First Noble Truth of Buddhism: It’s a Heartache…

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…and that’s about as accurate as any translation of the Pali word dukkha as any other, certainly better than the ‘stress’ or ‘discomfort’ or whatever currently making the rounds in Buddhist blurbs online and elsewhere, anything but ‘suffering’, the traditional and still most accurate definition. We’re talking about a metaphysical level of suffering here, after all, or at least existential, the kind that envelops you in its inimitable embrace, and lets you know exactly where you stand, or fall, which is usually somewhere nearby and knowable, so treatable…

The newer ‘stress’-full definition of dukkha suggests a modern post-capitalist phase that the Buddha himself could hardly have imagined back in the classic Upanishadic era of pre-colonial India, actually post-colonial if you count Aryans as intruders, and not the high-class homeboy Brahmins that they usually like to see themselves as. They brought as many chariots, horses, cows and racism as they ever brought religion, more like high plains cowboys than the meditative masters that we now see them as (though they did have good drugs—I hear)…

The smart money is on their Dravidian antecedents as the true meditation masters, massage and health nuts obsessed with cleanliness, health and sobriety, though the Aryans may have indeed been the duality-obsessed ascetically-inclined space cadets straight in off the front steppes and looking for a hearty meal, then ready to go right back out to count the stars under manic maniac moonlight and the influence of soma—strange alchemy…

Modern genetic studies indicate that these Indo-Aryans of y-DNA Slavic genome haplogroup R1a were mostly men, while the women were and still are of mostly Dravidian M-group mt-DNA, which is still found in high percentage all over east Asia, especially the Southeast. Thus the Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism that emerged from the mixed-message Upanishads after intensive Vedic ‘knowledge’ were apparently truly inspired, the results of long hybridization and clarification and ready for prime time…

And if Hinduism won the ballgame in overtime on the home court of India, then Buddhism clearly won the game internationally, though the concept of winners and losers in the game of religion is probably infantile at best, especially in a religious tradition that prides itself on equanimity, non-craving and non-aggression as the best tools to survive in a world all too often defined and dominated by its most nefarious elements…

Yes, this world will break your heart every time…

…won’t it, because isn’t that what it’s all about, anyway? Emotions run wild in a world of sound and fury, where light is but a glimpse of heaven and gravity a reminder of the Hell that awaits should you lose your footing to fate. And while a Christian might say “cool, thanks for the ride, let’s do that again,” well many a Buddhist would surely say, “Let’s look for a way around that particular neighborhood and that amusement park from hell…:

And if Buddhism sometimes thus comes off as passionless, at least in comparison to Christianity, then that’s good, BUT… let me suggest that it’s okay to have emotion, just not so okay to show it, at least not all the time, anyway. Christianity is the only religion I know of with song and dance as part of the ritual, outside of African animism, and while that may or may not have a place in religion, it still seems to me at its best in the highly ritualized baby-making rituals that Christianity is known for (haha)…

And there is a misconception that Buddhist ‘suffering’ implies misery or worse still: pain, ungodly and unfathomable, but I don’t see it that way at all (and that’s simply not what the word dukkha means). To me what it implies is that you are not going to win this game, Charlie Sheen and other contentious contenders notwithstanding, and you are not going to get out of here alive, so act accordingly…

A polite respectful sober attitude seems to work best to mitigate the exigent circumstances of lack and limit, not that there is not enough of Earth’s bounty to go around, but that it seems like homo sapiens sapiens will find a way to give that stock room a run for its money just about every time…

And that is exactly the predicament we find ourselves in today, too many dollars and not enough sense in the hands of our illustrious leaders, business political and religious, all of whom are under the influence of bad money and false dreams that are simply not sustainable. And Buddhist congregations are just as guilty as anyone else, the Thai sangha involved in a level of corruption that would make the Vatican blush…

But the best Buddhism in Thailand is to be found in the outback, in the forests, and in the 100 year-old tradition that names itself for those same forests. For it is there that Buddhism has rebooted itself and returned to its roots, in a process that can, should and needs to take place all over the world, the sooner the better, for the good of the people, the planet and the paths that link them, the middle path between extremes, the middle path between fullness and emptiness, for that is the path of the Buddha…

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