Conspiracy Theories and Dhamma

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We live in an incredibly complex world brought to our attention by the vast flow of information available. No longer are we confined to a narrow range of media sources. The internet has opened us up to a vast information exchange, unimaginable even 20 years ago. With this has come information that greatly contradicts what society has accepted as truth. This has brought a conundrum around what to believe and has brought controversy as is seen on social media and the real news versus fake news debate. These different takes on reality and world events have been coined as conspiracy theories, those takes which do not fit with established narratives and beliefs. The term conspiracy theory was originally developed by the CIA as a means of undercutting critics of the Warren Commission’s report that Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. (CIA Doc. 1035-960). Since then it has been used as a derogatory term to ridicule those who question official narratives.

Because conspiracy theories bring controversy they are not appropriate to converse about at Dhamma Centers. The Buddha was clear that monks were to stay away from talking about worldly controversial subjects as they excite and agitate the mind which is​ not conducive to concentration, insight and the final goal. Yet as householders practicing Dhamma, we also live in the world and it seems it is our duty to have a wise understanding about the world with its Deva’s, Mara’s and Brahma’s. It doesn’t seem helpful to be in denial when there is compelling evidence which points to potentially unpleasant truths. It seems that it’s our duty to look with an open, balanced and discerning mind and discern the credibility of the information presented to us.

One controversial subject which has weighed on me over the years has been the circumstances around 911. What really turned my head was when I saw a documentary put out by Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth called, 9/11: Explosive Evidence- Experts Speak Out (http://911expertsspeakout.org). The most compelling evidence showed that those buildings fell at free fall speed. So if you took a bowling ball and dropped it from the height of the towers it would have fallen at the same speed as the collapsing buildings. How could it fall that fast if there was the resistance of so much concrete below? If fires were to have brought them down and the floors pancaked it wouldn’t have fallen at free fall, nor would they have fallen so nicely and neatly. Then a third building which wasn’t even hit by a plane ( Building 7) fell at free fall later in the day. How is it that no steel framed buildings had ever collapsed due to fire before, then three did in one day? There are now 2887 architects and engineers who’ve signed a petition asking for a new investigation.

In my mind, it points to a false flag where you attack yourself and blame it on someone else so you can start a war or demonize an opponent.
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident which started the Vietnam War is an example of this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incidents). So is Operation Northwoods which was a plan hatched from within the US Department of Defense in 1962 and signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The proposals called for the CIA and other US operatives to commit acts of terrorism against US civilians and military targets, blaming it on the Cuban Government, and using it to justify war with Cuba. The plans included the possible assassination of Cuban emigres, sinking boats of Cuban refugees, hijacking planes, blowing up a US ship and orchestrating violent terrorism in US cities. The proposals were rejected by the Kennedy Administration”. (Wikipedia) (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/20010430/northwoods.pdf).

If the evidence from A/E 911 Truth adds up, it opens up a massive can of worms. There would be immense shock and outrage that something like this could happen. It would cast a much different light on those who died that day.  The whole narrative of the war on terror would be a lie. All the millions of people killed, maimed and displaced would be all for nothing except for geopolitical gain, control and access to resources. All the dead and wounded soldiers and the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya… Our contribution in destroying Syria and war mongering with Iran would raise great controversy. The scope of what this would mean is horrendous. There is an abundance of credible evidence that throws all this into question, including General Wesley Clark, saying that in 2001 the goal was to take out 7 Middle Eastern and North African countries in five years. The 7 countries were ​Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon, and Iran.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8FhZnFZ6TY).
My hope is that the truth will prevail.

As a meditator, it’s been challenging to see the evidence about 911 and know how to go about sharing it. Questions arise, does being a good Dhamma person mean only sharing about positive uplifting things and avoiding controversial things? It seems just as we observe pleasant and unpleasant sensations with equanimity, we can face and share about controversial subjects with equanimity, we can also receive input from others with equanimity. When subjects like this come up it can bring joking, skepticism and criticism. It can also bring admiration and praise. There’s a social stigma around conspiracies and many don’t want to be perceived as wearing a tin foil hat no matter how credible the information may be. I notice that there is strong societal pressure to conform to popular ideas and beliefs as seen in popular MSM and social media. It’s easy to just go along with whatever is popular, not go against it and perhaps even be hypnotized by it. But what happens when certain truths lay outside of popular opinion? If someone had talked about the plans of Operation Northwoods before it was declassified, they’d really have been seen as cuckoo. There’s a famous quote by Gandhi, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”

