Killing the Buddha in the Road, A musing on judging your heroes

A koan that I often hear repeated is “If you see the Buddha in the road, kill him.” This one often freaks out people unfamiliar with the concept of a koan, which I personally have always taken to be statements and questions that don’t have a definitive answer, but the answer(s) that you find yourself in thinking on them help you to reach minor epiphanies about yourself, and in doing so, expand your consciousness. (Phew, that sentence.)

Of course, their lack of familiarity with the concept of a koan may make them even better suited to utilizing one, much in the same way that a trap generally works better if one is not aware that they are walking into a trap. On the other hand, not knowing that they are supposed to think on it, they may just dismiss it out of hand as gibberish. It’s kind of a funny concept like that.

In any case, this particular koan has always led me to a conclusion that many have drawn from it: Challenge your preconceptions, especially concerning those you hold in high respect. Never let anyone get away with anything, especially if you would dismiss their faults over the other things that you like about them. Judge your heroes. Judge them HARD.

Which isn’t to say that you can’t have heroes, and appreciate them for their works. It just means acknowledging them for the human beings they are.

A personal example: This mindset is especially important to me, as an avid reader. Some of the most acclaimed authors in history had serious flaws as far as societal/personal views went. This is of course, an effect of looking back in time and judging the past based on modern standards, but even so.

Howard Phillip Lovecraft, old H.P. himself. I love Lovecraft’s stories. I love the effect he had on horror as a genre. I love the cosmic dread that he evokes, and the artwork that it has inspired. His way of crafting a scene is one that creates a world that I can easily drop into, the icy water in the air of the Massachusetts pier, the cool fog of the streets at night, the musty tomes in a private library lit by candlelight. He was a brilliant writer, and the culture that has sprung up around his writings is one that I can appreciate on so many levels.

He was also a huge racist.

I’m talking unfathomably huge by modern standards. Even worse, his views leaked over several of his more famous writings. The Deep Ones of The Shadow Over Innsmouth? Directly inspired by the worst Yellow Peril propaganda concerning people of Chinese descent. Several times during his canon he describes anyone of darker skin as “Sub-human,” and goes out of his way to point them out as the main body of the cults to spring up around his cosmic entities. Even the Necronomicon, a tome that has become an artifact of the genre and spilled over into several others, was authored by the “Mad Arab,” who gets descriptions as unflattering as his moniker.

And here’s the trick. He’s one of the better ones. Supposedly (Some researchers agree, others disagree) his views softened over time, and he repented that portion of his writings on his deathbed.


It’s not just limited to authors either. Mother Theresa, whom many are brought up to think of as a saint, if not a Saint, is famous for her works helping the poor. It came out later, however, that while she treated the symptoms of poverty, she actively fought against solving the problems that caused it, as she viewed poverty as a more enlightened state of being. The Scandinavian countries, especially Sweden and Norway, which socialists such as myself often tout as shining idols of human rights and equality, have been carrying out a campaign of systematic discrimination against their native peoples, the Sami, for years.

It is important that these faults be acknowledged rather than covered up. It is up to the individual whether or not they are a deal breaker as far as respecting the person/organization/country goes, but don’t let them go uncommented on.

This is especially an issue in the U.S. that I have seen, with celebrity figures using fame as a shield to blatantly ignore the legal ramifications of everything from public intoxication to Drunk Driving/Murder/Rape. Anyone else committing a crime would but tossed away and forgotten by society, (My rant about the state of the US Prison System is for another topic, another time) but for those with enough fame to be instantly acquitted in the court of public opinion, all blame gets instantly shifted onto the victim. In most cases, the unfortunate athletes and celebrities are the ones that spend a single night in jail. Others go to court, publically weep, and the adoring masses forgive them.

Everyone has faults. Many are quick to shift blame to hide the fact that they are flawed themselves. There is a constant war between Perception and Truth, and rarely the two shall meet. Though I generally consider myself an optimist, I am of the belief that all told, Perception is the stronger of the two.

By all means, love their works. I still appreciate H.P. Lovecraft’s writings and everything that they have created in modern times. But acknowledge things that are wrong. If one does not, then you do not like a person, you like an ideal. Holding the person to the ideal, and idly dismissing anything about the person that does not fit the ideal you’ve built up around them is downright dangerous.

Love the beauty that people bring to the world. Acknowledge the ugliness rather than hiding it away.

And if you see the Buddha in the road, kill him.


Here’s to You, Humanity (Now with foreword)

Some of you have likely already seen the content of this post. Those of you who have been following me for some time on Facecult especially. I’m posting it again here, because I need to have a quick-link to it, as it is something that I need to re-read every now and again.

About this essay: I wrote this on a very, very bad day. One of the worst in recent memory, though it was just under two years ago at this point. I was wallowing in confused anger, self-loathing, and general badness. It was not good by any means, but then I started to pity myself.

I can’t stand self-pity. Especially when I’m the one doing it. So, I took everything that I was feeling, and used it to drive me forward. I wrote this with a passion in a single sitting, crying the whole time. I was determined that, rather than let myself be consumed, I was going to create something beautiful and put it out in the world.

I hope you find as much meaning in it as I do.


Here’s to you, Humanity.

We all have had bad days, some of us bad months, even years. We all bear our private demons, each and every one of us. We have been battered, bruised, broken, and some days it seems rare to see a person with more whole flesh than scars, metaphorical or otherwise. Things don’t always go our way, and sometimes a single no will appear to erase all of the times an answer has been yes.

