Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Faking the Funk

I've been thinking a lot about 'faking the funk' in Buddhism and I think it's one reason why people leave the practice. They put separation between their roots and Buddhist traditions. And it creates a disconnect of disowning the past for an exotic future. I've been thinking about this because of the wandering time of year when people drop out or get lost in their own minds. I have been re-examining my own shit and I have to bring my home into Buddhist practice. The beings in meditation should look like my family and friends and not always like these wild yogis from a thousand years ago. Not to say that some times I don't need the archetypes, but it becomes phony if its not connected to gospel music, soul food, hip hop, Miami, Brooklyn, and queens. But my practice is now with all the people who got me here. I forget that in a very subtle way. 

Faking the Funk can be very subtle. New York City is filled with opportunists who are faking it. And even though, on the outside everything looks normal, on the inside there is a phoniness which resonates out to others. It is the differences between bringing the plastique or the realness. The 'realness' is the grounded soul. In the Black church they call it being 'anointed.' But what makes someone anointed isn't having God. It's having nothing BUT God. That means an 'anointed' singer will some times go off-key, wander on notes but he or she doesn't care and -surprisingly- neither does the crowd because they know they're being taken some place. Whitney Houston was an anointed singer who -despite all her troubles- was able to clear a spot in her heart and let the spirit drop in when she sang gospel. Audra McDonald, on the other hand isn't. And Audra is a world famous, precise and pristine singer and student but she has admitted that she doesn't have that 'anointing' in her voice. There is too much getting in the way. 

I think as Buddhist we can be 'anointed' but we have to 'come as we are.' We can't fake the funk. We have to clear that spot in our heart and allow it to come to us. Odds are it'll come as stuff that was deeply embedded with us as children; in other words, not wild-looking Indian deities with 50 arms. Those archetypes were for Indian kids who grew up with that. But if I don't acknowledge that, then I'm putting up a very subtle cultural block. 

I'm going to be honest: I don't like kirtan music. For the music part I find most of the stuff I hear by Americans to be a noisy, pretentious racket from a bunch of hipsters. And there is a huge part of Buddhism that's taken up by superficial, pretentions of what 'we're supposed to do and like and say.' And this is attractive to disconnected people who are wandering/searching. And most of them end of being either spiritual tourists or sticking with one exotic religion and 'faking the funk' their entire lives and wondering why they don't have that 'first feeling' they got when they started studying Buddhism. It's because that initial burst wasn't rooted to their reality, it was just a sugar rush of the new. And if it's not rooted then the deeper wisdom that's in Buddhism won't penetrate. 

But when I'm in auditions this weekend and actors are singing gospel songs like "Grandma's Hands' and 'This Old House' and I find myself spontaneously and without much effort, weeping, then I know where my music home is to my spirit. There's a wisdom in these songs which is ancient and so obvious. Now the White guy next to me is politely listening and he's sort of/kind of moved, but he's not dropped in. Not because he's ignorant, it's just not his home, musically. Nothing wrong with that.

Home: James Taylor. He sings and I'm there. I don't know why but it's chilling. My Lama makes me do dance class b/c that's where my movement home is. Now this is tricky because I actually do like yoga A LOT. But she said the way to yoga for me would be through dance so I take classes at Alvin Ailey and other places. 

But I will say that after doing my first meditation retreat, I was introduced A Course in Miracles and I found it eerily perfect how well it syncs up with Buddhism. ACIM is the words of Christ but it has a surprisingly strong 'emptiness' factor to it around the action of 'forgiveness' or 'forgiveness with pure non-duality of realizing where stuff comes from.' After reading that it did perfectly make sense how there could be a God and how that does not at all contradict with Buddhism b/c ACIM goes through karma, emptiness, and how God is completely removed from the world of duality (b/c God is a non-dualistic thing and everything in this universe was created out of duality). And when I read that it was 'yes, yes, of course!! Duh!!' 

And I can still do my Tantric meditations, wisdom studies, and then pick up a book about Jesus and go 'yes, yes, this relates to this section of Tantra or Mind-only, or Sutrists.'

Anyway, that is my dropped-in ramblings on these matters. Don't fake the funk. Because society will polite you to death. I will say my advantage (of my upbringing) is that in my home if something is bullshit my parents would call it out as 'phony.' And I run from situations and people like that. And my parents had a lot of traditional 'black American things' but also a lot of alternative or surprising interests because they were true to themselves and their comfort. 

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