Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogs are Useless

Buddhism is a face-to-face transmission. When Buddhists say that Buddhism is not in books it's because Buddhism cannot be contained in books. Books are a good way of pointing in the direction of Buddhism. But they always fall short. Blogs, by the way, are pretty useless in doing even that much, if you ask me.

Good old Brad Warner, stirring up shit again. During the same post, he also says Buddhism is not a religion, another quality doozy.

Anyway, anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I would disagree with Brad about his point that blogs are useless. My own experience is that this blog has become a part of my practice, and that it's pushed me to be more focused on how Buddha's teachings impact my day to day life. And writing in public about large scale social issues, convert Buddhist practice life, how sanghas function, and about my own personal life has forced me to be more attentive to it all, and also has provided another bullshit detector - all of you - in my life.

But today, I'd like to say that I also agree with Brad. It's mostly useless, in the same way that meditation is mostly useless, rituals are mostly useless, and sutras are mostly useless. Why is that? Because that which is useful is all about being serviceable for an end, or being productive somehow. In other words, it's about gaining something - and at the end of the day, there's nothing gained from blogging or meditating, for example, even if we think there is.

I suppose that could be depressing sounding. It is to the mind that was trained to be productive and useful in this society.

And yet, when I think about all the effort I have made, or have been told I need to make, to prove what I'm doing is useful and productive, it seems to be just as useless as everything else, and more harmful than some other activities because it just keeps some "I", some construction of a "me," hanging around.

Effort isn't the problem. Effort is necessary to keep life going. But effort to prove one's usefulness or value is about as helpful as reading 80 percent of the comments on Brad Warner's blog.

In case you've never visited Brad's blog, here are a few choice comments from the post I referenced. Enjoy and happy blogging!

"Help, I used the Enlightenizer™ and am experiencing anal leakage. I've just ruined my favourite brand new zafu!"


"I became a Self-Debunker through the Fire of belief, through research, and practice, just short of taking up rattlesnakes and drinking poison."

"I like the idea, to be blogging in a useless comment section of a useless blog.
Let us all be useless."


Brikoleur said...

I think writing blogs can be helpful. Reading them, sometimes, some blogs. Commenting on them, much less useful. Getting into scraps in the comment threads, not useful at all.

But then, what do I know.

Nathan said...

Actually, the scraps in the comments sections can be learning opportunities :)

Torbjörn "Tb" Andersson said...


it's all good practice, thats true.


Richard Harrold said...

Useless: having no use; ineffectual; not able to give service or aid.

The only activities I see as being "useless" are those that do not lead to understanding of what suffering is; what is the cause of suffering; what is the ending of suffering; and what is the path that leads to the end of suffering.

I think your blog, Nathan, has been useful.

Was Once said...

What do you faith in?

Nathan said...

Hey Richard,

Thanks. I disagree with Brad because he doesn't think the internet offers anything.

I was viewing blogging like other Buddhist practices as not having a certain end goal, not being "useful" in the way we ordinarily think of things as useful.

Maybe Brad wasn't the best foil for this discussion :)