Buddhism and the Winding Path of Forbearance…

The world is full of sights and sounds, none of which brings happiness. That is somewhere inside. And this is a central message of Buddhism, of course, and other religions, too, that happiness is not a function of material fulfillment, or even full bellies, so much as it is an internal feeling of psychological contentment, that is not merely quantifiable, but qualifiable, in terms that evoke hard-to-describe pleasures, while invoking few, if any, gods. Because the old war gods have lost their power; and the old goddesses have lost their punch. That was an earlier time when desires were simple and the jobs were few, goddesses there to multiply us, gods there to divide us. As the populations increase, then so do the problems, almost by mathematical certainty. So once our material survival is theoretically guaranteed, then immediately we begin killing each other, even though the other now poses no significant risk, just annoyance, and provokes our lack of forbearance, and our inability to make peace instead of war, to share the wealth instead of fighting over it. And this is the message of much religion, to love each other, but not necessarily THE other, that defining line the rub of religion that sometimes gives it the rep of uniting people in all the wrong ways, against the other, rather than with him, because the mere fact that we see an other is evidence of his or her otherness, is it not? And so continues the march of history, zig zag meanderthals in search of a path, any path, that has an unobstructed field and maybe even a clear exit, just in case we need a rest. Maybe our bellies are TOO full, in fact, that material contentment counter-indicated once it becomes assured, a little uncertainty called for in order to foment change. Monks and rishis fast, after all, not because they want to lose weight, but because they are hungry for another kind of fulfillment, and sometimes it is just that easy to tease out the tiny details of spiritual fulfillment, just enough of a difference to make a difference. We can see in DNA that multiple mutations provide the raw material for evolution, despite the occasional disastrous kerfuffle. So if it’s good enough for nature, then it’s good enough for me. We are arrogant with our predictions, proclamations, and prognostications, but nature is kind in its uncertainty. Civilization has betrayed its promise. It’s time to return to Nature–again…