Slumdog Buddha

I wonder if it’s possible to practice a transgressive Buddhism that swings like a pendulum between free art, stilness and radical politics. Not the ornate rituals of tantra, because that’s already pre-packaged and sold for your bourgeoisie convenience. That’s tantra for the mountain-climbing neo-liberals, Dzogchen for the retired cruise and golf set. It’s the provence of the rich who have to distinguish themselves from those who can’t afford empowerments-for-millionaires. No, I want a stripped-down bare-assed Buddhism that slaps you in the face: aWAKEning. Street Buddhism that hails from the slums of Mumbai and Maharashtra, and Gottingen St. in Halifax: Nikaya Buddhism, mixed with Hindu deities, mantras and kirtans. This is all mine, and in fact, it is the Buddhism that I already practice.

Over the next several months, I will be posting photo essays, poetry, prose and film that fleshes out Slumdog Buddha. You can see the beginnings of this project at my page on SoundCloud, which pairs my music with photos I took of myself and my neighbourhood. (Band photos taken by Biff Mitchell.) The photos are primarily shots of Gottingen St., which i consider to be my local shrine. The artists, queers and denizens of Gottingen St. are my sangha.

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