My New Year’s Resolution: to end any involvement with Buddhist organizations of any kind that no longer serve me. This year, 2019 marks ten years that I have been exploring and learning from Buddhism. For ten years, I walked through the Buddhist amusement park, saw all the exhibits and rode all the rides. Everywhere I went I was abused, repressed, infantilized and excluded. That’s enough. I don’t need them anymore; I’m fine on my own. I have lots of Buddhist and dharma friends from many traditions that I share ideas with. I have lots of dharma teachers available to me from many traditions from whom I learn a great deal. And I continue to learn a lot from my own studies and practice.
The first thing I’m going to do is sign off from every Buddhist email list from any Buddhist teachers or organizations I no longer need. I’m sick of their noisy self-promotion and constant begging for money. They think that because they spent three years on retreat and earned the title ‘Lama’ or ‘Sensei’ that they are entitled to be supported with donations for the rest of their lives.
Second, I’m going stop going to Buddhist websites or reading Buddhist books, which by now have little to say of interest to me. Engaged Buddhist organizations are no different than Buddhist retreat centers or any other Buddhist organization. They are a sinkhole of self-centeredness, mindlessness and inactivity.
There are a couple of exceptions: scholars of Buddhism, and I mean the real academic scholars who are doing ground-breaking research, still have much to offer. I agree with the Critical Buddhists in Japan: the only Buddhism worth studying is Critical Buddhism. Critical Buddhism teaches critical thinking which challenges your own delusions as well as the delusions of institutional religions. Everything else is coddling and bullshit.
The other exception is that I am learning and benefitting from courses taken through Tara Manadala website, Lama Tsultrim’s courses. I wanted to learn ritual, and her team has developed an excellent program for teaching Tibetan rituals. I really appreciate Lama Tsultrim’s feminist approach and support for the Magyu or Mother lineage, which was developed entirely outside of Tibetan monasticism. It’s the only organization so far where I haven’t felt abused or excluded. Because I can access the courses on my own, without onerous prerequisites (e.g. months or years of retreats), I feel truly empowered.
I am creating Queer Dharma Circle with my friends at Bird Hill Farm, a Radical Faerie group where we can be queer and spiritual in whatever way serves our needs, without having to conform to anyone else’s rules about how we practice. Casting off institutional Buddhism, I feel fully awake and truly liberated.