Why I Am Starting This Blog
The idea that institutions can remedy the defects of societies, that national progress is the consequence of the improvement of institutions and governments, and that social changes can be effected by decrees—this idea, I say, is still generally accepted. It was the starting-point of the French Revolution, and the social theories of the present day are based upon it. The most continuous experience has been unsuccessful in shaking this grave delusion. —Gustave Le Bon
Listen up, maggots: You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. —Tyler Durden, from Fight Club
Hello…allow me to introduce myself. I’m called Paññobhāsa, also sometimes known as David Reynolds, and I am an American-born (mostly English ancestry) Theravada Buddhist monk, presently living in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
I became a monk half my life ago, largely because I couldn’t take Western culture seriously. It is a very broad-minded culture, relatively speaking, and very powerful in certain ways, but it is shallow; and superficial materialism, upon which modern Western culture is primarily based, just doesn’t satisfy me. My mind doesn’t fit into it. As a teenager I turned to rebellion, until eventually learning of Eastern philosophy and spiritual/yogic traditions. So, I turned away from being a disaffected party animal and, later, a fisheries biologist, and dedicated my life to meditation, philosophy, and self-examination. So, in 1991 I became a Buddhist monk.
By early 1993 I was in Burma…and by 2010 I was feeling that I had gotten just about all I was going to get out of meditating alone in tropical Asian forests, and was ready to return to the West and share with others what I had gained. I wanted some human interaction, with people who speak and think English. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, especially since a Theravadin monk isn’t allowed to own or use money or even store his own food, but in spring of 2011 I took the plunge.
America had changed quite a lot in the 18 years of my absence. Aside from everything being digital, most people seemed to be working harder to live at a somewhat lower standard of living, were a bit more stressed than folks were during the late 1980’s, and also seemed to be a bit more conformist. On the positive side, I could walk down a city street in monk robes and bare feet without much concern about hostility from strangers. But the big surprise for me was that Western Buddhism had been hijacked by a kind of effete, feminized political correctness. I don’t remember ever hearing the term “political correctness” until 2011. Most Western Buddhists, from what I have seen, are essentially PC leftists with a little Buddhist flavoring added, who meditate as a hobby or as a kind of natural substitute for Prozac or Valium (or whatever the chemical stress-reliever of choice is nowadays). Seriously, a teacher of Buddhism can sit before an audience and totally botch Buddhist doctrine, or flatly deny it, and nobody seems to know or care (and I’ve seen it happen more than once); yet if this same person says something politically incorrect (for example that the recent attempts to revive the Order of fully ordained nuns is technically invalid), he or she may have just committed professional suicide as a Dharma teacher. This person is liable to be “deplatformed” at all the multimillion-dollar luxury meditation resorts, and at the multitude of lesser organizations that try to imitate them. So, partly because I consider my own conscience and freedom, such as they are, to be much more essential than mental and verbal conformity, especially conformity to what I consider to be sorely misguided and worse than what I renounced in the first place, I realized eventually that it would take some kind of minor miracle for me ever to survive, much less prosper, in an environment of westernized quasi-Buddhism.
Mainly because I had little interest in politics or in watching the news, it wasn’t until spring of 2016 that I finally realized that the new feminized PC left has not only hijacked Buddhism, but is in the process of hijacking science, academia, and Western civilization in general! Furthermore, it appears fairly obvious to me that this new ideology is based upon a great deal of irrational wishful thinking, mass hysteria, and just plain falsehood. And since I can take the new “liberal” West even less seriously than I could take America 30 years ago, I feel moved to take a stand. I just cannot sit idly by, even in Burma, and watch Western civilization decline and fall into social mandatory groupthink and outrageously effete decadence. A culture war is on, and I am moved to stand up for what I consider to be greater sanity, greater freedom, and greater truth.
