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Author Topic: Take a chi break
Rundler
editor
Babbler # 2699

posted 08 December 2005 10:18 AM      Profile for Rundler     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In www.rabble.ca/reviews today, Corvin Russell laments the trade in Tao -- a self-help empire that has little to do with anything other than making a fortune off of the gullible, the self-centred, and those genuinely in need of help. And inner peace remained elusive.
From: the murky world of books books books | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 08 December 2005 10:31 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Now that. was an awesome review. Seriously, he's so right about how there's a whole huge industry now around new-age yuppie-feelgood crapola, and you can centre yourself too, if you buy enough books and icons and blah blah blah.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rinne
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9117

posted 08 December 2005 11:15 AM      Profile for rinne     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It is symptomatic of our culture that we appropriate without deep consideration and I see little respect for those traditions when we do so. I find it sad that those genuinely seeking change encounter too many who have, using the Tao or other ancient traditions, set themselves up as "wise" without, in fact, having wisdom.

The Tao has been a great money making opportunity for many people as is Zen these days. Zen decorating, Zen perfume, Zen blah, blah, blah.

I appreciated the review, so often the only reviews of these books are pasted on the back cover of them and naturally they are raves.


From: prairies | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Américain Égalitaire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7911

posted 08 December 2005 12:39 PM      Profile for Américain Égalitaire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Indeed. This particular section of the bookstore I work in is quite the money maker. Until I worked here, I never conceived that there was such an "industry" in Tao and Zen. Wow.

And they bring all these books to the counter and pay for them with maxed out credit cards as they talk on their cell phones.

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?


From: Chardon, Ohio USA | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 08 December 2005 02:59 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by a citizen of winnipeg:
It is symptomatic of our culture that we appropriate without deep consideration

I dunno. I think that's as old as the stuff being appropriated. Half of Zen and Tao both seem to be desperate efforts to overcome the tendency of students to say "Oooh! Wisdom! Shiny! I shall mouthe the platitudes and claim to be wise, while absorbing nothing and remaining a jerk!"


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
sarabble
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10937

posted 08 December 2005 03:28 PM      Profile for sarabble     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Though I too detest a review that sounds like a sales pitch, I don't like the opposite much either. The completely negative review is a bit of a cheap shot since it's easy to ridicule something and come off as clever. Film reviews are notorious for this - the supernegative ones become a writerly exercise in exploring fresh, creative and humorous ways of putting something down. That said, I bet this reviewer is right on the money with this book.

It definitely irks me when Eastern philosophies are revamped and packaged into touchy feely self-help pablum for Western consumption. Much of the original philosophy and practice is lost (all the sharper parts - discipline, regular practice, code of ethics) and is replaced with 'be here now' and 'anything goes - accept it all.' These books simplify complex ideas into basic comfort.


From: The Capital | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
LemonThriller
babbler
Babbler # 11085

posted 08 December 2005 03:47 PM      Profile for LemonThriller     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hmmmm, I don't know. Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction out of my zen flashcards. I don't know what I'd do without them.

But seriously, I think criticizing yuppies who are genuinely searching for meaning in their lives is just as bad as putting any old person down for seeking self improvement.

Yeah, so yuppies might not be doing the best job at self improvement, but I think books like these can act as the slippery slope that helps make them become better people -- and it's better than nothing.

I feel sorry for most yuppies though. You know, they're among the most depressed people in the world. I hope this book helps them out.


From: Halifax, N.S. | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
sarabble
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10937

posted 08 December 2005 04:15 PM      Profile for sarabble     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree that folks seeking happiness or self-improvement through books - or any means for that matter - shouldn't be made fun of or put down. Hey, if self help books work for them, then that's great.

What bugs me is when a self-help book cites Eastern philosophies as the basis for whatever self-affirmations, self-nurturing and other Westernized self-help medicines are laid out in said book. Such books are, to my mind, the literary equivalent of cheap jewelry which features religious symbols like oversized crosses and plastic prayer bead bracelets. It's trendy, it sells, and it's appropriation.


From: The Capital | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
Mr. Magoo
guilty-pleasure
Babbler # 3469

posted 08 December 2005 04:18 PM      Profile for Mr. Magoo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Hey, if self help books work for them, then that's great.

I want to write a book called "Self Esteem for Dummies".


From: ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°`°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø,¸_¸,ø¤°°¤ø, | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 08 December 2005 04:19 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ha! That's awesome.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
sarabble
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10937

posted 08 December 2005 04:22 PM      Profile for sarabble     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I want to write a book called "Self Esteem for Dummies".

That sounds like a terrible joke I heard - it goes something like this..."Suddenly, the therapist looked up with an expression of delight and said, 'Um, I think your problem is low self-esteem. It is very common among losers.'"


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LemonThriller
babbler
Babbler # 11085

posted 09 December 2005 01:40 PM      Profile for LemonThriller     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Such books are, to my mind, the literary equivalent of cheap jewelry which features religious symbols like oversized crosses and plastic prayer bead bracelets. It's trendy, it sells, and it's appropriation.

