Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wisdom at the barber shop

My daughter blew my mind the other day. I was shaving my head, scalp lathered with shaving cream, while she watched. Don't ask me why, but people with hair are fascinated with the hair-grooming practices of us bald guys. So jokingly I asked her if she liked my hair cut and she said, as she always does, "You don't have any hair!"

Which is not far from the truth. My hair has begun a mass exodus over the past couple of years. Where it's gone is beyond me.

I mock cried. "But why not?"

"Daddy," she said, "life is the way that it is."

I stopped shaving, razor perched above my scalp, and studied her. It was like someone wise beyond her years was speaking out of her mouth. Or maybe it was in fact the five-year-old in her speaking. Lately, I've found that kids have an amazing acumen for insight.

She went on: "You can't argue with life."

I blinked to see if I had heard her correctly: You can't argue with life. She was absolutely right! Well, I suppose you can, but it usually doesn't do us a bit of good. From my experience, more often than not it causes more harm than good. That's dukkha for you: the dis-ease and anguish that arises when we fight reality.

Why am I balding? Why don't I earn more money? Why don't people appreciate me more? Why is my life this way, is this luck or karma? The why's go on forever. They're all ideas, expectations that we thrust onto reality and then mistake for reality itself. It's like mistaking a map of New York for New York itself.

As my teacher Rev. Lynch would say, "Just this. Don't know." Stop tying yourself into knots. Life is all good, just the way it is. If we could only stop and disentangle ourselves from our mental projections--expectations, desires, goals, wounds--then we can reside in the thusness of the present moment.

Just this. Or as they say in the Ordinary Mind School, "Life as it is."

But how did my daughter know this? Where was this coming from?

So I asked her.

And you know what she said? "I just know these things, Daddy," and walked away.

Holy crap! I had to check the mirror for remnants of my brain because she had just blown my mind.

Buddhism teaches us that we're complete and perfect, lacking nothing, and in her own way, at that moment my daughter understood that. It doesn't matter if I have a full head of hair or not, or drive a Mercedes or a Suzuki, everything is perfect the way it is. How couldn't it be?

It's once we let our thinking mind trick us into believing that thoughts and concepts are reality that we run into problems. That's when confusion arises and suffering ensues.

And all of this from a five-year-old. Wow! It's both mind-numbing and inspiring at the same time.

You can't argue with life. I have to remember that.

Happy New Year everyone!

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