A blank page can be tantalizing, so many possibilities, so much potential. Will any of it be fulfilled? Will the potential be wasted on something trite and meaningless?
Life is much like the sheet of paper. It’s blank. You decide what to fill it with. It could the pursuit of the trite and meaningless or perhaps, something more.
As a Buddhist, I like to believe that I’ve decided to pursue something greater.
I’ve decided to walk a more definite path and a less definite path. A path that leads somewhere and also leads nowhere. However, it is often tempting to fill my page with random scribbling, to deviate off the path and cavort in the meadows. Whether that meadow be the latest fantasy series, video game, or sci-fi movie or television program, they are all deviations and lead to serious detours.
As such I’ve found that I must curtail what I take in. I try to limit my exposure to the modern media. It’s difficult to work in an office with those who gladly revel in the fleeting entertainments of the moment. I’m constantly being asked if I have seen this movie, or that TV show. Usually, I say no and they leave it alone, but not always. Occasionally I get badgered about my lack of interest in celebrities or movies or “pop” music.
I’m torn between celebrating American holidays for the sake of “fitting in.” I’m an American; I can appreciate Thanksgiving and what it means. It has decidedly Christian overtones that I’m not particularly in favor of, nor do I approve of the celebration of animal slaughter and gluttony that it has become.
Christmas is another problem. I want to participate in the merriment and I have no problem celebrating the possibly mythical birth of the possibly mythical Bodhisattva, Jesus Christ. The commercialism and greed that the holiday engenders is an issue for me. I know Christians struggle with this too. I can’t find solace in the “true meaning” of Christmas. The Christmas story is supposed to evoke the majesty of the Son of God. I don’t believe Christ WAS the Son of God, and I don’t care about his birth other than the reverence he might be due as an enlightened being. However, it’s always nice to celebrate someone’s birthday. We celebrate the Buddha’s birthday and our folks and friends’s birthdays, why not JC’s?
In the end it’s important to remember to fill my days with worthwhile activities. Watching the seven-hour Mythbusters marathon might seem like fun at the time but think of all the constructive things you could have done? Think of all the Dharma talks you could have listened to or all the zazen that could have been done in that time or even non-Practice activities , though really everything is practice even walking your dog or scratching your butt.
As a culture we have come to believe that we have the right to be entertained. Even if there’s always someone willing to entertain us just waiting inside the idiot box, maybe you shouldn’t’t turn it on.
My days are usually more fulfilling if I don’t even hit that power button.
J. Andy Lambert
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