Western Buddhism and the menage-a-moi

“The problem of the uncritical acceptance of acontextual enlightenment should not be underestimated. As Slavoj Zizek often points out, what he calls “Western Buddhism” can function as the highest form of adaptation to late capitalism, allowing members of the most privileged sectors of the global system of domination to go about their work on behalf of that system while minimizing their level of guilt and stress and assuring themselves of their deeply compassionate qualities and the absolute perfection of their underlying Buddha-Natures. We may add that many of them also take comfort in the likelihood of a spectacular rebirth in their next lives: the ultimate upward mobility. What such “Western Buddhism” misses, or course, is that Buddhism is not about complacency but rather about the awakened mind.”

This is from page 26 of the latest edition of Capitalism Nature Socialism, in an article that was slow to start, but really got going towards the end. It’s called “Nagarjuna and the Ecology of Emptiness,” by John Clark.
Zizek I can sort of take or leave. I did like his concept of the vanishing mediator, however…

Aida Hurtado said all that needed to be said on this.


“It doesn’t matter how good you are, as a person, if the institutions of the society provide privilege to you based on their group oppression of others. Individuals belonging to dominant groups can be infinitely good, because they are never required to be personally bad.”

She’s quoted by the very interesting anti-racist activist Tim Wise (blog, website). Check out this on Hilary supporters who were saying they’d vote McCain/stay home- ouch!

See also
New Age Capitalism by Kimberley J. Lau
Ones who walk away from Omelas, a short story by Ursula Le Guin

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About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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2 Responses to Western Buddhism and the menage-a-moi

  1. Pingback: How far is it from here to Nuremberg? «

  2. Pingback: Nature deficit disorder, dysrationalia and Green Confucianism «

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