Homer and Me, and My Big Fat Buddhist Odyssey…

IMG_0599Some things you will think of yourself; some things God will put into your mind.”–Homer

Well, I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up—a Buddhist; a professional Buddhist, that is, and that can only be one of two things: a monk or a scholar. So after dillying and dallying with it for almost a year now, mostly as temple boy in the Thai (Theravada) ‘forest tradition’, but also with stints in Nepal and Burma, I’ve applied and been accepted into a Chinese-style Buddhist College, here in Thailand—cool…

It’s not that I felt no calling until now; it’s that I felt so many callings, all at one and the same time, or in rapid succession, with no clear direction shown, no clear preference known, just a morass of tangled wires and spliced-together leads, all leading into 1000 different directions from the source, an interminable present that becomes past almost effortlessly, future only a mathematical probability, so that focusing exclusively on any one thing has always been a challenge—and borrrinnngggg

Be patient, my heart: for you have endured things worse than this before.”–Homer

img_1935My job history used to read like a roll-call at the unemployment office. At one point I think I counted thirty-two jobs, and that was at age twenty-three! So I decided to work for himself at that point, free-lance, at jobs and professions that included carpentry, business, writing, publishing, music promotion, hospitality, or whatever would allow me to travel, mostly free trade, of cottage-industry products, assorted folk art, in 155 countries (so far), and counting, over the course of forty years, and no longer counting…

But I always held something back, no matter how hard I worked or how stressed-out I became—until now. Now I’m completing a circle whose arc I began circumscribing some forty years ago when I switched my college major from political science to philosophy, and went on to get my BA degree in that discipline: sound familiar? Yeah, I know, sounds like last year. And at the time I’d tell anyone that asked that it was therapy: long before ‘Plato, not Prozac’ hit the bookstands…

That guy stole my book! I guess I better write ‘Travel Therapy’ before someone steals that one, too. So if you can’t afford two years of expensive psycho-therapy, but have a head-start on a college degree, why not kill two birds with one stone? So now it all starts to make sense, a sort of sense, anyway, a back-handed sort that only makes sense looking back, since you could never predict it, not in 1000 nights or 1000 years…

Of the many things hidden from the knowledge of man, nothing is more unintelligible than the human heart.”–Homer

IMG_0712So you can try to ‘psyche-out’ life, i.e. out-smart it, but it is un-psychable, if that’s a word, or even if not. You can make your plans and take your stands, but there is no guarantee of anything, much less success. Avoidance of failure will have to suffice, in this world of limitations, in this world of suffering, the first truth of Buddhism. My own goals are simple at this point: to save the species, and then save the planet, from ourselves, and all others. And I think Buddhism is the best way to do that, as I told a friend:

I’m looking for a Buddhism more scientific, and with few or no superstitions, so still looking, and Zen may be best or Chinese Pure Land, but not Eckhart Tolle’s Buddhism without Buddha. Not sure about Gary Snyder’s Chinese style of ‘delicious samsara’, either. Samsara ain’t supposed to be delicious…

Self-criticisms are easy for me, too, whether appropriate or not, I’m not sure: would I be less Buddhist if I were more successful at life, love, and art? I don’t know. And am I truly renouncing anything at all, if I want to make Buddhism my new career?

Again, I don’t know. Would I even bother with studies if I could meditate 6-8 hours at a stretch like real monks do? Now that I do know: yes I would. I’m looking to make Buddhism fit for the new Millennium, refining and defining…”

Why cover the same ground again? … It goes against my grain to repeat a tale told once, and told so clearly.”–Homer

IMG_0527My own life is mostly history now, seventh-inning stretch to get my final wind, and that is how it should be, once you have something to teach, to take what you’ve learned and pass it on, while you still can, before rigor mortis sets in. “I have run the good race and fought the good fight:” against corrupt governments by day and against armies of the night. Sound like anyone you know?

Where to start? That is the question. I take it as my mission to help further propagate the transmission of Buddhism’s message to the Western World—but which message? So many mixed messages get tossed under the category of ‘Buddhism’ that it almost does more harm than good, tempting just to STFU and meditate, let the sounds of silence speak loudest. But that may be too subtle. How do you transmit a picture by words? That is the challenge, but I’ll do my best…

But it probably won’t be in this blog, unless I decide to re-define ‘hyper-travel’, haha. For better or worse, I’m at the age where it’s hard to find travel insurance, as the need grows greater. Get a clue, Hardie. Yeah, I know. Did I mention that I was bi-polar before it was cool? Anyway, this blog will likely be intermittently neglected, later if not sooner, so that I can concentrate on my other more philosophical one, here, both of which have grown quite close over the last year. Thanks for your support. I hope to see you there!

A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”–Homer

Yep, สาธุ, amen

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