On the Supposed Jewish Control of Western Buddhism (and Hinduism, and Christianity)
The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category. —Adolf Hitler
I have been a Buddhist, more or less, for a long time, and a professionally practicing one for going on 29 years. And although I’m a westerner, I had very little to do with organized western Buddhism before I was ordained as a monk; instead I studied ancient texts and then dived right into Asian Buddhist monasticism. Then I went to Asia and lived there for more than twenty years. Even after returning to America, with the anomalous exception of a year or so of interacting with a (more or less) Buddhist meditation society in the Pacific Northwest, I have had little to do with western Buddhism as taught and practiced by western laypeople, or even with other western monks. Consequently I know traditional Asian Buddhism pretty well but am not familiar enough with liberal western Buddhism to speak with absolute authority on the subject of the present essay, which is the alleged Jewish control of western Buddhism. Nevertheless, few people are discussing the subject, and it is plausibly an important one for western Buddhists, so I’m discussing it.
I have encountered very few fellow bhikkhus who were ethnically Jewish or Hebrew, and almost as few Buddhist laypeople. I am aware of only one ethnic Jewish monk today, namely ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi; and I used to have a friend in Burma, now disrobed, whose father was a secular, non-practicing Jew, though his mother was a shiksa (Yiddish for Gentile female, derived from the Hebrew word for “detested thing”). So it appears that ordained Jewish bhikkhus, although they are out there, are not extremely common. On the other hand, it may be that most of the most famous American lay teachers are ethnically Jewish; and some of the biggest male names, including Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, were formerly ordained as Theravada Buddhist monks.
Anyway, although I’ve long known of their existence, I thought little of these so-called JuBus. Hebrew Buddhists are simply not an issue in Southeast Asia. I read long ago a plausible explanation to account for the multitude of ethnic Hebrews involved not only in Buddhism but in eastern spirituality in general, namely that Jews are intelligent and may have some considerable depth of spirit, but that Judaism as a religion is a very this-worldly, quite “samsaric,” and relatively shallow religious ideology. I certainly do not consider the Old Testament to contain much profound wisdom. So, spiritually inclined, open-minded western Jews occasionally turn toward something they perceive to be wiser and more spiritually satisfying, something deep and also intelligent, like Theravada Buddhist Dhamma.
Then I came into contact with good old Brian Ruhe (alias “the Nazi Buddhist”), and I came to be continually exposed to mentions of the supposed Jewish “control” over western Buddhism. Especially at first, I was very skeptical about this, and I am still rather skeptical. I have succeeded in persuading Brian to say “influence” rather than “control,” at least when he’s speaking with me; but lately, again thanks to Herr Ruhe, I see again and again that Dharma halls in the west are spending a grotesque amount of time and effort emphasizing cultural Marxist “progressive” causes, like racial diversity, gay and trans rights, and climate change. And, as I’ve already mentioned, many of the leaders of these lay sanghas are ethnically Jewish. Also, I know enough about cultural Marxism, which lately is approximately synonymous with “progressivism,” to know that its origins lie in the patient efforts of 20th century Jewish Marxists, including the Frankfurt School and all the Anthropology departments in academia that were taken over by the disciples of Jewish Marxist Franz Boas. So there is some plausible connection between leftist secular Judaism on the one hand, and the creeping progressive insanity of western Buddhism on the other, even if there is no grand conspiracy or cabal (←ha, that’s derived from “Kabbalah”).
So I suppose a case could be presented—and actually it has been presented by others—that this is a deliberate conspiracy by some left-leaning ethnic Jews to commandeer western Buddhism, and then use it for the purpose of furthering secular Jewish political interests, such as attacking and undermining the European race and most of what it has represented over the past two to three thousand years.
I may as well observe that not only Buddhism and Hinduism have felt this influence, but also “liberal” Christianity. For instance, there is a Methodist church not far from where I sit that flies the LGBTQ(…) rainbow flag in front of the House of God, thereby publicly endorsing the sin of sodomy, or so it would seem. (For those of you unfamiliar with the Bible, the New Testament declares male homosexuality to be “abomination,” and the Old Testament commands homosexuals simply to be taken out and killed. The God-given purpose of a man’s seed is to impregnate his wife, period.) By the same weird token, I’ve been told that most of the “woke” western Buddhists endorse abortion, too, despite the plain fact that abortion is literally murder from the perspective of Buddhist ethics. (For instance, Theravada philosophy asserts that a human life begins at conception, and that the “stream of karmic consciousness” of a being ready to take rebirth is a prerequisite for conception to occur.)
Nevertheless, despite all this I have yet to see any actual proof, or even persuasive evidence, that people like ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi and Jack Kornfield are deliberately corrupting Buddhism for the explicit sake of furthering a Jewish social or political agenda. None of the monks I have known have identified as Jewish, secular or otherwise, and only three of the laypeople that I can remember knowing. Generally if someone told me of their Jewish ancestry it was with no more affect than if they were admitting to being part Italian, Arab, or Cherokee Indian. They just did not consider it to be particularly important. Also, it seems pretty damn likely to me that most people at western “sanghas,” including most of the teachers, have not a clue that their political beliefs, mixed up salad-wise with their Dharma, contain distinct Jewish and/or Marxist elements.
