What the brayings are...

I've made a career (3 years and I don't get paid, so not really a career) of making fun of spiritual gurus on Facebook under the name of "Braying Jack Cass." Unfortunately Facebook finally caught up to the fact that my legal, birth name isn't "Braying Jack Cass" and shut down my page.

So I've come here to keep up my rantings and ravings and guru bashings, to point out the inconsistencies, absurdities, and fallacies in spiritual teachings, teachers, and seekers.


Monday, December 15, 2014

This, not That

I went to a non-duality meeting the other day, and instead of talking about non-duality they were talking about pro wrestling.

“Hey!” I said, “this isn’t non-duality, I came here to talk about non-duality!”

“Oh,” one of them replied, “this isn’t non-duality? You want us to talk about that?”

“Yes, not this, that! Talk about that!” I insisted.

“We didn’t realize that this wasn’t that,” another of them asserted.

“Yes, it’s not this, it’s that other thing,” I corrected them, “stop talking about this rather than that.”

But then it dawned on me, if non-duality wasn’t 'this', but was rather 'that', then it wasn’t non-duality at all, instead it was duality.

“Hmmmm,” I wondered, “is it even possible to talk about non-duality? As soon as you open your lips to talk about ‘this’ as opposed to ‘that’ you’ve created duality.”

So now I attend a different non-duality meeting each week. Last week the non-duality meeting was about knitting, this week it’s about coin collecting.

I no longer bother with those silly non-duality non-duality meetings because it’s obvious that they’re talking about ‘that’ and not ‘this!’

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Who's On First?

Jerry Katz and Rick Archer, the non-dual comedy duo, were organizing an upcoming advaita forum. They were discussing the lineup of speakers, and the following discussion ensued:

JERRY: Who’s on first?

RICK: Nobody.

JERRY: No one’s on first?

RICK: No, nobody’s on first. No one’s on second.

JERRY: Wait, you said that nobody’s on first.

RICK: Right.

JERRY: Well, if nobody’s on first then no one will be giving a presention at the beginning?

RICK: No, no one will be giving the second presentation.

JERRY: Nobody is giving the second presentation either?

RICK: No, nobody is giving the first presentation. No one is giving the second presentation.

JERRY: If nobody is giving the first presentation, and no one is giving the second presentation either, then who is the third speaker?

RICK: Who cares.

JERRY: I do! That’s why I’m asking.

RICK: No, who cares is the third speaker.

JERRY: I do! If nobody is giving the first talk, and no one is on second, then somebody better be giving the third presentation!

RICK: No, somebody is at home.

JERRY: Who’s at home?

RICK: No, somebody’s at home. Who’s running the video camera.

JERRY: I don’t know.

RICK: He’s collecting the donations at the door.

JERRY: Who is?

RICK: I don’t know.

JERRY: You don’t know who’s collecting the donations at the door?

RICK: Yes, I do. I don’t know.

JERRY: You don't know or you do know?

RICK: I do know, I don't know.

JERRY: Ok, let me get this straight. Nobody is giving the first presentation.

RICK: Right.

JERRY: And no one is giving the second presentation.

RICK: Exactly.

JERRY: And you don't care who's giving the third presentation.

RICK: No, I do care. The third presentation is who cares.

JERRY: You just said that you did!

RICK: I do. Who cares.

JERRY: Allright, forget that. At least let's figure out who's collecting the donations at the door.

RICK: I already told you, I don't know.

JERRY: Well, let's get somebody on it right away!

RICK: Somebody's at home.

JERRY: Then no one can do it?

RICK: No, no one is giving the second presentation.

JERRY: You're telling me that nobody can collection donations?

RICK: No. Nobody is the first speaker.

JERRY: Who's going to collect donations!!??

RICK: Who's running the video camera.

JERRY: I don't know!

RICK: That's who's collecting donations at the door.

JERRY: Who is?

RICK: I don't know.

JERRY: Oh my God, I quit! I’m going to become a Scientologist. Less craziness!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My new 2-man play: Fred Davis Calls The FBI To Report Stalking And Harassment

FRED DAVIS: Hello, FBI?

FBI: Yes, this is the FBI.

FRED DAVIS: I’d like to report stalking and harassment.

FBI: Ok, how are you being stalked and harassed?

FRED DAVIS: Someone is saying that I’m a convicted sex offender on the internet.

FBI: I see. So you aren’t and they’re lying about you then.

FRED DAVIS: No, I am.

