Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

Post-Buddhism: Hipster Buddhism?

Ok, let’s take on what might be considered a legitimate critique: isn’t Post-Buddhism (as I’ve described it so far) just “Hipster Buddhism”? Well folks, Hipsterism is a style, a fashion identity, a pattern of conspicuous consumption.  So here’s why post-Buddhism isn’t “hipster Buddhism”:


  1. Post-Buddhism involves no conspicuous consumption that identifies me as a hipster or a Buddhist or a hipster Buddhist. I am against any kind of conspicuous consumption that is used to communicate an identity as a hipster or a Buddhist or both. In fact I have written in several blog posts how elite Buddhism is a kind of conspicuous consumption, a consumer logo, a brand that signifies to others that you are “spiritual”, “transcendent”, “enlightened”, on some kind of arduous and exclusive path to “full awakening.” However “spiritual” it might appear, it is vapid, useless and wasteful consumption. That includes flying to exotic locales to attend exclusive retreats with high-level lamas. That includes wearing Tibetan-style or Japanese Zen-style clothing to look the part (in Shambhala, I have seen this in action). That includes buying expensive “dharma jewelry” and decorating your house with sacred art imported from Asia.
  2. Post-Buddhism does not involve, on the other hand, covering yourself with zany tattoos, and not from the days when you were shooting dope—I mean after you got sober. That includes wearing a faux-hawk or spiked leather jacket, especially if you were born after 1990. That includes riding a fixie, sporting a six-inch beard, wearing oversized glasses or jeans that are two sizes too tight. Also, in post-Buddhism, you must wear socks inside your leather shoes.
  3. Post-Buddhism does not involve hanging out with buddhist poets, musicians, artists and writers, so that you can look hip and cool, even though you don’t do a thing to create your own art or even support those who do.
  4. Post-Buddhism does not involve drinking alcohol for ritual purposes, or taking drugs, especially not “spiritual enhancers” like Ayahuasca , peyote and other “shrooms”, LSD, ecstasy, or good ‘ol ganja. If you want that kind of “spiritual hipster” experience, try modern western tantra. (Note: whether or not you use drugs or alcohol is entirely up to you and I’m not making any judgements about that. It’s just not what I associate with post-Buddhism.) Post-Buddhism does not involve drinking home-crafted ale or “puke suds” from a can.
  5. Post-Buddhism does not involve using sex to prove that you are a “spiritual dude” or especially “skillful” in tantric sex rituals. Again, modern western tantra is the place to go for that experience.
  6. Post-Buddhism is not gluten-free. I eat humungous amounts of pasta and fresh-baked bread.
  7. Post-Buddhism is not necessarily vegan or vegetarian, although it is a more humane way to eat.
  8. Post-Buddhism does not involve spinning vinyl of a band called “Jersey” from Eugene, Oregon that features electric ukulele and cooking-pot percussion.
  9. Most of all—and this is serious folks—post-Buddhism is not into non-dualism in any form, religious, philosophical, academic, aesthetic, spiritual, whatever.

In short, Post-Buddhism has no style, no pattern of consumption, no expression of personal identity that is at all conspicuous as Buddhist per se. It may be indicative of other identities (queer, ethnic, aesthetic), but there is nothing self-consciously Buddhist about it, and definitely not hipster.


Is there such a thing as a Buddhist Hipster? Apparently so; one guy, Matthew Squires thinks he is:


2 comments on “Post-Buddhism: Hipster Buddhism?

  1. Danny Darwish

    So are the Native Americans hipsters for taking peyote in their rituals? I used to criticize other people who threatened me or this world, and then I realized something terrifying…I am as preposterous and dangerous as those who I criticize. Now I just try to better myself rather than feeding the addiction to bettering other people or society, and I’ve found out, that is way harder to do. If someone wants to be Buddhist hipster, who cares? They’ll probably grow out of it anyways

    • Shaun Bartone

      No, indigenous people who use psychedelic plants as part of their rituals are not hipsters. I’m just trying to make some distinctions between those who espouse Buddhist philosophy to be fashionable, and those who have actually practiced Buddhism, made a serious critique of it and decided to work it from a “post” angle. Besides this is a tongue-in-cheek article, just like the other one you commented on (“Buddha was a homeless beggar on Spring Garden Road”.) People don’t seem to get my jokes. BTW I actually met a Buddhist hipster who talked Zen, read Murakami novels, and road a fixie “because it keeps me in the moment all the time.” So there.

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This entry was posted on 2016/05/15 by and tagged , .


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