The Problem With Buddhism is…
Okay, I admit that most Buddhists worth their saffron robes would never start a sentence with, “The problem with Buddhism is…” but:
- I’m not a full-fledged, hairless, be-robed, monastery-lounge-lizardy, mediate-till-my-butt-is-numb Buddhist (you can probably tell that by the way I just described serious Buddhists)
- I’ve only been practicing Buddhism for about five years and this is a very complex system of principles and philosophies thousands of years old with strange Sanskrit words meant to befuddle even non-dizzy blondes
- What I do understand about Buddhism is great and has changed my life mostly for the good except for this one thing. And it’s a big one.
Buddhists are really big on mindfulness. Not as in “mind the stop sign up ahead” so much (although that’s important, too), but as is pay excruciatingly close attention to every moment, thought, feeling, behavior. Don’t judge any of it. Just notice all of it.
Do you see the problem with this? First you’re supposed to put yourself under a microscope and then you’re not supposed to have any judgments about the crap-basket of crazy that you discover. And this is supposed to bring an end to suffering? Buddha…Old Buddy…Bubala. Did you really mean for this to end suffering?
You know I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t find something disturbing in my relentless self-observation. The fact that I’m disturbed means I’ve already failed at the non-judging part, but since I noticed this, I must be doing something Buddhist-ish. This is a very flexible and forgiving practice, as long as you pay attention to how you’re violating its principles.
Anyway this is about me, not some random he/she-Buddhist chilling out on a mountain top.
I live in the real world. Okay, I live in the world where I’m retired and get to do pretty much what I want, but it’s still no mountain top, People.
Here’s what I noticed about me: I am mentally ill.
Oh, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m just over-reacting, being melodramatic, or looking for a laugh. Well, all of those motives are part of my illness. I’ve been watching me a long time, so I’m pretty sure I’m the better judge of me than you (even though I shouldn’t be judging me–that part always trips me up).
Do non-mentally ill people:
- obsess about their dog’s bowel movements? It would be worse if I didn’t have a dog, but I do, so don’t call the Psycho Squad yet. But whether Scrappy poops on his walk either makes or breaks my day. His, too.
- feel compelled to top off their Brita Water filter containers every time they use them? Mine has to be filled to the top. Always. If it isn’t full, I get edgy.
- only feel happy when their gas tank is over-filled with gas? When the gauge moves off from the “full” mark, I have a compelling need to top it off, just like my water filter.
- make their bed the moment they get up and check to make sure the bed sheets and blankets are perfectly straight and symmetrical? What am I? A reincarnated chamber maid?
- have at least three back-ups of canned or dried goods in case of an emergency, like I get the urge to become domestic and actually use these items purchased in 1999 (in preparation for Y2K and the end of the world because computer programs only had two digits for the year–yeah, that had me worried.)
To my credit, I don’t compulsively wash my hands, check my door locks, or check repeatedly to see if I turned off my stove (in the rare even that I actually cooked something), but I know there’s lots of somethings wrong with me. Probably it’s that I don’t wash my hands enough, check to make sure my doors are locked and I am playing with fire when it comes to the burners on my stove. But still, I need help.
What do you think?