Jesus God Almighty help us all. Someone in the comments section posted a link to Genpo Roshi's Big Heart Circle page. Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse in the world of Buddhism in America along comes a "life changing seminar" with one of the "great awakened masters of our time" for just $50,000! No joke, friends. It'll cost you fifty thousand smackers to sit and sniff the big farts™ of Mr. Genpo in a luxury hotel. This is far beyond the most appalling crap I've ever seen in the name of the Dharma. It really has sunk to a new depth of slime and awfulness. I've canceled my appearance at the Young Buddhists Retreat in Massachusetts (whenever they reschedule it) due to their association with Genpo (which I didn't know about when I said yes to it in the first place, I will do better research in the future).
Someone else sent me this link to a page Sock Monkey put up while I've been away in Japan. I'm going to need to have a long talk with him when I get back to California. Not that I'd recommend either of these seminars, but I think you'd get more out of five days with Sock Monkey than five days with Genpo. I'm serious.
What's even sadder about this is that Genpo didn't invent this kind of scam. Pricey fake enlightenment seminars like this are common practice these days. There must be a thousand of them running any day of the week. There is a whole lot of money to be made in this business. As Joshu Sasaki said way back in 1974 when this stuff was only just getting started, "If you have money to give those guys, give it to me instead!"
And don't think I haven't thought about this myself. Cuz I have. When I lost my regular job, the wheels started rolling in my head about what I could do to make ends meet. My rep as a teacher is such that I could probably make some good green charging the clueless big bucks for a chance at a personal "life changing" meeting with the great and wonderful your's truly. Has Genpo been on CNN? I bet I could get even more suckers than him if I really worked it.
In fact about two or three years ago I was offered a chance to lead a luxury cruise ship retreat to South America. I looked into it and I couldn't stomach the thought. Later on I told this story to a friend who knows this scene very well. The organizers had never talked dollars and cents (or sense) to me. But they did say I'd be paid. My friend said they were probably going to offer in the neighborhood of $10,000. Can you imagine? I coulda made ten thousand samolians to spend a week on a cruise ship! Me! Holy crap! Literally...
All this comes up for me the day after I started negotiating a new contract with the company I've been working for. Here I am about to commit to hard labor in the film business when I could earn three times as much hanging out at luxury hotels hobnobbing with the rich and foolish. What the hell am I thinking?
Now please understand. I'm not trying to tell you what a saint I am. Far from it. It's just that I cannot even picture myself charging money for people to be in my presence. Can you? What kind of arrogance is that? Do people really think they can learn how to dismantle their ego by hanging around with someone whose view of himself is so over inflated he thinks it's reasonable to charge thousands of dollars just to hang out with him? Do these people have the ability to think at all? I just don't get it and I hope I never do.
But I see how it works. Now that I'm getting more well-known I see the way some people's eyes light up when I walk into a room. They get way too excited and it scares me. I don't know who they're seeing when they look in my general direction. But it's not real, and I have to work hard sometimes to convince them of that. The "Enlightened Being" they create in their minds seems to be a much more real thing than the actual human being they're projecting that image upon. I know because I've made that same projection myself more times than I'd like to admit. All guys like Genpo do is milk that stuff for whatever it's worth. That is the very opposite of Buddhism. It's sickening.
The Enlightened Beings Club I mentioned in my latest Suicide Girls piece operates in such a way as to enhance each of its members ability to scam the gullible out of their spare change by constantly beefing up each other's reputations. It works just like celebrity-hood in Hollywood. This stuff is so transparent I don't even know why it takes a dork like me to point it out. But I guess that's my lot in life.
Anyhow, that's my rant for the day. Now I'm gonna go out and scout for cool monster books and toys. Just think of how many more I could buy if I held a couple seminars...
It's tempting, it's tempting...
Thursday, September 25, 2008