Thursday, June 30, 2011

Enlightenment vs. The Methamphetamine-Fueled Bender

People have long debated whether you have to be crazy to be a good writer / artist /musician. The short answer is, yes. Chances are, if you have the wherewithal to produce a work of true genius, you'll also end up lopping off an ear or stuffing your head in the oven. At the very least, you'll need to be a run-of-the-mill alcoholic, womanizer, narcissist or recluse. As much as we hate to admit it, living an upstanding life, striving to achieve your goals, being a productive member of society is boring. There are some exceptions. James Taylor seems to be living a nice, mundane life in Newton, MA. He's a good musician. Society can handle some moderate amount of pretty good music about being a friend (and I think even JT may have had a heroin-junkie period at some point). Martha Stewart would be considered an artist by some - a master of creating pretty things out of mundane objects. But, seriously, there is not one person in a single first world, TV-watching country that did not feel some minimal level of smug satisfaction watching that woman get hauled off to the can.

As I continue to read more about Buddhism, all of this becomes very problematic. If I start to take Buddhist principals to heart and become more calm and at one with the forces of nature, if I start treating all other beings with love and kindness and compassion and understanding, if I wander through each day taking deep, full breaths, a half smile on my face and an overall air of tranquility, what am I going to talk about with other people? Beauty and peace are all well and good. But, really, who wants to hear about that? Kibitzing about the twisted train wreck that is global humanity is one of the great pleasures in life. It's a fundamental building block of human DNA that dates back to the dawn of time. People can spend a little time contemplating the soothing elements of life. That’s nice. But it's discussion about idiots, douchebags, criminals, losers, scumbags, know-it-alls and morons that really gets the juices flowing. Spotlights on benders, murders, raves, falls-from-grace, scandals and affairs sell a lot more magazines than tales about being relaxed or having a productive day in the office.

So what's a guy to do who's trying, at the same time, to find some tranquility and have interesting things to write about? Maybe the solution is as simple as "everything in moderation." Including moderation. I haven't come across any yet, but there must be some Buddhist monks out there who spend, say, ten consecutive days meditating in silence and then every eleventh day just going ripshit crazy. Wander in the woods, write letters, polish up the sandals most days. And, once in a while, rage through town on a methamphetamine-fueled bender, go out drinking with a pack of high school kids, beat up a homeless guy, steal a hood ornament, break into someone's house, swim naked in their pool, crash a rental car, and spend the night at a sketchy motel with some dirty women they met at a dogfight.

All of this is an advance plea for help. If the Buddhism thing gets to be too much; if the next time you see me, I smile kindly, gently touch your shoulder and ask you a penetrating question; if I lose my cynicism and my junior high sense of humor; and if I stop writing about what a ridiculous bunch of imbeciles all human beings are, please give me a forceful smack in the ass and a cocktail. I could also use some updates about what's happening these days in underground, lunatic-fringe circles. I was never that cool of a guy - more of a tag along, jazz band clique type. I'm afraid my Brooks Brothers business-casual professional career hasn't helped much on that front. And I'm probably not nearly insane enough ever to become a great artist. So if you're a hipster, dope fiend, jetsetter or suicidal nutjob, send me a dispatch from the inside. I may find eternal bliss one day, but I'd still like to stay in touch.


Rich said...

Great post.

Chako X said...

Hey Dan,

I'm far from "hip" but I'm happy to have a new friend and to talk about meditation and TRUTH...

I think this is ultimately what everyone is looking to feel and understand when they back stab, gossip, or look to the sensational media or a movie to get a rise.

There is some deeper part of humans
(or the human experience?) that we share - we may argue over what to call it: a soul, consciousness, God, love, mind, HEAVY BASS AND DRUMS...well maybe for me...

but there is something deep that we are all looking to connect with...
Buddha nature, enlightenment, a blissed out state? I know what it is for me.

I've only mentioned it to a few people, but it makes better sense to
"share the Dharma" rather than keeping it some mysterious secret.
I'm looking for union with my master. He is the Buddha and has the "higher mind" or some such state one might call "God", so
it would be wise for me to stay focused on Him at all times. (a sort of meditation practice, if you will).

What eventually occurs, or at least I am hopeful, is that eventually my puny human experience becomes fully engulfed in His. (actually, it already is, but I cannot possibly see this - at the moment?)
perhaps this is the "flash of insight" so often mentioned in Buddhism.

I think what others are also looking for in the "outer" world:
movies, television, water cooler/bar conversations, is their own personal feeling of being absorbed. They wish to connect.

I think there are plenty of other things to talk about other than so-called "negatives" but perhaps in our society, without proper (self) medication or introduction, folks fear sounding like they are from the Woodstock nation; tripped out, hippy-dippy, new age freakos.
I think it's time for everyone to be brave. If you think you know something on how humans can end their suffering, by all means SHARE!

And that's what the Buddha did in his time. He left a bazillion different meditation practices for humans to look directly at their inner lives and disconnect from that part (of themselves) of the outer world, (Samsara, the Illusion, Maya, the Matrix, the dream) that is false. And with any luck, to plug in to the part that is always reliable
in the
and end.

pretty cool right!

I need a beer - do I see a night of heavy drinking and turning over cars in my near future! harrharr

breath in breath out
don't know...

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