I saw that commercial again. It’s for some kind of chocolate thing. Maybe Dove Bars? Anyhow, two women are sitting on lounge chairs talking about how delicious the thing is and one of them says, “It’s like Zen wrapped in Karma dipped in chocolate.” Which I’m sure is an apt description.
I’m here at my grandma’s house while grandma recuperates from a broken hip and my dad’s at some trade show in downtown Cincinnati so I have to deal with my mom who is severely disabled. I’ve ended up doing all the things she used to do for me, feeding her, watering her, carrying her from place to place. I haven’t burped her, but I’m sure that’s coming. While doing all this I was thinking about one of the ideas in Buddhism that just doesn’t get enough press. We’re all worried about solving stupid koans and having Enlightenment experiences, finding ourselves, and all that nonsense. But one of the most important aspects of Buddhist philosophy is that we do not live our lives just for ourselves. We exist for the people and things we encounter as much as we exist for ourselves.
This is why Buddhism is not solipsism, though far too many people think it might be. Solipsists believe only in their own existence. You sometimes see people saying that Buddhism is the belief that the whole Universe is our own creation. This is true. But it is also the belief that we are the creation of the whole Universe. You are God and God is the guy who has to pick up all the dog shit on the lawn. The real value of your life is the service you render to the Universe. It doesn’t need to be big service either because the universe can be a very tiny place sometimes. Maybe Jesus died for us, I don’t know. But I do know that it is our duty to give our own lives over to the Universe. We’ll work ourselves to the bone just to do what’s required and then, when we can’t do no more, the Universe gets rid of us. And that is the best thing there could ever be.
We miss out on how good this is because we want to have things the other way around. We want to take as much as we can, amass power, wealth, fame, social position. We want to suck the whole Universe into ourselves and carry it around in our bloated bellies, giving back a little only if it will get us more than we give. In doing so we experience misery upon misery. But when you give back without hope of receiving anything in return, the reward is immeasurable. Following the rule of the Universe is the best life a person can live.
Your duties to parents, friends, acquaintances, even enemies is your karma. So wrap your karma in some Zen and dip it in chocolate then feed it to someone who needs it.