Thursday, March 3, 2011
The Fool Is
He eats and rolls in his sleep
Like a hog in a sty.
And he has to live life over again.
- Dhammapada, "The Elephant"
* * *
Trying to see something at night requires a million sidelong glances in order to see what is in front of you. Rods and cones and all that. There's a hole in your vision that requires you to look away and so find what you wanted to see.
So too my understanding with Buddhism. I need to look away all the time.
* * *
The fucked life is one in stasis - in thought, in action, in perpetuity. It mistakes the fundamental processes of eating, sleeping, fucking, breathing and dying with living. Our animal capacities are baseline operations - and each is a potential source of pleasure, gratification and inquiry. But they are potential only. The missing link is a mind awake to itself, to its time and that uses that time, uses its potential to become fully human - the communion of animal and spirit.
Idleness as the devil's workshop is a tired saw. It imagines nefarious imps tearing at your soul and in truth that ain't a bad way to look at it.
Were you born merely to eat and fuck? Were you born simply to die? No, the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are and most of our time is spent shedding the thick skin of our fears in order to meet our lives directly. Except when we don't. Except when we roll in our sleep and believe the extent of our capacity is the wall we've built around ourselves - the cocoon of our fears. We seal off the mystery of consciousness and attend to its first steps only: eating, sleeping fucking, breathing and dying.
* * *
I have always hated the implied hatred Buddhism holds for this life. The ever winding spiral of lives we have to live in order to be set free of life, the endless renunciation of eating, sleeping, fucking and breathing that is part and parcel of wanting to be rid of our skins. Dude, I was born here and this is the one life I know I've got and there's way too much that is beautiful and fine, that gives pleasure and meaning to my finite days. Fuck you, fat man. I like it here. Now pass the fried chicken and slaw and get me a beer.
But that ain't right, is it? Look at the passage at the top of the page. Instead of reading it as a punishment - that the idle fool who sleeps through his life has to come back in another life and try again, read it as a warning: you only have this life and only so much time and the longer you wait to wake up and be fully human - animal and spirit - the less time you have to truly live and the more likely that you will repeat the same mistakes over and over and over. You will constantly be re-living your dolor, living the SAME life over and over again.
A hundred years ago, a beautiful woman asked this question of me: "What if reincarnation happened in this life only? What if all our lives were held in this one life?"
How many time have you died and been born again? Died to what you thought you knew and entered a new world of understanding and meaning?
I have been a pig in my sty rolling in my fuckedness imagining, like the captives in Plato's cave, that what I saw before me was all there was. I could have died there and believed only my fears, my limits. Many do. Many do. Perhaps they died happy. Maybe not. The take away is they die all the same. Since no one gets out of here alive, why not live like you meant it until then?
Do not be idle with fear.
Do not roll in your sleep and be content with a full belly.
Live, goddammit. Live.
* * *
Pigs are for eating.