Have you ever wondered how different Buddhism might have been if Siddhartha Gotama had been 65 rather than 29 when he began his spiritual quest? What if he had decided to wait until he was retired before wandering off into the forest ? And what if he decided to seek the truth not because of any particular encounter with old age, sickness and death, but simply because he was pissed off with his life and was looking for a new challenge ? Here’s what might have happened…
It was Sid’s 65th birthday and a party had been arranged in his honour to celebrate his retirement from public office and his royal duties. His wife and son had gone to extraordinary lengths to make this his best birthday bash ever. A mountain of food – roast pork scratchings, cheese and pineapple on sticks, lots of crispy things and many sweet delicacies – was laid out before him. He was also presented with a sumptuous three-piece saffron wrap-around garment and the most popular sitar band in the kingdom entertained him long into the night. What more could he wish for ? Well, quite a bit as it turns out!
You see, Sid was really bored and irritated by it all. He wanted a new challenge, something to test him to the limit, something to get rid of that nagging feeling of being pissed off all the time, so he hatched a cunning plan…
In the middle of the night, when his family were fast asleep, he grabbed a toothbrush (and a handful of pork scratchings to eat on the way) and then headed for the forest. For the next six years he sought out teachers and gurus who he hoped would provide insight into the nature of grumpiness, but it was all to no avail. So at the age of 71 he’d had enough of wandering around talking to others and realised he needed to sit down and work it out for himself – which wasn’t that easy as arthritis was by now a constant companion. Nevertheless, he sat there, day and night, for a very long time. One night a vision of Mara came to him, offering all manner of pleasures if he would just abandon his quest. As the invention of Viagra was still two and a half thousand years in the future, Sid had no problem rejecting the offers of the nubile nymphs that flashed before his eyes, so Mara gave up and went in search of a younger victim with more testosterone.
And then, on a full moon night in May (or maybe not) Sid experienced a moment of absolute bliss and didn’t give a toss about his grumpiness! His constant feeling of being pissed off had itself pissed off! Oh joy, deep joy! From this day forth he would be known as “The Delighted One” – he was delighted not to be pissed off all the time!
And so it was that for the next 6 years The Delighted One travelled throughout the land preaching to all who would listen to him. In time his insights were formulated and then written down and eventually became known as “The Four Delightful Truths”. They are:
1) Life can make you grumpy 2) The cause of that grumpiness is intolerance 3) There is a way to make you less grumpy (be more tolerant) 4) The Delightful Eightfold Path is the way to “Delightenment”
The “Delightful Eightfold Path” teaches the cultivation of:
1) Delightful View – see things as they really are (don’t forget to get regular eye tests and change your glasses if necessary as it might impair this step!).
2) Delightful Thought – try not to be too grumpy and avoid wanting to inflict harm on those who piss you off (even if they deserve it).
3) Delightful Speech – refrain from swearing at people who barge in front of you at a supermarket checkout or post office. (Be especially kind to those who ingratiate themselves with spiritual teachers if you can).
4) Delightful Action – refrain from hitting someone in public with your walking aid, handbag or any other domestic weapon you might have on your person, if they annoy you.
5) Delightful Livelihood – refrain from going back to work if you can.
6) Delightful Effort – refrain from over-exerting yourself as it could be dangerous and may need medical attention.
7) Delightful Mindfulness – be as aware as possible at all times. If necessary, use a pen and paper to write down your thoughts as they come and go.
8) Delightful Meditation – focus the mind as much as possible on the possibility of achieving “delightenment” – a serene state of not giving a sh*it about anything and going with the flow. (A note of warning: going with the flow might be a problem if you are taking diuretics. Also, not giving a sh*it could cause problems if you have constipation or have an anal-retentive disposition, so please stay mindful.)
When Sid, the Delightful One, died from indigestion after eating some pork scratchings offered by a householder he was visiting, his followers were in despair (although as they had followed his teachings they were not pissed off).
Nevertheless, in time, they recognised the importance of promoting his teachings and a “Silver Sangha” was formed to spread his message. But following lots of senior Sangha moments, during which many of the Delightful One’s supporters forgot what all the fuss was about, a schism arose and what came to be known as “grumpy-yana” went it’s own way.
So there we have it. Two and a half thousand years ago a grumpy prince Sid achieved “delightenment” and changed the world. Has it made a difference to me in the 21st Century ? Well, yes and no. I have regular eye tests, no longer wish to inflict harm on the morons I meet on a day to day basis, don’t swear out loud, don’t hit people with whatever comes to hand, I long for my retirement, I try to do as little work as possible, I make lots of lists and stay close to the toilet during those times when I feel I am ‘going with the flow’. And yet… sometimes (just sometimes you understand) I do miss being grumpy and feeling pissed off. But that’s just me.
~ This has been attributed to one Dennis Sibley, a hospice worker in England.