Red State Vihara, Again

William B. Turner
3 min readJun 5, 2022
The Buddha

I haven’t given up, although you may have forgotten, or started reading my work since I last brought this up.

Red State Vihara is my idea to start a Buddhist retreat and meditation center in a red state.

Robina Courtin says of herself that she was angry from birth. This makes sense from a Buddhist perspective. We’re all born with some karmic endowment, necessarily so. Our karma dictates who our parents are and thus the circumstances we are born into. This is not an argument for quitting therapy if it helps you, but her point is that your neuroses are a function of your karma more than they are the result of whatever flaws your parents may have exhibited in raising you.

I say this because, the older I get, the more I appreciate my conventional parents and the deeply boring, at the time, haute bourgeois life I had growing up. I do think that anyone who is born as a white male in the United States after World War II does not have much to complain about at a global level.

So it is my karma, not my parents, that gave me the peculiar neurosis of having trouble asking for anything because I feel like I am imposing on anyone when I ask for anything, at a personal level. I have no trouble ordering at a restaurant because the wait person has the job of asking what I want and bringing it to me.

But Red State Vihara, in case you have forgotten, or never heard of it before, is my idea to start a Buddhist meditation retreat center in some red state, likely either Oklahoma or Tennessee. I grew up in Oklahoma and lived in Tennessee for ten years. Right now I have my sights set on Woodbury, Tennessee, a biggish town due east of Murfreesboro, not far from Nashville.

Part of my neurosis about asking for anything is that it feels kinda whiny and needy to state out loud that I don’t understand why people won’t give me money for this purpose. A red state is by definition these days also a heavily Christian state and the kind of state where the officials are busy coming up with increasingly sick ways to prohibit abortion (and prosecuting women who have miscarriages) while also making it ever easier to buy guns in a typical display of “pro life” thinking among good Christians.

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.