When we first moved out here permanently I thought of what an excellent opportunity I had to get peaceful. So I subscribed to just about every lefty liberal tree-hugging magazine I could find. Our mailman doesn’t know what to make of it. Especially since Beaven subscribes to all the electronic geeky ham radio magazines and has antennas hanging from all our trees. Oh, and we get packages delivered by UPS almost every day. I’m sure it must look like we’re plotting to blow up the Washington Monument.
I couldn’t believe how many magazines are out there that I’ve never heard of. The first one I got was actually an old friend but I had never had a subscription to it before: Utne magazine. Then I got Yes! magazine and Ode, both of which say they cater to the optimist in me. Surely you weren’t expecting a magazine called “Yes!” to be anything but positive. I get Mother Earth and Mother Jones both. I subscribed to the Texas Observer strictly for my Molly Ivins addiction and now will have to find something else in the magazine to love. I finally reached my limit when I found a Buddhist magazine called Shambala Sun. I thought how peaceful and minimalist this reading would be. Yes, it is, but I was startled to see how many advertisements it has-- just as many as O or Martha Stewart Living magazine but without the perfume samples.
I thought Buddhism was all about bare bones living but, no, it turns out you have to have accoutrements to be a Buddhist. You gotta buy beads and bells and candles and meditation pillows and all sorts of equipment. It kind of took all the fun out of being serene. I like my serenity to come without luggage.
However, I don’t have a lot of time this morning to write something memorable. I’ve been working on this book for the last couple of weeks and it’s taking a lot longer than I thought. I thought I could just take each report I wrote after mission trips and put them all together and voila, have a book. It’s not working out that way. But at least it's starting to be fun.
So, forgive me if I cop out today. As a consolation prize, I will leave you with more of my bedtime reading: words from the Dalai Lama (in this month’s Ode). I offer these words without requiring a meditation pillow or candles:
“Everything is interdependent. Everything is interconnected. So my interest is very much linked to everyone’s interests. Our survival and our future are very much linked to one another. Therefore the destruction of your so-called enemy is actually the destruction of your self. The concept of war—‘destroy your enemy’—is old-fashioned. It is out of date.
“To use the power of the gun is a sign of weakness. The power of the gun is short-term. Very decisive, very powerful, but in the long run, the power of the gun cannot remain. This violence, it won’t work.
“There is too much greed, a limitless sort of desire. This is a source of problems, a source of suffering. If you always keep the feeling ‘one more, one more, one more,’ until the last day, you are never satisfied. Mentally, you are a very poor person, always hungry. If desires are without self-discipline, you want to kill someone, you want to steal from someone, you want to rape someone, you want to tell lies, you want to take alcohol or drugs. That’s self-destruction. In order to be safe from self-destruction, you need some self-discipline. Not some order from the outside, but you have to analyze the value, the consequences. Use your intelligence.
“There’s too much emotion, too much negative emotion: frustration, hatred, anger. I think that’s the greatest obstacle. So I think as a first step this should be cooled down. Reduced. Forget these things. And I think for the time being, we need more festivals, more picnics. Let us forget these difficult things, these emotions, and make personal friends. Then we can start to talk about these serious matters.”
And Jane says: “Namaste.”