This is the Brooklyn Bridge; Sharanam suggested we walk across it and, being compliant Canadians, we did. It was quite the experience in mindfulness because everyone liked to walk the white line down the middle which was meant to separate bicyclists from pedestrians. Everyone, that is, except us tourists who tended to hang off the rails trying to get good pictures. I was saddened that not once was I approached by someone asking me to buy the bridge. I had so looked forward to practising my mindful speech and compassion under challenging circumstances. Perhaps even hucksters have fallen prey to a bad economy.
But it got me wondering about spiritual scams. Not the tele-hellavangelist scams of “send me all your money in neatly packed small denomination bills” as much as the inadvertent ones we may not notice until our spiritual bank is drained.
When people first come to sangha, they tend to want quick relief. A few may be curious about Buddhism or Buddhists. A few may just be looking for one more thing which they can rebel against or blame for their lack of control over their lives. It’s hard under these circumstances to avoid unintentional salvation. Even the Buddhist-y response of “Life is suffering caused by craving for which there is relief if you just get the Eight-Folds of the whole cloth right” can hold the implication that rescue can be had just for the asking.
Perhaps the most insidious scam I was caught in was the one about Buddhists and mindful speech. Imagine. Deep practice can actually teach a person to say the darndest things in the sweetest way.
Check your spiritual bank account. What might be a subtle spiritual scam you’ve been caught in?
Thank you for practising – and yes, do send me all your earnings in small unmarked bills,