Buddha Privelige

I think about the life of the Buddha a lot. I know, I should be thinking about the teachings of the Buddha – and I do , but the life of the Buddha is held up as a sort of moral way to live. Today, I am reflecting on the story of how the Buddha … Continue reading “Buddha Privelige”

I think about the life of the Buddha a lot. I know, I should be thinking about the teachings of the Buddha – and I do , but the life of the Buddha is held up as a sort of moral way to live. Today, I am reflecting on the story of how the Buddha abandoned his wife and child so that he could learn non-attachment and attain enlightenment – it’s sort of a bullshit story.

All the western buddhists I’ve spoken with (and I haven’t spoken with any eastern buddhists about this) talk about how it was a noble act, how he was so attached to his family that he had to do it to let go of his attachments. Yeah, easy for him to do – maybe it would have been harder if he were poor and not a prince, if he were leaving them in an uncertain and dangerous state. You know what I mean? I mean, honestly, what’s so noble about abandoning your family and where is the great sacrifice in leaving them in a palace with servants and protection?

Maybe I’d think about excercising the Buddha privelige if I were a prince and I could leave my family in safety while I wandered the world looking for truth. The Buddha (in some stories) returned to his family and even got to teach the dharma to his son. That’s not leaving, that’s taking a vacation so you can enjoy some time to yourself.

I love the teachings of the Buddha and I live it as best I can – but that story? It’s bullshit. It should be held up as an example of un-enlightenment. Staying with his wife and child and STILL finding nirvana – that would have been the real challenge.

Yeah, I’m bugged by the fact that a rich guy can walk away and leave it with his family – it wasn’t like he gave everything away and then said “Sink or swim wife and child, I got some shit to do” and if he had, he would have been courting bullshit anyway.

Just a thought…

It’s Difficult to Not Be Angry With the Wizard

I find it a constant challenge to not be angry at the complete bullshit that we are all wrapped up in. Here we are, all wrapped up in our world-views, struggling, fighting, suffering, striving, dying, and all to achieve what we view as ‘the way it is’ – and yet, it’s not really the way it is at all. Not even close. Consumer culture, politics, capitalism, success, failure, (the list goes on) these are all human constructs which in point of fact, have no actual basis in reality. Yes, they are real, yes we are trapped in them for the time being, and yes they affect us – but these things are not actually real.

In the book, The Wizard of Oz (not the movie, the book), Dorothy and her friends and all of the inhabitants of Oz are forced to put on green glasses before entering Oz. The Wizard is not simply hiding beind the curtain and manipulating light and sound – he is fucking with the reality-perception of an entire society! He is using every trick he can to maintain control and keep the society under his control – and he sends Dorothy and her friends on multiple death errands because he feels threatened by their awareness and power. He sends them with the thought that if they succeed, it’s good for his people and if they die, well, it’s good for him.

Our human society and governments are the wizard. In reality, we are not missing the things we seek. We have brains, courage, heart, and even the ability to get ‘home’ – meaning in this context home to our true nature, to what we truly are. We are not made to be politicians or business people or financiers or developers or any of ten thousand other things – we are made to be friends, family, nurturers, builders, craftsmen, explorers, and more – but the wizard has blinded us so that we only see green, so that we only see financial security, monetary success, and so that we become consumed by riches.

It’s difficult to not be angry with the wizard. I’ll admit, I’ve been incredibly incensed for most of my life. I’ve made myself sick with anger at the false nature of our existance for most of my adult life. I was young when I tore the glasses from my head and have spent the better part of my life trying to convince others that what they thought they were seeing was only an illusion – most people seem to already understand that on some level – but most of them prefer to live in the illusion – they understand how to navigate in the wizard’s world and intuitively understand that navigating outside of it is far more dangerous than mastering life within the illusion. The problem of course is like that of a video gamer who is very good at a video game but terrible at life – you may be President in the game but in reality you are suffering from malnutrition and alone in a filthy pile of refuse.

So, those of us who know the truth about the glasses – we are left with a dissatisfying choice of either wearing the glasses and immersing ourselves in the illusion or removing the glasses and suffering the reality that all around us are living the lie. The Buddha offered a third alternative which is – from my experience – the most difficult. The middle path allows us to live in the world of illusion while seeing it for what it is. Finding the true middle path is incredibly hard – I have spent my life bouncing from one side to the other – and when I get close – I am distracted by this anger, the anger at the illusionist, the anger at the illusion itself, the anger at being put in the position where I must don these green glasses and walk amongst the delusional – my anger is self-righteous (as all anger is) – and it is dangerous. I must strive to put my anger away- as far as I know, there are only two ways to do that – acceptance of what is and releasing the anger as love through compassion and empathy.

Ramadan Mubarak & Ramadan Kareem & Random Musings

The world is filled with kind, peaceful, struggling-with-life-just-like-everyone Muslim people. From the bottom of my heart, I wish them Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem. The month of Ramadan is much better understood in my country, the United States of America, than it has ever been before but still – the mistrust, misunderstanding, fear, and hatred towards everyday Muslims and Islam continues. The currently appointed Secretary of State has broken with tradition and turned down an offer to host a Eid-al-Fatr breaking of the fast in late June. Here in the state we currently live in – a white supremacist spewed a hate-filled rant at two teenage girls because one of them was wearing a hijab on a Portland Train – and when several bystanders attempted to get him to simmer down and defended the young women – he killed two of them with a knife – this was on Friday, the first day of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan…an awful thing at any time – and yet, a hopeful thing as strangers stood up to defend the rights of strangers. One can hope that their deaths do not push others to remain quiet while such things happen in the future – which they surely will.

