Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

The Demise of Bubble Buddhism


We are about to see the demise of Bubble Buddhism in North America. It’s a long time coming, and it’s too bad that it takes the onset of a fascist regime to provoke it.

Bubble Buddhism is about to be completely discredited. The next time your beloved Teacher says “just relax”, “ultimately, everything is empty”, “don’t worry about phenomena, it’s all impermanent anyway “, he (she) will sound like a total idiot. It just won’t work anymore. You won’t get the soothing hit of oxytocin and serotonin that you used to get from him (or ‘her’, but most likely ‘him’). Or you might get that hit, but then you’ll glance at your iPhone for a second and realize that your once safe and secure ‘relative’ world is shit getting flushed down the toilet. You too cannot escape this political catastrophe and it’s devastating effects. Not this time.

Or you might. Because there is always an upper echelon of ultra-rich Buddhists who will suddenly be inspired to go on a three-month retreat and fly off to Bhutan. They probably have ties to the Trump Regime (Elon Musk?). Thus we will also discover who are the hidden ‘alt-right’ in American Buddhism, because we’ll know who has enough skin in the game to stand up and resist just to save their own asses. And those who can’t be bothered. 

And there will be those who are simply too neurotic to face ‘the new situation’ and they will go further into a state of borderline psychosis and dissociation. Only this time they will be seen for what they are—very dysfuctional people—and not “so enlightened.”

 We've been trying to make you understand.
                -Understand what? 
-About the house.  About the new situation.
                What situation?
(from "The Others" with Nicole Kidman)

I hereby declare the death of Bubble Buddhism. Instead of working like a hit of Prozac, it will become an irritation. People who use to flock to Bubble websites to escape the annoyance of everyday life will suddenly be tired of them. They just won’t seem relevant anymore. No matter how long you sit on your cushion just focusing on your breath, that sickening feeling of ‘oh shit, it’s really that bad’ will come up from your guts and wreck your bliss bubble. You will read one after another book of “How to Take Care of Yourself with Reckless Abandon” and it just won’t work anymore. All your years of teachings, empowerments and practice have left you ill-equipped to deal with ‘the new situation.’ Nothing works. When you open your eyes, The Regime will still be there. 

But you know what? Maybe you will have finally woke up. You will finally realize that there’s something out there called Reality and you will be forced to reckon with it. You will be forced to reckon with material reality that, impermanent or “empty” though it may be, still has serious, devastating effects on people, the planet and the almighty [Not] You.

I got a strange feeling a lot of people who brushed aside engaged Buddhism as ‘wrong view’ will admit that it might actually be helpful under these circumstances. We’ll see if it can adjust to ‘the new reality’ or if this causes an existential crisis in American Buddhism. Maybe it will just barely survive or maybe it will be radically transformed. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to American Buddhism over the next four years.

by the Editor, Shaun

4 comments on “The Demise of Bubble Buddhism

  1. helenpengelly

    Reblogged this on Less is More and commented:
    I see similar happening in the UK too, the end of McMindfulness. Reality isn’t always pretty…

  2. Steve Marino

    Goodby and good riddance to it too. If only it were that clear cut and simple though. In truth, most of the StarSucks liberals (all white of course, all yuppies) who seem to populate every Buddhist place I have been to in America in the last 22 years are so out of touch w/ reality that they are blissfully unaware of anything. Their money and group mind thinking insulates them from actually experiencing reality as it is. so even if the reality is what it is, they aren’t in the loop. In their case, ignorance really is bliss. Or, you have the religious factions of Buddhism which worship the Lord Buddha and see their tantric teachers as incarnated gods. Tibetan is a perfect example of this. The Buddha must be spinning in his stupa.

    After nearly a quarter of a century of involvement w/ Zen and a little dabbling w/ Tibetan, I have come to the conclusion that all spirituality is a private thing, and as soon as it becomes a group thing, it is corrupted top the point of uselessness. Group dynamics take over, a power and command structure is set up (teacher and student), the dogma of no dogma is adhered to (w/ volumes and volumes of scripture), and if you are wise you will walk out of that meditation hall and never return.

    • Shaun Bartone

      Brilliant. I agree w/ you wholeheartedly. Bubble Buddhism is the reason I have left one Buddhist organization after another. Instead of a help, it becomes an obstacle to dealing with life. Transformed, we might create Buddhist institutions that are focused on coping with reality. Noah Levine’s ‘Refuge in Reality’ looks promising.

  3. MT Scott

    The idea that spirituality could be a wholly private affair is nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with teachers or scripture or meditation halls. But I do agree that American Buddhism is shallow. That’s because it’s consumer Buddhism, for people who take it half seriously at best.

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This entry was posted on 2017/02/03 by and tagged .


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