Tuesday, March 1, 2011


No matter how loud or how insistent the repetition, still it's often like those caricature movie Americans who think that repetition or volume or saying things v-e-r-y slowly will convey their words to a Frenchman who speaks no English: It simply doesn't sink in.

Experience trumps belief.

Or, with more volume: EXPERIENCE TRUMPS BELIEF.

Or, louder still: EXPERIENCE TRUMPS BELIEF!!!!!!!

Or slower: E-x-p-e-r-i-e-n-c-e ... t-r-u-m-p-s ... b-e-l-i-e-f.

Is this really so complicated?

My younger son, who loves to see me jump, will sometimes hide behind the kitchen doorway when I am coming downstairs. At the perfect moment, he will  jump out and roar, BOO! It works every damned time...scares me right out of my skin... erases, in a single nanosecond, each and every concept and belief and hope and fear I am walking around with.

Naturally, once I regain my composure and my son stops laughing, I scurry and scramble to remember and reassert ... to smooth my mental hair into an acceptable neatness and meaning: Yes, things are all right -- I am a six-foot-plus male with an interest in Buddhism and a variety of aches and pains that go with being 70 ... and ... well on and on until my mental hairs are more or less in place.

All of this happens in lickety-split time.

Isn't this scenario the same for everyone? I can't help but think that it is. And it's not just scary stuff that erases the mental blackboard. Wonderful moments can do the same. Here and now really becomes here and now. The blackboard on which importance and meaning are written is suddenly erased and in its emptiness awaits our new or renewed beliefs and hopes.

I don't mention this -- again ... really I can even bore myself -- as a means of degrading or undermining beliefs. What I think is important is that we take some notice of what is common as salt. If beliefs that we may all cling to and praise can be wiped out as easily as a glass breaks on the kitchen floor, then isn't it worth noticing that beliefs are tentative acquisitions. They aren't writ in stone and fershur, but rather acquisitions that come and go -- inspiring here, dispiriting there, useful in one time, useless in another? And aren't they as well, something that live only in the past, whereas our BOO's make it clear that the present is where we actually are, clean as a baby's bottom?

Yes, beliefs have an upside. They really can inspire action that bears sweet fruit. They have a downside. They really can inspire a vast array of horrors. But the iron-fisted grip -- sometimes exceptionally subtle -- with which we hold them ... couldn't we loosen our grip, just a little bit? Stop living in the past and give the present a whirl since we cannot escape the present no matter how firmly we might wish to?

Just ease up. Ease up and take a look. Is BOO really all that scary? Yes, there are others who may assert and demand adherence to one belief or another, but does that mean we have to do the same? When moment after moment and day after day comes along with its playful BOO's ... well doesn't experience trump belief? And isn't this experience worth acknowledging and being at home with?

You don't have to believe that experience trumps belief -- that would defeat your own good experience, don't you think? And you don't have to believe that belief is some second-class citizen. But you could take some time and enjoy the vastness of an empty blackboard. Lighter than a feather. Simple as salt. BOO.

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