Beyond Buddhism: and the meaning of life is…

img_1773The opposite of death, of course, whatever that is, no more no less, the two like dancing partners choreographed to perfection, or life partners resigned to the fact. There is no other option, no matter how much the creators of cryogenics would wish it, or however much the authors of science fiction might fantasize. You can only delay the inevitable; every doctor will admit that, but still we spend every last cent to prolong our lives another minute or two for the sake of science, for the sake of the impenetrable sadness…

And these same doctors think that the cure for suicide is better anti-depression drugs, as if all happiness is chemical and all meaning is logical, as if we were born with a seventy-year contract to fulfill, and any less would put us in breach. But yes, we are in breach, we are always in breach, that slashed gap between the open sores of our bodies and the unrealized expectations we had in mind, the slashed gap of duality. Maybe we should invent some new drugs to enhance our false expectations? No, we’ve got enough of those already…

And that is our fate as human beings, to endure our fate with honor and dignity, to persevere with flags of freedom flying, nose to the grindstone, and a thousand other time-worn cliches well-ordered and ready to be pressed into service. The only question is how it plays out in the long haul, that is: will you find satisfaction, or will you find only misery? This is the eternal question which forms the backdrop to our lives, and still there is only the well-placed wedding cake which rates a picture in the photographic album of memory…

Pain exists; is suffering optional?

That’s what some highly respected pundits say, mostly when trying to reconcile Buddhism with Christianity, I think, or reconcile reality with our false expectations, so same thing almost. And while it’s known that this is not exactly a direct quote from the historical Buddha, it generally gets high marks for accuracy, and for preserving the spirit of the Buddha himself, notwithstanding the fact that the quote is anonymous, though often attributed to a Japanese monk…

Because while on the surface it seems very sympathetic to what we Buddhists are trying to accomplish, on a deeper level I think it misses the point entirely, as evidenced by the Buddha’s very words themselves, for he never said much about pain, not in the Four Noble Truths, anyway. It’s always about dukkha, suffering, and probably best translated just like that. For in the examples mentioned: sickness, old age and death, etc., there is no direct pain as such, only the long slow grind of suffering…

And it is only optional in the sense that nirvana might extinguish it, theoretically, and by interpolation any attempt at nirvana might ameliorate it, to the point that it is manageable, even if much less dramatic. For that seems to be the trade-off in this process of Buddhism, foregoing some bliss in exchange for less sadness, or foregoing some luxury in exchange for less poverty along this Middle Path…

True Buddhism has probably never been practiced……

…not since the Buddha’s parinirvana some two and a half millennia ago, his greatest work summed up in the realization that a Middle Path between the excesses of self-engorgement and self-mortification was just a really sublime way to mitigate the surfeit of suffering that is so ubiquitous in this world, samsara. And almost immediately much of the message was lost, as the monks settled into their bunks, and almost on cue revelation and realization became religion and redundancy…

And there is the epiphany, IMHO, that the Middle Path is no fixed route at all, but a flexible indeterminate sweet spot between extremes that defies logic and language, subjectively perceived and subjectively fulfilled, and which cannot be reduced to writing, except for the training-wheel first readers of initiates, lest they waste valuable time learning the ancient chants from hallowed priests, for a way of life that will never suit them anyway…

So there is little or no reason for any emotion at all, TBH, in this life in this world, much less the roller-coaster ride of screaming and crying and laughing and sighing that many of us associate with ‘normalcy’ of the human condition. In fact a wry little smile should suffice for most situations, and the finding of comedy even in the darkest situations is not only a literary genre; it is a means to survival. Is life terrifying or terrific? So you see the irony and conundrum involved here, which words can hardly express…

Bottom line: there is no need to cry a tear for the death of a loved one, for such is the natural order of life, and any notion to the contrary is the height of ignorance. It is simply the way things are. But there is nothing wrong with it, either, the showing of emotion. Emotion is a natural human state, even if it is frowned upon in Buddhism, when in excess, and so the less the better, to make life easier. Buddhist love is not the passionate kind, and Buddhist grief is not the weeping and wailing kind, either…

 

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