Sunday, December 19, 2010
This is a long treatise, so to speak of me thinking out loud on where I find myself on the Dharmic path; in a manner of speaking. Or, whatever mumbo-gumbo is the lastest Buddhist slang going 'round. It's a bit of a rant I guess but take it for what it's worth and nothing more, or less. It's simply me in the process of sorting through a lot of spiritual baggage. Some of it I keep, but a lot of it I frankly no longer have use for. I'm cleaning out my Buddhist closets and shooting for the simple and minimal. Enjoy it, hate it or don't read it. I wrote it out to help me put into words what I'm experiencing. I'm not here to appease or please anyone. This isn't a post I'm writing necessarily for anyone. It's just my thoughts that I didn't know where else to put them. So, if you're going to bitch me out then go ahead but I've got bigger issues than whether people "agree" with me. Agree, disagree--whatever. I've got enough work to do besides babysit those who want to throw firebombs from the anonymous, dark, alley ways of the cyber world.
DATELINE: December 19 - Midnight - Colorado - USA - planet Earth hurling through the vastness of space. Here are the rantings of a Buddhist without a Buddhist card.
I'm not interested in enlightenment; it's the sand trap of wide-eyed ideologues. I'm not interested in monkhood as I don't believe one has to leave the world to learn how to live within it and amongst it without letting it dominate your life. I don't really care if Buddha was real or not; the teachings work for me--period. If they didn't work then I wouldn't mindlessly worship an archetype out of tradition and romance for a mystical realm where rainbows cascade from our rears. These teachings are utilitarian; and that's what I like about them. They don't make me levitate, perform miracles or transform me into some Hollywood cliche "wise man" at the top of a mountain.
They help me be a person who is less selfish, nicer and a person with less stress. I'm not a Buddhist because of "Buddha"; I'm a Buddhist because I can't deny the results. I'm not saying I don't find benefit from the symbolism of the Buddha and monks; It's simply that I don't worship them--or, anyone for that matter. I see them as experienced philosophers; teachers who present the self-help system and leave you to figure out what that means to you--if, anything. I don't feel the need to defend my Buddhist pedigree to anyone because, frankly, I'm not too interested in being a, "Buddhist" anyhow. I just want to be a better person, and Buddhism helps me be that person. And, to survive this wacky world without losing my marbles (going crazy).
I'm not interested in being a spokesperson for Buddhism or "Buddhism in the west." I'm simply trying to make sense of the same crap as anyone else. Yes, I do happen to practice Buddhism from a foundation of scientific secular humanism but I don't think that makes one less of a practitioner of the Dharmic path. And, honestly? If it did I really don't have time to concern myself with the sanctimoniousness of people who are interested in such fraternal, fundamental religiosity. I'm not in this for the honor and pride of a tradition. I'm following the Dharma because it helps me worry less, stress less, anger less, relax and just be. I don't have the strength, will power or desire to wrap myself up in a theological pretzel and debate what tradition is the most pure. I'm just trying to make it through life with a little less stress and ability to stop and just enjoy the still moments. Those precious minutes that remind you of the true beauty of life--of being alive in that moment. A profound realization of being at ease with it all -- the chaotic and the serene.
I'm not concerned with the future of Buddhism one bit as Buddhism is just as fragile a construct as the ego. It's a shell that has a role to play but it is the curtains as opposed to the real moments unfolding through the window. I am trying not to take all this religiosity so seriously anymore. If one isn't careful, Buddhism itself becomes a vehicle for attachment and suffering. It's the ego's natural desire to "be apart of the pack." Instinct from the evolutionary days when ego was what kept us alive. We want to be apart of the club. However, after a certain level of gorging upon the outward hipness of the robes, bells, monasteries and shaved headed old dudes, the shine of that unrealistic, wide-eyed delusion that we picture Buddhism should be wears off. The starkness of it dawns sharp peal of the morning bell; stirring us from our dreaming slumber.
It's not the trinkets and esoteric stories that bring one relief from suffering. That's all the decorations on the outside; inside Buddhism is a stark, one room cabin with no heating and no where to hide. The perfect place to slaugther the Buddha--that ego that grabs onto the specialness of Buddhahood. So, if it can't thrive and drive us like usual it adapts to lust after "englightenment" "Buddhahood" or "monkhood." Monk hood, which tends to be a station along the wide-eyed, westerners, pilgrimage to find Shangra-la. Well, I'm hear to tell you there is no such place. There are no levitating monks, there is no old, monk living on top of a mystical mountain, there aren't many people who are enlightened, (which is a word I cringe to use but it's ubiquitous) and the sharp truth is that practicing the Dharma can be hard, long work. It's not for everyone.
But don't listen to me--seriously. Don't listen to the Dalai Lama, don't listen to Thich Nhat hanh, doesn't listen to the 130th incarnation of Buddha himself. In fact, if you see the Buddha--kill him. In other words, don't let the iconography and tradition wrapped around Buddha prevent you from living the Dharma for yourself. Follow your gut and return to the archetype of Buddha; not the legend but the archetype or example. He was alone and on his own when he wandered off into the forest to find himself.
I'm not an expert. I'm not a holy guru and I don't profess to be any better than anyone else. I'm still a beginner after 8 years of going the rounds with my ego. I'm not perfect, never was and probably never will be but the important thing is that I'm "O.K." with that. It's not about being perfect; it's about find a place grounded in reality where suffering isn't gone, but manageable. I'm perfectly content in letting whatever happens after this life happen, however it will--or, won't. I'm not going to spend what precious few days I have left on this curious but fascinating world ruminating over a possible life after this one. I have a hunch that there's something else but I'm not clinging to it. If I die and that its the end--well, c'est la vie!! (that's life). Besides, it's not going to matter either way if your dead and obliterated into oblivion. There's no "you" there to fret over it!!
So, I'm nothing special--I'm just a guy, trying to be better person. Buddhism is like a guide that points me on a grounded direction and the rest is up to me. I wouldn't have it any other way. Buddhism is a way of life for me rather than a trophy to collect and lord over others. I'm happy and working on improving my treatment of others and hoping for the best!! There's nothing left to do except, "be." Once you give up searching, it somehow has a way of bubbling up with-in you; when you least expect it. I've only realized fleeting moments and glimpses of it but once you experience it, you're never the same. But I don't call it englightenment -- there is no "name" that can truly define or convey what those moments of oneness are. It's beyond words, and I've gone on long enough anyway. I'm sure most of you didn't get this far, so if you're still with me--thanks for listening. Stay strong, be brave and don't forget to just be yourself. I love you all.