In the discourses, Goenkaji talks about some of the business people he associated with as having an unwholesome orientation to what they were doing. When there was war, famine and great suffering they’d say great, the market is improving! When there was peace and harmony they’d say how awful, the market is terrible! So extrapolate this to our world and we can surmise that there are some with great wealth and power who profit off of war and want to create the conditions for war; the arms manufacturers, the Haliburtons, the oil companies, investment bankers, high military officials and certain politicians. He also talks about the doctor who was disappointed that there were no sick people coming to his office because everyone is healthy and his business was suffering. Extrapolate that perhaps to the cancer industry. Is the cancer industry too profitable of a business to want to find a cure? The negative things we see going on in the world are a manifestation of Mara or the collective personification of our defilements, the forces of greed, hate and delusion. How skilled are we at seeing these forces in ourselves and in the world? How easy is it for us to be fooled? It’s inspiring to read about just before Buddha was enlightened as he was attacked by the armies of Mara. He saw Mara for what Mara was and defeated him. For the next 45 years after his enlightenment, Mara would continue to visit and each time Buddha would know Mara and say, “I see you, Mara”.

With the meditation process of dissolving the solidity in ourselves, it also dissolves the solidity of established belief structures about what we hold to be true. In a 10 day course so many established belief structures get challenged; organized religion as a source of salvation, the belief in a solid self and a solid world, chasing after sensual pleasures as a source of lasting happiness, the belief in this life is all there is, praying to a God to free us from suffering, there’s little consequence to our actions, the notion of I think therefore I am. Perhaps to someone who hasn’t experienced Vipassana, Dhamma might seem like a conspiracy!

I noticed when I meditated after writing this that it brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings. It was even challenging to sleep. Maybe one might not want to probe into something like 9/11 because it brings too many things up. But is it right to choose peace over awareness of potentially unpleasant truths? Is it wise to live in a bubble and block out compelling evidence about such things in our world? Perhaps there’s a balance to be had between maintaining our peace and being informed. We can know when to back off if we are losing equanimity and getting overwhelmed or if our health, work or family life are being affected. We can go about our lives in the world with an open, balanced and discerning mind and stay wise to our inner reality while staying wise to the outer workings of the world.

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About Chris Hammond

I've been practicing Vipassana since 1996. I found Vipassana after serving in Peace Corps Sri Lanka. After Peace Corps, ​I had open ended time and did a lot of sitting and serving in South Asia. Currently, I am an acupuncturist practicing in Baltimore MD. I have 2 beautiful daughters ages 6 and 4. I am involved in serving at Dhamma Delaware and have been active with Vipassana in the Mid Atlantic region for many years.
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3 Responses to Conspiracy Theories and Dhamma

  1. Altaf says:

    Very well written and thought provoking, Chris.
    Do I live in my bubble of peace or do I question ?
    I question but I would leave that to be a personal choice.

    When I was younger, some questions did shake up my system caused a lot of turmoil but now I can
    be more accepting of the answers and even the difficult ones don’t rattle me much.

    I am generalising but I believe Americans are capable of asking themselves some very difficult questions. More so than many other people.
    The fact that “A/E 911 Truth” exists is proof of that.
    It is not a rag tag group of people with tin foil hats. You can’t help but give weight to their opinion.

    They have started to peel an onion and the answers may not be pleasant to many.

  2. Chris Hammond says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment Altaf. I live in Maryland, close to New York and DC and perhaps the east coast of the US is more of a bubble than other places? It seems that 911 has had an enduring traumatic affect on the psyche of Americans and for a long time we were bombarded by images from that day tied in with the official narrative of events. Then when we hear about the reasons for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran and Syria, it all goes back to 911 as the reason for the war on terrorism, even though it’s not called that anymore. I think many Americans are weary about wanting to revisit and question. However there are some powerful movements like A/E for 911 Truth which in my mind have smoking gun evidence. I really hope the truth prevails.

  3. Chris Hammond says:

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