10/5/08: The Buddhists Are Driving Me Crazy

Dear Dick Wolf:

I think my soul is doomed.

(Artist’s rendering of what might be my soul)

I’m taking Buddhism classes at the Kadampa Meditation Center here in Los Angeles. I’ve always wanted to be a Buddhist. I believe in reincarnation and karma and all that good stuff. And, you know, trying to be a better person. Well, I’m enrolled in something called The Foundation Program. It’s pretty hardcore. I’m learning all the classic Buddhist prayers and beliefs. Most of the prayers are chanted. At first I had a hard time wrapping my head around that one, but a friend of mine pointed out that the chanting is to help us concentrate on the words and meanings without distraction. OK, I’ll buy that. And honestly, anything that helps me concentrate is welcomed. When it comes to wandering minds, I won the lottery. Which means the meditation part of the program poses quite a challenge. Just tonight, when I should have been meditating on things like compassion, death and enlightenment, I kept thinking about how I wanted to get home and check my email.

So anyway, I think most of the concepts are great, but I’m having a hard time with a couple of them. Like the one that says we should “cherish” the people who treat us badly, because they’re opportunities for spiritual growth. Yeah, it looks good on paper, but c’mon…Or the one that says all pain is a result of the attachments we form. OK, I get it. If I don’t become attached to my car stereo, I won’t be upset if it’s stolen. But it goes further than that. For example, if we don’t get attached to our loved ones, it won’t hurt when they die. See, that one I can’t grasp. I had one guy tell me tonight that we need to get past our emotional ties to, say, our parents and our siblings, and just let them go when they die. And the way to do that is to not form attachments to them in the first place…WTF?! Then another woman said she keeps telling herself that someday her cat will die, in an attempt to become less attached to him. That way when he does die, she won’t be sad…So, let me get this straight. You have an opportunity to open your heart and love a creature that will love you back unconditionally, but you’re not going to let yourself because 15 years down the road, when your cat dies, you might grieve for a while – and you don’t want to deal with the pain…Is it just me, or is this NUTSO??

Look, I do get the message. Basically, suffering is all in the mind. If we reinterpret our situations, they won’t cause us pain. We’re responsible for our own thoughts, and thus our own happiness and suffering…The problem is, I’m very attached to my mom and my cats, and that’s that. And I seriously doubt that I can shower my coworkers who drive me bonkers with compassion and understanding, and consider them opportunities for spiritual growth.

So perhaps I’m not a good Buddhist.

Or – maybe I’m a rebel Buddhist! Yes! That’s it! I want to be a good person, and I’ll even chant, but I don’t have to cherish people who suck.

OK, I feel better about my soul now. I’ll go back to class next week and try to talk some sense into these people.

Thank you for listening. Amen.

Published in: on October 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “I seriously doubt that I can shower my coworkers who drive me bonkers with compassion and understanding, and consider them opportunities for spiritual growth.”

    Small steps.

  2. Agreed, Doug. Thank you. I am trying 😉

    All the best!

  3. Here are my thoughts…
    If you love someone you want them to be happy and when they die you will do every thing in your power to help them in their future lives. This can be done with prayers, POWA, ect.
    If you are attached to someone (meaning you think your happiness depends on them) then when they die you will experience tremendous pain at having lost a source of your own happiness. Attachment is a self centered mind and distracts us from love which wants to help that person find lasting happiness.
    Everyone experiences pain when they lose a loved one and it would be extreme to think that you should simply ignore their death and move on. Buddhism and meditation should help us deal with that lose and improve ourself as a result of it…

  4. Thank you for this.

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