To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

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To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:54 am

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People often refer to Buddhism as a "hippie religion." To what extent do you think this is true?

(Other threads have referred to this idea before, but I thought that it might be good to tackle it head on.)

If the word "hippie" implies peace, compassion, and tolerance, then I would say that Buddhism is a "hippie religion."

If the word "hippie" implies laziness and attachment to sex, alcohol, drugs, and other sensory pleasures, then I would say that Buddhism is not a "hippie relgion."

Also, if the word "hippie" refers to dressing like a hippie, then I would say that this is not relevant to Buddhism at all and that one can be a dedicated Buddhist while wearing any type of clothes (well, it would be hard to make an argument for why a Buddhist should wear butt-less pants like Prince wore at one music award show, so let's say "almost any type of clothing"...).

All the Buddhist priests I have met have been very focused and hard-working. They have an outlook which is a mix of the "just relax" and "work hard and be alert" philosophies.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Nov 07, 2010 12:15 pm

I believe this came about because Jack Kerouac wrote that book, The Dharma Bums. Yes, he was a beat, but then in my readings, as I remember it, many of the beats became hippies. But his book, On the Road, was very popular with the hippies as well. His Buddhist type of religion as far as I remember seemed hedonistic to me, but I could be wrong. In later years I read a book about him in which he wished that those books had not been published or he tried to stop them from being published, I don't remember which, but he felt this because he had moved away from that lifestyle or if maybe it didn't last. And yet I wonder if he completely had moved away from his hedonistic lifestyle? It has been 20 years since I spent time reading beat literature, but I also remember that the beat, Allen Ginsberg was also into Buddhism and Hinduism and lead chants such as Om Namah Shivaya and Hare Krishna and well as others. His guru was Chögyam Trungpa. But when I was in Berkeley in the 70s, I more into the New Age, psyhic readings, and just before moving, I took TM but not the teachings. And it wasn't until a few years after moving that I began reading about the hippies and beatniks. But I just found these articles:

Here is a wikipedia comment:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_hippie_movement
The Beat Generation, especially those associated with the San Francisco Renaissance gradually gave way to the Sixties counterculture, accompanied by a shift in terminology from "beatnik" to "hippie." Many of the original Beats remained active participants, notably Allen Ginsberg, who became a fixture of the anti-war movement. On the other hand, Jack Kerouac broke with Ginsberg and criticized the 1960s protest movements as an "excuse for spitefulness." Bob Dylan became close friends with Allen Ginsberg, and Ginsberg became close friends with Timothy Leary. Both Leary and Ginsberg were introduced to LSD by Michael Hollingshead in the early 1960s, and both became instrumental in popularizing psychedelic substances to the hippie movement.

Here is some information on Kerouac:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kerouac
Kerouac was demoralized by criticism of Dharma Bums from such respected figures in the American field of Buddhism as Zen teacher Ruth Fuller Sasaki and Alan Watts. He wrote to Snyder, referring to a meeting with D. T. Suzuki, that "even Suzuki was looking at me through slitted eyes as tho I was a monstrous imposter." He passed up the opportunity to reunite with Snyder in California, and explained to Whalen, "I'd be ashamed to confront you and Gary now I've become so decadent and drunk and dontgiveashit. I'm not a Buddhist any more."[33
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:52 pm

One of my profs recently asked if in North America whether Buddhism is associated with hippies anymore.

I said I didn't think it was anymore. I think nowadays it is more and more appropriated by New Age types.



As for hippies -- I imagine if you read a statement like "unconditional compassion for all sentient beings in the ten directions from the hell realms up to the highest deva and formless realms" and have no background knowledge of Buddhism or Indian thought, you'd think such a statement was made under the influence of some kind of trippy drug.

I mean come on: love everyone from all states of consciousnesses -- it sounds pretty mellow and trippy.

But generally speaking Buddhism is not really suitable for hippies. No intoxicants. Unrestricted sexual activity is generally frowned upon. Buddhist institutions usually have strong connections to the state. Recreational music is not held in high regard.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby ball-of-string » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:10 pm

My point of entry with Buddhist practice was post-hippy New Agers. Having said that, my current practice would make me the boring person at a post-hippy New Age party, if I even bothered to attend such an event.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Individual » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:14 pm

A bright light attracts many insects. :)
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Jikan » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:47 pm

For hippies and fellow-travelers, there are accessible forms of Buddha Dharma. For them, it's totally compatible, and hence, a hippie-friendly religious practice if not a hippie religion strictly speaking.

Of course it's possible to be a total square and find a way into Dharma practice.

One of the things I like about Buddhism is that there's a way in for everyone, a place for everyone. It meets people where they are. Even people who don't fit in with mainstream or hegemonic religions, even people who are so screwed up that psychotherapy won't work and they have to go the Full Vajrayana (because let's be honest, who would go to such an extreme as this if there wasn't an easier alternative available?). So there's a coincidence between hippie-dom and the Buddhist world in North America, because both are alternative ways of doing things, meaning that if the mainline gives you a rash (and it should!), you're going to try something different. Buddhism is certainly "something different," if you're doing it right.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:20 pm

Jikan wrote:So there's a coincidence between hippie-dom and the Buddhist world in North America, because both are alternative ways of doing things, meaning that if the mainline gives you a rash (and it should!), you're going to try something different. Buddhism is certainly "something different," if you're doing it right.