I'm just not completely comfortable with the concept of cultural appropriation. Religious or spiritual concepts are always changing, who gets to judge what change is appropriation (which has a negative connotation) and what change is simply a change for the better?

Who dictates the cultural value of an idea? If Buddhist monks had published a "zen for dummies" book, would you consider this to be a form of cultural appropriation because selling a book can be seen as commodifying spirituality?

Do we identify appropriation by those who sell it, or those who buy it?

Cheap plastic religious trinkets are sold all over the world, but, I would guess that most people who buy those trinkets are deeply moved by them -- or are reminded of deeply rooted beliefs by having them near.

What about a gay man who uses Catholic imagery in his art to convey the oppression he feels comes from the Catholic church? What if he paints a picture of Jesus kissing another man? Is this cultural appropriation, or does his view of Jesus belong to him alone as a part of his own cultural perspective?

My point is that cultural appropriation is a tricky and -- at least for me -- a dangerous concept. Yes, I think we all need to be more culturally aware and know as many traditions and practices of groups around the world as possible, but I think we end up commodifying a culture more by assuming its ideas are static or that any deviation from the traditional culture is a form of appropriation.


From: Halifax, N.S. | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
rinne
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9117

posted 09 December 2005 02:32 PM      Profile for rinne     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have purchased many squeaky plastic happy monks that hold an espresso cup and cell phone. I think they are too funny and too cute. I give them to all new babies I meet and many others too.

I grew up in a household with a Buddha that came from Japan. It was a Kamakura style incense holding Buddha manufactured just after the war. My mother's Uncle Sid (I've always gotten a kick out of that) took her to Woolworth's and let her pick her own present. She chose the Buddha. It would be an understatement to say that I was affected by that small red somewhat tacky Buddha. As a small child I imitated the posture, sitting alone by myself, tucked into a patch of lilies of the valley round the corner of the house and as an adult I have spent serious time on a cushion. Buddhism and Buddhist practice has had a profound affect on my life.

I do not have the quote but I believe it was Toynbee who said the twentieth century would be remembered for the transmission of Buddhism from East to West. How this transmission is occuring includes tacky Buddhist stuff and people tacking Tao or Zen onto things in order to market themselves and their ideas.

I look at it this way, Buddhist practice involves more than redecorating your circumstances with someone else's deluded ideas.


From: prairies | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2

posted 09 December 2005 06:55 PM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I avoid ANYTHING that involves the font "papyrus".

p.s. I'm deadly serious.


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
sarabble
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 10937

posted 12 December 2005 12:44 PM      Profile for sarabble     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I look at it this way, Buddhist practice involves more than redecorating your circumstances with someone else's deluded ideas.

Well said. When I began studying Buddhism academically for my religious studies minor I was quite surprised by how different the ideas were from the 'self-help'+Buddhism amalgamation I had found in so many new age bookstores years before. It was equally surprising to spend time at Gampo Abbey (Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia), and at Vipassana 10-day silent retreats, where the practices and ideas bore very little resemblance to the 'feel good' philosophies found in so many 'Buddhist' self-help materials.

However, I might not have ever been interested in Buddhism in the first place had I not seen those self-helpy 'Buddhist' books in the new age bookstores. Although they didn't properly represent the religion/philosophy as I have come to know it, the books certainly were a great advertisement for it. They packaged up all the easy parts and made them accessible and attractive to me, as a member of the Western consumer audience. In that sense, I guess those books certainly have their purpose.


From: The Capital | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
rinne
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9117

posted 12 December 2005 02:26 PM      Profile for rinne     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sarabble said, “They packaged up all the easy parts and made them accessible and attractive to me, as a member of the Western consumer audience. In that sense, I guess those books certainly have their purpose."

Thirty years ago I met a man who came to Buddhist practice through the C.I.A., he was a Sanskrit scholar and claimed he had been hired by them to mistranslate Buddhist texts but in the doing of it Buddhism held more appeal than the C.I.A.

And.

Some years later, while living in a Buddhist practice situation a government agent was planted among us to investigate what we were doing. I do know this is true and find it utterly hilarious to think of. I can just see the agent’s superior reviewing the report, questioning,
“sooo, when they are hungry, they eat, when they are tired, they sleep…. Mmmm….anything else….nothing, what do you mean nothing?”

And what Toynbee said.

So, I suppose I look at many of these books very skeptically, it seems to me many can be misleading. I am glad to know that some may come to practice through them. I think I missed “the easy parts”. What saddens me about the superficiality of so much of this type of literature is that it lies to people about the real work needed to penetrate the seamless world of greed, hate and delusion.

[ 12 December 2005: Message edited by: a citizen of winnipeg ]


From: prairies | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 13 December 2005 02:17 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The only thing you gotta worry about is the agent realizing that telling the truth isn't going to get them a promotion.
From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged

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