Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Krispy Kreme Donuts, Buddhism, & A Pile Of Dung


And in case you missed it...wait for it....Shit.

It's one of those nights for me, so there might not be anything profound or deeply spiritual coming from these fingertips tonight. And what's frustrating is that there really isn't much of a need or reason to feel like shit at the moment; I just do.

It could be because I spent over a day and a half in bed (which would be fine if Scarlet Johansson were present), or it could be due to the fact that I just finished reading the first 16 pages of a new book by Pema Chödrön, and could I tell you anything about what I just read? Pretty much nothing. Something about impermanence and sitting with our emotions without labeling them. Some people's minds are sponges; mine is rubber and everything just bounces off of it sometimes.

Anyways, her book is called Living Beautifully With Uncertainty And Change, a title that if you're in a good mood sounds magical and refreshing. But if you're in a bad mood, you could just say, what the fuck is this? I'm somewhere in the middle tonight. I know just a little about Buddhism (oh ya, Chödrön is a Buddhist nun if you haven't heard), but it sounds in many ways directly opposite to the fundamentalist Christianity that I was saturated with as a child, youth, and into my late teens. It was like I was a Krispy Kreme donut being dunked endlessly into a vat of icing and sugar, but I wasn't being licked for my deliciousness since it was inappropriate to do so for many of the young ladies in Bible College.

Whereas my fundamentalism stated that there were many things to be absolutely sure of in this life (i.e. "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is shifting sand, all other ground is shifting sand."), Buddhism turns that upside down and says "all ground is shifting sand, and you might as well get used to it, Bub." Or as the author likes to say, we fight against the raging ocean, when it would be best to let go of the tree branch we're holding onto and go along for the ride.

There's a lot in life that can shift and knock us over, and we can either grasp and gasp for sure things that aren't there, or we can experience the shit (or goodness) for what it is, realizing that it is fleeting. This is just a fact of life, without Tootie (if you're not a child of the 80's you won't get that reference).

Another real difference between the fundamentalist and Buddhist approaches is that feeling shitty is ok! I'm not saying that all Christians put on fake smiles, but I know that many do; I know I used to do it. There's a lot in life that can get us feeling shitty for a time: unemployment, illness, divorce, Toddlers & Tiaras.  So you might as well go ahead and say Fuck, Fuck, Fuck! and get it out of your system. Actually I think it's unhealthier not to do so. The more I think about it, repression is pretty much the answer to...well, not much.

And then guess what, the shitty time ends, because...everything is impermanent!

All of this leads to the key teaching that we would do well to practice being present, being here, now.  There's no other time like it, whether we like it or not.

In the time it's taken for me to write this masterpiece, that feeling has lessened. But I'll still say it anyways.


Mark Andrew Alward