FBI: You are?

FRED DAVIS: Yes, I am.

FBI: A convicted sex offender?

FRED DAVIS: Yes, a convicted sex offender.

FBI: Ok, so they’re telling the truth about you?

FRED DAVIS: Yes, they’re telling the truth about me.

FBI: But you’re being stalked and harassed from people telling the truth about you?

FRED DAVIS: Yes, I’d like them prosecuted please.

FBI: Telling the truth about someone isn’t exactly stalking and harassment.

FRED DAVIS: But they’re saying it all over the Facebook and on reviews for my books on Amazon.com!

FBI: They’re going onto you Facebook page and threatening you?

FRED DAVIS: No, I don’t have a Facebook page. I’m not allowed to have Facebook as a convicted sex offender.

FBI: Oh, right, I should have known that. So they’re threatening you on their own Facebook pages?

FRED DAVIS: Well, not really threatening, more like making fun of me.

FBI: Making fun of you?

FRED DAVIS: Yes, making fun of me. Nasty comments, humorous pictures, that kind of thing.

FBI: Ok, but are they telling people to go to your house and attack you, or anything like that?

FRED DAVIS: No, they’re making fun of me.

FBI: Ok, well, that’s not really against the law. If making fun of people on Facebook were a crime we’d have to build a hell of a lot of more prisons!

FRED DAVIS: But they’re stalking me!

FBI: So how are they stalking you? Are they following you around town? Parking in front of you house?

FRED DAVIS: No, internet stalking. They’re posting negative reviews of me on Amazon.com.

FBI: So they’re going into other people’s book reviews and pointing out that you’re a convicted sex offender?

FRED DAVIS: No, they’re going into my book reviews and pointing out that I’m a convicted sex offender.

FBI: What do you write books about?

FRED DAVIS: Spirituality, Enlightenment, Awakening, that kind of thing.

FBI: And you think they’re stalking you by writing negative reviews of your books on Amazon.com.

FRED DAVIS: Yes, exactly, could you arrest them please?

FBI: I’m sorry, sir, but if we arrested everyone who wrote a negative book review on Amazon.com we’d need even more prison cells than if we arrested everyone who made fun of someone on Facebook. For the people who write negative reviews of Stephen King books alone we need about 100 more prisons.

FRED DAVIS: But it’s not fair! They’re not supposed to use the information on the sex offender registry to harass and stalk me!

FBI: They’re posting your address and phone numbers and encouraging people to harass you?

FRED DAVIS: Well, no, not exactly…

FBI: They’re showing up at your house and physically confronting you?

FRED DAVIS: Well, no, not exactly…

FBI: Ok, sir, how about if you call the Facebook police or the Amazon.com secret service, they may be able to help you. Good day.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Marketing the Intangible: The Story of Enlightenment and Marshmallows

What exactly is Enlightenment? (or “Awakening” which is a more popular term lately). Is it something objective, tangible, and measurable? Or is it a subjective state that can only be known through one’s direct experience?

Many people claim that they are seeking Enlightenment, and others have claimed that they’ve achieved it. Those who claimed to have achieved it often market their services, for a pretty penny, to share insights and/or techniques which can then spur Enlightenment in others. But if someone claims to be Enlightened (or Awakened) and to be able to provoke this in others, how do we know if these claims are true?

There is no universally agreed to definition of Enlightenment. Some may say that it’s a significant spiritual achievement only attained by the likes of the Buddha and unattainable for other mere mortals, at least in one lifetime. Others may define Enlightenment as something less lofty, e.g. an insight into one’s true nature or seeing through the lies of the mind.

Neither definition though is something that can be measured tangibly. How do we know exactly what the Buddha’s physical or spiritual state was? We can judge the wisdom of his words, and also praise the virtues of his actions, but have no way of knowing what lies beyond our own direct experiences of his words and actions. If a person claims to have had an insight into their true nature, or having seen through the lies of the mind, can this be measured for veracity? They could just be repeating words that they have heard others say, and even if some sort of insight was achieved is there a way to weigh or measure them?

About the only tangible measure we have of something which could be called Enlightenment is the recording of brain waves. In the following article: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20989-monkeys-meditate-for-marshmallows.html experiments were done with monkeys in which neurofeedback was used to train monkeys to reach what’s described as a “Zen-like meditative” state for the reward of a marshmallow. The monkeys were able to reach a very calm and peaceful state where the brain activity was diminished which was measured as being in a certain frequency range.

