ZEN WRAPPED IN KARMA DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE


I saw that commercial again. Itís for some kind of chocolate thing. Maybe Dove Bars? Anyhow, two women are sitting on lounge chairs talking about how delicious the thing is and one of them says, ďItís like Zen wrapped in Karma dipped in chocolate.Ē Which Iím sure is an apt description.

Iím here at my grandmaís house while grandma recuperates from a broken hip and my dadís at some trade show in downtown Cincinnati so I have to deal with my mom who is severely disabled. Iíve ended up doing all the things she used to do for me, feeding her, watering her, carrying her from place to place. I havenít burped her, but Iím sure thatís coming. While doing all this I was thinking about one of the ideas in Buddhism that just doesnít get enough press. Weíre all worried about solving stupid koans and having Enlightenment experiences, finding ourselves, and all that nonsense. But one of the most important aspects of Buddhist philosophy is that we do not live our lives just for ourselves. We exist for the people and things we encounter as much as we exist for ourselves.

This is why Buddhism is not solipsism, though far too many people think it might be. Solipsists believe only in their own existence. You sometimes see people saying that Buddhism is the belief that the whole Universe is our own creation. This is true. But it is also the belief that we are the creation of the whole Universe. You are God and God is the guy who has to pick up all the dog shit on the lawn. The real value of your life is the service you render to the Universe. It doesnít need to be big service either because the universe can be a very tiny place sometimes. Maybe Jesus died for us, I donít know. But I do know that it is our duty to give our own lives over to the Universe. Weíll work ourselves to the bone just to do whatís required and then, when we canít do no more, the Universe gets rid of us. And that is the best thing there could ever be.

We miss out on how good this is because we want to have things the other way around. We want to take as much as we can, amass power, wealth, fame, social position. We want to suck the whole Universe into ourselves and carry it around in our bloated bellies, giving back a little only if it will get us more than we give. In doing so we experience misery upon misery. But when you give back without hope of receiving anything in return, the reward is immeasurable. Following the rule of the Universe is the best life a person can live.

Your duties to parents, friends, acquaintances, even enemies is your karma. So wrap your karma in some Zen and dip it in chocolate then feed it to someone who needs it.

32 Responses

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  1. nai wakara
    nai wakara October 10, 2006 at 4:57 pm | |

    it’s like the holy spirit wrapped in sin.

  2. Jinzang
    Jinzang October 10, 2006 at 5:18 pm | |

    ďItís like Zen wrapped in Karma dipped in chocolate.Ē

    Only if when you bite down, it’s like there’s nothing there.

    I’m glad to see this post, because, in my opinion, it’s a point not stressed often enough in Zen. Sorry to hear about your mom and grandmom.

  3. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf October 10, 2006 at 9:14 pm | |

    I hope your grandma has a good and speedy recovery.

    Maybe instead of hope, I should pray to God (the entire universe)

    Nice Post. It was great (and well needed) to hear a teaching on Bodisattva activity and taking care of the “Big Self.”

    I am caught in my “little self” most of the time.

    Hell, when I read “Cinncinati”. I began thinking “Hey, Brad’s in my neck of the woods. Maybe he can come to Dayton and give a talk at the Yellow Springs Dharma Center or something blah blah blah me me me.”

    Not a cool thought to think, during a time with family and especially with a grandmother who needs help.

    But it was just a thought, and practicing Buddhism is all about realizing the stupid thoughts that mind churns up, so I won’t be dumb enough to actually believe or follow them.

  4. oxeye
    oxeye October 10, 2006 at 9:52 pm | |

    Brad, Sorry to hear about your family problems. I hope your mom gets better soon. Both of my parents are dead now. They just got old and couldn’t hang on any longer. They were quite a bid older than your parents. Make sure and ask them lots of questions now, the things that you want to know.. that is unless you don’t. But when they are gone it will be too late. You have some have serious practice ahead of you old boy. But I know you are up to it.

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 10, 2006 at 9:53 pm | |

    Dear Brad:

    You fucking rock.

    Peace!

