I want to spend a lot more time and blog space focusing on dharma and culture. Why? Let me list a few reasons:
- Contemporary Buddhist scholarship has spent countless thousands of hours and pages drilling down on Buddhist scripture and doctrine. I now know the umpteen hundred ways to translate the word ‘dukkha’. If we focused instead on institutions and culture, Buddhism would get a lot more interesting. By ‘institutions’, I mean more than the corporate sangha or the Tibetan government at Dharamsala. I mean the kinds of social organizations we inhabit and create when we get together with other Buddhists.
- If we don’t expand the possibilities—range, diversity, alterity—of dharma culture, there is no room for people like me. There is no place for queers, weirdos, non-conforming people of color, indigenous folks, artists, activists, hippies, geeks, nerds and other mentally and socially divergent people. Creating divergent cultures creates a refuge for divergent people. For queirdos*, that is, like me.
- We need to have some kind of “burning man” festival for dharma practitioners, specifically for Buddhists, who are so damn straight-laced and conformist. Buddhists are so single-mindedly focused on ultimate enlightenment to the exclusion of everything else, they’re worse than Christians or Muslims trying to get to heaven.
- We need to start producing and publishing divergent dharma cultures. We need to go beyond liberating individuals and liberate cultures, because it’s through cultures that we create societies, and it’s through awakened, liberated cultures that we can create a society that just might be creative and resilient enough to survive the climate apocalypse. Take B. R. Ambedkar as an exemplar of how to liberate a culture.
So divergent dharma culture is going to be an increasing focus for my blogs. Let’s focus on creating really divergent and liberating dharma cultures. I’m game for it.