Of course this brings the idea of Enlightenment from the sacred to the profane; it’s no longer a spiritual pursuit but a material one. Yet if we are reluctant to relegate the spiritual attainment of Enlightenment to the scientific realm we are condemned to accept on faith someone’s claim of being spiritually advanced. If thoughts can’t be weighed or measured with a ruler, then we certaintly can’t make an objective evalulation of whether or not someone’s thoughts are superior to another’s.

I’m reminded of a video where Ken Wilber straps some electrodes to his head and demonstrates that he can reach a state of stopping or slowing his brain waves which is akin to Enlightenment, i.e. a state of “no mind.” My first reaction to the video was that it was simply a spiritual parlour trick. Of course it’s not clear from the video whether or not Ken was rewarded with a marshmallow.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Satsangs Explained

The people harboring the “I need to attain Enlightenment to escape suffering” delusion seek help from the people harboring the “I’ve Awakened and attained Enlightenment” delusion. The people harboring the “I’ve Awakened and attained Enlightenment” delusion feel the desire to help those harboring the “I need to attain Enlightenment to escape suffering” delusion.

So they gather together and those harboring the “I’ve Awakened and attained Enlightenment” delusion sit in front of the people harboring the “I need to attain Enlightenment to escape suffering” delusion and the person sitting in front, the one harboring the “I’ve Awakened and attained Enlightenment” delusion, talks about how their delusion is superior to the delusion of the people harboring the “I need to attain Enlightenment to escape suffering” delusion.

Then the people sitting in the audience, the ones harboring the “I need to attain Enlightenment to escape suffering” delusion ask questions of those sitting in front, the ones harboring the “I’ve Awakened and attained Enlightenment” delusion, until they all come to an agreement on the most desirable delusion to harbor.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advaita (Non-Duality) for Neophytes and the Clueless

Group 1 (“do somethings”)

Premise: What you are is not the body and mind, but rather LOVE, or GOD, or AWARNESS, or THE INFINITE, or WHATEVAS.

Thesis: The mind is full of thoughts which are bogus, fantastical, bullshit, made-up stories, nonsense, delusory, festering, perverted, malignant, twisted, warped, fabricated, and illusory.

Conclusion: Become totally obsessed by the thoughts by staring at them, examining them, challenging them, questioning them, turning them around, finding their shadows, and generally resolving them until all of the nasty thoughts go away and are replaced by happy and fluffy thoughts of puppy dog kisses and unicorns dancing on rainbows. These people are notable for attending satsangs, silent retreats, intensives, and generally “doing something” as a practice. They are mocked by the “do nothings” (see below). People wishing to make some $eriou$ cash in the advaita scene are well advised to get a mailing list of these people.

Group 2 (“do nothings”)

Premise: What you are is not the body and mind, but rather AWARENESS, or CONSCIOUSNESS.

Thesis: The mind is full of thoughts which are bogus, fantastical, bullshit, made-up stories, nonsense, delusory, festering, perverted, malignant, twisted, warped, fabricated, and illusory.

Conclusion: Since you are not the thoughts, no worries, ignore them (or don’t) because you’re not in control anyway and can’t even if you want to (or don’t.) Anytime one of the "do somethings" (see above) points out your shadows and erroneous beliefs just respond " 'who' cares?" These people are known for pontificating and bloviating about the non-necessity of doing anything and mocking the “do somethings” (see above). These people are generally slackers in real life and don’t have much ambition. E.g., they won’t clean their homes unless guests are coming over.

The "do somethings" and "do nothings" are in perpetual war, and even though they treat their born-again Christian or fundamentalist Jewish family members, neighbors, and co-workers with respect and joviality, they treat each other with utter contempt and disgust, hurling such invectives as "woo woo new-ager!" and "neo advaitan!" at each other, as drool and spittle sprays from their mouths.

Getting in between the "do somethings" and "do nothings" as they brawl is about as smart as trying to breakup a pitbull fight; you'll end up bloodied and perhaps missing a few digits on a hand. Avoid at all costs.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From my non-existent interview with Non-Duality magazine*:

NDM: Can you please tell me about your awakening, how and when this happened?

Braying Jack Cass: It was quite a shock. It happened very suddenly and unexpectedly, like that time I ate at the 1-star Indian restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico. When in Tijuana, stick with Mexican food, I say.

NDM: When you came to this Self realization, that you are "I Am", were you studying the Kaballah, or anything else like Vedanta, atma vichara, or Buddhism and so on?

