Monday, March 18, 2013

Reprint Heaven: Just Because, That's Why

(From 2010)

14th Dalai Lama (Photo: Reuters / UK Telegraph, 2009)

I once had the opportunity to see and hear the 14th Dalai Lama at Davies Symphony Hall in the Summer of 2003 at a talk he gave to support the restoration and understanding of sacred Buddhist architecture.

The woman I was dating at the time had hired a Tibetan woman to provide child care while the mom worked as a Therapist -- the husband of the Tibetan woman had been a Buddhist monk in Nepal, and had worked directly with the Lama, and was able to wrangle seats for us at his appearance.

The Lama spoke primarily in Tibetan, using an interpreter, but when the mood struck him would break into English. In one of those moments, discussing the reactions of humans to life in These Times, the Lama said (I paraphrase from memory):

Modern life -- everywhere, people moving, running; always running. And everything is so fast. Always fast, fast fast. And so we experience this, every day; and finally it becomes so much that you just have to say -- 'Fuck it!'

There was a moment of utter silence. You could have heard angels farting. And suddenly the entire audience, over 2,700 people (myself included), erupted in applause. It was incredible.

People were cheering, not just because one of the great spiritual leaders of this or any other century 'said a bad word', but because for an instant, by juxtaposing the idea of The Holy Man with A Profane Exclamation, the Lama brought his listeners to a state of attention (Hey! Dude! The Lama just said 'fuck', man!).

A true Human Being. I'm glad I was there.



  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn's work in adapting Zen and other Buddhist methods for use in a secular Western cultural context is discussed in "Some reflections on the origins of MBSR, skillful means, and the trouble with maps", in Contemporary Buddhism, Vol. 12, No. 1, May 2011. The abstract is:

    The author recounts some of the early history of what is now known as MBSR, and its relationship to mainstream medicine and the science of the mind/body connection and health. He stresses the importance that MBSR and other mindfulness-based interventions be grounded in a universal dharma understanding that is congruent with Buddhadharma but not constrained by its historical, cultural and religious manifestations associated with its countries of origin and their unique traditions. He locates these developments within an historic confluence of two very different epistemologies encountering each other for the first time, that of science and that of the meditative traditions. The author addresses the ethical ground of MBSR, as well as questions of lineage and of skillful ‘languaging’ and other means for maximizing the possibility that the value of cultivating mindfulness in the largest sense can be heard and embraced and cultivated in commonsensical and universal ways in secular settings. He directly addresses mindfulness-based instructors on the subject of embodying and drawing forth the essence of the dharma without depending on the vocabulary, texts, and teaching forms of traditional Buddhist environments, even though they are important to know to one degree or another as part of one's own development. The author's perspective is grounded in what the Zen tradition refers to as the one thousand year view. Although it is not stated explicitly in this text, he sees the current interest in mindfulness and its applications as signaling a multi-dimensional emergence of great transformative and liberative promise, one which, if cared for and tended, may give rise to a flourishing on this planet akin to a second, and this time global, Renaissance, for the benefit of all sentient beings and our world.

    [end of quote from abstract]

    "On a two-week vipassana retreat at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts, in the Spring of 1979, while sitting in my room one afternoon about Day Ten of the retreat, I had a “vision” that lasted maybe ten seconds. I don’t really know what to call it, so I call it a vision. It was rich in detail and more like an instantaneous seeing of vivid, almost inevitable connections and their implications. It did not come as a reverie or a thought stream, but rather something quite different, which to this day I cannot fully explain and don’t feel the need to.

    I saw in a flash not only a model that could be put in place, but also the long-term implications of what might happen if the basic idea was sound and could be implemented in one test environment – namely that it would spark new fields of scientific and clinical investigation, and would spread to hospitals and medical centers and clinics across the country and around the world, and provide right livelihood for thousands of practitioners.

    Because it was so weird, I hardly ever mentioned this experience to others. But after that retreat, I did have a better sense of what my karmic assignment might be. It was so compelling that I decided to take it on wholeheartedly as best I could."

    --Jon Kabat-Zinn

    1. Insight is good. In the area of Action On Instinctual Principles, I am now known as The Moth Ranger.

      "An act of mercy aboard BART
      By Leah Garchik
      May 7, 2013

      Aboard a BART train heading for Pittsburg/Bay Point on Thursday, Mona Irwin watched a passenger crouch down to grab something on the floor.

      'I look closer and see he is trying to catch a moth that has somehow gotten onto the train.' At West Oakland, she says, he shooed the moth out the door. She approached him to tell him what a kind act that was.

      ' "It's probably the most important thing I'll do all day," he said.'

      So thank you, Moth Ranger, on behalf not only of moths but also of anyone who was wearing a sweater on BART."

      In many cultures, the Act Of Naming carries serious significance in the spiritual and material worlds -- so I have no idea what this portends. The moth, one would hope, abides.

  2. From Chin's 33 Happy Moments:

    28. To open the window and let a wasp out from the room. Ah, is this not happiness?


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