Ramadan – for those who are not certain – is a lunar month in which all adult, healthy Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. No food, no water, no sex, no smoking and during this time the faithful contemplate God, life, the world, and use the hunger and thirst to overcome their baser selves. This is a form of what is known as Greater Jihad. Jihad is holy war – everyone knows that now it seems – but this is Greater Jihad – the war against our own desires and corruptions – the war to make ourselves better than we currently are – to strive for the perfection we were created to attain. The Lessor Jihad – that is the war against the external elements which seek to deceive us and force us away from God. The Greater Jihad is the important battle – the Lessor Jihad would be unimportant if we were focused on the Greater Jihad. This is what the idiot militants do not understand – change comes from within. They are like people who choose to eradicate food in the world so that they can successfully fast…the true challenge is to eliminate the desire for the food – or better yet- to overcome the food. Change comes from within.

I read the news often – I probably shouldn’t, but I do. Certain things jump out at me – things like a part of the President’s budget calls for the largest increase in jails and detention centers in the history of the United States – this is couched in terms that make it look like an immigration issue – and maybe it is – but it is troubling in any way you look at it. Seeing the ongoing silent war between the son-in-law and the neo-nazi news editor is also troubling – because it seems to me the narrative went like this – moderate-Jewish-son-in-law gains influence and neo-nazi-editor fades into the background – which seemed hopeful but now the Jewish son-in-law is at the center of a growing scandal and the neo-nazi-editor is reshaping the inner circle of the president and not being talked about while he does it – he is bringing the hardest right advisers and pushing out the ones who hold the most moderate views. I believe this is reason to be alarmed – but no one is talking about it. The media has been reined in and the libel laws are changed just by the act of talking about changing them. If you doubt this – look at the stabbing murders I mentioned above. These happened Friday and most of the media did not cover the events until late on Saturday – these hate crimes should have been front page within minutes but they were not – it is not subtle if you are paying attention.

I still believe that this country is in very deep trouble. We have become used to it. The constant jokes have made us less alarmed at what is happening but it is still happening. Wealth is shifting at the fastest rate in human history and it is shifting from the bottom to the top – the bottom never disappears, it simply grows to include more. Not long ago the poor earned $20,000 or less – now it is just as difficult to survive if you make $60,000. Inflation is being vastly under-reported. The devaluation of currency while banks produce thousands of trillions of dollars in digital currency is not imaginary. Control mechanisms are being perfected. This is an alarming time-period which seems to largely be invisible.

Change comes from within. Perhaps it is time to have a societal Ramadan fast. A Greater Jihad within the limits of the cancerous capitalist system which is eating us. I have no idea how such a thing would begin – but perhaps it is much more simple than I am thinking about – maybe all it really takes is mastering the self and refusing to participate, refusing to allow food or drink to pass our lips from sunrise to sunset for a month. Ramadan kareem. Ramadan Mubarak.

The Face of God

If man is created in God’s image, as many believers claim, than we all know what God looks like. God looks like a child. It makes sense. Is there anything more beautiful than a smiling happy child? Perhaps, those who worship the baby Jesus are more right than the rest of us know.

We are born in the image of God and then as we age, we move further away from that perfection. Have you noticed though, that some old people, the enlightened ones, they tend to look more like little children as they get older?

Do you want to know what God looks like? Maybe all you have to do is watch the Teletubbies…

Let Yourself Be Surprised

It sounds silly, but sometimes we are too sure that we already know everything – we go through life sure that we know why something is being done, or who did it, or how something works. We’ve read that book and now the book is closed. Allow yourself the opportunity to be surprised by something being different from what you thought you already knew.

A thousand metaphors are going through my head that I want to explain this with. The Flintstones – the difference between watching them as a child or from watching them as a man with a wife and child.

I heard this phrase earlier today “Let yourself be surprised” and I dismissed it, I threw it in the same category as a thousand other motivational phrases. And I forgot about it while it bounced around in my head and broke a few things loose. While I wasn’t thinking about it, that phrase was thinking for me. And, lo and behold, here I am, surprised to be writing and sharing that same phrase I dismissed. It’s wisdom and I’m fortunate that my brain held onto it when my ego dismissed it.

Another metaphor, my favorite re-purposed for this moment. Imagine a small lake with an island in the center, on the island is a statue with many faces, each of them representing a different aspect of what it is to be human, our emotions, thoughts, feelings. You could look at one face and then continue on without going all the way around the lake and thus missing all the other faces – if you only saw one face, you could easily tell yourself that you had seen the totality, a statue with a face in a lake – but if you walk the shore and continuously look – the faces are different -and the wind changes the water, and the reflections of the sky change with the clouds, and the seasons change the foilage, and..and…and…you could spend eternity seeing a million different lakes with islands and statues…and the only thing that has really changed is you in both time and space.

Let yourself be surprised.

Nobody likes to be faced with hatred

It’s a good thing to keep in mind in the world as it is today. If you are staring into the eyes of someone ordered to do their job and looking at them with hatred – that hatred is going to be returned.

Hatred has never put an end to hatred. Only love has or can accomplish that Herculean task.

We may be asked to fight against evil, but if we can find compassion and the ability to love our enemies (even while we fight them) then we just might have a chance at defeating them.

These are not just hollow words. When you are faced with all of the awfulness that the world can muster – you will need to fight, I’m sure of it, but you will only win if you fight with love.