Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buddha's Mom Wants to Know Why He Never Calls

My recent post Buddha was Deadbeat Dad has elicited more thoughtful responses (three!) than just about thing else I have posted in over two years of this blog's existence.
I feel little bad that the angle I took in that post was a little of the devil's advocate. At the same time, well, it got at least three people to thinking and writing, so whatever.

Above is a picture of Hui Neng, a pivotal figure in the development of Chan and Zen Buddhism. He is, of course, ripping up sacred scrolls. His point, supposedly, was that enlightenment is not to be found in texts, but in reality. Such is the inspiration behind such Zen mottos as "Mistaking the finger for the moon," and "If you meet Buddha in the road, kill him."

Sure this is all well and good, but how does it relate to parenting? More specifically, how does it relate to the secular spirituality of parenting?

My point in declaring Buddha a deadbeat dad, was in a way, to kill the Buddha in the road. True enlightenment is not dependent on weekend retreats, or even dedicating a half-hour a day of uninterrupted time to zazen. True enlightenment comes from being aware of where you are RIGHT NOW. That can be, as Robert Anton Wilson would have said, "Right where you are sitting now." It can also be awareness of yourself as you deal with a difficult client or co-worker. It can be the zen-like adrenaline high that comes from operating a scooter, which Steve Williams often alludes to on Scooter in the Sticks. Or it can be the awareness that your every action, every word, every subconscious attitude is being absorbed by the sponge like wailing infant, screaming inconsolably in your arms.

This concept of Buddhism being merely tool which is to be discarded once it has served its purpose is one of the most alluring aspects of it as a philosophy. Most religions and philosophies seem to want to rule your life, to become irrevocably integrated into your entire existence. Buddhism, like all great teachers... and most importantly for the purposes of this post, like all good parents, has its own obsolescence as it's goal.

There is definitely more to be discussed on this issue, and I welcome your thoughts.

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