  6. Christoph
    Christoph October 11, 2006 at 1:03 am | |

    Shigu seigan mon

    SHUJ‘ MUHEN SEI GAN DO
    BON-NO MUJIN SEI GAN DAN
    HO MON MURY‘ SEI GAN GAKU
    BUTSU DO MUJ‘ SEI GAN JO.

    I like to take it seriously. Taking care of the person next to me is where to start.
    When my grandma became seriously ill and also fell in a state of confusion, I had the opportunity to care for her as “geriatric nurse” since I could do the alternative service there. And even though she didnīt even notice that fact anymore, it was good being able to just be there and care.
    And this is not limited to relatives or just such states.
    Care for every little creature next to you. Be that creature. Shut up and expect nothing. Not even that caring has an effect. Live in silence.
    Sounds cheesy? I suppose. Sorry to annoy you!

    Gassho!

    By the way: Thank you!

  7. Prof Wes
    Prof Wes October 11, 2006 at 5:47 am | |

    You are God and God is the guy who has to pick up all the dog shit on the lawn.

    I’m writing that down in a dozen places! It really reminded me of a “Zen” “dude” I was talking to a few weeks ago who seemed alarmed that I needed to get home and mow the lawn. I got the distinct impression that he felt such behaviour was beneath him.

    Unfortunately for my lawn, it’s not beneath me!

    I asked him if knowing I use an electric lawnmower would change his mind. He didn’t answer.

  8. Jordan & The Tortoise
    Jordan & The Tortoise October 11, 2006 at 7:04 am | |

    Brad,
    That was an outstanding post.

    Thanks

    Gassho!

  9. Todd A
    Todd A October 11, 2006 at 8:15 am | |

    Actually, I think it’s a yogurt commercial…

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 11, 2006 at 10:29 am | |

    Hi Brad,

    I liked your message. However, Solipsism does not necessarily mean that ‘only I am real vs the others’ (in the sense, “only me/Brad is real and the rest of people are my creation”). That’s not the deepest interpretation of what Solipsism is or means. Take the ‘self’ as the Buddha Mind, and then say it again: “all things happen within the Buddha Mind”. In that sense, the Brad identity is no less a creation (projection) than any other identity-person, all of them a display of (and within) the original boundless mind.
    Regards!

  11. Dan
    Dan October 11, 2006 at 10:51 am | |

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Dan
    Dan October 11, 2006 at 10:53 am | |

    lux,

    but changing the terms of the definitions means that it’s no longer solipsism, it’s something else.

    solipsism:
    noun [U] SPECIALIZED
    the belief that only one’s own experiences and existence can be known with certainty.

  13. yudo
    yudo October 11, 2006 at 2:14 pm | |

    You write
    “We want to take as much as we can, amass power, wealth, fame, social position. We want to suck the whole Universe into ourselves and carry it around in our bloated bellies, giving back a little only if it will get us more than we give. In doing so we experience misery upon misery. But when you give back without hope of receiving anything in return, the reward is immeasurable.”
    Looks like the hungry ghost in Miyazaki’s anime “Chihiro’s journey” (or whatever it was called in English)

  14. richmackin
    richmackin October 11, 2006 at 7:22 pm | |

    September 16, 2005

    General Mills, Inc.
    P.O. Box 9452
    Minneapolis, MN 55440

    Dear Yoplait,

    I am writing because I would like to confirm a few things your new TV ad says, because, in the words of Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    There are two ladies in robes eating your yogurt, and one of them says,

    “It’s like Zen wrapped in Karma”

    So, you are saying that your yogurt is like a tradition of austere spiritual practice wrapped in the cosmic law of cause and effect? This is supposed to be saying “This tastes good” despite the fact that Zen focuses on the emptiness of sensations (among other things) and Karma is based on reaping what you so, not any idea of good (or bad.) What does “Zen wrapped in Karma” even MEAN? Is this some sort of Koan (what that’s it’s Zen) and isn’t supposed to make sense on an intellectual level? Or are you just like a character in Dilbert who says something is “Zen” and when called on it says, “It’s easier to make up definitions than to look them up?”

