Thursday, June 30, 2011

terms of endearment

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Nowhere do I experience terms of endearment as much as in the internet spam folder. Seldom if ever does anyone on the street or at home address me as "dearest" ... but in the spam folder, I am the number one object of affection. Of course it's not true, but even if the writer is a hairy-backed fellow named Louie (he's wearing a pinkie ring in my mind), still you have to marvel at the simple wiliness of the attempt to draw in and fleece the unsuspecting. Everyone would like to be loved, to be the object of affectionate words.

Dearest, I am dying of cancer....
Dearest in Christ....
Dearest, I know I can trust you to help me deposit $27 million....
Dearest, I am lonely and horny....
Dearest, God will reward you if....

What is it that makes people want to help others? Yes, most of us have learned a few rules of the road and shy away from our own instincts when the hairy-backed Louie comes calling. But still there is that nanosecond in which someone is asking for help and, yes, I want to help. I suppose the matter can be parsed with some neat psychological analysis, but the instinct is more interesting than the analysis, more compelling ... at least to me. I'm not interested in the elevating goo that such a discussion can invite. Nor am I interested in the mirror image cynicism of "there's a sucker born every minute."

When someone asks me a question about Buddhism and the question is not just some intellectual gambit, somehow, despite all of my fading interest in the topic, I feel an imperative to lend a hand. It's not a matter of raising my own stock -- another asshole power play. It seems to be based as much as anything on the premise that I hope no one will be as stupid as I was. But even that doesn't cover the topic ... doesn't really explain the imperative that seems to rise up. There's nothing virtuous or 'good' about it. "Saving all sentient beings" plays no role. It's just there ... ask and answer, answer and ask...do it. When someone asks, for example, to come to sit at the zendo that is fading from my interest, I simply can not say no. What's up with that?

I really don't know where it comes from and I am sort of leery of writing about it ... I'm afraid someone will try to tell me where and how and why and, well ... been there, done that.

All in all, for my own purposes, I feel constrained to chalk it up as another 'imponderable.' Let it be. It can't be helped.
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