Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
The Punk Dharma is DIY. I finally realized that there are no right views or wrong views with regard to awakening. I’m free to believe anything I want, so long as it works for me. I can even make up my own dharma, and that’s just as valid as anything I could read in a book or hear from a teacher—and probably more relevant. In fact, I don’t have to espouse any beliefs at all, Buddhist or otherwise. I choose the Eight-Fold path and the Five Precepts because they work for me. But if they don’t, I can toss them away.
You don’t have to hold any particular views on the path, even the view of “not holding on to views.”People usually interpret this to mean that one should practice “not thinking” about anything. I disagree—it means you’re free to think anything you want. Thoughts are momentary—self-liberating. Thoughts and words have great social importance because they have serious consequences in the world. But they’re just thoughts and thoughts can be changed to suit the circumstances.
You are always already enlightened, and nothing you think or believe is going to diminish that. Some kinds of beliefs make that more apparent to you—so believe whatever you want to believe that helps you arrive at that awareness. You’re free to think whatever you want, and believe whatever you want.
You have to liberate yourself from all mental constraints: cultural, religious, social, political. Most of all—and this is the part that most Buddhists don’t get—you have to free yourself from Buddhism. Until you free yourself from Buddhism, you’ll be just as trapped as you ever were by any other system of concepts. In fact, institutional Buddhism is the biggest trap of all. People think that when they end up in Buddhism, they have arrived. But what they’ve arrived at is just another conceptual trap, another institutional trap of social norms and expectations. The only purpose of Buddhist culture is to exist as a counter-culture from which you can critique and free yourself of mainstream culture. At it’s best, Buddhism functions as a culture of awakening. But then you have free yourself from Buddhism, or you become trapped by it.
Institutional Buddhism is total slavery—mental and spiritual slavery. It totally disempowers the buddha within you. It makes your awakening dependent on some twisted, self-serving hierarchy that really doesn’t give a shit about you, except that you pay your monthly membership fee. You’ll never discover the buddha within by that method. It’s in the act of freeing yourself from Buddhism that you become totally free. No more lamas, no more gurus, no more head games, rituals or disciplines, no more memberships, no more shrine rooms, no more courses, levels or retreats, no more striving after anything. There is no attainment and no non-attainment. I’m completely free from institutional Buddhism and I’m never going back.
The only dharma that is the true dharma is that which leads to total freedom. The only dharma that’s at all effective for your own liberation is the dharma you discover for yourself. All dharmas are empty. And the emptiest thing of all is Buddhism itself—it’s totally empty. Feel free to insert whatever works for you. Fill in the blank. That’s the emptiness I espouse.
All that I’ve said above applies only to one’s self. I am not free to do whatever I want to someone else. In relation to all other beings, I am constrained by law and ethics. As an awakened one, I am totally free. But as a Bodhisattva, I constrain myself for the benefit of others, for their well-being and liberation.
I was at at drag show at a gay bar on Gottingen St. when I thought up all this stuff. Drag shows are so liberating. I think we should do sangha practice in drag. That would be so much fun.