Not long ago I made a comment on the blog of a friend who was talking about Buddhism in which I said that I was “Short Path.” So today I thought I'd go online and see what the hell I was talking about.
I sort of knew what I was talking about1. In one turn of the old Dharma Wheel I was a philosophy major, which meant I grudgingly had to take a bunch of wimpy religion classes, pissing and moaning (abeit in an erudite manner) the whole time. Actually, I'm mostly joking – I enjoyed studying religion in the 70's. There was a certain immediacy to it then. The prospect of achieving enlightenment at the end of a punji stake2 provided a strong incentive for a draftable young man to learn more about the afterlife.
So between what I was supposed to learn then and what I learned today I can tell you about Short Path Buddhism, or at least as much as you need to know for this blog entry. The Short Path school asserts that enlightenment can be achieved through acts. Of course there's a lot more to it, but that's the gist. You can perform personal acts that can magically help you attain spiritual enlightenment and no longer vote Republican.
So why am I droning on about Buddhism in my nasal blog voice here? Two reasons.
The first reason involves a short story I read long ago, have since reread a number of times, and which I think is wonderful. Unfortunately I remember neither the name of the story nor the author and consequently am unable to attribute it, but I remember the story, which should make the author more than willing to forgive me.
In this story, set in the future, the current incarnation of the Dalai Lama is a murderous lecher, or a lecherous murderer, depending on if you're an optimist or a pessimist. After every grisly and heinous act he commits, he justifies his actions by simply saying:
Lots more happens of course, but I've always found that part of the story deliciously sardonic, so there you go, welcome to Hulles, you little mangled short work of fiction you. And now you the reader can do as I have done since I read the story: steal the line.
The next time you fart loudly in a crowded elevator, just glance around coolly at the shocked and appalled3 faces staring at you and smile inscrutably and say “Short Path.” Immediately you attain a mystical sort of intellectual and moral superiority that's tough to argue with because no one knows what the hell you're talking about. I have found that this is the best sort of moral superiority to have.
The next time your girlfriend is sitting at her computer and she starts emitting a high-pitched screeing sound and turning an odd shade of purplish-red and you go over to see what's wrong and find out that her best friend had a web cam running while you and the best friend were doing your Tantric Sex Secrets of the Orient homework and the best friend had posted the resulting video on YouTube to increase her blog hits, you can just smile inscrutably and say, “Short Path, honey. Besides, you can clearly see I deserved the A that I got in that class, even though the professor sucked.”
The next time your friend says, “Jesus Christ. I've never seen you that drunk. Do you even remember puking on Amy Sedaris last night while you were on 'The Late Show With David Letterman'?” you can just smile inscrutably and say “Short Path.” Then you can run home and frantically try to TiVo Letterman.
So you see? You think I'm joking about this. If you don't use this phrase at some point or another in your life my name isn't Hulles, and I'll cheerfully refund the money you paid for your subscription to this blog. To your estate, of course, since you'll be dead; read the fine print in the preceding sentence.
Remember I said there were two reasons for talking about Short Path Buddhism? The other reason is that I found some odd stuff on the Internet while I was doing the research, imagine that. I ran across a quirky little web site called “iMeditate Online”. I first liked it for the title: “Yeah, me too, it saves me having to achieve any sort of mental tranquility.” But the person who wrote this Meditation FAQ turned out to be my sort of guru.
“I just started meditating and I feel like I think more than before I started.“
“Very common. You are not thinking more, you are just more aware of the thoughts that were always there. ... Just ignore them.”
Sound advice, I think. See why I like this person?
“I fall asleep when I meditate.”
“You and everyone else. ... Try some coffee or tea or diet coke before you meditate. Then focus.”
Why stop with diet coke? Try crystal meth, you'll really focus then.
"What about diet?”
“A healthy diet is good. Consult your physician.”
(“Hey doc, I'm thinking about giving up the White Castles and diet cokes and crystal meth and switching to a healthy diet. What do you think?” ”Sounds great, that'll be $240, we take Visa.” )
I also found this site. Don't follow the link, I just included it because otherwise no one would believe me. Some bozo staked out a web site at egodeath.com he titled “Ego Death and Self-Control Cybernetics.” This wins the 2006 Hulles Award for Most Ironic Web Site URL, hands down. Check this out, it really is a title on one of his web pages:
Utter routinization of syncretic entheogenic myth-religion
Hulles, to himself: “Dang, this person must be really smart! Either that or this is a parody of something I don't recognize and he's a bigger wiseass than I am.” Of course none of these three thing was true: the guy is simply a completely pompous dolt and is probably an SBG with NDPS besides and never calls his mother4. I guess it had been long enough that I had forgotten why I quit college. To add insult to injury, the following line appears on the site's home page, no shit:
Disclaimer: The author accepts no responsibility for readers.
Brother, truer words were never spoken. I could make the claim that accepting responsibility for readers is the only function of an author, as was gently pointed out to me recently. Although perhaps he's right to put in the disclaimer. If he “accepted responsibility for readers” he would have to delete all the shit on his site – and there's a lot of it, you think I go on and on you ain't seen nothing yet – then disembowel himself with a spoon. A very dull spoon. Make it a wooden spoon. And let me do it.
Guess what? I said there were two reasons to talk about Short Path Buddhism – there are really three. The secret bonus third reason is that some SPB's believe that you can achieve ultimate enlightenment through sex. Incidentally, this belief is the source of my recent allusions to "Tantric Sex Secrets of the Orient", the class I teach at the local junior college. That part I seem to have remembered from my college religion classes, no problemo.
Imagine: a religion where, if you don't have sex and lots of it, you're not going to grab the brass ring. Sign me up.
1And as I write that, it strikes me that that might be an appropriate epitaph: “Hulles – He Often Sort Of Knew What He Was Talking About.” I'm okay with that. I can think of many epitaphs that would be worse and less accurate.
2Short Path. Explanation follows.
3I would have said “they looked aghast,” but even I have limits that I won't cross more than once or twice per entry.
4I'm really liking Lucille with the “Kill” setting.