And so, my twenty five year sojourn into the world of the suffering, in that there is, in some ways, no more evocative of suffering than people trying to enjoy themselves, carrying about their egos, their wants, needs, hearing themselves talk, listening to music that put them in the mood, drinks, food, company… And I was waiting on them, serving, turning up the music even, doling out, in the bad old days, a shot. It was done out of love, at least I'd like to think, out of the spirit of wishing to share a social life, as much as trying to fit in somewhere, and because I have an affection for restaurant people. Perhaps, too, I became addicted to entertaining the crowd, as if that gave me a persona, a reason to be in the give and take of daily life.
I tended to find it suffering, personally, but then again it was work. "That's why they call it work," as people say, who know. It was my job.
And in the meantime, I searched. I read. I read things as background, I read things to try out, and I hoped that one day I would find seriousness and commitment to something, in a lasting steady way, something that made sense to me. I went through phases.
And even as I felt a vague uneasiness, not really knowing what else to do for employment of a most basic sort, I continued on under my own illusions, pressed as I was by my profession to, say, learn about wine. I was still operating under all the illusions that a good thorough reading of Buddhism and the practice of it does its best to exactly dispel, the very ones, which are basic and endemic, and perhaps rather problematic for modern Westerners to remove.
Calm and self-control, that's what I needed, so that I could see the stirring up of something sensually based, but rather than being taken by it, keep a distance. In the old days, illusioned, the opening riff of The Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" would gain its hold over me, just as the patron's demand that the barman have a particular kind of personality viewed from his or her own self-based illusions, but I meditated and strove to not react. And of course, how could I not feel shame about that, not being able to draw the line between that which takes us out of illusions and that which pushes us in.
Could you not see the love in Kerouac, for going along trips with his troubled friends, as if wanting to suffer along with them in hopes all would find the Buddhist Enlightenment he explicitly wrote about so often and so seriously, along with the Christian part of his ethos; could one not see that though it tends to be mixed in with a few things that might make an excitable reader want to fire up some of his own egotistical false self illusions. You have to be very careful.
You do have to be very careful, and that was why I might thank the great force of dharma love for not leading me into some circumstances where I would be more forced to be attached, as awful as that sounds. But it would seem to me that you'd be a better Buddhist not necessarily by being a college professor, at least these days. Or that I also found some strange part of my psyche never lead me to the conventional long term relationship, the consuming job, other calamities as may still befall me. Experience, always a strange and thought provoking thing for me, such that one could very easily lampoon my pensive slow walk or the lazy act of introspection.