"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.
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.