    After a few comments about how women like shoe shopping and chocolate, written in ways that makes me think your copywriters haven’t actually seen a woman since the late 1950′s, the other woman says that your product is

    “Dating a masseuse good!”

    This pleases me, because while I dislike terms that are gender-specific, by noting that she thinks dating a FEMALE massage therapist is good, she is not only praising the female arts, but lesbianism! Given the outbursts of the radical right these days, this is pretty impressive. You could have had her want to date a masseur and be heterosexual, or for that matter, even used the contemporary term “Massage Therapist” but instead, you went old school in a testimony to girl on girl rights! Excellent!

    Thanks,

    Rich Mackin
    POBox 14642
    Portland, OR 97293

  15. Waylon
    Waylon October 11, 2006 at 8:49 pm | |

    Hey Rich

    Please post any response you get from GM on that one…..I’m looking forward to hearing their reply. LOL

  16. zenducker
    zenducker October 11, 2006 at 9:03 pm | |

    I’ve recently had to put more time into taking a tiny bit of extra care for a relative. My hearts not totally in it and I think of my own needs much of the time… so after the second day I have just been doing it without much thought except for lunch.

  17. zenducker
    zenducker October 11, 2006 at 9:06 pm | |

    I recently have been taking care of a relative with just a tiny bit of effort. My heart is not in it and I think of my own needs much of the time. So the second day I just did it and did not pay much attention to thoughts except for lunch and one cute nurse.

    Reading posts here I feel pretty shallow and selfish. But I can’t get away from myself or can I?

  18. Christoph
    Christoph October 12, 2006 at 12:53 am | |

    “Reading posts here I feel pretty shallow and selfish. But I can’t get away from myself or can I?”

    I suppose you canīt. But why should you even try to deny what is there? In the end everything will change anyway. It will grow only stronger if you deny it. Donīt fuel it. Fuel it. It doesnīt matter.
    It is very important that you take care of yourself!
    You just have to be yourself. You can only be yourself.
    Isnīt it strange that we often know what should be done and are unwilling to do it because it deserves an effort? Like sitting in Zazen?
    By the way: You are not selfish. There is no you which could be. ;-)
    But what do I know. *lol*
    Fly swatter!

  19. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 12, 2006 at 8:51 am | |

    Hi Dan,

    No changing terms. See:

    solipsism (Latin: solus, alone + ipse, self) — “the self alone”

    Now, Brad took that the ‘self’ is “Brad” or the person. I take that ‘self’ is the ‘true self’ aka Buddha Mind aka ‘true nature’ aka Dharmakaya, et cetera.

    So there’s different ways to understand solipsism, a superficial one (that no serious philosopher buys) and a deep one (that not even Karl Popper could prove wrong).

    Regards
    (i am a girl, btw)

  20. Dan
    Dan October 12, 2006 at 11:08 am | |

    ” I take that ‘self’ is the ‘true self’ aka Buddha Mind aka ‘true nature’ aka Dharmakaya, et cetera. “

    that’s changing the term. you just changed it from self as in ‘dan’ or ‘lux’ to self as in buddha mind/dharmakaya whatever. you mean all of reality is the self? so by saying that the only thing that exists is the self with your new definition of the self is it becomes: the only thing that exists is everything that exists.
    that is no longer solipsism.

    if i change the meaning of the word the ‘self’ from ‘dan’ to the flying spaghetti monster and then say that the only thing that exists is the self i am no longer being a solipsist. thinking that the only thing that exists is the flying spaghetti monster is not solipsism.