Braying Jack Cass: I was studying Swahili at the time, actually. It’s been my dream since a child to go to Kenya and live amongst the goat herders. I haven’t gotten much past “Hamjambo” though, so it will probably take me a few more years to realize the fruition of my dreams.

NDM: Then when you finally realized that you are "only awareness". At this point what kind of a vasana load did you have?

Braying Jack Cass: Oh, I had a full load. Quite a load. A pants load.

NDM: Can you please explain the difference between sense of being awareness and finally only awareness?

Braying Jack Cass: I could, but I doubt that you’re intelligent enough to understand it, so what’s the point, really?

NDM: On page 16 of your book entitled, One. Essential Writings on Nonduality, Sri Ramana talks about the importance of vasana-kshya. The destruction of vasanas. Do you believe it is possible to be Self Realized, to be liberated, (moksha) without destroying these vasanas?

Braying Jack Cass: Vasanas are very fragile, like a Chinese vase. And I’m like a donkey in a China shop. So, many vasanas were destroyed in the process.

NDM: What would you say to someone who was saying they were liberated but were still acting out on their vasanas for violence, and saying they are not the doer/perpetrator. That it is God that is the doer/perpetrator of this violence?

Braying Jack Cass: I would say, “Wise up, stop acting like a schmuck.”

NDM: Ok, let me put it another way. Sri Ramana said: ‘For those who are very attached to their filthy bodies, all the study of Vedanta will be as useless as the swinging of the goat’s fleshy beard unless, with the aid of Divine Grace, their studies lead them to subdue their egos.’ Sri Adi Shankaracharya says: The first step to Liberation is the extreme aversion to all perishable things, then follow calmness, self-control, forbearance, and the utter relinquishment of all work enjoined in the Scriptures. Do you see it this way or is anyone fit for this, no matter how they behave or are acting out?

Braying Jack Cass: I really like that “goat’s fleshy beard" analogy. That’s pretty cool. He could have also said, “donkey’s filthy nutsack.” That would have been cool too.

NDM: Ok, as far as divine grace but how about being fit to practice atma vichara? Sri Adi Shankaracharya says: 69. The first step to Liberation is the extreme aversion to all perishable things, then follow calmness, self-control, forbearance, and the utter relinquishment of all work enjoined in the Scriptures. Sri Ramana Maharshi also says: ‘Only to such a mind which has gained the inner strength of one-pointedness, Self-enquiry will be successful. But a weak mind will be like wet wood put into the fire of jnana-vichara ‘If the aspirants have not one-pointed mind, which is possible for him who has pure mind full of sattva, dispassion, discrimination, etc., Self-enquiry is impossible.’

Braying Jack Cass: Stop the name dropping, please. What do YOU say?

NDM: What are your thoughts on neo advaita saying that there is No morality. No right or wrong. No meaning? Please See the interview with Suzanne Foxton.

Braying Jack Cass: I think that Suzanne Foxton is kind of cute. Is that immoral to say? I wish there were more cute, female non-dual gurus. Enough of these sweaty guys, with their scratchy beards, reeking of patchouli.

NDM: Yes, but Avadhuta Gita is also reading material meant for the use of advanced students.

Braying Jack Cass: True. One should only read the Avadhuta Gita after having read “I Am That” for the hundredth time. If the spine is still intact, you haven’t read it enough. One of the most spiritually-advanced people I’ve ever met had it held together by duct tape. Now that’s dedication!

NDM: The Ashtavakra Gita is also from the absolute level.

Braying Jack Cass: Yes, it absolutely is. Luckily, I only live half in the absolute. My left half. That’s why I lurch when I walk.

NDM: Yes on this absolute level there is no right or wrong. But what about on the relative level.

Braying Jack Cass: My relatives are absolutely wrong, at all times. A bunch of meat-eating Republicans. They think I’m some kind of freak. That’s actually the only thing they’re right about.

NDM: Dattatreya is considered by some to be the predecessor of the Aghori tradition. The tantric left hand path. Are you saying that neo- advaita is a new western left hand path of the Aghori? That Tony Parsons and Suzanne Foxton, Jeff Foster are some kind of neo advaitic tantric Aghori? Breaking all taboos and violating traditions?

Braying Jack Cass: Taboos, schmaboos. Ok, seriously, enough of this gibberish. I’m going to go for a walk in the woods…

*all of the Non-Duality Magazine questioins are real, I just substituted in my own answers

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