Thursday, December 3, 2015

toss it all out

Hinduism, which is arguably the oldest organized spiritual persuasion in the world, has the good sense to laugh. The laughter is woven into its tapestry of tales and encouragements and, despite the frowns of others, I like it. Just because spiritual life addresses so much self-oriented sorrow and confusion is no reason not to take a break, give it a rest, kick back for five seconds or ten and throw it all out the window like some medieval chamber maid emptying the slop bucket into the sewerless street below ... heads up!

OK ... furrow your brow. Write disquisitions on laughter and point out its flaws. Explain to me why the Bible contains no line saying, "And Jesus laughed." Have a good time. Sure, laughter may be scary, but ... But at my age, with nothing more than a forty-plus-year load of spiritual puppy fat, I hope you will forgive me for thinking: Go fuck yourself! No guts, no blue chips! Laugh.

This morning, this tale, filtered through my imperfect memory banks came back.

Once upon a time, near a certain village, an irascible cobra lived in a field. The villagers wanted to use the field for crops, but the cobra kept them at bay ... they didn't dare challenge the fatally-venomous cobra. One day, a sadhu or monk came to town and the villagers put their desires and fears before him. As a result, the monk went out to the field to consult with the cobra. He knocked on the snake's door and when he came out, the monk told him of the kinder-gentler way to get along in life ... something more compassionate and less selfish. The snake listened and after a while the monk went on his way.

Time passed and then, once again, the monk came for a visit. He could see the field filled now with crops but he wanted to see how the cobra had made out. He knocked on the cobra's door. With great difficulty, the snake came out. He was battered and bruised and not at all happy.

"What happened to you?" the monk asked with concern.

"Well, after you left, I did everything you told me. I was kinder and gentler and didn't bite anyone. After that, they beat me to a pulp."

The monk looked both surprised and a little bit exasperated:

"I told you not to bite," he exclaimed. "I didn't tell you not to hiss."

Some may see this as a tale for spiritual children, but I see it as a tale for spiritual adults: There is plenty of time to wallow in the shadows and sorrows and tears of a confused and sometimes painful lifestyle. Spiritual discipline was conjured as a means of addressing all that. Sometimes it does a pretty good job. And sometimes -- whether the arena is "spiritual" or not -- it really is time to duck and cover if you don't want shit and piss raining down around your shoulders.

Just because I take things seriously does not imply that they are necessarily serious.

Toss it all out every once in a while. Don't worry -- there's plenty more where that came from.

1 comment:

  1. I came through as a pagan or wiccan or earth based spirituality because it had a beautiful wheel of the year mythology that fit with modern science, and it was for the most part celebratory, even sexy. But it was also political in a poison the landlord and ecological sort of way. What it didn't have is what zazen does. But we had some fun.

    But religion will always be handcuffed to death. It's expected to assuage the fear and pain of loss to that most profound inevitability. And the pagan wheel of the year mythology provided for that. But in the spring we celebrated the rebirth of new life. And in the fall we celebrated the harvest and feasted, We did indeed have some fun.

    And along with the stern looks my teacher could cast about, she had a smile that melted you and a laugh that took you along for the ride. We had some fun there too. But i guess my bottom line for a laugh is puppies. You just can't overestimate the power of puppy inspired laughs.