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The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 17 Jun 2012, 15:29
by Gavin
When I saw that Russell Brand and the so-called Dalai Lama had a mutual liking for each other I knew something was wrong.

Does anybody else see this man as a complete fraud, not worthy of any special attention whatsoever? (I mean the Dalai Lama, not Brand, though this description could be applicable to either.)

I don't believe any of that spiritual claptrap. There is no evidence at all for reincarnation, "we should all love each other" is far too naive and simplistic a policy for life, and the guy is a self-admitted feminist Marxist. I'm not sure why anybody would consult him for an expert opinion on any of the world's complex affairs, but perhaps somebody can enlighten me?! Maybe it is simply that his culture is not ours and that's why we're supposed to admire him.

It was actually embarrassing to see him bewildered and ignorant of Brand here. The wealthy and promiscuous Brand is hypocritical, but at least the Dalai Lama does not seem to be that.

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 17 Jun 2012, 16:23
by Elliott
What a coincidence that you were starting this thread while I was writing this post in another thread!

I think spiritualism is, like Occupy, a sort of default choice for Westerners looking for an alternative to Western culture.

They're actually following a long tradition. I didn't know until last year that there was a thing called "the hippie trail" which involved hippies in the 1960s/70s travelling around India and competing to become the most Indianified. They would spend time at ashrams, smoking dope and listening to gurus etc. But Western fascination with spiritualism, specifically of the Indian kind, actually goes back even further, to the 1870s and the Theosophical Society, which was a kind of forerunner to today's Esalen Institute (I went through a phase of being fascinated with Terence McKenna). Liberal hippyism and Indian spiritualism seem to have been intertwined for at least 150 years now.

What appeals about it is probably that it seems so utterly benign and unassuming. Who could object to such a thing? (Especially compared with the evil capitalism we Westerners are tainted with.) And, of course, it has the added kudos of being a historical victim of white imperialism - but it's more intelligent and much more peaceful than African tribal culture.

I also think it's a kind of evasion tactic. Post-Christianity, we're supposed to think that all religion is bad - yet young men, reared with feminism, think that women want them to be sensitive, emotional, open-minded, etc. So a good way to impress girls is to say "well I'm not religious but I am spiritual". It means nothing, yet says that you are both intelligent and sensitive.

Which feels great until she goes off with a rap singer.

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 17 Jun 2012, 22:35
by Mike
One of the great appeals of the current saints of the new left (the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and others) is very simple: they have never been in power. Therefore they never lose their lustre as the oppressed defenders of freedom, the beacons of democracy, etc., etc. Even Nelson Mandela had some of the shine taken off his aura when he became President and was forced to deal with the predictable power struggles within his own party, which continues to produce charming figures like Julius Malema. On the whole, though, I think he (Mandela) managed fairly well in a difficult position.

But a better example of the problem with retaining one's purity after the revolution (or the peaceful handover) is Corazon (Cory) Aquino. And the chorus of anyone born after 1975 is...who?!? Well, she was the Aung San Suu Kyi of the time, the fearless crusader for freedom in the Philippines under the awful Marcos regime. Naturally, after she became President and was forced to deal with a dreadfully fragile coalition with all the compromises and concessions to vested interests that such a thing entails, she was dropped as an icon quick smart. Watch this space if there's a peaceful handover in Burma.

As for the Tibet-worship which is rife among certain trendies and Hollywood posers, it is nauseating. The depiction of pre-1951 Tibet as some sort of prelapsarian Shangri-La is historically laughable.

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 18 Jun 2012, 14:18
by Michael
One of the great appeals of the current saints of the new left (the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and others) is very simple: they have never been in power.

That's a very good observation, Mike. Their virtue has been untested, and thus can appear completely untarnished. I think a large part of the New Age types today are the people who would have been communists and socialists back when those movements were at their zenith. They demonstrate as little willingness to think critically about their idols, and just as great a desire to believe in the goodness of far off places (" I have seen the future, and it works,"

Elliott, I'm pleased to know someone else knows about the history of trendy Western occultism. The occult and spiritual seem to grow in influence when a society loses confidence in itself. For example, spiritualism and mediumship (a.k.a. tapping tables in dark rooms to fool the gullible) soared into popularity after the First World War, and our current phase of spiritualism and uncritical admiration of the Orient dates from the social upheavals of the 1960s, whose reverberations are still felt down to this day.

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 18 Jun 2012, 14:33
by Gavin
What enlightening replies (in the rational sense of the word). Thanks!

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 19 Jun 2012, 00:05
by Caleb
Mike: That's a very astute observation about Aung San Suu Kyi. I met a guy once who said the same thing. In fact, he also noted that when her father was in power, Burma was a complete mess (it still is), and maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Regardless, to think that Burma's woes would be solved simply by her coming to power is naive. I've been to Burma. It is, and the deepest levels an incredibly flawed culture and society, though it's actually not that different from its neighbours, just more extreme. There is no magic bullet for that place.

Regarding the Dalai Lama, when I was at university, I studied philosophy. In my second year, I studied a subject called the philosophy of Buddhism. I was highly critical of it as a philosophy (it's full of holes), though interestingly, I still managed to get my highest marks in my undergraduate degree in that subject. Anyway, during that semester, the Dalai Lama actually came to Melbourne, so some of us in that class went to see him talk.

There were two things that struck me about that talk. The first was that he was actually a really bad speaker and philosopher. I guess, in a way, that's what you get when your top guy gets chosen as a kid by which holy objects he randomly selects (given enough test runs, someone will turn out to be the Dalai Lama). We've all seen some very good speakers (even the heads of some corporations), so I was quite disappointed actually. My philosophy classes were always a bit of a free for all in that if you said something stupid or didn't make a good argument, you were going to get eaten alive, yet that didn't seem to be the case here. Even the questions were completely cherry picked. There were lots of points when I just wanted to leap up and shoot holes in what he'd just said. He didn't seem to be the kind of guy who could hold his own in a serious debate where people didn't hold back, which brings me to my second point.

I was also struck by just how much fawning there was over not only the most banal things he said, but just over him. When he first arrived, the organisers on stage were literally falling over themselves and at his feet. In some ways, he looked somewhat uncomfortable with this, but I don't believe that's actually true. If he really didn't want all of that, he (or one of his subordinates) could set people straight. I don't believe there isn't a certain amount of ego involved by people in these kind of positions. All of this fawning seemed to take up a considerable amount of the time he was there.

I was completely deflated by the entire experience. There are plenty of intellectuals and other public figures who I may not like or agree with, but they're not lightweights. You know that if you come up against Noam Chomsky or Tony Blair, you'd better bring your A game or you're definitely going to come off second best. They're not lightweights at making a point and challenging your points. Yet the Dalai Lama is a lightweight.

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 08:00
by Mike
Oh my goodness - will they ever forgive him?!? ... p8mhr.html

Re: The Dalai Lama and trendy "spiritualism"

PostPosted: 02 Jun 2016, 20:16
by Jonathan

And you can see how the reporter rushes to mitigate the damage:
The bulk of Arab refugees he was referencing are fleeing Syria's brutal and seemingly endless civil war, and its spillover into Iraq. But the truth is that the vast majority of those refugees are not seeking asylum in Europe, but in Turkey , ... Lebanon and Jordan.

The dishonest reporter tries to suggest that having too many refugees in German and even more in Turkey/Lebanon/Jordan are somehow mutually exclusive. He also overlooks the minor fact that Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are all very worried about the huge mass of Syrian Sunni Arabs they have received.