Yesterday I attended the Hare Krishna Festival of Chariots at Venice Beach. I was completely won over by their philosophy and free food and now renounce Buddhism forever!
Nah. But the food was very tasty (and I opted for the $7 plate rather than the free one -- much tastier!). Hare Krishnas are the best cooks in the material world. That's for sure. But, once again, as happened 20-odd years ago when I listened to their philosophy back at the Cleveland Temple, they failed to win me over. I know I rag on the Krishnas way too much. But I really don't mean to put them down specifically. I like them, actually, in some ways. It's just that that's what I know. My friend Bret came with me & when I was telling him about my experiences with the Krishnas it dawned on me just how deeply I had investigated their philosophy. I was even able to tell him how Krishna couples were supposed to "do it." I never actually lived at a Krishna temple. But a close friend of mine did. The stories I heard from her were enough for me.
At one point I watched a Krishna guy give a lecture about the Spiritual World. In the Spiritual World, he said, grass and trees and stones can all talk. It sounded like one of those old Sid & Marty Krofft Saturday morning TV shows. You know, like Lidsville or HR Puff'n'Stuff. Very cartoony. I like cartoons. But I like cartoons as cartoons. I don't want to pretend they're real. I mean, I don't care if trees can talk in Krishna Loka. They don't talk here. And here is what I am concerned about.
When I was a teenager investigating various Eastern religions, I checked out a number of gurus and philosophies. I had a whole bunch of translations of the Bhagavad Gita. The Krishna one was the coolest looking, but, unfortunately, the most philosophically suspect. I still ove it, though, and keep a copy on my bookshelf. I had some Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (of TM fame, the one who allegedly tried to use his spiritual powers to woo Mia Farrow) books. I had Swami Sattchitananda's album -- a double LP! I remember I liked Ramana Maharshi's books a lot and Jiddu Krishnamurti's as well. Though when I tried reading some of those in more recent years they left me a bit unimpressed.
One of the things I noticed about the Krishnas this time around is they have a very funny relationship with science. On the one hand, they endlessly put down various scientific theories. One of the regular features in their magazines was to reprint these dialogues where a Krishna devotee armed with whatever he could memorize out of an encyclopedia entry on, say, Darwin, would debate and be defeated by Srila Prabhupada, their leader, who would prove the entire theory to be poppycock. Yet, on the other hand, whenever it suits them, the Krishnas try to allign themselves with science. For example, they love scientific evidence that humans are naturally vegetarians. And they love to promote their philosophy as the science of self-realization. This is pretty typical among religious orders of various types.
When I encountered Buddhism I was amazed that it was so vastly different from the other forms of "Eastern Spirituality" I'd been exposed to. It is, in fact, totally different. Not only from other Eastern philosophical systems, but from every other philosophical system yet devised by man. It comes from a completely different place. It is not based on thought but upon action. It has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with what you do. Plus it has no beefs with science and never did even back in the olden days.
Blah-blah-blah. My editor's after me so I'm gonna go work on my book now. And maybe eat some of the incredibly delicious carob chip cookies I bought yesterday.
P.S. Take a look at the link. Gosh....