January 7, 2020

From Gerald R. Lucas

Me? A Buddhist? I Wish...

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I came across this article on Reddit today: “3 Things I Learnt as a Buddhist Monk.” Since I’ve been trying to write this review, I needed a refresher on Buddhism, and this article appeared serendipitously (karmicly?). It didn’t really give me any new information, but what it did state was depressing.

In a nutshell, what he learned is (and I’m paraphrasing):

  1. Realize that every cause has an effect and every effect results from causes and conditions, including our brains and their activities.
  2. Accept that everything is impermanent, so live for the now.
  3. Be mindful.

The author, Byron, concludes: “Understanding cause and effect develops our wisdom, experiencing impermanence brings us peace, and practicing mindfulness leads to fulfillment.” 

OK, fine. However, I’m not sure how I can do any of these things. It seems like I get more angry and stressed the older I get. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around? Everything bothers me. I can’t seem to accept anything with equanimity: it’s like the universe has something against me. If it’s annoying or inconvenient, it’ll find me. Everything is a hassle. I’m insomniac most of the time. Byron suggests that the above help in developing and practicing “loving kindness,” and all I can think about is the utter futility of my ever getting anywhere close to either love or kindness.

What is my problem?

I saw another post on Reddit about getting a teacher. Shainberg had a master to guide him; maybe I need the same? Maybe an analyst, like Susan Mailer had for a decade? Anti-depressants? Pot? As my friend Walter said once about his relationship to green tea: “it winds me up tighter than a banjo string.” Shit, life does that to me.

I didn’t mean for this to take a confessional turn—I had the intention of writing about how modern life is less conducive to living like a Buddhist. That it’s easy to practice these things when you’re a monk. That maybe all I can do is try to eliminate as much conflict, chaos, and clutter from my life as I can. Yeah, this was supposed to be a minimalism post. I’ve been edgy lately for no apparent reason. I’m just not sure what to do about it.