May 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
The idea came to me, in the fuzziness of my emergence from a work nap, that there is a dichotomy in my regard for Buddhism. Yes, strange things do present themselves during that twilight period of consciousness on many mornings– and upon this occasion, I began to consider whether I would be a good Buddhist.
I do support the notion that people do bad things because they wish to grasp power over others, to have a sense of ownership whether it be as a national leader, or as a lover or spouse. There is a neverending parade of murder on the news, reporting about men who have killed their wives and even their children, rather than lose them. It’s like that ironic quotation from the Vietnam war, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” That’s a prime example of someone believing that they own the ones they love. I suppose there are many reasons for this, one of which is our cultural belief in the traditional Christian marriage.
I do think it is romantic and endearing when couples state that they belong to each other. The difficulty may lie in the extension of this notion to ownership. Take, for example, the doctrine of the Mormon church, which I am familiar with. In that religion, it is both explicitly and implicitly declared that a wife will belong to her husband in the eternities– and not only her, but also any other wives which he chooses to acquire. Hence, and notwithstanding the protestations of LDS leaders to the contrary, a woman is effectively the chattel of her spouse now and in the hereafter.
This sense of ownership leads to many ills, including forcible polygamy, incest, child molestation, etc within the fundamentalist LDS community. I suspect matters were not much different in many of the original Mormon settlements back in the days when polygamy was still legal.
In our modern culture, the effects are less obvious but still quite negative.
I think that if two (or whatever number you prefer) people genuinely love and care for each other, there is no need for the belief in ownership, and the craving to have another person. If love is mature and true, I think that the lack of that belief makes it far stronger, close to indestructible.
As for material wealth (as distinguished from wealth in love), I would say that it is not inherently evil, but the pursuit of it leads to evil things. Let me produce another example to illustrate this. Microsoft is a gigantic company, and is well-known for its shady business practices. However, Mr. Gates has an enormous and very generous charitable foundation which has done much good in the world during its relatively short existence. But this does not compensate for the wrongs which his company has committed. Imagine for a moment the impact which Microsoft has made upon the world’s economy – the many competitors it has forced out of business, the many people who have lost their jobs due to unfair tactics, the stifling of potential new technologies which are perceived threats, and the unseen suppression of third world countries’ innovators who don’t even bother to try anymore.
Who knows what other effects there are?
I believe that it’s acceptable to enjoy the better things in life (most of which are free, yes, but money does secure one’s existence), although the pursuit of them and money itself is harmful. It’s a fine distinction. I would like to make the point that it can be good to desire certain material benefits, because life is short and should be enjoyed for the fruits it offers. If I sat under a peach tree next to an early Christian Anchorite, he might tell me, “I refuse to partake of this delicious fruit, because doing so would cause me to desire it more, and lust for that which is passing and ultimately unfulfilling.” I would respond, “To avoid that which can bring happiness, even a temporary one, is to abandon your humanity and deaden yourself to the same senses which cause us to bring forth art, poetry, and music.”
It is an old debate, one which can be found in any history of philosophy.
Would this make me a poor Buddhist? Others would have to judge that. Obviously, I do not call myself one, but I do admire many of the precepts.
May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
Working night shift has been wearing on me for a while. This is not new information. Every evening when I wake up, I am heard to announce; “I don’t want to go to work!” Every morning when I return from work it’s the old broken record of: “I am going to quit my job!” This has been going on for about the last eight month. Approximately the length of time that I have been working this shift.
The weather has been turning lately. While during the wintertime I wasn’t missing out on adventures due to rain, I am now facing 70 degree days where I will be curled up nestled in my blankets during the most gorgeous of weather. Ugh. I should be out bicycling and having adventures when instead, I am cooped up inside both night and day.
I should be working on harp music and paintings. Focusing on school work and that new business that I wanted to start makinag woman’s bicycle clothing and accessories. Yeah. Those things are never going to happen. I am going to continue to get mediocre grades and blisters because I can’t find the time to do the things that make me happy and content in life.
This is beginning to turn into a rant.
In 2009, I quit my job during the beginning of June to focus on more bicycle-based endeavors. I then played harp and did odd jobs until that winter when I began working at the winter shelter on the weekends. All that next year, I was only working on-call, picking up a shift or two every couple of weeks and supporting myself mainly by harp performance.
So, here I am in 2011. I just got on insurance a month ago. I have a steady job. I am a contributing member of society. I am in a field where I am doing something that I absolutely love. So, why am I not happy?
If I were a hippie, I would say that my spirit is like that of a bird’s, and this convention is pinning my wings and caging my heart. I’m not a hippie. I’m seriously considering letting my flying ribcage rodent free, though.
So the question remains; will I continue working this night shift or will I move into an on-call position so that I can pursue my passions?
Only time will tell.
May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
You can always tell when it’s someone’s first night. They’re overwhelmed. They can’t sleep. They wonder around all night long looking at everything in the common area. They often cry.
I don’t have an office.
When I was a smoker, I would often go out on breaks and write in the log that I was having a “one on one” with clients. Every once in a while, I will bum a cigarette from a co-worker and light it little by little throughout the night so that I have an excuse to go out and chat with the ladies at the facility.
This was one of those nights. My co-worker and I closed the desk so that she could go out on her smoke break and I could take in the night air. Standing there, staring in the common room window from the patio, we saw our new lady, moving slowly from the book shelf to the magazine rack and the bulletin board.
I opened the door and asked if she would like to join us. Outside, she poured forth the emotion that we expected, wiping the tears from her eyes and sniffling.
My co-worker returned to the desk, but I talked to her for a little while longer as she aired all her concerned, mentally giving up before she even started the work needed to be self-sufficient. I, of course, assured her that we would work with her the best that we could to get her onto steady ground.
That’s when she told me that I reminded her of someone.
I get this a lot.
Casually, I listed off the few places that I have worked, the area of town that I frequent. I know that it’s fruitless, because I know the answer that they are going to give me.
I remind people of their guardian angel.
Apparently, I am busy because I am guardianing for a lot of people. I smiled and simply said that I think I have a common looking face.
She wiped her eyes and told me that I really helped her tonight and I opened the door and let her inside.