A Buddhism critic does a week-long retreat
Some excerpts in Scientific American from John Horgan’s experience. The retreat cost was $1800, plus a teacher donation, an expensive lesson.
“But enlightenment, I decided by the end of the retreat, is banal. It means simply appreciating each moment, no matter how mundane and annoying, as an end in itself, not as a means to another end, like making money or impressing others. Like, be here now, Dude.”
“Is it worth devoting weeks, months, years, decades to cultivating hyper-attentiveness? Is that the best thing to do with life? No. There is no best thing to do with life, and Buddhism errs in implying otherwise. The exaltation of enlightenment makes us vulnerable to abuse by sleazy gurus. And seeking enlightenment is pretty self-indulgent. The world isn’t all fireflies and goldfinches. It has problems that need fixing, as I was reminded whenever I looked across the Hudson at the West Point Military Academy.”