Friday, September 6, 2013

leftovers ... with apologies

Most mornings, with a regularity that seems to be only slightly less compelling than taking a leak, I write. It's a long-standing habit and I try not to repeat myself ... and naturally fail. But writing takes energy and my energies are not always all they might be. This morning I spent some energy on a Buddhist bulletin board ... and pretty much shot my wad on a couple of responses which, for the moment, I cannot do better than regurgitate here. Oh well ....

The first response was on a thread entitled "We have no control":
My point is, even the smallest things depend on so many variables that it would be arrogant to believe we have any sort of control.
@betaboy -- My view is that there is nothing wrong with positing top-lofty observations that critique the current scene. Control is a serious, trip-stone ingredient in anyone's life, but trying to gain control by mentioning it hardly stills the waves.

The only option that makes much sense to me is to enter the world of arrogance -- of which we are all so deliciously capable -- and exercise the abilities of courage and patience and doubt. Where oh-so-smart intellect and oh-so-compelling emotion cannot still wind and waves, what actually clears things up and offers some chance at success?

My view: Pay attention; take responsibility; and see what happens. No one ever lived a happy, healthy life on a diet of kool observations.

The second response was on a thread entitled "Your body and strength:"

Someone once said of Buddhism (approximately), "Understanding is knowing not to cross the street in the face of an on-coming bus. Practice is for the bus you didn't see coming."

No one can outflank or out-think or out-believe life. No one can know the future and the future is invariably filled with buses no one saw coming... the times when all the skill and all the muscle in the world cannot address or solve or save the current circumstances. There are times when you can only do what you can do and what you can do is not very much.

If this is so, as I think it is, then there are two options -- either dissolve into a blob of helpless, hand-wringing, determinist jelly or develop a practice whose aim is not so much to cure things as to see them clearly. And if the latter course is chosen, then each individual must work with the capacities s/he has. You want strength -- OK, do physical strength. You want smarts -- OK work on being smart. You want love -- OK work on love. But no excuses, no pretenses this time -- just work on it, investigate it, and get to the bottom of it. It's not what something called "Buddhism" offers to you that counts; it's what you -- you personally -- bring to Buddhism.

Will such an investigation fend off the buses you didn't see coming? Don't be ridiculous! Will you save the world and lay all the nastiness to rest? Don't be silly. Just take what you have -- body, mind, intention and action -- and look into things.

There is no guarantee that such a course of action will work. Buddhism is a crap shoot. No one can know the future. But the question many Buddhists are faced with is a very simple "I may not know if it'll work, but is my current course working any better?" All the frou-frou promises of spiritual life may be very nice, but it is only individual willingness and action that elevates those promises from the fart-in-a-windstorm category.

Sorry for so much wind.

So much for stale bread and flat beer.

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