ASK LIZ: Should I Quit on Account of Jerks?

"Have you found something out there worth learning from that isn't saturated with insufferable freaks?"
Publish date:
July 25, 2011
assholes, theory

Hi Liz, Your description of a "New Age" "c-u-n-t" defines most of my social interactions at these Buddhist gatherings I sign myself up for. I'm wondering if these days you've given up on following the current New Age philosophies and instead just started following your own self-observation? Or if you have found something out there worth learning from that isn't saturated with "new age cunts" (or makes such a big enough impact that it’s possible to tolerate them)?-Matty

Hi Matty,Oof. Sorry you’re entrenched in the Spiritual Assholes. I know a big part of joining Buddhism is taking refuge in the community. That’s got to be hard when it seems the community is full of freaks. I have a friend who was a bit worried about this very same thing. So if there are at least two of you out there, you know you’re not alone.

There are about six bajillion New Age philosophies out there, from obscure genres of astrology to time theory to ancient star seed histories to energetic body systems to immortal angels and archetypes, plus all kinds of other stuff. I don’t have many full-on friends who I can talk to about these things in detail without it getting hella annoying or while also being able to talk about the crazy beautiful shoes I just bought. And almost every single book about any of these topics is at least halfway insufferable.

So what are we supposed to do when we want to learn, and everything that’s supposed to facilitate that seems like it kinda sucks? If I tossed out every theory or discounted every person I came across who I couldn’t relate to wholly and fully, I would be lonely and empty. And if I followed only my own self-observation, I would be joining ranks as Grand Pubah in the sect of Spiritual Assholes.

So I stay a dabbler and pick and choose. I like Buddhism a lot for its warrior metaphors (learning softness makes you a warrior of the heart, not a total wuss!) and simplicity in meditation. I dig the tarot for the narrative guidance provided by archetypes. Intention theory is extremely empowering. Channelers usually manage to siphon at least a couple sparkly gems of insight. Strangers just passing through often spout radical observation that trump the rest of it. That kind of stuff.

I'm a total lone wolf type as it is, so I wouldn't join a community and I don’t have any one school of thought to recommend. I think it’s important for any seeker to do exactly that: look around. Learn from everything you possibly can, and get off your high horse about how amazing you are that you can absorb lessons from even the most inane of situations. There are a few things I do my best to incorporate as daily practice that seem to enhance my findings:

+ Admit I don’t know everything without wearing it as a badge.

+ Smile at strangers as often as I can.

+ Pay sincere compliments to anyone.

+ Find balance between selfless and selfish. I have to take care of myself in order to have strength and insight to take care of others.

+ Use positive, active language when speaking.

+ Tell the objective truth. If it’s not possible to do that and be gentle, change the subject or leave!