On the topics of Jubus, perhaps I've been hoodwinked again? It's not like it'd be the first time. Here's a thought - would it be beyond the realms of possibility for those who constitute sheepdogs amongst the Jewish flock, dismayed at the constant haemorrhaging of Jews to Buddhism, to do their usual trick and misrepresent things? After all, misrepresentation is their best and only weapon. So, perhaps there's tons of Buddhists who eschew the Jubu tag, who look back at their past Jewish identity of us-and-them / me-uber-alles with a kind of dull horror, and now strive only to ever more perfectly realise that there is no self, Jewish or otherwise.
Or let's put it another way - if such an individual did exist would they get a shiny book-deal from Faber and Faber with endless cross promotion on the rounds of the talk shows? Cut to Oprah - "Next up on my Book of the Month we talk with an author who after spending ten years in a Zen monastery had what he calls an awakening. But part of this awakening was to the 'the delusional nature of Judaism', his previous religion. He says Jewish people should likewise wake up to the fundamental wrongness of their us-and-them identification and that Buddhism provides an ideal way to do that. The book is entitled There Is No Self, Jewish Or Otherwise, and its author John Smith joins us after the break. Oh, and wait till you hear what he has to say about the Talmud! Whoo-ee, strong stuff."
Ha ha ha ha, fat chance of that! Thinking about it, such a book, if it existed, would constitute an apostasy of the highest order and would make whatever Norman Finkelstein copped look like foreplay. Instead we get books like The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Re-Discovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India by Rodger Kamanetz. Says he, "Buddhism Shmudism. I tried it and it's okay, but really it just made me more Jewish than ever!" And so it goes, every Jubu book out there has the same message: never mind the middle way, the alpha and omega are Jewish. Or to put it another way - If you're pissed off with Judaism and are wondering if Buddhism might be an alternative, well... it ain't.
Okay, so that being the case, who's to say that this apparent triumph of Jewish-first-and-Buddhist-second over Buddhist-first-and-apostatic-daylight-second isn't bullshit? Even if a shocking number of Jews were taking up Buddhism and truly leaving their ugly chosen-by-God identification behind, the Jewish media would have to a) ignore it and hope no one noticed, and b) arrange for funds and book contracts to ensure that an opposite message predominated and that Buddhism would never be seen as a pair of scissors to cut the apron strings. Given that, what are we to make of the conversation about Jubu-dom being hogged by a tiny handful of commentators each of which sings from the same songsheet?
Ayah! In amongst this, what's a mad metaphor mangler to do? Um... choose! Choose between: Judaism as an impregnable us-and-them edifice against which Buddhism is less of an indictment/threat than it is a good housekeeping seal of approval, or; Judaism as the Amityville Hotel with the owners (in between hiding skeletons and mopping up blood etc) perpetually telling all the guests that they should pay no attention to any brochures they might find from the Buddha Guesthouse up the road: "Yes, we've had a few people who tried it but they came back saying it was much better here." Cue voiceover of Mandy Rice-Davies, 'Well they would, wouldn't they?'
Choose, don't choose - or just leave it as it stands and see if there aren't some clues in amongst it. In all my reading about Jubus it appeared that several themes predominated and several were left out altogether. Permissible and oft-repeated topics are meditation, suffering, karma, as well as the fuzzy buzzwords 'spirituality', 'ancient texts', 'esoterica', and 'mysticism'. Clearly these are innocuous and may be discussed. By keeping within these boundaries Judaism and Buddhism have a lot in common, so much so they can be best buds, each in the other's fan club. "You da bomb." "No, you da bomb."
Left out of the whole conversation are the otherwise crucial words 'self' and 'selflessness'. And 'compassion'? Nowhere to be seen. These aspects of Buddhism may not be broached because were that to happen suddenly we're no longer waltzing around the edges and instead have leapt right to heart of the matter where Judaism and Buddhism have nothing in common at all. Oh, and God forbid anyone should mention the Talmud. Mind you Buddhism isn't Judaism's only friend not to know about his predilection for secret black-hearted wickedness.
Fuck it, I'm going to declare that this noisy Jubu celebration of commonality is less a warm-hearted seeking of concord than it is a means of putting the kibosh on any discussion that might cast Judaism in an unflattering light and thus lead to its further dissolution. Hell, why don't I go balls out and ask the question - Has Judaism's entire involvement with Buddhism, right from the get-go, been one of threat identification with subsequent Jewish adoption as a means of evisceration / emasculation? It works for me.
And as ever, the very trumpeting of strength and inevitability signals the 180° truth of the matter. The strength is a weakness. The inevitability is no such thing. The only certainty is change. Everything else is delusion.