Saturday, 16 July 2011

I am a Buddhist who has no wish to see suffering eradicated

I am a existential Buddhist who has no wish to see suffering eradicated in the world.

This is so because I cannot see how existence without challenges [or with only make-work challenges] would be satisfying.

And if I (just, just!) perfect myself and eradicate my own suffering, I get booted to parinirvana [that is, unless I aggressively fight off the promotion], which doesn’t sound like much fun.

I cannot see how the loneliness of parinirvana is appealing. A universe of just me, the Adibuddha, and — what? — a stack of peanutbutter-and-jelly sandwiches and some quarts of milk until I can figure out what next to do? [Are there video games in parinirvana? Does anybody know? Internet access?]

Heaven, as described in the New Testament, or spoken/written about by suppositionist Christians, or mused about colloquially, doesn’t sound all that spiffy. Mind you, I am a wee bit fearful of death, and wouldn’t mind an escape clause, but whiling away centuries, eons, or for-fucking-ever on a cloud, playing a harp and eating perfect fruit to fill my body-made-of-light sounds like the kind of paradise where I would join the Rebel Underground [the Stormy Black Clouds is what I imagine their name is].

Jimmy Roughton, my favorite preacher, imagines himself in heaven planning a garden after death. But with God there, what work wouldn’t be “make work?” I mean, God, as He's conceived to be, can do anything, perfectly (and if “perfectly” isn’t the appropriate concept, then to the utmost of brilliant) and it’s done instantly. Why have Jimmy labor to create a garden when God can make a better one with a snap of His fingers, or just by saying a word?

The Zennists say that samsara IS nirvana, which, in Christian terms, means that heaven is earth, as it is. We just don’t see it. The Kingdom of Heaven is HERE. The land where improvements in people’s lives can be made is all around us.

My problem is I don’t want nothing, yet I don’t want a perfect [i.e., jolly] and crowded and eternal place, either — perhaps because there could be no compassion there. Wherever a better place is — on this world or on the next one — it mustn’t be static; there have to be challenges. And I require that these challenges be real and meaningful. So, is there an ultimate and excellent “this life” or afterlife place for me? Somehow, someday, somewhere?1 Or, even a good conception of one?

I, of course, ask because if there isn’t a Utopia in store for me (or, for all of us, really), then the obvious alternative is for us all to make where we’re at, here on the third planet from the sun, Utopia. But if we do that, then it automatically isn’t a utopia.

So what’s to do!? Improve life, for others, in the circumstance and environs we find ourselves, now, and hope that that is a satisfactory way to be and thing to do until something unexpected and better falls in our lap.

And during this long, long, long meanwhile, until the tickets to Disney World come in the mail (or what-the-fuck-ever) we can hope — just hope — we’re doing our teeniest part for the good of the whole. I mean, like, what else do any of us have going for us? You dig?
1 Sneaking lyrics into this essay from the song “Somewhere (A Place for Us)” from West Side Story.


  1. You can write such egocentric drivel because you're an ex-christian dude getting your kicks off quasi-buddhism in an affluent country, sitting in your armchair with your martini. Think of all the suffering in the world. The real suffering. And then say that you wouldn't want it eradicated because it wouldn't be any fun for you without it. If you were in the real shit, you'd be desperately wishing for release. That's why they call it suffering. Wake the fuck up from your egomaniacal stupor.

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  3. TantraWave: Actually, I'm in a lot of physical pain these days and could not, today, get out of bed. And I'm not a Christian or ex-Christian. But I understand what you're saying.

    Actually, what I'm intending here is to lampoon samsara doubling back to create yet more samsara. Samsara, I'm told, in a Peter Russell viddy that just came out literally means "wandering" [I didn't know that til today] and nirvana means "blowing out, being at ease." So getting out of discontent with continual wandering is impossible. You have to, instead, get off the hamster wheel. So, "the way out" is to transcend even a looping effort of do-gooderism. You can't think your way out.

  4. Well Tom, I must say I'm impressed by your response; to me, your response reveals more about your level of practice than the actual article :). Glad to have read your comment.

    I realize it's always a tricky business to try and convey nondual teachings in a paradigmatically bivalent language. Thank you for your wisdom Tom, please take care!

  5. Just to be clear to readers. This post is a JOKE -- but, yes, the thinking in it is meant to be enticing. The title was meant to make it starkly clear that I WAS KIDDING, but then I very much got into the logic of what I was presenting. And, well, I was swept away.

  6. Hi Tom. It's not at all clear that your post is a joke. And having read that you intended it as a joke, I still don't get it. It reminds me of that gag by Bob Monkhouse: "They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian; well, they're not laughing now."

  7. That Monkhouse joke is funny!! The joke/humor/irony [I'm *spoiling* things if I over-explain. Damn] in the essay is that dukkha is following "me" everywhere. I'm THOROUGHLY unsatisfiable. I thought it would be funny to write an essay about a Buddhist that opposed THE central tenet of Buddhism. But, yes, I ended up mostly accepting this fake Buddhist's argument. We NEED suffering. But by doing THAT, we remain forever stuck in the Big Muddy and cannot see the light of transcendence.

    Something like that.

  8. there are no video games / internet access in nibbana. maybe in deva world?

  9. You misunderstand suffering, it is a caused by clinging not circumstances. There is no suffering if there is no clinging. This is basic Buddhism and is spelled out in the Four Noble Truths.

  10. Jay. Very good. I understand. Read prior comments in the thread.