I think you got to the heart of the matter. Christianity and Judaism are in the mainstream and are often supported by the government in the US (although there is theoretically separation between church and state there). Other religions are by definition "rebellion" against those two. Telling a very mainstream person in the US that you are a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh, or a Buddhist makes them stare at you as strangely as if you were wearing tie-dye t-shirt and had a beard down to your knees.

Buddhist fashion also seperates one from the mainstream because it came from the east. Shave your head and don a saffron robe and you are instantly at least as far outside the mainstream as a hippie.

Jikan wrote:...Even people who don't fit in with mainstream or hegemonic religions, even people who are so screwed up that psychotherapy won't work and they have to go the Full Vajrayana (because let's be honest, who would go to such an extreme as this if there wasn't an easier alternative available?).

Erm... people who just think it's really cool and are totally fascinated by its philosophy and Tibetan culture and who enjoy meditating and reading mahasiddha stories?

I guess it's just our karma. I mean, why does one dog greedily gulp down beer while another dog won't touch it? It's karma.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Jikan » Sun Nov 07, 2010 8:48 pm

Interesting take, Luke.

To clarify my point: I was speaking of people who take up Dharma (particularly Vajrayana, and most particularly traditional forms of it) very earnestly and with a long-term commitment, not those who do it as a fashion statement.

I don't mean to generalize too much from the particular, but it seems to me that Dharma communities attract people who are suffering, often suffering a lot, and because of causes that pharmaceuticals and bureaucracies and broken families can't heal. Committing to a practice of making tormas and circling stupas and so on is by any definition something of a last resort, and people do it. In the process they make second families and they make themselves whole as they make merit and the causes for ultimate happiness for all beings.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 07, 2010 9:30 pm

Hippies like to associate with things that are exotic. Buddhism used to be exotic and there were too few educated Buddhists to tell the hippies off properly, so for quite a while hippies with all their horse sh!t explanations of why it's okay to do the stupid things they do in the context of Buddhism, ran the scene and were the face of Buddhism.

Now being a hippie isn't cool in the slightest, and yuppies are a little more interested in pretending they know what they're talking about.

Buddhism was never for hippies, they didn't ever adhere to the precepts or the training, much less know what they were talking about.

The past 40 years has been the equivalent of a retarded kid pretending he is an astronaut.

:coffee: The real astronauts being thoroughly offended when people compared them to the retard but at the same time not sure what to do about it. I mean, hippies are retarded, whaddya gonna do?
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby Luke » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:41 am

spiritnoname wrote:Hippies like to associate with things that are exotic. Buddhism used to be exotic and there were too few educated Buddhists to tell the hippies off properly, so for quite a while hippies with all their horse sh!t explanations of why it's okay to do the stupid things they do in the context of Buddhism, ran the scene and were the face of Buddhism.

Most hippies didn't follow Buddhism in a mature way, but it's possible that a few people got their start with Buddhism when they were hippies and later practiced Buddhism in a more mature way when they were older.

It's hard to say for sure, but I think that the immature interest that hippies had in Buddhism was better than having no interest at all. Even a tiny bit of Dharma can bring many benefits.

spiritnoname wrote:The past 40 years has been the equivalent of a retarded kid pretending he is an astronaut.

Maybe, but still hippies who believe in love and tolerance are less "retarded" from a Buddhist point of view than unethical, but well-educated world leaders are.

I guess this brings us to another confluence between Buddhism and hippie ideology, and that is left-wing politics.

It would be quite hard for a Buddhist to argue that the government should cut spending on education, social services, and healthcare and should instead give more tax breaks to large corporations and should fight more wars abroad and should be more racist. All the compassion teachings of Buddhism inevitably pull someone at least a little bit to the left. Most Buddhists aren't saying, "Buddha bless the USA! Let's kick out all the foreign immigrants! Let's bomb another Middle Eastern country who irritates us!"

spiritnoname wrote: :coffee: The real astronauts being thoroughly offended when people compared them to the retard but at the same time not sure what to do about it. I mean, hippies are retarded, whaddya gonna do?

But some of those astronauts used to fly planes in the air force and dropped bombs on lots of people, and that certainly isn't cool or good from a Buddhist perspective. For example, Buzz Aldrin flew 66 combat missions in the Korean War.
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Re: To what extent is Buddhism a "hippie religion"?

Postby plwk » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:58 am

I wonder if this would make sense...
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The Blessed One said, "Now, what are the eight thoughts of a great person?
This Dhamma is for one who is modest, not for one who is self-aggrandizing.
This Dhamma is for one who is content, not for one who is discontent.
This Dhamma is for one who is reclusive, not for one who is entangled.
This Dhamma is for one whose persistence is aroused, not for one who is lazy.
This Dhamma is for one whose mindfulness is established, not for one whose mindfulness is confused.
This Dhamma is for one whose mind is centered, not for one whose mind is uncentered.
This Dhamma is for one endowed with discernment, not for one whose discernment is weak.
This Dhamma is for one who enjoys non-objectification, who delights in non-objectification, not for one who enjoys & delights in objectification.
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