Buddhist Enlightenment is Hard Work; Saving the Planet is even Harder…

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Kwan Yin (Kuan Im), Sino-Thai Bodhisattva

I don’t think too much about Nirvana or satori, Nibbana or moksha or any of the other Promised Lands of Buddhism, simply because they seem to refer to another sphere or another dimension or another life which I have little interest in, when the problems of this life should be plenty to keep us busy for the foreseeable future…

Because the hate and anger must stop here, grounded and defused and refused re-entry into the society of minds and hearts of men, egos run wild with apparent abandon and artificial stimulation. Enlightenment is probably not even about bliss at all. It’s probably hard work, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and true suffering, inflicted by the whims and wills of men with minds conditioned to inflict cruelty…

The saint and the seeker suffer indignity after indignity and never complain, but only look for better ways to relieve the suffering of others, because that of himself is trivial, except in that it impedes his progress. The greatest good for the greatest number is the guiding principle, and the only lesson of forgiveness is not to forget the source of pain, but hopefully to change it, or at least not let it destroy us…

But never tell someone that they need to change. Just tell them a mutual friend needs to change, so as not to incur reciprocal wraths and animosities of competition, better to act as though we both have a common enemy than to act as though you are my enemy, hint hint, and persist until they get the message. But it’s beyond my comprehension as to why people like to hurt other people, why some people feel emboldened by making others feel weak…

And never attempt to get the last word in edge-wise. A notable ex-GF used to become furious that after several rounds of a repetitive argument, during which we had both expressed similar opinions over several occasions, that I would simply refuse to continue, suggesting instead that we sleep on it, and return the next day to continue, without winner nor loser, until later notice…

Come the next day, of course, neither of us could even remember the nature of the argument, much less the fine details, and even far less the question as to who was right and who was wrong. This is the problem with passion, of course, that the magic of the moment takes precedence over reason and rationality, to the point that people make fools of themselves and mockeries of discourse and intercourse, all civility sacrificed in the act of aggression…

But it is the job of a good Buddhist to defuse aggression, not contribute to it. Thus I realize that I am Buddhist to no small degree through the ascension of Donald Trump, because only now do I truly know suffering, anguish, stress, and dissatisfaction to a degree that I could not have even imagined before, I so proud of my psychotic tendencies and my birth deficiencies, and my ability to contain them, even rationalize them, and normalize them, as if they were the natural lot of humankind…

But it is also the job of a good Buddhist to make the world a better place to live, with liberty and justice for all, and cooperation with cruel despots is not the way to accomplish that. This is something that Buddhism has been guilty of at times, not only legitimizing autocrats, but declaring them as bodhisattvas, enlightened ones

Thus while many American Buddhists were out on the streets protesting against Donald Trump before he had even taken office, many Asian Buddhists support him, if for no other reason than the fact that he hates Muslims (and probably not realizing that he hates them, too). In general I prefer a more measured approach…

I doubt that Buddhists need to be issuing political opinions at all as Buddhists, though what they do on their own is up to them. Monks and nuns seem to have foregone that option though, and Buddhism has enough of its own internal politics to keep it busy, I would think, what with women generally still not allowed full ordination and Buddhist monks threatening holy war in South Asia…

Still violence is only justified in self-defense and death to others is never justified, whether you wear the yellow robes or not. As populations become greater the world becomes smaller, but fortunately most of the worst people tend to congregate in cities, hint hint, which leaves much open space for the rest of us…

This is what minority groups have always done, move away, usually uphill, rather than stand and fight like stupid stupid men. If our ability to ‘stand our ground’ is the only measure of our worth as human beings, then indeed we are not worth much. I don’t know who first composed the children’s rhyme ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,’ but that’s not a bad little Buddhist ditty…

And uphill is not a bad place to go as global warming heats up. I have serious doubts that the city people will ever deal with it, more attached to their lifestyles than their lives, such that the next few generations may indeed be the ‘do-or-die’ era for our high civilization, haha, what a joke! But life will likely go on, and the species has survived worse than this, just never before self-inflicted… 

But no one can be forced towards enlightenment, and certainly it’s more than a choice, more like a resigned acceptance of something that has to be realized, and done, sooner or later, for someone awakened to the truth of it. I imagine that one is drawn to it like a moth to light, even though flying too close to the sun may ultimately kill one. Just gotta’ keep the faith, brethren–and maybe even fly at night…