If there’s one lesson life has taught me, it’s, “Nothing sticks.”
Reality is like a non-stick pan, if those pans actually delivered as advertised.
The question life offers me again and again is, “Are you done blowing spit wads at the wall yet, or no?” They always slide slowly down before dissolving in murky water (Because apparently the room I’m spit-balling in also happens to be flooded).
So, here I am, knee-deep in water, blowing wads all over the wall and watching them plop, plop, plop into the water. Oh, and the water’s rising, so that’s great.
Absurd situations usually prompt us to act in absurd ways. That’s how it seems, anyway. Really, our actions are the situation. If this all seems absurd to me, it’s because I’m making it so.
The simple solution would be to stop. To stop everything, to even stop stopping. To just stop and see, if only for a moment.
The problem with that, for a Buddhist nerd like myself, is that it stops Buddhism too. And without that, what do I have to offer you? What is there to write about? Of course, in stopping, I’d be stopping you too, my you, my perception of you.
There’s a thrilling terror to practice at times. You get to a point where it seems like there’s just one more step. You don’t have to take that step, but if you don’t, you’ll stay in limbo indefinitely. Circling somewhere between who you were and who you’re about to be, which is precisely who you are. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. But, that’s Zen.
We reach a kind of metaphorical peak, and then we’re asked to step into thin air with the promise that we won’t fall, that we’re actually falling already. Not even that, but that we are the falling, we are the non-sticking.
If you’re into Buddhism because you’re attracted to the common sense, pragmatic nature of it, you’ll eventually come up against some frustration and disappointment. Like all other religions, Buddhism eventually asks us to take a leap of faith.
The difference is the context of that faith. It isn’t faith in God, or a certain teaching, but faith that—if we stop and see—we won’t disappear. We won’t be radically changed into someone our loved ones can’t recognize.
That might sound silly, but it’s a valid concern when you get to that plateau in practice. And the teachings don’t help matters, since the Buddha (The ideal Buddhist) isn’t someone most of us probably want to be.
We have friends, families, and career aspirations. We have our favorite songs and movies. We have sex. Buddha wasn’t into any of that, he’s painted as a kind of superhuman who’s beyond such fleeting things.
But Siddhartha wasn’t the only Buddha. If we page through time, most of the shining teachers in Buddhism weren’t like Siddhartha. Some of them were even volatile or fun-loving misfits.
So all my concerns are groundless. That doesn’t really help. It’s another spit ball sliding down the wall. It’s like Nike says, “Just do it.” Er, “Just Non-Do It,” in this case.
No views, no methods, no plans. Bodhi is a nude beach. Can’t even wear our minds and bodies there. Am I willing to step out onto the sand, and then swim in those waves? Or will I stay here in this flooded room with its non-stick walls?
I have no idea. One thing’s for sure: We’ve all gotta do it on our own.