If you meet the Buddha, the saying goes, kill him.
(Want an explanation of this saying? Check out the sidebar at killingthebuddha.com.)
Big City Buddhism — the new-agey North American variant of Tibetan Buddhism — is the equivalent of Born-Again Christianity in the deep south, which in turn is like that low-rise jeans/thong underwear combo: fashionable, but stupid. Big City Buddhists are slightly more annoying because it’s currently the hip religion. Even Chinese hipsters are getting into it, which I suppose is sort of like the “wigger” phenomenon in North American suburbs.
My own philosophy for religions and ethical systems is pretty much the same as my philosophy for time-management systems, exercise regimes, diets and standards for computer programming:
- Pick the one that’s right for you.
- Stick to it like glue.
(Come to think of it, that’s an approach that could be considered Buddhist.)
Last night, while doing a little “cafe coding” at Tequila Bookworm — yes, the cafe where Worst Date Ever started and where I met the New Girl — some guy struck up a conversation with me because he noticed that I was reading a copy of Tricycle, a magazine that calls itself “The Buddhist Review”. It’s a good read; I especially like the interviews with people of all faiths where they talk about how their belief systems intersect with Buddhism (it reinforces my belief that our commonalities as human beings far outshine our differences).
We got into a conversation and at some point, I referred to Buddhism as a religion. I forget that this tends to annoy pedants and newbies and especially the pedantic newbies.
“Buddhism is not really a religion per se, it’s just that our limited Western understanding paints it as such,” he said, with a rehearsed cadence-free delivery of a half-awake Catholic reciting the Apostle’s Creed on autopilot at too-early-considering-the-night-before Sunday Mass.
“Except for the bit where it has gods, monks, spirituality, reincarnation, a Golden Rule, codes of conduct, and some kind of cosmic scorekeeping system.” i replied. “You’re like some bald guy saying ‘It’s not a toupee, it’s a hair replacement system‘.”
If your brain is loaded with blanks, I always say, do not shoot your mouth off.
“You just say that because you don’t understand the Asian mindset,” he retorted. He was a pasty caucasian, whose skin I could’ve used for testing the white balance on my digital camera. I, other the other hand…well, I think this photo will explain my incredulity at his remark.
I stared at him long and hard for a moment, seeing if the penny would drop.
“You’re Asian?” he asked weakly. “I thought you were Hawaiian.”
“I’ve been getting mistaken for that lately.”
“Oh…it’s just that…”
Oh shit, here it comes, I thought.
He then said those four stupid words. Those four words that drive me bonkers. You probably have guessed what they are already:
“…you speak good English.”
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH. I hate that line more than anything. It’s crypto-racist binary bullshit, with only two possible pigeonholes for my existence: either I’m some bucktoothed fresh-off-the-boat coolie or I’m an Asian Uncle Tom, a banana — yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Even close friends of mine have pulled this crap on me. It’s a game I’m not allowed to win, and for that reason, I refuse to play.
Once we got that little issue straightened out, I left him with the URL for a recent article by Patrick French, in which he throws a little metaphorical cream pie at the Dalai Lama’s face. After all, it was my turn to annoy him.
(The article originally appeared in the New York Times, just in case you thought it was merely the obscure writings of a crank with a website and a grudge.)
I really should stop hanging out at Tequila Bookworm. The place is a moonbat magnet.