I’m going to prepare the article now.


Though I was tempted to add personal insights and addendum’s in the state of this, I felt what was said….well….said it all.

Of course if anyone has anything they would like to add, they are more than welcome to.

My wall is open to all…..



Editor: Brianna Bemel

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