So I’m sitting there on my couch and it’s late and I make the mistake of opening up my laptop and looking at some YouTube videos. And I get sucked into one of those rabbit holes that one often finds these days of YouTubers ranting about all kinds of things that are supposed to scare me. Trump! Racists! SJWs! Islamic Terrorism! Climate Change denial! Climate change skepticism! Climate change — period! Super scary stuff everywhere!
And I started thinking, are we gonna have a war? Am I gonna die in World War III? I live in America’s second largest city. We’re not as juicy a target as New York or Berlin because everything is so spread out, but we’re definitely on somebody’s list. Maybe they’ll blow up Beverley Hills or that mall up in North Hollywood, the one with all the chain stores. Universal something something…
And then I realized, this is nothing new. This is nothing new at all. I lived my entire life up till I was 30 or whatever it was thinking that the whole world was gonna blow up any day when the U.S. or the Soviet Union launched a nuclear first strike. Once sometime in the 80s, I happened to be in Waukegan, Illinois on the day they did some kind of test of the siren system at the Navy base nearby. I thought for sure this is it – blammo! – GAME OVER! And I was not just being a nervous nelly. It made perfect sense to think that any day could be The Day the World Ended.
But the attack never happened. Not yet, at least.
There are times when everything seems like it’s about to go completely nuts, and then nothing much happens. There are times when everything seems about to go nuts and then a giant war happens. There are people who get killed in terrible events. There are people who live through terrible events, even if they were right there where it happened. There are tornados that level every house in the neighborhood except one. There are tornados that rip your house to smithereens.
I have no idea what my karma is. I do know for certain that we are all intimately connected to one another and that everything you do affects me in some way, just as everything I do affects you even if you don’t notice it.
So what should I do? How should I live my life? How shall I respond to this nutty world?
I think the best solution is to face exactly what presents itself to me. Because the universe is infinitely huge and yet very, very small. And the part that is infinitely huge is exactly the part that is infinitely small. What happens two inches in front of my nose and what happens to the entire universe are fundamentally the same thing, even though they are not alike at all.
Everything that every news outlet tells me is a lie, even when those who report it imagine they are telling me the truth. Fake news is fake, but so is “real news.” And not in the way the stupid ranters on YouTube say it’s fake. Because they’re fakes too. Even this dispatch from my psyche to yours is fundamentally a lie.
Well, maybe lie is too harsh a word. I don’t mean to lie to you. I just have to.
Language forces me to show you one thing while hiding an infinity of others. Because if I showed you everything you couldn’t make any sense of it or handle it. And you’d get so angry at the truth for not being what you wanted it to be, you’d have to murder me. But you won’t. Because there’s no you and there’s no me. It’s just a game we’ve been running since before time began.
You were the coyote and I was the roadrunner. Or so I thought. Until someone shouted “Shame! Shame!” at me until I realized I was the coyote and you were the roadrunner. And then I noticed that the coyote was not the villain. He just had a job to do. The roadrunner owed its very existence to the coyote. I only noticed that when I stopped insisting I was the roadrunner and that the roadrunner had no responsibility for the situation.
But the question remains; Does that make it right? All those Acme-made devices designed specifically to murder that poor roadrunner who never bothered anyone? Does the fact that it’s the only thing that exists or ever could exist make it OK? Or does it even matter whether it’s right or wrong, good or evil? Did it ever?
I have come to a few conclusions for myself.
None of these apply to you.
They don’t apply to you.
But here they are anyway.
Remember, they’re mine, not yours.
Hating the haters is still hate. Being intolerant to those who are intolerant is still intolerance. Being bigoted against bigots is still bigotry. Bullying the bullies is still bullying. Lying about the liars is still lying.
Remember, I am saying that only to myself, not to you.
I also find that I enjoy people who are politically unpredictable.
I think some of the unpredictable ones may be sincere, whereas the predictable ones never are. The predictable ones look to me like they’re trying to fit in. Lefties, Righties, it don’t matter. They appear to me to be trying to join the largest dog pack because they have a lot of fear and are looking for protection from the biggest mob.
And I ask myself, how much of my own outrage — my outrage, not yours — how much of my outrage is real and how much of it is because I want to be the star of the film, “How I Stood Up to the Bad Guys”? The answer is none of your business, by the way.
So what am I gonna do? Am I going to blockade a highway to show what a good person I am? Or am I going to build a bridge to help someone I hate find real happiness? I don’t know the answer yet.
Because I am my own enemy. Whatever force “out there” in the big, bad world that I think is the very worst possible thing, the very meanest possible person, the most outrageous injustice ever, it is all me. I own it.
If everything is one — and everything is one — then everyone I hate is me, and everyone I fear is me, and everyone I resist is me, and everyone I protest is me.
Again, none of this applies to you. You’re safe to go on posting whatever memes make you feel like the hero of your own epic battle against intolerable evil. But I can’t do it anymore. It feels like poking my eye with a sharp stick because I don’t like what I see.
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THERE IS NO GOD AND HE IS ALWAYS WITH YOU is now available as an audiobook from Audible.com as are Hardcore Zen and Sit Down and Shut Up!
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Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!
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Every Monday at 7:30pm there’s zazen at Angel City Zen Center (NEW TIME, NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am there’s zazen at the Angel City Zen Center (NEW PLACE!) 1407 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90026 Beginners only!
These on-going events happen every week even if I am away from Los Angeles. Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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