#Dharma without the Drama: #Buddhism on the Half-Shell…

img_0545Buddhism is not supposed to be a religion to get all excited about in the first place, if it’s even a religion at all, but just the opposite, regarding the excitement, that is. That’s Christianity, or Hinduism, singing and dancing, playing organ and banging drums, maybe even a guitar or two, if you’re lucky, and a bottle of wine, singing about Adam and Eva, “In a Gadda da Vida”…

But Buddhism is not like that, not at all, and maybe just the opposite, a bit gloomy at times, I frequently the cheery one in the group, and I’m at least bi-polar, maybe even tri, triple Gem(ini), at least metaphorically, but who’s counting? And if Christian hymns are the paradigm for the cross, carrying you away to places you’ve never really been before, in a swoon of frenzy, for Buddhism the paradigm is meditation, focusing on the right here and right now, where you’ve never really left…

Not all the Buddhisms are the same, either: Theravada Buddhism wants you to be enlightened; Mahayana Buddhism wants you to write it down, or at least like, follow and share, so that others may benefit and hopefully readjust the food chain to those previously left out of the equation…

Both approaches are worthwhile, I’d say, given the dual nature of religion, both personal and social, so readjusting yourself in relation to the multi-verse, while spreading that positive energy outward for others to gain from it. But they all want you to meditate, just like all Christian sects want you to sing a song, at one point or other, if only for good measure…

And you can leave the passion at home, too, whether it’s Christian passion of the crucifixion or passion just for the Hell of it. It’s not necessary for Buddhism, counter-indicated in fact, unless it’s com-passion, kindness to others, all others, without regard to circumstance nor romance, just equanimity in the flesh for the sake of ourselves, or non-selves even better, all of us stuck in the same boat and learning to swim together…

Bliss, maybe? Naah, not really, but Buddhism should help you avoid any major pitfalls. That’s the whole point, avoidance of extremes, to get you to quit showing off, so proud of yourself and so full of it to the brim, man on the make looking to score with the lady of the lake. But the scoreboard has been torn down, on the playing field of Buddhism, and the cheerleaders have all gone home. There are no winners in this game, and hopefully no losers, either. That’s the point…

I know now why so many of the current fads in religion and philosophy and New Age-style transformational therapy stress ‘the now’. It’s because the future is grim, from a capitalist growth viewpoint, and everybody can sense it, that we live in very uncertain times, and that no one has a very inspiring vision of the future. One hundred years ago, the future was fantastic science fiction, full of inventions and adventures and toys to play with. Now the future is dystopian, dark bleak and unwelcoming…

So what is the future of the world? Is there any way to break the cycle of the things we love most being at the mercy of the things we love least? Is it possible that the most intelligent people might also be the most compassionate people and hold some sort of veto power over the most vicious and cruel? I think that is the great hope, but the field is tilted of course, and while we Westerners consider ourselves to be the righteous ones, others might beg to differ…

Not to mention that it is maybe unrealistic to expect the most compassionate people to also be the most well-armed, defense at the ready and defense only. Yet the Scandinavian countries currently best radiate those qualities of social justice and technological expertise, too, notwithstanding their brutally vicious and violent Viking past nor their implicit defensive protection by the USA…

So we pride ourselves on freedom, though we have none, not really, subject to the shifting sands of politics and the raging rivers of wartime. There are no answers to the most difficult questions, only more questions to buy us time to delay the day of reckoning. But no one gets out of here alive, of that we are certain. So we pay and we pay, to live another day, and that is the best we can do right now…

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