Thursday, April 28, 2011

"It’s all right to feel what human beings feel and we are not supposed to turn into rocks or trees when we practice Buddhism. Buddhas laugh, cry, dance, feel ecstasy, probably even feel despair. It is how we know the world. It is how we live inside of our hearts and not dissociated from them."
Jane Hirshfield, poet; from PBS, The Buddha, a film by David Grubin.

A certain kind of cultural attitude holds that we must aggressively respond to our ego's concerns. Who can blame one for taking care of their own? And yet, awake within the heart, there is a need to change from within, to not emphasize the acting-out, but rather the passivity, the peace with the way things are. Which is not to say a Buddha does not have emotions and feelings, but just a different way of going about things. And maybe that is hard, to appreciate that passivity, in a culture that praises action, that likes the story of action.

If one can perform one small act of passivity, and carry it out, there naturally is a lot to learn from that, a lot of energy released out into the world as we know it. Maybe in the light of the old attitude, the act that is passive and its consequences are too costly, but in the light of the Buddha who is in us all, every sentient being, that act's perfection--for lack of a better word--of peace and appropriateness shines forth in its own way. One attitude marches us toward one way, and the other, another way. And every person must be aware of that potential influence on the rest of people and the world.

How could you ever sell passivity, the peace and calm of a Buddha, except by looking at where we are now.

Perhaps a dismissive attitude is one of the main stumbling block of positive change. We have a tendency to be hyper-critical, as we go about delineating our own self from the other (which is best considered an illusion.) We don't see other's potential to be Buddha-wise, but rather are quick to place a label on another in their quiet pursuit of a proper act, thought or speech, or behavior. But if we fall into the habit of negative interpretation of a human being grasping for calm and Buddha-passivity, we fail to see our own greatest potential and get mired down in non-constructive activities.

Misinterpretation in an unchanged world is inevitable. But a Buddha has a thick hide, a duck's back, a powerful 'Christian' sense of charity and turning cheek. A Buddha will see through criticisms laid at his feet, understand it's all for the best.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There is a story about John F. Kennedy. He calls his father right after the first debate.

Afterward he tells an aide, a friend, "If I'd fallen flat on my face, he would have said, 'Jack, the way you picked yourself up off the floor was fantastic.'" (Something like that.)

It's Ted Sorensen's story, and he tells it quite better than I on a CBS special "Jack" found in my clutter of VCR tapes. "'Thanks an awful lot, Dad,'" he quotes him.