The Buddha is a fat lovely bastard...

"If you see the Buddha on the road, you probably need psychiatric assistance"
- written by Penelope Clarice 

Look, it's the truth OK! Life, when you look at it plainly, isn't actually going anywhere particularly glorious.

The more layers we peel away, the more absurd life seems. Essentially this is a deeply futile experiment in projecting our genetic material by whatever means into an uncertain, and most likely, brutal, and pointless future, where the known universe collapses back in upon itself, thus annihilating all we have come to know & love.

Depressing? Maybe.

Even if there were a god orchestrating this theater of the absurd, the acknowledgment of deity wouldn't remove the fact that we are eating & shitting machines, in a finite system of resources. That's just the way it is and the glamor we choose to drape over reality, is simply window dressing. The emperor 'really' has no clothes.

But anyway - that aside.

Once we have acknowledged that this 'life' is frankly ludicrous and we are mostly self-deluding dullards, we could collectively down tools and come up with a plan that works a little better than the current dog-eat-dog formula (dream on Penelope).

I love the tale of the Buddha - he set off from his palace of riches, impoverished himself, nearly starved to death, came face to face with disease and misery, realized that striving after riches was an empty pursuit, and then ultimately became 'enlightened' (or at least, woke up to the fact that life is essentially drudgery, delusion, and death) - but he made a slight error, as he inspired many followers to simply sit on their bottoms meditating in retreats, thinking this practice is an end within itself.

Believe me, I know the joys of quiet meditation (I practiced daily for many years) but surely this Buddha character didn't mean for devout followers to face walls or sit under trees for several hours each day when they could be working towards meeting the needs of the entire community?

Yes, the Buddha is just a story and he may not have existed at all, and the metaphysics attached to Buddhism, is most probably bullshit, but the kernel of the story is correct - that life is one great festival of suffering and we ought to view this suffering as chief priority, and do something about it.

One has to first acknowledge, preferably through direct experience, that the very foundation of life, is built upon that suffering!

When we rise in the morning we move towards suffering, and if we don't look after our essential needs, then brothers & sisters - we will begin to suffer big time.

No man is an island, so think about your family and their constant demands for food, clothing, shelter etc.

Then look outside, look at the neighbours, look across the ocean, look at the world - needs, needs, needs - and when these remain unfulfilled, SUFFERING!!

Of course we don't like to think about this too much so we flick on the TV, go for a walk, sing a silly song, drink a bottle of wine, perform sexual Olympics, watch grown men hoof a ball into a net... those sorts of things. But alas, it doesn't matter which version of the iPad we own, eventually we suffer and die, regardless.

Yep - we suffer - SUFFERING!! (have I mentioned suffering yet?)

We must acknowledge, as Buddhists teach - we do not exist in isolation, and that being the case, our puny little existence means something, we impact, we have a tangible effect. So, once recognized, we have to take responsibility as we are a 'cause & an effect' ... I'm sorry people, but that's the truth. We might deceive ourselves and think we can do exactly what we want to, but we can't, as we are a collective and each time we shit on a brother or sister, eventually we shit on ourselves. The "Buddha-fly" effect (pun intended).

So - to wrap this up.

1. You (and I) suffer to live.
2. We minimize suffering through meeting basic needs (food being primary).
3. We must recognize that our actions have tangible consequences.
4. We must recognize that we do not exist in isolation.
5. We must work towards playing the game of life fairly, as life hurts!

Five is meant to be sacred, so I'll end my list there.

So, don't sit on your ass meditating for hours (although quiet reflection is necessary me thinks) - educate yourself, empower yourself through accurate knowledge, spread that knowledge, spread some love and understanding. Do unto others & all that Jazz.

Did I mention suffering? I can't quite remember.

The decaying man in us all...

Another day, another dollar, so they say, whoever 'they' are - probably greedy capitalists fucking it up for the rest of us - 'we' who simply want a quiet & simple life, reasonably stress free, with the occasional peak experience that makes existence a little bit more than eat/sleep/shit...

Anyhow, an hour or two spent in the café, seated next to the decaying man.

My crude and quick rendering of said man - obviously a caricature after the event and bares little actual resemblance, other than a certain degree of sloppiness and crudity of form:

When I initially sat down I was aware of this character shuffling around behind me, he was pressed into his chair and occasionally stooped forward; rummaging around on the table, re-arranging cigarette papers and a pair of wrap around black shades and twists of what looked like tissue paper - he appeared to have compulsive urges and clearly his nervous system was askew.

I wanted to talk to him, but part of me was repulsed at this dishevelled and faintly pungent man. I managed through peripheral vision to analyse his flesh - it was yellowish in hue and deeply scarred and cracked and pitted with small black heads and grime. He had sunken dark eyes, like raisins pressed into dough and his hair was dark grey, matted and greasy looking. He had a tatty old cap pressed on to his head and I didn't really focus on his general apparel, as I was keenly fixed on his features. It was hard to pin down the age of this vagrant fellow, but I would place him late fifties or even early sixties and the city and his decadence had seared its mark upon his flesh; clearly he had sponged alcohol deep within his viscera, which invariably disfigures the flesh and wrecks the nervous system through abuse.

Every ten minutes or so he would rise from the seat and shuffle off to the side door; taking a fresh roll-up with him to smoke. As he shuffled away (and I do mean shuffled) his head rolled to the side and he starred through the other people in the store, paying particular attention to an Asian couple seated opposite, who starred back with reserved horror.

He performed this ritual continually and around his seat lay tobacco shreds, and twists of paper littered the table top. The pungent odour as noted earlier consisted mainly of that acrid bitter stench that accompanies an habitual smoker - quite vile. Although upon inspection there was a repugnant potpourri that pulled at my stomach ever so slightly and conjured visions of soiled under-pants.

Anyway, a little time past by and he asked to borrow my ink pen. Asked, as in, slurred and spluttered out (almost) indecipherable sounds that were tenuously strung together, but coherent enough for the attentive ear to decipher. So I passed him my pen and watched him scrawl god only knows what on a fragment of paper plucked from an ancient leather wallet.

He passed it back - "cheers mate," said he.

We had a disjointed conversation for fifteen minutes or so, that consisted of... well, I'm not quite sure, as I could only work out perhaps 40% of the sounds my fellow human was projecting at me, through streams of drool and flecks of spittle. But I dutifully played it cool and felt as though I were doing this specimen of broken down humanity a favour (yes, that repulsive ego of mine reared its ugliness) and inside I looked for the exit - a verbal opportunity to leave, to move on, to go - lest I be consumed by this decay before me and sink into oblivion.

So, I contrived an excuse to leave and stood to go, but felt I should reach out and into this horror with my hand and shake the paw, replete with soiled claws, and prove my worth somehow. After all, I recall, Jesus hung out with the wretched and the poor... so I followed suit, and reached in and gripped this pulsing gristle and excrement.

But dear reader, please bare with me, as there is a heart that beats in this chest of mine and compassion that cuts me to the core, yet at times it is buried deep within a fear that grips me, that I should become the other, become my brother - this broken down man, this isolated fool, this neurotic bag of nothing, this fart, this... this was somebodies baby, this is a life lost, this was potential for something glorious and who am I not to be moved in genuine sympathy, who the fuck am I?

Even so, I popped into the toilet on the way out of the store and washed my hands clean, as I felt physically ill, yet when I did so, the life drained out of my heart.