When I first started practising Buddhism, 20 years or so ago now, I figured if I practised really hard I’d be a Buddha in five years. It didn’t quite happen like that!
My experience of life is certainly different from what it was back then – but I certainly ain’t no Buddha!
I can say this with confidence because:
- I’m ridiculously attached to my wife and dog. I’m not talking about the love part here. The love part’s fine. And I think it’s theoretically possible to love someone without being attached to them. But in my case, if they left me, I’d be gutted. A Buddha wouldn’t be gutted. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to fall in love, or to love your dog. Neither attachment nor detachment are the way. Non-attachment is something quite specific, and I think you have to do a lot of living life before you can get to that point. The path to Buddhahood includes falling in love and getting a dog. At least my path does. Not sure about yours.
- Inconsiderate people annoy me. For example, I totally hate it when people walk down central London streets in rush hour looking at their phone. Then STOP without any warning or awareness of others! I mean come on people – this is LONDON! At RUSH HOUR! I don’t think a Buddha would be as irritated by this as I am. In fact I don’t think a Buddha would be bothered at all. There’s a sutta (I think the one about ‘Bahiya of the Bark Garment’ which always makes me think of a dude dressed up as a tree). In it, the Buddha says ‘In the seen, only the seen. In the heard, only the heard’ and then goes on to list all the other senses. The Buddha response to someone stopping in the street would be ‘Someone has stopped unexpectedly in the street.’ It wouldn’t be followed with ‘F***ing WAKE UP you ****hole!!!
- I quite enjoy swearing. See previous point for an example. I used to enjoy swearing a lot more than I do now (so maybe I’m halfway enlightened?) but I still like it. In fact, some of my favourite swear words are the naughtiest ones. Right speech is part of the Noble Eightfold Path. And I’m pretty sure right speech doesn’t include c***.
- I’m not ready to die yet. One key thing about being a Buddha is they aren’t biased towards life or towards death. I’m not ready to die yet. It’s not that I’m afraid of death – I’ve been at death’s door and in fact I think living is a lot harder – but there are people I want to spend more time around. And I’d quite like to see how a few things turn out. I’d like to experience being old, for example.
- I totally love music and want to re-instate my record collection. I don’t think a Buddha would have cravings for records by The Pixies or The Velvet Underground.
- I sometimes have machine gun fantasies involving politicians. I really try hard to feel compassionate towards these people. I know they’re humans just like me, with families and hopes and fears. But every now and then (usually after some speech from a politician who was born rich about what poor people should do) the fantasy just pops into my head. I don’t think a Buddha’s head ever gets that kind of fantasy pop into it.
- I hate it when people pick food off my plate. You know that episode of Friends from years ago when Joey’s girlfriend keeps taking food off his plate and he eventually bursts out “Joey doesn’t share food!” I’m like that. Big time.
- I really want this blog to be a success. As well as wanting to contribute to the world, I also just want that feeling of success. I prefer it to the feeling of failure. These are ‘worldly winds’ that keep blowing you around samsara. They are signs you’re not a Buddha.
- Getting older confuses me. They say inside every 40 year old is a 20 year old who’s really confused. The Buddha got enlightened when he was 36 or something, and I don’t think he was too identified with his former self. I think he was just where he was, who he was, at any one moment.
- I can’t get no satisfaction. OK, so I struggled to come up with number 10 so I resorted to a song title that kind of fits in with the definition of unenlightened existence.