“Fed manure and kept in the dark…”

Posted by on Nov 16, 2010 in Otherhood | No Comments

Daniel Ingram:

An old friend and former meditation teacher of mine and I were ranting in our typically passionate style about this very topic one day, and we came up with the “Mushroom Theory.” Mushrooms are fed manure and kept in the dark, and we speculated that part of the problem was that some meditation teachers were using the “mushroom method” of teaching, thus raising a crop of “mushroom meditators,” all soft and pale. This is actually a bit of an extreme way to describe the situation, and is not meant to imply that the teachers were being malicious. However, there is this cultural factor in Western Buddhism that real insight, insight into the fundamental nature of reality or the Three Characteristics, is almost never talked about directly, unlike in Burma or some other settings. My friend and I called this cultural factor the “Mushroom Factor.”

And here:

If the teacher makes hints of enlightenment (by being an abbot of some monastery, teaching but not answering the question), this will tend to attract people who are not quite so devotionally religious, but still rather into the hierarchy, religion, worship, scene, and sort of into the practice, though starting to grow up, but usually don’t really expect to get far and probably still have some unrealistic expectations and disempowering projections about the whole enlightenment thing. It will also tend to disappoint realists and serious practitioners who, instead, like things being clear, open, down-to-earth and balanced, as they don’t like being treated as if the dharma is PG-13 and can only be discussed as it actually is between adults (monks/gurus/senior teacher list/etc.).

Daniel Ingram:

An old friend and former meditation teacher of mine and I were ranting in our typically passionate style about this very topic one day, and we came up with the “Mushroom Theory.” Mushrooms are fed manure and kept in the dark, and we speculated that part of the problem was that some meditation teachers were using the “mushroom method” of teaching, thus raising a crop of “mushroom meditators,” all soft and pale. This is actually a bit of an extreme way to describe the situation, and is not meant to imply that the teachers were being malicious. However, there is this cultural factor in Western Buddhism that real insight, insight into the fundamental nature of reality or the Three Characteristics, is almost never talked about directly, unlike in Burma or some other settings. My friend and I called this cultural factor the “Mushroom Factor.”

And here:

If the teacher makes hints of enlightenment (by being an abbot of some monastery, teaching but not answering the question), this will tend to attract people who are not quite so devotionally religious, but still rather into the hierarchy, religion, worship, scene, and sort of into the practice, though starting to grow up, but usually don’t really expect to get far and probably still have some unrealistic expectations and disempowering projections about the whole enlightenment thing. It will also tend to disappoint realists and serious practitioners who, instead, like things being clear, open, down-to-earth and balanced, as they don’t like being treated as if the dharma is PG-13 and can only be discussed as it actually is between adults (monks/gurus/senior teacher list/etc.).

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