Even so, anyone who has read Kevin MacDonald’s Culture of Critique may recall that many secular Jews who renounce the religious aspect of Judaism and no longer consider themselves to be members of the Jewish religion, like the Bolsheviks and other Marxists of the 20th century, may still retain a subconscious tribal identification with their ancestral ethnic Judaism. Some of the early Jewish Marxists, for example, in later years returned to the religion of their fathers, according to MacDonald, and some admitted that they had never totally left it, without even realizing it. So there’s that for a mitigating or obfuscating factor.
Another point to bear in mind, something hugely important but very often ignored, is that Gentiles and Jews have literally formed a symbiotic relationship in western civilization that has endured for over two thousand years. Like it or not, a strain of Judaism has existed as an elemental key ingredient in western civilization, an extremely obvious example of which being the plain fact that ALL of the three main religious systems in the west (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are offshoots of Old Testament Judaism. Not only religion but art, music, architecture, and virtually every other aspect of western culture has been deeply influenced by Christianity at least, which, again, began as a reform movement and schismatic sect of Judaism. For the thousand years of the Middle Ages the people of the west unanimously, literally worshipped a deified Jew, as the son of the Hebrew tribal god Yahweh, and many still do.
This adoption of Jewish cultural elements in the west during Roman times helped the Jewish religion and race to continue to exist, despite the occasional massacre or persecution, because the Christians’ own Bible, supposedly the infallible Word of God, told them that the Jews were God’s Chosen People. A big reason why the conservative right in America is so pro Israel is that Evangelical Christians to this day consider the Jews/Israelites to be a special people favored by God, even if they are no longer His absolute favorites. This centuries-long symbiosis (not always a mutualistic symbiosis) is essentially built right into western culture at this point, due mainly to the influence of Christianity; and the perennial dichotomy of Gentile/Jew in the west may be due to some strange psychological quirk of the western mind, some kind of dualistic thinking that requires antinomies or contrasts in a state of balanced tension. But I’m just guessing on why it is.
So Jews have lived in the west for millennia, and continue to identify as Jews, consciously or unconsciously; and consequently they perceive the world differently from Gentiles, for cultural reasons if not genetic ones. And just as a person learning a foreign language will speak that language with the accent of his own native language, so a person converting to a new religion will think that new religion with the “accent” of his native culture, which means he will distort its message to make it more in harmony with his native way of thinking. Anglo-Saxon Buddhists do this, and Hebrew Buddhists do it as well; so that particular element of Jewish influence also is not necessarily deliberate or even conscious, even though it does exist. Jewish Buddhism will be different from Anglo Buddhism, and both will be different from Burmese or Sinhalese Buddhism—though these last two differ from each other as well, and for similar reasons. And all of them are different from the original, ancient Indian Buddhism.
Jewish people, being relatively intelligent and energetic, generally speaking, also tend to rise to the top of social structures in which they participate, and thus there is disproportionately high representation of Jews in the leadership of western lay Buddhism—so they will inevitably influence the more intellectual mainstream forms of it. At present I consider their influence over western lay Buddhism to be more a matter of their influence over western culture as a whole, with “liberal” Buddhism (and Hinduism, and Methodism) simply being symptoms or side effects, not the main point of it all. There could be an element of deliberate highjacking of Buddhism to serve specifically Jewish ends, but this appears to me to be a trace element at best. At any rate I have seen zero persuasive evidence of it, though I have lived in the Sangha for many years and am not exactly blind; but as I’ve said, I tend to avoid western lay Buddhism anyway, so sinister, creepy stuff could be going on there that I just don’t see.
Meanwhile, some people on the ideological fringe have personal, idiosyncratic axes to grind, and so they twist and spin any evidence to support some theory or other involving malevolent conspiracies. Some go to the extreme of spinning obviously wise and sincere spiritual seekers and teachers like Ram Dass into nothing more than charlatans with malevolent (or just Jewish) motives. Supposedly any Jew who has converted to Buddhism, or Hinduism, or maybe Christianity, is simply a fraud who just pretends to be Buddhist or whatever in order to further a Jewish political agenda…and I really have to call bullshit on that. I recently did an interview with Brian Ruhe with regard to Ram Dass in particular, who was one of my first spiritual teachers via books, and in the comments section below the video a few really virulent Jew-haters endeavored to tear Ram Dass a new asshole, virulently bashing and cursing him, because of his Jewish ancestry primarily, and secondarily because he was bisexual. In fact recently some Jew-obsessed silly person sent me a number of comments to the effect that Buddhism is literally a modern Jewish invention, created with the specific purpose of undermining western civilization.
The very idea that EVERY person with Jewish ancestors is some kind of evil scheming liar and child molester is beyond stupid. It’s much worse than mere stupidity, and it poisons the mind of whoever wallows in that stuff. Hate is bad karma, regardless of its target, and even regardless of whether that target really does have sinister (or just anti-western) motives. I know enough about Ram Dass in particular, after reading his books and listening to his talks, to know that he was a very sincere disciple of a Hindu guru, and was not nearly as bad as people who spew hate in comments sections. Believe it or not, Ram Dass was a better man than most Nazis. Though of course not all Jews are as saintly as Ram Dass, or Bhikkhu Bodhi either.
I gotta admit, though, that ultraliberal western Buddhism is going off the freaking deep end, and that is largely caused by influences of western secular Jewish origin. But I suppose you may already have noticed that.
|Joseph Goldstein, cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society|