Thursday, March 14, 2013


A friend lent me Watchmen

There's a picture of a Buddha in the background, where the guy says, "I guess none of these messiahs and illuminated types amount to a whole hill of beans."

The other guy says, "Well, there's never been any marketplace for peace and enlightenment."

They are expressing a cynicism that reminds me of mappo. Mappo is the idea that the world has degenerated so much that we can't get enlightened. What's the use. It's a kind of nihilism, and a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.

The whole book is about disillusionment, loss of meaning, loss of traditional ways, loss of a simple world that most people could easily understand. We want super heroes. We want the fight between good and evil. But evil seems to be winning sometimes. The problems of the world are too complex to really solve. We're a runaway train headed towards death.

Perhaps the reader's response is supposed to be that it's not that bad, and that we can believe in heroes. You see the negative and feel that it's wrong, that things are better than that, and that life is meaningful, even if we die. We still have a live spirit, captured in the super heroes.

I think the adult artists who create these simple story lines, somehow don't believe in them, and so they add wrinkles to convey that. They express an intense internal reality that kids can identify with. Perhaps it's histrionic, but at least it's not alienated. They're fighting off alienation.

I don't believe the guy in the comic in the photo above gave the Buddha a real chance. Superficiality is a one of the fetters to a deeper spiritual life. That and vagueness of thinking. And to just round out the three fetters, people either drift towards nihilism or think things are too concrete.

Upon further reflection, I think the comment "Well, there's never been any marketplace for peace and enlightenment" is an interesting short critique of how enlightenment will challenge the ethos of materialism and the ideologies of capitalism. Of course it does turn out there is a market, just look at all the ads in Tricycle, from books to benches to cushions, to retreat centers and audio teachings. I would say the same thing about peace, though it's by no means in comparison as lucrative as the so called defense industry. But it points to the fact that buddhism is a sharp critique to materialism and capitalism.

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