Monday, April 26, 2010

as circumstances warrant

Did it ever strike you as strange? --

On the one hand, anyone can feel a bit put out when they hear themselves described in simple terms -- a father, a mother, a soccer mom, a college student, a Democrat, a stock broker, a ... well any single thing. Each person may in fact fit the description given, but there is so much more besides.

On the other hand, anyone might be quick to do the same simple-minded thing to themselves: "I am a liberal," "I am a conservative," "I am a mechanic," "I am a college professor." Somehow it's OK and affirming and consoling to stick by your guns ... even when, in other circumstances, we are irritated at being stuck by our guns.

I thought about this in regard to the following little interchange:

"Are you a Buddhist?"

"Yes, I am."

Yessiree -- stick by your guns, your beliefs, your identity, your desire for meaning a direction, and perhaps your good efforts.

But lately, I think it might be more useful, appropriate and correct to revise the answers we give to such questions.

"Are you a Buddhist?"

"Yes ... as circumstances warrant."

Sometimes a Buddhist, sometimes a Christian, sometimes a stock broker, sometimes a soccer mom, sometimes a husband, sometimes a wife, sometimes a mechanic, sometimes a mountain climber ... sometimes ... as circumstances warrant.

Sometimes ... as circumstances warrant ... isn't that more like Buddhism ... or, if you prefer, life?

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