“What religion are ya?!” Yelled some teenage young man from the crowd, this past weekend, with violent fervor.
I get posed this question a lot. Partly because of my positive writing, both here and on social media, partly because of my wrestling persona. Even when someone’s not screaming it over crowd noise in a witch hunt tone, it makes me uncomfortable and nervous.
“Whose team are you on?! How shall we sort you?!” Is the translation that my mental filter of looking-for-deeper-meaning gives to the question.
I don’t want to be on a team. Teams are groups of Us, dually opposing groups of Them. That’s the stuff justified-cruelty is made out of. That’s the stuff that turning your back when someone else desperately needs your help is about. It’s the stuff that taking joy in someone else’s loss is made of, and the stuff that feeling loss at someone else’s gain is made of. F**k all that sh** to the fullest extent of the f**k.
So, you’re team F*** Teams, then?
Wait… What…? No. Just...okay...no! I’m neither team Teams nor team F*** Teams.
Ah. So, you’re not on team F*** Teams: you’re on team No Teams.
Well… Um, I guess…wait... No! I’m not even on team No Teams. I’m just not on a team, without being on a team.
Well, now you’re just not making any damned sense. You gotta be on a team. This here thing we call existence as a human being: it’s a team sport, son. By not picking a team you’ve picked a team.
But… I… I don’t want to play then.
So, you’re team Sit The Game Out, now, are ya? That’s real close to team Chicken Sh**, ya know?
Ah, c’mon, Inner-hard-nosed-coach-voice, can’t I just be, you know, like, a person?
Nope. Not here. Not in the realm of human existence. The realm of duality. Here you gotta pick sides! You team Young Bucks or team Cornette?
I like, enjoy, and respect both sides.
Negative. You gotta pick. Are you team Blue or team Red?
Well, I’m more of a Green guy, just-
Oh, one of those…
-ask my fellow wrestlers.
Ha. Ha. This isn’t a joke. So, what religion are ya?
I’m not a religion, I’m a human being, damn it!
I told you; this isn’t a joke, son. We’ve all seen your promos. What New Age Hippie cult do you belong to?
New Age? But, a lot of the ideas that I express publically are roughly 2,500 years old! And I-
Wait? Two thousand, five hundred, eh? Seems pretty specific. What happened then?
Well… *Takes deep breath.* There lived a prince who was sheltered from the harsh realities of life…
According to his legend, when he was eventually confronted with the harsh realities of being born human (sickness, old age, and death) he didn’t know how to process it and became severely depressed.
Sounds like a lot of people in this culture, when they’re suddenly forced to stop their otherwise evergoing run from one distraction to the next, no longer able to avoid the shadow of sadness always lurking behind them by some personal, or collective, tragedy.
Yeah, right. *Ahem* So, this prince, Siddhartha, decides that his sheltered, materialistic lifestyle, of seeking out pleasure in the form of sense gratifying objects, is utter Bhrama-bullsh** and gives it up to seek out lasting happiness by becoming a wandering monk.
Siddhartha, huh? Sounds foreign.
*Ahem* Okay, Siddhartha goes off into the forests and learns how to meditate and-
Fair enough. Continue.
-And he learns quickly how to achieve states of amazing, peaceful bliss beyond any physical pleasure that even a prince could have imagined, but realizes that he always comes back down to the ground of reality, where that shadow of sadness is looking up at him.
Hmm. Sounds like some other people I know.
*Ahem* Yeah, right. So, after even extreme practices of body-denying brutality fails to provide any relief for his ailing heart, Siddhartha becomes as completely disenchanted with spirituality as he had become with materiality. Feeling hopelessly depressed, he decided, “Well, clearly, no one that I have met has quite figured it out, yet. So, I’m going to sit my ass down under a tree and not stand up again, until I have achieved some type of lasting peace. If not, I’ll die trying.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.
I can’t tell if he was giving up or giving it his best shot.
I’d say both, simultaneously.
Shhh. After a long ass time to be sitting, even by a road weary independent wrestler’s standards, he all of a sudden got it.
You know: it. The lasting peace and happiness that he had been searching for.
He had a realisation of four facts of life. When I first heard the first one, it had a huge positive impact on my life. It was exactly the “duh-of-course” thing I needed to hear during my some of my least-well days.
What was it?
That life, by its very nature, is not-so-great.
Wait, what? Not-so-great?
Sometimes it’s translated as “suffering”.
Suffering? Life is suffering? What in the actual f*** kinda emo sh** is that? When Our Team wins is it suffering?
For the other guy, obviously. For you, also, because a winning streak can’t last forever and, as much as you try to hide from it, the truth of unlasting fulfillment is always there, in the shadow. That’s the second fact of life, the cause of not-so-greatness: wanting to have, and keep, nice things in a perfectly destructive, re-creative world.
So, we suffer like mothers of wild sons because they ‘can’t have nice things’.
Right, because they want lasting, nice things: they haven’t realized that nice things have no business lasting, nothing does.
Nothing? Then not-so-greatness can’t last, either.
Exactly! That’s the third fact of life: you can lose the shadow of not-so-great-hornyness-for-nice-things.
That’s the fourth fact of life: there’s a eight step path to sweet-shadowless-goodness:
1.) Look - at life in a way that decreases not-so-greatness; by seeing things as they actually are, not as you want, or fear, them to be.
2.) Decide: to start living life purposefully; in a way that decreases the not-so-greatness for yourself and others.
3.) Talk - in a way that purposely decreases the not-so-greatness for yourself and others; don’t talk in a way that increases it.
4.) Act - in a way that purposely decreases the not-so-greatness for yourself and others; don’t act in a way you even suspect might increase it.
5.) Work - at a job that decreases the not-so-greatness for yourself and others; don’t work at one that increases it.
6.) Try - your absolute best to stay on the path.
7.) Pay Attention - to what is going on around you, and within you (thoughts, senses, emotions) at all times; take notes, learn.
8.) Meditate - till you make it.
So, by purposely being nice to yourself and others, by going out of your way not to create drama and going out of your way to decrease it where you do find it, and by sitting your ass down to relax without a guilty conscious, you can get off the vicious cycle of “why me”s?
That’s the idea.
What the hell was this Monk-Siddhartha guy, anyway? A psychologist, philosopher, or some kinda prophet or something?
Well, shortly after he gained his realization under the tree, someone was so freaked out by being in his presence they asked him what he was. Siddhartha replied, “Awakened.”
Well, these are all my abridged translations, of course. In Siddhartha’s native tongue he said “Buddha.”
*Gasp* Buddha?! I knew it! You’re a Buddhist!
Look, I told you, I’m not on any team. The second you even use a term like Buddhism you create a dichotomy of silly differences between human beings; Buddhist and Non-Buddhists.
But you follow the teachings of the Buddha?
What about the whole work-at-a-goody-two-shoes-job, Mr. Pro Wrestler? What about only-say-nice-things, Mr. Potty Mouth?
Maybe, like me, those who are drawn to violent forms of escape from the stress of life are the ones who may benefit from the Dharma (teachings), the most. Maybe saying sh** in the way that makes people understand that I don’t think I’m any better than they are is the best way to start a beneficial conversation. Maybe. *Shrugs*
How can you say all this and still claim that you’re not a Buddhist?!
I’m neither a Buddhist, nor not a Buddhist. I’m just a human being with the potential to be a better human being.
That’s probably the most Buddhist sh** I ever heard, son.