I have certain qualities that may facilitate being a social critic. For starters, I’m viewing Western society from the outside, so I am able to enjoy a greater degree of objectivity than most. (A further advantage of being a cultural outsider is that I am in less danger of being punished by vindictive “progressives”: no feminized mate to keep in good humor, no employer to contact in an attempt to assassinate my career, and precious little documentation with which I could be “doxed.” And I’m not afraid of losing friends through excessive bluntness; I already went through a die-off of peers when I became a monk. It’s really not so bad.) Also, I have practiced some pretty strenuous self-observation, and have consequently gained insights to which the average mainstream materialist is clueless. That, plus training in biology, allow me to see human beings as a species of animal, which they/we certainly are, despite the fact that the new PC ideology ignores or rejects this, at least with regard to the basics of human nature.
In addition to a knowledge of biology I’ve also read a lot of history; and I adopt a largely historical approach to the state of current affairs. The present situation is the result of millennia of historical momentum, and trying to understand the present without considering the past is like having amnesia, somewhat like that guy in the movie Memento. History does repeat itself, if not in exact details then in general themes. After all, we are human, and act in accordance with human nature, which really hasn’t changed all that much since ancient times. Primeval instincts, although ignored or denied, are still alive and well, even in the heart of the most devout PC leftist.
The new ideology appears to take for granted that if you are unhappy, then it is the fault of somebody else—probably white heterosexual patriarchal males. But Buddhism (as well as other relatively advanced spiritual traditions) teaches, and this can be verified for oneself, that we create our own suffering. Refusing to take responsibility for one’s own unhappiness and then blaming someone else for it, is the Western disease; and it has become systematized into a new social movement which is running amuck nowadays.
Very briefly stated, my social philosophy (somewhat like the epistemology of David Hume) is based upon some very simple principles which most people can understand and possibly even agree with; but they are followed up with ruthless reasoning until they arrive at the realm of abominable heresy. Intellectual integrity involves going where the argument takes you, even if it takes you somewhere really ugly. Most people apparently can’t or won’t do it, but I occasionally try.
Sometimes in this blog I will deliberately violate taboos for the sake of demonstrating that the new ideology is largely based on emotionality and objective falsehood. At other times I will be blatantly politically incorrect simply for the sake of flouting norms decreed and enforced by mass hysteria. (I will observe here that the same people nowadays shutting people down by howling “racist,” “sexist,” “Islamophobe,” etc., a few hundred years ago would be howling, in the same shrill tones, “heretic,” “unbeliever,” and “witch.”) I am in a much better position to do this, as I don’t so much have to worry about committing social or professional suicide by pissing off vindictive social justice warriors. Truth before social acceptability.
The primary challenge for me while writing this blog will be to retain some philosophical detachment and “wisdom”—avoiding mere complaint and “venting” for the most part, and not emphasizing ruthless attack, but rather demonstrating to the best of my ability the falsehood and foolishness of a strange new kind of spiritually bankrupt religious cult which threatens to overwhelm and possibly even destroy Western civilization. Also, I should offer some plausible alternative from time to time, bearing in mind that this blog should actually be beneficial to somebody. I do, however, reserve the right to indulge occasionally in impassioned rants.
In a strange way, if this blog is moderately successful it may bridge a gap of sorts: On the one hand it will demonstrate to Westerners intrigued by Eastern spirituality, but not impressed by the PC leftist version of it which predominates in the West, that a Buddhist doesn’t have to be an ideological conformist to PC (and for a serious Buddhist it can be a veritable handicap); and on the other hand it may show to a few young alt-right wiseguys or uncommitted searchers who stumble upon this site a viable way of seeking philosophical integrity and depth beyond the false dichotomy of traditional Christianity (which really is ideal for some, but not all) and cynical atheism. Not to mention intersectional feminism, cultural emasculation, “gender fluidity,” postmodern relativism, white guilt, safe spaces, leftist anti-Trump hysteria, cultural communism, the “Western disease,” etc., etc.
So, if you have an appreciation for the gratuitously outrageous and a disdain for ideological taboos, especially those of the new left, then this blog may be just the thing. Enjoy…or don’t enjoy, but at least think.
P.S. I’ll probably post something about once every five days or so, since that’s about how often I use Internet. I invite comments (so long as they’re not spam or vindictively nasty) and also public discussion. A lot of people who read my last blog won’t want to read this one though! I may have to work up a new audience. Feel free to advertise for me.