Welcome to the brainwashing




One of the Polish x-buddhist collectives posted recently a short video on its site titled Welcome to the Real World (see below) which at once stroke me as an almost perfect, and at the same time, grotesque, example of how dharmic desire is manufactured today. One of the first questions that springs up at the very beginning is "And what does enlightenment even mean?” While I'm sure that there are many other interesting tropes to think about in this short “promotional” video, I would like to point out that to begin with a viewer should be at least aware that this arch-buddheme “enlightenment” has been consciously chosen by Buddhist studies pioneer Thomas W. Rhys Davids (1843–1922) who first translated bodhi as “enlightenment” and explicitly compared the Buddha with the philosophers of the European Enlightenment. So whoever wants to avoid being ensnared by x-buddhistic decisional machinery stealthily quipped with this “enlightenment” buddheme, has to, among many other things, remember about this implicit complex of meanings tied to the ideas, values, and sensibilities of the European Enlightenment, such as reason, empirical observation, suspicion of authority, freedom of thought, and so on. It is very likely that without such an attention-grabbing linguistic strategy in the first place, x-buddhistic thaumaturgy would have never penetrated European culture so easily. Would have never achieved its goal of forging this grotesque link between “enlightenment” and obscurantist notion o “seeing without the mind” as says the subtitle of this video. I'm afraid that without being aware of such translational gimmicks a potential viewer of such materials immediately falls into the gravitational field of x-buddhistic decision. It's almost inevitable. The whole video is a veritable hodgepodge of themes taken out of x-buddhistic lore, new and ancient, and is crafted in such a way as to balance, on the one hand, the mystique of renunciation and on the other, engagement in day to day activities. The creator of this video seems to be especially careful not to evoke an impression that if there is anything “meaningful” in this ascetic tradition, it is to sneak out of this world for good, what probably was the fundamental message of the mythical Protagonist. Yes, I do know that shortly after those initial questions the narrator explains that “enlightenment is not about shining light. It is simply about waking up,” but nonetheless I'm not at all interested in playing the game common in x-buddhist circles of differentiating between “subtleties” of meaning of that virtuosic cataclysm. What interests me most here is to answer the basic question: why exactly the word “enlightenment”? To leave answering such fundamental questions to x-buddhists is to keep many gullible people out of touch with the real world forever.