  21. Dan
    Dan October 12, 2006 at 11:24 am | |

    solipsism:
    noun [U] SPECIALIZED
    the belief that only one’s own experiences and existence can be known with certainty.

    if you were a solipsist you would think that only your ‘lux’s’ experiences and existence were real. and that mine (dan’s) were illusory.
    there is a difference between lux and dan despite what hippies on acid will tell you. if there wasn’t then you would be able to directly experience my experiences and thoughts. you would not ever feel separate from me, the pc you are looking at or the house you are living in. that feeling of separation from the rest of existence is what causes the belief in self. you don’t seriously think that the self is in fact everything that exists, you just read that in a book and thought it sounded cool. no one can actually believe that when confronted with the indisputable fact that do feel seperate from the rest of existence. even people who momentarily feel no distinction between themselves and the rest of the universe come down and again feel seperate from it. don’t try and run away from that feeling of seperation cos it only makes it worse.
    as alan watts said : destroying your ego is the biggest ego trip around

  22. Jules
    Jules October 12, 2006 at 11:47 am | |

    For those unfamiliar with the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” Dan referred to, two posts up, this is an entertaining read:

    http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

  23. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 12, 2006 at 1:24 pm | |

    Dan, I believe Brad got the point.

    The word “self” has more meanings than anything to do with the five aggregates (skandas). As in the Zen expression “true self” or “Buddha” or “Dharmakaya”, to name a few.

    Now, what I believe about the self being all or not, is besides the point. I have read what you believe: separation, ego, et cetera. OK, whatever floats your boat.

    Best regards
    Lux

  24. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 12, 2006 at 1:37 pm | |

    solipsism:
    noun [U] SPECIALIZED
    the belief that only one’s own experiences and existence can be known with certainty.

    if you were a solipsist you would think that only your ‘lux’s’ experiences and existence were real. and that mine (dan’s) were illusory.

    ——–
    The definition you use, Dan, is epistemological, and it has nothing to do with believing Dan is real and the rest of the people are not real, like you seem to affirm below the definition. Certainty about one’s own experiences and existence is one thing, deniying the fact of other’s experiences and existence another very different, even if we admit we have no certainty about them.
    Besides an epistemological definition you can find easily (there are books about it) an ontological definition. I guess that’s the one Brad and you meant actually (since deals with reality and illusion as your interpretetion goes). Anyway, the latin of the word means “the self alone” (solipsism).
    “Self” having more meanings than “person” (the meaning Brad attributed to the word) or the five skandas. Just that. Nothing to worry, actually.
    best regards
    Lux

  25. zenducker
    zenducker October 13, 2006 at 12:21 pm | |

    Thanks Christoph, I’ll ponder that, I would have left a comment on your blog, however es ist alles auf Deutsch, und ich kann nicht Deutsch sehr gut lesen

  26. zenducker
    zenducker October 13, 2006 at 12:28 pm | |

    Oh I am so joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Thanks for that link Jules!

  27. aumeye
    aumeye October 14, 2006 at 4:33 am | |

    I just now had an opportunity to view the Flying Spaghetti Monster site . . . too cool!

    Thank you, Dan, for mentioning it. Thank you Jules for the link. And thank you, zenducker, for mentioning it once more, because it was your comment that upped my curiosity enough to actually access the link.

  28. Anonymous
    Anonymous October 14, 2006 at 10:09 am | |

    Zen wrapped in Karma dipped in chocolate probably results in the suffering of tooth decay….

  29. Lone Wolf
    Lone Wolf October 16, 2006 at 2:15 pm | |

    If you go to http://www.cloudsinwater.org then click on Dharma Talks. You will find a Four Noble Truths talk by Brad. It’s good, check it out.

  30. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 14, 2007 at 2:21 am | |

    Hi, Nice stuff. I found a cool news widget for our blogs at http://www.widgetmate.com. Now I can show the latest news on my blog. Worked like a breeze.

  31. joeaverage
    joeaverage January 27, 2009 at 11:08 am | |

    I keep getting back to this:
    The Golden Rule.
    Every single time. In my own quest.
    It eliminates all of the things we use to not wander outside of ourselves. “Why should I?” “I’m too busy.” “I gave at the office.”
    The Golden Rule follows me around like a strict parent or boss, questioning each action I consider or perform. You hit the Zen nail on the head Brad. Namaste brother.

  32. Victoria
    Victoria August 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm | |

    Well it is no secret you put the Rad in Brad. Thanks for dipping it in chocolate, and not coating it with sugar. Kind of a breath of fresh air to read about how to be a real person, and not some floating beam of light.

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