Buddhism 201: Half-Way down the Middle Path to Everywhere…

img_0980My friends probably think I’ve gone off the deep end, what with my current obsession with the Buddhist religion, almost to the exclusion of all else. They’re probably right. I hope so. And yet I’ve barely scratched the surface, because the pool is very deep. But yes, I’m getting deeper and deeper into the Thai ‘forest tradition’ of Buddhism, which may or may not be the perfect religion, but it’s better than anything else that I’ve found, in fifty some-odd years of quest…

… the almost perfect combination of religion, nature, lifestyle, environmentalism and sustainability. I always thought that Buddhism was mostly philosophy, which I liked, but seems it’s equally religious trappings, which I’d become increasingly aware of in Thailand, and psychology, too, based heavily on meditation, more than I ever realized, probably because that’s a specialty of serious adepts and initiates, especially monks and priests…

And so I prepare for a likely ordination as monk at some point in the future, following in the steps of my stepson, child acting as father to the man, he filling a gap year before career, I fulfilling a promise to use my later years wisely and with foresight, no malice aforethought. The requirements for admission into the religion are not particularly demanding, though at the level of monk or priest, that obviously increases…

Come as you are; leave as you want to be. The question is whether I’ll go more than half-way with this, past the point of no return. In general I believe in doing everything half-way, something I’ve been very successful at all my life. Now for many people this would mean that I’m a loser, such judgments the American gold standard for self-righteous posturing…

But ‘half-way’ doesn’t mean ‘half-ass’. “Half-way’ means that you can change your mind, which can and should happen quite frequently. ‘Never give up on your dream’ is the most dubious advice anyone could ever receive, and the exact opposite is arguably better: ‘always give up on your dream.’ Do you really only have one? Maybe you should get a few more, then you can mix and match…

Little did I know while growing up that my demeanor was always Buddhist, always more about defense than offense, more about avoiding pain than seeking pleasure, always more about not losing than about winning big, ‘risking it all’, ‘following my passion’, or ‘chasing my dream’. I have many dreams. Did I already say that? I’ll say it again, to use a current theme: get over yourself. You’re not a brand. You’re not a category. You’re not a thing…

You are a living breathing spontaneous creative individual, and not only is it okay to change your mind, but it is good. Not only is it okay to pursue multiple paths, but it is good. One of life’s first realizations is that there’s always something else. It’s just that so many of our so-called ‘truths’ are conditioned that objectivity is impossible…

That means that there are a lot of false starts and a lot of dead ends. The world changes around us, too. If your life’s dream was to become a librarian, then you might feel a little bewildered right now, as the only library I need is contained right in this little box I’m tapping on right now, with the help from a Wi-Fi signal. I’m not sorry that I’ve had a half-dozen different careers, many of them simultaneously. That’s the spice of life…

Given the conundrum of existence, consciousness inhabiting flesh, homo sapiens sapiens went truckin’ to the ends of the earth. That’s what I love about this species. We have balls, and a love of the game, baseballs footballs basketballs soccer, especially when we have no choice–we still have balls, that is. Now we do—have choices, that is. Nomadic migration is no longer as feasible as it once was, either. Meditation is the next best thing for spatio-temporal non-consumptive fulfillment.

Buddhism is perfect for a mature person on a mature planet, which is our current condition: growing up. This is the opposite of western-oriented activism, the frontier spirit, the ‘go-get-’em’ ‘up-and-at-’em’ that once made Amerika great. That is an outmoded paradigm now…

Meditation is the paradigm that made Asia great, until martial arts defenses against the lumbering woodsmen from the West became necessary. We won. We all won. Now we can claim our reward—precious free time for everyone, precious free time to do absolutely nothing–quickly. A mature planet deserves a mature activity–meditation…

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