Buddhism and the Human Condition: Life in the universe at orbital velocity…

IMG_2290One of the Christian cardinal sins is pride, of course, to which I might add arrogance, same thing, and ignorance, in the original meaning, literally ignoring that which is obvious, not the least of which is the fact that we are alone here in the universe, each one of us individually, by design and definition, and all of us together, by lack of any other evidence, made manifest on a rock hurtling through space at many times the speed of sound, but far less than the speed of light, orbital velocity far more excited and exciting than the slow cool world in which organic life finds its being and us…

Our greatest gift is our uniqueness and our greatest sin is our arrogance, not in thinking that we are special; our sin is assuming that we are not. Our ignorance is the idea not that we are alone in the universe, but the certainty that we are not, the arrogance of misplaced value, and a belief in the individual that overrides that of the species. But advanced biological life in a physical dimension is probably the least likely of circumstances that could be predicted given the nature of reality as best that science can determine…

Yet here we are, occupying space and time as if we owned it, masters of the universe as best we know it, for it is simply given that consciousness must occupy a body, or be occupied by a body, as if no other option were available, which may or may not be true, but rather than realize the preciousness and precariousness of our existence, we tempt fate by our very nature, so certain are we of its ordinariness…

And to question the obvious is to limit your prospects in society, while maybe strengthening your prospects for enlightenment, since conventional reality and intrinsic reality are not the same thing, and are frequently at odds with each other, and often in inverse proportions. And that’s not the half of it, but that’s as much as we’ll ever know, and that’s where beliefs take over, where knowledge leaves off…

The only question is what to do now, since we are here, in this existential dilemma, in this existential drama, looking for dharma, existence confronted by non-existence, and rapidly inured to it, so certain we are of ourselves, that we assume there must be others, just like us of course, with houses and cars and street-corner bars, in which to lose ourselves, with no evidence whatsoever, just a casual flick of the proverbial coif, and a nod and a wink in confirmation…

We go about our lives as if nothing is wrong, when in fact almost everything is wrong, birth, death and the vast gray area in between, stuck down here at the speed of sound, when all the real action is happening at the speed of light. But there are ways to mitigate those circumstances, and that’s what the Buddha’s Big Deal was all about, the Four Aryan Truths and the Middle Path of Perfection, in a world of imperfection…

But the Buddha had a pesky habit of saying one thing to certain people, and another thing to others, for one reason or another, so as not to offend, probably, for one thing, and to close the sale, no doubt, for another, such that the truth comes out in little dollops of increasing complexity, for better or worse, in case it’s something you might not necessarily want to hear…

And Jesus did the same thing, too, remember, something about: “You can’t handle the truth!” I’m paraphrasing, but you get it, right? He spoke in parables, so that anyone could understand. And so did the Buddha. The only problem is that now we have volumes of half-truths and non-sequiturs, blatant contradictions and aspects that never seemed intended in the first place…

Not to mention three major schools, comprised of a plethora of healthy sects, and a baker’s dozen of nikayas, baste lightly with butter after browning. So to second-guess the mind of the Buddha is the best we can do sometimes, given the fact that we are not machines, for we are men, and nothing is certain in the world of men and women…

We must hedge our bets and be satisfied with nothing if something is too hard to attain, rather than die for it, like Christians on the cross, lost in our passions, even when it hurts. The greatest happiness is to not be sad, and any lust will likely crash in the dust. The ultimate goal is to live a monk’s life, but in the obvious world, all in good measure and all in good time…

And this is the great crime, that we take it all for granted, ho hum la di dah, as if we can just dial it up on speed dial or point-and-click on Amazon. Elon or Jeff will take us wherever we want to go, if only we’re patient, as if we had the time. But that only delays the final reckoning, and makes us all a little bit blind, self-deluded, caught in the headlight, unable to act, when the only thing to do is act, toward the greatest goal, highest common denominators and the luck of the draw. That’s the way I like it……..