Friday, May 18, 2012

things as they are ... not!

In their practice, Buddhists can sometimes bend so far over backwards that they just fall on their asses. Immuring themselves behind the bright walls of "kindness" or "compassion" or "understanding," they may attempt to assert a wider and more peaceful perspective in their lives. It's a perspective worth pursuing, I'd say, but Buddhism does not suggest that the best anyone can do is fall on their ass.

Anyone who has attempted to get a handle on Buddhism by asserting and believing in its "kindness" and "understanding" and "peace" has, of course, fallen flat on their asses, assuming there is any seriousness about practice. "Man proposes, God disposes." Or, put another way, "the best-laid plans of mice and men do oft-times go awry." Life is not in the business of acceding to our whimsies, however noble or true.

Buddhists can light as much incense as they like, go to as many retreats as they like, or assert as many times as they like that their hope is to see things "as they are." But the fact of the matter is that this desperate effort is not to see things as they are, but to see things as they aren't -- full of "compassion" and "kindness" and "understanding" ... the way things aren't just at the moment.

It's all OK ... just part of the effort. But it can be dispiriting. How come we can't all just get along? Why can't we all play nicely together? How come I'm working so hard to be nice and they're not? How come a life that aspires to kindness unfailingly meets with the bright shafts of cruelty?! These questions seem to elicit at least two responses -- 1. a redoubled effort to build and maintain a belief in kindness, which is then, once again, kicked in the ass or 2. a determination to keep on keepin' on despite all hurdles.

Today. a friend sent along a video clip of Pat Robertson -- a clip in which the conservative Christian tells a radio inquirer that it really is not OK to have a Buddha statue situated near Christian ones. Robertson says, "No it’s not [OK]. Take it out and break it. Break it! Destroy it.”

Things as they are ... not as they aren't. I am too old and tired to imagine I could ever dissuade or revise the rampant and unkind idiocy of the sort that Robertson seems to espouse. I can rail and whine until I'm blue in the face, but is there really enough breath in anyone's lungs to overcome the ignorance of another? Sure, take your best shot, speak your own truth, jump up and down and holler if it makes you feel any better, spout lines like "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," take a principled stance and advertise it ... knock yourself out.

But the bottom line is always the same, I think: The mistakes anyone sees in another are just a part of life's honest-to-goodness teaching: If you want to be part of the solution then ... just DON'T YOU DO THAT!

Activists can fulminate all they like. Let 'em.

Just don't you do that.

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