This blog, Yours in the Dharma by Sandy Garson, is an effort to navigate life between the fast track and the breakdown lane, on the Buddhist path. It tries to use a heritage of precious, ancient teachings to steer clear of today's pain and confusion to clear the path to what's truly happening.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Haiku for this very moment
My phone just rang with a caller ID I didn't recognize. "Is Hope available?" a man asked. I didn't know what to say. Then I realized he'd dialed the wrong number. He was sorry. I was too.
The world is such a depressing moral free mess these days, I haven't been able to figure out what to say. This could have happened because wisdom finally does come with age, but so does short term memory loss.
My silence could come from fear. Last week I heard a voice on Public Radio say ISIS releases those gruesome beheading videos because its leaders know that to be a true terrorist, you have to ignite terror in the human heart. Well, shiver me timbers, that makes me a terrorist too. My senior moments have escalated to a point that scares the hell out of me. I actually called a friend to berate her for not telling me where we were to meet in two hours and heard her say, she texted me last night and I texted back: Yes, ok, see you there. For the first time ever, I went to an airport not knowing what flight I was on: I forgot to save the confirmation email on my computer, and even though I did look up the information through the airline website, I forgot to bring the piece of paper I wrote that down on. Being a ditz is terrifying.
In three days, the Scots will decide whether or not they want to stay
married to the Brits or file for divorce. These two have been married for more than 300 years, long enough to know each others' behavior well
enough to take each other for granted, but over the past 20, in what appears to have been a
mid strife crisis, the Brits radically shifted gears. They reversed themselves
from having good governance and bad food to having great food and bad
governance. So you have to wonder: did videos of Ottolenghi's vegetarian cooking and the foodie invasion it might inspire strike terror in the heart of haggis
eaters? Really, everything is terrifying nowadays: ebola, Al Shaabab, nitwit Russian rebels, ISIS, not knowing whether it's ISIS or ISIL, dangerous cold viruses and Honduran children on the loose, Tea Party tantrums, Taliban tantrums, Hamas' tunnels, aging pipelines, secret money, the cesspool called Pakistan, the macho gone wild called Texas, food from China, anti-abortion creeps... . And we're not even near Halloween yet, although it is scary to see how early the big stores dare to put all that candy out.
Nothing in the public realm is funny, even in a sad way like the literally pitched battle over airline seat space could have been if it didn't strike terror in the heart of every economy class ticket purchaser.
Perhaps the tsunami of public panic has made Mother Nature, with her keen sense of balance, quite the private joker now. Her startlingly intense September light lit up my brush all the hair falling front and center from my head. It also let me see how much hair is growing long and wild over my legs. Yesterday I discovered why the three eight packs of annual flowers I've spent four months lavishing water, fertilizer and attention on never yielded a bloom: I have been farming groundhog food. For every moment I've spent crowing over how blessed I am with so many birds circling, haunting or residing on my property-- because the late Karmapa Rigpa Dorje claimed birds are wisdom goddess dakinis, I've spent thirty minutes every three days trying to scrub sticky bird shit off my car. It's been so frustrating I finally resorted to sandpaper and now I have permanent scratches in my windshield --on the driver's side, right at my eye level. Some blessing.
been what others in the business call "criminally cheated" by a propane
provider, I immediately tried to switch to a local company that wasn't bought out by some faceless conglomerate in the business of glomming. Sadly, the locally owned
company was so busy, partly converting distressed customers like me, it couldn't
get me their tank for a month. "But," I was assured, "you'll get
reimbursed for all the propane you didn't use and they'll have to do it
at the ridiculous rate they made you pay." Naturally, I've spent the waiting time trying NOT to use any more propane than cooking
required. And of course the last five days brought what has been a surprisingly unusual cold
snap for mid September, bone chilling nights of 43º, days of 56º
that require using the propane based heat. Ha ha, where is global warming when a body needs it?
I know it's another of Mother Natures' private jokes that I can't remember what I wanted to say. It's another sick joke how all the bruising years of building up enough experience to finally reach the lower peaks of wisdom now seem totally useless. I can't go back to do it all again and none of the young people I know gives a hoot about benefiting from what I just about killed myself to discover. They want to do their own thing, have it their way. In these situations I actually remember what I want to say, but I've had to learn--like many of my elder friends --to restrain myself from pointing out potential errors in their way. If I want to keep them coming into my life, I have to just shut up and smile. So much for currency in the so called sharing economy.
It could be that Mom Nature is having fun trying to scare the hell out of Father Time for his dedication to evolution by making sure we humans don't evolve. We just keep doing the same damn dumb things over and over again, rolling the wheel of samsara around and around. The war in Vietnam was a pointless mess we had no business being in just like the war in Iraq was a pointless mess we had no business being in. Just look at the bigger mess it created. I could drone on and on like our government because now we're eagerly going to mess up bigtime all over again. Honestly, who wants to benefit from Dwight Eisenhower's hard won experience and go to war against the genuine enemy: the military industrial complex that keeps itself wealthy at the expense of education, infrastructure and other vitals of civilized society, by ginning up enough fear of gun control and marauding Middle East Muslims to strike terror into our political heart. They have products to sell and, yes, they do a fantastic job of creating demand for them. Really, who cares that Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned the only thing we should truly fear is this kind of genetically modified, fatheaded, fast growing fear itself.
I thought we were just now supposed to be coming into fear's official moment, characterized by the spookiness of Halloween, but it certainly seems as if the scare tactic season has been stretched as artificially as the NFL's. We call this season Fall because everything comes down or dies-- the leaves, the light, the warmth, the plant food supply and the animals we hunt, the airy dreams of a summer night-- propelling us into the barren, stark and scary dark of winter. We call it Fall because cold winds blow away the hopes of Spring so truth will out. Hope falls in the face of so much fear.
I suppose all anyone with any moral fiber left can do is use this early onrush of dark and terrifying times to assert a bit of countervailing power by trying to plant a little hope. I myself spent Sunday burying daffodil and tulip bulbs deep in the soil, wise enough to know anticipating the cheer of their resurrection in Spring will give me a little joy to live for--if the groundhog doesn't eat them and I remember to come home.
Author of How To Fix a Leek and Other Food From Your Farmers' Market, new edition published May 2011; and Veggiyana: the Dharma of Cooking, published September 2011 by Wisdom Publications. Founder and president of Veggiyana, a charitable effort to feed Buddhist monastics and schoolchildren in India, Nepal and Tibet. On Facebook as Prima Dharma Cook.
This is a blog of essays from the Buddhist perspective of Sandy Garson.
Visit my web site Yours In The Dharma, where I try to make sense of the bewilderment in daily life. I meditate aloud on how the teachings of my guru Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the golden rosary of his Tibetan Kagyu lineage and the Buddha himself come alive in the headlines and heartaches to rescue us all from suffering.