An Accidental Buddhist

Living is so much more difficult than dying. Letting go is so much easier than hanging on. I’ve become an accidental Buddhist. A friend asked me the other day what I thought happened after death. I told him that I wasn’t sure but that I was looking forward to it. Like a dream of waves falling on me and carrying me under. As chaotic as my life can sometimes get, the calm is always at the center of my storm. I guess the peace comes from knowing that the universe goes on and that I am a part of it. I do believe that my quiet confidence comes from my deep belief in this single truth. No one shared this with me; it’s just something that I’ve always carried with me. I don’t need evidence and I certainly don’t think it resembles anything that the world religions have come up with so far. I would be sadly disappointed if I had been able to comprehend it at all.

I do wonder why though. Why I have chosen this path. Every decision, good and bad, has led me to this path – to this moment. I can understand most of it except the always elusive “why.” Every night, before we fall asleep, there is a moment when consciously or not we prepare to die – or at least, not to wake up. Just as when we wake up in the morning we think about the future, at night before we go to bed, we think about the past.

Oddly enough, it is when we think about the past that we confront death. Future thoughts are never about death. I’m not sure why – it just seems to work out this way. Why I’ve undertaken this accidental Buddhist project? I own nothing. I live nowhere. I do work. However, I work today so that I can work tomorrow. As if each day is a full cycle unto itself. There is only a thin thread that connects each day to the next. My experience of each new day is radically different from the previous one. I have to be taxing my mind by never giving it a break. I never have a routine that makes sense – no time to imprint a permanent neural pathway because before the pathway is complete I’ve torn it all apart again.

My brain must be like the Pennsylvania Turnpike – perpetually under construction. What could the long-term effects of a brain staying throttled like this be? I mean I don’t even drive to work that same way every day. I am usually departing from a new destination and re-figuring it all out every day. Every so often I find myself in a meeting looking around the room and feeling a little bit like Jack Dawson in Titanic:

    “I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen. Or who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up. Just the other night I slept under a bridge. Now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.”

I can only echo Jack’s words again as try to make sense of it all: “I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You never know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you, to make each day count.”

Here’s to making it count!

2 comments On An Accidental Buddhist

  • A hint of where you were but very positive as well. I really like the message you have in here. I also think that other than the need to feel like I am in one place at this point in my life I share your feelings on the subject to a certain extent. I have always idealized Buddhism but I guess I am not strong enough to defy societal constraints and my desire to posses things that will ultimately keep me just looking at the goal rather than achieving it. I am just working at the selfless part at this stage. Karma is the hardest things for me to get my arms around. I guess I’ll have years to move on to undertake another aspect some day. For now I am content at trying.

    • “Karma is the hardest things for me to get my arms around. ”

      It’s funny you should mention that, because in the West (where I now live), a lot of people have said that to me.

      However, in my home country of Thailand, it is understood by EVERYONE who is a Buddhist (and even the non-Buddhists living in Thailand seem to be pretty much in agreement with this):

      “Do good, receive good;
      Do bad, receive bad.”

      (In Thai language: “Tham dee, dai dee;
      Tham chua, dai chua.”)

      If that is just one thing that you should understand if you want to learn about Buddhism since if you ask ANY Thai Buddhist, they will tell you that is what Buddhism is all about.

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