Maybe it was a hard time, harder than any we had previously encountered. Maybe there are far too many clouds to see the silver lining, at least for now. But that, in a nutshell, is what makes us human. The clouds will break for us.

Maybe not now, maybe not today, maybe not for years to come, but we persevere. At the end of the day, when the little voice of our demons whisper how it would be easier to give up, to accept what is, we wipe the sweat from our sunburned brows and press on. The night holds no fear for us when we walk as one people, the song of our collective hopes, dreams, and souls on our lips.

Look around us. We are ragged, tired, overworked. We are radiant, energized, fulfilled. We are the eye of the beholder, we see each others’ scars and declare one another beautiful. We march through the pain, pressing onward until our feet become calloused and strong.

It is through our trials that we discover ourselves. It is too often easy to look around and say that we are content. We can become better. What better is, we are still figuring out. The important thing is that WE do it. It is not for any one person to say what is better for any other. By uplifting our fellows, we become stronger as a whole.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, or so it is said. Ostracizing a weak link exacerbates the problem, it does not solve it. We are humanity. Human is a descriptor that we can all ascribe by. Rather than distancing ourselves from a problem, we can work together to strengthen the chain as a whole. Strength is whatever can solve the problem at hand. We are stronger than we know, wiser than we think, and together, any challenge can be conquered.

Maybe it’s all a pipe dream. Maybe we are stuck in a holding pattern. But, then again, maybe we aren’t.

We can do anything. WE are the embodiment of chaos and order, method and madness. WE are the force for change. WE may have had a bad day, but WE wipe the blood from our split lips and keep trying. WE have no use for obstacles claiming to be insurmountable, for WE have already defeated far worse. WE are HUMANITY, and WE are getting better.

So, here’s to you Humanity. It may seem bad today, but we’ve already done this dance. We know the steps, and though our muscles ache and our bodies bleed, we live. We live. WE are LIFE.

Here’s to you, Humanity. Here’s to all of us.

What a way to start this off…

This is just something I do to calm my thoughts when I am frustrated, or to extend my self-awareness as a meditative exercise, or even just to get me feeling good when I need the boost.

First off, get naked.

No, this isn’t a weird sex thing. Trust me, while I am perfectly capable, willing, and eager to talk about weird sex things, I will generally start the post off saying that such topics will be covered in today’s discussion, so that those who don’t care to read about weird sex things can, well, not read about them. This one is not such a post. Rather, this is a Deep Thoughts post.

So, is everyone who’s still here naked? Good! Now move.

Do a little dance. Stretch. Do some yoga. Walk through a Martial Arts Kata. Imitate that one thing that you saw on TV once and thought it looked badass. Whatever works for you. Just get your body moving.

Now, instead of looking around the room, or staring into space while listening to music, look down at your body. Keep moving while you do it, and pay close attention to what is happening. See the way your muscles work, the way your skin moves. Try stretching a bit, and try to watch the tendons extend as you feel the stretch in your limbs. Watch the way your chest moves with every breath.

Then try to take in the fact of what is happening. Picture your lungs working, organic bellows pumping the oxygen into your blood. See the blood flow through your veins, carrying that oxygen to the rest of your body. The valves opening and closing, sending the fluid to every inch of tissue. Imagine your joints as hinges, as simple machines. See the muscles and tendons pull back the levers and release them once more.

How many different changes on a cellular level must have gone on in the course of evolution to make us what we are now? What vast, generation-spanning events must have cause the first of our land-dwelling ancestors to crawl from the sea, lungs filling with dry air? The great organic engine of the Human body, as inefficient as it is at times, is a marvel of genetic coding. When Darwin first began writing his books, did he sit back and try to ponder the great eons that passed in between the exodus to dry land and the first actual hominid? Our journey has been a long one, and we are still walking. We go from jetting along at a single-celled level to walking upright as the apex species of our planet, and still our feeble minds are unable to comprehend the passing of years that brought us here. We can put a number to it now, but even that is an abstraction. Time is vast, overwhelmingly so, and yet, here we are.

We are what has come out of it. Our ancestors fought tooth and nail to survive their environment, and underneath the clothes we have fashioned for ourselves, our bright artificial plumage, our shield against the elements, we are still animals like any other. Flesh and bone, at once intensely humbling and inexplicably majestic. We are beautiful, our movements capturing the results of the efforts of more species than we probably yet know about. A machine in skin, a thinking engine strong enough to comprehend this, and silly enough to think ourselves above it.

Being an animal isn’t a bad thing. We are not really separate from them. We eat of their flesh, as predators do, and although we have not always been the best stewards of this as a species, we manage population levels while doing so. We are built forward-facing, the mark of a hunter, with hands designed for fine manipulation. Move and stretch your fingers. See the tendons on the back of your hand. Why do we see the body as grotesque? There is a primal beauty to every aspect of it! Mostly because others tell us to in order to profit off our discomfort. To deny them, throw off the forced perspective. See the tapestry of you, with all of its minute flaws and minute perfections. Accept the flesh you wear, a moving meditation. Breath in and exalt in the sensation of the air moving through you, the feel of it on your bare skin. Rejoice in your senses, perceive the world as only a creature with your unique senses can. Adore yourself.

Ok, that’s it. You can stop moving. You can even put on clothes if you want. Whatever floats your boat.

In any case, that’s what I do. A sort of material-centric meditation, as well as a bit of exercise. If it works for you, I’m glad. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. I also enjoy chocolate for all of the above problems/solutions. Try that.

In any case, you are beautiful. Yes, you.